Saturday, 24 January 2015

Brilliant new book documents rise of Islamic State

Asa Winstanley

So the evidence Asa Winstanley and Patrick Cockburn are most convinced by regarding the Free Syrian Army comes from a prisoner in ISIS' custody. Any more comment on how far from the reality their slanders against the Syrian revolutionaries are should be superfluous.
'In the custody of ISIS (after having defected to them) Saddam al-Jamal tells his interviewers (or perhaps interrogators) in the video that his FSA brigade was at first funded and directed by Qatar, but later was switched to the Saudis. Military council meetings were "invariably attended by representatives of the Saudi, UAE, Jordanian, and Qatari intelligence services, as well as intelligence officers from the US, Britain and France".'
The usual lies are here, that that the Gulf régimes and Turkey were supporting ISIS, rather than the groups opposed to them, and in Turkey's case trying to avoid direct involvement. I also wonder what "indirect" support is supposed to mean. And Turkey being driven by sectarian hatred in their opposition to Assad is nonsense on stilts. He mentions the popular revolution just to claim it has just been swallowed up in other conflicts. A nonsense to those facing barrel bomb attacks* from Assad, who know exactly what sort of conflict is really going on in Syria. Or those starving to death in Yarmouk or being tortured to death in the prisons. Winstanley notes Cockburn's over-reliance on anonymous sources, that's because he's half relaying the lies of the Assad régime and the Iranians, and half relaying the lies of Western spooks and diplomats who see independent Islamically-minded people as a greater threat than any dictator.
Not one mention of chemical weapons.

Image result for Chen Weiming is pictured with members of the Free Syria Army in 2012 in Syria

Are Muslim Uighurs fleeing China to join the Islamic State?
No, they actually seem to be going to fight the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, but it's sexier when Muslims go to Syria to write that they are going to fight for ISIS.
"In a telephone interview from his home in New Zealand, Chen told McClatchy he has made three visits to Syria since 2011 to fight with and help the Free Syrian Army, a group that has received limited U.S. support in its battle to oust the Syrian president.
“I went there because I believe in freedom,” said Chen, known for his “Goddess of Democracy” statue, a tribute to victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. “I believe we should help people under dictatorship, whether they are in China or Syria.”
During his time in Syria, Chen said he did not encounter any Uighur fighters, but he understands there are several there. He scoffed at Chinese claims that Uighur militants abroad are exporting terrorism back to China."

Friday, 23 January 2015

We were defending British values, say Syria Britons

 These men are heroes. It's easy to cheerlead the Kurds fighting in Kobane, but the Islamophobia which has accompanied the Syrian revolution means those fighting against Assad are all tarred as Islamic extremists.

 "Now rewind to 2013. Back then all anyone could talk about were the thousands of civilians being slaughtered by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. As Syrians demanded their right to freedom and democracy, the government there was using chemical weapons to kill its people.

Meanwhile the government here was considering military action to stop the massacres. Parliament decided not to intervene, but it's within this context that the two British men I've spoken to took it upon themselves to do, they say, what the government couldn't, to defend the people of Syria. Now they're back in the UK and living in fear of arrest."

 Two errors here. Firstly, most of the left was not talking about the civilians killed by Assad, but by the danger the West might do something to stop it, along with sometimes denying that Assad had launched the chemical attacks at all, and parliament never considered action to stop the massacres, Cameron failed to say what action was being proposed which made it easy for the government to lose the vote.

Why rebels have failed in Syria

 'The Syrian people took America's shelling of the al-Nusra and ISIS bases in Idlib as an indicator that it was at war against Islam, one former fighter told me. Citizens thought "if the Americans are serious in helping the Syrian people, they should have shelled the government bases, not the rebels and civilians." Many civilians were reported killed and injured after the American air raids, prompting both anger toward the Americans and towards the groups that are funded by the Americans (like the FSA), as they are increasingly considered "part of the problem." '

 Civilians in Syria aren't trapped between competing proxy forces, but between a government trying to kill them and rebel forces given barely any support, which is the cause of the corruption and failure to defend communities made in this author's first three points. The problem isn't that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been diverting the opposition to their own purposes (how can fighting against Assad be a diversion?), but that the Americans have not allowed them to support the Free Syrian Army enough. But for those who see Gulf funding and names of brigades like Lions of Islam and assume it's all a Wahhabi plot, the truth is not plain to see. Also see, "Most Prominent Massacres Perpetrated by Shiite Militias in Syria"*.
Army stole the revolution, 2011.

Arab dictators: between tactical brilliance and strategic stupidity
"The regime in Syria opted for a drastic solution, turning the struggle into a total struggle for survival, but in the end destroying its own base for capital accumulation in the process. If Bashar cannot rule Syria then he will destroy it, and the ruling elites, endangering their own interests, have followed him blindly into the abyss."

(Photo: Yarmouk News agency)
‘No to martyrdom by hunger in Yarmouk camp': Palestinian refugees protest Assad’s siege

Good piece by Ben Norton. Nothing but loony conspiracy theorists in the comments.
"Since December 2012, civilians in Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria—what some refer to as the “capital of the Palestinian diaspora”—have been under siege and constant attack by the Syrian regime. Assad has bombed and shelled them, destroying much of the neighborhood’s infrastructure and even UNRWA shelters. Amnesty International has characterized the Syrian government’s siege on Yarmouk as “brutal” and has accused the Assad regime of carrying out “war crimes and crimes against humanity” against Palestinian and Syrian civilians in the neighborhood."
Ahmet Davutoglu is irritated at the way Turkey’s motives are questioned

War on Isis: Flood of jihadi volunteers to Syria 'unstoppable', warns Turkish Prime Minister
Once again Patrick Cockburn gets the Independent front page to parade his lies about Syria. Moderate opposition forces "do not exist", try telling that to those fighting on the Southern Front, in the eastern Ghouta, in Aleppo, in Kobane and so forth. And the extent to which he is a tired old phrasemonger is evident when he says that "the armed opposition is increasingly dominated by Isis and by the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra," if there were no moderate opposition forces they would completely dominate. And ISIS are not part of the opposition to Assad of course, but completely opposed to it. Assad's genocide is reduced to, "In Syria, Isis is benefiting from the disarray and internecine hatreds of its opponents."
He lets the Turkish prime minister make some points, particularly correcting the lie that Turkey supports ISIS, part of the general campaign to muddy the waters and prevent any focus on removing Assad. But the headline and Cockburn's focus are on the jihadi tide being unstoppable, and thus the Turkish denials barely relevant. Cockburn skates over the fact that the Americans have shifted ever-further away from getting rid of Assad, in clear distinction to Turkish policy. Cockburn claims on the one hand that it is the Shia militias that have had greatest success against ISIS in Iraq, but on the other hand that only the non-sectarian Iraqi army could convince Sunnis of their good will. The gyrations involved in obscuring the contradiction between this, and promoting alliance with the sectarian murderers in Syria are clear.

America’s Syria plan is bound to fail"By accepting that Assad remain in place, the Obama administration is digging deeper the hole of its abysmal Syria policy. The problem is that by the time the true extent of American failure becomes apparent, Obama will have left office.
With the United States not wanting now to be rid of Assad – a widely-shared view in Syria – its Syrian allies can only suffer as a consequence. This will push the “moderates” into a dilemma of either striving to appeal to their own population or to the gray suits in Washington. They will choose the former. That could undermine the cohesiveness of the rebels and cause them to slowly break away from the American grip.
What would the U.S. do then? Cut off assistance, after the millions of dollars spent to bolster the rebels? Abandon potentially valuable allies, and in that way lend further momentum to ISIS and Nusra Front?
The American scheme is so disconnected from the reality in Syria, from the suffering of millions of Syrians left to face a miserable fate for almost four years, that it is bound to fail. The arrogance of the Obama administration in this regard is breathtaking. Rarely has the United States been so indifferent to the destiny of a people subjected to the worst abominations."

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Syrians find safety, hospitality in São Paulo

Ahmed Al Mazloum

This is not a régime that can ever tolerate opposition again. The alternatives are that it is overthrown, or the mass murder gets worse.
I worked in Daraa, which is where the uprising started, I feared that if I was conscripted, I would be killed by the government forces, as they believe that anyone who has any connection to Daraa — who has ever been there — must be an enemy of the state.”

Robert E. White, who criticized policy on El Salvador as U.S. ambassador, dies at 88
But the only alternative would have been a Russian invasion in support of the jihadists.
“The military dictators of the world fear democracy more than anything else...Because we feared revolution, we consistently opposed the forces of change while uncritically supporting dictatorships and small economic elites. We blinked at repression and participated in the perversion of democracy throughout the hemisphere.”

McCain Vents Against Obama’s Foreign Policy Strategy

McCain Vents Against Obama’s Foreign Policy StrategyAssad maintains his support through terror, and by making minority communities complicit in his sectarian genocide so they will be fearful of what happens when he falls. Working with him is the terrible choice, leading some to support ISIS out of the despair of any alternative, when the only alternatives are flight and death. I'm told Brzezinski also says that Assad is no worse than other leaders in the region, I must have missed their chemical attacks and barrel bombs. Calling for an accommodation with Iran and Russia rather than supporting the Syrian revolution isn't an alternative to American foreign policy, it is the policy they've followed that has abandoned Syria to disaster.
" “Whether we like it or not,” Assad maintains significant support, Brzezinski said. “He’s still there – we have to take that into account.”
Scowcroft and Brzezinski also said they could foresee roles for China and Russia in countering the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, despite Russia’s support of the Assad regime.
“I wouldn’t rule out at some point getting some support from the Russians” against ISIS, Scowcroft said. “Among terrible choices, it’s one we should examine.” "
Full footage here. […]

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Mass Torture Photos Taken in 'Hospital 601' in Mezzah-Damascus: Source

Tuesday is Holocaust Memorial Day. Never again.
"Hospital 601 was the photographing scene of Bashar al-Assad’s war crimes where the leaked photos showed hundreds of lifeless bodies with signs of starvation, brutal beatings, strangulation and other forms of torture and killing.
Some of the photographs will take back the reader to the torture memos of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq after the American invasion in 2003 when the U.S. soldiers used to take photos with tormented bodies. Here the Syrian soldiers are doing the same."

President Obama: "We risk being drawn into unnecessary conflicts, that's what our enemies want us to do. We stand with those fighting terrorists. We're supporting the moderate opposition in Syria that can assist us in that effort. We're opposing the notion that big nations can bully the small, by opposing Russian aggression. In Ukraine."
No mention of Assad, the opposition is only there to help get rid of ISIS.
Foreigners shouldn't be allowed to invade American privacy, but the other way around is fine.
330illegal migrants caught in Turkey

330 illegal immigrants caught off the coast of TurkeyNo-one is illegal.

Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, The killer mediates for the mass murderer

The killer mediates for the mass murderer"Just as the Egyptian president interfered in Libya and helped to form a militia loyal to him which he trains and provides with supplies and weapons, he now wants to intervene militarily in Syria in the same manner; he already supplies the mass murderer's army with Egyptian weapons. The Syrian rebels who seized Egyptian weapons have displayed them on television.
This is the dialogue that will be conducted by the killer under his sponsorship; it will be a dialogue of blood. Beware, for these militias will operate under the pretext of fighting terrorism, which is what Al-Assad's regime calls the rebels in Syria. He has been able to benefit from the terrorism fever and Islamophobia that has swept the world, utilising it to serve his purpose, especially after the air strikes launched by the international coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) group in Syria and Iraq."

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Mourners at the funeral of Hezbollah military leader Mohammed Issa, who was also killed in the Israe

Israel unaware killed Iranian general
 was in Hezbollah convoy in Syria

The people who tell us that everything in the Middle East is about America, will be telling us this is a major threat of a spreading war in the Middle East, when it is nothing of the kind. Hezbollah are too busy killing Syrians, and the Israelis are generally happy to let them get on with it. Whenever Assad has been attacked by Israel, again in a very limited way, he has only retaliated against defenceless Syrians. End of.
“They are almost certain to respond. We are anticipating that, but I think it’s a fair assumption that a major escalation is not in the interest of either side.”

Chomsky: Paris attacks show hypocrisy of West's outrage

Samuel Sandler, father and grandfather of three of the victims of Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah, the Mayor of Lille and Socialist Party member Martine Aubry, Hassen Chalghoumi, Imam of the northern Paris suburb of Drancy and president of the French Association of Imams, French writer Marek Halter, UMP right-wing party member Eric Woerth and Joel Mergui, president of the Central Jewish Consistory of France and Pierre Gattaz (3rdR), head of the French employers' association (MEDEF) (5thR) take part in a Unity rally Marche Republicaine in Paris on January 11, 2015 in tribute to the 17 victims of a three-day killing spree by homegrown Islamists.

 There are that number killed in Assad's bombing raids every day*, including apparently 75 killed today in an attack** on a sheep market in the north-east of Syria, but Chomsky only has the inclination to mention the one by the US that got far more coverage. He really hasn't got a fucking clue.

 "Other unfortunates are also not lacking, such as the 50 civilians reportedly killed in a U.S.-led bombing raid in Syria in December, which was barely reported."

*Except January 7th []


OPEN LETTER to Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah Lebanon: Naame Shaam calls on Nasrallah to pull Hezbollah fighters out of Syria to stop ‘fitna’
"Hezbollah Lebanon is fighting in Syria to prevent the fall of the Assad regime, a regime that has been committing grave human rights abuses, crimes against humanity and war crimes for almost four years. In fact, your fighters are complicit in many of these crimes. This has inevitably caused Hezbollah Lebanon to lose the moral high ground it once held, and the party’s leadership and military commanders today face the possibility of standing trial for their complicity in these crimes.
Your direct intervention in Syria has sealed the fate of Bashar al-Assad as a puppet in the hands of Sepah Pasdaran (Iran’s Revolutionary Guards). The Syrian regime would collapse in no time if Iran ended its massive financial and military support. But the price that you are paying is too high: like Iran, Hezbollah is today bleeding in Syria."

U.S. Signals Shift on How to End Syrian Civil War
I've seen five leftists post their solidarity with the struggle of the Vietnamese forty years ago this morning. Funnily enough, they are almost all people who have dismissed the struggle of the Syrian people as a foreign plot, replacing the anti-communism of a previous generation with an ignorance about Muslims.
"The view that the United States supports Mr. Assad is spreading even among the groups receiving direct American financing, groups deemed moderate enough to receive arms and work with a United States-run operations center in Turkey. A fighter with Harakat Hazm, one such group, said Wednesday that America was “looking for loopholes to reach a political solution and keep al-Assad.”
Tarek Fares, a secular Syrian Army defector who long fought with the loose-knit nationalist groups known as the Free Syrian Army but who has lately quit fighting, joked bitterly about American policy one recent night in Antakya, Turkey. “This is how the Americans talk,” he said. “They say, ‘We have a red line, we will support you, we will arm you.’ They do nothing, and then after four years they tell you Assad is the best option.” "

Monday, 19 January 2015

Plan to expand bombing campaign in Syria stalls amid U.S.-Turkey disagreements
Once again, 'Western-backed' is a misnomer, when the White House says Assad's departure is an important goal their actions belie the claim, and as we'll see in the last paragraph quoted, at most they want just Assad to go so that his régime can be protected from revolution. The proposal to bomb ISIS north-east of Aleppo is presumably taking a long time because they want to make sure that nobody attacks Assad's forces while they are about it. 
"Turkish President Recep Tay­yip Erdogan “continues to have a different geographic priority,” a senior administration official said, and is still primarily focused on Aleppo and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We want to go after ISIL,” the official said, referring to the Islamic State.
Assad’s military surrounds, and regularly bombards from the air, Western-backed moderate opposition fighters and civilians in Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city, in the northwest corner of the country.
Although the administration has called for a negotiated solution to the conflict between Assad and the moderate opposition, some U.S. partners question how that can be accomplished as long as Assad and his military remain relatively strong and the opposition is increasingly weak."

Aleppo Back To Life

"The locals say that the régime tactic of attacking from the air is because they are unable to fight people in the street."

Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Efforts

Former National Security Council Director Rick Nelson talked about potential threats to the U.S. homeland. Topics included lessons learned from thr recent terrorist attack in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo; U.S. efforts to prepare against terrorist attacks; and U.S. strategy to fight ISIS* militants in Syria and Iraq.

 About fifty minutes through there's a press conference reply from president Obama, with the key bit in the Guardian*.
"Obama said the US had not been “standing on the sidelines” during the Syrian war. “It’s true that we did not invade Syria,” he said."
This is the same distortion the phony anti-imperialists perpetuate, that the alternative to doing nothing was to invade, when it was always about the failure to support the Free Syrian Army, starving them of weapons while Assad got them by the planeload from Moscow, plus planes from which to drop them. And President Obama talks here of "working with partners in the region," vagueing over that that means working with the iranians who are assisting in mass murder in Syria, rather than the FSA, who have been fighting Assad, Iran and ISIS.

Is Hezbollah Going Broke?

 They've lost 1,000 fighters killing Syrian freedom fighters. They've lost none fighting against ISIS as far as I'm aware, because they and Assad have coordinated with ISIS, not fought them. The régime left open a corridor so that ISIS could establish itself in the western Qalamoun mountains, where Hezbollah has been taking one hell of a beating from actual rebel groups. The piece is also interesting on the growing divide between the poor Shia, and those who have grown rich fr
om distributing Iranian largesse, important if the Shia community in Lebanon is going to reject involvement in the genocide in Syria.
"Hezbollah’s budget woes come at perhaps the worst possible time for the organization. The group recently uncovered a Mossad spy high in its ranks, and its militant wing has reportedly lost nearly 1,000 fighters in the Syrian civil war. As Hezbollah takes on a growing role in the battle against ISIS and Syrian rebel groups, that conflict further threatens to strain its resources."

Sunday, 18 January 2015

‘France Tries To Mask Its Islamophobia Behind Secular Values’

What a shitbag Tariq Ali has become.
"The fact is that the West has reoccupied the Arab world with disasters in Syria, Iraq and Libya where things are much worse than under the previous aut­horitarian regimes."
The genocide-denying little shit* will be speaking in Edinburgh in March**. Opponents of Assad's slaughter in Scotland might want to tell him what a waste of space he has become.

Are Israel, Jabhat al-Nusra coordinating on attacks in Syria?

No. This nonsense started a few months ago, and it's taken this long for John Rees and his Counterfire, the ex-leadership of the SWP who have been the closest on the Left in Britain to openly supporting Assad, to pick it up. The support for any Syrian rebels comes down to two unidentified boxes that could have contained medical supplies, the evidence that Israel is cooperating with Jabhat al-Nusra is zero. It's this sort of adoption of conspiracy theories via the internet that deny Syrians agency, and claim they are just proxies in a Saudi/US plot to Talibinise/seize Syria's oil that will most discredit the Left when an accounting of what happens in Syria occurs, unfortunately all those who do support the oppressed when it is most important will get dragged down by the idiots.

“Our lack of weapons puts us in a position of weakness”
Questions to Lorca, Midou and Abu Layla [1], officers of the Popular Liberation Factions (FLP), a military structure created by the Current of the Revolutionary Left (CRL), a Syrian revolutionary Marxist organization.
I think their ultra-leftism doesn't help too. When they lump the Islamists fighting Assad together as reactionary forces, they are falling into the same sectarianism that had the German Communist Party of the 1930s see the "social-fascists" of the Social Democratic party as as bad as Hitler. That they can only get limited cooperation from even FSA battalions suggests their purity isolates itself. Which is a great pity, because if there is going to be anyone who defends the progressive principles of the revolution, it will be these people, and if they are busy blaming the Saudis as much as the Iranians for the mess Assad has created, they aren't going to have much traction with the millions whose lives have been devastated by the régime.

Eyad Abu Shakra

Opinion: What’s Cooking in Moscow?
"Today, in Syria, we are facing a humanitarian tragedy made worse by Washington’s endorsement of Moscow’s positions, giving its implicit blessing to the Moscow conference. It is also important to recall that what has brought about this catastrophic situation inside Syria and its neighboring countries is Washington’s continuous rejection of calls from the opposition and the genuine “Friends of Syria” for no-fly zones and safe havens.
Washington’s inaction has led to the following:
– By not acting against Assad despite issuing several warning, the Syrian president has been left free to use every weapon in his possession against his own people.
– Washington’s passivity has stopped the uprising’s momentum, so mass desertions of politicians and military fizzled out when they discovered the long concealed truth that President Obama was unwilling to confront Iran and Russia, and would not force Assad to abdicate.
– Through the same passivity, Washington has emboldened Iran to order Iranian, Lebanese, Iraqi and other (Shi’ite) fighters to back Assad militarily, with Russia taking care of arms supplies.
– Washington has weakened and disheartened the moderates in the Syrian opposition camp, turning the Free Syrian Army (FSA) into the weakest fighting force on Syrian soil, while allowing—during 4 long years—thousands of extremists to come to Syria from all corners of the world. These extremists, in turn, have now undermined the uprising’s credibility and blemished its image.
This means that what is being planned in Moscow is nothing more than a conspiracy, not a conference, against Syria and its popular uprising."