Saturday, 4 July 2015

Asking Syrian Airmen anything

Syrian Air Force flag (Wikipedia)

' “The regime wanted me to use excessive and unimaginable force against unarmed civilians and innocent people. … I felt I could not protect my family anymore… That is the reason why I defected and I'm proud of it. I refuse to kill my own people and destroy my own country.
Sectarian hatred was evident from the beginning of his superiors’ involvement: “The Alawite pilots often bragged [openly] during my time at Ksheish and Kweiress airport about how they dropped bombs and killed 'Dirty Sunnis'. Sometimes we'd ask them: ‘Did you hit the target (rebels)?’ He'd say ‘No, I dropped it on a village or on fishing boats....who cares they're all Sunnis let them burn.’ I swear on everything valuable that was their response.” In another instance, when a Colonel from Homs did not react to a newscast with screams of ‘terrorist,’ “he was handcuffed and a bag was placed on his head in front of me by the moukhabarat. He was then taken and tortured for a week before he was returned.” '

"Note how Assad's chlorine bomb attacks are nowhere near the front lines? They're 'just' used to attack civilians."

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Dr. Annie Sparrow

Friday, 3 July 2015

Ogres and Orientalism: An Interview with Yassin al-Hajj Saleh

"Who among the Western leftists knows anything about the war in refugee camps? About the siege of Tripoli? Tal Al-Zaatar? Palestinian detainees in Assad’s prisons? And I needn’t add, what do they know about Syria in the first place? About its society, economy, or politics? Or about the Syrian detainees and the massacres the regime committed against Syrians? About the emergence of a ‘white’ segment of the population that discriminates against most Syrians and kills them in colonial-style punitive campaigns? Or about the colonial structure of the Assad state and its fostering of a ‘superior civilisation’ culture like that of the “white” settlers against the colonised peoples? About the sectarian divide-and-conquer policy also modelled on the colonial methods? Nobody.
I have read Noam Chomsky for years and translated a book of his after my release from prison. I also helped translate a book about him. Not once have I seen in all his abundant work anything in reference to the Syrian people’s feelings about the Assads’ colonialism. He may have mentioned in passing something about the brutality and tyranny of the Assad regime, but that was it. All his views revolved around the United States and Israel. He doesn’t see us. He sees the Palestinians to some extent. Three years ago a few Syrian and Lebanese friends met with him in Beirut. The man knows very little and didn’t seem compelled to listen to his mostly young interlocutors. And it looked like he was irritated with them after the meeting because, instead of them listening to his views, they expressed theirs. I am talking here about a man with indisputable courage and morals, but the traditional Western left is incomparably less courageous and ethical than that in the region.
To further understand this situation we should also remember that the Assad regime benefits from two types of ideologists: The ‘anti-imperialist resistance’ ideologists with previous ties to the Soviet Union (like Egypt after Abdul Nasser) and their relations with Iran and Hezbollah and with North Korea and Chavez, and the ‘modernization’ ideologists (like Saudi Arabia and the like) similar to the modernity of Iran before the Islamic revolution.
The regime’s also gained from Western journalists like Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn and Seymour Hersh. All of them have visited Damascus for a few days at a time, staying in five-star hotels and meeting with Bashar and some of his trusted cabinet members and intelligence officers, engaging in classified conversations about Blair and Cameron, or Clinton, Bush, and Obama. They also accompanied Assad army tanks which were carrying out punitive measures against ‘black’ Syrians like Fisk did in summer 2012, when he was the only embedded journalist in Darya near Damascus. Or they’ve fabricated eyewitness accounts of themselves like Patrick Cockburn who falsified a report a few months ago. That man calls for a coalition between the US and Assad, between Syria’s first world and the Western first world. But to him, we - the leftist opposition to the regime - are not just invisible, we don’t even exist.
During the second, still ongoing, Assad war on Syria, other killers turned up to aid the regime two years ago. The solution to that is to stop the killers and punish them, and for those who are ‘neutral’ to spare no effort in preventing the continuous killing, including helping those subjected to the killing to more effectively stand up to the killers. So if the people are being bombed with barrels from air space that only the Assad regime has access to, is it too much to ask for anti-aircraft weapons? Doesn’t preventing the people from defending themselves contribute to complicating matters further? And if the regime is getting mercenaries from Iran, Lebanon, and Afghanistan to support it, why aren’t these mercenaries considered terrorists just like ISIS and the Nusra Front? Isn’t this another contribution to complicate matters? Is it really so difficult to understand such things? Is it so complicated?
Fair-minded people who study the American administration’s policy will discover that the outcome of it has been a continuation of the Syrian conflict with no regard to justice or human life, and that the U.S. has given priority to its geopolitical interests over the rights and the blood of the Syrian people.
We are now witnessing a rise in discrimination in most Western countries against Syrian refugees. Europe is inventing new ways to monitor the Mediterranean Sea and to win the war on refugees, no matter how hard it tries to disguise this as a war on intercontinental human trafficking mafias.
In this context, the left that is supportive of the Syrians’ struggle stands in the world’s defense, for a fairer world. And that is an honor to the left and the West."

"The regime killed my husband"

Gilles Jacquier

"There was a Christian fixer, Mother Mary Agnes [a Carmelite nun notorious for spreading pro-Assad propaganda] working for the regime who eventually put us on the bus to Homs. She forced Gilles to go on the bus to film a report."
Mother Agnes has just had her libel action against the authors of Attack Express, about the murder of 
Gilles Jacquier by Assad's régime, finally* rejected by the French courts.[]

"No exaggeration, this is how medical services are operating now across Northern Syria"

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The Revolting Syrian

In southern Syria too*.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

United for a Free Syria and the Syrian Emergency Task Force Thank Senator Kaine for Leading Delegation to Syrian Border

'During their conversations, the activists and leaders emphasized the devastating role of the Syrian regime’s brutal aerial attacks in crippling civil life throughout liberated Syria on a daily basis, as well as the disappointingly minimal role the United States has taken in helping to curtail these atrocities.
“We can advocate in Washington until we are blue in the face,” said Executive Director Mouaz Moustafa, “but there is nothing more impactful than real Syrians – the brave young men and women who started this revolution – sitting face to face with members of congress and telling their stories. Four years on, these brave Syrians still feel abandoned by the international community. These delegations illustrate that there are still Americans in government who care about them, and want to hear their stories. We would like to thank Senator Kaine and the entire delegation for showing this interest, and making that human connection.” '

UK strategy of not attacking Isis in Syria is illogical, says defence secretary

Michael Fallon

It is a new parliament and MPs will want to think very carefully about how we best deal with Isil. [There is an] illogicality [with] Isil not respecting the border lines; they don’t differentiate between Syria and Iraq, they’re establishing this evil caliphate across both countries. There is no legal bar to us operating in Syria but we don’t have the parliamentary approval for it. 
We don’t need it at the moment because we are playing our part in the campaign and what we do in Iraq actually frees up the US aircraft to attack in Syria. Isil has to be defeated in both countries. Its evil in Iraq is all being directed by its headquarters in Syria.”
The logic is that the Americans don't want to do anything on the Syrian side of the border that might upset Assad, like protecting Syrians from ISIS attacks, or God forbid, Assad's bombing. The logic is that Britain entirely supports the American strategy, it is only because this is becoming unsustainable for those countries most directly affected by this neglect and partiality, like Turkey, which is threatening to establish a buffer zone in Northern Syria* to protect Syrians from Assad and ISIS, and forestall the possibility that the Kurds will establish a state in Northern Syria, that Michael Fallon is expressing any doubts as to the direction they've taken.

European parliament to showcase Assad regime torture photographs

syria torture

' “This is an important victory,” said James Sadri, campaign manager at the Syria Campaign, which organised a petition urging the parliament to reverse its decision. “If European politicians won’t even look at pictures of human rights abuses in Syria what hope is there that they’ll do anything to stop them happening?” 

“Rather than send gunships to stop refugees crossing the Mediterranean these European politicians should do more to stop what these Syrians are fleeing in the first place,” he added.'

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Syria, You’re On Your Own

 'In his May 19 briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest leveled, in his own peculiar way, with the people of Syria: “... the President feels very strongly that the very significant problems that are faced by people in Syria, for example, are not problems that the United States is going to come in and solve for them. We're not going to impose a solution on Syria. We're not going to commit billions of dollars and the lives of hundreds of thousands of our men and women in uniform to try to solve those problems.” The fact that no one is calling for a ten-figure expenditure of money or the commitment of hundreds of thousands of troops is neither here nor there: the Syria straw man strategy is a permanent staple of administration disinformation. What is important is the implicit, but blunt message to the people of Syria: you are on your own.
 There are twenty months left for an administration so self-absorbed and yet so self-unaware that a key spokesperson is actually able to say, “We’re not going to impose a solution on Syria” without betraying even a hint of irony. Twenty months in Syria-time is an eternity. One could easily imagine 500 thousand dead, 5 million refugees, and 15 million internally displaced. Recent setbacks notwithstanding, one could see the Assad regime continuing to prosecute a campaign of mass homicide, buoyed aloft by new injections of Iranian cash made possible by the lifting of sanctions. Twenty months from now an incoming US president could find Syria essentially partitioned between two sets of arch-criminals: the Assad regime in the west, and the Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS) to the east—a country in its death throes, hemorrhaging terrified human beings in all directions.
 Faced with these kinds of prospects, Syrians already aware of the moral and policy vacuity of the West have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. This is the tallest of tall orders. As ISIL gobbles up more territory while being chased futilely from 30 thousand feet and as Assad—with Iran’s blessing—plasters residential areas with barrel bombs, the options for ordinary, nationalistic Syrians and those trying to represent them seem slim indeed.'

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

As a patriotic Syrian, I never imagined I would do this

'In an incredibly candid and powerful address Raed Saleh, head of the White Helmets, speaks truth to power at the UN Security Council Arria Briefing on the 26th of June.

"The international community has lost its credibility for Syrians in the absence of any political will to end the killing in Syria, and the UN Security Council has been transformed from the Security to the Insecurity Council in the eyes of the downtrodden because it has failed to uphold its own resolutions.

The Syrian people who are being killed every day, Ladies and Gentlemen, hold you responsible and demand that all measures available to end the killing, particularly with indiscriminate weapons, be taken immediately.

As a patriotic Syrian, I never imagined I would one day ask for a foreign intervention in my country, by land or air. But the lives of innocent women and children that we see dying in our hands every day compel us to ask for any intervention possible to stop the barbaric killing machine led by Bashar al-Assad, including preventing Syrian aircraft from flying, and especially preventing helicopters from hovering above us and dropping these bombs." '

The Associated Press take, via the Guardian*, on this is somewhat different. 

"The Security Council has been bitterly divided over Syria between Russia, a close ally of president Bashar Assad’s government, and western nations who have have campaigned for a transitional government leading to democratic elections."

Not an abandonment of Syria by the West, but a campaign for régime change. In miniature we see the difference between the media narrative and the experience of Syrians over the last four years, and how the delusion of many leftists that they are doing Syrians a favour by blaming their condition on Western meddling isn't some challenge to the prevailing ideology, but what the press and the politicians would like us to believe.


Response to EI article (Electronic Intifada)


"Thus whilst Syria should not distract from Palestine as this is what Israel wants and would allow its ethnic cleansing to go ahead unimpeded, neither should our attention be diverted to such an extent from the fact that there has been no regime that has come close to representing Israel’s than Assad’s. He comes second to Israel in the number of Palestinians he has killed. He has tortured more Palestinians to death than Israel could ever hope to do ( He has employed exactly the same tactics of starvation of civilian areas under the excuse of them being ‘held hostage by terrorists'; indeed his opponents have had to dig tunnels to try and circumvent those sieges (and those tunnels been labelled ‘terrorist’ tunnels). He has carpet-bombed civilian areas to the ground for four years unimpeded. It has stopped people returning to its homes (such as the famous uprising Baba Amr neighbourhood in Homs). For the past four years we have watched Syrian women and men scream in cameras ‘where are the Arabs? Where are the Muslims’ with rubble behind them in exactly the same way that they do in Gaza. If Zionism did not mean ‘Jewish nationalism’ Assad’s state would be the archetypal example of its Arab form.
The fact remains that Hezbollah is now knees-deep in Palestinian blood, and I would like it if such outlets like EI are brave enough to call it and Iran on its betrayal of the Palestinian people, and call on it to put their actions where their mouths are, how can they be pro-Palestinian when they refuse to take off sieges of Palestinians, which according to someone who has recently visited Yarmouk and previously Gaza, has been multiple times worse than Gaza? Through doing this campaign and put pressure on it to stop the regime starving and torturing the Palestinians under its mercy (to say nothing about the Syrians)."

Monday, 29 June 2015

​The “Israel backs Jabhat al-Nusra” fairy-tale and its deadly consequences

Michael Karadjis

'Thus the “Israel supports Nusra” discourse had simply led to the murder of a member of the FSA. But where does this theory come from? A number of writers in recent months have come up with the proposition that Israel is in some kind of alliance with Nusra in the southern Syrian region bordering the Israeli-stolen Golan Heights. “Why has Israel embraced al-Qaida’s branch in Syria?” asks Rania Khalek in the Electronic Intifada (​ “In the Golan, Israel has cultivated an alliance with Islamist forces it falsely claims to detest: the al-Nusra Front,” claims Richard Silverstein ( “Why is the media ignoring Israel’s alliance with al-Qaeda?” asks Asa Winstanely ( 
 Unlike ISIS, Nusra fights mostly against the regime (and against ISIS) alongside other Syrian rebel groups. Therefore, this “Israel supports Nusra” fairy-story is not aimed at claiming that Israel is secretly aiding a sectarian diversion of the revolution, but, on the contrary, the aim is the same old warped conspiracy theory that the mighty Syrian revolution is just a conspiracy orchestrated by a US-Zionist-Gulf-Jihadist-Martian cabal bent on destroying the nice progressive “secular” regime of Assad. Quite deliberately, these writers conflate Nusra with the FSA and other rebels; the fact that the UN reports talk about, for example, handing two boxes to members of an “armed group” for these writers automatically means Nusra. Even when it was found out that the wounded fighter murdered by the Druze lynch-mob was in the FSA and not Nusra, these haters declare him an “Islamist” fighter, in order to be as dishonest as is humanly possible without still calling him “Nusra” – for them, Nusra, Islamists and FSA are all the same thing.
The entire fairy-tale of Israeli support to either Nusra or the FSA in the south is based on nothing. Stupid stories, however, can have deadly results.'

Obama's ISIS policy is backwards

fred hof

"The president and his people are intellectually attuned to the fact that Tehran is the principal outside facilitator of mass murder in Syria. They are intellectually accepting of the proposition that the Assad regime mass murder is a recruiting tool for ISIL. People in the administration are not lacking in intelligence, they can connect the dots on these things.
 If the commander in chief, Barack Obama, says, 'I’ve had enough of this … I want you to do something, give me some options that minimize the slippery slope argument, but give me some options that complicate Assad’s ability to launch helicopters with these horrible barrel bombs, including the resumption of chemical warfare.' ... If the president is willing to do that, I am utterly convinced that thousands of lives can be saved starting very quickly."

Middle East Policy and Combating ISIS

[01:23:26] Defense Secretary Ashton Carter: "We are trying to recruit and identify people who ... can be counted on ... to fight, to have the right mindset and ideology, and not be aligned with groups like ISIL on the one hand, and on the other hand, as you put it, work towards our goals, and our goal being for them to fight ISIL in the first instance."
In other words, they are looking for mercenaries who will agree not to fight Bashar al-Assad. The administration's line is that they are weeding out extremists, but we can glean the truth from Fox News' take* on the story:

'Abdul-Jabbar Abu Thabet, commander of Aleppo Swords Battalion, a moderate faction that is fighting both Assad's forces and IS, said he believes the Americans are more interested in recruiting Syrian army defectors than moderate rebels.
He said he would no longer give Americans the names of training candidates from his group, after having done so once and not receiving a U.S. response.
"The Americans are saying they want to train rebels to fight against Daesh only," he said by telephone from northern Syria, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. "The fighting should be against Daesh, the (Assad) regime and everyone who is against the revolution." '

Syrians forced to survive on handouts during Ramadan

'Nawal Ramadan jokingly quoted one of the most famous Syrian Ramadan series this year, Bab al-Hara, which deals with life in a Damascus neighborhood under the French mandate in the 1930s.
The director and writer should have focused on our own time “and film how the regime hits the city of Aleppo with barrel bombs and how ISIS is executing people like sheep and lashing women.”
“It would’ve been better,” she added bitterly.'

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Assad confidante dies of illness: Syria state media

Radio Free Syria: "As the regime falls apart, Assad's senior officials keep dying of mysterious 'illnesses', mostly caused by bullets to the skull."


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"Qatar & Saudi Arabia! it seems you need American Decision to help us."

Breaking the Ramadan fast in Aleppo

Looking for barrel bombs.
Looking for barrel bombs.
Looking for barrel bombs.
I'm hungry.

Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Image result for Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

"They are desensitised by seeing so many pictures of children killed or maimed by Isis suicide bombers or government barrel bombs."
What a hypocrite. Patrick Cockburn ignores the barrel bombs, the sieges, the torture, which Assad daily visits on Syria, to scare us with the dangers of ISIS into backing Assad and his allies as they carry out more bombing, rape and torture,
Thus the US, Britain and their allies are supposedly seeking to combat Isis, but they simultaneously oppose the main enemies of Isis such as Iran, Hezbollah, the Syrian army, Shia militias in Iraq, and the PKK in Turkey in the shape of its Syrian branch, the PYD."It's a lie that America and Britain are opposing what Iran and Assad are doing. Andrew Marr said this morning, "Patrick Cockburn is one of the people I turn to on the Middle East," Stephanie Flanders echoed Cockburn, "We have to stop our Sunni allies funding groups like ISIS. The British political and business establishment takes their lead from Cockburn, he isn't some anti-establishment figure, but one linking the Western élite to their Middle Eastern counterparts. Two more lies, the states mentioned are not funding ISIS, and the groups they support do not commit atrocities like Assad or even ISIS, but reading Cockburn you would never know that, as there are no moderates in his picture of Syria except for Assad, and all the people fighting him are mad Muslims.
Isis and al-Qaeda-type groups that are little different from it, such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar ash-Sham in Syria." 

Kafranbel Syrian Revolution

Assad divides Syrians into Alawis and Sunnis, ISIS into Muslims and kuffar, and the PYD into Kurds and Arabs.

Samar Yazbek: ‘Syria has been hung, drawn and quartered’

'Paris is beautiful, but it's not the same thing': Samar Yazbek in exile.

' “I was not frightened for myself. Not at all. Why should I be so? This was my homeland. This is where I had grown up. I spoke the languages, I knew the people. What did frighten me as time went on, and as I made more trips, was the way everything I had once known in Syria was being turned into something else, something I didn’t quite recognise. This had once been a cosy place, a place of traditional loyalties and hospitality. But now the people have been scarred and mutilated. I don’t know whether it will ever go back to what it was. That is what Assad has done.
She is especially angry with young Muslim women who have travelled from the west to join Isis. “Of course I am a feminist,” she says, “and what they are doing is sending the condition of women in Syria back to some terrible place. But also what they are doing is to ‘Orientalise’ Syria – these young girls are Muslims but they are creatures of the west. They know nothing of Syria and its ways. But they love the fantasy of the virile Arab warrior on a horse with a gun. This is a cliche and a fantasy and they come because it’s erotic and exotic – they are bored in the west and they need to rebel. But they do not understand Islam or Syria and that they are making things worse for the women who live here.” '

Syria’s Alawites: The People Behind Assad

High school students in the Alawite village of Al-Suwairi walk past a memorial for locals killed fighting on behalf of the Assad regime, June 2013. The memorial has space left for more names.

' “We are witnesses to the country’s unraveling,” a 56-year-old Alawite public servant told me last summer in Latakia, the western coast’s main city. “Many people I know—especially those who have lost loved ones—are fed up, but few dare speak out because this would contradict the facade of defiance,” he said.'