Saturday, 26 July 2014

'Mummy, why did everyone forget about Syria when Gaza started?'

Free Syrian Army fighters fire at forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo


'Anti-Assad activists protest against a "selective internationalism" which opposes "the collective punishment and mass murder of Palestinians and Arabs in one land by one government and supporting or justifying their collective punishment and mass murder next door when a different government is the perpetrator".'
When Ian Black says, "Reporting on it is difficult: Syrian visas for journalists are sporadic and access is strictly controlled. Reporting from the rebel side via Turkey is extremely dangerous," two things should be remembered. The régime has been happy to let in journalists that will support its narrative, or at least present it as a confusing mess we can't make any judgement of. And it is dangerous to report from the rebel side because the régime murders those journalists like Marie Colvin, who reported its massacres, and because there is no Western state really opposed to Assad, there is no particular pressure to report what is going on.

Nemesis in Iraq


Image result for nemesis in iraq isj 143

 "Although the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and local revolutionary committees have fought to keep alive the vision of a secular and democratic Syria, armed Sunni jihadis, often bankrolled by Gulf sheikhdoms, have increasingly made the running militarily. "

 You would take from Callinicos' formulation that the FSA and revolutionary committees are the only good people, while he refers to the Islamists in fairly racist terms, and you wouldn't get the impression that they have done much of the fighting against Assad, just that they are a stepping stone to ISIS. That Callinicos quotes Patrick Cockburn as an authority on the politics of the region shows quite how out of touch he is with the Syrian revolution.

It's Not Complicated



Amal ThePoet Kassir

 'So often, I come across comments of non-Syrians saying the conflict in Syria is "too complicated" now because "the enemy" isn't clear anymore, so it's not worth defending. Choosing to be ignorant does not make your confusion justified. If the conflict in Syria is too complicated for you, stop talking about ISIS, stop talking about extremists, stop saying "civil war", stop talking about how "confusing" it is. Your silence is the most respectful thing you can do. You are not entitled to an opinion on a country whose conflict you haven't made an effort to untangle. There are people working hard, literally every day since the War began, educating themselves to educate those around them. Do not justify your apathy by saying the conflict is too complicated for you, this is solely your laziness. I assure you, the "enemy" is quite clear.'

Friday, 25 July 2014

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

Image result for The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering


So Cockburn thinks one example, when ISIS came in at the end of a siege with only a few dozen government soldiers left*, weighs more heavily in the evidence than the vast amount of fighting ISIS has done against the real rebels,and that their headquarters is never bombed.
"Predictably, the western media, diplomats and the "moderate" Syrian opposition claimed that Assad not only benefited from the existence of Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra but was secretly in league with them. "Notice Isis doesn't attack government forces," people would say with shallow cynicism in Beirut, though Isis was responsible for the capture of Minnigh military air base north of Aleppo, one of the few rebel victories last year."
Robert Thouless writes in Straight and Crooked Thinking** of a trick used in argument of imputing to one's opponents a stronger proposition than they are defending. This is what Cockburn does here. ISIS has capitalised on the destruction wrought by Assad, and their continuity of interest means that only the real rebels have an interest in their defeat. It isn't Cockburn or the lizards, it is his insistence that the opposition in Syria is little more than the creation of the government in Washington that is the wacky conspiracy theory.
"But it has always been an absurd exaggeration to imagine, as your true-born conspiracy theorist would hold, that Isis and al-Nusra were the creation of the government in Damascus."
*[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Menagh_Air_Base]
**[http://neglectedbooks.com/Straight_and_Crooked_Thinking.pdf]


A short history of the Syrian revolution
Louis N. Proyect

"Progressive intellectuals, concerned citizens, and humanists were shocked on August 21st but they felt powerless. Their neutrality, under the pretext that both sides are evil, and their silences and inactivity allowed the Syrian regime to isolate and besiege the Syrian revolution. As the revolution became increasingly invisible, the regime’s narrative became more hegemonic. Many progressive intellectuals dismissed the revolutionary struggle of several hundred thousands Syrians in a myriad different arenas, and portrayed the situation as a civil war between Shia and Sunnis, a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, or a violent conflict between global Jihadists and a regular army. As the revolution became unthinkable, the regime propaganda turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sadly, in such a conjuncture the silence of progressive intellectuals became a license to kill Syrians."


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Hussein Harmoush, the first defector from the Assad army joining the Revolution.  Currently, he is detained in one of Assad/Iran prisons.

FYI, the Syrian people started a revolution, Assad started a warAbdulrahman al-Masri 'To make it clear to you, simply as it is, the Syrian people started an uprising movement demanding freedom, dignity and political participation and so, the uprising quickly switched to be a public peaceful revolution spreading all over Syria.
Someone sarcastically said: “Ha peaceful? But what is the free army?!!”
Yes dude, a peaceful revolution. Dear, the Free Syrian Army is basically not an army, the FSA is an idea. The creation of the FSA came because of the Assad brutally reaction towards the revolution as a few officers in the Syrian Army decided not to kill their own people and refusing taking orders asking them to become monsters. The FSA started as “The Free Officers Movement” which includes army officers who defected and wanted to protect their people, it is a defense-armed groups not an organized army that in turn does not erase the peaceful nature of the revolution.'

Step 1. Put fins on a gas barbie canister. Step 2. Take it out of the ute. Image: Ahmed D
Syrian Civil War is being fought with homemade weapons made of gas canisters and old tank parts"He said that while some FSA groups are receiving supplies from Gulf states, many rebels like this group in Aleppo have received nothing. So the rebels make do with what they can cobble together themselves."
Assad regime kills deserted soldiers in Syria
Assad regime kills deserted soldiers in SyriaA régime that cuts the throats of deserters is a metaphor for its own lack of a future.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Image result for wsj eu targets syria commander

EU Targets Syria Commander,
Oil Companies
"However, the EU's sanctions on Syria have faced a growing number of successful legal challenges in the bloc's top courts.
EU judges have repeatedly ruled against the bloc's sanctions decisions, saying the member states have failed to provide confidential evidence that could back up their claims."
They don't seem to be trying very hard. Can they find no evidence linking Colonel al-Hasan to the barrel bomb campaign, or do they just not care if the sanctions are applied?


Syria: So near, so farHassan Mustafa: "If the war ends, Assad's regime collapses and security is restored with no one like Assad in charge, I'll go back to Syria."


Israel plays Assad and Khamenei’s game in Gaza
I will get back to this.
"When Israel’s government declares the Iranian and Syrian regimes responsible for arming Hamas, and when it accuses Hamas of deliberately putting civilians in harm’s way, they make it clear that when they then go on to hit only targets in Gaza, and continue to contain Gaza’s population together with a Hamas regime that by the Israel government’s own account is happy to see them bleed, then Israel is playing Assad and Khamenei’s game in Gaza.
Assad and Khamenei are blessed to have an enemy like Israel, an enemy who will draw the world’s outrage while Assad’s helicopters and Khamenei’s militias get on with slaughtering Syrians across the border. And though Israel has repeatedly demonstrated that they have the ability to hit inside Syria, they’ll let Assad’s helicopters and Khamenei’s supply planes carry on flying.
Syria still needs a No-Fly Zone. It would serve the Israelis’ interests too, but they don’t seem to have the wit to see it."



Syrian death toll and extremist threat increases, but the U.S. does little"The Free Syrian Army forces the administration proposes to support are steadily losing ground to the regime and the Islamists. There’s a real risk that by the time the program gets off the ground — if it ever does — there will be no units left to support.
It’s not easy at this late stage for the United States to intervene in Syria or Iraq in a way that would be constructive. But if one principle seems obvious, it is that moderate forces willing to fight the Islamic State should be aided — and quickly. Foremost among these are Syria’s secular rebels."

Syria - the regime makes people suffer in rebel held areas



Ghayath Naisse 

 Some bits of this are good, explaining how the régime makes things unbearable in rebel held areas, so as to polarise society so that people think they would be worse off under rebel control. But as I read more, the sense I get is not that the military resistance to Assad's war on Syria should be supported, but that the military struggle is a terrible diversion from a non-violent class struggle that could solve problems in a jiffy.

 The reverse is the truth. The revolution armed itself, because that was the only way to resist when the demonstrators were shot at by their government at every demonstration. When the government moved on to the massacres and rapes, it was only by military resistance that Sunni communities could be protected from a sectarian bloodbath. That's actually a truth you can find in this piece, "That means that even in the rebel areas any political activity needs to be protected," but if you didn't already know that, you wouldn't get that from here. The image is presented of a revolution that is nearly extinguished, precisely because it is all about armed men. I think a Marxist analysis would start from the fundamental instability of a régime that constantly erodes its social base, and has lost permanently the consent of most Syrians, how the position of Assad as a client of Russian imperialism leads to a coincidence of interests that might be exploited to overthrow him, how victories on the battlefield open up political opportunities to deepen the revolution, and ensure that no Syrian need ever fear torture for speaking their mind again.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Gaza protest

Selective Internationalism: An Activist Disorder
"The Saudi and Qatari monarchies are among the most reactionary forces in the world — are the FSA and the Islamic Front wrong or mistaken in accepting or seeking their patronage? How can any of these forces claim to be freedom fighters or revolutionaries given their backers? Don’t alliances with reactionary powers run counter to consistent internationalism?
The erroneous assumptions embedded in these questions are that alliances are matters of morality rather than expediency, that political struggle is primarily about first principles rather than advancing the interests of living, breathing constituents, that it is impossible or impermissible for the oppressed and exploited to exploit contradictions between various camps of oppressors and exploiters to win freedom. The history of successful revolutions is a history of unusual and ugly alliances with morally revolting backers."

Syria Speaks

Image result for Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, Nawara Mahfoud - book review: A moving testimony to dissidents fighting for democracy


 Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, Nawara Mahfoud - book review: A moving testimony to dissidents fighting for democracy

'In his survey of revolutionary literature, the novelist Robin Yassin-Kassab mentions that Yazbek's reward from the regime for her literary courage was to be "walked through a display of meat-hooked and flayed torture victims".'

It's Not Unusual


 Free Syrian Army Advances On Military Strongholds Near Damascus

 The FSA forces advanced from the Ghouta area, an eastern suburb of Damascus, to Abbasiyeen Square in the capital.

 “It is unusual in recent times,” Daniel Serwer, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said. “In recent history the Syrian military and the extremists have been gaining ground and I don’t see that changing any time soon.”
 If the FSA had the same level of weaponry as the Assad régime or the Islamic State, it would be more powerful than either, as it has the support of Syrian people, and doesn't rely on foreigners to do its fighting.
 I'm reminded of Clay Claiborne's post on the changing importance of Qusayr, Syria in the Media*:
 'For more than a year, while it was a liberated area, it was a nothing, throwaway city as far as the media was concerned.
Since Hezbollah conquered it for Assad and it is back in Syria government hands, the media cannot even print Qusayr without the "the strategic city of" prefix.
This is one example of how the mainstream writes to support Assad and undermine the revolution without being up front about it.'
Horrified to hear stories of starving children in war-torn Syria forced to eat cats, Mr Bawler decided he would help out by sending tinned goods to the country - he rattled up a £150 bill filling up his trolley twice
Aldi staff told shopper to empty his trolley because he was spending too much money on tinned food for children in Syria

He seems to know more about Syria than all those commentators who tell us it is such a confusing situation that we have to blame Western interference for the suffering. There are people starving in Syria by the way, including Palestinians in refugee camps. Refugees because Israel forced them from their homeland, starving because Bashar al-Assad wants it that way.
"I was buying stuff to send over to Syria. I am not from there and never really knew anything about the situation but two weeks ago I started seeing all this stuff about these poor children going without food and had to resort to eating cats.
For me that was utterly shocking and I thought I would get as much cheap tinned food as I could to send it over there. It was nothing to do with religion."