Obama weighs new aid for Syria terrorists; sets joint military plan with Saudis
29 March, 2014 – Shia Post
The United States is considering allowing shipments of portable air defense systems to Syrian opposition groups, a U.S. official said Friday, as President Barack Obama sought to reassure Saudi Arabia’s king that the U.S. is not taking too soft a stance in Syria and other Mideast conflicts.
A Washington Post report said Saturday that the U.S. is ready to step up covert aid to Syrian armed groups under a plan being discussed with regional allies including Saudi Arabia.
The plan includes CIA training of about 600 Syrian opposition forces per month in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar, foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius wrote on Thursday. That would double the forces currently being trained in the region.
The Obama administration was debating whether to use U.S. Special Operation forces and other military personnel in the training, something Syrian mercenaries have argued would carry less political baggage than the CIA, according to the column.
The Obama administration has been criticized by some in Congress for failing to do more in Syria, where 140,000 people have been killed so far, millions have become refugees and thousands of foreign gunmen have been trained since 2011.
Washington was also considering whether to provide the armed opposition with anti-aircraft missile launchers, known as MANPADS, to stop President Assad’s air force, the column said. Saudi Arabia wanted U.S. permission before delivering them, it said.
The plan, which was still being formalized, also called for vetting of opposition forces for “extremist links” during and after training, according to Ignatius.
Qatar has offered to pay for the first year of the program, which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the column. The program would try to stabilize Syria by helping local councils and police in areas not under Assad’s control and seek to establish safe corridors for humanitarian aid, it said.
Saudi rulers are hoping for the United States to shift its position on support for Syrian armed opposition, whom Riyadh has backed in their battle to oust President Bashar al-Assad. …more
April 1, 2014 No Comments
ISIS seizes town from Nusra in Hassakeh province
31 March, 2014 – The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Militants from the Al-Qaeda splinter group ISIS have taken over the town of Markada in Hassakeh province in fighting with the Nusra Front and other Islamist militias, according to pro-opposition media and an activist group. The reports said that a local commander of ISIS, a Turkish national, was killed in the fighting, which claimed the lives of five ISIS fighters and approximately 40 Nusra Front members.
The town lies on the highway linking the cities of Hassakeh and Deir al-Zor.
ISIS is engaged in fighting against the Nusra Front and its allies, as well as a separate campaign against the YPG Kurdish militia.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that it could confirm at least 16 ISIS fatalities in the infighting, while the other side’s losses remained undetermined.
Also in Hassakeh province, the Kurdish YPG wrested control of a village, Jazaa, from ISIS, which suffered at least 14 fatalities during three days of fighting.
In Raqqa province to the east, where ISIS enjoys its strongest presence in the country, the Observatory said the group alerted residents via minarets in the town of Raqqa to “open their windows and open up closed places” as the group was planning to carry out the second stage of the demolition of a local shrine. …more
April 1, 2014 No Comments
Western Imperialism’s Creative Destruction in Syria
Finian CUNNINGHAM – 18 Februay, 2014 – Strategic Culture Foundation
US-led Western regime change in Syria might be described as a process of creative destruction. Like Schumpeter’s economic concept of cyclical creative destruction, so too Washington’s political machinations in Syria seem to be playing out likewise.
We begin with the premise that the humanitarian crisis in Syria over the past nearly three years is largely as a result of a Western covert proxy war inflicted on that country. The objective is to destabilize, terrorize and eventuate regime change in the Arab country…
The crisis afflicting Syria with over 130,000 dead and nearly nine million people displaced from their homes – nearly 40 per cent of the total population – would not be occurring if it were not for the infiltration of that country with massive flows of weapons, fighting funds and foreign mercenary brigades. US and NATO Special Forces, along with Western military intelligence, have worked with Saudi, Qatari, Jordanian, Israeli and Turk allies to foment this externally driven insurgency. All under the cover of an Arab Spring revolt.
The highly criminal process has attempted to destroy a sovereign country in order to create a new political order, one that is bereft of the existing political establishment under President Bashar Al Assad. This new order brought about by regime change would be amenable to Western interests in terms of Middle East politics and oil economics. In particular, the desired pro-Western regime would deny Russia, China and Iran of an important ally in the Mediterranean.
Western desire for regime change in Syria is well documented, according to American journalist Seymour Hersh, going back to at least 2007 when the George W Bush Presidency conceived of a plan to undermine the Syrian-Iranian resistance against Washington’s regional hegemony. Other historical studies argue that Western plans for regime change in Syria hark even further back to the 1950s when Dwight Eisenhower was US president.
Last year, former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed that he was approached two years before the outbreak of latest conflict in Syria in March 2011 by British political figures, who told him of a plot to unseat the Syrian government.
So, our premise of Western regime change being the driver of conflict and humanitarian crisis in Syria is on solid ground.
By contrast, the alternative premise of the events in Syria being the result of a «popular pro-democracy uprising against Assad» is a nebulous narrative emanating from Western governments and the Western mainstream media. That narrative does not stand up to scrutiny. A modified version to accommodate the contradiction that the «uprising» has become driven largely by Al Qaeda-linked brigades goes along the lines that the initial pro-democracy movement has somehow been «hijacked by extremists». But an objective study of the conflict shows that the extremists were always dominant, and that these extremists have been bankrolled, directed and armed by the US-led axis of NATO and regional allies from the outset.
The divergence of these narratives – one based on reality, the other based on propaganda to serve political interests – is reaching a watershed over the humanitarian issue of besieged Syrian cities. The main location currently in focus is the city of Homs, Syria’s third urban centre after the capital, Damascus, and the second city of Aleppo.
In total across Syria, there is reckoned to be some 250,000 civilians trapped in siege situations, according to the United Nations. The conditions for these civilians have deteriorated alarmingly with reports of starvation and privation from lack of basic utilities and medicines.
But which party is responsible for the sieges and the humanitarian suffering? Typically, the Western governments and the Western news media are blaming the Syrian authorities and army for imposing blockades. As with much of their narrative, there is scant factual evidence to support and it seems to rely on assertion and innuendo. …more
February 23, 2014 No Comments
Geneva conference: Russia to put an end to American illusions
21 February, 2014 – Ghaleb Kandil – Volrairenet.com
U.S. bets to initiate Russian pressure on the Syrian delegation at the Geneva Conference, to bring it to change its principled positions have failed. The disappointment of Washington appeared in the results of the tripartite meeting in Geneva on Friday between Russia, the United States and Lakhdar Brahimi. At this meeting, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Gennady Gatilov, showed great firmness in opposing the Americans and the bias international envoy.
The negotiations in Geneva proves the absence of any compromise already agreed, as some political and diplomatic circles believed at the beginning of the conference. It should be clear to all analysts that the relationship between Russia and the Syrian state is built on a strong partnership and alliance, and not on orders, as is the case in the relationship between the Syrian opposition and their American, Arab and Western masters.
The Syrian crisis is the space in which the partnership between Russians and Americans is being formed. In its efforts to regain its place in the international scene, Russia is based on a solid rock: the resistance provided by the Syrian state, the advance of his troops on the ground and broad popular support that even the worst enemies of Syria can no longer deny.
In its efforts to build this new international partnership, Russia is equal with the West, even if at the beginning of the conference, she closed her eyes to the withdrawal of the invitation to Iran and limiting the representation of the Syrian opposition to the only delegation of the National Coalition. The Russians put an end, Friday, to the U.S. illusions, by fully supporting the position of the Syrian government delegation is uncompromising in priorities: the fight against terrorism must come before any other political issue, because it is the pillar of any future inter-Syrian agreement.
Washington is trying to impose the concept developed by Richard Haass of an international partnership… led by the United States! This is what the Americans are trying in Syria. But this attempt goes against the current balance of power on the ground, which allow the Syrian government, which draws its strength from its army and the support of a large part of the population, to put the world before two alternatives: a compromise built on a partnership in the fight against terrorism, supported by strong international resolutions against all states involved in supporting terrorist movements; or a military solution with the own resources of the Syrian state, which would impose a fait accompli on the field.
Through its information and opinion polls, the West knows that the popularity of President Bashar al- Assad is unwavering. The fact that the Syrian president is the target of the United States has only reinforced his popularity and his image of a Syrian popular leader who resists terrorism and defends the independence and sovereignty of his nation.
Russia wanted to send a strong message of solidarity with Syria, its people and its leader, which has attracted the admiration of the free men of the world with his will to resist. …more
February 23, 2014 No Comments
Valued ‘Ally’ Saudi Arabia Supports Terrorism, Urges US War in Syria
John Glaser 18 February, 2014
Saudi Arabia, the brutal authoritarian theocracy that the democracy-promoting Washington claims as one of its closest allies, has a bit of a history of pressuring the U.S. into Middle East wars. The 1991 First Gulf War to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait was fought largely in defense of Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom also encouraged the Bush administration to invade Iraq in 2003. And the Saudi king has repeatedly urged Washington to attack Iran to secure Saudi interests in the Sunni-Shia regional divide.
Saudi Arabia also has a rather incriminating and duplicitous history of harboring Islamic extremists of the al-Qaeda, jihadist type. They helped the U.S. fund the mujahideen in Afghanistan. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis (and they were directed by a Saudi, named Osama bin Laden). There is even a classified record that members of Congress have claimed indicates the Saudi government’s role in the 9/11 attacks.
Since the start of Syria’s civil war, foreign jihadists have been flooding the country – many of them coming from Saudi Arabia. Al Monitor reports:
Estimates of the number of Saudis fighting in Syria range as high as 2,500. Some are hardened veterans of earlier jihads in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq. A few are compatriots of Osama bin Laden. Others traveled to Syria from the kingdom, despite individual travel bans imposed for dissident activities at home. Some traveled directly through major Saudi airports, leading many observers to conclude they were encouraged by the authorities to leave the kingdom and go fight Assad. For over two years, the Saudi government seemed to turn a blind eye to travel by its citizens — even political dissidents — to Syria.
Kuwait, which has close ties to the Saudi government, “is a major source of private funding for Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official arm in Syria,” Al Monitor reports.
[Read more →]
February 23, 2014 No Comments
“True to its origins as a Western intelligence asset, al-Qaeda is helping to create an illusion in Syria that will enable US weapons supply to the militants to continue,”
Re-inventing al-Qaeda as ‘good guys,’ huh?
4 February, 2014 – By Finian Cunningham – PressTV
The titular head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has reportedly disavowed the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Videos emerged over the weekend of the Egyptian-born leader denying any organizational links with the ISIS.
The British Guardian reported that the move by the top al-Qaeda commander was an attempt to “reassert control” over the disparate militant groups fighting in Syria.
Later in the same report, the newspaper inadvertently hinted at the real motive for the initiative. “The internecine fighting – among the bloodiest in the three-year conflict – has undermined the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and dismayed western powers pushing for peace talks,” reported the Guardian.
Forget the bit about “dismayed western powers pushing for peace talks.” That’s hogwash. The key phrase is “internecine fighting has undermined the uprising [sic] against President Bashar al-Assad.”
By “uprising,” the Guardian is euphemistically referring to the covert criminal war sponsored by the West against the Syrian government and its people. This is not an uprising or civil war; it is Western state-sponsored terrorism for regime change using foreign mercenaries of varying affiliation to al-Qaeda – the latter itself being historically a Western, Saudi intelligence creation from the late 1970s onwards.
The political problem for the West is that it cannot be seen to be overtly supporting the al-Qaeda brigades. That would very publicly destroy the last vestiges of the so-called War on Terror and 9/11 propaganda myth.
Previously, Washington and its allies have got around that contradiction by claiming that they have been supporting “moderate rebels” in Syria as opposed to the backbone of foreign mercenaries belonging to al-Qaeda. That sleight of hand ran into terminal problems when the “moderates” of the so-called Free Syrian Army were decisively pushed out of the picture at the end of last year by the “extremists.” …more
February 4, 2014 No Comments
The war against Syria and the illusion of compromise
By Ghaleb Kandil – 2 February, 2014 – Voltaire.net
Some politicians believe that Russia and the United States agreed on compromises in the region, and that everything that happens politically and militarily in Syria is part of a scenario to implement these arrangements.
In fact, international relations are going through a transitional period that will see the outlines of a new balance of power. These new equilibrium were able to emerge through the resistance of the Syrian state against the colonial aggression led by the United States. It is clear that the US unilateral post-domination era is under construction. The rules of the new Cold War are not yet definitively drawn. Recognition by the United States at the end of its unilateral hegemony is accompanied by continued attempts to influence the new equations that are emerging.
It is in this context that fit US and Western pressures and interference in the backyard of Russia. Ukraine crisis is the best example of this attitude, as well as the continuation of the partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia, to prolong the bloodshed in Syria, in the hope of changes for the benefit their agents of balance of power relations underlie all coming political compromise.
These are the realities emerging from the Geneva II Conference, where Americans have negotiated indirectly with the Syrian official delegation, through a delegation established by its ambassador in Damascus Robert Ford. It is in this same context that was taken the decision to exclude Iran from this conference, which was a message to Russia, worthy of the time of the unilateral hegemony through orders given to the Secretary General of the United Nations. The reform of this organization and the rebalancing of relations within it are also unavoidable conditions for establishing a multipolar world.
In this transitional period, the confrontation continues to develop new relations between international powers, and Syria is the mirror of the new international order. The belief in the existence of supposed international arrangements and a serious American will to fight against terrorism, is a pure illusion. Worse, it can distort the calculations and produce erroneous analyzes. …more
February 4, 2014 No Comments
ISIS – major threat to media freedom in both Iraq and Syria
30 December, 2013 – Reporters without Borders
Reporters Without Borders condemns the attacks that the Jihadi group known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has carried out against news media and journalists in the past few days in both Iraq and the so-called “liberated” areas of Syria.
“We are worried and appalled by the growing number of ISIS attacks on journalists in Iraq and Syria,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“This Jihadi group uses all means possible to further its goal of controlling news and information, systematically targeting journalists and media that do not share its ideology. Intimidation, abduction, torture and murder – ISIS rules nothing out in order to impose a reign of terror.
“The local media play a crucial role in Syria, where news gathering and dissemination is becoming increasingly dangerous. Nowadays they are virtually the only media reporting what is happing in Syria, so attacks on them are real crimes against freedom of information. We firmly condemn this armed group’s actions.”
In a communiqué posted on Jihadi sites on 23 December, ISIS claimed responsibility for the suicide attack earlier that day on the headquarters of Salaheddin TV in Tikrit (180 km north of Baghdad), in which five of the TV station’s employees were killed.
The communiqué said the TV station was targeted because it put out lies and gave a distorted image of Iraq’s Sunni community. The statement also described how the attack was carried out.
ISIS carries out equally violent actions against journalists in the regions it controls in neighbouring Syria and has become one of the main threats to freedom of information in that country, as Reporters Without Borders noted in a report published on 6 November, entitled “Journalism in Syria, impossible job?”
It also bans the circulation of publications it regards as “ungodly.” On 24 December, for example, it prohibited the distribution of the magazines Tlena Al-Huriya and Al-Ghirbal in the northern province of Raqqah and burned copies of them. …more
December 30, 2013 No Comments
Lines of the Game: Nasrallah Declares War to Prevent War
By: Sami Kleib – 21 December, 2013
Nasrallah’s words are a cause of concern. He made a step toward confrontation. He warned the Saudis and notified March 14. He threatened Israel. He put an end to any possibility to renew or extend Lebanese President Michel Suleiman’s term. He opened four fronts in one speech. But does he really want war, or is he trying to stop it?
Nasrallah’s information is worrying. He did not reveal any of it, merely making suggestions. He pointed his arrow toward Saudi Arabia. “Somewhere in the region, someone has reached the stage of wanting to ignite the country, as a result of hatred, anger, and failure,” he said.
He would not say something like this without the support of intelligence. The front, extending from Moscow to Beirut, through Tehran and Damascus, is speaking of a real threat in Lebanon. The specter of bombings and assassinations might not stay at this point.
Did he make the threats to relieve the pressure? This is very likely, but it will not do the trick. The party is convinced that orders were given to embarrass it.
The Lebanese army, whose role was recognized by Nasrallah as important, also has important and serious information. There is even more serious information available with Western intelligence agencies who are in contact with their counterparts in Lebanon and Damascus.
Similar information was obtained by two regional powers, who used to oppose the Syrian regime. They contain more precise reports on networks being sent to Lebanon to concoct something wider than a mere bombing or border skirmish.
March 14 should also be worried by Nasrallah’s words. He used phrases closer to what he had proclaimed before 7 May 2008. Why did he ask if there was a “declaration of war,” and announce “don’t toy with us?”
But what if they do toy with him? Will his replies remain limited to speeches or will something occur on the ground? If it did, where and when? If it did, could Hezbollah handle the consequences? How will it balance its reply here and fighting in Syria?
Did he make the threats to relieve the pressure? This is very likely, but it will not do the trick. The party is convinced that orders were given to embarrass it. Thus, he warned to prevent, and extended his warning to Israel to deter. He intentionally mentioned France, so it could hear that it is risky to interfere in the presidency.
Will the fiery message stop the war or hasten its ignition? The answer, no doubt, is Saudi-Iranian, on one side, and Western-Russian, on the other. Nasrallah belongs to an axis wider than Lebanon. …more
December 23, 2013 No Comments
Nasrallah: Takfiri war in Syria threatens all
21 December, 2013 – Shia Post
Hezbollah Secretary-General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that a war of existence for Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and resistance in the region is playing out in Syria.
Speaking during a memorial ceremony for Martyr Commander Hassan Lakkis, Nasrallah said that takfiris now threaten all who oppose them, citing the massacre in Adra city where takfiris killed people of all sects.
He made clear that resistance can never be browbeaten on Syria as Hezbollah’s position on that is ”conclusive, final and firm.”
Some are inclined to blame everything going on in Lebanon on Hezbollah’s presence in Syria and claim that everything can be solved provided that the Party ends its involvement, Nasrallah pointed out.
He indicated that lies about Hezbollah’s existence in Syria are blown out of proportion, affirming that the Party’s involvement to date is ”restricted and humble.”
Lies about the numbers of Hezbollah’s martyrs in Syria propagated by antagonistic media are part of a psychological warfare designed for undermining the morale of resistance adherents, Nasrallah said. …source
December 23, 2013 No Comments
Bombing Near Shiite Town School in Syria Kills 12
22 Decemebr, 2013 – Shia Post
A suicide bomber detonated his bomb-rigged truck near a primary school in a Syrian Shiite town on Sunday, killing at least 12 people, half of them children, as government military aircraft dropped barrels laden with explosives onto a marketplace in the north, activists said.
The suicide truck bombing occurred outside a compound of schools in the town of Umm al-Amed in the eastern province of Homs, said Rami Abdurrahman of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The organization obtains its information from a network of activists on the ground. Syrian state media said eight people were killed, and said 34 were wounded, mostly children.
On December 19, Patriarch of the Church of Antioch Gregory III Laham said up to 1,000 Christians have been killed and over 450,000 others displaced due to the crisis in Syria since March 2011.
Christians make up about 10 percent of the country’s population. The religious minority has been subjected to numerous attacks by extremist groups since the outbreak of violence in Syria.
According to the United Nations, more than four million Syrians will be forced out of their homes in 2014 as a result of the conflict in the country.
Two million Syrians are expected to take refuge outside the country while another 2.25 million are predicted to be internally displaced next year. …more
December 23, 2013 No Comments
Potential US war on Syria based on a snuff movie
21 September, 2013 – By Finian Cunningham
The American war footing towards Syria plumbs a new diabolical depth.
Not only is it an act of criminal aggression against an innocent country – the supreme crime according to Nuremberg Principles – but that transgression would itself be based on another vile crime – the deliberate killing of children for propaganda purposes.
The notorious videos purporting to show the half-clothed bodies of dozens of lifeless Syrian children are the central component of US claims for launching a war against Syria. Suspiciously, this footage gained wide circulation on the internet and on international television news bulletins within hours of the alleged toxic gas attack on 21 August near Damascus.
Now it appears that those videos are part of an elaborate, diabolical fabrication, the circumstances of which are very different from what they are meant to assign.
Nobody is questioning the fact that the children are dead. But what transpires is that the children seem to have been murdered by some form of intoxication and that their deaths were then recorded by their killers – with the calculated intention of producing a propaganda video.
That propaganda purports to blame the Syrian government forces of using chemical weapons causing massive civilian casualties. That in turn is aimed at provoking outrage among world public opinion, which would underpin US military intervention on the basis of President Obama’s so-called red line on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
In other words, the world is being pushed into acquiescing to a US-led criminal war on Syria based on a vile “snuff movie.”
In the world of vice, there can be few acts more criminal and morally depraved than that of making snuff movies. This illegal genre of film is where some unwitting victim is murdered on screen for the perverse gratification of those behind the camera and the eventual underground audience who indulge in such odious entertainment.
Usually, in the making of snuff movies, the persons recording the scene of death are the killers or their accomplices. These movies are, needless to say, highly illegal and confined to a secretive subculture. Those who make snuff movies and watch them are complicit in murder, and the videos are in effect indictable evidence of their crime.
On close examination of the alleged gas attack videos that came out of Syria on 21 August, the blunt assessment is that the footage is nothing less than a snuff movie.
This is the shocking conclusion from an independent study carried out by Syrian Christian leader Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib. Under the auspices of the Geneva-based International Institute of Peace, Justice and Human Rights, the study concludes that the infamous gas-attack videos showing dead children is a fabrication. That is, the children were not killed, as alleged, by Syrian government forces firing chemical weapons on the Ghouta suburb of Damascus.
According to the authors: “From the moment when some families of abducted children contacted us to inform us that they recognized the children among those who are presented in the videos as victims of the chemical attacks of east Ghouta, we decided to examine the videos thoroughly.”
Mother Agnes’ investigation goes on to say chillingly: “Our first concern was the fate of the children we see in the footages. Those angels are always alone in the hands of adult males that seem to be elements of armed gangs. The children that trespassed remain without their families and unidentified all the way until they are wrapped in the white shrouds of the burial. Moreover, our study highlights without any doubt that their little bodies were manipulated and disposed with theatrical arrangements to figure in the screening.”
The authors add: “Thus we want to raise awareness toward the humanitarian case of this criminal use of children in the political propaganda of the east Ghouta chemical weapons attack.”
Mother Agnes and her co-authors have submitted their findings to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva. But, tellingly, the report, which was published earlier this week, has received negligible coverage in the Western mainstream media.
It is not determined who actually killed the children and by what method. Some observers have pointed out that the victims appear to have tourniquets on their arms. That would suggest that they received a lethal injection.
It also appears that the children are not from the location of Ghouta. It is believed that many of them were abducted by the foreign-backed militants during raids on pro-government villages in the Latakia area of northwest Syria during the weeks prior to 21 August.
That confers on the crime in Ghouta on 21 August the most hideous proportions. For what is deduced is that dozens of children were abducted for the fate of cold-blooded murder, to be videoed with the purpose of fabricating a crime falsely attributed to others for propaganda effect – propaganda to precipitate a war.
When we look at the choreographed way in which the US government and its Western allies have reacted to the incident and the videos, it is suggestive of collusion at some level. Several reports have tied the involvement of Saudi, Turk and Israeli intelligence with the supply of toxic chemicals to the foreign-backed militants fighting in Syria for the Western agenda of regime change against the government of President Assad. These intelligence agencies are closely aligned with those of the US, Britain and France.
The fundamental importance of the alleged gas-attack videos to the US and Western case for military intervention in Syria raises the question of how much do these governments know about the exact circumstances of the child deaths that ostensibly occurred in Ghouta on 21 August.
Apart from flawed interpretation of the inconclusive UN chemical inspectors’ report released earlier this week, the other component of the US government’s case for a military attack on Syria are the videos purporting to show the aftermath of a chemical weapons incident in Ghouta.
Appealing to Congress for military strikes on Syria earlier this month, US Secretary of State John F Kerry described those images as “sickening,” and added that “the world must act on such horror.”
Affecting an air of privileged briefing, members of Congress were taken into closed-door sessions. There, they watched the videos showing lifeless children lying in gaunt rooms in an unknown location, apparently having died from exposure to sarin or some other toxic gas.
It appears that US lawmakers viewed the same video footage that the rest of the world has also accessed via the internet and on television news bulletins. The viewing of such distressing scenes paved the way for the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to vote for resolution 2021 backing President Obama’s military attack on Syria.
While the momentum for war has abated in the past week because of the Russian-brokered deal to decommission Syrian government chemical weapons, nevertheless the US continues to threaten that military strikes still remain an option on the table.
US-led wars in the past have notoriously relied on false flags and pretexts, such as the sinking of the USS Maine, the Gulf of Tonkin incident and 9/11. But if the US commits to war on Syria, its lawlessness will have reached a new low. In that event, it will be a war of aggression based on a snuff movie. …source
December 23, 2013 No Comments
Seymour M. Hersh – 19 December, 2013
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.
In his nationally televised speech about Syria on 10 September, Obama laid the blame for the nerve gas attack on the rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta firmly on Assad’s government, and made it clear he was prepared to back up his earlier public warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a ‘red line’: ‘Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people,’ he said. ‘We know the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.’ Obama was going to war to back up a public threat, but he was doing so without knowing for sure who did what in the early morning of 21 August.
He cited a list of what appeared to be hard-won evidence of Assad’s culpability: ‘In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighbourhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.’ Obama’s certainty was echoed at the time by Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, who told the New York Times: ‘No one with whom I’ve spoken doubts the intelligence’ directly linking Assad and his regime to the sarin attacks.
But in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote. A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy: ‘The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, “How can we help this guy” – Obama – “when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?”’
The complaints focus on what Washington did not have: any advance warning from the assumed source of the attack. The military intelligence community has for years produced a highly classified early morning intelligence summary, known as the Morning Report, for the secretary of defence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; a copy also goes to the national security adviser and the director of national intelligence. The Morning Report includes no political or economic information, but provides a summary of important military events around the world, with all available intelligence about them. A senior intelligence consultant told me that some time after the attack he reviewed the reports for 20 August through 23 August. For two days – 20 and 21 August – there was no mention of Syria. On 22 August the lead item in the Morning Report dealt with Egypt; a subsequent item discussed an internal change in the command structure of one of the rebel groups in Syria. Nothing was noted about the use of nerve gas in Damascus that day. It was not until 23 August that the use of sarin became a dominant issue, although hundreds of photographs and videos of the massacre had gone viral within hours on YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites. At this point, the administration knew no more than the public.
Chicago University Press – Piercing Time by Peter Sramek
Obama left Washington early on 21 August for a hectic two-day speaking tour in New York and Pennsylvania; according to the White House press office, he was briefed later that day on the attack, and the growing public and media furore. The lack of any immediate inside intelligence was made clear on 22 August, when Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for the State Department, told reporters: ‘We are unable to conclusively determine [chemical weapons] use. But we are focused every minute of every day since these events happened … on doing everything possible within our power to nail down the facts.’ The administration’s tone had hardened by 27 August, when Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, told reporters – without providing any specific information – that any suggestions that the Syrian government was not responsible ‘are as preposterous as suggestions that the attack itself didn’t occur’.
The absence of immediate alarm inside the American intelligence community demonstrates that there was no intelligence about Syrian intentions in the days before the attack. And there are at least two ways the US could have known about it in advance: both were touched on in one of the top secret American intelligence documents that have been made public in recent months by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor.
On 29 August, the Washington Post published excerpts from the annual budget for all national intelligence programmes, agency by agency, provided by Snowden. In consultation with the Obama administration, the newspaper chose to publish only a slim portion of the 178-page document, which has a classification higher than top secret, but it summarised and published a section dealing with problem areas. One problem area was the gap in coverage targeting Assad’s office. The document said that the NSA’s worldwide electronic eavesdropping facilities had been ‘able to monitor unencrypted communications among senior military officials at the outset of the civil war there’. But it was ‘a vulnerability that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces apparently later recognised’. In other words, the NSA no longer had access to the conversations of the top military leadership in Syria, which would have included crucial communications from Assad, such as orders for a nerve gas attack. (In its public statements since 21 August, the Obama administration has never claimed to have specific information connecting Assad himself to the attack.)
December 23, 2013 No Comments
Those abducted and detained by ISIS include children as young as eight who are held together with adults in the same cruel and inhuman conditions. Torture, flogging, and summary killings are rife in secret prisons run in Syria by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Syria: Harrowing torture, summary killings in secret ISIS detention centres
Philip Luther, Amnesty International – 19 December, 2013
Torture, flogging, and summary killings are rife in secret prisons run by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an armed group that controls large areas of northern Syria, said Amnesty International in a briefing published today.
ISIS, which claims to apply strict Shari’a (Islamic law) in areas it controls, has ruthlessly flouted the rights of local people. In the 18-page briefing, Rule of fear: ISIS abuses in detention in northern Syria, Amnesty International identifies seven detention facilities that ISIS uses in al-Raqqa governorate and Aleppo.
“Those abducted and detained by ISIS include children as young as eight who are held together with adults in the same cruel and inhuman conditions,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Former detainees describe a shocking catalogue of abuses in which they or others were flogged with rubber generator belts or cables, tortured with electric shocks or forced to adopt a painful stress position known as aqrab (scorpion), in which a detainee’s wrists are secured together over one shoulder.
Some of those held by ISIS are suspected of theft or other crimes; others are accused of “crimes” against Islam, such as smoking cigarettes or zina, sex outside marriage. Others were seized for challenging ISIS’s rule or because they belonged to rival armed groups opposed to the Syrian government. ISIS is also suspected of abducting and detaining foreign nationals, including journalists covering the fighting in Syria.
Several children were among detainees who received severe floggings, according to testimonies obtained by Amnesty International. On one occasion, an anguished father had to endure screams of pain as ISIS captors tormented his son in a nearby room. Two detainees related how they witnessed a child of about 14 receive a flogging of more than 90 lashes during interrogation at Sadd al-Ba’ath, an ISIS prison in al-Raqqa governorate. Another child of about 14 who ISIS accused of stealing a motorbike was repeatedly flogged over several days. …more
December 21, 2013 No Comments
Washington Shakes Hands With Al-Qaeda Ally in Syria
By: Elie Hanna – 19 December, 2013
The US administration wants to meet with Syria’s Islamic Front. Washington is flirting with this al-Qaeda affiliate as it hurries to score extra points before Geneva II. The Islamic Front remains a winning card against Moscow, which is skeptical about the Syrian opposition’s representation.
US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford could be shaking the same hands of those who held the hands of al-Nusra Front’s emirs a few days ago.
Sources from the Syrian opposition and Western diplomatic circles informed Al-Akhbar that a meeting was held in Istanbul December 18 between representatives of the US administration and “intermediaries linked to the Islamic Front, not representatives.”
Remarkably, Kerry used the term “moderate” to describe the Islamic Front.
The United States wants to keep pace with the changes in the Syrian arena so it became necessary to create links with the Islamic Front, which rose to notoriety after announcing its creation a few weeks ago.
“There is an effort afoot among all of the supporting nations of the Syrian opposition to want to broaden the base of the moderate opposition and broaden the base of representation of the Syrian people in the Geneva II negotiation,” US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on December 17.
Washington is close to announcing the death of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The US administration will not protect its pawns who fail to achieve their set objectives, and will simply change the players or move them to another team.
In October 2012, then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was time to move beyond the Syrian National Council (SNC). “There has to be a representation of those who are on the front lines fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom,” she announced from Zagreb without blinking an eye.
The SNC had been given a grace period of several weeks to expand its ranks, without success. It was placed back on the shelf and the Syrian National Coalition became the sole representative of the Syrian opposition.
Today, the FSA, the coalition’s own military wing, is facing a similar situation. The “Friends of Syria” group demanded that the military formations be unified under the command of deserting General Salim Idriss, then the West saw countless armed groups breaking from the FSA command and joining other entities.
The fighters are on two sides. The first is Bashar, his soldiers, and those who support them, and the second side is all who fight this regime.
What the West wanted to see in the FSA, it saw in the Army of Islam, which began as the Battalions of Islam, then became the Brigade of Islam, and finally decided on Army of Islam last September, which included 43 different military formations.
The Army of Islam became an important component in the Islamic Front. Based on the numbers in the ranks of its “brigades” alone, it could be considered the most influential force in the Syrian opposition’s arena. …more
December 21, 2013 No Comments
Syria says Kerry statements threaten peace talks
3 November, 2013 – Agence France Presse
DAMASCUS: The Syrian foreign ministry Sunday denounced statements by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Syria saying they could cause proposed peace talks on the 31-month conflict to fail.
A statement said that repeated comments by Kerry “threaten to cause the failure of the Geneva conference, are a flagrant violation of Syrian affairs and an aggression against the Syrian people’s right to decide their future.”
Kerry, who is pressing a peace conference in Geneva, said in Cairo on Sunday that Washington and its allies may differ over “tactics” on the Syrian conflict but they shared the goal of a handover of power.
November 5, 2013 No Comments
Leading FSA commander quits, lashes out at lack of support
4 November, 2013 – By Marlin Dick – The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A leading rebel commander from the mainstream Free Syrian Army announced his resignation Sunday, in the wake of infighting among rebel groups, battlefield setbacks and a lack of political support. Col. Abdel-Jabbar Ukaidi, the head of the Aleppo Revolutionary Military Council of the FSA, had harsh words for the international community and the Syrian opposition-in-exile for failing to offer sufficient support for the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Ukaidi has been one of the most prominent FSA commanders based inside Syria, leading rebel assaults in Aleppo and, most notably, personally showing up in Qusair earlier this summer in a failed bid to defend the central Syrian town against an offensive by regime troops and Hezbollah fighters.
Ukaidi’s resignation comes amid a flurry of discussion and meetings in preparation for a proposed Geneva II peace conference, with the opposition National Coalition continuing to insist on guarantees for Assad’s departure from power.
But Western countries have been exerting heavy pressure on the Coalition to attend Geneva, an option that most rebel groups and civilian activists reject.
Ukaidi said the international community had proven that it had been “conspiring against the people and the uprising,” and had even more scathing words for the political opposition based outside the country, as he offered sarcastic congratulations “for your hotels and your political posts.”
“You hardly represent yourselves,” Ukaidi said, adding that politicians were more interested in carrying out foreign agendas rather than seeing to the needs of the Syrian people.
Ukaidi also blamed a number of rebel leaders for in-fighting and focusing on seizing power in rebel-held areas rather than focusing on the drive to topple the regime, but did not single out particular rebel groups by name.
Ukaidi said he took the decision to resign because of the lack of responses to the latest flurry of pleas for inter-rebel unity, “which has led to retreats on various battlefronts, the last one being [the town of] Safira,” southeast of Aleppo.
Government troops last week managed to take the town, which is expected to help re-supply government forces fighting rebels in Aleppo.
In a Facebook post after the rebel withdrawal from Safira and prior to his resignation, Ukaidi said the town fell, “but not because a lack of ammunition – may God witness that we put all of the Revolutionary Military Council’s capabilities in the hands of the operations room on the Safira front.”
November 5, 2013 No Comments
Nasrallah Slams Riyadh for Derailing Syria Peace Talks
29 October, 2013 – FARS
TEHRAN (FNA)- Saudi Arabia is seeking to derail the long-delayed Geneva II peace conference aimed at ending the conflict in Syria and is enraged over the Syrian government’s gains, Hezbollah Secretary General said.
Hezbollah Secretary General Seyed Hassan Nasrallah also slammed Saudi regime’s meddling in the internal affairs of Lebanon and hindering the country’s efforts to form a new government, Al-Alam reported Monday.
“The world has come to an understanding that a military solution (in Syria) is no longer valid and the only acceptable solution is a political one via an unconditional dialogue,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech commemorating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of al-Rassoul al-Azam Hospital.
“But there is one country, … the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and it is still very angry over the prospects of a political solution in Syria,” he added.
Nasrallah said the kingdom had exhausted all available means to force the collapse of President Bashar Assad’s government, such as sending tens of thousands of fighters and spending an estimated $30 billion.
“The fighting side did all it can to target the government and bring it down but failed to reach any results,” he said.
The prospects of a military solution subsided, Nasrallah said, in light of divisions within the Syrian opposition and the rebels, the Syrian army’s recapture of several areas and the collapse of a possible US-led attack on the conflict-ridden country.
“The stubbornness and insistence on (a military solution) will only lead to further fighting, casualties and destruction as well as repercussions on neighboring countries,” Nasrallah said.
He also advised Saudi Arabia not to pass up the opportunity for peace talks in Geneva II, noting that time was not on the opposition’s side.
“Given the current developments, it is best that you go forward with a political solution in Syria,” he said.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. Reports indicate that the western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside the country.
According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the violence.
October 29, 2013 No Comments
Nasrallah: Saudi “anger” fueling Syrian war
28 October, 2013 – Al Akhbar
After two and a half years of relentless bloodshed, the whole world with the exception of Saudi Arabia has reached the conclusion that there can be no military solution to the Syrian crisis, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech Monday.
He accused the Wahhabi-ruled kingdom of letting its “anger” over failing to topple President Bashar al-Assad cloud its judgement and prevent political dialogue from taking shape.
“There is one regional country that is still very angry …. because it did not achieve its goal. They brought tens of thousands of fighters from all over the world [to Syria], … sent weapons, money,” Nasrallah said.
“[There has been] international pressure, sieges, sanctions and incitement [against the Syrian government]. Everything that could have been done was done, and nothing happened.”
“We cannot continue to have the region ignite in flames just because one country is angry,” he added.
The international community is trying to push the proposed US-Russian “Geneva II” peace conference tentatively scheduled for late-November, but leading factions of both Syria’s political and armed opposition groups have either flatly rejected dialogue, or demanded that conditions be set before coming to the table.
A coalition of 19 rebel groups on Sunday labelled as traitors any opposition faction that engages in peace talks with the Syrian government.
Nasrallah said that despite infighting among Syria’s opposition, they all “drink from the same tap,” in a reference to the Saudi kingdom.
“All of those whose hearts beat for Syria, or those affected by the conflict, must point their fingers at those who are preventing such dialogue and a solution in Syria,” he said.
He added that the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation should use their influence to push Syria’s opposition to attend next month’s peace conference without pre-conditions. …more
October 29, 2013 No Comments
Saudi Arabia behind Syria chemical attack: Russian source
5 October, 2013 – Shia POst
A Russian diplomatic source says the August chemical attack near the Syrian capital Damascus was carried out by Saudi Arabian intelligence agents.
“Based on data from a number of sources a picture can be pieced together. The criminal provocation in eastern Ghouta was done by a black op team that the Saudis sent through Jordan and which acted with support of the Liwa al-Islam group,” the Interfax news agency reported, citing a Russian source.
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was evidence that components of chemical weapons were used by foreign-backed militants in Syria and transferred into Iraq for possible “provocations.”
“We read reports and hear from various sources, semi-official and trustworthy, that some official representatives of a number of the countries of the region surrounding Syria allegedly established contacts and meet regularly with leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups, and also that those radicals have some components of chemical weapons maybe found in Syria or maybe brought from somewhere, and not just on the Syrian territory, but also that chemical weapons components have been brought to Iraq and that provocations are being prepared there,” Lavrov said at a news conference after a meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid.
On August 21, hundreds of people were killed and scores of others were injured in a chemical attack in eastern Ghouta on the suburbs of Damascus.
The militants operating inside Syria and the foreign-backed Syrian opposition accused the army of being behind the deadly attack.
Damascus, however, has strongly denied the accusation, saying it was a false-flag operation carried out by Takfiri groups in a bid to draw in foreign military intervention.
Following the chemical attack, US stepped up its war rhetoric against the Syrian government and called for punitive military action against Damascus.
The Syrian government averted possible US aggression by accepting a Russian plan to put its chemical arsenal under international control and then have them destroyed.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.
In a recent statement, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the number of Syrian refugees, who have fled the country’s 29-month-long conflict, reached two million.
The UN refugee agency also said some 4.2 million people have also been displaced inside Syria since the beginning of the conflict in the Arab country. …source
October 5, 2013 No Comments
Russia Warns of More Gas Use by Syria Militants
30 September, 2013 – Shia Post
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow has serious suspicions that foreign-backed militants fighting in Syria will continue attempts to use chemical weapons in the Arab country.
“We have serious suspicions that these attempts (to use chemical weapons) will continue,” Lavrov said in an interview with the Russian Kommersant daily published on Monday.
He added that the US has not produced any evidence on the Syrian government’s role in last month’s chemical attack.
Washington had threatened to take military action against Syria over a claim that the Syrian government had been behind a deadly chemical attack near Damascus on August 21.
Syria strongly rejected the allegation, saying the attack had been carried out by the foreign-backed militants to draw in outside military intervention.
“They did not produce it to us. Meanwhile, we produced the evidence we have (received through our own channels, from Syrians and from independent sources) that prompts the conclusion that it is handiwork of the opposition.”
The top Russian diplomat, whose country is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, noted that the new UN resolution on Syria does not imply the use of force.
The UN Security Council on September 27 unanimously approved a resolution to avert a US-led military strike against Syria. The resolution condemned the use of chemical weapons in the country and called for their elimination.
The resolution came after days of intense negotiations between the United States and Russia and does not fall under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which regulates the use of military force.
“At the meeting with the UN Secretary General and with the five permanent members of the Security Council and at the Security Council session itself we stressed that the countries acting as sponsors of the opposition in the political, financial and military respects bear responsibility for it not trying to lay hands on some stocks of chemical weapons, to receive it from somewhere abroad or stage provocations within Syria to shift the blame on the government, arouse general anger and thus try to provoke an outside strike at Syria,” said Lavrov.
Lavrov said that in compliance with the new UN resolution “any abuses permitted by any side –the Syrian government or the militants — must be reported to the UN Security Council after a thorough investigation.”
“This also applies to the use of chemical weapons by, God forbid, anyone,” he added.
Lavrov further said that Moscow is glad that despite initial resistance from western states, the new resolution includes the approval of Geneva Communiqué, which calls for an end to the Syrian crisis through negotiations.
Foreign-sponsored militancy has gripped Syria for over two years and the turmoil has taken its toll on the lives of many people across the country. …source
October 1, 2013 No Comments
Time to turn table on West warmongers
By Finian Cunningham – 29 September, 2013 – PressTV
Notable is the reiterated inclusion of members of the present government. This provision scotches, at least legally speaking, the Western agenda of regime change through covert terrorism. It pours egg on the face of the likes of John Kerry, William Hague and Laurent Fabius who have been harping on about Assad standing down and “having no place on this earth.””
US President Barack Obama described the latest Security Council resolution on Syrian chemical weapons as “a huge victory for the world”. It certainly was a huge victory for diplomacy over war, to the relief of the world’s people.
But for Obama to seek credit in the passing of this resolution is contemptible. It was a defeat for warmongers led by the likes of Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry, who were clamoring for unilateral missile strikes on Syria.
Also among those defeated are the American warmonger puppets of Britain and France, David Cameron and Francois Hollande. Nursing wounded egos are those other cheerleaders of American imperialism, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Recall that only a few weeks ago, these protagonists and proxies were on the cusp of launching an all-out criminal war of aggression on the Syrian Arab Republic.
Some of these warmongers seem to still retain residual fantasies of a military attack. President Obama hasm since the signing of the UN Security Council resolution last Friday, warned that Syria’s government will “face consequences” if it does not comply with the disarmament of its chemical weapons stockpile.
The Israeli minister of military affairs Moshe Yaalon went even further, reportedly telling media “after dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons, the regime in Damascus must be changed”.
The truth is that the UN resolution successfully de-fangs the warmongers. They now sound like sore losers whose diminishing threats are impotent attempts at flexing muscle. In this regard, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has safely steered the American war machine off the road.
In the wording of the resolution, which is binding to all parties, there is no mention of the use of military force. Use of force was precisely what Washington and its puppets and cheerleaders were threatening. Now there is a legal framework in place where such threats have been excluded.
Admittedly, in the final provision of the resolution, number 21, it is stated “in the event of non-compliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, [permits] to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter”.
The ominous Chapter VII may, in theory, lead to military force. But that eventuality would require another unanimous resolution, which Russia and China will veto.
This is no guarantee that the warmongers will not persist at some stage in the future with their plans of aggression and regime change in Syria. After all there are countless laws and charters already in existence for many decades that prohibit illegal violence, but which have not deterred American, British, French or Israeli terrorism.
Nevertheless, Resolution 2118 on Syria is an important impediment to the illicit war agenda and raises the political price for parties that might try to embark on a belligerent path. This is in the crucial context of worldwide public opposition to the warpath. No less important is that the American and European public is trenchantly against any such bellicose adventurism by rogue leaders.
In that way, the resolution is not so much a framework that puts Syria’s chemical weapons under international control but rather it puts American lawlessness and recourse to unilateral aggression, or state terrorism, under international control.
There are more positive aspects. For a start, if we accept the assumption that the Syrian government did not use or has no intention of using chemical weapons and that it has signed up in good faith to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, then there will be no such contingency as “non-compliance”.
The Syrian government has therefore found a legal way to safely dispose of a dangerous liability in the form of its chemical munitions stockpile. Maintaining this arsenal imposes unnecessary financial costs on the Syrian government. In an analogous way to Iran’s argument that nuclear weapons are an obsolete instrument at this point in history, so too it can be said about chemical weapons. To get rid of them is thus a relief from a burden.
The beauty is that this seeming concession is actually a gain, while the West’s concession of disposing its war plans is obviously a double gain for Syria. …more
October 1, 2013 No Comments
Mission Accomplished? Syria, the Anti-War Movement, and the Spirit of Internationalism
30 September, 2013 – Huffington Post
The American peace movement has been celebrating what it sees as its victory on Syria. “The U.S. is not bombing Syria, as we certainly would have been if not for a huge mobilization of anti-war pressure on the president and especially on Congress,” writes Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). This represents “an extraordinary, unforeseen victory for the global anti-war movement,” she goes on, one that “we should be savoring.” Robert Naiman of the organization Just Foreign Policy vaunts “How We Stopped the U.S. Bombing of Syria”.
This turn of events is “something extraordinary – even historic,” writes my good friend Stephen Kinzer, coming from a different but overlapping perspective. “Never in modern history have Americans been so doubtful about the wisdom of bombing, invading or occupying another country,” writes the author of the classic Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. “This is an exciting moment,” he rhapsodizes, “the start of a new, more realistic approach to foreign policy.”
The tireless progressive journalist David Sirota, whom I admire a lot, extols “How the Antiwar Majority Stopped Obama.” The opposition of “angry Americans” to the administration’s push for a military strike, he contends, proved “absolutely critical” and is “why there now seems to be a possibility of avoiding yet another war in the Middle East.”
I completely understand this jubilance. And yet it leaves me feeling uneasy.
Let me be clear: I too was against the Obama administration’s proposed military strike on Syria. I thought it strange that after two and a half years of doing essentially nothing about the deepening crisis in Syria, the White House suddenly decided to act with such a sense of urgency that it was unwilling to wait for the United Nations inspection team to complete its job. As if the world should just trust American claims about weapons of mass destruction. That went really well last time.
I also thought chemical weapons were exactly the wrong issue. To paraphrase Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center, why draw a “red line” at the use of chemical weapons but not at 100,000 dead? Or at two and a half years of crimes against humanity? The vast majority of the civilians killed since the Syrian uprising began in March of 2011 have died by means of conventional, not chemical weapons.
I agreed wholeheartedly with the International Crisis Group that the Obama administration’s case for action was based on “reasons largely divorced from the interests of the Syrian people,” who “have suffered from far deadlier mass atrocities during the course of the conflict without this prompting much collective action in their defence.”
Hinging its case on chemical weapons turned out to be a huge strategic mistake as well. Russia cleverly short-circuited the Obama administration, taking advantage of the thinness of its case. So Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles will be removed from the equation – then what? The Assad killing machine, which was overwhelmingly non-chemical to begin with, can continue unfettered on its rampage. Chemical weapons issue – solved. The killing fields of Syria – no end in sight. …more
October 1, 2013 No Comments
October 1, 2013 No Comments
Syria’s Assad says his agreement to give up chemical arsenal is unconditional
18 September, 2013 By Hannah Allam — McClatchy
WASHINGTON — Syrian President Bashar Assad said Wednesday that he is committed to relinquishing Syria’s chemical arsenal without conditions and as quickly as possible in a Fox News Channel interview that is the latest installment in a charm offensive intended to counter portrayals of him as a bloodthirsty dictator.
Responding to questions for an hour, Assad appeared as a mild-mannered bureaucrat explaining in fluent English why he’s waging an unfortunate but necessary war against al Qaida extremists, the same ones who fought U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He bristled at calling the rebel forces fighting to topple him as “opposition” and claimed that 80 to 90 percent are al Qaida-linked terrorists. He played down the high death toll of the war, claiming that most of those killed were terrorists.
“Opposition doesn’t mean to carry weapons and kill people, innocents, and to destroy schools, destroy infrastructure,” Assad said. Later in the segment, he added, “This is war. You don’t have clean war.”
He didn’t dispute U.N. findings that sarin gas was used in a deadly Aug. 21 attack, but he blamed it on the rebel forces, which he said are made up of jihadists who’ve streamed into Syria from more than 80 countries. He derided sarin as a “kitchen gas,” saying it can be made at home, and blamed its use on fighters that are “supported by governments,” a veiled reference to Persian Gulf rebel financiers such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The wide-ranging interview was conducted by the network’s senior foreign affairs correspondent, Greg Palkot, and former Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich, who’s a commentator for the network and has met Assad on previous occasions. Last week, Assad granted an interview to Charlie Rose of CBS and PBS, but canceled an interview he’d arranged with George Stephanopoulos of ABC.
Analysts say the strategy behind Assad’s media blitz goes beyond simply avoiding a U.S. strike in retaliation for deadly chemical attacks. The broader mission is to convince the West that no matter how brutal his regime appears to outsiders, the alternative is worse.
At every opportunity, Assad drove home the fact that the rebel movement is dominated by Islamist militants who’ve carried out beheadings, car bombings and other terrorist acts the regime knows will strike a chord with an American audience. Assad, as he did in the earlier CBS interview, pointedly mentioned an incident where a rebel leader was captured on video cutting an organ from a dead Syrian soldier’s body and taking a bite from it.
At another point in the Fox interview, Assad referred to the United States as “the greatest country in the world.”
“He’s saying, ‘I’m Westernized, I’m quiet spoken, I’m not screaming jihad, and I’m the devil you can work with,’” said Lawrence Pintak, dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University and a former CBS News correspondent in the Middle East. “And that’s what American foreign policy has been about for decades – working with the devil you can to keep out the ones you don’t want.”
Pintak, who’s interviewed the late Saddam Hussein, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and several other dictators, said Assad’s understated persona and background as an eye doctor who was educated in England are benefits to his media campaign. His clean-shaven, business-suited image makes for a stark juxtaposition with bearded, gun-toting rebels waving the black flag of militant Islamists.
“It’s public diplomacy at its best,” Pintak said. “It’s fascinating to watch someone who operates in a completely controlled media environment being so deft at managing his own image in the West.”
September 20, 2013 No Comments