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December 2012

The Myth of Dialogue with the Syrian Regime

Thursday, December 20, 2012

When Seumus Milne writes article after article lamenting the lack of ‘dialogue’ between the parties in Syria, he perpetuates a myth that the Assad regime, along with its Russian and Iranian backers, has been advocating a negotiated settlement all along. The truth could not be further from the reality, and there is a real danger that the story of the Syrian revolution is being re-spun into some nefarious Western plot to eliminate the ‘last bastion of Arabism’ as one anti-imperialist commentator described it.

Because of the failure of some movements and countries to unequivocally and consistently condemn the Assad regime’s brutality from the outset, the Syrian people were left to – rightly – seek assistance from anywhere they could receive it. They did not have time to listen to people such as Milne lecturing them about how necessary it was that they should die with their families in the thousands in order to reach some indigenous solution without involving the ‘White Devil’. Better, the likes of Milne were telling Syrians, to die for, and in doing so satisfy, the intellectual vanity of the Western Anti-imperialist vanguard.

Milne, rightly, warns of Western military adventures in the Middle East but he claims that Syria is next on the list. What he does not mention is that the West has, for over twenty months, sought every excuse _not_ to intervene in Syria. He is so eager to portray events as a NATO conspiracy that he conveniently ignores the fact that NATO’s Secretary General Rasmussen has become a Syrian joke with his steady stream of statements that NATO will not intervene in Syria. Therefore this idea that Syria will be the target of a mass invasion of the type we saw in 2003 with Iraq belies the completely different context and restraints that exist today. Yes, the West and the Gulf states are aiding the rebels, but the majority of these rebels are Syrians who have quickly become battle hardened through no choice of their own. It was the relentless killing by Assad’s war machine which prompted them to seek and carry arms, and to ask for help from wherever they could.

Where, one can rightly ask, was Milne when the revolution was still a protest movement, like the overnight sit-in protest occupying the former Homs Clock square which was brutally dispersed with live fire? Did Milne see those countless other unarmed protestors with their faces blown off by Assad’s snipers? Or was he too busy deriding the grainy mobile phone footage as unworthy of his attention?

Then there is the question of Islam in Syria – Sunni Islam to be specific. After writing many articles justifying ‘Muslim anger’ over Western foreign policy or episodes of Quran burning, he seems to  find it astonishing that some Muslims would be equally and perhaps even more so incensed at the brutality of Assad’s forces and the documented desecration of mosques and religious insults sprayed on walls.

He raises the spectre of sectarianism as if it will be a direct consequence of the rebels winning and not of Bashar losing. Where was he, we must ask again, when the same newspaper he is writing for reported on Syria’s regime encouraging extremist Muslim fundamentalists to go across to Iraq and wreak havoc, that same havoc that anti-imperialists then blamed the United States for unleashing. Did Milne, and those who share his outlook, stop to think about this?

Syrians should rightly be concerned with the extremist elements within the ranks of the rebels, but they do not need Milne to tell them that, and they certainly don’t need his instructions on the best way to remove the regime that has killed tens of thousands of Syrians since last March. They should, also, be very concerned with lawlessness and sectarianism, but unlike Milne they have recognised that a state which mobilises its resources for mass murder and terror over a population is far more disturbing and serious than the crimes of extreme elements who are,  after all, criminals anyway. Therefore, Milne has no right to claim some kind of moral parity between ‘two sides’, and he certainly has no right to paint the opponents of Assad, in all their colours and shapes, with the same brush as al Qaeda. For Iraq and Afghanistan he has always been alert enough to recognise the divide and rule tactics of an oppressor, or to know where one must lay the blame when extremism results in atrocities and instability. No such critical thinking appears to have been applied in Syria. In fact it does not seem to have occurred to Milne and other Western anti-imperialist writers that Assad, as an oppressor, is in the same boat as the imperialism they claim to oppose.

Posted by Maysaloon at 8:04 PM  

Amman warns: Jihadists hijacking Syria revolution, may target Israel, Jordan next

Jordanians saw the first signs two months ago when their intelligence service caught a cell of 11 Salafists who had assembled in Syria and were planning to attack shopping centers and Western embassies in Jordan.
By Anshel Pfeffer | 08:17 20.12.12 | 13

The Jordanians fear that with the collapse of the current Syrian government, this weaponry, together with the experience gained by the Jihadists, will be aimed toward other targets in the region – particularly Jordan and Israel. The Jordanians saw the first signs two months ago when their intelligence service caught a cell of 11 Jordanian Salafists who had assembled in Syria and were planning, under the aegis of Al-Qaida, to attack shopping centers and Western embassies in Jordan.AMMAN – Senior Jordanian officials warn that Syria may devolve into a “black hole that sucks Jihadists from around the world.” They claim that despite their warnings to Western nations and Israel against this expected development in their strife-ridden northern neighbor, advanced weaponry continues to flow into the hands of Salafist and Jihadist organizations who are gradually taking over the rebellion against the regime of Bashar Assad.

Jordan is working toward the integration of all minorities in the leadership of the rebellion (including Alawites not related to the Assad family ), in order to ensure a balanced future government of Syria and to avoid a slide into Jihadist chaos.

In Jordan there has been heavy criticism of another neighbor of Syria – Turkey, which has allowed fanatics to accumulate strength and ammunition at the expense of moderate and secular rebel groups. Many of the advanced missiles financed by the Gulf states and transferred to the rebels via Turkey in the past few weeks have fallen into the hands of fanatics, despite the attempts of Jordanian and Western intelligence services to ensure that only the rebellion’s moderate factions would receive them.

The secular faction of Syria’s rebellion absorbed another blow this week with the death of Col. Yusef Al Jader, an armored corps officer in the Syrian army who deserted to the rebels and had been thought of as one of the more charismatic and influential commanders among them. Al Jader, better known as Abu Furat, had been trying to minimize the influence of the Jihadists. His death during the battle for the military academy north of Aleppo further weakens the strength of the secular nationalists among the rebels.

Another significant development in the Syrian conflict is the enlistment of Palestinian refugees in Damascus to the cause of the rebellion. Until recently, Palestinians in Syria avoided taking part in the conflict, inter alia because of internal divisions of opinion. Although Hamas identifies with the rebels, especially those identified with the Muslim Brotherhood, other organizations such as the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front stayed with Assad.

At the beginning of the week, the Syrian army attacked the Yarmok neighborhood, home to over 100,000 Palestinians, killing 25 with artillery fire and air attacks. As a result, a battle broke out within Yarmok between the Popular Front and Syrian rebel forces, and thousands of Palestinians began to flee the Damascus area toward the borders with Jordan and Lebanon.

Jordan established several large refugee camps for those fleeing Syria, but arriving Palestinians are kept separate, in an industrial area known as “Cyber City”. Journalists are not allowed to visit the camp designated for Palestinians, and those refugees are forbidden to leave it in order to work or visit relatives.

In Jordan, where the regime is in the hands of the Hashemite dynasty and Bedouin tribes while the majority of the population is of Palestinian origin, the government is trying to avoid an additional wave of Palestinian refugees.

Arab media reports that the Jordanian army has declared a state of emergency, and that its troops have been issued gas masks in anticipation of chemical weapons being employed by the Syrian regime near the border remained unconfirmed yesterday. Nevertheless, senior Jordanian officials emphasize that they warned the world that the Syrians might use such weapons last year, and that such an eventuality will require the swift intervention of Western powers, since, according to the Jordanians, no nation in the region, including Israel, can overcome Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.



Syria : the solution ?

It is for lack of love that Bashar is exterminating his people. malek

[68] Myths about the ‘Jewish State’


Comment Fred Mrozek il y a 4 heures

Thank god that for every psycho turd like Netanyahu, there is a shining mensch like Miko Peled, or Gerald Kaufman, or Dr. Hajo Meyer. You have got to love every man or woman who takes personal risks in order to criticize their own when it is necessary to do so. And in the case of modern Israel, “friends don’t let friends”… become ethnic-cleansing fascists, warmongers or soul-less monsters.”


TV’s most Islamophobic show


With its portraits of Brody and Roya Hammad, “Homeland” warns that Muslims are a hidden danger to fellow Americans


  • TV's most Islamophobic showClaire Danes in “Homeland” (Credit: Showtime/Ronen Akerman)

I started watching “Homeland” because I was bored. All of my favorite shows were coming to a (season’s) end, and I needed something new to watch. I’m drawn to smart scripted dramas, but I was immediately suspicious of the show when I learned that its creators were also the ones behind “24,” the Fox drama that somehow became the chief piece of evidence for the effectiveness of torture and was a favorite of Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh.

But I kept an open mind and was riveted by the first episode, which laid out the intriguing mystery: Is Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody the POW who’s been turned against his country by al-Qaida and its leader, the nefarious Abu Nazir? Soon CIA agent Carrie Mathison is seen spying on Brody and family in scenes reminiscent of the Stasi’s voyeurism in the Academy Award-winning film “The Lives of Others.”

But as we learn more about Brody’s back story, the plot becomes increasingly absurd and insidiously Islamophobic.

All the standard stereotypes about Islam and Muslims are reinforced, and it is demonstrated ad nauseam that anyone marked as “Muslim” by race or creed can never be trusted, all via the deceptively unsophisticated bureau-jargon of the government’s top spies. Here are four major, problematic areas (among many others. I couldn’t even get to the oversexed Saudi prince and his international harem):

read on @source

Martyr Molham Biram: Lens of a Young Dimashqi Photographer

The brave young martyr was a photographer and medic (Molham Bairam)
He was born in 1992,he was about to enter the college of French literature, but God chose him to be a martyr.

he died after being injured by a sniper while he was trying to aid a wounded.

he was a paramedic,in addition to his mission in documenting events in Douma

he documented a lot of mass and demonstrations in the city,and enriched our page with his fabulous pictures.

we can only say may God bless your soul, and may you rest in peace Molham.

we promise you to continu what we started together..
we promise you to fight with our cameras till we get our freedom .

الشـــهيد ملــهم بـــيرام
مصور عدســة شــاب دمشـــــقي

source N.Z. on Walls

Syria Deeply

Dear Deeply Readers,It’s been a week at warp speed in the Syria conflict. Some of our highlights include a Syria Deeply exclusive with US Ambassador Robert Ford on the decision to name Jabhat al Nusra a terror group, a look at What’s Next After Marrakesh with opposition architect Yaser Tabbara, and our first cross-post with the Council on Foreign Relations, an expert roundup asking What Should US Policy Be in Syria?

We also had a long talk with Joshua Landis on Assad, Alewites, and the future of Syria.

To catch up on the week at a glance, here’s a review of what we posted on the SD bulletin:

Monday: Battles Encircling Capital Disrupt Life in Damascus; Syria Sparks New Fighting in Lebanon

Tuesday: US Set to Boost Ties with Opposition; Fears Rise Over Al Qaeda in Syria, as Islamist Fighters Gain Ground

Wednesday: Syrian Opposition Boosted in Morocco; Alewite Massacre Stokes Sectarian Fears

Thursday: Russia Shifts on Syria, Says Assad is Losing Control;US Outlines Plans for Patriot Missiles to Turkish Border

Friday: US Officials Say Syria Has Prepared Chemical Bombs; Children at the “Edge of Starvation”

Have a great weekend and keep thinking deeply.
– The Syria Deeply Team


Members of Assad’s Sect Blamed in Syria Killings


Published: December 12, 2012

Scores of Syrian civilians belonging to President Bashar al-Assad’s minority Alawite sect were killed Tuesday in the first known Alawite massacre since the Syrian conflict began. But the killings, in the village of Aqrab, happened under circumstances that remain unclear.

Rights organizations researching the massacre said Wednesday that members of the shabiha, a pro-government Alawite militia, were the killers. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad group based in Britain with a network of contacts inside Syria, said 125 to 150 civilians died.

The accusation, if confirmed, would be a shocking episode of Alawite-on-Alawite violence in a conflict punctuated by violence between sects.

Videotaped testimony said to be from survivors, primarily women and children, has flooded the Internet in the last 24 hours, providing a series of glimpses of an atrocity in a devastated town. The picture they paint is inconclusive, however, and restrictions on foreign reporting inside Syria made verification difficult.

Many of the videos were filmed by members of the Free Syrian Army, the main anti-Assad armed group, in what appears to be a clinic, where survivors were being treated for wounds or lie wrapped in blankets, faces blank with shock. In the videos, they say that members of the shabiha gathered civilians inside a building or compound as the Free Syrian Army approached the village.

Soon, though, survivors said the shabiha turned their weapons on the same civilians they had been professing to defend.

“The shabiha came and told us they wanted to protect us from the rebels, but then they wouldn’t let us go,” said a young man in one video who gave his name as Mohamed Ibrahim al-Judud, and who like others in the videos said he was able to identify the attackers by their first names. “They killed my father, my mother and my brother.”

In another video, a young man who gave his name as Mohamed Fathy Jowwal lay wrapped in a blanket, speaking to a member of the Free Syrian Army.

“They said it was better that we kill ourselves than wait for you to kill us,” he said, looking at the young rebel fighter crouching beside him. “They were from our own group.”

Throughout the videos, members of the Free Syrian Army professed a commitment to religious pluralism and said the survivors of Aqrab were under their protection. Nevertheless, there were moments when flashes of sectarian animosity shone through. In one video, a rebel fighter could be heard saying to an injured young man, “Get well soon, even if you are in the Alawite sect.”

“Man, so what if I was in the Alawite sect?” the injured young man protests, as medics busily gathered around his bare legs. A second rebel, standing nearby, interjected and stroked his face.

“Bashar does not represent the Alawite sect,” the second fighter reassured the victim. “The Syrian people are one.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it believed the massacre victims had died from “gunfire and bombs.” Almost all were members of the Alawite sect.

The observatory also could not confirm the circumstances of their deaths, but said it had identified several similar narratives of the attack. One was that shabiha members had sought cover among civilians in a residential area, using them as shields. Another was that “pro-regime militiamen held Alawite civilians captive.” It also said that explosions had caused many of the deaths.

Syria’s conflict began as an Arab Spring protest movement after four decades of rule by the family of Mr. Assad, and has since transformed into a sectarian conflict. Even so, attacks by Alawite militias on their own civilian populations have so far been unheard-of.

Faiek al-Meer, a longtime antigovernment activist, wrote on Facebook that the Aqrab episode could be seen as a metaphor for the predicament facing the entire Alawite sect. Mr. Assad, he wrote, “will continue to fight to defend his seat and the interests of his clique even if has to use the Alawites as human shields to protect himself.”


Liam Stack reported from New York, and Hania Mourtada from Beirut, Lebanon.



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