Syria: looking back at 2011 and the eruption of violence

I came along and excellent article about Syria, which exposes the role of the mass media and western policymakers by shedding light on truths that were suppressed during the early stage of the Syrian conflict:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/03/more-nato-aggression-against-syria/

From the onset most western and arab media invented and persistently promoted one major narrative in order to demonize the Syrian government:
They claimed that the protests were entirely peaceful for a very long time. Some went so far to say that in the entire first year or at least in the first 6 months of the „revolution“ the „opposition“ stuck to peaceful means.
Only after suffering continuously indiscriminate and disproportionate violence at the hands of the security forces, the allegedly secular/liberal/moderate opposition turned to violence as a means of self defense.

The myth of the peaceful unarmed opposition does not withstand if scrutinized without bias. „When mass protests began in Syria they included violent attacks and murders of police from the beginning„:

„…up to 60 Syrian security forces were killed that day in a massacre that has been hidden by both the Syrian government and residents of Daraa.

One Daraa native explains: “At that time, the government did not want to show they are weak and the opposition did not want to show they are armed.”

Beyond that, the details are sketchy. Nizar Nayouf, a longtime Syria dissident and blogger who wrote about the killings, says the massacre took place in the final week of March 2011.“

„on April 25, 2011, nineteen Syrian soldiers were gunned down in Daraa by unknown assailants. „

„April 10 was also the day when we learned of the first massacre of Syrian soldiers – in Banyas, Tartous – when nine troops were ambushed and gunned down on a passing bus. The BBC, Al Jazeera and the Guardian all initially quoted witnesses claiming the dead soldiers were “defectors” shot by the Syrian army for refusing to fire on civilians.

That narrative was debunked later, but the story that soldiers were being killed by their own commanders stuck hard throughout 2011 – and gave the media an excuse to ignore stories that security forces were being targeted by armed groups.

The SOHR’s Rami Abdul Rahman says of the “defector” storyline: “This game of saying the army is killing defectors for leaving – I never accepted this because it is propaganda.”

„on April 23, seven soldiers were slaughtered in Nawa, a town near Daraa. Those killings did not make the headlines like the one in Banyas. Notably, the incident took place right after the Syrian government tried to defuse tensions by abolishing the state security courts, lifting the state of emergency, granting general amnesties and recognizing the right to peaceful protest. „

„Instead, all we ever heard was about the mass killing of civilians by security forces: “The dictator slaughtering his own people.” But three years into the Syrian crisis, can we say that things may have taken a different turn if we had access to more information? Or if media had simply provided equal air-time to the different, contesting testimonies that were available to us? „

„Syrian-based Father Frans van der Lugt was the Dutch priest murdered by a gunman in Homs just a few weeks ago. His involvement in reconciliation and peace activities never stopped him from lobbing criticisms at both sides in this conflict. But in the first year of the crisis, he penned some remarkable observations about the violence – this one in January 2012:

“From the start the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”

In September 2011 he wrote: “From the start there has been the problem of the armed groups, which are also part of the opposition…The opposition of the street is much stronger than any other opposition. And this opposition is armed and frequently employs brutality and violence, only in order then to blame the government.”
http://rt.com/op-edge/157412-syria-hidden-massacre-2011/

Then there is the myth of the „moderate opposition“. To this date major parts of euro-american mass media continue to uphold the bizarr claim that the armed Syrian opposition or at least the major bulk of the fighters, the so called „Free Syrian Army“ are moderates.

„It is often suggested the “moderate opposition” is popular, democratic and secular. President Obama has recently proposed giving $500 million to the “moderate opposition”.
Patrick Cockburn sums up the reality in the newly released book “The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising”:

“It is here that self-deception reigns, because the Syrian military opposition is dominated by ISIS and by Jabhat Al Nusra, the official Al Qaeda representative, in addition to other extreme jihadi groups. In reality there is no dividing wall between them and America’s supposedly moderate opposition allies.”

This situation is not new. A NY Times article in summer 2012 discussed the hidden presence of Al Qaeda within the “Free Syrian Army” „

In another article Patrick Cockburn writes: „Jihadi groups ideologically close to al-Qa‘ida have been relabeled as moderate if their actions are deemed supportive of U.S. policy aims. In Syria, the Americans backed a plan by Saudi Arabia to build up a “Southern Front” based in Jordan that would be hostile to the Assad government in Damascus, and simultaneously hostile to al-Qa‘ida-type rebels in the north and east. The powerful but supposedly moderate Yarmouk Brigade, reportedly the planned recipient of anti-aircraft missiles from Saudi Arabia, was intended to be the leading element in this new formation. But numerous videos show that the Yarmouk Brigade has frequently fought in collaboration with JAN, the official al-Qa‘ida affiliate. Since it was likely that, in the midst of battle, these two groups would share their munitions, Washington was effectively allowing advanced weaponry to be handed over to its deadliest enemy. Iraqi officials confirm that they have captured sophisticated arms from ISIS fighters in Iraq that were originally supplied by outside powers to forces considered to be anti-al-Qa‘ida in Syria.“
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/21/why-washingtons-war-on-terror-failed/

“In the East of Syria, there is no Free Syrian Army any longer. All Free Syrian Army people [there] have joined the Islamic State,” says Abu Yusaf, a high-level security commander of the Islamic State, whom The Washington Post’s Anthony Faiola wrote about last week…“

„some of the people the U.S. and their allies had trained to fight for ‘democracy’ in Libya and Syria had a jihadist agenda — already or later, [when they] joined al Nusra or the Islamic State,” a senior Arab intelligence official said in a recent interview…“

„For a long time, Western and Arab states supported the Free Syrian Army not only with training but also with weapons and other materiel. The Islamic State commander, Abu Yusaf, added that members of the Free Syrian Army who had received training — from the United States, Turkey and Arab military officers at an American base in Southern Turkey — have now joined the Islamic State. “Now many of the FSA people who the West has trained are actually joining us,” he said, smiling.“
http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/08/18/the-terrorists-fighting-us-now-we-just-finished-training-them/

To this day many western mainstream media still stick to two fairy tales:
a) That there is a single entity called „Free Syrian Army“ and that it is the biggest rebel faction
b) That the FSA, unlike ISIS or Jabhat al Nusra (JAN) is „moderate“

Just a single example that clearly demonstrates how moderate and respectable the FSA is (IRONY):

„Contacted by telephone, Adnan al-Assadi, Iraq’s deputy interior minister, said Iraqi border guards had witnessed the Free Syrian Army take control of a border outpost, detain a Syrian army lieutenant colonel, and then cut off his arms and legs.

„Then they executed 22 Syrian soldiers in front of the eyes of Iraqi soldiers,“ Assadi said.“
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/07/201271919353589773.html

For more detailed information about the non-existence of a „moderate“ Free Syrian Army, look here:
https://radioyaran.com/2013/12/19/syria-it-is-insane-that-the-west-still-considers-supporting-islamists/
https://radioyaran.com/2013/10/11/syrian-rebel-massacre-in-lattakia-and-the-moderate-fsas-involvement/
http://100wordz.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/was-not-the-southern-front-supposed-to-be-dominated-by-moderate-pro-western-rebels/

 

 

Iraq will be doomed if Sunnis should gather behind ISIS

For one, it is clear that ISIS alone surely did not capture Mossul and Tikrit within few days. Local Sunni tribal fighters as well as former Baath party officers had also their share, with the latter being behind a long term planning of the events.

At the same time nobody should have doubts that ISIS is the „muscle“ of what many disgruntled Iraqi Sunnis consider a „Sunni revolution“. Trying to play down ISIS´ role as the primary and most lethal fighting force would be a repetition of similar illusory claims regarding the Al-Nusra front in Syria, which western powers and Arab countries behind the Syrian opposition for a very long time tried to detract from.
In Syria the so called „Free Syrian Army“ had tens of thousands of fighters and was even „assisted“ by the already mentioned hardcore Salafi fighters of the Al-Nusra, but still ISIS managed to fight and rout these groups in eastern Syria and inflict heavy casualties on them elsewhere in that country.
There is little reason to assume that ISIS will „perform“ weaker in Iraq. Other Sunni groups including the more regionally interested tribal fighters as well as the more nationalist and secular minded former Baath party forces are welcome to cooperate with ISIS and contribute but ISIS will demand and enforce to have the final say and call the shots.

Should the Sunnis decide to „enjoy“ ISIS and tolerate the leadership of the „islamic state“, this will be the end of Iraq as a sovereign state as ISIS openly and proudly announces it´s firm will to fight the Shia majority of the country. ISIS is not a mere (and legitimate) resistance movement against an unjust, Shia led government but a vehemently sectarian, supremacist and violent movement, which considers all Shia as infidels who deserve death. But Iraq is not Pakistan where the Shia are basically defenseless. In Iraq the Shia make up a majority of 70-75% among the Arab population and have tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of battle-experienced fighters willing to die when existentially threatened.

Did Bashar forget to „wipe Homs from the map“?

Back in early 2012 Nicolas Sarkozy was pressing for military intervention in Syria to prevent Bashar al Assad from massacring the people of Homs like Ghaddafi wanted to massacre the people of Benghazi. The following article is reminiscent of Sarkozys „warning“ back then:

„Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said Sarkozy, “wants to wipe Homs from the map like Qaddafi wanted to wipe Benghazi from the map.”“
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/wiping-out-6832
This was obviously quite a bizarre analogy referring to something (wiping off Benghazi) that actually never happened.

2 years after the allegedly imminent massacre of civilians or as Sarkozy said the wiping off the map of Homs, the Syrian Army drove out the rebels and retook control of the „capital of the revolution“, but interestingly two things occured of which one actually DID NOT happen despite predictions to the contrary:
1. The government forces did NOT massacre the people
2. Instead of fleeing to the „safety“ of „liberated“ rebel-held areas many of Homs´ inhabitants who had fled the city earlier started returning to Homs

Now a flashback to the original siege of Baba Amr in 2011/12:

The entire western news coverage of the siege of Homs´ Baba Amr district was deceptive and polemic serving merely the purpose of demonizing one side of the conflict.
Baseless claims were made to the effect that the Syrian Army was besieging and indiscriminately shelling entire Homs, Syrias 3rd biggest city. BBC ran a report quoting a rebel (or pro-rebel civilian) that in entire Homs only two bakeries were intact.
Taking a look at this map it becomes clear that Baba Amr is a peripheral district of Homs and putting it under siege is by far not tantamount to besieging entire Homs:
https://i0.wp.com/news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/58789000/gif/_58789122_syria_homs_624_v6.gif

 

The „moderate“ FSAs cooperation with Al Qaeda in Syria

Not only has the allegedly moderate, non-sectarian, pro-western and Israeli tolerated FSA been using the lethal combat efficiency of the Al Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front (JN), but they have also sold advanced anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons to the even more radical Salafi Al Qaeda branch Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISUS/ISIL):

„He didn’t want to be filmed. But he told us: if we wanted to cut the supply lines it is easier for us to take the warehouses of the FSA. Anyhow we are buying weapons from the FSA. we bought 200 anti-aircraft missiles and Koncourse anti tank weapons. We have good relations with our brothers in the FSA. For us, the infidels are those who cooperate with the West to fight Islam. “
http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/middle-east/meeting-al-qaeda-syria

As usual Obama, Kerry and co. ignore or play down such embarrassing facts when they openly speak about funding and facilitating (through Saudi Arabia) the further arming of the FSA.

 

Iran 2009 vs. Syria 2011

The mass demonstrations and protests in Iran after the allegedly forged presidential elections of June 2009 were on a much bigger scale than what happened in Syria after Macrh 2011.
Despite the participation of up to 3 Million people on some days in Tehran alone and despite the disproportional use of lethal violence by the security forces the „green revolution“ ebbed away after a few weeks.

There are several reasons why the protests did not turn into an armed rebellion but the main factors differentiating Irans „green revolution“ from the Syrian version of the „arab spring“ were the following:
– The protesters were not armed and nobody armed them in the process either. There were few casualties among the riot police and the Bassij militia but not as a result of systematic guerilla like violence
– The protesters were not instigated by outside powers to fight against an autocratic regime that was tyrannizing and killing them on sectarian (or ethnic) grounds
– There is a persian saying „The knife has not reached the bone (yet)“ which basically means that despite many social injustices, reprisals, persecutions, economic inequalities and mismanagement and the governments constant interference in peoples private life…still daily life was very much on an acceptable level

In Syria, however, from early on there were deadly ambushes on army and police leaving to the deaths of dozens of security personell in the very first weeks. It is factually completely untrue that the protests were nothing but peaceful for months.
The protests were „contaminated“ quite early with anti-regime accusations and complaints on religious grounds. The state was accused of applying injustice and violence against its opponents because of the latters religious affiliation.
This was by and large utter nonsense but it was meant to serve a well-planned purpose, namely to defame a secular (although autocratic) government as sectarian. Not only there are many Sunnis in the highest political, economic and military ranks of Syrias elite, Bashar al Assad and his brother are married to Sunni women and their paternal grandmother was also Sunni. Now, one could check how many Saudi, Bahraini, Qatari or other „Gulf“ princes and „notables“ are married to Shia women…

The intention behind Syrias portrayal as an allegedly anti-Sunni regime was clearly to incite sectarian sentiment and play the majority card:
a) „Alawite“ Syria is between Sunni countries or border areas with high Sunni presence (Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, western Iraq). This itself makes it totally inconceivable to accuse the Assad regime of having made the conflict sectarian
b) The western-friendly Arab petrodollar monarchies of the Persian Gulf are all ruled by Sunni Kings and Princes. They control the two most influential media networks of the Arab world: Al-Jazeera and l-Arabiyya
c) Hundreds of Millions of North African Arabs are Sunni allowing for a recruiting potential of tens of thousands of „Jihadists“ from among vast numbers of unemployed or socially weak youth. In fact it has turned out that the Jihad idea has attracted even central asian and european Sunnis

The question is whether there was a movement aiming at more reforms, freedoms, human rights and democracy that was hijacked quite quickly or whether this short-lived „secular“ revolution was on a too small scale to be considered a mass movement.
At any rate the power driving the Syrian insurgency is clearly militant Salafi islamism. The forces fighting are not even distantly moderate, academic or technocratic. Their motivation is establishing a (probably sectarian) religious state, not a civil democracy adhering to human rights:

„In fact, the only rebel factions still strong enough to resist and fight the regime on the latest fronts are the radical Islamists. The town of Azizeh, just outside the Marjeh area in the east, the strategically vital Sheikh Najjar industrial zone, the old city and Aleppo’s central prison are all defended by al-Qaeda’s affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as Salafist militants Ahrar al-Sham, a member of the Islamic Front.“
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/barrel-bombing-syria-aleppo-rebels-regime-war.html

Of course, the US, UK and France along with their Arab „partners“, Israel and Turkey still want to stick to the now grotesque narrative that Syrias war is between a hated, russian/iranian-held, sectarian minority regime and the majority of „it´s“ reform demanding, peaceful, secular, moderate, pro western, democracy minded…people.
So, no matter how much it turns that the „bad guys“ are not only ISIS and JN, but also the other Salafi Islamists who
– are either openly hailing Al Qaeda and its principles
– or closely cooperating with JN (and sometimes even ISIS) as Al Qaedas Syrian branch:
http://www.thenational.ae/the-syrian-rebels-who-have-no-problem-fighting-alongside-al-qaeda
See also: http://100wordz.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/islamic-front-no-answer-for-syria-conflict/

 

 

Macabre dynamics in „liberated“ Syria

„The Nusra Front has given ISIS until Saturday to accept mediation or face being expelled from Syria.“

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26390351

So, one group of sectarian Salafi beheader extremists is threatening to expel a slightly worse sister organization within Al Qaeda in Syria.
The BBC article leaves a bad taste as it comes along as a subtle advertisement in favor of the Al Nusra Front that demands that ISIS „accept arbitration within five days“.
The correct and not too far fetched interpretation is that Al Nusra hardly has any ideological-political issue with ISIS: „He demanded that ISIS halt all military operations against other rebels“.
This means that ISIS is welcome to remain on Syrian soil as long as they blow up Syrian army checkpoints and kill Alawites instead of „killing of an al-Qaeda emissary, Abu Khaled al-Suri

 

Is Homs under siege?

Reading the media about Syria one more than once reads about the city of Homs, „the cradle of the revolution“ being under siege by the Syrian army.
Taking a closer look it turns out that not the entire city, but only a relatively small portion of it, the „old city“ is under regime siege:
BBC map of besieged areas in Homs

No question, such a siege is a horror for the ordinary population and certainly it is an unjust act of collective punishment, but one should also keep in mind that the siege is not the result of an evil government simply hating its citizens. Rather the siege is a direct consequence of armed rebels abusing the local population by effectively taking them hostage and turning their houses to firing grounds, hideouts, tunnels, weapons depots and bomb making fabrics.

Why all these anti-regime disclosures in the middle of the Geneva talks?

„Syrian government ‚demolished thousands of homes'“
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25947345

While noone should justify or play down the extensive damage inflicted on entire blocks and neighborhoods, one should wonder why the disclosure of these „war crimes“ (HRW) happens just as the Syrian government and opposition are negotiating in Geneva.
The satellite images are dated from mid 2012 to mid 2013. Did HRW and co. really need 6-18 months to „analyze“ these images or is the timing of the publication no coincidence?

Interestingly at exactly the same time there was first the publication of the Qatari financed torture photos and then (today) the expression of „concern“ by the US regarding the slow progress of Syrias chemical weapons disarmament.

Is all this meant to prepare the ground for either the declaration of new „red lines“ or an accelerated and intensified arming of the (definitely all but) „moderate“ rebels?

US continues hypocrisy and double standard regarding Syria

„The US says only 4% of Syria’s declared chemical weapons has been surrendered and expresses concern at the lack of progress.“
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25968616

But at the same time the US has announced to resume the supply of weapons to Syrian rebels.
The same rebels have either laid storage facilities under siege or they control roads leading to or from such weapons´ sites.
Both are considered „succcesses“ that the usually pro-rebel western press hails as „blows against the Assad regime“.

Congress Secretly Approves Arms for Syria Rebels

After all the embarassing and shocking revelations about the Syrian rebels, after the broad majority of the rebels either openly declare themselves as part of Al Qaeda or strongly sympathize and ideologically identify with Al Qaeda, the US has begun resupplying the rebels with arms.
How can an honest government officially endorse peace talks but at the same time arm a warring faction that is opposed to peace talks and will certainly feel emboldened and encouraged to fight on after getting further arms?
To justify this appalling decision the US has once again resumed reinvigorating the myth of the „moderate rebels“, no matter how ridiculous and incredible such claims have become in the mean time:

„One close observer of the  opposition, who recently returned from travelling in the rebel-held areas of northern Syria, says that “you could go an awful long way talking to these jihadi groups before you met any fighters who did not thoroughly approve of 9/11 as a well-deserved blow against the US”.“
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/27/return-to-damascus/

http://news.antiwar.com/2014/01/27/officials-congress-secretly-approves-arms-for-syria-rebels/