Syrias „revolution“: What we did NOT (want to) see

„Merhej and Dayoub were the first of eighty-eight soldiers killed throughout Syria in the first month of this conflict“
Did you know this? That 88 Syrian soldiers were killed in that very early phase of the Syrian civil war?

5 years ago the Syrian „uprising“ or „revolution“ started in the city of Deraa. It is not much that we really know about the details and the dynamics that triggered the deadly cycle of cause and effects which – not long later – climaxed into a spirale of violence that now enters it´s sixth year.

The western mainstream media and along with it the media of it´s Gulf Arab allies – especially the state-owned channels Al Arabiyya and Al Jazeera –  knew the „facts“ from the beginning:
Unarmed people demonstrated peacefully for democracy
– The state security forces responded with lethal force without a real reason

While it is true that security forces in Deraa strongly overreacted to youths spraying anti-government graffiti on the walls of a school by torturing some of them and insulting their parents when they protested against the treatment of their kids, this narrative which exclusively displays the opposition perspective of the events leaves other, less pleasant facts untouched.
Though the uncomfortable facts undermining the romantic myth of the „peaceful revolution“ are still widely un(der)reported by most western news outlets, other more independent sources have revealed them:

„But there were signs from the very start that armed groups were involved…A Syrian television crew, working for the government, produced a tape showing men with pistols and Kalashnikovs in a Deraa demonstration in the very early days of the “rising”.“

„According to several different opposition sources, 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.“

Here is another case of early violence against the Syrian army which western media either denied or attributed to the army itself. This article, however, debunks the media lie and clearly identifies armed opposition as the perpetrators:

„According to the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the combined death toll for Syrian government forces was 2,569 by March 2012, the first year of the conflict. At that time, the UN’s total casualty count for all victims of political violence in Syria was 5,000.“
So, 50% of the casualties were soldiers of the army. Do you still believe that the „opposition“ was unarmed and peaceful? Considering this enormous death toll of the Syrian army, do you still believe that they „overreacted“?

No country likes to have the media of hostile western countries on its soil, especially after Iraq 2003 and Libya 2011 blatantly showed how media deliberately misreported events, concealed „unfavorable“ facts and exaggerated/overemphasized other facts. The Syrian government had no interest in exposing weakness and revealing the degree of it´s loss of control in some cities. Western and Arab media and governments simply declared all reporting by Syrian and pro-Syrian sources „propaganda“ and treated every claim by Syrian „activists“ as undisputed truth.
Whenever army soldiers were killed, Al Jazeera and co. had an „activist“ on the phone line explaining that the Sunni soldiers were executed by Alawite officers because they refused to shoot at unarmed civilians or because they wanted to defect. This myth, often cited by anti-Syrian mass media was so ridiculous that even Rami Abdulrahman from the frequently quoted pro-rebel Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) commented it as follows: „“This game of saying the army is killing defectors for leaving – I never accepted this because it is propaganda.”
Especially in the first year of the civil war, the primary source of western news channels, the activists, were quick declaring every person killed by the Syrian army as „civilian“. This was exposed as a lie by – no joke! – Al Jazeeras own reporter Nir Rosen: „Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters, but the cause of their death is hidden and they are described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces, as if they were all merely protesting or sitting in their homes.“

One of the best-known and most cited „activists“ was Danny Abu Dayyem. Watch this video that exposes him and embarasses CNN:

Another „prominent“ Activist and primary source for Al Jazeera was Khaled Abu Saleh, who was also exposed as a liar and forger of news:

So, for many months the fairy tale was perpetuated of a population enduring it´s governments unlimited and unjustified violence peacefully and patiently until one day it had enough and decided to „defend“ itself. Some went so far to claim that this allegedly nonviolent phase of the „revolution“ lasted almost one year. This is a brazen lie. In a single incident in early June 2011 – note that this is less than three months after Deraa – some 120 soldiers and police were killed in the city of Jisr al Shughur.
This is what Syria expert Joshua Landis tells about the massacre: „There is little evidence of wide-scale mutiny of Syrian soldiers. No solid evidence that they shot at each other, and some evidence that the young men of Jisr set a trap for Syrian soldiers with simple weapons and dynamite…The Syrian government then published tapped phone calls of activists in Jisr that it collected on the eve of the initial combat. If they can be taken at face value, the activists establish a plan to send all the women and children of the city to Turkey. They were instructed to tell foreigners that Syrian military personnel shot each other. When enlisted men refused to shoot on unarmed demonstrators, their Alawi officers mowed them down – that was the story to be told to the Western press.“:

Despite persistent media claims that the Syrian forces were acting with „irresponsible“ or „disproportional“ brutality, video clips like the following from Douma near Damascus (not later than March 2012) show a different picture: The soldiers carry no weapons, they are throwing stones back at the demonstrators:

This video from Homs (not later than 2012) is even more unmasking for the „unarmed opposition“ as it shows armed „civilians“ firing at unarmed riot police:

One thing is crystal clear: Syrias „uprising“ was armed and violent from its very first days. No doubt, many innocent people were killed by the security forces, but to claim that the violence was one-sided, that the protesters were unarmed and entirely peaceful, that police and army had no reason to resort to violence means ignoring the bitter truth of the not so romantic beginnings of what became a full scale armed insurrection.

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:

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.”

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.“

“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.“

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.“

For more detailed information about the non-existence of a „moderate“ Free Syrian Army, look here:



Syria and the idiocy of western reporting and policies

Analyzing todays BBC report of a deadly attack on (mainly) civilian Syrian government supporters during an election rally is quite insightful and yet another chapter in the series of shamelessly biased western reporting.

While the report almost entirely quotes two clearly anti-government and pro rebel sources, namely the „SOHR“ and „activists“, who are both supporters of the attacks perpetrators, not a single government official or pro-government civilian is allowed to speak and condemn the attacks, something that the BBC neither does directly nor indirectly (e.g. by explicitly avoiding to call the attack an act of terrorism or provide pictures).
One might contract this with reports of government shelling of rebel areas, in which cases at least one rebel or rebel sympathizer is quoted either accusing Assad of killing his own people or calling for western countries to supply (even more) weapons to the rebels. Plus, almost certainly such a report would feature a photo series showing debris, bloodied civilians, crying mothers and heroic rebels carrying the wounded.

Coming back to the BBC report, the most brazen aspect is that the BBC abuses the report to ridicule Assad and hence the victims with insulting comments about the Syrian elections: „UK Foreign Secretary William Hague called the elections a „parody of democracy“ and repeated its call for Bashar Assad to stand down.“

Massaker bzw. „Völkermord“? Eine Analyse der Opferzahlen im Syrienkonflikt

Von Hillary Clinton über Francois Hollande bis Tayyip Recep Erdogan, wann immer es darum ging das syrische Regime nicht nur zu kritisieren sondern gleich zu verteufeln wurde das Wort Massaker benutzt. Assads „Schergen“ (also nicht Soldaten, Polizisten oder andere Streit- und Sicherheitskräfte) sind seit März 2011 immer wieder in Massakern (an der Zivilbevölkerung) involviert. Speziell Erdogan ging sogar so weit von einem Völkermord zu sprechen, welchen er dem „Schlächter“ Assad vorwarf.

In diesem Artikel soll anhand des vorhandenen Datenmaterials, welches durch internationale Medien verbreitet wurde untersucht werden, ob bzw. in welchem Umfang der laufende Bürgerkrieg in Syrien ein Massaker staatlicher Kräfte gegen die Zivilbevölkerung darstellt.

Zu diesem Zweck beziehe ich mich auf die Angaben der „Syrian Observatory for Human Rights“ (SOHR) aus London, unabhängig davon, in welchem Masse diese Quelle vertrauenswürdig und zuverlässig ist, da sie die Hauptquelle ist, auf die sich speziell die eindeutig antisyrischen Nachrichtenorganisationen Aljazeera, Al-Arabiyyah, BBC oder New York Times beziehen.

Laut SOHR (Stand 22.08.2012) hat es in Syrien bisher insgesamt etwa 24,500 Tote gegeben.

Mindestens 8000 Tote sind syrische Soldaten und Polizisten:
Die Zahl der toten regimetreuen, überwiegend aber nicht ausschliesslich alawitischen Paramilitärs der „Shabiha“ ist nicht bekannt, aber laut SOHR sollen einige Tausend Shabiha getötet worden sein. SOHR-Sprecher Abdel-Rahman sagt dass die Zahlen „do not include armed groups supported by the shabiha (pro-regime militia), of which thousands have been killed since the start of the clashes“:
Wir interpretieren diese Angabe konservativ und gehen pauschal von 2000 getöteten Shabiha aus, auch wenn die Möglichkeit naheliegt, dass einige der Toten missliebige Zivilisten waren, die von den Rebellen nach ihrer Tötung als Shabiha deklariert wurden, um Morde zu legitimieren.

In der Summe hat also das Regime mindestens 10000 Verluste gehabt

Auf Rebellenseite werden als „Deserteure“ (defectors) einzig jene getöteten Rebellen genannt, die vorher aus der syrischen Armee übergelaufen  waren.
Die Zahl dieser toten Rebellen wird mit 1050 angegeben:

Erst Ende Mai 2012 gab SOHR-Sprecher Abdel-Rahman zu, dass die mit Abstand grösste Opfergruppe der „Zivilisten“ auch die getöteten Rebellen beinhalte, die nicht Armeedeserteure waren:

Schon vorher wurde dies auch von dem Reporter Nir Rosen in einem Bericht für Aljazeera wie folgt festgehalten:
„Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters, but the cause of their death is hidden and they are described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces, as if they were all merely protesting or sitting in their homes.“

Die aktuellste Angabe der toten „Zivilisten“ beziffert die Zahl auf etwa 17,300:

Eine schätzweise Extrapolation dieser Zahl lässt eine Aktualisierung auf 18,000 Menschen realistisch erscheinen. Um die Zahl der tatsächlichen Zivilisten unter diesen 18,000 Toten zu schätzen mache ich Quervergleiche zu anderen, zumindest teilweise vergleichbaren Konflikten. In aller Regel kann davon ausgegangen werden, dass eine reguläre Armee – erst recht auf heimischem Boden –  aufgrund grösserer Personalstärke, besserer Organisation, Rückgriffs auf meist mehrere Geheimdienste, Besitzes schwerer Waffen, Luftüberlegenheit, etc. ihrem Gegner deutlich mehr Verluste zufügt als sie selbst erleidet.
Folgende Quoten/Verhältniszahlen existieren:

Für Syrien halte ich ein Verhältnis von 1:1,75 für realistisch, d.h dass auf jeden toten der Regimestreitkräfte „1,75“ tote Rebellen kommen. Das würde bedeuten, dass „statistisch“ ca. 17,500 Rebellen getötet worden sein müssten. Es blieben also „lediglich“ 500 Tote, die man wirklich als Zivilisten bezeichnen könnte. So unnötig und bedauerlich auch jeder einzelne (zivile) Tote ist, von einem Massaker bzw. sogar Völkermord kann absolut nicht gesprochen werden. Diese geschätzte Zahl ist sehr wahrscheinlich nicht ganz richtig. Sie verdeutlicht aber, dass entgegen der sehr einparteiischen und hetzerischen Berichterstattung die syrische Armee keine systematischen grossen Massaker an der Zivilbevölkerung begeht. Es stellen sich zudem folgende Fragen:

  1. Wieviel Prozent der zivilen Toten gehen auf das Konto des Regimes und wieviel sind Opfer der Rebellen?
  2. Wieviele dieser Menschen sind gezielt von einer der beiden Konfliktseiten getötet worden und wieviele sind „Kollateralschäden“?

Auch die vergleichsweise sehr hohen Verlustzahlen der Regimeseite verstärken nicht den Verdacht vorsätzlicher, rücksichtsloser Tötung von Zivilisten. Hätte die blutrünstige und nichtdifferenzierende Absicht bestanden soviele Zivilisten wie möglich zu töten, weil man ihnen pauschal Nähe zu den Rebellen unterstellte, hätte das Regime viel früher im Konflikt und wesentlich massiver die Luftwaffe einsetzen müssen. Im Gegenteil zeigen die hohen Verluste des Regimes an Mann und Material, dass die Armee auf das sichere grossflächige  Fernbombardement feindlich eingestufter ziviler Gebiete weitestgehend verzichtet hat und stattdessen sich in unmittelbare Nähe von Rebellenstellungen begeben hat.