Category Archives: Syria

Syria Watch


The situation in Syria remains critical. However, it is the Turkey-Syria that is a major concern. First of all, kudos to the Turks because they have responded to needs of thousands of Syrian refugees. They deserve praise for the professional way that they are handling the crisis on their own doorstep. Second, and this is very important, there is still talk of possible Turkish intervention across the border in order to establish a safe zone for the refugees. This is critical because the Asshat thugs are killing a lot of people, setting fire to the village crops and shops and are causing complete devastation in the north of Syria. This is extremely unacceptable by any standard. What is the most critical, is that if the Turkish army does cross the border, Asshat is threatening the use of missiles.

According to this article at Big Peace, the US has moved the USS Bataan near Syria, so that if Asshat dares to fire missiles at Turkey, the USA will provide some kind of defense shield.

If you are worried about the non-action by the USA in Libya, then you should be more worried about this little event that is not exactly being reported in the LSM. If this happens then the USA will be more directly involved than in Libya and once again there will be no going to Congress.

The Middle East is rapidly turning into an extremely hot spot, and it seems to me that the White House has been behind a lot of the trouble. There are elements in the Syrian opposition that I do not trust. Likewise, there remain elements in Egypt that make me shudder. The same is true in Yemen, and I hope that we are not supporting those elements. Similar elements exist in Tunisia, and they are waiting for an opportunity to strike and take power. I do not trust the opposition in Jordan, especially when king Abdallah has been a very western friendly person. In some of these countries it is in fact Shiite vs. Sunni, and I simply do not trust the Shiites in those countries. On top of that Iraq remains a festering boil with the constant bombings and killings carried out by forces opposed to good governance and probably Moqtada loyalists to boot.  Not since Carter was in charge has the world looked this bad.

 

Syria – why the west should not interfere, but the UN should issue a condemnation


The Syrian Asshat regime claims that they are pursuing “armed gangs”. One suspects that those armed gangs are mythical. However, there is always a possibility that there are some Islamists involved in the conflict.

Regardless, the scorched earth policy that is being pursued against the people in the northern part of Syria is unacceptable, and I can think of no reason why the Russians and the Chinese are attempting to block a UN resolution, other than Syria has been their “friend”.  Neither Russia, nor China give a fig for human rights. Their blocking needs to be considered in the light of their activities rather than in the light of the NATO action in Libya. (it is called hypocrisy on the part of both Russia and China).

The big difference between Syria and Libya is that the Libyans in Benghazi actually requested the implementation of a no-fly zone. The other big difference is that from the get go Daffy Duck had used his air force to rain down bombs on the people in Benghazi and other towns, as well as using other heavy military equipment. However, that is where the differences end, and the similarities begin, because Asshat has been using the military against his own people and he has started to use gunships in those far northern towns.

It is difficult for the press to report on what is happening inside of Syria because Asshat has forbidden outside journalists. It means that we are dependent upon eye witnesses who could be biased. Regardless, the stories coming from people who have fled conflict considerably with the official line of “armed gangs”. Amongst those who have fled are army deserters and they tell a tale of military turning upon each other (there are probably more than those 120 who were killed by military personnel rather than the “armed gangs”).

What we are witnessing in Syria with regard to diplomatic efforts in the UN, is exactly what we witnessed in the UN prior to  resolution 1973. In those critical weeks the US had not come on board, Britain and France were doing the pushing to get something done to help the people of Benghazi, whilst Russia and China were adamant about blocking the resolution. In the end the USA came on board, and China, Russia and Germany were amongst those who abstained. As soon as the implementation of the no-fly zone began, which was in the nick of time, Russia and China began their criticism. At no point did they criticize the actions of Daffy Duck, as he was killing civilians in Zawiyah, Brega, Misrata, Benghazi, Zintan and other towns within Libya. They were at the forefront of spreading Daffy propaganda, which was in the course of time proved to be untrue.  Russia and China had ulterior motives in opposing that resolution, just as they have ulterior motions for opposing a resolution that condemns Syria for the same kind of actions.

However, the West should not intervene militarily for the simple reason the people have not asked for the intervention. On the other hand, Turkey has an interest because refugees are pouring over the border and into Turkey. This means that there is a very real possibility that another country will end up with boots on the ground in Syria (other than Iran which is already helping Asshat).

 

 

Syria – the story of a deserter (who got away)


In Libya and in Syria, military and police who refused to open fire on unarmed civilians have been killed. In Libya there had been evidence that the young soldiers were handcuffed and placed on the trucks going to the “front”. If they were not already dead (because they were shot) then they died as a result of the truck being hit by rockets. This happened in the early days as the tanks rolled from Brega and close to Benghazi. Thousands of military have deserted in Libya. However, the same thing is happening in Syria, where the young members of the military cannot stomach the idea of opening up on unarmed civilians.

The current blood-thirsty attack on a northern Syrian town was due to the deaths of 120 police and military. The regime claims that this was the work of armed gangs, but there is mounting evidence that they were shot in the back because they refused to participate in a massacre. Also, the regime is lying about “defusing bombs on the road” as the tanks rumbled towards that town. The impression given is that these people belong to something like AQ, but I am not sure that is the truth.

In a report from the Australian ABC, one Syrian deserter tells his story about why he left and is now in hiding:

Human rights activists and residents deny the allegations of a massacre and say a number of policemen were executed by other security force members when they refused to fire on protesters in Jisr al-Shughur.

Harrowing reports of atrocities committed during Syria’s crackdown, including deserting soldiers’ accounts of massacred civilians, have sparked fresh international outrage.

Accounts have emerged from some of the thousands who fled to Turkey from the bloodshed in Jisr al-Shughur.

Among them were Syrian army deserters who told of atrocities committed by soldiers in suppressing protests, who themselves were under the threat of execution if they disobeyed orders.

Tahal al-Lush described the operation, in Ar-Rastan, a town of 50,000 people in Homs province, that had pushed him to desert.

We were told that people were armed there. But when we arrived, we saw that they were ordinary civilians. We were ordered to shoot them,” said Mr Lush, with a blank stare in his eyes.

“When we entered the houses, we opened fire on everyone, the young, the old… Women were raped in front of their husbands and children.”

He showed his military passbook and other papers as proof of identity.

A second conscript, Mohammed Mirwan Khalaf, said he had been in a unit stationed at Idlib, near the border.

“Just in front of me, a professional soldier pulled out his knife and stabbed a civilian in the head, for no reason,” he said.

In the Turkish city of Antakya, Nabil, one of the last Syrian aid workers out of Jisr al-Shughur, recalled the roar of helicopters and a “skull split in two” before he collapsed with a bullet in his back.

Flashpoint Syria


The situation in Syria is extremely serious. This is a crisis that has been a lot slower to develop than the crisis in Libya. I believe that it has now reached the point where there needs to be a very strong resolution of condemnation in the UN. The difference between this situation and Libya is that you do not have a group such as the National Transitional Council, and you do not have the people calling for the implementation of a no-fly zone. Up until this week no aircraft had been used against the rebels in Syria, whereas in Libya, the Daffy Duck regime began employing its aircraft as soon as the protests started. Other than that, the mounting death toll means that the crisis is now at the same stage that Libya had reached within about a week of their first protests. One more big difference is that Syria has been using the Iranian Republican Guard in its brutal crackdown.

As a result of the crackdown and the extraordinary threats against one northern Syrian town, the number of citizens seeking refuge in Turkey has increased dramatically. The events leading up to this particular crackdown included the death of 120 military and police in that region. What the Assad regime left out of its propaganda is that these men were shot not by the people in that town, but by the military. These were men who had refused to fire upon their own people, and they were shot in the back. In some cases ambulance officers were forbidden from picking up the wounded, and when they did, they too were shot. Some actually survived the slaughter to tell their tale.

The flight of refugees into Turkey has led to Erdogan doing an about face with regard to his attitude towards Syria. He also did an early about face over Libya and now supports the rebels in Libya.  According to the site BigPeace, Turkey is contemplating sending troops across the border and into Syria:

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has now condemned, in the harshest terms, the man he used to call “a good friend of mine.” Referring to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, as well as his younger brother Maher, he said, “Sadly, their actions are inhumane. The savagery right now… think about it, the images they are playing in the heads of the women they kill is so ugly, these images are hard to eat, hard to swallow.” He indicated that he now supports a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria — a reversal of his previous position. Zaman and Al-Jazeera

Map of Jisr al-Shughour in Syria and Yayladagi in Turkey

Nearly 3,000 Syrians have fled into southern Turkey, into the refugee camp at Yayladagi, fearing a military assault by regime armed forces, but Turkey now fears that thousands may turn into hundreds of thousands of refugees. Turkish officials have neither confirmed nor denied a report that they have drawn up plans for an operation that would send several battalions of Turkish troops into Syria itself to carve out a “safe area” or “buffer area” for Syrian refugees inside Assad’s “caliphate.” From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Syria is in a generational Awakening era, and can’t have a crisis civil war at this time. However, there’s nothing stopping Syria from becoming the theatre of a proxy war between other countries which, like Turkey, are in generational Crisis eras. Zaman

********************UPDATE*********************

As I have stated on a number of occasions, I remain uncertain about the elements involved with the unrest in Syria. I am not totally convinced that these people are on the level, but I have no idea about the ones who are in fact armed. Yes, there are some groups of armed individuals. However, Assad will not allow journalists, not even those from Lebanon into the country. In the past few months several journalists have been detained and then released. Most of them have worked for Al Jazeera. The BBC news site has further information on the Syrian situation:

Syrian government forces have advanced into the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour, state media say, as part of a widespread government crackdown.

Witnesses reported an attack using tanks and helicopter gunships, after an early-morning bombardment.

The government says it is trying to restore order after it claimed 120 security personnel had been killed.

But residents say the dead were killed after a mutiny and fighting between the security forces.

The government advance sent more people fleeing towards the Turkish border, to join thousands who have already crossed.

BBC correspondents on the border say the number of those who have crossed is probably now much higher than the official figure of 4,300 given 24 hours ago.

State media said the operation began after explosive devices were defused on the approaches to the town.

Tanks came from the south after shelling randomly and sending volleys of machinegun fire all over the town,” one resident told Reuters news agency.

Helicopter gunships were also seen hovering overhead.

There are reports that the troops are part of an elite unit commanded by President Bashar al-Assad’s younger brother Maher.

The BBC’s Jim Muir, in neighbouring Beirut, says there are reports of members of the feared Shabiha militia group fighting alongside the soldiers.

It is not clear how much resistance the army is facing in the town, our correspondent adds, with so many people having fled.

“There are only a few people left. I escaped on my motorcycle through dirt tracks in the hills,” one man told Reuters.

Syria has prevented most foreign journalists, including those from the BBC, from entering the country, making it difficult to independently verify reports from there.

However, an Associated Press reporter who has been permitted to travel with Syrian troops said he saw “gunmen” arrested, and at least two dead in the town hospital.

State media said two command groups of armed organisations had been detained, and others killed or wounded. Arms and ammunition were seized.

One account said some of those who tried to flee towards Turkey were intercepted, while others were shot and killed.

On Saturday witnesses described homes being bulldozed in nearby villages and crops and fields burnt and uprooted.

Violence has also been reported in the nearby town of Maarat al-Numan, with armed men attacking the courthouse, police station and strategic fuel depot.

Meanwhile there are continuing but unverifiable reports of army defections, with the latest saying that an officer and 50 men had changed sides rather than fire on civilians in Jisr al-Shughour.

Protests against President Bashar al-Assad began in March and have spread across the country.

Rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed and there are reports the army has been using aircraft to open fire on people

 

the death of OBL does not change the F grade given to Østupid for his foreign policy failures


Yes, it is true, I am a very harsh critic of the Østupid regime.  There are few amongst them that deserve any accolades. However, I will give special mention to Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, David Petreus and John Brennan for their persistence in going after OBL. They deserve the accolades for the death of OBL, not Østupid.

In the week since it was announced that OBL was dead, there has been so much spin coming out of the White House that it has been enough to make a person go dizzy. The stories have been changing daily, and there has been a lack of consistency about those stories. Even that story about waiting 16 hours before giving the final go ahead sounds like cow dung. It is a story that does not show decisiveness, but instead shows virtual cowardice when it comes to facing the realities of a war situation. It sounds like the truth lies somewhere between the Ulsterman report on the matter, and the cow dung fodder that came out of the press. I have a hard time imagining that the fey pResident could hammer his fist on a table to give the go ahead on something this important, and then head off to parties and playing golf, whilst it is all going down.

The fallout from the action is still very nuclear at the present time. The relationship between the USA and Pakistan is deteriorating rapidly. What is worse, the Pakistanis have released the name of the top CIA agent in Pakistan, which has put his life in danger. This is partly caused by the spin that has come from the White House, as well as the refusal to release the pictures of the body of OBL or of the video that showed him being fed to the sharks.

There should have been a very real psychological advantage in showing those photographs, but the image-obsessed pResident has told the world that he is “afraid” of any ensuing outrage. Well, the fact is the outrage is going to happen anyway, and why should the USA be concerned about the sensibilities of a bunch of very brain deficient individuals who go crazy over the slightest thing?

However, it is not just the handling of finding OBL that keeps that grade as an F, but it is the way in which he has handled other Middle East issues.  For example, when the Iranian regime crushed the protests of the people with bloodshed, Østupid said nothing until prompted by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. If it had not been for those two, Østupid would have totally ignored the human rights abuses in Iran. It was the death of Neda that made a difference, but the difference was short lived. The notion of extending a hand has been proved to be fruitless, and on the other hand it has shown to the Iranians that the USA has been weakened by having this man as pResident.

Then there is the attitude over the uprising in Egypt. The strategic concerns for the region were overridden out of some other underlying beliefs that Muslim Brotherhood be allowed to control Egypt… oh what a web we weave!!! Now it seems that the Salafists are on the loose in Egypt and the uprisings that are about to take off again are going to get extremely bloody unless the army is willing to stop the slaughter of the Copts. Muburak at least kept these Salafists (allied to AQ) under control. The demands that the pResident made to Muburak to step down were totally ill-considered.  Tunisia is also troubled, but it is a far more settle nation for the time being.

Since there have been several uprisings, and with brutal crackdowns by the regime in question, this leaves open further accusations of inconsistency in policy. As an example here, look at both Libya and Syria. I do see the differences in that Syria was slower to crack down on the population, and in Syria the situation is becoming more and more bloody. It has been the slow build-up. On the other hand, in Libya, Gadhafi planned his reaction in advance of any protests. At first Østupid made some noises, but only after Sarkozy and Cameron were insisting that action had to be taken. The UN no-fly zone enforcement is justified in Libya because Daffy Duck was bombing his own people, pretending that he was combating AQ elements. I have discussed at length that much of the claims about the involvement of AQ in Libya has been exaggerated, and is mostly coming from regime propaganda. This does not mean that some AQ associated individuals are not present, it just means that the vast majority are not associated with AQ, and that they are fighting for their lives against a wounded bull. That being said, the issue here is the manner in which Østupid stepped back, leaving a gap that had not been filled in the mission to take out Daffy’s means of killing Libyans. The attack on Misrata is outrageous and it needs to be stopped.  It needs strong leadership from the US and instead, the leadership has been totally wimpy. I commend both Sarkozy and Cameron, and I give a special mention to the Turk Erdogan for their efforts in attempting to protect the citizens of Misrata and Zintan.

To these concerns about Libya, I add here that the pResident had plenty of time to go to the Congress before the UN resolution, and to put to Congress the possible actions that would be required. The fact that he was spending his time on vacation, playing golf and giving parties, indicates that he is not serious in being a leader of the world. The fact is that without Congressional approval, the participation of the US in the Libyan action is not illegal, but certainly illicit. 

For these reasons… and counting…. an F grade on foreign policy and international relations is still very appropriate.

Syria – it needs very strong condemnation


Whilst Libya has been bubbling along with more killed and wounded in Zintan and Misrata every day, the crackdown in Syria has been getting worse. The actions of Asshat (Assad) have been as brutal as that of Daffy Duck, as well as that of the Grand Pooh-Bah (Khamenei) and Ahmahnutjob (the boycott is over).

One town in particular, Deraa has faced the full brunt of the crackdown. Asshat has been following the Daffy Duck script by claiming that he has been arresting members of AQ. This has been a very useful ploy for both men to use, because it seems to excite the sensibilities of some to accept that the propaganda is true. It may very well be that some people are AQ sypmathizers, but not the hundreds or even thousands who have been involved in the protests in each country. (I have no sympathy for Islamists, but I believe in REAL human rights).

The BBC makes the following report on the situation in Syria:

A Syrian human rights group has accused the government of carrying out “10 days of massacres” against protesters in the southern city of Deraa.

The Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) says snipers and anti-aircraft machine guns are being used to fire on unarmed civilians.

Recent amateur video appears to show dozens of unarmed protesters being shot and bleeding to death on the streets.

The government is trying to quell seven weeks of protests that began in Deraa.

In cities across the country, protesters are calling for greater political rights and personal freedoms. Some are calling for the downfall of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

On Thursday, the US and Italy condemned the “brutal crackdown” by the Syrian government on its people.

More than 500 Syrians are thought to have been killed and at least 2,500 others detained. Rights groups say the figure could be much higher.

The unrest poses the most serious challenge to four decades of rule by the Assad family in one of the Arab world’s most repressive countries.

Foreign journalists are not allowed to enter the country, so it is difficult to verify the reports.

Tanks and snipers

The southern town of Deraa had been a hotbed of protest until troops backed by tanks took control of the city 10 days ago.

In a statement titled “ten days of massacres” the DCHRS says army units have been using anti-aircraft machine guns to shell houses in central neighbourhoods, such as al-Mahata and Daraa al-Balad.

Snipers have been stationed on the rooftops of high buildings and are targeting any moving persons, it adds.

“Dead bodies remain in the streets for more than 24 hours and then disappear,” an eyewitness told the DCHRS.

The organisation said 244 bodies had been transferred to the Tishreen Military Hospital in the capital, Damascus, over a two-day period. Many were children, it said, quoting a medic at the hospital.

The source also said 81 bodies of soldiers and army officers had been received. Most were killed by a gunshot to the back.

DCHRS says it strongly suspects that the soldiers were killed for refusing to shoot civilians.

Please read the whole report.

There are many similarities in this report between what is now taking place in Syria and what took and is taking place in Libya. In particular the use of snipers and anti-aircraft guns to shell whole neighbourhoods is deeply disturbing and is a carbon copy of the Daffy Duck responses.

The crackdown has also been the work of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard sent to Syria to assist in repressing the protests of the people. The Iranians also used tanks against the people in 2009 when they were brutally repressed by the regime.

The Iranian protests have been the inspiration for most of these countries – that is the people did not have any weapons themselves, they were peaceful. In Iran, whilst there was retaliation via rock throwing, people prevented violence against Basijj etc by reminding the other person that “we are peaceful”. The Syrian protests, like those in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen (perhaps) have been peaceful in that the people do not carry weapons.  In Libya the weapons came after they were fired upon when the people decided to retaliate against the deaths of their loved ones.  The Iranian protests have also been an inspiration for the brutal regimes and their crackdowns. Thus we see that Syria has called upon the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to help them put the people down. 

However, I draw attention to the fact that 81 military have also died, and that they received a gunshot wound in the back. This is also the picture that was coming out of Libya. In both cases, where the military refused to fire upon their own people, they too were brutally gunned down.

Does AQ have a relevant role in the current ME uprisings


The BBC asks the question about the relevance of AQ in the Arab Spring. Actually, I am going to disagree in part with some of the conclusions of the writer of the piece because I think that he has not been able to spot the influence of AQ in a couple of countries, such as in Morocco.  On the other hand, I note that one of his sources is a Libyan who is an ex-AQ operative:

What we are witnessing now is completely against their methods or understanding of how to make change,” argues Noman Benotman, a former Libyan jihadist who knew Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan but now works at the counter-extremist think tank, the Quilliam Foundation.

Although Nato’s military commander talked of “flickers” of al-Qaeda in Libya, European officials say they see no signs of a significant presence for the organisation.

And while some Islamists, often former members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, are involved, they are seen as focused on confronting Colonel Muammar Gaddafi at home and not being subscribers to al-Qaeda’s wider ambitions.

Mr Benotman also says he has seen jihadists whom he knows in Libya change the way they behave and talk in the past two months.

“The way they start to make statements or to understand the conflicts is unbelievable, beyond my imagination. The only explanation I can offer is because they have been affected – whether they like it or not – by the wave of democracy.”

 These are the same points that I have raised about how these Libyans have been behaving. It would seem that they are only serious up to a point, at least for now, whilst they are fighting for their own country, and their own families.  (a bit different than fighting an alleged enemy in another country).

The author only identifies Yemen as having potential for AQ to exploit, but I disagree with him on that score. I would suggest that there is a possibility of AQ exploiting the situation in Syria as well as in Yemen. The reason is that the Salafists are tied to AQ. This is also true with regard to the control that Hamas wields over the Gaza strip, where they are being challenged by Salafists (which might explain the negotions between Hamas and Fatah – the Salafists being a common enemy to both). I think it is probable that the Salafists are behind the trouble in Syria – the Iranian Republican Guard has been in Syria and has been assisting with the bloody crackdown over more recent weeks that has led to a sharply increasing death toll in Syria.

Also, whilst AQ has been caught on the back foot, it would seem that the political aims of MB are coming to fruition in the region. I can see no real difference between the major aims of both groups, but I can see religious differences between them. This means that there is a double threat, from AQ as well as from MB, and perhaps the writer is blind to the influence of Muslim Brotherhood, as well as the inherent dangers of the rise of Iran that would be assisted if Muslim Brotherhood was to seize power in Egypt.

In Bahrain it would seem that the protests have been backed by Iran, and this explains the manner in which the crack down has taken place. Although the crackdown has been brutal it has not been as bad as in Syria or Libya were most of the deaths have occurred. It is hard to tell whether AQ has had a role in Bahrain, probably because those leading the protests have been Shia rather than Sunni. The Salafists and AQ tend to be Sunni.

The strongest evidence of AQ is in Morocco, and also in Germany, where there are sleeper cells.  A few months ago the Germans were on alert for a terrorist attack. Now comes the news that one cell has been busted in relation to that terror alert. There are sleeper cells in various countries, but this does not solve whether or not AQ is behind the Arab spring uprisings, or whether there are other agents of trouble, such as Iran, at work. I think it is a mixture, Iran, Communists, Salafists (AQ), Muslim Brotherhood, and other provocateurs. It is also probable that Russia has had a hand in the uprisings as well.