Archive for maj, 2012

EU a stupid empire on purpose

21 maj, 2012

This is one of the best and succinct descriptions of EU I have seen:

“The European Union is like a hospital where all the doctors are mad. It doesn’t matter what is wrong, the treatment is always the same – more integration – and it is always wrong. The best thing to do is never to enter it.

Once you are in, the best thing to do is to leave. If you can’t get out, you will probably die.”

I disagree with one thing this author says: “EU is the Stupid Empire”. EU is a POLITICAL project. The Euro is part of that political project.

A lot of  EU’s decisions make no economic sense whatsoever. In that regard, Peter Hitchens observation that “EU is the Stupid Empire” is completely right.  Not to mention the enormous cost to the common people of all these political motivated but economically disastrous decisions.

The economic side was always a way to “sell it to the people”. Step by step. So that the political agenda could be slowly, but steadily implemented. Until it was too late. The political elites new ALL along that had the EU project been presented to the people for what it really is, people in ALL countries would have rejected it.

BUT EU was on purpose designed this way. So that the people could not stop this political project.

Never forget that ALL the political elites, irrespective of party or ideology, in the EU countries were behind this. With very few exceptions.

One small example, before the referendum on the Euro in September 2003 in Sweden, ALL parties (with the exception of some communists, greens, socialists and some from the agrarian party, ALL big unions, ALL mainstream media, ALL the representatives of the business world etc was for the Euro. And they put massive financial and personal resources behind this.

But the Swedish people, wisely, rejected this with 56% to 42%.

In the latest opinion poll, December 2011, 87,6% of the Swedish people were against the Euro. 9,7 % for.

They planned this, and wanted this. And they kept on purpose this real ideology behind the EU project well hidden from their citizens in their countries.

They kept everything on purpose, including treaties, SO technical and juridical that it was totally unreadable for the common people. Like the EU “constitution”.

Just to give one example of how meaningless the local parliaments have become:

In Sweden 65 to 85%, depending of which area, of “decisions” made by the Swedish parliament HAVE ALREADY BEEN DECIDED IN BRUSSELS.

I.E. The national Swedish parliament is in reality rubber-stamping Brussels decisions and implementing them.

That’s all!

And they cannot change even one syllable in these decisions. So much for “representing” the will of the people.

But of course, they are not telling us that. They pretend that ALL these decisions are made locally by the Swedish parliament as the “sovereign” representatives for the Swedish nation. When in reality they can, to the most part, only decide the colour of their on toilets.

Some other EU posts here:

EU – an unaccountable mess created by an undemocratic treaty – Now also a crony Bankocracy

The scam that is called EU and the Euro is behind the present crisis

Who the Hell do You Think You Are: The Euro Game Is Up!

EU – an unaccountable mess created by an undemocratic treaty

EU – The aim of this treaty is to be unreadable and unclear AND it can not be understood by ordinary citizens

The New EU foreign minister – An undemocratic appointment to an undemocratic post created by an undemocratic treaty

EU- an expensive pile of festering rubbish, mired in corruption, surrounded by inept and impotent politicians

EU: s foreign minster performance so far – lacklustre and a pushover 2

The HUGE difference between EU and USA in response to Haiti.

EU: s foreign minster performance so far – lacklustre and a pushover

EU – The inner game and the Corruption that Cost £684 931,5 per hour EVERY hour EVERY day EVERY year. And is increasing

The EU Auditors have, for the 15th year in a row, refused to sign off the EU’s accounts owing to Fraud and Mismanagement in the budget

Peter Hitchens blog post here (my bold):

Why defeat an evil empire – and then embrace a stupid one?

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/

”The European Union is like a hospital where all the doctors are mad. It doesn’t matter what is wrong, the treatment is always the same – more integration – and it is always wrong. The best thing to do is never to enter it.

Once you are in, the best thing to do is to leave. If you can’t get out, you will probably die.

Those of us who pay attention to history, politics and truth have known this for many years.

But as the EU’s ‘experts’ and ‘technocrats’ insanely destroy the economies ofGreece,SpainandItaly, it must now surely be obvious to everyone.

The EU, far from being a bright future, offers nothing but bankruptcy and decline.

If the old USSRwas an Evil Empire – and it was – the EU is the Stupid Empire. Obsessed with the idea that the nation state is obsolete, the EU has sought to bind its colonies tightly, while pretending they are still independent.

This is why what is essentially a modern German empire is not held together by armies, but by a sticky web of regulations and a currency that destroys prosperity wherever it is introduced (with one important exception, Germany itself, for whom the euro means cheap exports to Asia).

It is also why it has been built backwards, starting with the roof and ending with the foundations. Old-fashioned empires were at least honest.

They marched in, plundered everything they could cart away, killed or imprisoned resisters, suborned collaborators, and imposed their language on the conquered.

Other humiliating measures followed – forcing the newly-subject people to live according to the invader’s time, to pay special taxes to their new masters, to surrender control of their borders, to use the invader’s weights and measures, salute the invader’s flag and obey the invader’s laws.

Eventually, after a few years of imposed occupation money, set at a viciously rigged exchange rate, the subjugated nation’s economy would have been reduced to such a devastated and dependent state that it could be forced to accept the imperial currency.

The EU, which cannot admit to being what it really is, has to achieve the same means sideways or backwards. The colonial laws are disguised as local Acts of Parliament. The flag is slowly introduced, the borders stealthily erased, the weights and measures and the clocks gradually brought into conformity.

Resources (such as Britain’s fisheries) are bureaucratically plundered, giant taxes are  quietly levied, but collected by our own Revenue & Customs as our ‘contribution’, our banking industry is menaced.

Opponents are politically marginalised, collaborators discreetly rewarded, armed forces quietly dismantled or placed under supranational command. It is happening before our eyes and yet, while the exit is still just open, we make no move to depart.

Our grandchildren will wonder, bitterly, why we were so feeble.”

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Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 11

8 maj, 2012

As usual, I start with some recent news and developments:

The “ceasefire” is “on track”:

Annan plan for Syria“on track,” spokesperson says

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?ID=392546

”UN mediator Kofi Annan’s plan for Syria was ”on track,” though progress in implementing the ceasefire is slow, his spokesperson said Friday.

”The Annan plan is on track and a crisis that has been going on for over a year is not going to be resolved in a day or a week,” Ahmad Fawzi, the UN and Arab League envoy’s spokesperson, told journalists in Geneva.

There are signs on the ground of movement, albeit slow and small,” he added.

Some heavy weapons have been withdrawn, some heavy weapons remain. Some violence has receded, some violence continues. And that is not satisfactory, I’m not saying it is.”

Overall, Fawzi said, the plan and the UN observers who are on the ground overseeing its implementation—a team he reported had grown to about 50 by Friday—have had an impact.

But he decried continuing violence between President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and opposition forces in a conflict that has killed more than 11,000 people since flaring in March 2011.

”This is a difficult and complex mediation effort. There are days when things are progressing in a satisfactory manner and there are days where we feel that it’s a rough ride,” he said.

”However having said that, even on the days that we feel there is satisfactory progress… we are horrified by the extent of the violence that we see on the ground.”

So let’s see if I get this right: UN is horrified by the extent of the violence even on “good” days but STILL the Annan plan IS ON TRACK!

That in a nutshell is UN/Kofi Annan “ceasefire” and peace plan and logic for you.

International diplomacy at it’s best.

So here are some examples of the UN peace plan and how on “track” it is:

Remember that these leaked videos were filmed by the Assad militia, thugs, intelligence people etc. to show how “good”, loyal and efficient they are:

“GRAPHIC LEAKED VIDEO – ASSAD’S FORCES FILM THEIR LATEST MASSACRE. Another macabre ‘trophy’ for their collection of murdered Syrians. All in the name of their master, Bashar Al Assad.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hQKC3g_umeM

“GRAPHIC LEAKED VIDEO – ASSAD’S FORCES MURDER TWO YOUNG MEN THEN STRAP THEIR BODIES TO THEIR TANK TO PARADE THEM. (Date & Location Unknown) This is what Assad’s forces do. This is who they are. Animals.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Cu2QjMQlyNA

“VERY GRAPHIC LEAKED VIDEO – ASSAD’S FORCES FILM THEIR LATEST MASSACRE AND CONGRATULATE THEMSELVES. The cameraman says at one point (about the dead men) “hahaha, they were making coffee!, they even drink coffee” … Assad’s forces say this because it helps them de-humanize their victims .. using words such as “them” and exclaiming such facts as “they even drink coffee (like us)”.

This has been the key element to Assad’s hodl on power, his ability to convince his mercenaries that the people they murder are not human and deserve a brutal death. No matter if they are men, women or children.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/verify_controversy?next_url=/watch%3Fv%3DHaMqPH-I0Oo%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded

The thugs arrive:

”LEAKED VIDEO – THIS IS HOW ASSAD’S FORCES ENTER A NEIGHBORHOOD – THE GUNFIRE IS DEAFENING AND THEIR CHANTS ARE DISGUSTING. Damascus (Eastern Ghouta): They chant “Shabeeha (Thugs) Forever, For Your Eye’s Oh Assad!” which is a variation of the Pro – Revolution chant “Freedom Forever Despite You Oh Assad” (both slogans rhyme in Arabic.

Listen to the deafening sound of the the gunfire as these animals announce their arrival into the neighborhood, firing into thee air and at the surrounding buildings – spreading terror and fear.”

Syrian state TV in action – a case of literally shotgun journalism.

“LEAKED VIDEO – SYRIAN STATE TV REPORTER CONDUCTS AN ‘INTERVIEW’ THEN HAS ‘FUN; WITH ASSAD’S FORCES & FIRES GUNS WITH THEM. Homs (Baba Amr) – As he conducts a fake interview with a ‘local citizen’ who proclaims that he was happy to see the army come into Baba Amr (the district that was flattened by Assad’s forces over a one month period and where hundreds if not thousands were killed), this Syrian State TV reporter then puts on his coat and starts firing off a mercenaries gun for fun …”

These are Assad’s reporters

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlXlas6l7Jw&feature=player_embedded

And I found this appropriate quote:

The Hitlers or Assads of this world cannot personally collect taxes, torture citizens, shoot into crowds of protesters, operate public transport or fix roads by themselves. They need obedience and co-operation to do so. And if enough people deny obedience and withhold their co-operation—even after credible threats—rulers simply cannot rule.”

Srdja Popovic, one of the leaders of the Serbian Revolution and member of Otpor

(Otpor=resistance was a civic youth movement that existed from 1998 until 2003 in Serbia, employing nonviolent struggle against the regime of Slobodan Milošević. They were credited for their role in the successful overthrow of Slobodan Milošević on 5 October 2000.)

And the protest go on. Here a whole village is out demonstrating.

“THE SPIRIT OF THE REVOLUTION WILL NEVER BE CRUSHED – AN AMAZING PROTEST. Daraa (Mia’rbah): May 4, 2012 – In a tiny village which measures no more than 2 blocks wide and 4 blocks across in Daraa, the whole village emerges to protest aginst Assad’s rule and for freedom and dignity.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYA_PGuayWo&feature=player_embedded

The protest are spreading and taking new and bolder forms:

‘Pop-up protest’ leaves Damascus shoppers’  jaws agape

http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/pop-up-protest-leaves-damascus-shoppers-jaws-agape

“DAMASCUS // The protest came out of nowhere, a holiday afternoon in central Damascus busy with shoppers interrupted by lofted banners demanding freedom and democracy.

With surprising calmness given the risk of dire consequences if they were caught by security forces, a dozen or so activists emerged from the crowd outside the historic Hamediyeh market.

Most were young, some teenagers. A majority were women, evidently secular, dressed casually in jeans and T-shirts. There were no chants or songs, no words, just the banners, most in Arabic, one in English, calling for freedom, calling for an end to regime killings, reminding the hundreds of onlookers that in Syria doctors can pay with their lives for helping wounded civilians.

The audience at first seemed to have little idea of what was happening: Damascus is full of banners and posters for candidates in forthcoming parliamentary elections.

But when reality began to sink in, they stood mute, eyes wide, watching.

A delivery boy on an old-fashioned bicycle stopped and stared, mouth agape. Drivers leaned out of their car windows or ducked their heads for a better view through the windscreen.

In a country that for decades has brooked no public dissent, scenes like this are hard to comprehend and, even after 13 months of an uprising that has thrown entire cities into an anti-regime revolt, somehow unimaginable and shocking.

The very heart of Damascus is still not used to such blatant shows of rebellion. On Fridays people expect protests and, as a result, many who prefer to turn a blind eye to the uprising simply stay at home, doors locked, windows shuttered, televisions tuned into the propaganda and soap operas on state-run channels

A midweek May Day protest seen by hundreds of ordinary people is a different matter, however. It is much harder to ignore, dismiss or defame, especially when it doesn’t fit with the government’s insistence that the opposition are Islamist terrorists waging a campaign of violent intolerance.

This protest was peaceful and well organised, carried out with a smooth confidence by young men and women who could be the sons or daughters of almost any modern, middle-class Damascene family.

From the pavement, a smattering of applause rose – perhaps from other activists among the shoppers. A few drivers honked their horns in frustration at the blocked traffic. But mainly there was silence. No one hurled abuse at the protesters. There were no spontaneous shouts of loyalty to the president, Bashar Al Assad.

As if time had slowed, the demonstration moved across the road, leaving the way free for the cars. It resumed on the central reservation, banners held aloft again.

Walking casually, some smiling, some serious, the protesters crossed a busy road junction. They stopped in front of the justice palace, which houses the courts where scores of political dissidents have been sentenced to long jail terms over the years. The banners were again thrust into the air.

One of the protesters, a man in his thirties with grey hair, smiled broadly as if enjoying a simple day out with friends. Another, face stern, held his fingers up in the universal signal for victory and peace.

Ten minutes after the protest started, there was still no visible response from the security forces. Traffic police made no move to intervene, carrying on with their endless labour of keeping the traffic moving.

Then a siren wailed. Soon afterwards, the protesters melted away, disappearing quickly in small groups down side streets, hidden by their ordinariness.

A minute or so later, the Shabbiheh, burly men in olive drab trousers and T-shirts emblazoned with Mr Al Assad’s face framed inside a heart, were running towards the justice palace.

They were too late to catch their quarry, arriving at the main entrance to Hamediyeh market with everything ostensibly back to normal.

But everything had already forever changed.”

More on the atrocities in the Idlib area. This time from Amnesty:

Inside Syria’s crackdown: ‘I found my boys burning in the street’ Amnesty International reports the harrowing testimonies of the people of Idlib and nearby villages terrorised by regime forces

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/04/inside-syria-crackdown

“Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser, was in Syria for 10 days during the second half of April. Rovera has worked at Amnesty International for 20 years and has extensive experience of working in conflict zones, including Libya, South Sudan, Ivory Coast and Gaza. Here she reports some of the first-hand accounts of the brutal crackdown by the Syrian regime against its people.

”Soldiers came to our home and took my son. Later, as I was peering out of the window I saw soldiers line up eight young men standing facing the wall with their hands tied at the back and shoot them. Then they put the bodies in the back of a pick-up truck and left. I don’t know if the men were all dead or injured. At that point I did not know that one of the men was my son. His body was found with other bodies at a school not too far from our home.”

“In several villages and towns around Idlib the scars of the recent army incursions are very visible. Hundreds of houses have been burned down and everywhere I met families whose relatives were killed. Many were killed in exchanges of fire, in what seemed rather futile attempts by hopelessly outgunned armed opposition fighters to prevent scores of army tanks from entering the towns and villages. Others, both opposition fighters and people not involved in any fighting, were extra-judicially executed after they were arrested at their homes and those of their relatives.”

“In Taftanaz I met the families of two 80-year-old men who were killed in their homes during the army incursion into the town on 4 April. One was burned in his home. His wife told me: ”I had been staying with relatives across the street and my husband was at home. When I went back home I found it burned down but did not find my husband. I went out and asked the soldiers outside where they had taken him. I thought they had arrested him. A soldier replied ‘Go back in and look for him’. I went back and found his remains in a pile of ash.”

“In addition to the human loss, families are having to cope with the loss of their homes and livelihood. Those whose homes and businesses have been burned down or destroyed and who have been left with nothing other than the clothes on their back are relying on the charity of relatives and friends. Some are trying to repair or salvage what they can from their wrecked properties but many are beyond repair. There is no doubt that the burning down of so many homes and businesses – and including medical facilities such as field hospitals and pharmacies – was deliberate, seemingly a combination of revenge and collective punishment.

The extra-judicial executions, the shooting and shelling of residential areas, and the deliberate destruction of homes, businesses and other properties in the Idlib area, are consistent with the pattern of violations inflicted by Syrian forces on the population in other parts of Syria where there have been opposition protests and/or armed opposition. Soldiers, members of the security forces, and the civilian leadership up and down the chain of command should know that such abuses constitute crimes against humanity and the claim that ”I was just carrying out orders” will not keep them from being brought to justice – either in Syria or in other countries around the world.”

Say Cheese the UN observers are here!

“Syria‘ Moving Scuds to Israel, Turkey Borders”

All this of course in full agreement with the UN/Annan peace plan. Especially that part that Syria will not hesitate to fire missiles at Israel and Turkey in order to ignite a large scale regional war.

Sounds like a real peace loving government doesn’t it? Fully intent of following ALL points in the peace plan and ceasefire.

In Arabic here:

http://www.baladnanews.com/more-32918-8-سوريا%20تستعد%20للحرب%20..%20مئات%20صواريخ%20سكود%20الى%20حدود%20تركيا%20وإسرائيل

“Jordanian news site Ahbar Baladna reports that western spy satellites have recently spotted movements of Syrian heavy missile launchers northward and southward, toward Syria’s borders with Turkey and Israel.

The site says hundreds of high-caliber launchers are being moved, and that these could only be long range Scud missile launchers.

Syria has threatened in the past that in the event of foreign military intervention on its soil, it will not hesitate to fire missiles at Israel and Turkey in order to ignite a large scale regional war.

Turkish and French officials said ten days ago they were mulling a potential military intervention inSyria, where civil war has been raging for 14 months.

“In the face of developments in Syria, we are taking into consideration any kind of possibility in line with our national security and interests,” Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu told parliament during a briefing to lawmakers.”

More on the US non-policy on Syria

U.S. Syrian Policy: A Massacre in Progress; A Disgrace in the Making

http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2012/05/us-syrian-policy-massacre-in-progress.html

U.S. policy toward Syria is turning into a scandal on both strategic and humanitarian grounds. The next three months will be wasted in a toothless observer effort during which time the Syrian regime will go on massacring people and mopping up the rebellion. In addition, U.S. policymakers admit that they have no real back-up policy and what they should do next.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been gaining more power in large part because instead of financing and helping the moderate opposition, U.S. policy has combined being soft on the regime with helping the Islamists, especially in the absurd exercise in which an American initiative produced an anti-American, Brotherhood-dominated Syrian opposition leadership in exile.

And then to show how ridiculous the whole thing is, Syrian troops opened fire at oppositionists trying to talk to the UN monitors, forcing the observers to flee for their lives and injuring eight demonstrators. The UN responds by proposing a few dozen more, equally helpless, observers.

This is the same UN that in 2006 promised Israel that it would intercept Syrian weapons being smuggled to Hizballah in Lebanon and stop that radical group from reoccupying its pre-war positions in the south of the country. In six years, not a single weapon has been intercepted and not a single Hizballah terrorist stopped. On the contrary, with Syrian backing, Hizballah has terrorized the thousands of soldiers in the UN forces in Lebanon.

There should be no question as to what should be done. Along with Iran, North Korea, and Cuba, the Syrian regime is the most anti-American government in the world. It has done everything possible to sabotage U.S. interests, to sponsor terrorism, and to block peace. That regime is also Iran’s main ally.

Any conceivable president who cared about or understood U.S. interests would make the overthrow of the Syrian regime a top priority for the United States. I’m not talking about sending troops or going to war but about every conceivable other means. This should be blindingly obvious.

In addition, any competent president would work hard to help the moderate pro-democratic forces in the Syrian opposition so that they can gain power in the country. Instead, the Obama Administration that subcontracted dealing with the Syrian regime to the UN has subcontracted dealing with the Syrian opposition to the Islamist regime in Turkey. Not surprisingly, the Turkish regime has pushed Muslim Brothers and other Islamists and their clients into the ”official” leadership of the Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Council. This has led to a fracturing of opposition leadership.

And the Syrian regime is being rewarded with no more pressure and being given the ability to stall for time even though it has already violated the ceasefire. This is not merely a bad U.S. and Western policy; it is the worst possible policy, lacking any strategy to undermine the radicals and help the moderates.

After 2.5 years of the Obama Administration treating this enemy as a friend we have seen almost a year of dithering over the opportunity to get rid of that regime. It is like when the administration ignored the stealing of the election in Iran and the opposition movement there, as if it wanted to coddle, not confound, the Tehran regime. It also came to the rescue of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip, pressingIsrael to minimize sanctions.

In contrast, the administration has not hesitated to overthrow an ally in Egypt and come close to doing that in Bahrain.

The pattern is that the radical side breaks every agreement, rejects compromise, and escalates aggression and the Obama Administration takes it all with a smile on its face and a song in its heart.

But back to Syria. Even the pro-Obama CNN network is amazed by U.S. policy. It admits the UN mission will fail, agrees that the Syrian government is the aggressor in shredding the ceasefire–using heavy weapons aimed at civilian targets, and adds:

“Monitoring missions can only work when the parties to a conflict have had enough of fighting or can be coerced into negotiation by outside powers. The Arab League mission members in Syria earlier this year were little more than bystanders, unable or unwilling to operate amid the government crackdown….The [Syrian] government has made it clear that the observers won’t have free rein.”

Ahmad Fawzi, spokesman for the UN envoy Kofi Annan, whose past record hardly inspires confidence, says two truly shocking things;

”The United States is leaving it in the hands of Kofi Annan, as is the rest of the world.…We’re the only path in town. There is no alternative.”

But why should the United States turn over its policy to the UN, especially since a number of members are pro-Syrian regime and blocking any serious action? And have we really reached a point in time when the UN can present itself as the only channel for international action?

In other words it is assumed that theUnited Statescan have no independent policy. CNN accepts that view, adding, “That in itself illustrates how few options there are for the West to influence events inSyria.”

That’s nonsense. There are many other options. But how can there be hope for any alternative when a U.S. official actually admits:

”Our allies were coming back to us and saying, ‘What’s your next move?,and we were forced to admit we didn’t have one.'”

The U.S.economy is merely hopelessly in debt, but U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, is hopelessly bankrupt.”

                         Russian 240mm Mortar bomb

And there was “elections” on Monday May 7:

Heavy fighting rocks eastern Syria ahead of poll

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-syriabre84507e-20120506,0,6639855,full.story

“The authorities are touting Monday’s parliamentary election as a showcase of these reforms.

However, the opposition says it will change little in a rubberstamp assembly that has been chosen by the ruling Assad family, backed by the powerful secret police, for the past four decades.

The assembly currently does not have a single opposition member and official media said half the seats would be reserved to ”representatives of workers and peasants”, whose unions are controlled by Assad’s Baath Party.

”Nothing has changed. Syria‘s political system remains utterly corrupt and election results will be again determined in advance,” said opposition activist Bassam Ishaq, who unsuccessfully ran for parliament in 2003 and 2007.

There are effectively very few seats for independents, and these will go to the highest bidder.”

A plea for help from long-time hum rights lawyer and judge Haitham Al Maleh:

Dying for democracy in Syria

http://all4syria.info/web/Archive/39775

Syrians feel forgotten and betrayed by an international community whose support has been poor compared with that given Libyan rebels.

By Haitham Al Maleh

Syria yearns for freedom from the brutality of the Assad regime. For four decades, thousands upon thousands paid the price for their opposition to Bashar Assad and his father, Hafez Assad. We have been intimidated, arrested, tortured and killed. Since the uprising began in 2011, opposition forces put the death toll at more than 10,000, with many more imprisoned. And all because we want a free, fair Syria.

I am 81; I have dedicated my life to advancing democracy, constitutional principles and an independent judiciary in my country. I have been arrested on many occasions for having resisted the dynastic family rule of the Assads. I hope this awful period of Syria‘s history will end with the demise of this murderous regime, and I call on the international community to do more to bring that about.

I started my law practice in 1957, and in 1958 I became a judge. That lasted only until 1966, when the Baath Party, which had come to power in 1963, issued a special law that dismissed me. The excuse? I did not ”fit” with the revolution

It did not take them long to imprison me. Accused of ”spreading false news that could weaken the national morale,” I was sent to jail from 1980 to 1986 along with other activists by Hafez Assad, who had taken control of the government in 1970. During my time in jail I started a hunger strike that nearly ended my life.

When I was released, I returned to my work as a lawyer in private practice. But life was never easy; I was constantly monitored by the Mukhabarat, the military intelligence service, and its many branches.

In October 2009, I appeared on Barada TV — an opposition satellite channel — to speak out against government abuses, in particular the regime’s unjustified perpetual declaration of martial law and its suspension of the Syrian Constitution, actions that had enabled it to use unfair prosecution and imprisonment procedures since the 1960s.

Two days after my television appearance, Syrian authorities took me into custody, and on July 4, 2010, I was once again sentenced to prison for ”spreading false news that could weaken the national morale

When I was released this time, in 2011, the uprising had begun, and soon after, the regime’s violent crackdown.

The international community’s response has been poor at best. Syrians on the ground have felt forgotten and betrayed. A system that is supposed to protect civilians from brutal force has failed on a monumental scale.

We hear excuses for why intervention cannot happen in Syria as it did in Libya. The longer it takes, the more it looks as if the international community acted in Libya only because of oil, despite the much-trumpeted rationale of protecting civilians. Compared with Libya, many more Syrians are dying at the hands of their own government, and more still will perish as a result of international inaction.

One of steps that the international community could take to end the suffering and speed the demise of the Assad regime would be arming the Free Syrian Army. As it stands, the FSA can only fight what will be a losing battle. The government forces are heavily armed; the FSA has only small arms. If the international community does not want to arm the FSA, another option is to enforce no-fly and heavy-armor-free zones.

For now, however, the international community is putting its faith in the peace plan mediated by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. While I commend Annan’s work in trying to halt the slaughter of innocent civilians — and I hope it works — the violence continues. Even if a truce were to be honored, I cannot help but wonder what will happen when the people again take to the streets — as I know they will — to peacefully demand the downfall of the regime. My sources say that more than 1,000 civilians, including 34 children, have been killed by the Assad regime since the cease-fire.

Syria has been ruled ruthlessly by one party for nearly 50 years. Sooner or later the Assad regime will end. The international community must help the opposition by funding various opposition leaders to build political parties, so we can be ready to govern. It must help build democratic institutions and educate the population about political accountability, an alien concept to most Syrians, who have known only the anti-democratic Assad regime.

In short, we need all the help we can get to build a free, fair nation, one that represents all Syrians and respects human rights, the judiciary, international law and human life.

Syrian lawyer and former judge Haitham Maleh has been awarded many prizes for his human rights activism. He lives part time inEurope and part time in theMiddle East.”

Through Assad’s boots

How the naiveté and carelessness of western journalist put the lives of the opposition and civilian population at risk:

The spy who came in from the code

How a filmmaker accidentally gave up his sources to Syrian spooks

http://www.cjr.org/feature/the_spy_who_came_in_from_the_c.php?page=all

“Last fall, “Kardokh,” a 25-year-old dissident and computer expert in the Syrian capital of Damascus, met with British journalist and filmmaker Sean McAllister. (Kardokh is his online pseudonym, used at his request.) McAllister, who’s made award-winning films in conflict zones likeYemen and Iraq, explained that he was shooting a documentary for Britain’s Channel 4 about underground activists in Syria, and asked if Kardokh would help him.

At the time, the situation in Syria was deteriorating rapidly, as protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s repressive regime turned violent following a vicious crackdown by security forces. The Syrian government had drastically curtailed visits by foreign journalists, but McAllister had managed to get in undercover. Kardokh was grateful for a chance to tell his story. “Any journalist who was making the effort to show the world what was happening, that was a very important thing for us,” he told me in February.

At the time, Kardokh was providing computer expertise and secure communications to the resistance. He agreed to be interviewed about his work on camera by McAllister, who filmed his face, telling Kardokh that he would blur it out before publishing the footage. McAllister also asked Kardokh to put him in touch with other activists.

But some of McAllister’s practices made him uneasy, Kardokh said. He worried that the filmmaker didn’t realize how aggressive and pervasive the regime’s surveillance was. Kardokh and his fellow activists took elaborate measures with their digital security, encrypting their communications and using special software to hide their identities online. “I started to feel that Sean was careless,” Kardokh told me. He said he had urged McAllister to take more precautions in his communications and to encrypt his footage. He was using his mobile and SMS, without any protections.”

Then, in October, McAllister was arrested by Syrian security agents. He wasn’t harmed, but was held for five days and said that he could hear the cries of prisoners being tortured in nearby rooms. Eventually, he was released and returned to the UK. I didn’t realize exactly what they were risking until I went into that experience,” McAllister said in an interview on Channel 4 after his release.

The Syrians had interrogated McAllister about his activities, and seized his laptop, mobile phone, camera, and footage. All of McAllister’s research was now at the disposal of Syrian intelligence. When Kardokh heard that McAllister had been arrested, he didn’t hesitate—he turned off his mobile phone, packed his bag, and fled Damascus, staying with relatives in a nearby town before escaping to Lebanon. He said that other activists who had been in touch with McAllister fled the country as well, and several of those who didn’t were arrested. “I was happy that I hadn’t put him in contact with more people,” Kardokh said.

Rami Jarah, a Syrian activist based in Cairo, said that he tried to help another activist, known as Omar al-Baroudi, get out of the country after McAllister’s arrest. “He was terrified,” Jarrah said. “His face was in those videos. He said that his number was on Sean’s phone.” The next day, Baroudi disappeared, and Jarah said that he has not been heard from since.

Officials at Channel 4 say they took action to help McAllister’s sources after his arrest. “We have been in contact with everyone who felt at risk because they spoke to Sean,” said Amy Lawson, the channel’s head of communications. “He is an experienced filmmaker and took steps to protect his material.Syriais an extremely difficult environment to work in, so we continue to look for ways to minimize that risk whilst ensuring we tell this important story.”

It’s easy to argue that McAllister should have taken stronger precautions, but what, exactly? How many reporters are familiar enough with the technical aspects of digital security that they could protect their computers and phones from the Syrian intelligence service? The fact that McAllister, an experienced and committed journalist, jeopardized his sources with inadequate digital precautions is indicative of a broader problem in journalism today: We haven’t kept pace with technological advancements that have revolutionized both information-gathering and surveillance.

After researching the subject of digital security, I realized that there have been occasions in my own work as a freelancer covering the conflicts in Libyaand Afghanistanwhen I’ve exposed myself and my sources by carrying unencrypted data or e-mailing sensitive information over insecure channels. It’s unclear what, if anything, major news organizations are doing about it. When CJR’s Alysia Santo recently tried asking outlets like The New York Times, she got a firm “no comment.” Curious, I e-mailed an informal survey to journalist friends and colleagues, and several who’ve worked as senior correspondents in Afghanistan for major US news outlets said they’d had little-to-no formal training or assistance from their organizations in digital security.

“I think that the journalism community in the US, and to some degree elsewhere, is just beginning to grasp the fact that they need to protect their information and, by extension, their sources,” said Frank Smyth, who is the senior adviser for journalist security at the Committee to Protect Journalists and also runs a private company, Global Journalist Security. “It’s just too easy to get in and lift their information or monitor their communications without them ever knowing they were compromised.”

“He wished, though, that journalists would better inform themselves about the risks before visiting. “I think Western journalists can’t imagine the power of the regime here.”

Paul Conroy and the targeting and killing of journalists

Paul Conroy, a Sunday Times photographer was together with other journalist in the makeshift “press centre” in Baba Amr in Homs reporting on the slaughter going on.

That “press centre” was in reality, a four-story family home converted to this use as it was one of the few places that had a generator. It was also fortified. But its location was maintained by the rebels in tight secrecy.

Some of the journalists were using secure channels of communications protected by anti-jamming and anti-tracking devices.

But the Assad regime determined that they (the journalists) should be taught a lesson and deterred from ever coming back. And put a stop to this embarrassing reporting of the massacres inHoms.

So together with Russian satellite tracking and Iranian intelligence personal on the ground, on that Wednesday morning the building took a direct hit by a rocket and was totally erased.

The Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin and the French Figaro video-photographer Remi Ochik was killed. Three other Western journalists were injured. And Paul  Conroy was badly wounded in the legs.

Also many people were killed when trying to get the wounded journalist out of Homs.

Now Kill the witnesses

Syrian activists killed in Paul Conroy rescue mission

Up to 13 activists died smuggling the Sunday Times photographer out of the country, it has emerged

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/28/syrian-activists-paul-conroy-mission

“Paul Conroy, the Sunday Times photographer wounded in the leg in an attack in the besieged city of Homs, has been smuggled out of Syria in a dramatic and dangerous rescue in which up to 13 activists lost their lives, it has emerged.

Conroy survived the attack last week that killed his colleague Marie Colvin. Three other western journalists, including Edith Bouvier, who was badly injured in the same incident, were reported to be still trapped in Homs on Tuesday night. A claim by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, that Bouvier had also been evacuated was later retracted by his office.”

Paul Conroy: Syrian activists killed during rescue• Volunteers die while getting photographer out toLebanon• Three other journalists remain trapped in Homs • UN human rights chief calls for immediate ceasefire

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/28/paul-conroy-syrian-activists-killed-rescue

“Paul Conroy, the British Sunday Times photographer who was wounded in the besieged city of Homs, has been smuggled out of Syria toLebanon in a dramatic rescue.

According to those familiar with his escape a number of Syrian opposition activists died during the rescue effort after they came under artillery fire while leaving the city.

The evacuation party came under fire twice. Three activists were killed on the first occasion while more were reportedly killed when they came under fire again.

A spokesman for the paper said: ”The Sunday Times can confirm that the photographer Paul Conroy is safe and inLebanon. He is in good shape and good spirits.”

According to the Times, the sister paper of the Sunday Times, Conroy’s rescue took 26 hours from the moment he was carried out of his hiding place in Homs on a stretcher.”

”Despite the successful rescue of Conroy – whose colleague Marie Colvin was killed last week in Homs along with French photographer Rémi Ochlik during an attack on the makeshift media centre in the suburb of Baba Amr – three other journalists remain trapped in the city. They are Edith Bouvier of Le Figaro, who sustained a broken femur, French photographer William Daniels and the Middle East correspondent of El Mundo, Javier Espinosa.

The dramatic nature of Conroy’s evacuation underlines the high level of risk being faced by those who have been trying to run medical, food and other supplies into the besieged suburbs ofHomsand evacuate the injured, including foreign journalists.

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has recently moved the elite 4th Division commanded by his brother Maher into the battle for Homs, has been using a foreign-supplied drone to target its artillery and mortar fire into the city.2”

Here is an interview with Paul Conroy on BBC’s Newsnight March 2 from the hospital were they had taken out Russian shrapnel

“A present from the Russians”

Paul Conroy: Homs is comparable to Srebrenica or Rwanda

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-17241897

Kill the Messenger

What Russia taught Syria: When you destroy a city, make sure no one — not even the story — gets out alive.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/02/kill_the_messenger

“It was a star-filled night in Chechnya’s besieged capital of Grozny. The snow crunched under my feet as I walked with the Chechen rebel commander away from the warmth of our safe house. When we entered a bombed-out neighborhood 15 minutes away, I put the battery in my Iridium satellite phone and waited for the glowing screen to signal that I had locked on to the satellites.

I made my call. It was short. Then the commander made a call; he quickly hung up and handed me back the phone. ”Enough,” he said, motioning for me to remove the battery.

As we walked briskly back to the safe house, it was exactly 10 minutes before the cascade of double wa-whumps announced the Grad rocket batteries pounding the vacant neighborhood we had just left.

It was December 1999, and the Russian assault on Grozny was unfolding in all its gruesome detail. After the dissolution of so much of the former Soviet empire, Chechnya was one country that the newly minted prime minister, Vladimir Putin, refused to let go of. His boss, Boris Yeltsin, and the Russian army had been defeated and then humiliated in the media by Chechen forces in the first war. Five years later, Russia was back. And Putin’s new strategy was unbending: silence, encircle, pulverize, and ”cleanse.” It was a combination of brutal tactics — a Stalinist purge of fighting-age males plus Orwellian propaganda that fed Russians a narrative wherein Chechen freedom fighters were transformed into Islamist mercenaries and terrorists. More than 200,000 civilians were to die in this war, the echoes of which continue to this day.

This time, journalists were specifically targeted to prevent sympathetic or embarrassing reports from escaping the killing zone. As such, you can’t find a lot of stories about the second Chechen war. One of the few and best accounts was written by Marie Colvin, who described her terrifying escape from Grozny for the Sunday Times. Last month, Colvin thought she could roll the dice and enter the besieged Syrian city of Homs to defy yet another brutal war of oppression. This time she lost.

It’s impossible to know whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — a longtime ally of Russia– studied the success of the last Chechen war before launching his own assault on the restive city of Homs. However, his Russian military advisors surely know the tactics well. The crackdown in Homs carries a grim echo of Grozny, both in its use of signals intelligence to track down and silence the regime’s enemies and in its bloody determination to obliterate any opposition, including Western journalists.

Assad’s ability to lethally target journalists using satellite-phone uplinks could well have cost Colvin her life. Multiple reports have suggested that Syrian forces used phone signals to pinpoint her location and then launched a rocket barrage that resulted in her death on Feb. 22, along with that of French photographer Remi Ochlik and multiple Syrian civilians. “

Russia has spent a long time perfecting these techniques. On April 21, 1996, Chechnya‘s breakaway president, Dzhokhar Dudayev, was speaking on a satellite phone with Russian envoy Konstantin Borovoi about setting peace talks with Yeltsin. During the phone call, he was killed by a signal-guided missile fired from a Russian jet fighter. The warplane had received Dudayev’s coordinates from a Russian ELINT (electronic intelligence) plane that had picked up and locked on to the signal emitted by the satellite phone. It was Russian deception and brutality at its finest.

It should have been clear even back then that there was a benefit and a distinct penalty to modern communications on the battlefield. “

“These past few weeks, under a barrage of mortar, tank, and artillery shells, their plaintive calls for help from inside the besieged Baba Amr neighborhood of Homssparked international outrage. But without Western journalists filing for newspapers and television outlets, these videos — mostly shaky, low-resolution footage of corpses and artillery strikes — wouldn’t have had the impact they deserve.

In a welcome resurgence of non-embedded journalism, brave reporters like Colvin and many others risked their lives to enter Homs and report from the ground. What they showed us was moving, horrific, and embarrassing. Once again, Western governments were caught doing nothing — while women, children, and innocents were murdered by their own government. It’s a playbook the Syrians are good at: The shelling of Homs began on Feb. 3, 2012 — exactly 30 years after the Hama massacre, in which Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, killed up to 15,000 civilians over three weeks in a similar program of wanton destruction.

What we haven’t seen as clearly is the extent to which the Syrian regime (thanks to its Russian advisors) now has the tools of electronic warfare to crush this popular uprising — and anything that happens to get in the way. Syria is one of Russia’s biggest clients for weapons, training, and intelligence. In return for such largesse, it has offered the Russian Navy use of Tartus, a new deep-water military port in the Mediterranean. Moscow sold Damascus nearly $1 billion worth of weapons in 2011, despite growing sanctions against the oppressive Assad regime. With these high-tech weapons comes the less visible Russian-supplied training on technologies, tactics, and strategies.

The sounds of rockets pulverizing civilians should have brought back memories and warnings to Colvin. She would have recognized all the signs from her previous reporting in Chechnya, where she and her escorts were hunted relentlessly by Russian domestic security agents who sought to arrest, silence, or kill any journalist attempting to report on the slaughter of civilians.

My time in Grozny included being surrounded three times by the Russian army, numerous direct bombardments, and frequent close calls. I paid attention to the safety warnings of the Chechen rebel commanders who kept me alive. These rebels were once part of the Soviet military and intelligence apparatus and were fully schooled in Russia‘s dirty tricks. They taught me much. Chief among them was not communicating electronically while in country, not trusting ”media guides,” and never telling people where I was going. If captured by Russian troops, they urged me — for my own safety — to say that I had been kidnapped by Chechen forces.

Just as I exited Chechnya, I met Colvin, who was heading in. She wanted to know as much as she could. I warned her of the duplicity and violent intent of the Russian military and their Chechen proxies. Despite my warnings, she bravely entered Chechnya and wrote riveting, award-winning stories that now sound almost identical to her coverage from Syria.

I was distressed to read of Colvin’s death in Syria, and even more distressed to think she might still be alive now if she had remembered some basic warnings. Her first error was that she stayed inside the rebel ”media center” — in reality, a four-story family home converted to this use as it was one of the few places that had a generator.

The second was communication. The Syrian army had shut down the cell-phone system and much of the power in Baba Amr — and when journalists sent up signals it made them a clear target. After CNN’s Arwa Damon broadcast live from the ”media center” for a week, the house was bombarded until the top floor collapsed. Colvin may have been trapped, but she chose to make multiple phone reports and even went live on CNN and other media channels, clearly mentioning that she was staying in the bombed building.

The third mistake was one of tone. She made her sympathies in the besieged city clearly known as she emotionally described the horrors and documented the crimes of the Syrian government.

Unsurprisingly, the next day at 9 a.m., a barrage of rockets was launched at the ”media center.She was killed — along her cameraman, Remi Ochlik, and at least 80 Syrian civilians across the city — targeted with precision rocket barrages, bombs, and the full violence of the Syrian army.

In Grozny, Russian forces decided that they would eliminate everything, everybody, and every voice that stood up to the stateincluding journalists who tried to enter. Syria has clearly made the same determination in Homs. This military action is intended to be a massacre, a Stalinist-style lesson to those who dare defy the rulers of Syria.

The United Nations estimates that more than 7,500 Syrians have so far been killed in the yearlong spasm of violence there. Perhaps this ghastly toll would be even higher now if brave reporters like Colvin had not entered. With the recent news that the rebels have retreated from the bombardment of Baba Amr to safer territory, Assad’s forces, as well as their Russian advisors, are claiming victory. According to official news reports from the Syrian Information Ministry, ”the foreign-backed mercenaries and armed terrorist groups” have fled, the corpses of three Western journalists have been ”discovered,” and Homs is now ”peaceful.”

Despite what Damascus claims, this fight is not yet over. And we need more brave and bright journalists who will shine a light in places like Syria, where a regime works diligently to plunge its people into darkness. But let’s not forget whose callous playbook they’re using. “

By California-based Robert Young Pelton wrote The Hunter, the Hammer, and Heaven about his experiences inChechnya in 1999 to 2000. He is currently publisher of Somalia Report, a 24/7 news source that works with over 100 Somali reporters. His book The World’s Most Dangerous Places contains survival tips from what he has learned in over a dozen conflicts.”

by Paul Conroy on Facebook

The Butcher of Homs

“Last Tuesday I was asked to join a panel discussion at the House of Commons. I readily agreed as it was to screen Jonathan Miller’s fantastic and ground breaking film ‘Syria’s Torture Machine. One of the most insightful and inspiring pieces of filmmaking I have seen in many years.

The event was hosted by Anne Clywd MP with representatives from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, a Syrian torture victim, a representative from theRussian federationand me.

After an introductory round of speeches we watched Jonathan’s superb film and the panel then opened for answers. By this time I had moved back to the audience as my leg injuries were not ideal for sitting up front. Still wishing to take part in the panel discussion and perhaps do a little Q&A I asked if I could have a microphone. My colleague asked one of those media study, large red glasses and tight jeans assistant producer types if this was possible “It’s not going to happen” he was told in a rather bolshie and self-important way. “I think you will find he’s doing it anyway” my colleague Miles Amoore from the Sunday Time grinned.

The point in this is that all week I had been trying, unsuccessfully, to get a comment from the Russians regarding arms supplies to Syria. Now, right there in front of me, was a real life, in the flesh card carrying representative of theRussian federation and a Channel 4 work placement fruit bat wouldn’t give me a microphone.

I was reduced to putting up my hand and rather grumpily waiting my turn. In the event the wonderful Ann Clywd chairing the proceedings saw my rather desperate outstretched hand, similar to that of a child at school who finds he miraculously knows the answer to a question and is desperate not to go unnoticed.

Given that I had had a large piece of Russian shrapnel removed from me a few days previously I was eager to ask about the Russians continued supply of arms to Syria. I started by reminding him that it was a piece of a Russian made shell that had just been removed from my back. He looked suitably embarrassed but said nothing.

My main question I said was a three part yes or no question which he agreed to have a pop at

Q Is it true that Russia is supplying arms and heavy artillery munitions toSyria

A. Yes

Q. Are you are aware that these weapons and munitions are being used against civilians

A. Yes

Q. Knowing this will Russia stop selling weapons and heavy munitions to Syria

A. No (brief gasp from me and others) if we don’t do it somebody else will.

Now excuse me but that seems like an answer that a crack dealer would resort to when caught outside of a primary school with a huge bag of class A drugs he has been peddling to pre-teens, not the answer of a representative of one of the most powerful (and dangerous) nations on the planet.

So there we have it, direct from the horse’s mouth. Vladimir Putin ‘The Butcher of Homs’ as he so fondly known on the streets of Babr Amr is indeed supplying the Assad regime weapons, munitions and who know what else on the solid conviction that ‘If they don’t sell it someone else will’.

It’s little wonder we live on such a peaceful and harmonious planet.”

And more from Facebook

“Stop Assad’s Massacre #Syria

18/03/12Paul Conroy

Ok, thanks firstly to Bonnie for getting this page up and running.

In all my years as a war photographer I have never seen such systematic slaughter as I personally witnessed in the very small neighbourhood that is Babr Amr. Men, women and, most abhorrently, children have been massacred in their hundreds if not thousands.

Forget the phoney propaganda that is now a trademark of the Bashar- al-Assad regime. As an eye witness I can assure you that what is being reported is fact. There is no need to embellish or hype the slaughter that is taking place. It’s real, it’s happening now and it chills me to the bone.

I pay tribute to every man woman and child murdered by this regime. I salute the people who kept me alive whilst I was wounded in Syria. To the Free Syrian Army, The Farouk Brigade, Avaaz and to the all the Martyrs who died helping me escape. I can never repay you. I am forever in your debt.

Marie and Remi gave their lives to bring you the truth. Please don’t forget them; they were both devoted people who had a mission to bring you honest reporting, they gave their lives doing so. To the people of the media centre, who lost six cameramen in the line of duty and daily risked their lives to bring you what was happening whilst Bsahar-al -Assad tried in vain to crush the souls of the people of Syria. I salute you also.

In stark opposition to the likes of Remi and Marie there is a plethora of armchair pro regime activists who are vainly trying to back the regime. Please, these people have neither the tenacity, the courage nor sense of honour needed to go into Syria and report fact. My advice is to ignore them. Please let them have their say and fade into oblivion. They mean harm but mean nothing if ignored.

People who read this fight on. This regime can be broken, your spirit cannot. I will do all I can to fight for the cause. I have spoken to my Prime Minister, foreign secretary and other American politicians. I hope my words have an impact. In the dark hours that will follow please have the strength to continue. Too much blood has been spilt, to many lives destroyed for it all to be in vain.

I hope my leg gets better after the Russian missile blew a hole in it. Putin, the real ’Butcher of Homs’ abandoned you all in your hour of need. Never forget this. The Chinese stood by and watched you being murdered. Never forget this. When you regain control of your country do not forget those who stood by and allowed the massacres to continue

People of Syria we know you are not Al Quaeda, or terrorist groups. Have no fear we understand propaganda. I know the FSA well; they are not nor ever will be terrorists. We understand

To the People of America we know you can help, please, even though its election year and Obama has to win votes he must stand up as a man and disregard party politics. You have the power to stop men women and children dying. DO IT. Forget basketball, forget the opinion polls and start saving lives. NOW.

Vladimir Putin. You don’t seem as much of a man as the photographs make you out to be. We see you as a Judo black belt, tiger hunter and bare chested man of action. Is this just a myth? Why do you sit and supply weapons to a regime that slaughters its own people. Maybe you are just a Stalinist who never worried of such matters. To us all you appear ridiculous and week. I appeal to the ‘Butcher ofHoms’ help stop the slaughter. If not then your image will remain a vacuous myth

As I write the slaughter continues. Bombard your embassies, protest, scream and shout and demand answers!!! NOW. Every second of every minute is precious. Don’t waste a moment. We have been here before. Disregard Kofi Annan, he provides cover while Assad continues to kill. The time for talking is long gone. Now we must all demand action.

I would like to thank every person involved in my rescue. The Farouck Brigade. To Neil my dead brother who has given me strength, my parents. All at News International. Hm government. To Kate who kept my profile high. Max Kim and Otto, I love you. To Bonnie, thank you so much for all. Tom, the British Ambassador and his beautiful family. To Joss Stone who stands by me through the worst of times and through the best of times

To everyone I missed I’m sorry but pain kicking in now

Thank s

Paul Conroy”

And more

Opinion: World must not forget Syria’s missing activists By Paul Conroy, special to CNN

April 2, 2012

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/04/02/opinion/opinion-conroy-syria-missing-citizen-journalists/index.html?hpt=hp_c1&is_LR=1

“Editor’s note: Paul Conroy is a British photographer and cameraman who has worked in troublespots around the world. While working inSyriaearlier this year forBritain’s Sunday Times newspaper, he was seriously wounded in the attack which killed his colleague Marie Colvin, and fellow photographer Remi Ochlik.

London(CNN) — The situation in Syriaposes a seemingly unending series of new challenges: Challenges that can either stun you into silence or propel you deeper into the steaming cauldron of propaganda, murder, misery and ultimately death that is now life in Syria.

Over the last few days the authorities have opened a new front in their mission to suppress the flow of information coming from Syria.

The house which I and other international journalists used as a base in Homs was destroyed in a rocket attack that killed my friends and colleagues Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik.

This building was the hub from which many local activists bravely transmitted the images that have kept an open window through which the world has viewed the onslaught of the Assad military against the men, women and children of Baba Amr. The house is now a pile of rubble, the activists dispersed.

Having removed the operational center of the citizen journalists, the regime is now engaged in a manhunt to track, capture and destroy the remnants of that network.

Tough talk from anti-Assad coalition The regime fear these people for good reason: They have provided the most compelling documentary evidence of crimes committed by the state. The sustained and systematic use of heavy artillery against an unarmed population isn’t a rumor or urban myth. It is well documented and, thanks to courage of the activists, we now posses a large body of video and eye witness evidence.

Crimes against humanity are a serious charge against any state. To know that such evidence exists and continues to be collected will doubtless be causing concern to some in Damascus. For all their apparent willingness to engage in the bombardment against a civilian population there must be those within the regime pragmatic enough to realize that such evidence can, and almost inevitably will, be used against them if the regime falls and justice prevails.

The case of Ali Othman highlights perfectly this ongoing fear of the state.

Ali Othman, a vegetable seller by trade, is now in the custody of the feared state security services. He was arrested on March 28, near the town of Aleppo, and — according to well placed sources — is now being tortured.

Despite international pleas for his release, there are reports that other activists have been receiving calls from Ali asking them to meet him, regardless of the fact that he is now in custody. Those who have responded to his calls and arrived at the meetings have been immediately arrested by state security. It is unlikely that Ali voluntarily made these calls.

Ali Othman never smuggled international journalists into Syria. He was one of the first citizen journalists to film the peaceful protests. His only crime was to record the abuses committed by his own government. The world should keep up the pressure on the Syrian government to pay heed to the calls for his release.

Another prominent figure who disappeared this week is Noura Aljizawi, one of the first activists of the revolution. Her work involved humanitarian aid, handing out medicines and medical help at field hospitals and to those with long-term illnesses who could no longer find the drugs they needed. She visited them at home and offered them help on where to find medical advice and assistance.

Noura left home last Wednesday, March 28, and has not been seen since.

Injured journalist tells of Syriahorror Her sister reports that six of her cameras and a laptop have disappeared and that since her disappearance seven other female and five male activists have also gone missing. I have received reports that she too has been making calls to other activists urging them to meet up — making calls from captivity that is. Hardly encouraging news for those concerned for her well being.

The fear among the activist network is that Noura, who was so well connected and involved, could well be the key that allows the regime to deal a decisive blow to those struggling to keep open that window onto the activities of the Syrian state.

Meanwhile, the Assad regime continues to have a free hand in the systematic and murderous destruction of those involved in the uprising.

The world response has been lamentable and few world leaders have dared raise their heads above the parapet. The UK’s foreign secretary showed good leadership when he issued a statement calling for the release of Ali Othman. We need more of the same from others in power.

While Assad and his inner sanctum believe they can act with impunity we will continue to see more stories similar to those of Ali and Noura. This regime continues to murder and crush opposition figures while hiding behind the six point plans of the likes of Kofi Annan.

Meanwhile the world continues to watch in horror as men, women and children die at the hands of a regime seemingly unaffected by world opinion.

I was asked the other day in an interview if I had crossed the line between being a journalist and being an activist. I answered, somewhat incorrectly, that I was a humanist. What I meant to say was that I was — that I am — a human being.”

From Facebook:

Stop Assad’s Massacre in Syria

Paul Conroy

“The situation in Syria continues to slip rapidly, and even more violently, out of control. The ceasefire, if it could ever be realistically be called that, now lays in tatters and the death toll continues to mount. The regime though has little to fear. The presence of a few unarmed observers on the ground is hardly likely to have Assad and company trembling in their boots and with no plan B on the table to actively put an end to the killing of civilians, we can be pretty sure they will sleep well in their beds tonight.

And what of the Annan plan if the ceasefire fails? Well, look at it for yourselves, apart from the non existent ceasefire, all of the points of the plan seem based on the people of Syria placing their trust in a government that has systematically, shelled, sniped and tortured a large portion of the population for over a year now. Doesn’t seem too likely, when all things are considered, that anyone is likely to lay down there arms and go home.

So what happens next? Mr Annan will continue to be ‘optimistic’ that his plan has a few teething problems but will ultimately succeed. Why? On what grounds does he go to bed thinking, ‘should be ok tomorrow?’ Well, I guess because it’s the only game in town right now. While Russia stills supplies the arms and munitions that are causing the mass casualties, Iran supplies advisors and specialist help and China continues to be China, the Annan plan is the only thing the west, and the Arab league, can point to and say ‘look, we are doing something.’ The only problem is it’s achieving little and the death toll steadily mounts.

Lives cannot be saved by goodwill and optimism alone. Time for the world to start thinking of safe havens, yes, I can hear people scream, that will involve troops on the ground. Troops on the ground, or more dead men women and children. It’s a big choice, but one I fear needs making. And making soon.”

Some we have come to the end of my 11 parts series on what’s going on in Syria.

As I said in part 1 of this series: There is so much to be said about the uprising in Syria and the extremely brutal suppression by the Assad regime. And as usual, most of it is not said in the mainstream media.

So I thought I give you some pieces that are to the point and that give you some perspective of this slaughter of civilians. In other words, some insight into the world of real politics. This is a different universe that the normal platitudes and declarations our political elites are so good at excelling at.

The focus is therefore going to be on some countries and international organisations and what they have done or not done in 11 posts.

So I hope I have given you some insight into this extremely brutal suppression of a popular uprising by the civilian population. And the world of real politics behind the declarations.

As I said, there is so much more to be said.

This Syrian uprising started little over a year ago with spontaneous demonstrations that demanded that the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad reform Syriato a free and democratic state. Assad responded, as usual, with relentless force and a brutal crackdown. Which led to the people to call for the president to step down, and heed to his people’s will to relinquish his power. And for a peaceful transition to democracy.

All reasonably demands wouldn’t you say?

And from this start the Assad’s regimes force and a brutal crackdown have just intensified and widened. The death toll is now over 12 000. Mostly civilians: children, women, families, elderly etc. Many of them executed in the most barbaric way.

On top of that, the deliberate destruction of WHOLE blocks of cities, Block after Block, Neighbourhood after Neighbourhood.

Turning of electricity, water, telecommunications etc for cities and neighbourhoods. Destroying hospitals and preventing medicine and food to reach these areas etc.

I can add systematic rape to that mix of systematic violation of human rights.

Wouldn’t you say that this regime seems utterly barbaric and worthy of world condemnation?

And wouldn’t you have thought that the world would have done something by now?

And the sad answer to these questions is of course – YES ands as usual NO.

NOTHING have in realty been done except some cheap and empty rhetoric. A lot of grandstanding as usual with these people. And of course a lot of meetings, summits, conferences etc. Usually in very nice places very far from the reality they are supposed to talk about.

And yet Assad, hangs on, slaughtering his own people, destroying and despoiling whole neighbourhoods, calling the bluff of the Arab League, Turkey, UN, USA and EU/NATO.

Helped to a very large degree by the enormous material support, weapons, training, intelligence, troops,  personal etc. from Russia, Iran, China and Hezbollah.

And by a traditional policy of dived and conquer the different ethnic and religious groups in Syria. And of course by terror and fear.

Nonetheless, this is a regime, with an enormous arsenal of heavy weapons, which in a year has not been able to dispatch a divided, badly organized, having hardly any weapons, and disparate opposition. It can be defeated and it will implode from the inside.  The slaughter would end much faster if the people got some, any support, from abroad.  And the fear is gone.

As for the do nothing as usual UN, it “proudly” upholds its tradition of doing ABSOLUTLY NOTHING when it really maters, like Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Darfur, Bosnia (Srebrenica anyone?) etc.

Refusing to arm or help the opposition will not end the conflict or limit it; it will drag on as all the above examples shows. Leading to massacres and atrocities.

And by waiting the situation gets worse and much more complex, then “they” used its complexity as an excuse not to intervene while decrying the lost opportunity for intervention. And ALL this time the killing and atrocities committed by Assad’s regime just continues as nothing has happened.

On the contrary, the Assad regime has increased it’s attacks since Bashar al-Assad agreed to implement the “new” peace plan.

The international community’s response has been ludicrous. Syrians on the ground have felt forgotten and betrayed. A system that is supposed to protect civilians from brutal force has failed on a monumental scale.

And to ALL these countries, USA, EU, NATO, Turkey etc. that are supposed to defend and protect freedom, liberty and human rights.

To ALL these global government organisations (UN),and local ones like the Arab League etc.

To ALL the statesmen and politicians that talk so loudly about “responsibility to protect” (Samantha Power anyone?), freedom, liberty and human rights.

I say only one thing: You should BE REALLY PROUD of yourselves and the children of Syria will remember you. Each one.

To the children of Syria!

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Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 10

5 maj, 2012

As usual, I start with some recent news and developments:

Al-Arabiya: Tuesday’s death toll in Syria rises to 43 people (May 1)

The atrocities continuous, ceasefire or no ceasefire, UN peace plan or no UN peace plan, it doesn’t matter.

A young boy shot through the eye by a sniper from Assad’s forces. A very brave solder indeed.

”A LITTLE BOY IS SHOT THROUGH THE EYE AND KILLED BY ASSAD’S FORCES. Homs(Jouret Al Sheyah): May 1, 2012- Kutaiba Amer Saber was shot by an Assadist sniper straight through his eye. what kind of human can take aim at a child and murder them in such a  brutal way … all in the name of their leader, Bashar Al Assad.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AMu7Um2k1io

And the destroying of mosques continuous and were are the protests?

“THIS IS THE RESPECT ASSAD AND HIS FORCES HAVE FOR RELIGION. THEY DESTROY A MOSQUE MINARET. Homs(Al Sa’an): May 29, 2012- The Muslim world is outraged by cartoons, yet when Assad destroys mosque after mosque and forces detained men, women and children to renounce God … there is nothing but silence.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEa3v7ktoI0&feature=player_embedded

Normal family life wouldn’t you say?

”DAILY LIFE FOR A FAMILY – HUDDLED IN FEAR IN A BASEMENT. Idleb (Jisr Al Shighour): May 1, 2012- This is how these children live. This is how they are being raised, in cramped basements acrossSyria. When the cameraman asks the kids “Do you like Bashar?” They respond “No!” He asks why and they respond simply “because he’s hitting us with rockets”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUTVRh5p1_Y&feature=player_embedded

The deliberate destruction and looting of Syria’s culture heritage. Remember that this happened in Iraq to but that was AFTER the fall of Saddam. In Syria, it happens with Assad’s consent and on his watch:

Syria’s cultural treasures latest uprising victim

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iZa2t6xYRmy1mvXIthfI6wu1rD8A?docId=f6b9e1bc5a12428ea316c067cb47e166

“In one of the most egregious examples, shells thudded into the walls of the 12th century al-Madeeq Citadel, raising flames and columns of smoke as regime forces battled with rebels in March. The bombardment punched holes in the walls, according to online footage of the fighting.

Local activists said regime forces carried out the assault and afterward moved tanks into the hilltop castle. Later footage showed bulldozers knocking through part of the walls to create an entrance.

The government and opposition have traded blame for damage and looting of sites around the country. But a group of European and Syrian archaeologists tracking the threats through witness reports from the ground says that in several cases, government forces have directly hit historic sites and either participated in or turned a blind eye to looting.

We have facts showing that the government is acting directly against the country’s historical heritage,” said Rodrigo Martin, a Spanish archaeologist who has led past research missions inside Syria.”

And there is a new report from Human Rights Watch witch documents war crimes by Assad’s forces in Idlib “War Crimes in Northern Idlib during Peace Plan Negotiations”:

Syria: War Crimes in Idlib During Peace Negotiations

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/05/02/syria-war-crimes-idlib-during-peace-negotiations

(New York) – Syrian government forces killed at least 95 civilians and burned or destroyed hundreds of houses during a two-week offensive in northern Idlib governorate shortly before the ceasefire, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The attacks happened in late March and early April, as United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan was negotiating with the Syrian government to end the fighting.

The 38-page report, “‘They Burned My Heart’: War Crimes in Northern Idlib during Peace Plan Negotiations,” documents dozens of extrajudicial executions, killings of civilians, and destruction of civilian property that qualify as war crimes, as well as arbitrary detention and torture. The report is based on a field investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch in the towns of Taftanaz, Saraqeb, Sarmeen, Kelly, and Hazano in Idlib governorate in late April.

While diplomats argued over details of Annan’s peace plan, Syrian tanks and helicopters attacked one town in Idlib after another,” said Anna Neistat, associate director for program and emergencies at Human Rights Watch. “Everywhere we went, we saw burnt and destroyed houses, shops, and cars, and heard from people whose relatives were killed. It was as if the Syrian government forces used every minute before the ceasefire to cause harm.”

Human Rights Watch documented large-scale military operations that government forces conducted between March 22 and April 6, 2012, in opposition strongholds in Idlib governorate, causing the death of at least 95 civilians. In each attack, government security forces used numerous tanks and helicopters, and then moved into the towns and stayed from one to three days before proceeding to the next town. Graffiti left by the soldiers in all of the affected towns indicate that the military operation was led by the 76th Armored Brigade.

In nine separate incidents documented by Human Rights Watch, government forces executed 35 civilians in their custody. The majority of executions took place during the attack on Taftanaz, a town of about 15,000 inhabitants northeast of Idlib city on April 3 and 4.

A survivor of the security forces’ execution of 19 members of the Ghazal family in Taftanaz described to Human Rights Watch finding the bodies of his relatives:

We first found five bodies in a little shop next to the house. They were almost completely burnt. We could only identify them by a few pieces of clothes that were left. Then we entered the house and in one of the rooms found nine bodies on the floor, next to the wall. There was a lot of blood on the floor. On the wall, there was a row of bullet marks. The nine men had bullet wounds in their backs, and some in their heads. Their hands were not tied, but still folded behind.”

Human Rights Watch researchers were able to observe the bullet marks on the wall that formed a row about 50-60 cm above the floor. Two of those executed were under 18 years old.

In several other cases documented by Human Rights Watch, government forces opened fire and killed or injured civilians trying to flee the attacks. The circumstances of these cases indicate that government forces failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants and to take necessary precautionary measures to protect civilians. Government forces did not provide any warning to the civilian population about the attacks. For example, 76-year-old Ali Ma’assos and his 66-year-old wife, Badrah, were killed by machine-gun fire shortly after the army launched its attack on Taftanaz in the morning on April 3 as they tried to flee the town in a pick-up truck with more than 15 friends and family members.

Upon entering the towns, government forces and shabeeha (pro-government militias) also burned and destroyed a large number of houses, stores, cars, tractors, and other property. Local activists have recorded the partial or complete burning and destruction of hundreds of houses and stores. In Sarmeen, for example, local activists have recorded the burning of 437 rooms and 16 stores, and the complete destruction of 22 houses. In Taftanaz, activists said that about 500 houses were partially or completely burned and that 150 houses had been partially or completely destroyed by tank fire or other explosions. Human Rights Watch examined many of the burned or destroyed houses in the affected towns.

In most cases, the burning and destruction appeared to be deliberate. The majority of houses that were burned had no external damage, excluding the possibility that shelling ignited the fire. In addition, many of the ruined houses were completely destroyed, in contrast to those which appeared to have been hit by tank shells, where the damage was only partial.

During the military operations, the security forces also arbitrarily detained dozens of people, holding them without any legal basis. About two-thirds of the detainees remain in detention to date, despite promises by President Bashar al-Assad’s government to release political detainees. In most cases, the fate and whereabouts of the detainees remains unknown, raising fears that they had been subjected to enforced disappearances. Those who have been released, many of them elderly or disabled, told Human Rights Watch that during their detention in various branches of the mukhabarat (intelligence agencies) in Idlib city they had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment.

Opposition fighters were present in all of the towns prior to the attacks and in some cases tried to prevent the army from entering the towns. In most cases, according to local residents, opposition fighters withdrew quickly when they realized that they were significantly outnumbered and had no means to resist tanks and artillery. In other towns, opposition fighters left without putting up any resistance; residents said this was in order to avoid endangering the civilian population.

The fighting in Idlib appeared to reach the level of an armed conflict under international law, given the intensity of the fighting and the level of organization on both sides, including the armed opposition, who ordered and conducted retreats. This would mean that international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) would apply in addition to human rights law. Serious violations of international humanitarian law are classified as war crimes.

Human Rights Watch has previously documented and condemned serious abuses by opposition fighters in Syria, including abuses in Taftanaz. These abuses should be investigated and those responsible brought to justice. These abuses by no means justify, however, the violations committed by the government forces, including summary executions of villagers and the large-scale destruction of villages.

Human Rights Watch called on the United Nations Security Council to ensure that the UN supervisory mission deployed to Syria includes a properly staffed and equipped human rights section that is able safely and independently to interview victims of human rights abuses such as those documented in this report, while protecting them from retaliation. Human Rights Watch also called on the UN Security Council to ensure accountability for these crimes by referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, and for the ongoing UN Commission of Inquiry to support this.

“The United Nations – through the Commission of Inquiry and the Security Council – should make sure that the crimes committed by Syrian security forces do not go unpunished,” said Neistat. “The peace plan efforts will be seriously undermined if abuses continue behind the observers’ backs.”

Eyewitness Accounts From “‘They Burned My Heart’: War Crimes in Northern Idlib during Peace Plan Negotiations”

“The soldiers had handcuffed him behind his back. They didn’t hit him in front of me, but I saw that his eye was bruised. I tried to be quiet and nice to the soldiers so that they would release him.

They spent about 15 minutes in the house, asking him about weapons and searching everywhere. I think they were looking for money. I didn’t say good-bye so as to not make him sad. He didn’t say anything either. When they left, the soldiers said that I should forget him.

–Mother of Mohammad Saleh Shamrukh, chant-leader from Saraqeb, who was summarily executed by the Syrian security forces on March 25, 2012

“The soldiers placed the four of us facing a wall. They first asked Awad where his armed sons were. When Awad said that he was an old man and that he didn’t have any armed sons, they just shot him three times from a Kalashnikov. They then said to Ahmed that apparently 25 years in prison had not been enough for him. When he didn’t say anything, they shot him. They then shot Iyad without any questions and he fell on my shoulder. I realized that it was my turn. I said there is no God but Allah and Muhammed is his prophet and then I don’t remember anything else.”

–Mohammed Aiman Ezz, 43-year-old man shot three times in the back of the head and neck by government forces in an attempted execution of four men in Taftanaz on April 4. He was the only survivor

“I knew in my heart it was my boys [my son and my brother], that they were killed. I ran out, and about 50 meters from the house there were nine bodies, next to the wall. There were still snipers on the roofs, and we had to move very slowly, using flashlights. I pointed my flashlight at the first body, then the second – it wasn’t Uday or Saed. Then I asked the neighbors to help, and we found them both. Saed still had his hands tied behind. People later told me that Uday and Saed were executed there, and the other seven were FSA fighters brought from other places. Uday had a bullet wound in the neck and the back of his head; Saed in his chest and neck.”

–“Heba” (not her real name), mother of 15-year-old Uday Mohammed al-Omar and 21-year-old Saeed Mustafa Barish, both executed by the Syrian security forces in Saraqeb on March 26, 2012

“The tank was on the main road, just 10 meters away from the house. Suddenly, they fired four shells, one after the other, into the house. I was in the house next door, with my mother and six children. We were all thrown into the air by the blast, and for 15 minutes I couldn’t see or hear anything. Then we went into the room that was hit by the shells. One of the walls had a huge hole, some 1.5 meters in diameter, and the opposite wall was completely destroyed. We found Ezzat in the rubble; we could only see his fingers and part of his shoe. It is a miracle that his wife and child were not hurt. They were in the same house, but went to the kitchen when the shells hit. We took Ezzat out, but couldn’t save him. His chest was crushed, and blood was coming out of his mouth and ears.”

–“Rashida” (not her real name), a relative of 50-year-old Ezzat Ali Sheikh Dib who died when the army shelled his house in Saraqeb onMarch 27, 2012

They put a Kalashnikov [assault rifle] to my head and threatened to kill us all if my husband did not come home. The children started crying. Then an officer told a soldier to get petrol and told the children that he would burn them like he would burn their father because he is a terrorist. When the soldier came back with some sort of liquid – it didn’t seem to be petrol – they poured it out in three of the rooms while we were staying in the living room. We wanted to get out of the house, but the soldiers prevented us. My young daughters were crying and begging them to let us go. We were all terrified. Finally, they allowed us to leave the house, but I became even more afraid when I saw all the soldiers and tanks in the street.”

–“Salma” (not her real name), whose house in Taftanaz was burnt by the soldiers on April 4, along with the houses of her five brothers-in-law

“They put me in the car, handcuffed, and kept there all day, until seven in the evening. I told them, ‘I am an old man, let me go to the bathroom,’ but they just beat me on the face. Then they brought me to State Security in Idlib, and put me in a 30-square-meter cell with about 100 other detainees. I had to sleep squatting on the floor. There was just one toilet for all of us. They took me to an interrogation four times, each time asking why some of my family members joined the FSA. I didn’t deny it, but said there was nothing I could do to control what my relatives do. They slapped me on the face a lot.”

– “Abu Ghassan” (not his real name), 73-year-old man who was detained in one of the towns in northern Idlib and held in detention for 18 days

Report here:

http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/syria0512WebVersionReduced.pdf

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DjbdGx9Au94#!

And the UN observers have finally seen what has been there in plain sight all the time:

UN: Syrian government still has heavy weapons in cities

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=391627

“Syrian security forces have kept heavy weapons in cities in breach of a UN brokered cessation of hostilities, but the government and opposition both have committed truce violations, a top UN official said Tuesday.

The 34 unarmed military observers now in Syriahave seen Howitzer guns, armored personnel carriers and other weaponry in cities, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told a press conference at UN headquarters.

Ladsous insisted, however, that the monitors were having an effect in cities where they have been allowed to go.

Withdrawing weapons and troops from Syrian cities was a key part of a six-point peace plan agreed by President Bashar al-Assad and UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. Syria has told the UN that weapons have been pulled back.

”Regarding the heavy weapons, yes, our military observers do see a number of APCs, for instance, they see a number of Howitzers and other military equipment in most places where they are,” Ladsous said.

Syria has told the monitors that the armored carriers have been disarmed but this has not been verified, Ladsous added.

The UN Security Council has approved a 300 strong force to monitor the cessation of hostilities which started on April 12 but has barely held. Ladsous said only 150 monitors have been promised by UN member states so far. Syria has refused visas for three monitors that the UN wanted in the country.

Ladsous, a UN under secretary general, said that government forces and opposition groups have broken the truce.

”All the parties need to take further steps to ensure a cessation of violence in all its forms.”

”The important fact is that violations do come from both sides,” he said while refusing to say whether one side had committed more breaches.

Annan is to brief the Security Council on May 8 on events in Syria, where the UN says well over 9,000 people have died since an uprising against Assad started in March last year.”

The new Berlin Wall, but of course, it’s ONLY to “protect” the people inside the wall. And were are the international protests?:

Syria’s sealed-off rebels

Baba Amr in Homs, once an opposition stronghold, is now isolated by a 10-foot high concrete wall

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/30/syrias_sealed_off_rebels/singleton/

BABA AMR, Syria— For Syrians on both sides of the concrete wall that now surrounds this neighborhood, the comparisons to the region’s longest running conflict are unavoidable.

“When my wife described the wall to me I immediately thought of the wall built by the Israelis to isolate Palestinian villages and towns in theWest Bank,” said Abu Annas, formerly a resident of Homs’ devastated Baba Amr district.

I can understand that Israel built a wall to protect Israeli settlers from Palestinians. But I cannot understand how a national government builds a wall to separate its citizens from each other.”

Since forcing the retreat of rebel fighters from Baba Amr after a brutal month-long bombardment in February, government forces have constructed a massive concrete wall to seal off the former opposition stronghold.

A reporter for GlobalPost recently visited Baba Amr and the wall, describing it as up to 10-feet high and made of cement. It’s still so new there is no graffiti. Since most residents have long fled, the neighborhood behind the wall has become “a dead land for cats and dogs,” as one former resident described it.

Soldiers and secret police guard the few narrow passages through the wall, arresting any male aged between 13 and 60, said Annas, whose wife and young daughter recently went to check on what remained of their home inside Baba Amr.

“They spent half an hour arguing with the security officer who said his men would have to check them before they passed through,” he said. “She came back crying, saying, ‘There is no Baba Amr.’”

Those houses not destroyed in February’s siege have been taken over by soldiers, Annas said. Electricity and phone lines have been cut for months and now cars cannot enter, nor delivery trucks, meaning shops are almost all closed.

Activists in the area said the neighborhood — once home to some 28,000 people — has now been all but abandoned, with only about 1,000 still living inside the wall.

In other Sunni-majority opposition neighborhoods throughout Homs, such as Karm al-Zeitoune, where whole families were killed in recent sectarian massacres, and Deir Balbah and Qarabes, the majority of residents have also fled.

With the UN-Arab League ceasefire plan in tatters — at least 462 people have been killed since April 16 when the UN resolved to send ceasefire monitors, according to the opposition Local Coordination Committees — and veto-wielding Russia blaming the armed opposition for the majority of attacks, the Assad regime appears to be taking steps to re-exert long-term security control and collectively punish rebellious communities.

On Saturday, Abu Bakr Saleh, a spokesman for the Baba Amr media center who lived through the bombardment, said other security measures were preventing residents from traveling between Baba Amr and neighboring Joubar neighborhood, to the far southwest of the city.

Last week, GlobalPost witnessed continued shelling in Khaldiyeh and Bayada, Sunni-majority neighborhoods in north Homs that support the opposition and lie adjacent to Zahara, a neighborhood of mainly Allawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, to which the ruling Assad family and a majority of government elites belong.

Cairo Street, which leads from north Homsinto Zahara in the east of the city, has been renamed “Death Street” by locals after the deadly snipers deployed to rooftops, presumably to protect the pro-regime neighborhood.

On their first visit to Homs on April 21, members of the advance team of UN observers, the first of 300 due to be deployed to monitor violations of the ceasefire agreement, were forced to take cover after shots rang out as they walked down Cairo Street from Bayada.

“The regime will not adhere to the Annan plan and the near future will prove that,” said Omar, a 24-year-old member of the rebel Free Syrian Army, told GlobalPost in an interview at his home inHoms’ Deir Balba.

The regime is preparing for the post-Annan cease-fire by building walls around Sunni districts to block our movement and is digging a long trench around Homs two meters wide.”

Reports of Assad’s forces digging trenches around the south and west of Homs, where Baba Amr is located, first emerged last November. A video journalist working with GlobalPost witnessed the trench during a visit to Homs this February. The purpose of the trench remains unclear, but it appears to be a another military tactic to hinder access to rebellious neighborhoods.

In Daraa, the first city to rise up against the regime and suffer a sustained military assault, GlobalPost recently witnessed a labyrinth of checkpoints and deployment of tanks, troops and snipers, effectively sealing off the population from surrounding areas and the capital.

The regime blames “armed terrorist groups” for the breakdown in the ceasefire agreement. Information Minister Adnan Mahmoud told state-run Syrian Arab News Agency last week that the “terrorists” had committed more than 1,300 violations.

Russia last week echoed a similar line. Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich accused the opposition of shifting “to tactics of terror on a regional scale,” claiming Western governments were arming the rebel fighters.

Rather, it appears post-revolutionary Libya, which strongly supports Syria’s opposition, has made the first serious effort to arm the rebels. On Saturday Lebanese authorities announced they had discovered guns and rocket propelled grenades aboard a ship attempting to dock in north Lebanon’s Tripoli, a Sunni-majority city also widely supportive of Syria’s opposition.

Omar, the young rebel fighter from Homs, said the FSA was now restructuring after suffering a strategic defeat in Baba Amr.

“We will adopt guerilla tactics,” he said. “We are fighting in small groups and moving from one district to another so we don’t let the regime block this district and kill us. The FSA leaders made a big mistake when they tried to hold Baba Amr.”

As the rebels seek new strategies for their armed struggle, the Assad regime has made its contempt of the international diplomatic effort clear. Assad himself revealed his scorn for last December’s Arab League monitoring mission in an email, first obtained and verified by the Guardian.

Writing to Hadeel Ali, his young media consultant, the president forwarded a YouTube video ridiculing the mission’s inability to spot hidden Syrian tanks, to which she responded, “Hahahahahahaha, OMG!!!”

That same contempt appeared to be on display more recently as Kofi Annan, the Arab League envoy, briefed the Security Council on a letter received from Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed Mualem on April 21. The letter stated that the government had now withdrawn all heavy armor and troops from population centers, the first step in Annan’s cease-fire plan.

But daily videos of smoke billowing above Homs and troops opening fire in urban protest centers have told a very different story.

Syrian officials see Annan’s plan as “a license for the regime to do more of the same,” the respected International Crisis Group, one of the only international think tanks able to still interview Syrian officials, wrote in its April 10 report.

“As the regime sees it, Annan’s mission, far from presenting a threat, can be a way to drag the process on and shift the focus from regime change to regime concessions,” ICG reported, “granting humanitarian access, agreeing to a ceasefire and beginning a vaguely defined political dialogue, all of which can be endlessly negotiated and renegotiated.”

As that process unfolds, the wall in Baba Amr stands as a physical symbol of the deep-seeded sectarian hatred that a year of relentless violence in Syria has engendered in former neighbors.

“The Sunni districts are hosting terrorists and armed gangs so the government should close them off by all means. If this needs a high wall, why not?” Haidar, a 35-year-old Allawite fromHoms’ Zahara neighborhood, told GlobalPost.

A member of the Popular Committees, the official name for armed civilian militias fighting for the regime, Haidar said the possible collapse of the regime would mean no future for three million Allawites in Syria’s big cities. “We would return to our villages in the mountains,” he said.

“We have been occupying senior positions in the army, security agencies and government in Syria for four decades and we will keep the power in our hands, whatever this costs us.”

Students at the university of Aleppo send a message to the world

(Note these students were attacked on the morning of May 3 by Assad’s forces. Several was killed, many wounded and over 200 arrested http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=392233)

And the situation for the children of Syria, targeted and killed by Assad’s forces. And remember, these thugs were and are trained by Iran and Russia:

Syria’s children under siege

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=391570

Yazen is a four-year-old boy from Homs who found refuge in the Lebanese town of Ras Baalbek three months ago. He lost his ability to speak because of the psychological trauma he endured after being brutally beaten by the Syrian regime’s thugs when they came into his home in search of his father.

The killing machine in Syria did not spare children; rather, since the start of the uprising, the regime of Bashar al-Assad has intentionally targeted them, earning the Syrian president the title of “child murderer” among his detractors.

According to the Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria, 1,089 children – boys and girls alike – have been killed so far, and 464 wounded.

At the start of the uprising, a group of Syrians launched an initiative on Facebook calling for keeping children out of protests to keep them protected from the pro-regime forces that attack demonstrations. But it was not enough, as the killers go after children in their homes and schools. Reports by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch indicate that schools have been turned into detention and torture centers run by regime forces, who would also position snipers on the roofs.

According to the same reports, children have been shot by snipers, killed by shelling, tortured to death, and have died from untreated wounds. Reports also mention children being raped in prisons.

Anna Neistat, an associate director at Human Rights Watch, worked for years on conflicts from Chechnya to Zimbabwe to Sri Lanka. In an article in the Global Post, she said that the level of state-sanctioned torture taking place in Syria is incomparable with any other conflict she has ever witnessed. There is no distinction between children and adults in prisons, she said, adding that if anything, children are more brutally beaten, as investigators believe they respond faster to such practices.

In the same context, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the BBC that hundreds of children were taken as hostages or information sources. The Human Rights Watch report said that regular troops used children as human shields and put them in tanks and buses when the Syrian army stormed Ain Larouz in theprovince of Edleb on March 10.

The Syrian regime uses methodical violence against children for many reasons, including revenge, as children have played an essential role in the uprising from the beginning; indeed, it was children who wrote anti-regime slogans on walls in Daraa, launching the protests last year.

The regime is also trying to send other children a message. A year ago this week, the regime brutally tortured Hamza al-Khatib before sending his mutilated body to his parents, thus delivering a message to its opponents right from the start, namely that it is not bound by any moral and humanitarian deterrent and is capable of committing atrocities if the revolution goes on.

By targeting children, the regime is “striking the foundations” of the new generation and undermining the stability, safety and future of society and family, especially in rural areas where children are regarded as an “investment” by parents and a means to provide for them when they grow old, according to the UC Davis Human Rights Initiative Blog.

These practices have tremendous and dangerous effects on children who survive or witness such violence. “[The child] suffers from deep disorders and experiences a state of concern and feeling of being unsafe. This renders him or her unable to plan for the future, ignites his or her anger and influences his or her behavior,” says Psychoanalyst Rena Sarkis. “Any change in the child’s habits, such as having a different school or home, can put him or her in a state of shock. Seeing pictures of an earthquake in some countries affects the child’s spirit, as he or she fears that something similar may happen to him or her. This holds especially true when war invades his or her street, home and school. It is as though he or she was left alone in this life without any reference and markers,” Sarkis added.

Children victims of violence need to rebuild their sense of security and dignity by talking over what happened to help them understand and move on, Sarkis said, though UNICEF Child Protection Officer Abir Abi Khalil noted that while some children can express themselves using words, others find it difficult to do so.

In an attempt to provide them with psychological support, UNICEF established “child-friendly spaces” in the Lebanese regions in which Syrian nationals took refuge. Volunteers organize entertainment, cultural and educational activities for children and use drawing to help them express what they cannot put into words. “Drawings speak,” says Abi Khalil, adding that in their first drawings, many children depicted weapons, fire and guns. “Several months now into their displacement and participation in activities, they have started drawing suns and children.”

According to UNICEF Media Director Souha Bsat, the idea underlying the project is to allow the child to lead a normal life away from home, since parents – due to their mental state – cannot provide an atmosphere of joy and calm. These activities also help Syrian children mingle with their Lebanese peers, who also need spaces for playing and entertainment, since the Lebanese regions that saw an influx of Syrian refugees are the poorest inLebanon. Bsat goes on saying that these spaces fill the free time of displaced children constructively, especially for those who have been unable to enroll in Lebanese schools or were forced to work in order to provide for their families.

In Syria too, despite the killing, groups have started providing psychological support to children. “We are rebelling for them so that we provide them with a more beautiful future. The calendar of freedom gives a detailed description every Tuesday of activities and games that help children deal with psychological trauma resulting from violence,” according to the Facebook page of Syrian journal Ayyam al-Horriya (Days of Freedom).

But as Sarkis points out, it is only after the violence ends can Yazen and other children recover the glitter, color and songs of their childhood. “

And thanks to NATO’s, EU’s and US overthrow of Qaddafi weapons are flowing all over the place. Defected Syrian officers and agents desperately pleading with the Obama administration to change policy but to no avail. And this lunacy policy is CREATING EXACTLY THE SITUATION which this no arms policy is said to prevent:

“In the seven months since the Qaddafi regime was destroyed, Washington, London and Paris have turned a blind eye to the impossibility of establishing a stable government in Tripoli because rebel factions and militias identified with al Qaeda which control Libya’s main towns are too busy running the biggest arms smuggling network ever seen in North Africa.

Rockets, explosives and every kind of weapon is reaching al Qaeda elements and affiliates in abundant quantities across northern Africa and the Middle East, including their offshoots in Egyptian Sinai and the Gaza Strip.

Groups identified with al Qaeda have seized control of large parts ofMaliand directly threaten the stability of the Algerian government.

Sources report fears that Syriamight go the same way as Libya. Syrian officers and agents who have deserted from Syrian military and security agencies have made their way to Washington to implore administration officials to abandon the US policy of non-intervention in Syria. They warn that the rebel Free Syrian Army is falling into the clutches of al Qaeda. It won’t be long, they say, before these jihdist terrorists not only wreak mayhem in Syria, but turn that country into their haven and base for cross-border attacks against Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

Their pleas have not moved the Obama administration. That so long as the Americans stay out of involvement in Syria, France, Turkey and Arab League nations will also stand aside, because the US alone is capable of establishing combined commands and infrastructure for coordinating an operation with multiple air support on the scale required for Syria.

By opting out of action in Syria, the West and the Arab League not only give Assad free rein to continue slaughtering his people but leave the door open for al Qaeda to move in on the various Syrian rebel movements and add the element of terror to the ongoing carnage.”

“He is a liar, a liar,” he said. ”It was just talk, talk, talk. Nobody helped us.”

Inside Syria’s broken city of Homs

The eccentricity of terror is drawn in dust-covered colours in the homes of Baba Amr.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9239518/Inside-Syrias-broken-city-of-Homs.html

“Few people were prepared to talk, but one man was upset enough on learning he was talking to a Briton to damn the perfidy of David Cameron, who had seemed to want to help but had ”done nothing”.

”He is a liar, a liar,” he said. ”It was just talk, talk, talk. Nobody helped us. The whole world was against us.”

Another man described how he had been held in prison for 50 days – though not long enough to avoid the savagery of February’s bombardment that finally drove the Free Syrian Army’s Farouq Battalion from the suburb. It was a humiliating retreat which may have marked the turning point of this war.

Every day for thirty days the shells came. They started at six in the morning and ended at eight at night. In between, there was not a minute’s peace.”

And this video makes fun of the Syrian state TV’s propaganda:

“THE LUNACY OF SYRIAN STATE TV – SAME MAN APPEARS IN 10 DIFFERENT VIDEOS FOR STATE TV AS ‘COMMON BYSTANDER OR WITNESS’. The video speaks for itself.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_137knC2Zs&feature=player_embedded

US and the Obama administration

Remember the suicide bombing against the United States embassy in Beirut, Lebanon on April 18, 1983 that killed over 60 people, mostly embassy staff members and United States Marines. An additional 120 people were wounded in the bombing

Of the Americans killed, eight worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, including the CIA’s top Middle East analyst and Near East director, Robert C. Ames, Station Chief Kenneth Haas and most of the Beirut staff of the CIA.

Following the attack, the embassy was moved to a supposedly more secure location in East Beirut. However, on September 20, 1984, another car bomb exploded at this embassy annex, killing twenty Lebanese and two American soldiers.

And then there was the  Beirut Barracks Bombing on October 23, 1983 in Beirut, when two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States and French military forces—members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon—killing 299 American and French servicemen.

Of the 299 killed 241 was Americans. And sixty Americans were injured. Representing the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II, the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States military since the first day of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War, and the deadliest single attack on Americans overseas since World War II.

The blasts led to the withdrawal of the international peacekeeping force fromLebanon.

Well, that was “daddy” Hafez al-Assad  and Iran (Hezbollah).

As I have been saying, It’s a family affair. A deadly one.

And here they are (from 1994):

At the front are Hafez al-Assad and his wife, Mrs Anisa Makhlouf. In the back row, from left to right, are Maher (1967 -), Bashar (1965 -), Bassel (1962 – 1994), Majid (1967 – 2009), and Bushra Assad (1960 -).

Under the Bush administration US policy towards Syria cooled in 2003. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell was the last high ranking person to go to Damascus in May 2003.

And the Bush administration recalled its ambassador to Damascus on February 15, 2005 after Syria’s assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Al-Hariri on 14 February 2005. Under the rest of Bush’s term no US ambassador where stationed in Damascus.

Following Hariri’s death, there were several other bombings and assassinations against anti-Syrian figures. These included Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Gebran Tueni, Pierre Amine Gemayel, and Walid Eido. Assassination attempts were also made on Elias Murr, May Chidiac, and Samir Shehade who was investigating Hariri’s death.

It was the “son” this time. Together with Iran (Hezbollah).

The assassination gave rise to the so-called Cedar Revolution, a rare Lebanese political consensus. Syria, cowed by the collective anger, had to withdraw its troops.

The primary goals of the original activists were the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the replacement of a government heavily influenced by Syrian interests with more independent leadership, the establishment of an international commission to investigate the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri, the resignation of security officials to ensure the success of the plan, and the organization of free parliamentary elections.

The UN investigation and the Mehlis report

“The Mehlis Report is the result of the United Nations’ investigation into the 14 February 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri. The investigation was launched in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1595 and headed by the German judge, Detlev Mehlis. It involved questioning of Lebanese and Syrian officials.

The official Mehlis Report made no specific mention of anyone in the Syrian government as responsible for the assassination. However, the report was first erroneously released as a Microsoft Word document which preserved changes that had been made in the document since its creation. According to that document, the original U.N. report had specifically named many high-ranking Syrian government and military officials by name as being personally responsible for the death of Rafik Hariri.

For example, a previous editing of the report stated that ”Maher al-Assad, Assef Shawkat, Hassan Khalil, Bahjat Suleyman and Jamil al-Sayyed” were behind the killing of Hariri. But in the official version, this is replaced by ”senior Lebanese and Syrian officials”. Maher al-Assad is the brother of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and Assef Shawqat, a powerful figure within the regime, is married to their sister Bushra. Suleyman is a top Syrian security official and al-Sayyed, the only Lebanese of the four, was formerly the head of Lebanon’s General Security Department.

Some suggest that the document indicates the report was altered to remove these names during a meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, despite the fact that he had personally stated that this would not happen. Mehlis himself has denied outside influence on the report, and said that Annan did not suggest any changes. The motivation for removing the names is not known.”

Yeap, Annan again.

Report here:

http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N05/563/67/PDF/N0556367.pdf?OpenElement

You can read more about the failed UN investigation here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2010/11/19/f-rfa-macdonald-lebanon-hariri.html

Since the Bush administrations recall of the ambassador to Damascus there were some parading of politicians going to Damascus and meeting Assad. Many democrats but some republicans too.

The most notorious is when Nancy Pelosi (D), Speaker of the US House of Representatives, in April 2007 meets Assad in an effort to sabotage Bush foreign policy:

We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace,” said Pelosi, who met for three hours with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Even the Washington Post did not defend her:

”We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascusis a road to peace,” Ms. Pelosi grandly declared.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040402306.html

“Ms. Pelosi was criticized by President Bush for visiting Damascusat a time when the administration — rightly or wrongly — has frozen high-level contacts withSyria. Mr. Bush said that thanks to the speaker’s freelancing Mr. Assad was getting mixed messages from theUnited States.

Never mind that that statement is ludicrous: As any diplomat with knowledge of the region could have told Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Assad is a corrupt thug whose overriding priority at the moment is not peace with Israel but heading off U.N. charges that he orchestrated the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. The really striking development here is the attempt by a Democratic congressional leader to substitute her own foreign policy for that of a sitting Republican president. Two weeks ago Ms. Pelosi rammed legislation through the House of Representatives that would strip Mr. Bush of his authority as commander in chief to manage troop movements in Iraq. Now she is attempting to introduce a new Middle East policy that directly conflicts with that of the president. We have found much to criticize in Mr. Bush’s military strategy and regional diplomacy. But Ms. Pelosi’s attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish. “

Meeting Assad, Pelosi calls visit to Syria the ‘road to peace’

http://articles.boston.com/2007-04-05/news/29225817_1_syrian-security-officials-syrian-president-bashar-assad-mideast-crises

“DAMASCUS– House Speaker NancyPelosi challenged the White House on Middle East policy yesterday, meeting with Syria’s leader and insisting ”the road to Damascus is a road to peace.”

That brought a sharp attack from the Bush administration, which has rejected direct talks with Damascusuntil it changes its ways.

Unfortunately that road is lined with the victims of Hamas and Hezbollah, the victims of terrorists who cross from Syria into Iraq,” said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for President Bush’s National Security Council. ”It’s unfortunate that she took this unilateral trip which we only see as counterproductive.”

The United States accuses Syria of backing Hamas and Hezbollah, two groups it deems terrorist organizations. It also says Syria is fueling Iraq‘s violence by allowing Sunni insurgents to operate from its territory and is destabilizing Lebanon‘s government. Syrian security officials have been implicated in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri in Beirut, thoughDamascus has denied a role.”

Assad’s Speaker

Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria is part of a larger problem.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/220559/assads-speaker/eric-cantor

”In one fell swoop, the Speaker legitimized and emboldened a ruthless thug whose unyielding support for terrorism has bogged down our attempts to bring stability and peace to the region at every step of the way. The excursion, condemned by most major newspapers, undoubtedly won Pelosi plaudits from her reflexively anti-Bush liberal base.

But most instructively, it revealed why Democrats remain woefully unfit to set the nation’s foreign policy.

Presenting Assad with “a new Democratic alternative” — code for making President Bush look feckless — Mrs. Pelosi usurped the executive branch’s time-honored foreign-policy authority. Her message to Assad was that congressional Democrats will forbid the president from increasing pressure on Damascus to stop its murderous way. Several leading legal authorities have made the case that her recent diplomatic overtures ran afoul of the Logan Act, which makes it a felony for any American “without authority of the United States” to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States. Regardless of the law, Pelosi proceeded to make Assad an important regional player without first having to become a responsible one. At such a critical moment in the volatile Middle East, this is no time for the United States to be sending out mixed signals to our enemies.”

Then enter the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton. With a total change of policy. They sent a new ambassador to Damascus. And were the Bush administration refused to lend the UN “Human Rights” Council credibility by U.S. membership and withholding taxpayer dollars.

In 2009 President Obama, signed on, paid the dues, and is currently seeking a second three-year term for the United States on the Council. Etc (see my part 9).

Why??

Because the Obama administration had determined that Assad was a “reformer”

Yeap, you read right. According to Obama, Clinton and the top democrats, Assad was a “reformer” who they could work with.

And they did and tried. And kept silent about the atrocities. As long as he was “their man”.

As late as March 28 2011 Clinton STILL called Assad a “reformer”. That was two weeks after the uprising stared in earnest.

Back in March Hillary Clinton said (in CBS “Face the Nation) their would be no intervention in Syria because the dictator Bashar Assad was a “reformer.”

Syrian President Assad Regarded As a ‘Reformer,’ Clinton Says

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/syrian-president-assad-regarded-reformer-clinton-says

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday drew a contrast between Syrian President Bashir Assad and his late father and predecessor, and said U.S. lawmakers who recently have visited Damascus regarded him as a “reformer.”

She made the startling comment while explaining why the United States will not intervene on behalf of Syrian civilians revolting against the regime as it has done in the case of Libya.”

“Doing the round of Sunday television talk shows with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Clinton told CBS’s Face the Nation that the U.S. would not enter the conflict in Syria as it has in Libya.

No,” she said. “Each of these situations is unique.”

While saying the administration deplored the violence in Syria, she contrasted the situation to that of Libya.

“What’s been happening there [in Syria] the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities and then police actions, which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”

“CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, the interviewer, noted that the president’s father, Hafez Assad, had “killed 25,000 people at a lick” – a reference to the crushing of an Islamist revolt in the town of Hama in 1982 – and said the regime now was firing at civilians with live ammunition.

“Why is that different from Libya?” he asked.

There’s a different leader in Syria now,” Clinton said. “Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”

Despite appeals from the Obama administration, Bashir Assad has aligned himself with Iran and Hamas.”

“A regular visitor to Damascus is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who has met with Assad at least six times, most recently last November.

Kerry was a strong supporter of the Obama administration’s decision to re-engage the Assad regime and to send an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in five years. He has also taken an interest in prodding Syria and Israel towards peace talks.

In a March 16 speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on U.S. policy in the light of what he called “the new Arab awakening,” Kerry referred to the situation in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Oman and Lebanon.

There was not a single reference in the speech to Syria, however.

When Kerry was asked about Syria during a question-and-answer session afterwards, he voiced optimism about the direction relations were taking.

I have been a believer for some period of time that we could make progress in that relationship,” he said. “And I’m going to continue to work for it and push it.”

President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had,” Kerry continued. “And when I last went to – the last several trips to Syria – I asked President Assad to do certain things to build the relationship with the United States and sort of show the good faith that would help us to move the process forward.”

He mentioned some of the requests, including the purchase of land for the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, the opening of an American cultural center, non-interference in Lebanon’s election and the improvement of ties with Iraq and Bahrain, and said Assad had met each one.

So my judgment is that Syria will move; Syria will change, as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States and the West and economic opportunity that comes with it and the participation that comes with it.

Kerry said nothing about the need for internal reform in Syria.

In contrast, Kerry early this month was an outspoken advocate for the administration to act in Libya, describing Gaddafi as “a mad man bent on maintaining power” and saying the U.S. should lead the world in preventing the slaughter of more Libyan civilians.”

Assad, like his father, has nurtured strong ties with Iran and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, while continuing to host Palestinian terrorist groups in Damascus.

He also maintained Syria’s decades-old policy of political and military interference in Lebanon, and his regime was suspected of high-level involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

The Hariri killing prompted President Bush to withdraw the U.S.ambassador from Damascus. Seeking improved relations with Syria, President Obama nominated Robert Ford as ambassador and, after the process stalled in Congress, appointed him during a recess last December.”

So slaughtering civilians, including children, execute and massacre them, commit war crimes, destroying block after block, neighbourhood after neighbourhood with the world largest mortar bomb (Russian 240 mm) is OK IF YOU ARE DEEMED A REFORMER by the Obama administration.

Then all high talk and “responsibility to protect” doesn’t matter.

And Washington Posts Fact Checker concluded: “Clinton’s remarks gave a highly misleading impression”

Hillary Clinton’s uncredible statement on Syria

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/hillary-clintons-uncredible-statement-on-syria/2011/04/01/AFWPEYaC_blog.html

There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”

–Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on “Face the Nation,”March 27, 2011

“I referenced opinions of others. That was not speaking either for myself or for the administration.”

–Clinton, two days later

Hillary Clinton is known for making provocative statements, but few have generated such a firestorm as her comment last week that the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, may be a reformer. She made her remarks after “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer noted that Assad’s late father had killed 25,000 people during an uprising against his regime.Clintonresponded by noting that the son was now in power and he was a “different leader.”

Lawmakers and columnists quickly condemned her remarks. So two days later Clinton tried to deflect the criticism by telling reporters she was only referencing “the opinions” of lawmakers who had met with Assad and that she was not speaking for the administration. But then she added: “We’re also going to continue to urge that the promise of reform, which has been made over and over again and which you reported on just a few months ago – I’m a reformer, I’m going to reform, and I’ve talked to members of Congress and others about that, that we hear from the highest levels of leadership in Syria – will actually be turned into reality.”

 Officially, the State Department has taken a dim view of Assad’s pledges, describing him as “authoritarian” in the most recent human rights report. “The government systematically repressed citizens’ abilities to change their government,” the report said. “In a climate of impunity, there were instances of arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life.

There’s no question that Assad had promised reform to reporters, most recently in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. But have “many of the members of Congress of both parties” who have met with Assad actually come away from those meetings believing that Assad was a reformer?

Relations between the United States and Syria hit a low point in 2005 after the former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri, was assassinated and the Bush administration withdrew the U.S.ambassador.

But President Obama has sought to repair relations, believing a peace deal between Israel and Syria would help stabilize the region. Over congressional opposition, he returned the ambassador to Damascus.

In a meantime, a number of congressional delegations have made trips to Damascusto meet with Assad. Most famously, then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with Assad in 2007 over the objections of President Bush, though Republicans such as Rep. Darrell Issa of California also traveled there, believing it was important to maintain a dialogue. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has made repeated visits to Damascus to meet at length with Assad.

We will take it as a given that a number of Democrats believed Assad could be a reformer. On March 16, for instance, Kerry said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: ”So my judgment is that Syria will move; Syria will change, as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States and the West and economic opportunity that comes with it and the participation that comes with it.

But what about Republicans? Clinton claimed that “many of the members of both parties” who had gone to Syria “in recent months” had decided Assad was a reformer. The State Department, however, refused to provide any names.

So, using news articles, the Internet and other sources, we tried to identify every Republican lawmaker who had gone to Syria on an official trip since Pelosi’s visit in 2007. We came up with a list of 13 names, some of whom are now retired and some of whom have made repeated visits. We then checked every public statement or news release the lawmakers made about their trips or meetings with Assad.

We could not find anything close to sentiments indicating Assad was a reformer. Issa, for instance, urged a need for dialogue but said that “we should hold no illusions about the regime of Bashar al-Assad.” Issa added, “Our discussions were tense and focused on Syria’s support for Hezbollah and Hamas, interference in Lebanon, the movement of foreign fighters to Iraq and the repression of the Syrian people.”

Throughout the Middle East uprisings, Clinton has had trouble calibrating her comments to the mood of the moment, such as when she pronounced the Mubarak regime to be “stable’ and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” Days later, Mubarak was gone.

But did any of these lawmakers come away from the meeting believing Assad was a reformer? Shelby, through a spokesman, said he never believed or said that (and also did not brief Clinton after the trip). “He has known both the father and son, and believes they are brutal dictators with horrible reputations,” said spokesman Jonathan Graffeo. Other senators on the trip also denied that, though not all immediately responded.

Interestingly, even Kerry seems to have lost patience with Assad, blasting him in a statement on Thursday, just four days after Clinton suggested Assad was a reformer.

(My addition:

 http://www.foreign.senate.gov/press/chair/release/?id=c86dd9d9-651e-4bcb-b694-4947136a1a05

Chairman Kerry On The Situation In Syria

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Violence against peaceful protesters is unacceptable — whether in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen or anyplace else — and betrays the values that we, as Americans, respect and that people everywhere should share.  I am particularly concerned about the violence against protesters in Syria.  President Bashar al-Assad did not use his speech yesterday to promise concrete reforms, including lifting the emergency law. With large protests scheduled for tomorrow, it is essential that his government refrain from using violence against its own people)

The State Department’s refusal to identify these lawmakers is also suspicious, especially after Clinton backtracked and sought to pin the blame for the sentiments she expressed on others. So we are left with a public record that suggests Clinton was exaggerating or inventing the chorus of support on the GOP side.

In fact, Clinton’s remarks gave a highly misleading impression — that there was general consensus by experts on Syria in both parties that Assad was a reformer, even though Clinton’s own State Department reports label him otherwise. “

That “reformer” has now killed over 11 000 civilian men, women, children, elderly etc.

Syria’s ‘reformer’

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/syrias-reformer/2011/03/31/AFy4JFCC_story.html

Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone toSyriain recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.

— Hillary Clinton on Bashar al-Assad, March 27

Few things said by this administration in its two years can match this one for moral bankruptcy and strategic incomprehensibility.

First, it’s demonstrably false. It was hoped that President Assad would be a reformer when he inherited his father’s dictatorship a decade ago. Being a London-educated eye doctor, he received the full Yuri Andropov treatment — the assumption that having been exposed to Western ways, he’d been Westernized. Wrong. Assad has run the same iron-fisted Alawite police state as did his father.

Bashar made promises of reform during the short-lived Arab Spring of 2005. The promises were broken. During the current brutally suppressed protests, his spokeswoman made renewed promises of reform. Then Wednesday, appearing before parliament, Assad was shockingly defiant. He offered no concessions. None.

Second, Clinton’s statement is morally obtuse. Here are people demonstrating against a dictatorship that repeatedly uses live fire on its own people, a regime that in 1982 killed 20,000 in Hama and then paved the dead over. Here are insanely courageous people demanding reform — and the U.S. secretary of state tells the world that the thug ordering the shooting of innocents already is a reformer, thus effectively endorsing the Baath party line — “We are all reformers,” Assad told parliament — and undermining the demonstrators’ cause.

Third, it’s strategically incomprehensible. Sometimes you cover for a repressive ally because you need it for U.S. national security. Hence our muted words about Bahrain. Hence our slow response on Egypt. But there are rare times when strategic interest and moral imperative coincide completely. Syria is one such — a monstrous police state whose regime consistently works to thwart U.S. interests in the region.

During the worst days of the Iraq war, this regime funneled terrorists into Iraq to fight U.S. troops and Iraqi allies. It is dripping with Lebanese blood as well, being behind the murder of independent journalists and democrats, including former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. This year, it helped topple the pro-Western government of Hariri’s son, Saad, and put Lebanon under the thumb of the virulently anti-Western Hezbollah. Syria is a partner in nuclear proliferation with North Korea. It is Iran’s agent and closest Arab ally, granting it an outlet on the Mediterranean. Those two Iranian warships that went through the Suez Canal in February docked at the Syrian port of Latakia, a long-sought Iranian penetration of the Mediterranean.

Yet here was the secretary of state covering for the Syrian dictator against his own opposition. And it doesn’t help that Clinton tried to walk it back two days later by saying she was simply quoting others. Rubbish. Of the myriad opinions of Assad, she chose to cite precisely one: reformer. That’s an endorsement, no matter how much she later pretends otherwise.

And it’s not just the words; it’s the policy behind it. This delicacy toward Assad is dismayingly reminiscent of President Obama’s response to the 2009 Iranian uprising during which he was scandalously reluctant to support the demonstrators, while repeatedly reaffirming the legitimacy of the brutal theocracy suppressing them.

Why? Because Obama wanted to remain “engaged” with the mullahs — so that he could talk them out of their nuclear weapons. We know how that went.

The same conceit animates his Syria policy — keep good relations with the regime so that Obama can sweet-talk it out of its alliance with Iran and sponsorship of  Hezbollah.

Another abject failure. Syria has contemptuously rejected Obama’s blandishments — obsequious visits from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and the return of the first U.S. ambassador to Damascus  since the killing of Hariri. Assad’s response? An even tighter and more ostentatious alliance with Hezbollah and Iran.

Our ambassador in Damascus should demand to meet the demonstrators and visit the wounded. If refused, he should be recalled to Washington. And rather than “deplore the crackdown,” as did Clinton in her walk-back, we should be denouncing it in forceful language and every available forum, including the U.N. Security Council.

No one is asking for a Libya-style rescue. Just simple truth-telling. If Kerry wants to make a fool of himself  by continuing to insist that Assad is an agent of change, well, it’s a free country. But Clinton speaks for the nation.”

And on top of that, Hillary Clinton is telling the Syrian freedom protesters to lay down their arms.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4168102,00.html

“A few weeks ago, Amar met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He presented to her, among other things, information about soldiers who defected and plan to launch a guerilla fight against the army. “To my surprise, she asked that the defectors lay down their arms,” he says. “That’s an odd request. Why didn’t they ask the rebels in Libya to lay down their arms? How can they do it if at any moment they can be fired at and murdered? It’s impractical.”

“I can’t understand why the Americans are silent,” Amar says. “We expected them to intervene. Militarily. To bomb the Syrian army from the air. They intervened in Libya and managed to prompt Gaddafi’s removal, and that is what we expect them to do to Assad now. Thus far, more people were killed in Syria than in Libya at the point where Obama decided to launch a military offensive in order to avert a greater massacre. NATO also bombed in Kosovo when it was necessary. Why this hypocrisy?”

As I wrote in part 1 and 9:

“It is also very interesting to compare how eager the Obama administration, EU and NATO was to go into Libya with their do nothing attitude with Syria.

The dictator Gaddafi had not killed as many civilian people as Assad’s regimes have by a long shot. Or destroyed as many neighbourhoods as Assad. Nor did Gaddafi support so many terrorist groups as Assad. Or had the same strategic value for USA as Syria.

Nor did Gaddafi kill so many Americans as did Assad (Bashar and Hafez al-Assad – It is A Family affair). Etc. Etc.

So in every way and shape or form, in comparison Libya under Gaddafi doesn’t even come close to Syria under Assad.

Samantha Power, a prominent advocate of humanitarian intervention and the principle of ”responsibility to protect”, is considered to be the key figure within the Obama administration in persuading the president to intervene militarily in Libya.

Power, was a senior foreign policy adviser to senator Obama, and now a Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director of the National Security Council.

But on Syria? NOT A PEEP!

And some of the “excuses” for not doing anything, like “the arms could end up in the wrong hands”, become ABSOLUTELY mind-boggling hypocritical when you remember that NATO and US special operations troops together with their intelligence operatives in Tripoli, armed and put Al-Hakim Belhadj in control over Tripoli. And gave him “the keys” to Gadhafis armoury.

Those arms were advanced items which British and French special operations forces gave the rebels, according to “a senior” American source.

Who is Al-Hakim Belhadj you may ask. He is a leader and commander of LIFG, the Al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Which by the way is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. He is an al Qaeda veteran from Afghanistan, he joined the Talliban etc.

He was first captured in Pakistan 2001 and handed over to US security officials, he was repatriated to Libya two months later. Later CIA captured him in Malaysia in 2004. He was then transferred to Bangkok, where he was then placed in the custody of the CIA.  Later they extradited him to Libya where he was kept in prison for six years by Qaddafi.

According to the Spanish, Al-Hakim Belhadj was suspected of complicity in the 2004 Madrid train bombings etc. etc.

For the first time, therefore, the armies of Western members of NATO took part and helped directly in a bid by extremist Islamic forces to capture an Arab capital and overthrow its ruler.”

Then there was NO concernthat it would fuel a proliferation of weapons in the region”. In fact, NATO gave sophisticated weapons to known Al Qaeda groups like LIFG.

As I said before, it is so ABSOLUTELY mind-boggling hypocritical that you just want to throw up.

And while NATO is “concerned”, the Syrian civilian population continues to get slaughtered.

But how cares?

And that Samantha Power, Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director of the National Security Council, mentioned above just got apointed by Obama to head the new White House Atrocities Prevention Board.

But still on Syria? NOT A PEEP!

So apparently she is Very SELECTIVE in which atrocities to “prevent” and when to use “responsibility to protect”.

Or as Tom Hayden posted at the Rag Blog, a far-left website that is home to radical 1960s anti-war leaders, some with previous close ties to Obama, Hayden remarked on Power’s use of war.

Tom Hayden was the principal organizer for the 1960s anti-war movement group Students for a Democratic Society, from which the Weather Underground domestic terrorist group splintered.

Hayden contended that Power’s Balkans experience led her to become an advocate of American and NATO military intervention in humanitarian crises.

“She began to see war as an instrument for achieving her liberal, even radical, values,” he stated.”

The Saudis and the Gulf countries ALL mistrust Obamas Middle East policy, including his Syrian policy.

Here is just one example from the editor Tariq al-Homayed of the pan-Arab Al-Sharq Al-Awsat:

Obama is also a problem

http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=2&id=28813

(Original in Arabic here: http://aawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&article=667694&issueno=12158)

”The blame for the situation in Syria does not lie with Russia alone; one of the biggest problems is also the Obama administration, which has squandered a golden opportunity to get rid of a significant obstacle to security in the region – and by extension US national security, Bashar al-Assad. However, it is clear that Obama is not concerned with the security of the region – even though it impacts upon international security as a whole, especially with the chaos in Syria overlooking the Mediterranean – rather Obama is preoccupied with his re-election bid.

The US administration has directed as much blame, if not more, towards the Syrian opposition as it has towards al-Assad. What is worse, and indeed a major scandal, is that the Obama administration has said that there could be an al-Qaeda presence [among the opposition] in Syria, even though al-Qaeda ran wild in Iraq under the auspices of the al-Assad regime. When I say this is a scandal, this is because the American newspaper The Washington Post – quoting US intelligence agents – reported that the only evidence Washington has of an al-Qaeda presence in Syria is the style – yes the style – of the bombing that took place in Damascus, and nothing more! The Obama administration is the one calling for the Syrian opposition to unify their ranks, yet Washington knows full well that the unification of the opposition requires international support and hard work, in any situation, not mere statements.

The problem with the current US administration is that it is notorious for misinterpreting events in the region. Here it is suffice to consider Obama’s dealings with the Green Revolution, where instead of supporting it he decided to withdraw from Iraq, leaving it in the hands of al-Maliki and Tehran. With regards to Syria, the Obama administration says that the al-Assad regime is still cohesive, but this is something to be expected for several reasons. Washington knows the extent of Iranian support for al-Assad, in terms of arms, money, men, equipment and all manner of resources, via Iraq. This makes it difficult for any Syrian official to defect. How could they, when they don’t see Obama taking any form of serious stand, and instead opposing the armament of the Syrian opposition and refusing to declare that overthrowing the tyrant of Damascus is an issue of national security?

How could a full military division defect when there is no buffer zone to ensure the protection of the defectors and to help them re-organize their ranks? Those who defected in Libya went to Benghazi, but where would the Syrian defectors go? If the Obama administration wants to see significant and rapid divisions, then it must adopt a firm stance. Let us recall the era of George W. Bush, when the US administration brandished the stick towards al-Assad after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, with an international tribunal just around the corner, at a time when Ghazi Kanaan was rumored to be plotting a coup and was subsequently assassinated! Where is the stick today, and where is the international tribunal?

Furthermore, from reading recent history we would find that no one defected from Saddam Hussein’s regime prior to the US invasion, and even in its early days, because at the time all members were aware that their families would be targeted. The al-Assad regime is worse than Saddam in that regard. But first and foremost, how can the Syrians mobilize when they don’t see a serious stance coming from Washington?

So the problem is not Russia alone, but also the hesitance of President Obama and his administration. Events have been interpreted in the wrong manner, the Syrians have been left alone to face the crimes of the al-Assad regime, and the biggest chance to create stability in the region and curtail Iran’s influence has been lost, so who will tell Obama this?”

And more

Obama’s detachment policy on Syria

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=376305

“On Monday, the editor of the pan-Arab Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Tariq al-Homayed, penned a column that delivered a scathing critique of the Obama administration’s Syriapolicy. The title of the piece said it all: “Obama is the problem, not just Russia.” While one can’t say for sure, it’s hard to read Homayed’s editorial as anything other than an indicator of Riyadh’s exasperation with Washington’s dithering as the Syrian uprising marks its first year anniversary.

The Saudis’ frustration with the Obama administration’s approach was already evident at the “Friends of Syria” gathering in Tunis last month, when Foreign Minister Saud al-Faysal left the meeting, citing lack of serious action. It was then that al-Faysal publicly went against the administration’s declared policy, calling the arming of the Syrian opposition “an excellent idea.” The Qataris, too, shared the Saudis’ desire for more robust action, including direct support for the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

However, if that’s the case, then why did Riyadh and Doha agree to yet another futile initiative with the Russians, which did nothing but buy more time for Assad to escalate his military campaign? In addition, reports continue to suggest that the Saudis and Qataris remain far from aggressively supplying the FSA with weapons. To answer these questions, one must again turn to Washington.

Last week, an anonymous administration official disclosed that a “decision has been made at the next Friends of Syria meeting to not oppose any proposals to arm the FSA and we’re not going to publicly or privately message on that,” the official said. “We’re not going to publicly or privately tell the Friends of Syria not to do this.”

The problem, of course, is that the administration did continue to message publicly against any lethal support to the FSA, and against any military options more broadly. As late as this Tuesday, the White House spokesman was still repeating the familiar mantra: “It is certainly our position that providing arms is not a move that we’re considering right now because we believe it could heighten and prolong the violence in Syria… So it is our position that we do not want to contribute to the further militarization of Syria because that could lead down a very dangerous road.”

In addition to administration officials making the same arguments in testimonies before Congress, press briefings were organized by intelligence officials with the sole aim of trashing the notion of arming the FSA. Unnamed US officials warned of al-Qaeda’s supposed infiltration of the revolution, and exaggerated to a laughable extent the capabilities of the Assad regime in order to counter any push for military action, which some influential voices in Congress had begun voicing.

At the same time, the US renewed its efforts to engage Russia at the Security Council, introducing a new draft resolution, which, according to one leaked version, calls for a dialogue between the regime and the opposition, thereby making a remarkable concession to Moscow, tantamount to reversing the declared US policy of regime change.

Despite the embarrassing fiasco of the Kofi Annan mission to Syria, and the predictable lack of any progress with the Russians, President Obama yesterday still doubled down on this failed approach. “[F]or us to provide strong support to Kofi Annan, to continue to talk to the Russians, the Chinese and others… that’s the most important work that we can do right now.”

As a result, it’s not hard to see why the Saudis and Qataris felt forced to go through Russia one more time. It was the expressed wish of the President of the United States. A careful rereading of the statement made by the anonymous official to ForeignPolicy.com shows that this was the message communicated to US allies.

The official noted that the USwould take the passive attitude toward arming the FSA “at the next Friends of Syriameeting,” which will take place early next month. In other words, the Obama administration opted to waste a full month banging on the Kremlin’s door, yet again, as Bashar al-Assad escalated his military campaign in Homs, Idlib and Daraa.

The administration has been criticized repeatedly for not asserting leadership when it came to Syria. In reality, however, the administration did very much push its preferences on its regional allies. Its public messaging and diplomatic activity left no doubt that it continued to oppose any military aid to the FSA and that it insisted on going through Moscow one more time, regardless of the time this would buy Assad.

So, although the official said that the administration was not going to “publicly or privately” tell allies not to arm the FSA, as a matter of fact, Washington has been quite verbose these last three weeks, and its message to regional allies, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, against arming the opposition, has been unmistakable. After all, the US Secretary of State herself twice said that arming the Syrian opposition might be like sending weapons to Al-Qaeda.

It’s clear that President Obama, who’s running on a policy of extrication from the region, sees that opening the door to military aid risks drawing the US in. Despite the increased pressure to move in that direction, the president is determined to keep the US out of the game.

This was not lost on Al-Sharq Al-Awsat’s Homayed. “[I]t is clear that Obama is not concerned with the security of the region… rather [he] is preoccupied with his re-election bid,” he wrote in his column.

The Saudis may not yet have gone as far as Senator John McCain, who the other day called the administration’s policy “disgraceful and shameful.” However, with their media now openly labeling President Obama as part of the problem alongside Assad’s Russian allies, they’re hardly being subtle.”

And as I wrote in Part 6 about Turkey:

“And to further prove that point that the Obama administration is ACTIVLY discouraging and opposing ANY small step Turkey wants to take regarding Syria:

US tells Turkey to back off  Syria

http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?ID=378866

“In a previously unreported turn of events, it has now come to light that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu last month, emphatically dismissed a number of forward leaning options on Syria that the Turkish top diplomat proposed to the Obama administration.

What this means is that Washington, which at one point subcontracted its Syria policy to Ankara, has now called the Turks off the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

According to well-informed Turkish and US sources, during his meeting with Secretary Clinton, Davutoğlu put forward a set of measures, including, among others, creating a buffer zone and/or a humanitarian corridor, as well as organizing and equipping the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The secretary of state responded in no uncertain terms that the Obama administration had no interest in pursuing any of these options. In fact, according to one account, Clinton told her Turkish counterpart no less than three times, “We are not there.”

This conversation fits well with the administration’s message to other regional allies, namely Saudi Arabia, against arming the FSA and pushing Washington’s preferred policy of going through the Russians, in an attempt to reach a “political solution” to the Syrian crisis.”

“Apparently, the Turks, much like the Saudis, were looking to the first Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis as a possible forum to bypass the Russians and begin a more muscular effort, with US backing. The Saudis found out at the meeting that no such action was forthcoming, and withdrew in frustration, while publicly voicing their preference for arming the Syrian rebels.

The Turks got their answer from Secretary Clinton well before the Tunis gathering, and, according to the Turkish sources, were dismayed at the Obama administration’s extraordinary passivity and refusal to lead.

The message conveyed to the Turks was the same one made clear to the Saudis. According to one US source, when Davutoğlu ended up asking Clinton where the administration was on the issue, her response simply repeated the mantra about the Arab League initiative and going to the Security Council again for another go at the Russians. In other words, it was more of the same.”

“As a result, the administration has found itself in the surreal position of siding closer with Assad’s Russian ally and at cross-purposes with its own regional allies – and, most significantly, in contradiction with its own stated policy of regime change in Syria.”

With “allies” like this who need enemies?

And then is the push by the Obama administration together with Turkey to make SNC (the Syrian National Council), the sole voice for the Syrian uprising i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood. And the sole recipient and controller of money for the uprising.

(See also what I wrote in part 6 about this)

In Syria, America Allies with the Muslim Brotherhood

The president’s support for the Syrian National Council strengthens Islamists.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/297361/syria-america-allies-muslim-brotherhood-john-rosenthal#

“While the Obama administration’s burgeoning contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptcontinue to cause controversy, the administration’s policy of growing cooperation with the Syrian opposition continues to enjoy almost unanimous support. This is remarkable, since by virtue of that policy the administration is openly allied with none other than the Muslim Brotherhood: that is, openly, but with perhaps just enough misdirection for the alliance to escape the notice of the broader public.

The Syrian opposition organization that the United Statesand other Western powers have been officially supporting is, of course, the Syrian National Council (SNC). At a meeting in Istanbulon April 1, the so-called Friends of Syria, including the United States, recognized the SNC as “a legitimate representative of all Syrians.” Although the use of the indefinite article suggests there were reservations on the part of some participants, U.S. State Department statements both before and after the Istanbul meeting leave no doubt that the Obama administration treats the SNC as its principal Syrian interlocutor. The SNC is also the presumptive recipient or at least conduit of the aid that the Obama administration has pledged to the Syrian opposition. While in Istanbul, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with representatives of the SNC, and she afterwards promised that “there will be more assistance of all kinds for the Syrian National Council.”

But who is the Syrian National Council? Although the chairman and most recognizable face of the council is the secular Paris-based political scientist Burhan Ghalioun, it is openly acknowledged that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is a major force within the council. In fact, there is strong evidence that it is the major force. When several members of the council resigned in mid-March, they cited the overwhelming influence of the Brotherhood as a reason for their decision. The Brotherhood took the whole council,” departing council member Walid al-Bunni told the New York Times. “We became like extras.”

The Belgian Syria expert Thomas Pierret, a lecturer in contemporary Islam at the Universityof Edinburgh, estimates that “around half” of the SNC’s members are Islamists. According to Pierret, moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood controls the council’s “commission on humanitarian aid” and thereby the distribution of SNC funds in Syria. As a consequence of the repression of the organization by the Syrian regime, the leadership of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has been living in exile for decades. Pierret notes that the Brotherhood now stands accused of using its control over the SNC aid spigot in order to reconstruct a base of popular support within the country. Pierret cites remarks made by Kamal al-Labwani to the Arab press as the source for the accusation. Al-Labwani is one of the SNC members that resigned in March.

The contrast between the controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s outreach to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the widespread indifference to its alliance with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is particularly odd in light of al-Labwani’s accusation regarding the latter’s control of SNC aid money. For, if this accusation is correct, American and other international support for the SNC does not only imply joining forces with the Muslim Brotherhood: It implies helping the Brotherhood to obtain an influence inside Syria that it did not previously have.”

Iran and Obama’s Syrian hesitation

The president fears confronting Assad because of the effect it might have on his nuclear diplomacy.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303916904577373820191499222.html

”Despite months of negotiations by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and extensive Security Council deliberations, hostilities in Syria continue. Although overall violence is down slightly and the council has increased U.N. observers to 300, the civilian death toll continues to rise. Syria’s dictatorship ignores Mr. Annan’s “cease fire,” and Bashar al-Assad himself shows no signs of stepping down.

President Obama seems paralyzed for two basic reasons: First, he is committed to a U.N. process almost certainly doomed to failure; and second, he fears taking on the real nemesis in Syria, namely Iran’s ayatollahs.

The decision to deploy additional military observers was a positive step but the existing observers have hardly displayed much initiative. They have, for instance, declined to monitor anti-Assad demonstrations to avoid, they said, making their mission part of the dispute. One might confuse this with satire were the consequences not so grave.

Perhaps recognizing the U.N.’s lack of real impact to date, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently suggested that the Security Council impose an arms embargo against Syria’s government if hostilities continue. It was unclear, however, if other governments would agree. Neither Russianor Chinahas responded positively. Given their February double veto against stronger sanctions, there is considerable doubt that they would ever allow an effective arms embargo, especially given Russia’s long-standing arms-supplier relationship with Syria.

An enforceable U.N. embargo would require invoking Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, to restore “international peace and security,” which Moscow and Beijing intensely distrust, particularly after Libya. There, the Security Council acted ostensibly to prevent humanitarian tragedy, and NATO then used the mandate to facilitate ousting Moammar Gadhafi. Russia and China will not repeat that mistake. Moreover, they could insist on a total weapons ban, both to Assad and the opposition. In the U.N. world of moral equivalence, they would almost certainly prevail, as with the 1992 arms embargo when the former Yugoslavia broke up.

Mr. Obama’s real failure is not reliance on the cumbersome, ineffective U.N., but his unwillingness to confront Iran, which is determined to maintain Assad in office. Tehran has long treated Syria as a satellite, part of its regional arc of influence that includes terrorist Hezbollah, now politically and militarily dominant in Lebanon. It is prepared to shed considerable Syrian blood to save Assad. The Islamic Republic has supplied arms and financial assistance to the Assad regime, and Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers are on the ground in Syria aiding government forces.

Mr. Obama knows that if he confronts Iran directly in Syria, any chance will disappear for a negotiated settlement to Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. While he should have long ago understood that diplomacy will never persuade Iran to renounce its objective of becoming a nuclear power, he has not. So despite Iran’s obvious role (backed by Russia and China) in defending Assad’s brutality, the president cannot bring himself to admit his Iran policy’s futility. And Mr. Obama is entirely unwilling to risk foreign adventures that might imperil his re-election.

Washington needs to acknowledge that effectively challenging Assad means moving beyond sanctions and diplomacy, and toward regime change in Tehran. Mr. Obama seems unable or unwilling to understand that Iran is an enemy of the U.S. and that its nuclear and regional hegemonic ambitions must be thwarted, or the ayatollahs overturned. Such an uncertain leader cannot handle a critical confrontation effectively. Unfortunately, we may have to wait for a more resolute president rather than proceed and fail inSyria with a weak one.

Israel may not be willing to wait for a firm American hand to deal with Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. And if the conflict in Syria is concluded in Assad’s (and Tehran’s) favor, it could well have significant negative implications for Israel, and for peace and security in the Middle East as a whole. That will be the real cost of Mr. Obama’s fruitless deference to the U.N. process, and of his unwillingness to confront Iran’s mullahs.”

Well the efforts to try to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons have been going on for ages without nothing to show.

Some examples: UN Security Council has passed seven resolutions on Iran since 2006. Including sanctions and an arms embargo.

Result? So far nothing.

EU has been going at it for nine years now, including sanctions, and nothing to show for it.

IAEA has made a lot of reports and resolutions, and nothing has changed.

USA has for a long time imposed many sanctions against Iran (since 1979) but nothing has changed. That is 33 years of futile sanctions that has not achieved its objective.

Other countries like Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Switzerland etc also have imposed various sanctions.  And nothing has changed.

Etc. Etc.

Now Obama is spinning this wheel another turn. And since he doesn’t want to “offend” Iran, Assad can continue to slaughter his people.

No “responsibility to protect” there.

I could continue for a very long time, there is much more to be said, but this already a way to long post. So I stop here. You get the picture.

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Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 9

1 maj, 2012

As usual, I start with some recent news and developments:

As we have seen before the relentless shelling of block after block, neighbourhood after neighbourhood continues during this “ceasefire” as if nothing has happened. Now they are shelling cemeteries:

”EVEN THE DEAD OF SYRIA CANNOT REST IN PEACE – ASSAD’S FORCES SHELL A CEMETERY. Damascus (Douma): Apr 26, 2012- Assad’s forces not only murder the living of Syria, but they try their best to disturb the dead. Multiple times over this 13 month long Revolution, Bashar Al Assad’s forces have attacked and shelled cemeteries … they will not even allow the dead to rest in dignity.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWf0weZMXg0&feature=player_embedded

And the UN observers did something good – They shielded families from Assads forces sniper fire so that they could fetch the dead bodies AFTER 45 days:

”ASSAD’S FORCES REFUSED TO ALLOW THEM TO RETRIVE BODIES OF THE DEAD – THEY NEEDED THE U.N. OBSERVERS TO ACCOMPANY THEM. Homs(Bab Dreib): Apr 28, 2012- The bodies had been laying in the street for 45 days. For one month and a half, these bodies lay in the street, murdered by Assad’s forces – they didn’t allow family and friends to retrieve the bodies, so they rotted and decomposed. The only way they were able to get the bodies was for the UN to literally shield them from Assad’s snipers.

Video here:”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KoZkbEQ_78&feature=player_embedded

And some more leaked videos. Remember that these videos were filmed by the Assad militia, thugs, intelligence people etc. to show how “good”, loyal and efficient they are:

”LEAKED VIDEO -I SWEAR TO GOD I DONT WANT FREEDOM!” – IS WHAT THIS BOY TELLS HIS INTERROGATORS AS THEY BEAT AND HUMILIATE HIM. – In this leaked video clip taken by Assad’s thugs, they have a young boy in the back of a car and begin to humiliate, threaten and beat him. They even use a taser on him.

Assad’s thugs repeatedly force the boy to ‘confess’ that he is an armed gunman, that he owns a gun and that he fired on them. They force him to give them the names of all his friends and to ‘admit’ that they too are gunmen. They also force him to confess that he protested and ask him if he wants freedom, to which he replies “i swear i dont want freedom!”

They also tell him repeatedly that they will rape his sister and force him to agree that they will rape her.

These are Assad’s men. This is what they do. These are the people that Assad’s supporters look up to and respect.”

LEAKED VIDEO – ASSAD’S FORCES BEAT AND HUMILIATE THREE MIDDLE-AGED MEN. This is all they know … violence, terror and oppression. These men could be their fathers.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUgBrPxiSyI&feature=player_embedded

LEAKED VIDEO  – ASSAD’S FORCES DRAG A MAN THROUGH THE STREETS TIED TO THE BACK OF A CAR. Homs: (Date Unknown) – This is what Assad’s forces are allowed to do in Assad’s Syria. Only they could drive through town with the body of a man being dragged behind it. Unfortunately, he would most probably have been alive when they started off.

As they drive through town they scream at people who attempt to get close “Back Off!” they shout. When they stop they exclaim “this is what happens to traitors!” in the unmistakable tone of Assad’s thugs.

They did this in order to terrorize the citizens into stopping their protests for freedom.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=/watch%3Fv%3DN41T23fTlKA%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded

And the raping continuous. (see more in my part 1 and 2):

Assad’s thugs are raping and impregnating women in Syria

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/michaelweiss/100153001/assads-thugs-are-raping-and-impregnating-women-in-syria/

One of the least explored aspects of the Syrian regime’s repression is the raping of women. Various human rights monitors have documented cases of sexual violence perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad’s security forces against men, many of them young boys as young as 11 years-old. According to the UN Human Rights Council’s November 2011 report on Syria, former detainees testified to being subjected to “beatings of genitals, forced oral sex, electroshocks and cigarette burns to the anus in detention facilities, including those of the Air Force Intelligence in Damascus, the Military Intelligence in Jisr Al Shughour, the Military Intelligence and the Political Security in Idlib and Al Ladhiqiyah and the intelligence detention facilities in Tartus.”

While rumours of women being raped have run rampant in Syria since the early months of the uprising, first person testimonies have been harder to come by. This is owing to both an Arab cultural stigma on the subject and to fears of regime reprisals. Many of these rape victims have already lost parents or children to the state’s barbarism. They’re told if they want to keep the one who are left, they’ll keep quiet.

I spoke yesterday to a Syrian expat living in Washington, D.C. who asked to be identified as Farha Ghazi.  She left her nativeHama18 years ago and has lately been working with Syrian women’s organisations. I’d been put in touch with Farha by a Syrian doctor friend of mine, and I knew broadly what to expect from our conversation. Still, nothing in a year’s worth of reporting on the carnage and misery of this country has chilled me more than what Farha told me.

Salma was a young girl in Baba Amr whose house was raided last February by the shabbiha – pro-Assad mercenary militias – when that rebel-held neighbourhood in Homs fell after a month-long siege. “She told them, ‘Please, please – don’t you have sisters? Don’t you have mothers?’”, Farha said. “Just leave me, please not in front of my dad.’” They didn’t listen. Instead, the shabbiha strapped Salma’s father to a chair in his own house and forced him to watch as three or four men raped his daughter. “They made him keep his eyes open and watch.”

This is standard practice now in Assad’s Syria. Boys and men might be spirited away to a mukhabarat dungeon for torture, but the women are done over in their own homes, in front of their families.

Farha said that she’s begun coordinating with gynaecologists who can attend to those who have been impregnated by their rapists. These victims’ ages range between 11 and 46. “We have documented 11 cases so far of women needing abortions because they were raped. We had to move them all from either Baba Amr or Idleb to Aleppo, where it was safer to perform this procedure. They are all safe now, but when I called some of them, they were in hysterics. All have suffered severe psychological trauma because of what they’ve gone through.” Many, she said, want reconstructive surgery to repair their hymens so as to make them appear virgins again. ”We are working with a team of doctors, but it’s hard. This is not the medical priority right now.”

And impregnation isn’t the only aftereffect. Some girls have sustained severe internal damage. Farha emailed me the following medical note written by a Syrian doctor and stamped by the Ministry of Health attesting to types of injuries common to rape victims. The names of the doctor and patient and all identifying marks have been blacked out. The note reads:

”To Whom It May Concern:

I have reviewed the case of _______, the daughter of Hassan, on Wednesday, date _______.  She was suffering from bruising and tears along the posterior vaginal wall, along with tears in the anal sphincter.  These injuries were the result of a sexual rape. A surgical procedure was done repairing the wall of the vagina and the sphincter. She is now in the hospital recuperating.

Signed, Surgical consultant. This report was written free from duress”

So according to Ban Ki-moon the violence in Syria has reached ‘intolerable stage’.

Eeehhh…wasn’t the UN ceasefire plan and the observers supposed to put an end to that?

Syria violence has reached ‘intolerable stage’, says Ban Ki-moon UN secretary general condemns crackdown on protests and tells regime to live up to its promise of ceasefire

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/28/syria-violence-intolerable-un-ban-kimoon?

” The UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon said President Bashar al-Assad’s continued crackdown on protests had reached an ”intolerable stage”, and that the UN would try to speed up the deployment of up to 300 monitors to Syria. Only 15 are there now. ”The government of Syria must live up to its promises to the world,” he said.”

Some more videos of the destruction in Hama. And in one attack, more than 70 people are believed to have been killed.

That’s life during a UN ceasefire.

”THE AFTERMATH OF THE HAMA MASSACRE – BUILDING AFTER BUILDING DESTROYED AND REDUCED TO RUBBLE – 70 PEOPLE WERE KILLED. Hama (Mashaa’ Al-Tayyar):Apr 25, 2012- This is where entire families were obliterated as they huddled together waiting for Assad’s forces to fire the next shell at their homes …”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JusAHgNFM7o&feature=player_embedded

”THEIR HOMES COLLAPSED ON-TOP OF THEM AS SHELLS RAINED DOWN FROM THE SKIES. Hama (Masha’a Al Tayaar): Apr 25, 2012 – 70 people are believed to have been killed in this one single attack alone. The police, fire-fighters, ambulance or any sort of municipal rescue services did not respond to the cries of the dying and injured. The only help they got were from family, friend’s, neighbors and citizens that have hearts and used their bare hands to dig out any survivors.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrG3YUQlL2s&feature=player_embedded#!

And here Assad’s forces roll into Douma guns blazing. Another glorious example of the UN ceasefire!

”ASSAD’S FORCES ROLL INTO TO DOUMA TO IMPLEMENT THE CEASEFIRE PLAN – WITH GUN’S BLAZING.Damascus(Douma):Apr 26, 2012- In the words of @HamaEcho “Won’t mention this “ceasefire” again, it’s pointless.” ….

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZZuNyZzPRA&feature=player_embedded

Assad’s forces are also systematiclay destroying medical clinics, pharmacies and medicine. They are such nice thugs are they not?

Secret medical clinics aid Syrian opposition

Exclusive report on smuggling of entire field hospitals to treat injured fighters and civilians

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/04/2012423113942545792.html

“Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive access to the network of Syrian medical professionals who are trying to help the towns and cities under siege from the government inDamascus.

Medical treatment for people caught up in the violence is becoming increasingly hard to obtain, not just for injured fighters who cannot go to public hospitals for fear of arrest or worse, but for any civilian who the government suspects of helping the opposition.

Medics face mounting challenges as they try to treat injured fighters and civilians, while under attack.

Activists have smuggled entire field hospitals into the country and developed a secret network to bring in supplies.”

And according to Kofi Annan, the guy in charge of this “ceasefire”, what’s going on now IS MUCH BETTER THAN WAR.

Somehow, I think the civilian population in Syria begs to differ.

And he said: “Our patience has been tested severely-close to its limits”.

Well, I don’t think that comes even close to the “patience” tested by the Syrian population.

Annan to Security Council: Diplomacy may suck, but it’s a lot better than war

http://turtlebay.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/04/24/kofi_annan_to_the_un_security_council_diplomacy_may_suck_but_its_a_lot_better_than_

“Special Envoy Kofi Annan told the U.N. Security Council today (April 24) in a closed-door session that an expanding U.N. monitoring mission still stands a chance of calming the violence in Syria, despite a spike in killings on Monday, including a report of a government attack on civilians in the town of Hama after U.N. observers left the town.”

Our patience has been tested severely-close to its limits,” he said. ”But we have also seen signs that there is the possibility for the parties to implement a cessation of violence, which can lead to a political process and peaceful way out of the crisis.”

”Under the circumstances, the peace we are trying to build could never be perfect — and we have all been shocked by events in Syria,” he said. ”But if we succeed, the prospects are far better than any promised through war.”

Annan said that he had received written assurances on Saturday (April 21) from Syrian Foreign Minister Wallid Moallem that ”the withdrawal of massed troops and heavy weapons from in and around population centers is now complete and military operations have ceased.”  Annan said he was ”encouraged” by Moallem’s pledge but that ”it should be understood that the only promises that count are the promises that are kept.”

The resistance has to fight over the few weapons and ammunition there is

FEATURE-Rebel rivalry and suspicions threaten Syria revolt

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/feature-rebel-rivalry-and-suspicions-threaten-syria-revolt/

”When it comes to getting weapons, every group knows they are on their own,” says the 25-year-old with a patchy beard. ”It’s a fight for resources.”

Nominally Mustafa’s rebels fight for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but the FSA, lacking international recognition or direct state funding, is a often just a convenient label for a host of local armed groups competing fiercely for scarce financing.

So fiercely, they sometimes turn their guns on each other.

”Everyone needs weapons. There is tension. There is anger and yes, sometimes there is fighting if rebels in one town seem to have an unfair share of weapons,” said Mustafa, who comes fromSyria’s north western province of Idlib, which borders Turkeyand has been a hotbed of resistance to Assad.

Such mistrust is compounded by the competing agendas of outside parties who are further fragmenting the rebel movement.”

“A 60-year-old rebel commander called Abu Shaham, from the central city of Hama, accused the Brotherhood of hanging back from the battlefront to overpower other rebel groups later.

The Brotherhood is pumping money into the rebel units yet their men don’t fight as much as us. They are almost always the first to retreat. Why?” he asked.

They are not thinking about this phase in the battle. They care about what comes next. They want to save themselves for the struggle after Assad falls, to come out the strongest.”

Analyst Joseph Holliday, of the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War, said if foreign powers do not engage with the rebels in an orderly way, their rivalries could create chaos.

If we don’t recognise the rebels, anyone can set up shop in Turkey and start funding opposing groups,” said Joseph Holliday, of the U.S-based Institute for the Study of War. ”We don’t know who is arming who … I’m afraid by the time the West decides to do something it may be too late.”

The case for military intervention in Syria

Former US ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker argues that the West should not wait for a single mass atrocity before it intervenes in Syria, as it did in Bosnia. What is the magic number of deaths that will prompt the international community to act? We’ve already passed 9,000

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2012/0424/The-case-for-military-intervention-in-Syria/(page)/3

What is missing, therefore, is not an understanding of the case for intervention, or even a means to intervene, but a “catalyst” that justifies and forces action. If that catalyst occurs, the US and others might act. And then America and its friends should ask themselves why they did not act sooner, and prevent the very catastrophe that spurred them into action.”

Kurt Volker, a former US ambassador to NATO, is a professor of practice at Arizona State Universityand a senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

While Syria burns

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/while-syria-burns/2012/04/26/gIQAQUC0jT_story.html

“Last year President Obama ordered U.S. intervention in Libya under the grand new doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect.” Moammar Gaddafi was threatening a massacre in Benghazi. To stand by and do nothing “would have been a betrayal of who we are,” explained the president.

In the year since, the government of Syria has more than threatened massacres. It has carried them out. Nothing hypothetical about the disappearances, executions, indiscriminate shelling of populated neighborhoods. More than 9,000 are dead.

Obama has said that we cannot stand idly by. And what has he done? Stand idly by.

Yes, we’ve imposed economic sanctions. But as with Iran, the economic squeeze has not altered the regime’s behavior. Monday’s announced travel and financial restrictions on those who use social media to track down dissidents is a pinprick. No Disney World trips for the chiefs of the Iranian and Syrian security agencies. And they might now have to park their money in Dubai instead of New York. That’ll stop ’em.

Obama’s other major announcement — at Washington’s Holocaust Museum, no less — was the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board.

I kid you not. A board. Russia flies planeloads of weapons to Damascus. Iran supplies money, trainers, agents, more weapons. And what does America do? Support a feckless U.N. peace mission that does nothing to stop the killing. (Indeed, some of the civilians who met with the U.N. observers were summarily executed.) And establish an Atrocities Prevention Board.

With multiagency participation, mind you. The liberal faith in the power of bureaucracy and flowcharts, of committees and reports, is legend. But this is parody.

Now, there’s an argument to be made that we do not have a duty to protect. That foreign policy is not social work. That you risk American lives only when national security and/or strategic interests are at stake, not merely to satisfy the humanitarian impulses of some of our leaders.

But Obama does not make this argument. On the contrary. He goes to the Holocaust Museum to commit himself and his country to defend the innocent, to affirm the moral imperative of rescue. And then does nothing of any consequence.

His case for passivity is buttressed by the implication that the only alternative to inaction is military intervention — bombing, boots on the ground.

But that’s false. It’s not the only alternative. Why aren’t we organizing, training and arming the Syrian rebels in their sanctuaries in Turkey? Nothing unilateral here.Saudi Arabia is already planning to do so.Turkey has turned decisively against Bashar al-Assad. And the French are pushing for even more direct intervention.

Instead, Obama insists that we can act only with support of the “international community,” meaning the U.N. Security Council — where Russia and China have a permanent veto. By what logic does the moral legitimacy of U.S. action require the blessing of a thug like Vladimir Putin and the butchers of Tiananmen Square?

Our slavish, mindless self-subordination to “international legitimacy” does nothing but allow Russia — a pretend post-Soviet superpower — to extend a protective umbrella over whichever murderous client it chooses. Obama has all but announced that Russia (or China) has merely to veto international actions — sanctions, military assistance, direct intervention — and America will back off.

For what reason? Not even President Clinton, a confirmed internationalist, would acquiesce to such restraints. With Russia prepared to block U.N. intervention against its client, Serbia, Clinton saved Kosovo by summoning NATO to bomb the hell out of Serbia, the Russians be damned.

If Obama wants to stay out of Syria, fine. Make the case that it’s none of our business. That it’s too hard. That we have no security/national interests there.

In my view, the evidence argues against that, but at least a coherent case for hands-off could be made. That would be an honest, straightforward policy. Instead, the president, basking in the sanctity of the Holocaust Museum, proclaims his solemn allegiance to a doctrine of responsibility — even as he stands by and watches Syria burn.

If we are not prepared to intervene, even indirectly by arming and training Syrians who want to liberate themselves, be candid. And then be quiet. Don’t pretend the U.N. is doing anything. Don’t pretend the U.S. is doing anything. And don’t embarrass the nation with an Atrocities Prevention Board. The tragedies of Rwanda, Darfur and now Syria did not result from lack of information or lack of interagency coordination, but from lack of will. “

Elie Wiesel challenges the world, and Obama

http://blogs.jpost.com/content/elie-wiesel-challenges-world-and-obama

“But Obama didn’t need to reach to the historical catchphrases of the Holocaust and its past to find a challenge. Preceding him on the stage at the event commemorating the Holocaust was Elie Wiesel. And though Wiesel’s soft-spokenness and European accent can make it hard to hear the force in his words, the Nobel Peace Prize winner did throw down a gauntlet to the president.

The greatest tragedy in history could have been prevented had the civilized world spoken up, taken measures,” he said, referring to the Holocaust and how its perpetrators “always wanted to see what would be the reaction in Washington and London and Rome, and there was no reaction so they felt they could continue.”

So he asked the audience at Monday’s ceremony: “Have we learned anything from it? If so, how is it that Assad is still in power?

He raised a similar question of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – “How is it that the No. 1 Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad is still the president?” – and then repeated, “Have we not learned?”

UN

What does Rwanda, Somalia, Darfur, Balkans (Srebrenica) etc.  all have in common, besides genocide and atrocities?

I throw in the biggest corruption and bribe scandal in modern times to, i.e. the United Nations’ Oil for Food Programme in Iraq

Have any idea?

OK, the answer is – Kofi Annan!

Yeap, the present “peace emissary” to Syria himself.

He was directly in charge of the appropriate UN agencies that were supposed to stop things like this.

Short bio:

In 1962, he started working as a Budget Officer for the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations (UN).

1987–1990 head of Human Resources,

1990–1992 head of Program Planning, Budget and Finance, and Controller

1993 – 1996 head of Peacekeeping Operations and also served as Under-Secretary-General from 1994-1995

1995-1996 He was appointed a Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia.

1997 to 2006 Secretary-General of the United Nations

He directed and was responsible for ALL peacekeeping

He really is the loyal company man.

So it was on his watch that the genocide in Rwanda took place. Remember, he was in charge of ALL peacekeeping operations.

The United Nations Assistance Mission For Rwanda (UNAMIR) lasted from October 1993 to March 1996. Its activities were meant to aid the peace process between the Hutu-dominated Rwandese government and the Tutsi-dominated rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

The Genocide took place in 1994 a mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people. Over the course of approximately 100 days April 6 through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate. Estimates of the death toll have ranged between 500,000 and 1,000,000.

Roméo Dallaire served as Force Commander of UNAMIR, the peacekeeping force forRwanda between 1993 and 1994.

In his book “Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda” (2003), he gives detaild description of what happened or did not happened.

He claimed that Annan was overly passive in his response to the imminent genocide. General Dallaire asserted that Annan held back UN troops from intervening to settle the conflict, and from providing more logistical and material support. He claimed that Annan failed to provide responses to his repeated faxes asking for access to a weapons depository; such weapons could have helped Dallaire defend the endangered Tutsis.

In 2004, ten years after the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed, Annan finally said, ”I could and should have done more to sound the alarm and rally support.”

UN chief’s Rwanda genocide regret

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3573229.stm

“At a memorial conference at the UN, Mr Annan said he realised he personally could have done more to rally support for international efforts to stop it.

The international community is guilty of sins of omission,” Mr Annan said.

The genocide – in which some 800,000 people died – occurred when Mr Annan was head of UN peacekeeping forces.

The UN Security Council failed to reinforce the small UN peacekeeping force in the country.

”The international community failed Rwanda and that must leave us always with a sense of bitter regret,” Mr Annan said.

He said the painful memory had influenced many of his later decisions as secretary general.

”I believed at that time that I was doing my best,” he said.

But I realised after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support.”

“In April 2000 the UN Security Council admitted responsibility for failing to stop the genocide.

The Canadian Foreign Minister, Bill Graham, told the conference that 10 years after the genocide the international community had still not learned how to stop such killings from happening again.

We lack the political will to achieve the necessary agreement on how to put in place the type of measures that will prevent a future Rwanda from happening,” he said.

Lessons learned?

The head of the small UN peacekeeping force in Rwandaat the time, Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire, told the conference that no-one was interested in saving Rwandans and the bulk of his force was ordered to leave.

He suggested that attitudes now had not changed.

I still believe that if an organisation decided to wipe out the 320 mountain gorillas there would be still more of a reaction by the international community to curtail or to stop that than there would be still today in attempting to protect thousands of human beings being slaughtered in the same country.

The UN has designated 7 April as international day of reflection on the genocide.

Mr Annan announced he was backing a call from the Rwandan government for the world to observe a minute of silence to remember the victims and resolve to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.

”Let us be united in a way we were not 10 years ago,” he said.”

It took him 10 YEARS to admit that he “should have done more”!

And as we see now in Syria NOTHING HAS CHANGED, AND NOTHING HAS BEEN LEARNED.  It probably will take another 10 years before he admits the he, and UN, could have done more. The question is how many more civilians will have been killed before that?

Let’s continue to another of Kofi Annas “successes” when he was in charge and did absolutely nothing to prevent the massacre.

Balkans and the massacre in Srebrenica July 1995.

On 16 April 1993, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 819, which demanded that: all parties and others concerned treat Srebrenica and its surroundings as a safe area which should be free from any armed attack or any other hostile act. On 18 April 1993, the first group of UNPROFOR troops arrived in Srebrenica. On 8 May 1993 agreement was reached of demilitarization of Srebrenica. According to UN reports ”General Sefer Halilovic and General Ratko Mladic agreed on measures covering the whole of the Srebrenica enclave and the adjacent enclave of Zepa.

Under the terms of the new agreement, Bosnian forces within the enclave would hand over their weapons, ammunition and mines to UNPROFOR, after which Serbs’ ”heavy weapons and units that constituted a menace to the demilitarized zones which will have been established in Zepa and Srebrenica will be withdrawn.” Unlike the earlier agreement, the agreement of 8 May stated specifically that Srebrenica was to be considered a ”demilitarized zone,” as referred to in article 60 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I).”.

A Security Council mission led by Diego Arria arrived in Srebrenica on 25 April 1993 and, in their subsequent report to the U.N., condemned the Serbs for perpetrating ”a slow-motion process of genocide.” The mission then stated that ”Serb forces must withdraw to points from which they cannot attack, harass or terrorise the town. UNPROFOR should be in a position to determine the related parameters. The mission believes, as does UNPROFOR, that the actual 4.5 km by 0.5 km decided as a safe area should be greatly expanded.” Specific instructions from United Nations Headquarters in New York stated that UNPROFOR should not be too zealous in searching for Bosnian weapons and, later, that the Serbs should withdraw their heavy weapons before the Bosnians gave up their weapons. The Serbs never did withdraw their heavy weapons

By early 1995, fewer and fewer supply convoys were making it through to the enclave. The already meager resources of the civilian population dwindled further and even the UN forces started running dangerously low on food, medicine, ammunition and fuel, eventually being forced to start patrolling the enclave on foot. Dutchbat soldiers who went out of the area on leave were not allowed to return and their number dropped from 600 to 400 men. In March and April, the Dutch soldiers noticed a build-up of Serb forces near two of the observation posts, ”OP Romeo” and ”OP Quebec”.

By mid 1995, the humanitarian situation of the Bosnian civilians and military personnel in the enclave was catastrophic. In May, following orders, Naser Orić and his staff left the enclave by helicopter to Tuzla, leaving ranking officers in command of the 28th Division. In late June and early July, the 28th Division issued a series of reports including urgent pleas for the humanitarian corridor to the enclave to be reopened. When this failed, Bosnian civilians began dying from starvation. On Friday, 7 July the mayor of Srebrenica reported 8 residents had died of starvation.

On 4 June 1995, the French commander of the UN forces in former Yugoslavia, general Bernard Janvier, secretly met Ratko Mladic to obtain the release of hostages, many of whom were French. Mladic demanded of Janvier that there would be no more air strikes.

The Serb offensive on Srebrenica began in earnest on 6 July 1995. In the following days, the five UNPROFOR observation posts, in the southern part of the enclave, fell one by one in the face of the Serb forces advance. Some of the Dutch soldiers retreated into the enclave after their posts were attacked, but the crews of the other observation posts surrendered into Serb custody. Simultaneously, the defending Bosnian forces came under heavy fire and were pushed back towards the town. Once the southern perimeter began to collapse, about 4,000 Bosnian residents, who had been living in a Swedish housing complex for refugees nearby, fled north into Srebrenica town. Dutch soldiers reported that the advancing Serbs were ”cleansing” the houses in the southern part of the enclave.

Colonel (ret.) Thomas Karremans was the commander of Dutchbat troops in Srebrenica.

In 1994 Karremans was appointed as commander of Dutchbat III battalion that was sent to the Srebrenica enclave. On 11th, 12th and 13th July this battalion had to deal with the capture of the enclave by Serb soldiers. Karremans requested NATO air support to defend the enclave, which arrived too late and was too little to stop the Serbian advance. After Serbian forces entered Srebrenica, Karremans met with Serb General Ratko Mladić. During the meeting Karremans was defensive and submissive, excusing himself from ever requesting air strikes against Bosnian Serb forces, claiming the decision was made by higher authorities based on information he provided. This is in sharp contrast with facts – it was determined that it was Karremans who requested air strikes several times, but they were first denied, then delayed, and later granted by UN General Janvier. After this Karremans was filmed raising a glass with war crimes suspect and Serb General Ratko Mladić.

Following negotiations between UN and Bosnian Serbs, on Friday, July 21st, 1995, lieutenant-colonel Karremans and Dutch UN soldiers were allowed to leave Srebrenica. On the farewell, Colonel Karremans accepted gifts from General Mladić, smiled, shook his hand and departed. Shortly after his return to The Netherlands Karremans was promoted to full colonel.

In July 1995 more than 8,000 Bosnian muslims, mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenicain Bosnia and Herzegovina, were executed by units of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladić. The mass murder was described by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War.

A paramilitary unit from Serbiaknown as the Scorpions, officially part of the Serbian Interior Ministry until 1991, also participated in the massacre.

The vast majority of those killed were adult men and teenage boys but the victims included boys aged under 15, men over the age of 65, women and reportedly even several babies. The Preliminary List of People Missing or Killed in Srebrenica compiled by the Bosnian Federal Commission of Missing Persons contains 8,373 names, some 500 of them under 18, and includes several dozen women and girls.

In 2005, in a message to the tenth anniversary commemoration of the genocide, the Secretary-General of the United Nations noted that, while blame lay first and foremost with those who planned and carried out the massacre and those who assisted and harboured them, great nations had failed to respond adequately, the UN itself had made serious errors of judgement and the tragedy of Srebrenica would haunt the UN’s history forever

‘MAY WE ALL LEARN AND ACT ON THE LESSONS OF SREBRENICA’, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN MESSAGE TO ANNIVERSARY CEREMONY

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/sgsm9993.doc.htm

“Today, we pay tribute to the victims of a terrible crime -– the worst on European soil since the Second World War.  Throughout the world, this date is marked as a grim reminder of man’s inhumanity to man.”

“But we cannot evade our own share of responsibility.

As I wrote in my report in 1999, we made serious errors of judgement, rooted in a philosophy of impartiality and non-violence which, however admirable, was unsuited to the conflict in Bosnia.  That is why, as I also wrote, “the tragedy of Srebrenica will haunt our history forever”.

And

May we all learn, and act on, the lessons of Srebrenica.”

Here we go again; it took him another 10 YEARS to admit that he and UN “should have done more”!

And for lessons learned, remember he said the same thing about Rwanda. Eeehh.. and just watch the glorious UN ceasefire and observation plan under Annan in Syria.

The same old same old.

These hypocrites keep repeating at regular intervals how “sorry” they are and how they could have “done more”.  And then they gladly move on to the next catastrophe and do exactly the same again (i.e. nothing). Where a lot of civilians get massacred, slaughtered etc.

That is international and UN “diplomacy” in a nutshell.

And this UN “proudly” upholds its tradition of doing ABSOLUTLY NOTHING when it really maters, like Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Darfur, Bosnia (Srebrenica anyone?) etc. And now inSyria.

Refusing to arm or help the opposition will not end the conflict or limit it; it will drag on as all the above examples shows.

And by waiting the situation gets worse and much more complex, then “they” used its complexity as an excuse not to intervene while decrying the lost opportunity for intervention. And ALL this time the killing and atrocities just continues as nothing has happened.

Unforgiven, unforgotten, unresolved: Bosnia 20 years on

Visegrad, site of one of the worst atrocities of the Bosnian war, is still in denial about the past

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/8a698dbe-73af-11e1-aab3-00144feab49a.html#axzz1qB2x2a8t

“I have come, after all, to thelandofSerbnationalist permafrost. Visegrad is in Republika Srpska, the ethnically cleansed enclave carved out by Radovan Karadzic in the 1992-1995 war. When I ask about the picture, the mayor looks a little embarrassed, as he is, understandably, when I ask how Visegrad is confronting its past.

“There are no solutions,” he says. “Time has to pass. Where would we start if we got involved in dealing with the past? Would we not have to begin with theOttoman empire? All truths have to come to the surface and everyone who committed crimes should be prosecuted, but we have to look at everyone equally.”

He speaks, carefully, as if by rote. I recall the words of a young Bosnian Muslim lawyer I had spoken to a day before. His family were stalwarts of Visegrad’s Muslim establishment before the war. “Visegrad was worse than Srebrenica,” he had told me. “It was a small, slow genocide that went on for weeks. Teachers murdered pupils. Pupils murdered teachers. Godfathers murdered each other … It was a hunting party and we were the prey.”

And the final irony, survivors of the July 1995 massacre sued the UN for it’s responsibility in the massacre. But the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the UN has “the most far-reaching form of immunity and cannot be prosecuted by any national court”.

In other words, regardless how UN screws up and regardless how many civilians get killed, massacred, slaughtered, genocide etc. etc., NOTHING IS EVER GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE ONES RESPONSIBLE!

U.N. can’t be tried for Srebrenica massacre -Dutch court

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/13/us-srebrenica-netherlands-un-idUSBRE83C0WH20120413

“The Dutch Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the United Nations cannot be prosecuted in the Netherlands for failing to prevent genocide against Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica near the end of Bosnia‘s war in 1995.

The final ruling was the last legal option in theNetherlandsfor a group of survivors of the July 1995 massacre, when as many as 8,000 boys and men were killed by Serb forces in an area that the United Nations had declared a ”safe haven”.

Lawyers representing a group of 6,000 survivors calling themselves the Mothers of Srebrenica said they would appeal against the decision at the European Court of Human Rights.

The U.N., as the international human rights champion, should not stand above the law but should take responsibility for its role in the Srebrenica genocide in 1995,” a statement issued by the group said.

This is a violation of fundamental human rights and in contravention of the case law of the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ).”

In 2001 the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) judged that the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre was an act of genocide.”

”The Supreme Court upholds the opinion of the (lower) court that the U.N. has the most far-reaching form of immunity and cannot be prosecuted by any national court,” a summary of the ruling said.”

Syria: The evil results of doing good

The Annan Plan is ‘worse than feckless’, because it buys the Assad regime time and precludes more effective options.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/03/2012328723544342.html?utm_content=automateplus&amp

“Yes, all this makes Kofi Annan a logical choice as emissary. He is, after all, a professional peacemaker. He will not choose sides, and his six-point interim peace proposal for Syria is a model of even-handedness, both as between the regime and the rebels, and as between their respective allies. When circumstances will not permit distinctions between oppressor and oppressed, between aggressor and victim, or between right and wrong, Kofi is your man. The patient Ghanaian will deal impartially with anyone. He will sit, as he did over the past weekend with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to discuss his peace proposal, as though the latter were earnestly seeking justice in the Levant.

But does anyone honestly think that the Syrian regime, committed as it is to a programme of violent intimidation and collective punishment, will provide ”full humanitarian access”, or a daily ”humanitarian pause” for those whom it suspects of aiding its adversaries? What are the chances that the tender Mr Assad will release detainees who may promptly rejoin the struggle against him, or that he will permit foreign journalists to freely document his atrocities? Who would want to bet his life, or the lives of those dear to him, that Bashar and his generals will honour a ceasefire, or engage in good faith in a ”political dialogue” with those who are challenging their power?

Pursuing such ”solutions” is worse than feckless, for it forestalls other, potentially effective actions. By permitting the Syrian regime added time, it is morally equivalent to aiding and abetting Bashar al-Assad.

Diplomats at the UN embraced the Annan proposals – not because they had any chance of implementation, but because they demonstrated ”progress”. Diplomats love a process, and that’s what the Annan Plan provides them. The hope is that when – not if – the proposals are effectively stymied by Syria, the unanimously approved UN ”statement” by which the Annan proposals were launched might then be passed as a ”resolution”. More ”progress”. But a feckless statement will not be any more effective for having become a resolution. This is the diplomatic equivalent of Zeno’s Paradox, for each progressively smaller step forward slowly converges on, but can never pass the hard barrier of Sino-Russian obduracy.

Violence continues

Meanwhile, the Syrian Army that devastated Baba Amr continues its brutal shelling of al-Khalidiya and its offensive in Hama Province. And the rebels of the Free Syrian Army, who are rapidly running out of arms and ammunition, are being progressively forced to flee toTurkey andLebanon.”

But such good as can be done in these circumstances will only be done by those who are willing to climb metaphorically into the ring, and to dirty themselves in the process of providing such assistance as is possible to the oppressed of Syria as they struggle to liberate themselves from an unspeakable regime. It will mean taking sides.”

“For what the situation needs is not high-minded sentiments, but effective, lethal aid to Syrians willing to fight for basic freedoms against a regime that has shed any pretense of legitimacy or respectability.

Edmund Burke famously said that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. The good and high-minded people, the Kofi Annans if you will, who vote on statements and pass resolutions, who promote quixotic peace proposals, who hold earnest parleys with implacable dictators, may appear to have clean hands in the end. Those who engage, who try to do good in an evil world, on the other hand, will be compromised. But when ultimately the smoke has cleared, both literally and metaphorically, and the final accounting is made, and judgments are passed on all those implicated, either for their action or for their inaction, it will be upon the shoulders of the ”good” that the weight of moral opprobrium should fall.”

Douma – ”We do not want to live easily in humiliation rather we die with pride”

Another example under Annans watch, the United Nations’ Oil for Food Programme in Iraq. Below is just a small sample of all the corruption which was going on.

The Oil-for-Food Programme (OFF), established by the United Nations in 1995 (under UN Security Council Resolution 986) was established with the stated intent to allow Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian needs for ordinary Iraqi citizens without allowing Iraq to boost its military capabilities.

The programme was introduced by United States President Bill Clinton’s administration in 1995, as a response to arguments that ordinary Iraqi citizens were inordinately affected by the international economic sanctions aimed at the demilitarisation of Saddam Hussein’sIraq, imposed in the wake of the first Gulf War. The sanctions were discontinued on November 21, 2003after theU.S.invasion ofIraq, and the humanitarian functions turned over to the Coalition Provisional Authority

In addition to criticism of the basic approach, the programme suffered from widespread corruption and abuse.

Benon Sevan of Cyprus, was head of  the programme. While Benon Sevan was in charge of the programme, he stonewalled efforts to review and investigate the programme. He ordered his staff that complaints about illegal payoffs should be formally filed with the whistleblower’s country, making them public and allowing Iraq to bar any whistleblowers. In 2000, Dileep Nair, the UN corruption watchdog, wanted to determine the programme’s level of vulnerability. Sevan, along with UN Deputy Secretary-General, Louise Frechette, rejected any such investigation, claiming that it would be too expensive to be worthwhile. Sevan ordered the shredding of years’ worth of documents concerning the programme.

In response to these criticisms, and to evidence acquired after the United Statesinvasion of Iraq, UN Secretary-General accusations were made that skimmed profits were being used to buy influence at the UN and with Kofi Annan himself.

According to an interim report released on February 3, 2005by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker’s commission, much of the food aid supplied under the programme ”was unfit for human consumption”. The report concluded that Sevan had accepted nearly $150,000 in bribes over the course of the programme, and in 2005 he was suspended from his position at the United Nations as a result of the investigation of fraud in the programme.

Peter van Walsum, the now-retired Ambassador of the Netherlandsto the United Nations and chairman of the Iraq Sanctions Committee from 1999 to 2000, speculated in a recent book that Iraq deliberately divided the Security Council by awarding contracts to France, Russia, and China but not to the United Kingdom and the United States. He also stated he encountered a number of cases in which he felt the lack of Iraqi cooperation was designed to exacerbate the suffering of its own people. He also claimed that it was his opinion that the sanctions were not an effective deterrent.

Until 2001, the money for the Oil-for-Food Programme transited through the BNP Paribas bank, whose main private share-holder is Iraqi-born Nadhmi Auchi, a man estimated to be worth about $1 billion according to Forbes, and ranks 13th in Britain according to The Guardian. Auchi received a 15-month suspended sentence for his involvement in the Elf scandal, which has been qualified by the British newspaper as ”the biggest fraud inquiry in Europe since the Second World War. Elf became a private bank for its executives who spent £200 million on political favours, mistresses, jewellery, fine art, villas and apartments”. Elf, an oil company, merged with TotalFina to become Total S.A. in 2003.

One of the earliest allegations of wrongdoing in the programme surfaced on 25 January 2004, when al Mada, a daily newspaper in Iraq, published a list of individuals and organizations alleged to have received oil sales contracts via the UN’s Oil-for-Food Programme. The list came from over 15,000 documents which were reportedly found in the state-owned Iraqi oil corporation, which had close links to the Iraqi Oil Ministry.

Named in the list of beneficiaries were British MP George Galloway and his charity, the Mariam Fund; former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua; and Shaker al-Kaffaji, an Iraqi-American businessman, India’s foreign minister, Natwar Singh, was removed from office because of his role in the scandal. Many prominent Russian firms and individuals were also included on the al Mada list. Even the Russian Orthodox Church was supposedly involved in illegal oil trading. The former assistant to the Vatican secretary of state, Reverend Jean-Marie Benjamin, is said to have received rights to sell 4.5 million barrels.

The scheme is alleged to have worked in this way: individuals and organizations sympathetic to the Iraqi regime, or those just easily bribed, were offered oil contracts through the Oil-for-Food Programme. These contracts for Iraqi oil could then be sold on the open world market and the seller was allowed to keep a transaction fee, said to be between $0.15 and $0.50/barrel oil sold. The seller was then to refund the Iraqi government a certain percentage of the commission.

The final official version of the Iraq Survey Group report (Duelfer Report) cites only France, Russia and China as violators who paid kickbacks. According to the report, the top three recipients of oil included Russia (30%), France (15%), and China (10%). The US received 2–3%.

According to high-ranking Russian SVR defector Tretyakov, the Oil-for-Food program was sabotaged by an undercover Russian intelligence officer Alexander Kramar who worked in the UN. Kramar set up the artificially low oil prices in 1998 to allow Saddam to use the oil vouchers as lucrative bribes. The difference between the market price and the artificial price (defined by Kramar) was pocketed by people who received the vouchers from Saddam. Among the bribed were top officials from Russia, France, and China. The biggest part of vouchers (to buy 1,366 billion barrels of oil) went to forty-six individuals or organizations in Russia, including Russian Orthodox Church. They pocketed $476 million. Among Russians who received the money were Alexander Voloshin and Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Sergei Isakov, a buddy of Voloshin, carried bags with money from Moscow to Baghdad to return some of the ”earned” money as kickbacks to Saddam.

This is “sanctions” a la UN.

GAO investigation after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq and subsequent Coalition victory over the Iraqi army, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was given the task of finalizing all Oil-for-Food related supply contracts made with the now-defunct regime as well as tracking down the personal fortunes of former regime members. During the execution of this task, the GAO found weaknesses in the programme that allowed kickbacks and other sources of wealth for Saddam Hussein.

The GAO estimates that the Saddam Hussein regime generated $10.1 billion in illegal revenues. This figure includes $5.7 billion from oil smuggling and $4.4 billion in illicit surcharges on oil sales and after-sales charges on suppliers. The scale of the fraud was far more extensive than the GAO had previously estimated. A U.S. Department of Defense study, cited by the GAO, evaluated 759 contracts administered through the Oil-for-Food Programme and found that nearly half had been overpriced, by an average of 21 percent.Unlike the 661 committee, members of the Security Council had the authority to launch investigations into contracts and to stop any contract they did not like. The British and the Americans had turned down hundreds of Oil-for-Food contract requests, but these were blocked primarily on the grounds that the items being imported were dual-use technologies.

Joseph A. Christoff, director of international affairs and trade at the General Accounting Office, told a House hearing that UN auditors had refused to release the internal audits of the Oil-for-Food Programme. Benon Sevan, with support from Kofi Annan, had written letters to all former Oil-for-Food contractors asking them to consult Sevan before releasing any documents to GAO or US congressional inquiry panels.Throughout its history, the programme had received both complaints from critics saying that it needed to be more open and complaints from companies about proprietary information being disclosed.

The United Nations has denied all requests by the GAO for access to confidential internal audits of the Oil-for-Food Programme.

GAO report here:

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04651t.pdf

The Paul Volcker report here:

http://www.iic-offp.org/documents/IIC%20Final%20Report%2027Oct2005.pdf

And then there where all these allegations against his son Kojo Annan who worked for Cotecna:

The younger Annan stopped working for Cotecna in late 1998, but it now turns out that he continued to receive money from Cotecna not only through 1999, as recently reported, but right up until February of this year. The timing coincides with the entire duration of Cotecna’s work for the U.N. oil-for-food program. It now appears the payments to the younger Annan ended three months after the U.N., in November, 2003, closed out its role in oil-for-food and handed over the remains of the program to the Coalition Provisional Authority inBaghdad.

Cotecna Inspection Services SA, which from 1998-2003 held a lucrative contract with the U.N. to monitor goods arriving in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq under the oil-for-food program

The pattern in this scandal has been that Secretary-General Annan, until confronted by the press, has either failed to spot or failed to disclose timely information about Cotecna’s paychecks for his son

“So far, the secretary-general has refused requests from Congress for inter views with U.N. staff, or access to the U.N.’s 55 internal audits of the oil-for food program. One of those internal audits, which leaked this past May, noted serious irregularities with the U.N.’s handling of the Cotecna contract, including an ”inappropriate” upward revision of Cotecna’s lowball $4.87 million bid, just four days after Cotecna and the U.N. signed the deal.

At every turn, the saga of the secretary-general’s family ties to Cotecna raises questions about Kofi Annan’s handling of potential conflicts of interest. Even if Mr. Annan cannot be held responsible for the decisions of his son, his job does entail responsibility for the actions of the U.N. Secretariat. As the oil-for-food scandal has unfolded, it has become clear that U.N. secrecy and lack of accountability evolved, in effect, into complicity with Saddam’s scams and influence-buying. By now, between congressional and other investigations, there are allegations that Saddam, on Mr. Annan’s watch, under U.N. sanctions and oil-for-food supervision, scammed and smuggled some $17.3 billion in oil money meant for relief, using some of that money to fund terrorism, import weapons, and buy influence with Security Council members France, Russia, and China.

On top of that, only now is it learned that for fully more than eight years, from 1995-2004, the secretary-general’s son was in one way or another on the payroll of Cotecna, which for almost five of those years held a crucial oil-for-food inspection contract with the U.N. Secretariat. All this, said the investigator for Mr. Hyde’s congressional committee, is good reason why ”the U.N. Secretariat should move swiftly to lift the gag order on U.N. employees and contractors and publicly release its oil-for-food program files.”

Are you not impressed with these guys?

Then we have various organization of the UN like the Human Rights Council witch replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights because it was so one-sided and more like a forum for dictators.

Well, it only got worse and it’s funded by our tax money.

These people are supposed to protect the civilian population all over the world, including Syria. Instead, the butchers sit at the table. Totally failing its founding mission to defend the world’s victims of human rights violations.

According to it’s statues:

“The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office atGeneva. “

Here in glaring detail who corrupt and one-sided, selective and politicized this UN Human Rights Council is by Unwatch Director Hillel Neuer in a speech on March 19, 2012 in the Human Rights Council:

With Syria and Mideast Aflame, UN Maintains Permanent Focus onIsrael

http://www.unwatch.org/site/c.bdKKISNqEmG/b.1289203/apps/s/content.asp?ct=11657151

”delivered by Executive Director Hillel Neuer on March 19, 2012, under Agenda Item 7, “Human rights situation inPalestineand other occupied Arab territories.”

“Thank you, Mr. President.

Starting three years ago in Tehran, then spreading the past year from Tunis to Tahrir Square, and continuing as we speak in Hama, Homs and Deraa, millions of young men and women have braved bullets and beatings to peacefully stand up for their rights; to cry out—after decades of corruption, cruelty and oppression—for human dignity and freedom.

As they break the chains of their bondage, many lift their heads up and ask: Where was the world? In all the years that we were imprisoned by brutal bullies that trampled our basic human rights, where was the United Nations?

To these courageous and idealistic youth, we must tell the truth. We must say to them in all candor: Sadly, world policy was to look away from your suffering.

We must tell them: Despite its declared mission to protect human rights, when faced with gross human rights abuses by Col. Qaddafi’s Libya, Assad’s Syria, Mubarak’s Egypt and others, UN policy—this council’s policy—was to look away.

Indeed, until the Arab Spring, abuses by these governments were met by not a single council resolution, inquiry, or urgent session.

We must also tell them: It was worse than that. The policy, embraced in session after session of this council, was to allow these governments to act and be treated as champions of human rights. In 2003, Col. Qaddafi’s Libya was elected Chair. In 2010, it was reelected to this council.

The agenda item under which we meet today—the only one that targets a single country, Israel—is the living symbol of this illogical and immoral policy.

For decades, while thousands were tortured in Libya, Syria and Egypt, the only country to be the object of a permanent agenda item was Israel. Under this item, the countries that introduced the resolutions, and made the accusations, were themselves the violators.

And yet despite everything that happened this past year, despite the sudden realization that hundreds of millions living across the Middle East were being victimized by their governments, this Council has just renewed its permanent agenda item on Israel.

This Council decided that no agenda item was needed on Syria, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia or any of the other countries in the Middle East—or around the world. Only on Israel.

And so today we ask: What if?

What if the world, what if the United Nations, what if this Council had turned a spotlight on the abuses of the Middle East’s brutal dictators, and held them to account?

What if, over the past decades, these tyrants’ systems of repression had been exposed, if they had been stripped of international legitimacy, if world pressure were brought to bear? Would they still be in power?

Would President Assad still be in power? Would he still be murdering his own citizens today?

Thank you, Mr. President.”

And another one:

Why Does the U.N. Human Rights Council Turn A Blind Eye to Terrorism?

http://www.unwatch.org/site/c.bdKKISNqEmG/b.1289203/apps/s/content.asp?ct=11660747

“UN Watch testimony before the UN Human Rights Council, 19th Session,March 5, 2012,Geneva, delivered by executive director Hillel Neuer.

Thank you, Mr. President.

UN Watch welcomes the report on the issue of human rights of victims of terrorism, A/HRC/19/38, which is before us today. We support the exchange of information on efforts made at the international level to protect the rights of victims of terrorism and their families.

Terrorism does not grow in a vacuum. It breeds on a ground of hatred. It thrives in an atmosphere that teaches extremism, and that legitimizes violence against civilians.

This Council is the world’s highest human rights body. As such, it has the unique ability—through its sessions, resolutions and experts—to send the opposite message. It can educate the hearts and minds of millions with the message that the deliberate killing of civilians is wrong—that terrorism is illegal, immoral and a violation of the right to life. It can show sympathy and support for the victims.

And so we ask: how has the Council responded to acts of terrorism? What messages has it sent? Is its current approach helping victims?

Let us consider the record.

Over the past decade, terrorist attacks were perpetrated in New York; in London; in Madrid; in Mumbai; in Iraq; and in Jerusalem. These attacks, and many more, were carried out in the name of an extremist religious ideology. Thousands of innocents were killed.

How many urgent sessions did this Council convene to condemn these atrocities?

Not one.

How many inquiries were created?

Not one.

How many resolutions were adopted in response to these attacks?

Not one.

Instead, when justice was served on Osama Bin Laden, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay questioned this act.

Instead, after staying silent when Hamas and Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets against civilians, this Council convened sessions, inquiries and reports condemning the victim for defending itself.

Instead, this Council appointed an expert, Richard Falk, whom the Palestinian Authority itself has accused of being “a partisan of Hamas.”

Mr. President,

To protect the human rights of victims of terrorism, it is time to adopt a new approach.

Thank you, Mr. President.”

Another glorious example of this UN madness:

U.N.-ADOPTED REPORT ON QADDAFI RIGHTS RECORD CALLED ”ABHORRENT” BY AMNESTY USA CHIEF

http://www.unwatch.org/site/c.bdKKISNqEmG/b.1289203/apps/s/content.asp?ct=11663531

March 14, 2012   A U.N. report ridiculed worldwide for lavishing praise on the Qaddafi regime’s human rights record was unanimously adopted today by the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, with president Laura Dupuy Lasserre overruling the objection made in the plenary by UN Watch.

After it was first exposed by UN Watch last year, the report card giving high marks to Qaddafi was mocked by the New York Times, The Economist and other major media worldwide, causing a red-faced UN to postpone the report’s adoption repeatedly — until today.

Said the Times:

Until Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s violent suppression of unrest in recent weeks, the United Nations Human Rights Council was kind in its judgment of Libya. In January, it produced a draft report on the country that reads like an international roll call of fulsome praise, when not delicately suggesting improvements. Evidently, within the 47-nation council, some pots are loath to call kettles black, at least until events force their hand. Last week Libya was suspended from the body, and the report was shelved.” 

Even ardent defenders of the council are slamming the report. Echoing UN Watch’s recent protest, Suzanne Nosssel, the head of Amnesty USA and former top human rights official in the Obama Administration, described the Libya report as ”abhorrent,” and called for a complete ”redo.”

Testimony delivered before UN Human Rights Council by UN Watch director Hillel Neuer,March 14, 2012.

Thank you, Madam President.

In the 16th session last year we outlined our grave concerns with this report, which records this council’s 2010 review of Libya’s human rights record under the rule of Col. Moammar Qaddafi.

We recall that the report before us includes the following:

•“Pakistan praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s commitment to human rights.”

•“Algeria noted the efforts of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to promote human rights.”

•“The Islamic Republic of Iran noted that the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had implemented a number of international human rights instruments and had cooperated with relevant treaty bodies.”

•“Qatar praised the legal framework for the protection of human rights and freedoms.”

•“Sudan noted the country’s positive experience in achieving a high school enrolment rate and improvements in the education of women.”

•“The Syrian Arab Republic praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its serious commitment to and interaction with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms. It commended the country for its democratic regime.”

•“North Korea praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its achievements in the protection of human rights.”

•“Palestine commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for the consultations held with civil society in the preparation of the national report, which demonstrated its commitment to the improved enjoyment of human rights.Palestinepraised the country for the Great Green Document on Human Rights.”

•“Brazil noted the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s economic and social progress.”

Madam President,

As delegates here know, for years UN Watch brought victims of Libyan torture to testify before this council, including Bulgarian nurse Kristyana Valchyeva, Ashraf al-Hajouj and the brother of Fathi Eljahmi.  Libyan delegates rudely interrupted them, and called them liars.

In May 2010, we pleaded for Libya not to be elected to this council. Tragically, our voice was ignored; it was elected in great numbers. Not a single country spoke in opposition.

Madam President,

The 2010 review that is before us today does not live up to basic standards. It should be completely redone.

For the victims, is that too much to ask?

Thank you, Madam President.”

And more praise of dictators:

Qaddafi Regime’s Human Rights Record Praised in Controversial Report

http://theglobaljournal.net/news/world/qaddafi-regime-s-human-rights-record-praised-in-controversial-report.html

“A controversial report dealing with the extent of Libya’s pre-revolutionary compliance with human rights norms is currently being debated by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Despite unequivocally praising the record of the notoriously repressive Qaddafi regime, which was found by a separate commission of inquiry to be responsible for gross violations of human rights, it is expected the report will be adopted next week by the 47-nation council.

The report forms part of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism – a state-level peer evaluation process – and was originally scheduled for consideration at a session held last March, following a review undertaken in November 2010. At the time, Libya’s human rights record was lauded by Algeria, Sudan, Qatar, Iran, North Korea and Syria, amongst others. The summary of the report “noted with appreciation the country’s commitment to upholding human rights on the ground.”

And more:

Does Obama have Israel’s back or just the UN’s?

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/03/27/does-obama-have-israels-back-or-just-uns/#ixzz1qLgoxHV0

“The Bush administration refused to lend the UN “Human Rights” Council the credibility offered by U.S. membership and withheld taxpayer dollars accordingly.

In 2009 President Obama, signed on, paid the dues, and is currently seeking a second three-year term for the United States on the Council.

The only trouble is, in just six short years the body created in 2006 as a reform of the discredited UN Human Rights Commission, has gone from very bad to even worse.

As of this past Friday, 42% of all the resolutions and decisions critical of the human rights records of specific states ever adopted by the Council have been directed at Israel. The scorecard was 44 resolutions against Israel and 61 resolutions directed at all of the other 192 UN members combined. And Council resolutions never even mention “Hamas.”

The Council has a permanent agenda governing every regular session composed of ten items, one reserved for criticizingIsraeland one for “human rights situations that require the Council’s attention” anywhere else.

192 of 193 UN members meet in five regional groups before the Council’s public sessions to strategize and share information – Israel is the only UN state excluded.

The Council has commissioned thirty reports condemning Israel alone. That’s compared to five specific reports on Syria’s executioners, three on Iran’s genocidal regime, and none on Council members like Saudi Arabia – which tyrannizes its entire female population, or China – which denies more than a billion people elementary freedoms.

The reports damning Israel all follow the same pattern. Israel’s actions to defend itself – combating rocket attacks from Gaza, preventing a Gaza port for Iranian arms, establishing checkpoints to deny terrorists a way in to Israel, targeting the rocket launchers and terrorist masterminds – all become violations of Palestinian rights. Like the infamous Goldstone report,Israelis the villain and Palestinians are the victims from the outset.

The reports aren’t made for dusty library shelves. They are terrorist manifestos and manuals in what can best be described as Anti-Semitism 101. “

“UN demonization is not idle bureaucratese. Last March Palestinian terrorists stabbed and killed members of the Fogel family, three children and their parents, including a 3-month old baby “settler.” But a year later, the only reference to “violence” in this perverse UN “human rights” resolution was trumped-up “violence by Israeli settlers.”

So where was the Obama administration? Its UN Geneva Ambassador Eileen Donahoe ducked out, and a political counselor and a first secretary were sent in to cast and explain America’s vote against the slew of new anti-Israel resolutions

Team Obama decided to use this moment to criticize Israel– “we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity” – and to reinforce the Council’s bona fides by depicting Americans as a member of a like-minded club. “As members of the Human Rights Council, we all share a responsibility to promote and protect human rights.”

Everyone listening understood the code language. President Obama cares more about propping up the credibility of the Council than he does about protecting Israel from UN-driven harm.

In case anyone missed it, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked at a Friday briefing: “the council keeps doing these things that you say are unwise and biased and one-sided. Why are you a member?” Her response: “the Human Rights Council…generally provides a good moral bellwether.”

Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust

This is a good one, a representative of the Assad regime, denounces Israel for, alleged, violations of human rights on the Golan Heights. This is the same regime who had slaughtered around 9000 people at the times, some of them sought refuge on the Israeli side of Golan. 

UN Human Rights Council Exposed

http://www.aim.org/guest-column/un-human-rights-council-exposed/

“On Friday, the HRC will conclude a month long deliberation by submitting four more resolutions condemningIsrael.

The HRC heard testimony from a representative of the Assad regime, in formulating one of the resolutions, which denounces Israel for, alleged, violations of human rights on the Golan Heights.  At the same time, the Assad regime has already murdered 8,000 Syrian dissidents and rebels, causing tens of thousands of refugees, some seeking asylum in Israel’s Golan Heights.

80% of all 2010 UN resolutions criticizing specific countries for human rights violations were directed at Israel. Only six other UN members faced human rights criticism at all, one of which was the United States. The HRC subjected the USA to harsh criticism—by Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Russia—for, supposed, human rights violations. The HRC criticized the elimination of Bin-Laden and Israel’s defense against PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists.”

And

The true face of ‘human rights’ at the UN

http://www.unwatch.org/site/c.bdKKISNqEmG/b.1289203/apps/s/content.asp?ct=11664787

“GENEVA— I have spent the past few days inGenevawith some of the most remarkably brave people one is ever likely to meet. All have suffered horrendously for calling for freedoms in their countries — the kind of freedoms that people elsewhere take for granted.

But none of them were invited to Geneva by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the UN’s most prominent body that is supposed to deal with human rights, which is meeting here in annual session.

This is the organization behind the infamous and now discredited “Goldstone report” on Gaza. This is the organization that in 2009 praised Sri Lanka’s human rights record shortly after that country’s military had killed 40,000 Tamil civilians.

On Monday, I sat in on this year’s UNHRC debate, and listened to the Syrian ambassador — with a straight face and with no gasps of disapproval from other delegates — tell the chamber that it was really Israelis who were behind the ongoing violence in Syria. And I heard delegates from Cuba, Syria, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and elsewhere praise the Iranian government’s human rights record. (In fact, in addition to a litany of other abuses, Iran carried out the highest number of executions of any country in the world last year, for such “crimes” as being homosexual, or being a member of the Baha’i faith — though it is true that some other countries’ delegates did condemn Syria and Iran for other matters.) This week, the HRC also adopted a report heaping praise on the Gaddafi regime’s human rights record.

The human rights ambassadors engaged in this activity while sitting under the newly painted ceiling art of the council chamber — a remarkably unimpressive piece that the UN says cost $23-million — money that the UN might have used to, say, feed starving children in Africa.

In the entrance to the chamber, two pieces of art, from the time before its renovation, remain. On one, the plaque reads “A statue of Maat, ancient goddess of truth and justice”; it was donated by Egypt’s Mubarak regime. On the other, it says “A statue of Nemesis, Goddess of justice, donated by the Syrian government.”

Just down the road from the UN, another human-rights summit took place the following day — one where actual human rights heroes were present. That summit was organized by UN Watch, and a coalition of 20 other human-rights groups, fromTibet toUganda.

Among the speakers were Chinese dissidents Ren Wanding, who during more than 10 years in prison produced a two-volume attack on the Chinese government painstakingly written on toilet paper; and Yang Jianli, who was released from jail in 2007, and who in 2010 was asked by the jailed Liu Xiaobo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on his behalf.

Also speaking were Joo-il Kim and Song Ju Kim, who endured a living hell in North Korea before risking their lives to escape. And Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina, who survived 20 years in prisons in Castro’s Cuba, where he was severely tortured and had his bones broken on many occasions. He was finally released last year and immediately expelled from Cuba. He has now taken refuge in Spain.

Then there was Zimbabwean activist Jestina Mukoko, who was imprisoned and tortured for calling for democracy in her country. And Burmese activist Zoya Phan, a member of the Karen minority, which has undergone virtual genocide in recent decades. In addition, there were other brave democracy campaigners fromVietnam, Tibet, Pakistan and elsewhere.

I chaired the final session, which was on the Middle East. Impassioned speeches were given by Maikel Nabil, a young Egyptian veterinary student released seven weeks ago after enduring 302 days in a Cairo prison. For much of this time, he was held in solidarity confinement in a one-metre square space. In other periods, he was packed into a cell with 50 common criminals who were bribed by the guards to beat him. Maikel’s crime? After President Mubarak’s ousting last year, he dared to ask the Egyptian military to cede power too, and wrote blog posts calling for Egyptian society to treat women, gays and Jews with respect. In jail, Maikel went on a hunger strike for 80 days and almost died. But none of this broke him, and on his release on January 24 he waved a “V for victory” sign to waiting supporters.

Also on the panel was Ebrahim Mehtari who, for daring to oppose Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2009 presidential bid in his nativeIran, was thrown into prison, raped, tortured and left for dead on the side of a road. Ebrahim’s life is still at risk, since he is one of the few who speak out about the widespread use of sexual torture in Iranian prisons.

Finally, there was 20-year-old Hadeel Kouki, who had been studying English literature in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Caught trying to bring medical supplies to children injured in one of her government’s barbaric and indiscriminate bombardments of civilians last year, she was imprisoned for eight weeks. During that time, she was subjected to electric shocks and repeatedly raped by prison guards. She asked me to tell the world the name of the guard she says was her chief rapist: Abdul Hakeem Abdullatif.

Upon her release, Hadeel managed to escape across the border to Turkey. She has now been offered political asylum by a Western country. I won’t name that country since Syrian thugs — who see her as a particular threat because she is a Christian standing up against the regime when Syria’s Christian leadership are still backing Assad — sent her messages only last week, warning that “we will catch up with you wherever you are and throw acid all over your beautiful face”.

American and Canadian embassy staff came to UN Watch’s alternative Geneva human rights summit. But where were the other ambassadors? Does the UN care about human rights? Or does it prefer to be in league with the criminals of the world?”

And some more of this one-sided madness, this time from UNESCO:

UNESCO condemns Syria, keeps it in rights committee

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/03/08/unesco-syria-idINDEE8270FP20120308

“U.N. cultural agency UNESCO condemned Syriaon Thursday for its crackdown on a year-long uprising but did not expel Damascus from its human rights committee as some Western and Arab countries had demanded, diplomatic sources said.

The executive board of the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) elected Syria to two panels in November, including one that assesses human rights violations.

Angered by Syria’s inclusion on the committee, a group of Western and Arab nations had pressed for Syria‘s expulsion following the violence in the country.

But a resolution, seen by Reuters and submitted by Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Britain, Denmark, and other countries, stopped short of expelling Damascus from the key committee.

Washington and campaigners criticised the ommission.

”The United Statesis profoundly disappointed that this resolution does not call for the outright removal ofSyriafrom the Committee on Conventions and Recommendations – something for which we have repeatedly called for,” said Ambassador David Killion, U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, which has been campaigning to getSyriaexpelled from UNESCO, called the decision scandalous.

For UNESCO to keep Assad on a human rights committee while his regime mercilessly murders its own people is simply immoral, indefensible and an insult to Syria’s victims,” he said.

The resolution condemned Damascus for ”the continued widespread and systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities.”

“Ambassadors, including those of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Qatarand Kuwait, had asked in December for Syria’s situation to be discussed at the 58-member UNESCO executive board. Russia last week attempted to block the move and appears to have succeeded in convincing members to water down the resolution.”

I think I stop here. You got the picture.

And the prospect for this UN cease fire with these people in charge.

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