Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

The extremely worrying response of Europe in face of aggression

16 februari, 2015

And of course, the same goes for USA.

Where to begin?

I could fill books with this very important stuff. I mean, it’s only about if we are going to survive as a civilized society or not. Nobody of our “dear” international politicians and “leaders” seems to care very much. But I am going to try to be “brief”.

I also recommend that you as a background read my posts on the war in Georgia (8 posts August-September 2008 Russia’s War in Georgia and the background chronology to it) and my series on Syria (19 posts March – July 2012 The first post is here: Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 1 ). You find them under categories Georgia and Syria.

2015-02-15_203851

So back to the whole “system” of rules and law on which the international “peace and order” has been built on since 1945. In reality it goes back even further to the Peace of Westphalia 1648.

Westphalian sovereignty is the principle of international law that each nation-state has sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs, to the exclusion of all external powers, on the principle of non-interference in another country’s domestic affairs, and that each state (no matter how large or small) is equal in international law.

And ALL these international organizations and laws (UN, EU etc.,) that were supposed to guarantee peace and stability and economic progress, is in complete shambles. Why? Because all the “big ones” in Europe and the USA have done absolutely nothing to defend it besides some rhetoric and symbolic sanctions. That costs nothing for them and has very little effect.

By doing nothing, they have opened up the Pandora’s Box and a free for all to “intervene” anywhere in the world where there are at least one minority person. And that applies to EVER country and territory in the world. If not you just surreptitiously transport one there, (preferably one from your own intelligence agency or military), let him became “spokesperson” for the group. And voila, you have a just cause to “intervene with brutal force and take whatever you want.

In Russia ALONE there are over 185 officially recognized ethnic groups, nearly 20% of the Russian population.

You Reap What You Sow

Now you take this new world model and apply it to every country in the world. And what do you get? Total chaos and slaughter – “Survival of the fittest” military style.

The village of Nikishyne

the village of Nikishyne

On an equally important side not regarding The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances signed on December 5 1994.

The text of the treaty here:

http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/49/765

http://www.cfr.org/nonproliferation-arms-control-and-disarmament/budapest-memorandums-security-assurances-1994/p32484

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, newly independent Ukraine suddenly found itself in possession of the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal. (About 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads designed to strike the U.S. and 2,500 shorter-range nuclear weapons).

Though the new government originally planned to keep the Soviet nuclear weapons it had inherited on its territory, Ukraine eventually agreed to transfer the weapons to Russia for reprocessing. USA played a big part behind the scene to make them relinquish their nuclear weapons.

Under the memorandum, Ukraine promised to remove all Soviet-era nuclear weapons from its territory, send them to disarmament facilities in Russia, and sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Ukraine kept these promises.

In return, Russia and the Western signatory countries ,(Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, along with Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, and John Major), essentially consecrated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine as an independent state. They did so by applying the principles of territorial integrity and nonintervention in 1975 Helsinki Final Act — a Cold War-era treaty signed by 35 states including the Soviet Union — to an independent post-Soviet Ukraine.

In the ”Budapest Memorandum,” Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States promised that none of them would ever threaten or use force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine. They also pledged that none of them would ever use economic coercion to subordinate Ukraine to their own interest.

They specifically pledged they would refrain from making each other’s territory the object of military occupation or engage in other uses of force in violation of international law.

France and China also provided Ukraine with assurances similar to the Budapest Memorandum, but with some significant differences.

Crimea - Kopia

After the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea in February 2014, these legal “guaranties” proved to be completely worthless. Zip, Nada, Niente.

The message to the world is LOUD and CLEAR: Whatever you do NEVER, EVER give up your nuclear weapons.

By doing nothing the signatory parties in an instant made a MOCKERY of the last 60 years effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. And the treaty of nuclear Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) from 1970.

It also sent out another equally LOUD and CLEAR message to the world: To guarantee your survival GET NUCLEAR WEAPONS!

And this terrifying message gets even clearer when you consider North Korea and Iran. In the latter case these “negotiations” has been going on and off for nearly 20 years

The latest round (the so called Iran and the P5+1) started in February 2014 with a very strange setup pushed by the Obama administration. First you do a lot of unilateral concessions and then you start negotiations. USA gave back frozen money ($4.2 billion + $2.8 billion), eased sanctions ($7 billion + $1.5 billion), ignored the intercontinental Ballistic missile program, that every UN Security Council Resolution has been broken, every broken promise to IAEA, denial of inspections, the vastly expanded enrichment program, the big stockpile of enriched uranium etc. etc.

And to REALY top it off: The Chief US nuclear negotiator with Iran is Wendy Sherman. She is Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the fourth-ranking official in the U.S. Department of State. The SAME WOMEN how was in charge of US negotiations with North Korea to stop them from getting nuclear weapons.

Yeap, we ALL KNOW how that went.

At the present moment the Obama administration have given the Iranians a lite over 80% of what they want without getting anything in return.

When the time comes when Iran “officially” goes nuclear it will have an instant and immediate effect – the rest of the Middle East will ALSO go OFFICIALY nuclear.

Doesn’t that sounds like a really lovely and peaceful world wouldn’t you say?

Little Green Men

Little Green Men2

Back to Ukraine and just a few tidbits of the last two days:

Yesterday (February 14) the day before the “ceasefire”, there was about 170 attacks on Ukrainian positions.

Just one example (and remember this is ALL happening in the “peaceful” Europe): In the late afternoon yesterday there was a full-scale engagement of tank and mechanized units of Ukrainian troops meeting the Russian armed forces on a stretch of Nyzhnje Lozove – the northern suburbs of Novohryhorivka. The battle did not bring a convincing victory to either side, but the Russians stopped trying to assault Lohvynove, leaving this settlement as “neutral” territory.

Today (February 15), so far, about 10 attacks around Debaltseve and Luhansk. But a lot of active regrouping and reinforcements is going on the Russian side.

A few examples: Russian troops transferred a fresh tactical group (up to 20 tanks, 10 ACVs, and 200 personnel) to the vicinity of Lohvynove.

The Russians continued transferring reinforcements to the Shyrokyne village area, trying to “isolate” the offensive by Ukrainian units along the stretch of Shyrokyne – Sakhanka. The transfer of an infantry formation from the vicinity of Bezimenne has been observed ­– over 100 people, 5 armored vehicles and up to 20 motor vehicles.

Another convoy (about 5 transport units) with wounded soldiers (about 200 people, the majority are Russian mercenaries and soldiers) has arrived to the settlement of Krasnyi Luch. The majority of mercenaries are the recruits of Russian intelligence services –Russian citizens who had no previous experience in the military.

Un update: The Russian’s is most active in shelling in the direction of Debaltseve. In particular, from 12:00 am to 3:00 pm EEST 42 fire strikes have been recorded in this area:

  • 16 – mortar strikes (in the vicinity of Zolote, Chornukhyne, Luhansk, Kamyanka, Debaltseve, Olkhovatka, Hirske);
  • 4 – assaults from small arms and grenade launchers (in the areas of Sanzharivka, Chornukhyne);
  • 11 – strikes from cannon artillery (Popasna, Zolote, Chornukhyne, Sanzharivka, Nyzhnje Lozove, Debaltseve, Mius – artillery shelling lasted for 3 hours and 35 minutes – Luhanske);
  • 5 – tank fire strikes (Chornukhyne, Debaltseve);
  • 6 – MLRS fire strikes (Debaltseve, Chornukhyne, Sanzharivka).

In addition, the Russian’s has carried out four attempts at an offensive during that time in the direction of Debaltseve, attacking the positions of Ukrainian troops near the settlement of Chornukhyne.

In addition, 2 fire strikes at civilian objects by ‘DNR’ insurgents and Russian mercenaries were recorded in Donetsk (8:25 am and 3:10 pm EEST – mortar attacks on city blocks). Also, ‘DNR’ mercenaries attacked civilian targets in Popasna at 12:15 am EEST from MLRS. In all three instances, the fire strikes took place in the areas where there are no [firing] positions of Ukrainian troops.

Yeap, the same old same old “ceasefire”. First the one on September 5 2014 and now the Minsk 2 from February 11.

Little Green Men

Military-personnel-believed-to-be-Russian-servicemen-walk-outside-the-territory-of-a-Ukrainian-military-unit-in-the

42 attacks in three hours just in the Debaltseve area. That’s international diplomacy and peacekeeping for you. Angela Merkel and François Hollande can be REALLY PROUD of their “ACIVMENT”.

This is just a very small sample of what has been going on day in and day out for the last 9 months. Here in Europe. The continent of “peace”.

And most of the western so called “leaders” again and again throughout history with disturbing and catastrophic regularity pretend that nothing is going on. Nothing to see, nothing to do, move on.

Because if you pretend hard enough that the really bad things that are happening here and now, is not happening; then you can pretend that everything is “OK”. And then you don’t need to do anything that “disturbs the peace” and the mind of your population with unpopular and hard decisions. At least long enough so someone else has to take care of the mess.

The problem with that of course, as history has proven so many times, is that the longer you wait to deal with a serious problem, the harder and costlier it is going to be to “solve it”. And if you wait long enough it becomes “unsolvable”.

Syria is an excellent case in point.

That is a formula that here in Europe has led to two world wars, the cold war, internal civil wars, total political oppression, censorship, massive and total surveillance of the population, concentration and GULAG camps, slave labor, organized and state supported mass killings, ethnic cleansing on massive scale, massive deportations, euthanasia programs, the master race, blood purity, the New Soviet man, enemies of the people etc.

And we “exported” these ideologies to the rest of the world.

All this in just the last hundred years.

Yeap, we have a lot of things in Europe to be “proud of”.

To make some more points about recent events I leave it to the “locals” east Europeans to explain. They have survived occupation and deportations by Nazi Germany and they have survived occupation and deportations by Soviet Union. So I think they learned a few things:

ATO

(My bold and underline)

From a Munich in Moscow to a Munich in Minsk — How Europe has Come to Putin’s Aid
http://www.interpretermag.com/from-a-munich-in-moscow-to-a-munich-in-minsk-how-europe-has-come-to-putins-aid/

Paul Goble February 13, 2015

In the 1930s, Hitler pursued a simple policy: he simply said one thing and did another. Putin has innovated: he not only lies but uses forces to do his bidding for which no one holds him responsible and thus has the chance to be accepted by some in the West as a “responsible” statesman while continuing his aggression in Ukraine.

Thus, the most important news from Minsk is not that there has been an agreement between the Kremlin leader, the German chancellor, the French president and the Ukrainian president on most of the aspects of a ceasefire but rather that the leaders of the undeclared “peoples republics” are refusing to go along.

Citing “an informed source,” TASS is reporting today that the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics have refused to sign the document “agreed upon by ‘the Normandy quartet,’” thus in one sentence presenting Putin in a way the West will like and showing that what he has signed will have no impact on what he continues to do.
That is just one of the important conclusions about the Minsk meeting suggested by Andrey Piontkovsky who points out in a commentary today that “the very fact of its having taken place is much more important than the little pieces of paper which [these leaders] will sign or not sign”.

The Minsk meeting which follows on the Moscow meeting between Putin, on the one hand, and Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, on the other, reflects a significant change in the way the West is dealing with Putin over all issues and is showing up the Kremlin leader’s position at home, the thing he cares most about.

At the time of the Brisbane summit, Western leaders were demonstratively isolating someone who was invading Ukraine and otherwise violating the international rules of the game. According to Piontkovsky, that threatened Putin’s standing with precisely those on whom his survival depends.

“The power of the dictator depends on the unqualified subordination to him of two or three dozen people: senior civilian, police, media and military officials,” he writes. And these people are completely behind Putin as long as he could guarantee them wealth based on stealing from Russians at home, the ability to keep the results of their theft in the West, and “a sweet life there for several generations of their descendants.”

Russians firing at Debaltseve.

Russian offensive at Debaltseve. Posted by an insurgent from Kazan2

After Brisbane, it began to look as if he no longer could provide such guarantees, and they began to question their support. But Putin responded with a clever campaign in which he caused the leaders of Europe to change their approach and thus restore his unchallenged authority at home with precisely those on whom his dictatorship depends.

Putin’s response took the form of suggesting that Moscow was prepared to use nuclear weapons if the West armed Ukraine, a campaign that has its roots in the words of Dmitry Trenin, the former GRU officer who heads the Moscow Carnegie Center, first in 2009 and most recently in an interview to a British newspaper.

That sparked fear in Europe that Putin might in fact use nuclear weapons, split Europe from the United States with regard to Ukraine, and led both Merkel and Hollande to “walkd to Canossa” first in Moscow and now in Minsk, a dramatic shift that convinced those around Putin that the Europeans are so afraid of Russia that they won’t do anything to oppose its actions.

This nuclear “blackmail” has been “at many levels, taken many forms and been creative,” Piontkovsky says. It has made use of the North Koreans, Rogozin, Ivanov, Shoygu and others. And most recently, it has taken the form of a Russian TV spot showing Russian tanks “visiting” the capitals of Europe on Victory Day.

And Putin’s propaganda ploy has worked. The day after US President Barack Obama’s nominee to be defense secretary said the US would increase military assistance Ukraine, including possibly lethal arms, Chancellor Merkel announced that “Germany does not intend to sell arms to Ukraine since it considers that the conflict does not have a military solution and that diplomatic efforts must continue.”

She certainly had read Dmitry Trenin in the Financial Times and heard the warnings of German analyst Alexander Rahr, and she drew exactly the conclusion that Putin hoped for: The Americans are engaged in a reckless policy and Russia might respond with “tactical nuclear weapons,” something that would affect Europe but not the Americans “beyond the ocean.”

Consequently, she and Hollande rushed to Moscow and then to Minsk, allowing Putin to put on the show of being interested in peace even though his agents show that he is not and thus taking exactly the steps that shore up his dictatorship rather than weakening it and leading Moscow to change its dangerous course of aggression.”

Russian tanks destroyed near Debaltseve

 

Russian tanks destroyed near Debaltseve

Minsk ‘Worse than Munich,’ Landsbergis Says

http://ru.delfi.lt/news/politics/landsbergis-eto-huzhe-chem-myunhen.d?id=67161678
English translation here:
http://en.delfi.lt/central-eastern-europe/vytautas-landsbergis-on-minsk-agreement-it-is-worse-than-munich.d?id=67166812
http://www.interpretermag.com/minsk-worse-than-munich-landsbergis-says/

Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania’s first post-Soviet leader and honorary chairman of the conservative Homeland Union, says that the Minks agreement for ceasefire between Kiev’s forces and Moscow-supported separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine, which was signed on Thursday, is worse than the Munich agreement of 1938.

The conference in 1938 has come to symbolize Western impotence after Great Britain and France tried to appease Adolf Hitler by giving him Sudetenland, which led to occupation of Czechoslovakia and, eventually, World War Two.

”In that Munich conference, there probably weren’t any Sudeten SS men speaking in the name of the nation and demanding to carve up Czecholsovakia. At least they were not sitting at the table. And these [Ukraine’s separatist fighters] did,” Landsbergis said on Thursday, after presenting his new book in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.

The politician noted that the Minsk talks on the future of Ukraine gave word not just to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, but also to self-appointed leaders of the separatist-held regions, Igor Plotnitsky and Alexander Zakharchenko.

Words of defeat

The Minsk agreement demands the withdrawal of heavy military equipment behind a 50-kilometre demilitarized zone. Kiev has pledged to implement a constitutional reform, delegate self-government powers to the separatist regions and resume payments.

As you read through it [the agreement], you are aghast – why do they have to give up everything? Everything. Give territory, recognize these bandits as leaders who get invited to the table and allowed to sign documents. Why give this legitimization to Putin’s mercenaries?” Landsbergis wonders, adding that the same line was agreed on in ceasefire talks on 19 September 2014.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, asked to comment on the constitutional reform outlined in the agreement, noted that it would involve decentralization, not federalization. Landsbergis thinks, however, that these are words of the defeated party.

The situation on February 15

15-02_eng

These are talks of the defeated. First, the mercenaries should not have been allowed to sit in the talks. If countries negotiate and Russia is dictating the kind of constitutional reform they should have, then one can ask – where is your own constitutional reform, when are you starting to respect your constitution, Mr. Putin? Otherwise, shut up and don’t tell us about the constitution. We are a democratic country with a popularly elected parliament. I am an elected president, Poroshenko could say. Whereas you appointed yourself,” Landsbergis says.

He adds he is disappointed with German Chancellor Merkel, who, he says, believed Putin’s ”puppet theatre”. This is how he sees Merkel’s statements that Putin had exerted pressure on the separatists to sign the agreement.

She accepted the puppet theatre. What they did in the end was a puppet show. Perhaps everything followed stage instructions. Putin allegedly demands something of his groupies and they do not listen. He must put his fist down and they insist they will still be able to refuse. All sane people should realize this was but a silly show, but they take it seriously. Why sink to such a low level?” Landsbergis is indignant.

The Kremlin says boko haram

During Thursday’s event at the Foreign Ministry, where Landsbergis presented his new book on 13 January 1991 events to foreign ambassadors, he insisted that Western powers should arm Ukraine.

I still believe that the Ukrainians could be armed against Russian tanks. Otherwise it means that Ukraine has been sold out. It’s worse than Munich. We should discuss Munich today,” Landsbergis told the audience.

The Lithuanian politician, who led Lithuania’s own liberation from the USSR efforts in the late 1980s and early 1990s, has said that Russia is telling blatant lies, which are nonetheless accepted as something worth discussing. ”This way, everything becomes partly true, partly false, but in fact it is utterly false, because it is a purposefully designed lie aimed at influencing our judgement. It is war on thinking,” he said.

Landsbergis believes that there have been only a few moments when Russian leaders were told the truth. Once, US Secretary of State John Kerry told Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that he couldn’t listen any more of what the latter was saying.

”Only one person, as far as I know from the media, Secretary of State John Kerry told Lavrov: It’s impossible to listen to you, Mr. Lavrov. It was reported, though I wasn’t there and no one recorded it. But it was reported that Kerry couldn’t listen to what the Russians were saying. In normal parlance that means: Go to hell, liar,” according to Landsbergis.

President Barack Obama, too, once said he had nothing to talk about with Putin. However, they [Russians] manage to force Western leaders into talking not just with them, but also with the bandits from Donetsk,” he added.

According to Landsbergis, Russia has declared war on the Western civilization.
”West is the enemy. The Kremlin said so. In Arabic, that translates to boko haram. That’s the Kremlin’s slogan, boko haram.”

Boko Haram is the name of a terrorist Islamist movement based in northeast Nigeria. The name in Arabic means ”Western education is forbidden”.

”However, Western leaders have their excuse: we do not want war. But war is on, lady. Yet she sees nothing wrong in Ukrainians being killed,” Landsbergis said. He insisted that Western Europeans were not unaffected by the conflict, reminding that the Russian-supported separatists downed a passenger plain over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people, mostly from the Netherlands.

It did not crash, it was shot down, with all the people inside, it fell down 10 kilometres while people were still alive,” Landsbergis said.”

Russian tanks destroyed near Debaltseve

Russian tanks destroyed near Debaltseve 2

Putin’s Incredibly Shrinking Russian World – Why He Insisted on Minsk for Talks

BEMS – and there’s an old woman
http://charter97.org/ru/news/2015/2/13/139451/
http://www.interpretermag.com/putins-incredibly-shrinking-russian-world-why-he-insisted-on-minsk-for-talks/

Staunton, February 14 – Despite his success in intimidating some European governments into inaction or even willingness to come to terms with the results of his aggression, Vladimir Putin in fact is having to cope with an ever-shrinking Russia world as his insistence on Minsk as a venue for talks about Ukraine shows.

Indeed, had European leaders understood that the Kremlin leader could hardly tolerate talks anywhere else, they would have been in a far better position to make more demands not only of Putin concerning Ukraine but also of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, their official “host” in the Minsk talks.

In a comment for the Charter 97 web site, Iryna Khalip, a Belarusian journalist who writes regularly for Moscow’s Novaya Gazeta, says that Putin needed his meeting with the German chancellor and the French president to be in Minsk “and not in any other place in the world” for three reasons.

First of all, she says, Putin chose Belarus because it is one of the few places outside of Russia where he feels himself to be “the master.” That is not the case in Kazakhstan, and the Kremlin leader isn’t inclined to travel beyond the borders of his Eurasian Economic Community whose rulers defer to him most of the time.

Second, Belarus was about the only place where the Donbass separatists “could feel themselves safe” and where they would “not only not be arrested but would be able to sit at one table with the adults.” That gave them the status Putin wanted them to have, and just their being at the same talks was “sufficient” for his purposes.

And third, “by insisting on Minsk as the site of the meeting, Vladimir Putin reduced to nil all the declarations of the leaders of the EU countries made after the mass arrests” in Belarus in December 2010. At that time, they said that any high level contacts between the EU and Belarus were impossible.

Despite those declarations, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande came to Minsk, where they were hosted by the author of those arrests, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and said nothing about the freezing of former presidential candidate Mikola Statkevich or anyone else. He remains in prison. Had the Europeans insisted, Putin would have convinced Lukashenka to release him.

Russian tanks destroyed near Debaltseve

Defeat of a Russian-terrorist troop tank group near Debaltseve 5

Khalip then addresses the larger problems of this venue as a summit. Summit meetings, she points out, are not occasions for negotiations but rather “the last stage” in such a process. But Merkel and Hollande acted otherwise and that gave Putin the opportunity to “wrap them around his little finger” and get what he wanted out of the session without yielding anything in return.

“The difference between Merkel and Hollande, on the one hand, and Putin and Lukashenka on the other is that the latter two not once for many years has kept his word,” Khalip writes. The Europeans are accustomed to the idea that promises will be kept, while Putin and Lukashenka assume that promises are made for anything but that.

And the Europeans, or at least Merkel and Hollande, suffer from another problem as well: they can’t afford to take part in a meeting after which they would have to say to their electors at home: “forgive us, we weren’t able” to reach an agreement. That means they need to know going into a meeting what will be agreed to or they will be manipulated.

This need also means that the Europeans do not always understand what the meeting is about or what the other side wants. Putin knew what he wanted at Minsk and it was not about the Donbass. He had much bigger goals in mind, including the end of sanctions, an end to his isolation, and a reaffirmation of his role in Belarus.

Europe in these negotiations thus demonstrated all its weaknesses,” Khalip says, including its “complete inability to defend itself, its lack of a strategy toward the Russia of today, its indifference to the territories of others,” and its willingness to pay off bandits like Putin and Lukashenka in order to continue to live quietly until they make new threats and new demands.”

The village of Nikishyne

Nikishyne, Debaltseve region

Germany and France ‘Sacrificed Ukraine’ for National Economic Interests, European Parliament Vice President Says

http://kontrakty.ua/article/84676
http://www.interpretermag.com/germany-and-france-sacrificed-ukraine-for-national-economic-interests-european-parliament-vice-president-says/
“In what Vladimir Putin may see as an additional benefit and others as collateral damage, the Minsk accords have deepened splits within the European Union, with European Parliament Vice President Ryszard Czarnecki saying that the German and French leaders “sacrificed” Ukraine at Munich for the economic interests of their own countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, “without the participation of the EU and promoting the economic interests of their own countries, have sacrificed Ukraine,” Czarnecki says, legitimating Russia’s “achievements” and creating a world more beneficial to Moscow than to Kyiv.

In other comments, the Polish and European politician says that it is unfortunately the case that some European countries “would like to have peace at any price,” something they may have achieved in the short run by their concessions at Minsk but not something that is likely to last for long.

On the one hand, Czarnecki says, the pro-Moscow militants in southeastern Ukraine with continuing Russian backing are likely to try to seize even more territory and undermine Ukrainian statehood. And on the other, Kyiv will have no choice but to try to block them whatever the Minsk accords say.

By insisting on the negotiating arrangements in Minsk, Putin not only excluded the US, legitimated his agents in Ukraine, but has divided Europe still further, an amazing Russian achievement but one that the leaders of Germany and France in large measure facilitated, something that Ukrainians and all people of good will should never forget.”

Donetsk airport from drone

donetsk-airport-from-drone

‘What Can Ukraine Expect from the West Now?’ Former GULAG Inmate Asks Bitterly

This is a statement from Myroslav Marynovich, founder of Amnesty International Ukraine, a founding member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, and President of the Ukrainian PEN Club. He was arrested on April 23 1977 and he was sentenced to seven years’ hard labour and five years in exile. The same year Amnesty International adopted him as a prisoner of conscience. He spent a decade in the Soviet GULAG camps in Kazakhstan, and he has issued the statement below about how Ukrainians feel about what is happening to them now.

http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.ch/2015/02/what-can-ukraine-expect-from-west-now.html

“What can Ukraine expect from the West now?

I write to you as a former prisoner of conscience of the Brezhnev era. All other titles are rapidly losing sense in the light of the bleeding Ukrainian Maidan.

All my life I admired Western civilization as the realm of values. Now I am close to rephrasing Byron’s words: “Frailty, thy name is Europe!” The strength of bitterness here is matched by the strength of our love for Europe.

If it still concerns anybody in decision-making circles, I may answer the question in the title.

First and foremost, stop “expressing deep concern”. All protestors on the Maidan have an allergy to this by now in these circumstances senseless phrase, while all gangsters in the Ukrainian governmental gang enjoy mocking the helplessness of the EU.

Take sanctions. Don’t waste time in searching for their Achilles’ heel: it is the money deposited in your banks. Execute your own laws and stop money laundering. The Europe we want to be part of can never degrade the absolute value of human lives in favor of an absolute importance of money.

Also cancel Western visas for all governmental gangsters and their families. It is a scandal that ordinary Ukrainians living their simple lives have to provide their ancestors’ family trees to obtain a visa while ruling criminals guilty of murder, “disappearances”, and fraud in the eyes of the whole world enjoy virtually free-entry status in Europe.

(Captured Ukrainian soldiers bounded and executed at Donetsk Airport

You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWxiF3qS2tY&feature=youtu.be&t=18s)

dead & bound Ukraine soldiers at Donetsk airport

 

Do not listen to Yanukovych’s and Putin’s propagandistic sirens. Just put cotton in your ears. Be able to decode their lie; otherwise they will decode your ability to defend yourself.

Instead, listen to Ukrainian media sacrificing their journalists’ lives to get truthful information.

Do not rely so much upon the information provided by your special correspondents in other countries who come to Ukraine for a day or two. Hire Ukrainians who live in this country to translate the Ukrainian cry of pain. Secure money for that right now instead of waiting for funds from next year’s budget.

Come to Ukrainian hospitals and talk to so-called “extremists” who want to “subvert the legitimately elected government,” those who have “cruelly beaten” policemen and “deliberately” blasted explosives to wound themselves.

Yes, the face of war is cruel. But, arriving at the Maidan, these people repeated almost literally what King George VI said to his people on the 3 September 1939: “We have been forced into a conflict, for we are called… to meet the challenge of a principle which, if it were to prevail, would be fatal to any civilized order in the world.”

Go out of your zone of comfort! Just recall the coddled ancient Romans who refused to do that in time. Cajoling Putin won’t bring you security. Letting him take control over Ukraine could make the world peace even more vulnerable. A Ukraine divided by force won’t bring the world peace, just as a Poland and Germany divided by force didn’t bring peace to the world.

Let us conclude in solidarity with the King and the Ukrainian people: “The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield, but we can only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God. If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then with God’s help, we shall prevail.”

Russians firing at Debaltseve.

Russian offensive at Debaltseve. Posted by an insurgent from Kazan

And to sum up the Russian mood: Russian TV says how Russia will capture Europe by May 9

Russian propagandists dream about holding the May 9 parade in Europe.
A story of a Russian TV channel on February 10 was posted on the Internet. It tells that Russian troops can reach Warsaw within 24 hours and then “visit” Berlin, Prague, Vilnius, Tallinn, Riga and, finally, London.

Вата ТВ: O планах броска России в Европу

I think I stop here, for now.

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The economic mess and structural problems in EU and USA – Part 2

23 januari, 2013

This is the second part about USA. Again, It ain’t pretty to say the least!

Where the same absurd Alice in Wonderland economic and political farce is playing out in the USA. And as in Europe it is, as usual, the common people who are paying the price.

And as in Europe, the US crisis is anything but over regardless of what the political elites are trying to tell the people in USA. In USA the role of ECB is played by the FED (the Federal Reserve), which creates money out of “thin air” to support the gigantic and increasing debt. And to keep the stock market going and lower the price of the dollar.

So that the federal US government can spend your tax money like a drunken sailor.

(See my posts:                                      

The US election – Yes we have NO bananas

How Obama loves the poor SOOO MUCH, especially the black, that they have had the largest single drop in income ever

In three graphs – Obama Economics)

All graphs get bigger when you click on them

USA_jobs2

                                                 USA

In USA, Goldman Sachs and the other investment banks, plus the big Hedge Funds, are pushing leverage to ridiculous and dangerous extremes.

If you read the Comptroller of the Currency, Administrator of National Banks, report for the second quarter 2012 “Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities”, you get utterly horrified of the totals of the open derivatives positions in the US market.

Four of the largest U.S. banks are walking an extreme tightrope of risk, leverage and debt when it comes to derivatives.  Below you are going to find just how utterly exposed they are.

But first what is leverage?

Most people do not understand “leverage” and what it actually means. If they did, they would not sleep at night knowing what’s going on right now.

To put it simple: leverage means that these banks etc use a leverage of say 1:50 or 1:100 in their speculations. Which means that they only put up 1 of their own dollars for an investment worth 50 or 100 dollar. Their dollars are “worth” 50 or 100 times more than they actually are.

It ALSO means that IF “things” goes wrong way they LOSE 50 or 100 dollars for every dollar they invested in that trade or position. Or much, much more.

And usually when things goes wrong, it goes very fast when it comes to trading with these kind of leverages. So very quickly, these sums get astronomical. In a couple of days they can literally lose ALL their capital and more.

Nov deficit

 This has happened time and time again. Just to mention a few:

–         Lehman Brothers (was the 4th largest inv. bank in the US).

–          Bear Stearns

–          American International Group

–          Northern Rock (a medium-sized British bank)

–          Washington Mutual

–          American Savings and Loan

–          Landsbanki and Glitnir

–          Barings Bank

–          Société Générale

–          JP Morgan Chase & Co

–          Morgan Stanley

–          Long-Term Capital Management L.P. (LTCM)

As I said before, this is JUST A VERY SHORT LIST

Avalanche

This would not per se be a problem if this were a truly free and capitalist market. Because then these banks would go bankrupt and the owners and investors would lose their money. As they are supposed to do if the do bad business or trades.

But as we all know, this is NOT a free and capitalist market.  Our “dear” politicians have “decided” that these banks with all their wild speculations are too important or to big, to be allowed to fail.

 So instead, they have used taxpayer’s money and put whole countries at risk and in extreme debt just to bail out these banks.

And the banks knows that whatever speculations they do, REGARDLESS of how much or bad they speculate, and as you can see below their speculations are horrific, the politicians are going to bail them out with our tax money.

JP Morgan Chase

Total Assets: $1,812,837,000,000 (just over 1.8 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $69,238,349,000,000 (more than 69 trillion dollars)

 Citibank

Total Assets: $1,347,841,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $52,150,970,000,000 (more than 52 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $1,445,093,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $44,405,372,000,000 (more than 44 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $114,693,000,000 (a bit more than 114 billion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $41,580,395,000,000 (more than 41 trillion dollars)

To sum up – TOTAL EXPOSURE TO DERIVATES for ONLY these four banks:

 207, 375, 086, 000, 000 TRILLION DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!

TOTAL ASSETS for these four banks:  4,720,464,000,000 TRILLION DOLLARS

So they can “cover” 2,27 % of the Total Exposure with ALL their Assets!

So who is going to pay for the “rest”:  202, 654, 622, 000, 000  TRILLION DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!! if anything goes wrong?

EmployRecNov2012

Well, we know the answer to that doesn’t we. So far, it’s the common people, i.e. the taxpayers, who had to cover for all the banks bad speculations thanks to our dear politicians.

Take another look at those figures for Goldman Sachs.  If you do the math, Goldman Sachs has total exposure to derivatives contracts that is more than 364 times greater than their total assets!

That is utter insanity, but everyone just keeps pretending that the emperor actually has clothes on.

And why are “our” politicians SO EAGER to protect these speculators?

To put these GIGANTIC sums into perspective lets compare with the GDP from USA and all of EU from 2011

There a lot of different way to calculate GDP and the figures for each year. Add to that exchange fluctuations, conversion rates etc. So the figures below comes from the same source (IMF) to make the comparison easier.  And it is their conversion.

GDP USA 2011 – 15,094,025 billion US dollars

GDP EU 2011 –  17,610,826 billion US dollars

Total GDP for EU and USA 2011: 32,704,851 billion US dollars.

Lets compare these 32,704,851 billion US dollars with TOTAL EXPOSURE TO DERIVATES for  these four above mentioned banks:

207, 375, 086, 000, 000 TRILLION DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!

VS

32,704,851 billion US dollars in COMBINED GDP of EU and USA

Anyone see any problem???

Problem solved all right. So just move on, nothing to notice here or worry about.

Because according to out “dear” politicians, bankers and political elites from EU and USA there is NO SERIOUS PROBLEM HERE. The problems in USA and EU are more or less solved etc.

So the ones that put as in the mess in the first place, very “reassuringly” tells us: “We take care of it”.

Yeah sure!

mrzSpendaholic2

Let’s move on to another “bright spot” –the federal budget and debt. The figures are based on the 2012/2013 data:

2012 US Tax Revenue: $2,469,000,000,000

2012 Federal budget: $3,796,000,000,000

2012 Budget deficit: $1,327,000,000,000

US Federal Debt as of January 22, 2013: $16,471,084,067,491

Total interest paid on the debt in 2012: $359,796,008,919

Budget INCREASE between 2012 and 2013: $38,500,000,000

mrzWhat is the

To make these gigantic sums understandable here is how these figures would look like for a “normal” family:

Annual family income: $24,690

Annual family expenses: $37,960.  154% of the annual family income.

Annual family shortfall borrowed from friends/neighbors etc: $13,270.  54% of the annual family income.

Total interest the family paid last year: $3,598 (at near 0% interest).  Nearly 15% of the annual family income

Total family debt (mortgage, auto, credit card): $164,471.This is   666% of the annual family income.

Change in family spending this year: an increase of $385

This looks like a very responsible family wouldn’t you say?

And do you think this family would get any loans from the banks?

When you look at it this way, it really seems absurd. Yet it’s true… a slow motion train wreck. That any person with more than one functioning brain cell can see coming miles away.  Except our “dear” politicians. They are in ACTUAL FACT increasing the spending AND the debt.

Foodstamps%20Oct

Here’s another way to look at the debt ceiling I found in a paper. It’s very symptomatic:

Let’s say you come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood… and your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings.

What do you think you should do?

Raise the ceilings, or remove the crap?

Well, or “dear” politicians are franticly at an increasing speed trying to raise the ceiling at the same time as the “sewage” is increasing EVEN MORE.

Yeap, there you have politicians in a nutshell.

Why fix the problem that they themselves caused, when the politicians can pretend that they are the giver of all gods and bearer of all gifts to all the people all the time.

And it doesn’t cost anything for anybody. It’s ALL free forever. And they all lived happily ever after.

Sounds like a wonderful fairytale doesn’t it?

On that “cheerful” note, I stop here.

mrzOur children

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The US election – Yes we have NO bananas

8 november, 2012

I could talk at length of the different aspects of this election and the result. But I will not. That would require a long essay. And that is for another time. So it’s just going to be a quick comment (well sort of), and follow up to my post The betrayal of journalism and the first amendment by the mainstream media in USA

It is a very sad day indeed to see a people voluntarily decide to throw themselves and their country over the cliff.

Let’s look at the economy (the figures are from the Congressional Budget Office):

In the Fiscal Year 2011, the federal government collected $2.303 trillion in tax revenue. Interest on the debt that year totaled $454.4 billion, and mandatory spending totaled $2,025 billion. In sum, mandatory spending plus debt interest totaled $2.479 trillion –. exceeding total revenue by $176.4 billion.

(Mandatory spending includes entitlements like Medicare, Social Security etc. which are REQUIRED by law to be paid. Congress in practical terms do not see this money, it is automatically deducted.)

For the Fiscal Year 2012, which just ended 37 days ago, that deficit increased 43% to $251.8 billion.

In other words, they could cut the entire Federal Government’s discretionary budget – No military, SEC, FBI, EPA, DHS, IRS, etc.- and they would still be in deficit by a quarter of a trillion dollars.

(Discretionary spending includes nearly everything we think of related to government- the US military, the Department of  Homeland Security, IRS, EPA etc.)

The only thing showing any growth in the US, besides the debilitating regulatory burdens, is the national debt. It took over 200 years for the US government to accumulate its first trillion dollars in debt. It took just 286 days to accumulate the most recent trillion (to $16 trillion).

Last month alone, the first month of Fiscal Year 2013, the US government accumulated nearly $200 billion in new debt in just 31 days.

And the numbers will only continue to get worse. 10,000 people each day begin receiving mandatory entitlements. Fewer people remain behind to pay into the system. The debt keeps rising, and interest payments will continue to rise even more. In addition, the dollar is going to decline.

The result, the US government is legally bound to spend more money on mandatory entitlements and interest than it can raise in tax revenue. It will not make any difference how high the federal, state or local government raise taxes, or even if they cut everything.

Another effect of Obama economics is that the poor are getting poorer, especially the black.  Under Obama the poorest Americans has suffered the single largest drop in income ever.

And the Black Americans in the same lowest income quintile have suffered almost double as the average American in the same quintile under Obama:

The drop is – 11.58% in one year (2010) and is at the lowest level ever.

That’s what I call “change”! But I would not call it “hope”.

And the number of people classified as poor are getting larger and larger.

See also my posts

How Obama loves the poor SOOO MUCH, especially the black, that they have had the largest single drop in income ever

In three graphs – Obama Economics

America, You are at a tipping point and you have your last change to stop it – Part 10

America, You are at a tipping point and you have your last change to stop it – Part 9

America, You are at a tipping point and you have your last change to stop it – Part 8

America, You are at a tipping point and you have your last change to stop it – Part 7

America, You are at a tipping point and you have your last change to stop it – Part 6

America, You are at a tipping point and you have your last change to stop it – Part 5

America, You are at a tipping point and you have your last change to stop it – Part 4

America, You are at a tipping point and you have your last change to stop it – Part 3

America, You are at a tipping point and you have your last change to stop it – Part 2

America, You are at a tipping point and you have your last change to stop it – Part 1

Why, Mr President, are you deliberately destroying the American way and committing economic harakiri?

And then of course we have the very disastrous Obama Care.  I wrote 34 posts about it. You can read them here:

Obama Care 34 – Which system do YOU thinks works best?

Obama Care 33 – President Obama is a willful and certified liar

Obama Care 32

Obama Care 31

Obama Care 30

Obama Care 29

Obama Care 28

Obama Care 27

Etc…

Obama Care

Then on top of that, we have the equally disastrous foreign policy. Where the Obama administration systematically have thrown their former allies (Eastern Europe, Britain, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia  etc) under the bus, and helped parties like the Muslim Brotherhood that hate everything that USA and the western world stands for, to power.

See my 19 posts on Syria etc as some examples of that disastrous foreign policy:

How the Assad regime with the help of Russia, Iran, China and Hezbollah transformed peaceful protester to fighters

Here is links to all my posts

Russia’s solution for Syria – More Carpet bombing and Total Destruction

I could go on with many more examples but I think I will stop here.

But as the old saying goes (Joseph de Maistre in a letter from St Petersburg August 1811): a country has the politicians/government that they deserve.  So enjoy!

In addition,  this quote from a reader’s commentary in The Prager Zeitung in March 2010 (translated from Czech) sums it up quite well really:

Multitude of Fools

The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.

The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of  fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool.

It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.“

P.S. If you are wondering about the title, see this video with music by Spike Jones. There is another long story behind the lyrics but that you have to find out yourself. D.S.

Spike Jone – yes we have no bananas

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT6JkceQ9FU

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The betrayal of journalism and the first amendment by the mainstream media in USA

2 oktober, 2012

“But all I want to conclude to this is that we face a fundamental danger here.  The fundamental danger is this: I talked about the defense of the First Amendment.  The press’s job is to stand in the ramparts and protect the liberty and freedom of all of us from a government and from organized governmental power.  When they desert those ramparts and decide that they will now become active participants, that their job is not simply to tell you who you may vote for, and who you may not, but, worse—and this is the danger of the last two weeks—what truth that you may know, as an American, and what truth you are not allowed to know, they have, then, made themselves a fundamental threat to the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of the American peopleAnd it is a threat to the very future of this country if that—we allow this stuff to go on.  We have crossed a whole new and frightening slide on the slippery slope this last two weeks, and it needs to be talked about.“

An excellent summary by democrat Pat Caddell on the very sad state of “journalism” in America. And the utter betrayal by the mainstream media (press, TV and radio) of their role as journalists and protector of the first amendment.

Pat Caddell is a lifelong democrat and worked for the McGovern campaign. He also worked on the Jimmy Carter campaign, for Gary Hart, for Joe Biden, and Jerry Brown. 

He was their election strategy and pollster man.

Pat Caddell is also the founder of Cambridge Survey Research, a public opinion pollster, and an expert in analyzing public opinion.

He has also worked as a consultant to various movies, TV shows, and documentaries etc.

And this is nothing new.  We have seen so many different examples of this betrayal of journalist in their role as journalist.  In this blog, I have given many examples when it comes to the Global Warming Hysteria.

Where the “journalists” and the mainstream media ACTIVELY choose to become propagandists and his master’s voice. Even worse, they ACTIVELY became attack dogs and tried to suppress and oppress EVERY dissenting voice and protest.

This is the ultimate betrayal of ALL what journalism is supposed to be. And the role they are supposed to play in a “free society”.  Goebbels, and Ilya Ehrenburg (his soviet counterpart), would be REALLY PROUD of these men and women!

As I have told you before, I am a former journalist. But I quite in disgust because of what was going on. And this was way back. And compared to now it was as kindergarten then.

And to confirm the total incompetent Romney campaign, including the republican party establishment handling of it, Romeny said on Wednesday:

As if to prove this point, Mitt Romney has now told Jan Crawford of CBS News that the major media are not in the tank for Obama and that he has no plans to challenge liberal media bias.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57521036/romney-obama-engaged-in-character-assassination/

“Later, Crawford asked Romney if the mainstream media is ”in the tank for President Obama,” as many conservatives allege.

”Well, I think we have a system of free press, people are able to provide their own perspective based on their own beliefs, I think there’s some people who are more in my camp, there’s a lot of people who are more in his camp, and I don’t worry about that,” Romney responded.”

And the headline for this news story: is ironically – Romney: Obama engaged in ”character assassination”

But Romney is not worried

Well, it is no surprise since one of the chief architects of the strategy behind the campaign is Karl Rove. The strategy is to be “nice”, to be cautious, no attacks and no confronting the biased media.

In the meantime, Romney is being slaughtered in crucial states by the “not so nice” attack ads and a merciless campaign by Obama.

If you look at the key 11 swing states (hold 146 Electoral College votes) won by President Obama in 2008 and thought to be competitive in 2012. In 2008, Obama won these swing states by a combined margin of 53% to 46%, virtually identical to his national margin.

In one month from the beginning of September until today, Obama has gone from 44-45% to 50-51%.

Romney has gone from 46% to 45%.

From roughly even to a 5-6% lead by Obama according to the Rasmussen  Daily Swing State Tracking Poll. That’s the biggest lead Obama has had in a long time. We have to go back to the end of February this year to find similar figures when Obama topped at 50%.

I will not bother you with a lengthy analysis of the incompetent Romney campaign, and the republican party establishments hiring of the wrong people.

Just two quick examples:

Ed Gillespie, who Pat Caddell talked about, is a senior advisorto the Romney campaign. He started a lobbying firm with former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn, responsible for the pardon of Marc Rich, among other things.

Gillespie will make money no matter what happens on this Election Day. Or the next election. Etc. So do you think he is very much concerned about the media bias problem and who is really winning the race?

Another is his communications director and longtime aide Eric Fehrnstromon. Now famous for his comment to CNN in March, saying that Romney was in realty an “Etch A Sketch” man.

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2012/03/21/exp-point-fehrstrom-romney-two.cnn

Implying that he has no firm believes, policies and positions. You can take whatever he says and you can shake it up and it will be gone and he is going to draw a completely new picture.

With “senior advisers” like this who needs enemies.

As a side not, the Swedish government has invited this Karl Rove several times for political and election advice.

They really know how to pick them!

In addition, they pay big (taxpayers) bucks for it too.

Pat Caddell  September 21– “The Audacity of Corruption”

The text of the speech:

Thank you.  Glad to be with you.  This could take a long time, but we don’t have that, so let me just get right to this.  I think we’re at the most dangerous time in our political history in terms of the balance of power in the role that the media plays in whether or not we maintain a free democracy or not.  You know, when I first started in politics – and for a long time before that – everyone on both sides, Democrats and Republicans, despised the press commonly, because they were SOBs to everybodyWhich is exactly what they should be.  They were unrelenting.  Whatever the biases were, they were essentially equal-opportunity peopleThat changed in 1980.  There’s a lot of reasons for it. It changed—an important point in the Dukakis-Bush election, when the press literally was trying to get Dukakis elected by ignoring what was happening in Massachusetts, with a candidate who was running on the platform of “He will do for America what he did for Massachusetts”—while they were on the verge of bankruptcy.

Also the change from evening news emphasis to morning news by the networks is another factor that’s been pointed out to me. Most recently, what I call the nepotism that exists, where people get jobs—they’re married to people who are in the administration, or in politics, whatever.  But the overwhelming bias has become very real and very dangerous.  We have a First Amendment for one reason.  We have a First Amendment not because the Founding Fathers liked the press—they hated the press—but they believed, as [Thomas] Jefferson said, that in order to have a free country, in order to be a free people, we needed a free press.  That was the job—so there was an implicit bargain in the First Amendment, the press being the only institution, at that time, which was in our process of which there was no checks and balances.  We designed a constitutional system with many checks and balances.  The one that had no checks and balances was the press, and that was done under an implicit understanding that, somehow, the press would protect the people from the government and the power by telling—somehow allowing—people to have the truthThat is being abrogated as we speak, and has been for some time.  It is now creating the danger that I spoke to.

This morning, just this morning, Gallup released their latest poll on the trust, how much trust—the Congressman [Lamar Smith] made reference to an earlier poll—when it comes to reporting the news accurately, fairly, and fully, and it’s the highest in history.  For the first time, 60% of the people said they had “Not very much” or “None at all.”  Of course there was a partisan break: There were 40% who believed it did, Democrats, 58% believed that it was fair and accurate, Republicans were 26%, Independents were 31%.  So there is this contempt for the media – or this belief—and there are many other polls that show it as well.  I want to just use a few examples, because I think we crossed the line the last few weeks that is terrifying.

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece which was called “The Audacity of Cronyism  in Breitbart, and my talk today is “The Audacity of Corruption.”  What I pointed out was, that it was appalling that Valerie Jarrett had a Secret Service detail.  A staff member in the White House who is a senior aide and has a full Secret Service detail, even while on vacation, and nobody in the press had asked why.  That has become more poignant, as I said, last week, when we discovered that we had an American ambassador, on the anniversary of 9/11, who was without adequate security—while she still has a Secret Service detail assigned to her full-time, at a massive cost, and no one in the media has gone to ask why.

The same thing: I raised the question of David Plouffe.  David Plouffe, who is the White House’s Senior Advisor—and was Obama’s campaign manager last time, he and [David] Axelrod sort of switched out, Axelrod going back to Chicago for the campaign—and just after it was announced that he was coming, an Iranian front group in Nigeria gave him $100,000 to give two speeches in Nigeria.  Now, let me tell you: There’s nobody that hands—no stranger gives you $100,000 and doesn’t expect something in return, unless you live in a world that I don’t.  And no one has raised this in the mainstream media.  He was on with George Stephanopoulos, on ABC, a couple of weeks ago, and they were going through all these questions.  No one asked him whatsoever about that.  He was not inquired.  George Stephanopoulos, a former advisor to Bill Clinton—who every morning, while Rahm Emmanuel was Chief of Staff, had his call with Rahm Emmanuel and James Carville, and the three of them have been doing it for years—and he is held out as a journalist.  He has two platforms.  I mean, he’s a political hack masquerading as a journalist.  But when you don’t ask the questions you need to ask of someone like David Plouffe, who’s going in the White House—when we’re talking about Iran. I just finished  surveys , some of you may have seen, with John McLaughlin this week, with Secure America Now , and found out just how strongly Americans are concerned with Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, what’s happening in the Middle East, and cuts in defense spending.  This is not the place for that, but it strikes me as the American people identify, in the polling we’ve done over the last year, Iran as the single greatest danger to the United States.  And here’s a man who’s being paid by an already named front group for that—for a terrorist regime, and is not asked about it, or queried about it!

The third thing I would say is that—then there’s of course [National Security Advisor] Tom Donilon, who I know very well from years back, who I caused a little bit of a stir over a few months ago when I said he was the “leaker-in-chief.”  I mean this ridiculous running around—“How did these secrets get out?”—when it is clear he has no credentials for foreign policy; who has been in the White House; who was a political operative for Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter, and others; who was known to have, in my opinion, to be just the most amoral person I know in politics; and who is using and orchestrating national security.  In Mr. [David] Sanger’s book [Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power], as a reviewer at [The New York Times]  said, “The hero of this book, and the clear source of it, is Tom Donilon”—but let me just make a point.  Neither does—and I would say this to the Congressman—“You know, all the Republicans have to do”—you know, I talk often about the “Corrupt Party” and the “Stupid Party,” but the Stupid Party couldn’t be stupider when it comes to things like this.  They could have called Tom Donilon and other people down to the Congress, put them under oath, and asked them if they had leaked.  Instead you have Eric Holder, who runs the most political Justice Department since John Mitchell—only in John Mitchell’s administration we had Justice Departments that were so politicized and so corrupted by politics—and he appoints someone who gave two people to do a study on the leaks, sometime in the next century will come out, and one of them is a, was a contributor to Barack Obama when he was a state Senator.  That’s a really unbiased source!  And the press, of course, won’t look into this.  It will not ask the question.  But the Republicans could have called them down.  Yes, the President could have extended Executive Privilege, but let him say “I will not answer that question, sir” on the question of “Did you leak these secrets that Dianne Feinstein, the Chairman, the Democratic Chairman, of the Senate Intelligence Committee said were endangering national security and American lives?”  As she said  when she read Sanger’s book, “My God, every page I turn I learn something that I don’t know!”  I mean, these are serious matters but in Washington they’re playful, and the press does not pursue any of them.

Peter Schweizer has done a study talking about corruption.  60%, or 80% —it’s closer to 80% I think, now—of the money given under the stimulus to green energy projects—the President and this administration’s great project—has gone to people who are either bundlers or major contributors to Barack ObamaBut nobody says a word.  Of course Republicans don’t raise it because in Washington, they simply want to do it when they get back in power.  And, of course, the press doesn’t because they basically have taken themselves out of doing their job.

When we see what happened this week in Libya—and when I said I was more frightened than I’ve ever been, this is true, because I think it’s one thing that, as they did in 2008, when the mainstream press, the mainstream media and all the press, jumped on the Obama bandwagon and made it a moral commitment on their part to help him get elected in a way that has never happened, whatever the biases in the past.  To give you an example of the difference, I’ll just shortly tell you this: In 1980, when [Jimmy] Carter was running for reelection, the press—even though 80% of them, after the election, reporters said they voted for Carter over [Ronald] Reagan, or 70% percent of them, a very high percentage—they believed, so much, that the Carter campaign and the Carter White House had abused the Rose Garden against [Ted] Kennedy that they made a commitment, as they discussed, that they would not serve as the attack dogs on Reagan for the Carter White House because they thought it was unfair and they weren’t to be manipulated.  I totally disagree with their analysis, but that was when you actually had a press corps.  Whatever their own personal feelings, they made judgments that were, “We’re not going to be manipulated.”  This press corps serves at the pleasure of this White House and President, led by people like Ezra Klein and JournoList, where they plot the stories togetherThe problem here is that no one will name names.

But I want to talk about this Libyan thing, because we crossed some lines here.  It’s not about politics. First of all we’ve had nine day of lies over what happened because they can’t dare say it’s a terrorist attack, and the press won’t push this. Yesterday there was not a single piece in The New York Times over the question of Libya.  Twenty American embassies, yesterday, were under attack.  None of that is on the national news.  None of it is being pressed in the papersIf a President of either party—I don’t care whether it was Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or George Bush or Ronald Reagan or George H. W. Bush—had a terrorist incident, and got on an airplane after saying something, and flown off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas, they would have been crucified!  It would have been—it should have been the equivalent, for Barack Obama, of George Bush’s “flying over Katrina” moment.  But nothing was said at all, and nothing will be said.

It is one thing to bias the news, or have a biased view.  It is another thing to specifically decide that you will not tell the American people information they have a right to know, and I choose right now, openly, and this is—if I had more time I’d do all the names for it—but The New York Times, The Washington Post, or the most important papers that influence the networks, ABC, NBC, and, to a lesser extent—because CBS has actually been on this story, partly because the President of Libya appeared on [Bob Schieffer’s Face the Nation] and said, on Sunday, while [U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.] Susan Rice was out—the U.N. Ambassador has no portfolio on this matter—lying, said of the Secretary—you know why, notice the Secretary of State wasn’t out there doing this—was on national television, lying and promoting the White House line while the Libyan President, the very same moment, is saying “This is a premeditated attack.”  Nobody has asked that question.  This morning—take a look at The New York Times this morning, it’s a minor reference.  Oh, now we’ve decided that it was a terrorist incident.  But this is—that would have changed, that should change the politics.

This is not without accomplices, because the incompetence of the [Mitt] Romney campaign, which I said a week ago is the—my God!—the worst campaign in my lifetime, and the Republican establishment in general’s inability to fight, has allowed these things to happen in part because they don’t do it.  But I want to go through two other quick points.

[Mohamed] Morsi and Egypt: The President of Egypt, we find out now, that his whole agenda has been getting the “Blind Sheikh” [Omar Abdel-Rahman], who’s responsible for the bombings of the WorldTradeCenter in 1993, out of jail.  Prison.  I’ve been told specifically, by a member of the intelligence community that the White House and State Department are negotiating that now.  They have now come out and denied it, but [Morsi] comes out, that they ordered—he’s the head of the Muslim Brotherhood!  The American people know what they think of the Muslim Brotherhood: They are against them eleven to one, all right? And he’s the president of the Muslim Brotherhood, giving $2 billion to United States.  He tells them—we had advance warning because they had said they were gonna do this, attack our embassy.  The President—after the incident, after 48 hours, Mr. Morsi does nothing and says nothing—picks up the phone, calls him, and demands that they call it off.  On Friday—last Friday, a week ago today—there was supposed to be a big demonstration.  We thought that would be the big day—no, it disappeared, because Morsi called it offBut no press person has investigated this, just as no press person will go and ask the most obvious questions, when there are really good stories here, good media stories, and good news stories.  They are in the tank and this is a frightening thing.

Another example has been the polling, which everyone wants to talk to me about.  Look: There is no doubt that Romney is blowing an election he could not lose, and has done everything he can to lose it.  But the bias, the polling, it’s very complicated.  Some of it is error, some of it is miscalculation, but some of it is deliberate, in my opinion—to pump up the numbers using 2008 base to give a sense of momentum to the Obama campaign.  When I have polls that have the preference of Democrats over Republicans higher than it was in 2008, which was a peak Democratic year, I know I am dealing with a poll that shouldn’t be reported.  And yet they are being done, and they are being done with that knowledge and with that basis for some people, and the answer, as I said, some of it is incompetence, some of it is they just don’t know, really know, how to handle it, and some of it is on purpose, and it’s purposeful. But all of it is just to serve a basic point, just as JournoList was—Mr. Klein’s JournoList—but as I said there is no pushback.  We have a political campaign where, to put the best metaphor I can on it, where the referees on the field are sacking the quarterback of one team, tripping up their runners, throwing their bodies in front of blockers, and nobody says anything The Republicans don’t.  The reason you will lose this battle is for one reason.  Despite organizations like AIM and others who are pointing this out, and the fact that 60% of the American people are in on the secret here—I mean, they’re no idiots—Republicans and those candidates who are not the candidates of the press refuse to call them out.  If I were the Romney campaign I would’ve been doing this for months!  I’d have been looking at individual reporters!  I would be telling the American people, “They’re not trying to stop me; they’re trying to stop you!  And they are here to do this!”  And I would have made the press themselves an issue because, until you do, what happens is, they are given the basic concession of authenticity and accuracy, or that they are credible, by not doing that.

Now too many reporters, too many political people in the Republican party in this town, want to maintain their relationships with the press.  This is how Sarah Palin got handed over to Katie Couric and to ABC before she was ready—because Steve Schmidt and others want to preserve their view, their relationships with the press.  You know, people have their own agendas, and often it’s not winning.  But this not-pushing-back is a problem, and they don’t do it.  And, you know what this is a different era: The old argument of “You don’t attack someone in the press”—or “You don’t get in a pissing match with someone who buys ink by the barrel”—doesn’t apply anymore.  There are too many outlets, too many ways to do it, and the country doesn’t have the confidence in the press that they once had.

But all I want to conclude to this is that we face a fundamental danger here.  The fundamental danger is this: I talked about the defense of the First Amendment.  The press’s job is to stand in the ramparts and protect the liberty and freedom of all of us from a government and from organized governmental power.  When they desert those ramparts and decide that they will now become active participants, that their job is not simply to tell you who you may vote for, and who you may not, but, worse—and this is the danger of the last two weeks—what truth that you may know, as an American, and what truth you are not allowed to know, they have, then, made themselves a fundamental threat to the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of the American people.  And it is a threat to the very future of this country if that—we allow this stuff to go on.  We have crossed a whole new and frightening slide on the slippery slope this last two weeks, and it needs to be talked about.  And so that’s as much as I can do in twenty minutes.  So then we—we have a few moments for questions.  Yes, sir?

ARONOFF: Let’s get a few questions here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER : Yes, I wanted to offer my interpretation for why this dynamic is happening.  I’d like your reaction.  I think that the media is working with the government, because the government hands out so many freebies—

CADDELL: Yes.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: —you know, for market share, and, therefore, they have to work in sync with them in order to ensure the good graces.  I think, also, the advertisers who generate the revenue for the newspapers are also getting those freebies, and so they can then influence the media—

CADDELL: The corruption in this town is so great.  Everybody in Washington seems to almost be on the take—with the exception of everybody in this room, and the assistants here.  But, I swear to God, it’s so—the idea that I should get something, you know—the reason, when you have firms that have Ed Gillespie in business with Jack Quinn, who was the counsel for Bill Clinton, and responsible for the pardon of Marc Rich, among other things, is because everybody in this—those people on K Street, in both parties, are about arrangements and money.  Everyone in the press is.  We have stimulus money being given.  We have people who, as I said, the relationships, when people are making contracts, and their husbands and wives are getting—Jay Carney’s wife works in the government!  Now he works—he was the head of the Time Magazine!  He was a liar then, and a liar now, apparently!  You know—and nobody says there’s anything wrong with thisAnd you’re right: Everybody’s on the take here, and everybody’s cutting up their stock.  That’s why, what used to be one of the best and most important things for the press, which was the investigative journalism of corruption and money, the stealing of the taxpayers, the looting of the Treasury, isn’t an issue, and why no one speaks of it in this town.  Yes, sir?

AUDIENCE MEMBER 3: Pat, just a quick question.  Is it in violation—can it be seen as a violation of their charter for the major networks to demonstrate such obvious bias?  I mean, is that a violate their FCC license agreements?

CADDELL: Well, their license agreements only go to their stations.  They don’t really go to the networks themselves.  But I—you see, that’s why we’re at this slippery slope.  This is what scares me.  Because you start saying, “Well, somebody should do something about this.”

My argument, when I speak to the press, is very simple: One day you’re going to get my combination of George Wallace and Huey Long running for public office.  He’s going to get up and say how—he’s going to point out “How the press is going to get me, and let me tell you what they’re going to say about me, because they want to stop me,” and he’s going to say, “You know what?  We’ve gone too far with this First Amendment stuff.  We need to make them serve the people.”  We’re sliding toward a system by establishing the fact that the press, in fact, has prostituted themselves in the service of a political party, or a political candidate, and once you go down this road and say, “That’s happening,” then people say, “Why do we need a First Amendment?  Why should we protect them?  They’re not protecting us.”  That’s the threat here.  That’s the danger that I worry about, because we desperately need a real free press, whatever its faults, that protects the people.  And soon, they will be owned by the people—we’re getting very close to that.  Watching the coverage of this stuff, in the last ten days, on Libya, and the press corps and the networks serving as nothing but offshoots of the White House Press Office, is really scary.  We’re going to get to this question, because that is down that road.  These people are going to destroy freedom in America.  I don’t care about their partisan preferences, I care that, in the end of the day, somebody’s going to say, “Enough of this!”  And somebody will carry the day, and that’ll be that.  Yes, sir?

AUDIENCE MEMBER 4: Thank you.  You—thank you!  Incredibly good twenty minutes!  I agree with everything you said!  I am very concerned about Romney’s poor campaign, combined with the media bias the way it is.  Is there anything that Romney can do at this point?

CADDELL: Well, he should’ve been out there already!  He should’ve been out there pushing back—and so should the Republican establishment.  The Republican establishment, as I said, in this town—I mean, all they seem to be in the business, to me, a lot of the establishment, is getting a lot of money to line their pockets, and not fighting or doing things that are effective.  Why aren’t they out there challenging this?  Why isn’t Romney himself getting up and saying, “I’m running against two organizations: I’m running against the Democrats and the President, and I’m running against the mainstream media, which will not tell you the truth”?  Now let me tell you something: You want to liven up some of your rallies?  That’ll do it.  But they don’t do it because this man dares to be cautious.  He’s going to dare-to-be-cautious himself right out of a race that was his to lose, and he’s losing it.

ARONOFF: One last question.  Anybody?  Go ahead.

AUDIENCE MEMBER 5: Are there no patriots in the media who—

CADDELL: Oh, yes, there are!  There are some.

AUDIENCE MEMBER 5: Do they not see where—

CADDELL: Well, the problem is—let me say this—because nobody raises the question, because no one raises from the viewpoint that I’m raising it from.  To raise it from the viewpoint where Republicans or conservatives “We don’t like what you’re doing to us,” only makes them dismiss that.  What is not to be dismissed is what this is doing, and what it is in terms of the specifics of challenge.  These individual reporters—let me tell you something about the press: Reporters become reporters and don’t enter the political fray because, basically, they can’t stand the heat.  That’s my experience.  You ever watch reporters under attack in a public venue and so forth?  They wilt like—they melt like ice on the equator.  The fact is that they need to be called out.  Their organizations need to be called out.  Ezra Klein still writes for The Washington Post?  I mean, this is unbelievable!  They had a secret operation group, “Journo” group, online, coordinating how they would promote Obama, and how they would attack Republicans—and he’s still there?  But nobody calls out the publisher, or the editor, or whatever—there is no effort here—or calls him.

The fact is, if I were out there, if I were doing one of these campaigns, I wouldn’t let one of these guys by with anything.  I would make the fact that the American people, already expressed in the Gallup poll, say—I would give them all the evidence they need to confirm their beliefs.  I would change the dialogue here.  But until that happens, you’re gonna have two teams—your whole team has an echo chamber of support—attacking you.  How do you ever expect to win?  Really?  I mean, you can when it’s the national tide, 1980.  We have a different press now.  They have now made the decision they will control the political process.  They are serving—with the hundreds of millions of dollars that the networks and these newspapers are, in effect, contributing—in-kind contributions to candidates in the Democratic Party.  That’s the legal issue that I would have been exploring.  I mean, I would begin to put the heat on.

But the Republicans never said a word.  When Comcast, which bought out the administration—they’re my cable company in Charleston, they’re just so bad, I guess every cable company is awful, but they’re the worst—buys a network, is allowed to buy a network—the Justice Department allowed this—no Republican stood up and said, “This should be stopped!”  I mean, really!  You get what you ask for.  So, anyway, I’ve got to go.  I’ve got to go do TV.

ARONOFF: Thank you very much.

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How the Assad regime with the help of Russia, Iran, China and Hezbollah transformed peaceful protester to fighters

16 augusti, 2012

Our mistake was to ever believe there could be peaceful change in this country,” he said. ”We wasted time and sacrificed many lives trying to be peaceful. We should have just gone straight to an armed uprising.”

By taking such extreme steps against the moderate opposition the regime is pushing all of its opponents to join the armed rebellion; the regime is making it clear there is no place for the peaceful activists,” said a Syrian political analyst.”

”The cases of Mazen Darwish, Kifah Ali Deeb and Rami Hinawi show very plainly the regime is not fighting militant Islamists but is actually at war with any advocates of real reform in this country, even those who insist on peaceful methods.”

There are no more peaceful demonstrations, there’s no point, we’re not able to move a single metre before the security forces and army start shooting at us,” he says.”

“Liberal, secular, often well educated members of the opposition say their influence over the uprising has been undermined, both through widespread use of indiscriminate violence by the authorities and mass arrests of peaceful dissidents, taking them out of circulation and leaving the field open to more radical groups.”

Here in a nutshell is the description how a brutal dictator transformed peaceful protesters, who only wanted some freedom, to fighters.

In ALL of this, the Assad regime was helped by Russia, Iran, China and Hezbollah. With training, advisors and guidance, troops, snipers, material, spare parts, maintenance, weapons, ammunition, intelligence, money, political backing on ALL levels etc.

In ALL of this, the Assad regime was ALSO helped by USA, EU, UN, Turkey, and The Arab League who did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING during 12 months but talked and had meetings. And then they only sent “observers” who dutifully observed the slaughter and massacres taking place, day in day out .

And ALL the TIME the death toll of civilians keep rising, First it was a 1000, then 5000, then 10 000, then 15 000, then 20 000, and now 23 000.

Massacre after Massacre.

Torture, Slaughter, Summarily Executions and Rape.

A systematic assault on human dignity and civilian lives and freedom on a colossal scale.

Day in Day out.

And the TOTAL destruction of block after block, neighbourhood after neighbourhood in countless cities and villages. Using, aside from bombs and howitzers, tanks, rockets etc., the Russian 240mm F-864 high explosive mortar bomb to “fight” against these unarmed civilians.

The world’s largest high explosive mortar bomb designed to “demolish fortifications and fieldworks” according to a Russian arms merchandizing catalogue. It weighs 130 kilograms and contains 31.93 kilograms of TNT as an explosive charge.

This weapon system is notable for its capability to conduct a “plunging attack,” in which the munition is fired at a high angle and comes down nearly perpendicular to penetrate a building or fortification.

This is the same weapon that Russia used to destroy Grozny in 1994-96. And now they have passed on these “skills” to the Syrians.

By the way, the use of such weapons in dense urban environments is a war crime.

Here is just one small example from Friday August 10 of Cities and Towns under shelling and destruction by the Assad regime. And the list is not complete:

Harasta, Arbeen, Moadamiah, Harran Al-Awameed, Deir Al-Asafeer, Ain Terma, Zabadani, Madaya, Eltal, Dmeir, Hameh, Yelda, Rankous, Qarrah (Damascus Suburbs), Sit Zeinab, Al-Qadam, Midan, Tadamon, Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, Yarmouk, Kafar Sousseh, Mazzeh, Qaboun, Barzeh, Salhiyeh, Ruknaddine, Dafelshawk (Damascus City), Daraa City, Khirbet Al-Ghazaleh, Tafas, Bostra Al-Sham, Na’eemah, Mseifrah, Jimreen, Hraak , Saida, Tal Shihab (Daraa), Rastan, Talbisseh, Houla, Tal Kalakh, Al-Qusayr, Al-Hosn, Al-Ghanto, Al-Bouaydah, Old Homs (Homs Province), Hreitan, Elbab, Eizaz, Marei, Bayanoun (Aleppo Province), Haffeh, Jabal Al-Akrad (Lattakia), Deir Ezzor City, Mouhassan, Albou Kamal (Deir Ezzor Province), Kafar Zeiteh, Hawash, Shahshabo, Hama City (Hama Province), Jabal Al-Zawiyeh, Ma’rrat Al-Nouman, Saraqib, Maar Shoureen, Ariha, Kafroumah, Al-Rami, Khan Shaikhoon (Idlib).

An other example from yesterday August 15 when the “brave and courageous” pilots of Assads Air Force bombed a residential area in Azaz and obliterated a whole block:

The report here including video:

Syria: Fighter Jet Bombing Kills Over 40 Civilians

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/08/16/syria-fighter-jet-bombing-kills-over-40-civilians

“(Azaz) – A Syrian government fighter jet bombed a residential neighborhood, killing more than 40 civilians and wounding at least 100 others in the town of Azaz, including many women and children, Human Rights Watch said today after visiting the town.  In the attack on August 15, 2012, at least two bombs destroyed an entire block of houses in the al-Hara al-Kablie neighborhood of Azaz, in Syria’s northern Aleppo province.

Human Rights Watch investigated the site of the bombing two hours after the attack and interviewed witnesses, victims, medical personnel, and relatives of those killed.

This horrific attack killed and wounded scores of civilians and destroyed a whole residential block,” said Anna Neistat, acting emergencies director at Human Rights Watch.  “Yet again, Syrian government forces attacked with callous disregard for civilian life.”

What is left of the al-Hara al-Kablie neighborhood of Azaz after the bombing – NOTHING!

An another brave effort by Assads Air Force – They bombed the hospital in Aleppo

Syria: Fighter Planes Strike Aleppo Hospital

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/08/15/syria-fighter-planes-strike-aleppo-hospital

(Aleppo) – Syrian government fighter planes fired rockets that struck the main emergency hospital in an opposition-controlled area of Aleppo on August 14, 2012, wounding two civilians and causing significant damage, Human Rights Watch said today after visiting the damaged hospital.

A rocket attack by government aircraft on the hospital two days earlier, on August 12, apparently killed four civilians and wounded three, Human Rights Watch said.

Fighter jet attacks on a hospital twice in three days indicate that this was no accident,” said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. “By firing rockets at a clearly marked hospital, the government shows blatant disregard for civilian lives.”

Dar al Shifaa Hospital in Aleppo after the attack

And by the way, these airplanes are provide by Russia, the pilots trained by Russia, the ammunition supplied by Russia, spare parts and maintenance done by Russia, air control and directions done by Russia, intelligence supplied by Russia etc.

Russian ammunition boxes used by the Assad army in Aleppo

They are SOOO HELPFUL these Russians wouldn’t you say?

And ALL of these politicians, governments, international organisations did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING during these 18 months but observed and talked and had meetings.

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

To the children of Syria!

See my previous post Russia’s solution for Syria – More Carpet Bombing and Total Destruction for links to my previous 18 posts on the situation in Syria.

The National hospital in Homs destroyed by Assad forces

Syria‘s youth found peaceful protest ‘became irrelevant’

http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/syrias-youth-found-peaceful-protest-became-irrelevant

Phil Sands

”DAMASCUS // No great soul-searching accompanied his transformation from peaceful demonstrator to rebel with the Free Syrian Army; it is a path many of his friends had already taken.

Arrested for protesting in the Damascus suburb of Dummar, Mohammed, 23, spent two months in an overcrowded military intelligence detention cell, and was released without charge to find demonstrations had been superseded by armed conflict.

”I wasn’t thinking about taking up a weapon and fighting the regime when I left prison,” he says.

”I went straight out to protest and saw the other opposition people in Dummar were now carrying rifles and I realised I had to do the same.”

Since the start of the Syrian uprising, Mohammed had been part of the Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists organising peaceful demonstrations and tracking civilian deaths.

While the LCCs are still operating and peaceful demonstrations do still take place, Mohammed and other rebels in Damascus say circumstances have rendered the unarmed protests irrelevant.

There are no more peaceful demonstrations, there’s no point, we’re not able to move a single metre before the security forces and army start shooting at us,” he says.

(The hospital in Qusier, Homs. destroyed by Assad forces. The sign reads – Smoking is Forbidden in The Patients Room)

Not all of those involved in the grassroots opposition movement agree, but a broad range of activists concede that those advocating peaceful revolt have been squeezed out by the demands of war.

Liberal, secular, often well educated members of the opposition say their influence over the uprising has been undermined, both through widespread use of indiscriminate violence by the authorities and mass arrests of peaceful dissidents, taking them out of circulation and leaving the field open to more radical groups.

On Sunday two prominent grassroots activists, Kifah Ali Deeb and Rami Hinawi, were detained by a Popular Committee – a pro-government armed militia – in their home neighbourhood of Sahnaya, south of Damascus.

Ms Deeb, an artist and author of children’s books, sits on the governing board of the opposition National Coordination Committees, a political bloc that has called for non-violent democratic change in Syria.

The NCC has been at odds with other opposition factions, including the exiled Syrian National Council, which has called for foreign military intervention to aid rebels.

Ms Deeb, 30, is a member of the Alawite sect, which forms the nucleus of Bashar Al Assad’s regime and dominates ultra-loyalist branches of the security forces and military.

Mr Hinawi, 33, who has long campaigned peacefully for democratic reforms alongside Ms Deeb, is a Druze.

Both are believed to be in the hands of air force intelligence, the most feared branch of the Syrian security forces, although, as with other detentions, no information has been released by the authorities in connection with the detentions.

Sectarian politics are complex in Syria but one of the key arguments made by supporters of Mr Al Assad is that his regime is all that protects Christian, Druze, Alawite and other minority groups from annihilation at the hands of the Sunni majority.

That has brought even sharper focus on members of those minorities who stand with the opposition, rather than the authorities.

                           (Ramadan in Aleppo)

Another influential advocate of a peaceful uprising in Syria, Mazen Darwish, also an Alawite, has been held by air force security for six months.

Although a civilian, he is facing prosecution in a military court usually reserved for army officers. There is no chance of appeal and no defence lawyer, proceedings are secret and the military judge can choose to issue a death sentence.

The human rights lawyer Anwar Al Bunni, a regular fixture at the Damascus courts of justice, said Mr Darwish and thousands of others facing special military courts had been thrown into a black hole, outside of Syria’s regular – and highly flawed – legal system.

”They have had all of their basic rights taken from them, we know nothing about their situation, all the files are kept secret. We are not even allowed to know the names of all of those facing military trials,” he said.

It emerged that Mr Darwish is facing a military court only when a judge summoned him to appear as a witness in another case, and air force security said they would not permit him to do so because he was being held for military trial.

Syrian officials do not talk about court cases but the authorities have long insisted they act in accordance with national laws and have dismissed evidence of widespread torture of detainees that has been compiled by the United Nations and rights monitors.

The use of draconian measures against advocates of non-violence has only accelerated the slide into an increasingly brutal conflict, one that rights monitors say has already killed upwards of 20,000 people, a majority of them civilians.

By taking such extreme steps against the moderate opposition the regime is pushing all of its opponents to join the armed rebellion; the regime is making it clear there is no place for the peaceful activists,” said a Syrian political analyst.

”The cases of Mazen Darwish, Kifah Ali Deeb and Rami Hinawi show very plainly the regime is not fighting militant Islamists but is actually at war with any advocates of real reform in this country, even those who insist on peaceful methods.”

In Dummar, Mohammed admits he has little idea of how to wage war as a guerrilla, never having been in the army or taught how to fire a weapon.

A shortage of arms and ammunition among rebels in Damascus means he is used as a runner to convey messages between fighters when they are in action.

Nevertheless, he believes that is a more productive way of trying to overthrow the Syrian regime than stinging street protests.

Our mistake was to ever believe there could be peaceful change in this country,” he said. ”We wasted time and sacrificed many lives trying to be peaceful. We should have just gone straight to an armed uprising.”

Hezbollah Mercenaries fighting for Assad in front of the Citadel in Aleppo

LEAKED VIDEO – Inside a helicopter gunship over Syria used to bomb and kill civilians in cities

(These videos where taken by Assad troops themselves to show how “good” they are at killing civilians, as trophies, to prove their loyalty etc. etc.)

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Russia’s solution for Syria – More Carpet Bombing and Total Destruction

29 juli, 2012

Just a quick comment of the accelerated slaughter going on in Syria. And Russia’s continued role as the main weapons, ammunition, economic, personal, training, intelligence, diplomatic etc provider and support for Assad.

Here is what captain Konstantin Sivkov, a former strategist for the Russian General Staff between 1995 and 2007, now the first vice-president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Doctor of Military Sciences, concluded after a “visit” in May and talks with the Assad’s gang:

http://world.time.com/2012/07/26/russia-and-syrias-assad-the-end-of-the-affair/

Sivkov was surprised, he says, with how “gentle” Assad has been in crushing the revolution. “Believe me, some of our guys have told Bashar to adopt much harsher methods, carpet bombing, total destruction,” Sivkov told TIME after returning to Moscow. “If that approach was chosen in Syria, there would be no rebels left after one week, and everyone would be happy.”

Yeah, that’s the Russian way – Total destruction and Carpet bombings of civilians. After all, they have a long experience in Afghanistan, Chechnya etc. And they taught their Syrian pupils well.

Here are just some pictures of the according to Russia “to gentle” Assad treatment of civilians in cities.

In this case from Homs, a major industrial center, and with a population of at least 652,609 people according to the 2004 census:

This is the guy who also told Izvestiya on March 22 this year regarding project 949A, were Antei nuclear-powered submarines will be completed and modernized and armed with new cruise missiles with range up to 1,500 km.

http://rusnavy.com/news/navy/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=14659

“In particular, the newspaper cites Capt 1 rank (retired) Konstantin Sivkov, vice president of Geopolitics Academy saying that Antei-class subs would be equipped with Caliber missiles in order to destroy missile defense assets deployed in Europe.”

That is in plain language EU. Who have done everything possible not to “irritate” Russia and have bent over backwards every time Russia raises its eyebrow.

And this is what he said on March 25 2010 “World War III Has Already Begun”

World War III Has Already Begun

http://english.pravda.ru/world/americas/25-03-2010/112718-world_war_three-0/

http://moodle.fhs.cuni.cz/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=4137

“A resource-poor countries and people, but rich in modern technology and weapons will also want their share. From this perspective, Russia has become the primary objective of aggression.”

“The only limiting factor at this moment is Russia’s nuclear arsenal. According to the experts they predicted that the West will attempt to remove the Russian nuclear shield. “

Yeah, these as always helpful and peaceful Russians.

This is the country, and the persons, that the Obama administration had a “reset” with and has given de facto veto power of the US foreign policy.

Here are my previous posts on Syria:

My first series:

Part 1 – Introduction

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 1

Part 2 – Reports

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 2

Part 3 – Russia

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 3

Part 4 – Iran

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 4

Part 5 – China

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 5

Part 6 – Turkey

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 6

Part 7 – Arab League

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 7

Part 8 – EU and NATO

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 8

Part 9 – UN and Kofi Annan

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

Part 10 – US and the Obama administartion

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

Part 11 – Paul Conroy and the targeting and killing of journalists

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

My second series:

It is now nearly one month since I finished my 11 parts series of background on what is going on in Syria (Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs  Part 1-11). So I thought it would be appropriate to give an update of what has happened or not happened since then. And here are some more updates.

The Houla Massacre and the Assad thugs

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 1

Russia, Iran and China

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 2

Turkey and EU

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 3

NATO and UN

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 4

USA and the Obama Administration

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 5

What Does the Syrian Opposition Believe, The Shabiha and the armed opposition

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 6

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The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 6

16 juni, 2012

Some observations:

We have come to the end of this follow up after my first series about what is going on in Syria. I could easily write 250 pages of observations but I am going to spare you that. Instead, I am just going to write about three things: the perception of the opposition in Syria, the Shabiha and the armed opposition.

First the perception of the opposition in Syria.

It has always amassed me that the “do nothing crowd”, (i.e. The Obama administration, NATO, EU, Turkey, Arab league etc), are actually the same ones that are ACTIVELY promoting and supporting the muslim fundamentalist i.e. SNC/The Muslim Brotherhood.

One of the excuses from the west (Obama administration, NATO, EU) has always been that they don’t want to give support to extreme/fundamentalist muslims. Which is quite “funny” if it weren’t so hypocritical because that is what you EXACTLY did in Libya. You armed, trained and fought with al-Qaida and other fundamentalist groups.

So the brutal fact, which so many don’t want to admit, is that most of the opposition are normal people how just want do defend themselves from the attacks of the Assad regime. And they also want a change for the better regarding basic freedoms and liberties.

I would say that these are very reasonable demands wouldn’t you say?

So instead of supporting this secular, civil opposition the Obama administration, NATO and EU is ACTIVELY supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which literally hates these countries and what their societies stands for.

And if the Muslim Brotherhood came to power, with the help of the money and support of the west, their policy would be ANTI USA, ANTI EU, ANTI NATO and of course destroy Israel.

Seems like a VERY smart policy wouldn’t you say?

And our tax money goes to this madness!

And in the meantime the civilian population in Syria, including the secular, civil opposition, is getting slaughtered and massacred.

The big difference as I wrote in my original series is that after over 45 years of brutal dictatorship the FEAR IS GONE. If you don’t understand that you don’t understand very much of what is going on now.

Here is one of the very, very few opinion polls of what the opposition really thinks:

What Does the Syrian Opposition Believe?

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/what-does-the-syrian-opposition-believe

“There are increasing calls for international intervention inSyriaafter this weekend’s massacre in Houla, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces murdered more than 100 civilians. Obstacles to intervention remain, however, especially concern that the opposition to Assad’s regime is dominated by religious fundamentalists. Until recently, for example, the Syrian National Council, a group of exiled opponents of the regime, was led by Burhan Ghalioun, whose unwillingness to counter the Muslim Brotherhood was widely viewed in the West as a troubling sign of Islamist influence.

But a confidential survey of opposition activists living inSyriareveals that Islamists are only a minority among them. Domestic opponents of Assad, the survey indicates, look toTurkeyas a model for Syrian governance — and even widely admire theUnited States.

Pechter Polls, which conducts opinion surveys in tough spots in theMiddle East,AfricaandAsia, completed the Syria opposition poll in December 2011. Respondents were contacted over a secure Skype connection by someone they could trust — all native Syrians — who asked them to fill out a short questionnaire anonymously in Arabic. Interviewers were selected from different social and political groups to ensure that respondents reflected a rough cross-section of overall opposition attitudes. To ensure confidentiality, the online survey could be accessed only through a series of proxy servers, bypassing the regime-controlled Internet.

Given the survey’s unusual security requirements, respondents were selected by a referral (or ”controlled snowball”) technique, rather than in a purely random fashion. To be as representative as possible, the survey employed five different starting points for independent referral chains, all operating from different locations. The resulting sample consisted of 186 individuals inSyriaidentified as either opposition activists themselves (two-thirds of the total) or in contact with the opposition.

What do these ”inside” opposition supporters believe? Only about one-third expressed a favorable opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood. Almost half voiced a negative view, and the remainder were neutral. On this question, no significant differences emerged across regions.

Most of the survey’s questions asked, ”On a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 means the most negative and 7 the most positive, how would you rate your opinion of X?” Answers of 1 to 3 were considered negative, 4 as neutral, and 5 to 7 as positive.

While many respondents supported religious values in public life, only a small fraction strongly favored Shariah law, clerical influence in government, or heavy emphasis on Islamic education. A large majority (73%) said it was ”important for the new Syrian government to protect the rights of Christians.” Only 20% said that religious leaders have a great influence on their political views.

This broad rejection of Islamic fundamentalism was also reflected in the respondents’ views on government. The poll asked each respondent what country he or she would ”like to see Syria emulate politically,” and which countries the respondent ”would like to see Syria emulate economically.” The poll listed 12 countries, each with a scale of 1 to 7. Just 5% had even a mildly positive view of Saudi Arabia as a political model. In contrast, 82% gave Turkey a favorable rating as both a political and economic model (including over 40% extremely favorable). The U.S. earned 69% favorable ratings as a political model, with France, Germany and Britain close behind. Tunisia rated only 37% and Egypt 22%.

Iran was rated lowest of any country included in the survey, including Russia and China: Not even 2% of respondents had positive views of Iran as a political model. Fully 90% expressed an unfavorable view of Hezbollah, including 78% with the most negative possible attitude.

One of the surprises in the results is the scope of the opposition’s network inside Damascus, despite their difficulties in demonstrating publicly. One-third of the respondents, whether activists or sympathizers, said they live in the Syrian capital. (To protect their privacy, the survey did not ask for more precise identification.)

This ”inside” opposition is well-educated, with just over half identifying as college graduates. The ratio of male to female respondents was approximately 3 to 1, and 86% were Sunni Arab.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were ambivalent about Syrian Kurdish demands for ”political decentralization” (like autonomy). Views of ”Kurdish parties” were evenly divided among negative, neutral and positive. (Such feelings are evidently mutual: In the six months since the survey was completed, Syrian Kurdish organizations have increasingly decided to go their own way, separate from the other opposition groups.)

Based on a statistical analysis of the survey, most secularists among the respondents prefer weak central government, presumably as a way to safeguard their personal freedoms. On the other hand, the one-third of respondents who support the Muslim Brotherhood also tend to have a favorable view of Hamas, despite the latter movement’s previous association with the Assad regime.

The survey demonstrates that the core of the Syrian opposition inside the country is not made up of the Muslim Brotherhood or other fundamentalist forces, and certainly not of al Qaeda or other jihadi organizations. To be sure, a revolution started by secularists could pave the way for Islamists to win elections, as has occurred in Egypt. But the Syrian opposition is solidly favorable to the U.S. and overwhelmingly negative toward both Hezbollah and Iran.”

David Pollock is the Kaufman fellow at The Washington Institute and a consultant to Pechter Polls.

The Shabiha, the murderous thugs that do most of the massacres

Assad’s Pact With the Devil

Syrian Regime Using Hired Killers to Cling to Power

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/analysis-of-the-aftermath-of-houla-massacre-in-syria-a-836848.html

“The regime of Syrian ruler Bashar Assad has enlisted gangs of murderous thugs known as ‘Shabiha.’ No assignment is too brutal or bloody for these men who are free to kill, plunder and rape. Assad knows that outright victory over the opposition is his only remaining chance to stay in power.”

“Europe, the United States and perhaps even Kofi Annan are slowly realizing that there will be no compromise with Syrian President Bashar Assad, because there can be no compromise with Assad. Now that more than 10,000 people have died and tens of thousands have been tortured, the phase in which protesters were still staging peaceful demonstrations, and in which negotiations, transitional governments and compromises were possible is irrevocably over.

When the regime was still able to negotiate its own exit, it didn’t want to. Now it no longer has that option, because any sign of weakness would lead to its overthrow.

This realization hasn’t been triggered by the fact that the regime is massacring civilians to save itself. Similar bloodbaths have already taken place in the past. In April of last year, more than 60 people disappeared without a trace in Homs, after government troops had mowed down a group of peaceful protesters. In January, several families in a southeastern Homs neighborhood were massacred in a way that resembled the Houla killings. And when the Bab Amr neighborhood was captured by regime troops several weeks later, after having been almost destroyed by artillery fire, witnesses said that there were mass executions of those who hadn’t fled.

What was different this time was that on Saturday morning, only hours after the killing frenzy, a team of UN observers managed to reach Houla, where they saw and counted the bodies, heard what the survivors had to say and saw the tracks the tanks had made. ”The evidence is clear — it is not murky,” said German UN Ambassador Peter Wittig. ”There is a clear government footprint in those killings.” Whereas earlier massacres were only documented in reports by the Syrian opposition and video recordings that could not be corroborated, this was a different situation.

By failing, the UN mission appears finally to be having an impact. The roughly 300 unarmed observers cannot possibly monitor a nonexistent cease-fire, during which more than 2,000 people had been killed by the end of last week. The UN observers cannot prevent what is happening, but they can prevent it from being covered up. This isn’t much, and for angry Syrians who burned images of Annan, it’s far too little. ”We called the observers during the massacre,” a man from Houla who calls himself Abu Emad was quoted as saying, ”but they refused to come and stop the murders. Damn then, and damn the entire mission!”

“The men, some in civilian clothing and others dressed in army uniforms, went from house to house, reported survivors like 11-year-old Ali, who told CBS News: ”They came to our house at night. First they took out my father and then my oldest brother. My mother shouted: Why are you doing this? Then they shot both of them, and after that my mother. Then one of the men came in with a flashlight and saw my sister Rasha. He shot her in the head.Ali hid with his two little brothers. The man saw them and shot the brothers, but he missed Ali.

Other survivors who hid or played dead consistently gave the same accounts: The men combed through house after house and room after room, killing everyone, some with knives and some with guns. The massacre continued until the morning hours. When the UN observers arrived, they found nothing but corpses in the villages controlled by regime forces. The survivors had fled to neighborhoods held by the FSA, where they placed the bodies they had recovered on mats in the mosques before filming and burying them.

The regime in Damascus could not deny that the massacre had taken place. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi, parroting the government’s standard position, promptly blamed the killings on ”armed terrorists” and ”Islamists.” The Russian government, which had blocked every Security Council resolution condemning Syria, launched into a bizarre attempt to apportion the blame. The regime was apparently responsible for the assault by tanks and mortars, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. But the brutish murders, said Alexey Puchkov, chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, ”were definitely committed by the other side.”

Igor Pankin, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, agreed: ”We cannot imagine that it is in the Syrian regime’s interest to sabotage Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s visit to Damascus.” And he is right in one respect. In PR terms, a massacre of children cannot be helpful to the Assad regime. But he was wrong in another sense, inadvertently putting his finger on Russia’s growing frustration with its ally: Syria‘s leadership is no longer taking decisions that would make sense for a government hoping to reach a political solution to the crisis.

By gradually concentrating power in the hands of the Alawite minority, to which the Assad clan belongs, the regime is fomenting a religious war against the Sunni majority, the very conflict it claims it wants to prevent. Now Assad has backed himself into a corner from which he believes there is only way out: victory. This is why the latest proposal from Berlin and Washington to attempt the ”Yemeni solution,” which would be to depose Assad but keep the regime in power, will not work. The regime is relying solely on violence, accompanied by an outrageous propaganda narrative that blames foreign terrorists and al-Qaida for the uprising.

This conspiratorial obsession is nothing new. Starting in 2003, the intelligence services began secretly organizing the transfer of jihadists from Saudi Arabia, Libya and Kuwait across the Syrian border into Iraq, to deter the Americans from seeking regime change in Damascus as well. At the same time, the regime painted itself as a bulwark in the fight against al-Qaida. Foreigners who were later arrested reported how they had been kept in Syrian intelligence camps in Homs while waiting to be transferred into Iraq.

The attacks on several Scandinavian embassies in Damascus after the Danish cartoon controversy in early 2006 were blamed on an Islamist mob, but as it turned out, the regime had planted Islamists in the crowd. As a precaution, it also removed the guards from in front of a general’s house next to the Norwegian Embassy. Although there was no evidence that the regime was behind the major bombing attacks in Damascus, Aleppo and Deir al-Zor in recent months, they had several strange elements in common: The bombers had immense quantities of explosives, which they easily managed to get through all government checkpoints, and they detonated most of their bombs in front of empty buildings. When the regime published its death tolls after the first attack on Dec. 23, they included the names of men who had already died elsewhere. During the ostentatious burial service at the Umayyad Mosque, signs attached to many of the coffins read ”anonymous martyr.” On May 9, just before a bomb exploded near the convoy of UN observer mission chief Robert Mood, the vehicles were detained at a military checkpoint just long enough so that they would be nearby at the time of detonation.

“Murderous ‘Ghosts’

What happened in Houla followed the pattern of earlier attacks like the one in Homs. First, the target is bombarded with tanks and artillery from a great distance. Then the regular troops move in and drive out or shoot the last remaining rebels. Finally, the regime sends in its helpers, the Shabiha (”ghosts”), over which it has less and less control.

What were once gangs of thugs and smugglers from the hills around Latakia, the home turf of the Assad clan, have turned into an army of irregular troops numbering in the thousands. The gangs are backed by the beneficiaries of the regime, those who profit the most from Syria‘s façade of a market economy, and who now have the most to lose. It’s a Faustian bargain. As long as they are loyal to Assad, they are permitted to murder, loot and rape, as was the case in Houla, where the Shabiha came from neighboring villages to the south.

The Shabiha were also active in the capital Damascusin August 2011. Every evening during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, dozens of them stood in front of mosques in Sunni neighborhoods, prepared to bludgeon and drag off anyone who said anything derogatory about the regime after emerging from prayers. At about 8 p.m., swarms of Shabiha thugs emerged from the intelligence service quarters, were loaded into requisitioned buses and driven to their deployment locations, where they lay in wait until the faithful dispersed after leaving the mosques.

The Shabiha are criminals and day laborers, mostly Alawites, but also Kurds with the PKK terrorist group, members of Sunni clans from Aleppo loyal to the regime, and some Christians. The Shabiha are the shadow force of a regime that no longer trusts its own army, but instead has created a monster that is taking on a life of its own, undermining the Syrian government long before it suffers a military defeat.

Months ago, the author and dissident Yassin al-Haj Saleh, who is in hiding in Damascus, wrote: ”The current heads of the security services may very well reform themselves into a mafia-type organization after the collapse of the regime and continue to practice the violence, theft and discrimination at which they are so adept.”Syria could eventually be controlled by marauding gangs, driven by greed and the fear of reprisal, which becomes more justified with each new wave of killings.”

The Shabiha: Inside Assad’s death squads

The Shabiha started off as racketeers and smugglers. But now, as ultra-loyal enforcers ofSyria’s brutal regime, they have taken on a far more bloodthirsty role, write Harriet Alexander and Ruth Sherlock.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9307411/The-Shabiha-Inside-Assads-death-squads.html

“The door to Dr Mousab Azzawi’s clinic, on the Mediterranean coast ofSyria, was always open to anyone who needed help. But, operating in the heartland of the feared Shabiha militia, there were some patients the doctor would have preferred not to treat.

They were like monsters,” said Dr Azzawi, who worked in Latakia. ”They had huge muscles, big bellies, big beards. They were all very tall and frightening, and took steroids to pump up their bodies.

I had to talk to them like children, because the Shabiha likes people with low intelligence. But that is what makes them so terrifying – the combination of brute strength and blind allegiance to the regime.”

As President Bashar al-Assad’s country continues its savage slide towards full-blown civil war, the violent, dark and secretive world of the Shabiha is coming out into the open.

Nine days ago, 108 people were butchered by the Shabiha in the town of Houla. The pro-Assad thugs went through the village, house to house, and slit the throats of anyone they came across – including 49 children. Exactly a week later, the Shabiha pulled 12 factory workers off a bus in the town of Qusayr, 40 miles to the south; tied their hands behind their backs, and shot them in the head. “

“The world is learning just how bloodthirsty the Shabiha can be. But insideSyria, their capacity for hideous brutality has long been known.

”Even before the revolution, any time there was unrest they would go out into the streets and stop it for the government,” said Selma, who comes from a prominent Alawite family – a Shia Muslim sect, into which the Assad family was born, and to which almost all of the Shabiha belong. Her cousins are Shabiha.

They would just break people’s arms and legs. They would fight for Bashar to the death. It is natural – they have to defend their sect.”

Her cousins wore civilian clothes, she explained – ”then the television can say that these are just civilians who love Bashar.”

President Assad, and his father Hafez before him, used the Shabiha to terrorise Syrians into obedience, brainwashing the militia into believing the Sunni majority was their enemy. “

“After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Syria’s French rulers needed soldiers willing to defend the regime from a Sunni uprising, so they incorporated large numbers of Alawites into the army, who were only too happy to fight their Sunni ”oppressors”.

They became the most politically powerful sect in Syria, and the vast majority of the country’s top intelligence and military officers adhere to the faith. It was from the army that Hafez al-Assad emerged to stage his coup.

Initially the Shabiha were a mafia clan, making money through racketeering. Selma, the Alawite with Shabiha family, said her cousins were ”filthy rich” through smuggling in diesel, milk and electronics. ”Anything toLebanon that is cheaper inSyria, and whatever is needed inSyria fromLebanon,” she said.

The ruling Assad family turned a blind eye to their criminal behaviour and violent methods. In return, the Shabiha became the Assads’ fiercely loyal defenders and enforcers.

”They are fuelled by this belief that they are fighting for their survival,” said Dr Azzawi. ”Assad tells them that they must defend the government or else they will be destroyed; it’s kill, or be killed.”

“An enormous man, identified on the video as Areen al-Assad – a member of the president’s family clan – posed with his gun, grinned from the steering wheel of his car, and flexed his muscles. His huge bicep bulged with a tattoo of the president’s face.

At the end of the video, the posturing Shabiha militants proclaim: ”Bashar, do not be sad: you have men who drink blood.”

”It is their motto,” explained Dr Azzawi, who said that many of the men were recruited from bodybuilding clubs and encouraged to take steroids. ”They are treated like animals, and manipulated by their bosses to carry out these murders. They are unstoppable.”

“The militia operated with blind devotion to the leaders, referred to as ”muallim”, meaning boss, or ”khaal”, uncle. And indeed, it was in many ways a family business.

Mr Assad’s cousin Numir has taken over as one of the key rulers of the Shabiha – even though the government is careful to avoid direct association with the militia and their murderous acts.

How the men are paid is unclear, although many claim the Shabiha is funded by businessmen tied into the Alawite clique that dominates the government.

What is known is that the Shabiha have a strong economic motives for backing the regime. Foot soldiers can earn up to £120 for a day’s thuggery – a fortune in Syria.”

“”If they know the whole area is against the regime they have no problem killing everybody,” she said. ”That is how it works.”

The armed opposition

It has been fascinating to watch the development during the last 15 months of the opposition’s developing from the first few demonstrations. How the demonstrations started spreading and got bigger and bigger.

To the first sporadic attempts from civilians to defend themselves and their families, villages, neighbourhoods etc. against the attacks by the Assad regime. Via the first appearance of the defectors from the Assad army. Until today where you have a lot of groups going from hit-and-run attacks to learning how to coordinate and organize more sophisticated attacks against stronger targets.

They are learning, and they are learning fast because they have to.

In addition, they have increased the pressure on the regime many times over, increasing attrition and increasing defections etc

Still the armed opposition desperately lacks weapons and ammunition, especially to defend against Assad’s tanks and helicopter gunships.

The rebels are also gaining confidence. “Every day we control more territory, every day we have more defections, and we are having better organization in our ranks,” said Maj. Sami al-Kurdi, a spokesman for the Homs Military Council, one of the new military structures that are being established around the country. “The regime now controls only the territory under its tanks, and the evidence is that they don’t dare step out of their tanks.”

And as I said, they are growing in effectiveness and strength.

After driving rebels from strongholds in the Baba Amr district of Homs and several Idlib towns in March, the government has since been unable to press home the advantage. Repeated efforts to dislodge the FSA from the provincial Homs towns of Rastan and Qusair have failed, and a major offensive launched last week against a rebel stronghold in the town of Haffa, northeast of Latakia, faltered despite intense shelling and the deployment of combat helicopters.

The Assad regime can go in and suppress an area with heavy weapons, but as soon as they leave it, it losses the control.

The result is that many parts of northern and central Syria have effectively fallen under the sway of the opposition,

Which also makes it really hard for the regime to move around, and for them to get out of their checkpoints that they are barricaded in. The Assad forces are in many cases pinned down.

Remember that I two months ago talked about how the Syrian army de facto had defected “in place”? Well, now the defections have started to increase and continues at a steady rate. And regular troops are weary after nearly 15 months of continuous deployment since no new conscripts have been called in.

One example – Of 400 soldiers originally stationed in the provincial capital of Idlib, just around 60 remained last week defending their base near the centre of the city, which has seen significant fighting. In the small city of Maraa, near Aleppo, 15 soldiers defected within the space of a weekas many as in the entire previous year.

The rebels also are starting to inflict heavy casualties on government troop’s security forces. It is likely to hit a record level in June for the second month in a row. As of Monday, June 11, the state news agency has announced the funerals of 259 soldiers and police officers who were killed in combat with rebels this month, a record 57 of them Saturday June 10 alone. Well ahead of May’s pace, when 404 such burials took place

Just during the period of June 10 to June 13, here are some of the main events:

– FSA Attacked the Taftanaz military airport.

– In Deir Ezzor several BMP:s and tanks where destroyed there alone. In Baba Amr, where the massacre occurred, well the FSA is back and on June 12 they destroyed two BMP:s.

– And on the same day three tanks where destroyed in Haritan,Aleppo

– The FSA captured the Deir Ezzor checkpoint operated by Army and shabiha. They captured lots of weaponry and ammunition after the attack

– FSA attacked a big regime convoy outside Latakia in operation ‘Cutting the snake’.

– Capture by FSA of shabiha and army in one of their strongpoints in Al Qusayr on June 10.

– Syrian rebels on June 11 briefly seized control of the strategic army base al-Ghanto (surface-to-air missiles are stationed there), close to the central town of Rastan before the army rained down artillery and forced them out of the station. They seized a lot of weapons and ammunition.

– On June 3, rebels attacked a Syrian Air Force As Suwayda air base east of the southern town of Deraa opposite the Israeli Golan border – their first such attack in the 14-month uprising,  Several rebel groups firing mortars set fire to fighter aircraft and assault helicopters in their hangars and ripped up runways.

Does this sounds like some “ragtag” wild bands on the lose?

Inside Syria: You will never guess who arms the rebels

In any revolution, getting weapons is a key challenge. Syria’s rebels have found an interesting solution.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/120606/syrian-rebels-weapons-arms-revolution

“JABAL AL-ZAWIYA, Syria— At the Free Syrian Army base here, a group of men led a nervous prisoner from his cell to a car waiting outside. A few hours later, the rebels returned alone, with a trunkload of weapons.

As they loaded the store room with new bullets and rocket-propelled grenades, Hamza Fatahallah, an army defector who joined the Free Syrian Army nine months ago, described the transaction that had taken place.

We have caught many army prisoners,” he said. “We send them back home for a small amount of money on the condition they do not return to the regime. We use the money to buy weapons.”

For the release of this prisoner, Ahmed Haseeba, the group received $500. With this money, Fatahallah said they were able to buy ammunition from their main supplier: Syria’s national army, also known as the enemy.

This strange cycle of exchanging prisoners for weapons has been playing out between rebel forces and President Bashar al-Assad’s army since the beginning of the revolution.

Fatahallah estimated that his village purchased 40 percent of their weapons from the regime. Prisoner exchanges have so far contributed almost $80,000 toward weapons purchases, he said. And they obtain an additional 50 percent of their weapons during battle. The remaining 10 percent are donated and smuggled from outside the country, or are purchased from private merchants, mostly from Iraq.

Occasionally, prisoners are also exchanged directly for weapons, Fatahallah said. They have received up to two Kalashnikov rifles in exchange for a prisoner in the past.

For the regime, or at least the duplicitous members of it, supplying the enemy is a big business. Government officers also sell Kalashnikov bullets, which typically sold for less than 40 cents before the uprising, for about $4 each, according to Ahmed Al Sheikh, the leader of the armed opposition in Jabal al-Zawiya. He leads about 6,000 men from eight battalions that are collectively known as the Sham Falcons.

Kalashnikovs are bought for about $1,000, he said. Rocket-propelled grenade launchers, complete with a set of four rockets, cost up to $4,000, as does a BKT machine gun.

“These officers sell to us not because they love the revolution but because they love money,” Al Sheikh said of his chain of suppliers. “Their loyalty is to their pockets only, not the regime.

While most of the sellers are corrupt officers, they said lower ranking soldiers have occasionally stolen supplies from government weapons storage and sold them to the rebel forces.

The relationship is not always a smooth one.

Back at the base, the men were relaxing after lunch when a loud explosion shocked everyone to their feet. As they feared, the previous night’s purchase of Kalashnikov bullets had been booby-trapped. This time their colleagues were lucky enough to survive the discovery.

The men had learned from prior experience — bullets acquired from the regime are sometimes emptied of their gunpowder and filled with TNT designed to destroy the Kalashnikov and its owner, rather than the enemy.

After several injuries and the loss of two rifles, the men had learned to spot the fakes. To everyone’s relief this had been a controlled explosion, by someone suspicious of the new batch. The damage inflicted was only a blackened hand, some singed hair and a hole in the table.

“These ones here are good bullets,” said battalion leader Asad Ibrahim, showing the red marking on the base of one of the bullets. Holding up another with a slightly darker red off-center mark he said, “These are Bashar’s bullets to explode our guns.”

The men said bullets like these have destroyed many guns and killed or seriously injured several of their fellow fighters. But desperate for ammunition, they take the risk.

Commander Al Sheikh said that half of the Sham Falcon arsenal are seized from the enemy. Most are taken either during battle, or after attacks on government checkpoints. And the rebels carry out organized raids on government weapon stores whenever they can.

During an attack on a checkpoint in Mughara last week, Al Sheikh proudly boasted that his men had managed a rare grab: a T62 tank along with anti-aircraft weapons.

Another source of arms is from the army defectors themselves, who bring their own weapons along when they join the rebel forces.

Sitting at the base, the men laughed as they recalled the story of two friends, both defectors, who told their superior they needed one of the gun-mounted vehicles and some heavy weapons to check on a call regarding rebel activity. Loading the truck with as much ammunition and weapons as they could find, they drove straight toward the rebels, checking in by radio with their boss with stories of hunting down “rebel traitors” hours after they had already betrayed sides.

While the Free Syrian Army has been adept at obtaining weapons, it has also proven skillful in manufacturing their own.

In a secret warehouse across town from the base, fertilizer and sugar were being boiled in a large pot. Everything from teapots to large metal pipes were being filled to make roadside bombs for attacks on tanks and army vehicles. 23mm bullet casings were filled with explosives with a small wick on top, looking more like an ACME special from a Loony Tunes cartoon than a deadly hand grenade.

We are using very simple weapons against the highly sophisticated weapons of the regime — tanks, rockets, missiles. What a government! What a regime. Doing nothing but killing their people,” Fatahallah said during a tour of the busy workshop.

The men from the battalion spoke constantly of the need, not for military intervention from abroad, but for international help in obtaining more weapons. But with or without this support, they vowed to continue the fight until Assad is removed.

“The Quran says to prepare whatever weapons you can to fight your enemy,” said Al Sheikh, the commander, as his local leaders discussed preparations for their next mission.

“Even if no weapons are available and all we have left to use are stones, we will go on with our revolution until Assad falls.”

Syrian rebels in Turkey doubtful over new Arab arms supplies

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/nationworld/sns-rt-us-syria-crisis-turkeybre85d10p-20120614,0,3789440.story

“ANTAKYA, Turkey(Reuters) – Syrian rebels resting and recovering from wounds in Turkeysay that far from receiving a host of heavy weapons to take the fight to government forces, they feel forgotten by their Western and Arab backers.

Some rebels and opposition figures inside and outside Syria say there has been an upsurge in recent weeks of heavier weaponry being smuggled into Syria via Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq from suppliers inSaudi Arabia and Qatar.

The weapons, which according to the rebels are being supplied by private sponsors, include thousands of shells, hundreds of sniper rifles, as well as anti-armor missiles.

But in the verdant hills, wooded mountainsides and languid refugee camps of Turkey’s southern Hatay province, Free Syrian Army rebels returning from the fight to rest and tend their wounds, said they had seen no sign of any new weapons.

One rebel said less than half the fighters in his unit even had a gun. What weapons they did have, the rebels said, came from inside Syria.

This is an absolute lie. We have not seen anything. If they are coming through Lebanon, maybe, but if they were, we would see these weapons. We don’t see them, where are they? said one rebel who gave his name only as Ahmad.

Every household has had one person killed or wounded. If we had weapons we could defend ourselves,” said Ahmad, clean-shaven and dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt, not fitting the typical image of a rebel fighter.”

“After the tanks push their way through the town and surrounding villages, Ahmad said, Assad’s soldiers, move from house to house rounding up young men and looting their homes. What they leave behind, they destroy, he said.

From a hospital ward in Hatay’s main cityAntakya, Ahmad becomes frustrated when speaking about weapons. He motions his hands emphatically to drive home his point.

By God, we don’t trust anyone. We don’t believe anyone anymore. The world has forgotten us,” he said.

Like most of the Syrians inTurkey, Ahmad would only give one name for fear of reprisals against his relatives at home.

As Ahmad spoke, the newest wounded arrival, 31-year-old Lutfi, was wheeled into the emergency department below. Lutfi, a Free Army fighter was shot in the leg during a clash with government troops in Jabal al-Krad near the western city of Latakia.

Lutfi said he and some 150 rebel fighters ambushed around 200-250 of Assad’s men who were on their way to occupy one of the surrounding villages. Two rebels were killed in the clash and another four were wounded.

The right leg of his camouflage military trousers has been ripped off, revealing a bandage covering his bullet wound. Lutfi laughed when asked whether new weapons had reached his men.

There are no new weapons. All we can do is attack and retreat. They are nothing against their weapons,” he said.

ONLY 40 PERCENT HAVE WEAPONS

Some 45 km (30 miles) south of Antakya only minutes from the Syrian border, Nasim, another rebel stands outside the Yayladagi refugee camp – tents erected inside an old, derelict tobacco factory that now serves as his temporary home.

Like at the others camps scattered around Hatay and further to the east, here fighters come to recoup with comrades or family members. Syrians are free to enter and leave the camp but access to the media is restricted.

Nasim says he regularly crosses back into Syriato smuggle food and blankets to fighters stationed inside but said he had not seen any new weapons cross from Turkey into Syria and that all the weapons he had seen had been acquired in the country.

”Three months ago I heard that Arab countries were going to send us money or weapons but I have not seen anything. Not one country has sent us money or weapons,” said Nasim, a short, stocky, scruffily dressed man in his 30s with a full black beard.

”The only weapons we get are by pooling our money together and buying them in Syria, or someone who supports us will come and give us their hunting rifle or something. Sometimes soldiers from the army sell us weapons,” he said.

Only around 40 percent of his unit even had a weapon, Nasim said, ”and these are light weapons. Assad is hitting us with tanks.”

Some 40 rebels and activists who spoke to Reuters this week all said that apart from a small number of light weapons which had been bought on the black market, they had not seen any weapons smuggled to Syria through Turkey.

While Turkey has thrown its support behind Assad’s opposition, has called for the Syrian leader to step down and given sanctuary to senior defected Syrian army officers, it has opposed any outside military intervention in its neighbor.

Turkish officials sayAnkara is not arming the rebels and have denied reports that weapons from other countries are being smuggled over Turkish territory.

Corroborating accounts of what is happening inside Syria is difficult because the government tightly restricts foreign media access. Most rebels also cross into Syria during darkness and Turkish security forces do not allow media near informal border crossings.

But for the rebels it does not matter where the weapons originate or how they get there, as long as they come.

Wherever they come from it does not matter. We want weapons. We want to be able to defend our women and our families. We don’t want money, just weapons,” said Omar, another rebel smuggler at Yayladagi.”

Syrian Army Unable to Stop Flood of Deserters

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/syrian-army-unable-to-stop-flood-of-deserters-a-838188.html

“Yet the cynical joke about the soldiers at the checkpoint reflects a reality that grows closer with each day, one which is welcomed by many Syrians: The regime is finding its soldiers slipping out of its grasp. One noncommissioned officer from the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, just hours after defecting to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), relates breathlessly how he made his escape: ”The officer was sitting there, and when he was alone with me and a friend of mine, he demanded, ‘What are you still doing here? Go on and get out of here!’ The officer will issue the order to shoot them, the defector says, and he’ll call their families and threaten them, but all that is nothing but show. It’s over, he says, and it was time for them to disappear.

Shooting from a Distance

Of 400 soldiers originally stationed in the provincial capital of Idlib, just a couple dozen remained last week defending their base near the center of the city, which has seen significant fighting. In the small city of Maraa, near Aleppo, 15 soldiers defected within the space of a week — as many as in the entire previous year.

In Azaz, where Assad’s troops still control a checkpoint at the edge of the city, a heavily fortified city quarter and the minarets of the largest mosque, two soldiers defected a few days ago under the cover of a fake attack. They reported they had received hardly any supplies in weeks, and that they were living on dried out bread and brackish water. One earlier defector had taken with him the numbers of everyone in his unit who owned a cell phone. The FSA then contacted each of them, offering to help them escape. Many of the soldiers found it an attractive offer.

This is just one small insight into the situation in northern Syria, but deserters from other parts of the country who have managed to make their way back to their native villages near Aleppo tell of similar conditions in their own units. Reports of the types of attacks carried out by Assad’s troops also suggest the situation in the south, in the area around Damascus, in Deir al-Zor in the east and in Homs in the west is much the same as it is in the north: In many cases, the army no longer deploys its troops, but instead shoots from great distances using tanks and heavy artillery, or from helicopters, strategies which decrease the risk to the army.

One defector from Homs, a city that has also been the site of heavy fighting, describes a cycle of accelerating collapse. ”If I’d left sooner, state security would have arrested my family and burned down my house,” he says. ”But they’re not going to come now, certainly not just because of me.”

Diminishing Fear

With each bit of the country that slips from the regime’s control, the soldiers’ fear diminishes. That in turn increases the number of defectors, more and more of whom join the FSA. One officer, who defected to the FSA and has a precise mind for figures, estimates the group has around 40,000 former army soldiers in its ranks, although the proportion of soldiers and civilians varies among regions.

Outwardly, power dynamics in Syria have changed little in the past 15 months. The rebellion has gripped the cities, but unlike in Libya, here there is no still no large, contiguous region for the rebels to defend. But the appearance of stability is deceptive. While it’s true that soldiers are no longer allowed to travel by intercity bus without a permit, and that many of those who escape still risk being shot by the omnipresent intelligence service, the fact remains that the regime is no longer able to stay the gradual erosion of its army.

The impression of power and control emanating from the centers of Damascus, Aleppo and other major cities may also be deceptive. The Western half of Syria is a land of villages and small cities, which have joined together with the insurgency in the most densely populated provinces. The area around Aleppo, Idlib, Homs, Hama and Daraa together forms a zone in which the government’s troops may attack anywhere, at any time, yet are no longer able to control the area permanently. And in many places, the people living here have switched sides. Sunni Muslims have certainly done so, but so have most Druzes and Ismailis. And though Kurdish villages in the northwest, such as Basuta and Ain Dara, have started flying the Kurdish flag in recent weeks, rather than the revolutionary flag with its three stars, there’s no one left here who still defends the regime.

Around 50 soldiers are stationed on Sheikh Barakat Mountain near the Churchof St. Simeon, northern Syria’s famous late antiquity ruin, but for the past two months they’ve received supplies only by air, because convoys are no longer able to pass through the surrounding area, which is completely under the FSA’s control

‘We Don’t Get Orders’

The FSA itself is a peculiar entity. It’s clear that it’s effectively organized at the village level and in small cities, each group loosely connected with other districts and provinces, but without a set hierarchy or command structure. ”We have a good relationship with the FSA’s commander in exile in Turkey,” says one local commander, ”but we don’t get orders. We’re in charge of ourselves.”

This set-up isn’t enough to allow coordinated attacks on the regime’s centers of power, but it appears to be good enough to control the rest of the country. What’s sustaining the regime is its monopoly on heavy weaponry, as well as its tough core of 100,000 to 200,000 officers, secret police, elite soldiers and militia members, most of whom are Alawis and fear that the regime’s fall would spell their own end as well. These troops have their stronghold in the Ansariyah Mountains in the west of the country and control parts of the larger cities as well, but they no longer hold all the land between.

Everyone — the rebels, the hundreds of thousands of undecided currently fleeing through the country to wherever they feel they will be somewhat safer, even those who support the regime — are all dreading the ”next step,” in the words of Abu Ali al-Dirri, an officer who changed sides six months ago. The next step is the air force.

‘They’re Going to Bomb the Country’

Syria has made massive improvements to its air force in the past year, but so far, aside from the helicopters, hardly put it into action. ”But before the Assads go down, they’re going to bomb the country,” Dirri believes. For years, he says, the regime has made a point of ensuring the loyalty of the air force, the branch of the military where President Bashar Assad’s father Hafez began his career. ”They’ve increased the proportion of Alawi cadets at the military academy in Aleppo constantly, especially in the air force,” he says. ”They knew things would turn against them at some point.”

At most, Dirri says, the regime would face the problem that many older pilots have been discharged in recent years, while many newer pilots have only barely completed the number of flying hours necessary in order to fly a fighter jet. Dirri himself, as a Sunni, hasn’t even been allowed to carry a gun since the revolution began.

For years, the officer says, ”Russia didn’t want to supply replacement parts any more, because we never paid, but now Russia is providing enormous amounts of assistance, even sending over personnel.” He adds that more than 1,000 Russian engineers were present in the country this January. Many of them were officially there as agricultural consultants, ”but their work doesn’t have much to do with agriculture.” Iran has sent arms and ammunition, he adds, but not much in the way of personnel, while China has a group of air force specialists stationed at Aleppo‘s military airports.

Around half of the air force’s 360 fighter jets are fully operational, Dirri says. It’s roughly the same proportion with its 120 helicopters. Its French ”Gazelle” helicopters, equipped with armor-piercing weapons, are in the best condition, ”but not a single one of them has ever taken off — they’re all stationed at the presidential palace airport.”

Where Will the West Draw a Line?

As long as the West continues to declare every few days that it has no intention of carrying out a military intervention, says Colonel Dirri, the regime in Syria will continue to use everything at its disposal. ”Its strength rests in the fact that the whole world is saying, ‘We’re not going to get involved,'” he says. ”If this Rasmussen” — a reference to NATO’s secretary general — ”would just shut his mouth for once, that alone would do Syria a great service!”

At the very latest, after the massacres in Houla two weeks ago and in Mazraat al-Qubair last Wednesday, none of the rebels in northern Syrian still believe the UN’s peace plan will be successful. Instead, their greatest hope is little more than a rumor: that at some point the US must surely draw a line, and perhaps Russia too. What will it take to reach that line? The deployment of Syria‘s air force to carpet-bomb the country? Or perhaps the regime resorting to its arsenal of chemical weapons?

One thing is clear: With or without a vote from the UN Security Council, the rebels want an intervention.”

The T-HOMS 75

Finally the T-HOMS 75. It is a Toyota pickup fitted with steel plates to protect teams of three rebel fighters each behind the rockets and machine guns. Under the motto, “you take what you have”

This is what NATO and Anders Fogh Rasmussen probably would call “a serious proliferation of weapons in the region”.

And this piece from Haaretz on the left and very critical of Israeli policies. Regarding the deafening silence from nearly ALL Israeli Arab artists in Israel and Jewish radicals, the peace movement etc.

A deafening silence

Tolerance in the face of Assad’s bloody murderousness is liable to have the same effect on Arab-Jewish radicalism in Israel.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/a-deafening-silence.premium-1.436292

By Ari Shavit

“Remember Deir Yassin? The number of innocent people murdered in Syriaover the past year is 100 times greater than the number of innocent people who were murdered in this Arab village at the edge of Jerusalem in 1948.

Remember the Qibya incident? The number of innocent people killed in Syriaover the past year is 250 times the number of innocent people killed in this pastoral village in Jordan in 1953.

Remember Sabra and Shatila? The number of innocent people butchered during the past year in Syria is 20 times the number of innocent people who were butchered in those Palestinian refugee camps in western Beirut in 1982.

Remember the bloody rioting in October 2000? The number of innocent people who were shot to death in Syria during the past year is 1,000 times the number of innocent people who were shot to death by the Israel Police in the Galilee and the Triangle area in central Israel.

Remember Operation Cast Lead? The number of innocent people who were felled in Syria during this past year is dozens of times the number of innocent people who fell in the Gaza Strip during that widely condemned Israeli military operation in the winter of 2008-09.

The picture is clear: During one year, the secular Arab nationalism of Bashar Assad has spilled more innocent blood than the Zionists have in decades. This Arab tyrant, who in the past was the darling of Arab Knesset members, is massacring his fellow Arabs in a way that Israel never did.

Arab cities are being bombed, Arab women are murdered, Arab children are slaughtered. An Arab society is being shredded, and an Arab state shattered into fragments.

Despite all this, the The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel is not demanding that the United Nations intervene to stop the bloodshed. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, is not petitioning the International Criminal Court in the Hague to put the war criminals on trial. Large Land Day type demonstrations have not been called. Protesters who take part in mass marches every October aren’t marching. Arab students who mark the Palestinian Nakba of 1948 aren’t coming out against the Syrian Nakba of 2012. Israel’s Arab minority and its anti-Zionist left are watching as thousands of Arab are massacred – and are standing idly by.

It’s crystal clear that the Syrian tragedy unfolding before our eyes has serious international ramifications. It is taking all meaning out concepts such as international community, international law and the idea of moral validity in international relations.

It’s crystal clear that the Syrian tragedy has serious pan-Arab ramifications. It is taking all meaning out of concepts such as Arab unity, Arab solidarity and the idea that the contemporary Arab world accords any real meaning to human rights.

But the Syrian tragedy has serious ramifications for Israel’s anti-Zionist community as well. The inability of this community to directly confront Arab evil undermines the moral basis for its battle against Israeli evil.

Its unwillingness to demand that universal values be upheld in Hama and in Homs pulls the rug out from under its demands that universal values be upheld in Ramallah and Nazareth. Its silence when faced with the butcher of Damascus makes its condemnations of the State of Israel sound hollow.

The Syrian challenge is a moral challenge. There are some Israeli Arabs who are passing this test honorably. For example, Azmi Bishara, the former MK who fled Israel after being questioned on suspicion of aiding the enemy, who in the past was close to Assad, is today waging a brave and intensive campaign against him on Al Jazeera tv. Unfortunately, few of Bishara’s colleagues in Israel are following suit.

Israeli Arab artists in Israel and Jewish radicals in Israel are silent about what’s going on just over the border. This troublesome silence makes one wonder if their declared humanitarianism is authentic. When they spoke up – against Israel – about human dignity and freedom, perhaps they were simply fooling us?

Communism in the West was destroyed in the 1950s because it tolerated Stalin’s bloody dictatorship. Tolerance in the face of Assad’s bloody murderousness is liable to have the same effect on Arab-Jewish radicalism in Israel.

See Part 1 – Introduction in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 1

See Part 2 – Reports in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 2

Refusing to arm or help the opposition will not end the conflict or limit it; it will drag on as all the  examples of  like Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Darfur, Bosnia (Srebrenica anyone?) etc. shows. Leading to more 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 BE PROUD of yourselves and the children of  Syria will remember you. Each one of you.

                             To the children of Syria!

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The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 5

12 juni, 2012

Third, the countries and organizations that makes this possible (continuation):

USA and the Obama Administration

You can say much about the Obama administrations Middle East policies. But the easiest is to state the obvious – it is an utter and total failure. In fact, it is even worse than that.

Because what Obama has managed to do is to totally destroy US reputation and standing in the region. He has single-handed managed to alienate ALL the traditional allies in the region like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel.

The Saudis was so upset after the way Obama throw Mubarak under the buss that they decided that they could NO longer trust this man. After that, they strengthen the Gulf Cooperation Council, intervened in Bahrain etc.

And how Obama have supported the Muslim Brotherhood and the fundamentalist take over after Mubarak and the military regime.

And the Israelis, the way the have been treated regarding the fundamental and existential treat from a nuclear Iran.

Make no mistake; this is a fundamental strategic break. That America will suffer the consequences for many years to come.

Add to that the total failure inIraq where you now have a US installed government that is closely allied to Iran. And is helping Iran support Assad in Syria.

You can add to that the disintegration of Afghanistan. Yemen, where the Obama administration forced out the sitting president Ali Abdullah Saleh and now al-Qaidi controls large parts of that country.

Etc.

Etc.

Remember also that Obama and Hillary Clinton switched the policy 180 degrees compared to the Bush time. Assad was “their” man because he was a ”reformer”. And there was a parade of American politicians going toDamascus to shake the “reformers” hand and praising Assad for his “reforms”.

Even several months into this uprising and the slaughter, Obama and Hillary Clinton still vehemently defend him as a reformer refusing to condemn what was going on.

And Turkey, under his close personal friend Erdogan, witch Obama has hold up as a role model for the rest of the Middle East.

A Turkey under Erdogan which have, on purpose, slowly but very determined Islamized Turkey.  With hundreds of political prisoners like journalist, judges, layers, military, kurds etc. Who have spent years and years in prison without a trial.

And the latest example of how far this process have gone:

This Week, Turkey Went a Long Way Toward Becoming an Islamic Republic

http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2012/06/this-week-turkey-went-long-way-toward.html

“Hardly surprising; deeply upsetting; and geo-strategically catastrophic, it’s official. Turkey has now passed over toward being an Islamist state. That turning point is marked by a tiny event of gigantic importance. Fazil Say is an internationally acclaimed Turkish classical pianist. He has performed with prestigious symphony orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Berlin, Israel Philharmonic, France, and Tokyo as well as being a European Union cultural ambassador. The Turkish state is now going to put him on trial.

An Istanbul court has accepted the prosecutor’s charge, which amounts to heresy. Specifically, he is accused of insulting Islam because of tweets he sent. Say suggested that since the Koran says there are rivers of drinks in heaven that makes it sound like a pub, while the beautiful women available there make it sound like a brothel. A number of his tweets are quoted here. That’s his crime, writing a couple of sentences to describe his thoughts.

We are not talking of someone criticizing Say or disagreeing with him. We are talking about the power of the Turkish state being used to charge a man with a crime and send him to prison for exercising free speech. True, they are only asking for a sentence of eighteen months in prison but once the precedent is set their ambitions will expand.

There are already hundreds of political prisoners in Turkey today who have been in prison for over three years without any trial at all. Now if criticizing Islam in Turkey is a crime, Turkey is not a secular state. And with all of those innocent people already thrown in jail by the regime on trumped-up charges of treason and terrorism, Turkey is no longer a democratic state either.

Yeap, that really sound like a good role model for the rest of the Middle East!

This is the same Turkey, with active American help, trying to make Syrian National Council (SNC, i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood) the sole “representative of the Syrian opposition. Thereby fuelling ALL resources to them and not to the rest of the more secular, democratic opposition inside Syria.

Doesn’t this also seems like another excellent policy by the Obama administration if you REALLY want to be sure of a democratic development in Syria in the future??

And this obsession of Obama and Hillary Clinton that the Russians has to “approve” everything before he actually do anything.

The Obama administration is actually, which is astounding, giving Russia de facto veto power over US foreign policy. A Russia, which literally hates everything USA stands for and it’s position in the world. And witch have done everything it can to interrupt, damage or sabotage US foreign policy.

Russia is the one that is supporting and protecting Assad, Iran etc. Russia is the one selling ALL these weapons to Syria and Iran etc.

And remember that Obama actually told outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on March 26 that he is going to be “more flexible” after the election in November.

MORE FLEXIBLE???

Just to give some recent examples of the “democratic development” in Russia:

This is the Russia that just raised the fines for participating in unsanctioned rallies or demonstration from 300 rubles to 300,000 rubles, a year salary for a normal Russian.

Putin signed the bill on June 8.

The Kremlin’s own Human Rights Council said in a statement the bill violates an article in the constitution guaranteeing freedom of assembly.

And oh by the way, the Russian authorities don’t very often give “permission” for demonstrations.

In March, a discriminatory ban on “homosexual propaganda” went into effect in St. Petersburg.

And on the same theme – Moscow Bans Gay Pride Parades For 100 Years

Yeas, you read right. Moscow city courts has banned ALL pride parades for the NEXT 100 years!

http://www.queerty.com/moscow-bans-gay-pride-parades-for-100-years-20120608/

“Yikes,Russia! A week after protestors for gay rights were arrested in Moscow, a district court upheld the decision by a Moscow city court to ban gay pride parades for 100 years. Yes, the government can now legally forbid gay pride for a century, from March 2012 to March 2112.”

And this how the Russian government defend it:

“The Russian government has said that rulings such as that of the Moscow City Council are not anti-gay but rather rulings that protect ”the majority’s rights.”

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2893357/posts

Not to mention the regular killings of journalist, layers, judges etc.

And just today some more “democratic” developments:

Russian Opposition Leaders’ Homes Raided

http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-opposition-leaders-homes-searched/24610215.html

“Russian police have searched the homes of leading opposition figures in an apparent crackdown on the eve of a planned mass protest against President Vladimir Putin’s third term as president.

The opposition figures have been summoned for questioning by investigators on June 12 — the same day as the planned protest.

Police, some armed with assault rifles, carried out searches on the homes of opposition figures including Boris Nemtsov, Ilya Yashin, Ksenia Sobchak, Sergei Udaltsov, Aleksei Navalny, and at least five others.

Udaltsov said police showed up at his door early in the morning.

Police and Investigative Committee officers started banging on my door early in the morning, at 7 a.m. At the same time, they searched my parents’ home,” Udaltsov said. ”They presented a search warrant as part of the criminal investigation of the events of May 6.”

Udaltsov said police confiscated his computer, a flash stick, his iPad, and mobile telephone.”

By the way “the criminal investigation of the events of May 6.”  was a demonstration against Putin.

I could continue another 3-4 pages with some more recent “democratic” developments inRussia. But I think you get the picture.

Doesn’t this also seems like another excellent policy by the Obama administration??

Begging Russia,  your enemy, to “help” you and de facto giving them veto power over your policies.

After ALL the “resets”Russia hasn’t moved one millimeter to help USA. On the contrary

Just a few examples:

US condemns Syria massacre and looks for Russian help to oust Assad Hillary Clinton harshly condemns Syrian president as Obama reportedly plans to urge Putin to back a transition of power

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/27/us-condemns-syria-massacre-russia?newsfeed=true

“The comments came amid reports that President Barack Obama is preparing to push Russia to back the departure of Assad under a scheme modelled on the transition of power in Yemen.

According to an article in the New York Times, Obama hopes to enlist President Vladimir Putin’s support over a transition of power in Syria during a meeting next month – the first between the pair since Putin’s return to the Kremlin.

Under the reported plan, the international community would broker a settlement in which Assad would leave, but remnants of the political structure would remain intact.

But for the plan to have a chance of succeeding it would need greater backing from Moscow, which to date has been strongly opposed to Assad’s removal.

Russia, as one of Assad’s few remaining allies, has long blocked tough sanctions against the regime proposed by the United Nations, claiming that it could lead to the bloody ouster of Assad.”

And more peddling of the same:

Clinton presses Russia to back political change in Syria

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ickPHmGjO2L1vDcfS4yInarU-gvw?docId=CNG.6b132c77c83405c53dd440d729dc1b73.c1

““STOCKHOLM — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Russia Sunday to get behind a political transition in Syria, saying President Bashar al-Assad’s departure was not a precondition but should be ”an outcome”.

Clinton spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by telephone at the weekend to say that Washington and Moscow needed to work together on a plan that would halt the violence and bring about political change in the country.

”In my conversation with him, I made it very clear there would be no point to any meeting unless it included all elements of Kofi Annan’s (peace) plan, and that certainly means we have to focus on a path forward for a political transition,” Clinton told reporters Sunday during a visit to Stockholm.

”Assad’s departure does not have to be a precondition but it should be an outcome, so the people of Syria have a chance to express themselves,” she said.”

Russia has resisted UN Security Council efforts to sanction the Assad regime, a longtime ally of Moscow, questioning the effectiveness of sanctions and warning that outside meddling could lead to civil war.

Clinton has sharply criticised Moscow for ”propping up” the Assad regime with continued arms shipments, prompting President Vladimir Putin to defend Russia‘s stance in meetings with the leaders of Germany and France.”

“She said her message to Lavrov was: ”We all have to intensify our efforts to achieve a political transition, and Russia has to be at the table helping that occur. The Syrian people want and deserve change.”

U.S. Hopes Assad Can Be Eased Out With Russia’s Aid

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/27/world/middleeast/us-seeks-russias-help-in-removing-assad-in-syria.html?pagewanted=all

“WASHINGTON — In a new effort to halt more than a year of bloodshed in Syria, President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a proposal modeled on the transition in another strife-torn Arab country, Yemen.

The plan calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Mr. Assad’s government in place. Its goal is the kind of transition under way in Yemen, where after months of violent unrest, President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down and hand control to his vice president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in a deal arranged byYemen’s Arab neighbors. Mr. Hadi, though later elected in an uncontested vote, is viewed as a transitional leader.

The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Mr. Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal.

In the past year, Russia has blocked any tough United Nations Security Council action against Mr. Assad, arguing that it could lead to his forced ouster and the kind of fates suffered by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi ofLibya, who was killed, or Hosni Mubarak ofEgypt, who was imprisoned and put on trial. ButRussia is facing intense international pressure to use its influence to bring about the removal of Mr. Assad as the killings inSyria continue unabated, including the massacre of more than 90 people in a village nearHoms that was reported by United Nations officials on Saturday. “

The Yemen example has been widely discussed in Moscow, so much so that the option has become known by its Russian term, “the Yemenskii Variant,” even in theUnited States. In part, that reflectsRussia’s desperation for a solution to the crisis in Syria, where, the United Nations says, thousands of civilians have been killed since protests began there in March of last year.

Mr. Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Vladimir V. Putin ofRussianext month at their first meeting since Mr. Putin returned to his old post on May 7. Thomas E. Donilon, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, raised the plan with Mr. Putin in Moscow three weeks ago.

When Mr. Obama brought it up with Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia at the Group of 8 meeting at Camp Davidlast weekend, Mr. Medvedev appeared receptive, American officials said, signaling that Russia would prefer that option to other transitions in the Arab upheaval. During the meeting, “Medvedev raised the example of Mubarak in a cage,” a senior official said, referring to Mr. Mubarak’s confinement at his trial. The official, who requested anonymity because of the delicacy of the discussions, said Mr. Obama had then “countered withYemen, and the indication was, yes, this was something we could talk about.”

And

“After the hopeless gridlock at the special UN session on the Syrian crisis Thursday, an American delegation headed by Fred Hoff, the Secretary of State’s special adviser on Syria, drew a blank in the talks it conducted at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow Friday, June 8, with Syrian expert, Mikhail Bogdanov.

Moscow has flatly rejected President Barack Obama’s proposal to post 5,000 armed UN monitors in Syria, most of them Russian troops, as the core of a new plan to resolve the Syrian crisis. The Russians may consider convening an international conference, but only if its remit is limited to offering a basis for negotiations between the Assad regime and the opposition and new political reforms. On no account must it deal with Bashar Assad’s removal.

Moscow’s position has grown tougher in the last few days. After Russian officials stated this week that keeping the Assad regime in power was not a priority, Bogdanev said Friday: Moscow isn’t discussing ways to promote Bashar al-Assad’s ouster with Washington. “We aren’t holding such talks.”

He stressed that the only way forward on the Syrian issue was by expanding Annan’s peace plan.

However, the only thing that all the participants at the UN could agree on was that the Annan peace plan had failed. And now that the US mission to Moscow has run into another dead end, the violence in Syria will continue to run riot with no world power or body prepared to step in and stop it.

Adding to the complications, the Syrian conflict and the Iranian nuclear controversy are becoming inextricably intermeshed. The U Sofficial Hoff knew he was arriving in Moscow at a grave disadvantage after Iran indicated to the six world powers that it was seriously considering not turning up for their third round of nuclear talks in Moscow on June 18-19.

Its pretext: The West had failed to come up with “serious proposals.”

Most of all, Tehran took umbrage over US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s demand that Iran come to the talks prepared with “concrete steps to curb its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity.”

When she spoke, Clinton knew there was not the slightest chance of the Iranians accepting this demand.

Tehran also pulled in its horns at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters inVienna when confronted Friday, June 8, with demands to open up its suspect nuclear sites to international inspection.

These related developments all point in one direction: US President Barack Obama’s deep reluctance to intervene directly in Syria and preference for Russia and Iran to take over have run up against equally powerful reluctance in Moscow and Tehran to put their hands in the Syrian fire or take part in any international effort to quench its flames.

Indeed, the Russians and Iranians believe that as the flames of the civil war already raging there spread, the US president will be blamed by the American public and the Arab world for the horrendous sectarian bloodbath.

And if Obama and America’s European allies do decide on military intervention, they will be too late and find themselves pulled down into a bottomless quagmire.”

Here is yet another example of the utter folly of the Obama administrations policy:

How Can Obama’s Middle East Policy Possibly Get Worse? Answer: Look at Syria

http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2012/05/29/how-can-obamas-middle-east-policy-possibly-get-worse-answer-look-at-syria/

“Some of my readers are unhappy that I keep criticizing President Barack Obama and his government. The problem is that this administration keeps doing terrible things in the Middle East. And the most damning evidence on these actions comes not from Obama’s enemies but from the administration itself and the supportive mass media.

Here’s the latest such item:

“U.S. Hopes Assad Can Be Eased Out withRussia’s Aid,” by Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, in the New York Times.

For almost three years, Obama insisted he would win over the Syrian dictatorship and make it America’s friend rather than Iran’s number-one ally. That was ludicrous. Forced by the uprising to back away from Damascus, the Obama administration has spent almost a year bumbling about what to do.

The U.S. government’s main activity was to entrust to the Turkish Islamist regime the job of forming an umbrella Syrian opposition leadership. Not surprisingly, Ankara pursued its own interest by assembling a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated group, the Syrian National Congress. Though several members resigned, complaining of the radical Islamist control, the Obama administration is still trying to force hostile oppositionists to join.

Now the administration has unveiled a new and equally terrible policy. I’ll let the New York Times’ reporters explain it:

President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a plan that calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Assad’s government in place. The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal. Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Putin ofRussia at their meeting next month. Obama’s national security adviser raised the plan with Putin inMoscow three weeks ago.

Good grief! There are four different acts of strategic insanity involved in this paragraph. They are…

1. “A negotiated political settlement that…could leave remnants of Assad’s government in place.”

The Syrian dictatorship is led by murderous thugs who know this is a case of kill or be killed. They aren’t going to give up any of their power. And why should they since they think they’re winning and may well be right? They know the outside world won’t do anything, despite the regime killing around 10,000 civilians.

2. “A negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Assad’s government in place.”

The opposition is not so foolish as a Washington pundit, policymaker, or politician. They know that their only hope is to destroy the regime entirely. The democrats want to do so in order to have a modern democracy. The Islamists want Islamism. The Kurds and Druze want autonomy. How could there possibly be a coalition? Both sides know that within days people would be murdering each other. How could anyone expect this kind of deal would work or that the opposition would accept it?

If anyone in Syria might favor such a plan it’s the Muslim Brotherhood. which has toyed with the idea of using such a transition period to strengthen its own hand. So the idea cannot succeed but reveals once again that the Obama administration seems to get many of its strategies from the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s an observation, not a conspiracy theory.

3. “The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal.”

Just think about that sentence! The Obama administration wants to depend on a country that’s disdainful of U.S. interests, wants to sabotage them, and is on the opposite side! The president wants to ask a country that is “strongly opposed” to Assad’s removal to remove Assad!

And finally, equally amazingly:

4. “Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Putin of Russia at their meeting next month. Obama’s national security adviser raised the plan with Putin in Moscow three weeks ago.”

It’s Obama, not Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is pushing this plan to put Russia in control! If your enemy tries to fool or cheat you, that’s a problem. If you beg him to cheat you and hand him the means to do so, that’s a betrayal of U.S. interests.

To summarize, the Obama policy shows three characteristics that have wider implications for the president’s strategies:

•It favors Islamist enemies.

It “leads from behind” by giving the initiative to those who wish America no good.

And it shows no interest in helping genuinely pro-American moderates who are fighting for their lives.

And that, friends, is why I spend so much time bashing Obama’s Middle East policy, because it is so very bad and dangerous.

Now a possible explanation for all of this would be that Obama doesn’t really want to do anything about Syria for other reasons. The United States doesn’t want to get dragged into direct intervention; it’s a lower-priority issue; there’s no great policy option; and his only concern is the American election.

But so what? It’s still possible to come up with a better policy than this, a policy that would make Obama look good as well as serve U.S. interests. He could call for Assad’s overthrow; back truly moderate oppositionists; subvert Islamist influence; and send arms and money, but only to the moderates. In order to portray himself as decisive, heroic, and a friend of democracy, Obama could take every possible overt and covert opportunity to weaken Assad, even helping at a low cost to create a no-fly zone and safe havens. None of this is going to happen.

Instead, though, he turns over dealing with the opposition to an Islamist regime in Turkey and subcontracts dealing with the regime to a pro-regime Russian government. I’d say that Obama’s policy in the region could not easily be worse, but who knows what’s next, especially if there’s a second term.”

More on the Kurdish question and Obamas push for them to join SNC:

Syrian Kurdish Dissident: BreakSyriaInto Pieces

http://www.gloria-center.org/2012/05/syrian-kurdish-dissident-break-syria-into-pieces/

“Sherkoh Abbas, a veteran Syrian Kurdish dissident, called on Israel this week to support the break-up of Syria into a series of federal structures based on the country’s various ethnicities.

Speaking from Washington, Abbas was also critical of US attempts to induce Syrian Kurds to join and work with the main opposition body, the Syrian National Council. Abbas, who heads the Washington- based Kurdistan National Assembly, said that dismantling Syria into ethnic enclaves with a federal administration would serve to “break the link” between Syria and the Iran-led “Shi’a crescent.”

Syrian Kurdish, Druse, Alawite and Sunni Arab federal areas, he suggested, would have no interest in aligning with Iran.

At the same time, a federalized Syria would avoid the possibility of a resurgent, Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Sunni Islamist Syria emerging as a new challenge to Israel and the West.

“We need to break Syria into pieces,” Abbas said.

The Syrian Kurdish dissident argued that a federal Syria, separated into four or five regions on an ethnic basis, would also serve as a natural “buffer” forIsraelagainst both Sunni and Shi’ite Islamist forces.”

And

Two Obama Administration Scandals on Syria?

http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2012/05/17/two-obama-administration-scandals-on-syria/

“When a delegation of Syrian Kurdish rebels recently visited Washington, D.C., the State Department met them to ask for a favor. What was it? The Obama administration urged them to join the Syrian National Council (SNC), the organization created by the U.S. government through Turkey to lead the opposition movement and receive Western aid for all Syrian opposition groups.

But the Turkish Islamist regime, which Obama put in charge of forming the SNC, put the Muslim Brotherhood in control, a fact I pointed out within hours of the announcement of the SNC leadership’s names.

Now that several SNC leaders have resigned complaining about Brotherhood domination, followed by some Arab journalists pointing out the obvious Brotherhood domination at the SNC’s last meeting, that reality is clear. But the implications of such an incredibly foolish policy—America putting an anti-American, antisemitic group into the “official” leadership of Syria’s rebels — have never been properly examined as a case study for Obama’s disastrous Middle East policy.

The Kurds had walked out of the talks that formed the SNC last year when they saw how Islamists would be in control. Not only do they oppose Islamism itself but they also see the Brotherhood as an Arabizing and centralizing group that would impose a regime oppressing the non-Arab Kurds.

The new U.S. effort so backfired  that, with the Obama administration ignoring their concerns, the enraged Kurds in the delegation spoke for the first time of breaking up Syria altogether!

To sum up, Obama policy has strengthened the Islamist forces in the opposition and fragmented the rebels, thus helping preserve a radical anti-American Syrian regime that is an ally of Iran or helping make any revolution more likely to produce a radical anti-American Syrian Islamist regime that will be an ally of an Islamist Egypt.

Now comes a very peculiar story in the Washington Post with the headline, “Syrian rebels get influx of arms with Gulf Neighbors’ Money, U.S. coordination.” Let’s break this down logically:

–The Saudis and Qataris have been providing arms already.

–They know how to buy weapons, how to get them to the Syrian border, and how to give them to Syrian rebels.

What do they need American “coordination” for? What does the word “coordination” mean? I presume it means that the Obama administration, absolutely clueless about what to do regarding Syria, simply wants to take credit for others’ actions. It is part of the pre-election spin about what a great job Obama is doing.

Yet there is another problem here, a potentially devastating one. Who is getting the weapons? There are different people and groups in the Syrian opposition. Some are Salafists who feel comfortable with al-Qaida; some are Brotherhood men; some are ex-Syrian army officers, professionals and relatively apolitical; and some are liberals who really want democracy.

Whoever gets these weapons will be tremendously empowered. So what’s to say that the arms being “coordinated” by the United States aren’t going to revolutionary Islamists? While this is a complex subject, there is information that these arms supplies up until now have not been sufficiently discriminatory toward moderates and away from Islamist radicals. We will know more in the weeks to come if we can see and identify which opposition groups in what parts of Syria have become better armed.

And if it comes out that the U.S. government is “coordinating” the arming of such people with weapons — as it is already helping their political counterparts in the SNC — wouldn’t that be a tremendous scandal?

Let’s be clear here: A proper U.S.policy would help moderate Syrians overthrow the Assad dictatorship and make sure weapons went to the best elements in the Free Syrian Army’s decentralized forces. Such a policy would make sure to deny money, weapons, and power to the Islamists and Salafists, who are proportionately far weaker in Syria than in Egypt.

Obama policy follows the worst possible course. It minimizes U.S. help to the revolution while at the same time ensuring that a disproportionately large amount goes to Islamists.”

And

Will There Be Room for Kurds and Other Minorities in a Post-Assad Syria?

http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/115831/sec_id/115831

“New York Times reported that the US hopes that Russia, one of the Assad regime’s allies, along with the Islamic Republic of Iran and China, might offer some assistance to facilitate Assad leaving the embattled regime in Damascus. Prof. Eyal Zisser of the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University in a recent Israel Hayom article, “The Road to Damascus Runs Through Moscow,” noted the transition proposal of the Obama Administration:

The Americans pulled a new rabbit out of their hat in the form of Russian President Vladimir Putin. They suggested that Moscow and Washington jointly impose the ”Yemen solution” on Syria, which calls for Assad’s removal while keeping his regime in place to rule Syria until elections can be held; similar to what took place in Egypt and Tunisia. The Americans hope that such a solution will appeal to those inside Assad’s inner circle, who feel his end is near and will agree to abandon him in order to ensure their own futures.

However that may be a vain hope. Given US, Turkey, Saudi, Qatar and Gulf Emirate support for the Syrian National Council what might follow in Syria could be a Sunni Arab nationalist regime.  A regime dominated by a fundamentalist Islamist coalition. That would dash hopes of minority ethnic and religious groups for a secular democratic federal republic. A federal republic that might include secular Sunni and Alawi moderates, Christians, Druze, Turkmen and the country’s second largest ethnic group, the Kurds. Arabs constitute nearly three-fifths (57 percent) of the country’s 22 million population. That is the hope of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KURDNAS) leader Sherkoh Abbas. He has joined with US Syrian Sunni reformer Dr. M. Zhudi Jasser to advance this cause via the Syrian Democratic Coalition.”

“For Abbas and other Syrian Kurds, the past four decades witnessed socio-economic deprivations and Arabization of the Kurdistan Region by the Assad regimes – a virtual ethnic cleansing. An estimated 500,000 Kurds were denied Syrian citizenship following a special census in 1963. They lived as aliens in their ancestral lands in the northeastern border areas adjacent to Turkey on the north and Iraq to the east. Arable land and control of valuable oil resources in the Syrian Kurdistan heartland were seized to become the personal wealth of the Assad family. Instruction and schooling in Kurdish language and culture was stopped. This repression of Syria’s Kurds witnessed virtual starvation and usurpation of their national provenance. That led to the uprising in 2004. Dozens of Kurds were killed; more than 4000 were jailed and tortured. “

“Abbas demurs. He maintains that Syria post-Assad may not become another fundamentalist Sunni Arab post-revolutionary government. He noted in a recent Front Page Magazine interview with Joseph Puder, “Syria: An Alternative Choice”:

The Muslim Brotherhood, with the support of President Obama and Turkey, will not succeed in controlling all of Syria. The Alawis and Hezbollah backed by Iran, Russia and China, will not give up power easily.

Asked what the US role might be in the current struggle, Abbas asserted:

The US has a moral responsibility to insure freedom and democracy for all Syrians. .. an Arab nationalist or Islamist regime would lead to more violence and civil war.”

“Gordon:  Recently, the US State Department held meetings in Washington with the Syrian National Kurdish Council. What were the purposes of the session, who attended and what did the Obama Administration hope to achieve?

Abbas:  The U.S. Administration has asked the Kurdish National Council delegation to join the Syrian National Council, and wanted this meeting to directly hear Kurdish opinion. The interpretation of the U.S. Administration in support for the Kurdish political movement is premature. This was a positive event, but the US government should contact and meet various representatives of the Syrian Kurdish street, especially those that work for a federal Syria and want to bring down the Assad terrorist regime.

Gordon:  Do you believe that the Obama Administration has played a productive role in fostering Syrian dissident opposition during this crisis?

Abbas:  Unfortunately, the Obama administration played a role in the mismanagement of the Syrian crisis. It did not encourage a clear and supportive policy toward democratic groups. If the Syrian Revolution fails, the current U.S. administration will have had a key role. This policy is producing harmful results for the Syrian people and encourages the system to continue to commit crimes against humanity. The question for President Obama is what is his Administration’s goal? Is the goal either keeping the Baathists in power in Damascus or bringing Muslim Brotherhood Islamists who control the SNC to power? Both cases do not serve the interests of either the majority of the Syrian people or the international community.”

And the Obama administration stopped a France and Saudi plan to in one strike take out the top Assad leadership:

“US President Obama recently vetoed a detailed Franco-Saudi plan for ending President Bashar Assad’s rule by means of a massive air strike against his palace that would at one fell swoop wipe him, his family and top leadership circle out,

Their plan was for the presidential palace situated atop Mount Qassioun northeast of Damascus to be devastated by French warplanes taking off from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier off Syria’s Mediterranean coast and Saudi and United Arab Emirates bombers flying in through Jordan.

They would bomb the palace for 12 hours in several sorties while at the same time American fighter jets launched from a US aircraft carrier cruising in the Mediterranean or Red Sea would shut down Syria’s air defenses, which are considered among the most sophisticated and densely-arrayed in the region.

US warplanes would also keep the Syrian Air Force grounded and prevented from repulsing the incoming bombers.

This plan was presented to President Obama separately by Nicolas Sarkozy before he was voted out of office and Saudi Defense Minister Prince Salman, who arrived at the White House on April 12 for a personal presentation. The prince maintained that there is no end in sight for the Syrian conflict; it would only spread and ignite the rest of the Middle East. The peril could only be rooted out at source by a single, sharp military strike that would remove Assad and his close clan for good. This would be the only acceptable kind of Western-Arab armed intervention in Syria and it had the added advantage of being effective without bringing foreign boots to Syrian soil.

In early May, Sarkozy was still trying to talk Obama around to the plan. He spent his last days in the Elysée Palace in long telephone conversations with the White House in which he drove home three points:

1. Because Assad has concentrated his family, top military command and intelligence chiefs at a single nerve center behind the fortified walls of the Qassioun Palace, the snake’s head can feasibly be cut off at one stroke.

The case of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi was different because, unlike Assad, he never stayed long in one place and was constantly on the move.

2. Once that nerve center is destroyed, Syrian army and intelligence would be bereft of their sources of command. Their troops may remain in their bases and wait for news, while their officers may use the sudden political vacuum inDamascus to try and seize power. In either case, the Syrian military would be free of its orders to crush the anti-Assad revolt.

3. The French, Saudi and UAE air forces lack a central command center capable of coordinating a major combined air operation and therefore depend on the United States to provide this essential component. American military input is also vital for paralyzingSyria’s air defenses by applying its cyber warfare capabilities to disrupt the radar systems ofSyria’s anti-air missile batteries.

Our Washington sources report that Obama consistently resisted repeated French and Saudi efforts to jump aboard their initiative.

The Saudi defense minister at one point in their conversation told the US president harshly that it was time for the Americans to stop talking and start acting. But Obama remained unmoved.

These events, provide the background for Presidents Barak Obama and Francois Hollande’s divergent responses Tuesday, May 29, to the al-Houla atrocity and its 108 brutally murdered victims.

The White House repeated its objection to military intervention in Syria “at this time,” because it would only “increase the carnage.” A military option was left on the table.

That was standard Obama-speak for the crisis in Syria, behind which he remains determined to stay out of armed action for unseating President Assad and instead seek a deal with the Russians on the Syrian ruler’s fate as part and parcel of a comprehensive accord on Syria and Iran’s nuclear program.

President Hollande was at first quoted as saying he does not rule out armed intervention in Syria. Elysée sources later watered down this statement with the qualifier: …”only with UN Security Council approval.”

On top of the American hurdle, Moscow and Beijing rushed Wednesday, May 30, to reiterate that they would oppose (veto) any Security Council resolution authorizing military intervention in Syria, so effectively nipping the French intention in the bud.

Bashar Assad accordingly had no qualms about sending UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan off empty-handed from a final bid to salvage his peace mission: The world powers have left him sitting pretty in his palace, unconcerned about his future and free to pursue one of the most vicious anti-opposition campaigns of modern times.”

I wrote six weeks ago:

“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 the same 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 now over a month later, the White House Atrocities Prevention Board hasn’t said one letter or peep about Syria.

So apparently the slaughter of over 15 000 civilians, many of them children, in the most barbaric ways imaginable are not apparently considered by Samantha Power, The White house, Hillary Clinton or Obama; to be atrocities.

So the next time these people in their usual pompous ways start talking about human rights, peace, the UN Charter,  ”responsibility to protect”, prevention of atrocities etc. ; you know it’s utter crap and a lie.

Their hypocrisy is so staggering that it is sickening. Literally. And they are the enablers of this crime against humanity.

I have to stop here because this is way too long already. I could continue for another, say 30 pages. to describe the folly of the Obama administrations Middle East policy. But that I leave for another day.

See Part 10 – US and the Obama administartion in my original series for more info

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

The final part in two or three days

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The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 4

9 juni, 2012

Third, the countries and organizations that makes this possible (continuation):

NATO

NATO is becoming more irrelevant and hypocritical by the day. Here is one of the latest masterpieces:

NATO action in Syria not on the table, US envoy says

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?ID=403578

NATO military action in Syria was not on the table despite the massacre of civilians by the regime, the US envoy to the alliance said Thursday.

NATO allies have neither discussed an intervention in Syria nor made any military planning to stop the relentless crackdown by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad against dissidents, said US ambassador Ivo Daalder.

Daalder noted that the alliance launched its air war in Libya last year after three conditions were fulfilled: a ”demonstrable need” to intervene, support from nations in the region, and a UN Security Council mandate.

”With respect to a demonstrable need, clearly when government forces are attacking civilians with artillery and tanks, there is a need to bring that to an end. That was true in Libya and that is true in Syria,” he said.

But there is neither regional support nor a UN mandate to act militarily in Syria.

”So under those circumstances, the NATO countries understand that the issue of military intervention, which is also always complex, is not right now on the table when it comes to Syria,” Daalder said.

All NATO members, notably Syria‘s neighbor Turkey, are watching the situation ”very carefully and that is where things stand right now,” the ambassador added.

”How it will evolve in the future is anyone’s guess,” he said.

”But the point is that for now there is no active planning in NATO for a military intervention and there is no agreement among or even within the NATO members for moving in this direction at this point.”

This is interesting to say the least. Ivo Daalder just TOTALLY rewrote the NATO doctrine and reason d’être.

In Libyat here was only some “support” from nations in the region”. And the mandate from UN was very different for what they actually used it for.

And in Afghanistan the same thing, only some nations in the region supported that.

But in either case, it didn’t stop NATO from intervening.

So now suddenly when it comes to Syria, and NATO don’t want t do anything because there is “no” support from nations in the region. Well, there is A LOT OF SUPPORT IN THE REGION FOR THAT. So that’s not the real reason.

It seems that NATO is changing it’s doctrine to fit the circumstances and as an excuse for not doing things when it so chose.

In NATO: s new doctrine, the “New Strategic Concept” adopted in Lisbon in November 2010, there is no mention that a prerequisite for any NATO action is to have “support from nations in the region”.

If NATO doesn’t want to do anything in Syria, fine. But be straightforward and say so instead of hiding between “grand principles” and inventing excuses that is not in their doctrine.

It is sad to see an organisation that played such a crucial role for the protection of the Western European countries become what it now have become.

And it’s getting even more ridicules as I have written about before. NATO pretends that doing ANYTHING in Syria  “would fuel a proliferation of weapons in the region”.

So on one side Russia, Iran and China literally pouring in all types of heavy weapons (remember the 240 mm Russian mortar bomb), personal, training etc for the Assad regime.

On the other unarmed civilians and a resistance with some light arms.

And NATO is apparently very worried that if the civilians get anything more than Kalashnikovs and the odd RPG, so they at least can defend themselves and offer some resistance to the Assad forces, that that would constitute “a proliferation of weapons in the region”.

NATO opposes arming Syria rebels

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=382781

“NATO’s chief on Monday said the alliance was opposed to providing arms to the Syrian opposition seeking to counter a regime crackdown, warning that it would fuel a proliferation of weapons in the region.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen called for a diplomatic solution and reiterated that NATO, which led the Libya air war that contributed to Moammar Qaddafi’s downfall last year, had ”no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria.”

And to top it off:

We monitor the situation closely,” Rasmussen said, adding that the situation in Syria could impact neighboring Turkey, a NATO member.

It’s absolutely outrageous what we have witnessed in Syria,” he added.”

This must be one of the most hypocritical, cynical and ridiculous statements ever made by NATO.

The people of Syria will “thank you” for your “deep concern” as they are being slaughtered by the Assads forces.

So according to this superb NATO logic, the Russian 240 mm mortar bomb, supplied by the as always helpful Russia, used to destroy block after block, neighbourhood after neighbourhood in CIVILIAN Syrian cities, is NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER.

It is the largest mortar bomb known to be in production and use. It weighs 130 kilograms and contains 31.93 kilograms of TNT as an explosive charge.

But giving this to the resistance so they can defend themselves is a serious “proliferation of weapons in the region”

Really good work there NATO!

By the way, the use of such weapons in dense urban environments is a war crime.

This is the same NATO that without any hesitation went in full scale in Libya. Then it wasn’t any talk about “that it would fuel a proliferation of weapons in the region”.

See Part 8 – EU and NATO in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 8

UN and Kofi Annan

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.  And now Syria.

Remember that the UN observers are now there in full “force” and all the slaughtering going on is happening on their watch.

Just to show the total and utter failure of this latest UN and Kofi Annan peace plan:

After the latest massacre, number XX in order, the UN observers where stopped by Assads troops from reaching the place of massacre. And then Assad troops shot at them.

Doesn’t it really seems that Assad is fulfilling EVERY POINT OF THE PEACE PLAN HE FORMERLY AGREED TO?

It’s pathetic and the people of Syria is, as usual, paying the price.

Heavy weapons, drones, gunfire used against UN monitors inSyria, Ban says

http://www.myfoxdfw.com/story/18731532/heavy-weapons-drones-gunfire-used-against-un-monitors-ban-says

Source: AFP

”NEW YORK– Heavy weapons, armor-piercing bullets and surveillance drones have been used against UN observers in Syria to hamper their efforts to monitor the worsening conflict, UN leader Ban Ki-moon told a Security Council meeting Thursday.

Diplomats inside a closed council briefing on Syriaquoted Ban as saying the tactics had been used to try to force the unarmed monitors to withdraw from areas where government forces have been accused of staging attacks.

Ban said the heavy shelling had been used to deter a UN Supervision Mission in Syria convoy, drones had monitored the movements of observers and the armor-piercing bullets had been fired at UN vehicles.

According to UN officials, UN vehicles are shot at almost every day in Syria.

Ban told the 15-nation council that UN observers had seen Syrian military convoys approaching villages and tried to stop tank assaults against populated areas but had been ”ignored.”

UN observers unable to reach Syria massacre site

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406496

Syrian troops and local residents are preventing UN observers from reaching a site where 55 people were reported killed by pro-regime militants, the head of the UN mission in Syria said Thursday.

”The UN Supervision Mission in Syria dispatched UN observers to Al-Kubeir early Thursday morning to verify reports of large-scale killings in the village,” Major General Robert Mood said in a statement.

He said the observers were stopped at Syrian army checkpoints and in some cases turned back. He said civilians were also stopping the monitors.

”We are receiving information from residents of the area that the safety of our observers is at risk if we enter [the]village of Al-Kubeir,” Mood said.

”Despite these challenges, the observers are still working to get into the village to try to establish the facts on the ground,” he added.

Mood said he was concerned that the restrictions imposed on the movement of the monitors will impede their ability to carry out their mission.”

UN monitors shot at trying to get to Syria massacre, Ban says

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406566

UN monitors trying to get to the scene of a new massacre in Syria were shot at, UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Thursday, calling the latest atrocity ”shocking and sickening.”

Ban discussed the attack on the UN monitors in a speech to the UN General Assembly hours after the reported slaughter of dozens of people in the village of Al-Kubeir.

”UN monitors were initially denied access,” Ban told the 193-country assembly.

They are working now to get to the scene and I just learned a few minutes ago that while trying to do so, the UN monitors were shot at with small arms.”

A UN spokesperson, Farhan Haq, later gave more details of the attack.

”The mission reports that, around 3:00 pmlocal time today, a four-vehicle convoy from the mission was hit by small arms fire in Hama, while en route to investigate yesterday’s alleged killings,” Haq said.

”No UN military observers were injured, but one vehicle was slightly damaged. The patrol was forced to withdraw to a nearby government checkpoint.”

Al-Kubeir is close to the protest city of Hama.

The monitors were not able to enter Al-Kubeir today. They will try again tomorrow,” Haq added.

Ban again strongly condemned President Bashar al-Assad’s government, saying it had ”lost all legitimacy,” with its record further tarnished by the massacres in Houla last month and in Al-Kubeir.

”The trail of blood leads back to those responsible,” he said. ”Any regime or leader that tolerates such killing of innocents has lost its fundamental humanity.”

Ban called the reports coming from Al-Kubeir ”shocking and sickening.”

We condemn this unspeakable barbarity and renew our determination to bring those responsible to account,” he said.”

On Friday, the observers finally managed to get to al-Qubair:

UN’s Syria monitors sift through debris of al-Qubair attack Scenes of burned-out houses and charred human remains in village where up to 78 people were reportedly killed in cold blood

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/08/un-syria-monitors-al-qubair?newsfeed=true

“UN monitors on Friday entered for the first time the Syrian village where up to 78 people were reportedly killed in cold blood on Wednesday, the latest in a series of atrocities that have underlined the gravity of the escalating crisis.

The observers were met with scenes of burned-out houses, charred human remains and the clear impression that a ”terrible crime” had occurred in Mazraat al-Qubair near Hama, according to a BBC correspondent following the UN team. On Thursday the monitors were fired at and their access blocked by Syrian forces.

”It is not hard to verify. As soon as you walk into the first house, you are hit by the stench of burnt flesh,” reported Paul Danahar. ”You can see that a terrible crime has taken place. Everything has been burnt, houses have been gutted. The most distressing scenes were at the house next door. I walked in and saw brains lying on the floor. There was a tablecloth covered in blood and flesh and someone had tried to mop the blood up by pushing it into the corner, but it seems they had given up because there was so much of it around.”

In a video clip posted on the internet, a Syrian woman named Lathat calmly described how the hamlet had been attacked by ”regime forces and Shabiha” (government militia) who killed children, including two of her daughters, with knives and axes. ”The army came with the Shabiha with a tank,” she said. ”May God take revenge on Bashar al-Assad.” Like much material emanating from Syria, it was impossible to verify independently.”

And

UN observers reach Syria massacre village, activists say

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=407010

“United Nations observers on Friday reached the Syrian village of Al-Kubeirwhere dozens of residents were massacred two days ago, activists told AFP.

The monitors on Thursday were fired at by gunmen and forced to turn back as they tried to reach the village located in a farming region in the centralprovince of Hama.

”The observers first headed to the village of Maarzaf where the victims were buried and then to Al-Kubeir to survey the damage from army shelling,” activist Abdel Karim al-Hamwi said.

He said soldiers at a checkpoint in Maarzaf ordered residents not to speak to the observers or face reprisals.”

“Paul Danahar, a BBC correspondent travelling on Friday with the UN convoy, reported seeing gutted buildings in Al-Kubeir and no sign of life.

”The largest of the two houses on a hilltop in Al-Kubeir has been gutted by fire. The stench of burnt flesh is still strong,” he wrote in a post on the social networking website Twitter.

He quoted activists as saying that government forces had removed the bodies of the victims on Thursday while the observers were being hindered from reaching the village.

Danahar said Al-Kubeir consists of just a few single-story flat-roofed buildings set in the middle of corn fields.”

And what do they do about these in their own words barbaric acts? – Nothing as usual!

Only more of the same, i.e. doing nothing:

Annan says Assad must face “consequences”

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406593

Expressing horror at the latest massacre in Syria, UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan told the major powers on Thursday that it was time to threaten ”consequences” if President Bashar al-Assad does not act to halt the strife.

Annan and UN leader Ban Ki-moon condemned the reported slaughter of dozens of people in the villageof Al-Kubeir on Tuesday and told the 193-nation UN General Assembly it was time to increase pressure.

Annan expressed ”horror and condemnation” at the Al-Kubeir killings. Ban said the massacre reports were ”shocking and sickening.”

”The trail of blood leads back to those responsible,” Ban said, in describing how UN monitors trying to get to Al-Kubeir were shot at. ”Any regime or leader that tolerates such killing of innocents has lost its fundamental humanity.”

The international envoy, who secured Assad’s agreement to a six-point peace plan, grimly told the assembly: ”I must be frank and confirm that the plan is not being implemented.”

Yeah, it took him over two months to discover that witch was obvious to anyone with eyes and more than one brain cell after only the first week..

And AS USUAL what do the UN/Kofi Annan recommend? MORE OF THE SAME TOTALLY USELESS “measures”. While the slaughter is going on.

Annan called for stronger international action to back his peace plan, which includes demands for Assad to pull troops and guns out of cities and halt violence so that political talks can start. But a cessation of hostilities that officially started on April 12 has now all but collapsed.

Annan said the international community had united behind the peace planbut it now must take that unity to a new level.”

”We must find the will and the common ground to act—and act as one,” he said.

”Individual actions or interventions will not resolve the crisis. As we demand compliance with international law and the six-point plan, it must be made clear that there will be consequences if compliance is not forthcoming.”

He warned that without change in Syria, ”the future is likely to be one of brutal repression, massacres, sectarian violence and even all-out civil war”

The future???

 IT IS ALREADY HAPPENING SINCE 15 months!

“UN leader Ban also expressed grave concern at the growing death toll, which Syrian activists say has now surpassed 13,000 in 15 months of conflict.

”In view of the deteriorating situation, I would welcome further international discussion on how we can act more effectively,” Ban said.

”No one can predict how the situation in Syria will evolve. We must be prepared for any eventuality. We must be ready to respond to many possible scenarios.”

As I said before what do the UN/Kofi Annan recommend? MORE OF THE SAME TOTALLY USELESS “measures”. While the slaughter is going on.

The most recent example: Annan now wants to create a new “contract group”.

It is to be composed of the five permanent Security Council members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) plus Iran,Turkey,Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

IRAN???

So it is NOT ENOUGH THAT RUSSIA and CHINA IS BLOCKING EVERY MOVE against Syria. Now that “genius” Annan wants IRAN, which together with Russia is the biggest supporter of Assad and made sure that he has survived so far, to be on the group that is supposed to make all the decisions regarding Syria.

And of course the Obama administration immediately approved of this plan. At least the French had the sense to demand that Iran be excluded from this group..

As for the rest of the countries on that list, they are the countries that have managed to do absolutely nothing during these 15 months of the slaughter and uprising,

Remember also that Iran have been trying for the last year to kill Saudi Arabian diplomats all over the world, including in USA. And Iran also want to overthrow ALL the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia. That’s what behind the troubles in Bahrain.

And Saudi Arabia on it’s hand is doing everything to thwart and overthrow the Iranian regime.

Doesn’t this sounds like a “lovely, peaceful and harmonious” group that is going to solve everything regarding Syria??

Only a “genius” like Annan and UN could come up with a so derailed plan. Because in their perverted world view it is ONLY diplomacy that MATTERS. If one plan fails, ok so we try another and another in all endlessness regardless of how useless or ridicules the plans are.

They change a comma here, add an asterisk there, change a word or the ending of a word here etc. in their “peace plans”.

And voila – everything is magically fixed and solved forever!

In the meantime, as we have seen time and time again ALL OVER THE WORLD, the civilian populations are getting killed and slaughtered year in and year out.

While the UN “observes” and condemns.

And do nothing in the name of the high charter they were founded on.

The contract group:

Iran stalled the US Secretary and UN-Arab League Envoy Kofi Annan’s plan to present the world body’s special session Thursday, June 7, with a plan for a contract group based on five permanent Security Council members and Iran to handle the Syrian impasse. Tehran refused to join the group as long as it faces nuclear conditions, after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Istanbul that Iran must come to the nuclear talks in Moscow “ready to take concrete steps” to curb its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity.

Discussion of the plan was therefore abandoned in the hall and confined to UN corridors. By forcing the pace at the special general assembly crisis session, Tehran once again demonstrated its refusal to play ball with the international community until its major power status in the Middle East is recognized.

Iranian sources have insisted in recent days that the six power talks with Iran were not just about its nuclear program but affected a wider spectrum, because the nuclear issue could be settled at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Tehran has made it clear that the continuation of nuclear diplomacy is contingent on the general recognition of Iran’s major power status.

Kofi Annan warned that if nothing changes in Syria, the future holds all-out civil war. His words attested to the helplessness of the world body to put a stop of the bloodshed in Syria, combined with the Obama administration’s refusal to intervene in the crisis in the expectation that Russia and Iran would step up. That expectation has faded.

Israel remains dormant despite the serious consequences to its strategic and security situation threatened by the new proposal the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan is to present to the UN Thursday, June 7, for saving his peace plan. The nub of his proposal, is the creation of a “contact group” for handling the hot Syrian potato. It is to be composed of the five permanent Security Council members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) plus Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The proposal has won the blessing of the Obama administration, meaning its consent to letting the two powers that will dominate the contact group, Russia and Iran, determine the course and outcome of the Syrian crisis.

Washington believes that only they have the clout in the Syrian army for bringing about Bashar Assad’s removal and his replacement in Damascus by a provisional military regime. Washingtonalso hopes, according to our sources, that this gesture will give Moscowa strong incentive to lean hard onTehran for concessions at the next round of its talk with the six world powers on June 13.

Neither Iran nor Moscow have promised the US anything of the sort, but the administration hopes Iran will start being forthcoming on its nuclear program after being permitted to assume a central role in Damascus.

There is less optimism outside administration circles and inIsrael. They expect from Tehran nothing more at the next round of talks than token nuclear concessions, and none at all toward curtailing its work on a nuclear weapon.

However the Obama administration appears to have opted for this course, even though it is the first time since the outbreak of the Arab Revolt in December 2010 that the United States is willing to let go of a major Middle East crisis and allow its foremost Middle East rivals, Moscow and Tehran, to take charge.

President Barack Obama had proposed to President Vladimir Putin the creation of a large force of 5,000 international monitors for Syria, most of them Russians, to safeguard Assad’s stock of biological and chemical weapons against falling into the hands of al Qaeda or Syrian rebels. This team consisting of thousands of Russian troops would be the operational arm of the future “contact group.”

As far as Israelis concerned, the plan has disastrous connotations. Instead of containing the spread of hostile Iranian influence in the region, as Obama promised Israel, he is opening for the door for Iran to extend its influence squarely in the countries neighboring on – and still at war with – Israel, while at the same time moving back from a focused effort to draw the sting of Iran’s nuclear bomb program.

Israel’s political and security tacticians never took into account that a consequence of the Syrian revolt would be the establishment of full-blown Iranian sway over Damascus in partnership with Russia. Indeed, for 15 months, they insisted that the Syrian uprising was proof ofAmerica’s success in breaking up the dangerous Tehran-Damascus-Hizballah axis.”

France backs new Syria “Contact Group,” says Foreign Ministry

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406957

“France backs UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s bid to bring key powers into a contact group on the Syria crisis, but it opposes bringing Iran into the group, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

”We are favorable to any initiative that can help put into operation the Annan plan,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero told reporters.

But he noted that Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had already stated two days ago that Iran, an ally of the regime led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, could in no way be involved in such a group.

Setting up a new contact group on Syria was not incompatible with the Friends of Syria group meeting on July 6 in Paris, said Valero.

That group seeks to co-ordinate Western and Arab efforts to stop the violence inSyria.

Annan is under pressure to revive his six-point peace plan, which the international community has accused Assad of flouting. A series of massacres of civilians have heightened international outrage over the conflict.

Annan’s proposal for a contact group however risks setting off new tensions over Syria.

The United States quickly made it known that it considered Iran to be a ”spoiler” in the worsening Syria crisis.

Russia, Assad’s last major ally, has offered to host an international conference on the situation in Syria.”

And this is the UN that wants to be a “world government” and a words power.

See Part 9 – UN and Kofi Annan in my original series for more info

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

And finally some perspectives from the Israeli side after their talks with Russia and China:

Syria atrocities to go on

Op-ed: Condemnations of Assad meaningless as long asChina,RussiaandIranthink he’s legitimate

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4239906,00.html

“The Russians have no problem telling the truth: They have no idea of the direction the Syrian crisis is heading to. In ongoing diplomatic contacts amongIsraeland senior Russian officials, the Russians admit that their policy is determined from one week to the next.

In fact, they’re not alone. The Russian policy, which the Chinese share, is no different in essence than Europe’s and America’s policy towards Syria. In Mideastern terms we can say that both sides are making their decisions from one massacre to the next.

A few weeks ago, the head of Israel’s National Security Agency, Major-General Yaakov Amidror, visited Moscow in a bid to convince the Russians to end their support for Assad and stop pouring weapons to his regime. The Russians made it clear that they have no intention of doing so, and never had such intention.

It’s not as though they are clinging to Assad the man; they would have no trouble endorsing someone else, as long as he will be able to preserve Russia’s regional interests the way Assad can. They also have no trouble, alongside the arms shipments, to prepare the immediate evacuation of their people should Assad fall.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz heard the same mantra, more or less, when he visited China recently and the Syria issue came up.

The Foreign Ministry’s political research center, which is an intelligence agency in every way, has been drafting detailed lists of the civilians killed in Syria since the crisis erupted: The total stands at 12,500 people. The killing rate at this time stands at 50-60 dead civilians per day, on average.

See you in next massacre

Yet despite this, the conclusion of Foreign Ministry researchers is that the state of Assad’s regime today is essentially no different than it was six months ago. There is indeed gradual erosion, yet one cannot yet see the great crisis that will prompt its collapse.

Indeed, all the talk about Assad’s de-legitimacy is meaningless as long as the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians and the Lebanese think he’s legitimate. He also maintains his legitimacy for now in large sectors of Syrian society.

So the US State Department publicizes yet another plan referring to the need to invoke the UN’s Chapter 7 and accuse Assad of undermining the global order. Big deal. The Americans are talking about 3,000 monitors – instead of the current 300 – who would also engage in enforcement. They are again talking about buffer zones along the Syrian border and about humanitarian corridors deep in Syria to be protected by gunships. For the time being, it’s all talk.

So what did we have in Syria this week? Two brutal massacres, more horrific pictures, and a meeting of world leaders in Turkey that produced numerous declarations on the Syrian question and zero actions.

We’ll see you in the next massacre. Under this state of affairs, President Assad can survive for a long time. “

Next part in two or three days

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The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 3

8 juni, 2012

Third, the countries and organizations that makes this possible (continuation):

TURKEY

There are reports that Turkey has switched side again (for the fourth time). Remember that up to last summer Erdogan was Assads (and Iran’s) buddy and ally. Then Turkey switched to “neutrality”, sort of. Then last winter Turkey switched to sort of support for the opposition.

It is now reported that Ankara had secretly notified leaders of the rebel Free Syrian Army on Thursday, May 31 that it had withdrawn permission for them to launch operations against the Assad regime from Turkish soil.

So the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has double-crossed Western/UN/Arab Syrian policy and moved over to help prop Assad up at the very moment his regime was partly on the point of buckling under international after-shocks from the systematic massacres of his own people

That day, Foreign Minister Davutoglu announced over Turkish NTV: “We have never advised either the Syrian National Council or the Syrian administration to conduct an armed fight, and we will never do so.” He added: “The Syrian people will be the driving force that eventually topples the Syrian regime. Assad will leave as a result of the people’s will.”

This was precisely what Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the day before when he spoke out against violent rebellion, military intervention and sanctions to topple the Syrian ruler.

Obama and his administration have built their whole Syrian policy by letting Erdogan in practice be in the driving seat. Remember also that Obama repeatedly have said that he consider Erdogan to be a “close personal friend” and one of the five top international friends.

To be fair, Turkey had some proposals how to support the opposition and what to do, But they were ALL turned down by the Obama administration, And Turkey didn’t dare going at it alone.

See Part 6 –Turkeyin my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 6

EU

The joke that is called EU and its “united” foreign policy (EEAS) is now at round 15 of sanctions against Syria.

Just one example of the steady stream of UTTER MEANINGLESS BABBLE AND PRATTLE that’s coming from EU:

EU: Syria massacres ‘unforgivable’

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406621

“European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday condemned the ”horrendous” and ”unforgivable” massacres of citizens in Syria.”

Just a hint – if they are SO ”horrendous” and ”unforgivable” why don’t you DO SOMETHING FOR A CHANGE!

”It is totally unacceptable and unforgivable that any party to the Syrian conflict, either government or opposition forces, continues to commit these heinous acts of violence against innocent Syrian citizens,” she said.”

So let’s se if I get this right – The Syrian civilian population are in effect, according to this “brilliant analysis of EU: s Foreign Minister, slaughtering themselves in the most barbaric way??

Yeah, that sounds right.

”I strongly condemn the brutal violence and killing of dozens of civilians yesterday” in the villages of Al-Kubeir and Maarzaf in Hama province, she added in a statement.

The Syrian government has the responsibility to protect its people,” the statement also said. ”I call for a full investigation of the horrendous crimes and support all efforts to this end.”

Well, the Assad regime doesn’t want to “protect” its people. It wants to slaughter ALL the opposition, which is most of the country.

“Ashton said the EU also condemned efforts to obstruct the implementation of Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s six point plan and called on the international community ”to unite behind a political process leading to a democratic transition.”

It is time for us to agree on a united way forward. There is no time to lose. The UN Security Council must continue to support Kofi Annan and use all its influence to stop the violence.”

“There is no time to lose”  Eehh – the slaughtering has been going on for over 15 months by now. With over 15 000 dead. And the brutal dictatorship has been going “on” for over 45 years.

After all this talk, what do they propose? More of the same that has failed all this time. And time and time again before Syria.

Another meaningless sanction.

Another condemnation.

Another meeting or conference.

Another “peace plan”.

Another “observation” mission.

Etc.

See Part 8 – EU and NATO in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 8

And some news from Syria- Nothing new here:

A new Massacre (number XX) – now in al-Qubeir. In the all too familiar pattern. First, the army begins by a merciless barrage of artillery on a village, town or neighborhood. Second, the   Shabiha goes in and literally slaughter EVERYONE. From the youngest child to the oldest pensioner.

Syria: full horror of al-Qubeir masacre emerges

The voice of Laith al-Hemary’s brother whispered on the mobile phone: ”There are shouts and screams coming from outside,” he said. ”They are killing everyone they find.” Then the line went dead.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9317692/Syria-full-horror-of-al-Qubeir-masacre-emerges.html

“This was the last time that Mr Hemary, 30, spoke to his brother before he was killed inside the family home in the Syrian hamlet of al-Qubeir on Wednesday.

He was among 78 victims who are believed to have died in a frenzied onslaught in this village in a farming district some 15 miles from the city ofHama.

The full horror of the atrocity was betrayed by bloody videos of mutilated children’s bodies and charred corpses.

In a few hours, almost the entire population of al-Qubeir was massacred in what appears to have been one of the bloodiest incidents since the start of the Syrian uprising.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad were responsible, according to opposition activists. They said that regular forces were working in tandem with a pro-government militia, known as the Shabiha, recruited largely from Mr Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

The regime’s troops began the attack on Wednesday afternoon with a heavy artillery barrage, said the activists. Then Shabiha militiamen entered the hamlet armed with sticks, guns and knives. They attacked homes and farmhouses, shooting and slaughtering all the inhabitants they could find.

Mr Hemary and his cousin were among only a handful of survivors of the massacre. ”I could see thick smoke rising from al-Qubeir,” he said. ”I called my brother constantly on the mobile. He was hiding in our home. He told me cars full of Shabiha had come to the village and were attacking everyone and burning houses.”

At 5.10pm, three hours after the attack began, Mr Hemary’s brother’s voice died away and he stopped answering his calls. Pushing open the door of his home several hours later, Mr Hemary found the bodies of his mother, three sisters and three brothers lying bloodied on the ground.

They had been beaten on the head by sticks and stabbed with knives,” he said. ”I went to other homes. I saw family after family slaughtered by knives.”

After the militia departed and al-Qubeir fell quiet later that evening, people from nearby villages ventured into the stricken hamlet. ”I saw a two-month-old child without a head,” said Abou Hisham al-Hamouli, who lives in a village just over a mile from al-Qubeir. ”I saw the burnt corpse of a woman. Her two children were wrapped around, hugging her. They died like that. There were two many burnt bodies.”

Other eyewitnesses reported how the militiamen sang songs in praise of Mr Assad.

A former soldier who joined the rebel Free Syrian Army said that he reached the village within hours of the massacre, but left quickly because Syrian government troops were still in the area. ”I went into houses and saw children without a head, and others without arms. Some were burned and some were without eyes,” he said.

There were only five known survivors, he added. The exact number of victims could not be confirmed, but people from the nearby village of Maarizab said they had buried 57 corpses. A further thirty bodies were missing and had not yet been buried, said activists.

With almost no foreign reporters inSyria, the accounts of what happened in this remote farming village cannot be independently verified.

The massacre comes less than two weeks after an atrocity in the town of al-Houla in Homs province, where eyewitnesses blamed the killing on the same Shabiha milita.”

Or as EU:s Lady Ashton said: ”It is time for us to agree on a united way forward. There is no time to lose”

Yeah sure, You are going to hit Assad with a 16th round of sanctions and he will be “so scared” that he stops the slaughtering don’t you think?

And the as always helpful Russians are as usual blocking EVERY ACTION:

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406647

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Thursday vowed there would be no UN Security Council mandate for outside intervention in Syria, indicating Moscow would use its veto to block any military action.

There will not be a Security Council mandate for outside intervention, I guarantee you that,” Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of a trip toKazakhstan by President Vladimir Putin.”

This piece from Amal Hanano sums up the desperation inside Syria quite well:

Houla: Not a Game Changer

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/5853/-houla_not-a-game-changer-%20#Syria

“Confession: the images of the carnage in Houla did not move me like they seem to have moved the rest of the world. Yes, they were tragic, horrific acts of violence against the most innocent of victims. But they didn’t break anything inside of me that was not already broken, nor did they raise the level of outrage or sorrow I feel everyday over what is happening in Syria.

Maybe it was because in the twenty-fours hours before hearing about the Houla massacre, I had heard that a friend’s relative had been killed, I had heard that another friend’s elderly relative had been kidnapped by gangs for ransom, I had received desperate Skype messages from an activist in Homs, crying, “my precious ones are gone, my precious ones are gone,” referring to three Shaam News Network media activists who had been shot dead by Assad forces, I had spoken with the brother of a martyr in Aleppo, who told me that since his older brother was killed one week ago, he was trying to act normally but the truth was, his “heart was burning.” By late afternoon, when I watched the first video of the children of Houla, with their tiny throats slit open below their ashen, angelic faces, all I could feel was yet another heavy thud of dread. One we had felt many times before.

The days after Houla brought the news of the death of Basel Shehade, the brilliant, young filmmaker who was killed by the shells falling over Homs. (Will the shells ever stop falling over Homs?) The days after Houla brought news of continued shelling and burning of Aleppo’s and Idleb’s countryside, and the deaths of another a dozen men — their eyes blindfolded and hands bound — executed in Deir al-Zor. The days after Houla brought news of thousands of Syrian refugees inEgypt who found themselves stranded with empty homes, empty pockets, and a bleak, uncertain future.

The days after Houla continued as all the days had before. But the world’s eyes halted on the massacre.

Houla’s images instigated the world’s outrage in its predictable forms: in heart-wrenching eyewitness accounts of children watching their families being murdered; in sectarian-tainted op-eds that cynically questioned who had perpetrated the crimes; in dry-eyed, canned statements by regime mouthpieces complaining about the media’s “tsunami of lies” which painted the regime as criminal when in fact it was a “victim.” There was outrage over the images themselves andoutrage over the decision to exposing the international public to the violent images (as not to upset an innocent British boy or girl).

And the outrage moved from analysis and narrative to questions: Is the UN plan working? Is a regime-led investigation a fair way to proceed? Who committed the crimes? Is killing by shelling (by the regime) as bad as killing by close-range (by unknown “monsters” according to Bashar al-Assad)? Is it pronounced Houla or Huli? Were the slaughtered people Sunni or Shite (or Sunnis who had converted to Shiism)? Are we with or against foreign intervention? Who will replace Assad? Who will arm the rebels? Who are the rebels? Why is the Syrian opposition still fragmented?

And of course the debate: Will Houla be Syria’s Sabra and Shatila, Syria’s Srebrenica, Syria’s game changer?

What exactly is the “world” responding to? The graphic images? The sheer brutality? The number of dead? The gruesome stories?

Over the last fifteen months we have seen Houla and variations of Houla happen over and over. We witnessed slaughtered bodies in February in the Karm al-Zeitoun massacre. We have seen men and boys dripping with blood, with half their face blown off, still struggling to breath. We watched while an entire city was destroyed, missile by missile. We watched a man flattened by an Assad tank, over and over, into human road kill. We have seen dead children, not only slaughtered but bombed, burned, and mutilated. We know in addition to Houla’s fifty-two dead children, there are hundreds of others; in addition to Houla’s murdered men and women, there are thousands of others. Our dead have been left to rot on the streets of Homs. Our dead have been buried in the public parks ofHama. Houla’s mass grave is just one more to add to the others, inHoms,Hama, Rastan, and Jisr al-Shoughour. And let’s not forget the unknown thousands of Syrians buried under the concrete foundations of a luxury hotel inHama by Assad the elder.

Houla was tragedy. But it was not a game changer. Not even close. Not to us, at least. Maybe it was to those who have been hedging bets on Syria’s future. Or to those who keep a secret, magic “number” of how many Syrians are allowed to die before it’s too much.

How many more gruesome violent videos can we watch before we really can’t stomach it any more? How many people have to die before the world either says enough is enough, or turns away from their screens? How long before the daily death toll in Syria is no longer on the front pages and becomes an invisible battlefield, like Iraq, like Afghanistan, like Libya?

How long before you are desensitized?

How long before you forget?

The cynics still claim that the majority of the Syrian people still back the murderous regime, (although by this time the regime and its “silent majority” should be irrelevant like it would be anywhere else in the world in face of such violence, includingBahrain). When a regime decides to kill thousands of its own, its supporters have become accomplices not neutral citizens.

Why the empty debates? Because the cautiously-watching (yet horrified) world has not decided yet on our “so-called” revolution. They claim it has changed from its romantic (and just) beginnings and has become armed, violent, and sectarian. While the world doubts, we watched the “sectarian” Abd al-Basset Sarout and his “bloodthirsty Salafi” FSA brothers sing in a room to a gleaming wooden coffin with a cross, that held their friend Basel Shehade’s shrapnel-ridden body. We witnessed the regime shut down Basel’s memorial service last Thursday in Damascus to the peaceful thousands who wanted to join the church service and light a candle in his honor. We watched last Friday in mosques across Syria, as Muslim men performed an “absentee” prayer for their martyr,Syria’s martyr,Basel. These are the Syrian people too, whether the world wishes to see them or not. Or perhaps they only tolerate seeing them as shrouded corpses.

Those who still argue searching for game changers in Syria should stop exerting themselves. Those who wait for Assad to change his ways and stop the killing, don’t hold your breath. For those who have been waiting for their magic “number,” it’s too late. The number is too high and has passed the threshold of forgiveness.

The game changed months ago while you were turned away.

Whether your eyes decide to confront or slide away from the images of our slain children makes no difference. Because we have already moved on, to face tomorrow, which holds only one Syrian certainty: there will be blood.

I, along with thousands of Syrians, made a decision from the moment the first fingernails were torn from the innocent hands of Bashir Abazid and his schoolmates in Daraa. After decades of our own silence, we had two words for the Assad regime: Game Over.

As for the world, across the spectrum, from the ones fretting anxiously to the ones claiming Houla was a “hoax,” and everyone else in between: we have one question: What’s your number?”

That is a good question.

What is the number of dead and slaughtered civilians the world “accept”? It now stands at over 15 000 dead.

Next part in one or two days

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The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 2

6 juni, 2012

Third, the countries that makes this possible:

RUSSIA

Without the enormous Russian material support, weapons, training, intelligence, troops, personal, diplomatic support etc. the Syrian regime would not survive very long.

Russia has invested more than 55 years into this country and this regime going back to Soviet times. So the Russians are not going to give all that vested strategic interest up voluntarily. Regardless of how many civilians Assad is going to slaughter.

After all, Vladimir Putin is the butcher of Grozny and Chechnya. Or as Paul Conroy so aptly put it: “What Russia taught Syria: When you destroy a city, make sure no one — not even the story — gets out alive.”

And

“Five years later, Russia was back. And Putin’s new strategy was unbending: silence, encircle, pulverize, and ”cleanse.

To just give one small example of this Russian duplicity. While they “talk” about their support for the Annan peace plan another huge arms shipment was delivered toSyria.

Thursday, May 24, a Russian arms ship, the Professor Katsman (owned by the Russian arms company Rosoboronexport), was detected outside Cyprus. The crew had shut down ALL communications systems, including its transponder, in breach of international regulations and crept forward in silence. The ship also refused to disclose its cargo manifests.

The Russian vessel anchored in the Syrian port of  Tartus Friday May 25. Military equipment was then unloaded behind tarpaulin screens and transferred to waiting Syrian military truck convoys.

The cargo?  Large quantities of artillery and tank shells as well as spare parts for tanks.

And of course none of these shells is ever going to be fired at the Syrian civilian population, as they have been everyday for the last 15 months.

On June 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, as for reports that Russia is arming the Syrian military, “Russia is not shipping weapons that could be used in a civil conflict.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/02/world/middleeast/new-massacre-reported-in-syria.html?_r=1

Yea, shure!

And more arms are on the way, the North Korean arms ships Odai is also reported on its way to Tartus with hardware for the Syrian army.

Rosoboronexport by the way is Syria’s main weapons supplier. Since 2007, Rosoboronexport has had a virtual monopoly on arms exports from Russia.

According to shipping records collected by ThomsonReuters, at least four cargo ships have left Russia’s Black Sea port of Oktyabrsk – which Reuters said is used by Rosoboronexport for weapons shipments – for the Syrian port of Tartus since December 2011. In addition, a Russian-operated vessel, the MV Chariot, was carrying four containers of “dangerous cargo” from St. Petersburg to Syria when it stopped in Cyprus in January 2012. Although the ship ostensibly changed course for Turkey, it nevertheless traveled to Syria, according to Reuters, which described the cargo as ammunition reportedly supplied by Rosoboronexport. Davidenko, the company spokesman, declined to confirm or deny the report, telling Reuters, “We do not comment on where our deliveries go, when they leave port or how.”

Here is a list by SIPRI, which is considered an authoritative source on the trade in heavy weapons, of Russian arms transfers to Syria.  I want to point out that this by far IS NOT a complete list. This is the ones they found out. Also, it doesn’t include the huge quantities of ammunition, spare parts and lighter weapons etc:

36 Pantsyr-S1 mobile air-defense systems, delivered between 2008 and 2011;

•Some 700 surface-to-air missiles for use with the Pantsyr mobile air-defense systems, delivered between 2008 and 2011;

87 anti-ship missiles, delivered from 2009 to 2010;

Two Bastion-P mobile coastal defense systems, delivered from 2010 to 2011;

72 anti-ship cruise missiles, delivered from 2010 to 2011, for use with the Bastion-P coastal defense system;

300 air-to-air missiles, ordered in 2010 for use with MiG-29 combat aircraft;

Two surface-to-air missile systems, delivered in 2011, from an order for eight such systems;

40 surface-to-air missiles, delivered in 2011, from an order for 160 such missiles, for use with the missile systems;

36 Yak-130 jet trainers/combat aircraft ordered in 2011; and

24 MiG-29 fighter aircraft, ordered in 2007 (delivery pending).

In addition, Jane’s Defense Weekly in 2010 cited a deal for Russia to supply armored vehicles to Syria. The Moscow-based arms research organization Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) has reported that from 2007 to 2011, Russia completed a contract to upgrade 1,000 T-72 battle tanks. A media report indicates that Russia also has arms contracts with Syria worth $250-$400 million for delivery of ammunition, pistols, sub-machine guns, machine guns, anti-tank missiles, and rocket-propelled grenades.

Just to mention a “few” Russian arms deals.

These are the people that Obama and his administration are basing their whole policy on that they, the Russians, are going to “change” somehow.

In the “meantime”, every day Syrian civilians are slaughtered with Russian arms, Russian ammunition, Russian trained “soldiers” and “officers”, Russian advisers, sometimes directing at the “front”, and with the use of Russian intelligence.

See Part 3 –Russia in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 3

IRAN / Hezbollah

Without the enormous Iranian material support, weapons, training, intelligence, troops, personal, diplomatic support etc. the Syrian regime would not survive very long.

Between Russia and Iran, there is a division of labour of how they support Syria. Iran, usually, has more troops, personal, advisors etc direct on the “front line” where the direct slaughtering is going on.

Assad TOTALLY depends on Iran (together with Russia and China) for his survival.

For Iran, Syria plays a vital roll in its ambitions to control parts of the Middle East. In addition, Syria is crucial for Iran’s support and control of  Hezbollah and Lebanon.  And Hamas in Gaza.

For the first time the Iranian regime have openly admitted that it has troops in Syria and is actively supporting the Syrian thugs.

On May 27, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) first published and then removed an interview with a senior member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force in which he said Iran is involved inSyria.

The interview was here: http://isna.ir/fa/news/91030704628 before it was removed. However, it is still available on other Iranian websites http://baztab.net/fa/news/8156

“Someone” understood what a blunder this was and pulled the plug a few hours later.

The interview was with Deputy Quds Force commander Brigadier General Ismail Ghaani. He said ”Thanks to Iran’s presence in Syria– physically and nonphysically– big massacres were prevented.” He also said that “the Quds Force had had an ”effective” presence in Syria.”

He also claimed that ”if the Islamic republic had not been present in Syria, the massacre of its people would have been multiplied.” SIC!

And he said: ”Despite all the problems that the Syrian government has — and we have asked them to address thoseSyria is a location of resistance. The reason for all the pressure from the U.S. and Israel is that they have realized the country is impossible to occupy”.

In another twist of fate, Hezbollah, with over a 25-year record of kidnapping and murder against Israelis, Americans and other Westerners, have had a taste of their own medicine.

In two incidents, Hezbollah operatives were kidnapped by the Syrian opposition.

You should remember that Hezbollah, together with Iran, actively has helped the Assad regime against his own people.

The first group of eleven was captured on May 22 in a bus heading home through Aleppo from Iran. The story was that these people were “pilgrims” returning. In reality, they were Hezbollah operatives. They are now held by FSA.

The second and much more serious for Hezbollah was a very sophisticated commando raid outside Damascus, where 5 top Hezbollah officers was kidnapped. This has sent shock waves through Tehran and the Al Qods Brigades command there.

The unidentified commandos, guided apparently by precise intelligence, ambushed a Hezbollah car 15 km west of Damascus after they left the Syrian military base of Al-Hame 4 km from the Syrian capital. And captured five top-ranking Hezbollah officers. A sixth escaped.

Al-Hame is one of the two big military bases Hezbollah has outside Damascus. The other one is in Al Zabadani.  It is there that Hezbollah maintains its heavy Scud D long-range missiles, as well as it’s more sophisticated and advanced hardware and missiles/rockets it intends to use against Israel.

One of the kidnapped Hezbollah officers was Ali Safa, a senior officer of Hezbollah intelligence and nephew of Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. The kidnapped also included Hussein Hamid, Dep. Commander of Hezbollah forces in South Lebanon; and Ali Zerayb, member of the Hezbollah Jihad Council.

This is part of Hezbollah core leadership so no wonder Tehran is worried.

It is said that Obama is doing nothing in Syria because he does not want to “disturb” the nuclear weapons negotiations with Iran. Negotiations that have led nowhere during all these years. In the meantime, Iran is SO MUCH closer to make nuclear weapons, if it decides to do so.

At the same time, every day Syrian civilians are slaughtered with Russian and Iranian arms, Russian ammunition, Iranian led “soldiers”, Iranian advisers and with Iranian intelligence.

See Part 4 –Iran in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 4

CHINA

Without the Chinese material support, weapons, training, intelligence, personal, diplomatic support etc. the Syrian regime would not survive very long. The Chinese support is however on a smaller scale than Russia and Iran.

China helps Assad mostly through its sanction busting system it has set up to help Iran.

China has helped Iran to sidestep the regular global financial system to create a huge clandestine money-transfer, commercial and currency exchange machine for getting around the US-led Western sanctions hurting Iran’s international trade.

They are assisting in the construction of this underground network as a pipeline through which Iran can continue to conduct its commercial business with the outside world. And to help Iran evade the financial isolation because of the sanctions regarding its nuclear weapons program.

China also profits enormously from these sanctions-busting measures. Two years ago, anticipating the blockage of its regular trade relations, Iran began transferring billions of dollars to Chinese banks, which as a rule do not enter into foreign currency transactions with foreign banks.

China undertook to make available the amounts need to buy essential goods that the embargo prevents Iran from acquiring directly.

Beijing does the shopping and draws on the Iranian deposits to pay for the purchases. The goods are delivered to China and transferred to Iran via Pakistan.

China is making a very tidy profit from its shopping service for Iran. China is charging Iran an extra four-percent to cover insurance dues and another four percent surcharge as a “risk fee,” over and above the expensive roundabout delivery route. Already, China may be clearing as much as a billion dollars a year from this service alone.

And the Chinese use this system to also help Assad with ALL the things he needs to suppress the uprising.

See Part 5 –China in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 5

Next part in one or two days

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The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 1

4 juni, 2012

It is now nearly one month since I finished my 11 parts series of background on what is going on in Syria (Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs  Part 1-11). So I thought it would be appropriate to give an update of what has happened or not happened since then.

And surprise, surprise – NOTHING HAS CHANGED. The same old same old.

The barbaric slaughter of civilians, including children continues unabated. While’s the rest of the world talks, make statements, have meetings etc. 

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.

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

And this is the UN that wants to be a “world government” and a words power.

So very shortly, here are some observations.

First the Houla Massacre:

Click on the satellite image and it gets bigger

These Assad Thugs are some of the people responsible for the Houla Massacre where 49 children were literally slaughtered one by one:

“Supervisor: Brigadier General Mohammad Anis, serving in the role of Deputy Commander of the 67th Brigade, Commander of Tank Battalion 11.

Implementer: Staff Colonel Ali Khalouf, head of Reconnaissance Brigade #67, Tank Battalion. He also looted homes and stole personal property. He personally raped the wife of a Colonel who was killed by internal security in Taldo.

Colonel Habib Mohammed, Battalion Tank Commander. He carried out the bombing.

Colonel Mohamed Nasr Khaddam, Commander of the Shabiha groups. He stole personal property and set fire to homes. He drives a Toyota Double Cabin pickup truck painted in camouflage colors.

Captain Tamam Rahija, platoon leader and shabih who stole houses and cars.

Lieutenant Shaher Ibrahim, a platoon leader and shabih who stole cars and robbed houses.

Lieutenant Colonel Nidal Salman, Commander of a Tank Company; responsible for the Taldo checkpoint. He robbed houses, stole cars, and raped women.

Lieutenant Colonel Ali Jahani, Company Commander and leader of secret patrols and shabiha. He is from Al-Masoudieh village inHoms.

Lieutenant Colonel Ayham Salameh, head of the Kafar Laha and Tal Dahab checkpoints. He murdered, robbed, tortured, and raped women in his office, which contains a torture chamber.”

”!HOULA MASSACRE –  THE CHILDREN HAD THEIR HANDS TIED BY ASSAD’S FORCES BEFORE THEY WERE SLAUGHTERED.

Bashar Al Assad’s forces first began shelling the town indiscriminately towards the city center. While on the outskirts of the town, where the people had no protection from the FSA, Assad’s forces moved from house to house and butchered men, women and children.”

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article3430302.ece?shareToken=a75e882d8c03e8c5faeb975c6ae3343b

“The children of Houla were not killed by random shelling. The UN yesterday revealed that they were murdered one by one. The militia came in the night armed with knives and guns, and the young victims were executed with a bullet to the head or a knife to the throat.

One photograph shows a cherubic baby girl, no older than 2, with a tiny gold ear-stud. She is wrapped in a white shroud. Half her skull has been hacked or blown away. A saucer of bone juts from a bloody gash in what remains of her head.

Another shows what appears to be a boy of perhaps 6 or 7. The blanket in which he is wrapped has fallen away to expose a bare white shoulder. He looks as if he is sleeping, but the back of his head has been lopped off like the top of a boiled egg. His brain lies on the blanket behind him.

A third shows a pretty young girl staring upwards, her mouth slightly open as if smiling. Above her right eye there is a large, bloody bullet hole surrounded by a mess of flesh and bone.

The pictures go on, some mercifully out of focus, most far too shocking to print in The Times though our failure to do so spares the Assad regime.

There is a baby wearing nothing but a nappy, seemingly untouched except that it lacks an arm. Another young girl wearing a blood-soaked T-shirt with the word “Baby” or “Dolly” written on it has had her jaw shot away. A man carries the body of a child with only half a head remaining.

There are children — brothers, sisters, cousins? — wearing blood-drenched shorts and T-shirts with their eyes gouged out, with their faces slashed by knives or with neat bullet holes in their torsos. One girl has had her nose and cheek sliced off. A couple of the children lying on the floor of a makeshift mortuary appear to have had their hands bound.

These are some of the 49 children killed in the Houla massacre, not by random shelling but knifed to death or shot at close range by President Assad’s Shabiha thugs. They were summarily executed, the United Nations said yesterday.

At least 108 civilians were killed in total, 34 of them women, in a slaughter of infants and innocents with few modern precedents. Only 20 of the deaths could be attributed to artillery or tank fire, Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

“What is very clear is that this was an absolutely abominable event that took place in Houla, and at least a substantial part of it was summary executions of civilians, women and children. At this point it looks like entire families were shot in their houses,” he added.”

You can se the rest of the horrific pictures of the slaughtered children here:

http://storify.com/HamaEcho/houla-massacre

Syria: UN Inquiry Should Investigate Houla Killings

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/05/27/syria-un-inquiry-should-investigate-houla-killings

“An elderly woman from the Abdel Razzak family who survived the attack told Human Rights Watch:

I was in the house with my three grandsons, three granddaughters, sister-in-law, daughter, daughter in-law and cousin. [On May 25] around 6:30 p.m., before sunset, we heard gunshots. I was in a room by myself when I heard the sound of a man. He was shouting and yelling at my family. I hid behind the door. I saw another man standing outside by the entrance door and another one inside the house. They were wearing military clothes. I couldn’t see their faces. I thought they wanted to search the house. They walked in the house; I didn’t hear them break in because we never lock the doors. After three minutes, I heard all my family members screaming and yelling. The children, all aged between 10 and 14, were crying. I went down on the floor and tried to crawl so I could see what was happening. As I approached the door, I heard several gunshots. I was so terrified I couldn’t stand on my legs. I heard the soldiers leaving. I looked outside the room and saw all of my family members shot. They were shot in their bodies and their head. I was terrified to approach to see if they were alive. I kept crawling until I reached the back door. I went outside, and I ran away. I was in shock so I don’t know what happened later.”

A 10-year-old boy from the Abdel Razzak family told Human Rights Watch that he saw men wearing military clothes shoot his 13-year-old friend:

I was at home with my mother, my cousins, and my aunt. Suddenly I heard gunshots. It was the first time I heard so many gunshots. My mother grabbed me and took me to a barn to hide. I heard men screaming and shouting. I heard people crying especially women. I looked outside the window. I was peeking sometimes but I was afraid they would see me. Men wearing [uniforms] like army soldiers, green with other colors [camouflage] and white shoes, entered our house. They went outside after a couple of minutes. Then across the street I saw my friend Shafiq, 13 years old, outside standing alone. An armed man in military uniform grabbed him and put him at the corner of a house. He took his own weapon and shot him in the head. His mother and big sister – I think she was 14 years old – went outside and started shouting and crying. The same man shot at both of them more than once. Then the armed men left and the FSA soldiers came.

The boy’s mother confirmed many of the details to Human Rights Watch:

At around 6:30 – 7:00 p.m., we started hearing the sound of gunshots. They were very close to us. We ran and hid in the barn. After the armed men left, and I heard the sound of their cars driving away, my sister and I went outside. I saw Shafiq [the 13-year-old friend of her son] on the ground dead. I saw three families: three women, two of them with children. All of them were shot. Some were shot in the head and others had multiple shots in the body. One of the children survived. She is 14 years old. She was shot twice in the leg. I also saw my cousin who was shot in the chest. A 13-year-old boy who was paralyzed was shot three times in his chest as well.”

Remember also that the, as always, “helpful” Russians blamed this barbaric massacre on the opposition:

“President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said Friday that he rejected outside military intervention as an answer to the increasingly horrific bloodshed in Syria, and the Kremlin publicly sided with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in blaming Mr. Assad’s armed rebel opponents for a massacre there last week that incited world outrage. “

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/02/world/middleeast/new-massacre-reported-in-syria.html?_r=1

And

“Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said it was clear the army had used tank shells but not who shot civilians at point blank range.

“We are dealing with a situation where both sides participated in the killings of innocent civilians… this district is controlled by the armed militants and at the same time it’s encircled by the governmental forces and troops,” he said.”

And

Alexei Pushkov, chair of the international affairs committee of the Russian parliament, the Duma, was more explicit: “We have very strong doubts that those people who were shot at point blank [range] and were stabbed, that this was the action of forces loyal to President Assad,” he told the BBC.

“The shelling was probably the responsibility of the troops of Mr Assad, but the stabbing and point blank firing was definitely from the other side.”

These are the people that Obama and his administration are basing their whole policy on that they are going to somehow “change”.

Also remember that this massacre happened under the UN/Kofi Annan and their “observers” watch.

The independent Front Page May 27

Second the Assad thugs are continuing, now with UN “observers” watching, with what they always have been doing and are “good at” – atrocities and massacres:

There are SOOO MANY videos EVERY DAY showing their barbaric behaviour. It’s sickening. Here are just three.

LEAKED VIDEO – ”ASSAD’S FORCES RUN OVER A MAN IN THEIR TANKS – ONE AFTER ANOTHER. (Idleb) – Words can do no justice to the disgust and barbarity that epitomizes Assad, his forces and his supporters as they cheer and encourage such things.

Where on Earth can this happen other than Syria? How sick does one have to be to find joy in running over a human being in a tank?”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=/watch%3Ffeature%3Dplayer_embedded%26v%3DOo6gotEOwE8

LEAKED VIDEO – ”HORRIFIC – A TRUE SCENE OF HELL. ASSAD’S FORCES FILM INSIDE THE HOMES OF FAMILIES THEY JUST MURDERED IN BABA AMR & JOBAR. Homs (Baba Amr)Bodies of mutilated, burnt and crushed men and women are strewn about the rubble after Assad’s forces enter the district of Baba Amr after a month long siege where they shelled the area round-the-clock for 30 days and cut off all food and medical supplies.

When they finally entered the neighborhood, the most impoverished in Homs, they went from house to house and executed entire families or anyone that dared to stay. Many of their victims had their throats slit and were burnt.

This is Assad. These are his forces. This is what they do.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=/watch%3Ffeature%3Dplayer_embedded%26v%3Dp44x9WSSfWE

LEAKED VIDEO –  ”ASSAD’S FORCES FILM THEMSELVES SMILING AS THEY STAND ON THE BODIES OF MEN THEY JUST KILLED. Rastan (Date Unknown) – As is the case with many of these videos, Assad’s forces have no problems showing their faces, smiling and laughing over bodies of people they just killed.

They live in Assad’s Syria, where they are free to do as they please.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=/watch%3Ffeature%3Dplayer_embedded%26v%3DJ94tXDcvAaQ

                                         Next part tomorrow

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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.”