Posts Tagged ‘systematic rape’

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Some heavy weapons have been withdrawn, some heavy weapons remain.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 9

1 maj, 2012

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

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

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

Video here:

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

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

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

Video here:”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video here:

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

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

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

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

Video here:

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

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

Assad’s thugs are raping and impregnating women in Syria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

”To Whom It May Concern:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s life during a UN ceasefire.

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

Video here:

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

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

Video here:

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

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

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

Video here:

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

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

Secret medical clinics aid Syrian opposition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FEATURE-Rebel rivalry and suspicions threaten Syria revolt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The case for military intervention in Syria

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

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

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

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

While Syria burns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elie Wiesel challenges the world, and Obama

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

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

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

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

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

UN

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

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

Have any idea?

OK, the answer is – Kofi Annan!

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

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

Short bio:

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

1987–1990 head of Human Resources,

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

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

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

1997 to 2006 Secretary-General of the United Nations

He directed and was responsible for ALL peacekeeping

He really is the loyal company man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UN chief’s Rwanda genocide regret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons learned?

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

He suggested that attitudes now had not changed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balkans and the massacre in Srebrenica July 1995.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But we cannot evade our own share of responsibility.

As I wrote in my report in 1999, we made serious errors of judgement, rooted in a philosophy of impartiality and non-violence which, however admirable, was unsuited to the conflict in Bosnia.  That is why, as I also wrote, “the tragedy of Srebrenica will haunt our history forever”.

And

May we all learn, and act on, the lessons of Srebrenica.”

Here we go again; it took him another 10 YEARS to admit that he and UN “should have done more”!

And for lessons learned, remember he said the same thing about Rwanda. Eeehh.. and just watch the glorious UN ceasefire and observation plan under Annan in Syria.

The same old same old.

These hypocrites keep repeating at regular intervals how “sorry” they are and how they could have “done more”.  And then they gladly move on to the next catastrophe and do exactly the same again (i.e. nothing). Where a lot of civilians get massacred, slaughtered etc.

That is international and UN “diplomacy” in a nutshell.

And this UN “proudly” upholds its tradition of doing ABSOLUTLY NOTHING when it really maters, like Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Darfur, Bosnia (Srebrenica anyone?) etc. And now inSyria.

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

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

Unforgiven, unforgotten, unresolved: Bosnia 20 years on

Visegrad, site of one of the worst atrocities of the Bosnian war, is still in denial about the past

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/8a698dbe-73af-11e1-aab3-00144feab49a.html#axzz1qB2x2a8t

“I have come, after all, to thelandofSerbnationalist permafrost. Visegrad is in Republika Srpska, the ethnically cleansed enclave carved out by Radovan Karadzic in the 1992-1995 war. When I ask about the picture, the mayor looks a little embarrassed, as he is, understandably, when I ask how Visegrad is confronting its past.

“There are no solutions,” he says. “Time has to pass. Where would we start if we got involved in dealing with the past? Would we not have to begin with theOttoman empire? All truths have to come to the surface and everyone who committed crimes should be prosecuted, but we have to look at everyone equally.”

He speaks, carefully, as if by rote. I recall the words of a young Bosnian Muslim lawyer I had spoken to a day before. His family were stalwarts of Visegrad’s Muslim establishment before the war. “Visegrad was worse than Srebrenica,” he had told me. “It was a small, slow genocide that went on for weeks. Teachers murdered pupils. Pupils murdered teachers. Godfathers murdered each other … It was a hunting party and we were the prey.”

And the final irony, survivors of the July 1995 massacre sued the UN for it’s responsibility in the massacre. But the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the UN has “the most far-reaching form of immunity and cannot be prosecuted by any national court”.

In other words, regardless how UN screws up and regardless how many civilians get killed, massacred, slaughtered, genocide etc. etc., NOTHING IS EVER GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE ONES RESPONSIBLE!

U.N. can’t be tried for Srebrenica massacre -Dutch court

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/13/us-srebrenica-netherlands-un-idUSBRE83C0WH20120413

“The Dutch Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the United Nations cannot be prosecuted in the Netherlands for failing to prevent genocide against Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica near the end of Bosnia‘s war in 1995.

The final ruling was the last legal option in theNetherlandsfor a group of survivors of the July 1995 massacre, when as many as 8,000 boys and men were killed by Serb forces in an area that the United Nations had declared a ”safe haven”.

Lawyers representing a group of 6,000 survivors calling themselves the Mothers of Srebrenica said they would appeal against the decision at the European Court of Human Rights.

The U.N., as the international human rights champion, should not stand above the law but should take responsibility for its role in the Srebrenica genocide in 1995,” a statement issued by the group said.

This is a violation of fundamental human rights and in contravention of the case law of the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ).”

In 2001 the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) judged that the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre was an act of genocide.”

”The Supreme Court upholds the opinion of the (lower) court that the U.N. has the most far-reaching form of immunity and cannot be prosecuted by any national court,” a summary of the ruling said.”

Syria: The evil results of doing good

The Annan Plan is ‘worse than feckless’, because it buys the Assad regime time and precludes more effective options.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/03/2012328723544342.html?utm_content=automateplus&amp

“Yes, all this makes Kofi Annan a logical choice as emissary. He is, after all, a professional peacemaker. He will not choose sides, and his six-point interim peace proposal for Syria is a model of even-handedness, both as between the regime and the rebels, and as between their respective allies. When circumstances will not permit distinctions between oppressor and oppressed, between aggressor and victim, or between right and wrong, Kofi is your man. The patient Ghanaian will deal impartially with anyone. He will sit, as he did over the past weekend with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to discuss his peace proposal, as though the latter were earnestly seeking justice in the Levant.

But does anyone honestly think that the Syrian regime, committed as it is to a programme of violent intimidation and collective punishment, will provide ”full humanitarian access”, or a daily ”humanitarian pause” for those whom it suspects of aiding its adversaries? What are the chances that the tender Mr Assad will release detainees who may promptly rejoin the struggle against him, or that he will permit foreign journalists to freely document his atrocities? Who would want to bet his life, or the lives of those dear to him, that Bashar and his generals will honour a ceasefire, or engage in good faith in a ”political dialogue” with those who are challenging their power?

Pursuing such ”solutions” is worse than feckless, for it forestalls other, potentially effective actions. By permitting the Syrian regime added time, it is morally equivalent to aiding and abetting Bashar al-Assad.

Diplomats at the UN embraced the Annan proposals – not because they had any chance of implementation, but because they demonstrated ”progress”. Diplomats love a process, and that’s what the Annan Plan provides them. The hope is that when – not if – the proposals are effectively stymied by Syria, the unanimously approved UN ”statement” by which the Annan proposals were launched might then be passed as a ”resolution”. More ”progress”. But a feckless statement will not be any more effective for having become a resolution. This is the diplomatic equivalent of Zeno’s Paradox, for each progressively smaller step forward slowly converges on, but can never pass the hard barrier of Sino-Russian obduracy.

Violence continues

Meanwhile, the Syrian Army that devastated Baba Amr continues its brutal shelling of al-Khalidiya and its offensive in Hama Province. And the rebels of the Free Syrian Army, who are rapidly running out of arms and ammunition, are being progressively forced to flee toTurkey andLebanon.”

But such good as can be done in these circumstances will only be done by those who are willing to climb metaphorically into the ring, and to dirty themselves in the process of providing such assistance as is possible to the oppressed of Syria as they struggle to liberate themselves from an unspeakable regime. It will mean taking sides.”

“For what the situation needs is not high-minded sentiments, but effective, lethal aid to Syrians willing to fight for basic freedoms against a regime that has shed any pretense of legitimacy or respectability.

Edmund Burke famously said that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. The good and high-minded people, the Kofi Annans if you will, who vote on statements and pass resolutions, who promote quixotic peace proposals, who hold earnest parleys with implacable dictators, may appear to have clean hands in the end. Those who engage, who try to do good in an evil world, on the other hand, will be compromised. But when ultimately the smoke has cleared, both literally and metaphorically, and the final accounting is made, and judgments are passed on all those implicated, either for their action or for their inaction, it will be upon the shoulders of the ”good” that the weight of moral opprobrium should fall.”

Douma – ”We do not want to live easily in humiliation rather we die with pride”

Another example under Annans watch, the United Nations’ Oil for Food Programme in Iraq. Below is just a small sample of all the corruption which was going on.

The Oil-for-Food Programme (OFF), established by the United Nations in 1995 (under UN Security Council Resolution 986) was established with the stated intent to allow Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian needs for ordinary Iraqi citizens without allowing Iraq to boost its military capabilities.

The programme was introduced by United States President Bill Clinton’s administration in 1995, as a response to arguments that ordinary Iraqi citizens were inordinately affected by the international economic sanctions aimed at the demilitarisation of Saddam Hussein’sIraq, imposed in the wake of the first Gulf War. The sanctions were discontinued on November 21, 2003after theU.S.invasion ofIraq, and the humanitarian functions turned over to the Coalition Provisional Authority

In addition to criticism of the basic approach, the programme suffered from widespread corruption and abuse.

Benon Sevan of Cyprus, was head of  the programme. While Benon Sevan was in charge of the programme, he stonewalled efforts to review and investigate the programme. He ordered his staff that complaints about illegal payoffs should be formally filed with the whistleblower’s country, making them public and allowing Iraq to bar any whistleblowers. In 2000, Dileep Nair, the UN corruption watchdog, wanted to determine the programme’s level of vulnerability. Sevan, along with UN Deputy Secretary-General, Louise Frechette, rejected any such investigation, claiming that it would be too expensive to be worthwhile. Sevan ordered the shredding of years’ worth of documents concerning the programme.

In response to these criticisms, and to evidence acquired after the United Statesinvasion of Iraq, UN Secretary-General accusations were made that skimmed profits were being used to buy influence at the UN and with Kofi Annan himself.

According to an interim report released on February 3, 2005by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker’s commission, much of the food aid supplied under the programme ”was unfit for human consumption”. The report concluded that Sevan had accepted nearly $150,000 in bribes over the course of the programme, and in 2005 he was suspended from his position at the United Nations as a result of the investigation of fraud in the programme.

Peter van Walsum, the now-retired Ambassador of the Netherlandsto the United Nations and chairman of the Iraq Sanctions Committee from 1999 to 2000, speculated in a recent book that Iraq deliberately divided the Security Council by awarding contracts to France, Russia, and China but not to the United Kingdom and the United States. He also stated he encountered a number of cases in which he felt the lack of Iraqi cooperation was designed to exacerbate the suffering of its own people. He also claimed that it was his opinion that the sanctions were not an effective deterrent.

Until 2001, the money for the Oil-for-Food Programme transited through the BNP Paribas bank, whose main private share-holder is Iraqi-born Nadhmi Auchi, a man estimated to be worth about $1 billion according to Forbes, and ranks 13th in Britain according to The Guardian. Auchi received a 15-month suspended sentence for his involvement in the Elf scandal, which has been qualified by the British newspaper as ”the biggest fraud inquiry in Europe since the Second World War. Elf became a private bank for its executives who spent £200 million on political favours, mistresses, jewellery, fine art, villas and apartments”. Elf, an oil company, merged with TotalFina to become Total S.A. in 2003.

One of the earliest allegations of wrongdoing in the programme surfaced on 25 January 2004, when al Mada, a daily newspaper in Iraq, published a list of individuals and organizations alleged to have received oil sales contracts via the UN’s Oil-for-Food Programme. The list came from over 15,000 documents which were reportedly found in the state-owned Iraqi oil corporation, which had close links to the Iraqi Oil Ministry.

Named in the list of beneficiaries were British MP George Galloway and his charity, the Mariam Fund; former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua; and Shaker al-Kaffaji, an Iraqi-American businessman, India’s foreign minister, Natwar Singh, was removed from office because of his role in the scandal. Many prominent Russian firms and individuals were also included on the al Mada list. Even the Russian Orthodox Church was supposedly involved in illegal oil trading. The former assistant to the Vatican secretary of state, Reverend Jean-Marie Benjamin, is said to have received rights to sell 4.5 million barrels.

The scheme is alleged to have worked in this way: individuals and organizations sympathetic to the Iraqi regime, or those just easily bribed, were offered oil contracts through the Oil-for-Food Programme. These contracts for Iraqi oil could then be sold on the open world market and the seller was allowed to keep a transaction fee, said to be between $0.15 and $0.50/barrel oil sold. The seller was then to refund the Iraqi government a certain percentage of the commission.

The final official version of the Iraq Survey Group report (Duelfer Report) cites only France, Russia and China as violators who paid kickbacks. According to the report, the top three recipients of oil included Russia (30%), France (15%), and China (10%). The US received 2–3%.

According to high-ranking Russian SVR defector Tretyakov, the Oil-for-Food program was sabotaged by an undercover Russian intelligence officer Alexander Kramar who worked in the UN. Kramar set up the artificially low oil prices in 1998 to allow Saddam to use the oil vouchers as lucrative bribes. The difference between the market price and the artificial price (defined by Kramar) was pocketed by people who received the vouchers from Saddam. Among the bribed were top officials from Russia, France, and China. The biggest part of vouchers (to buy 1,366 billion barrels of oil) went to forty-six individuals or organizations in Russia, including Russian Orthodox Church. They pocketed $476 million. Among Russians who received the money were Alexander Voloshin and Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Sergei Isakov, a buddy of Voloshin, carried bags with money from Moscow to Baghdad to return some of the ”earned” money as kickbacks to Saddam.

This is “sanctions” a la UN.

GAO investigation after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq and subsequent Coalition victory over the Iraqi army, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was given the task of finalizing all Oil-for-Food related supply contracts made with the now-defunct regime as well as tracking down the personal fortunes of former regime members. During the execution of this task, the GAO found weaknesses in the programme that allowed kickbacks and other sources of wealth for Saddam Hussein.

The GAO estimates that the Saddam Hussein regime generated $10.1 billion in illegal revenues. This figure includes $5.7 billion from oil smuggling and $4.4 billion in illicit surcharges on oil sales and after-sales charges on suppliers. The scale of the fraud was far more extensive than the GAO had previously estimated. A U.S. Department of Defense study, cited by the GAO, evaluated 759 contracts administered through the Oil-for-Food Programme and found that nearly half had been overpriced, by an average of 21 percent.Unlike the 661 committee, members of the Security Council had the authority to launch investigations into contracts and to stop any contract they did not like. The British and the Americans had turned down hundreds of Oil-for-Food contract requests, but these were blocked primarily on the grounds that the items being imported were dual-use technologies.

Joseph A. Christoff, director of international affairs and trade at the General Accounting Office, told a House hearing that UN auditors had refused to release the internal audits of the Oil-for-Food Programme. Benon Sevan, with support from Kofi Annan, had written letters to all former Oil-for-Food contractors asking them to consult Sevan before releasing any documents to GAO or US congressional inquiry panels.Throughout its history, the programme had received both complaints from critics saying that it needed to be more open and complaints from companies about proprietary information being disclosed.

The United Nations has denied all requests by the GAO for access to confidential internal audits of the Oil-for-Food Programme.

GAO report here:

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04651t.pdf

The Paul Volcker report here:

http://www.iic-offp.org/documents/IIC%20Final%20Report%2027Oct2005.pdf

And then there where all these allegations against his son Kojo Annan who worked for Cotecna:

The younger Annan stopped working for Cotecna in late 1998, but it now turns out that he continued to receive money from Cotecna not only through 1999, as recently reported, but right up until February of this year. The timing coincides with the entire duration of Cotecna’s work for the U.N. oil-for-food program. It now appears the payments to the younger Annan ended three months after the U.N., in November, 2003, closed out its role in oil-for-food and handed over the remains of the program to the Coalition Provisional Authority inBaghdad.

Cotecna Inspection Services SA, which from 1998-2003 held a lucrative contract with the U.N. to monitor goods arriving in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq under the oil-for-food program

The pattern in this scandal has been that Secretary-General Annan, until confronted by the press, has either failed to spot or failed to disclose timely information about Cotecna’s paychecks for his son

“So far, the secretary-general has refused requests from Congress for inter views with U.N. staff, or access to the U.N.’s 55 internal audits of the oil-for food program. One of those internal audits, which leaked this past May, noted serious irregularities with the U.N.’s handling of the Cotecna contract, including an ”inappropriate” upward revision of Cotecna’s lowball $4.87 million bid, just four days after Cotecna and the U.N. signed the deal.

At every turn, the saga of the secretary-general’s family ties to Cotecna raises questions about Kofi Annan’s handling of potential conflicts of interest. Even if Mr. Annan cannot be held responsible for the decisions of his son, his job does entail responsibility for the actions of the U.N. Secretariat. As the oil-for-food scandal has unfolded, it has become clear that U.N. secrecy and lack of accountability evolved, in effect, into complicity with Saddam’s scams and influence-buying. By now, between congressional and other investigations, there are allegations that Saddam, on Mr. Annan’s watch, under U.N. sanctions and oil-for-food supervision, scammed and smuggled some $17.3 billion in oil money meant for relief, using some of that money to fund terrorism, import weapons, and buy influence with Security Council members France, Russia, and China.

On top of that, only now is it learned that for fully more than eight years, from 1995-2004, the secretary-general’s son was in one way or another on the payroll of Cotecna, which for almost five of those years held a crucial oil-for-food inspection contract with the U.N. Secretariat. All this, said the investigator for Mr. Hyde’s congressional committee, is good reason why ”the U.N. Secretariat should move swiftly to lift the gag order on U.N. employees and contractors and publicly release its oil-for-food program files.”

Are you not impressed with these guys?

Then we have various organization of the UN like the Human Rights Council witch replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights because it was so one-sided and more like a forum for dictators.

Well, it only got worse and it’s funded by our tax money.

These people are supposed to protect the civilian population all over the world, including Syria. Instead, the butchers sit at the table. Totally failing its founding mission to defend the world’s victims of human rights violations.

According to it’s statues:

“The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office atGeneva. “

Here in glaring detail who corrupt and one-sided, selective and politicized this UN Human Rights Council is by Unwatch Director Hillel Neuer in a speech on March 19, 2012 in the Human Rights Council:

With Syria and Mideast Aflame, UN Maintains Permanent Focus onIsrael

http://www.unwatch.org/site/c.bdKKISNqEmG/b.1289203/apps/s/content.asp?ct=11657151

”delivered by Executive Director Hillel Neuer on March 19, 2012, under Agenda Item 7, “Human rights situation inPalestineand other occupied Arab territories.”

“Thank you, Mr. President.

Starting three years ago in Tehran, then spreading the past year from Tunis to Tahrir Square, and continuing as we speak in Hama, Homs and Deraa, millions of young men and women have braved bullets and beatings to peacefully stand up for their rights; to cry out—after decades of corruption, cruelty and oppression—for human dignity and freedom.

As they break the chains of their bondage, many lift their heads up and ask: Where was the world? In all the years that we were imprisoned by brutal bullies that trampled our basic human rights, where was the United Nations?

To these courageous and idealistic youth, we must tell the truth. We must say to them in all candor: Sadly, world policy was to look away from your suffering.

We must tell them: Despite its declared mission to protect human rights, when faced with gross human rights abuses by Col. Qaddafi’s Libya, Assad’s Syria, Mubarak’s Egypt and others, UN policy—this council’s policy—was to look away.

Indeed, until the Arab Spring, abuses by these governments were met by not a single council resolution, inquiry, or urgent session.

We must also tell them: It was worse than that. The policy, embraced in session after session of this council, was to allow these governments to act and be treated as champions of human rights. In 2003, Col. Qaddafi’s Libya was elected Chair. In 2010, it was reelected to this council.

The agenda item under which we meet today—the only one that targets a single country, Israel—is the living symbol of this illogical and immoral policy.

For decades, while thousands were tortured in Libya, Syria and Egypt, the only country to be the object of a permanent agenda item was Israel. Under this item, the countries that introduced the resolutions, and made the accusations, were themselves the violators.

And yet despite everything that happened this past year, despite the sudden realization that hundreds of millions living across the Middle East were being victimized by their governments, this Council has just renewed its permanent agenda item on Israel.

This Council decided that no agenda item was needed on Syria, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia or any of the other countries in the Middle East—or around the world. Only on Israel.

And so today we ask: What if?

What if the world, what if the United Nations, what if this Council had turned a spotlight on the abuses of the Middle East’s brutal dictators, and held them to account?

What if, over the past decades, these tyrants’ systems of repression had been exposed, if they had been stripped of international legitimacy, if world pressure were brought to bear? Would they still be in power?

Would President Assad still be in power? Would he still be murdering his own citizens today?

Thank you, Mr. President.”

And another one:

Why Does the U.N. Human Rights Council Turn A Blind Eye to Terrorism?

http://www.unwatch.org/site/c.bdKKISNqEmG/b.1289203/apps/s/content.asp?ct=11660747

“UN Watch testimony before the UN Human Rights Council, 19th Session,March 5, 2012,Geneva, delivered by executive director Hillel Neuer.

Thank you, Mr. President.

UN Watch welcomes the report on the issue of human rights of victims of terrorism, A/HRC/19/38, which is before us today. We support the exchange of information on efforts made at the international level to protect the rights of victims of terrorism and their families.

Terrorism does not grow in a vacuum. It breeds on a ground of hatred. It thrives in an atmosphere that teaches extremism, and that legitimizes violence against civilians.

This Council is the world’s highest human rights body. As such, it has the unique ability—through its sessions, resolutions and experts—to send the opposite message. It can educate the hearts and minds of millions with the message that the deliberate killing of civilians is wrong—that terrorism is illegal, immoral and a violation of the right to life. It can show sympathy and support for the victims.

And so we ask: how has the Council responded to acts of terrorism? What messages has it sent? Is its current approach helping victims?

Let us consider the record.

Over the past decade, terrorist attacks were perpetrated in New York; in London; in Madrid; in Mumbai; in Iraq; and in Jerusalem. These attacks, and many more, were carried out in the name of an extremist religious ideology. Thousands of innocents were killed.

How many urgent sessions did this Council convene to condemn these atrocities?

Not one.

How many inquiries were created?

Not one.

How many resolutions were adopted in response to these attacks?

Not one.

Instead, when justice was served on Osama Bin Laden, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay questioned this act.

Instead, after staying silent when Hamas and Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets against civilians, this Council convened sessions, inquiries and reports condemning the victim for defending itself.

Instead, this Council appointed an expert, Richard Falk, whom the Palestinian Authority itself has accused of being “a partisan of Hamas.”

Mr. President,

To protect the human rights of victims of terrorism, it is time to adopt a new approach.

Thank you, Mr. President.”

Another glorious example of this UN madness:

U.N.-ADOPTED REPORT ON QADDAFI RIGHTS RECORD CALLED ”ABHORRENT” BY AMNESTY USA CHIEF

http://www.unwatch.org/site/c.bdKKISNqEmG/b.1289203/apps/s/content.asp?ct=11663531

March 14, 2012   A U.N. report ridiculed worldwide for lavishing praise on the Qaddafi regime’s human rights record was unanimously adopted today by the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, with president Laura Dupuy Lasserre overruling the objection made in the plenary by UN Watch.

After it was first exposed by UN Watch last year, the report card giving high marks to Qaddafi was mocked by the New York Times, The Economist and other major media worldwide, causing a red-faced UN to postpone the report’s adoption repeatedly — until today.

Said the Times:

Until Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s violent suppression of unrest in recent weeks, the United Nations Human Rights Council was kind in its judgment of Libya. In January, it produced a draft report on the country that reads like an international roll call of fulsome praise, when not delicately suggesting improvements. Evidently, within the 47-nation council, some pots are loath to call kettles black, at least until events force their hand. Last week Libya was suspended from the body, and the report was shelved.” 

Even ardent defenders of the council are slamming the report. Echoing UN Watch’s recent protest, Suzanne Nosssel, the head of Amnesty USA and former top human rights official in the Obama Administration, described the Libya report as ”abhorrent,” and called for a complete ”redo.”

Testimony delivered before UN Human Rights Council by UN Watch director Hillel Neuer,March 14, 2012.

Thank you, Madam President.

In the 16th session last year we outlined our grave concerns with this report, which records this council’s 2010 review of Libya’s human rights record under the rule of Col. Moammar Qaddafi.

We recall that the report before us includes the following:

•“Pakistan praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s commitment to human rights.”

•“Algeria noted the efforts of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to promote human rights.”

•“The Islamic Republic of Iran noted that the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had implemented a number of international human rights instruments and had cooperated with relevant treaty bodies.”

•“Qatar praised the legal framework for the protection of human rights and freedoms.”

•“Sudan noted the country’s positive experience in achieving a high school enrolment rate and improvements in the education of women.”

•“The Syrian Arab Republic praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its serious commitment to and interaction with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms. It commended the country for its democratic regime.”

•“North Korea praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its achievements in the protection of human rights.”

•“Palestine commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for the consultations held with civil society in the preparation of the national report, which demonstrated its commitment to the improved enjoyment of human rights.Palestinepraised the country for the Great Green Document on Human Rights.”

•“Brazil noted the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s economic and social progress.”

Madam President,

As delegates here know, for years UN Watch brought victims of Libyan torture to testify before this council, including Bulgarian nurse Kristyana Valchyeva, Ashraf al-Hajouj and the brother of Fathi Eljahmi.  Libyan delegates rudely interrupted them, and called them liars.

In May 2010, we pleaded for Libya not to be elected to this council. Tragically, our voice was ignored; it was elected in great numbers. Not a single country spoke in opposition.

Madam President,

The 2010 review that is before us today does not live up to basic standards. It should be completely redone.

For the victims, is that too much to ask?

Thank you, Madam President.”

And more praise of dictators:

Qaddafi Regime’s Human Rights Record Praised in Controversial Report

http://theglobaljournal.net/news/world/qaddafi-regime-s-human-rights-record-praised-in-controversial-report.html

“A controversial report dealing with the extent of Libya’s pre-revolutionary compliance with human rights norms is currently being debated by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Despite unequivocally praising the record of the notoriously repressive Qaddafi regime, which was found by a separate commission of inquiry to be responsible for gross violations of human rights, it is expected the report will be adopted next week by the 47-nation council.

The report forms part of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism – a state-level peer evaluation process – and was originally scheduled for consideration at a session held last March, following a review undertaken in November 2010. At the time, Libya’s human rights record was lauded by Algeria, Sudan, Qatar, Iran, North Korea and Syria, amongst others. The summary of the report “noted with appreciation the country’s commitment to upholding human rights on the ground.”

And more:

Does Obama have Israel’s back or just the UN’s?

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/03/27/does-obama-have-israels-back-or-just-uns/#ixzz1qLgoxHV0

“The Bush administration refused to lend the UN “Human Rights” Council the credibility offered by U.S. membership and withheld taxpayer dollars accordingly.

In 2009 President Obama, signed on, paid the dues, and is currently seeking a second three-year term for the United States on the Council.

The only trouble is, in just six short years the body created in 2006 as a reform of the discredited UN Human Rights Commission, has gone from very bad to even worse.

As of this past Friday, 42% of all the resolutions and decisions critical of the human rights records of specific states ever adopted by the Council have been directed at Israel. The scorecard was 44 resolutions against Israel and 61 resolutions directed at all of the other 192 UN members combined. And Council resolutions never even mention “Hamas.”

The Council has a permanent agenda governing every regular session composed of ten items, one reserved for criticizingIsraeland one for “human rights situations that require the Council’s attention” anywhere else.

192 of 193 UN members meet in five regional groups before the Council’s public sessions to strategize and share information – Israel is the only UN state excluded.

The Council has commissioned thirty reports condemning Israel alone. That’s compared to five specific reports on Syria’s executioners, three on Iran’s genocidal regime, and none on Council members like Saudi Arabia – which tyrannizes its entire female population, or China – which denies more than a billion people elementary freedoms.

The reports damning Israel all follow the same pattern. Israel’s actions to defend itself – combating rocket attacks from Gaza, preventing a Gaza port for Iranian arms, establishing checkpoints to deny terrorists a way in to Israel, targeting the rocket launchers and terrorist masterminds – all become violations of Palestinian rights. Like the infamous Goldstone report,Israelis the villain and Palestinians are the victims from the outset.

The reports aren’t made for dusty library shelves. They are terrorist manifestos and manuals in what can best be described as Anti-Semitism 101. “

“UN demonization is not idle bureaucratese. Last March Palestinian terrorists stabbed and killed members of the Fogel family, three children and their parents, including a 3-month old baby “settler.” But a year later, the only reference to “violence” in this perverse UN “human rights” resolution was trumped-up “violence by Israeli settlers.”

So where was the Obama administration? Its UN Geneva Ambassador Eileen Donahoe ducked out, and a political counselor and a first secretary were sent in to cast and explain America’s vote against the slew of new anti-Israel resolutions

Team Obama decided to use this moment to criticize Israel– “we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity” – and to reinforce the Council’s bona fides by depicting Americans as a member of a like-minded club. “As members of the Human Rights Council, we all share a responsibility to promote and protect human rights.”

Everyone listening understood the code language. President Obama cares more about propping up the credibility of the Council than he does about protecting Israel from UN-driven harm.

In case anyone missed it, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked at a Friday briefing: “the council keeps doing these things that you say are unwise and biased and one-sided. Why are you a member?” Her response: “the Human Rights Council…generally provides a good moral bellwether.”

Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust

This is a good one, a representative of the Assad regime, denounces Israel for, alleged, violations of human rights on the Golan Heights. This is the same regime who had slaughtered around 9000 people at the times, some of them sought refuge on the Israeli side of Golan. 

UN Human Rights Council Exposed

http://www.aim.org/guest-column/un-human-rights-council-exposed/

“On Friday, the HRC will conclude a month long deliberation by submitting four more resolutions condemningIsrael.

The HRC heard testimony from a representative of the Assad regime, in formulating one of the resolutions, which denounces Israel for, alleged, violations of human rights on the Golan Heights.  At the same time, the Assad regime has already murdered 8,000 Syrian dissidents and rebels, causing tens of thousands of refugees, some seeking asylum in Israel’s Golan Heights.

80% of all 2010 UN resolutions criticizing specific countries for human rights violations were directed at Israel. Only six other UN members faced human rights criticism at all, one of which was the United States. The HRC subjected the USA to harsh criticism—by Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Russia—for, supposed, human rights violations. The HRC criticized the elimination of Bin-Laden and Israel’s defense against PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists.”

And

The true face of ‘human rights’ at the UN

http://www.unwatch.org/site/c.bdKKISNqEmG/b.1289203/apps/s/content.asp?ct=11664787

“GENEVA— I have spent the past few days inGenevawith some of the most remarkably brave people one is ever likely to meet. All have suffered horrendously for calling for freedoms in their countries — the kind of freedoms that people elsewhere take for granted.

But none of them were invited to Geneva by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the UN’s most prominent body that is supposed to deal with human rights, which is meeting here in annual session.

This is the organization behind the infamous and now discredited “Goldstone report” on Gaza. This is the organization that in 2009 praised Sri Lanka’s human rights record shortly after that country’s military had killed 40,000 Tamil civilians.

On Monday, I sat in on this year’s UNHRC debate, and listened to the Syrian ambassador — with a straight face and with no gasps of disapproval from other delegates — tell the chamber that it was really Israelis who were behind the ongoing violence in Syria. And I heard delegates from Cuba, Syria, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and elsewhere praise the Iranian government’s human rights record. (In fact, in addition to a litany of other abuses, Iran carried out the highest number of executions of any country in the world last year, for such “crimes” as being homosexual, or being a member of the Baha’i faith — though it is true that some other countries’ delegates did condemn Syria and Iran for other matters.) This week, the HRC also adopted a report heaping praise on the Gaddafi regime’s human rights record.

The human rights ambassadors engaged in this activity while sitting under the newly painted ceiling art of the council chamber — a remarkably unimpressive piece that the UN says cost $23-million — money that the UN might have used to, say, feed starving children in Africa.

In the entrance to the chamber, two pieces of art, from the time before its renovation, remain. On one, the plaque reads “A statue of Maat, ancient goddess of truth and justice”; it was donated by Egypt’s Mubarak regime. On the other, it says “A statue of Nemesis, Goddess of justice, donated by the Syrian government.”

Just down the road from the UN, another human-rights summit took place the following day — one where actual human rights heroes were present. That summit was organized by UN Watch, and a coalition of 20 other human-rights groups, fromTibet toUganda.

Among the speakers were Chinese dissidents Ren Wanding, who during more than 10 years in prison produced a two-volume attack on the Chinese government painstakingly written on toilet paper; and Yang Jianli, who was released from jail in 2007, and who in 2010 was asked by the jailed Liu Xiaobo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on his behalf.

Also speaking were Joo-il Kim and Song Ju Kim, who endured a living hell in North Korea before risking their lives to escape. And Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina, who survived 20 years in prisons in Castro’s Cuba, where he was severely tortured and had his bones broken on many occasions. He was finally released last year and immediately expelled from Cuba. He has now taken refuge in Spain.

Then there was Zimbabwean activist Jestina Mukoko, who was imprisoned and tortured for calling for democracy in her country. And Burmese activist Zoya Phan, a member of the Karen minority, which has undergone virtual genocide in recent decades. In addition, there were other brave democracy campaigners fromVietnam, Tibet, Pakistan and elsewhere.

I chaired the final session, which was on the Middle East. Impassioned speeches were given by Maikel Nabil, a young Egyptian veterinary student released seven weeks ago after enduring 302 days in a Cairo prison. For much of this time, he was held in solidarity confinement in a one-metre square space. In other periods, he was packed into a cell with 50 common criminals who were bribed by the guards to beat him. Maikel’s crime? After President Mubarak’s ousting last year, he dared to ask the Egyptian military to cede power too, and wrote blog posts calling for Egyptian society to treat women, gays and Jews with respect. In jail, Maikel went on a hunger strike for 80 days and almost died. But none of this broke him, and on his release on January 24 he waved a “V for victory” sign to waiting supporters.

Also on the panel was Ebrahim Mehtari who, for daring to oppose Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2009 presidential bid in his nativeIran, was thrown into prison, raped, tortured and left for dead on the side of a road. Ebrahim’s life is still at risk, since he is one of the few who speak out about the widespread use of sexual torture in Iranian prisons.

Finally, there was 20-year-old Hadeel Kouki, who had been studying English literature in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Caught trying to bring medical supplies to children injured in one of her government’s barbaric and indiscriminate bombardments of civilians last year, she was imprisoned for eight weeks. During that time, she was subjected to electric shocks and repeatedly raped by prison guards. She asked me to tell the world the name of the guard she says was her chief rapist: Abdul Hakeem Abdullatif.

Upon her release, Hadeel managed to escape across the border to Turkey. She has now been offered political asylum by a Western country. I won’t name that country since Syrian thugs — who see her as a particular threat because she is a Christian standing up against the regime when Syria’s Christian leadership are still backing Assad — sent her messages only last week, warning that “we will catch up with you wherever you are and throw acid all over your beautiful face”.

American and Canadian embassy staff came to UN Watch’s alternative Geneva human rights summit. But where were the other ambassadors? Does the UN care about human rights? Or does it prefer to be in league with the criminals of the world?”

And some more of this one-sided madness, this time from UNESCO:

UNESCO condemns Syria, keeps it in rights committee

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/03/08/unesco-syria-idINDEE8270FP20120308

“U.N. cultural agency UNESCO condemned Syriaon Thursday for its crackdown on a year-long uprising but did not expel Damascus from its human rights committee as some Western and Arab countries had demanded, diplomatic sources said.

The executive board of the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) elected Syria to two panels in November, including one that assesses human rights violations.

Angered by Syria’s inclusion on the committee, a group of Western and Arab nations had pressed for Syria‘s expulsion following the violence in the country.

But a resolution, seen by Reuters and submitted by Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Britain, Denmark, and other countries, stopped short of expelling Damascus from the key committee.

Washington and campaigners criticised the ommission.

”The United Statesis profoundly disappointed that this resolution does not call for the outright removal ofSyriafrom the Committee on Conventions and Recommendations – something for which we have repeatedly called for,” said Ambassador David Killion, U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, which has been campaigning to getSyriaexpelled from UNESCO, called the decision scandalous.

For UNESCO to keep Assad on a human rights committee while his regime mercilessly murders its own people is simply immoral, indefensible and an insult to Syria’s victims,” he said.

The resolution condemned Damascus for ”the continued widespread and systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities.”

“Ambassadors, including those of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Qatarand Kuwait, had asked in December for Syria’s situation to be discussed at the 58-member UNESCO executive board. Russia last week attempted to block the move and appears to have succeeded in convincing members to water down the resolution.”

I think I stop here. You got the picture.

And the prospect for this UN cease fire with these people in charge.

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

10 april, 2012

Introduction

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.

I have so much material, all from public and open sources, that it is ridiculously big and unwieldy. Therefore, I have to drastically cut it down. Otherwise, it would become a book. The focus is therefore going to be on some countries and international organisations and what they have done or not done in 11 posts.

Part 1- Introduction. Part 2-Repports/Videos/Photos, Part 3- Russia, Part 4- Iran, Part 5- China, Part 6- Turkey, Part 7- Arab league, Part 8- UN, Part 9- EU/NATO, Part 10- US and the Obama administration and Part 11- Paul Conroy

The explanation for the headline you get at the end of this post.

This Syrian uprising started little over a year ago. The movement began in Syria on March 15th of 2011 with spontaneous demonstrations that demanded that the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad reform Syria to 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 around 11 000. 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 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.

EU the other day “strengthened” sanctions, the 13 in a row, banned Assad’s wife from shopping on the Continent. Yea, I bet Syria’s dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad felt threatened to his core!

Some of these people, for over a year now, have assured us that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is about to fall. These assurances from the so-called “experts” are always delivered with great confidence.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But on Syria? NOT A PEEP!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

From Kafrnabel, Idleb

A snapshot from Idlib province

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-syria-idlib-offensive-20120401,0,6769772.story?page=2

“The feeling here is one of desperation — and steadfast defiance”

”They are planning to retake the region piece by piece,” said Abu Hamdo, a member of the Revolution Command Council in Idlib. ”But there is no going back, because if they catch us we are dead, and if we fight them we are dead.”

It is a scenario that is playing out repeatedly here: The army and security forces sweep into village after village, leaving behind bodies and burned homes, and the routed rebels must regroup.

Mazen Arja, an agricultural engineer “We have to organize anew and figure out who was killed and bring people together to begin the liberation of the northern region,” Arja said. “If we’re not patient and fight, we’re all dead anyway.”

When we first went out in protests, we had hope for foreign support, but that hope was dashed. We had hope for buffer areas; that was dashed. We had hope for support for the Free Syrian Army, and that was dashed,” said the militia’s 25-year-old leader, Bilal Khabeet, who like Free Syrian Army members is a military defector. ”A rifle and 120 bullets, that’s all I have. Once they are finished, I am finished.”

Or as Ammar Abdulhamid  a liberal democracy activist said:

“Of April Fools and Useless Tools!

The irony involved in holding an international conference on Syria on April Fools is all too noticeable, and the fact that just on the day before, an Assad official would claim victory simply adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the mix. But the Revolution-cum-Devolution goes on, no amount of irony or wishful thinking will make it go away.”

And

“Whatever the geopolitical calculations of Arab, regional and international leaders may be, ours is still a revolution for freedom, dignity, justice and equality. Is there any power in heaven or earth whose basic interests are commensurate with these aspirations of ours? If so, act now! Or forever be damned.”

Another snapshot from Daraa province:

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=383043

“Sayyed Mahmud, an activist in Daraa reached by Skype, told AFP the situation was extremely tense in Dael.

They burned down 14 houses yesterday. They are arresting people and have sent in troop reinforcements,” he said.

As part of the regime’s campaign to starve the people, troops are raiding homes, destroying food stocks and equipment,” he added. ”For example, if they see a sowing machine, they destroy it.

They go into bakeries and destroy the dough. There are 15-hour power cuts a day.”

You REALLY get “impressed” by these “brave soldiers” who “attacks” and destroy dough and sowing machines. Not to mention killing unarmed civilians.

That is really a “worthy” adversary for a real soldier.

And the endless deception and chicanery, round 27, of the Assad regime continues. Making a mockery of all so called “peace” deals. In addition, the world let him get away with it again and again.  Without doing ANYTHING except generate “new peace” plans.

With all the usual strong and optimistic words and platitudes. Or as one Syrian said:

“As Obama and Erdogan talk, Assad kills”

You can put whatever country and organisation there instead, it doesn’t change anything.

Assad’s Vision for Reform

Here is the latest:

Damascus sees no deadline to withdraw troops

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=383883

“The Syrian regime is not bound by a deadline to withdraw its troops from strife-torn areas, pro-government daily Al-Watan on Thursday quoted a government official as saying.

There is no set date or deadline,” the unnamed official said.

”April 10 is the date set for the beginning, not the end, of the withdrawal of troops and it does not constitute a deadline.”

Before that:

Syria says army will not be first to lay down arms, rejecting appeal by UN chief

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syrian-official-says-army-will-not-make-1st-move-withdraw-troops-from-flashpoint-areas/2012/03/31/gIQAJhcpmS_story.html

Syria rejected international envoy Kofi Annan’s call for the regime to halt violence first just days after the government agreed to a cease-fire plan. A senior official declared victory over the opposition.

It was the government’s first response to an appeal by Annan, the U.N.-Arab League envoy, to stop military operations first as “the stronger party” in a “gesture of good faith” to the lightly armed opposition. Annan brokered the agreement aimed at stopping the bloodshed and Assad agreed to it on Monday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdessi said the government will not pull tanks and troops from towns and cities engulfed by unrest before life returns to normal there.

“The battle to bring down the state in Syria has already ended and the battle of reinforcing stability has started,” Makdessi said in an apparent reference to a string of recent regime offensives that drove rebels from key strongholds. He spoke on state TV late Friday.”

An to rely prove this point :

“Certain he is safe from Western-Arab intervention, Bashar Assad Sunday unleashed an across-the board air and ground offensive against the last surviving rebel locations. 

Starting Sunday noon, April 8, 30 towns and villages were hit simultaneously. For the first time since the outbreak of revolt thirteen months ago, heavy long-range artillery and air force helicopters pounded the rebel positions remaining in the northern mountains of Idlib near the Turkish border. The scale of the onslaught was such that it is hard to come by casualty figures, but they certainly run into hundreds.

As he lifts all restraints, the Syrian ruler is also certain he is backed to the hilt byTehranandMoscow.”

And today, April 9 Assad’s forces attacked a Syrian refuge camp in Turkey.

Turkey: Three wounded as Syrian forces fire over border

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-three-wounded-as-syrian-forces-fire-over-border.aspx?pageID=238&nID=17975&NewsCatID=341

”A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, saidTurkeyimmediately protested the incident to the Syrian charge d’affaires and asked that the fire be halted, the Associated Press reported.

Two refugees and one Turkish citizen, a translator, were wounded inside the camp near the town of Kilisin the southwestern Gaziantep province, he said.”

Yeap, that’s REALLY showing respect for the “ceasefire” and UN “peace plan”. And the “world” will let Assad get away with again, and again.

Waiting for Syria’s regime to Change

And another snapshot from Kastanaz:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/06/us-turkey-syria-refugees-idUSBRE8341DC20120406

The army is destroying buildings and bombing them till they turn to charcoal,” said Mohammed Khatib, a refugee who said he came from Kastanaz, a Syrian town of 20,000 people.

”The army wants people to move out of their houses. If the residents refuse, they destroy them with the people inside.”

For the past three days there have been bodies lying in the streets. Around 200 have been killed. The town is now abandoned.”

I could go on an on to give one witness after another of atrocities and planed destruction.

Another from Sarmin:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9177910/Syria-eyewitness-dispatch-I-watched-as-Assads-tanks-rolled-in-to-destroy-a-rebel-town.html

“Using information stored on laptops, army intelligence officers detain all manner of people. Bad-mouthing the regime? Arrested. Seen at a protest? Arrested. Got an internet connection? Arrested. The list goes on.

”The shabiha (pro-government militia) came to my house and took my children,” said Fatoum Haj Housin, a resident of the town Sarmin, five miles north-west of Saraqeb, which had been attacked a few days earlier.

They took all three of them. They were young men in the army but they defected in January. The militia shot them in the head and burned their bodies in front of me in our courtyard. In the name of God, bring me a Kalashnikov and I will kill Assad myself!

There was still scorching and ash in front of her house – and much evidence elsewhere in Sarmin of destruction by ground forces. The field hospital had been torched, walls and houses sprayed with AK47 fire and the mosque smashed by three shells.

When the tanks leave the city centres and the ground forces come in, this is what happens – with nobody from the outside to see.

Yet for every person killed the rebels’ resolve seems to grow day by day.

”We can never go back now,” said Feras Mulheen, a student from Saraqeb who had just seen his house destroyed by the tanks. ”There’s nothing to go back to. We either win or we die trying. There’s nothing in between.”

The situation for the FSA (Free Syrian Army):

http://syrianfreedomls.tumblr.com/post/20479724510/free-syrian-army-has-the-worlds-support-but-no

“We are getting money mainly from individuals, from Syrians living abroad. We hear a lot of promises from the international community, but nobody will support us,” said Mohammed.

His unit has 50 men and two satellite phones in a country where mobile telephone networks are down, security forces tap landlines, and the Internet is dysfunctional.

As for the guns, Mohammed said, his unit has just light weapons, not enough to confront the Syrian army.

“The air force attacks us and we do not have artillery to fight back,” said the commander.

He said there are a lot of soldiers in the regular army who are too afraid to defect, but help the FSA from the inside.

Our unit exchanged a carton of cigarettes for 200 bullets; we get gasoline from a soldier who steals it from the tanks in the bases,” he said.

Other local commanders described their constant hustle to-and-fro across the Syrian-Turkish border to secure money for their supplies.

“We have enough men. The defectors’ numbers have increased. But they do not have weapons. If they have a gun, they do not have ammunition,” he said while busily working on his laptop.

Communications technologies are a precious commodity. Asked about internal FSA communications, Abu Muhammed, commander of a unit in the Idlib countryside, replied with sadness and irony, We use pigeons.”

“There’s not a lot of direct communication between the ground and the leadership,” he said, explaining how his men do not take specific daily orders from the officers sitting in the Turkish camps, like Col. Riad al Asaad, nominal head of the FSA.

“With the means we have, this is only self-defense,” he admitted.

See also (excerpts):

Undergunned and Overwhelmed

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/30/syria_undergunned_and_overwhelmed

“It’s a view widely shared by defectors, arms dealers, and refugees alike here along the Turkish-Syrian border. For months, Assad’s opponents have been buying black-market weapons from the countries bordering their volatile state — from Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan — as well as from within Syria, primarily from members of the corrupt regime or military sympathizers who remain embedded with loyalists. But it’s getting harder. Money doesn’t seem to be the main problem. Securing supplies is.

Nor have Assad’s staunchest enemies — the Arab Gulf kingdoms — opened their armories to the rebels. In late February, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal raised the FSA’s hopes when he said that arming Assad’s opponents was ”an excellent idea.” Yet, more than a month later, Saudi supplies have not made their way to the front, according to the FSA leadership as well as numerous rebel commanders inside Syria.

Still, the ire and resentment of many activists and fighters on the ground is directed primarily toward the so-called leaders of the opposition, all of whom are in exile. The depth of anger was perhaps best expressed in a short video in which a small group of men in civilian garb stand in two neat rows in front of an olive tree, scarves concealing their identities. The clip is not unlike countless others purporting to show members of the FSA, except that none of the nine men featured in it holds any weapons. Some carry lemons instead of grenades; others hold sticks as if they were rifles. One wields a hammer.

”In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate … We, the free men of Idlib, announce the formation of the ‘We Hope to Be Armed’ brigade,” the speaker says. ”We do not have any weapons. We ask the National Council and the commander of the Free Army to fulfill their lying promises and to stop serenading the revolutionaries on the ground without sending weapons, because your serenades are killing us.”

Col. Ahmad Hijazi, the FSA’s chief of staff, says he can understand the resentment. ”I don’t blame them,” he says. ”The people are angry and they are taking out their frustrations on us. But what can we do? They are asking us for more than what we can do. Governments must support the Free Army.”

In the absence of such aid, Syria‘s military defectors just wait. The camp housing the FSA officers looks just like the others Turkey has established for the thousands of civilians who have fled across its border — rows of white tents are neatly pitched along lanes of uneven loose white gravel. But unlike most of the others, the officers’ camp is isolated from nearby towns and villages. It’s in the middle of a lush agricultural plain in Apaydin, about 12 miles from Antakya, where verdant fields abut plowed, upturned earth, and snow-capped hills rim the horizon.

The FSA may claim to be operating a ”command and control center” for the anti-Assad military effort from the camp, but it’s unclear whether they can control much of anything from a base with regular power cuts. Its critics, like the ”We Hope to Be Armed Brigade,” say it has offered little to the men fighting and dying inside Syria in its name. How do the FSA’s commanders account for their seeming lack of impact on the ground?

Hijazi shifts uncomfortably in his plastic chair inside one of the many identical tents in the officers’ camp. He doesn’t like the question. Nor does his fellow officer, Major Maher Nuami, who is seated on a single bed (the only one) in the tent. ”It’s sensitive,” Hijazi finally says. They won’t say if the FSA has sent emissaries to Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Libya — which recently pledged $100 million to the Syrian opposition — but insist that they have received no help on the ground from these states.

If the international community doesn’t arm them and provide logistical support, ”everything” the world fears from the fall of Assad will come to pass, Nuami argues.

”The people will get weapons, one way or another, so help us,” Nuami continues. ”If you give us weapons, we can control them. We want the fall of the regime, not the fall of the state. If the international community helps us, we’ll help them. If it doesn’t, our people offer no guarantees.”

According to the FSA officers, the claims of foreign fighters in Syria — eagerly touted by the Assad regime — are wildly overblown. A lone Libyan had reportedly volunteered to fight with their FSA unit recently, but left after a few days. ”He said, ‘You guys are crazy, this is suicide, you don’t have weapons’,” Mokbat said. ”He was right. I wish the revolution would go back, it was better before. We used to shoot into the air, we didn’t worry about ammunition. Now we think twice about using each bullet.”

Although Turkey houses the FSA, it ”does not allow any weapon to be transferred to Syria in [an] illegal way,” a Turkish government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. Anyone caught trying will be arrested and the weapons confiscated, he added.

That’s exactly what many Syrian refugees, defectors and civilian revolutionaries accuse the high-level defectors in the camp of doing — just sitting there. In the absence of an organized military effort, the burden of securing weapons and funding has fallen to lower-level officers like Alaa, as well as ordinary Syrians like Abdel-Salim, a taxi driver turned thuwar who commands the ”Free Syrians,” a ragtag bunch of farmers, taxi drivers and other civilians from a string of villages abutting the Turkish border. Abdel-Salim, a 40-year-old with a bushy salt-and-pepper beard and high cheekbones, had crossed the border into southernTurkey to try and secure supplies for his group: 3,000 bullets, to be precise.

The ”Free Syrians” are under the FSA banner, he explains, and are in regular communication with its leadership via a few defectors in his group. ”We ask the defectors to go to the officers’ camp to ask for help but we haven’t got anything from the Free Army yet,” Abdel-Salim says. ”But to be fair, I don’t think the Free Army has anything itself.” 

Abdel-Salim recalls that he participated in peaceful protests for months, and only picked up a weapon four months ago, when he ”lost hope” in protests. He was shot about a month before that, in his stomach and his right leg, and spent 10 days recuperating in a Turkish hospital. He walks with a limp, but that didn’t deter him from crossing back into Syria to fight Assad’s army. ”I didn’t want to pick up a weapon,” he says, ”but I think Israel is more honorable than the Syrian regime.”

The longer Abdel-Salim speaks, the angrier he gets. ”Where is the money the Syrian opposition got from the Libyans?” he seethes. ”We haven’t seen any of the [Syrian] National Council members down here. … What is Riad al-Assad doing in Turkey anyway? Army commander? He should cross the border, lift people’s morale. What is he scared of — dying?”

             The Assad System – to kill more

Another from defected soldiers:

Defectors: Torture of children, rape by #Syrian army ‘routine’ !

http://syrianfreedomls.tumblr.com/post/20372447508/defectors-torture-of-children-rape-by-syrian-army

In addition to shooting unarmed civilians, Syrian military personnel routinely have raped women and girls, tortured children and encouraged troops to loot the houses they storm, former foot soldiers say.

“What I have seen with my own eyes, it was indescribable,” said Rolat Azad, 21, who said he’d served as a master sergeant in Idlib province in the northeast of Syria. There, he commanded 10 men who’d break into houses seeking to arrest men whose names they’d been given by the country’s intelligence agencies. “They gave us orders: ‘You are free to do what you like,’ ” he recalled.

Starting last July, he said, his unit arrested and tortured five to 10 people daily. “We had a torture room on our base,” he said. “There was physical torture — beatings — and psychological tortures,” said Azad, a Syrian Kurd who deserted and fled in March to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. “They also brought women and girls through. They put them in the closed room and called soldiers to rape them.”

The women often were killed, he said.

Azad — as with other former soldiers here, the name is a pseudonym assumed to protect his family, still in Syria — was interviewed at a camp that Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government set up for Syrian army deserters. He recalled the torture of two young teenage boys. He said they’d been arrested either for shooting videos of the military or showing disrespect for the military and the regime, something that wasn’t uncommon, even among children. “I once asked a small kid why he wasn’t going to school,” Azad said. “He said, ‘We won’t until this regime is gone.’ “

One boy, about 13, was brought into the torture room and given electrical shocks, Azad said. Another, 14, was brought into the room in late February. His screams could be heard in the camp outside the town of Jisr al Shughour. “It was painful for all the soldiers,” he said. Azad said he had no idea of the boy’s fate. “They held him one or two days. Either they killed him or sent him to military security,” he said.

Even worse, he said, was hearing the wailing and screaming of old men being tortured: “When they tortured old men, I couldn’t stand it. I went outside. Others closed their eyes. I could not stay.”

An independent U.N. commission of inquiry has described the Syrian government’s offensive against civilians as possible “crimes against humanity.” The commission, which reports to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, detailed arbitrary arrests, disappearances and torture, including the torture of children, in its latest report, issued in February, but it didn’t detail the practice of rape. Commission officials said they had yet to talk with a rape victim.

He was assigned to a military construction unit but was ordered to the scenes of demonstrations, where troops would shoot at civilians.

“It was an ugly scene. We were at the top of a building and would shoot at civilians: children, women, men, anyone against the regime.” He said the Syrian intelligence agencies stationed personnel to make sure they shot civilians. “They were watching anyone not shooting and taking down names,” he said.

Several soldiers said Kurdish and Sunni Muslim troops tried wherever possible to fire over people’s heads, but Alawites — members of the sect related to Shiite Islam that President Bashar Assad belongs to — boasted about how many demonstrators they’d killed.

“We had an order to shoot and kill,” said Khaled Derecki, 20. “But some of those demonstrating were my friends, and we fired over their heads. “But the Alawites in my unit were very proud. They’d say: ‘Today, we killed seven or eight.’ “

240mm mortar bombs

One of the weapons used by the Assad’s regime in “attacking” and destroying cities and neighbourhoods is the Russian SM-240 (2S4) 240-mm self-propelled mortar known to the West as the M-1975.

This systems fire the world’s largest high explosive mortar bomb (240mm F-864), designed to “demolish fortifications and fieldworks” according to a Russian arms merchandizing catalogue.

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.

Other munitions used by Assad’s regime on the “attack”  is Russian 122mm howitzers and 120mm mortars and 121-mm and 81-mm shells.

You REALLY get “impressed” by these “brave soldiers” who attacks civilian cities and destroy whole blocks and neighbourhoods by using among other things 240mm mortar bombs. Designed to “demolish fortifications and fieldworks”

That is really a “worthy” adversary for a real soldier – killing unarmed civilians in their homes.

This is a photo of the 240mm mortar bomb. I cut it from a Russian instructional video.

So who are these “brave” men slaughtering unarmed civilians?

The main force is Assad’s loyal shabiha, a militia of an estimated 35,000 Alawites who have pledged loyalty to Assad and are his regime’s key prop.

The Syrian opposition refers to this ragtag band of Assad loyalists as jaysh abu shahhata— or the “army of the sandals,” referring to its shoddy equipment and lack of discipline.

Another one is the infamous Fourth Armored Division, under the control of the president’s brother, Maher. The Syrian 14th Infantry Division and the 40th and 90th mechanized brigades has also taken part.

In addition, they are not very “professional” or good at their work, except of course to destroy cities and kill civilians.

For example when the 4th Armored Division were sent (February 28) to the Baba Amr district of Homs, after Syrian forces failed in their three-week long offensive (including intensive shelling) to enter the city. It wasn’t until the army shut off the  last supply line that it was able to enter Baba Amr—spearheaded by nearly 7000 soldiers from the 4th Armored Division, which is roughly the entire unit.

The resistance there was carried by one of the most professional Syrian rebel group, The Al Farouk Brigades, which kept the Syrian military at bay for nearly a month although they have no ties with the FSA and number no more than 300 to 400 fighters. The rebel movement has some 40 small “brigades”, mixed freelancers who fight at random here and there but demonstrate little operational ability.

And what did this “glorious elite” Armored Division do after the capture?

Well one of the first thing it did was to behead 17 civilians.

A “normal routine” for any professional soldier wouldn’t you say?

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/michaelweiss/100140744/assads-security-forces-have-beheaded-17-civilians-in-baba-amr/

”Assad’s security forces have just beheaded – yes, beheaded – 17 civilians in Baba Amr, according to the human rights group Avaaz. I have been speaking to Will Davies, Avaaz’s media campaigner, who confirmed with me that he is ”100 per cent” sure that this story is true as it’s been corroborated by independent sources. In fact, he provided a list of all the victims:

1. Abdul-Haleem Sabouh 2. Abdul-Naser Sabouh 3. Abdul-Hameed Sabouh
4. Abdul-Rahman Sabouh 5. Abdul-Baset Sabouh 6. Amer son of Omer Sabouh
7. Abdul-Moueen Daboul 8. Abdul-Salam Kujuk 9. Barri al-Akidy
10. Ez al-Deen al-Akidy 11. Ahmad al-Akidy 12. Abdul-Rahman Jneed
13. Abdul-Kafi Juneed 14. Radwan Bitar 15. Mahmoud al-Zoubi
16. Mahmoud al-louz 17. Alaa al-Ali”

But for the most part, most of the army stays out of this. They have “defected in place”

From division level down to battalions and brigades level. Entire units from commander down defy orders from the General Staff in Damascus to fight the rebels without crossing the lines to the opposition. To keep the spreading passive mutiny, Assad keeps the defiant units supplied in their barracks with funds and food.

Another example of this passive mutiny by the Syrian army, was when the five Syrian divisions stationed on Syria’s Golan border with Israel and its frontier with South Lebanon; were told by their commanders in beginning of March to ignore orders from Damascus to join the crackdown on rebels because their mission was “to defend the Syrian homeland from external threats” – another form of “defection in place.”

In other words, we are so “busy” protecting the borders so we don’t want to and don’t have time for this kind of “nonsense”.

For the most part, the Syrian army is a declining, anachronistic force, whose high officers is afraid of the leader, and watch each other’s backs. The problems with corruption, nepotism, poorly organized technical and maintenance support etc. This keeps much of the army paralyzed.

Some Special Forces and armored units are exceptions, but promotion is highly dependent on favoritism and nepotism.

That is why – contrary to what the West believes – Assad is not using his army to crack down on the uprising but the loyal Alawite Shabiha brigades and battalions.

Many artists, writers etc have taken part in the protests and uprising. To name some:

Samar Yazbeck, Ibrahim Qashoush, Rasha Omran, Ali Farzat, Mai Skaf, Khaled Khalifa, Samih Shqair, Fadwa Sulaiman —there’s an impressive list of Syrian writers, musicians and artists who have bravely and unambiguously supported the people’s aspirations for dignity.

As the Alawi actress Fadwa Sulaiman, on November 8, 2011,  leading the crowd in besieged and blood-soaked Homsin chants of “No Muslim Brotherhood, No Salafis, We All Want Freedom.” And “One, One, the Syrian People are One.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZT1PdiQVNI&feature=player_embedded

A video statement she made on November 10, 2011, excerpts :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlQlLxh5rEE&feature=player_embedded

“Districts are being raided since last night, searching for me. People are being beaten to reveal my hiding place. In case I get arrested by the security or army forces, who might force me to appear on Al-Dunia channel to make me to admit that I am part of the conspiracy against Syria the way they did with the honorable Sheik Al-Sayasneh and the brave officier Hussein Harmoush. If they hurt me or any members of my family in any way, then I hold the government and its security apparatus and thugs fully responsible.”

“I urge the great Syrian people to continue their peaceful struggle until they topple the regime and achieve the democratic civic state that all Syrians dream of. And I invite you to unite and stand together to overthrow the regime which lost its legitimacy the moment the constitution was changed to accommodate the appointment of Bashar Al-Assad as president ofSyria, for no reason other than being the son of the late president.

I urge you to come out to the streets and squares today and every day to declare civil disobedience and hunger strike until the withdrawal of the security and military forces from the streets and the release of all the political and opinion prisoners which are currently in the oppressive jails and to spare the blood of all Syrians.

I urge all the Syrians around the world, and all people to support us and stand in front of our embassies around the world declaring hunger strike to express the right of people to express their opinion about their regimes without being killed by these regimes.”

“Baba Amr is living a real humanitarian disaster. Stand by Baba Amr, because no district or road in Syria is exempt from a fate similar to that of Bab Amr, as long as the Arab league is providing the regime with one extension after another so that it continues repressing the Syrian people, and depriving them from their freedom, dignity and life, and peace be upon Syria and its people.”

And journalist, writer and screenwriter Samar Yazbek speaks up on Syria in an Italian magazine, April 24, 2011

http://www.rayaagency.org/2011/04/samar-yazbek-speaks-up-on-syria-in-an-italian-magazine/

“I’m not optimistic, to the contrary. In recent weeks people have finally broken the silence and fear, I myself have participated in the demonstrations”, she says. “We have found the courage to ask for freedom and democracy, an end to emergency laws that oppress us since 1963. We demand real political parties and elections, the right to express ourselves. But the repression is very hard, with many deaths and arrests. As always, the regime makes promises, but does not maintain them. The army and security forces control everything.”

“The regime has indeed destroyed the Alawite religion, a peaceful religion, as it engaged in things foreign to the faith, leading some to become its Alawite thugs. But many of us are opponents, in jail, in exile, or banned from travel. The regime is playing with sectarianism to terrify “its” minority and get support. A game that will end, but first, I fear, there will be clashes between the communities. ”

In Syria, Holding a Camera is a Death Sentence

Most of the documentation, videos, photos etc from the Assad’s regimes slaughter of it’s own people has been documented by very brave civilians who risk their life every time they try to document and record what is happening. Many has paid with their life for this “crime”

Here is an interview with the founder of the of Syria’s Dier Press Network. How a group of doctors became the vanguard of Eastern Syria’s free press.

http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/3584/danny_thiemann_holding_a_camer/#.T2hKD2-TG5U.twitter

“In the town of Dierez-Zour on the road from Syria to Iraq, a doctor, who we’ll call Kareem, put down his medicine bottles. It wasMarch 15, 2011. The media blackout in Syria had just begun. Kareem had no experience as a journalist. But when he turned on the TV and saw the blackout, he picked up the phone. On the other end is his cousin, who we’ll call Ahmed, a young law student in theUK.

When Syria’s crackdown on protests began to intensify, Ahmed and Kareem made a commitment to respond. On March 21, they formed a network of smugglers, cameramen, and tech support that has become known as the Dier Press Network (DPN.), Syria’s first citizen-journalist media company.

One year later, Ahmed and Kareem reflect on the small company that has grown into a satellite TV network, the colleagues they’ve lost, and the future of the Syrian free press. Their names have been changed to protect their families.”

”Guernica: How did you start?

Ahmed: Kareem gave me a call one day. The government started using live ammunition on protesters, beating them up, and if you were caught you risked torture. You could hear the metal clang of tanks outside the classroom windows, the drone of airplanes above the teacher’s voice, the plodding of artillery, like footsteps of a faraway giant. I had already left the country about a year ago. But he was seeing all these things with his own eyes and he wanted to show the world what he saw.

Kareem: Most news was on the Western side ofSyria, but the East was rebelling and no one knew about it. I wanted to do something, but I was really starting from zero. It was a process of trial and error at the beginning.

Guernica: How did you build a citizen-journalist network? How would others do so?

Kareem: First thing was to start a Facebook page. The problem with this, we found out, was that Facebook was heavily monitored by the government. But still, we felt the most prominent way to spread the news during the media blackout was through Facebook.”

“Guernica: What is DPN exactly?

Ahmed: It stands for Dier ez-Zour Press Network. Dier ez-Zour is our province in Syria. DPN. is a non-partisan, non-sectarian news group. We rely on a mix of volunteers within and without the company. It is a sort of crowd-sourced journalism that relies on ordinary citizens.

Guernica: What are the next steps in expanding this kind of media network?

Ahmed: You need a lot of public support. We had it. But after the media blackout worsened, we depended less and less on trusted friends and more and more on anonymous volunteers. Basically, we went from one cameraman and Kareem to hundreds cameramen and hundreds of Kareems [smugglers]. The problem was that when the army entered towns like Dier ez-Zour, filming any citizens getting killed was very dangerous, and yet DPN. was carrying all of these videos. Carrying a camera was a death sentence.”

Some recent headlines from local media:

Al-Arabiya: Saturday’s death toll in Syriareaches 133 people (April 7)

Turkeysays 2,800 fleeSyria in one day (April 5)

More than 1,000 Syrian refugees flee toTurkey in single day (April 4)

Al-Jazeera: Wednesday’s death toll in Syriarises to 92 (April 4)

Al-Arabiya: Sunday’s death toll in Syriarises to 57 people (April 1)

Al-Jazeera: Syrian forces kill 50 people on Saturday, activists say (March 24)

Al-Jazeera: Syria’s Thursday death toll rises to 81, activists say (March 22)

Wednesday’s death toll in Syriarises to 70, Local Coordination Committees say (March 21)

Al-Arabiya: Syrian forces kill 55 people on Tuesday (March 20)

Monday March 19, 2012

Death toll: 52, including 6 inDeraaProvince, and 6 inDeirEzzorProvince. Explosions were heard in Arbeen and Harasta inEastern Ghoutah region ofDamascus, as well as in Qaboun District inDamascusCity itself. The pounding of Old Homs continues, as locals find 6 bodies belonging to local women killed by pro-Assad death squads.

Al-Arabiya: Friday’s death toll in Syriarises to 41 (March 16)

Al-Jazeera: Thursday’s death toll in Syriarises to 72 (March 15)

Syria planting border mines to stop refugee flight,Turkey says (March 15)

One thousand Syrians flee toTurkey in single day, official says (March 15)

More than 9,000 killed inSyria violence, monitors say (March 15)

Syria– one year after the revolution: 10,000 confirmed dead.20,000 missing / 120,000 detained / 230,000 internally displaced / 150,000 refugees(Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Gulf, Europe) / 1,400,000 at risk of famine(according to FAO).

Wednesday March 15, 2012

Tuesday: Forty people were executed by pro-Assad death squads near Bilal Mosque inIdlibCity. But ten loyalist troops were killed in an ambush in the city of Ma’aratAl-Nouman. In Homs City, the pounding of Jub Al-Jandali Neighborhood continued,leading to the death of at least 5 residents. In nearby Talbisseh, poundingleft 14 locals wounded. In the town ofDa’el,DeraaProvince, 12loyalists were killed in an ambush by local FSA units.

Wednesday: 85 people were killed mostly inIdlib City as pro-Assad death squads took controlover the city. The death toll also includes 6 who died under torture in HamaCity (3) and AleppoCity (3), 6 killed inDamascus and suburbs, and 11 who werekilled in a renewed incursion intoDeraaCity.

Thursday: 91 people were killed including at least 23 who were executed by pro-Assad death squadsinIdlib City. Death toll also includes 5 children and 4 defectors.

Al-Jazeera: Syrian security forces kill 76, activists say (March 14)

And by the way, the headline Vladimir Putin ‘The Butcher of Homswas given by the people on the streets in Homs and Babr Amr.  That’s as he so “fondly” known on the streets of Babr Amr.

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