Syrian crisis moves into the camps: 20 Palestinians killed in Damascus refugee camp

Unverified video depicting aftermath of shelling in Yarmouk refugee camp on August 2, 2012.

The Palestinian camps in Syria have again been engulfed by the crisis in the country as 20 refugees were killed August 2nd in a Damascus United Nations-run camp. While international news agencies and the UN have not named the al-Assad regime as responsible for the Palestinians’ deaths, a spokesman for Yarmouk camp and citizen journalist, Ramy al-Asheq, confirmed that the al-Assad regime and pro-government militias were behind the two fatal blasts that targeted civilians at a mini-market in an outdoor souq. Al-Asheq said:

The regime is responsible. They have bombed al-Ja’una Street. The first one killed five people and when others went to gather the bodies and help the injured they launched another bomb and made the number 20. We have identified 14 of them [the deceased] and six are still unknown.

The United Nations Refugee Works Association (UNRWA) announced on August 3rd that they could not confirm the number.

Al-Asheq works with a street team throughout the camp that witnessed the fighting. Their compiled timeline begins on Friday, July 27 when 10 tanks entered Yarmouk, supported by 15 buses filled with pro-regime militiamen, called shabeeha, or “thugs”. Six of the buses were packed with around 50 armed al-Assad loyalists and the remaining nine held about half as many. On July 28 the militias then accompanied the military in door-to-door raids searching for “armed men.” When camp residents refused to let the gunmen search, al-Asheq said, “The thugs (shabeeha) went with the army and searched homes and fired at civilians and of course the snipers were on top of the buildings.” He added, “[I]n some cases they stole stuff from some houses and forced open doors that were closed. At the same time there were three tanks and four buses at Falesteen hospital on Yarmouk Street.” Al-Asheq said the searches continued until August 3.

Unverified video taken August 2, 2012 in Yarmouk camp in the aftermath of military shelling.

Meanwhile on Friday, July 27, Ma’an News Agency reported pro-regime forces shelled the hospital, the camp’s last functional medial facility, overtaking it the following day. The atmosphere has remained tense for days, culminating August 2nd on Thalatheen Street when one of al-Assad’s tanks fired two shells. Despite accounts like al-Asheq’s, news agencies covering the clashes in the Palestinian camp have yet to attribute which party killed the refugees. The Associated Press reported the deaths came from, “mortars [that] hit as shoppers were buying food for the evening meal.” Their coverage continued by quoting accounts from both the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a Syrian state outlet:

We don’t know where the mortars came from, whether they were from the Syrian regime or not the Syrian regime,” said Rami Abdul Rahman, director of the Observatory. He added they could also have been strays from the fighting in nearby Tadamon.

The state news agency blamed the bombardment on ‘terrorist mercenaries’ — a term the government uses for rebel fighters — and said they had been chased away by security forces.

Prior to the recent casualties, the Syrian crisis had already entangled Palestinian refugees. As of last week, the Observatory reported 150 Palestinians were killed since fighting began over a year ago, with al-Asheq citing the number closer to 200. The UN also reported some refugees have fled. In one camp alone near Dara’a over 10,000, two-thirds of the camp’s population, have abandoned their homes.

yarmouk 3
Citizen journalists photograph of a Palestinian killed on July 21, 2012, Yarmouk refugee camp, Syria. (Photo: AP)

Fighting reached Damascus less than one month ago, but the Palestinian leadership has maintained its neutral stance. Yet on July 21 and 22, the clashes spread into Yarmouk. Citizen journalists captured images of the dead, but like this week’s violence, the origin of hostilities are not confirmed by any major news agency. In part, this is because the lines are not clearly drawn. Al-Asheq even indicated one of the Palestinian political parties, the PFLP-General Command (GC) (no relation to the PFLP) is aiding the pro-regime forces. On August 4 their office was shelled, although Ma’an reported the fire came from the Syrian military. That same day the Damascus director of the PLO, Anwar Abdul-Hadi, condemned the PFLF-GC for endangering the refugees after allegedly distributing weapons. “We reject this completely because our protection is the responsibility of the state of Syria, and we are only guests there,” said Abdul-Hadi.

Last year the PFLP-GC was also embroiled in scandal after the party leadership killed 11 Palestinians protesting the party’s failure to protect them from Israeli fire, during an al-Naqsa (the anniversary for the 1967 War) march to the border with Israel.

Al-Asheq believes a place like Yarmouk is not covered accurately because it does not fit the mold of sectarian violence. He said, “[T]he fight to politicize the revolution is huge. Some people and sides do not want the revolution to appear a peoples’ movement.”

As well, there is a history of Palestinian refugees targeted by governments, sometimes massacred and sometimes expelled. Like Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s, Kuwait in the 1990s, Iraq in the 2000s, the stability Palestinians once experienced in Syria is gone. A notable battle in the camps took place in 1976 during Lebanon’s 20-year civil war when thousands were massacred in Tal el-Zataar, a Palestinian camp that was home to PLO resistance fighters. It was raided by a coalition of Phalangists and Lebanese nationalists, supported by Syrian forces directed by Hafez al-Assad, father to Bashar al-Assad. Ultimately after the PLO lost to the Christian-right, the camp was demolished.  Although the circumstances in Lebanon differ from today’s in Syria, where Palestinians have largely remained neutral, they still find themselves in a precarious situation that comes with residing in a country erupting in violence.

In Syria, life is tenuous because Palestinian refugees experience relative privileges. They can attend school and seek employment. And although Yarmouk is overcrowded with a population of 150,000 housed in cinder block buildings, the camp functions more like a neighborhood of Damascus than an island of people languishing. In part this is due to its proximity to the city center, but also because Palestinian refugees are integrated into the Syrian system almost as if they were citizens. UNRWA explains:

Many of the refugees in Yarmouk are professional, working as doctors, engineers and civil servants. Others are employed as casual labourers and street vendors. Overall, living conditions in Yarmouk are far better than those of the other Palestine refugee camps in Syria.

Yet the elevated status for those in Yarmouk does not shield them from the vulnerabilities that all Palestinians refugees face when host countries crumble. And after this most recent attack, the Syrian government has clearly shown Palestinians will not be spared.

It is worth mentioning that verifying any information in Syria is difficult, if not impossible. Even the frequently-cited Syrian Observatory has been subject to criticism. It should be acknowledged that there is no independent way to verify the first-hand account presented in this article as the battle over narratives rages on.

About Allison Deger and Tareq Alsamman

Allison Deger is an Assistant Editor for Mondoweiss and Tareq Alsamman is a researcher at Stanford University, graphic designer, and political activist with the opposition group Building the Syrian State.
Posted in Arab Spring, Israel/Palestine, Middle East, syria

{ 108 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. bangpound says:

    According to the Irish Times, the population of Yarmouk is “a million” but only 144,000 are registered Palestine refugees. How could the regime target Palestinians by shelling a camp where maybe 15% of the residents are Palestinians?

    • How could the regime target Palestinians by shelling a camp where maybe 15% of the residents are Palestinians?

      good question bangpound. more from link to maannews.net

      Commenting on the recent attacks on the Yarmouk refugee camp, he said that the situation is problematic because the majority of residents in the outskirts of the camp are Syrians.

      “It is called a refugee camp, but its population is more than 1.25 million the majority of whom are Syrians living in the outskirts,” he said. Hot areas, he explained, are being shelled, and because there are both Palestinian and Syrian homes in the same neighborhoods, Palestinians fall victims.

      For example, al-Khalidi Deraa refugee camp is in the middle of two hot areas. On one side, there is a refugee camp for Syrian immigrants and on the other there is the al-Sadd neighborhood, which is engaged.

      i think under these circumstances to assume assad is ‘targeting’ palestinians is presumptuous, although i wouldn’t discount it altogether either.

      a spokesman for Yarmouk camp and citizen journalist, Ramy al-Asheq, confirmed that the al-Assad regime and pro-government militias were behind the two fatal blasts

      confirmed who? i’m not seeing any other news reports thus far claiming it was gov troops other than ma’an who references ‘sources in the camp’. all of them (news reports) i’ve read, including the notoriously suspect syrian observatory and the UN report, have not made the claim. if Ramy al-Asheq is a spokesperson for the camp perhaps he’s the camp source. again, it could be correct but the source can’t confirm himself. it would be beneficial to have some other sources given initial reports for other massacres were attributed to the wrong party and later retracted.

      what’s clear tho is that the fighting is spreading, which is horrible.

    • nyt “Intensified Syrian Fighting Reported in Battles for Damascus and Aleppo”

      Over the past week, attacks and counterattacks have been reported in at least half a dozen Syrian cities and towns, including the country’s largest Palestinian camp, in Damascus, the capital. For the first time, rebels have also used tanks they have seized, while the Syrian military has begun firing from jets in Aleppo, the country’s largest city and commercial center. Analysts have said the government’s helicopters are showing signs of wear.

      link to nytimes.com

      • Krauss says:

        There’s a good piece in the NYT that should give anyone pause about the conflict if they still hold black/white views.

        The rebels are most likely going to impose oppressive social policies(especially to women) and they make little effort to hide the fact that they are driven by sectarian strife:

        link to nytimes.com

        And here is another report from the solidly left-wing antiwar:

        link to news.antiwar.com

        Basically, the rebels may have tried to frame the regime for a civilian massacre.

        And here’s another one:

        link to news.yahoo.com

        People are asking if war crimes are being committed here as they are executed outright, no trial, no detention, no prisoners of war.

        And in the NYT piece, there’s an anecdote how a few innocent civilian Alewites take a wrong right-turn in a town. They immediately get captured and buthered by the mob.

        One thing’s certain: there are no heroes in this conflict and the Islamist-inspired rebels are most likely to push Syria into a far more intolerant direction post-Assad.

        On the other hand, the crimes that Assad that has against his own population is staggering. That’s why I try to remind some on the left not to get caught up in a false ‘the rebels are always right’ hype. The rebels are oppressive, illiberal and islamist. They’re not better than Assad by any stretch of the imagination.
        Syria’s choice seem to me to be between bad(Assad) and worse(the rebels).

        Either way, the country loses. And we will have to work overtime to avoid a brewing genocide occuring against the religious minorities, which could spill into Turkey where incitement against the Alawites have intensified.

        • Averroes says:

          @Kraus,

          Completely agree. The atrocities go both ways. Here is one example of the so-called rebels executing a whole bunch of people (it’s bloody, for those who may not be able to stomach it):

          link to youtube.com

          Apparently those being massacred are government forces captured by the rebels. This is the so-called “free” Syrian Army.

  2. Brewer says:

    “Their coverage continued by quoting accounts from both the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights…..”

    Every time this organisation gets quoted my antennae bristle:

    “You may be surprised to learn that The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is in fact just one man. Named Rami Abdulrahman, he is based in England, where he has lived for the last 12 years. He runs the Observatory from a two bedroom house, and is an anti-Assad activist……., and who also runs a clothing store. Added to that, pro-Assad members of his own family have disowned him for his anti-Assad activities, including his own mother. ”

    link to topix.com

  3. Brewer says:

    Pepe Escobar:

    “It took Reuters quite a while to be allowed to report that US President Barack Obama had approved an intelligence finding [1] letting the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) loose in its support for the weaponized “rebels” fighting for regime change in Syria.

    By now even fishermen in Fiji knew about this “secret” (not to mention that everyone and his neighbor across Latin America knows a thing or two about the CIA’s regime change adventures). Reuters cautiously describes the support as “circumscribed”. That’s code for “leading from behind”. ”

    link to atimes.com

    • brewer, not sure if you’ve heard reuters got hacked. and the nyt lede picked up the story:

      link to thelede.blogs.nytimes.com

      The editor of the blog Moon of Alabama, who writes as Bernhard and was initially taken in by the false posts, managed to capture a screenshot of what seemed to be a later, slightly more polished version of that report before it was removed from the Reuters site. That version of the post, which contained linguistic and factual errors of its own — like calling the Gregorian calendar the “Georgian calendar,” also reported as if it were a matter of fact that the Syrian rebels “are expected to re-coordinate in Turkish territory where they have set up secret bases under the close supervision with the Turkish government and the Israeli intelligence service.”

      Moon of Alabama’s editor also saved an image of a second fake post, “Rebel Resistance Collapses in Key Suburbs,” which appeared under the byline of Frederick Kempe, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who now leads the Atlantic Council, a Washington research institution.

      As the Moon of Alabama blogger noted, another journalist working for Iranian state television in Syria, Maya Naser, drew attention to the post mentioning Mr. Mortada on Twitter.

    • Brewer says:

      This slide show was done long before the current uprising.
      link to my.opera.com

      I must say that I am influenced by the fact that Assad is seen mixing easily with the people, often with no security in sight despite the crowds. Not conclusive, possibly there are ways of setting up such shots but I cannot help thinking of these photos as I watch the horror unfold and find it difficult to reconcile them with the current media portrayals of his regime. At the time I was looking for the back story, there were many stories like this from fairly trustworthy sources:
      link to intifada-palestine.com
      Having learned from Iraq and Libya that the failed states are the object of certain agendae, I cannot help but wonder.

  4. giladg says:

    Allison, know one thing. Those who publish videos of dying human beings with their bodies blown into pieces, demonstrates how detached you are from real suffering and shows that there are no red lines in your blind obsession to push your adenda. Shame on you!

  5. kapok says:

    — a term the government uses for rebel fighters —

    Nah, these are rebels:

    link to marxistleninist.wordpress.com

  6. here’s link to bbc.co.uk with a headline we’re unlikely to see in the US msm “Syria crisis: UN Assembly condemns Security Council ”

    Meanwhile, fighting raged in the Tadamon district of Damascus for a second day.

    Eyewitnesses and activists say government forces used dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles to attack what is seen as the rebels’ last stronghold in the capital.

    At least 15 people were reported killed when mortars hit the nearby Palestinian refugee camp at Yarmouk late on Thursday.

    Hamas, the Palestinian group in power in the Gaza Strip, described the attack as a heinous crime – the Syrian government and rebels blamed one another.

  7. Lookie, Lookie!

    A Mondoweiss article that doesn’t mention Israel. Not once.
    Begorrah!
    Saints be praised!

  8. Don Bacon says:

    Considering the two principal story sources, we don’t know the motivations of unknown citizen journalist Ramy al-Asheq but we do know that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is a rebel-aligned table-top operation in London.

    So take these accounts with a large grain of salt.

    • we don’t know the motivations of unknown citizen journalist Ramy al-Asheq

      assuming his motivations are completely honorable, even UN observers and ace journalists can get it wrong in the fog of war. i take almost everything i hear about syria with a grain of salt.

      • Walid says:

        “i take almost everything i hear about syria with a grain of salt.”

        Smart thing to do; both sides are not telling the full truth. There are no honorable motivitations in this conflict by any group involved in it.

  9. Sassan says:

    Finally a fair minded article on Syria on here.

    • Avi_G. says:

      Yeah.

      I bet you can’t wait for a “fair minded” article on Iran to be posted here on Mondoweiss.

      And I can predict what your idea of “fair minded[ness]” happens to be in regard to Iran; it would be a collaborative article between a Mondoweiss writer and an M.E.K. political activist.

      • Sassan says:

        Funny you say that when I despise the MEK. Is that how far your mind works? To equate anyone who despises the terrorist regime of the Islamic Republic as MEK? Quite a thinking you have.

  10. Avi_G. says:

    Actually, Asad has zero interest in shelling Palestinian refugee camps.

    Had he done so, he would have created more trouble for himself and his ruling party.

    In fact, you can be certain that whoever shelled that refugee camp sought to not only destabilize Asad’s regime, but also create a long-lasting civil war.

    Asad is in the process of co-opting and appeasing various groups within Syria in order to maintain his hold on power. For example, last week he granted autonomy to Kurds in northern Syria.

    Turkey was furious at that move as it claimed that autonomy would provide the PKK with a quote “safe haven”.

    Find out who fomented sectarian unrest in Iraq since 2003, in Egypt during and after the revolution, in Lebanon during the 1970s and 1980s, and in Sudan in the last few years, and you will have your answer. I’ll give you a hint: Israel, France, the U.S. and Britain, with Israel being the chief actor.

    annie, I’ll be honest with you; normally you do great work, but in this instance, when it comes to the underlying political machinations in Syria, you really dropped the ball. Sorry.

    • Avi_G. says:

      Correction to the comment above, I confused Allison with annie.

      My post should have read:

      “Allison, I’ll be honest with you; normally you do great work, but in this instance, when it comes to the underlying political machinations in Syria, you really dropped the ball. Sorry.

    • biorabbi says:

      Assad may have no motivation for bombing the camps, but does his defense establishment? What about the Shabiha brutes who have been watching as FSA fighters are treated medically in the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria. As for the notion of being part of ‘the resistance’ against the zionist scourge. The rational for his arsenal and security establishment is supporting his minority based government by force.

      When times were good for Assad, it was Asma on the cover of Vogue, Bashar vacationing with Barbara Walters who fawned over Bashar the reformer. When times were good Asma and Bashar expressed their support(and love)for the Palestinians, expressing shock and deep suffering over Israel’s war on Gaza.

      When times were not so good for Bashar and his stunning bride, it’s death to 25,000 and bombing, shelling, and raping his own people. The shelling of the Palestinian camps was brutal, but it was also a warning: stay out of the civil war, do not help the FSA. Assad’s clique has given this same “warning” to thousands of other Syrians.

      The military arms of various militant Palestinian groups have long left Syria, and the shelling of this camp is by no means the first of its kind in Syria. Nor the last.

      • Shingo says:

        What about the Shabiha brutes who have been watching as FSA fighters are treated medically in the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria.

        Why would the Palestinians be treating the FSA fighters? That’s right, they wouldn’t.

        When times were not so good for Bashar and his stunning bride, it’s death to 25,000 and bombing, shelling, and raping his own people.

        That’s predominantly been the FSA’s doing. But hey, why are we surprised that you are ion the same side as Al Qaeda. Once a terrorist supporter, always a terrorist supporter.

  11. Avi_G. says:

    How did Mondoweiss fall into the trap of providing the Syrian equivalent of the M.E.K. in Iran with a platform?

    Tareq alsamman is a political activist with the opposition group Building the Syrian State? Well that’s great.

    It’s as though people are incapable of learning from recent history, especially when Orwellian terminology and spin stare them in the eyes.

    I’m reminded of how the U.S. liberated Iraqis and gullible Americans flocked over there to ‘Rebuild the Country’.

    So why are liberals in the U.S. so detached from the reality in the Middle East that they are quick to back whomever they are told is the underdog?

    How did the bombing of Libya when NATO “assisted” the rebels turn out?

    How did the “liberation” of Iraq go?

    How many times must Americans be taken for a ride before they wake up to the real agenda at play in the Middle East?

    I’m really disappointed in Mondoweiss, much as I was disappointed when Phil wrote an article in support of U.S. intervention in Libya. He was wrong then and continues to repeat the same mistake.

  12. Walid says:

    It’s not impossible that that Assad would target Palestinians. After all, some Palestinians have done it to Assad from within the Syrian camps and from Gaza lately in the demonstrations held against his regime after Hamas turned on him and joined those allied against him. Palestinian camps are hotbeds of Salafists and brotherhood people and its known where these take their orders from. Jazeera’s lead was followed with the posting here of an “unverified” no-faces propaganda video that could have been filmed in a studio.

    Not that they were totally justified, Allison could have mentioned the reasons behind the expulsion of Palestinians from Lebanon and Kuwait and especially the “Black September” of Jordan. The “R” in UNRWA is for “Relief”.

    • Walid says:

      Sorry I spoke too soon, Allison, I saw that Tareq Alsamman’s name was added to yours authoring the article and seeing he’s rooting for the opposition, I can now understand what’s behind the article.

    • Not that they were “totally” justified? In other words, shelling refugees could be somewhat acceptable or understandable, based in what? Your perception of Palestinian refugee camps as being “hotbeds” of radicalism?

      When did Palestinian existence become so monolithic that one could find justification (karma) for shelling refugees based on Black September, support for the Brotherhood or even anti-Assad protests in Gaza?

      Quit spinning.

      • Walid says:

        Exiled, the term “totally justified” was not meant about the current shelling in Syria but about the expulsion of Palestinians from Tal al-Zaatar in 76 when Arafat pulled his martyrdom stunt, from Kuwait when Arafat sided with Saddam’s invasion of that country and from Jordan after Black September.

        • ToivoS says:

          Walid are you saying that the Jordanians were “totally justified” in their treatment of the Palestinians during Black September? Please, fill us in with why you think so.

        • Walid says:

          More than one meaning to the word, Toivo, I should have used “explainable” for those instances where some Palestinians had abused their stay in host countries and innocent Palestinians were made to pay for it. I don’t think there is anything justifiable (in the sense you took it) in shelling any Palestinians.

  13. Taxi says:

    If you believe that Bashar ordered the slaying of Palestinians in Syria, then you get the Supreme Tinfoil Hat Award.

    Just think people think: why would Bashar be constantly sending weapons to occupied Palestine to help the Palestinians, as he has done for years – only to kill them in Syria?

    This here the following is what is going on:
    The Syrian Army is entering areas where known terrorists are hiding. They don’t know the EXACT location of the terrorists and are attacking a little then withdrawing on purpose – soon as they withdraw, the terrorists are coming out of hiding, thinking they’re gaining ground and pushing the army out, only to have the Syrian army re-ambush them, having pinpointed accurately their locations. Some of these terrorists are running back into the neighborhoods, hiding not in their original place of hiding, but amongst the thickest populated camp’s nooks and crannies where they’re murdering refugees who’re in their way and pinning the blame on Bashar’s troops.

    Only yesterday the terrorists in Syria (TIS) kidnapped some 80 Iranian pilgrims in Syria. Two months ago they kidnapped 11 Lebanese pilgrims to Syria.

    So here’s the question you should be asking yourself: who is attacking friends of Syria such as the Iranians, the Lebanese and the Palestinians?

    Yeah you got it clear and simple: the frigging TIS!!!!!!!!

    Oh yeah – aided by the Obama’s CIA, House of Saud’s Al Quaida friends and relatives, Qatar and israel’s mosad who are also supplying dollars and weapons to the terrorists. BTW they’ve found israeli-made weapons in TIS hideouts, as well as stocks of medical kits with hebrew writing.

    Just think for a moment: who wants Palestinians dead, the Syrians or the israelis?

    • Walid says:

      Taxi, of course Syrians don’t want Palestinians dead, but keep in mind that the camps are swarming with fundies taking arms, money and orders from the other guys. Ain el-Helweh with which you are familiar is in the same situation. A couple of weeks back, Maan, appearing to have sided against Assad wrote:

      “… Since February, the al-Yarmouk camp has regularly held protests in solidarity with the besieged Syrian cities and towns. It participated in the Damascus general strike on May 29, 2012. The protests would normally pass quietly without being attacked by Syrian security forces.

      The straw that broke the camel’s back was the abduction and then killing of 13 Palestinian Liberation Army fighters from the Nayrab refugee camp in Aleppo. Though the identity of the killers is unknown, the killings sparked a large protest in Yarmouk on July 12, and an even larger protest the next day. Buoyant chants of “God bless the Free Syrian Army”, “From Syria to Palestine, one people not two”, and “Long live Syria and down with Assad” echoed in the camp’s streets. The Syrian army opened fire at protesters and for the first time, clashes between the regime army and the FSA broke out inside the camp, marking a significant tipping point. The Local Coordination Committee of Yarmouk camp called for mass protests and a general strike to protest the killings.

      Jihad Makdissi, the spokesman of the Syrian Foreign Ministry, described Palestinians in Syria as “guests” and cynically told them to “leave Syria for one of the Arab democracies” if they misbehave. Makdissi’s Facebook statement, which he later deleted, triggered outrage and highlighted the complicated nature of Palestinian participation in the uprising.”

      link to revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com

      • Taxi says:

        Yes for sure, Walid, the Palestinian Salafists in Syrian refugee camps have blood on their hands too. But they’re not the Palestinians who are being murdered – regular Palestinian refugees are either being murdered by the TIS or getting caught in the crossfire. Yes Palestinian Salafists, a minority in all Arab countries, are part and parcel of the mercenary forces being armed and flooding the Syrian scene. The CIA is responsible for recruitment of all mercenaries in Syria from Pakistan to North Africa, but Saudi and Qatar money is behind it all – and the mosad is jumping on the CIA’s bandwagon, hiding behind their shoulders and operating alongside Al Qaida and the other unsavory hired killers.

        • Averroes says:

          To reference what Taxi just said about the CIA and Mossad role in Syria, see:

          link to tv.globalresearch.ca

        • Taxi says:

          Averroes,
          It don’t take a genius to figure out israel’s plans for the region – cuz they haven’t changed one bit since israel’s dubious inception. But what the arrogant war criminals in israel keep belittling is the reality that the top priority of Syria’s army is to fight israel and a fair segment of their hardware and platoons, its creme de la creme, is not going to entangle its hands with inter-sectarian conflict. This army’s segment is focused 24/7 on israel and israel alone. Also, nothing will unify Syria more than an israeli attack on its soil, and if israel fires the first bullet, an extremely high plausibility, Syria has promised to retaliate with everything it has including chemical weapons – a hit no israeli government can afford to bring to its (stolen) homefront – even though they can do the same back at Syria, ie drop israeli biological and chemical bombs on Syria.

          The israelis are betting on causing enough bloodshed and strife in neighboring countries so they can execute their zionist Final Solution on the Palestinians: TOTAL ETHNIC CLEANSING OF GOY FROM THE HOLY LAND. A plan so evil and so foolish (even if they manage this, it don’t mean israelis can finally live in peace: au contraire, it’s a fine recipe for more hateful, more extreme terrorism against israel and israelis worldwide and for generation after generation after generation) – yes a plan so evil that it can only backfire on israel and cause the highly plausible decimation of the zionist state and bring on a new chapter of jewish refugeehood. Needless to say, bankruptcy is at American’s doorstep too.

          One thing’s for sure, win or lose, the zionists will not be able to write the hasbara version of history of the early 21st century like they did the second half of the 20th. For this we have to thank the internet.

          The victor no longer holds the only pen that writes the pages of history.

          In the meantime, israel’s bogeyman, hizbollah, is preparing to counter israel’s Final Solution by training to put boots on the ground to liberate the whole of the Galilee. Egypt’s army is getting ready to liberate the south of occupied Palestine and Gaza, Syria is preparing to liberate the Golan – everybody converging simultaneously towards jerusalem.

          These are not pipe dreams – these are military plans already assembled – everyone is preparing for a showdown.

          Lest I seem to be excluding Iran, yes iran will fight alongside with everything it has to liberate jerusalem too.

          And Russia? Just doesn’t want USA and it’s bowwowwow satellite israel to take hold of mideastern hegemony EVER AGAIN and it will do what’s necessary to make sure of this.

        • OlegR says:

          /CIA and Mossad on Syria Front Line
          by grtv
          US President Barack Obama has signed a secret order allowing the CIA and other American agencies to support rebels seeking to overthrow the Assad regime, a US government source told Reuters./

          Has Mossad become an American agency and i didn’t know about it?

        • Taxi says:

          You don’t know anything do you? Except of course much about land-theft and oppressing the natives.

    • Sassan says:

      SkyNews: “Advanced weapons found with the 48 kidnapped #Iran ‘pilgrims” in #Syria

      • Taxi says:

        Skynews is Foxnews with a continental accent. Good to know who brainwashes you with ziocon shampoo everyday. Never mind a simple google will reveal practically all news outlets calling the kidnapped “pilgrims”.

        Meh, so you hate iranians, and don’t think it’s a crime to kidnap them – so what? Who cares what you think anyway?

        • Sassan says:

          Kidnapped “pilgrims” are Revolutionary Guards: link to english.alarabiya.net

        • Taxi says:

          Al Arabiya is Foxnews in Arabic. Paid for by the wretched House of Saud.

          Got another link egghead?

        • Walid says:

          Sassan, it would be a good sign if it turned out to be true about Iranian Revolutionary Guards giving the Syrians a helping hand to counterbalance the fighters from Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and elsewhere joining the opposition. All I saw in the FSA tv-interview was one Iranian being asked to show his Iranian Revolutionary Guard ID and gun-carrying permit but nothing from the 47 other captives. It’s doubtful that 48 Iranian fighters would be travelling on the same bus.

  14. Whoever was behind this, whatever their motives (perhaps this was not an intentional shelling), yet another tragedy in the morose Palestinian saga.

  15. Averroes says:

    “Saudi officials are preparing to pay the salaries of the Free Syria Army as a means of encouraging mass defections from the military and increasing pressure on the Assad regime, the Guardian has learned.

    The move, which has been discussed between Riyadh and senior officials in the US and Arab world, is believed to be gaining momentum as a recent flush of weapons sent to rebel forces by Saudi Arabia and Qatar starts to make an impact on battlefields in Syria.”

    link to guardian.co.uk

    “A European Union arms embargo prevents the export of weapons to any party in Syria’s conflict, but Britain is helping the rebels in other ways. “Given the scale of death and suffering and the failure so far of the diplomatic process, we will, over the coming weeks, increase our practical but non-lethal support,” said Mr Hague. “We have helped them with communications and matters of that kind, and we will help them more.”

    But the Foreign Secretary ruled out sending armaments.

    Other countries, notably Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are believed to be arming the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA). America has refrained from sending weapons, but is understood to be providing intelligence on military deployments inside Syria.”

    link to telegraph.co.uk

    “Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have begun receiving significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, an effort paid for by Persian Gulf nations and coordinated in part by the United States, according to opposition activists and U.S. and foreign officials.”

    link to washingtonpost.com

    “While Qatar and Saudi Arabia have supported arming the rebels, they have not confirmed any official involvement. Turkey has denied that it is helping to facilitate the arms flow, which activists say are usually delivered by Turkish intelligence to the rebels on the Syrian side of the border.”

    link to washingtonpost.com

    • Les says:

      This is a reminder that Saudi Arabia, like Israel, does not adjust its polices to please the US which wholly sets our Middle East and Arab policies to not be openly objected to by Israel. That will continue so long as our Congress and White House remain occupied territory.

      • anan says:

        Les, understatement of the century. Do you really think KSA is an ally of any country that isn’t ruled by Sunni extremists?

        The Saudi global lobby is powerful than Israel’s. Including in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.

        “That will continue so long as our Congress and White House remain occupied territory.” Sorry to break it to you, but global business has exercised great influence over Washington for over a century.

        Maybe instead of complaining about the extraordinary power of foreign lobbies in America, it might be more productive to strengthen lobbies that influence other countries.

        This seems to be the thinking in Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil, Chile, Turkey, and other successful countries. Every country needs to be humble enough to learn from other countries and transform themselves. America is no different.

    • Walid says:

      Averroes, a Telegraph article from the day before said the opposite about Qatar and SA jointly financing both groups. Split already starting to develop between Qatar and SA according to the Telegraph of Aug 3rd. It seems that they are going their separate ways with each financing a group instead of jointly financing everyone in the opposition. The Syrian MB has formed an armed militia to participate in the conflict and Qatar will be financing it. The Saudis to finance the FSA that’s starting to distance itself from the SNC. All groups are looking ahead as which would rule in a post-Assad Syria. Looks like worse trouble for Syria if Assad should leave.

      link to telegraph.co.uk

    • Roya says:

      Good to see that some mainstream media is catching on.

  16. paabrhm says:

    Careful folks. Believing in the reliability of the NYT, especially when it characterizes the nature of the Syrian rebels is pretty dangerous. Many in the West are too happy to attribute ‘oppressive social policies’ wherever and whenever see citizens of the Middle East fighting for freedom from the oppression of their governments. The is especially true where the ‘rebels’ maybe primarily Muslim. Take a look at this report from Australia. Melhem actually went in, talked and filmed the report. link to sbs.com.au

  17. Averroes says:

    “Lessons to be learned. The half million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon fought on the Muslim-leftist side in the 1975-90 civil war. They were rewarded with hatred, mass murder and final imprisonment in their own camp hovels. Palestinian refugees in Kuwait supported Saddam’s invasion in 1990; hundreds of thousands were evicted to Jordan in 1991. Palestinians housed in Iraq since 1948 were slaughtered or driven from the country by the Iraqi “resistance” after America’s 2003 invasion.

    “The Christians are citizens of Syria whose religion certainly does not reflect a majority in any anti-Assad force. Bashar’s stability – somewhat at doubt just now, to be sure – is preferable to the ghastly unknowns of a post-Assad regime. There are 47 churches and cathedrals in the Aleppo region alone. The Christians believe that Salafists fight amid the rebels. They are right.

    Lessons for them, too. When that famous born-again Christian George W. Bush sent his legions into Iraq in 2003, the savage aftermath smashed one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East – the Iraqi Christians – to pieces. The Christian Coptic Pope Shenouda of Egypt supported his protector Mubarak until just two days before the dictator’s downfall; Egypt’s Muslims remember this. So what can the Christians of Syria do?”

    Robert Fisk: For the minorities, even neutrality is unsafe
    link to independent.co.uk

    • Walid says:

      Averroes, the half million Palestinians in the Lebanese camps included only a few thousand PLO fighters. Most of the Palestinians had nothing to do with the Lebanese civil war. It wasn’t accurate of Fisk to say that “half million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon fought on the Muslim-leftist side in the 1975-90 civil war”. The 8000 PLO fighters left for Tunis in 82. He was also inaccurate to say that the 400,000 Palestinians in Kuwait supported Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. It was only Arafat that supported Saddam but Palestinians in Kuwait (some working there for over 2o years to support families in the WB and other camps, wanted nothing to do with the invasion but most of them were evicted from Kuwait because of Arafat’s wrong call.

      • Averroes says:

        Walid,

        I think Fisk was pointing to the suffering of Palestinians at the hands of other Arab governments, not that them being evicted or wronged was justifiable or right in any way. I agree though that he could probably have worded it differently.

        Regarding the support of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, I think it goes without saying that many Arabs of the Middle East did in fact support Saddam in this regard, they bought into the BS of him being some mythical Arab hero of past times, especially as it played out in his resistance to the hegemony of the US and the West generally. This was very obvious on the streets of Cairo, Amman, Damascus, and in the Palestinian territories, and even in the Gulf countries prior to his invasion of Kuwait, since they mostly bankrolled and financed his war of aggression against Iran. This unyielding and staunch support was likely even more true of the Palestinians since Saddam was known to send large amounts of money to the families of Palestinians who had carried out suicide bombings against Israel. The Palestinians living in Iraq at the time (those who came to study or settle) were also treated very well by the Ba’ath regime and given privileges that the local Iraqi population was not granted, which is what lead to the general resentment and then some horrible actions taken against Palestinians living in Iraq (though it was not as widespread as Fisk suggests, many Palestinians still live in Iraq until this day).

        • Walid says:

          Averroes, for the average Arab, the mythical stuff played a role but a lot of dirty pool was played with and against Saddam. The monies given to Saddam to fight Iran were all loans that the Arabs refused to write off.

        • Averroes says:

          True. It was more than simply money though, there was a military/intelligence/logistics element to their support, especially from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Which is also one of the reasons Saddam justified his invasion of Kuwait, in addition to claiming that Kuwait was in fact a part of Basra which hard been carved out by the British in the 19th century to make it a separate entity, as well as the accusation that Kuwait was pumping oil from territory on the Iraqi side of the border between the two countries. But you are right, there is a qualifying difference between the “average Arab” and the Arab governments. The former, to a large extent, supported Saddam as mythical Arab hero and leader, a Saladin of our own age fighting against crusaders, right up until the very end, with many believing even after he was hanged that he was some sort of noble martyr. Whereas the latter merely used Saddam to the extent that it suited their interests and purposes (keeping Iran at bay and Islamic “fundamentalism” from spreading to their own countries), and then quickly abandoned him as soon as he fell out of favor with his imperial masters in the West, at which point they then had to compete amongst each other in demonstrating to what extent they were the obsequious salivating little dogs that they were. There was virtually no mention, from either of the two categories, of the crimes and atrocities carried out by Saddam against the Kurds and Shias of Iraq.

        • Walid says:

          You mentioned Saladin as a mythical Arab hero. Ironically, Saladin was not an Arab but a Kurd from Tikrit. The gas Saddam dumped on the Kurds had been supplied to him by the Americans to be used on the Iranians.

        • Averroes says:

          “You mentioned Saladin as a mythical Arab hero. Ironically, Saladin was not an Arab but a Kurd from Tikrit. ”

          Yes he was. But the common Iraqi, and I assume also the common Arab, did not know that. I’ve met some fellow Iraqis who even try to dispute the validity of this. Hence the word mythological.

          “The gas Saddam dumped on the Kurds had been supplied to him by the Americans to be used on the Iranians.”

          Correct, as well as the Germans, French, British, and the USSR. The US was also supplying the Iranians with weapons (although not bio or chem. agents) through Israel. The strategy was to let them both destroy each other so that neither came out as predominant victor at the end of it all, a goal that they achieved with flying colors.

  18. Roya says:

    RT reported back in February that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were paying and sending in Libyan mercenaries to join the “Free Syrian Army” and that Israeli Special Forces are training Turkish “insurgents” to join the fight.
    Made in Jorman: Thousands of gunmen preparing to enter Syria?”

  19. Rusty Pipes says:

    The glass is half full! Thanks, Allison for creating the opportunity for a Syria open thread. The site hasn’t had one in several days and there have been several related international developments worth discussing.

  20. Danaa says:

    I will step into this to voice my support for Avi_G, Walid and others who raised a few eye-brows about the whitewashing – and sheer propaganda value contained in this post and the articles it cites.

    On to my own little diatribe (it’s been a while and it’s totally time):

    I think it is an absolute outrage that otherwise perfectly respectable, self-defined “leftists” and “anti-war/pro-democracy activists” are lending their shoulder to the absolutely evil and dastardly plan that has been devised for Syria by the US neocons, in full co-operation with Israel and the most repressive backward go-gulf regimes in the world . What is happening in Syria – the atrocious, barbaric salafist/jihadist rebels supported by CIA/MI5/Quatar etc is a calamity perpetrated against the Syrian people, designed, courtesy of neoconuts-and-idiot liberal friends to break up the country into little pieces that can then be controlled by Israel and its stooge – the US.

    Maybe there are some who insist on remaining blind and not see this. But for them I have a question: what on earth are they doing alongside Bolton? Feith? Romney? Krauthammer? Dershowitz? Netanyahoo? Giuliani? Berman? Knowing what these good-fellows were and are up to, why on earth would you not ask some questions seeing you are all – suddenly – on the same side? stated more simply – what is it they know that you don’t (or don’t want to) know?

    That we have Allison here giving a platform to a “friend of Syria”, or a ‘rebuild Syria” neocon-supported group, who may be no friend of Syria at all but one sufficiently co-opted by the neolib/neocon perpetrated ‘democracy” crap, is a testimony to the weakness and naivite of the left in general. It is certainly not possible to be ‘friend of Syria” and support the suffering inflicted upon the Syrian people. How could Allison, normally and by all indications a most rational, well-meaning and upright individual, be so hoodwinked by the snake-oil propaganda salesmen of the world – the NYTs, the BBCs, the Guardians etc. – enough to make a common cause with misguided, gullible elements like our “Stanford pro-democracy activist” Tareq?

    Face it guys – there is an unbelievable propaganda pressure being built to support “regime change” in Syria. Anyone who supports the horrid, so-called ‘rebels’ (really mostly foreign rabble bought and paid for by the perverse marriage between the house of Saud and the House of Bibi) is giving a hand to the atrocities and barbarous acts being perpetrated upon the Syrian people. That some Syrian people would like to see a movement towards democracy is granted – but since when is mayhem, killing, destruction and betraying your own country the way to do that? where is exactly all the support and the rallies by the Syrian people for the rag-tag FSA and their bought and paid for defectors?

    You say Assad was a dictator? well, maybe he wasn’t exactly a great democrat in the the Yemenite renovated-Saleh mold (about whom we heard not a whimper here, have we?). May be he wasn’t as enlightened as King Abdullah, or as keen on providing minority rights as israel. Or may be he was just too resistant to American blackmail regarding Iran? maybe too cozy with Russia? He wasn’t a nice enough guy you say – is Abdullah any sweeter? if not, why on earth would anyone making common cause with Saudi Arabia – the land of 9/11 perpetrators fond of its daily beheadings and the most repressive god-awful regime in the world today – have any credibility?

    Yes, Assad, like Sadaam before him, is perhaps too secular for the Saudi/Israeli theocractic axis. His government (or, as you “friends of Syria” refer to – “regime”) may not have been so keen on granting political freedoms to everyone in Syria pronto – like say, China or Indonesia, , or at least not fast enough for some people’s taste. How comew we are not seeing this great “movement” in the west, this cauldron of “activists” supporting some “Friends of Bahrain” or “Rebuilding Saudi Arabia” group? and what about Israel? how come the same people are not supporting a similarly violent “regime change” in Israel – which, BTW, is a heck of a lot more repressive against its minorities than Assad ever was (how many political prisoners in israeli jails now – 10,000?).

    Let’s ask the following – what if some rebel rousers were sent into the US to support the occupy people who were obviously fighting for the rights of the majority (99%) against the oppressive 1% oligarchs? what if weapons were provided to every disaffected group in the US who were then urged to go and cause as much mayhem as they could – all in the interest of bringing down a repressive capitalist “regime’ bought and paid for by the corporatocracy and their ever well-heeled lobbies? what if government officials were bombed to smitherins because, well, they were members of the government? would any of us approve such actions or would we consider them – quite rightly – travesties? no matter how angry we are with the status quo, why would we support murder, mayhem and destruction in our own country? and if the answer is why indeed then why should we support a horror show in Syria? so Tariq can “rebuild’ it from scratch?

    Well, I have a request from the rebuilders – let’s tend first to our own house first, right here in America, shall we? you know – the land of Yoo torture memos, support for ethnic cleansing, assassin squads, the guns for everyone who wants to shoot up some theatre goers, and most importantly, the land of oh-so-civilized drones that could demolish entire families at the push of a button? should we get some lefty jihadis to do “pro-democracy” purges here? maybe hand over the reigns of power to some good old evangeliststas – who know their God from those other ‘gods” and usher in the a new god-fearing regime?

    Alternatively, we may just want to spend our intellectual – and emotional capital on doing some good old-fashioned “rebuilding democracy in America” before we rush off to export blood shed to Syria.

    I guess what I am saying is that if you don’t like the idea of inflicting Suffering onAmerica – or England, or Australia – or canada, to make them “better” places, you shouldn’t support the infliction of suffering upon Syria. nIf you do – you ain’t no “friend of Syria”.

    • Walid says:

      Words of wisdom, Danaa. Without condoning what the Syrian regime had been doing for the past few decades, it’s still awful what the not so democratic Sunni fundamentalism is trying to do to Syria. Minorities everywhere will be the losers. As someone mentioned above about Iraqi Christians having already happened, the exodus of spooked Syrian Christians has started.

    • Averroes says:

      Bang on. Imagine how much of a crackdown the police state of the US would inflict on the US population if some right-wing white supremacist militias or Christian evangelical groups took up arms against the US government, and were being funded/armed/supported and cheered on by neighboring countries, say for instance Mexico or Canada, wherein they have setup training camps and weapons depots to smuggle across the borders into the US. And also being bankrolled and financed and coordinated by the SVR of Russia or the DINE of China. The police and national guard would have a field day cracking skulls and breaking legs. Look at how ruthlessly they suppress even largely peaceful demonstrations such as those of the G-20 summits and more recently the Occupy Movements, which Danaa also referred to. It’s preposterous to think that the government of any nation in the world, democracy or otherwise, would simply sit by idly and twiddle their thumbs if there was a full-scale insurrection instigated by foreign countries and factions to overthrow the government and install a new one. Mere wishful thinking, and the historical record is evidence of that.

    • Taxi says:

      Bravo Danaa!

    • American says:

      “Face it guys – there is an unbelievable propaganda pressure being built to support “regime change” in Syria.”…Danaa

      Agreed.
      Someone correct me if I am wrong but before the Syrian ‘revolt’ began I remember Assad had instituted some ‘ plans for economic progress in Syria which he stressed had to be done ‘slowly and orderly’. Whether he was sincere or not doesn’t matter—Saudi, Israel, the US would have seen that as a “”ME *Government* Arab Spring”"…..as even more threatening than a ‘Street’ Arab Spring/revolt because of the example/trend it could set for other ME states to transition to a more inclusive and more equitable form government for their populations and with the populations interest ending up in control.
      If THIS ever happened in a ME State it would be major threat to the House of Saud.

      The Saudis want the old status quo of US friendly or controlled rulers in all countries in the ME—that’s their House of Saud insurance.
      That’s also Israel’s insurance.

      I think everyone knows by now the Saudis are supplying the Syrian rebels and the US and Israel are involved with Saudi in some kind of support for them. No way the rebels could have gotten this far and held out this long without outside help and lots of it.

      • Rusty Pipes says:

        Among other changes include two seven-year terms for the presidency and the legalization of parties other than Ba’ath. Theoretically, if opponents were really interested in Democracy, they could pressure Bashar to finish out his term and have the new presidential elections overseen by international monitors.

  21. HarryLaw says:

    Excellent comment Danaa, Palestinians and all Syrians have access to free health care, clinics and schools,it is a secular state which looks after all its citizens regardless of their religious affiliations, sounds like socialism to the neocons, so it has to go, their thinking is lets replace it with a Saudi version of democracy where if you raise a complaint you get your head cut off. One of Assad’s closest political advisers Bouthaina Shabban supports the Palestinian cause one hundred percent as does Assad, she has many articles in Counterpunch to that end. The US/Israel aim in Syria is regime change [any regime] if they can’t achieve that a smashed up, destroyed country which can offer no resistance to the US/Israels main target Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon is the next best option, this is par for the course with US/Israeli foreign policy, one hopes people in the Arab world can see the obvious and not fall into the sectarian trap the western world has mapped out for them.

    • biorabbi says:

      Assad’s closet political advisor? You mean his Prime Minister, a loyal Baath man, who defected to Jordan 24 hours ago? or his best buddy the Sunni army general Tlass, who defected?

      Yes. It is true Assad was a loyal leader in the resistance against Israel, standing firm against zionist ambition. Then tell me this: why oh why is Bashar sending his troops away from the Golan border with Israel, rushing them back to the capital and Allepo? Could it be he fears his own people, MUCH more than the dastardly zionists? Just saying.

      • bio, i also read the PM, who was appointed only 2 months ago (in some ‘reform’ transition/compromise… so i’m not sure if ‘loyal baath man’ is applicable), was fired first before he defected. the 2 stories came out simultaneously around the same time the syrian state tv station was bombed ..just a few hrs ago.

        also, i didn’t know the western favored (puppet in wait) sunni army general Tlass was assad’s best buddy. do you have any info on their relationship?

        • biorabbi says:

          Annie, the younger Tlass has ties to extreme right-wing anti-semitic groups. At first I didn’t understand what to make of this, but it turns out that his father Mustafa wrote the Matzah of Zion which is a riff on the blood libel originated in France and imported to Syria in the 19′nth century. Father and Hafez Assad crony formed an anti-semitic publishing house in Syria. At first, I thought this was some kind of joke, but it is, sadly, true.

          Tlass may indeed be the western favored (puppet in chief). I see fawning coverage of the younger General Tlass in our media and in Turkish media. From what I’ve gathered, he was effectively cut out of the military chain of command when he opted to foster dialogue between the regime and a Sunni area. On the other hand, is not the Syrian favored leader. Loyalists to Assad hate him and the Sunni population and FSA views him as a loyalist with blood on his hand. Indeed the entire outside Syrian opposition group appear to be fighting with one another on all issues.

          His family was intertwined with the Assad regime(junior and father’s era). As to their personal relationship(or lack of one)at current time, I have no idea, but I also have read some intriguing speculation that he may be in some way ‘negotiating’ an exit for Assad of some type.

        • thanks for the response bior. sometimes i find it difficult keeping track of all these characters.

  22. Danaa,

    Your commentary would be useful if it wasn’t so riddled with anti-Sunni zeal, regurgitated Assad rhetoric about “terrorist jihadists, etc.

    I’m tending toward not supporting the overall “democracy” movement, given my extreme distrust of the Saudi/Yemeni/NATO backed Free Syrian Army. However, the Syrian government’s rhetoric -which you so deftly parrot- is drenched in the language of westernized power concepts, where violence of the privileged is in the name of security, and violence of the weak is terrorism. I don’t know what terrorism is, nor what a terrorist looks like, but to hear you, or Assad tell it, it’s Sunni, fundi, militant, jihadi aggression. Rhetoric eerily similar to US euphemisms abused on a daily basis.

    I understand you’re skepticism at not supporting the foreign-funded FSA subversion of Syria. But, I’d caution you against parroting Assad’s highly prejudicial anti-Sunni diatribes.

    • And I ‘d add, there are legitimate concerns that I share regarding the potential for this to end in sectarian bloodshed should the Assad government fall. Sunni revolutionaries, and their foreign backers, pose a palpable threat to Shia, Alawis, and Christians alike in Syria. But, let’s not dismiss wholesale these elements as crazed jihadists.

      • Dan Crowther says:

        Hahahaha. Is this for real? Its “anti-Sunni” to note that Qatar, the House of Saud and the other Sunni Monarchies are funneling arms, cash, advisors and trainers (via NATO/GCC) into Syria?

        I can’t stand the analysis on Syria on MW posts either; I find it highly uninformed, and in spots, pure propaganda – but lets not let allow our PC tendencies to overwhelm our capacity to rationally observe the fact that it is MOST CERTAINLY Sunni’s and hardcore Salafists vs everyone else in Syria, and soon, the rest of the region.

        • Is this for real? Its “anti-Sunni” to note that Qatar, the House of Saud and the other Sunni Monarchies are funneling arms, cash, advisors and trainers (via NATO/GCC) into Syria?

          this reminds me of something funny i read this morning.

          The resolution in question contains the words “deploring the Security Council failure,” which is a reference to the unprecedented triple joint vetoes exercised by Russia and China in the Security Council against resolutions aimed at Syria last October and this February and July.

          It also demands “an inclusive Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system.” This is from a draft written by Saudi Arabia.

          Syrian ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja’afari rightly denounced the resolution’s main sponsors, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, as “despotic oligarchies.”

          (my bold)

          somehow the idea of saudi arabia demanding a democratic, pluralistic political system just kinda cracked me up.

        • Dan Crowther says:

          Uh oh Annie, you’ve now impugned all Sunni’s everywhere……..

        • Dan Crowther, Mr. Defender Against Anti-Semitism Everywhere, is lecturing me about the finer nuances of ethnic/sectarian discernment?

          Pardon me, but I believe I agreed with Danaa’s assessment of the FSA being backed by Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Qatar. That’s not what i take issue with, hence my statement:

          Your commentary would be useful…

          …followed by my comment that:

          I understand your skepticism at not supporting the foreign-funded FSA subversion of Syria.

          …and:

          Sunni revolutionaries, and their foreign backers, pose a palpable threat to Shia, Alawis, and Christians alike in Syria.

          However, with that said, Danaa and others’ depictions of the FSA and associated rebel groups as nothing more than fundamentalist Salafists and jihadists is no better than the US caricature of rebel groups in Iraq and Afghanistan as “terrorists.”

          Assad dismisses the whole opposition as foreign-backed terrorists. Danaa appears to agree. That sort of myopic caricature is exactly the sort of modus operandi employed by US-Israeli leadership in dealing with their “atrocious, barbaric salafist/jihadist rebel” problems.

          It’s a complex situation, and the US and Israel have made their plans quite clear in terms of wanting Assad to fall. However, our opposition to Israeli-American hegemony shouldn’t get in the way of our ability to more accurately portray the entire rebel opposition movement in Syria.

          They are not all “nasty” little fundies.

        • exile, while i agree the opposition are not entirely made up of a cast of shady mercenaries my assumption is (and i could be wrong) the strongest force or power is outside power. i tend to think the majority of syrians supporting the opposition are ordinary citizens not involved in the fighting, otherwise we would likely know who their (active fighting) leaders were. plus, i think many ordinary syrians who support the opposition also would be in favor of compromise, negotiations and reform. this hardline position of not negotiating sounds like foreign interventionist/regime change.

          if the syrian support for the opposition was widespread (the water of the water/fish analogy) it would be all over for assad and there would be no need for the level of disinformation we are assaulted with. that’s not happening.

          the kind of intervention we saw in libya was highly orchestrated and although what we are witnessing in syria is another form of intervention i believe it too is highly orchestrated, and that orchestration, the power behind it, is foreign. the foreign intervention began way before the arab spring.

        • Dan Crowther says:

          Thats my bad Exile, you got a point.

          That said, I only offer a defense against the lobby fetishists whose arguments, if taken to their logical conclusion, amount to “lets solve our problems by getting rid of jews.” And I don’t apologize for that.

          But again, you’re (nuanced) point is well taken.

        • Dan,

          I appreciate the response. My little dig was a tad harsh, I definitely don’t subscribe to the “Jews are the problem” philosophy, do I can appreciate your perspective.

          Annie et al,

          Why such skepticism regarding widespread Syrian support for the rebels? Is there a tangential, at the least, hand of foreign influence? Of course. But, that shouldn’t truncate the fact that Syria is a largely Sunni nation ruled for decades by a fringe Alawi minority that even most Shia theologians reject. I find it puzzling that you find it so puzzling that the majority Sunni population might seek greater representation of their Syrian national affairs.

        • American says:

          “against the lobby fetishists whose arguments, if taken to their logical conclusion, amount to “lets solve our problems by getting rid of jews.” And I don’t apologize for that.”….Dan

          As one of the Lobby fetishizers I don’t see that that ‘logical conclusion ‘ amounts to getting rid of the Jews…the logical conclusion is getting rid of or marginalizing the Lobby.
          I don’t know what is going on with a few of you here who leap to these fanastic holocaust -like warnings re Jews where it concerns criticism of the lobby and Israel —–but there’s definitely something a little off and weird about hyping and conflating it that way.

        • Rusty Pipes says:

          A good article today at AlAkhbar about the various armed groups among the rebels. They may not all be “nasty little fundies,” but most of them are fundies, whether domestic or foreign import. Many Syrians might find the goals of some of these fundies to be “nasty:”

          … while all Islamist fighters rally under the same banner, they are divided among many factions and schools of thoughts.

          Some – such as al-Qaeda’s Abdullah Azzam Brigades, the Jabhat al-Nusra li-Bilad al-Sham (Support Front for the Land of Syria) inspired by Mauritanian cleric Abul-Munther al-Shanqiti, and the Doura Fighting Group – espouse hardline takfiri ideology.

          All three draw inspiration from a 200-page tract called The Return of Salaheddin, and see themselves as following in the footsteps Saleheddin al-Ayyoubi, the 12th Century commander who defeated the Crusaders in Jerusalem. They maintain that the latter-day liberation of Jerusalem requires the prior “purification” of its hinterland, and that they have a religious obligation to perform this task. This means ridding Greater Syria of apostates – i.e. expelling or eliminating all Shia Muslims and Christians.

          These extremist groups tend to have more combat experience than the others, and reports indicate that they are bracing for what they expect to be a major decisive battle.

          Doesn’t look like they have been open to negotiation or abiding by Annan’s 6 point plan.

        • Al-Akbar is a known mouthpiece of the Assad government, has been for quite some time.

        • Rusty Pipes says:

          Even though Max Blumenthal said something similar when he left there in a huff, the coverage of Syria at Al Akhbar varies. A few of the columnists are Assad supporters, some critically, others not. But other columnists and reporters contribute to a more nuanced view of Syria than can be found in American MSM.

  23. Walid says:

    Exiled at Home, Danaa knows more the Sunni that you can imagine and she has known about it before Syria became a news item 18 months ago. This is not about Syria or Assad as much as it’s about Islamic fundamentalism turning ugly.

    • Averroes says:

      I think Danaa was referring to the salafi/wahhabi elements of Sunni Islam, not mainstream Sunni Islam itself. There is a world of a difference between the two. And unfortunately, the former has been hijacking and speaking for the latter for decades now, which is why the line between the two seems to have been muddled lately. Wahhabism or salafism had in the past always been viewed by most other Muslims as being a sort of fringe or eccentric cult. Their views are ridiculous and extreme. However, since their rise to power in Saudi Arabia, and all the financial and other support that comes with that, they’ve made enormous headway in making it seem as if they are the official mouthpieces and representatives of mainstream Sunni Islam (which is absolutely false).

    • Walid,

      Everything turns ugly under oppression.

      One, I suppose, could dismiss Hamas as ugly, Islamic fundamentalism.

      I, on the other hand, would rather look to the conditions and influences which have created Hamas’ hardline approach.

      • Walid says:

        Exiled At Home, I agree about what happens under oppression, but at the end of the day, Hamas was another variation of the Muslim Brotherhood whether the oppression would have been there or not. The Brotherhood goes back to 1928.

  24. Walid says:

    Prime Minister of Syria, Riad Hijab, in office since 2 months only has defected to Jordan today at noon and reported to be already in Doha.

    Omar Khalawanji, aide to PM Hijab also defected today.

  25. American says:

    Saudi Invites Iran to Emergency Summit…..hmm, this could be interesting.
    I doubt we will ever hear the real conversation that goes on at this.
    Is Saudi to threaten Iran — shape up or you’re next?
    Or are they gonna offer a US deal thru Saudi channels?
    Or has Saudi suddenly got tremors over the possibility that the region is on it’s way to a bigger blow up that might affect them all and trying to calm things?

    link to france24.com

    Saudi invites Iran for extraordinary Muslim summit

    The Saudi monarch has invited Ahmadinejad for an extraordinary summit of Muslim leaders to be held this month in the holy city of Mecca, according to the SPA news agency.

    AFP – Saudi King Abdullah invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for an extraordinary summit of Muslim leaders to be held this month in the holy city of Mecca, state news agency SPA reported Sunday.
    The Saudi monarch “sent a written letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inviting him to attend the extraordinary Islamic solidarity meeting which will be held in Mecca” in mid-August, SPA reported.
    Tensions have been running high between the Sunni-dominated kingdom and Shiite Iran as both regional powers had taken opposite stances on the uprisings in Bahrain and Syria.
    Iran had voiced support to a Shiite-led uprising in Bahrain which Saudi Arabia had sent troops to crush last year.
    In Syria, the kingdom had called for arming rebels against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad — who belongs to the Alawite minority, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam — while Iran has been repeatedly accused of sending military aid to the Syrian government. Tehran has denied the claims.
    Saudi Arabia last month called for the summit in a bid at “unifying the ranks” of Muslims.
    Saudi Arabia hosts the headquarters of the 57-member pan-Muslim body — the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation which is based in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

    • Rusty Pipes says:

      did you catch this comment at Moon of Alabama about the emergency meeting? Apparently it was initiated by Iran in July:

      Never expect anything from the Saudi Monarchy and you’ll never be disappointed. I searched for info about the meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (It changed its name “Conferance” to “Cooperation” in 2011) and found that the emergency meeting is on Myanmar (which has been killing the minority Muslim population). All 57 members have been invited and since it is held in Mecca this year it would be standard protocol to Iran.

      An interesting note is that Iran was the member state that requested Myanmar be given Emergency Meeting. From July 23rd:

      An Iranian lawmaker has condemned the mass killing of the members of the Muslim minority in Myanmar and called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the violence in the Southeast Asian country. “The Islamic countries constantly consider the Islamic Republic of Iran as a defender of the oppressed people, therefore, (Iran’s) Foreign Ministry” should take measures to help put an end to the mass murder of the Muslims in Myanmar, he went on to say.

      Source: PressTV

      Seems like Iran was touting itself as a defender of oppressed Muslims. Likely Saudi Arabia, which considers itself the leader of the Muslim world, felt forced to table the meeting instead of being upstaged by Iran. But it seems to be just diplomatic protocol by Saudi Arabia as host nation. They went through the Iranian ambassador to Riyadh.

      The Iranian ambassador to Riyadh said that Saudi Arabia has invited President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Mecca, Mehr News reported. Mohammad Javad Rasouli Mahallati said that it is not clear whether President Ahmadinejad would participate in the summit or not. Saudi Arabian King Abdullah called for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Mecca to be held on August 14-15.

      • American says:

        @ Rusty

        Is that the same meeting?—I don’t know that Moon of A hasn’t confused the two…..there was one called first by Iran and then this one by the Saudis.

    • The Saudi monarch has invited Ahmadinejad for an extraordinary summit of Muslim leaders …

      It’s a trap!

      • Walid says:

        2 days after the OIC meeting ends will the Yom al-Quds, the annual commemoration of Jerusalem Day held by most Shia communities, with the biggest held in Teheran and the second biggest in Beirut.

  26. American says:

    We can’t forget the big picture in what’s happening in Syria…..Clean Break was never shelved, it marches on, handed off from Bush to Obama. For some reason some people think the zios and neos lost their grip when Obama was elected. When I saw the names on Obama’s short list of appointments before his election all the ‘second tier’ zios and neos were still there…are still with us. Just the most recognizable ones that got busted on Iraq were put on public pause.

    Clean Break……link to iasps.org

    Taki writes in the September 2006 issue of The American Conservative that

    “recently, Netanyahu suggested that President Bush had assured him Iran will be prevented from going nuclear. I take him at his word. Netanyahu seems to be the main mover in America’s official adoption of the 1996 white paper A Clean Break, authored by him and American fellow neocons, which aimed to aggressively remake the strategic environments of Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. As they say in boxing circles, three down, two to go.”

    An October 2003 editorial in The Nation criticized the Syria Accountability Act and connected it to the ‘Clean Break’ report and authors:

    “To properly understand the Syria Accountability Act, one has to go back to a 1996 document, ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,’ drafted by a team of advisers to Benjamin Netanyahu in his run for prime minister of Israel. The authors included current Bush advisers Richard Perle and Douglas Feith. ‘Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil,’ they wrote, calling for ‘striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper.’ No wonder Perle was delighted by the Israeli strike. ‘It will help the peace process,’ he told the Washington Post, adding later that the United States itself might have to attack Syria. But what Perle means by ‘helping the peace process’ is not resolving the conflict by bringing about a viable, sovereign Palestinian state but rather – as underscored in ‘A Clean Break’ – ‘transcending the Arab-Israeli conflict’ altogether by forcing the Arabs to accept most, if not all, of Israel’s territorial conquests and its nuclear hegemony in the region.”

  27. Averroes says:

    Al Jazeera Exodus: Channel Losing Staff Over Bias

    “Qatar’s aggressive stance towards Assad has led to a string of resignations at the country’s al-Jazeera TV news channel. Those who left describe bias at the station which they say has become a tool to target the Syrian regime. RT’s Paula Slier describes those accusations.

    Bureau Managing Director Hassan Shaaban reportedly quit last week, after his correspondent and producer had walked out in protest.”

    link to tv.globalresearch.ca

    • Walid says:

      Ben Jeddo’s all-news “al-Mayadeen” is now humbly up and running and promises to keep providing honest news. Ben Jeddo had quit as Jazeera’s Beirut Bureau Chief over a year ago when he wouldn’t go along with the network’s new reporting directives on Syria.

      link to english.al-akhbar.com

  28. Averroes says:

    Also this just in:

    Syria’s Pipelineistan war
    This is a war of deals, not bullets.

    link to aljazeera.com