While you were neutral about Yarmouk

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
on 148 Comments
Ruined buildings in the Yarmouk refugee camp, summer 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

Ruined buildings in the Yarmouk refugee camp, summer 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

While you were insisting on neutrality about Yarmouk, the Syrian regime dropped barrel bombs on it. Mohammad Al Far. Husam Abo Ahmad. Mohammad Tafori. Mohammad Suhaib Al Qides. Ala’a Fri’j. These men are all dead. Mohammad Taha would later die too when he, along with a larger demonstration, approached a regime checkpoint in frustration after the carnage rained on them from above.

The Pro-Palestinian movement was delayed in picking up on the tragic unraveling of Yarmouk. It took the work of a great deal of dedicated activists to force it into the forefront of the solidarity movement’s agenda. What couldn’t be predicted, however, was that, in the place of silence, an ugly neutrality would hover over the new-founded concern. And that said the neutrality was often an unconvincing veil for something much more vile. Perhaps, in our naivety, we believe that when Yarmouk became visible, it would be nearly impossible to omit the clear fact that the siege was being imposed by the Syrian regime. Instead, it was the oppositional fighters in the camp who fell under the spotlight. A chorus emerged, one familiar enough to evoke a surreal sense of Déjà vu.

Yarmouk had transformed into Gaza. But this time, it was our side that was rationalizing the blockage, entertaining and validating the motives offered for collective punishment, instead of flatly rejecting it as a cruel practice.

As Lebanese blogger Mahmoud Mroueh wondered, “ ‘The Terrorists need to leave the refugee camp so civilians stop dying’–Zionist or Palestine solidarity activist?”

Al Awda, an organization dedicated to the Palestinian Right of Return, released a statement mourning Yarmouk. The culprit, however, was left obscured. “We call upon all parties, the Syrian government and the armed opposition, to take responsibility for any actions on their part.”

There is no equivalence to be drawn. By definition, a siege is forced by one party on another, imposing a collective punishment. The Palestinians of Yarmouk are starving? Agreed. The government is blocking the flow of goods? Agreed. Who is to blame for Yarmouk? Neutrality.

The US Palestinian Community Network issued a bolder statement calling on,” all parties involved to immediately uphold the agreement of the Palestinians in Yarmouk itself: that the armed groups hiding in the camp must exit, and that the siege of the camp must end immediately”

The rationalization of collective punishment. They oppose the siege. But peddle the reasons given by those implementing it. While there have been calls from within Yarmouk for armed groups to leave, it is a distant secondary thought. Palestinians from Yarmouk know that the regime is responsible for the imposed siege, and they resent that this point is muddled.

Salim Salamah, a Palestinian from Yarmouk, told me, “I mean with everything we are going through today, our belonging to Palestine is not defined anymore of our dream for our grandfather’s land, it is not embodied in a demonstration we hold on land day. With all the severe conditions, the romantic idea of Palestine is collapsing. We are third generation Palestinians; most of the ones inside Yarmouk now never saw Palestine. And then Palestinians outside Syria hold apolitical events to support us! They think they understand us and they do things like that!”

And he is right. For Palestinians from Syria, it has always been a lot clearer. “People in Yarmouk today and everyday saw where the mortars were coming from,” Salim explains, “and heard the warplane that approached today and bombed my friend’s building in Yarmouk. It should be clear to everybody who is to blame: Assad, Assad and then Jibril’s militia. The solution is clear, open Yarmouck from the north.”

Thaer Alsahli, another Palestinian from Yarmouk, agrees, “Instead of using its planes to drop boxes of food and medicine to the people under siege, it used them to drop barrel bombs to kill and injure those who have not yet died of hunger,” he continues,  “it is worth mentioning that most of the opposition fighters from outside the camp withdrew a while ago, under the framework of a truce that was signed around two weeks ago but that hasn’t been implemented, due to obstruction by the regime and the factions Fatah Al-Intifada and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command. There are now just dozens of Palestinian fighters left inside the camp, who agreed with the terms of the truce. This proves the vengeful intentions of the regime and these two factions towards the camp and the people under siege inside it.”

Most heinous of all, a recent statement released by SJP Cornell, in which they “ask” that the Assad regime “coordinate with the United Nations” to let food in and then “demand” that armed groups leave. In the 18-paragraph statement, comprised mostly of diatribes against “Western-armed gangs” and “Saudi and Qatari-armed insurgents”, the SJP chapter mildly faults the government exactly 4 times. The oppositional militants, on the other hand, absorb the larger majority of the scorn. SJP Cornell goes as far as to say, “armed bands must have known full well that the government had been adopting a scorched-earth counter-insurgency technique. So they, too, are responsible for what is occurring in Yarmouk.”

A tyranny given validation by a group founded to combat the injustices of a different tyranny.

SJP Cornell concludes, “Syria must be left to the Syrians.” As, perhaps, “Palestine must be left to the Palestinians.” The chapter may be referring specifically to foreign governmental intervention. But the language of the statement indicates something more insidious. With its unwillingness to offer solidarity to the revolution, it suggests that there is valiance to not taking an explicit side, all done under the guise of promoting self-determination. Ergo, forfeit your solidarity all non-Palestinian members of SJP Cornell! Let us sort it out. Don’t take sides, you imperialist! If we are to die under the gun of Apartheid, you would do well to spare us your misguided solidarity, your foolish assumption that tyranny should opposed in all manifestations, even if the despot shares the nationality of his victim.

But these statements, this cowardice disguised as concern, do something much worse than simply revealing hypocrisies.  The statement from SJP Cornell is a disaster, not only for the Palestinian solidarity movement but also more generally for the continuation of the Palestinian cause. We cannot ask that the world stand with us against our oppressor while we whitewash, or deflect, the crimes of someone else’s. And neutrality about suffering, when confronted with an identifiable source, does exactly that. It obscures. What would we do with the sympathy of someone who cares for Palestine but is only interested in equally faulting all parties?  Denial of a crime, or who commits it, is an endorsement by default. And make no mistake; peddling ambiguity is a form of denial.

“Cornell has internalized a role that benefits the colonizer,” a Palestinian-Syrian, who asked not to be named, explains, “we can’t reconcile the fascism of Assad with being anti-colonial. Palestinians in Yarmouk are Palestine. An attack on them is an attack on Palestine.”

The divide among Palestinians, and our cause, grows deeper. He continues, “Palestinian Syrians feel as though we are becoming separate. In other Palestinian camp in Syria, people couldn’t sleep because they knew Yarmouk was suffering. Solidarity with Palestinian Syrians against the war crimes of Assad is an act of resistance against Israeli colonialism. The health of the next revolutionary cycle and third intifada in Palestine is contingent on whether the liberation struggle in Syria is embraced.“

“The Palestinian Syrians are going nowhere. We know who is committing the siege. We know it is collective punishment. We know he (Assad) is war criminal. Denialism is not revolutionary. We may be at a loss now,” he reflects, ”but we will not forget those who didn’t point out who is starving us and they will be called out. They attacked us with a refusal to call out Assad.”

Riyad Al Turk once famously described Syria as a kingdom of silence.

I wonder what Hassan Hassan, while being tortured to death by the regime, was able to recognize that these denialists seem blind to, perhaps that the borders of this kingdom of silence extend much further than Syria.

148 Responses

  1. braciole
    January 17, 2014, 1:49 pm

    Are you seriously suggesting that if the rebels withdrew from Yarmouk, the Syrian government would continue the siege?

    • Djinn
      January 17, 2014, 9:18 pm

      The rebels being there is not an excuse to blockade and starve innocent people. Not when Israel does it and not when Assad does it. The children who are dying after months of eating leaves are not rebels. Assad is a war criminal every bit as much as Sharon was.

      • StanleyHeller
        January 18, 2014, 9:38 pm

        Latest news about the supposed delivery of food today to Yarmouk (1/18/14). Not much made it in. Listen to intervidew with Syrian-Palestinian journalist Nidal Bitari . Interviewed by Stanley Heller link to thestruggle.podbean.com

      • W.Jones
        January 19, 2014, 2:02 am

        Djinn,

        I don’t sympathize very much with Assad’s decision, but surely there is a distinction since Assad was on the way to being jacked up by fundamentalists like Gaddafi was.

        Wasn’t it Assad’s brother or another top official who was taken out within the last two years?

  2. hophmi
    January 17, 2014, 3:34 pm

    “Solidarity with Palestinian Syrians against the war crimes of Assad is an act of resistance against Israeli colonialism.”

    Huh?

    • OlegR
      January 17, 2014, 4:28 pm

      Shhh hophmi
      “то спор славян между собою”

      • dimadok
        January 18, 2014, 8:49 am

        Hahahaha. Thank you Oleg.

      • W.Jones
        January 19, 2014, 2:50 am

        Full analysis:

        Oleg wrote:
        “то спор славян между собою”

        This is a line from Pushkin’s poem “To the Slanderers of Russia”,
        link to soviet-empire.com

        There, Pushkin said it was pointless for nonslavic countries to make political intervention into slavic countries’ fights.

        Hophmi questions a statement that supported resistance to Assad. Oleg responded by saying that Hophmi should keep quiet, because that was an internal battle. So Oleg can be saying he supports Syrians fighting eachother, or that the Syrian conflict is an issue that Oleg and Hophmi do not have a need to be objecting to.

        So Oleg implies that Hophmi is right that resisting Assad is not an act of resistance against the State- the State is irrelevant.

        Personally, I agree with Hophmi, but not Oleg.

        The resistance was planned back in the 1996 Clean Break Document, which I encourage you to read. Thus, one can doubt that the proxy war is an act of resistance to the State and that it is irrelevant.

        Should the resistance in Syria win, what would be the implications would be to have an “Iraq” or “Libya” situation next door. Has the “democratic”, chaotic situation in Iraq brought the State negative consequences?

    • Donald
      January 17, 2014, 6:54 pm

      Don’t know what OlegR said there, but he’s probably telling you to relax, sit back, and have some popcorn.

      There are ideological splits on the pro-Palestinian side here. From what I can tell both rebels and the Syrian government commit atrocities–the Western mainstream says the Syrian government commits the bulk of them. I find the numbers from the Syrian Observatory (cited in the NYT last summer) deeply confusing–

      Here’s a quote–

      “In its breakdown, the group said the dead included 36,661 civilians, including 8,000 women and children; 13,539 rebel fighters; and 2,015 defectors from government forces.

      Among pro-government forces, the group said 25,407 regular soldiers had been killed along with 17,311 members of militias and pro-government units including some listed as informers for the government.”

      I don’t get this. The Syrian government heavily outguns the rebels, so how do the casualties come out like that?

      June 26 2013 NYT report

      • piotr
        January 17, 2014, 7:17 pm

        Donald, it is rather simple. This is a compilation of reports make by opposition groups, and enemy casualties are usually inflated, and own casualties are usually low-balled. Perhaps the compilation also includes the official media.

      • Walid
        January 17, 2014, 11:08 pm

        “Don’t know what OlegR said there, but he’s probably telling you to relax, sit back, and have some popcorn.”

        According to the Google cockeyed translator, it’s something more or less intended to mean letting the jerks argue among themselves. Looks like hophmi is also Russian.

        About your other question concerning numbers, Syrian soldiers are like Israeli soldiers with great numbers that really don’t amount to very much in guerrilla-type fighting. That’s why the tide suddenly turned in favour of the soldiers when Hizbullah sent in a few of its own to lend a helping hand.

      • Eva Smagacz
        January 18, 2014, 5:36 am

        Question: how does Oleg and Hopmi know each other? Met at training?

      • dimadok
        January 18, 2014, 8:50 am

        @Eva. Count me in too. In fact I was there before them- maybe I trained them also.

      • eljay
        January 18, 2014, 9:34 am

        >> Question: how does Oleg and Hopmi know each other? Met at training?

        I doubt they know each other personally. It’s more likely that they’re just hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist brothers-in-arms: Two guys who are proud to defend, advocate and/or practise the “chosen” art of Jewish supremacism.

      • thankgodimatheist
        January 18, 2014, 6:39 am

        “Looks like hophmi is also Russian. ”
        No, Michael is not.. I won’t post his surname because it’s his right to privacy and I respect that.

      • OlegR
        January 18, 2014, 8:31 am

        Actually i have no idea whether Hophmi is or isn’t “Russian”
        the quote i used is famous and fits the occasion so much that i couldn’t resist.
        Besides it it gives the more, how shell i put it , conspiratorial minds here something to talk about as Eva demonstrated below.

      • LeaNder
        January 19, 2014, 10:12 am

        Actually i have no idea whether Hophmi is or isn’t “Russian”
        the quote i used is famous and fits the occasion so much that i couldn’t resist.

        The quote actually only reminds me of the Nazis, but I’d be willing to learn. So what famous quote do you have in mind?

        Quite obviously with using the supposedly famous quote you want to convey that the “Arabs” fight each other? Yes. Thus the “Slavs” stand for “Arabs” and that is funny, right? Because the word’s Latin origin sclavus was historically associated since the Middle Ages with a specific group of people but could also mean servant or slave? A somewhat lower type of human beings?

        In any case what seems to make it funny for you is that you are somewhat feeling superior to the Arabs fighting each other. Right? …

        Interesting anyway, that you choose Russian to convey that type of joke, which I suppose it is meant to be, but not Hebrew.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 18, 2014, 10:52 am

        donald, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is not a group, it is one man, who is (very) partisan. link to en.wikipedia.org

      • Donald
        January 18, 2014, 12:14 pm

        ” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is not a group, it is one man, who is (very) partisan. ”

        I know, but his numbers are among those commonly cited. Also, though he’s anti-Assad, his numbers don’t actually support what one sometimes hears from Westerners. I’ve heard people (including possibly Kerry and McCain, but I’m not sure) say that Assad is responsible for killing 100,000 of his own people. Not true, according to the Syrian Observatory numbers. Not that I favor either Assad or the rebels–as best I can tell, it’s a war with armed factions on both sides that deliberately kill civilians.

  3. skidmarx
    January 17, 2014, 3:46 pm

    “Are you seriously suggesting that if the rebels withdrew from Yarmouk, the Syrian government would continue the siege?”
    Yes. Though asking the rebels to pull out when they are not some foreign proxy force, like many of Assad’s foreign legions, but are the people of the camp. It is like asking Hamas to pull out of Gaza, or asking the PLO in 1982 to pull out of Beirut, and we know what happened there.

    • braciole
      January 17, 2014, 4:06 pm

      So are the rebels in Yarmouk Palestinian? All the reports I’ve seen suggest that they are foreign rebels and terrorists.
      As for “Assad’s foreign legions”, there have been reports that Hezbollah has been involved to protect their supply lines and that there are some Iranian volunteers who are defending the Shi’ite religious sites in Syria and some Iranians acting as advisers to the Syrian Army. The vast majority of the Syrian Army is Syrian. The same cannot be said of the most aggressive rebels who appear to be Chechen, Libyan, Tunisian, Saudis, etc. ; in fact anything but Syrian.

      • Walid
        January 17, 2014, 4:31 pm

        From the Telegraph:

        “Up to 11,000 fighters from more than 70 nations have joined the struggle in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad, almost doubling estimates made earlier this year.

        The number of individuals from western Europe taking up arms has tripled to up to 1,900 and includes up to 366 from Britain, according to research by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College, London. The number reported from France has quadrupled while Belgium has the highest per capita rate.

        The report showed that Arabs and Europeans made up the bulk of foreign fighters, with up to 80 per cent, but militants from southeast Asia, North America, Africa, the Balkans and countries of the former Soviet Union were also represented.

        link to telegraph.co.uk

  4. Walid
    January 17, 2014, 4:05 pm

    Talal you’re saying that Assad is a tyrant and a war criminal. In what ways was he a war criminal as far as the Yarmouk was concerned before the civil war broke out and some of the Palestinians decided to side with the rebels?

    You are making it sound as if your problems have been caused by Syria more than by Israel. There are currently as many Syrian refugees from the Golan in Syria today because of Israel than there are Palestinian refugees in its camps.

    I’m not diminishing any of Assad’s viciousness on Yarmouk, but you are saying in so many other words that the Palestinians are blameless in all this mess, that the rebels have already left and the only ones left giving the Syrians the excuse to maintain the siege are the few Palestinians fighters; who are those Palestinians fighting? Going after the Cornell group with a sledge hammer as you are doing here is only confusing the issue further and diverting attention from the famine problem in the camp.

    • Walid
      January 17, 2014, 4:16 pm

      From al-Akhbar 2 days ago:

      “What is happening, and has been happening for months now, in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus is criminal. A siege upon any segment of a civilian population is outrageous, but on a civilian refugee population – one enclosed within a camp already living in horrific conditions no less – is beyond deplorable.

      One cannot ignore the endless stories emerging from the camp describing how dire the situation has become, the stories of starvation, the stories of restriction of movement, and the lack of access to basic humanitarian aid. Nor can one ignore the desperate pleas from the civilians trapped inside, calling for a chance to escape the battle zone.

      … The responsibility lies first and foremost with the Syrian regime and the rebels, who have a moral duty to protect a vulnerable population. Yet as supporters of the Palestinian cause, as fighters for the Palestinian cause, it is also our duty to defend and protect the rights of those most vulnerable – those who are forced into an untenable position between two opposing sides.

      We have a responsibility to raise our voices and demand action against these atrocities. We have a responsibility to distinguish, and to remind others who forget, the difference between the oppressors and the oppressed.

      The civilian population should not have to suffer from the battles between the regime and the rebels. They should not be held hostage by fighting groups. They should not be made to suffer for their fractured and incompetent leadership (something the Lebanese are all too familiar with). More importantly, they should not be collectively punished for the actions of a few.

      … We are all responsible for those civilians in Yarmouk, and it is our responsibility to ensure their safety, their access to basic food and medication, and their safe passage out of the camp.”

      Full article:

      link to english.al-akhbar.com

      • Annie Robbins
        January 18, 2014, 11:27 am

        thank you for some sanity walid. there are some glaring problems with alyon’s analysis. for one thing, the criticism of SJP Cornell:

        With its unwillingness to offer solidarity to the revolution, it suggests that there is valiance to not taking an explicit side, all done under the guise of promoting self-determination.

        ah, it’s been documented time and again the foreign jihadist make up the bulk of fighting forces in “the revolution”. whether one thinks it was highjacked from the syrian people or not, or incited from outsiders, is not my point. but syrians (or the syrian component of ‘free syrian army’) are not the dominant fighting forces in this ‘revolution’. and it very much reminded me of the recent event in lebanon where the refugee camp near sidon has a large contingent of jhiadist, one who recently blew up the iranian embassy in beirut in november. how this can be construed as a palestinian cause, or fighting against zionism, is outside my realm of imagination.

        it is my understanding jhiadist or salafists or whatever one calls them, do not recognize or aspire nationalist recognition or borders but an islamic caliphate. now if there are palestinians who have thrown in their lots with this ambition (as there are saudis, and yemenites or wherever they may come from) how is that fighting for the syrian cause or the palestinians cause or whatever? i don’t support that version of ‘revolution’ in syria and i have doubts many syrians do either.

        this is not a black and white situation, it reminds me of another post we had here a while back that i strongly disagreed with: Do’s and don’ts for progressives discussing Syria link to mondoweiss.net

        do’s and don’ts for progressive/radical anti-war organizations/activists in the US as you figure out a proper response.

        1. DON’T in any way say or imply both sides are wrong and it’s not clear who we would be supporting if we get involved militarily. This is an insult to every Syrian who has and continues to go out in the streets and protest both the regime and those forces who are looking to use this time of war to assert their own power over others.

        i’m sorry, but i can’t throw my lot with fighters who slice open the chest of non believers and eat their heart out. this is not a ‘revolution’ i can support and it has nothing to do with the palestinian cause just because some of those radicalized jhiadist might be palestinians. and i’m also not saying or implying most or all palestinians who have a dog in this fight are aligned with those factions. and there are rebels aligned with those with legitimate aspiration of freedom in syria fighting against assad, but they shouldn’t embed inside a densely populated refugee camp.

        on land day in palestine last year a fight broke out between palestinians over syria. this is not a clear cut situation and palestinians are not unified over their support of one side or another. so i would definitely place the blame on both sides wrt what’s going on in Yarmouk. it brings danger to civilians harboring fighters. and it’s likely there are those in the camps who don’t support those fighters being there.

      • gamal
        January 19, 2014, 2:59 am

        “it is my understanding jihadist or salafists or whatever one calls them, do not recognize or aspire nationalist recognition or borders but an islamic caliphate.”

        briefly, the Khilafah movement is mainly Indo/Pakistani, Caliphate has a different meaning to Sub-continental Muslims, the Arab world was mostly conquered by nominally Muslim Mongols, Mughals in India, Indo/Pakistani Muslims tend to recall the Mughals favourably, but it is resistance to these conquerors that is credited with giving rise to Jihadism/Fundamentalism by reference to ibni Taymiyeh, who is generally grossly misrepresented, Arabs not so long ago revolted against their Caliph, to the Indo/Pakistani Muslims the Caliphate recalls a time when Muslims ruled much of India prior to their replacement by the British, not many Arabs recall Turkish rule fondly, I mean why not the Islamic Caliphate of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has an acronym that is the name of a pagan god, ISIS, which is jolly sporting of them, the new states of SETH and OSIRIS cant be far behind. its not a big deal but this kind of lumping together of very disparate groups with the rapid semantic evolution of terms such as salafist, Jihadist, Islamist its not a big issue but i see a lot of ideas being bandied about that strike me as rooted in both ignorance and self serving stereotyping, Anne Nortons written an “On the Muslim Question” which I have not read, I first noticed it after reading a tendentious review by one Posen i think in the Guardian, here is a sympathetic one which may provide those so inclined with areas of further research,
        link to h-net.org

        also this pdf by Michael Provence may interest those whose grasp of the recent history of resistance Levant is weak, very ungainly url but here goes..

        link to google.com.jm..pdf&ei=w2jbUqKcF5SvsAT7toA4&usg=AFQjCNFKm3ZauNozIu7UmY4ktl5ablemaw&bvm=bv.59568121,d.cWc

        and also Jesse Ferris has written “Nasser’s Gamble” which is an explicit expression of the well known Saudi and Israeli collusion in the destruction of Nassers Arab nationalist program, citing his defeat in Yemen as the precursor to ’67, he works for an Israeli think tank i think, and those who believe that the ’73 oil embargo and price hikes were aimed at Washington had best research its actual effects, it instantly bankrupted most third world countries forcing them to the IMF and WB and programs of structural readjustment that froze their “developement” and compelled them into their assigned complementary role in the international system. Structural Adjustment is nowadays called Austerity in the West, and oh yeah jihad you could do worse than the linked book.
        link to press.princeton.edu

      • gamal
        January 20, 2014, 6:20 am

        sorry the link to Michael Provence “Ottoman Modernity, Colonialism and Insurgency in the Interwar Arab East” doesn’t work

      • American
        January 19, 2014, 11:30 am

        “do’s and don’ts for progressive/radical anti-war organizations/activists in the US as you figure out a proper response.””…annie

        Yea I remember those’ instructions’ …made me gag.
        There isnt any ‘good side’ in Syria…..theres only the practical question of how and the fastest way to stop both sides so some kind of negotiations can start to end the violence.
        And practically speaking since Assad has the mechanicisms of a government, such as it is, for negotiations, and can be pressured by the nations and the rebels dont have a centralized or unified representation and arent as controlable they should be contained ‘first’—then Assad will have to stop or face the nations.
        You have to stop ‘one side or the other’ before the violence is gonna stop…neither side is going stop as long as the other keeps going.

    • Inanna
      January 18, 2014, 5:06 am

      Thanks Walid, you make some very good points.

  5. skidmarx
    January 17, 2014, 4:28 pm

    “All the reports I’ve seen suggest that they are foreign rebels and terrorists.”
    Because you only read reports sympathetic to the Assad position, I guess. The very use of the term terrorist, the favourite of those who seek to marginalise those of the oppressed fighting back, is less appropriate to the Syrian revolutionaries than most fighters in the Middle East, with fewer suicide attacks, no bombings of civilians (again if you only read pro-Assad press you”ll think they are all liver-eating psychos. There’s only so much you can be pointed in the right direction). The terrorists here are those starving out civilian populations, whether in Yarmouk or elsewhere in Syria (maybe if the entire country leaves the siege will stop), as well as the barrel bombings and more ordinary weapons of terror. And that’s the government side.

    • braciole
      January 17, 2014, 5:26 pm

      Syrian revolutionaries – now you are joking! There is nothing revolutionary about the rebels in Syria, they and their backers in Saudi Arabia and other Arabian peninsular theocratic absolute monarchies have a vision more appropriate to the seventh century than the present day..

    • piotr
      January 17, 2014, 7:25 pm

      There was a large number of car bombs in civilian areas, so the “insurgents” can be absolved from AEARIAL bombings, but not from bombings in general. It is of course more practical to leave a car bomb and walk away before detonating, but I do not see a moral difference with suicide bombing. There were also reports of entire villages taken hostage or even massacred. And very recently a mayor of a Lebanese town negotiated with rebels to release Christian nun hostages.

  6. Rusty Pipes
    January 17, 2014, 4:32 pm

    One stiff dose of Muslim Brotherhood-insurgent propaganda on the rocks!

    The PLO has been calling throughout the almost 3 years of the Syrian conflict for all parties to respect the neutrality of Palestinian refugee camps. Both Hamas and the PFLP-GC have taken opposite sides in the conflict from early on. Those camps, like Yarmouk, that allowed (or were unable to prevent) armed fighters to take hold have been ripped apart — and most Palestinian refugees have fled. Other Palestinian refugee camps have managed to stay neutral by forming popular committees to keep fighters out.

    This fall, the PLO came close to brokering a ceasefire for Yarmouk by getting agreement that it would be governed by representatives of all Palestinian factions except for those involved in fighting, such as Hamas and PFLP-GC. The agreement fell apart because of Hamas intransigence. Now militants inside the camp are firing on aid-workers who are trying to supply remaining civilians in Yarmouk with food and medicine. The insurgents in Yarmouk have been attacking civilian neighborhoods in nearby Damascus for months, while hiding behind the remaining Palestinian civilians in the camp.

  7. Bandolero
    January 17, 2014, 4:40 pm

    This Mondo Weiss article is a bold propaganda lie against the Syrian government. Read what Chris Gunness, spokesperson for UNRWA, has to say what is really going on:

    The relief convoy which tried to get in to Yarmouk was an UNRWA convoy led by UNRWA staff and carrying humanitarian supplies loaded from UNRWA’s central warehouse in Damascus – six small trucks with food for 6,000 people along with 10,000 doses of polio vaccine and some medical supplies.

    Syrian authorities provided us with a security escort enabling us to reach a last government-controlled checkpoint at the southern entrance of Yarmouk.

    The convoy was cleared to proceed beyond the checkpoint and the Syrian authorities provided a bulldozer to go ahead to clear the road of debris, earth mounds and other obstructions.

    The bulldozer was fired upon, hit by direct gunfire and forced to withdraw, though with no casualties. Thereafter, bursts of gunfire, including machine-gun fire, erupted close to the trucks and UNRWA vehicles, suggesting a firefight.

    Also, one mortar exploded very close to the convoy. The convoy withdrew at this point following the advice of the security escort and returned safely to Damascus. …

    link to electronicintifada.net

    Videos I have seen from the incident show that the account given by Chris Gunness is truthful.

    • UshPhe
      January 17, 2014, 5:38 pm

      “When Syrian authorities gave UNRWA clearance to proceed to deliver assistance to Yarmouk, they required UNRWA to use the southern entrance to Yarmouk. This meant the convoy had to drive some 20 kilometres through an area of intense and frequent armed conflict, in which numerous armed opposition groups, including some of the most extreme jihadist groups, have a strong and active presence.

      Citing security concerns, Syrian authorities did not give UNRWA permission to use the northern entrance to Yarmouk which is under government control, and which is generally regarded as more likely to be accessible with relatively less risk.”

      Did you not notice this part of the article? Or did it not filter through your pro-Syrian government blinders? There doesn’t need to be any propaganda against the Syrian government. It supplies all the ammunition.

      • UshPhe
        January 17, 2014, 5:48 pm

        It’s amazing to me how irrational people are when it comes to Syria…they feel like they have to take sides….they feel like that just because they opposed a Western military strike on Syria that they automatically have to be pro-Assad and play down any atrocities committed by the Syrian government against its own people… give me a break…use your heads people…Assad is a monster. And it’s not propaganda to assert that fact.

        link to youtube.com

        Max Blumenthal on this absurd phenomenon

      • Annie Robbins
        January 18, 2014, 11:44 am

        what’s amazing to me is how a person such as yourself can claim someone who blames both sides is accused of being ‘pro assad’. who’s being irrational here? and here’s the same UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness:

        link to middleeastmonitor.com

        He added, “The continued presence of armed groups that entered the area at the end of 2012 and its closure by government forces have thwarted all our humanitarian efforts.”

        Armed opposition forces are in control of the majority of the camp, which is the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. Regime forces have besieged the camp for almost a year now, resulting in a humanitarian crisis, and the displacement of tens of thousands of its 170,000 residents.

        so is middle east monitor pro assad? and what about the forces firing on UNRWA? regardless of what entrance they are near? do they hold no responsibility?

      • UshPhe
        January 18, 2014, 3:42 pm

        I’m confused…isn’t this the sentiment the article is referring to and criticizing? by blaming both sides equally….by putting forth the idea of moral equivalence these groups are effectively excusing what the Assad regime is doing…that’s what I meant by pro-Assad…I didn’t mean that they actually consciously believe laying siege on Yarmouk is justifiable, although some have used the words “asking for it”. I mean how cruel is it to say the people of Yarmouk are “Asking for it? I mean just look at some of the comments here. People are blaming the presence of a few fighters inside the camp for a vicious aerial bombardment and siege by the Assad Regime instead of placing sole blame with Assad. I don’t understand how one can remain logically consistent especially when these same people certainly don’t blame the presence of Hamas inside Gaza for the vicious Israeli siege. I’m a firm believer in the concept that you don’t blame the oppressed for their oppression, and that also applies to resistance fighters.

      • UshPhe
        January 18, 2014, 4:09 pm

        of course they hold responsibility for that incident, but when looks at the big picture and the entire war, the fact remains there is no moral equivalence between an army that has fighter jets and barrel bombs and an armed resistance group. and by releasing statements which denounce both sides equally, as this article argues against, one is in fact legitimating the violence used against the oppressed. does Mondoweiss or electronic intifada or any Palestinian Solidarity group call for Hamas to lay downs its arms or stop firing its rockets for the siege to end. No. Cause they recognize that overwhelming primary responsiblity lays with Israel and anything Hamas does is in response to Israel’s provcations. Israel is the oppressor with fighter jets and artillery and superior weapons. The Assad regime has already made clear it does not care about the well-being of civilians in a time of war just as Israel could care less about the well-being of Gazan civilians. The Assad regime took UNRWA to that entrance knowing they would be fired upon. If they have an entrance that is much safer, why didn’t they take UNRWA to that entrance? If UNRWA is asking that question, why shouldn’t the previous commenter do the same? Again some here are suggesting that the Syrian regime has no other options but to use the current methods to root out these fighters. That idea is ludicrous. Dropping bombs and laying siege on an entire camp and imposing collective punishment on civilians who “asked for it”… is the only option available to a powerful army? these commenters may not actually consciously be pro-Assad….but the rhetoric they are using just like if they were to denounce Palestinian armed resistance against Israel or denounce Hezbollahs resistance against Israel any time it invades Southern Lebanon gives a measure of legitimation to Assad actions. the fact is there is no justification for what Assad is doing and the calls for Assad to stop the siege should be way louder and more forceful then calls against armed resistance fighters.

        Thaer Alsahli, another Palestinian from Yarmouk, agrees, “Instead of using its planes to drop boxes of food and medicine to the people under siege, it used them to drop barrel bombs to kill and injure those who have not yet died of hunger,” he continues, “it is worth mentioning that most of the opposition fighters from outside the camp withdrew a while ago, under the framework of a truce that was signed around two weeks ago but that hasn’t been implemented, due to obstruction by the regime and the factions Fatah Al-Intifada and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command. There are now just dozens of Palestinian fighters left inside the camp, who agreed with the terms of the truce. This proves the vengeful intentions of the regime and these two factions towards the camp and the people under siege inside it.”

        What does this statement mean to you? Apparently all it represents to Bandeloro is Syrian government Propaganda. so now anything said against the Syrian government is propaganda just because the West wanted a military strike against Syria…that is not only absurd but to a limited degree, like I already said, it legitimizes Assad and the fact is people in the West should not be in the business of legitimating Assad’s actions to any degree.

      • Sibiriak
        January 18, 2014, 9:08 pm

        UshPhe :

        I’m confused…isn’t this the sentiment the article is referring to and criticizing? by blaming both sides equally….by putting forth the idea of moral equivalence these groups are effectively excusing what the Assad regime is doing

        Yes, you are confused. Criticizing/condemning both sides is not the same as supporting or excusing one side. Nor does it necessarily imply “moral equivalence”.

      • Donald
        January 19, 2014, 9:10 am

        “I don’t understand how one can remain logically consistent especially when these same people certainly don’t blame the presence of Hamas inside Gaza for the vicious Israeli siege. I’m a firm believer in the concept that you don’t blame the oppressed for their oppression, and that also applies to resistance fighters.”

        The first part is right–one can’t be logically consistent in blaming Israel for its crimes and excusing Assad for his. The second part is wrong–it’s a typical leftist claim and it’s BS. “Resistance fighters” who deliberately kill civilians are murderers who can and should be blamed for what they do. Lefties who think that being a “resistance fighter” excuses anything and everything they do are no better than Zionists who think the massive oppression of Jews excuses anything that Zionists choose to do. It’s the same “logic”. It’s also why this sort of thinking invariably leads to “liberations” that result in continued massive human rights violations rather than democratic states with equal rights for all. One would think that the history of “liberation movements” that result in new oppressive states with new human rights violations would have taught people something, but some lefties just continue to cling to their stupid illusions.

        On Syria, “neutrality”, meaning blaming war criminals on both sides, is the obvious moral choice. On the pragmatic level, since we can’t get all the criminals in court, the proper course is to push for a peace conference where all involved parties are invited–that is, the US with its opposition to Iranian participation is still part of the problem.

    • Djinn
      January 17, 2014, 9:23 pm

      Yes the convoy was fired upon from the south however UNRWA also criticized the Syrian government for refusing alternative access from the north. It is dishonest to leave those comments from Gunness out.

      “UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said in a statement the Syrian authorities “required” that it use the southern entrance to Yarmouk.

      That meant it had to drive 20 km (12 miles) “through an area of intense and frequent armed conflict, in which numerous armed opposition groups, including some of the most extreme jihadist groups, have a strong and active presence”.

      link to uk.reuters.com

  8. mcohen
    January 17, 2014, 5:14 pm

    Kung fu deja vu

  9. AlGhorear
    January 17, 2014, 5:56 pm

    Thanks for posting this, Bandolero. It’s always so difficult to figure out what is happening in the “fog of war”, but I’m inclined to trust Chris Gunness based on his neutrality and previous reporting.

    It’s just a shame that so many are suffering, with no end in sight.

    • Bandolero
      January 17, 2014, 9:52 pm

      It’s not difficult to find out what really happens there.

      First, it’s terrorists inside the camp who prevent that aid comes into the camp and shoot on neutral people trying to bring aid in. Terrorists preventing aid entering the camp cause food shortages, but as you see in the video the people there don’t look starved. The “cooked cat” video is from Douma a dozen kilometers away from the Yarmouk camp, where well-fed terrorists had fun killing a cat and cooking it with rotten vegetables for propaganda purposes which was planned by the local Duma sheikh with a fatwa that in need it’s allowed to eat cats.

      Second, there must be many terrorists in the camp. If there were only some dozen “fighters” in the camp as claimed in this propaganda piece above it would be easy to overwhelm these terrorists, who shoot at people trying to deliver food and medical aid.

      Third, the “barrel bomb” story is a complete lie. The hugh destruction shown on the videos is incompatible with barrel bombs. The Syrian Army doesn’t use barrel bombs at all for much more than a year now, because they are highly ineffective and inprecise, and the Syria army gets a lot more precise standard ammo from Russia how much it wants. What is shown looks more like a terrorist run IED factory in the house exploded.

      Fourth, terrorists try to prevent civilians from leaving the camp. Videos show terrorists from the camp shooting at people who try to flee the camp. The terrorists do so because the terrorists in the camp need civilians as human shields.

      Fifth, what is happening in Yarmouk is not a siege by the government. The government let’s food and medical aid in, but heavily armed terrorists inside the camp try to prevent aid going in and people fleeing. What is happening in the camp is a failed armed uprising that became a mass hostage taking by heavily armed and brutal terrorists, similar to the hostage situations in Deir Attiyah, Adra, Beit Sahem and other places in Syria.

      To sum it up: Ruthless terrorist propagandists systematically spread lies to lift the image of terrorists backed by NATO and GCC states, who are Israeli allies or even proxies. Their propagandists spin the hostage takings by terrorists as an unmoral government sieges, terrorist caused explosions as “barrel bombings” or “SCUDs” and terrorists shooting unarmed civilians as if the government was the cuplrit of this. Zionist controlled mass media are happy to spread such propaganda lies against the Syrian government as if they were true, because Israel hates the Syrian government and it’s allies Iran and Hezbollah for their strong opposition against zionism. Israel wants regime change in Syria to get some Israeli, Saudi or US stooges in power in Syria who will legalize Israel’s annexation of Syria’s golan heights. A part of the Palestinians and the international solidarity movement happily joins the zionists in their proxy fight against the Syrian government.

      • UshPhe
        January 18, 2014, 8:23 pm

        “Fourth, terrorists try to prevent civilians from leaving the camp. Videos show terrorists from the camp shooting at people who try to flee the camp. The terrorists do so because the terrorists in the camp need civilians as human shields.

        Fifth, what is happening in Yarmouk is not a siege by the government. The government let’s food and medical aid in, but heavily armed terrorists inside the camp try to prevent aid going in and people fleeing. What is happening in the camp is a failed armed uprising that became a mass hostage taking by heavily armed and brutal terrorists, similar to the hostage situations in Deir Attiyah, Adra, Beit Sahem and other places in Syria.”

        what’s your source for this information? you make some pretty sweeping conclusions that in your mind obviously can not be questioned without calling the other person a propagandist against the Syrian regime. how do I know your sources aren’t propaganda on the other side. I’m not asking this with any bias. I just want to know what your sources are and why you are so certain they are trustworthy.

  10. seafoid
    January 17, 2014, 6:06 pm

    Where have the people of the Yarmouk camp gone? Where did the refugees in Iraq end up ? And Zionists whine about being eternal victims.

  11. Austin Branion
    January 17, 2014, 6:08 pm

    I really think Talal did a great job with this piece overall. I’m really annoyed, not to mention disturbed, to see so many people that I consider fellow-travelers in solidarity with the Palestinian cause (especially commentors on this site) reproduce justifications for a brutal SIEGE that could come straight out of a Zionist handbook. I say bravo, Talal.

    I have a few quibbles, though.

    When it comes to the nature of sieges in general, the Yarmouk siege in particular, the relentless criminality of the Asad regime, false equivalences, the occasionally sickening moral myopia and hypocrisy of the progressive left in the name of “anti-imperialism,” and the problem of neutrality, Talal hits every nail on the head.

    I have two problems, though. One is the use of extraneous, politically immature, and intellectually lazy language about the Syrian “revolution.” Referring to the ongoing civil-cum-proxy war as a “revolution” is vapid.

    The second problem is a much lesser one of omission: while there is no equivalence between the warring parties, UNRWA employees that were set to deliver food aid noted that they were fired on from within the camp, a senseless crime perpetrated by an insurgent group. Of course it pales in comparison to the crime of actually leveling a medieval siege that makes the prison of Gaza look like a playpen by comparison, but a crime worthy of condemnation nonetheless.

    • Donald
      January 17, 2014, 7:04 pm

      “I’m really annoyed, not to mention disturbed, to see so many people that I consider fellow-travelers in solidarity with the Palestinian cause (especially commentors on this site) reproduce justifications for a brutal SIEGE that could come straight out of a Zionist handbook”

      I’m sympathetic with what you say here, but as I said above, it’s hard to tell from several thousand miles away what is going on. The numbers from the Syrian Observatory are difficult to reconcile with the vague picture I get from the Western press, where a heavily armed Syrian military is fighting a ruthless no-holds barred battle against rebels and any civilians that get in its way. I don’t doubt that the Syrian government commits massive war crimes–I just don’t understand those figures I quoted above. According to them, the number of Syrian soldier and associated militia deaths was five times greater than the number of dead women and children and the outgunned rebels are doing rather well. Now I agree that this is all on a much larger scale than the Gaza War, but do those numbers sound anything like the ratios in Gaza 2009?

      I have no interest in the ideologies . People on an ideology kick usually end up explaining why one set of child killings isn’t as bad as another set.

      • Austin Branion
        January 17, 2014, 10:21 pm

        Donald, your questions about the casualty statistics are valid and ones that I share.

        But how is that relevant to the siege of Yarmouk? It’s not.

        I suppose you may be thinking that, like the somewhat inchoate casualty figures–the true number of which we’ll probably never know–almost everything about the war is obfuscated by proverbial “fog.”

        The siege of Yarmouk is not one of those things.

        No one disputes that Yarmouk is under a siege that is not only keeping its people trapped–which, in some cases, may be judged as a temporary military necessity–but is barring any supplies from entering. Some children have actually died of hunger. This isn’t Zionists putting Gazans on a “diet,” horrid as that is–there are people in Yarmouk that are, literally, STARVING. And here’s the kicker: not even regime apologists dispute these basic facts; instead, like Zionists, in the face of conspicuous facts that shock the conscience, they have to result to morally sickening arguments justifying collective punishment.

        Moreover, Yarmouk isn’t some far off locale in the Syrian countryside, subject to the vicissitudes of ever-shifting battle lines where the regime has lost its grip. It’s practically a part of the city of Damascus. I’ve been there myself. Yarmouk is on the regime’s doorstep and they are fully responsible for laying SIEGE to it.

      • tree
        January 17, 2014, 11:17 pm

        No one disputes that Yarmouk is under a siege that is not only keeping its people trapped–which, in some cases, may be judged as a temporary military necessity–but is barring any supplies from entering.

        This is not correct, Austin. Bandolero’s link DOES DISPUTE that supplies are being barred from entering the camp by Assad’s forces. According to the UNRWA spokesperson it is some fighters in the camp that are not allowing UNRWA supplies to reach the people trapped there. I certainly don’t have any special knowledge but I would tend to trust a UNRWA spokesperson over either an Assad spokesperson or a rebel spokesperson.

        I believe that is also indirectly bearing on Donald’s point, which is not really a “fog of war” argument but a question about whether one can reliably believe either sides pronouncements as fact.

      • Djinn
        January 17, 2014, 11:26 pm

        Actually Bandalero’s link shows that UNRWA are placing the blame on both sides. Anti Assad forces attacked an attempt to enter from the south. Assad’s government refused access from the north.

        “When Syrian authorities gave UNRWA clearance to proceed to deliver assistance to Yarmouk, they required UNRWA to use the southern entrance to Yarmouk. This meant the convoy had to drive some 20 kilometres through an area of intense and frequent armed conflict, in which numerous armed opposition groups, including some of the most extreme jihadist groups, have a strong and active presence.

        Citing security concerns, Syrian authorities did not give UNRWA permission to use the northern entrance to Yarmouk which is under government control, and which is generally regarded as more likely to be accessible with relatively less risk.

      • Bandolero
        January 18, 2014, 3:20 pm

        Djinn

        That the Syrian government disagrees with UNRWAs estimation that the northern entrance would allow a more secure entering of aid as the southern entrance doesn’t change the fact that armed anti-government groups prevented UNRWA delivering aid into the camp with heavy gunfire. I call armed anti-government people – who commit such acts – “terrorists.” And that’s exactly the problem in the Yarmouk camp: terrorists who behave themselves completely irresponsible have a strong presence there.

        And, look at the part of the UNRWA quote you cited, to get a hint of what’s the situation in the wider area: “… armed conflict, in which numerous armed opposition groups, including some of the most extreme jihadist groups, have a strong and active presence …” So, that – “the strong and active presence” of “the most extreme jihadist groups” – is the reason that the Syrian government takes so extensive security measures. Had the government opened the northern entrance and these “most extreme jihadist groups” had killed some of the UNRWA “infidels” delivering food aid into the camp that wouldn’t have made the situation any better.

        However, the PFLP-GC has managed today – with the help of the government – to get some tons of food and aid into the camp – not on trucks, but carrying it on their shoulders under jihadi gunfire through small backyard paths from the northern entrance:

        Damascus, (SANA)- Spokesman of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Anwar Raja, announced Saturday that the first batch of food supplies have entered al-Yarmouk Camp in Damascus in implementation of a peaceful popular initiative to alleviate the suffering of the people trapped in the camp.

        In a statement to SANA, Raja pointed out that delivering the humanitarian aid was carried out through primitive and complicated ways as the efforts of the Palestinian popular committees and families of the camp united to deliver the aid.

        He added that the Syrian government offered all logistic and security facilitations to deliver this batch of humanitarian aid.

        A week ago, the armed terrorist groups targeted an UNRWA aid convoy and prevented the delivery of aid into the camp.

        Palestinian Minister of Labor, Ahmad Majdalani, stressed during a previous meeting with Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Dr. Fayssal Mikdad, in Damascus that the entry of gunmen into the Palestinian camps is the cause of the camps’ suffering.

        Source:

        link to 213.178.225.235

        It’s sourced from a mirror because SANA.sy itself is not available due to ongoing heavy information warfare efforts (DDoS) by anti-government forces – or, more likely, foreign intelligence agencies or cyber warfare military units backing them – against information from the Syrian government.

      • Austin Branion
        January 17, 2014, 11:55 pm

        tree, I am not disputing what the UNRWA spokeperson said, and I, too, join others in condemning the armed group in the camp that fired on the UNRWA convoy that was delivering aid.

        But that has nothing to do with the fact that there is a SIEGE that the regime was allowing the convoy to penetrate. The fact that an armed group did something as criminal and reckless as fire on an aid convoy in no way negates the fact that there is a siege on Yarmouk necessitating the delivery of aid and securing of safe passage by the siege’s implementer in the first place.

      • UshPhe
        January 18, 2014, 12:00 am

        Yes!!

      • Bandolero
        January 18, 2014, 8:30 am

        “No one disputes that Yarmouk is under a siege…”

        Well, besides the comment with the UNRWA spocks quote I added another comment here where I do dispute and express disagreement with the whole “siege” and “bad regime” narrative. However, that comment is still “awaiting moderation.” So the reason for that “no one disputes” that here has to do with the moderation policies applied here at Mondo Weiss, not that “no one disputes”. So maybe at least this comment passes moderation so that you know at least that there exist other opinions.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 18, 2014, 1:40 pm

        has to do with the moderation policies applied here at Mondo Weiss,

        oh sorry we’re not fast enough for you bandolero, it’s not about the policy, it’s just that i stopped to write a comment. that’s ok isn’t it? as it stands i think we we’re backed up way over 100 comments on the blog this morning and i’m reading the ones in this thread and clearing them as i work my way down. so all the other threads are held up unless someone else is also moderating. that’s not about ‘policy’ it’s about being understaffed.

        and for your information saturday is frequently backed up because i always spend friday aft/evening w/my mom. so we’ve got lots of yesterdays comments still unmoderated, again, not about ‘policy’.

      • Bandolero
        January 18, 2014, 2:31 pm

        Annie,

        I’m sorry for my wrong suspicions regarding “moderation policy” here, please take my apology.

        I just saw that many other “pro-insurgency” comments written later were published, while mine, which is much closer to the Syrian government’s narrative on what’s happening, was hanging in the loop for many hours, so I prematurely concluded it was MW policy and had something to do with my pro-government opinion.

        Bandolero

    • Keith
      January 17, 2014, 7:40 pm

      AUSTIN BRANION- “…the occasionally sickening moral myopia and hypocrisy of the progressive left in the name of “anti-imperialism,”….”

      So, you are a supporter of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and the rest of the imperial juggernaut as they foment strife in Syria to obtain geostrategic advantage? Without imperial support, there wouldn’t be a civil war with all of its consequences. Want to stop the carnage? Somehow get the US, Saudi Arabia, et al to stop funding and directing it. Or are you suggesting an imposed Pax Americana? A liberal interventionist perhaps?

      “Syria -where the bitter rub is for the house of Saud these days- has become a popular destination for a slew of brainwashed, trigger-happy Jihadi fighters eager to meet their maker and claim the lives of hundreds of people in the process; terrorist networks metastasized remarkably in the war-torn country ever since Riyadh took complete hold over the “Syrian Revolution” dossier from Doha and showered these fanatic groups with an endless stream of cash, weapons, logistical support, unprecedented diplomatic clout and ideological guidance.” (Ahmad Barqawi)
      link to defence.pk

      “For about two years, his dear American government has been supporting the same anti-government side as the jihadists in the Syrian civil war; not total, all-out support, but enough military hardware, logistics support, intelligence information, international political, diplomatic and propaganda assistance (including the crucial alleged-chemical-weapons story), to keep the jihadists in the ball game.” (Bill Blum)
      link to williamblum.org

      “In late 2006 the United States started to finance an external opposition to Syria’s ruling Baath party. Those exiles were largely members of the Muslim Brotherhood which had been evicted from Syria after their bloody uprising against the Syrian state between 1976 and 1982 had failed. In 2007 a plan for regime change in Syria was agreed upon between the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The aim was to destroy the “resistance” alliance of Hizbullah, Syria and Iran….” (Moon of Alabama)
      link to moonofalabama.org

      “With Al-Qaida now among its allies, and US-armed coupmasters secure in Cairo, the US intends to crush the last independent states in the Middle East: Syria first, then Iran. “This operation [in Syria],” said the former French foreign minister Roland Dumas in June, “goes way back. It was prepared, pre-conceived and planned.” (John Pilger)
      link to counterpunch.org

      • UshPhe
        January 18, 2014, 8:30 pm

        how does any of this change the fact that a siege against civilians by Assad is unjustified.

      • Danaa
        January 21, 2014, 9:15 pm

        UshPhe – the siege on the palestinian camp would be better understood as police action dealing with a hostage situation. This is very similar to what happened in Lebanon couple years ago when salafists entered a Palestinian camp and effectively kept the civilians hostage, mounting a violent insurrection in favor of some crazy form of Islam. Negotiations with the Lebanese army failed and the Army ended up entering the camp to take on the terrorists, unfortunately causing massive destruction along the way, before sending them to their heavenly fate. Civilians – many of them were caught in this situation and quite a few died. walid knows a lot about what happened there and you can look back through his comments history to find out the details.

        Similarly, the terrorist attack on the mall in Kenya led to a long stand-off with the police who again, mounted a siege trying to starve out the terrorists, ending up blowing up big portions of the mall in the attempt to free the remaining hostages and overcome the terrorists. Yes, many hostages died in process – and the air still has not cleared about what really happened there. So where were you UshPhe when some wailing about an unfair siege was needed there? this was not even all that long ago!

        Other similar cases: the siege on the Koresh compound in Texas – used largely similar tactics to what the Syrian Army is now using, starting with a protracted siege. This time, the situation was made worse by the fact that the hostages were willing ones, members of a cult. But were the children willing too? Again, and most unfortunately, the end was not good, and continues to serve as rallying cry for many on the right to this day (I am not taking a position on the police methods in that case, but suspect that with a little more patience perhaps the outcome could have been less costly to lives, and may be something a little clever could have been done to save at least more of the children. But I’m no hostage situation genius and clearly it’s all hindsight now).

        There are numerous situations of such difficult hostage situations where terrorists take hold of a large camp or area, forcing the police or the military to resort to siege to try and force the terrorists into the open. remember the Chechens who took over the theatre in Moscow? that sure was awful. All the terrorists died but so did many perfectly innocent people? brutal tactics? may be – but it can’t have been easy to come up with a better life-sparing solution.

        Fact is, we do not know how and who injected the heavily armed terrorists into the palestinian camp and have little idea of who they are and who paid them to commit the barbarous acts of which they stand accused. probably the Saudi money was behind it just as it is behind all the crazy-mad Jihadis and foreign mercenaries. Probably quite a few indigenous Syrian so-called “rebels” are on the payroll as well. may be some palestinian camp residents were talked into supporting the ’cause’ pathetic as it is. Fact is, most of the camp’s residents left long ago – aided by the Syrian government forces, many becoming doubly refugees now, with unclear prospects as to when and if they can return. The people who were left behind probably tried to tough it out but are now prevented from leaving by the criminal gang holding the camp. Unfortunately we get very few reports from people inside the camp who are not terrorist sympathizers, so no one knows exactly what’s going on. what we do know however is that the Syrian army has been quite patient in letting the situation continue, no doubt in the interest of avoiding too many casualties. Obviously, they could have stormed the camp any time, just as the lebanese army did but chose not to do so. Worried about collateral damage, bad publicity and quite possibly, loss of innocent life.

        With this very difficult situation, there is clearly a concerted attempt to turn an act of sheer terror into a propaganda victory for the Saudi/Israeli/neocon side, as evidenced by this truly transparent piece of shilling by Talal et al sent here to comment. The hypocrisy behind yours and some of the other commenters here is bone chilling. OTOH, I am very glad to see that others, more informed minds are battling this propaganda gambit, quite ably if I may say so. Bandolero’s and Keith’s comments and links are especially appreciated as are Annie’s and many others. What we have is nothing short of a new Hasbara war on our hands, this time trying to co-opt the Palestinian tragedy to very dubious ends. Not unexpectedly, there’ll be some who may fall for the tactic, but thankfully most of the commenters are too smart not to recognize a cynical ploy when they see one, and have had lots of experience battling back the best good old hasbara had to throw at them.

        One final note f wonderment: couldn’t help but notice that Talal, Omar, UshPhe and several others who support the destruction of Syria by malevolent collusion of forces arrayed against the people of that country, are new to this blog. One may be tempted to ask – if they care so much for Palestinian rights – where have they been all this time? not one of the previous 10,000+ posts on MW ever tweeked their interest? just Syria? just all of a sudden before Geneva? what other blogs have they posted on? does anyone has post history for Talal for example – other places where he shared his writings? please share if you know, anyone.

      • UshPhe
        January 22, 2014, 12:51 pm

        1. I don’t support the destruction of Syria or any people for that matter

        2. chill out…there’s no conspiracy here….I just started reading Mondoweiss a few weeks ago because….well for the simple answer that I found Mondoweiss a few weeks ago as well as electronic intifada. I wanted to read a real, truthful, hardhitting, and genuine voice on the Palestinian situation. Probably the same reason everyone else here started reading mondoweiss

      • UshPhe
        January 18, 2014, 8:33 pm

        no one here who opposes Assad likes Western military intervention…get that through your head

      • Keith
        January 20, 2014, 4:16 pm

        USHPHE- “no one here who opposes Assad likes Western military intervention…get that through your head”

        UshPhe: “there is no moral equivalence between an army that has fighter jets and barrel bombs and an armed resistance group”

        Sounds to me like you are quite supportive of these Western directed terrorists trying to destabilize Syria and overthrow Assad. All of the death and destruction can be laid squarely at the feet of empire, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and others who conceived and implemented this. And don’t forget that Israel has bombed Syria twice and the US came perilously close to direct military involvement. And keep in mind that Syria remains under an oil embargo. Syria remains under imperial assault, so don’t pretend that these are poorly armed “resistance fighters” against a powerful military. Here is another quote for you. Please notice the presence of Syria on the list of countries to be overthrown.

        “…in the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan…. (Wesley Clark, Winning Modern Wars, p. 130).
        link to globalresearch.ca

        So, UshPhe, if you really oppose Western intervention you would join me in calling for the end of imperial and other support for these Jihadis, and for stopping this destructive imperial destabilization campaign against Syria and Iran.

      • UshPhe
        January 21, 2014, 12:11 am

        I’m not supportive of any Western directed terrorists. I know what the U.S. has done in the past to countries all across the globe. I was not supportive of Obama’s failed attempt to bomb Syria. all I did was question keith’s links because I don’t know enough about this situation and I want to know more before making a judgment one way or another or perhaps remaining uncertain. his links don’t provide citations…all I see is a lot of vitriol and people claiming that if you express any skepticism that you must be supportive of Western imperialism. So suddenly Palestinian solidarity activists are called supporters of Western imperalism by some commenters here (taxi being one of them) I think that’s incredibly stupid. there are people in Gaza expressing solidarity with people in Yarmouk. Are they supporters of Western imperialism too? I don’t understand how the tactics that Assad has used literally destroying whole cities, shelling and bombing indiscriminately can be construed as a campaign solely against Western-backed terrorists and not also against the civilian population. Perhaps you could explain that to me…

      • UshPhe
        January 18, 2014, 8:47 pm

        what evidence do you have for this claim? your moonofalabama link provides no citations…your counterpunch link has one quote from a French foreign minister…are you holding that up as evidence of your assertions?

    • Sibiriak
      January 19, 2014, 1:53 am

      Austin:

      while there is no equivalence between the warring parties

      There isn’t? Please explain.

      This oft-used polemical phrase, ” there is no moral equivalence,” (quite popular with Zionists) seems highly problematic to me.

      When is there ever precise moral “equivalence” between two sides of a conflict? How would we determine if such “equivalence” existed?

      It seems to me the phrase is used as a way shut down critical thinking and force people to view a situation in morally simplistic “good guys vs bad guy” terms, when in reality things are rarely so simple.

  12. piotr
    January 17, 2014, 7:03 pm

    Oleg citation is obscure to me, “this is a quarrel between the Slavs”, but of many, I recall Khmelnitsky rebelion (revolution? insurection?), a bloody affair that lasted many years, had elements of outside intervention, a galore of sieges, massacres, savage reprisals (impaling, anyone?), the works. It could be viewed as a civil war between aristocrats and the peasants, or a war between Poles and Ukrainians, or a religious war. Jews were on Polish-aristocratic side, but without weapons, so their history books are very melancholic about that war.

    “While there are no equivalences between warring parties…” I have no idea what that means. Like one of the parties does not commit atrocities?

    • puppies
      January 17, 2014, 11:52 pm

      @piotr – It makes sense, doesn’t it? Let the Slavs kill each other and enjoy the show.
      Now that they left Russia to invade Palestine, it’s let the Ayrabs kill each other. Especially considering that Syria had been painted onto the bull’s eye even before the PNAC request to the US, and that once more, in the case of Syria, a civil protest was transformed into civil war by the Zionists’ proxy.
      All they had to do was lob a pro-rebel provocation into MW and enjoy yet another show of cluelessness now.

    • OlegR
      January 18, 2014, 8:35 am

      Really, i though you understood Russian and was familiar with some basic tenets of it’s literature.

      • piotr
        January 18, 2014, 8:50 pm

        I think it was a quote of Pushkin who definitely did not enjoy the show (if I recall the context correctly, it was Polish insurrection against the rule or the Czar), but no, I am not familiar with all basic tenets of Russian literature.

      • OlegR
        January 19, 2014, 6:04 am

        Precisely , Pushkin .
        Over the time the usage in day to day language became dual “It’s not your business” and “It’s not our business”.

  13. Fabio Bosco
    January 17, 2014, 8:20 pm

    Great article Talal
    After months of silence, Syrian regime supporters are taking the easier way of “neutrality” to keep their support for Assad.
    What they can’t hide is the fact that it is Assad’s forces that are shelling, attacking and placing Yarmouk under siege. Assad dinasty is a longtime enemy of the Palestinians since Black September in Jordan and the Lebanese Civil War. Who can forget Tal el Zaatar?
    Why Assad targets Yarmouk? Because the criminals shabiha of PFLP-GC, led by Jibril, were expelt, and the support for the Syrian Revolution was getting momentum. Do the Palestinians in Yarmouk have the right to stand with the Revolution? Yes, of course. Does their stand give Assad the right to put Yarmouk under siege? No, of course not. What about the REFUSAL of Palestinian groups or activists to demand Assad unconditional end of the siege and the attacks on Yarmouk? It is a shame. Nevertheless they will pay for that.
    Last November 29th, during a session in solidarity to Palestinian people in Sao Paulo/Brazil, a member of the PFLP was booed after demanding “Al Qaeda terrorists to withdraw from Yarmouk”. Eventually he could not finish his speech as part of the audience started shouting “Down with Bashar” and “shabiha”.
    Unfortunately not any of the authoritarian Arab regimes is of any help for Palestinians. As an oppressed people, they can only count on other oppressed sectors. It is this unity between the oppressed and the exploited that will allow Arab peoples to get rid of each and all oppressors and liberate Palestine from the river to the sea.
    Longlive the Palestinian Resistance and the Arab Revolutions!!!

    • Walid
      January 19, 2014, 4:29 pm

      “What they can’t hide is the fact that it is Assad’s forces that are shelling, attacking and placing Yarmouk under siege.”

      Fabio, today on TV, I saw interviewed top officers of Hamas in Gaza, of Fateh in Ramallah and the head of a major Palestinian NGO in Beirut monitoring aid being sent into Yarmouk and all 3 confirmed that Syria was not shelling or doing anything else of the sort to Yarmouk and all 3 expressed gratitude for Syria’s past hospitality that was unsurpassed in any other Arab country. Full blame for what happened in Yarmouk as well as to half a dozen other refugee camps in Syria, was put squarely on the shoulders of the foreign rebel fighters that infiltrated the camps. Apparently all Palestinian groups within Yarmouk signed on to an agreement to evict the rebels from Yarmouk within the coming few days and yesterday, Syrian troops helped bring food and medical supplies into the camp.

      All the talk about a siege and shelling and dropping of barrels by the army appears to be disinformation being spread by Talal, who still hasn’t bothered to respond to any of the comments here; a sure sign of what he’s about.

      • Fabio Bosco
        January 21, 2014, 12:40 am

        Walid
        If you check the photo above you will notice that Yarmouk was shelled continuosly. Many buildings and homes are literally destroyed. The Syrian Army are the only ones to have planes and tanks to carry out such destruction. Maybe they have not shelled Yarmouk in the last two days. But this fact does not make the continuous shelling since december 2012 less strong.
        Regarding the siege by the Syrian army, if it does not exist, there would not be famine inside Yarmouk, there would be not this debate here, nor the Syrian regime would go to Geneve2 commiting itself to open the way for humanitarian aid. Of course there is a strong siege since September 2013. Last two days were the exception since then.
        It is impressive that representatives of Fatah, Hamas and Palestinians NGOs are not aware of the siege and the shelling. Maybe they are just being diplomatic. Which other reason to thank for Syrian hospitality? The Assad family worked military to expell the PLO from Lebanon. Syrian forces are co-responsable for the slaughter of Palestinians in Tal el Zaatar. Palestinians have plenty of reasons to hate the Syrian regime.
        At last on “evicting rebels” from Yarmouk. First, part of the rebels are residents of Yarmouk. Second, their withdrawal from Yarmouk will open the way for Ahmed Jibril’s PFLP-GC to come back and harass and kill many Palestinians more. It is the same situation as in Lebanon in 1982. Just after the PLO fighters left, Palestinians were slaughtered in Sabra and Chatila. That is why I think that this “rebels withdrawal” from Yarmouk means delivering the camp back to the dictator’s hands. I myself do not know Talal nor his reasons for not replying here. Nevertheless I think his article is clear in understanding each forces’ role in Yarmouk and which should be Palestinian activists’ stand. I definitely agree with him.

  14. Hostage
    January 17, 2014, 8:25 pm

    While you were insisting on neutrality about Yarmouk, the Syrian regime dropped barrel bombs on it. Mohammad Al Far.

    Who’s neutral? I’m always in favor of holding everyone on both sides of an armed conflict criminally responsible for any use of force against civilians who are not talking any part in the hostilities.

    • UshPhe
      January 17, 2014, 11:29 pm

      I believe “neutrality” was the wrong term of focus for this article. What these outside Palestinian organizations are doing is in effect taking a side by not taking a side. They are effectively taking the side of the regime by promoting this false equivalency of parties to the conflict as the author states.
      “Al Awda, an organization dedicated to the Palestinian Right of Return, released a statement mourning Yarmouk. The culprit, however, was left obscured. “We call upon all parties, the Syrian government and the armed opposition, to take responsibility for any actions on their part.”
      I would call this a statement on the side of the regime given that it ignores the fact that in this extremely unequal conflict Assad is to blame for the siege. It would be like a statement from the United States calling for an end to a bombardment of Gaza by saying all parties to the conflict must cease hostilities when in fact it is Israel that must unilaterally cease its bombardment before any armed groups inside Gaza could contemplate laying down their meager arms. Just because there are some insurgents hiding in a camp, does not mean you unleash the full might of your air force indiscriminately against civilians. I believe that’s called collective punishment.
      “Most heinous of all, a recent statement released by SJP Cornell, in which they “ask” that the Assad regime “coordinate with the United Nations” to let food in and then “demand” that armed groups leave. In the 18-paragraph statement, comprised mostly of diatribes against “Western-armed gangs” and “Saudi and Qatari-armed insurgents”, the SJP chapter mildly faults the government exactly 4 times. The oppositional militants, on the other hand, absorb the larger majority of the scorn. SJP Cornell goes as far as to say, “armed bands must have known full well that the government had been adopting a scorched-earth counter-insurgency technique. So they, too, are responsible for what is occurring in Yarmouk.”
      This statement by SJP Cornell especially does not make any sense. What are these rebels supposed to do? End their uprising? Stop fighting against a brutal regime? Come out with white flags only to be mowed down by Syrian forces? These are not options. It is Assad’s responsibility to stop the “scorched earth counter-insurgency technique.” Did people who opposed the Vietnam War on moral grounds fault the Vietcong for having the support of the large majority of the civilian population and thereby “causing” the vicious American aerial bombardment that was unleashed upon that civilian support base? Of course not. They realized that the U.S. bore full moral responsibility for the awesome tragedy that was the Vietnam War. That decimation of the civilian support base was a premeditated counterinsurgency tactic on the part of the United States. You don’t fault the resistance for resisting a far greater power because it whitewashes the crimes of the oppressor

    • Obsidian
      January 19, 2014, 12:28 am

      @Hostage

      “I’m always in favor of holding everyone on both sides of an armed conflict criminally responsible for any use of force against civilians who are not talking any part in the hostilities.”

      Enough of your ‘ naked Emperor sitting on a unicorn’ talk. Nobody, but nobody involved in the Syrian civil war will ever be held criminally responsible for anything and you know it. Keep dreaming.

      For all your postings, International Law remains ‘fairy law’, an ephemeral infringement on State’s sovereignty, that lacks enforcement and uniformity of interpretation.

      States will, and do, recognize International Law only so far as it’s in their own self interests.

      For all your cites and subsections, your just ’tilting at windmills’.

      • yrn
        January 19, 2014, 11:23 am

        Hostage is the typical Naive western lefty.
        He shot into the air his “pseudo human” Mantra and has done his short job for today.
        Where are the long comments, what is your position…… shhhhhhh
        hiding behind the grey lines, I am Against all evils on this earth.
        very special, very pragmatic, very realistic.
        I don’t even wonder how come there is NO word from Shmuel.
        The White Angel is speechless.

        You nailed it Obsidian.

  15. ToivoS
    January 17, 2014, 10:04 pm

    What we have here is three people (Talal Alyan, Skidmarks and Austin Branion), who got caught up in the Arab Spring enthusiasm and desire for revolution who thought support for a rebellion against the Assad regime would be a really cool thing to do. Certainly, a number of Western far left sects, the Trots especially, somehow came to the conclusion that it was the correct revolutionary response. At first, I had not much opinion about the uprising since it did seem that Assad is pretty much a tyrant and deserved to be over thrown.

    However, it became clear within a few weeks that the so called “people’s revolution” was being backed by Saudi Arabia and Western imperialism. Oh no, it was going to be a replay of the “people’s revolution” in Libya. Saudi Arabia and Western governments do NOT support revolutionary movements. Big Period.

    It is tragic that this so called revolutionary fervor infected many Palestinians who then turned their communities into outposts of Saudi backed terrorists. The community of Yarmouk has paid a terrible price and without doubt most of the victims are innocent bystanders. At this point, relief for the innocent Palestinians of Yarmouk will not come until the Saudi backed terrorists are thoroughly defeated. This will happen soon. The Syrian Army has gotten the upper hand and they are now methodically destroying those rebel forces. The hysterical tone in three pro rebel voices here is probably due to their realization that this end game is now in play.

    • Austin Branion
      January 17, 2014, 10:30 pm

      ToivoS: your comment is suffused with exactly the sort of rhetoric that this article, and I myself, take issue with.

      I find it rather amusing that you would call my tone “hysterica[lly]… pro rebel,” but I’ll leave that aside for now since it is irrelevant to the issue at hand, one which you and so many others here continue to deflect: the fact that the Syrian regime has laid siege to Yarmouk camp, and that the arguments you deploy in favor of the siege are the same that Zionists use to justify the siege of Gaza–a siege which, I presume, you deplore.

      It is difficult for me to understand how this intellectual/moral inconsistency is not readily apprehended for being just that.

      Unless, of course, you support sieges that deny civilian populations food in other circumstances as well. That would be morally deplorable, but at least intellectually consistent.

      • Walid
        January 17, 2014, 10:54 pm

        Austin, the article is more of an anti-Assad stink bomb than about the current famine situation in the camp. Nobody here is actually supporting Assad or his sieges but simply questioning the hasbara behind the article. Talal’s non-reaction to comments here says it all. Assad, the rebels, and the Palestinian fighters in the camp that joined them are all at fault but it has been shown here that opposition preventing supplies from entering the camp is coming from the inside.

      • Austin Branion
        January 17, 2014, 11:30 pm

        Walid, I’m not sure how to read your last sentence; did you mistype, or am I just reading it wrong or misreading sarcastic intent? “Assad, the rebels, and the Palestinian fighters in the camp that joined them are all at fault but it has been shown here that opposition preventing supplies from entering the camp is coming from the inside.” It seems like you’re blaming everyone at first, but then immediately placing the blame squarely on the opposition. Again, maybe I’m misreading you.

        You may have noticed in my first comment that I, too, pointed out that the UNRWA convoy was fired on from within the camp, and I consider this point to be an omission that the author would have done better to include. I also consider this criminal, repugnant, reckless action to be smaller on the scale of injustice than the implementation of a food-denying siege on a civilian population by the regime, and I do not consider it hasbara to point out that so many ostensible allies of Palestinians are using Zionist-esque rhetoric in defense of the siege (referring to the ongoing war as a “revolution,” though… yeah, that has a touch of hasbara about it, but is ultimately immaterial to the central purpose of the article).

        That being said, you should also notice that there ARE people here “actually supporting Assad [and] his sieges,” like ToivoS.

      • Walid
        January 18, 2014, 12:01 am

        It was neither, Austin. I’m with you 100% about denying food to civilians and I’m far from being a fan of Assad, but what I’m saying about Palestinian involvement is that other than the Hamas leader that actually switched sides and moved to Qatar, some Palestinians joined the rebel side and provided a safe haven and hospitalization for the rebels; maybe it had something to do with their “brotherhood” or fundamentalist affinities. This doesn’t justify Assad destroying the camp but it explains where the siege came from and that the Palestinians more or less asked for it. Lebanon went through a similar situation in 2007 or 2008 when a fundamentalist group comprised of terrorists from several countries had been living in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp started an all out war with the Lebanese army that totally razed the camp and left 25,000 Palestinian refugees homeless (and 200 soldiers dead and 400 seriously injured). The Syrian army is in the same predicament with Yarmouk.

      • UshPhe
        January 18, 2014, 12:11 am

        at one point you say ” Palestinians more or less asked for it” and at another point you say “doesn’t justify Assad destroying the camp” which is it? you can’t have both. if it’s the former you’re effectively justifying the use of collective punishment which is an extremely immoral position. are you saying all the innocent Palestinians in Yarmouk “asked for it”? So Palestinians joined the rebel side…is it not just to fight against an oppressor? does it it invite the wholesale slaughter of innocents? Think carefully. Tread lightly. what you are doing right now is whitewashing the crimes of the oppressor, even if you may not be intending to do that. it is the logical endpoint of your argument.

      • UshPhe
        January 18, 2014, 12:17 am

        furthermore your “asked for it” argument presupposes the notion that the Syrian army has no other options but to inflict a massive siege on Yarmouk to root out a few fighters, an argument that you know to be absurd on its face. to say that the Syrian army is in a tough position…..seriously how did you come to delude yourself so effectively?

      • Walid
        January 18, 2014, 4:04 pm

        UshPhe, I’m against the camp being under siege or being destroyed. I was simply saying why the Syrians have the camp under siege. Yarmouk had rebels firing on the soldiers from it, some camp Palestinians were helping the rebel fighters and some had actually joined the rebels in fighting the soldiers; Hamas went as far as endorsing the anti-government movement. So in fact, the Palestinians, or I should have stressed specifically those that actually sided with the rebels had “asked for it”. Nothing hard to understand in what I said.

      • Danaa
        January 21, 2014, 9:24 pm

        Austin, there is no other way for police or an army to deal with an extreme hostage situation than asiege. Please note that the Syrian army has been a heck of a lot more patient than the police who staked out the Koresh compound in the US or the lebanese army that entered the palestinian camp to evict similarly crazy terrorists.

        You label walid and ToivoS “Assadists” 9for all intents and purposes. Does that mean you can be labeled a terror supporter for arguing the case of terrorists? not that i do so because I have no idea where you are coming from. but I urge you to read more widely on the Yarmouk camp situation rather than accepting as fact the obvious western/Saudi/Israeli generated propaganda to which we have all been subjected.

        one more: you do know that Chemical attack on Ghoutta was perpetrated by the so-called “rebels”, right? that seems to now be a forgone conclusion, which is why no one is talking about it any more. So, given that these illustrious ‘revolutionaries’ were all too willing to kill scores of people in the interest of propaganda victory, where do you stand in your opinion about these creatures and their well oiled and monied promoters?

      • UshPhe
        January 21, 2014, 12:16 am

        in a previous comment you said the idea of a siege and shelling and bombing by Assad was misinformation…which is it?

      • ToivoS
        January 18, 2014, 5:14 am

        Cut the crap Astin. No one is denying that the Assad forces are laying siege to Yarmouk or that innocent Palestinians are suffering because of it. The fact is that misguided Palestinians accepted support from Saudi backed Salafi terrorists and turned that refugee camp into a battle zone. The Syrian army had no choice but to engage those forces in combat. Unless, of course, you think the Syrian army should just surrender to those Saudi backed forces and turn the nation over to a bunch of fanatics that would impose Wahabi inspired sharia.

        Those Palestinians that joined with those fanatics are responsible for what happened. If they were not resisted then we would see a Saudi inspired regime that would purge Syria of its Alawites, Christians, Druze, Shiites and other secular Muslims or about 55% of the population. It would be a Saudi backed Salafi dictatorship (backed by Western imperialism of course) suppressing a majority of the Syrian people. They are standing up for their own independence. The tragedy is that this Saudi money has convinced many Palestinian refugees to turn against the current Syrian government that has provided them with refuge for many years. Hopefully after the Islamists are militarily defeated, the Palestinians living in Syria will be able to restore their communities. This could be difficult.

      • Keith
        January 18, 2014, 11:14 am

        Austin Branion- “…the arguments you deploy in favor of the siege are the same that Zionists use to justify the siege of Gaza….”

        Thousands of Jihadi fighters receiving massive support from the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel have infiltrated Gaza and invaded Israel causing over 100,000 deaths in an attempt to overthrow Netanyahu? There is no equivalence here. None. And your attempt to equate the two is intellectually dishonest in the extreme. You should be ashamed of yourself. The Syrian carnage is a direct consequence of imperial actions as is the siege of Gaza. You liberal interventionists look for any excuse to support imperial machinations. We anti-imperialists oppose US/Israel in Gaza and in Syria.

      • Danaa
        January 21, 2014, 9:26 pm

        Keith, tell it like it is (so I don’t have to).

      • American
        January 19, 2014, 11:02 am

        ”the fact that the Syrian regime has laid siege to Yarmouk camp, and that the arguments you deploy in favor of the siege are the same that Zionists use to justify the siege of Gaza–a siege which, I presume, you deplore.
        It is difficult for me to understand how this intellectual/moral inconsistency is not readily apprehended for being just that. “”…Austin

        Well thats what you get when you make ‘comparsions’.
        And the Syria war is not a movie production where the cast take breaks between scenes and go to the catered food cart.
        You can yada about moral inconsistencies till the cows come home—-wont make a damn bit of difference…everything about the Syria war and I/P and most wars are moral inconsistencies.
        So whats the point really?

  16. UshPhe
    January 18, 2014, 12:13 am

    I wonder what your views are then on the collective punishment inflicted on Gazan civilians by Israel. Surely you must remain consistent and support that…or else you’re being illogical

    • Keith
      January 20, 2014, 4:34 pm

      USHPHE- “I wonder what your views are then on the collective punishment inflicted on Gazan civilians by Israel. Surely you must remain consistent and support that…or else you’re being illogical”

      There is no comparison between the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza with the desperate Syrian defense against outside directed and funded armed aggression. Are the Gazans being massively supported by the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and others? Has Israel been invaded, causing the death of an estimated 100,000? Are foreign supported Jihadis attempting to conquer Israel and topple Netanyahu? There is no equivalency here. None. And you are quite obviously a propagandist for empire and/or Israel.

      • UshPhe
        January 21, 2014, 4:44 pm

        I’m not a propagandist….Since that comment I’ve posted other comments trying to explore people’s views on this subject and test their veracity. I don’t like Israel. I hate the American empire with all my fiber. I’m trying to learn and understand by asking probing questions and making probing comments. I’m sure if we were having this conversation face to face you’d be calling me a propagandist and imperialist right? No? Didn’t think so. You wanna drive me away by calling me names. Fine then drive me away. You wanna make me understand your position. Fine make me understand it. I’m open to listen. Just don’t expect me to be a convert instantaneously. So far I’ve read a little bit of both sides of this issue. And frankly I’m unsure. If me being unsure means I’m a propagandist, then I guess we’re done.

      • Keith
        January 22, 2014, 11:58 am

        USHPHE- “Since that comment I’ve posted other comments trying to explore people’s views on this subject and test their veracity.”

        You ask probing questions of only one side while agreeing with the other. Your feigning of inquisitive neutrality is an insult to the intelligence.

        UshPhe: “I don’t like Israel. I hate the American empire with all my fiber.”

        Most commenters oppose Israeli actions but do not dislike Israel per se. An Israel as a state of all of its citizens, separated from the American empire and living at peace with its neighbors would be welcomed by most. Finally, in view of your comments, your professed hatred of the empire hardly rings true. You seem curiously supportive of this particular imperial intervention for an anti-imperialist.

  17. gamal
    January 18, 2014, 12:15 am

    “That being said, you should also notice that there ARE people here “actually supporting Assad [and] his sieges,” like ToivoS.” and do what? repent?

  18. Austin Branion
    January 18, 2014, 12:52 am

    Walid: “This doesn’t justify Assad destroying the camp but it explains where the siege came from and that the Palestinians more or less asked for it.”

    Ughhhh. Really? “The Palestinians more or less asked for it?”

    I can agree with most of your comment, but that one phrase really strikes me as spectacularly repulsive, not to mention emblematic of the problem that concerns me (and the author).

    The Nahr al-Bared analogy is a good one, particularly because the antagonists don’t seem to provoke the same heated emotions that talking about Syria does–while everyone may not be such a fan of the Lebanese armed forces, I think the overwhelming majority of people concur that Fath al-Islam were a bunch of scurrilous Islamist wackos. This does not change the fact that the Lebanese army DESTROYED the camp. I mean, holy shit. They destroyed the place that tens of thousands of people call home in order to neutralize, what, an armed group consisting of less than 200 people? That’s awful, and it’s almost certain that they used excessive, perhaps criminally disproportionate, force. Do you not agree? They shouldn’t get a free pass just because there were actually military targets in the camp.

    But the analogy fails on one major point: to my knowledge, the Lebanese armed forces, while restricting camp residents’ movement by security cordon, never actually leveled a siege in the medieval, food-interdicting sense of the word on the camp. The only state forces that have that dubious distinction thus far this century are Israel and Syria.

    • Inanna
      January 18, 2014, 5:04 am

      I think the overwhelming majority of people concur that Fath al-Islam were a bunch of scurrilous Islamist wackos.

      Lol. How are they any different from the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra front or Ahrar ash-Sham or Abdullah Azzam brigades (Abdullah Azzam was a bin Laden groupie) or Liwaa as-Islam or the Tawhid Brigade any of the other Islamic groups that are now wacko-ing it out in Syria? (A leader of Fath al-Islam was killed in jihad in Syria: link to longwarjournal.org)

      Those groups I have named are as much radical Sunni groups as Fath al-Islam but I think that a lot of leftists fall into the trap of supporting them in Syria because they think they are being anti-authoritarian. But these groups are even more authoritarian than the Assad regime with an overlay of ugly sectarianism as well as a dose of pro-imperialism supplied by Saudi and Gulf money and western training and coordination. It beats me why leftists are supporting such paleo-right-wing nutjobs as these. Particularly when they are against them in Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia and Mali.

      edited to add: not every enemy of your enemy is your friend.

      • Taxi
        January 18, 2014, 5:23 am

        Inanna,

        Austin only turns up here when saudi articles like this one infiltrate MW.

      • Sibiriak
        January 18, 2014, 5:30 am

        Inanna:

        It beats me why leftists are supporting such paleo-right-wing nutjobs as these.

        Which leftists specifically are supporting those groups?

      • Austin Branion
        January 18, 2014, 9:31 am

        Inanna, the point of me bringing up the ideological tendency of Fath al-Islam was to illustrate that the purported wackiness of any antagonist group is IRRELEVANT to the crime of denying a civilian population food during a siege! Jesus. People want to bring up all these factors that are irrelevant to that one simple fact; again, this is reminiscent of Zionists.

        Most of us here probably aren’t fans of Islamism of any hue, including Hamas’s brand. But do we say “oh, Hamas is full of reactionary Islamists, so Israel has no choice but to put Gazans on a diet!” NO. No no no no no no no no! For all I care, Yarmouk could be fully administered top to bottom by the quintessentially obscurantist, brutal, salafist savages of the Islamic State (and as loathe as I am to use to the word “savage” to describe people, ISIL has earned it), and it would STILL not be justification for starving those in the camp.

        People like you and ToivoS seem to be suggesting that collective punishment is palatable if an enemy is particularly objectionable.

      • Sibiriak
        January 18, 2014, 9:53 am

        Austin Branion:

        …the purported wackiness of any antagonist group is IRRELEVANT to the crime of denying a civilian population food during a siege!

        The ideology, decisions, and actions of certain rebel groups et al. may be irrelevant in terms of any justification for collective punishment via siege, but may be entirely relevant in terms of an explanation for that siege and its wider context.

        Most of us here probably aren’t fans of Islamism of any hue, including Hamas’s brand. But do we say “oh, Hamas is full of reactionary Islamists, so Israel has no choice but to put Gazans on a diet!”

        On the other hand, we don’t say Hamas is beyond political critique or immune from charges of war crimes, terrorism etc. just because Israel is guilty of greater crimes.

        I just don’t understand why you object to people criticizing/condemning BOTH the Assad government and rebel factions. Such criticism implies neither equivalence nor justification.

      • Bandolero
        January 18, 2014, 10:26 am

        Austin

        My point is that there is no siege imposed by the Syrian government imposed on the Yarmouk camp. Instead, what’s happening in the Yarmouk camp I would describe as a hostage situation. Armed groups inside the camp hold civilians in camp areas under their control hostage. It is armed groups inside the camp that try to prevent food and aid deliveries into the camp. The same armed groups that cause the starvation use it for propaganda against the government and the pro-government Palestinian factions.

        Btw: the popular committees and the PFLP-GC just manged today to get about 6 tons of food into the camp via the Rahma street entrance. Armed groups in the camp fired on them while they brought them into the camp, but the PFLP-GC with the help of the Syrian army managed the aid to get inside anyway. Also, the PLFP-GC – together with the Syrian army – managed to help some people flee the camp today.

        And yes, I call the armed groups who open fire on civilian and neutral people delivering humanitarian aid to needy people and who prevent civilians from fleeing a warzone “terrorists.”

      • puppies
        January 18, 2014, 12:05 pm

        @Austin Brannion – What use is it to register your indignation again and again about everyone that is not behaving as a knight in shining armor? Well, no one actor here is, and it’s a fact. That’s what is bound to happen when you start a full-scale war. All we know is that we have a war started and stoked by the US and Saudi Arabia, at the request of Israel and no amount of indignation or hand-wringing is likely to ease things in any way before one side is utterly defeated. Correction: if the defeated side is the Israeli-US-Saudi group, that will mean that the next round will be starting right away. So if there is some feeble support that you can provide. you choose which side to support (being “neutral” in this case means supporting the Israel-US-Saudi), while filing away the charges to be brought for crimes against humanity for later. As Hostage says, when it comes to the crimes there is no choosing sides and both must be punished. But, as Hostage also knows better than any of us, only one side is caught and tried every time: the loser, provided it’s not the US side.

      • Inanna
        January 18, 2014, 6:31 pm

        Inanna, the point of me bringing up the ideological tendency of Fath al-Islam was to illustrate that the purported wackiness of any antagonist group is IRRELEVANT to the crime of denying a civilian population food during a siege!

        Except if you read the UN press releases more carefully, you would see that they are being militarily supported by the regime to deliver food to the camp and are prevented from doing so by the Saudi funded Islamic wackos. UN officials are saying that this could be considered a war crime: link to un.org. As far as I remember, whether you are an Islamist or not, it’s still immoral to deny people food. Israel does not allow Gazans to leave but the Syrian govt allows people from Yarmouk to leave with the aid of pro-govt Palestinians in the camps.This is not suggesting that collective punishment is palatable. This is suggesting that you are trying to claim some moral superiority by using the emotion that we all feel surrounding the Palestinian cause in the Syrian situation. Utter fail.

    • Walid
      January 18, 2014, 12:59 pm

      “… while everyone may not be such a fan of the Lebanese armed forces… ”

      Your information is incorrect, Austin, those that aren’t are in very minute numbers and just about the only ones that aren’t, are the wackos you and Inanna mentioned; Muslims, Christians, atheists and every other group except the crazies are great fans of the army.

      When the camp was pulverized by the army, it was totally empty of refugees and it could have been done for non-military purposes that, according to Franklin Lamb, could have had something to do with decades-long ongoing talk about turning the adjacent closed military air base into a massive regional NATO or US military helicopter jump-base, or more simply to shut down the brisk retail business that was conducted by the Palestinians in proximity to the camp that was hurting the business of nearby Tripoli. In 1982, Sharon discussed with Bashir Gemayel the possibility of Israel taking over the airport to build a base there but Gemayel although heavily indebted to the Israelis was firmly against it; he was killed 60 days later. There is much more to Nahr al-Bared than is known by the people.

      Franklin Lamb article:

      link to counterpunch.org

    • Annie Robbins
      January 18, 2014, 1:16 pm

      The Nahr al-Bared analogy is a good one, particularly because the antagonists don’t seem to provoke the same heated emotions that talking about Syria does–while everyone may not be such a fan of the Lebanese armed forces, I think the overwhelming majority of people concur that Fath al-Islam were a bunch of scurrilous Islamist wackos. This does not change the fact that the Lebanese army DESTROYED the camp. I mean, holy shit. They destroyed the place that tens of thousands of people call home in order to neutralize, what, an armed group consisting of less than 200 people? That’s awful, and it’s almost certain that they used excessive, perhaps criminally disproportionate, force. Do you not agree? They shouldn’t get a free pass just because there were actually military targets in the camp.

      asked yourself who, inadvertently or not, was behind those “scurrilous Islamist wackos” and if they were supported by saudi arabia, our allies. and how the outcome of the destruction of the camp served both those supporting the “scurrilous Islamist wackos” and the government faction in lebanon who may have been interested in the destruction of the camp. and the eventuality of how the civilians, the residents in the camp was essential moved down the road and who that might serve.

      link to counterpunch.org

      The camp population all say that Fatah Al-Islam came in September-October 2006 and have no relatives in the camp. They are from Saudi, Pakistan, Algeria, Iraq, and Tunisia and elsewhere. No Palestinians among them except some hanger ons. Most say they are paid by the Hariri group.

      …….

      It is not surprising that al-Qaeda sympathies, if not formal affiliations, are found in the 12 official camps as well as 7 unofficial ones. Groups with names such as Fateh al-Islam, Jund al-Shams (Soldier of Damascus) , Ibns al-Shaheed” (sons of the martyrs) Issbat al-Anssar which morphed into Issbat al-Noor – “The Community of Illumination” and many others.

      Given Bush administration debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan and its encouragement for Israel to continue its destruction of Lebanon this past summer, the situation in Lebanon mirrors, in some respects, the early 1980′s when groups sprung up to resist the US green lighted Israeli invasion and occupation. But rather than being Shia and pro-Hezbollah, today’s groups are largely Sunni and anti-Hezbollah. Hence they qualify for US aid, funneled by Sunni financial backers in league with the Bush administration which is committed to funding Islamist Sunni groups to weaken Hezbollah.

      This project has become the White House obsession following Israel’s July 2006 defeat.

      can you see how in the instance of Nahr al-Bared, the army which you say “DESTROYED the camp. I mean, holy shit. ” was backed by the same allies who supported the groups w/ “no relatives in the camp” who set up there? and what was the result? to disperse the camp. so asked yourself who benefits from palestinian civilians being starved, dispersed, killed. who is funding and supporting the these groups. who is aligned with those supporters.

      and then look at the difference between US support for the lebanese army vs the syrian army besieging Yarmouk. in this regard the analogy falls apart in more ways than one. and it seems like you’ve got a blind spot wrt acknowledging any responsibility for the jhiadist factions inside the camp. why is that? can’t you see them as tools to destroy syria? who is interested in turning the middle east into a “caldon of fire”. and how does this not serve that purpose?

      link to moonofalabama.org and this is interesting: ‘Nahr al-Bared and a New U.S. Air Base’ from 5/25/07

  19. piotr
    January 18, 2014, 1:47 am

    “Analogy fails on one major point ….”

    And why is this point important? It is like hill folks viewing coastal folks as unclean on the account of the disgusting custom of eating shrimp (that hardly occur in the hills). They sincerely believe that to be a profound difference, but is it? (There were other distinctions like eating pork, using garment woven from mix thread etc.)

    In the situation in question, a military group opposes another that has upper hand (and thus styling itself “the government”). It holes itself in a populated place. Even American government, on American soil, could simply kill everybody in the place, children included, of course after giving the folks there all chances to come out and surrender. Waco, Ruby Ridge, and Philadelphia:

    On May 13, 1985, the Philadelphia Police Department dropped a bomb on the roof of the Osage Avenue rowhouse compound of MOVE, an anarchists’ group. The explosion led to a massive fire that destroyed 61 rowhomes in the West Philadelphia neighborhood and the deaths of 11 people, including five children
    Read more at link to philly.com

    The dubious distinctions of Syrian regime seem specious. This century — as opposed the late XX century. Denying food as opposed to leveling the place — Syrian government is short of ammunition, but this is not a moral distinction. In this century we had sieges of Grozny, Kunduz and Faluja, by Russian, CIA supervised Afghans and Americans, each with its own atrocities.

  20. Taxi
    January 18, 2014, 1:52 am

    Islamists have no attachment to their country of birth or its ideals, be they Saudi islamists, Egyptian islamists or Palestinian islamists. Thankfully, most Palestinian moslems, religious as they may be, are not islamists. But the ones that are islamists are hell bent on imposing the criminal House of Saud rule (which is insanely jealous of the House of Asad) all over the Levant: the Shia crescent and beyond.

    And so for young Talal to dig his poison pen, filled with saudi ink, into the Syrian army’s breastplate, under the fake pretense that he’s defending regular Palestinians, is just another repeated and desperate attempt to distract from the REAL cause of the unrest in Syria: SAUDI TERRORISM BACKED BY ZIONIST TERRORISM.

    I challenge you to attack those despicable entities, Talal. Then maybe people will give credibility to your ‘concerns’.

    Bashar is doing what any leader would be doing if attacked by a foreign army of crazed wahabists. He’s rooting them out, be they Chechneyan islamists or Palestinian islamists.

    And Bashar is winning, winning, winning. Ha!!!!

    The Palestinian civilians in Yarmuk are refugees from Palestine – israel forced them to be in Syria. And THAT is the core of their problem. Not what Bashar is doing which is freeing his country and the MAJORITY of his civilian people from islamic terrorism funded by saudi freaking arabia!

    Next, Talal would have us believe that Wahabism is a hippie cult waving flowers and giving out vanilla bonbons laced with the love-drug Ecstasy .

    • Walid
      January 18, 2014, 4:21 pm

      “Bashar is doing what any leader would be doing if attacked by a foreign army of crazed wahabists. He’s rooting them out, be they Chechneyan islamists or Palestinian islamists.”

      Taxi, Bashar ended up with all these crazies crawling all over the place simply because he failed to read the writing on the wall. Had he done so when the opportunity was afforded to him at the time of the new constitution, none of this ugly stuff would have happened and the Saudis wouldn’t have charged in with such fervor.

      At just about the same time, the same writing appeared on Oman’s wall and its Sultan Qaboos read it correctly and acted immediately on it and the rebellion was quashed before it even started and everything is now sugar’n’spice between ruler and subjects. It could have been the same in Syria but Bashar wasn’t a believer in real reforms of the kind that the people were asking for.

      BTW, it’s more than obvious that Talal is an anti-Assad plant here much more than a pro-Palestinian. Google had him as board member in a small Israel-Palestine discussion group at Syracuse U. that calls itself LIME.

      • Inanna
        January 18, 2014, 6:58 pm

        I agree with you that Assad didn’t read the writing on the wall but I don’t think that he could’ve stopped the Saudi/US onslaught against him. The Saudis have too much invested in the anti-Iran/Syria/Hezbollah thing to pull back and the Americans were only playing nice with Assad in the years prior to the uprisings in order to use honey to lure him away from Iran and Hezbollah rather than the stick. But they still kept up all their funding to ‘democracy’ movements in Syria and pounced on the chance that was presented to them to funnel money, arms and fighters in. The same can’t be said for Oman.

      • Rusty Pipes
        January 18, 2014, 7:28 pm

        “Bashar ended up with all these crazies crawling all over the place simply because” they were a piece of the PNAC playbook that neocons have been setting up for over 10 years to change the face of the Middle East. Were Bashar’s offered reforms less sweeping than those of US-favored Oman or Jordan? The Syrian constitutional changes were endorsed by a far larger margin than those of the recent Egyptian election, with 58% turnout and 75% voting for the changes. Unlike other countries during the Arab Spring, Syria had huge pro-government rallies in March of 2011, before rallies were marred by violence. Before the Arab Spring, the Assad government had hard support from around 30% and hard opposition from around 15%, with the majority of Syrians uncommitted. Thanks to the brutality and sectarianism of the hardline Islamists among the insurgents, the majority of Syrians now support the Assad government — even if as the lesser of two evils.

        From the first weeks of the Syrian conflict, the American position has declared regime change for Syria, which has also been the stated goal of the armed opposition (even as civil society groups were calling for reforms). No internal reforms would have satisfied American neocons/neolibs, only drastic changes in foreign policy related to Iran, Lebanon and Israel. Notably, the charges about Assad as a “brutal tyrant” have been claims that “he’s killing his own people” rather than that, as has been known about the Syrian police state for years, he’s spying on or torturing his own people. But then, America has diminishing standing for accusing others of spying or torturing.

      • Taxi
        January 18, 2014, 11:17 pm

        I agree with Inanna,

        Bashar coulda danced naked and got the word ‘democracy’ tattooed on his forehead in a public square and it wouldn’t have made a single iota of difference: the ‘New American Century’ was onto him.

        But PNAC is being fed Syrian dirt at the moment – observing here how now the Syrian army is even stronger and better equipped militarily, with Russian and Chinese backing – plus Bashar has the moral support of most of the world, including most Americans.

        Ha!

      • Walid
        January 19, 2014, 2:05 am

        “The Syrian constitutional changes were endorsed by a far larger margin than those of the recent Egyptian election, with 58% turnout and 75% voting for the changes.”

        Rusty, at the time, the proposed changes appeared sincere with a drawn list about 65 needed social changes, so it was natural that there’d be huge turnouts at pro-Assad rallies. Even the ineffective political opposition party was hopeful that new things were about to happen. But they didn’t.

        The new constitution was trotted out with much fanfare and just about the only fundamental changes to it was the removal of the enshrined provision guaranteeing parliamentary majority seats to the Baath Party and setting a new presidential 2-terms limit of 7 years each that could have permitted Bashar to remain in power for a total of 26 years, if you add the 12 he had already served. Aside the constitutional change, the emergency law suspending civil liberties that had been in effect for 48 years was lifted. 50,000 of the country’s 200,000 unrecognized stateless Kurds were naturalized and granted civil rights but as to the list of 65 promised goodies, it still remained a list of promises. So you can’t give all the credit for the rebellion to the Americans and Saudis.

        America’s desire to overturn the government is what America does all time. The first time it did it in Syria was 3 years into the country’s independence in 1949 because it was refusing to allow the American’s Iraq pipeline to pass through Syria and because it was refusing to play nice with the new Zionist state. In fact, the Syrian coup was the CIA’s very first international operation. Curiously, around the time of the new “revolution” in 2011, Syria was again refusing to permit an American pipeline from Iraq to cross its territory to reach the Med. So there is something or other in the air behind the massive foreign intervention in Syria and has nothing to do with bringing democracy to it, just as it happened in Iraq and Libya.

    • gamal
      January 18, 2014, 7:02 pm

      “Islamists have no attachment to their country of birth or its ideals, be they Saudi islamists, Egyptian islamists or Palestinian islamists. Thankfully, most Palestinian moslems, religious as they may be, are not islamists.”

      this discussion (Amins article is linked in this one, and his response) may be of interest, with Samir Amin, on one side and Tariq Amin Khan, the current situation is very complex, for those having to make political, ideological and active responses to the latest iteration of the nightmare of modernity in the Arab near and middle east, Islamist like terrorist is becoming a dog whistle word whose parameters have begun to expand unreasonably while its meaning contracts, the two writers are kind of talking at cross purposes, and Amin is impolite enough to refer Khan’s national origin, the import of which all educated Arab and Sub-continental Muslims will understand, its not a racial slur but a touch rude and condescending, Islamism has become a very difficult topic to discuss in a war like (a la Walter Benjamin) manner, there are so many enemies of rational thought, i may be one of them, after all this is really the long war for Mid Eastern and Central Asian energy resources, most of all it is the current Western policy is to shatter the state and crush the people totally excluding them the political process, whatever their politics.

      link to monthlyreview.org

      after this penance might i recommend Chris I Beckwith :”Warriors of the Cloisters: The Central Asian Origins of Science in the Medieval World”

  21. mcohen
    January 18, 2014, 3:17 am

    ?……..it has a long history of malcontentment primarily instigated by russian political expiration due to several important cold war factorization.it is this driving force that has led to the demise of palestinian support amongst syrian rebel groups and the consequent destruction of palestinian camps in syria.politically this sweeping of refugees into areas closer to israel is a deliberate attempt to force israel to accept responsibility for the palestinian refugee problem that commenced 1948 onwards.it has

  22. yrn
    January 18, 2014, 5:09 am

    Austin
    “It is difficult for me to understand how this intellectual/moral inconsistency”.

    This article and the comments are just the example to what you mentioned.
    You can read here many articles about a person held in the Israeli airport and been questioned, there are tons of articles like that and the comments, just stream with joy….
    issues like that’ are what Mondowiess like.
    When it comes to heavy issues like the article discussed.
    Most commenters just disappear, Even Hostage just writes 3 lines…….

    As they don’t care about the situation, they don’t do anything active about it and suddenly they don’t have an opinion, no morals and for sure no consistency.

    Mondowiess is specializing in dealing with Israel backyard garbage can, that’s what they are capable , while Palestinians keep getting butchered in Syria.
    But that’s not the point.
    They have to be killed by the Israelis, as in MW that’s the only thing that counts.
    A dead Palestinian by the Syrians, is of no interest.
    Once he is killed by an Israeli, that’s the only thing Mondowiess cares about.
    and that’s why you see almost Zero articles regarding Syria in the last couple of month (once Israel and the Jewish Lobby cannot be blamed for pushing….)

    • Walid
      January 18, 2014, 4:41 pm

      “They have to be killed by the Israelis, as in MW that’s the only thing that counts.”

      Not for me, yrn, Israelis killing Palestinians or being generally disagreeable to them is no longer fresh news. I get satisfaction reading here about BDS’ little victories that keep piling up and are making Israel squirm and I get real satisfaction in hearing seafoids’ reverberating sound advice to the Zionists to repent as their end is near; if you’re smart, you’d hurry up to repent.

    • just
      January 18, 2014, 5:05 pm

      yo, yrn–

      If it is possible for you to do so, please pay attention.

      Most people here do care very much about the wanton murder and starvation of humans. Most here also understand the heretofore prevailing ‘geopolitics’ and buddy system, and the wrongheadedness of same.

      Most of us ‘get it’ that the Palestinians living and dying in Syria were/are there because of the ongoing Nakba by the Zionists, and our unholy alliance with that evil. Many seem to ‘get it’. Why not you? Are you that ignorant or just accustomed to taking no responsibility at all?

      • just
        January 18, 2014, 5:30 pm

        “They have to be killed by the Israelis”

        They’ve certainly murdered and dispossessed many indigenous Palestinians. Take a bow.

        Only one of my hands is clapping.

      • Donald
        January 18, 2014, 6:13 pm

        It’s just yrn, opportunistically using disagreements about Syria to trot out the usual whataboutery argument. He doesn’t understand the concept that Americans should be more concerned about the evil we do ourselves.

        For myself, I’m disgusted by some of what I see people posting in this thread, but recognize from past experience that getting into a food fight over it won’t change minds and frankly, it’s not relevant what Western lefties think about Syria. Hostage’s three lines summarize what I think–yrn probably couldn’t grasp the content, but he could count the number of lines.

      • just
        January 18, 2014, 6:28 pm

        And the content of Hostage’s comment was right, succinct, and true, imho.

        I also agree with your comment and sentiments, Donald. Many thanks.

  23. MHughes976
    January 18, 2014, 11:42 am

    Siege and blockade warfare has played a great part in British history, so we in the UK should think about it – with some regret and shame, of course. My suggestions would be that restricting supplies to an enemy (blockade) especially to an isolated fortress (siege) is an act permissible in itself to a legitimate combatant. Some means of doing this (our violation of Norwegian neutrality in the early days of WW2, for only one instance) are much more questionable. What, especially, if the restriction of supplies threatens to starve non-combatants?
    At that point I would think it legitimate to call on the garrison to surrender and to count it a war crime if it refuses – I don’t think that the German garrison in the Channel Islands later in WW2 had the right to continue to resist after that point was reached, though it did. If resistance does continue then the surrounding armies have the duty, because of the overriding rights of non-combatants, to put war crime reckoning off to another day and permit, indeed arrange for, ‘humanitarian’ supplies to get through, even if enemy combatants will make full use of them, as happened when we commissioned a Swedish ship to resupply the Islands. If this is done, they have done the right thing. If they are not interested in accepting a surrender or in any event prefer to starve defenceless people they are war criminals. Same if they bomb or bombard the fortress in such a way that serious non-combatant casualties are to be expected by any rational observer.
    A refugee group in a country which erupts into civil war is in a terrible position, though if that country has a legitimate government (a very disputed matter in Syria, I know) which has sheltered the refugees then they have a duty to give it some support in return, maybe not extending to take up arms on its behalf. I don’t think they have a normal right to declare an armed neutrality, ie declare themselves an independent and armed state.

  24. UshPhe
    January 18, 2014, 3:27 pm

    I’m confused…isn’t this the sentiment the article is referring to and criticizing? by blaming both sides equally….by putting forth the idea of moral equivalence these groups are effectively excusing what the Assad regime is doing…that’s what I meant by pro-Assad…I didn’t mean that they actually consciously believe laying siege on Yarmouk is justifiable.

  25. lproyect
    January 18, 2014, 5:22 pm

    I am really quite shocked by the level of Islamophobia on display here that comes straight out of the “war on terror” rhetoric of both Putin and Bashar al-Assad. It is almost as if I have wandered into the Moon of Alabama website.

    There is a deep malaise obviously at work in “Palestinian solidarity” circles, which is probably rooted in the bogus credentials of the Baathist dictatorship as a front-line state against Israel. Of course, you can only adopt that orientation in clear ignorance of the facts. It was Bashar al-Assad’s father who colluded with the Phalangists and Israel to slaughter Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila.

    It is hardly worth answering the Baathist talking points here. At this stage of the game, anybody who sides with a government that drops barrel bombs on civilians is beyond hope.

    • Walid
      January 19, 2014, 2:30 pm

      Iproyect,

      1. Which Islamophobia are you referring to on this thread or site? I haven’t seen any for a very long time.

      2. There are many here that don’t agree with Assad’s methods, which is totally opposite to the Moonies that seriously believe Assad can’t do any wrong and that anyone against him has to be absolutely wrong. So your impression of this site is incorrect.

      3. If Assad Sr was in cahoots with Israel, why is it that Israel and friends are out to get rid of his son? Could it have something to do with the current Assad being the last Arab leader standing in the way of having the Palestinians’ RoR from being obliterated? It may explain what’s behind all those billions being spent to get rid of him after all these years of having gone along with him. He was also a participant in America’s rendition program.

      4. Barrel bombs? Stop and think about this absurdity for a second. It wasn’t that long back that the West had Assad using chemicals on his opponents and now they have him reduced to dropping barrels on people?

    • Danaa
      January 21, 2014, 9:37 pm

      Iproyect,

      Another new poster sent here no doubt specially for this occasion. Islamophobia, eh? pray do tell – can you support the contention?

      But wait – here’s a new one! linking the “palestinian solidarity” circles and the malaise thereof to Baathism. Wow – we must have hit rock bottom in our hasbara…

      BTW, you should try to cover your tracks a bit better, or at least hide the pay master behind the curtain.

  26. seafoid
    January 18, 2014, 5:37 pm

    Real WTF stuff in Egypt
    link to theguardian.com
    “Over 98% of participants in the first Egyptian vote of the post-Morsi era voted in favour of approving a new constitution, the country’s electoral commission officially announced on Saturday.

    Egypt’s government hailed the result as a resounding show of support for the direction the country has taken since the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last July.
    “This is a wonderful day for Egypt, Egyptians and for democracy, despite the extraordinary circumstances,” a spokesman for Egypt’s interim presidency, Ehab Badawi, said in a statement ahead of the official announcement. “This vote represents a resounding rejection of terrorism and a clear endorsement of the roadmap to democracy, as well as economic development and stability.”
    After a campaign in which several no-campaigners were arrested and the government said participation was a patriotic duty, the poll’s turnout is also seen as a significant indicator of the level of public support for the process.
    According to officials, the turnout was a respectable 38.6% – higher than the 33% who voted in a referendum during Morsi’s tenure, but lower than the 41.9% who turned out in a similar poll following Egypt’s 2011 uprising”

    • Walid
      January 19, 2014, 3:18 am

      “… a clear endorsement of the roadmap to democracy”

      You’re right about the “WTF Stuff”, seafoid, democracy has nothing to do with this story, but it still sounds good to Western ears. Had democracy been at the root of this, the democratically-elected Brothers would still be in power albeit taking Egypt on the road to ruin with their religion-driven ideology. The Qatari-backed Brothers’ ongoing rumble with the more extreme Saudi-backed Salafists surely helped in the military’s orientation, the basic difference between the 2 groups of fundamentalists being the Brothers’ moderately longer termed systematic plan in giving Egypt a total makeover while the more radical Salafists wanted the same but immediately. I still don’t understand how the Salafists were induced into a sleep mode and going along with the military while it was snuffing out the Brothers since the new political restrictions applied equally to them.

      • seafoid
        January 19, 2014, 8:34 am

        98% is resounding. 38.6% is respectable. Respectable times resounding equals underwhelming.

    • yrn
      January 19, 2014, 3:52 am

      seafoid

      “Real WTF stuff in Egypt”
      What do you want, it’s the outcome of the great “Arab Spring”

      • seafoid
        January 19, 2014, 2:16 pm

        It’s the neoliberal reaction to the Arab Spring, habibi

        I’d like a middle east where Israel was a normal country that did 40-60% of its trade with the neighbours and never went to war again.

      • yrn
        January 19, 2014, 4:14 pm

        “I’d like a middle east where Israel was a normal country that did 40-60% of its trade with the neighbours and never went to war again.”

        Aywa إن شاء الله‎ first time I read something positive from you (what happened) , Israel is a normal country and hopefully 40-60% of its trade will be with the neighbors for the benefit of all the region and will never ever have to go to war Again .

      • Talkback
        January 20, 2014, 3:04 pm

        Israel is a normal country …

        Yeah, as “normal” as South Africa.

      • eljay
        January 20, 2014, 3:15 pm

        >> … Israel is a normal country …

        Normal at the lower end of the justice and morality scale, sure. But at the upper end of the scale, normal countries are not oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist.

        But Zio-supremacists sure do love reaching for the bottom…

  27. Musa
    January 18, 2014, 7:51 pm

    he unfairness and unwisdom of recent criticism of USPCN and al-Awda’s statements on Yarmouk:

    As a former member of both groups, I would like to say the following. The recent articles by Talal Alyan and Omar Shaban criticizing USPCN’s and al-Awda’s press statements on Yarmouk and the situation in Syria are unfair and totally miss the point. The appalling carnage in Syria, which I hold the Assad-Nasrallah-Khamenei regime to be fully responsible for it, produced severe schisms within the Palestine movement in North America. Both organizations are trying to navigate this highly divisive environment without contributing to further divisions which would have negative effects on the work for Palestine in North America. Taking a stance, for instance, that is severely critical of the regime of the Assad, “Killing Machine of Damascus”–I insist on not referring or dealing with him as a human being–would have resulted in further serious weakening of the Palestine movement–by creating more internal divisions that would serve the cause of the Zionists in the US and Canada–WITHOUT CONTRIBUTING to the easing of Syrian and Palestinian suffering. This is the proper context in which the statements by the two groups ought to be read. That is not to say that criticism should be withheld; rather, the criticism should not be direct and ought to avoid naming groups and individuals at a minimum. MORE IMPORTANTLY, the individuals and groups involved in this debate will one day–now and in the near future–have to work together on Palestine, civil rights, etc… Engaging in a bitter conflict would make it hard to do so in the future as it would result in hardening of disagreements which, in light of our history, will inevitably go beyond disagreements into paralyzing conflicts.

    • Walid
      January 19, 2014, 1:39 pm

      “… Taking a stance, for instance, that is severely critical of the regime of the Assad, “Killing Machine of Damascus”–I insist on not referring or dealing with him as a human being–would have resulted in further serious weakening of the Palestine movement–by creating more internal divisions that would serve the cause of the Zionists in the US and Canada–WITHOUT CONTRIBUTING to the easing of Syrian and Palestinian suffering. ”

      Musa, you are sending mixed and contradicting signals. Saying that the 2 groups in the US should not be critical of Assad’s regime as this wouldn’t serve at easing Syrian and Palestinian suffering, while in the same breath you are referring to Assad as a sub-human “killing machine” is confusing.

      In plain English, what are trying to say?

    • seafoid
      January 19, 2014, 2:18 pm

      The appalling carnage in Syria, which I hold the Assad-Nasrallah-Khamenei regime to be fully responsible for it

      I would throw in Saudi/Israel/the US/Qatar as equally responsible
      It’s a classic cockpit war. Basically Saudi vs Iran

  28. ToivoS
    January 18, 2014, 11:27 pm

    Well it is interesting to note in the mature part of this thread that the hasbara brigade has come out to endorse Talal’s reading of this tragedy in Syria. Also interesting to note that Talal is one of those Palestinians that advocates dialogue with the Zionists as opposed to opposition to Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.

    I guess Austin has also made his case clear. He has joined the Saudi and Western imperialist in supporting the Salafi inspired rebels in Syria. Sad to see this one. He has posted a number of reasonable pieces here at MW over the last few years. I guess he supports that wing of US imperialism known as the humanitarian warriors or the R2P. I guess he is trying to ingratiate himself with the Hilary, Powers and Rice wing of aggressive US foreign policy found inside the Democratic Party against any country that tries to defy US hegemony.

    Austin, you do sound good on occasion. Too bad to see you join the other side.

    • Sibiriak
      January 19, 2014, 12:30 am

      ToivoS:

      I guess Austin [… ]has joined the Saudi and Western imperialist in supporting the Salafi inspired rebels in Syria.

      […]I guess he supports that wing of US imperialism

      […] I guess he is trying to ingratiate himself with the Hilary, Powers and Rice wing of aggressive US foreign policy […]

      A lot of guesswork there, ToivoS! (aka “putting words in someone’s mouth”).

      I disagree with Austin on his view on the siege issue, and his dubious “there is no moral equivalency” argument, but I don’t see any evidence of his supporting U.S. imperialism/”liberal interventionism”/Zionism.

      Notably, he did take Talal Alyan to task for his

      extraneous, politically immature, and intellectually lazy language about the Syrian “revolution.”

      • ToivoS
        January 19, 2014, 1:33 am

        Yep I used ‘guess’ for a reason. Still he has taken a side here even if he used some weasel words to try to distance himself from the more extreme position.

      • Donald
        January 19, 2014, 9:24 am

        “and his dubious “there is no moral equivalency” argument”

        Bingo. I agree with much of what Austin said–if one condemns Israel’s war crimes then one has to condemn Assad’s war crimes. But this “no moral equivalence” phrase is almost always a bad sign–in most cases it’s used when someone wants to dismiss or trivialize the crimes of one side because one thinks they are fighting in a good cause. There’s just no reason to think that way. One can pick sides in a war if there’s a good reason to do so, but there’s never a good reason to use “no moral equivalence” when talking about the deliberate killing of civilians. I don’t think Austin meant to be dismissive–I think he fell into the use of a cliche that should be retired.

    • Danaa
      January 21, 2014, 9:41 pm

      ToivoS to Austin. Ditto. Sad here too. Hard for mere right to compete with might, and what the empire is offering is mighty indeed. Don’t we know that…

  29. W.Jones
    January 19, 2014, 12:26 am

    I value the author’s viewpoint and am glad it was published here on Mondoweiss.

    Personally, I tend to disagree with what he said about supporting sides, tragically.

    The author takes the side of the Revolution that is ongoing. Normally, should the two sides be made of a regime on one hand and a democratic group on the other, of course I would support the latter.

    But very unfortunately, at this moment, that is not what we have. In reality, I believe that Syrians and Palestinian refugees are now like meat in the meat grinder squished between the blades on one hand and the press on the other. For me therefore at this period I do not really support continuing the fighting.

    The author comments:

    With its unwillingness to offer solidarity to the revolution, it suggests that there is valiance to not taking an explicit side, all done under the guise of promoting self-determination.

    Unfortunately, considering the situation, I do not think the neutrality is so bad. The Red Cross and the Quakers, for example, tend to be very neutral, but I do not think the worse of them for it.

    Personally, total pacifism is problematic for me because of cases like WWII in Europe and genocide, but even there I can think of ways it could be made to work an accomplish humanitarian goals.

  30. mcohen
    January 19, 2014, 5:33 am

    link to cbc.ca

    Raja said the aim is to send 7,000 boxes for 7,000 families into the camp’s rebel-held areas. He added that more food supplies will be sent into the camp in the coming days and later medical supplies will be sent as well.

    He said committees in the camp will hand over the food boxes to families by name “so that (opposition) gunmen don’t take them.”

    7000 thousand boxes for 7000 people…….indeed
    the whole story is waffle with cherry on top

    obviously the refugee right of return is up for negioation
    who knows whats in pandora,s palestinian box

  31. Taxi
    January 19, 2014, 2:54 pm

    I note all the alquaida freaks putting square blame on Bashar-Nasrallah-Khoumeini, calling the amphetamine-pumped, cannibal, salafist mercinaries in Syria “resitance fighters” and other such lovely flowery titles. They’re all out posting at the same time and they’re all disseminating the same message: Bashar is baaaaaad for Palestine. Never mind that Syria, even more so than Lebanon, has been, and remains to this day, THE most staunchly pro-Palestinian and loudly anti-zionist Arab country. Syria has steadfastly, and for decades, supported the Palestinian cause: politically, morally and militarily.

    Geneva 2 is coming up imminently. The Syrian Government delegation has all the aces and all the jokers (good!). And all you fake cyber moralists out there will have to work mighty miracles to change the equation that stands clearly in Bashar’s favor. But I’ll bet my farm you won’t be able to.

    Oh just give it up will ya! Get another job. War is almost over. You lost.

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