Rejecting collective punishment from Gaza to Syria

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle East
on 181 Comments
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Palestinian children at a rally in solidarity with the Yarmouk refugee camp. (Photo: Hatem Moussa/AP)

Let us suppose for the sake of argument that Syria’s Assad regime does enjoy a considerable amount of legitimacy, and that their concerns of an armed insurgency designed specifically to advance Western imperial interests are acceptable. Let us also accept, for one second, that the revolution in Syria is the main bastion of extremism and terrorism, and that there are no elements in it that could be reasoned with to sustain a stabler and more desirable future for Syria. Then given this legitimacy, and acceptable concerns, it must follow that the regime must have a some sort of moral ground upon which it makes its decisions. And this moral ground must be the product of certain moral feelings or moral values that legitimize any action. The question then becomes, how do these moral values or feelings allow a regime that purports to have the moral upper hand in a civil conflict justify its policy of collective punishment against armless civilians?

We have, for the longest time, rejected Israel’s claims that it does what it does in order to quell an Islamic insurgency in the Palestinian territories. From the Zionist perspective, there are unfavourable elements in the West Bank and Gaza, that possess an Islamic character that obstructs any possibility of having a meaningful settlement to the 65 year old conflict. From their perspective, Hamas uses civilian bases to launch attacks, verbal and militaristic, in order to undermine the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. These bearded individuals use terror and intimidation to extract concessions from the Jewish state, and because there is not an easy way to stop them, they must, begrudgingly (as they claim in some instances) bite the bullet and attack civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Furthermore, the Zionist narrative maintains that if the civilians of the besieged Gaza Strip want to stay alive, then they must abandon any areas where Hamas may exist. They must relocate to another place in this highly dense strip in order to leave the room open for the Israeli military to attack Hamas bases and neutralize them (with minimum civilian damage). However, those who support Hamas (and evidently these are many) must accept the consequences of their actions: they voted for an organization that they know is labelled by the international community as terrorist. They deliberately chose Hamas to represent them; therefore, the Zionist entity cannot possibly be blamed for wanting to protect their lands from these terrorist supporting Palestinians.

Such is the Zionist narrative, and as Palestinian activists we have always rejected it, in its entirety, and have gone to great lengths to expose the hypocrisy of Israel and its savage character. Solidarity groups from all over the world compiled long lists of evidence that demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that Israel exacts vengeance upon the Palestinians indiscriminately and intentionally. And we, the activists, have gone as far as saying that even if we were to bite the bullet (again for one second only) and accept that Israel is right in its claims that Hamas is threat to peace and security, then that does not, in any way, shape or form, justify its strategy of collective punishment. Why should an entire population be punished for something only a few has done?

And I maintain that this is exactly the case in Syria. Even if we were to accept, for one second, that the concerns and claims of the Syrian regime are legitimate and acceptable, then that does not, in any way, shape or form justify its policy of collective punishment against the Syrians all across the country, and it certainly does not justify its policy of collective punishment against the Palestinians of Yarmouk.

No moral principle can possibly sustain the claim that in some cases it is acceptable to target civilians even if these civilians are opposed to the government’s point of view. In fact, especially when civilians stand in opposition to the government and its policies, this government must do whatever it takes to protect the right of these civilians to express dissent even if this means making those who are in power ‘uncomfortable.’

So if we, as Palestinians, wholly reject collective punishment exacted upon our brothers and sisters in Occupied Palestine, then why are some of us applying different moral standards to the crisis in Syria? Why is it that when Assad’s forces are shelling Hama and Aleppo there is a silence that pierces that heart and soul of every person of conscious? Why do some Palestinians go out of their way to find reasons to stay neutral when it has become more than evident that the brutal regime in Syria knows no limits to destruction, death and carnage? And why do some try to discredit this revolution by using the claim that there are certain elements that pander to the West and are ripe with corruption when at the same time our own leadership in Ramallah is in bed with Zionist politicians in Tel Aviv and Washington? Should we not clean our house before we tell others to clean theirs? Or do the Syrians not deserve the same moral standards that we apply to ourselves?

These are very important questions. The credibility of our claim to return and liberation depends on showing uncritical support for the return and liberation of other oppressed peoples as well. We must cast aside our attachment to neutrality and replace them with unequivocal rejection of anything that comes out of the Syrian regime. We must express in the clearest of terms our support for the millions of Syrians who continue to reside in more than abhorrent circumstances in under-equipped refugee camps where many have died from starvation or piercing cold. Palestinians, who for the past 65 years, have taught the entire world what it means to be persevere, strong, collected, and filled with life, must realize that it is time to stand at the front line of the struggle against Assad’s regime and say that enough is enough.

About Omar Chaaban

Omar Chaaban is a Palestinian activist based in Vancouver, BC. He holds a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia and focuses on Syria and Palestine. Visit his blog: http://omar-chaaban.blogspot.ca, and follow him on: @al3isawy.

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181 Responses

  1. Donald
    January 20, 2014, 2:59 pm

    I agree with most of this post. But I’m not sure what he means at the very end–does the “struggle against Assad’s regime” entail supporting the rebels, given their own record of murder? Is there some relatively humane set of armed rebels he thinks deserves support, (if so, who, and how does he know they deserve it?) or is he talking about nonviolent protest and outside activism?

    I suppose I could check out his blog.

    • Walid
      January 20, 2014, 4:27 pm

      The blog is not about Palestinians, but mostly about being anti-Assad and anti-Hamas. Maybe a day will come when Omar will have time to write about the 7-year siege of Gaza. Abbas Zaki of Fatah’s Central Committee said yesterday that Palestinian refugees in all camps must never get involved in civil conflicts and join fights only if it’s against Israel. Omar could check-in with home base before advancing that Palestinians should get off their neutrality fence and join the battle against Assad. Zaki also said that the Palestinian refugees were never so well-treated by other Arabs as well as they had been by Syria.

      How many Syrian refugees have been taken in by Saudia, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar? How many Palestinian ones since the start of the Syrian civil war? Northern Iraq has accepted thousands of Syrian Kurds and are treating them extremely well and to the point that some are saying they will never go back.

      Omar probably knows Talal; they sing the same song.

      • Justpassingby
        January 20, 2014, 4:37 pm

        Walid

        Dont you see any truth to his argument though?

      • Annie Robbins
        January 20, 2014, 6:41 pm

        jpb, he starts out making a false equivalence. hamas is not AQ. the whole, ‘let us accept and let us suppose and then therefore’ structure only works if those situations apply. he’s using false equivalence. for one thing syria is not gaza. the militants esconded inside yarmouk refugee camp do not need to be there. such is not the case in gaza where israel tried to make the claim fighters were using civilians as human shield, something goldstone could not find evidence of. whereas revolutionaries who want to challenge assad do not need to do it from densely populated enclosed civilian areas when there’s a war going on all over syria.

        also, this big broha is over people finding both sides complicit. but flipping the situation and to a zionist narrative (‘those who don’t agree w/me are like zionists in cast lead’) is a propaganda trick. it’s just dirty arguing tactics imho.

        and is this the same Omar Chaaban that used to be Omar Shaban and changed his name? curious minds want to know.

      • ToivoS
        January 20, 2014, 6:55 pm

        Well Annie, an Omar Shaban has a recent article in the Palestinian Chronicle and at the bottom a biographical sketch says: Omar Chaaban is a Palestinian activist based in Vancouver, BC. etc.

        The above sketch says: Omar Chaaban is a Palestinian activist based in Vancouver, BC. etc.

      • puppies
        January 20, 2014, 7:04 pm

        @annie – Omar etc. original spelling same, so no change of name

      • Danaa
        January 20, 2014, 9:09 pm

        Obviously, the one and the same Omar, with slight changes to the last name. One is compelled to ask: are Omar and Talal really “Palestinian activists” or are they so when someone pays the bills?

        I keep saying – looking at the arguments advanced by both personalities – it sure seems like there was some effort behind the scenes to get the “right twist”. Annie pointed out that pivot from “human shields” to “if you don’t agree then you must be a cast lead zio-supporter’. That caught my eye as well, as I do recall just such tactics used by the Hasbara bots periodically unleashed on this site. The argument line has that funny familiar smell to it, like a slightly pungent deja vu odeur. Though I doubt i’ll be able to prove it, something tells me that the training manual used in serving up Omar’s piece de resistance was similar to the one consulted (and not so ably regurgitated) but the likes of the late commenter Robert Werdine.

      • Donald
        January 20, 2014, 10:49 pm

        “the militants esconded inside yarmouk refugee camp do not need to be there. such is not the case in gaza where israel tried to make the claim fighters were using civilians as human shield, something goldstone could not find evidence of. whereas revolutionaries who want to challenge assad do not need to do it from densely populated enclosed civilian areas when there’s a war going on all over syria.”

        So by that reasoning when Sharon invaded Lebanon in 1982 and the PLO ended up in Beirut the Israelis were right to bombard Beirut and kill thousands of civilians. It was all the PLO’s fault. They could have stood out in the open and died under Israeli air strikes and artillery shells. Plenty of room to die well away from civilians. So Israel was blameless, I guess. That’s what Sharon’s apologists said.

        Incidentally, Annie, is every single rebel in Syria really a member of Al Qaeda, or is it just possible that some Syrian citizens, outraged by Syrian government atrocities, took up arms against him? In the real world civil wars tend to be messy horrible things, with both governments and rebels committing vicious crimes and ordinary people side with one or the other, depending on their circumstances. People victimized by the Syrian government might be driven to support terrorism, just as happens to Palestinians. Is every single story about Syrians who hate their government because of its brutality just propaganda? How convenient.

        “also, this big broha is over people finding both sides complicit. but flipping the situation and to a zionist narrative (‘those who don’t agree w/me are like zionists in cast lead’) is a propaganda trick. it’s just dirty arguing tactics imho.”

        Unfortunately he’s got a point. You don’t have to take his side in the Syrian civil war and you can speculate about his motives and you can assume that every single person who argues like he does is in the pay of the Saudis, but his analogy is exactly right. People who defend the tactics of the Syrian government are using the same arguments that Zionists use to defend Israeli brutality.

        There’s no reason to accept the war propaganda or the apologetics of either side. If you do that, then Zionists who say “See, they think the same way we do, they just don’t admit it” will have a point.

      • Walid
        January 21, 2014, 1:05 am

        “So by that reasoning when Sharon invaded Lebanon in 1982 and the PLO ended up in Beirut the Israelis were right to bombard Beirut and kill thousands of civilians. ” (Donald)

        The PLO didn’t end up in Beirut as a result of Sharon’s 1982 invasion but as a result of Jordan’s 1971 Black September. The expulsion of PLO fighters actually pleased some Lebanese as over the years, the PLO had turned Beirut into somewhat of a Dodge City, had overstayed its imposed welcome and was riding roughshod over the Lebanese and its weak government and its institutions.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 21, 2014, 9:40 am

        donald, you asked
        Incidentally, Annie, is every single rebel in Syria really a member of Al Qaeda, or is it just possible that some Syrian citizens, outraged by Syrian government atrocities, took up arms against him?

        i’ll assume that you’re serious and put your condescension (“is it just possible”) aside. . no every rebel is not part of or aligned AQ. perhaps you can name for me who their military (secular) leader/commander might be. i’m sure our state department might be interested also.

        i have an errand to do. will try to get back and address the rest of your comment later.

      • Donald
        January 21, 2014, 2:16 pm

        Annie, I apologize for the condescending tone–if I rewrote it I’d try to say the same thing without that.

        That said, there’s a tendency I’ve seen at MW for as long as I’ve been here for people to assume that anyone who wanders off the party line must have some nefarious motive or be up to something somehow. It’s bush league. I don’t know any polite way to say that. I happen to know it’s possible for someone to compare, say, Assad to Sharon without without being part of some nebulous conspiracy because I’ve been thinking along those lines for decades. (Starting with Assad’s father, but the son doesn’t appear too different). For me the big “haha” moment (it took longer) about the I/P conflict was realizing that Israel was just another country that committed massive human rights violations and demonized its enemies, and not that Israel was somehow special in its tendency to commit massive human rights violations and demonize its enemies. Much about the Syrian civil war is murky and I for one have no inclination to pick sides and no reason to see why any American should pick sides, but what is clear is this–the Syrian regime has a long history of brutality. The government tortures people to death and it uses heavy firepower in urban areas, which is what we find so disgusting about the Israelis. The logic we use to condemn Israeli war crimes in Gaza in 2009, and in Lebanon in 2006, 1982, 1978 and in various air strikes in various years should be the same logic we use when others use artillery and air strikes in urban areas. We don’t excuse Israel because there are fighters present. There are also accounts of the Syrian forces shooting at civilians, just as Israel shoots at fishermen and farmers. If these actions are bad, their character doesn’t change because Syria does them rather than Israel. If the actions aren’t bad in themselves, then what’s the point of writing articles about Israeli crimes? So what you see as Omar’s “dirty arguing tactics” strikes me as basic logic. Where he and some of the other recent posters lose me is when they tell me that I can’t be “neutral”–which apparently means we are only allowed to condemn the atrocities of Assad, and not the “resistance”. That’s just committing the same mistake on the other side.

        Furthermore, it’s accurate to say that there are a great many outside terrorists operating in Syria, but it’s also clear that Assad has created many enemies at home. The mainstream press in the West claims that Assad is responsible for the bulk of the atrocities. That may or may not be true–as I’ve complained in other threads, the numbers one sees in the press are peculiar and don’t fit the narrative that Assad has killed 100,000 (or more now) of his own people. But we do know that he bombs and shells his own cities and people are tortured by both sides.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 21, 2014, 2:47 pm

        argh, i am supposed to be finishing a post for the main page today but keep getting pulled into this conversation because i feel i’m not getting my primary ideas across. and you bring up many interesting pts. first off, i hope everyone watches Checkmate. watch all 6 parts @youtube, about what happened in romania and how the cia created not just the conflict, but the outside world’s understanding of the conflict. (this is no longer in dispute and they interview CIA for the movie)

        Much about the Syrian civil war is murky

        yes, by design. personally, i do not get bogged down framing what’s going on there by detail. i see it from a regional standpoint the same way i saw saddam/iraq regionally. the wider goal is to control the middle east. and the methodology of some parties is to do that is destructive chaos which has nothing to do w/democracy. note how they didn’t wear burkas in iraq so much before we invaded and now they do. it would be perfectly fine for some people for the entire middle east to be fanatical stone age, backwards. you bring up assad bombing his own cities. frankly, something tells me decimating appello or damascus isn’t high on assad list of things he’d like to do. but if it comes to that as opposed to demascus falling like jerusalem fell, baghdad fell,or beirut fell (and thank god for hezbollah), well i guess he has a choice to make. i look at the whole region and i see syria as being next in line, and then it will be tehran. i see the foreign jhiadists as being a function of the empire the same way i saw them being used in libya.

        in this regard i don’t look at individual kills or bombings and i see what’s happening in yarmouk as part of a grand scheme to take down syria, which i don’t like. syria took in millions and millions of iraqi refugees and was one of the most stable countries in the ME prior to the war. i don’t need to ‘like’ assad to want life to go back to that and let the syrian people hash this out themselves. i know there’s torture there (and we liked that when it worked in our favor). here’s what i don’t want. i don’t want the new middle east map that was designed years ago. i don’t want the ME chopped up into bite sized pieces we can manipulate any which way we want.

        the palestinians who are suffering now in syria are not the primary victims of this war, and while of course i sympathize with civilian victims everywhere this is not a fight to free palestine from colonialism. it is utilizing palestinians and activists who support them in a propaganda war to back imperialism. i know it seems confusing to some people, and the whole thing is hideous. watch the movie.

      • Walid
        January 21, 2014, 11:10 am

        “Dont you see any truth to his argument though?” (Justpassingby)

        Hard for me to go along with his argument because he uses another incorrect premise. The struggle against the regime does not necessarily entail support for the rebels. There was a valid political opposition in Syria although a toothless one and rendered thus by the regime’s political machinations. Now there is a legitimate military opposition that calls itself the Free Syrian Army comprised of army deserters but it lost its way in the chaos of the thousands of paid foreign jihadi mercenaries that crawled into the country that don’t give a hoot for the Syrians or their needs.

      • eljay
        January 21, 2014, 2:38 pm

        >> Donald @ January 21, 2014 at 2:16 pm

        Excellent post, Donald. I agree with you.

      • Shingo
        January 21, 2014, 4:30 pm

        Now there is a legitimate military opposition that calls itself the Free Syrian Army comprised of army deserters but it lost its way in the chaos of the thousands of paid foreign jihadi mercenaries that crawled into the country that don’t give a hoot for the Syrians or their needs.

        The legitimacy argument is questionable.

        These leaders are by and large, not even in Syria, but in Turkey, Jordan or supping cups of tea in London. Their revolving door or so called leaders are being appointed by Washington and NATO.

      • Donald
        January 21, 2014, 7:49 pm

        Thanks eljay. It’s depressing–the one real strength the pro-Palestinian movement can have (it sure doesn’t have much support in the press or from politicians) is moral clarity. That’s lost if people start making the same sorts of rationalizations for Assad’s brutality that the Zionists make for theirs.

      • Donald
        January 21, 2014, 3:18 pm

        ” this regard i don’t look at individual kills or bombings and i see what’s happening in yarmouk as part of a grand scheme to take down syria, which i don’t like. ”

        That could be, but it seems entirely possible that the Syrian regime is every bit as bad as its enemies claim. That doesn’t make the opposing side noble and you could be right that it’s a conspiracy to destroy Syria as a regional power, and if true, the people responsible have a huge amount of blood on their hands. But I’ve just been skimming the Guardian articles on the new allegations of people tortured to death in Syrian prison–supposedly 11,000. I don’t know if it will hold up, but frankly, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if it is true. Sometimes it’s good to set aside words like “imperialism”, “colonialism”, “anti-imperialism”, and so forth and just look at the victims. Power-mad people can use any ideology to justify their actions and the labels don’t matter.

      • Shingo
        January 21, 2014, 9:01 pm

        But I’ve just been skimming the Guardian articles on the new allegations of people tortured to death in Syrian prison–supposedly 11,000. I don’t know if it will hold up, but frankly, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if it is true.

        It just so happens that it has appeared in the new, along with a so called Al Qaeda insider claiming that Assad is in bed with ISIS.

        It’s depressing–the one real strength the pro-Palestinian movement can have (it sure doesn’t have much support in the press or from politicians) is moral clarity.

        I’d attribute much of this to the author of this piece, who is obviously trying to tie Assad’s crimes (real or otherwise) to the necessity for his removal or overthrow.

        Now if you now of any of us who have advocated the removal of the Knesset from Israel as punishment for their crimes against the Palestinians, you might have a case for moral inconsistency here. Assad’s crimes deserve condemnation and he should be held accountable – I haven’t read any comment here that suggests otherwise.

      • Sibiriak
        January 21, 2014, 9:33 pm

        Donald:

        [Annie:]” this regard i don’t look at individual kills or bombings and i see what’s happening in yarmouk as part of a grand scheme to take down syria, which i don’t like. ”

        That could be

        Could be? Do you really have doubts on that fundamental point?

        but it seems entirely possible that the Syrian regime is every bit as bad as its enemies claim.

        Why the “but”– how would the fact that the Syrian regime was “bad” (authoritarian, repressive) contradict the notion that a U.S. led coalition was trying to take down the regime for other reasons?

        you could be right that it’s a conspiracy to destroy Syria as a regional power, and if true, the people responsible have a huge amount of blood on their hands. But I’ve just been skimming the Guardian articles on the new allegations of people tortured to death in Syrian prison–supposedly 11,000. I don’t know if it will hold up, but frankly, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if it is true. Sometimes it’s good to set aside words like “imperialism”, “colonialism”, “anti-imperialism”, and so forth and just look at the victims. Power-mad people can use any ideology to justify their actions and the labels don’t matter.

        Frankly, I’m not able to follow the logic of that argument. If there is an “imperialist” campaign that is responsible for a “huge amount of blood, ” why would we want to set aside the word “imperialism” (or a more accurate label, if there is one) and “just look at the victims”? Would we want to set aside the word “Zionism” and just look at its victims?

        And can we really separate– in terms of causal explanation, not necessarily the apportioning of moral blame– the “imperialist” campaign to take down Assad from the war crimes Assad is committing while battling that regime-change campaign?

      • W.Jones
        January 21, 2014, 10:01 pm

        Donald,

        You wrote:

        It’s depressing–the one real strength the pro-Palestinian movement can have is moral clarity. That’s lost if people start making the same sorts of rationalizations for Assad’s brutality that the Zionists make for theirs.

        First, what is the “Pro-Palestinians'” general idea about foreign policy in the Middle East? It’s that the foreign policy has been one of conquest.
        So “Pro Palestinians” are naturally going to put Assad, one of the targeted leaders, in that context.

        Second, how analogous are Assad’s goals? Syria would like the refugees to leave, but does not see them as natural enemies. Can the same be said for the other side of the analogy?

        Third, Assad is interested in fighting the rebels, but does not have a plan to make conditions for Palestinians in refugee camps as bad as possible, AFAIK.

        This does not justify of course using any tactic no matter what. But has what I said above been a rationalization?

      • Keith
        January 20, 2014, 5:25 pm

        WALID- “Omar probably knows Talal; they sing the same song.”

        Either that or belong to co-opted ex-pat groups who have been recruited by empire. Have you noticed that while Phil supports the Palestinians, he remains quite accommodating to empire. As I recall, he was at least somewhat supportive of the Libya intervention. Of course, that is what being a liberal means. Overall support for the system which you then criticize on a few specific issues. To consistently criticize empire means never again working in the mainstream media. Some of these more recent posts suggest that Mondoweiss is ready to accommodate empire as long as the imperial intervention is done discreetly with ample propaganda. Is this a prelude for more intervention to come? Empire is on a rampage.

      • Danaa
        January 20, 2014, 9:22 pm

        Keith, so you think Phil is a stealth imperialist at heart? for what it’s worth , I don’t think it’s so simple in Phil’s case. I remember Libya and I must confess that I was sort of for overthrowing Ghadafi myself, at least at the beginning, before i got to do a whole lot more reading on the situation there. I think the problem with copping an opinion about what’s really happening in Syria, or was happening in Libya, is that considerable reading of various sources is required to get a view of what was really going on that we never get on the MSM. And most people can’t or are just not willing to take the time to learn.

        One thing I did learn about Syria from reading various bloggers and alternative news sources is that this is one heck of a compicated country. Originally carved out by the brits with relatively little regard to natural and human boundaries. The intent there, like in Iraq and Jordan was to keep them forever weak, and the masses forever cowed in ignorance. Seeing how relatively easy it is to ignite even long dormant enmities between eg, shiites and sunnis, and between kurds and everyone else, we should perhaps take the time to understand just why there was such a propensity to rely on “strong men”. to rule those countries (propensity on the part of the people, acute desire on the part of the colonial powers, unless it’s a real nationalist, in which case it’s out the door hit the road).

        As for democracy, we should do well to remember just how much the west (US/America/France) did to prevent anything truly democratic from rising anywhere in the ME. After all, it could bring to power an element the Empire didn’t like! may be even someone like Morsi (Islamist! gevalt!)?

        Anyways, I do agree with you that we must never take our eyes off the ball, which rolls ever so briskly to the tune of Empire. It’s always there, quite visible, if one cares to put on the proper glasses.

      • Walid
        January 21, 2014, 1:51 am

        “The intent there, like in Iraq and Jordan was to keep them forever weak, and the masses forever cowed in ignorance.”

        Danaa, it’s not about ignorance, in general, Arabs are comfortable with strong authoritative leaders and when one isn’t around, they ask for him. Given the option between a tyrant dictator and a mild-mannered democratic leader, they’d take the tyrant even though they keep talking about wanting more freedoms. And the tyrants keep giving the people what they want. Other than for the fundies, look how happy the Egyptians are now with their army that made a clean sweep of all the Brothers’ leaders that had been democratically elected and tucked them away in jail. Look how happy the Syrians had been with their iron-fisted dictator while complaining about the lack of freedom. Deep down, tyrants are a father-image sort of thing.

      • Keith
        January 21, 2014, 6:57 pm

        DANAA- “Keith, so you think Phil is a stealth imperialist at heart?”

        I certainly wouldn’t phrase it that way. I think that with the exception of Israel/Palestine, and of Jewish kinship issues, Phil seems quite happy with the way things are. For example, I cannot imagine Mondoweiss vigorously opposing neoliberal globalization even though Phil (and Adam?) may not be for it. One consequence is to view specific problems in isolation without considering the systemic implications.

        Danaa: “As for democracy, we should do well to remember just how much the west (US/America/France) did to prevent anything truly democratic from rising anywhere in the ME. After all, it could bring to power an element the Empire didn’t like! may be even someone like Morsi (Islamist! gevalt!)?”

        That is absolutely correct. Look at Mossaddegh in Iran, for example. And not just the Middle East either. Of course, the whole notion of what exactly constitutes democracy, particularly when you are being destabilized by outside forces, is an interesting topic. Is capitalist democracy truly democratic? How about the influence of outside money thanks to globalization? Imperial NGOs, etc.

      • Walid
        January 21, 2014, 1:29 am

        “As I recall, he was at least somewhat supportive of the Libya intervention.”

        Keith, it wasn’t only Libya, I remember that that you and I were among the very few here that weren’t stung by the romanticism of the faux Arab Spring and saw it for what it really was early on. Phil’s epiphany happened when he was visiting with friends in Cairo during the funeral of the Copts cut down by the army. He is not an imperialist but a good-guy romantic.

      • Taxi
        January 21, 2014, 2:13 am

        Walid,

        People, first and foremost, want to be SAFE. The mideast region has been so unstable for so long, amplified a thousand fold by the immoral creation of the state of israel, that people, naturally, look for a strongman to keep them SAFE.

        When the I/P conflict has been resolved, and when wahabism has been consigned to the dungeons of history, only then will you see people in the mideast trending towards the soft-handed leader.

        Remember when just before Bush jnr’s second election, the undecided American voters, despite their objections to Bush jnr and his illegal wars, thought it best to keep him in office because John Kerry was just too soft to face both the ‘alqaida enemy’ and the ‘Baathist enemy’. And so the ‘undecided’ American people voted for Bush and tipped the scales in his favor, just like the Egyptians are wanting General Sisi for president in their troubled times and not some soft-spoken Egyptian doctor with no dirt or gunpowder under his fingernails.

        It’s a human condition thing, Walid, to choose a tough leader in times of trouble – it’s not a peculiar and strange Arab trait. It’s purely environmental.

        I hope this explains to you the disconnect between Arab aspirations and Arab pragmatism.

      • Walid
        January 21, 2014, 10:31 am

        “that people, naturally, look for a strongman to keep them SAFE.”

        You’re saying just about the same thing as me, Taxi, but more politely or diplomatically; I tried avoiding saying that they are like sheep and in need of being herded in whatever direction whether or not it’s a popular one. That’s what the concept of the “zai’im” is about. Jumblat for the Druze and Hariri for the Sunni are ones and so are Aoun, Gemayel, Franjieh and Geagea for the different Christian factions and Nasrallah and Berri for 2 groups of the Shia. Take away a zai’im from one of these groups and those that had been under his protective wings would collapse like a house of cards. That’s where tyranny in varying degrees crawls in as a zai’im gets jobs for his people and legitimately or illegitimately gets them out of trouble with the neighbours or the state. It’s a corrupt feudal system that is maintained and fostered by the leaders themselves.

      • puppies
        January 21, 2014, 2:26 am

        @Keith – As far as I know, all of us, except the Zionist hasbaratchik buffoons, are here to discuss (or read in silence about, as I have done for two years now) how we can help the Palestinians against their invaders. This is not the exclusive domain of anti-imperialists or non-interventionists. Out there, there is a majority of PEP, progressive-except-Palestine, “liberal” clowns, but also a minority of CEP, REP, conservative-/reactionary-except-Palestine. There is an active and honorable group of libertarians with a way more honorable attitude about international law, war and Palestine than any so-called liberal. So there should be no surprise in having some imperial interventionists, too, as long as their attitude to Palestine goes in the right direction (even though some significant conflicts are to be expected.) I suppose we should expect and invite all political tendencies, even the most rotten in our eyes, as long as their exponents are helping against Zionism.
        As for the Syrian articles advocating imperialist American intervention, they certainly must be taken down. They are disruptive.
        The site belongs to Phil and he may and will do as he wishes, but I suppose that if he wants to keep his audience he will also have to understand that we are here for a single purpose, not an amalgam of his diverse whims. His intolerance to the critique of Jewishness may be excused as not essential. His attacks against a Republican political figure for the only purpose of US electoral politics, with no Palestinian tie-in, was hairraising. Now, with a three-shot US-Israeli propaganda attack against Syria I am wondering how long this site will remain interesting, at least for me.

      • Shingo
        January 21, 2014, 4:34 pm

        You’re saying just about the same thing as me, Taxi, but more politely or diplomatically; I tried avoiding saying that they are like sheep and in need of being herded in whatever direction whether or not it’s a popular one.

        That applies to all people Walid, not just Arabs. We saw it with Israel many times – electing a hard line militarist and we saw it in the US afer 911. The fact is that the region has been a mess for so long that military types invariably rise to the top.

      • Daniel Rich
        January 21, 2014, 3:20 am

        @ Donald,

        Q: … and you [annie] can assume that every single person who argues like he does is in the pay of the Saudis,…

        R: Where did annie mention Saudi money?

      • Donald
        January 21, 2014, 2:21 pm

        “Where did annie mention Saudi money?”

        Good point. I think I was confusing Annie’s complaint about Omar’s argument (where I think Annie is wrong) with some other things I’ve seen recently from others. I think someone mentioned Saudi money somewhere, but if I could erase that part of my post I’d do it. So I apologize to Annie for that.

      • Citizen
        January 21, 2014, 6:32 am

        @ Keith
        Which reminds me, the Imperial USA is the biggest applier of economic sanctions around the world, and they all depend on collective punishment. The most glaring example is the draconian sanctions applied to Iran, with more to come if the Israel Firsters in Congress get their way. The average Egyptian has and is suffering greatly from the US sanctions, while the regime itself does not suffer economically at all, as is the usual outcome.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 8:22 am

        Oops, I meant the average Iranian. The cost of basic daily needs like food in Iran is priced off the charts thanks to the US-lead economic sanctions on Iran.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 21, 2014, 3:26 pm

        keith, re phil being “accommodating to empire”, for one thing don’t imagine he agrees with everything we post here (and we post conflicting views). 2nd, i have not discussed this with him lately but i know he started off supporting the aspirations of the syrian people, the romantic idea of the revolution which i argued with him about more than once. he simply could not see imperial designs behind the ‘revolutionaries’ and considered me much too cynical (he also knows my views on what came down in iraq). and then a few months ago i got a ‘you were right’ email, wrt who the opposition really was, and as i recall he changed his views on syria (but of course i cannot speak for him) and i don’t recall any specific conversation about assad. but you would have to ask him. anyway, i don’t think he has any ‘support the empire’ bones in his logic. whether i agree with him or not is not my point, but in both libya and syria he was eating the ‘peoples noble aspirations’ propaganda (imho), and that’s what he supported..(and i do,definitely, think there were and are syrian noble aspirations, i just don’t think they rule the opposition)

      • Keith
        January 21, 2014, 6:37 pm

        ANNIE- “but in both libya and syria he was eating the ‘peoples noble aspirations’ propaganda”

        Well, that was my whole point. As a liberal working within the mainstream media he inevitably has a strong bias to the effect that while there are problems, the system is inherently good. Likewise, while Uncle Sam may make mistakes, the US operates from the best of intentions. This bias will inevitably lead him to want to believe that empire is performing a humanitarian intervention rather than an imperial destabilization. He is susceptible to the propaganda because it comports with his bias. This is true for most of us. We all have different biases and different strengths of bias. Phil could never be a radical anti-imperialist like me and ever work in mainstream media again. Nor would Mondoweiss be as successful as it is if he openly shared my views. I am not being as critical of him as it may first appear. I am merely calling attention to the fact that some of the more recent posts give me cause for concern, and that we shouldn’t assume that agreement on Israel/Palestine should imply agreement on other areas in the Middle East. But, you definitely have a point that Phil may not be the one promoting this particular effort to demonize Assad and romanticize the “rebels.” There may be other forces at work.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 8:28 am

        @ Annie
        I totally agree with your general framework, which is, in my opinion, that both the US and Israel try always to support whatever government or faction anywhere in the ME that splits up Arab consensus on anything, in the street or in any particular Arab regime. The goal of Israel and AIPAC, using the tool of the American campaign finance system, is always to divide and conquer in the interest of maintaining Israel hegemony in the ME. As to Syria per se, within this framework, both the US and Israel are not sure who to support at the moment towards their goal.

  2. Ladidah
    January 20, 2014, 3:05 pm

    Settler colonialism, aided and funded by the US $$$, is not the same thing as dictatorship. The struggle in Palestine is not a generic “human rights movement,” it is specifically a struggle of indigenous people to displace settler colonialism and occupation. All armed Palestinian resistance movements are specifically part of that movement.

    This is not the same thing as a struggle against dictatorship within in a country. Let alone something wearing the banner of a struggle against dictatorship while actually being about generalized chaos promoted by militias. So, if these guys – Ahrar al-Sham, Da’ash, Jabhat al-Nusra, what’s left of the FSA – if they win the “Struggle against Assad’s regime” – what exactly is the vision for Syria that Palestinians and supporters are allegedly compelled to support?

    • ritzl
      January 20, 2014, 7:26 pm

      what exactly is the vision for Syria that Palestinians and supporters are allegedly compelled to support?

      That’s the core question, innit? One I wish would be asked in US government, what’s more important, hypocritically supporting anti-US crazies v. ameliorating oppressive regimes.

      Through our long, sad history of interventions, we’ve always come down on the side of oppressive regimes, sadly. Only in the ME do we do the opposite. That real-time political dissonance is bizarre.

      • Donald
        January 20, 2014, 10:54 pm

        “Through our long, sad history of interventions, we’ve always come down on the side of oppressive regimes, sadly. Only in the ME do we do the opposite.”

        Not really. We supported repressive regimes in most of Latin America, except when we supported rebels against them. The commonality to all of this was an utter lack of regard for the consequences to ordinary people. In the ME we’ve usually sided with repressive regimes, but occasionally supported rebels. It’s an old story from decades back, but the US used to turn the aid spigot on and off for the Kurds against Iraq. Questioned about this, Kissinger is supposed to have said “Covert operations are not to be confused with missionary work”.

      • Citizen
        January 21, 2014, 7:10 am

        “Only in the ME do we do the opposite.”

        Really, what non-oppressive regimes have we supported in the ME?

      • ritzl
        January 21, 2014, 4:59 pm

        @Citizen, Donald- Yeah, it was an incomplete thought/crappy comment. Way too vague. I was trying to say that predominantly in the ME we seem to choose chaos over repressive “stability.” But that’s not a universal even in that region, as you both point out. It is an Israel-friendly discriminator.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 8:31 am

        @ ritzl
        See my comment on divide and conquer policy of both US and Israel when it comes to Arab regimes and Arab Street in ME.

      • Keith
        January 22, 2014, 3:58 pm

        RITZL- “I was trying to say that predominantly in the ME we seem to choose chaos over repressive “stability.”

        I would suggest that within this context that “chaos” represents a form of stability. The stability that US/Israel seek is a stabilization of power relationships. Having your enemies engaged in ongoing sectarian conflict leaves them weak and no threat to either the empire or Israeli hegemony. This is the essence of the Oded Yinon plan.

        “The idea that all the Arab states should be broken down, by Israel, into small units, occurs again and again in Israeli strategic thinking. For example, Ze’ev Schiff, the military correspondent of Ha’aretz (and probably the most knowledgeable in Israel, on this topic) writes about the “best” that can happen for Israeli interests in Iraq: “The dissolution of Iraq into a Shi’ite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part” (Ha’aretz 6/2/1982). Actually, this aspect of the plan is very old.” (Israel Shahak)
        http://members.tripod.com/alabasters_archive/zionist_plan.html

      • W.Jones
        January 22, 2014, 2:35 am

        Really, what non-oppressive regimes have we supported in the ME?
        Armenia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, modern Lebanon, modern Cyprus? Azerbaijan?

      • puppies
        January 24, 2014, 10:45 pm

        Not one qualifies. Are you reading govt lit?
        Never mind, it doesn’t directly concern Palestine, so let’s let it go.

  3. Renato Oliveira
    January 20, 2014, 3:25 pm

    I don’t get it. Yarmouk is starving to death, while Gaza has a 15% child obesity rate. Yet you equal Israel to Syria. Israel lets supplies in every day save Saturdays, Syria dos not. Where is the equivalence?

    • Inanna
      January 20, 2014, 11:03 pm

      Wrong.

      According to a study in the Lancet: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)60191-9/abstract

      In both the West Bank and Gaza, 11% of children are overweight and 4% are obese, thus making the 15% for all Palestinian territories, not Gaza only.

      Israel lets enough calories into Gaza to keep them just above starvation. 6% of children in the OPT are stunted (in terms of their growth) as a result. I’m sure that if we had the numbers for Gaza alone (I don’t have access to the Lancet studies to look at the detail of the numbers) they would show lower rates of obesity and higher rates of stunting than the West Bank.

      And while I condemn the Syrian govt’s siege of Yarmouk, at least they had the decency to allow the majority of the 160,000 residents to leave the camp, unlike Israel which colludes with Egypt to keep Gazans trapped while they circle them with CCTV, shoot Palestinians when they enter the ‘buffer zone’ and bomb them from the air on an almost daily rate. And it’s not like Syrians have been attacking Yarmouk since the 1950s like the Israelis have been doing to Gaza. So while I deplore and condemn the suffering that the Syrian regime has been heaping on Yarmouk, it doesn’t even compare to the misery of displacement, ethnic cleansing, expulsion, dispossession, massacre, siege, bombing etc that Israel has been heaping on Palestinians since 1947.

      • seafoid
        January 20, 2014, 11:47 pm

        Ya Inanna

        Where are the camp residents now ? Is UNRWA looking after them?

      • Walid
        January 21, 2014, 2:02 am

        Most are in Lebanon now, seafoid, since the borders with Turkey and Jordan have been shut tight for a while and refugees no longer allowed to enter. Only weak Lebanon with an unprotected and open 400-km border with Syria is wide open to refugees that are now close to 1.5 millions. Lebanon is bursting at the seams with all the added refugees and no financial help, especially from those very Arabs that are at the root of the problem and currently funding billions in arms and salaries to keep it going.

      • Renato Oliveira
        January 22, 2014, 11:47 am

        I read the Lancet paper – I work on R&D, so I have access to such papers and the technical knowledge to interpet them.

        The study was made on 1500 kids from selected age groups in PA and UNRWA schools. And they show the typical pattern of underdeveloped countries: you have both children obesity and malnutrition, results of bad healthcare and poverty more than anything else.

        Stunting 7%, underweight 7%, 12% overweight, 6% obese.

        Here are the conclusions of the study:
        “By contrast with the results of previous studies, our data do not suggest an association between birth order, birthweight, size of the household, maternal education, and the child’s nutritional status. Our results show the need to target food insecurity and improve child health in the occupied Palestinian territory, partly through increased awareness and promotion of sustainable healthy lifestyle changes for the prevention and management of undernutrition and obesity. The dissemination of information about the social, emotional, and cognitive eff ects of
        regular physical activity should be integral to health and nutrition programmes. We need to focus simultaneously on food insecurity and the establishment of a simple and reliable system for the detection of malnutrition; and we need to implement programmes related to the negative eff ects of adverse lifestyles.”

        The key word here is lifestyle, not occupation.

        The Lancet has a study on malnutrition in mothers and children in underdeveloped countries. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60937-X

        It is a large paper, so I summarize the results below (no results for obesity, although the paper does mention that child obesity is a growing concern). The results for overweight are in plots, so I rounded them, but the results do show my point:

        Latin America: stunting 13.4%, underweight 3.4%, 8% overweight
        Africa: stunting 35.6%, underweight 17.7%, 12% overweight
        Asia: stunting 26.8%, underweight 19.3%, 7.5% overweight
        World: stunting 25.7%, underweight 15.7%, 7% overweight
        HIGH INCOME COUNTRIES: stunting 7.2%, underweight 2.4%, overweight 15%

        That is, the results in Palestinian Arabs children in Gaza, Judea and Samaria may be worrying, but hardly out of sync with the rest of the world. On the contrary, they are closer to high income countries!

      • talknic
        January 24, 2014, 1:38 pm

        @ Renato Oliveira “I read the Lancet paper – I work on R&D, so I have access to such papers and the technical knowledge to interpet them”

        Uh huh The papers you’ve sourced are free. For anyone interested it costs nothing to register and there is a wealth of information here http://www.thelancet.com/health-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territory-2012

        “The key word here is lifestyle, not occupation”

        Strange you quoted this “Our results show the need to target food insecurity and improve child health in the occupied Palestinian territory…”

        It then goes on to say “..partly through increased awareness and promotion of sustainable healthy lifestyle changes for the prevention and management of undernutrition and obesity ….. We need to focus simultaneously on food insecurity ..”

        If life style is not effected by occupation as you assert, I wonder if lifestyle was effected in Jewish ghettos under the Nazis?

        “That is, the results in Palestinian Arabs children in Gaza, Judea and Samaria.. “

        The article doesn’t mention the obsolete names ‘Judea and Samaria’ Mr R&D guy with access to free articles

        “…may be worrying, but hardly out of sync with the rest of the world. On the contrary, they are closer to high income countries!

        You’d have to look at the statistics on parents, especially mothers, to see if their health is being sacrificed for the sake of their children before jumping to your conclusion

    • Shingo
      January 20, 2014, 11:13 pm

      Yet you equal Israel to Syria. Israel lets supplies in every day save Saturdays, Syria dos not. Where is the equivalence?

      The reason trucks are not able to get into Yarmouk is because they are being fired upon by the rebels.

  4. aparatchik
    January 20, 2014, 3:40 pm

    More people have died in three years of Syrian civil war than in 100 years of Palestinian (Arab-Jewish) civil war, including the 48, 56, 67, 73, 82 wars.

    • bangpound
      January 20, 2014, 7:07 pm

      “What are you? In real estate?”

    • Shingo
      January 20, 2014, 11:17 pm

      More people have died in three years of Syrian civil war than in 100 years of Palestinian (Arab-Jewish) civil war, including the 48, 56, 67, 73, 82 wars.

      The Syrian civil war has lasted nearly 3 years. If Israel’s adversaries in the 48, 56, 67, 73, 82 wars had been financed and armed by the Saudis, Qataris, Turks, US and NATO, I would guess the death toll would have been of the same order.

  5. Taxi
    January 20, 2014, 3:42 pm

    Well wadayouknow: the saudis are spending alotta-lotta money on their whores these days. An army of them, no less.

    And these call-girls and guys are tasked with grabbing the Palestinians like clubs and striking at the iron-lion head of Bashar.

    But why, one might ask, why is saudi going into frantic paroxysms of madness all of a sudden?

    Because soon as the delegates enter the Geneva 2 halls, which is any moment now, with or without the so-called ‘opposition’, the saudi defeat in Syria will become OFFICIAL!

    This article (and others with the same message that have suddenly appeared on MW in the last couple of days) is no more than a sign of the house of saud’s utter desperation, employing the most evil and divisive propaganda at the twelfth hour, in a futile attempt to save its rapidly diminishing regional and global influence.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 20, 2014, 6:49 pm

      they see the mass mobilization for freedom in palestine and design actions to usurp that movement to side w/the syrian (cough/foreign) ‘revolutionaries’. i can’t believe people can be this stupid.

      what a brilliant move by saudia arabia or whoever is funding this madness, go plant their islamic nutjobs in a palestinian refugee camp and then trigger all the solidarity activist to start rising up in support of foreign jhihadists. and then if we don’t support it we’re like zionists? that said, assad should not have bombed the camp, obviously.

    • Shingo
      January 20, 2014, 10:42 pm

      Well said Taxi,

      All the fanboys for regime change in Syria are suddenly discovering a new found empathy for Palestinians. It’s so blatant it’s almost laughable.

      Having said that, Egypt’s military looks to be totally out of control.

    • Inanna
      January 20, 2014, 11:32 pm

      What’ll they do to Bandar this time when he fails, Taxi?

      • seafoid
        January 20, 2014, 11:49 pm

        I bet there’ll still be Shia living in Syria when it’s all over. That is what the whole mess is about.

      • puppies
        January 21, 2014, 1:32 am

        Don’t be too sure. The US (+Saudi Friends of Israel +Turkey in the person of Annusra and sundry satellites) may well win. And try to clean the State of the Faithful. It’s been done in the past.

      • Walid
        January 21, 2014, 2:20 am

        Seafoid, it’s much more than the usual Sunni-Shia rumble. There are over 300 million Shia in the world and the Sunni fanatics cannot erase them all or make honest Sunnis of them. It’s really about regime change and everyone is into erroneously believing that if Assad is removed, the problem would end in a flash. He is but a figurehead that was coaxed into assuming a job he didn’t want when his father died. The real power is in the hands of an elite establishment comprised of a minority Alawite military commanders and a majority Sunni capitalists and even if Assad falls, these would continue their business as usual. At the root of the planned regime change is the Palestinian question that is just about resolved between Israel and the current Palestinian leadership and the rest of the Arab leaders and the only thing standing in the way of a final capitulation is Syria’s stubborn upholding of the Palestinians RoR and its adamancy to get back the Golan, a region that is meaningless to both Palestinians and other Arabs but crucial to the survival of Israel.

      • Sibiriak
        January 21, 2014, 2:56 am

        Walid:

        … the only thing standing in the way of a final capitulation is Syria’s stubborn upholding of the Palestinians RoR and its adamancy to get back the Golan

        You make plenty of convincing arguments, but I’m not sure about this one. It seems like Palestinian capitulation on RoR happened already, and some time ago– so in what way is Syrian “upholding” of RoR preventing a Palestinian/Israeli capitulatory agreement? Golan would be a separate issue, no?

      • Walid
        January 21, 2014, 12:53 pm

        Sibiriak, there are over 400,000 Palestinians, or there were over 400,000 before they were spooked into leaving by the takfiri attacks. Syria therefore has a very good reasons for wanting to stick up for the Palestinians’ RoR for the same reasons as Lebanon that has 500,000 Palestinians. No RoR means that the Palestinians have to stay. You’re probably right about the capitulation by the Palestinians but this would be by their leaders only and by other Arab leaders.

      • seafoid
        January 21, 2014, 2:49 pm

        Walid

        It started off with a poster in Deraa.
        It became an anti regime popular movement but they didn’t have any organization.
        Then the Qataris got involved bankrolling the rebels. the Jihadis turned up.
        The Saudis plowed in. Shia infidels and dogs became the issue.

        I don’t buy any of these grand plans to isolate the Palestinians. The bots have been doing it since 1948 and none of them worked.

        The Qataris and the Saudis are pure evil distilled. They want to destroy Syria so they can make money in the reconstruction and if there are fewer Alawis around so much the better.
        The Alawis look next door and see what the Sunni Jihad express did to the Assysrians and the Christians.

      • aiman
        January 21, 2014, 3:11 am

        Inanna, speaking of Bandar further: didn’t Bandar tell Putin that there would be no terrorism at the Winter Olympics if Russia sided with the Saudis? Now we have news of terrorist threats. What’s Bandar’s deal there, I wonder. It is no secret now that terrorism is a form of state violence by proxy. This explains why the Takfiris are not stampeding through Riyadh (or where its interests lie) but places like Kabul and Damascus.

      • Walid
        January 21, 2014, 12:47 pm

        “… Takfiris are not stampeding through Riyadh (or where its interests lie) but places like Kabul and Damascus.”

        and Beirut: 5 suicide bombings in the last 2 or 3 months. One today.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 8:40 am

        Saudi Arabia regime must be the most evil regime in the world. There’s no other contestant I can think of except Israel. But at least the Israeli regime represents its 80% Jewish citizens. SA represents nobody but a single Arab clan.

  6. Justpassingby
    January 20, 2014, 4:02 pm

    Standpoint by US/Israel is hypocrite.

    In Syria they back terror, but say Palestinians are terrorists.

  7. HarryLaw
    January 20, 2014, 4:03 pm

    “it is time to stand at the front line of the struggle against Assad’s regime and say that enough is enough.” Omar sounds like you should join one of the Alqueda groups in the front lines against Assad, these Islamist groups [who comprise the majority fighting forces] backed by one of the most repressive states in the world, Saudi Arabia, both of whom care nothing for democracy, in fact they see it as a threat, these head choppers are equal opportunity killers, who will kill Christians, Jews, Shia and fellow Sunni Muslims simply because they may deviate in some minor way from their fanatical beliefs. The Palestinians for the most part have wisely kept out of the conflict, for the sake of the majority of Syrians and Palestinians, I hope Assad prevails against these animals, and the people of Syria and only they, have the final say in who governs them.

  8. Austin Branion
    January 20, 2014, 4:59 pm

    Omar,

    I assume you’ve read “While you were neutral about Yarmouk,” published here on January 17. If you read my comments on that piece, you will see that I am entirely in agreement with you on this issue of collective punishment, so I won’t rehash those thoughts here.

    What I do want to address, though, is what you say in the penultimate paragraph:

    “And why do some try to discredit this revolution by using the claim that there are certain elements that pander to the West and are ripe with corruption when at the same time our own leadership in Ramallah is in bed with Zionist politicians in Tel Aviv and Washington? Should we not clean our house before we tell others to clean theirs? Or do the Syrians not deserve the same moral standards that we apply to ourselves?”

    This is a point I’ve heard before, and it remains frustratingly common despite its conspicuous fallacies. No one is saying that the Palestinian cause isn’t worthy because of the ineptitude and collaborationism of current Palestinian “leadership”–and for what it’s worth, I am not saying that wishing to dislodge an authoritarian regime in Syria is a cause not worthy of sympathy (quite the opposite).

    But then again, no one should look at the fractured and rudderless Palestinian national movement, with its venal, collaborationist cronies serving in “leadership” positions bereft of the substance of the term, as being a “revolution” either, and to call it so evinces either an undue enthusiasm for said crony class and/or a shallow understanding of the word “revolution.” I am a proud supporter of the Palestinian cause, writing and engaging in solidarity activism in its favor alongside Palestinians who are trying to build a principled national movement that can be the pride of justice-loving people everywhere; I also regard many Palestinian actors in disdain, such as the post-Oslo PA crony class.

    The same can be said for Syria: I detest Asad’s rotten autocracy (the nefarious, murderous four-decade history of which many progressives seem to have magically forgotten in 2011) and believe that justice-minded people should oppose it (and ALL other autocracies, be they in the American imperial orbit or outside of it). But that does not mean that the most salient opposition on the ground today constitutes a “revolution” of such moral clarity that it demands our solidarity. Irrespective of the uprising’s genesis, what’s happening in Syria today bears more in common with the civil-cum-proxy wars that have wracked the Congo for much of the past two decades than any “revolution” in the historic sense (e.g. French, Russian, Cuban, Iranian). And besides, not all revolutions are forces for moral good.

    So anyway…. other than that somewhat tangential (yet important in its own right) aspect, I wholeheartedly agree and applaud you for writing this. We should all reject collective punishment wherever it rears its head.

    (side note: I am apparently inept at using html tags; can’t figure out how to block quote to save my life)

    • Sibiriak
      January 21, 2014, 1:45 am

      Austin Branion :

      Omar, I assume you’ve read “While you were neutral about Yarmouk,” published here on January 17. If you read my comments on that piece, you will see that I am entirely in agreement with you on this issue of collective punishment, so I won’t rehash those thoughts here. What I do want to address, though, is what you say in the penultimate paragraph:

      —-
      […] that does not mean that the most salient opposition on the ground today constitutes a “revolution” of such moral clarity that it demands our solidarity.

      But Austin, don’t you see that the two issues are fundamentally fused into one argument ? The “collective punishment” issue is used to argue that we should be in solidarity with “the revolution”.

      That objectionable linkage is the key thing going on in this piece and the Jan. 17th one.

      A straight-up condemnation of collective punishment would be welcome, imo, but that’s not what we are getting with these authors.

      • Austin Branion
        January 21, 2014, 12:33 pm

        Sibiriak,

        I do see that this particular author is indeed trying to conflate the two, which is the one part where this piece fails in my opinion. But simply because he is trying to make that conflation does not mean that the collective punishment that the people of Yarmouk are being subjected to is not real.

        A wonderful example of someone who is taking a principled stand on the Yarmouk siege despite what I consider to be her nauseating, ardent support of the Asad regime is Amal Saad-Ghorayeb; Walid posted a link here in the comments to an article she wrote decrying the siege. She’s as anti-“revolution” as they come, but at least her intellectual integrity is intact.

    • Sibiriak
      January 21, 2014, 1:55 am

      Austin:

      side note: I am apparently inept at using html tags; can’t figure out how to block quote to save my life

      Just put “blockquote” in brackets to begin the quote and “/blockquote” in brackets to end the quote.

  9. Keith
    January 20, 2014, 5:00 pm

    OMAR CHAABAN- “And I maintain that this is exactly the case in Syria.”

    Anyone who compares the bogus “threat” posed by Hamas to Israel with the very real threat to the Syrian regime and the people of Syria caused by the imperial assault on Syria utilizing thousands of heavily armed and massively supported Jihadi fighters is an imperial propagandist. An estimated 100,000 Syrians have already been killed. How few Israelis would have to die before an all out Middle East war ensued, perhaps involving nuclear weapons? Your sophistry is breathtaking!

    • UshPhe
      January 22, 2014, 2:43 pm

      Hey Keith…I’m gonna respond to your last comment to me here since the post since “While you were neutral about Yarmouk” is now apparently closed for comment,

      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.

      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.

      1. I welcome this as well. I should have chosen my words more carefully.

      2. I need to study both sides more closely as well as their sources. I now feel I must do that before responding with anything substantive either in opposition or agreement with you or perhaps somewhere in the middle. However, I do ask that the accusations against me as an imperialist added to every comment you post please stop. Just because I am not yet fully knowledgable about this specific case and expressed, yes I will admit, perhaps, premature doubts does not mean I am an imperialist. I’ve read nearly every Noam Chomsky book from cover to cover in sadness, horror, and amazement at the sheer audacity and arrogance of the American imperial venture. I never was an imperialist. I’m firmly anti-imperialist. But if I had been an imperialist before reading Chomsky I would be an absolute idiot if I still was and certainly then it would right to question my motives. You are correct that my questions and doubts were directed at commenters who are in agreement with your position. I guess I could chalk that up to reading arguments that initially seemed well-reasoned to me against your position and then just posting them to see what response these arguments elicit (I call that dialogue and trying to clarify in my own mind the validity of two sides, you can all it whatever you want), for example the video I posted with Max Blumenthal discussing Syria. Certainly he’s not an imperialist right?…although you may believe he is inadvertently repeating imperialist talking points as you believe I am as well. I’m gonna reserve any further judgment about Syria until after I do some more research. I hope you can be satisfied with that. Or you can continue thinking I’m an imperialist troll. Your choice. Personally, I don’t think a troll would use the language I have used here. For me all this is just an opportunity to learn and understand and come to an informed decision as I’ve already said. I have no interest in making accusations or placing labels or using inflammatory rhetoric. Unlike some others, that’s why I choose not to put an accusation of ” Evil Batthist” at the end of every comment I make. To me, this talk of you consciously consciously support evil Batthists or you consciously support American imperalism is just childish, because I think it’s fair to say that the regular readers of Mondoweiss, which I have recently become, would not be either of these things.

      • W.Jones
        January 23, 2014, 1:24 pm

        UshPhe,

        Since you like the anti-imperialist point of view, you may consider Gen. Wesley Clark’s comment about the goal of regime change in Syria that he was instructed about 10 years ago. Then you may consider how this fits into the current proxy war in Syria.

      • Keith
        January 23, 2014, 5:12 pm

        USHPHE- “I’ve read nearly every Noam Chomsky book from cover to cover….”

        Well, you sure fooled me! I see no evidence in any of your comments of a geostrategic perspective, or of any influence by Noam Chomsky. I respond to what is written in the comment itself, not on some purported reading list.

        AshPhe: “…I am not yet fully knowledgable about this specific case….”

        In view of your claim to have read “nearly every Noam Chomsky book from cover to cover,” I would expect you to be more knowledgeable on this topic than you now profess to be. In your initial comments, you seemed sufficiently sure of yourself to side with the Western backed Jihadi “rebels” against a government defending itself against outside intervention and destabiliztion as part of a scheme to redraw the map of the Middle East. By the way, I never called you an imperialist. I said that you appeared to be supporting this particular imperial intervention and called upon you to state that you opposed this armed intervention and destabilization effort which has already cost the lives of over 100,000 people. Something which you haven’t done.

        AshPhe: “For me all this is just an opportunity to learn and understand and come to an informed decision as I’ve already said.”

        If after reading “nearly every Noam Chomsky book from cover to cover,” you still haven’t got a clue, then nothing I could say would make the slightest difference. Since you referred to Chomsky, I’ll leave you with a Chomsky quote. See if you can determine the relevance.

        “There is, evidently, much satisfaction to be gained by careful inspection of those writhing under our boot, to see if they are behaving properly; when they are not, as is often the case, indignation is unconstrained.” (Noam Chomsky)

    • UshPhe
      January 22, 2014, 3:20 pm

      Correction…I did accuse someone here of being pro-Assad. I apologize for that.

  10. ToivoS
    January 20, 2014, 5:13 pm

    Omar sets up his straw man Let us also accept, for one second, that the revolution in Syria is the main bastion of extremism and terrorism, and that there are no elements in it that could be reasoned with to sustain a stabler and more desirable future for Syria.

    There is no reason to accept this. The opening days of the demonstrations against the Asad regime revealed widespread opposition to that tyrannical government. However, within a few weeks an armed rebellion (and as we know today one that was prepared in advance) broke out. At this point any peaceful demonstration was no longer possible. It was now war. Two choices for the average Syrian and the Palestinian guests — become an armed fighter or hide and try to survive. As the true nature of the armed rebellion revealed itself many of those who initially desired democratic reform found that their own survival meant supporting Assad.

    Omar’s call for the Palestinians to to stand at the frontline of the struggle against Assad’s regime is an invitation to commit suicide.

  11. Ali Sourya
    January 20, 2014, 5:25 pm

    Talal and Omar are part of a new group of Palestinian traitors who already forgot all that we Syrians did for them. I don’t know who else is part of this new group of backstabbing Palestinians but they need to be rooted out. You don’t want these agents of empire among you.

  12. Walid
    January 20, 2014, 5:32 pm

    Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a pro-Hizbullah/Palestinians cheerleader today took to task, al-Akhbar’s chief editor (Ibrahim Amin) for having berated all the Yarmouk Palestinians for not evicting the 70 or so terrorists that came from Gaza to fight Assad and said that for this, the Palestinians had asked for it; the editor is also a pro-Hizbullah/Palistinians rooter. Interesting commentary:

    “… Amin’s commentary only reinforces this troubling trend in so far as he boldly and unequivocally asserts that all Palestinians, refugees in particular, are “100 percent” responsible for their own starvation and deaths: “First and foremost, the Palestinians ought to face the truth themselves, commoners before leaders, and refugees before residents of the historical land in the territories stolen in 1948…”

    While it remains even truer today that the real litmus test of our commitment to the Palestinian cause is supporting the Syrian Arab Republic in its struggle against the imperialist-Zionist-takfiri onslaught against the Resistance project, this does not absolve our Resistance camp from its responsibility toward the Palestinian people and their fundamental rights. Apparently, the refugees brought this plight upon themselves when they sided with the armed opposition against the Syrian state. But this gross overgeneralization is contradicted by Amin himself when he claims that only “some of the residents” took over parts of the camp and turned it into a safe haven for militants. According to this logic, the bulk of the 20,000 or so refugees who obviously did not take up arms, are still responsible because they have yet to “force the militants out.”

    Amal Saad-Ghorayeb’s full post:

    http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/yarmouk-camp-%E2%80%93-resistance-camp-needs-reflect

    • Austin Branion
      January 20, 2014, 5:43 pm

      Wow, Walid, thanks for sharing that article. I really dislike Ms. Saad-Ghorayeb’s position vis-a-vis the Asad regime (“we rightly faulted the opposition and its supporters for prioritizing the struggle against authoritarianism over confronting imperialism and Zionism”–ummmmmm, yeaaaaah, don’t know about that), but I am pleasantly surprised that she actually hit every nail on the head regarding that awful editorial by Ibrahim Amin and this troubling attitude about the siege coming from the “resistance camp.” This actually brought a smile to my face.

      • Inanna
        January 20, 2014, 11:22 pm

        If we Arabs decide to prioritize the struggle against zionism and imperialism then it’s for us to decide so arrogant western liberals can just move on since it’s our decision.

        It seems to me that the choices that the west wants for us are compliant absolute monarchs like the Gulf model which is just as or even more authoritarian & sectarian than the Baathist model or else we become sectarian/tribal basket-cases like Libya or Iraq, with your oh-so-benevolent help. How convenient for you and how terrible for us.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 8:54 am

        @ Inanna
        I agree, and I’m just an average American. I think the best camp to be in is one where the struggle against zionism and imperialism are one.

    • ToivoS
      January 20, 2014, 6:08 pm

      Good story Walid. It really illustrates the horror of war. Eighty armed and disciplined gunmen can easily exert their will over 10s of thousands of unarmed civilians. This is what happens during war and central authority breaks down. There is no question that the inhabitants of Yarmouk are victims either by being caught in the crossfire or being forced to flee to refugee camps. Rules of civilian life disappear once two armies meet on the battlefield.

      This horror will only stop once the war is over. In the case of the Syrian War, it looks like the easiest path to that end is the total defeat of the Saudi-Western backed terrorist militias.

      • W.Jones
        January 21, 2014, 11:45 pm

        80 insurgent soldiers vs. 10,000’s of unarmed civilians?

        I guess if the civilians are unarmed, then there are no armed forces to take over the location. Plus, the civilians may not really care enough to sacrifice themselves to fight the insurgent soldiers, which is not to say they don’t have a preference.

        Anyway, fighting the soldiers would also put them in more jeopardy with the more than 80 militant insurgents outside the camp.

  13. Ali Sourya
    January 20, 2014, 5:48 pm

    Why aren’t my comments going through? Is Mondoweiss not allowing for anti-empire discourse? Talal and Omar are part of a new group of Palestinian traitors who already forgot all that we Syrians did for them. I don’t know who else is part of this new group of backstabbing Palestinians but they need to be rooted out. This is not solidarity for Palestine.

  14. Ali Sourya
    January 20, 2014, 5:49 pm

    Talal openly argued against hands off syria. I presume Omar also supports intervention.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/talal-alyan/shell-shocked-and-rouged-_b_3837083.html

  15. Danaa
    January 20, 2014, 5:54 pm

    Omar: “We must cast aside our attachment to neutrality and replace them with unequivocal rejection of anything that comes out of the Syrian regime. We must express in the clearest of terms our support for the millions of Syrians who continue to reside in more than abhorrent circumstances in under-equipped refugee camps where many have died from starvation or piercing cold. ”

    This is completely disingenuous statement on Omar’s part and I am left wondering who is paying the bills to put up this hash. This is the third post in three days by someone claiming to be sympathetic to the Palestinians”, using the same stock picture of the girl in the blue hijab, and making the same arguments we hear ad nauseum on our MSM.

    I believe there is a campaign going on, funded by Saudi to co-opt the tragic story of the palestinians for extremely dubious ends. Assad, for one has been rather good to the palestinian before the western/saudi/israeli conspiracy took shape to try and destroy Syria, as part of a rearrangement of the Middle east, per the neoconservative/Likud textbook prescription.

    I, for one am not neutral and am hoping for a speedy victory by the Syrian armed forces over the terrorists and jihadists that infested their country. This is by far the only thing that would help the Syrian people as well as the palestinians. We should support the millions of Syrian people who are paying a horrible price for this truly barbaric invasion of their country that’s trying to undermine one of the few secular governments in the ME.. There is absolutely no indication that the majority of Syrians have any interest in establishing a wahabist/ultra-Islamist/Salafist regime and the behavior of the foreign terrorists sent in and paid for by Bandar–Bush-Likud have the slightest interest in democratic reforms or have the interests of the Syrian people at heart.

    I have really serious doubts about this posts and why it shows up pouring a reactionary message at this time, just before geneva. Could it be that as military victories elude them the Jihadists have turned to the tried and true hasbarbara? If anyone doubts that there is an agenda here, note where the piece starts and where it ends. from tug-on-heart-strings to “regime change” in the space of a few well crafted paragraphs. Does the tactic not look familiar somehow?

    That said, I don’t think Omar and the previous posters are naively deluded into thinking they are helping the Palestinian residents (the civilians) os yarmook. I happen to believe they know what they are doing and are part of a well-coordinated effort to spread lies that serve a purpose very different than what is ostensibly portrayed here. Again, I will take note of the excellent English and the well-devised, calculated points, now repeated – in a slightly different package – for the third time. I can only hope that people will see through the craft and the feigned sympathy to catch the glow of the demons behind it all. I know people reading this blog are smart cookies all and trust their judgement to see the agenda, as couched as it seems to be at first.

    An aside: the Syrian government let some aid into the camp, after being fired on by terrorist snipers. The condition is that it be available to the civilians and not to the evil tones now terrorizing the camp’s residents. Whether that can be arranged I don’t know. Hopefully the Palestinians will ultimately be able to kick out the Salafi nut-cases and go on with their lives. What’s going on in Syria is not their fight, but unfortunately an islamist terror regime can and already does affect their fortunes adversely.

    Also, let me express the hope Adam and Phil will not again fall for these disingenuous attempts to infiltrate the site with false pleas for sympathy. Nothing good can come of entering the Syrian fray at this point for the human right causes we all believe in.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 20, 2014, 7:47 pm

      and why it shows up pouring a reactionary message at this time, just before geneva.

      i just wrote phil earlier today and ask him the very same thing. 3 posts in a row. if we have a site position on this i wish someone would tell me about it. sheesh!

      • Shingo
        January 20, 2014, 10:39 pm

        and why it shows up pouring a reactionary message at this time, just before geneva.

        Explained pretty well here, by someone who is a fanboy of the overthrow of Assad no less.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 21, 2014, 9:25 am

        here’s another uploaded from the same day. he’s really full of himself

        http://eaworldview.com/2014/01/syria-dealing-assad-devil-spies-play-politics/

        and it looks like iran will be at geneva 2, so he was wrong about that to. http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/01/syria-the-geneva-ii-conference-trouble.html

        and there’s Syria: ISIS Military Leader Umar Shishani To Syrian People – “We Didn’t Come To Fight You”

        We will not leave until you repent and surrender your weapons to the headquarters of ISIS. We will even give sanctuary […]. We cannot prevent people from accepting Allah the Almightly, we cannot prevent repentance.

        {Break}

        […] I ask Allah to secure our brothers… right now there are brothers trapped in many places, inshallah, we will not leave you until we come for you and aid you. And this speech is especially for the people of Syrian of this blessed land. Those traitors have sold you out and made a pact with the Taghout, with agents from the East and West, knowing full well that they want to establish a new regime with the Nusayris (Alawites), and taking advantage of the name of the Syrian people to establish their project. By Allah, we did not come to kill you, O brothers and sisters. We did not come here to drink the blood of this people. And We we want to stand up for this blood. These traitor cowards who made this whole fitna…

        I ask Allah to unite all the Muslims and unify them to make this land under the rule of Sharia Law. […]

      • Shingo
        January 21, 2014, 4:25 pm

        here’s another uploaded from the same day. he’s really full of himself

        He sure is. The guy thinks he’s a genius and the foremost expert on the subject just because he’s been studying it for 5 months.

        and it looks like iran will be at geneva 2, so he was wrong about that to

        Sadly Iran were uninvited because the US, rebels and UK threw a tantrum.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 9:06 am

        Annie
        Assad is cruel to his own citizen dissidents, but compare the composition of foreign elements who have entered Syria. I really don’t see how any American can support them under American values.

    • Taxi
      January 21, 2014, 1:24 am

      Danaa,

      I’m like you, I take the side of the Syrian army, the ONLY legitimate defender of the Syrian people and the land of Syria.

      I actually happen to know one of the senior consultants working the Geneva 2 for the opposition side. About a couple of months ago, just before he started his post, we had this little conversation:
      Taxi: I can’t believe you’re gonna be working for the cannibals.
      S. C.: It doesn’t really matter who works for them, they’re toast anyway.
      Taxi: And what exactly will you be doing for them?
      S.C.: Flooding the media with anti-Assad literature.
      Taxi: It won’t work, we’ve all seen the videos of the bastard al Nusra in Syria.
      S.C.: It’ll work on some people. But it won’t be a game changer.
      Taxi: Why are you doing it? You don’t even like the opposition in Syria.
      S.C.: Two reasons: I get to participate in history up-close and personal. And the saudis are paying top dollar.
      Taxi: So you’re helping the saudis for a paycheck–
      S.C.: Nobody helps the saudis cuz they like them. Besides, nothing can help the saudis win in Syria. That’s why I can participate in good conscience.

      • Shingo
        January 21, 2014, 2:32 am

        That’s an extraordinary conversation Taxi. How long ago was it, may I ask?

      • Taxi
        January 21, 2014, 9:16 am

        Shingo,
        I mentioned the time my post above: “About a couple of months ago, just before he started his post, we had this little conversation”.

    • Walid
      January 21, 2014, 2:39 am

      “Hopefully the Palestinians will ultimately be able to kick out the Salafi nut-cases and go on with their lives. ”

      Danaa, a couple of days back, Hamas, Fateh and other groups in Yarmouk signed on to an agreement to join hands in evicting the non-Yarmouk rebels and reopen the camp for the refugees to return. It should be happening in the coming few days according to the party that sponsored the agreement.

      What’s really behind the terrorizing snipers shooting at the army from inside the camp and preventing the remaining 20,000 from fleeing the camp appears to be to force the army into firing back into the camp and putting the Syrian regime in a bad light in the world’s press. So far it has worked.

      • Danaa
        January 21, 2014, 1:48 pm

        These are very good points Walid. I can only wish some others here saw it as clearly as you do.

    • Justpassingby
      January 21, 2014, 5:22 am

      Danaa

      “disingenuous attempts”

      Its the truth. If Israel would have done this you would have criticised them.

      • Danaa
        January 21, 2014, 1:47 pm

        JPB, what israel would or would not have done is beside the point, because there’s simply no comparison. I can’t believe you’d fall for this simplistic argument – the “what if” part. Israel will do what it’s been doing for a long time, and frankly, were they in this situation we already know what they’d do – bomb the entire camp to smitherins and to heck with ‘civilians”. This bringing in Israel for the purpose of drawing false equivalence is what made me suspicious of this Omar character and is why I called out his disingenuous drivel.

        You need to see Yarmouk for what it is – a hostage situation. With 80-90 Salafi types holding the civilians for ransom. These situations are never easy to resolve and giving in to kidnapers and murderers (which is what the takfiris are) is hardly a solution, is it? this has absolutely nothing to do with human rights and anyone who tries to describe it so is doing it either out of total ignorance or is part pf a propaganda machine trying to infiltrate the palestinian rights supporting sites.

        I urge you to read Omar’s and Talal’s pieces (as well as that pathetic “Open letter”) with the critical eye trained through years of hasbara detection methodologies.

      • yrn
        January 22, 2014, 5:04 am

        “what israel would or would not have done is beside the point, because there’s simply no comparison. ”
        I am more and more Amused by those lowest hypocrites.
        The issue is clear, killings outside of Israel are accepted and you find in those long amusing comments, all the pseudo sick minded activist, that are trying with all kind of bull to justify Assads butchering his own nation and the Palestinians.
        I just wonder how sick can a mind be, to justify this butchery.
        But in Israel, that’s “beside the point”, going back to basic, in MW a dead Palestinian only counts if it done by an Israeli.

      • talknic
        January 24, 2014, 1:59 pm

        @ yrn “The issue is clear, killings outside of Israel are accepted “

        By who? Quote please

      • eljay
        January 24, 2014, 2:09 pm

        >> I am more and more Amused by those lowest hypocrites.

        That must be because they remind you of yourself.

        >> The issue is clear, killings outside of Israel are accepted …

        I don’t accept them.

        >> I just wonder how sick can a mind be, to justify this butchery.

        Examine your hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist mind and you’ll find the answer.

  16. Danaa
    January 20, 2014, 6:00 pm

    One more comment to clarify my position; I believe that Assad has been thoroughly chastised by what happened to his country. Whatever dictatorial impulses he may have inherited, it is quite likely that, should he triumph over the evil-doers, he would institute more than enough reforms to satisfy the real Syrian people who were asking for them. Definitely more so than anything brough in by the crazy barbaric beheading enamored rabble sent in courtesy of one of the most backward, reactionary and barbarian states in the world today (yes, I mean SA with Qatar a runner-up).

    • Walid
      January 21, 2014, 2:49 am

      “I believe that Assad has been thoroughly chastised by what happened to his country.”

      Danaa, he fumbled big time when he introduced a “cosmeticized” new constitution that was too little and too late. He naturalized the 50,000 Kurds only when the shtf and he needed their support against the rebellion and he did so with only a quarter of those needing an overdue naturalization. He, or the real apparatus that’s managing the country, really gave nothing of substance to the people in the new constitution. You can blame outside intervention up to a certain point only.

      • Danaa
        January 21, 2014, 1:38 pm

        Walid, far be it from me to raise Assad to sainthood. I am just saying that he has likely changed quite a bit through this ordeal by fire. As has the Syrian army which has become quite a good fighting force dislodging barbarian hordes from one stronghold after another. Actually, for those who want to follow the Syrian Army progress in cleaning out the islamist mad-men from towns they have eviscerated, there are a few good blogs and news outlets out there that tell the story of the SAA progress quite well. Somewhere along the lines they have learned strategy and tactics. may be the Russian advisors, may be necessity, probably a combination. The tactic they have been deploying recently with considerable success is to get the FSA people (ie the real Syrians) to surrender towns and weapons in return for amnesty. This seems to be working well and helps isolate the cannibal Saudi mercenary crazies.

        I believe that the process of learning good tactics and thinking strategically can change people. For that reason, despite assad’s many early mistakes in dealing with the opposition I think that should he be allowed to triumph by the Empire (and they – meaning the west + Turkey may well want to do that) I have an inkling that he will use better tactics and methods negotiating with opposition and ethnic conflicts in a post-invasion Syria. But it’s just a hunch, I admit.

      • Walid
        January 21, 2014, 2:03 pm

        Danaa, hopefully he and his regime people have learned as you suggested. Militarily, the improved know-how is thanks in good part not to the Russians but to Hizbullah that’s fighting the takfiris in Syria now. It was only when Hizbullah joined the battle that Assad’s military fortunes improved and kept improving. 4 suicide bombings in Shia strongholds in Lebanon by the takfiris in the last 2 months shows how how much Hizbullah is hurting them in Syria. Nasrallah promised the Takfiris a few months back that every time they’d attack the Shia in Lebanon to spook Hizbullah into abandoning the fight, he would increase the fighters in Syria many times over. It’s no wonder that the bad guys are losing in Syria.

      • Danaa
        January 21, 2014, 2:48 pm

        Walid, yes, I should have mentioned Hizbullah as one of the key elements helping the Syrian Army improve its warfare techniques so effectively. Still, I wouldn’t discount the Russians, who, after all, learnt a lot of urban and battling irregular Chechen guerillas (at the time, I was all for letting Chechnia go independent and was fiercely critical of what the Russian army has done to Grozny. Alas, when it comes to Chechen extremists we have a textbook case of blow-back. The independence fighters have all but morphed into extreme islamists). Assad was really at sea at the beginning, failing to process what he was up against and with an Army that had no experience fighting serious battles, not to mention the endemic corruption in its officer ranks. Had they been better prepared and more capable in 2011, the “rebels” would have never made the gains they did. But then, none of us realized just how much the neocons of the west + Israel + Saudis + Quatar wanted to actually destroy Syria, and how much money went into building up these terrorist mercenaries to do the proxy battling.

        Actually, I think even the Russians didn’t realize how serious the planned “uprising’ (cf “color revolution”) was. Libya has no doubt shaken them and they must have done some deep analysis of what their geo-political needs are, concluding that Syria must not be allowed to become a failed, violence ripped western/Saudi stooge state. So, sometime back in 2012 they upped their commitment and set about the business of helping pull Assad’s oats out of the fire. With Russian commitment, and no doubt special assurances and behind the scenes backing for Hizbullah joing in on the fight, things started to turn around big time. Needless to say, that’s when the weird Chemical weapons claims started to show up – right on the heels of successful SAA campaign.

        Taken from the same page, no sooner we have a report from rocket experts that no, that rocket could not have come from government territory (right after Sy Hersh’s column too), that we have claims of “summary executions’ and demands for war crime trials. photos furnished courtesy of a ‘defector” popping up just when convenient. Who was killed, by whom and when doesn’t matter. the cacophony of voices in the MSM has sprung into the mandated conclusion, to heck with the facts.

      • Danaa
        January 21, 2014, 2:55 pm

        Also, Walid, I’m sure you noted the interesting timing with the upbeat of violence and fanning of demonstrations in Ukraine. Right before the Sochi games. Putin, who doesn’t have a single naive sinew in his body, must realize what’s going on and the seriousness of the unfolding threat in Ukraine. The PTBs may be trying a one-two move, what with one front – Syria – wobbling – nothing like opening another right in Russia’s backyard.

        I further note that the demonstrators (among whom a certain neo-nazi like right wing party is playing a key role) are enjoying the same “get out of jail” card handed out to the Saudi financed Al-Qaeda Jihadists. Funny how we hear on our MSM only one side of the story. Any story, really.

      • andrew r
        January 22, 2014, 11:17 pm

        As has the Syrian army which has become quite a good fighting force dislodging barbarian hordes from one stronghold after another. Actually, for those who want to follow the Syrian Army progress in cleaning out the islamist mad-men from towns they have eviscerated

        Maybe Israel should elect Bashar prime minister so he can do the same with Gaza. They haven’t really had a strong leader since General Blimpman. Seriously though, having Bashar in the government would be a huge PR boost for Israel if comments like this are any indication.

  17. Rusty Pipes
    January 20, 2014, 9:34 pm

    How about “Rejecting Propaganda from Israel/Qatar/Saudi Arabia to American MSM?” or “Rejecting Hostage-taking/Car-bombing/Head-chopping civilians from Libya to Mali to Nigeria to Syria?” After three of these articles, what’s next, Samantha Power and R2P?

  18. piotr
    January 20, 2014, 9:44 pm

    The latest news: “In Damascus, Anwar Raja, a spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, said the first batch of supplies entered the Yarmouk camp on Saturday.

    7,000 boxes for 7,000 families

    Yarmouk is one of the areas hardest hit by food shortages in Syria. Residents there say 46 people have died since October of starvation, illnesses exacerbated by hunger or because they couldn’t obtain medical aid.

    Raja said hundreds of boxes of food stuff entered the camp. He said much of the material was carried by members of PFLP-GC members and committees in the camp.

    “The process is moving slowly since they are being carried on the shoulder to avoid sniper fire,” Raja told The Associated Press in Damascus by telephone.

    ===========

    The previous reported incident was that trucks with food entered the camp but withdrew when some snipers started to shoot at them. PFLP-GC clearly identifies the obstruction of delivery of food to Yarmouk with anti-regime groups. If true, then the collective punishment is administered by those groups. Moreover, opponents of Syrian government do not present any clear narrative that could be compared.

    I would not go as far as to assume that PFLP-GC is a trustworthy news source. This is a war zone, after all, and the key details are omitted. But the other side offers generalities and “undated photos”. We can be berated for neutrality, but it is hard to have a responsible non-neutral position here.

  19. Shingo
    January 20, 2014, 10:45 pm

    From the Zionist perspective, there are unfavourable elements in the West Bank and Gaza, that possess an Islamic character that obstructs any possibility of having a meaningful settlement to the 65 year old conflict. From their perspective, Hamas uses civilian bases to launch attacks, verbal and militaristic, in order to undermine the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. These bearded individuals use terror and intimidation to extract concessions from the Jewish state, and because there is not an easy way to stop them, they must, begrudgingly (as they claim in some instances) bite the bullet and attack civilians and civilian infrastructure.

    What a blatantly cynical and pathetic analogy!!

    Earth to Omar Chaaban…..the West Bank and Gaza is not Israel. If Hamas were invading Israel and conducting such attacks inside Israel, there would be an analogy but that is not what is happening.

    Or is Mr Chaaban some propagandist using a false name who accidentally revealed his belief that the West Bank and Gaza are part of greater Israel?

  20. Shingo
    January 20, 2014, 10:59 pm

    Palestinians, who for the past 65 years, have taught the entire world what it means to be persevere, strong, collected, and filled with life, must realize that it is time to stand at the front line of the struggle against Assad’s regime and say that enough is enough.

    Wow, who wrote this insufferable drek? Has David Frum been given a new gig?

  21. W.Jones
    January 20, 2014, 11:54 pm

    I think it’s important to get a good idea of how much support Assad has and how much the insurgency has among Syrians. Supporters of one side or the other talk about how their side is the “popular struggle” or the will of the “Syrian people”.

    On a google search it looks like very sizable numbers of Syrians support Assad including over the insurgency. The Google results give figures of 70% or lower in support him, some figures being 55%, and perhaps other figures lower but still meaningful (40%?) for a serious presidential candidate in a parliamentary election.

    I know that few Syrians(9%?) support direct invasion and you have statements by the Local Coordinating Committees (the main opposition groups of liberals, as I understand it), supporting “peaceful” protest and resistance. Meanwhile, few Americans support US intervention either, and despite western weaponry the FSA was not able to take over the country.

    Finally, I talked with a Syrian Christian priest who believed that unlike Libya, Syria’s government would not fall because it had too much support- and I questioned him about this repeatedly. Finally, we know Palestinians are divided about this issue.

    All of these facts tell me that it is not really such a clean cut case that Assad is rejected by the Syrian people, who are favoring “regime change”. If Assad was really so unpopular, I think more people would support an invasion, both in Syria and in America. Instead, the liberation war / proxy war has raked in a far higher body count than what happened under Assad.

    So as for what the Syrian people want, not nearly enough of them want the insurgency/proxy forces to win to generalize it by calling it the “people’s will”.

    • bilal a
      January 22, 2014, 12:18 am

      There was a recent western study (not Syrian loyalists) which suggested that the garbage can on a stick chemical munition could not possibly have come from Syrian positions, but now in time for a new set of Syria talks, new evidence of war crimes comes forth.

      Unfortunately, the man who took these photos of tortured and starved people, did so for years evidently, before bringing them forward in time for the peace negotiations.

      That is to say, it doesn’t matter much what is actually going on, or what the Syrian people want (most definitely not al qaeda funded by Saudis)., rather this is a conflict within American policy circles, or more precisely, between different military industrial complex sectors. Syria, Iran, China, Palestine, the war on terror amounts to 5 billion spent per terrorist, and roughly 8 million related jobs in the usa directly.

      Liberal interventionist Policy wonks are part of the military industrial complex; its propaganda wing.

      • Shingo
        January 22, 2014, 5:08 pm

        Unfortunately, the man who took these photos of tortured and starved people, did so for years evidently, before bringing them forward in time for the peace negotiations.

        The whole thing sounds fishy. Qatar paid for the report and the contributors. None of the evidence has been vetted or corroborated and the team are saying they cannot release more pictures as it would endanger the photographer (who has left Syria with his family anyway), or offend the families of the victims.

  22. Justpassingby
    January 21, 2014, 2:40 am

    I think Omar Chaaban is right in many aspects (regardless of his possible political views on Hamas/Gaza), I am sad that not more people here admit that he is.

    Israel commit crimes but so do Syria (as do syrian rebels as do palestinians in OT), one must admit that if you fight to end the occupation of palestine.

    • Sibiriak
      January 21, 2014, 10:22 am

      Justpassingby:

      Israel commit crimes but so do Syria (as do syrian rebels as do palestinians in OT), one must admit that if you fight to end the occupation of palestine.

      Who here has stated otherwise??

      • Justpassingby
        January 21, 2014, 1:37 pm

        Sibirak

        Most here it seems, do you see any criticising Syria just like they criticise Israel? Are you?

      • Sibiriak
        January 21, 2014, 2:04 pm

        Justpassingby:

        Most here it seems…

        Most? I don’t see it. You’d need to provide some quotes to show what you are referring to.

        ….do you see any criticising Syria just like they criticise Israel? Are you?

        Yes and yes. But “criticizing Syria” doesn’t mean criticizing just Assad alone, and it includes putting the conflict in a geopolitical and historical context.

      • Justpassingby
        January 21, 2014, 4:33 pm

        Sibriak

        “Yes and yes. But “criticizing Syria” doesn’t mean criticizing just Assad alone, and it includes putting the conflict in a geopolitical and historical context.”

        Ok here is the problem I guess, whatever warcrimes are done by Syria, Israel, Rebels, Palestinians its equally bad regardless of “contexts”, warcrimes are warcrimes.

      • Sibiriak
        January 22, 2014, 10:39 am

        Justpassingby says:

        Ok here is the problem I guess, whatever warcrimes are done by Syria, Israel, Rebels, Palestinians its equally bad regardless of “contexts”, warcrimes are warcrimes.

        War crimes are war crimes, true–but they are not all of the same magnitude and reprehensibility. Mistreating a prisoner is not on the same level as full-fledged genocide, to give a stark example. So, no, all war crimes are not necessarily “equally bad”.

        More importantly, you seem to think the “contexts” are just rationalizations. But “contexts” can also involve crimes; specific war crimes codified in international law are hardly the only kinds of crimes the need to be considered when making moral judgments about a conflict.

        For example, if an IDF soldier commits a war crime, are you saying that context– Zionism, the Greater Israel project, imperial support for that project, and so on and so forth–should not be brought into the discussion?

        Let me put it another way: do you consider U.S. & co.’s support for regime change in Syria–the way it’s actually being carried out– to be itself a “war crime” , and one of a very large magnitude?

      • Annie Robbins
        January 21, 2014, 2:07 pm

        jpb, i’d also like to mention there is nothing new about utilizing extremists in a conflict to bring the public to your side. coin (counter intel) does it all the time. they infiltrate, weed out leaders in a society (good or bad, the ones opposing our design) and kill them.

        note how saddam was a brutal dictator who we supported until we didn’t. note how iraq had no AQ til after our invasion. note how we allegedly were not fighting the iraqi people. note how it took a full 2-3 years to get a full-on civil war shia vs sunni happening in that country. note how once that took off in full force we positioned ourselves as the good guys/moderating force between 2 warring parties. note how the war ripped the country apart. note how many/most iraqis said it was better under saddam.

        but on the ‘bright side’ iraq no longer has any chance of being any kind of regional power for like, decades. which of course was the intent all along. to bring them to their knees. note how AQ actually facilitated the dismantling of the country and provided a pretext for massive US aggression.

        there is nothing new about this. note how empowering hamas was used against arafat? note how zionists don’t do gandhi very well.

        fanatical foreign fighters are being used to oust a dictator and ruin syria. why are they embedded in a refugee camp? whose brilliant idea was this? and this recent ‘debate’ all started here by someone writing both sides were responsible.

        do you see any criticising Syria just like they criticise Israel?

        well sort of. i could say the foreign zionists wanted to take over a country and foreign interests want to take over syria. and on a psychological/propaganda ptv both those foreign sources do that by manipulating outside public opinion by claiming their adversaries are evil. and in both cases the the foreigners initiated the bloodshed w/lies and media manipulation.

        it wouldn’t be my primary choice for an argument but since you asked.

      • just
        January 21, 2014, 2:14 pm

        well said, annie.

      • Shingo
        January 21, 2014, 4:55 pm

        Superbly said Annie.

        I am frankly astound at JPB’s ignorance and naivete.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 10:59 am

        @ Annie
        it’s cslled divide and conquer, which has a long history in world-wide foreign policy. US and Israel are major proponents in the ME these days. PNAC anyone?

      • just
        January 21, 2014, 2:08 pm

        Just a minute. Palestinians are exiled all over the world. Syria has, for the most part, protected them……..until this horrendous ‘civil’ war. Have you seen any American President or SOS calling for the ouster of any Israeli Crime Minister?

        Jeebus– it’s apples and oranges, but always, ALWAYS about Israel. We have cozied up to brutal dictators for the sake of Israel, fought wars for Israel, have turned a blind eye to the illegal actions of Israel, allowed (nay, helped them) to gain a nuclear arsenal and other WMDs without batting an eyelash………. and use them (willy pete against a caged civilian population) with impunity. (of course, we have done as well!) And then we laud them for being a “democracy” rife with apartheid that we are also blind to.

        Yech.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 11:05 am

        @ just
        But JFK was adamantly against Israel getting nukes, which is documented in the JFK library archives available online to anyone. Johnson is the POTUS who allowed Israel to get nukes; this was his quid pro quo for US Jewish Establishment to support him to remain POTUS and support the Vietnam War. No matter how much the US populace owes to Johnson re Civil Rights, he was an absolute disaster in terms of US foreign policy. We owe to Johnson both the escalation of the Nam War and the disposal of the USS Liberty and its cover up. McCain’s dad helped him, and McCain JR keeps this up.

    • Danaa
      January 21, 2014, 1:23 pm

      JPB, I have no idea where you see the slightest ‘right’ in this Omar anti-Assad propaganda piece. You need to read Walid’s points. Those criminally insane Jihadists (80-90 of them plus a few supporting fellow salafists) are holding 20,000 people hostage. They are the ones who wouldn’t let help through to the camp and are not willing to negotiate for the departure of the civilians. I think you need to read a bit more widely on what’s really going on here. Omar doesn’t need to read any more since his gravy train pays him probably not to so he can stay on it.

      I am sure Walid will be glad to repeat the sad tragic tale of the same type of takfiris who took over a Palestinian camp in Lebanon (near Tripoli, was it?), forcing the lebanese army to come in and clean up the infestation. many palestinians were caught in the middle and quite a few innocent people died. The story of Yarmouk is a near -repeat, seems to me. Unfortunately used and promulgated to win propaganda points against the Syrian government. I understand the malevolence of the zio bots all too well. of course they jump on the bandwagon hoping the story will “stick”. Of course, the Saudi/Israelis will deploy a few hasbara types to implant sad stories like this, hoping to confuse people. What I don’t understand is how naive some people can be (or how determined not to educate themselves about what has really transpired in Syria).

      Walid, if you get to read this before the thread shuts down, could you provide the link to that one detailed expose you did in a comment (well, there was one that struck me as particularly cogent) back when the situation unfolded in lebanon?

      • Justpassingby
        January 21, 2014, 2:23 pm

        Danaa

        I know full well that the war against Syria is not legit in any way and that there is people here trying to manipulate the situations in Syria/Palestine et.c.

        My point was just that we should admit to ourselves that crimes are occuring, regardless if it happens to be by Israel or by Syria.

      • Danaa
        January 21, 2014, 4:56 pm

        JPB: “My point was just that we should admit to ourselves that crimes are occuring, regardless if it happens to be by Israel or by Syria.”

        You have just demonstrated something I have been harping on for years Re the absence of hard core commitment in the so-called “left”. You are willing to bend over backwards to admit that “crimes are occurring” on both sides. Without recourse to how things started, who is fanning the flames, whose motives were served by injecting this jihadi infestation into Syria, and who is doing the defending against what. If we look at it the way you ask then indeed the Allies committed huge war crimes in WWII, as did the Indians in fighting back against the invading colonists as did the the partisans in France and as Russia did in defending Leningrad. In fact, according to your line of argument, the defenders must “admit” to committing crimes, just as the police must admit to having committed a crime against humanity in turning against the Koresh + followers citadel. Continuing along this vein, almost every police action against any criminal, no matter how atrocious the crime, is in itself a crime “against humanity”.

        I – and others – have pointed out that the actions the Syrian army is taking to try to dislodge the murderous jihadists from the civilian population into which they were mysteriously embedded, is more like a police action than a war act. Can you think of a way to rid the camp of the terrorists without some forceful action and a siege? what you SHOULD look at is that the Syrian army has been remarkably patient in trying to force the hands of the terrorists to surrender. Were it Israel, we can rest assured everything would have been bombed to never never land several times over.

        I think you should look a bit more carefully at who exactly are doing the criminal acts and who are the defenders, trying – quite hard – to somehow save the trapped civilians without totally caving in to the hostage takers. Any police or military in the world faced with this kind of situation where a few terrorists take over an entire compound would do what Assad’s army is doing, except some would be that much more brutal.

        In addition to that situation of the camp in Lebanon invaded by salafis (and please check what the Lebanese army had to do to bring the situation under control – the entire camp was practically destroyed!), I am reminded of the hostage situation in that Kenyan shopping center. Why is it we don’t hear more about the brutality and criminality of the “Kenyan regime”?

      • andrew r
        January 22, 2014, 11:30 pm

        I am reminded of the hostage situation in that Kenyan shopping center. Why is it we don’t hear more about the brutality and criminality of the “Kenyan regime”?

        Okay, seriously, I’m starting to think this is a post-modern performance art where we take Zionist talking points that have been refuted and scorned zillions of times here and superimpose them on another situation.

      • Shingo
        January 21, 2014, 4:58 pm

        My point was just that we should admit to ourselves that crimes are occuring, regardless if it happens to be by Israel or by Syria.

        That is not the debate or even a dispute JPB and it seeems to be that you are just wanting everyone’s time.

        That’s not what Omar Chaaban is even arguing. He is arguing that the war against Syria is indeed legit and that the only reasonable position to take is to remove Assad.

        Now do you agree with him or not?

    • Shingo
      January 21, 2014, 4:53 pm

      I think Omar Chaaban is right in many aspects

      The guy is a blatant shill and propagandist. I am sad that people like you cannot admit that he is.

  23. andrewpollack
    January 21, 2014, 9:16 am

    The manic defense of Assad in this thread is just amazing. I have no illusions about how deep neo-Stalinism runs, but it’s always shocking to see the venom and hypocrisy. The allegations, for instance, that critics of Assad are paid by the Saudis is particularly typical of middle-class pseudoradicalism (i.e. neo-Stalinism) tactics when one wants to avoid the crimes of one’s favorite regime.
    Just yesterday comrades in Australia published an article reminding us of the heroic struggle of Solidarnosc in 1980-81, and, as I predicted, within minutes a dozen neo-Stalinists had written comments in vile tones accusing the author of being a tool of imperialism — the same exact method being followed here re: Syria.
    PS: Annie, you should be more conscious that as a Mondoweiss editor, your comments are taken, fairly or not, as reflective of the site, and dial back on the accusatory lies and support for mass murderers.
    PPS: For those wanting the truth of the grassroots Syrian revolutino, see http://menasolnetus.wordpress.com/

    • tokyobk
      January 21, 2014, 10:23 am

      Not sure why you are surprised in the slightest.

      I think I was right to suggest to Annie a while back that she change her moniker from “Human rights activist” to “advocate of the Palestinian people” since clearly for her and others here, events are only meaningful as far as they advance an understanding of that conflict.

      Fortunately, though, many other pro-Palestinian people (the majority?) are also deeply concerned with the scale of misery occurring as a result of Assad (and no doubt perpetrated and exacerbated by the resistance), regardless if some pro US, Pro Israel and “pro Imperialists” will also use these horrific events to score their own points.

      “(Reuters) – A Syrian military police photographer has supplied “clear evidence” showing the systematic torture and killing of about 11,000 detainees in circumstances that evoked Nazi death camps, former war crimes prosecutors said.”
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/21/us-syria-crisis-crimes-idUSBREA0K0NM20140121

      • Walid
        January 21, 2014, 12:34 pm

        Does it really matter whatever she wants to call herself and does it matter who is paying the terrorists?

      • Danaa
        January 21, 2014, 1:14 pm

        tokyobk, funny how these photographs surface just before Geneva II. Quite mysteriously too. Even funnier to see who jumps on the bandwagon – why, it’s the same group who screamed WMD! from every rooftop, claiming that it was the Syrian government that done it, without a shred of decent evidence. Now that it’s becoming obvious that at least one rocket carrying sarin came from Jihadi territory (I refuse to call them “rebels” – that word itself is a whitewash) , the PTB looking to destroy Syria need something else. And Voila! here come some more photos.

        No, I don’t think you are naive, tokyobok, in case you wonder. I think you have a core ideology which distorts everything you look at, sometimes making you appear naive, sometimes manipulative, sometimes almost well-meaning (at least to yourself and what you consider your own).

        The case against Assad launching those chemical weapons has all but disintegrated. So they need something else to counter the cannibal beheaders army of saudi sent mercenaries.

      • Shingo
        January 21, 2014, 9:04 pm

        tokyobk, funny how these photographs surface just before Geneva II.

        Just like the story of 11,000 detainees being torture and killed or the so called Al Qaeda captive who is claiming Assad is directing ISIS.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 23, 2014, 1:24 am

        from tokyobk’s 10:23 am link:

        The images he took were passed to the Syrian National Movement, which is supported by the Gulf state of Qatar. Lawyers acting for Qatar, London-based Carter-Ruck and Co., commissioned the examination of the evidence.

        Reuters has reviewed the report but it was not possible to determine the authenticity of Caesar’s photographs or to contact Caesar.

        cough.

        tokyobk, unlike you i do not have a “moniker”. for your edification: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/moniker , i use my real name. so interesting to see whose opinions you jump to align yourself with/not:

        PS: Annie, you should be more conscious that as a Mondoweiss editor, your comments are taken, fairly or not, as reflective of the site, and dial back on the accusatory lies and support for mass murderers.

        i’m completely conscious, as a mondowiess editor, my comments are taken, fairly or not, as reflective of the site. and it might interest you to know that it was because of my comments in these threads i became acquainted with phil and adam for the first time, and as a result am now on staff. so that should tell you something.

        and will someone please shoot me if i ever become so daft (or drunk) i consider (for even one second) taking advice from the likes of the ridiculous ‘andrewpollack’ or any of his ilk.

      • gamal
        January 23, 2014, 3:19 am

        dear Annie, two things

        any brit who ever read Private Eye knows the solicitors Carter-Ruck, called Carter-Fuck whenever he (the late Peter of that ilk) came to PE’s attention, and once when they received a complaint from the firm and a threat of legal action, under legal direction, as Farter-Fuck, the firm were famous for viciously using British libel laws to silence anyone who had the gall to divulge any information inconvenient to the rich and powerful and pursuing ruinous damages against anyone who fell foul of their well healed clients.

        and
        you posted a link to Checkmate, about Rumania, have you seen the ‘massacre’ at Timisoara and the work of Dr. Milan Dressler, the local pathogologist, who examined photographic evidence and raised very serious doubts about the evidence, my memory is sketchy, there was one photo called the Pieta, and it was the mothers corpse in particular that raised doubts, something about the “gloves of death” which is pathologist speak for a condition the hands fall into months after death, and the baby had signs of autopsy which didnt tally with the presumed simultaneous recent deaths of these corpses, the baby and ‘mother’ didnt appear to have died at the same time etc. I googled the tribune did a piece:
        http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1990-03-13/news/9001210292_1_grave-nicolae-ceausescu-bodies

        i dont know if any of this helps but Carter-Fuck brought back memories, glad to see the firm is still going, their reputation is one of sleazy money grubbing.

    • Taxi
      January 21, 2014, 10:25 am

      Oh shut it with your neo-freaking-stalanism sh*t-shooting, andrewpollack. You’re supporting a bunch of cannibals against Bashar. Such is the depth of your blind hatred of the Syrian regime, that you actually prefer the organ-eating alquaida terrorists. The Palestinians can live without your warped understanding of their plight, just like the Syrians don’t need your bloody neo-liberal interventionism.

      You’ve swallowed the saudi propaganda hook, line and sinker. Doesn’t surprise me at all.

      @tokybok,
      You DON’T get to decide how others perceive or label themselves. You get to judge them, yes, but NOT decide how they see themselves.

    • American
      January 21, 2014, 11:48 am

      andrewpollack says:
      January 21, 2014 at 9:16 am
      The manic defense of Assad in this thread is just amazing. I have no illusions about how deep neo-Stalinism runs, but it’s always shocking to see the venom and hypocrisy. >>>>>

      No one here just fell off the turnip truck yesterday, we are aware of how this revoution started , who started it and why and who aided it and what it has become.
      No one is defending Assad…we are countering the white washing of the rebels and propaganda the ‘Free Syria” tools and Israel deflectors are trying to push.

      “middle-class pseudoradicalism” ..? “comrades” …? lol
      Go over to the WWSW or Communist Net Dot Com……they are still into all that archaic ‘comrade’ and pseudointellectucal ‘pseudoradicalism mumbo jumbo.

      And annie doesnt lie.

      • just
        January 21, 2014, 12:31 pm

        I’m left to wonder where andrewpollack sees any “manic defense of Assad” here.

        Confabulation.

        I am also wondering from whence these new posters came… 3 in a row.

      • Shingo
        January 21, 2014, 4:44 pm

        No one is defending Assad…we are countering the white washing of the rebels and propaganda the ‘Free Syria” tools and Israel deflectors are trying to push.

        Absolutely. The interests fo the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, has nothing to do with wanting to free Syria. Their prize is Iran and taking out Assad is seen as a means to an end. They don’t care if they destroy Syria and it’s people in achieving that goal.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 11:26 am

        @ Shingo
        Yes.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 11:25 am

        @ American
        And I agee with you and Annie.

    • Donald
      January 21, 2014, 3:00 pm

      Andrew, in clicking on your name I noticed a link to the electronic intifada article you had in an earlier thread. It’s worth reposting–

      yarmouk activist describes atrocious state war torn camp

      The writer is definitely anti-Assad (which is fine with me–Assad is a war criminal), but if you read it the FSA doesn’t come out looking good either.

      To me it’s an argument for the outside world to pressure all factions to come to the negotiating table and stop the killing. Unfortunately the US opposes Iran being part of it, which to me shows that the US is more out to score some sort of “victory” than it is concerned about stopping the slaughter that both sides are committing.

    • Shingo
      January 21, 2014, 4:41 pm

      The allegations, for instance, that critics of Assad are paid by the Saudis is particularly typical of middle-class pseudoradicalism

      Take you neo liberal PEP morality and shove it Andrew. There is no hypocrisy here. Assad is not occupying anyone’s territory.

      PS: Annie, you should be more conscious that as a Mondoweiss editor, your comments are taken, fairly or not, as reflective of the site, and dial back on the accusatory lies and support for mass murderers.

      PS: Andrew, you should be more conscious that as contributor to Electronic Intifadaeditor, your comments are taken, fairly or not, as reflective of their , and dial back on the accusatory lies and support for suicide bombing, head shopping, organ eating mass murderers.

      PPS: For those wanting the truth of the grassroots Syrian revolutino,

      There are dozens of web sites claiming to be representing the truth of the Syrian Revolution. The fact is that whatever grassroots movement was behind the Syrian conflict is long gone and has been sabotaged by foreign fighters paid by the Saudis.

    • W.Jones
      January 22, 2014, 1:22 am

      Dear Andrew,

      I certainly want to give you the benefit of a doubt. You brought up an interesting, and I believe relevant case:

      comrades in Australia published an article reminding us of the heroic struggle of Solidarnosc in 1980-81, and, as I predicted, within minutes a dozen neo-Stalinists had written comments in vile tones accusing the author of being a tool of imperialism — the same exact method being followed here re: Syria.

      The Solidarnosc movement was a democratic one that was not especially capitalist, however the end result was a restoration of “western imperialism.” From your perspective, which economic system was better – the one before or after?
      At some point the “imperialist” side took over the momentum, and Lech Walesa, a leader became president of the new globalized economy.

      Perhaps this could be a lesson to think about with Syria, too?
      Perhaps you could have a movement that starts out amazing- democratic, peaceful, nonreligious opposition, and then gets taken over and then becomes worse than before?

      Perhaps in both cases it is best to work avoid proposing a destruction of the previous system that leaves the forces that you consider worse to be the “last man standing”? Otherwise, is there a tipping point when the new, worse forces become so strong that you would side with elements of the weakened, secular, non-imperialist government?

      Regards.

  24. Sibiriak
    January 21, 2014, 11:07 am

    andrewpollack

    …pseudoradicalism (i.e. neo-Stalinism) tactics when one wants to avoid the crimes of one’s favorite regime.

    […]
    PS: Annie, you should be more conscious that as a Mondoweiss editor, your comments are taken, fairly or not, as reflective of the site, and dial back on the accusatory lies and support for mass murderers.

    When did Annie, or anyone else for that matter, claim that the Assad regime was one of their “favorites”, or express support for Assad’s crimes? That’s a pure straw man.

    Annie clearly stated:

    assad should not have bombed the camp, obviously

    Accusing Annie of “neo-Stalinism”–lol! She’s just using basic critical thinking regarding murderous anti-democratic Islamist rebel factions and imperialist support for regime change/ destructive chaos in Syria. The notion that any critique of anti-Assad forces is equivalent to unqualified backing of Assad is sheer nonsense.

  25. yrn
    January 21, 2014, 11:38 am

    “A Syrian military police photographer has supplied “clear evidence” showing the systematic torture and killing of about 11,000 detainees in circumstances that evoked Nazi death camps”

    So what???? but Assad was good to the Palestinians.

    • just
      January 21, 2014, 12:34 pm

      Hey, yrn– got lots of evidence about Israel’s ongoing illegal activities and sadism toward the Palestinians. You’ve tortured, murdered all sorts of innocents and are incarcerating children.

      So what? You might well ask.

      • yrn
        January 21, 2014, 2:19 pm

        Just

        I don’t have to ask, all you Hypocrites gave the answer.
        The Man has to do, what he has to do in order to guard his nation.
        So from your Hypocrite point of View, you back up Assad with this repulsive Excuse to butcher his own people and the Palestinians.
        So your claims regarding Israel are pathetic, you all fell into your own trap.
        you are a joke.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 11:34 am

        No, the hypocrites are those who back Israel’s policies.

  26. piotr
    January 21, 2014, 12:43 pm

    I do not recall any calls for intervention or arming resistance when the government of Indonesia, Guatemala and El Salvador were committing their atrocities. Perhaps some so-called Stalinist did it, I did not read them.

    The track record of armed revolutions is sketchy at best, as the fail more often then not, and when they do not, more often then not the resulting regime is anti-democratic, after all, its formative experience is that the power comes from the gun. Therefore support of non-violent resolusion, far from being wishy-washy idealism and hypocrisy, it is actually realistic. Similarly, egregious deviation from non-violence is usually worse then a crime: an error. Whatever the origin of the violent opposition in Syria is, it crossed all lines of being egregious. The prognosis for the revolutionaries to improve upon present governance in Syria are dim.

    Quite importantly, the prognosis of effective governance be the revolutionaries is dim, due to their record of killing each other. One can expect Hobbesian anarchy like in Somalia, Afghanistan before the rise of Taliban, or Libya.

    There is a better model. In Central America we now have democracies, even if not perfect, and when they are too far from perfect, improved foreign policy of USA could have positive influence. Burma is about to finish a transition to democracy. Burma is perhaps a good template for what is possible in Syria with some modicum of non-malevolent diplomacy. Financing and arming the opposition that committed an amazing catalogue of atrocities is malevolent.

  27. andrewpollack
    January 21, 2014, 1:18 pm

    I’ll bet not a single one of the Assadists on this thread has read or watched any of the documents at the link I shared above. That you’ve heard of — but refuse to pay attention to — the heroic work of Kafranbel residents, or the battles to oust ISIS. That you’ve refused to watch any of the MANY videos of grassroots activists online who denounce both Assad and the Islamists; that you’ve never read a single post in http://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/
    But then you don’t need to, because being an “anti-imperialist” means never having to know the facts.
    (And FYI I’m OPPOSED to US imperialist intervention. Too bad the Assadists don’t call for an end to Russian imperialist intervention.)

    • Shingo
      January 21, 2014, 4:52 pm

      I’ll bet not a single one of the Assadists on this thread has read or watched any of the documents at the link I shared above.

      I have and it’s nauseating listening to you little brown shirts posturing as though you are presenting anything new or ground breaking.

      That you’ve heard of — but refuse to pay attention to — the heroic work of Kafranbel residents, or the battles to oust ISIS.

      Oh give me a f’ing break. The ones fighting ISIS are Jabat Al Nusra, which like ISIS, is an Al Qaeda affiliated front. The Islamic Front and other FSA outlets are cooperating with the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

      And FYI I’m OPPOSED to US imperialist intervention.

      Yeah sure. I bet you were opposed to the bombing fo Syria also after the Sarin gas attack right?

      Too bad the Assadists don’t call for an end to Russian imperialist intervention

      Why should he? The Russians are an ally who are keeping your beloved organ eating, head cutting, suicide bombing heroes at bay.

      That you’ve refused to watch any of the MANY videos of grassroots activists online who denounce both Assad and the Islamists

      Big deal. The issue is who do they represent? It is not the majority fo Syrians,. so they can parade and get on their soap boxes all they like, but if democratic elections were to be held tomorrow, they would not win.

      The fact that is that even those who started demonstrating out fo good will have been pushed to the side by foreign factions who have over powered them and

    • Danaa
      January 21, 2014, 5:10 pm

      a pollack, thanks for the zionist POV you so kindly shared with us. We whom you call “assadists” (now that’s cute. can I call you a Sharonite? a Yahoo-bot? a kahanist? an neo-Irgunist?*). So, those who object to the israeli-brewed, Saudi-infested, neocon-percolated plan to destroy Syria and its people, are called “Assadists”. Well, at least that’s a step up from “Hamasniks” I should think, which is how you + ilk liked to label all who dared to claim Gazans were human.
      —————
      * Darn, Netanyoo-ite just doesn’t have a ring to it. I sure hope Bennett comes to power in that land of the brave, because then we can call your like (ilk?) “Bennettons”.

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2014, 11:41 am

        @ Danna
        Yes, you can accurately target them as neo-Irgunists.

    • W.Jones
      January 22, 2014, 1:02 am

      Dear Andrew,

      Thank you for posting here on Mondoweiss. I liked reading over your previous comments, and appreciate your radical leftist analysis. Like you, I like the democratic activists who were peacefully protesting the Assad regime.
      One question I have is whether a democracy movement could get “hijacked” by reactionary forces.
      Another question is what portion of the fighting forces are really secular and liberal, and whether that matters?

      I did read the article you pointed to earlier on Electronic Intifada:
      Yarmouk activist describes “atrocious” state of war-torn camp in Syria
      http://electronicintifada.net/content/yarmouk-activist-describes-atrocious-state-war-torn-camp-syria/12231
      However, the story was surprisingly multi-faceted. It pointed out that the refugees did not want the insurgents to be in the camp, although it also saw the Syrian army as being aggressive toward the camp.

      I would also like to please raise some more questions, while not disagreeing with your general position on democratic resistance. You previously commented

      When Assad barrel-bombed Yarmouk today, the residents didn’t go to some fictitious “armed gangs” to demand that they leave — they went to a regime checkpoint to protest.

      Can you tell me what you meant by the part in bold?
      Also, based on the insurgents’ previous behavior toward civilian opposition what might the insurgents have done?

      You also commented:

      why does CSJP say nothing about the hundreds and hundreds of grassroots committees fighting Assad and ISIS?

      Can you please point me to information about the grassroots committees fighting Assad? Since I like democratic movements, I am interested in this.
      One of the top, recent posts on the Local Coordinating Committee website repeatedly promoted a village as “peacefully” resisting Assad, and the LCC’s Wiki entry said something very similar. Is there more information available?

    • W.Jones
      January 22, 2014, 1:53 am

      Dear Andrew,

      Hello! I did look at each of the links you posted. Perhaps although many posters, due to their opposition to western intervention across the Mideast, oppose the insurgency, their skepticism has some merit, as does your support for democracy there?
      You linked to: http://menasolnetus.wordpress.com
      This mentioned a NYU conference on Syria in November, which took a view that considered itself non-imperialist and also supported the rebellion. Gilbert Achcar was a lead speaker but I didn’t recognize the others.
      The other article on it was to the SJPs’ statement on Yarmouk, which has been posted on Mondoweiss.

      I have also looked at the SyrianFreedomWebsite. Personally, I hope other MW readers will too. Perhaps you can write an article for Mondoweiss? How much do that website’s writers represent Syrian people?

      Finally, another question. Gen. W. Clark said that he was told a number of Mideast nations would be taken down, which was called “Regime Change”. Should conquest be performed without direct intervention, but with proxy forces that claim to be democratic, does that affect your view of the desirability of the specific “regime change”?

    • puppies
      January 22, 2014, 2:44 am

      One more thing to add, looking at your propaganda: the Israelo-Saudi fundamentalist forces are in full genocide mode wherever the population is not pure Sunni moslem. Shiites, Alawites, Maronites, Nestorians, Orthodox, Armenians etc. are being massacred for being born wrong. Zionist and Saudi hasbaratchiks want us to support them in doing that, too.

  28. Tony Logan
    January 21, 2014, 11:04 pm

    Andrew, who are you to accuse others of being uninformed? You permanently reside over on Louis Proyects’ heavily censored, humanitarian imperialist list (‘marxism list’), don’t you? There, you have to keep quiet and toe the line with your posts. Otherwise one is disappeared by the fearless Unrepentant Censor.

    ‘I’ll bet not a single one of the Assadists on this thread has read or watched any of the documents at the link I shared above.’

    Alternatives to your pro interventionism position are not allowed by people over there where you wandered in from, Andy. If one speaks out one gets thrown quickly offline. You, and others of like ilk, simply habit yourself to talk only to yourselves nonstop, and then even go on to complain about other Leftists not being informed…blahblahblah!

    Builders of any US antiwar movement you most certainly are not. You want the bombing to begin, just like with Libya! You can’t cheerlead for a crumb like Assad, so you call for US imperialist interventionism instead.

    ‘And FYI I’m OPPOSED to US imperialist intervention. Too bad the Assadists don’t call for an end to Russian imperialist intervention.’

    No you’re not really opposed to US imperialism, and that’s why you equate Russian nationalism with the US run imperialist block. No doubt you think the Chinese and Indonesia should all be considered imperialists as well as the US and friends. Put them on the same basis as the US, Western Europe, Australia, etc. Well they aren’t the same. Too bad you can’t figure that one out.

    • Citizen
      January 22, 2014, 11:48 am

      @ Tony Logan

      So, please clarify, who do you think are the good guys?

      • W.Jones
        January 23, 2014, 1:15 pm

        Cliff,

        Personally I think there are good guys on both sides- and among those of the civilians who are on neither.

    • W.Jones
      January 22, 2014, 12:14 pm

      Tony,

      I am sure Andrew does not want US intervention. It’s nice that you were on Louis’s interesting list. What one may claim, however, is that by having an insurgency at this point where most of the forces are fundamentalist, that it is favoring imperialist objectives.

      On the other hand, there really are some “left” supporters of the insurgents who really have said they want the West to give them weapons or invade.

      • Tony Logan
        January 22, 2014, 4:15 pm

        Why are you so sure that Andrew and his humanitarian imperialist comrades don’t want ‘US intervention’, since there has already been that intervention, W.Jones? That intervention is ongoing and continues, in fact. He simply ignores it. To Andrew, all that US/ Pentagon interventionism is simply completely secondary and unimportant in regards to his own desires for multiple regime changes in places like Libya, Syria, Iran, Sudan, etc. Never mind that he echoes the pro war propaganda of the governments of Western Europe and the US et al.

        I pointed out that he is a hypocrite to declare others here uninformed, since he participates without a word of protest on a ‘discussion list’ that routinely kicks people off for posting material contrary to his own pov. He participates actively on a list that wants to ram rod his pro interventionist positions off onto the entire Left as a whole. And just like a Stalinist Party does, shuts off other comrades who have another pov by disallowing any debate there against themselves.

        Instead of building any real antiwar movement, Andrew is busy calling for regime changes alongside the war hawks, for places like Syria and Iran, same as they did in regards to Libya. That is hardly to ‘not want US inteventionisn’ but to enable it to continue.

      • W.Jones
        January 23, 2014, 1:14 pm

        Tony,

        As I understand it, Andrew and Louis (Is there a correct title for this school of thought? Noninterventionists?) see dictatorships running the Middle East and they instead want democracy. So if democratic groups protest them, the Noninteventionists support the groups. Now what if the protestors are at the point where they are getting repressed by a dictatorship, and it hampers their work severely? Should they call out the people to revolt? And what if there are not enough people revolting? Should they still call out people to revolt?

        I believe that when groups appearing democratic go to revolt against the dictatorships, the Noninterventionists support the rebels. So far this makes sense, correct?

        Across the Middle East we saw brave democratic revolts as part of the Arab Spring, and Syria’s revolt was a part of that. So if part of the insurgency in Syria is made of democratic rebels, the Noninterventionists still strongly support their democratic brothers (“comrades”).

        My impression is that then everything gets put into this framework. If 100,000 people also start revolting who are not democrats, then you have three forces on the ground, and the Noninterventionists support the democratic rebels against the other two groups. In the American Civil War, to keep their land the Indians allied with the Confederacy, which was worse than the Union. However it was the union that later won and conquered the Indians. Something similar would have happened still if the Confederacy won and the country was divided, but perhaps not as quickly.

        The Noninterventionists also have said they do not want a western invasion, and I believe they also said they don’t want western arms shipments. Certainly that hampers the rebels’ ability to fight if they don’t have weapons. However I believe that some Noninterventionists will be OK with western help, because we have cases in the past where revolutionaries got foreign help (George Washington from the French empire, etc. etc.), which eventually led to democracy to France.

        So far, did I get it right? However, what you refer to as being “ignored” is worth noting. If the democratic rebels on the ground turn out to be comparatively small, those rebels are fighting the fundamentalists, and on a whole the insurgents are to a big extent fundamentalists, should we still support the rebellion?

        If the fundamentalists are worse, more brutal and less democratic than the secular Syrian army, wouldn’t you agree that the democratic rebels should better align with the Syrian army? But then it becomes harder. In reality then the democrats are getting squeezed between two forces, both of which the democrats do not wish to be in power.

        Turning back to the US Civil War, should we want the War Against the Union to succeed if it helps the Indians but means slavery? Or should we want the Union to win, when it will mean the crushing of the Indians (Custer was a Civil War officer and the war’s end freed up troops). And what if the autocratic British empire is aligned with the Indians? (They were in the American revolutionary) Should the Indians want the “European settlers” to win their war of democratic independence?

        I think your answer will be that you should see each group individually and thus not call for a victory of just one of “two sides.”

        In conclusion, you are leading to a good point. The Noninterventionists should better address and recognize, in my opinion, how much power the fundamentalists have in the rebellion. It should also recognize whether regime change and domination of the Middle East has been a goal of TPTB as Gen. W. Clark stated, and whether insurgencies in Libya and Syria have been part of that goal. If a big majority of the insurgents are fundamentalists, then especially in this context it would be too confusing to generalize about “the insurgency” as a good thing.

      • W.Jones
        January 23, 2014, 4:14 pm

        P.S., Tony, Please tell me who could be the main, largescale nonreligious democratic organization in Syria?
        The US-funded LCCs work with 100-200 people, according to the NY Times.

        The Syrian National Council is made largely of exiles, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, which however democratic, is not exactly nonreligious. I believe Morsi in Egypt should have stayed, but I did have concerns about how strictly “religious” he was going to be.

        Are the Syrian army or the West or the Israelis going to be happy with the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Syria?

  29. W.Jones
    January 22, 2014, 10:21 pm

    ITV article with movie and interviews on disaffection and defections to the Syrian army, including a filming of one such small defection.
    http://www.itv.com/news/2014-01-20/the-disillusioned-defectors-joining-assads-forces

    In one interview a defector says that before they were living in peace with eachother but now the “Islamists” are abusing people.

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