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Lots has been happening in Syria over the weekend so let’s take a look at some recent coverage.

48 Iranians were kidnapped by an opposition militia in Damascus on Saturday. Iran claims they were religious pilgrims and the Syrian opposition claims they were spies, thugs or Revolutionary Guard. The most glaring aspect of this, in my opinion, is it threatens to suck Iran (further?) into the conflict which I presume was the intent of the abductions.

The rebels claimed responsibility for capturing 48 Iranians in Syria, forcing Tehran to call on Turkey and Qatar — major supporters of the rebels — to help secure their release.

Thus far the opposition has claimed 3 of the Iranians have been killed in an attack  in Damascus by the Syrian government and the abductors are threatening to kill even more of the Iranians unless the government stops attacking them. Are the Iranians being used as human shields?

Reuters:

Syrian rebels said three Iranian captives were killed on Monday during an air attack in Damascus province by government forces, and threatened to kill the remaining Iranians in their custody unless the army stopped its attack.

“They were killed when the aircraft attacked. One of the houses they were in collapsed over their heads,” rebel spokesman Moutassam al-Ahmad told Reuters. “We will kill the rest if the army does not stop its assault. They have one hour.”

…..

Fighters from the al-Baraa brigade of the rebel Free Syrian Army kidnapped 48 Iranians on Saturday on suspicion of being military personnel, but Tehran says they are pilgrims.

The 48 Iranians, planning to visit a shrine on the outskirts of Damascus of particular significance to Shi’ite Muslims, were abducted on the road from the airport.

Insurgents fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accuse Iran of sending fighters from its Revolutionary Guard to help Assad’s forces put down the 17-month-old uprising. The Islamic Republic denies the accusations.

“We have documents that they are involved with the Revolutionary Guards,” Ahmad said.

They were all traveling together in a bus. If Iran sent 48 fighters to help Assad one might imagine they wouldn’t send them all together on a bus, rather conspicuous if you ask me. Maybe Iran needs some brushing up on covert action. Unless they were just pilgrims.  Either way this is being touted in one report as “The biggest prize of the ambush brigades so far.”

The biggest prize of the ambush brigades so far — 48 abducted Iranians branded as spies by rebels — was put on display in a video that carried a warning that all Iranians in Syria would be “captured or killed” because of Tehran’s strong backing for Assad.

Interestingly, the same AP report asserted a senior member of a parliamentary committee advising Iranians against traveling to Syria is a high-ranking acknowledgment that Syrian rebels have expanded their hold over key roads and other areas once firmly under Assad’s control.

It is not clear if the attack that allegedly killed the 3 abducted Iranians was in retaliation for an attack on the Damascus headquarters of Syria’s state broadcaster earlier today but this report makes opposition ‘control’ sound primarily symbolic.

Reuters:

Meanwhile, a bomb blast hit the Damascus headquarters of Syria’s state broadcaster on Monday as troops backed by fighter jets kept up an offensive against the last rebel bastion in the capital.

The bomb exploded on the third floor of the state television and radio building, state TV said. However, while the rebels may have struck a symbolic blow in their 17-month-old uprising against Assad, Information Minister Omran Zoabi said none of the injuries was serious, and state TV continued broadcasting.

Rebels in districts of Aleppo visited by Reuters journalists seemed battered, overwhelmed and running low on ammunition after days of intense tank shelling and helicopter gunships strafing their positions with heavy machine gun fire.

Emboldened by an audacious bomb attack in Damascus that killed four of Assad’s top security officials last month, the rebels had tried to overrun the Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s commercial hub.

But the lightly armed rebels have been outgunned by the Syrian army’s superior weaponry. They were largely driven out of Damascus and are struggling to hold on to territorial gains made in Aleppo, a city of 2.5 million.

Damascus has criticized Gulf Arab states and Turkey for calling for the rebels to be armed, and state TV has described the rebels as a “Turkish-Gulf militia”, saying dead Turkish and Afghan fighters had been found in Aleppo.

In other news Syria’s recently appointed Prime Minister, Riyad Hijab, has defected to Jordan making him the highest official to depart from the government. Hijab was appointed in June after a parliamentary election that was supposed to be a step towards political reform.

Reuters:

Hijab, who like much of the opposition comes from Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, is not part of Assad’s inner circle, but as the most senior serving civilian official to defect his departure dealt a heavy symbolic blow to an establishment rooted in the president’s minority Alawite sect.

His departure is unlikely to have repercussions for Assad’s grip on power.

There seems to be a jockeying of position in the MSM regarding who’s taking the lead. The defection of a lame duck PM, the inconclusive bombing of Syrian state broadcasters headquarters and the abduction of Iranians all sound quite impressive in print, but do they amount to advances on the street? If the Reuters report can be believed and rebel forces are in fact largely driven out of Damascus and struggling to hold on to territorial gains made in Aleppo, symbolic gains mean little.

annie
About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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68 Responses

  1. riyadh
    riyadh
    August 6, 2012, 7:30 pm

    Why does the MSM find it acceptable for Israel to bomb densely populated civilian areas under the pretense that militants use them to launch attacks but condemn al-Assad for doing the exact same thing?

    • ColinWright
      ColinWright
      August 6, 2012, 8:30 pm

      “Why does the MSM find it acceptable for Israel to bomb densely populated civilian areas under the pretense that militants use them to launch attacks but condemn al-Assad for doing the exact same thing?”

      You’re assuming an ethically uniform universe. Different ethical laws apply on Planet Israel than elsewhere in the galaxy.

      Really. It’s interesting.

    • AllenBee
      AllenBee
      August 7, 2012, 11:52 am

      excellent overview of the parties involved in Syria conflict by Sami Ramadani on Real News

    • Fredblogs
      Fredblogs
      August 7, 2012, 1:50 pm

      Because Asad is bombing the actual civilian areas themselves in order to kill civilians while Israel was bombing military targets hidden in civilian areas and accidentally killed some civilians. Remember that even by Hamas’s belated admission, Israel killed 700 members of terrorist groups out of (Hamas says) 1400 total killed. A 1:1 ratio of terrorists to civilians killed. What is Asad’s ratio?

      • anan
        anan
        August 7, 2012, 3:23 pm

        Fredblogs, my understanding is that Israel killed about 492 civilians and 800 Hamas Army fighters in operation cast lead. What is your estimate?

        Did you back operation cast lead? I did not, but would love to ask you some questions about the IDF’s poor operational tactics.

        There was a large contrast between how Israel entered Gaza and how MNF-I conducted operations in Iraq. Why did Israel behave so recklessly and risk so many civilian lives?

        Why didn’t Israel focus primarily on a ground offensive from the start, and hold territory until the end of the war? This would have sharply increased the number of Hamas soldiers killed relative to the number of civilians killed. Instead Israelis kept their ground forces back and pounded civilian areas from the air or with artillery in far too many cases.

        What was the strategic point of the entire venture? What was Israel hoping to achieve? If Israel was trying to help Mustafa Barghouti and the PA gain power in Gaza, that would have some logic. However what was Israel’s logic? Seemed like pound Gaza a bit and then abruptly stop.

      • Donald
        Donald
        August 8, 2012, 11:30 pm

        8oo Hamas army fighters? Yes, I’ve heard a Hamas spokesperson claimed a large number of the dead belonged to Hamas, but not everyone who belongs to Hamas is a fighter. That’s like claiming a terrorist attack on Israel killed x “Likud Party fighters”.

        The relevant question is how many of the dead actually were engaged in fighting.

        I do want to acknowledge that you concede that 492 civilians were killed and that the Israel was reckless, though I don’t think your recommendation of a ground offensive would have lowered that number.

      • Fredblogs
        Fredblogs
        August 10, 2012, 1:53 pm

        The relevant question is how many of the dead were actually members of Hamas and other terrorist groups. Since the UN practically counts anyone in civilian clothes whose body is brought in while leaving their weapon on the battlefield, by them, no fighters were killed. Also, Israel didn’t have to be reckless to have 492 civilians killed. Accidents happen in a war, especially when the terrorists use the civilians as human shields.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        August 10, 2012, 4:53 pm

        This post is hasbara bingo masterpiece! It’s like you hit EVERY talking point lie at one time. Congrats!

  2. biorabbi
    biorabbi
    August 6, 2012, 7:46 pm

    “If the Reuters report can be believed and rebel forces are in fact largely driven out of Damascus and struggling to hold on to territorial gains made in Aleppo, symbolic gains mean little.”

    True, but even if every single FSA soldier was eliminated, how does it solve Assad’s problem. He has two friends in Russia and Iran. He has limited resources and a dying economy. He has a dispirited population and members of his own inner circle are killed while other defect. The opposition is fluid, is using guerrilla tactics. They are continually replenished by foreign fighters and Saudia with big wallets coupled with unemployed Sunnis.

    Annie, you points on the traveling busloads of Iranians is spot on. I’m no fan of Iran, but it defies all possible belief that Iranian special forces are moving around Syria in a Brady Bunch van. The media coverage sometimes me of the movie Bananas where the CIA guy tells Woody Allen’s character that we’re not taking any chances this time, we’re supporting both sides… the rebels and the government.

    The other Syria-tangentially related bit of intrigue that is popping up over the last week on a wide array of internets is the murder of Prince Bandar ‘Bush’ in Saudi Arabia. Certain websites are claiming that the long arm of President Assad killed Bandar. But I think you would have to be on a potent brand of LSD to believe that. Bandar is the new Saudi intel guy who is rumored to have been behind the brutal explosion of the Syrian defense establishment.

    • annie
      annie
      August 6, 2012, 8:17 pm

      i heard about the Assad killed Bandar allegations bio, but didn’t want to wander too deep into conspiracy theories even tho i am a firm believer in conspiracy theories (in that i believe people do conspire and lots of bad things happen as a result of that conspiring and anyone who tries to figure out whodunit can’t really figure anything out without toying in theories of possible conspiracies). that said, i was trying to stick to syria related material and there’s no evidence other than theory connecting assad to bandar’s death.

      • piotr
        piotr
        August 8, 2012, 2:57 am

        Annie, no disrespect intended, but your belief in conspiracy theories is feeble indeed. For starters, a true believer would not refer to them like that — there exists an actual hidden reality that explains EVERYTHING, and a plethora of false conspiracy theories.

        The proof of the hidden reality is very much like a classic proof of existence of God — the first, original reason for the existence of goodness. Similarly, evil also must have a reason that explains all other reasons.

      • annie
        annie
        August 8, 2012, 3:27 am

        piort, i’m so confused but fascinated. what do you mean? when you say my belief in them is feeble, do you mean it is feeble to believe they exist? obviously people conspire to make crime unless they are acting alone.

        of course there are probably ‘a plethora of false conspiracy theories’ for every crime. but that doesn’t mean there is not one theory of conspiracy that in fact is true for the crime. one could imagine a thousand false conspiracies to figure out the one that is correct. isn’t a detective’s job to figure out which conspiracy theory is the “actual hidden reality”?

        what do you mean by ” a true believer would not refer to them like that”? which sentence of mine (specifically) are you referencing?

        The proof of the hidden reality is very much like a classic proof of existence of God — the first, original reason for the existence of goodness. Similarly, evil also must have a reason that explains all other reasons.

        now i am really confused! how is the existence of goodness proof of the existence of god?

      • annie
        annie
        August 8, 2012, 3:36 am

        piotr, if a msm source reported allegations of a relevant party accusing assad of assassinating bandar i would include it. for example, the MB accused mossad of carrying out the attack in the sinai, that’s news. but pure personal speculation is better suited for the comment section. i am not saying assad didn’t assassinate bandar..but i just do not know enough to be the judge of that. i would have to assume assad decided bandar ordered the bombing of his associates. there are so many parties involved it seems like a bigger leap than i am willing to take. when it becomes just pointing fingers the issue of credibility comes into play.

      • piotr
        piotr
        August 8, 2012, 5:12 am

        I was joking Annie. But not quite: you compared critically a few theories of conspiracies, which is not what makes a “conspiracy theorist”. A conspiracy theorist “knows” about an invisible web of plot that ultimately has one source, like “world Jewry” or “Leftist-Islamofascist coalition” (al-Qaeda and Mondoweiss being but two effects of the same arch-conspiracy).

        My synopsis of a proof of existence of God was perhaps not very convincing, I think that Thomas of Aquinas would explain it better, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_degree

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        August 8, 2012, 12:01 pm

        Perfect example. The WMD’s in Iraq conspiracy. The neo, oil, theo cons pulled it off smoothly. Feith, Wolfowitz, Cheney and team created and cherry picked the alleged intelligence distributed through MSNBC, CNN, New York Bloody Times, implemented the invasion based on their well crafted and delivered conspiracy. No one has been held accountable. Bingo

    • annie
      annie
      August 6, 2012, 8:33 pm

      He has two friends in Russia and Iran. He has limited resources and a dying economy. He has a dispirited population and members of his own inner circle are killed while other defect. The opposition is fluid, is using guerrilla tactics. They are continually replenished by foreign fighters and Saudia with big wallets coupled with unemployed Sunnis.

      ok, so let’s break this down and examine it.

      He has two friends in Russia and Iran

      it’s not how many countries you count as friends, it’s what they can do for you. israel only has one friend as far as i know.

      He has limited resources and a dying economy.

      him or syria? first of all i do not know if syria has a dying economy although many countries in the middle of all this crap might fare worse. anyway, it’s not clear to me another leader could change or improve syria’s resources or economy more efficiently than assad. we all know this is not happening because of resources or the economy. the US has no problem with ruining countries like we did with iraq.

      He has a dispirited population and members of his own inner circle are killed while other defect.

      yeah, and if he goes there will still be a dispirited population and there will likely be retributions just like there are in all the countries we demand regime change.

      They are continually replenished by foreign fighters and Saudia with big wallets coupled with unemployed Sunnis.

      why didn’t you mention the US? you don’t think our big wallets are worth diddly squat?

      have you seen/read adam curtis’s “THE BABY AND THE BAATH WATER”? http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/06/the_baby_and_the_baath_water.html

      we’ve so been down this road before. we need to get out of the business of trying to control the ME. it’s a killer.

      • MLE
        MLE
        August 7, 2012, 12:00 am

        Israel also has Canada, England, and Australia. it also manages to guilt the other European countries into supporting them on some levels (France, Germamy, etc)

      • anan
        anan
        August 7, 2012, 3:30 pm

        Germany, Russia, India, Turkey are all Israeli allies.

        China and Israel have a close relationship too. Especially in military R&D.

      • biorabbi
        biorabbi
        August 7, 2012, 12:20 am

        Annie, thank you for the link to ‘The Baby And The Baath Water.’ It was compelling. I wish more journalism was like that. Very good analysis. I believe Obama is trying not to get involved in Syria but he may be getting dragged in.

        Your response to my post is persuasive and well written. One outcome that is posited by Josh Landis blog Syria Comment is kind of a Lebanon type situation with continuing civil strife and skirmishes without a clear cut outcome.

        I was initially strongly swayed by many of the early Youtube videos and Anderson Cooper’s reportage, but the more I learn, the more I believe it’s a complete mess. Atrocities are being committed by all sides. Outside groups have their own agenda. And it is also true that the Christian and Allawite minorities are being protected by Assad. Both Assads also had very good relations with Syrian expatriate Jews. And not just in letting them go, but also in allowing them to visit, rebuild Temples. The ancient Christian communities were unmolested by Assad and thrived.

        The other interesting thing about Syria is its vibrant culture under Assad with operas, plays, salons. I can see a mass exodus of the intellectuals, Christians, Syrian elite Sunni Business class if this continues the wrong way.

      • AllenBee
        AllenBee
        August 7, 2012, 12:00 pm

        The turning of Turkey is of major importance.
        According to Ramadani, Turkey has patched things up with Israel over Mavi Marmara; turned away from formerly friendly relations with Assad in exchange for warmer relations with Saudi Arabia; turned its back on Iran, primarily over the US Radar towers on Turkey’s soil that spy on Iran** in response to US-NATO pressure and in exchange for European promises for entry into EU organizations.

        **Iran’s telecommunications used to route thru a Turkish-maintained tower, but in 2007-2008 Iran constructed a tower in Tehran to manage its own communications networks to eliminate the possibility of Turkish spying.

      • anan
        anan
        August 7, 2012, 3:26 pm

        Annie Robbins, Iraq has had the fastest growing economy of any mid sized economy in the world for many years. Iraq is rising. And increasingly Assad, the Gulf extremists and Jordan cannot stop her rise.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        August 8, 2012, 12:02 pm

        links

    • American
      American
      August 7, 2012, 12:02 am

      I noticed the rumors about Prince Bandar’s ‘disappearence’.
      But it may be one of his typical disappearing acts…he’s done this before..just been absent from the public.
      It is said that he has always suffered from bouts of depression and withdraws from time to time because of it.
      But who knows, guess time will tell.

      • Krauss
        Krauss
        August 7, 2012, 12:15 pm

        He got assassinated as revenge for the attack in Damascus.
        The day after the assassination was successful, he was promoted to head of the Saudi intelligence. Hardly a coincidence.

        Then the terror attack struck and killed his deputy. He is either heavily injured or, more likely, dead. Still, if he is alive he is most likely in the U.S. at some exceptionally advanced medical site reserved for VIP guests.

        But the fact that the media is totally silent on the issue should probably hint at that he’s dead, giving Saudi some time to reorient themselves and bring the news out(if they ever decide to do so) at their own pace.
        It also illuminates how closely the Western media is co-operating with major intelligence agencies.

        Even if Bandar survived, the attack that killed his deputy and (presumably) injured him heavily is a *huge* story. Especially as he was promoted literally the day after the attack on the Syrian elite and the retaliation happened so shortly thereafter.

        Yet, nothing in the MSM press.

  3. biorabbi
    biorabbi
    August 6, 2012, 7:58 pm

    Annie, I think we may approach the Syrian crisis through different lens, but I do have an open mind. I think it’s ludicrous to claim Iran ‘s revolutionary guard is on the loose. What started out as the population rising against a corrupt government has changed into something else entirely. It is a proxy of sorts by the Gulf States against Iran. By eliminating the pro-Iranian Assad, they will replace him by a more traditionalist Sunni type, cutting off the supply lines to Nasrallah and bloodying the nose of Iran. The gulf states have unlimited cash to ‘move’ the revolution. This is turning into a bigger mess than I had thought of. We have no rationale for any form of intervention.

    The best thing for all parties involved would be something along the lines of the Annan Plan where Assad would leave and a set of elections would occur. This is getting ugly, imploding inward from the Gulf states and exploding out into Lebanon at the same time.

    • annie
      annie
      August 6, 2012, 8:20 pm

      It is a proxy of sorts by the Gulf States against Iran. By eliminating the pro-Iranian Assad, they will replace him by a more traditionalist Sunni type, cutting off the supply lines to Nasrallah and bloodying the nose of Iran. The gulf states have unlimited cash to ‘move’ the revolution.

      that’s about my take on it too. kind of a no brainer. i just do not like so much intervention. people die.

      The best thing for all parties involved would be something along the lines of the Annan Plan where Assad would leave and a set of elections would occur.

      more often than not i am in agreement with helena: http://justworldnews.org/archives/004283.html

      Whether President Asad goes or stays, it will take Syria many years (and leadership qualities very much stronger than anything we have seen to date from either the government or the extremely fissiparous opposition), in order to recover and heal.

      Thus, the key issue now is not, as so many westerners still frame it, “whether Asad goes or stays.” The issue is how Syria’s people can best be helped to pull out of the vortex of sectarian violence into which they are now very rapidly being sucked. Based on all my research and experiences relating to societies mired in, or managing to escape from grievous inter-group violence, it is clear to me that only a pan-Syrian negotiation over forms of government, accountability, and intergroup relations going forward can achieve that.

      And to succeed, this negotiation must include, not exclude, the current regime. It was a negotiation of this type that succeeded in South Africa in bringing about a relatively peaceful transition from vicious minority rule to full democracy. In Burma/Myanmar, Sec. Clinton is fully engaged in helping to broker just such a negotiation. The actions of the apartheid government in South Africa and the junta in Burma, were no less brutal than those of the Asad regime in Syria.

  4. ColinWright
    ColinWright
    August 6, 2012, 8:27 pm

    “…but Tehran says they are pilgrims.

    The 48 Iranians, planning to visit a shrine on the outskirts of Damascus of particular significance to Shi’ite Muslims, were abducted on the road from the airport…”

    If they are pilgrims, they’ve got an awful sense of timing.

    • annie
      annie
      August 6, 2012, 8:41 pm

      maybe it’s ramadan. also there have been lots of reports huge sections of syria, including most areas of demascus and aleppo, are not dangerous.

      i think it is likely or reasonable there could have been one or two spies on board but most of the iranians are probably innocent civilians.

      i think it is very likely this attack was carried out for western audiences, like throwing meat to hungry dogs. the dogs of war who want to devour iran. it’s gross.

      • JennieS
        JennieS
        August 6, 2012, 11:06 pm

        I think you are probably right about Ramadan but when you think of how many pilgrims, of several faiths and sects, have been captured or killed in recent years you would have to assume that the merit gained from the pilgrimage makes it worth the risk.

      • MLE
        MLE
        August 7, 2012, 12:03 am

        People made pilgrimages to Iraq during its insurgency- when there were high levels of Sunni/Shia tensions so I think for a lot of people, they go on the pilgrimage no matter what.

      • Ranjit Suresh
        Ranjit Suresh
        August 7, 2012, 12:35 am

        The Syrian rebels have proven themselves to be led, if not largely comprised, by thugs. Anytime the Zionist media fixates upon a civil war, as in Syria today, we read hyperbolic commentary. But, any sane appraisal of the facts makes clear that the Assad regime, however despicable, has not committed crimes so egregious that they begin to excuse the blatant communal politics of the opposition. The Free Syrian Army could have called upon patriotic Alawites. It could have linked arms with Shiites and Christians as fully the equal to Sunnis. It could have done these things in the name of a broad-based uprising for a free republic. Instead, like it’s Libyan counterparts, it has exposed itself to be an utterly compromised, infiltrated, and bigoted movement. In the end, despite the loud protestations of Syrian rebel spokesmen on Al Jazeera, the U.S. and Israel are the real victors.

      • Merk
        Merk
        August 7, 2012, 9:01 am

        what exactly is the Zionist media?

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        August 7, 2012, 11:21 am

        what exactly is the, Merk?

      • annie
        annie
        August 7, 2012, 11:54 am

        andrew sullivan once asked if there were any msm journalists who were not zionists. maybe merk can fill us in.

      • MRW
        MRW
        August 7, 2012, 12:09 pm

        “Putin’s Geopolitical Chess Game with Washington in Syria and Eurasia”
        by F. William Engdahl
        http://www.voltairenet.org/Putin-s-Geopolitical-Chess-Game#nb25

        One veteran Turkish journalist whom this author interviewed in Ankara in April, just back from an extensive tour of Syria, gave his eyewitness account of the capture of a small band of “opposition” fighters. The journalist, fluent in Arabic, was astonished as he witnessed the head of the rebels demand to know why their military captors spoke Arabic. When told that was their native language, the rebel leader blurted out, “But you should speak Hebrew, you’re with the Israeli Army aren’t you?”

        In short, the mercenaries had been blitz-trained across the border in Turkey, given Kalashnikovs and a fistful of dollars and told they were making a jihad against the Israeli Army. They did not even know who they were fighting. In other instances, mercenaries recruited from Afghanistan and elsewhere and financed by Saudi money, including alleged members of Al Qaeda, make up the “democratic opposition” to the established regime of Al-Assad.

      • Merk
        Merk
        August 7, 2012, 12:15 pm

        So, when did it change from Jews controlling the media, to Zionists? Have we just changed the words to sound more politically correct?

        (not fooling anyone)

      • Merk
        Merk
        August 7, 2012, 12:16 pm

        Cliff

        The comma has several uses in English grammar, all related to marking-off separate elements within a sentence.

      • Krauss
        Krauss
        August 7, 2012, 12:23 pm

        Instead, like it’s Libyan counterparts, it has exposed itself to be an utterly compromised, infiltrated, and bigoted movement

        I’ll leave the moral outrage to the hotheads.

        Still, it’s important to note that the rebel leadership have been carefully nurtured by neocons for years now. The neocons screwed up with Iraq, they want to re-learn the experience. In Iraq, they ended up with a guy who took the country closer to Iran but it was the only way out after the civil war.

        In Syria, they want to do it from scratch and this time do it right. So much of the rebel leadership is their version of Ahmed Chalabi.

        For some miracle, this was actually filtered through in the Guardian:

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking

        So the Bilderberg group have carefully nurtured the puppets in close conjunction with the neocons, who are just the loudmouthed propaganda voices of the real power structure behind them, men of immense wealth and political power. Many top media owners attend Bilderburg meetings annually, for instance the owners of TIME Warner, News Corp and so on.

        And these ‘rebels’ have been prepared for years now.

        Remember, it was Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Syria which were the targets. Even if Iraq turned out to be a blunder, the current regime is still far more pliant than Saddam ever was. Iran is going down economically as the sanctions are gutting the people(but not the regime) and now Syria is being prepared to have a regime change.

        Say what you will, but the Bilderburg group are playing the long game and they have patience. Eventually, they’ll get their way and oust the undesireables and install more ‘acceptable’ leaders.

        It seems only North Korea is left now, even if the sanctions are so severe to warrant constant near-starvation in the country.

        This isn’t to say that the leaders of Syria or for that matter North Korea(especially North Korea) are benevolent in any way.
        Again, morality isn’t the issue here.

        But it’s interesting to see the real power, the amalgation of Western elites from all walks of life, playing the long game and influencing the world just like their counter-parts across the world try to do the same(but mostly failing).

        In 20 years, however, a Chinese equivalent élite group may well replace the Bilderburg group as the premier ‘ruling body’ of world politics.
        And don’t think that it would be a more ‘moral’ rule.
        What we’re seeing is the subtle but profound effect of great power politics unfolding before us. And we can only try to piece together as much as we can.

      • American
        American
        August 7, 2012, 12:45 pm

        Slanted media percentage wise on Israel?…..CNN, MSNBC, NBC, Fox, the 24/7 Nazi History channel, NYT, WP…..any other major media outlet you can name….no such thing as free, factual, unbiased media/ press in the USA any more…gotta keep the masses mushroomed and in the dark.

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        August 8, 2012, 4:36 am

        Who is ‘anyone’?

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        August 8, 2012, 4:37 am

        When did it change from ‘Jews controlling the media’ to ‘Zionists’, Murky?

        Are you an antisemite?

  5. American
    American
    August 7, 2012, 12:11 am

    14 Iranian Royal Guards, spies or fighters riding on a bus?
    I doubt that.
    14 spies would too many spies and 14 fighters would be too few fighters.
    It’s bullshit.

    I can find nothing on this Moutassam al-Ahmad rebel spokesman, no back ground at all. Is this first time he’s popped up by name?

    • annie
      annie
      August 7, 2012, 2:28 am

      14 Iranian Royal Guards, spies or fighters riding on a bus?
      I doubt that.

      48 abducted, not 14. makes it even more unbelievable in my mind. to many sitting ducks. and, if they were really professionals, a bloodbath would have been more likely then them all being captured. makes no sense.

  6. giladg
    giladg
    August 7, 2012, 10:41 am

    The reason for the abduction of the 48 Iranians is so that the rebels can use the threat of killing them to keep Assad from launching a door-to-door all out campaign in Aleppo.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      August 7, 2012, 1:37 pm

      “The reason for the abduction of the 48 Iranians is so that the rebels can use the threat of killing them to keep Assad from launching a door-to-door all out campaign in Aleppo.”

      Wait a minute, giladg, this is a surprise! Why wasn’t it just yesterday you were ordering Phil to close down this “cesspool of hate”? And telling him his future was being lynched by unspecified anti-Semitic non-Jews . (I know you’ll save me, lover)
      And now here you are, contributing to the blog? What gives, pal?
      And really, why would Phil close down a blog which provides an apparently desperately-needed outlet for you? (Do you need a link to the “cesspool of hate” comment, giladg?)
      Oh well, one day it’s a “cesspool of hate” the next day it’s a place to discuss Syria. Cest la ziocaine amnesia.

      • giladg
        giladg
        August 8, 2012, 8:38 am

        If I can get one lost soul to embrace the truth then I would have done something truly significant in my life. Will it be you Mooser or am I trying to reach too far?
        By the way, I never said anti-Semitic non-Jews. Now you are putting words in my mouth.

  7. Freija
    Freija
    August 7, 2012, 2:23 pm

    I would not like the same brutal scenario for Assad as it has been for Saddam and for Khaddafi. We, in the west, represent a brutal and lawless civilization. That’s the mirror we look in since the governments USA/Israel decided to act as the new masters of the world after the collaps of the Soviet Union and dared to execute the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the project for a New Middle East were Israel and the USA are equally imperial expansionists. The new colonial twin powers are a major threat to our folks because of their barbaric warfare and their contempt for international law and sovereignity of states. War criminals are governing our lawless expansionist states. As a citizen of it I am more than ashamed!

  8. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    August 8, 2012, 12:07 pm

    Over at Non Intervention Former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Micheal Scheuer writes that Secretary of State Clinton and team’s push to oust Assad and being unwilling to negotiate at all has promoted the death and destruction in Syria. And that this strategy has and is being pushed by Israel and the I lobby.

    Over at Race for Iran former middle east CIA analyst Flynt Leverett has a video clip of him on an Al Jazeera panel discussing the situation in Syria. He states that Clinton and team have undermined Kofi Anan’s efforts by demanding that Assad go now which was a non starter he claims. Both Race for Iran and Non Intervention are must read sites

  9. giladg
    giladg
    August 8, 2012, 1:56 pm

    “Disproportionate Use of Force”

    Assad is clearly using disproportionate force against the rebels. And yet we do not hear the pseudo liberals and pseudo human rights groups shouting this out. This term has not been used in the context of the current conflict in Syria. And yet it is used against Israel, day in and day out. The type of force and damage being directed against the rebels is overwhelmingly greater than what has gone on in Gaza for instance, no matter how many of you show us photographs of some house blown up in Gaza. Israel is judged on a different standard and is found guilty before the ink has dried. If anyone wanted a clear example of how the mass media is automatically anti-Israel, no matter what Israel does, you have it here.

    • annie
      annie
      August 8, 2012, 2:49 pm

      Assad is clearly using disproportionate force

      what’s your definition of disproportionate force? how might your definition apply to how israel pounded gaza during the 08-09 massacre? here is an israel supporter defining disproportionate force:

      When military personnel speak of proportionate or disproportionate use of force, they are not thinking of revenge but a very complex and difficult military equation that is focused on the overall threat being faced. According to Rosalyn Higgins, President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, proportionality “cannot be [understood] in relation to any specific prior injury – it has to be [understood] in relation to the overall legitimate objective of ending the aggression.”3 In other words, proportionality is more about motive than numbers, that is, whether force was exclusively used to end the aggression. Use of force becomes disproportionate when it is intentionally used against civilians, or when “the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage.”4

      http://nclci.org/_blog/Articles/post/WHAT_IS_DISPROPORTIONATE_FORCE/

      • giladg
        giladg
        August 8, 2012, 3:47 pm

        Mistakes will always happen in conflict situations, to all sides. Israel to its credit, in all its history, has never pounded civilian built up areas with indiscriminate artillery, as Assad has done. This is fact, but who’s interested in facts anyway and please spare us the comeback about white phosphorous. There is nothing that Israel has done that can be compared to what Assad and friends do, and not a peep from the Israel bashers who hide behind the human rights pretense banner.

      • annie
        annie
        August 8, 2012, 5:40 pm

        i guess that would be a ‘no’ you will not offer your definition of disproportionate force. got it.

      • giladg
        giladg
        August 8, 2012, 6:55 pm

        Let me add that it also depends if the side seen as being the weaker, has taken steps to warrant a harsh response. If you poke someone, they will react. You cannot then keep blaming the other side. The Islamic worlds continued rejection of the significance of the Jewish religion (and others I might add), is a constant provocation. The Arabs keep saying that there is no place for an independent Jewish state. Why can’t you get this very significant point?
        Getting back to the use of force, Israel uses as much force as necessary to bring about a quick end to the round of violence in a responsible manner with the least amount of danger to its soldiers and civilians, and that’s civilians on both sides. Same cannot be said of others in the region.
        By the way, even Goldstone admitted he is unable to define what proportional amount of force is when asked how he would suggest Israel acts.

      • giladg
        giladg
        August 8, 2012, 7:23 pm

        So tell us Annie, what is the proportional response to 8,000 rockets fired at you? Should Israel produce primitive rockets of the type the Palestinians have fired on Israeli population centers? Maybe Israel should hand out the 8,000 rockets to civilians on a first come first serve basis and let Israeli citizen fire them in the general area of where the incoming came from? Sounds proportional to me.
        And then we have the Grad rockets to discuss as well.

      • annie
        annie
        August 8, 2012, 7:44 pm

        The Islamic worlds continued rejection of the significance of the Jewish religion …., is a constant provocation.

        you’re a nut case gilad. no one person speaks for ‘the islamic world’ and it’s no ones responsibility to accept the ‘significance’ of anyone else’s religion. atheists reject all religion. just stop already. why can’t you just get ‘the significance of the Jewish religion’ is not that important to anyone but those who adhere to it, as it should be.

        “Israel uses as much force as necessary to bring about a quick end to the round of violence in a responsible manner with the least amount of danger to its soldiers and civilians”

        uh huh. so is that your definition then? goodbye.

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 8, 2012, 7:59 pm

        >> The Arabs keep saying that there is no place for an independent Jewish state. Why can’t you get this very significant point?

        Why can’t you get the point that there is no place in this world for a supremacist state? Doesn’t matter if it’s Jewish or Islamic or Arab or Christian or White or Scientologist or LGBTQI or Atheist or Philatelist – there is no place in this world for a supremacist state.

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        August 8, 2012, 9:45 pm

        Who cares about your 8000 rockets. You sound like Cartmen LOL in this episode of Southpark:

        http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/398503/preview-ganging-up-on-the-one-percent

        Israel kills more and fires more ordinance.

        In fact, in 2006, back when your precious ‘8000’ was much less a vacuous number (because it’s all about the superficial amount of ordinance fired and not casualties inflicted) – Israel fired something like 3000 mortal shells in the span of a few months in the summer.

        I also recall Noam Chomsky dealing with this shallow argument of yours from Dershowitz by comparing it to the amount of bullet shells fired in one day during the 2nd Intifada by the IDF – 1000+ shells.

      • Merk
        Merk
        August 8, 2012, 10:25 pm

        Cliff, did the 8000 rockets help or hurt the Palestinian people?

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        August 8, 2012, 11:17 pm

        Did those 3000+ mortar shells help or hurt Israel? Did those 1000+ bullets help or hurt Israel?

        I can already answer this question because it’s easy – nope. Israel is more powerful. It could regularly flatten the Palestinians (and it does so, more or less).

        It does not face the kind of international pressure that a country like Syria does.

        When Israel was selling arms to South Africa and to genocidal Latin American dictatorships, did anyone give a damn and include Israel in an ‘axis of Evil’? Anyone ‘that matters’ I mean.

        As in, powerful Western democracies. Or in the context of that period, possibly the Soviets or other members of the Soviet bloc who had any real clout (LOL).

        Nope – not even.

        We’re talking a short time-frame anyway.

        The powerful do worse and get away with.

        Hamas – not the Palestinians as a collective, since ‘the Palestinians’ are a THOROUGHLY fragmented society who encompass the W. Bank/Gaza/E.Jerusalem and the various disenfranchised Israeli Arabs/etc. – fired the rockets.

        These rockets were worthless. They killed 6 or 8 people in 8 years or something until the Gaza massacre in 2008. In a comparable period of time, Israel killed at least a hundred Palestinians in Gaza (I think).

        So – by definition – nothing short of getting down on their knees and converting to Zionism will HELP the Palestinian people. That doesn’t mean they will prescribe to your advice, Zionist.

        If they haven’t done so now, in 2012 – then the implications of an anti-Zionist’s comments here and now on Mondoweiss are nothing to be alarmed by. I think it’s safe to say they are LIVING what I am exuding in my commentary.

        So stop trolling and get new material.

    • Donald
      Donald
      August 8, 2012, 11:45 pm

      “Assad is clearly using disproportionate force against the rebels. And yet we do not hear the pseudo liberals and pseudo human rights groups shouting this out. This term has not been used in the context of the current conflict in Syria.”

      Amnesty International referred to Syrian actions as mass human rights violations that amount to crimes against humanity. What a wimpy term. They must be anti-semites.

      story in Guardian

      Amnesty International report

      And HRW wants the International Criminal Court to investigate the actions of all sides.

      link

      ” If anyone wanted a clear example of how the mass media is automatically anti-Israel, no matter what Israel does, you have it here.”

      Oh sure, because there’s virtually nothing in the media about Syrian atrocities. We all depend on you, giladg, to hear anything at all.

      • giladg
        giladg
        August 9, 2012, 1:17 pm

        Donald, I am talking specifically about the use of “buzzwords” that are used in the propaganda war against Israel. Some of those buzzwords/buzz terms include “disproportionate use of force”, “apartheid”, “non-violent struggle”, “occupation”. Those who use these terms know what I am talking about. Those involved in the sophisticated war on Israel waged through the mass media are well versed in them. We understand the game they are playing.
        But when it comes to the Syrian arena, where there is actual disproportionate use of force, the term is not used. Is the buzzword reserved for Israel only? Clearly the answer is yes.

      • Donald
        Donald
        August 9, 2012, 3:47 pm

        “But when it comes to the Syrian arena, where there is actual disproportionate use of force, the term is not used. Is the buzzword reserved for Israel only? Clearly the answer is yes.”

        This is stupid, giladg. “Disproportionate use of force”, which you complained about, is a weaker term than “crimes against humanity”, which is what Amnesty used about Syria. There has been massive coverage of Syrian atrocities. If anything, what is interesting in the press is the tendency to downplay the atrocities of the resistance, which is the exact opposite of what happens in reporting about Israel. The biases are reversed.

        Your complaints have no relationship with reality.

      • giladg
        giladg
        August 9, 2012, 5:19 pm

        My point was not to belittle the actions of the Syrian government. I am pointing out blatant hypocrisy carried out against Israel. When something relatively small happens at a roadblock, the pseudo liberals are out there on the streets demonstrating, burning flags and are calling for Israel to be destroyed. Where are the demonstrations against Syria where it should be clear to all how terrible their actions are? Where are the students in the universities of Europe and the US, calling for Assad to step down? An olive tree is cut down in the West Bank and out come the pseudo liberals, and in force. They throw mud at Israel, and hope it sticks. The accusation of crimes against humanity do not stick on Israel so they revert to the ‘disproportionate use of force’ narrative, and they make it sound as if it is just as bad.

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye
        August 9, 2012, 6:10 pm

        giladg
        “I am pointing out blatant hypocrisy”
        I suppose that’s second nature for an expert practitioner of hypocrisy.

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 9, 2012, 6:16 pm

        >> I am pointing out blatant hypocrisy carried out against Israel. When something relatively small happens at a roadblock, the pseudo liberals are out there on the streets demonstrating, burning flags and are calling for Israel to be destroyed.

        You’re an aggressor-victim and a drama queen. Most of the comments I’ve read call for Israel to be reformed, not destroyed. Seeing as how it is currently an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist state, that’s not a bad thing.

        >> … An olive tree is cut down in the West Bank and out come the pseudo liberals, and in force.

        As bad as Assad is – and, IMO, he is bad: anyone one who uses the military to cling to power is bad news – Syria is not a supremacist, colonialist and expansionist régime like Israel, which remains engaged in a 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder.

        But, sure, keep using evil elsewhere in the world to justify evil in and by the “Jewish State” and its Zio-supremacist supporters. Reach for the lowest possible standard of morality. It’s all one can ever expect from a hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist.

      • talknic
        talknic
        August 9, 2012, 8:18 pm

        giladg August 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm

        “I am pointing out blatant hypocrisy carried out against Israel. When something relatively small happens at a roadblock” … outside of Israel.

      • Donald
        Donald
        August 9, 2012, 8:23 pm

        Actually, giladg, you started out claiming that human rights organizations and the MSM ignored Syrian atrocities. This is obviously false and I wonder whether you even believed what you were typing. As for “disproportionate use of force”, the same human rights organizations that condemn Syria also condemn Israel’s disproportionate use of force, because Israel is often guilty of disproportionate use of force. The Gaza War only lasted three weeks and hundreds of civilians were killed, which is comparable to the rate at which Syria is killing them. If there were an intifada which actually stood some chance of toppling the Israeli government (which I can’t imagine) , I suspect Israel would react in a way that would make Assad look like a boy scout.

        But there is currently no mass uprising, certainly not one that has a shot of toppling the Israeli government, so most of the time Israel is just guilty of daily oppression, stifling of people’s lives, and apartheid-like policies.

        Anyway, it appears your complaint has now shifted to those lefties who protest Israel and not Syria. The difference is that Western governments support Israel and not Syria.

  10. eljay
    eljay
    August 8, 2012, 7:44 pm

    >> So tell us Annie, what is the proportional response to 8,000 rockets fired at you?

    So tell us giladgeee – you ol’ hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist, you! – what is the proportional response to a 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder waged by an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State”?

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