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In Their Own Words: Four residents of Yarmouk speak

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What follows are the meditations of four current Palestinian residents of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. They were prompted to reflect on the state of the camp, what Palestine means to them now after what they have experienced and what they would want to say to Palestinians outside of Syria. The four residents interviewed here come from varied political and professional backgrounds ranging from local relief work to artwork to journalism. Their opinions are theirs alone and have been produced unaltered below although their names have been changed at their request.

Note: The Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine- General Command (PFLP-GC) is a Palestinian faction, distinct from the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine, that is led by Ahmed Jibril. It is strongly allied with the Syrian regime and essentially tasked with enforcing the siege on Yarmouk. There is also reference to oppositional militants inside the camp. They are compromised primarily of two factions; Aknaf Bait al Makdes and Jabhat al Nusra, some of the crimes of the latter are documented here.

Hakim Saeid, photographer: The regime is primarily at fault. They used us as propaganda. In many ways it was in their interest to have the opposition enter Yarmouk so that they could cut us off during a time when their lack of resources made it hard for them to provide services. The PFLP-GC are considered an extension of the regime, we in the camp do not even consider them a different political body. Of course, there were plenty of other interests that played a big role in all this destruction. In my opinion, a lot of it was done in coordination or with the tacit acceptance of the Palestinian Authority who has betrayed us completely. We feel the betrayal from Palestinians in general as well, just as we do from some of our friends outside the camp and among the opposition.

We are living through a huge catastrophe; a second Nakba. We ask the Palestinians outside of Syria to come out to the street. We aren’t asking them to burn embassies or do anything huge, we are only asking for them to have peaceful demonstrations so that our voices, which have been choked, may reach the world. I don’t count on any government. I count on people who are able to amplify our voices. I count on them to come out and speak. I count on people, not governments. Our cause is a human one before it is a political one. We, Palestinians, are a hated people. Hated by all governments. What is asked of our fellow Palestinians in the West is that they go speak about Yarmouk, speak about our suffering. Many Palestinians in Europe and America have betrayed us. The Palestinians who used to demonstrated and collect aid for Gaza, where are they for Yarmouk today? Some even stand with the regime. They stand with that which is killing us.

What the right of return means for me now, after what we saw, is that those who are unable to save the land they are on will never be able to return to the lands they are from. We have lost and we continue to lose. I will personally need at least ten years to overcome what has happened here in Yarmouk, after all these people have died. The Palestinian cause has been strongly damaged. There is a saying we have here in the camp now that the dead cannot the dead. We are dead and we cannot carry the Palestinian cause, which feels dead to us now. Yarmouk was the center of the refugees of Palestine, politically and culturally. Now we are weakened. The people of Yarmouk are not free to ask for their right of return to Palestine. They are simply saying, ‘let me live, I don’t want to return, I just want to live.’

Ahmad, local aid worker with Palestinian non-profit: As Palestinians from Syria, we have lived another dispossession. I am relearning what my father and grandfather lived. I felt we lost Palestine again and that we have been distanced from the right of return again. After sixty five years, as close as we got, I felt we lost another sixty five years after what has happened here.

Yarmouk was the center of the Palestinian diaspora. Yarmouk was so significant, it was the center of political and cultural Palestinian life, and we were closer to Palestine than the camps in Jordan or Lebanon or even the West Bank. We lost all of this after we lost Yarmouk. The regime has tried to take our cause. It is damaging it and the idea of Palestine; but we know what they did to Palestinian in Lebanon and what they are doing to us now.

I’d be a liar if I said that the idea of Palestine hasn’t diminished in my mind. After what we saw from the factions, we truly realized that we had no one. I no longer want to return to Palestine. Our country is gone. We finally know what it means to have a country that is destroyed. We have also felt abandoned by the Palestinians outside Syria. There was no one to rely on. If our people stood with us and we were joined as a single hand, this wouldn’t have happened. They betrayed us, the Palestinian who have never once asked about us. When something happened in Ramallah or Gaza, the whole camp would come out to protest. And here we are starving to death because there is an animal at the gate preventing any entry, and that animal is a Palestinians like us. Can you imagine there is even still a PFLP-GC presence in Palestine? No one has stopped them. Can you imagine that?

All I would say to the Palestinians outside and to the whole world is that we are alone. We in Yarmouk are alone.

Abu Wissam, civilian journalist: The first thing I would like to say is that the whole world betrayed us. They all betrayed us. The camp is by itself as Syria is by itself. We all feel betrayed. We are starving to death while normal life continues a few miles away.

The Syrian regime is to blame for the siege. The regime and the PFLP-GC. But it is also important to realize that many of the opposition fighters who were in Yarmouk were pushing an agenda to destroy the camp.

The opposition abroad has done nothing to help us or focus on our situation either.

I can’t give any answer about personal regrets; I can’t answer that until we see what happens, how this catastrophe ends. Either something good will comes of all this or we will live in this betrayal and then in regret. We still have hope that all this will result in something better. The seed has been planted. But it’s being trapped now. Just as there are those who are enforcing siege, we have militants here in Yarmouk who aren’t allowing any light to shine from within the camp.

Hassan, activist: In my own opinion, there is no revolution that comes with romance, it always comes with struggle. This catastrophe has affected us but many of us had expected it, we expected that a day would come when we were forced to give up more than we imagined. You know that when there is a goal, you have to sacrifice a lot.  Freedom is expensive.

When it comes to the besiegement of the camp, it is essential to remember the importance of Yarmouk. The second thing is that throughout the uprisings, a lot of transgressions against the camp were committed from a lot of different sides, including the opposition. Many different sides involved themselves in the conflict in a terrible way. The siege can be compared to Sabra and Shatilla in many aspects. If you take into consideration how the various Palestinian factions co-existed together in the camp before the conflict, it gives you an idea of how important Yarmouk was strategically. Now, there is a huge split.

The dispossession of Palestinians from camp and Syria is in the interest of many people, especially those who are opposed to the right of return. The PA had a big role in all this in my opinion. The camp was small in size but it was enormous in its significance.

There was also hatred and resentment towards Palestinians in Syria amongst some of the opposition. There were many rumors spread about the camp to make people think that the people in the camp were living well while people outside were experiencing the suffering that comes with revolution.  Of course it wasn’t true, Yarmouk was one of the most important places that endorsed the revolution. But these rumors are an example of the many interests that conspired against the camp. During the entry of the opposition, the night of their entry, a lot of rumors came out warning people that the regime was about to invade and encouraging them to leave camp. There are many groups who had an interest in the camp being emptied. Some of us that were active tried to stop people from leaving Yarmouk but people were scared. It can be compared to Nakba. The story being repeated to everyone at the time was that everyone should leave because the army is coming to invade the camp and that everyone will be able to return in a week.  Most people left that night, very few remained. There is a lot that happened that people don’t know. We are trying to get writers or people who are active outside to broadcast our experiences but no one is doing it. We trying to get our story out, about the unbelievable interests and complexities that we have seen, but no one wants to tell our story. We are trying to record everything that has happened. We are trying to at least have it recorded.

In terms of what people can do, I’ll give you a good example: Kobani. People gave it attention and aid was sent there. I say to the Palestinians outside Syria: could you stand for Yarmouk for just one day? We don’t want money or aid from any of you, we don’t want you to end siege. Just stand for a single day, all of you, in solidary with us. Then you can all return to your lives. Just one day were you all stand up and announce that there are a group of Palestinians who remained in Yarmouk and did not permit for another dispossession.​

Talal Alyan

Talal Alyan is a Palestinian-American writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter at @talalalyan.

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69 Responses

  1. pabelmont on February 20, 2015, 4:43 pm

    How terrible, especially (maybe) to think the PA played the part described. Publish this far and wide.

  2. oldgeezer on February 20, 2015, 5:54 pm

    Even after reading this I can’t truly comprehend what life must be like in a refugee camp. It’s devastating. My heart goes out to them and I truly hope the world acts to rectify their situation.

    • just on February 20, 2015, 6:55 pm

      Agreed, oldgeezer. ;-(((

      Gideon Levy, Jan 2014:

      “Israel, save the Palestinians in Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp

      Israel should declare that its gates are open for the 20,000 besieged residents to reunite with their families

      This article will surely fall on deaf ears, even more than others of mine. Still, it must be written. I can’t forget the images from the Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees. Among all the victims of Syria’s horrors, these people should touch Israelis’ hearts.

      Israel is morally responsible for what happens in this camp, albeit indirectly. First, it bears historical responsibility for the fate of the camp’s residents – Palestinian natives of Israel who were forced to flee and their descendants.

      Second, many Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in the territory of the Palestinian Authority have relatives in Yarmouk, sometimes even of the first degree. Siblings, grandparents and cousins are starving to death, and dozens have already died.

      It’s easy to dump responsibility for Yarmouk on the Arabs: the Assad regime, which cruelly prevents supplies from reaching the besieged residents for many weeks; the armed Palestinians, who intervened in the civil war and sounded the camp’s death knell; radical Islamist organizations, whose cruelty tops that of the regime; and the Arab states that didn’t do enough to solve the refugee problem (even if relatively speaking they improved the refugees’ lot in Syria).

      And yet the moral responsibility still lies with Israel, whose establishment led to the existence of these refugees and exiles. As best it could, this country should try to save the families of its citizens, even if they’re Arabs. An example is the elderly Lutafia, a camp resident whose brother Abed Abadi is a prize-winning artist in Haifa who has tried to save her for years.

      Pictures of Yarmouk won’t fade away: the Palestinian boy chewing on paper for lack of food; the boy crying to the cameras for help from the world now that his father has been killed; emaciated people just half alive; lines of women and old people crowded for hours in hopes of obtaining a serving of food or dose of medicine; and the terrible hopelessness of thousands of people under siege whose homes have been demolished and worlds destroyed.

      A few days ago my colleague Zvi Bar’el described the situation in the camp. The camp’s coordinating committee called on residents to drink a liter of water with a teaspoon of salt, and after that a liter of water with a teaspoon of sugar, if available.

      Bar’el was restrained as he referred to Yarmouk as resembling a World War II ghetto, and even this description fell on deaf ears. Only 20,000 people remain in the camp, where 150,000 lived before the civil war. Only the weak and helpless remain – to live in destruction under siege. The rest have suffered their second expulsion.

      Israel doesn’t lift a finger. Israel even cynically sends back into the inferno the few wounded Syrians it does treat, amid its nauseating self-congratulations. While Syria’s other neighbors, Jordan and Turkey, are bursting with millions of refugees, Israel doesn’t even consider absorbing the few wounded Syrians who manage to reach it.

      After the terror of Yarmouk, Israel should show a measure of humanity. It should try to save the 20,000 besieged residents – natives of this land, remember – and declare that its gates are open to them to reunite with their families.

      Such a step would probably be rejected by the Syrians, but maybe not. Sadly, Israel could have organized a humanitarian operation or a donation campaign, just as it does for natural disasters far away for which it bears no responsibility. But in Yarmouk the dying are Palestinian refugees. What do they have to do with us?”

      • oldgeezer on February 20, 2015, 7:00 pm

        Israel did offer transit across Israel to the areas controlled by the PA.

        In total greed, self interest, and disingenuous attempt at attempting to appear to be a grand humanitarian all it required was that the refugees sign away and all rights of return.

        The opposite side of that coin is that even Israel recognizes the legitimacy of the right of return or they wouldn’t have been so eager to have people sign it away.

        Abbas declined because of the conditions. I don’t think that reflects very well on him either. The PA seems to have done little to try to help these people. I say appears as very little related to the Palestinians makes it to our news with it’s focus on the eternal victims in Israel.

      • TonyRiley on February 23, 2015, 9:22 am

        oldgeezer, what you mean is eternal winners, rather than “eternal victims”. That’s a Palestinian game.

  3. just on February 20, 2015, 7:19 pm

    I remember reading about that. The reports all said that Hamas and the PA allegedly refused, iirc.

    Fact is, with the embargo on all of the OPT, the withholding of funds and everything else by Israel, the complete control that Israel exerts over all Palestinians, the cudgel of RoR held over these weary heads, and the lack of any kind of pressure by the West and US~ how in the heck could this actually happen? I think that Israel is fully culpable, and that their offer to allow these suffering refugees passage is another crock. There’s no way that Israel wants to see more Palestinians in Palestine!

  4. oldgeezer on February 20, 2015, 7:28 pm

    Abbas certainly refused the offer as stated. He did not refuse to accept the refugees. His response was on behalf of the Palestinans stating no one should have to sign away their basic human rights. In fact as it is an individual humanr right he has no power to revoke it anyway.

    I still think Abbas et al have fallen down by not pressing the plight of these people in the court of public opinion on a daily basis.

    • TonyRiley on February 21, 2015, 4:57 am

      Most of the residents of the camp were born there. That would not give them any “right of return” to a place they have never been to.

      Syria is wholly to blame for refusing to allow these “refugees” to become citizens of the country they were born in. Instead they were used as a pointless and blunt tool to fight against Israel in a war that the Assads have no hope of ever winning.

      • just on February 21, 2015, 10:25 am

        If Israel would stop their support for ISIS and Al- Nusra, things would change in Syria~ all for the better.

        “Most of the residents of the camp were born there. That would not give them any “right of return” to a place they have never been to”

        You cannot deny the victims/descendants of the ongoing Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestine (Nakba) their RoR. By the way, lots of Israeli Jews were not born in Israel…

      • TonyRiley on February 21, 2015, 11:04 am

        There is no legal “right of return” to a place you have never been to. That would make no sense. They are Syrians.

        Jews are not moving to Israel as part of a “right of return”.

      • annie on February 22, 2015, 7:46 pm

        Jews are not moving to Israel as part of a “right of return”.
        Israeli nationality law

        Israeli nationality law[1] defines the terms in which a person can be granted citizenship of Israel. It also deals with the Right of Return for Jewish diaspora. In general, Israel’s nationality follows jus sanguinis as the primary mechanism through which a person may obtain citizenship, rather than jus soli.

        maybe you should read it.

      • Kris on February 21, 2015, 10:55 am

        As long as the Palestinian refugees do not accept citizenship in another country, they have the right, under international law, of return to their land that was stolen by Israel,

      • Walid on February 21, 2015, 1:13 pm

        “If Israel would stop their support for ISIS and Al- Nusra, things would change in Syria~ all for the better.’ (just)

        Just, Israel is not calling the shots on that one eventhough it’s the prime beneficiary of ISIS’ evil. A few days back, retired Gen Wesley Clark at CNN pointed the finger at the West for having funded ISIS at its start. Israel is not at all bothered by ISIS and neither is ISIS bothered by what Israel does.

      • just on February 21, 2015, 1:22 pm

        Oh, dear Walid, I know that the US couldn’t do it without all of their allies’ help~ including Israel.

        “Israel is not at all bothered by ISIS and neither is ISIS bothered by what Israel does.”

        Aren’t you just a little curious about this?

        lysias was kind enough to post a link to this yesterday:

      • Walid on February 21, 2015, 2:34 pm

        Just, this is news to the people in the West but elsewhere, it’s common knowledge. Did you know that the ISIS Caliph, nick-named :al-Baghdadi up to 2004 was a mild-mannered, shy and timid clerk in a company? He was picked up in a sweep by the US and spent 10 months in “interrogation” when he was suddenly freed without any charges and within a year or so, was in the process of setting up what eventually became ISIS. Combine that with all these “accidental” air drops of military supplies by the US into ISIS hands and the miraculous taking over of Iraq’s second largest city by ISIS totally unopposed, it makes one curious what those interrogation techniques that al-Baghdadi underwent were all about.

      • just on February 21, 2015, 2:41 pm

        “it makes one curious what those interrogation techniques that al-Baghdadi underwent were all about.”

        It surely does, Walid.

      • just on February 22, 2015, 7:51 pm

        “They are Syrians”

        No, they are refugees whose families were forced out of their lands at gunpoint.

      • eljay on February 22, 2015, 8:13 pm

        || TonyRileyeee: There is no legal “right of return” to a place you have never been to. ||

        You might want to inform your Zio-supremacist co-collectivists of this.

        || Jews are not moving to Israel as part of a “right of return”. ||

        That’s right, they’re moving to Israel as part of a religion-supremacist “Law of Return” which has no basis in justice, accountability or equality.

        It is even less valid than a “right of return” to a place you have never been to.

    • Walid on February 21, 2015, 2:19 pm

      “Abbas declined because of the conditions.”

      It wasn’t the first time. oldgeezer, Arafat and the PLO in early 90s blocked a Lebanese project to naturalize another 200,000 or so refugees. They said that it would have somehow jeopardized the RoR of other Palestinians. It was a great opportunity that was missed as since then the Lebanese don’t want to hear anything about naturalizing anyone.

    • Bandolero on February 21, 2015, 4:43 pm


      Israel is not calling the shots on that one eventhough it’s the prime beneficiary of ISIS’ evil.

      You are very wrong on this. It is mainly Israel calling the shots behind the scenes in this terror war on Syria. And listen to Wesley Clark more carefully. He doesn’t say “the West” got ISIS going, he said “Friends and allies” of the US did create ISIS to fight Hezbollah.

      So, who’s the primary “ally” of the US? Israel.
      And, who’s the primary “enemy” of the Hezbollah? Israel.

      Of course, Israel doesn’t support ISIS and Al Qaeda all the way that openly as Israel does now support Al Qaeda on the southern front with artillery and jet fighter support – ISIS and Al Qaeda are recognized terrorist organisations, so it’s usually done a bit more covert.

      So they way Israel made ISIS and Al Qaeda follows a bit more indirect scheme. Israel instructed the worldwide Israel lobby and especially that in the US to support all and any terrorist group wreaking havoc in Syria. The first public “FSA” war plan to support terrorists taking over Damascus was written by Michael Weiss, who was at that time with the Henry Jackson Society, which is one of the most radical outfits of the Israel lobby. And, always supporting Michael Weiss in his war designs against Syria were the guys from WINEP/AIPAC with whom he has close connections.

      But, of course, making war plans alone didn’t give the terrorists the weapons they have to fight the Syrian army. The godfather of the weapon deliveries seems to have be a US politician named John McCain. John McCain is a recipient of the “Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson Distinguished Service Award” given to him 2006 by the Israel lobby’s organisation JINSA. Though John McCain and his friends didn’t deliver the weapons to terrorists in Syria himself, they blessed others doing this, mainly the GCC countries, especially Qatar, who is behind the Al Qaeda organisation Jabhat Al Nusra, and Saudi Arabia, whose then intel chief Bandar Bin Bush made ISIS strong. You can read about this here in detail at the Atlantic:

      ‘Thank God for the Saudis’: ISIS, Iraq, and the Lessons of Blowback

      U.S lawmakers encouraged officials in Riyadh to arm Syrian rebels. Now that strategy may have created a monster in the Middle East.

      Without the encouragement of Israel, the Israel lobby and it’s stooges in the US Congress, Saudi Arabia could never have followed it’s policy to support terrorism in Syria and to buy and ship many tons of heavy weapons from distant places like Croatia to terrorists in Syria. Saudi Arabia doesn’t have the policial cloud in the US and the West to shield itself from charges of supporting terrorism. But Israel has that cloud, and it used it. And Israeli officials even repeatedly said on the record, Israel prefers Al Qaeda ruling over Syria against Bashar Assad ruling over Syria, because Al Qaeda in Syria is dependent on support from Israel’s Saudi friends.

      Thus, Netanyahu is the godfather of the international terror war against Syria, no one else.

      • Walid on February 22, 2015, 3:03 pm

        Bandolero, no doubt about Netanyahu being the godfather of terrorism and he surely has a big hand in ISIS and Israel is the one that’s gaining the most by the chaos, but the shots are being called by the other players you mentioned led by the US,

        When the Libyan terrorists tried to sell a shiplload of oil last year, the US sent a carrier after them to bring them back the ship because it refused to allow terrorists to sell oil on the international market but when ISIS started selling the oil it’s stealing from Iraq and Syria, the US actually bought some of it. The first shipload of ISIS oil that was loaded at Ceyhan, Turkey was sent to Israel and the second one to Houston.

      • Kay24 on February 23, 2015, 12:20 pm

        Bandolero and Walid, what you say about ISIS and the Israeli connections sounds plausible.
        There is no doubt there is a bigger force behind them. They came out of nowhere, well organized, and trained, and if Israel and it’s agents could not see them coming, then they may not be that great when it comes to surveillance and espionage, but we know better. ISIS seems to be the front for some other devious schemes, and where there is devious, you will find Israel. I have also observed that ISIS does not seem to bother Israel one bit. ISIS is also the bogeyman, and excuse, that some need to wage wars against Islamic nations. Right now ISIS is the perfect excuse for anti Assad nations to be in Syria.

      • TonyRiley on February 23, 2015, 2:23 pm

        Funded by various Saudi Royals, not by Israel.

      • American on February 23, 2015, 12:50 pm

        These are the facts about the rise of ISIS—begining in Iraq—-by a reporter on the ground in ME for decades. Cole, all other ‘real’ experts on ME have explained in detail where ISIS came from and all the various players positions.
        So read it.

        The Rise of ISIS and the Origins of the New Middle East War


  5. just on February 20, 2015, 7:30 pm

    “I still think Abbas et al have fallen down by not pressing the plight of these people in the court of public opinion on a daily basis.”

    Totally agree with that. It should be part of their complaint @ the ICC, if at all possible.

    • TonyRiley on February 21, 2015, 4:58 am

      If Abbas goes to the ICC, it will be as a defendant, charged with passing money to a terrorist organisation – Hamas.

      • just on February 21, 2015, 10:21 am

        Hamas is Palestinian resistance, but sadly, the ‘west’ and Israel have never recognized the obligation and rights of a people under vicious Occupation to resist.

        But, Hamas and the PA are clearly ready to face whatever comes @ the ICC. It’s up to Bensouda now.

      • eljay on February 23, 2015, 10:08 am

        || TonyRileyeee: If Abbas goes to the ICC, it will be as a defendant, charged with passing money to a terrorist organisation – Hamas. ||

        Works for me. Charge him and try him, along with every hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist – past and present – who has engaged in or enabled (war) crimes.

    • Walid on February 22, 2015, 3:12 pm

      “I still think Abbas et al have fallen down by not pressing the plight of these people in the court of public opinion on a daily basis.”

      But Abbas condemned the killing of the 3 youths at Chapel Hill and said that the Palestinian Authority wanted to participate in the investigation because all 3 victims were of Palestinian roots.

  6. Bandolero on February 20, 2015, 9:15 pm

    This whole report is nonsense.

    These 4 guys support Israel in it’s desire for doing a regime change in Syria to serve Israeli interests.

    I’ld suggest to these 4 anonymous guys to appeal to Netanyahu to further their interests as they are the5th column of Israel. Israeli orgs already blame the plight of Palestinians on arab coutries not willing to take them – so please, go and match.

    Of course, these 4 guys don’t speak of Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Yarmouk, and neither of Aknaf Bait al Makdes, which is similar extremist and terrorist. Israel publicly declared it loves Al Qaeda more than Syria and Hisbollah, and these 4 guys follow the line.

    Sorry, I can’t put my disgust for these 4 guys in words. They align with Netanyahu and Al Qaeda and ask for solidarity? Phuuu!

    I suggest them to apply at Netanyahu for cleaning his toilet.

    • W.Jones on February 21, 2015, 8:59 pm


      Who knows the real story. The most you can say is that they might not be representative of the original population of the camp, since maybe 90% of them already fled. Those who stayed in the camp under Nusra control might be those who are more likely to oppose the government. My impression is that both sides have been harsh to the camp.

      • Bandolero on February 22, 2015, 9:10 am

        The story of the Yarmouk camp is not too complicated. When the terrorists (and the backers) decided to make the final push to conquer Damascus in 2012, Yarmouk became a front line in the war as it functions like the southern entrance to Damacus city. So the Yarmouk camp became a hot warzone and that’s what is is stilltoday.

        Regarding the population of Yarmouk, it was like in many other parts of Syria, that some parts of the population fell for the propaganda of Zionists, MB and Wahhabis, that a “revolution” in Syria happens, or a pan-arabic fight of Sunnis against oppression by Shia and so on. The Yarmouk camp, though PFLP-GC and it’s allies tried it’s best to provide security there, was hit especially hard by this propaganda last not least due to the shameful and very unhelpful role of Hamas there.

        And that’s waht it’s still now. Highly sectarian militant forces are entranched in the Yarmouk camp desiring to cleanse “Sham” from “Nusayris” and “Shia”, wreak havoc there and block aid to use aid as a political bargaining tool to open the southern gateway to Damascus city for terrorists with the political help of the international community and the Palestinian solidarity movement.

        And, by the way, as we speak here, SANA also has got some news from the Yarmouk camp:

        Terrorists stymie new aid distribution operation in Yarmouk camp

        Armed terrorist organizations in Yarmouk refugee Camp blocked the delivery of aid that was bound for besieged locals in the neighborhood, located south of Damascus city.

        The new act of hindrance follows a dismal pattern that terrorists have pursued for the 11th consecutive week, further multiplying the agony of aid-strapped locals.

        Director of the General Authority for Palestine Arab Refugees (GAPAR) Ali Mustafa clarified in a statement on Sunday that terrorists opened fire at the aid distribution site to disperse the residents who assembled to receive aid. …


        A usual thing there. Terrorists block aid delivery in Yarmouk, so as to lay a basis for more international pressure on Damascus. It’s quite similar to what FSA turned into Islam Army terrorist leader Alloush does in Douma. For the well-being of civilian residents these terrorists don’t care at all, they just use them to make propaganda, any propaganda, to give the mass media controlled by the Israel lobby new stuff to use to bash the Syrian government.

      • just on February 22, 2015, 9:53 am

        Thanks, Bandolero.

        Makes sense.

    • Donald on February 22, 2015, 11:53 am

      Sana? The Syrian government’s news agency? I’m sure that’s an unbiased source of information about war crimes in Syria.

      Seriously, they might tell the truth about rebel atrocities, but somehow I suspect that with regards to their own they are going to be about as reliable as Netanyahu on the subject of Gaza.

      • Bandolero on February 22, 2015, 2:07 pm


        I closely follow the Syrian news agency SANA for quite a long time now. I found out that what they report is usually quite reliable, however you’re right that they ommit things what puts the Syrian government in a bad light.

        And the author of this article here at Mondo Weiss, is not impartial neither. Almost all of what is known from Talal Alyan is a relentless stream of propaganda in the service of the Israeli-led regime change in and the Israeli-led terror war on Syria. And than look what how Talal Alyan blatantly distorts the truth. See for example this quote from the article of himself Talal Alyan linked here in this article:

        … Water has been cut off entirely for over a month in a regime-produced drought. …


        In that sentence Talal Alyan used a link to UNRWA to prove his charge that the Syrian government cut off water to the Yarmouk camp. But, surprise, surprise, when one opens that UNRWA statement, one reads something very different:

        … Since the first week of September, the mains water supply has been disrupted, apparently as a result of damage to pipes in a contested area inside Yarmouk. …

        This way of handling truth by Talal Alyan proves that he distorts the truth with aim of blaming the Syrian government and generate support for his cause of regime change in Syria, which he shares with the Israeli regime. Now, when Talal Alyan distorts even such simple statements of UNRWA, imagine what can be proven of what he says in this article. Names of the interviewees have been invented, as the author admits, and in the introduction Talal Alyan makes clear he shares the same view as his first interviewee (whose name happens to be the same as the photographer in the article he linked to) regarding PLFP-GC and the Syrian government. Who are the other three interviewees nobody knows. Has Talal Alyan invented these 3 (or all 4) to affirm his statements? Nobody knows, but we know for sure from the example above that Talal Alyan has not only highly partisan views on Syria similar to those of the Israeli government, but he also uses the propaganda technic of distorting facts to that end.

        So, in result, I think it’s important to listen to the other side, too. In this case as representative of the other side SANA is quite fine.

      • TonyRiley on February 22, 2015, 2:34 pm

        You clearly haven’t a clue.

        Israel wants both sides to lose. It isn’t supporting ISIL, you moron, it is waiting for them to bring the Syrian army to its knees, and then when ISIL tries to invade Israel, the IDF will use it for target practice.

      • Walid on February 22, 2015, 2:37 pm

        Bandolero, this is Alyan’s second kick at the can here at Mondo. He first tried in January 2014 and got 145 mostly negative responses and a big earful from Annie at the time; but I wouldn’t trust SANA to tell the truth either:

      • Bandolero on February 22, 2015, 6:13 pm


        When I first in 2011 tried to build attention here and at other places that the regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt where accomplishments with heavy lifting done by the US military (many people even didn’t want to notice the US aircraft carrier off Egypt’s coast that was crucial in the regime change there) and that the whole Arab Spring was a set of regime changes concocted by Israel via the US State Department’s (which Chuck Hagel once said is Israeli occupied territory) MEPI programme I got a lot of hostility and disbelief in response.

        Now the picture became much clearer, which is a huge accomplishment of the resistance, and today many people understand hybrid warfare, color revolutions,Israeli-(Saudi-AlQaeda/Qatari-MB) collaboration and so on at least to a certain degree. And yes, I remember well all the gleeful articles and comments here, when Libya was destroyed by NATO, and how I was desparately trying to say a very ugly crime and a very bad thing was happening there.

        The question whether the Israel lobby in the US rules Israel or Israel rules the Israel lobby in the US I would deem mostly philosophical. US billionaire Sheldon Adelson installed Netanyahu (among others by using his billions to buy him a newspaper in Israel), but now Netanyahu commands the Israel lobby. Hard to see who rules whom. It’s much like the philosophical question whether the hen or the egg was first. I’ld see the Israel lobby and Israel mostly as a unit.

        However, not all of the US is under the control of the Israel lobby. Especially when it comes to Iran, and Syria is more or less a sub-chapter of that chapter in US foreign policy, there exists quite big differences between Obama and his backers one one side and the Israel lobby and their allies on the other side, especially in recent times, which also seems to be a result of the failed hybrid/terror war against Syria.

      • Walid on February 23, 2015, 1:42 am

        “… When I first in 2011 tried to build attention here and at other places that the regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt where accomplishments with heavy lifting done by the US military …” (Bandolero)

        I remember that, Bandolero, I was on the same bus as you and so was Keith. At the time Phil was convinced that the Arab spring was nothing more than a movement by good guys to dump the bad guys, until he saw for himself when arrived in Cairo in October 2011 at the time of the burial of the 28 Copts that had been killed by the soldiers at Maspero.

        With Libya, it’s sad what the West and Gulfies did to that country, especially that it later surfaced that Gadaffi had offered to leave on his own to prevent the destruction of his country but that the offer was rejected as destruction of Libya was the actual objective much more than the elimination of Gadaffi. Same as with Iraq and Afghansistan.

      • Walid on February 23, 2015, 9:17 am

        “Bandolero, this is Alyan’s second kick at the can here at Mondo. ”

        We haven’t heard from that other great crusader Omar Chaaban for a while. He must be due to show up any day now.

    • W.Jones on February 22, 2015, 7:00 pm


      So in your opinion, why are some (ie. a minority of?) Marxists or other radical leftists emphasizing the idea of moderate rebels overthrowing Assad, if as you suggest there are few rebels now who are fighting Assad and are actually moderate?

      Are they super-naive who prefer to believe what other radical leftists say when it accords with US media views on regime change, or shills? I mean, Max Blumenthal accepts the view of moderate rebels overthrowing Assad, right? Granted, he is not necessarily Marxist, and his Dad worked for Clinton. So maybe he is naive, and those co-thinkers who are Marxist follow in the same vein?

      Or instead, do they see the FSA coalition as representing non-authoritarian people enough, and Assad as bad enough, that it is better if the FSA coalition takes over? Or do they see a small kernel in the FSA coalition that is pure enough that it is better to support over any other forces it is fighting?

      So if the FSA has 1000 people who are secular and moderate democrats and have a theoretical chance at control in a coalition government, then it’s better to support them over Assad’s dictatorship in which they don’t get a say?

      • Bandolero on February 23, 2015, 12:11 am

        So many questions in such a short comment. Let me try to answer them very short so it fits into one comment. If you want more answers please ask more distinct questions about my opinion in a seperate comment and I’ll do my best to answer them as honest as I can, one by one.

        1st: Marxism. I’m no Marxist so I can’t speak for Marxists – though my website maybe considered as one of the most important news hubs of the marxist German DKP party. I see Marxism as an evil Monarchist ploy to counter a bourgoise German revolution back then. But today I like the independent Marxist history writing, Leninist rejection of imperialism and the sound economic model of Deng Xiaoping. Anyway, today Marx is dead for more than 130 years, and different people exploit his ideas and appeal for very different political aims, last not least Israel. So I suggest to let Marx rest in England.

        2nd: I think Max Blumenthal is no Marxist, but a liberal democrat. I don’t think he believes in the marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat.” And I suspect he has a selective view of Syria, partly by his selection of sources, eg in Jordan refugee camps, where he got only opposition, because most of those war refugees who are with the Syrian government fled to Damascus. But I’m not Max Blumenthal, so I can’t speak for him.

        3rd: Why did or do so many of the radical left support “fighting Assad”? Again, I’m not part of them and I can speak for them. However my opinion: In Germany large parts of the “radical” left – represented today by the almost mainstream Left Party – were coopted and corrupted by Israel – usually in the name of a fight against anti-semitism. Most of those parts rejected the aggressive war against Iraq anyway. However, since the war against Syria is done in a hybrid (4th generation) war tecnic and was marketed as revolution, many of the far left (and also supporters of Palestine) didn’t understand the nature of the war and they supported on the wrong side, against their own otherwise held ideals. Since the picture of the zionist nature of the cruel war against Syria got clearer each month, more and more left wing activists and politicians come back in the pro-Syrian camp. That I see especially the case after a (former) communist candidate was defeated by Assad in the 2014 presidential election by a wide margin and the advances made by the Syrian army in the same time frame.

        4th: The FSA. Since I do not speak for Marxists, Max Blumenthal or “radical leftists” opposed to the Syrian government, I can only offer my own opinion about the FSA. My oppinion about the FSA is that it was a total fraud. The FSA was neither “Free” nor “Syrian,” and especially it was not an “Army” and today an FSA doesn’t exist anymore. As long as an FSA existed it was a collection of Zionist-MB-Wahhabi puppet militias – a collection of the ugliest and most corrupt liars, criminals and extremists of te whole Muslim world. The US-Israeli FSA propaganda, fooled many inside and outside of Syria but when the Syrian people saw what the FSA they ran away. Some ran to the Syrian army, others ran to ISIS, Jabhat Al Nusra^ or similar militant shops.

        5th: Are there at least 1000 FSA (moderate opposition fighters) worth to support? My opinion: there may be 1000 moderate opposition fighters or more in Syria though I won’t call them FSA. Most moderate fighters long ago came back to the side of the Syrian government or the YPG – who have a somewhat tensioned working relationship with the government forces and the YPG there doesn’t exist any sizeable moderate force in Syria. There may be a 1000 moderate opposition fighters a didn’t hear off and who didn’t get the message so far, but I doubt it. But even if they existed – where shall they be – the Syrian war is fought by Hundred Thousends against Hundred Thousends, so a presense of 1000 moderate opposition fighters wouldn’t make any difference.

      • Walid on February 23, 2015, 1:11 am

        “So if the FSA has 1000 people who are secular and moderate democrats and have a theoretical chance at control in a coalition government, then it’s better to support them over Assad’s dictatorship in which they don’t get a say? (W.Jones)

        W,Jones, in a nutshell, those so-called moderate nobodies that the US is using as a front to militarize anything that moves and is willing to fight Assad, are the same nobodies that offered Israel to waive Syria’s rights to the Golan in exchange for some military help and air support in fighting Assad. Marxists, Leninists, bubble-gum people or any other label you are trying to pin on them is of no consequence. They are no better than Assad; pity the Syrian people that are caught in the middle of all this shit dumped on them by Assad, the US, UK, France, Turkey, the Gulf countries and the Zionists acting like the cherry on top of it all.

      • just on February 23, 2015, 10:01 am

        Thanks for your commentary and information, Bandolero. Thanks to Walid, too!

        This is really important, and you’ve added much clarity.

      • W.Jones on February 23, 2015, 5:01 pm

        Walid, Just, Bandolero,

        I think that Norman Finkelstein knows more about this than he is saying. A few months before the revolution in Tunisia, Norman said in an interview that the US was going to launch a new massive campaign to take over the Middle East, following what had happened in Iraq. I clearly remember him saying that it would start in Tunisia, and I thought that this was weird, because Tunisia had fine relations with the US and a pro-western government. And yet what we saw not long afterwards was in fact a campaign of regime change starting in Tunisia. I regret that I cannot find where Finkelstein said this.

      • W.Jones on February 23, 2015, 5:13 pm

        Bandolero and Walid,

        Thanks for your answers. One person I have in mind is Gilbert Achcar, a leading Marxist intellectual. It seems to me that his argument is that dictators should be overthrown and peoples’ rights protected. So if a dictator is in power and fundamentalists are fighting him, then people should fight the dictator because he is in power, and they should also oppose the fundamentalists.

        Certainly though the FSA and rebels are in power over much of Syria already, and I am very skeptical about how moderate the non-ISIS, non-Nusra forces are. If there are not many real moderates among those moderate rebels, then I think Achcar has a blind spot to that effect. To advocate for those 1000 “good liberal” rebels effectively means supporting whomever they are allied with, in this case the fundamentalists.

        If in fact as you claim there are no real forces of moderate rebels of any serious size, then one cannot really choose one “side” or the other in that war.

      • W.Jones on February 23, 2015, 5:20 pm

        It seems to me that the rebels in Libya and Syria have shown themselves to have so many fundamentalists that it discredits them. But apparently there are some American radicals like Blumenthal and Achcar who have researched the topic much better than I have and came to the opposite conclusion, and think that there are serious “moderates” among the rebels? I am having a hard time knowing with much certainty (A) what percent off the non-Nusra, non-ISIS rebels are “moderate” and (B) what is the thinking behind non-imperialist leftists like Blumenthal who put all their support behind what they see as large numbers of “moderate” rebels and see Assad as their main target?

      • W.Jones on February 23, 2015, 8:47 pm

        Achcar writes about Syria:

        There is still a potential for a democratic and progressive movement to manifest itself again, as it did in the first year and beyond of the uprising. This movement is still there. The Syrian population is definitely not seduced by the prescriptions of the fundamentalist forces.

        There can also be major defeats and reactionary setbacks, if not historical regressions, but the key point is that the process is ongoing for now, and it’s a time for action, for organization, and for political and strategic clarification.

        So many observers from afar merely reflect the most recent developments and speak of them as if they represent the final outcome. It is essential to resist this impulse, engage with the process as it unfolds and strive to steer it toward progressive outcomes.

        So how do you see steering the process now to a progressive outcome?

      • Bandolero on February 24, 2015, 11:29 am

        Re Gilbert Achcar I didn’t know him well, but I would surely not see him as a “leading Marxist intellectual” – though he seems to have been involved in the French Revolutionary Communist League.

        Gilbert Achcar consequently advocates the US-led bombing of countries aligned with the global opposition to US hegemony in the name of bringing them democracy, whereever there is an option for regime change.

        He did that in regard to Libya,

        And he did it to Syria, decrying US meddling and lack of US support for the regime change in Syria at the same time. I don’t know whether he’s just totally dellusional or whether he’s corrupt, but I’ld say he’s a classic liberal imperialist (interventionalist) and in no way an anti-imperialist marxist or leninist though he coats his imperialism in the language of a marxist.

        Regarding Syria’s future: The undisputed leader of the only (besides the regionally/ethnically limited YPG) sizeable moderate and democratic forces in Syria is Bashar Al Assad. But of course the war will seriuosly hamper any drive to more openness and more liberalism in Syria. In the best case a seriously authoritarian government will manage to enforce the stop of the bloodshed, get a national deal will all major tribes, keep the country in the axis of resistance and put in place some basic democratic principles for a decade or two, until the security situation stabilizes, and than, perhaps a new drive for more openness and more liberalism in Syria may develop.

      • W.Jones on February 24, 2015, 4:52 pm


        A progressive argument would have to claim that Syrian forces against Assad include a major contingent, making up perhaps half or a third of the opposition, that is non-fundamentalist. After all, if only 5% of the revolution were moderate, what would be the point of supporting it, if their rule were to make things far worse and stifle democracy even further?

        In the Wikipedia article on the Syrian Opposition, it does list many parties that are secular or moderate. However, perhaps those secular democratic forces might not represent many fighters on the ground?

        The Wikipedia article also lists the Muslim Brotherhood. However are those in Syria as moderate as the ones in Egypt were? The article also shows that non-Nusra, non-ISIS, non-Assad forces control large swathes of Syria. But of course there may be other fundamentalists besides the first two of those.

      • annie on February 25, 2015, 9:07 am

        In the Wikipedia article on the Syrian Opposition, it does list many parties that are secular or moderate. However, perhaps those secular democratic forces might not represent many fighters on the ground? link to

        w.jones. this is the situation there, for years. remember hilary clinton and her proxy gov of alleged moderates? they didn’t have soldiers who followed their orders, etc. the effective forces of the opposition have primarily always been of the jihadist variety (just like assad claimed all along). people have been saying that for years.

      • Rusty Pipes on February 24, 2015, 10:35 pm

        In addition to Bandolero’s reasons, many American leftists formed their opinions about Syria in 2011 and have not shifted them signficantly. Some of the reasons for the support in 2011:

        1a) the opposition was described as initially non-violent. Many American leftists believe in non-violent social change and have been involved in such movements in America. Even as other information about the Arab Spring was available from the beginning in alternative media and has forced its way into MSM coverage, this remains a kernal of the narrative.

        1b) Some American leftists who loudly decry American imperialism and minimize the existence of an Israel Lobby have no problem with the State Department’s Democracy-promoting NGOs (especially when they have the veneer of nonviolent social change) and color-revolutions that seem to bring about regime changes favoring American imperial and/or Israeli strategic ends.

        2a) The Israel Lobby has been so effective at sowing Islamophobia and demonizing Hamas in America that leftists have been reluctant to criticize the role that the Muslim Brotherhood, including Hamas, played in various countries caught up in the Arab Spring.

        2b) AlJazeera English has long been considered the most reliable broadcast source for information about Palestinians. Unlike other Arab media outlets which are known to be mouthpieces for Arab governments, AlJazeera was perceived to be independent. During the Arab Spring, Qatar clearly influenced the reporting and editorial policies of its network to favor the narrative of the Muslim Brotherhood across the region — so much so that several AJ reporters resigned in protest at the changes. Many leftists still trust AlJazeera anyway.

        2c) Some Palestinian sources (including some that have been popularly included in the news roundup at this site) have supported the MB narrative about Syria throughout the conflict. The Arab Spring has exacerbated differences among various factions of Palestinians and their supporters in the diaspora.

      • just on February 24, 2015, 11:36 pm

        Hillary et al led the charge to remove Assad, iirc. How many times did I hear “leaders” tell him/threaten him to leave?

        Look what the West did with Saddam (US buddy before he wasn’t), Ghaddifi, Mossadeq, etc. Look at Afghanistan. Over and over again we intervene in the internal affairs of foreign and sovereign states pretending that we are spreading democracy, but all we do is get things FUBAR, and people die.

        I really haven’t seen much, if any, good that’s come from Western- style intervention in MENA. The citizens of those countries see the west’s duplicity and hypocrisy, and are not STUPID. In fact, they’re more intelligent than many folks in the west.

        They definitely don’t hate us “for our freedoms”! ( what a luntzianism that is!)

        Anyway, thanks for that Rusty Pipes. Thanks for the discussion, everybody.

        PS~ arming everyone and anyone is a really stupid idea, too. but the MIC must be fed.


      • W.Jones on February 25, 2015, 3:13 pm

        My main difficulty is that neither the pro-democracy forces intensely supporting nor those opposing the non-ISIS, non-Nusra rebels have widely and clearly shown what portion of those rebels are really moderate or secular, nor how “moderate or secular” those rebels are.

        Other neutral, pro-democracy supporters have commented this as well, saying that they don’t really know who those forces on the ground are.

        The groups on the two SNCs and in the FSA sound very good with names like “democratic”, but it could be like Annie and you said that those do not represent barely any forces on the ground. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or in Gaza I would consider Center-Right religious parties, at least from what we have seen from them. And so I could imagine them being somewhat democratic in Syria. But I have heard from one or more Arab Christians that in Syria the MB are much more right wing than in Gaza or Egypt.

        I really dislike it when people ban you as an “Assadist” for emphasizing these kinds of major, vital questions.

  7. Rusty Pipes on February 20, 2015, 9:16 pm

    These warmed over talking points are at least three years out of date. The Gay Girl in Damascus was a fraud back then and there are no “moderate” rebels now.

    After the insurgents infiltrated Yarmouk and started using it as a base to launch attacks on Damascus, 150,000 of Yarmouk’s residents have fled and around 18,000 remain. We could rehash Khaled Meshal and Hamas’ role early in the insurgency, but even they have washed their hands of any official connection to the direction it has taken. At one point, the PA was very close to brokering a truce among the various factions in the camp, but the salafist factions wouldn’t cooperate.

    Some other Palestinian camps that managed to keep the insurgents out are still livable places. Areas around Damascus that are bases for insurgent attacks on Damascus, like Yarmouk and Eastern Ghouta, continue to be under fire from the Syrian Arab Army.

    While the majority of those who fled may not have supported the insurgency, several of these speakers claim that Yarmouk was at the forefront of the revolution. Now they feel betrayed not only by the PA and the Syrian government, but also by those they thought were their allies. If they believed the hype that State Department “democracy promoting” NGOs or Ambassador Ford promised them, they may justifiably feel betrayed. This “color revolution” did not go according to the neocon/neolib blueprint from the beginning.

  8. W.Jones on February 21, 2015, 8:56 pm

    ” This “color revolution” did not go according to the neocon/neolib blueprint from the beginning.”

    I you go read the Clean Break Document, the plan was not necessarily to have Muslim fundamentalists dangerously take over Syria right on Israel’s border. Instead, it talks about using proxy forces to create a lot of trouble for Syria, which is what has happened.

  9. Walid on February 23, 2015, 5:09 pm

    The people of Yarmouk played the wrong horse and lost. It began in 2012 when the camp joined the anti-regime demonstration and it’s been downhill since then. Even big boss Mashaal had to leave town to go live in Qatar. Compared to the slummy camps of Lebanon, the refugees had it relatively good there: free schooling, free university, free medicals. free to join the work force, free to buy property. All these not available in the camps of Lebanon. They were instigated and 150,000 refugees again displaced and for some of them, for the 4th and 5th time.

    • W.Jones on February 25, 2015, 7:53 pm

      It’s frustrating, because the burden is on the backers of the “moderate” forces to show how moderate they are and how many forces they command on the ground.

  10. Bandolero on February 25, 2015, 6:46 pm

    Regarding the Wikipedia article “Syrian Opposition” you mentioned I think it’s nonsense. Many groups of two persons or so financed by the MEPI US state department programme or similar programmes in other countries for regime change in Syria give them a fancy name and call them a “major opposition group.” When these “major opposition groups” than convened together in Turkey, they regarded themselves as “the representatives of the Syrian people.” Independent polls however suggest that the popularity of all these “major opposition groups” together in their stronghold Aleppo were about 2 to 3% – together. And western governments and media supported this nonsense anyway.

    A second thing is that the “secular moderate opposition” regularly proved on the ground so bad and outright criminal, that most people of liberated areas where quite happy when extremists from Al Qaeda pushed these criminal “secular moderate opposition” gangs out of their areas. Remember, ho it was in 2012/2013 in Aleppo, even western media reported about “moderate opposition” leaders on the ground like “Abu Ali” or “Khaled Hayyani”:

    Nobody wanted to be “governed” by “moderate opposition” leaders like “Abu Ali” or “Khaled Hayyani.” The actual “moderate opposition forces on the ground” proved to be so selfish, corrupt and murderously criminal, that many people even prefered to be “governed” by Al Qaeda or ISIS instead. These were no exceptions, it was the norm. “Moderate opposition leader” Maarouf of Idlib (after participating in the beheading of a few dozen soldiers in June 2011 he moderated himself and prefered to kill people opposing him by shooting and blaming his murderous acts with false flag propaganda on government forces before dumping the bodies of his victims in the wells outside his residence), the Attasis in Homs (terrorising people and selling out Syria to zionism) or FSA (turned Islam army) Damascus commander Alloush (his stated goal is the extinction of Alawite and Shia in Syria, preferable by torturing them to death as cruel as possible) are even worse than there Aleppo pendants.

    What is quite useful in the Wikipedia article “Syrian opposition” is the map. It shows that “other rebels” – anybody who is not Government/Nusra/ISIS/YPG, including the western-backed collection of ugly warlords from whom I named above some leaders like Marouf and Alloush – control almost nothing in Syria except strips of small villages with direct ammo connections to borders.

    Alloush has still some parts of Ghouta east of Damascus, Khaled Hayani some parts of northern Aleppo countryside, the “friends of Maarouf” hold some parts of Idlib mountains and south Aleppo desert. The only things real still going on is some heavily armed border incursions from Turkey (called the northern front) and from Jordan/Israel (called the southern front).

    • W.Jones on February 25, 2015, 7:50 pm


      It sounds like you are familiar with key figures in the “moderate” opposition. I suppose that their opponents would claim that either you have left out the “good” moderate forces from your descriptions, or that you have unfairly portrayed them.

      I would point out that you are right that the green area is a small portion, but their supporters could reply that those areas are highly populated and thus more important.

      • W.Jones on February 25, 2015, 8:07 pm

        I think to counter them, you would have to go through and list each of the major opposition groups and how many forces they control and how moderate they are. It’s like the backers of the moderate forces and their opponents are in alternate realities. My guess is that the major moderate forces on the ground are about as democratic as Assad’s own, which is not very, and that Assad being secular is safer for the country’s minorities. I also think that Assad has more popularity than his opponents give him credit for. However I am still looking for clearer answers. It’s frustrating that the ardent left wing supporters of the “revolution” can not give any estimates for the militant forces that they consider moderate and democratic. And instead some just become hostile and vague when you try to get more information.

    • Rusty Pipes on February 25, 2015, 9:11 pm

      Interesting description of some opposition leftists in an Aleppo coffee shop who act as though they are living in a different era:

      Coffeehouse loyalties

      Coffeehouses are now divided in accordance with the character or loyalties of their patrons. Some coffeehouses are dominated by military uniforms, without this necessarily implying that the patrons are combatants.

      In one such coffeehouse, we received many suspicious and wary looks. The waiters kept hovering around the table using various excuses, trying to listen in on our conversation or peek at the laptop screen. A man we were meeting with laughs, “I told you, this is a coffeehouse for Shabiha, and they all know each other.” At the same time, he cautioned us to visit another coffeehouse which he said people called the “traitors’ coffeehouse.”Coffeehouses are now divided in accordance with the character or loyalties of their patrons.

      The coffeehouse in question is located in a different region. It is a magnet for what remains of the leftist opposition. Sitting with people who are still in that camp is like getting into a time machine and taking a trip into the past. The war and the crisis are not part of the conversation. Instead, the topics discussed are strange, as though the people there have not yet heard of what is happening in the country.

      One whispers a political joke and people around him erupt in laughter. Then they all exchange crude sexual jokes loudly, before tackling themes like the proletariat, cosmopolitanism, and populism. Only one seems to be aware of recent developments, as he asks, “Do we need a visa to go to Lebanon now?”

      • W.Jones on February 25, 2015, 10:32 pm

        If that’s all the Left Opposition is – coffee shops, it would be sad. That would not be a serious opposition. Why don’t more people ask the Leftist supporters of The Revolution there what kind of numbers the moderate forces have on the ground and exactly how democratic and moderate they are? That has got to be the key question not enough people are discussing. It’s like people just throw out “pro-democracy” or “anti-Jihad” generalizations without giving exact details on force sizes and politics.

        I just checked out about the new FSA commander, who received Israeli training:
        CounterPunch says: . The FSA military leader, General Abdul-Ilah al Bashir, who defected from the Syrian government side in 2012, said in an interview with the McClatchy news agency last week that the CIA had taken over direction of this new moderate force. He said that “the leadership of the FSA is American”, adding that since last December US supplies of equipment have bypassed the FSA leadership in Turkey and been sent directly to up to 14 commanders in northern Syria and 60 smaller groups in the south of the country. Gen Bashir said that all these FSA groups reported directly to the CIA. Other FSA commanders confirmed that the US is equipping them with training and weapons including TOW anti-tank missiles.
        So if it’s US special forced-run, then it’s pro-democracy, moderate/secular, and that’s good, right? Or are pro-democracy Leftists not supposed to talk much about such a strong US role either?

        Israel Support to Al Qaeda Rebels: New Free Syrian Army (FSA) Commander Trained in Israel

        I liked this brief analysis by Michael Beer of the US-Based, Palestinian-founded NONVIOLENCE INTERNATIONAL, which I suspect has had connections to the real nonviolent groups in the Arab Spring:

    • Walid on February 25, 2015, 9:51 pm

      Bornajoo, the story of the “opposition” started earlier than 2012, its roots go back to 2011 with what were called at the time “Friends of Syria ” meetings in Switzerland and elesewhere in Europe. One main meeting was held in Paris on July 4th by the super Zionist BHL full of piss and vinegar for having succeeded in turning the world againt Gadaffi. It’s worth nothing that at just about that time, Turkey had erected its border tent-cities for the civil war that was about to start. In short, the whole stage was set outside of Syria for the war that hadn’t yet started. The Paris meeting turned to have been attended more by Zionists from France such as Bernard Kouchner and Laurent Fabius and from Israel that acted as the spokesmam for the Syrians than by actually concerned Syrian citizens. One Syrian woman at the meeting complained about the presence of so many Zionists but she was thrown out of the meeting kicking and screaming.The Brotherhood offered to normalize relations with Israel and said that the West and the Gulf were with them

      Extracts from article about the Zionist-Muslim Brotherhood meeting of July 4, 2011:


      Yoshie Furuhashi

      Bernard-Henri Lévy, well known for his devotion to humanitarian military interventions, organized a conference to “stop the massacre” in Syria, “SOS Syrie,” in Paris on the fourth of July. There is no doubt that BHL is eager to replicate his Libyan success in Syria. Given the clear Russian opposition to any military intervention in Syria, however, his goal, at this stage in the game, is to manufacture the Western public’s support for a UN Security Council referral of the Syrian leadership to the International Criminal Court and for yet more economic sanctions against the country.

      The call for the conference, issued through BHL’s journal La Règle du Jeu, was joined by France-Syrie Démocratie and “Change in Syria for Democracy,” the latter being a group that had emerged from the Syrian opposition conference held in Antalya, Turkey on 31 May-2 June 2011. On the “Change in Syria” Web site, posters for SOS Syrie are prominentlydisplayed.

      On the French side, SOS Syrie featured such participants as Bernard Kouchner, André Glucksman, Axel Poniatowski (a member of the Union for a Popular Movement and the president of the foreign affairs commission of the French National Assembly), and Frédéric Encel, “who cut his teeth in the Betar youth organization of Likud.” As if that is not enough, former Knesset member Alex Goldfarb was also included.

      What Syrians would want to join hands with the who’s who of French Zionism and imperialism? Most of the prominent Syrian invitees named in the conference advertisements are the leaders of the aforementioned organizations that backed BHL’s call. According to As-Safir‘s Paris correspondent Mohammad Ballout, among the invitees were many of the Executive Council of “Change in Syria”: Amr Al-Azm, Ahed al-Hendi, Abdel Ilah Milhem (a leader of the Anza tribe), Ammar al-Qurabi (chairman of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria), Sondos Sulaiman (of Al Hadatha Party). Lama Atassi, the president of France-Syrie Démocratie as well as a participant in the Antalya conference, took credit for linking up the Antalya opposition with BHL in an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur.

      What happened at the conference itself, where “the obscure faces of the Antalya opposition and of the Muslim Brotherhood” were seen among about 200 like-minded friends of BHL who filled the very much bobo Saint-Germain-des-Prés cinema?

      According to La Règle du Jeu itself, Goldfarb, of all people, acted as “spokesman, in Paris, of Change in Syria for Democracy.”

      There was also Ashraf al-Moqdad, a member of the “National Salvation Front in Syria” led by Abdul Halim Khaddam. Moqdad, says As-Safir, bragged that, once “democracy” comes to Syria, “Hezbollah, ‘Iranian agents,’ and Palestinians” will be made to “pay the price.” The As-Safir reporter says Moqdad went on to threaten him as well.

      Radwan Badini and Muhammad Karkouti, both members of the “Change in Syria” Executive Council, also spoke, as did Atassi. A post-conference report in BHL’s journal claims that Qurabi was there, too, but time ran out and he couldn’t give his speech. (It curiously has nothing to say about the rest of the initial invitees.)

      Perhaps the most intriguing participant in SOS Syrie was Mulham al-Droubi, who is in charge of international relations of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood as well as a member of the “Change in Syria” Executive Council. As the Muslim Brotherhood came out in favor of “normalization” with Israel without an end to the Israeli occupation and backed the monarchy in Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf Arab states, the United States and the European Union have made their support for the Muslim Brotherhood public, to the delight of the Brothers. Droubi’s presence there is yet another sign of the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

      Unlike in the case of Libya, though, the path of the Syrian exiles who team up with BHL and his ilk may be a lonely one. As-Safir reports that Farouk Mardam-Bey, Burhan Ghalioun, and Subhi Hadidi issued a joint statement against BHL and his collaborators, telling them to “spare the Syrian people the solidarity that they don’t want.” Haytham Manna, spokesman for the Arab Commission for Human Rights, is quoted by As-Safir as condemning SOS Syrie thus: “It’s a conspiracy against young people, who have upheld not only the cause of freedom but also that of the liberation of Palestine, waving the flags of Palestine and Syria at the same time.” The conference itself couldn’t get going without first escorting out one Arab man and one Arab woman who stood up and denounced it, and outside the cinema there was a loud protest of pro-government Syrians heckling the conference-goers, calling them “fascists, Zionists, terrorists.”

      The currents of the Syrian opposition represented at SOS Syrie — and others like them (see, for instance, the transcript of a Syrian opposition conference “Envisioning Syria’s Political Future — Obstacles and Options,” especially “National Initiative for Change” Communications Director Ausama Monajed’s demand for an ICC referral and more economic sanctions) — won’t be a threat to Syria and its legitimatehomegrown opposition . . . if leftists in the West and Turkey see to it that there will be no further Western or Turkish intervention in the country. However, SOS Racisme President Dominique Sopo spoke at the conference, and Martine Aubry, Bertrand Delanoë, François Hollande, and so on sent messages of support to it. Such are among the ominous signs that the center left in the West is ready to step onto yet another slippery slope.

      • W.Jones on February 25, 2015, 10:19 pm


        Maybe you are not supposed to know about this Paris meeting. It sounds like some weird off-screen politicking.

        It’s strange to hear about the MBs wanting to cooperate so much with the Israelis, especially since the Israelis are crushing Gaza, which is run by the MBs.

        I am aware of the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” strategy, but it’s still somewhat strange that Israelis would pick anti-Israeli fundies as their ally of choice in Syria. I mean, if Syria goes Fundy, that could mean more threats for the Israelis, right?

        Also, a related question is why the US supported certain forces in Egypt. Why did some US forces support overthrowing the dictator Mubarak and replacing him with the conservative religious MB? And then on top of that, were the US next in favor of Sisi overthrowing the Egyptian MB?

  11. rws450 on February 26, 2015, 12:33 am

    I was in Damascus last April 2014 with a peace delegation led by Mairead Maguire. We spent a week and visited Homs and Latakia in addition to Damascus. It was VERY different than impressions we receive in media. Especially Homs, most of which looked completely normal. This was one month before the rebels agreed to depart the old city.

    In Damascus a few of us visited two camps where Palestinians from Yarmouk were staying. One was UNRWA, the other a converted school.

    An old woman said to me loudly and firmly “We want to go home! First back to Yarmouk ….. then to Palestine!” Hearing that, a younger Palestinian said “Forget it. I am tired of waiting for Palestine. I want to go to Sweden.”

    Other residents suggested that’s the aim of the conflict in Syria: to make Palestinians give up. Sweden is allowing increasing numbers of Palestinian immigrants.

    A few facts ……………
    * Unlike elsewhere in the Middle East, Palestinians in Syria have all rights except citizenship (which would negate the right of return)
    * 90% of Yarmouk Palestinians departed
    * Some who remained were prevented from leaving.
    * others stay because there is nowhere good to go or because they cannot afford to lose all their possessions since abandoned houses are taken by the rebels.
    * Palestinian youth in Yarmouk are like Syrian youth: there are different trends including salafi and MB influenced.
    * the latter are the ones who took the conflict into the camp and started sniping
    * Most palestinians residents opposed the entry and take-over of Yarmouk.
    * this is a bloody war, promoted and paid by the West and allies (Israel and Gulf monarchies).

    – rws

    • Walid on February 26, 2015, 2:40 am

      Rws, Sweden will not take in 2 million refugees; nobody would., not even Arab states.There are long standing offers from Canada and Australia to take in 20,000 each but under very restrictive conditions that would apply to any other nationality, so these are really non-offers. Jordan has naturalized many of its refugees and so has Lebanon that naturalized about 100,000 but this was only because they were mostly Christians and Lebanon wanted to balance out its demographic imbalance created by its civil war with many Christians having emigrated. There is a good chance that many Yarmouk refugees that left the country which suits Syria just fine. In the past it was not averse to encouraging some Palestinians to move into Lebanon’s camps, so it’s very doubtful that Yarmouk would again grow in the stature it once had.

      • rws450 on February 26, 2015, 2:51 pm

        walid, i see lots of good and well informed comments from you.

        1) i agree with your re sweden …. ths emigration dream will work for a few but right of return is still the right and best hope. one has to visit the camps in lebanon and elsewhere to appreciate.

        2) regarding your earlier comment ‘the people of yarmouk bet on the wrong horse’ …… my impression is that it was very small minority that did so and without the consent or agreement of the bulk of population. we met an older palestinian woman (at UNRWA site in damascus) who said her son was killed for resisting the initial take-over.

        Yarmouk has been used and manipulated for political advantage by the powers that be.
        don’t expect neutrality from the UN either. head of political affairs is none other than jeffrey feltman.

      • Walid on February 26, 2015, 5:42 pm

        Rws450, I’m sure you’re right about it being a small group of shit-disturbers in the camp that started the anti-Assad demonstration. Feltman never really left the State Department and he appears to be doing his job at the UN as if he’s still at State. He developed very strong friendship ties with some of Lebanon’s political leaders and for while appeared to be calling the shots on internal matters there. The guy seemed to love his job passionately.

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