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‘Either Assad or we’ll burn the country’ – An excerpt from ‘Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War’ (Update)


Update: January 7, 2017

The excerpt from Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War (Pluto Press) by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami that originally appeared here has been removed at the request of author Robin Yassin-Kassab who said he doesn’t “at all like much of the content on Mondoweiss.” You can buy the book here and an excerpt remains available at the Daily Beast.   

Robin Yassin-Kassab

Robin Yassin-Kassab is a regular media commentator on Syria and the Middle East. He is the author of the novel The Road from Damascus (Hamish Hamilton), a contributor to Syria Speaks (Saqi, 2014) and regularly blog at

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Leila Al-Shami

Leila Al-Shami has worked with the human rights movement in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. She was a founding member of Tahrir-ICN, a network that aimed to connect anti-authoritarian struggles across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Other posts by .

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149 Responses

  1. pabelmont on May 11, 2016, 10:13 am

    Amazing story, dreadful story. The cruelty of a dictator backed into a hole.

    BTW, doesn’t this describe the Israeli system: “slower increase in violence against opponents, however, would likely go unchecked.” (UN, EU, USA do not intervene when the violence is so slowly applied).

  2. HarryLaw on May 11, 2016, 12:53 pm

    Dreadful propaganda piece, the Free Syrian Army are as plentiful as unicorns, the main fighting groups are Islamic state and Al Nusra Front [Al Qaeda franchise] they are Wahhabi Islamist groups backed by Saudi Arabia Qatar and Turkey. They cut the heads off anyone not like the sectarian bigots they are, and sell women as sex slaves. Assad is the legitimate President of Syria, in the Presidential election in 2014 Assad received 88% of vote on a turnout of 70%, the Ba’ath party won 80% of seats in 2016 election. He clearly commands the support of Syrians of all political and religious persuasions. Professor Tim Anderson cuts through all this propaganda in a series of articles like this one.

    • ritzl on May 11, 2016, 1:15 pm

      Thanks HarryLaw.

    • Egbert on May 11, 2016, 5:24 pm

      Netanyahu has also said that Israel prefers ISIS to Assad. In that light, it should not be surprising that Israel actually aids ISIS, treating their wounded and providing them with weapons and ammunition.

      Some of the people of Syria may have had legitimate objection to Assad, but they were quickly used as an excuse for the US/Syria/Turkey/Israel regime change operation. This is exactly the same scenario that happened in Ukraine except there the Neo-Nazis (Azov, Aidar) replace ISIS.

      The US government does not care one whit about the people of Syria. It wants a compliant leader who will cut the alliance with Russia/Iran/Hezbollah. That leader can then be as barabaric as they wish as long as they obey the US. (c.f. Erdogan in Turkey busily trading ISIS oil (to Israel + EU), supplying chemical weapons, medical facilities and refuge to ISIS, butchering Kurds, etc with barely a reprimand from the US)

      In addition to MoA, see also Syrian Perspective run by Ziad Fadel.

      • ritzl on May 11, 2016, 7:18 pm

        Thanks for the Syrian Perspective site rec, Egbert.

      • Kay24 on May 12, 2016, 9:56 am

        Chances are the new Saudi/Israel love fest is responsible for many of the violence and conflicts going on in the region. It is strange that ISIS has not set its sights on Israel (the least popular nation among Arabs in the region) and that the Saudis have suddenly become involved in conflicts they stayed out of, with the US selling weapons to them (for what exactly?).
        This Israel/Saudi/US alliance may be unholy Hell for the rest of world.

      • DaBakr on May 12, 2016, 3:12 pm


        i agree with almost everything you wrote except for your extrapolation that because the IDF treats wounded syrians-be they civilian or rebel forces that the if is necessarily supporting IS. IS has just released -btw- a dozen or more propaganda videos bragging about how IS is coming to slaughter zionists next. israelis have no illusions about IS, hezbollah or the various rebel factions fighting the regime.
        in theory-the idf has been willing to treat al-nusra rebels but admit they can’t question all wounded who come for aid. in fact- we know very well that syrian regime soldiers strip their uniforms and have sought help as wounded civilians. israel has never committed to an assad nor a rebel regime. there are pros and cons to both. israel has stated repeatedly that it wishes for the syrian people to live in peace and have a gov’t that will respect their rights as citizens.

        wether the assad regime could ever provide this again or not is unlikely. the rebel factions for the most part are wily-opportunistic and completely unpredictable. Plus-Israel has to deal with the larger more influential players like Iran, Russia, KSA and Turkey.

        Israel-wether its hated here or not. weter its blamed here for causing every problem in the region or not is just as much in limbo as the rest of the region as nobody knows what will happen except more carnage.

        p.s.-this story was one of the more harrowing war journo’s i’ve read in a long time

      • Stephen Shenfield on July 4, 2016, 3:02 pm

        Harry Law: At least have the decency to read the book and digest the abundant information it contains before deciding what is and is not propaganda. Anyone would think you have actually observed the situation inside Syria.

    • just on May 11, 2016, 6:53 pm
    • lysias on May 11, 2016, 6:54 pm

      Seymour Hersh argues pretty persuasively that Assad’s government was not behind the sarin attack.

      • DaBakr on May 13, 2016, 11:55 pm

        you take seymour h. word against these two on-the-ground journalists? in addition-i don’t read anybody else except assas apologists arguing he didn’t do it. far-fetched to think aq or is managed to pull of gassing shia citizens. in this war maybe anything is possible.

    • just on May 11, 2016, 6:55 pm

      Thanks HarryLaw and lysias.


      “9/11 judge and prosecutors should step down over ‘destroyed evidence’, defense demands

      An explosive allegation about destroyed evidence threatens to unravel the already shaky military tribunal for the alleged architect of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

      Attorneys for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are calling on the judge and the entire prosecution team in Mohammed’s military commission at Guantánamo Bay to step down from the long-running case over what a member of the defense team called “at least the appearance of collusion” that led to the government apparently secretly destroying information relevant to the premier post-9/11 tribunal.

      The defense team further argues that the destruction of evidence ought to spell the end of Mohammed’s military trial entirely, a development that would leave the Obama administration and its successor to come up with an entirely new plan for what to do with the top terror suspect in US custody.

      “Now, and indeed over other matters previously, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s military commission is fatally flawed,” said David Nevin, Mohammed’s lead attorney.

      The prosecution in the 9/11 military tribunal is seeking the death penalty for the self-described architect of the attacks, who has been in US custody for more than 12 years.

      The details of what happened are not known because the unclassified legal filing is not yet publicly available. The specific allegations were filed yesterday before the commission, but the filing must clear a routine security review that all such legal documents before the commission undergo.

      Marine Corps Maj Derek Poteet, another member of Mohammed’s defense team, said that the move to call for the removal of the judge, Army Col James Pohl, and the prosecution team headed by Army Brig Gen Mark Martins is “something you do not do lightly”. …”

      much more @

      • lysias on May 11, 2016, 7:04 pm

        They can’t let the truth be known about what really happened on 9/11.

        Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s torture-induced testimony is the basis of most of the details of the operational details of the 9/11 plot as presented in the 9/11 Commission Report.

      • just on May 12, 2016, 9:59 am

        Curiouser and curiouser:

        “Saudi officials were ‘supporting’ 9/11 hijackers, commission member says

        First serious public split revealed among commissioners over the release of the secret ‘28 pages’ that detail Saudi ties to 2001 terrorist attacks

        A former Republican member of the 9/11 commission, breaking dramatically with the commission’s leaders, said Wednesday he believes there was clear evidence that Saudi government employees were part of a support network for the 9/11 hijackers and that the Obama administration should move quickly to declassify a long-secret congressional report on Saudi ties to the 2001 terrorist attack.

        The comments by John F Lehman, an investment banker in New York who was Navy secretary in the Reagan administration, signal the first serious public split among the 10 commissioners since they issued a 2004 final report that was largely read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia, which was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11. …”

        much more @


        Alberto Mora wrote a great piece yesterday:

        “Abu Ghraib prisoners deserve, finally, their day in court

        No victims have been compensated for what they suffered, and this remains a stain on the US justice system. An appeal on 12 May could change that”

    • brianct on May 12, 2016, 6:57 pm

      yes it is wretched propaganda, but thats YK of leftist Pulse medias stock in trade

      a battle currently rages in syrias 2nd largst city Aleppo: where only 25% max is occupied by the ‘rebels’ alnusra. YK makes no mention of alnusra or ISIS in that excerpt
      in the rest of Aleppo, the doctors have publicaly shown their support for the Syrian army and govern ment NOT for the ‘rebels’

    • Atlantaiconoclast on May 12, 2016, 11:27 pm

      thank you! So sick of these deluded people who think Assad is the bigger enemy than Al Qaeda and the West’s/Israel’s intentional campaign of destabilization.

  3. ritzl on May 11, 2016, 1:24 pm

    Three words: Moon of Alabama.

    For example, just today: “Charles Lister [Brookings Institution – Doha]Asks ‘Moderate Rebels’ To Hide Their Cooperation With Al-Qaeda”

    • annie on May 11, 2016, 1:40 pm

      b’s been doing excellent reporting on syria. i was reminded this morning (from this article just one of many of his astute posts on syria ) of the video he linked to of the so called “white helmets” assisting the execution of a person gross. this is the same group that the US has given 23 million to (who one of the co authors mentioned favorably in a blog post not long ago). plus, even tho we (the US and the UK) support this group we’ve banned the head of the organization from entering the US.

      there’s no mention of nusra in this article, it’s as if they do not exist.

      • annie on May 11, 2016, 1:54 pm

        and this from DoD

        COLONEL STEVE WARREN: …. it’s primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities. So it’s complicated. We’re watching it. Our focus, though, as the Combined Joint Task Force, is ISIL. And so don’t forget that, that’s our focus. The cessation of hostilities, the diplomatic and political processes — while they certainly have — are of interest to us and potentially could influence our operations peripherally, our focus remains ISIL.

        so during the (last) ceasefire — who was the US was shoveling weapons to? you guessed it. the so called friends of nusra.

        “After the regime collapses, there is no pretext for any group to be armed,” he added, optimistically believing that a unified national army would be able to disband groups like Al Nusra.

        Colonel Abdul Jabbar Akaidi, the former head of the Aleppo military revolutionary council, said there will be no place for Al Nusra or like-minded groups after the war is over.

        “After Bashar Al Assad is gone, those who still have Salafi-Jihadist thoughts, they must go to Kandahar. They cannot stay in Syria,” he said. “We want to topple Bashar Al Assad, rebuild our country and bring social justice, not stay in a continual fight.”

        But Mr Malahefji and Col Akaidi’s feelings are far from universal among rebels.

        “Jabhat Al Nusra are our brothers,” said Hajj Bakri, a rebel leader in Hama. “We have no problem with them.”

        how are they going to get rid of the people who, according to our defense department, “holds aleppo” (the opposition controlled part)? the so called “moderates” are not holding aleppo — because they are unable to. but after assad is toppled they can push them out? please, this is illogical. and our cia covert program is a billion a year — as well as our overt program, another billion a year >> . so that’s not chump change.

      • lproyect on May 13, 2016, 10:59 am

        Annie, there’s no mention of Nusra in this article because it is an excerpt. Al Nusra and ISIS are covered in depth in the book. In terms of Moon of Alabama, this is a blog that has zero direct knowledge of life inside Syria. In fact, all of the sources you have quoted over the years whenever Syria comes up are based in the West and can be described as Islamophobic. It baffles me how people like you can rally around a blood-soaked dictatorship that has turned most of the country into something resembling Gaza using the same kinds of “war on terrorism” excuses as Netanyahu. Until Hamas was forced to reverse itself on Syria, it called for the overthrow of Assad.

  4. Jackdaw on May 11, 2016, 2:20 pm

    Okay. Our conscience is salved.
    Let’s get back to Israel.

    • Mooser on May 11, 2016, 6:23 pm

      “Let’s get back to Israel.”

      Listen, a cry for help.

  5. chet on May 11, 2016, 2:36 pm

    As to al-Assad’s response to the “color revolution”, bear in mind that he had just witnessed Mubarak in a courtroom cage in similar circumstances.

    • DaBakr on May 14, 2016, 12:01 am

      he also “witnessed” his father slaughter 20,000 palestinian and other arabs when he ruled with his so-called ‘iron fist’. he’s a bastard. the rebel groups would not be in the positions they are had assad responded like a human being. and to think-his wife given the full social-maker treatment from american celebrity rag. like to see her at a paris fashion show in the future. In fact-she probably is in a billion dollar chalet near paris undergoing 10million bucks worth of reconstructive facial surgery. the french loved their baby doc duvalier living it up in their south. why not the “syrian nefertiti”

  6. Mike Hite on May 11, 2016, 3:00 pm

    Has Mondoweiss written any articles about how the US government started funding the Assad opposition in 2006? Apparently the US govt. funnelled 12 million into the Assad opposition the only project I know of that the money went to was satellite Tv broadcasts but there is most likely more to the story.

    • annie on May 11, 2016, 4:25 pm

      it was a lot more than 12 million mike. cheney’s daughter headed up the syria democracy project for the state dept (that was not the name of it — i forget what it was) but i think she had a 200k budget going back to 06.

      edit: the 200 mill could be over years and it included iran- here’s more:

      this one says 80 million

    • lysias on May 11, 2016, 7:00 pm

      It started right about the time Seymour Hersh wrote that article for The New Yorker (which unfortunately no longer publishes most of his articles) about how the U.S. had decided to back Sunnis against Shiah.

    • Danaa on May 11, 2016, 11:10 pm

      To my knowledge, there has not been an article that tells the truth about Syria – namely the way the US and Israel, with the support of saudi Arabia, Turkey and the rest of the emasculated West deliberately financed, armed and supported a color revolution to overthrow Syria’s government. The excuse of him being a ‘dictator’ rings mighty hollow in light of the far worse dictatorship of the KSA and the other Gulf countries, which somehow – mysteriously – don’t merit as much as a whimper from the bleeding hearts of the wes and/or their well supported stooges in the ME..

      Those who supported the destruction of Syria, including many who write articles blaming a cornucopia of false Flag incidents on Assad et al in an effort to discredit the legitimate government – these are the people responsible for the suffering of the Syrian people, including the refugees, now kindly channeled by Turkey into the heart of the EU, in a transparent effort to get their precious visa-free travel.

      False Flags like the east Gouta sarin attack, now conclusively proven to have been perpetrated by the opposition forces (with plenty of help from Turkey and propaganda from the US, israel, UK, cf that pathetic, so-called “observatory” – the one-man operation funded by UK and friends), the would-be attacks on refugee camps – such as the recent one which was, again, proven to be false (there was NO bombing from the air) , and of course, any number of hospitals (this is just the tip of the iceberg of all the FFs).

      Yet, here we are again – another sanctimonious article feigning sympathy for Syrians and making Assad out like the worst dictator ever. It’s getting to be almost silly by now, given that the rather well-informed readership of MW knows different, and – by and large – recognizes – propaganda when it is inflicted.

      So, where are yassin-Kassab and al-Shami when it comes to the hideous rulers of SA? by far the most reactionary , authocratic, tyranical. dictatorial government out there, or the “emir” ruling Bahrain,where legitimate demonstrations were heavily squashed – with the help of the US? where are they when it comes to the palestinians actually living and dying in Palestine? where are they when it comes to Turkey increasingly moving towards a one-man rule where tolerance will be a thing of the past? Turkey that keeps bombing the Kurds as if it’s the most normal thing to do, with nary a peep from the west or the ever so conscientious left groupings, now moaning and groaning about Syria? where were they when the town (Cizre?) in Turkey was burned with many people still in the buildings? where are they when it’s a country ‘allied’ to NATO or the west that’s perpetrating war crimes? funny – that silence of the lambs….

      I don’t know whether people submitted articles that tell the truth to MW or not. I know i was going to once but ran out of time (that was when the Yarmouk situation was boiling hot from all the propaganda fires lit by a dubious “left”). I do know we need alternative voices on the dire straits Syria found itself in, when the evil forces of the Empire, the gulf and the malfeasant neighbours to the West and the North colluded to try and make Syria safe for the pipeline from Qatar (among other machinations).

      When I look at the situation from my – oh so lonely – perch, I see a very different picture. In truth the Syrian army with the support of Russia, Hezbollah and Iran/Iraq (the axis of resistance) has been mounting a truly heroic stand against the forces of evil that were trained upon the country. Be it ISIS, the various Al-Quaeda affiliates, Turkmen paramilitants or various islamist groupings (FSA etc.) – all armed and paid for – these are the enemies of the Syrian people and indeed, in many cases, of civilization itself. To me the fight looks much as it did for certain South American countries, where elected governments were disposed of, or, for a better analogy, may be look to the Spanish civil war where the fascist Franco forces were supported by other fascist leaning countries, and indeed by certain elements in the west, which were more mortified by some “socialist left” than the brutish right-wing thugs that ended up taking over. IMHO,, there is very little difference – politically speaking – between the fascist Franco forces and the Al-Nusra types, with some so-called “moderates” or FSA or whatever, consisting of a few hapless stooges there to paint a positive picture of the “poor rebels” who in reality are anything but poor.

      In lieu of a proper article i urge everyone to read MOA, The Saker (which occasionally writes about Syria), and Southfront 9with daily updates), among others. Stephen Cohen too and a few others one could mention. Too few, alas, way too few.

      • just on May 11, 2016, 11:50 pm

        Thanks for your well- informed comment(s) on this thread, Danaa.

      • Marnie on May 12, 2016, 12:45 am

        Wherever there’s a crisis, real or fabricated, involving a so-called evil dictator (by US standards, such as they are) who needs to be removed and replaced with a real SOB, the type that the US loves to get cozy with, the heroes become the criminals and the criminals become president (for life) of the new US-led democracy there. And millions die and millions more learn to hate the west. Who wouldn’t?

      • Danaa on May 12, 2016, 3:29 am

        Doing what little I can, Just. Wish there was time to write up that which should be written, but alas, something tells me that the usual purses are firmly shut, so comment here and there is all I can do.

      • Frankie P on May 13, 2016, 8:01 pm


        Thank you so much for this.

        “In truth the Syrian army with the support of Russia, Hezbollah and Iran/Iraq (the axis of resistance) has been mounting a truly heroic stand against the forces of evil that were trained upon the country. Be it ISIS, the various Al-Quaeda affiliates, Turkmen paramilitants or various islamist groupings (FSA etc.) – all armed and paid for – these are the enemies of the Syrian people and indeed, in many cases, of civilization itself.”

        I have reached a similar conclusion, namely that Russia, Hezbollah and Iran/Iraq are fighting to save civilization in Syria, and we in the west have become the forces of evil. I agree with the Saker that the concert in Palmyra, especially with its opening piece of Bach’s “Chaconne”, Partita for solo violin Nº 2 in D minor, BWV 1004, was a message from Russia, saying that they have always admired the cultural and civilizational advances made by western civilization, but they are appalled and worried about the way the west has now decended into voluntary civilizational suicide.

        I must post this comment from the saker’s site, as it is one of the most beautiful comments I have ever read on the internet. It was penned by one Dr. N. G. Maroudas, and it speaks to the culture and civilization that is at stake in Syria:

        Thank you, Dr. Maroudas!

        “That classical concert Palmyra, with the sun shining on the golden stone of antiquity, celebrates the return of Syria to its normal civilized self. Once again Syria impresses the world by its ability to shrug off foreign Empires. A Yankee tourist wrote 150 years ago that everything in the USA was bigger and better than anything in the Middle East – except for Damascus, which awed him totally. From Mark Twain’s book, “The Yankees Abroad”:
        “Damascus is an oasis whose waters have not failed for thousands of years. Go back as far as you will into the vague past of cities, there was always a Damascus. No recorded event has occurred in the world but Damascus was already in existence to receive news of it. In the writings of every century for more than 4,000 years its name has been mentioned and its praises sung [we now know Damascus city is 8,000 years old]. To Damascus years are only moments, decades only flitting trifles of time. She measures time not by years but by the Empires she has seen rise and prosper and crumble to ruin. She saw Baalbek and Thebes and Ephesus grow into mighty cities, and she has lived to see them deserted. She saw the Israelitish Empire of David and Solomon exalted, and she saw it annihilated. She saw Greece rise and the Empire of Alexander flourish and die. She saw Rome built; she saw its Empire overshadow the world; she saw it perish. Damascus has seen all this, and still she lives. Though others may lay claim be called The Eternal City, it is Damascus who deserves that name by right.”
        [And Mark Twain ends his book, The Innocents Abroad, with this tribute to Damascus:]
        “Damascus – the Pearl of the East, the pride of Syria, the original Garden of Eden, the home of princes, of fabled genii of The Arabian Nights, of Damascus steel tough but sharp as a razor, of Damask silk soft as a young girl’s cheek – the one city in the world that has kept its name and held its place and looked serenely on while transitory Empires have enjoyed their little season of pride and pomp, then vanished and been forgotten”.
        Twain wrote in the middle of the 19th century. By the 20th century Damascus had also seen the sun set on Great Britain’s “Empire on which the sun never sets”. And now, in this classical concert in Palmyra, Damascus bears witness to the sunset of the Anglo-Bankers Empire of Chaos, and a return to civilized values.
        But the greatest tribute to Damascus is the one which Mark Twain could not bring himself to relate, because he was an atheist: an ancient story about military “boots on the ground” in Syria, headed by one Saul, “a Hebrew of the Hebrews and citizen of Rome”. Saul’s bosses in Jerusalem and Rome had spread the word that certain Syrians were evil and should be “taken out”. It was on a punitive expedition to Damascus that a blinding light threw Saul off his horse, and a voice rang in his ears: “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute Me?”. The greatest tribute which the modern world can give to Damascus is, that great light from Heaven is still shining and that great voice of compassion is still ringing in our ears.”

      • DaBakr on May 14, 2016, 12:09 am


        i think your apology for assad that he is no worse then KSA. KSA is a closed oppressive family owned nation but the majority od saudis were nowhere near revolt until the oil bubble burst and they had unemp[loymetn of youth for the first time. in other words- saudis were somewhat sheltered and spoiled.
        The Assad family grip on power accompanied by massive slaughters every now and then as well as 1000s of disappeared and tortured activist . His father passed it down to the bumblton eye doctor son only because his brutal brother was either killed or died. still-with help from his cronies he has run syria like a nightmare version of the soprano crime family making tony look like a baby seal.
        And it was assad who started wholesale slaughter of the arab spring protesters. He gave KSA an open invitation to intervene before their arch nemesis-Iran got to involved. of course it all went to shit. buts thats snafu for plans made in the ME.

      • Danaa on May 17, 2016, 12:50 am

        Frankie P +Thanks for the mention of the Palmyra concert (blacked out in the Western MSM) and for the excellent comment you brought up from the Saker. Something for the deeper thinkers and/or feelers. They should definitly highlight in their Comment corner..

      • Danaa on May 17, 2016, 12:55 am

        Debakr – your comment is unfortunately comprised of pure nonsense mixed with much debunked propaganda. Read the many links provided here for a better handle on the reality in Syria. what wholesale massacre of activists? got any reputable source to back that? Obviously you have no intention of being convinced by any facts or arguments so I will leave those for my betters.

        As for your not so competent defense of KSA (just an oppressive little family rule, eh?) I hope you don’t present the paymasters with too hefty a bill for social media hasbara. Something tell me the reward might be skimpy.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on May 12, 2016, 11:29 pm

      good point! Why neoliberals think it is ok for Syrians to violently resist oppression, but wrong for Palestinians to violently resist Jewish oppressors, is beyond me.

    • lproyect on May 13, 2016, 11:03 am

      Has Mondoweiss written any articles about how the US government started funding the Assad opposition in 2006?

      Of course it has. Most of the time it posts stuff that Annie Robbins probably dug up. The fury directed against “Burning Country” reflects the inability of her and other commenters to come to terms with the fact that they have been supporting a fascist-like regime whose main interest is in protecting its capitalist control over the economy through a network of thieves like Rami Makhlouf.

      From the Guardian:

      The firm at the centre of the Panama Papers leak serviced a string of companies for a top financier in Bashar al-Assad’s government in the face of international concern about corruption within the Syrian regime.

      Documents show Mossack Fonseca’s links to Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of the Syrian president, who was described in US diplomatic cables as the country’s “poster boy for corruption”.

      Washington imposed sanctions on Makhlouf in February 2008, saying he was a regime insider who “improperly benefits from and aids the public corruption of Syrian regime officials”. It blacklisted his brother Hafez Makhlouf in 2007.

      The documents show, however, that the Panamanian firm continued to work with the Makhloufs, and in January 2011 it rejected the advice of its own compliance team to cut ties with the family as the crisis in Syria began to unfold.


      • gamal on May 13, 2016, 6:46 pm

        “The firm at the centre of the Panama Papers leak serviced a string of companies for a top financier in Bashar al-Assad’s government in the face of international concern about corruption within the Syrian regime.”

        Because the one force the Dictator fears is The Syrian Tax Authorities,

        “who was described in US diplomatic cables”

        “Washington imposed sanctions on Makhlouf”

        “It blacklisted his brother Hafez Makhlouf in 2007.”

        if there is one thing a Marxist can rely on in this messed up world its the US government,

        and the Saudi’s and Makhtoums, and Abdul Aziz Ash Sheikh and the Manchester Guardian.

        “international concern about corruption” do they have acounts in Delaware,

        Dr Awwad diagnoses a bad case of gullibility,

  7. oldgeezer on May 11, 2016, 3:02 pm

    Assad needs to go as soon as possible. It is time for western nations to stop backing terrorists. Get the war ended and the terrorists defeated. Get Assad out and a decent goverment in place. In that order.

    The only purpose in continuing our support is in order to support a war torn Syria for many years to come. That plays in the Israeli plan quite well.

    • ritzl on May 11, 2016, 5:08 pm

      Much respect, oldgeezer (sincerely), but when you say “Assad must go” do you mean after he is voted out in an election, post hostilities/liberal intervention?

      It may be that his resistance, however brutal, to the MORE brutal, head-chopping Saudi/Qatar/Turkey/US/Israel-funded, Salafist, sadistic displacers of half the population of Syria (there were zero refugees/IDPs before this nightmare coup attempt) will make him the highly-electable “Saviour of Syria” for as long he wants to hold that position. When this is over he will have literally saved 20-25M Syrians from being sadistically ruled by ISIS.

      What happens then? Do we start the process/violence all over again? If Assad voluntarily steps aside at some appropriate point is the next guy going to be strong enough to keep ISIS out?

      How much brutality can be/would be/will be forgiven by a population that was just saved from a prolonged, living nightmare?

      I think these, and more, are all legitimate questions that have to be asked and answered before calling for Assad’s ouster. We’ve seen, and more importantly Syrians have lived, what’s behind the mirror in Syria.

      In any event, all this death and destruction is almost certainly not about Assad. He’s just the latest media excuse in the entire post-WWII history of western destabilization of Syria – democracy, authoritarian, no matter.

      RFK, Jr.:

      • just on May 11, 2016, 6:56 pm

        Thanks ritzl.

    • Egbert on May 11, 2016, 5:33 pm

      Does Assad have a Drone Tuesday in which he decides whether to murder some unknown in a foreign country based on secret evidence? There are inevitably totally innocent people killed in the crossfire – the so-called ‘collateral damage’. Has Assad descended to that level of banality of evil?

    • oldgeezer on May 11, 2016, 5:58 pm


      Not an easy answer to be honest.

      All polls I have seen have shown Assad to be popular with a significant majority of Syriana. Certainly the opposition has never had much support at all.

      To the extent that the Syrian people do want him I see no reason he shouldn’t be able to continue leadership of the country if the people wish it to be that way.

      That said I do think there is sufficient evidence to indicate he may have committed war crimes and I would like to see that investigated and him in the Hague. Again that said we have much worse war criminals, such as Bush/Cheney, Blair and Netanyahu jist to name a few, running around scot free so maybe Assad should be way down the list.

      I do accept my answers are contradictory and even somewhat inconsistent. My personal opinion is that it is better with him gone. No matter how small the opposition is ot is not going to accept him. The countey needs someone to bring it back together. Not someone designated by the west.

      And while posting… i have never seen any evidence Assad fired on peaceful protesters. Lots of claims as if it was fact but no evidence it wasnt the opposition trying to light the flame.

      • ritzl on May 11, 2016, 6:57 pm

        Thanks oldgeezer. I’m a bit of a hothead so when someone like you (and pabelmont) says “Assad must go” it really makes me ask myself what I’m missing. So I figured I’d ask, you. :)

        Such unnecessary yet completely foreseeable (i.e. avoidable) death and sadness in Syria. I don’t know what to say about it anymore, except that you and people like you should be the ones writing about this for mass distribution instead of the peoole who are.


      • lysias on May 11, 2016, 7:06 pm

        Governments that are under attack tend to use force to defend themselves against internal revolt. Our own government did it in our Civil War.

      • Brewer on May 12, 2016, 5:31 pm

        I’m not buying this article. In the first place, there is absolutely no doubt that Assad has the people with him:

        “The survey, conducted by ORB International, a company which specializes in public opinion research in fragile and conflict environments, [2] found that 47 percent of Syrians believe that Assad has a positive influence in Syria, compared to only 35 percent for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and 26 percent for the Syrian Opposition Coalition.”

        “The 2014 election in Syria is an event that the ‘Ministry of Truth’ in the West desperately wants to be memory-holed, as it runs in stark contrast to the narrative they are still trying to inculcate in the minds of the public.

        In June of last year, Assad won Syria’s Presidential election with 88.7 percent of the vote, in the country’s first multi-candidate election in almost five decades. In a country which had a population of 17,064,854 in July 2014 (according to an estimate from CIA World Factbook), over 10 million people voted for Assad. 73.42 percent of the Syrian population voted in the election, with voting only taking place in government controlled areas.”

        “Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favour of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news? Especially as the finding would go against the dominant narrative about the Syrian crisis, and the media considers the unexpected more newsworthy than the obvious.

        Alas, not in every case. When coverage of an unfolding drama ceases to be fair and turns into a propaganda weapon, inconvenient facts get suppressed. So it is with the results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll on Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates, funded by the Qatar Foundation. Qatar’s royal family has taken one of the most hawkish lines against Assad – the emir has just called for Arab troops to intervene – so it was good that The Doha Debates published the poll on its website. The pity is that it was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go.”

        Secondly, the use of dubious memes like Sarin and “barrel bombs” sets off my BS meter.
        The gas story is now so undermined responsible commentators should leave it in the dubious basket and “barrel bombs” is a propaganda construct that defies investigation. Nobody seems to know what they are or how they work, much less why the administration would employ an improvised weapon when other, more effective ordnance is in plentiful supply.

        Whenever the inexplicable is rationalized in terms of the irrational (i.e. Assad is a crazy bloodthirsty Dictator) it must be questioned for such cases are actually extremely rare. In this case, masses of evidence points in quite another direction. Even Fox carried the story back in 2011:

        The rational narrative follows the now well-known playbook employed in Iraq, Libya and Ukraine. Propagandize, sanction, create insurgency, overthrow then install puppet government.

      • just on May 12, 2016, 5:38 pm

        Good stuff, Brewer.

        Spot- on.

      • straightline on May 12, 2016, 5:49 pm

        @Brewer Took the words out of my mouth, just! Absolutely agree with you, Brewer. Barrel bombs were such an absurd notion – I wonder which PR expert was paid to invent that term. Or maybe it was the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a one-man operation based in Coventry, UK.

    • lysias on May 11, 2016, 6:56 pm

      What makes you think the terrorists won’t take over after Assad is gone?

      Maybe we should learn from what happened in Iraq and Libya after tyrants were deposed.

      • jeff_davis on May 11, 2016, 10:31 pm

        Assad was never really a tyrant. He’s been defined that way by people who opposed him. So it’s to be expected that they would call him a tyrant. It is the duty of leadership to maintain security and stability so citizens can live in a civilized manner. When the Sunnis rose in armed revolt, it was Assad’s duty to put it down. In fact it was Assad’s duty to ferret out the conspiracy against his government ahead of its execution, and take the plotters into custody. But in the sad case of Syria, larger forces were at work seeking Assad’s overthrow. There were many players involved in the neutering of Syria and its descent into chaos. Big players. You know their names.

      • DaBakr on May 16, 2016, 4:29 pm


        you make me remember why i think people on the far right and far left are delusional wing-nuts.

        thanks for reminding everybody what the core left-wing ‘progressive’ values are all about. especially in regards to assad.

    • Eric on May 11, 2016, 7:55 pm

      Oldgeezer, you just failed the Syria exam. Please sign up for the summer remedial program asap.

    • Danaa on May 11, 2016, 11:15 pm

      Why should Assad go? why not king salman or the emir of bahrain? hasn’t SA committed enough war crimes in yemen yet?

      The government of Syria should be up to the Syrians to choose – the ones living there and suffering the ravages of the destruction brought upon it by the US Empire, Saudi Arabia (which pays for ISIS and promotes it as best it can) and Turkey, with some notable contribution from israel. Assad has actually provided a rather able leadership, as best i can tell – far better than al-Baghdadi or any of the CIA trained/supported islamists and the assortment of foreign jihadists unleashed upon the country.

      Have you seen the concert at Palmyra BTW? that was quite inspiring, wasn’t it?

      • just on May 11, 2016, 11:57 pm


        “Why should Assad go?”

        There were a cacophony of voices that clamored/still clamor for it. It should have made any sentient being question the shrill chorus.

        Assad was elected by the Syrian people.


      • wondering jew on May 12, 2016, 12:50 am

        I question the amount of pleasure I get when I read comments like this: Assad was elected by the Syrian people. Period. It is only because I know the writer expresses hatred for Israel that I get pleasure from this ignorance.

        Removing leaders from countries is a dangerous business and a foolhardy business. Assad winning an election in 2014 in the midst of a civil war against Islamists is a valid way of asserting the questionable nature of trying to replace him at the point of a bayonet.

        But Assad’s rule was one of the most dictatorial in the world and was seen as such in 2010. If you have some list of democracies and dictatorships that you assert is more valid than those compiled by groups that aren’t as anti Israel as you, please present them. Until then the validity of those lists is hereby asserted. Before 2011 the world recognized that Assad was a stone cold dictator.

      • Laurent Weppe on May 12, 2016, 8:57 am

        Why should Assad go?

        Why should he stay?
        He’s a parasite, whose regime was so busy gorging itself up that it didn’t do anything when the worst drought in 900 years wrecked his country. His dynasty’s survival from this conflict would only insure that ten, twenty, thirty down the line another uprising begins, one that will likely be even more violent from the get go, and faced by a regime that will only have grown more decadent and inept that it already is, because that’s the thing with dictatorships: they never become more competent as time goes by.

        To be blunt, the longer Assad stays, the likelier the Alawis, Christians, and other minorities which in exchange from preferential access to the scraps became the de facto hostages of the regime will end on the receiving end of a genocide fueled by revanchist fury when (not if) his regime collapses.

      • gamal on May 12, 2016, 6:08 pm

        “to be blunt, the longer Assad stays, the likelier the Alawis, Christians, and other minorities which in exchange from preferential access to the scraps”

        you do not know what you are talking about. I would recommend the whole of this article (but suggest you use your faculties, i differ a good deal with the author but he/she has some info you might find helpful)

        from: Response by a Syrian Anarchist

        “First, like anywhere else in the world, most people in the Middle East have multiple, co-existing identities – or identity markers, rather – that are invoked at different times in different contexts. For examples, nationalist identities and discourses were dominant in the 1930s and 40s, during and in the aftermath of independence from Britain and France; they were then extended to or replaced by pan-Arabist identities and discourses in the ’50s and ’60s; both sets of identities and discourses were challenged by Marxist and Islamist ones in the ’70s and ’80s and so on and so forth. All of these identity markers and discourses had, and still have, roots in social and ideological bases, and are today invoked by different social and political groups in the service of their political games and struggles.

        Second, this western obsession with Middle Eastern sectarianism inevitably leads to a simplistic and reductionist understanding of complex regimes and societies like those of Syria:

        ‘Despite this [pan-Arabist and ostensibly secular and socialist] program, the Assad regime bases itself internally on the members of the Alawite sect of Islam (an offshoot of the Shi’a), to which the Assads belong. Most members of the government inner circle, as well as occupiers of leadership posts in the Ba’ath party and the economy, are members of this sect, which has thus been elevated into a privileged stratum that rules over a majority (76%) Sunni population. ‘

        Again, there is no space here to go into the differences between the Alawites and the Shi’ites (they are not the same and don’t really approve of one another as religions) or into the sectarian composition of the Assad regime (it’s not just Alawites; there were many Sunnis as well in the inner circle, and some of the poorest and most heavily repressed communities were non-Ba’thist Alawites). It is important, however, to remember the following, often-ignored fact:

        Since 1970, Hafez al-Assad and his regime skilfully used religious and ethnic sects and sectarianism – in Syria as well as in Lebanon – to consolidate their rule, fuelling sectarian tensions but keeping them under sufficient control so as to justify the ‘need’ for this rule, otherwise “things would get out of control and the country would descend into a civil war,” as we were often warned. The term ‘politics of sectarian tension’ can probably describe this policy better than the cliché ‘divide and rule’. To give you just a glimpse, Hafez al-Assad – and his son Bashar after him – always prayed in Sunni mosques, appeased Alawite religious and community leaders, while at the same time marketing itself as a ‘secular’ regime.”

      • Brewer on May 13, 2016, 4:34 am

        “But Assad’s rule was one of the most dictatorial in the world and was seen as such in 2010. If you have some list of democracies and dictatorships that you assert is more valid than those compiled by groups that aren’t as anti Israel as you, please present them. Until then the validity of those lists is hereby asserted. Before 2011 the world recognized that Assad was a stone cold dictator.”

        Oh dear. There is so much wrong with this it is hard to know where to begin. Hang on a minute, maybe not.
        ” Assad’s rule was one of the most dictatorial in the world and was seen as such in 2010″
        = “Everybody knows Assad was a Dictator”.

        Yonah. “Everybody knows” doesn’t count for much around here.
        In the first place the statement is incorrect. Most of my friends would not agree – and they are people who take an interest in Syria and whose knowledge of Syria is profound as opposed to the vast majority who could not find the place with a GPS.
        So a more correct statement might be “Everybody (apart from those who take an interest in Syria) knows Assad was a Dictator”

        “If you have some list of democracies and dictatorships that you assert is more valid than those compiled by groups that aren’t as anti Israel as you, please present ”

        I must admit this has me bluffed so I’ll hazard a guess as to where you’re going with it.
        I’ll assume you are promoting those groups who (in ignorance of the horrendous crimes that resulted in the Israeli State) actually believe that Israel is a democratic beacon in the Middle East – a force for good in a benighted area beset with ignorant savages and promote regime change in favour of the Israeli model.

        This is not a persuasive argument for any but those who believe in the existence of “ignorant savages” and that resistance to the Israeli/U.S. ideology is (per se) evil. This is demonstrably incorrect. Need I list the perfectly legitimate organizations that support the proven rights of Palestinians?

        “Before 2011 the world recognized that Assad was a stone cold dictator.””
        Sorry. I am part of the World and I happen to believe that Bashar Assad was a mild mannered ophthalmologist thrust into the politics of Syria who has done every damn thing he can to to progress that nation – see straight’s link

    • Atlantaiconoclast on May 12, 2016, 11:29 pm

      It is none of your business who rules Syria. Let Syrians and only Syrians decide.

  8. ToivoS on May 11, 2016, 6:30 pm

    This is a dreadful anti-Assad propaganda piece. It reports, without any critical comment, that it was Assad who used Sarin in Ghouta in 2013. This story has many holes in it. In fact, available evidence suggests that it was the Turkish backed Jihadi rebels that used the Sarin. It was, in short, mostly likely a false flag attack designed to make Obama think his red line had been crossed. Fortunately, US intelligence warned Obama that there was no conclusive evidence that the Assad forces were responsible for the attack. We know now that they had evidence that Jihadists did in fact have sarin at that time (probably from Libyan stockpiles that were smuggled into Syria via the rat line described by S Hirsch).

    This dreadful propaganda piece does not even hint at the undisputed reality that what is going on in Syria is not a civil war any longer (even it was, possibly in the first few months of 2011) but is rather a proxy war supported by the Saudis, Qataris, Turks, Americans, British and Israelis using mostly foreign mercenaries against the Assad government. I suspect that these authors are very likely funded by these very same forces.

    • Danaa on May 11, 2016, 11:16 pm

      ToivoS – bless your heart – couldn’t agree more. Dreadful propaganda, indeed.

  9. ToivoS on May 11, 2016, 6:47 pm

    Did a little googling around and found that Yassin-Kassab has praised Erdogan for making war against the Norther Syrian Kurds that are turning out to one of the more effective ground forces battling ISIS. How in the hell can MW be promoting characters like these two authors?

    • lysias on May 11, 2016, 6:58 pm

      Let us hope it was just an unfortunate mistake.

    • ritzl on May 11, 2016, 7:14 pm

      Good question ToivoS. Good question.

      I’m pretty sure you’ve seen this but others may not have (another probing and supported Moon of Alabama piece):

      The “Free Syrian Army” Media Efforts Are A British Government Operation

    • Danaa on May 11, 2016, 11:20 pm

      ToivoS – good sleuthing – suspec ted as much – this really does read like an erdogani paid propaganda piece. I also agree that MW should look deeper into the source of these before promoting such a collection of shilling talking points on the front page.

      At least there should be a counter article.

      BTW, there is a huge amount of money being scattered around the various west publications from SA and Turkey especially, in an effort to score a few points in the information war.

      Also i agree that the effort by the Syrian Kurds was commendable.

    • otc on May 12, 2016, 10:07 pm

      “Did a little googling around and found that Yassin-Kassab has praised Erdogan for making war against the Norther Syrian Kurds”

      I didn’t find it – can you provide a citation

    • Atlantaiconoclast on May 12, 2016, 11:38 pm

      There is a lot of pressure on progressives to denounce Assad. And many great anti Zionists are still afraid to see the centrality of Israel in the destabilization of the ME.

  10. silamcuz on May 11, 2016, 7:30 pm

    The comments in here are terribly disrespectful and reeks of arrogance towards the authors of the article and the site editors who published it. Feel free to argue against any of the points or facts as presented in the article, but there is no need to be dismissive of it without any verifiable references to back you up. And please don’t derail away from the subject matter presented in the article as well.

    I am personally biased in supporting Syria’s government as opposed to the rebels, but I do acknowledge that my choice is largely due to the fact that Assad is a devil I know, while I have no idea who the rebels are and their capacity for undue violence and injustice. Articles like this helps shed some light onto the conflict and allow for people to shed their bias for informed choices.

    Thank you Leila and Robin for providing us with this enlightening insight on the conflict. I enjoyed the article and appreciated its thought provoking content.

    • Eric on May 11, 2016, 10:57 pm

      Silumcuz sez: “I have no idea who the rebels are and their capacity for undue violence.” Say what? Al nusra and friends capture Syrian soldiers — many of whom are inexperienced young draftees — and they summarily execute them with bullets to the back of the head. Unfeelingly despicable behaviour from those who would control Syria were Assad to fall — which you’re no doubt well aware of unless your YouTube app has been down the past five years. So please spare us your disingenuous BS and get out of the closet as the headchopping supporter you really are.

      • silamcuz on May 12, 2016, 12:23 am


        The “rebels” ranges from murderous terrorists basking in the chaos to educated activists with loving families. We need to listen to the latter in order to get a clearer picture of the conflict. I support the Syrian government by the way, but I am always open to having my stance challenged with hard facts and information.

        Also in YouTube, you can find any sort of videos that confirm or challenge your prejudices so not really sure how is that a viable argument against this article.

    • Danaa on May 11, 2016, 11:22 pm

      silamcuz – who is paying you exactly? care to disclose?

      I do agree this article needs a serious reply. It’s just hard to do for free when the writers have been generously compensated.

      • silamcuz on May 12, 2016, 12:46 am


        If the writers of the article were generously compensated, good for them as it was a genuinely well-written, informative article that deserves financial recognition.

        People here are throwing fits without even specifying what’s in the article that is factually incorrect, misinformed, or biased. Most comments don’t even address the content of the article, but are rehashing unverified conspiracy theories, making irrelevant comparisons with Libya, asserting Phil is anti-Assad etc.

        I think some moderation of comments must take place in order for us to have a fruitful discussion on the subject. Otherwise we are just drifting from one topic to the other without coming to any sort of informed consensus on anything.

      • annie on May 12, 2016, 12:44 pm

        The comments in here are terribly disrespectful and reeks of arrogance….

        Feel free to argue against any of the points or facts as presented in the article, but…

        don’t derail away from the subject matter…

        I am always open to having my stance challenged with hard facts…

        People here are throwing fits … Most comments don’t even address the content of the article, but are rehashing unverified conspiracy theories ….

        I think some moderation of comments must take place in order for us to have a fruitful discussion…

        say sil, pardon me for interrupting your continued pompous attempts to set the terms/boundaries of the conversation ..just thought i’d mention you don’t need to keep claiming “I support the Syrian government by the way” and “I am personally biased in supporting Syria’s government as opposed to the rebels” while you continue to your attempts to curtail speech of people who critisize this article, while you defend/protect the authors — which is what you’re doing.

        just thought i’d mention! and contrary to what you imply, there already is “some moderation of comments” taking place.

        also, we’ve already been through these conversations about syria over and over and we’ve hashed and rehashed over this topic time and again. and no one here is required to proffer “hard facts” regarding what’s occurred in syria — on your demand. but if you want them, there’s a discussion in this recent thread with lots of hard facts as well as supporting links to them in comments and the body of the main text:

        Goldberg on Obama’s Syria credibility ‘crisis’:

        and for more “hard facts” and supporting links here’s our extensive 2013 conversation (see comment thread for “hard facts” supported by links):

        Do’s and don’ts for progressives discussing Syria:


      • just on May 12, 2016, 11:45 am

        “I think some moderation of comments must take place in order for us to have a fruitful discussion on the subject. Otherwise we are just drifting from one topic to the other without coming to any sort of informed consensus on anything.”

        MW has moderators~ if you don’t like the job they’re doing, I suggest that you go get your own blog. Perhaps the authors of this book will allow you to host them. I have yet to see you engage in any sort of “fruitful discussion”. You act the school marm and the scold with more than a soupçon of racism on this site. I never knew that the goal of this site was to come to “any sort of informed consensus on anything”, either.


      • Danaa on May 12, 2016, 1:11 pm


        Glad you think the compensation is merited. That some people distribute articles they have been paid to do – by whatever party – is not the issue here. Anyone is welcome to write anything or not, whether compensated or not. But people (known as ‘commenters”) are also free to reply as best they can, especially when it is clear that the article in question is a propaganda piece. neither are “commenters” obligated to take any article on some ‘merits” just because it has ‘scholarly’ appearance and adds citations.

        FYI, all the FFs had plenty of citations to go with them in the information war. So., to take one example, why on earth have the authors brought up the sarin E. Ghoutta attack, proclaiming it an all but forgone conclusion that it was the “Assad” guys who did it? that by itself is a red flag. If you have been on this site for a while you’d know that there are myriad of much more credible citations that unequivocably put this claim to rest. Sy Hersh’s articles were mentioned, but there are many others. Annie provided several references as did a few others. If I have time, i’ll bring up the previous Syria related infowar articles that appeared here on MW where numerous citations were provided. understandably, people may not feel like retreading old grounds and debunking – yet again – this pathetic piece of shill.

        Sorry also for the lack of ‘respect” shown to the illustrious authors. may be they can pop in here themselves to defend their positions.

        In the meantime, here is a hint for you – when you refer to the Syrian government as the “Assad regime’ that’s a dead give away. just because most of the western MSM does, that does not justify the terminology. Which, if we were fair we would apply much wider, such as the “Erdogan regime” and the “SA kings’ regime”.

        And yes, some of us are mighty mad to see the suffering of the Syrian people exploited to score cheap propaganda points. If you, or the authors, were to tone down your inciting termininology, we might do otherwise and refrain from calling the Erdogan regime, say, or the brutal SA regime, terrorist sponsors (which should be a crime, BTW, and isn’t. After all, our own CIA does it too).

      • Danaa on May 12, 2016, 2:41 pm

        Annie, thanks for bringing up those “old’ Syria threads and conversations. I was set up to look for them but you beat me to it. man, those were good discussions!

        And you are right, it does feel tiresome to go over all the old ground again. Do you not find it interesting that in this most recent excursion, the yarmouk camp did not feature as prominently? have “Human Rights” operators (I hesitate to call them activists, for fear we may find the tell-tale signs of USAID lurking in the tunnels) decided to drop the pretense of ‘caring’ for palestinian refugees and are now sheltering behind ‘civilians under siege” mantra? If i recall, the yarmouk-waving deeply caring writers of days gone by, found a way to sneak their pro-regime change articles into MW under the umbrella of “palestinian rights” and “Palestinian suffering”. Do they feel such cover is not necessary any longer?

        Or, is the problem that there are not enough submissions on the topic of Syria from the side that cares for a more truthful discussions? I can’t recall a single front page article along those lines…and yes, i deeply regret I couldn’t finish mine up in time due to pressing obligations.

      • annie on May 12, 2016, 3:39 pm

        danaa, there are other threads and discussions too (not too long ago this one — and excuse me if i’ve already linked to it in the thread >> )

        i’m fairly certain as a staff writer what i report is more scrutinized by the site (editors) because there’s an expectation i represent site — understandably. wheras someone else could write heavily opinionated articles, i think i would be discouraged from that over controversial topics (syria is very controversial within the movement).

        so, for example that article i just linked to i wrote on a saturday — it was breaking news as i recall, that the 2nd batch of “US trained rebels” had entered syria from turkey and immediately flipped over to AQ. now, even tho i had not been reporting about all this i already knew about the previous division 30 troups, how they got pounced immediately etc, and the congressional testimony that after we’d spent 500mil to train a bunch of them we only had 4 or 5 to show for it. so i got the new news thru twitter of the new batch folding to AQ and i thought they were solid sources (arab press i researched it in arabic via google translate). but my article wasn’t published til tuesday. after multiple western sources reported it, it got picked up by msm, state department discussed and acknowledge it, and everyone and their brother was talking about it. etc etc. therefor it wasn’t controversial hence not a risk to the site. and all my original sources were scrapped and replaced by current monday sources. but for me it felt like a (somewhat) waste of time because it’s way more fun to have breaking news, it had to be written several times over, and by the time we published very few people even read it because they already knew the news. (plus, i can’t recall as i would have to review the article but i don’t think any implication the US could anticipate arms and weapons meant for so called “moderate” US trained soldiers would inevitably (purposely) end up w/the bad guys, was included in the article. that’s the sort of editorializing that’s not appreciated (albeit it’s happened at such an alarming rate one would have to be foolish not to anticipate it — imho).

        so reporting on syria is very challenging for me because the anti assad activist within our movement can be very loud and mean! lol. seriously tho, when i wrote this article back in the day >> — (mild, not too controversial one might assume!) some pro palestine activists went ape shit and started HOUNDING the site and telling us to shut up about syria and what did we know. so there are serious gatekeepers within the movement on syria. and many of them don’t do that for any other reason than they have firm beliefs. palestinians are very divided on syria — understandably, they have suffered a lot as a result of the war but at the same time syria offered a lot of palestinians refuge for a long time (including hamas). they are not unified wrt aspects of syria advocacy. and recall how max blumenthal left that one publication saying they were a mouthpiece for assad or something? he really saw what was going on there in a certain vision he was being true to. whereas, i think i came about my activism in a way in which i inherently did not trust US intervention because of iraq and i could see the patterns. so i trusted my own hunches. but my hunches are not necessarily shared by the editors here, hence the requirement to back up my sources in a way that’s completely not require at all in this article (ie the allegation assad unleashed CW — same claim as goldberg w/no source what so ever) which btw, is not an “article” per se — it’s an excerpt from a book. and not too long ago we got some emails asking why we were not reporting syria from the FSA ptv (or something — that’s paraphrasing) and i explained we covered a range of views on syria. and clearly, this (above) is one of them.

        i’d guess we definitely don’t get submissions about syria very often except from the perspective of those who believe the official story of a genuine unfiltered uprising amongst the people sans western intervention. it was a long haul getting people to realize the US was (inadvertently or not) supporting unsavory actors over there. of course once they officially joined AQ and/or isis that became a less sustainable position that’s best avoided (as the authors did above). none the less, people w/my ptv we’re regarded as conspiracy theorist nut jobs. so for the main part i stay away from reporting on syria because it’s not worth it for me, it takes its toll energy-wise. but i think others not on staff could get published here for sure. i think they are very open to different pts of view.

      • just on May 12, 2016, 4:17 pm

        Thanks annie and Danaa.

      • Danaa on May 13, 2016, 2:05 pm

        Annie, I put up a comment yesterday addressing yours above, but it seems to have been swallowed up by the ghosts (I never saw it come up – may be I pressed the wrong key, or maybe…who knows).

        I can’t repeat it all but i wanted to thanks you again for the lengthy and useful comment you made, concerning the difficulties of posting on the Syria question. It helped clear many things and I’m sure others found it useful as well.

        the point i wanted to make was that I there are reasons there are splits in the palestinian solidarity movement re Syria. You said many have a heart-felt aversion to the current government in Syria, while others are strong supporters of Assad and the government of Syria in their effort to fight back against the tearing up of their country. The split is actually reflected within the palestinian communities in Syria, with some groups actively fighting side by side with the Syrian Army, and others (like the one that had control in Yarmouk) allied with the islamist groups such as the al-Qaeda affiliated jaisch al Islam , Al nusra and even (some factions) fighting alongside ISIS..

        The problem for palestinians in the west bank, gaza and the solidarity groups in the west is that a fair chunk of their monetary support haols from Gulf countries, inclusing in particular, SA and qatar. the latter, through muslim brotherhood organizations, has a large presence in many Arab countries – obviously – as we saw from Egypt with Morsi. nowadays Qatar has mended fences with SA, so groups such as hamas, whose leader meshaal used to shelter in Syria, and is now in one of the Gulf countries (Abi Dahbi?), have to at least pay lip service to what SA goals are. And unfortunately SA goals are to break up Syria and, if possible, turn it over to any number of extreme islamist groups (take your pick from the “coalition they assembled in Riad a few months back). But Hamas and the PA aside 9the latter also getting fair support from the Gulf) many palestinian solidarity groups and activists have been compromised by the financial support received from one side in the conflict. I don’t mean to say they knowingly tailor their message to the pay master, but it’s easy enough to subvert the terms of discussion by flooding organizations with one-sided information, and making it tacitly clear that independent investigation into the facts on the ground are not welcome.

        There can honestly be few good explanations as to why solidarity groups the world over had not as much as a peep to say about the atrocities perpetrated in Yemen now by the saudis, or have said much of anything about the unbelievable brutality and misery brought by the islamist armed groups to the people living (often very reluctantly0 in the areas under their control. I can easily understand why so many may find the situation in Syria confusing, with facts disputed and with the US Empire Including turkey, UK etc) arrayed against the russia led axis of resistance. I have never seen even the slightest reference to the many good deeds Assad has done before the CIA propelled attempt at a color revolution 9cf “spring’ which was more like “winter”). Or an analysis of the Qatar-to-Turkey pipeline plans. Instead there is this knee jery fist waving at Assad the tyrant, where in reality, he and his government were perhaps #20 at most on the list of thee world’s great tyrants today 9with SA and the gulf countries heading the the top 10),

        OK, you know much of what I say is true insofar as the facts in Syria go. But the picture of finacial sources of solidarity and human rights groups is obviously murkier as there is little visibility of where the support comes from. I just think that this should be taken into account when considering the outpouring of anti-Syria articles from certain groups. This exerpt here is no different. It is just kind of interesting how one-sided the comments elicited from Syrians were. Given the way people feel in Syria, the coloring seems a bit strange to me. I would perhaps need to read more to understand where the authors went in Syria and which area residents they interviewed, before i say any more.

  11. Eric on May 11, 2016, 7:41 pm

    Not surprised to see this pro-head chopper propaganda piece in MW. Les we forget, Phil was enthusiastically supporting the destruction of Libya and ouster of Gaddafi in 2011 — brought to us by the same criminal French/British/CIA/Saudi/Zionist partnership that’s attempting a repeat performance in Syria. With a great supporting role by the perfidious Erdogan and his inner circle, profiteering while the innocent Syrian civilians are displaced and killed. And for this, Assad must go? Puh-lease!

    • Qualtrough on May 11, 2016, 10:36 pm

      @Eric – Thanks for pointing that out. I used to avidly read Professor Cole’s site until it became apparent that he totally bought into the ‘Gaddafi has to go’ line. That left a bad taste in my mouth and I haven’t been back since.

    • Danaa on May 11, 2016, 11:26 pm

      Eric, to be fair – Phil had a change of heart about libya – many people did, as the real truth of what happened there started to trickle out, and the disastrous postscript is now clear for all to see. I believe he may be on the fence with regards to Syria (can’t say I know – going by the fact that 4-5 articles were published by now – all smelling of the same one-sided propaganda flavor…).

      Actually I prefer not to cast aspersions without knowing, but if so, my apologies.

      • echinococcus on May 12, 2016, 1:27 am


        People who have a “change of heart” after openly supporting the supreme crime as defined by Justice Jackson in Nuremberg are more likely than not to have many such hearts to change in their life. In the absence of principle re aggression, they necessarily will look at each case separately and judge by their interests of the moment.
        That also may explain the surprisingly many imperialist and Zionist propaganda articles being published here. Still, the net effect may be positive, to judge by the comments.

      • Danaa on May 12, 2016, 2:59 pm

        echinococcus – I agree about the positive net effect, even if the tenor of the article precipitating the discussions feels sour. We need those from time to time, though i agree with annie that it has a kind of a musky/moldy feel to have to go over all the old ground again.

        I am trying to be fair to this site. MW has, by and large, stayed away from general discussions involving the ME, with a few notable exceptions (the Egyptian “spring” – that turned into fall – and 5 or so articles dealing with Syria – all with the pro-regime change flavor, mixed with that little smidgen of color revolution meme. Phil did put up an article about his change of heart re libya, which was, if I recall, well received. My guess is that he, like many other writers on the palestinian/israel situation he finds it necessary to reserve judgement in the open, whatever his own feelings are. therefore, i try not to jrender judgement on that which i do not know.

        I can also see a problem with having the Syria question erupt with pro/con views and comments galore. Let’s face it, the US (or, rather, parties in the US) are and have seen fit to use Syria as one place to conduct their little shadow war with the Russians. This blog being in the US, supported primarily by US sources (including readers), perhaps it is somewhat ill-advised to come out – for any blog owner – on the side of the ones the US’s PTB set up as the empire’s frontier. Comments is one thing, but giving a forum to far ranging discussions – including articles that may support the “other side’ (cf. axis of resistance to the Empire) is another. Funny how I/P is legit, but Syria/Iran/Russia vs Saudi-arabia/Turkey/ the CIA (parts thereof)/Israel is not. I know the answer why that is so, of course, but I’m not telling (except under duress!). I only talk secretly (ie, in old comment threads that no one reads) about such things to keith, because it’s part of our act, so it’s OK.

      • annie on May 12, 2016, 4:18 pm

        danaa, i think the ‘i/p is legit and syria/iran/russia isn’t’ is not accurate. i think it’s more a matter of people write about what they know about. and phil very much covered the iran deal so i don’t think he’s adverse necessarily, it’s just that i don’t think he’s followed events in syria hardly at all. it’s very time consuming for one thing.

      • echinococcus on May 14, 2016, 1:14 pm

        You’re entirely right, Danaa.

        I particularly applaud the observation re the topics covered and their implications. In fact, any articles or even comments not directly/primarily connected to Palestine on this web site are harming it seriously, even though (or because) they are attracting a good number of “liberals”. I’m not surprised that management will not understand this, though.

        My point is that the position of various people here, not excluding article authors, depends on having principles or not: absolutes like non-intervention in sovereign states, for instance, or non-support of imperialism.

  12. Qualtrough on May 11, 2016, 10:30 pm

    If the US government was supporting the Syrian ‘opposition’ out of concern for the Syrian people it would have long ago been shoveling money into overthrowing the Saudi Arabian government. The fact that Saudi Arabia is our BFF #2 in the Middle East tells you all you need to know about US concern for the downtrodden.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on May 12, 2016, 11:41 pm

      ding ding ding, exactly! And the irony of denunciations of Palestinian violence when they support violence against the Assad regime.

  13. HarryLaw on May 12, 2016, 8:13 am

    UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05794498 Date: 11/30/2015 RELEASE IN FULL…”The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad”. “Back to Syria. It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel’s security — not through a direct attack, which in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel has never occurred, but through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel’s leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests. Speaking on CNN’s Amanpour show last week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak argued that “the toppling down of Assad will be a major blow to the radical axis, major blow to Iran…. It’s the only kind of outpost of the Iranian influence in the Arab world…and it will weaken dramatically both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.” Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.
    Arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach. As long as Washington’s political leaders stay firm that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed, as they did in both Kosovo and Libya, the costs to the United States will be limited. Victory may not come quickly or easily, but it will come. And the payoff will be substantial. Iran would be strategically isolated, unable to exert its influence in the Middle East. The resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an enemy. Washington would gain substantial recognition as fighting for the people in the Arab world, not the corrupt regimes. For Israel, the rationale for a bolt from the blue attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be eased. And a new Syrian regime might well be open to early action on the frozen peace talks with Israel. Hezbollah in Lebanon would be cut off from its Iranian sponsor since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance and missiles. All these strategic benefits and the prospect of saving thousands of civilians from murder at the hands of the Assad regime (10,000 have already been killed in this first year of civil war)”.

    • just on May 12, 2016, 9:45 am

      I confess to being flabbergasted HarryLaw. I had not seen that before in its entirety, but had only heard snippets.

      “All these strategic benefits and the prospect of saving thousands of civilians from murder at the hands of the Assad regime”

      Israel is mentioned 8 times in that memo (9 if you count Ehud Barak’s push for the US to do the dirty, filthy work of removing him). The US people and US security is mentioned not once, only the ‘limited costs’ and how the “resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an enemy.”

      “Arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.”

      ta~ da! Tell that to the Syrian people again~ those that still live, that is.

      Then there’s this kicker: “Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.”

      “11/30/2015” I guess they had a good Thanksgiving weekend.


      Thanks for sharing this here.

      • Atlantaiconoclast on May 12, 2016, 11:44 pm

        I so wish more people knew about the centrality of Israel in our disastrous foreign policy. Even Trump can intuitively see the error of these stupid policies, though I think he is clueless on the deviousness of Israel.

      • Rusty Pipes on May 16, 2016, 6:45 pm

        Actually, it looks as though it was released on 11/30/15, but written during the Albright years at the end of Bill’s term, 12/31/00. The sender and recipient aren’t available. But this looks boilerplate PNAC rationale. This is before Bashar had done much of anything in office, so it is only in reaction to Syria’s policies towards Israel:


        Date: 2000-12-31 22:00
        Subject: NEW IRAN AND SYRIA 2.DOC

        UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05794498 Date: 11/30/2015

    • lysias on May 12, 2016, 10:10 am

      The U.S.’s campaign to bring down Assad really got going after Hezbollah defeated Israel in the 2006 war.

    • lysias on May 12, 2016, 10:11 am

      I wonder what made them so confident that they could bring Assad down.

      • Atlantaiconoclast on May 12, 2016, 11:45 pm

        cause people like me initially bought into the propaganda about Assad

    • Sycamores on May 12, 2016, 12:24 pm


      my opinion.

      this is were Israel comes in handy for the U.S. foreign policy.
      here’s what we are fed by the U.S. Department of State – replacing Assad regime with an U.S. friendly Syrian regime, will make Israel a safer place.

      guess where Russian only Mediterranean navy facility is? Taryus, Syria.

      the thing is it doesn’t even matters if a new Syrian regime is friendly to the U.S. or not. as long as they are not friendly to Russia.

      why is the U.S. supporting a far right government in the Ukraine? The Russian Black Sea Fleet’s based in Sevastopol, Crimea might be a reason.

      geopolitics is not my strong point but it does look like these conflicts favors the U.S. and its Nato allies program of encircling Russia.

  14. merlot on May 12, 2016, 10:53 am

    The support for Assad on this site is disturbing. I find the opposition problematic. I find Al-Nusra and ISIS frightening. I don’t support them and recognize that they are committing atrocities in Syria and against Syrians. I’m not an apologist for those groups. But I’m also not an apologist for Assad. To say that all of this is propaganda and to ignore Assad’s actions if reprehensible. To put all of this on the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia as if the whole conflict were a conspiracy is beyond logic. To insist that opposition to groups like ISIS and Al-Nusra should come with support for Assad is a real problem.

    To say that Assad was freely elected and to imply that there ever was a functioning Democracy in Syria or that people can freely express their opinions is problematic. To deny that Assad was a dictator who ruled through power before the uprising is a problem. To deny that people really did rise up against Assad after decades of living in an authoritarian police state and to say that all of this is a conspiracy against the “legitimate” government is to ignore Syrian history.

    Please do challenge U.S., Saudi, Israeli, Russian, and other policies and their intervention. Please do challenge ISIS, Nusra, the FSA, and other opposition. But also please do challenge Assad and the regime. Hold them all accountable.

    • lysias on May 12, 2016, 11:41 am

      Assad can be a tyrant and nevertheless be the best ruler that Syria can expect under the circumstances. In any case, the messes we have created in Iraq and Libya by toppling tyrants should teach us not to do the same thing in other countries like Syria.

      • merlot on May 12, 2016, 12:50 pm

        NO question that the messes we have created in Iraq and Libya should make everyone question doing the same thing in Syria. What doesn’t follow and what I can’t accept is people here saying that somehow Syrian’s need to live with Assad and that we should support him as the best option. There is no principle in that statement. Assad is a brutal. Even before this war he inherited rule over a police state from his father and maintained that police state. The history of Assad rule in Syria is long and brutal. To say that is the best that can be respected under the circumstances is to expect that Syrians should accept brutality.

      • annie on May 12, 2016, 1:11 pm

        To say that is the best that can be respected under the circumstances is to expect that Syrians should accept brutality.

        i agree. but unless there’s a viable alternative then isn’t it a matter of deciding which brutality is worse? for example, saddam was brutal but after a few years of war, overwhelmingly iraqis felt life was better under saddam then the brutality of war and what’s come out of it. at least that’s what i heard from many of them. do you think if you polled iraqis right now if they could take away the 2003 american invasion of iraq as if it had never happened they would vote yes?

        the US should be pressuring our allies not to pour mercenaries and weapons into syria and stop supplying weapons ourselves. it’s not our job to police the middle east and syria was a bastion of stability during the decade before war broke out in comparison to what was going on elsewhere in the ME. they took in millions of iraqi refugees. it wasn’t perfect but it was way better than the last 5 years. the intent of the designers of chaos in the ME was to break up syria. it’s the syrians job to get rid of their dictator and if they choose to do it with fanatical foreign jihadists then its not our business to support those jihadists — which we’ve been inadvertently and covertly doing for years. billions a year is not chump change, and contrary to suggestions in this article that we have not been doing enough for syria, we’ve been doing too much. and where’s the syrian leader supported by the opposition whose going to lead this forthcoming democracy?

        if taking out assad leaves the country vulnerable to being overtaken by fanatics how does that help syria? so yeah, he may be brutal, but he’s living in a brutal terrain. there was no AQ in iraq before our invasion (because saddam was brutal towards them), they came afterwards. so they are being used by foreign powers to get rid of assad just like they were used to get rid of gaddafi. and the people supporting them would be all too keen to march assad’s head thru the street at the end of a stick and hillary no doubt would like to laugh on mainstream media that we came we saw he died.

        so yes, right now, assad is better than the alternative in my opinion. and if the overwhelming majority of syrians wanted him overthrown he would have been.

      • just on May 12, 2016, 1:01 pm

        +1, lysias.

        The US has created “messes” all over the globe by “toppling tyrants” and leaders that get in the way of their ambitions. Millions die and the ones that survive are displaced, maimed (physically and psychologically), left more miserable, etc.

        The US nor any coalition has that right. That’s the point.

        To quote from Phil’s great memorial piece today:

        “He got angry at me when I supported the Libyan intervention in 2011 and never let me forget it. He said there was a flaw in my thinking that I could support such a thing. He wanted to go over it with me again and again. He was like a bulldog; he sensed the bourgeois wishywashy compromiser in me. His rule was that it was never good when the United States got militarily involved in a foreign country. He had seen it in South America and Central America and in Asia too.” – See more at:

        I agree with Michael Ratner.

      • merlot on May 12, 2016, 3:02 pm

        This theory that Assad is the best option assumes that we need to support a particular current side, that we need to push for a return to Assad and that supporting the government is what will bring change. It is to say that one side in the conflict needs to be pushed to win the conflict. We need to pick a winner, the one we find (for whatever reason) the least objectionable and then we can accept their violence as tragically needed.

        This is terrible logic. You can say that Assad needs to go and not support international military intervention or any one of the problematic opposition groups. You can call for change not through continued military action but through real international intervention and bringing all parties, including those we don’t like, to the table. You can push for support by all of the disparate actors for talks that will end conflict by addressing both the concerns of pro and anti-Assad forces. Ending things for anti-Assad groups means Assad going. Ending things for pro-Assad groups means not repeating the de-Bathification process that was so disastrous in Iraq, recognizing that some people in the government will need to stay and that reconciliation is needed post conflict. You can say that this isn’t realistic, but saying we must support Assad is to say we must support brutality.

        If people here are concerned with consistently supporting justice, supporting Assad isn’t a demonstration of principle.

      • annie on May 12, 2016, 4:36 pm

        This theory that Assad is the best option assumes that we need to support a particular current side, that we need to push for a return to Assad and that supporting the government is what will bring change. It is to say that one side in the conflict needs to be pushed to win the conflict. We need to pick a winner, the one we find (for whatever reason) the least objectionable and then we can accept their violence as tragically needed.

        This is terrible logic

        assad is not gone so there is no so called “theory” that “assumes” a “need to push for a return to Assad”. and if one believes the best current option is leaving assad in power currently it doesn’t “assume” one has to “support a particular current side”. in fact many people (like me) just believe in non intervention. It is not to say one side in the conflict needs to be “pushed” to win the conflict.

        where is your so called “theory” coming from? because what i hear is the anti assad side saying we should be ‘pushing’ them (see the article above blaming non us intervention for the continuation of hostilities just like jeffrey goldberg does). arguing on a basis of claim about what one side’s position “assumes” without establishing that assumption is sort of like straw-manning it. you’re not really arguing against what they’ve said, you’re arguing against what you claim their beliefs allegedly “assume”.

        and i don’t know who you’re addressing but i stated clearly “it’s the syrians job to get rid of their dictator” — there’s no push to support assad from me, so i don’t know who you are addressing wrt this theory. i think we should stay out of it and hopefully we’ll see some stabilization in syria.

      • merlot on May 12, 2016, 3:43 pm

        To be clear, when I say “real international intervention” I do not mean military intervention of any kind but rather international engagement and work to bring all sides to a ceasefire and end of conflict agreement.

      • annie on May 12, 2016, 4:53 pm

        rather international engagement and work to bring all sides to a ceasefire and end of conflict agreement.

        unfortunately many of those who expound this solution (like our government) are also the ones supplying arms to the region.

      • straightline on May 12, 2016, 4:54 pm


        “To ignore Assad’s actions is reprehensible” I agree!

        I will post a translation from the French of the link I posted earlier. From Off-Guardian. It’s a great piece.

        The Crimes of Bashar Al-Assad since June 2000:

        Construction and restoration of 10,000 mosques and 500 churches.
        Construction and restoration of 8,000 schools, 2,000 institutes and 40 universities.
        Construction of more than 600,000 flats / housing for young people.
        Construction and modernization of more than 6,000 hospitals and clinics.
        Establishment of five international industrial areas.
        Opening of Syria in 60 international banks.
        Opening of Syria 5 telecommunications operators (Internet service providers and GSM).
        Licenses for 20 independent newspapers and magazines and 5 TV stations by satellite.
        Development of performance art, theater, comedy, tragedy. More than 20,000 Syrian actors have achieved Excellence Award.
        Construction and modernization of stadiums and sports halls. Large global reputation Syrian athletes horseback riding, swimming, wrestling, gymnastics and other …
        Salary increases of 300%
        Development and modernization of the Syrian Arab Army.
        The economic situation of Syria is healthy, while the economic crisis affected the world.
        Thousands of new operations: restaurants, hotels, tourist cities, leisure centers, shopping centers, factories …
        The fall in unemployment from 28% to 12% despite the rise in the number of people entering the labor market.
        Connections: electricity, telephone, drinking water and sanitation to more than a million homes and apartments across the country.
        Reimbursement of all debts of the country and increased agricultural and industrial capacity by 600%.
        Development of tourism. Syria was the third most visited Arab countries and the 83th most visited country in the world.
        Syria had only 1% of illiterates. The best score of Asia and Africa.
        Development of public transportation, airports, ports and bus stations and prices are kept low.
        Constitution of thousands of associations for the poor, orphans and the disabled.
        Syria is the most important country in the region, economically, politically, militarily … and Al-Assad is the most influential person.

        I am reminded of the Monty Python sketch about the Romans in Palestine:

      • just on May 12, 2016, 5:10 pm

        Thanks so very much, straightline! Maybe some folks never really knew, but now perhaps they do. I knew, but had never seen that article or compilation before. Perhaps they’ve confused son with father or something. No disrespect intended, but perhaps they don’t really know all that much about it, but find it easier to parrot the MSM and “leaders”.

        The clip is quite nearly perfect, btw.

        Great contribution.

      • straightline on May 12, 2016, 5:32 pm

        Thanks Just! I take a more cynical view, When you look at what the Assad government did prior to 2011, you realise why he had to go. As to MSM. I look forward to reading in my local such any article on Syria that does not use one of the terms “brutal dictator”, “tyrant”, “dictatorial regime”. When I see those words, I know where they are coming from and tend to switch off.

        Check out the contributors here.

      • DaBakr on May 14, 2016, 7:28 pm


        the ‘people’ of syria already voiced their disapproval of assad as the ‘best ruler under the circumstances’ back during the arab spring. when he saw the winds blowing instead of figuring out how it preserve his evil clans iron grip on ALL of syrian peoples lives by giving up a little- he responded with the most typical strategy employed by ALL assads. he started to slaughter his people. at first he was the ‘protector of minority alewites until some alewites protested him and were slaughtered as well. the hypocrisy on this site about the ‘propaganda war’ against assad is a joke.

      • straightline on May 15, 2016, 2:41 am


        Certainly a far smaller proportion of the population of Syria have voiced their disapproval of Assad than the proportion of the population of historical Palestine that have voiced their disapproval of the Zionist regime. But I guess democracy only works when it gives you the answer you want.

        I invite you to go to a less pro-Ziocon biased website than the ones where you are getting your information about Syria. How about here.

        Or here:

    • Danaa on May 12, 2016, 1:20 pm

      Merlot, again, it is not up to YOU to decide what the leadership the Syrian people want. You andn the ones you support or are supporting you, are interested in removing Assad for entirely nefarious reasons (the Qatar to Turkey gas pipe line is one such reason; israel has its on, as do elements in the US – but not all).

      By the same token if bringing ‘democracy’ to Syria implies killing and dispossessing half the population, is it any surprise tyhat people would rather stay united?

      I find it very disturbing that at this time, when the Syrian government campaign is seeing some success, when Aleppo may be on the verge of being liberated from the scum sent in from the north (the liberation of Aleppo is what the ‘cease-fire” is supposed to halt, and has), when latakia can breath freely for the first time in 3 years, that this is the time, the authors choose to bring out this informercial. one of these authors has apparently been justifying the massacres of the kurds conducted by the Erdogan regime.

      Question – why can’t we use your arguments to topple the evil monarchy of SA? the ones who, in all likelihood, supported and enabled 9/11 (among other unmentionable parties)? when the authors herein – and you – kindly use the same exact arguments to call for the removal of the turkey regime and the saudi regime (and perhaps also the Jordanian regime) then, maybe, may be, we might engage in a discussion. not before.

    • Donald on May 12, 2016, 4:28 pm

      I mostly agree with this, but I was also disturbed by the one sided nature of this article. That is, I accept that the Syrian government is guilty of massive war crimes and so is the opposition. I don’t believe in the fairy tale that if only we had intervened more the war would have only lasted months– in fact, this seems insane. It is the sort of thing Clinton would say.

      It would be good to read a piece which told the truth about the war crimes of all factions, but not another one of these Clinton style pro- intervention pieces. In this case, MW actually sank below the level of the NYT which recently ran an honest piece by Declan Walsh describing the war crimes in Aleppo by all sides.

    • Eric on May 12, 2016, 4:45 pm

      Merlot: Assad is a secular leader who is supported by the majority of all segments of the population: Sunni, Alawite, Christian and Kurd. Had the anti-Assad cutthroats not been organized and funded by the “usual suspects” there would be no uprising today in Syria, and the millions of people who’ve been displaced and otherwise harmed since 2011 would be living in peace. Just as they did prior to 2011 when Syria was calm, relatively prosperous and harmonious with respect to the various ethnic groups. Furthermore, you’re not qualified to advocate regime change to the Syrian people or anyone else, so please stop.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on May 12, 2016, 11:47 pm

      I want to know what you think Lincoln should have done when a far less egregious bunch, Southerners who were largely non slaving owning rebels, fought for the right to secede from the Union. Something tells me you never shed a tear for the terror and death and dispossession faced by the South during the war.

      • HarryLaw on May 13, 2016, 8:11 am

        Maybe Kerry would have said.. Abraham Lincoln, he’s the one who killed 800,000 of his own people to save the Union. He lost all legitimacy, he has no place in America’s future, he must resign by October 2016, or else. [Syriapers]

      • Mooser on May 13, 2016, 11:45 am

        I want to know what you think…/… by the South during the war.

        ROTFLMSJAO!!! Auntie Bellum is here. Funny, your little narrative of the American Civil War reminds me in many particulars of a Zionist narrative of the Nakba.

  15. Neil Schipper on May 12, 2016, 4:42 pm

    How, how, how am I expected to believe that a dictatorial regime, a regime with complete control over education and media, could fail so miserably to communicate to, to propagandize, its masses of the danger of foreigner incursions and the need to prevent the shattering of their society, mass death and dislocation?

    The peoples of China, Russia and dozens of other states, while often holding serious grudges against their regimes, would not so easily stand by in the face of plausible evidence of foreign incursion.

    Parsimony tells me that the hatred felt by the people of Syria for their regime was profound.

    Even if true that U.S. & Israel would want to gain advantage by a Syrian collapse, the idea that Syrians would so easily allow their homeland to be smashed without popular resistance, is only something that a radical leftist would hold to; they need to believe junk to shore up their fantasy that the problems of the Arab world are in the main caused by western imperialism.

    • annie on May 12, 2016, 5:09 pm

      The peoples of China, Russia and dozens of other states, while often holding serious grudges against their regimes, would not so easily stand by in the face of plausible evidence of foreign incursion.

      neil, where did you get the idea syrians, while often holding serious grudges against assad, “so easily stand by in the face of plausible evidence of foreign incursion”? maybe you’re not aware of the syrian arab army. they are doing their best to extract them from the country and there are a lot of them (syrians) who’ve joined the armed forces and died for their country. and the syrians who support the opposition don’t “so easily stand by” either, but many of them embrace the foreigners fighting their government because they want to oust him. but syrians are not “easily standing by”. nothing is easy there.

      • Neil Schipper on May 12, 2016, 6:48 pm

        By “easily stand by in the face of plausible evidence of foreign incursion” — not the best choice of words — I meant that the society would so easily disintegrate under external threat.

        It did disintegrate, not mainly because of foreign meddling, but because of the deep hatred of the people for life under the regime.

        There was a huge incentive — huge — for the regime to inculcate its people, and most certainly its elite, with a sense of the danger of the “imperialist Zionist” foreigner and their “Wahabist & Salafist lackeys”. Russian and Iranian intel would have been available to shore up such notions, if indeed evidence for such existed.

        In the first weeks and months of the carnage, there were many high level defections from the regime.

    • brianct on May 12, 2016, 7:02 pm

      YK writes:
      ‘In June 2013, Ra’ed Fares, director of the media centre at Kafranbel and one of the symbols of the revolutionary movement’

      Kafranbel is the dodgy english language banner mob, consisting of ONLY MALES no females: which is what youd expect from wahhabi sunnis, whos ‘revolution’ is backed by the Gulf States

  16. just on May 12, 2016, 4:45 pm

    “It would be good to read a piece which told the truth about the war crimes of all factions”

    Yeah, it would be great, except the war is active. Maybe the truth will out one day, you’ll have to be patient. Me, I take EVERYTHING reported by MSM with at least a tablespoon of salt.

    The American people still don’t know the truths about so many of their own war crimes~ including in Syria! They probably won’t even believe it/own it. Just for instance, I am constantly being accused of being a Russian when I post oppositional comments on propaganda (anti- Assad, Iran and Russia) stories reported in MSM.

    The other day, it was reported that there will be a memorial to Chris Kyle in TX!!!

    “American Sniper memorial will include trees from George W Bush’s Texas ranch
    The Chris Kyle Memorial Plaza is expected to open in July and will also feature a bronze statue of the Navy Seal and author who was killed in 2013”

    I commented there and was also ridiculed for not supporting this ‘hero’.

    Today there is an appeal for justice those that suffered at Abu Ghraib. I referenced the article above. The comment section is scanty and very telling.

  17. brianct on May 12, 2016, 6:51 pm

    Why is Mondoweiss publishingn an article on syria by the execrable Robin Yassin-Kassab of Pulse media,which endorses the FSA(one of whos member was the notoriouis cannibal, and manages to ignore ISIS alnusra al-sham and other terrorist groups currently besieging Syria?
    And which shamelessly demonises the most [popular man in Syria President Assad! the title alone is brazen, written on a wall we are told by the mythical Shabiha : ‘Either Assad or we’ll burn the country’ ‘ Well there are no Shabeeha , seeking to destroy syria,: where were they in the years 2000-2011, when Assad was also president of Syria?
    Assad has the support of a majority of Syrians as shown by the 2014 presidential elections.
    Syria is under attack by foreign backed jihadis from 80 different countries, so theres no ‘civil war’
    Prof Tim Anderson has also written a book The Dirty War on Syria: and many articles that show YJK is lying eg :

    Five Years ago Daraa, mid-March 2011.

    “I have seen from the beginning armed protesters in those demonstrations … they were the first to fire on the police. Very often the violence of the security forces comes in response to the brutal violence of the armed insurgents” – Jesuit priest Father Frans Van der Lugt, January 2012, Homs Syria

    “The claim that armed opposition to the government has begun only recently is a complete lie. The killings of soldiers, police and civilians, often in the most brutal circumstances, have been going on virtually since the beginning.” – Professor Jeremy Salt, October 2011, Ankara Turkey
    From Houla to Ghouta, syria has been victimof a parallel media war where every atrocvity comity BY the jihadis is blamed on Assad ,. SAA or the ‘shabiha
    ‘Russian diplomat Aleksandr Pankin summarised: ‘very few of the people who died in Houla were killed by artillery shelling’ (RT 2012). From then, culprits in western media stories shifted to pro-government militia (shabiha). Britain’s Daily Telegraph blamed ‘Assad’s Death Squads’’;

    of 11 million refugees , 7 million are inside govt areas as IDP,,,,whyu do they choose to live there rather than wih the ‘rebels’ or flee syria?
    Aleppo , where a battle currently rages only 25% max is under ‘rebel’ aka alnusra control… and in them 75% run by the legitimate govt the doctors have recently publically endorsed support for the SAA

    why do that if Assad is burning syria?

    shame on Mondoweiss! youer endorsing USraels war on syria by publishignthsi claptrap

    • straightline on May 12, 2016, 7:05 pm

      But brianct, this article has enabled many of us to point out its falsehoods and hypocrisy and to link, like you have, to alternative versions of the Syrian story.

      This article is a pile of s**t but we’re able to say so and others are able to read our criticisms. Similar articles are posted every week in my local MSM, but there I have no opportunity to set the record straight. I complain but they ignore me. I am heartened by the comments here by just, Brewer, Danaa, Annie, and others. Truth will out – eventually.

    • Mooser on May 12, 2016, 7:19 pm

      “Why is Mondoweiss…”

      Does publication by Mondo carry with it an endorsement? Perhaps that will have to be clarified. I didn’t think that publication carries an endorsement.

      • lysias on May 14, 2016, 10:46 am

        MW didn’t just publish it, they featured it on the front page.

      • Bandolero on May 18, 2016, 5:23 pm


        Endorsement or no endorsement, words can have consequences.

        Peddling lies like these here contributes to encouraging terrorists in Syria to commit more acts of false-flag-terror there.

        US-paid terrorist supervisor Raed Fares and his gang, among them Hadi Al Abdallah, moved from Kafranbel to Aleppo and committed a couple of days ago some false flag terror attacks there designed for western audience. And they were a success, many western media and some parts of UNO fell for them. Other terrorists in Homs then slaughtered some Allawi civilians for motives what they called revenge for the false flag terror Raed and Hadi did in Aleppo while blaming it on the Syrian army.

        Peddling lies of false flag terror attacks and engaging in massacre marketing – like RYK does it – is a major part of what keeps the bloodshed in Syria going. In his story here he even fails to mention that the insurgents’ boss responsible for the FSA attack on Damascus was no other than Zahran Alloush. That’s the infamous Saudi sponsored sectarian hate preacher who commanded the FSA in Damascus, later rebranded it as Islam army, which had one of the few chemical warfare units insurgents had in Syria.

      • Mooser on May 18, 2016, 7:26 pm

        “Endorsement or no endorsement, words can have consequences.”

        Ah yes, as the ancient Confusian proverb says.

        ‘Man who peddles his way up to endorsement may arrive with flat tire’.

  18. brianct on May 12, 2016, 7:25 pm

    Walid ‏@walid970721 3m3 minutes ago

    Ahrar al-Sham, US backed group that the UNSC refused to add on blacklist, committed war crimes in Zara today #Syria

    do Yassin Kasab and Mondoweiss endorse this, cause this is the work of the ‘rebels’

  19. brianct on May 12, 2016, 7:32 pm

    it seems Yassin-Kasab has been to syria, but only the’rebel’ areas (alnusra and alsham) : so why not report of situation in the govt areas?

    17. RYK’s June 2013 visit to Kafranbel. See Robin Yassin-Kassab, ‘Syria: Life in the Rebel Strongholds’, The Guardian, 14 August 2013. – See more at:

    Pro Tmi Anderson and a group have been to where YK feared to tred: he outraged the MSM and the one party/2 right wing system in australia:

    ‘The Department of Foreign Affairs has warned Australians from travelling to Syria because of the ongoing conflict that’s seen tens-of-thousands killed since it began in March 2011.

    But a group that included WikiLeaks Party members and academics who support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has spent several days in Damascus meeting the President and other senior officials.

    Sydney University politics lecturer Tim Anderson says his organisation Hands Off Syria requested the meeting because it wanted to show solidarity with the Syrian people.

    “It was also aimed at the Syrian people to say ‘Look, not all Australians are supporting this war against you’. We had a Foreign Minister in this country that called for the assassination of President Assad some months ago, and that wasn’t exactly the high point in Australian diplomacy. We were there to say we have friendly people in this country that support the right of the Syrian people to choose their own political system without foreign-funded terrorism. The second aim was to inform ourselves, to meet as wide a range (of Syrians) as possible.”

    Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has condemned the visit, telling the ABC the delegation’s actions risked involving Australia in the Syrian conflict.

    the joke here is australias regime thru its subornation to US HAS been involved in the conflict.. as shown by their attacks on syrias legitimate givt

    • straightline on May 12, 2016, 8:53 pm

      And many Australians, like myself, condemn our country’s stance on Syria. I write to the government funded broadcaster – the ABC – about its coverage of the conflict and the “experts” (such as SOHR) they rely on for “news” and opinions. If you’re in Australia, I hope you do too.

      Tim Anderson is a hero and has suffered for his honesty and integrity. Australia is at least as much a Zionist stronghold as the US or Canada.

      • Brewer on May 13, 2016, 12:25 am

        Likewise here in Kiwiville straight.

    • lproyect on May 13, 2016, 12:42 pm

      it seems Yassin-Kasab has been to syria, but only the’rebel’ areas (alnusra and alsham) : so why not report of situation in the govt areas?


      That’s like asking why only reports from the Baathist POV. There is a debate about Syria just like there was over Spain in 1938. How sad that people like you are supporting Syria’s Franco.

      • gamal on May 13, 2016, 7:10 pm

        ” you are supporting Syria’s Franco.”

        lanyamurru Louis lanyamurra

      • straightline on May 13, 2016, 7:46 pm

        Hmmm! I mentioned “brutal dictator”, “tyrant”, “dictatorial regime” as key words to determine where the person is coming from. Now I add “Franco”.

      • lysias on May 14, 2016, 10:41 am

        Wasn’t it Franco’s side that rebelled against an elected government, thus causing a civil war?

  20. brianct on May 12, 2016, 8:13 pm

    meet the ‘rebels’: they want to rule syria.

    ‘Just days after the US, UK and France refuse to list Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Sham as terrorist groups, they launch an offensive, committing a shocking massacre and kidnappings in the pro-government town of al Zahra (Hama), calling their attack “revenge for Aleppo”. Syrian Army forced to withdraw, for now -‘

  21. brianct on May 12, 2016, 8:53 pm

    US backed ‘;rebels ‘ slaughter pro-govt village
    When a whole Village is slaughtered by the US backed #rebels. MSM is silent #Zara’ Massacre,#ceasefire’ lie. #Syria

    this is like the Houla attacks: a pro-givt village attacked by the ‘rebels’..only there it was blamwed first on govt forces, then, when it was clear SAA didnt do it, on SHABIHA

  22. Qualtrough on May 12, 2016, 11:06 pm

    Assad being guilty or not guilty of war crimes is immaterial because the real reasons behind the US push for his overthrown involve strategic concerns and have absolutely nothing to do with bringing freedom or peace to the people of Syria. If the same criteria used to brand Assad a war criminal were applied to Obama, Clinton, Bush I & II, Cheney, etc. along with the long list of neo-cons in and out of government they would be in the dock at the Hague. What’s laughable too is the thought that the US government would be anything less than completely ruthless if it were to come under attack by a group like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, or Al-Nusra. Jesus wept, currently cops shoot people dead on the streets in the USA at the slightest perception of a threat to their personal security, can you imagine what would happen if there was an actual insurrection going on??

  23. Brewer on May 12, 2016, 11:29 pm

    New (to me at least) voice in protest:

    I done Syria Afganistan Iraq and Iran
    North Korea tell me where does it end
    Well the bodies keep piling up with every day
    How many more of em they gonna send

    Well they send their sons and daughters off to die for some moral
    To control the heroin
    Well son I hope you don’t grow up
    Believing that you’ve got to be a puppet to be a man

    Well they cut off your hair and put a badge on your arm
    Strip you of your identity
    Tell you to keep your mouth shut boy and get in the line
    Meet your maker over seas

    Wearing that Kim Jong-il hat while your grandma’s selling pills stat. Meanwhile, I’m wearing my ‘can’t pay my fucking bills’ hat

    Nobody’s looking up to care about a drone
    All too busy looking down at our phone
    Our ego’s begging for food like a dog from our feed
    Refreshing obsessively until our eyes start to bleed
    They serve up distractions and we eat them with fries
    Until the bombs fall out of our fucking skies

    Turn off the TV
    Turn off the news
    Nothing to see here
    They’re serving the blues
    Bullshit on my TV
    Bullshit on my radio
    Hollywood telling me how to be me
    The bullshit’s got to go

    – Sturgill Simpson – Call To Arms (live at KCRW)

  24. yourstruly on May 13, 2016, 2:51 am

    could it be any more obvious obvious?

    for sure
    no denying it
    the tens, hundreds of thousands
    even millions
    killed, maimed, displaced
    in exchange for ridding Iraqis of demon
    saddam hussein
    syria of demon bashar assad
    “yes, it was worth it”
    says u.s diplomat madeleine albright
    speaking not for the Iraqi or the syrian people
    but for empire usa

  25. lysias on May 13, 2016, 12:22 pm

    This was presumably an Israeli air strike in Syria: Hezbollah commander Badreddine killed in Syria.

    • just on May 13, 2016, 12:41 pm

      Yep. I saw that last night. All I could think was ‘what now’?

  26. Rusty Pipes on May 16, 2016, 7:20 pm

    Better to read “Syria is Burning,” by Charles Glass (a real journalist) than “Burning Country” by these citizen “activists,” who have recycled the propaganda from MSM and Gulf media over the past five years into a coherent narrative.

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