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The Unrepentant Marxist


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  • UNC SJP responds to ongoing debate over cancellation of Rania Khalek event
    • "Because some other SJP’s told them to?"

      No, it was because some high-profile Arab leftists posted comments on their FB page about why it was wrong to provide a platform for her. An article on Shadowproof that is sympathetic to her can't help but mention the sort of people who objected---not exactly the Israel lobby:

      Amr Kawji said to the SJP chapter, “Save yourselves the embarrassment and cancel your event with Rania Khalek—an Islamophobic pro-Assad propagandist. So ashamed.”

      “As a Syrian American (and former SJP member),” he wrote on their Facebook event page, “I am asking you kindly to either cancel this event with Rania Khalek or replace her with a coherent speaker. Rania’s comments on Syria and Islam have been extremely hurtful to many people, and she should not be allowed to continue to spew her propaganda. Save yourselves the embarrassment and please cancel the event or find someone else.”

      Adam Sabra, a professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara, also wrote on the Facebook event page, “I share other people’s concerns about inviting Rania Khalek to campus. In particular, her support for the Syrian regime undermines her credibility to speak on behalf of the Palestinian cause. I ask you to reconsider.”

      (Sabra has a lot more credibility with Palestinian solidarity activists than you Assadist trolls.)

    • "Jordan and Qatar have a lot to answer for, your snotty know it all shit makes me want to puke."


    • All this garbage linking opposition to Assad as "hasbara". Aren't you aware that Hamas supported the rebels in East Aleppo?


      Hamas, a Sunni fundamentalist movement, has always differed from Iran on the Syrian civil war. Hamas sympathizes with the Syrian rebels in their revolt against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad — who is Iran's main ally in the region. Yet Iran has supported Hamas financially in the Palestinian struggle against Israel.

      The balance was already precarious and the tipping point came in mid-December with the deaths and displacement of thousands of Aleppo inhabitants due to Syrian and Russian shelling and operations by Iran and Hezbollah. On Dec. 14, Hamas issued a scathing statement condemning the "genocide" of Syrian citizens, but without naming the Syrian government. Hamas called for immediate action to halt the massacres in Aleppo and rescue those civilians still alive.

      Iran's response to Hamas' statement was equally strong.

      Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of the Iranian parliament's Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, told the conservative Ghanoun newspaper Dec. 22 that Hamas has long been estranged from Iran over the Syrian situation. Falahatpisheh accused Hamas leaders of unspecified aggression against Iran and threatened to halt any dealings with Hamas and to engage in new relations with other Palestinian movements.

      Read more:

  • Open Letter: Against the blacklisting of activists and writers
  • Almost 1 million Syrian children can't go to school
    • Quoting Global Research on the causes of the Syrian revolt? The 9/11 Truther/Chemtrail website that argues that the Arab Spring was a CIA conspiracy? Oh...right.

      For those still tethered to the planet earth, you might want to consider what Patrick Cockburn wrote--a reporter who is certainly part of the Baathist amen corner alongside Seymour Hersh and Robert Fisk:

      Again, consider Syria. The expansion of the free market in a country where there was neither democratic accountability nor the rule of law meant one thing above all: plutocrats linked to the nation’s ruling family took anything that seemed potentially profitable. In the process, they grew staggeringly wealthy, while the denizens of Syria’s impoverished villages, country towns, and city slums, who had once looked to the state for jobs and cheap food, suffered. It should have surprised no one that those places became the strongholds of the Syrian uprising after 2011. In the capital, Damascus, as the reign of neoliberalism spread, even the lesser members of the mukhabarat, or secret police, found themselves living on only $200 to $300 a month, while the state became a machine for thievery.,_an_endless_cycle_of_indecisive_wars/

  • US watched ISIS rise in Syria and hoped to 'manage' it -- Kerry on leaked tape
    • It is a crappy Moon of Alabama type article like this that reminds me why I bailed on this website a year ago or so. I only found out about it because some troll posted a link to it on my blog. Phil, you are a horse's ass, just as bad as Annie in fact.

  • Stephen Cohen calls out liberal media for demonizing Russia, slurring Tillerson and stigmatizing all dissent
    • Love to see the pretzel logic on Palestine and Syria at work here. Cohen is another apologist for Baathist state terror of the sort displayed here from time to time unfortunately. So, as this article reflects, he is for easing tensions with Russia as might be expected from someone who aligns with Putin as well as Assad. Naturally, this would make him a natural ally of those who are trying to legitimize the Trump electoral victory against claims that Russian hacking made it possible. But have you seen who Trump has named ambassador to Israel? David Friedman who would view Philip Weiss as a traitor. These are your contradictions to unravel.

  • Tulsi Gabbard's screw-the-neocons meeting with Trump sparks anger, derision, encouragement
  • New York panel highlights fissures on the left over Syria
    • Yes, I have. DeBoer is a joke, trying to appear as a neutral judge on the controversy.

      And what exactly have you read outside your comfort zone on Syria, Annie? Or do you feel more secure trawling the Moon of Alabama?

    • As an aside, you seem to be something of an anomaly writing for CounterPunch, even if only as a film critic. Wouldn’t you fit in better at Znet?


      Znet is not much different than Counterpunch, nor is The Nation, Salon or Truthout. In fact, the Assad worship on display in these comments is pervasive on the left. It is a reflection of the decline of Marxism and the rise of conspiracy theory. For most of the left, it is a Wikileaks release rather than an examination of class relations in Syria that matters. You can't blame the left for this. It is much easier to read a Hillary Clinton letter than a scholarly work like Bassam Haddad's "Business Networks in Syria". It has a lot to do with the declining literacy of the population as a whole. They say that something like 90 percent of college students never read a book after graduating. Just look at Donald Trump.

    • You don't need be polite. Come to and you can flame me to your heart's content. I am sure you won't because I can slice you from head to toe intellectually.

    • Are we then to blame the county’s leadership for the conditions caused by yielding to the powerful forces of empire?


      This argument would have more merit if the Syrian kleptocracy wasn't so much like every other lumpen bourgeoisie in the 3rd world from Nicaragua's Somoza to Marcos in the Philippines.

    • In 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, Assad overcame his instinctive reluctance to support a campaign which risked increasing American power in the Middle East, and agreed to contribute ground troops to the alliance against Saddam Hussain. He had his reward: not only did the Saudis forgive billions of dollars of debt, but in October 1991 Syria was invited to the peace conference at Madrid. Assad announced that he had made "a strategic choice for peace with Israel".

    • The Hamas Movement has strongly denounced the "heinous massacres" that are being committed by the Syrian and Russian regimes against the civilians in Aleppo city.

      "We strongly condemn the massacres which the Syrian city of Aleppo is being exposed to and have claimed the lives of dozens of civilians and wounded many others," member of Hamas's political bureau Ezzat al-Resheq stated on his Facebook page on Saturday.

      "It hurts us to see the blood of the Syrian people being shed incessantly," Resheq added.

      Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also expressed his Movement's condemnation of the aerial attacks that massacred and wounded recently dozens of civilians in Aleppo city.

      @Copyright The Palestinian Information Center

    • Most of the time Patrick Cockburn had balanced coverage all to himself.


      The introduction of the free market and privatisation in countries where political power was monopolised by the ruling family and those around it was invariably a recipe for plundering the state and taking over profitable enterprises. In Syria, a great many people – from farmers to the urban poor – had once benefited from jobs in state enterprises and low prices. But by 2011 Syria was an expensive place to live. Millions of young men had no work and even members of the Mukhabarat in Damascus were trying to survive on salaries of less than $300 a month. When the civil war began it was the poor rural and suburban areas – places where the ruling Baath party once found its support – that became rebel strongholds.

      Patrick Cockburn, LRB, June 2 2016

  • What if the Syria no-fly zone won't fly?
    • no Rothschild IMF- controlled bank


      Funny how these anti-Semitic tropes keep showing up here.

    • No foreign forces on Syrian soil?


      Afghan migrants offered $500 by Iran to fight for Syrian regime

      Iran has been accused of recruiting and sending Afghanistan’s Shia Muslims to fight alongside the Assad regime in war-torn Syria. Afghan migrants say they are being trained and deployed by the country’s notorious Revolutionary Guards.

      Iranian, Afghan and international media outlets have reported on this influx of Afghan migrants to Syria for several months. Several have also published photos of funeral processions of Afghan Shia “martyrs” in different cities across Iran: from Qom, to Mashhad, and Isfahan, the men are buried in ceremonies that are reportedly attended by local Revolutionary Guards Corps commanders.

      FRANCE 24 has spoken to one Observer who accuses Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of offering incentives to Afghan migrants based in the country to encourage them to fight for the Syrian regime. Afghan politicians have reportedly condemned the allegations, accusing Iran of exploiting the poverty of a migrant population that numbers some four million. Afghan authorities and the country’s embassy in Tehran are promising to investigate.

      Two of our Observers based in Afghanistan told FRANCE 24 they can corroborate these reports, saying the deployment of young Afghan Shia fighters is “no secret.”


    • So interesting that when a reasonable article is posted about the problems of a NFZ, you get all the same tired and propagandistic defenses of the Assad dictatorship that is responsible for seven times as many casualties as ISIS and that has led to half the country being forced to leave its homes. One guy refers to a "murderously illegal attempt to invade" Syria. Was I missing something? When the USA wants to invade a country, it doesn't take 5 years. Just ask Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan or Grenada. I suppose he is referring to the rebels who only took up arms in 2011 to defend peaceful protestors. Yes, I know. They weren't really peaceful protestors. They were murderous mobs that the democratically elected government had to defend a peace-loving population from.

  • 'Either Assad or we'll burn the country' - An excerpt from 'Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War' (Update)
    • 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.

    • 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.


    • 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.

  • 'Say Hello to Zenobia': A report from Palmyra rising from the ashes
    • Use a phrase like “barrel bomb” over and over again as if it is a uniquely evil weapon when, in fact, it is far less lethal and destructive than the ordnance that the United States routinely deploys or hands out to its “allies” like candy on Halloween.


      Well, the issue is not whether it more or less lethal than, for example, the payload of a B-52. It is instead about dropping a 50 gallon barrel filled with explosives, steel ball bearings, 6 inch spike nails, etc on an open-air market. If you want to justify this kind of war crime, I have pity on your miserable soul.

    • "I support the right of Syrians to resist Assad, but when they use violence, and commit savagery, I can’t believe that you and others expect Assad to fight with softness."

      I take it that you believe in the efficacy of dropping barrel bombs on open-air markets, a measure necessary to take out the jihadi cucumbers even if three-year olds get their arms and legs blown off.

    • Isn't this site pro-Palestinian? This is a reminder of what the most militant group said about Bashar al-Assad until it was coerced into softening/reversing its position. Btw, for your information, the group was part of the Muslim Brotherhood that someone was so ready to demonize above.

      World | Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:56pm EST Related: WORLD, SYRIA
      Hamas ditches Assad, backs Syrian revolt

      Leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas turned publicly against their long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, endorsing the revolt aimed at overthrowing his dynastic rule.

      The policy shift deprives Assad of one of his few remaining Sunni Muslim supporters in the Arab world and deepens his international isolation. It was announced in Hamas speeches at Friday prayers in Cairo and a rally in the Gaza Strip.

      Hamas went public after nearly a year of equivocating as Assad’s army, largely led by fellow members of the president’s Alawite sect, has crushed mainly Sunni protesters and rebels.

      In a Middle East split along sectarian lines between Shi’ite and Sunni Islam, the public abandonment of Assad casts immediate questions over Hamas’s future ties with its principal backer Iran, which has stuck by its ally Assad, as well as with Iran’s fellow Shi’ite allies in Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.

      “I salute all the nations of the Arab Spring and I salute the heroic people of Syria who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, visiting Egypt from the Gaza Strip, told thousands of Friday worshippers at Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque.

      “We are marching towards Syria, with millions of martyrs,” chanted worshippers at al-Azhar, home to one of the Sunni world’s highest seats of learning. “No Hezbollah and no Iran.

      “The Syrian revolution is an Arab revolution.”


    • Sad to see Jeff Klein writing this kind of garbage. I knew him back in the late 80s when he was involved with Tecnica and when both of us had high hopes that the FSLN could have succeeded in building an alternative to neoliberalism. But writing this kind of pap for a blood-drenched tyranny whose top capitalist crony of Bashar al-Assad was revealed to be hiding billions in Panama banks really makes me want to throw up.

  • The only way to take on ISIS is to take on Wahhabi doctrine
  • The Obama administration needs to own up to the quagmire in Syria
  • In a parallel universe where I am a Syrian refugee
    • Don't worry, mariam6. The West has mended its ways as should be indicated by the statement of Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the UN:

      “This is something we share now with the U.S. Government: They don’t want the Assad Government to fail. They want to fight ISIL in a way that won’t harm the Syrian government”

      So inspiring. Russia and the USA are moving closer to a people's front against Daesh just like when FDR and Stalin united against Hitler. Do you think there will be a new popular culture emerging out of this with 50 Cent writing and performing hip-hop tunes denouncing Pussy Riot as "hos" and "bitches" while Quentin Tarantino will make a movie about two friends, one from Russia and one from the USA, dying in a heroic struggle to preserve a pagan temple from the filthy Islamofascists?

  • Could Syria's revolution have been different?
    • Bandolero, did the WSJ editorial mention anything about Baathist snipers killing 15 protesters peacefully protesting against the dictatorship on March 7th 2011? I hope for your sake that it did since then you can "explain" that it could not have happened because the WSJ said it did. What a wonderfully wacky way of explaining the world. If the bourgeois media says that burning jet fuel brought down the WTC, it can't be true. If the bourgeois media says that Trotsky was not a paid agent of Adolph Hitler, that proves he was a traitor. If the bourgeois media states that the Baathist prisons were filled with people whose only crime was opposing a system that was no different than any typical 3rd world mafia state, the state must be defended. Pretzel logic incarnate.

    • Oooh. Trotskyism. So scary. We know that the Trotskyites were in league with Hitler and the Mikado. It was necessary to imprison or execute such traitors in the name of stability and building socialism.

      So weird to see a leftist website overflowing with comments so filled with sentiments belonging to a bygone era of cult worship of the Divine Leader. No wonder you are susceptible to Baathist talking points.

    • What is this warning supposed to accomplish? You are not in Syria where dissidents can be hauled off to prison and be tortured for months on end. The CIA must have understood how skilled the Baathists were in the art of torture when they sent a Canadian citizen off to Syria under the "extraordinary rendition" provisions of the war on terror.

    • It is really quite sad to see so many people here, including an "editor-at-large", doing the heavy lifting for a Baathist goon like Assad all in the name of a dubious "anti-imperialism" and "Palestinian solidarity" which doesn't meet the most elementary evidentiary test. When Bandelero shamelessly condemned anti-dictatorship activists for killing 7 cops in late April without mentioning the events that led up to that, he must have assumed that everybody here was a member of the Baathist amen corner. Defense of the Baathist torture state can only be sustained through lies. You people are much better at lying to each other than to people who have bothered to look closely at what is taking place in Syria for the past 30 years or so. Radical politics has to be based on the truth, not lies. As Karl Marx said, we need ruthless criticism of the existing order. That includes the filthy, blood-stained, torturing, neoliberal, sectarian Baathist state.

    • I understand that Bandolero's role here is to operate as a Baathist propagandist. I only wish that he would do a better job in order to make the debate worthwhile. He cites the death of 7 Baathist cops in late April when the dictatorship had been murdering peaceful protesters for at least a month as Wikipedia reports:

      "On 20 March, thousands took to the streets of Daraa for the third straight day, shouting slogans against the country's emergency law. Fifteen persons were killed and scores injured as security forces opened fire on protesters. The courthouse, the Ba'ath party headquarters in the city, and the Syriatel building owned by Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of President Assad, were then all set on fire. During these clashes, 7 policemen were killed.[8]

      How can you people live with yourself?

    • The ideological muck that appears in the comments section here is frightening. Comparing Lincoln to Assad? The United States was a parliamentary democracy in 1860. In Syria attempts to form parties that were opposed to the Baathist machine would result in imprisonment, torture and death. The Arab Spring was an attempt to achieve democracy. Most people understood that when Syrians took to the streets in April 2011, it was to bring down a dictatorship based on a family dynasty. How otherwise progressive-minded people can take the side of a torture state that sent its snipers against these protests is perhaps something that defies political analysis and requires an expert in abnormal psychology instead.

    • Robbins: "no actually, you did not. you offered no “documentation” whatsoever. you offered cherry picked quotes."

      Forget about the quotes. Look at the evidence. The Baathist air force has made Aleppo, Homs and the suburbs of Damascus look like Stalingrad in 1943 or Grozny in the 1990s or Gaza. And when MANPAD's were sent from Libya to Syria to help bring down MIGs firing rockets and helicopters dropping barrel bombs, the CIA set up a task force with the participation of the states that supposedly were part of the imperialist war on Syria to keep them out of the hands of the FSA. [....]

    • I continue to think the US should have done its best to prevent eruption of revolt in Syria.


      At least this guy comes out and says what most of you feel in your heart but are too embarrassed to admit.

    • Because official US policy in regard to Syria is the same as in Iraq: violent “regime change”, which is illegal under international law.


      It is really quite breathtaking to observe Bimbolero's evasions. I offer documentation that Obama had no interest in regime change and he simply ignores what I wrote. I can't blame him. The truth is an inconvenience of the worst kind to Baathist tools.

    • Actually Bandolero has about as much credibility as Alex Jones.

    • All this blather about Syria and Israel being on a collision course. Don't any of you people know that Syria intervened against Palestinians in Lebanon? It is scary to see how "anti-imperialists" know so little about Middle East history.

    • The importance of foreign governments saudi, turkish, us, israeli, uk, france etc in the start and continuation of the conflict is mentioned but downplayed.


      I guess that this means the territories of Russia and Iran have been airlifted into Syria.

    • "Why commit US combat troops when our paid terrorists (ISIS, et al), supported by special operation forces and the US, NATO, Israeli air forces, etc, can get the job done?"

      It astonishes me to see such wild claims about the USA paying ISIS. This sort of conspiracy-mongering has infected the left like a gonorrhea strain resistant to antibiotics.

    • Why do all these people like Seymour Hersh, Charles Glass, David Bromwich, Patrick Cockburn, and the Angry Arab insist on depicting the USA as having the same agenda in Syria as it did in Iraq? After 4 years I still see nonsense written about "regime change" with the most tortured attempts to portray, for example, bombing of ISIS as really meant to topple Assad. Do these people really believe their own propaganda?

      To start with, there was never any intention by Barack Obama to launch a “humanitarian intervention” in Syria whatever people like Nicholas Kristof or Samantha Power sought. On October 22nd, 2013, the NY Times reported that “from the beginning, Mr. Obama made it clear to his aides that he did not envision an American military intervention, even as public calls mounted that year for a no-fly zone to protect Syrian civilians from bombings.” The article stressed the role of White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough, who had frequently clashed with the hawkish Samantha Power. In contrast to Power and others with a more overtly “humanitarian intervention” perspective, McDonough “who had perhaps the closest ties to Mr. Obama, remained skeptical.” The Times added, “He questioned how much it was in America’s interest to tamp down the violence in Syria.”

  • 'American Sniper' is an antiwar movie
    • The left was certainly wrong in judging this as a gung-ho film. I doubt that many young people will want to enlist after seeing this, as was not the case with Tom Cruise's "Top Gun" or more egregiously the Sylvester Stallone or Chuck Norris films of an earlier period.

      The film is very much in the "Hurt Locker" vein as well as any number of Israeli films that depict the victimizer as victim. In such films, Arabs are objectified as a kind of alien presence. They serve one and only one purpose, to make the hero (in some ways anti-hero) look like the disillusioned victim of circumstance.

      Unlike Ron Kovic's "Born on the Fourth of July", and Oliver Stone's great film based on it, no memoir has emerged from the Iraq or Afghanistan war that can truly be called antiwar. The best thing I have seen is "The Pat Tillman Story", a documentary about a pro football player killed by "friendly fire" in Afghanistan. I also recommend "The Kill Team", another documentary about Afghanistan based on a true story that evokes Oliver Stone's "Platoon".

      Finally, I found "American Sniper" a flaccid affair, far less interesting than Eastwood's twin films on Iwo Jima. If he wanted to be taken seriously as a filmmaker, he might have considered making one from the POV of one of those objectified "jihadists" who were fending off the Americans in a place like Fallujah. There was a Harper's magazine article from about 10 years ago that interviewed just such a fighter. That was an exception to the rule.

  • In Iraq and Syria the US sanctions its allies while its friends back its enemies (got that?)
    • MANPAD’s don’t make a huge difference.


      But not in the eyes of those getting barrel bombs dropped on them.

    • So, here, it seems, is the lineup: Russia (under sanctions), Iran (under sanctions), Hezbollah (Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization), and Assad’s Syrian regime (target of U.S. regime change) are on our side; Israel (major strategic partner) is fighting the guys on our side!


      it depends on what you mean by "on our side". There is zero evidence that the USA ever gave the FSA the kind of support that Russia gave the Baathists. The support was a combination of words and "support" that made hardly any difference such as MRE rations, walkie-talkies, small arms, etc. In fact, when the FSA was trying to get MANPAD's, the one thing that could have made a difference, the CIA worked with Turkey and Jordan to prevent them from being shipped into Syria.

  • Academia, the 'battleground' in the Palestinian solidarity movement
  • Rob Reiner wants to pick Palestinians' leaders for them
    • I don't know how generational it is. I'm Reiner's age and wouldn't be caught dead making such a racist statement. It is more a function of living inside the Hollywood bubble.

  • Reading Salaita in Illinois—by Way of Cary Nelson (part 1)
  • How we can oppose the Assad regime and Western intervention at the same time
    • Shingo, you still don't get it. When the Guardian says "reportedly", it was referring to the article. That is the source of the 70 percent figure--period. Also, you really are quite funny in quoting Pepe Escobar on this. You might as well have quoted yourself.

    • Shingo, there is no "NATO poll". There is only a article that refers to such a poll. I invite everybody who take Shingo seriously to try to find anything that corroborates such a poll outside of, the Moonie newspaper that covers the UFO beat as well. All of the articles that refer to this "70 percent" business all point to the article. That is a fact. If you don't care about the facts, naturally you'd be aligned with a dictatorship built on lies.

    • Well, if you want to cite al-Mayadeen TV as an impartial source in light of its reputation as being partial to Hizbollah and having journalists like Sami Kulaib, whose wife Luna Shibl is the media advisor to Syrian President Bashar Assad, be my guest. I have learned long ago that Baathist propagandists are shameless and you are no exception.

    • Shingo, when will you learn that I have heard all these Baathist talking points before and know how bogus they are? Yes, a 1000 people were polled but 81 percent said that Bashar al-Assad had to go. Here's the lowdown on that poll:

      It was an internet survey of the Arab world by YouGov Siraj in December. It covered just more than 1,000 people in 18 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

      The central question was: "In your opinion should Syria's President Assad resign?"

      Across the whole region, the overall finding was that 81% of people polled thought President Assad should go.

      But the polling company also stated: "Respondents in Syria are more supportive of their president. 55% do not believe Assad should resign."

      Looking closely at the survey report, it does not say explicitly how many of the 1,000 people who responded were from Syria. But it does say that 211 were polled in the Levant region, 46% of whom were in Syria.

      Doing the sums, this suggests that only 97 people took part. When the BBC checked with YouGov Siraj for the exact breakdown, the company said that in fact there were 98 respondents from Syria (the difference arising from the fact that averages given in the survey report were rounded).

      This is a very low sample according to the managing director of survey company ORB, Johnny Heald, who has been carrying out polls in the Middle East for many years.

      "When we poll and we want to find out what Libyans think, or what Syrians think, we would rarely do anything less than 1,000 interviews," he says.

      "One thousand is the generally accepted industry minimum to be able to speak confidently about what people from a particular country think about an issue.

      "If you say that this poll covers people from 18 countries, then that's fine. But you need to be very careful when you interpret the findings.

      "It is not good to say that 55% of Syrians, for example, think that Assad should stay when only 97 people were asked that question."

      But he has another criticism - according to UN figures, only 18% of people in Syria have access to the internet, which means that the sample polled is biased towards those who can get online.

      The people who conducted the survey at YouGov Siraj, the Dubai-based arm of a UK polling company, say the poll was not intended to be representative of all Syrians.

      They too say the sample was too low for this and that internet penetration in the country is not good enough.

      This is why they referred to "respondents from Syria" rather than referring to "Syrians", they say.

    • Shingo, you really are a card. That Guardian article by Jonathan Steele you cited neglects to mention that the Doha poll consisted of just 97 internet users in Syria among a population of more than 20 million. Who are you trying to kid with this stuff? The people commenting here who agree with you? That's called preaching to the choir.

    • I always get a chuckle out of the bottom-feeding of the Baathist supporters. Shingo provides a link to the 70% claim that in turn links to Here's some info on that "newspaper":

      In fact, the World Tribune is not published in the United Kingdom, nor is it, to be precise, a newspaper. It is a Web site produced, more or less as a hobby, in Falls Church, Virginia, and is dedicated to the notion, as its mission statement explains, that “there is a market for news of the world and not just news of the weird.” (Nonetheless, the site includes a prominent feature, Cosmic Tribune, with an extraterrestrial focus, and it links to a Mafia journal called Gang Land News.) Its editor and publisher, Robert Morton, is an assistant managing editor at the Washington Times and a former “corporate editor” for News World Communications, the Times’ owner and the publishing arm of the Unification Church, led by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. (Morton and his wife, Choon Boon, are themselves followers of the Reverend Moon.) Among the World Tribune’s other recent half-ignored scoops are that Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for last month’s blackout and that a North Korean defector stressed, during a meeting in July with White House officials, the need for a preëmptive military strike against Kim Jong Il.

    • You people should be aware that the Arab left agrees with Omar rather than you. This statement includes not only respected leftist intellectuals like Tariq Ali and Ilan Pappe but a virtual who's who of Arab intellectuals and writers:

      Your comments are isolated to a sector of the left that is in the Global Research/ orbit and is exclusively non-Arab. For all the talk of Mondoweiss publishing a rebuttal to Omar, I'll bet that if it appears, it will be written by a non-Arab. Even in the case of the Angry Arab, who shares your animosity to the rebels, you will not find the same sort of partisanship for Bashar al-Assad on display here. Frankly, this hysteria over al-Qaeda, the burqa and Sharia law, etc. could have been written by Christopher Hitchens who at least had the merit of being a lively writer.

    • After some years, the MEPI programme was deep enoungh entrenched in socities to give the attack order. Barack Obama gave the order for a serious of bloody regime changes using “4th generation warfare” commonly known as “arab spring” in his Presidential Study Directive 11 signed in August 2010...


      My understanding is that Obama was orchestrating the "arab spring" in order to build up al-Qaeda in the Middle East. Everybody knows that he is really a Muslim and a Salalfist at that. Just check Alex Jones and Moon of Alabama for more information on that.

  • While you were neutral about Yarmouk
    • I am really quite shocked by the level of Islamophobia on display here that comes straight out of the "war on terror" rhetoric of both Putin and Bashar al-Assad. It is almost as if I have wandered into the Moon of Alabama website.

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

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

  • Cornell SJP responds to the situation in Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp
    • Nor do we forget that it was the Free Syrian Army, the brand-name for the “milder” of the Western-armed gangs which have rampaged across Syria, along with Jabhat al-Nusra and other reactionary militias which went into Yarmouk a year ago.


      I wasn't aware that Michel Chossudovsky was a Cornell student. I guess he must have reasons for working on another B.A.

  • The false analogy of Syria and Palestine
    • Additionally, if there was a cruel hoax, the putative perpetrators proven again and again that they are cruel and fanatical enough to do something like that.


      I always got a chuckle out of the "false flag" narratives out there that attribute the Ghouta massacre to jihadists. You'd think that if they had the means, they would have gladly put 1000 Syrian troops to their death with Sarin-laden missiles, wouldn't you? This thought never pops into the head of people like piotr, just as it never occurs to them that most Syrians who oppose al-Assad also oppose the jihadists.

    • Why do the Trots hate Catholic women? That I do not understand.


      Well, Pope Pius XII was soft on Hitler. I hate him but that does not mean that I hate all Catholic clerics. In fact the present pope seems okay.

    • The article you linked to states: "They said the data came from a range of activists and independent organizations that were working in Syria, particularly in relief efforts."

      Really? More disinformation I'm afraid. I have no idea why supporters of the Baathist dictatorship are so intent on making themselves look so credulous. First we hear that the 70 percent support came from the CIA. Now it comes from a "NATO study". But when you go a bit deeper, the poll was taken by unnamed activists and organizations. If there's one thing I am about, it is debunking crapola. That is why I was so amazed that a serious journalist like Cook would have given backhanded support for Mother Agnes.

    • a CIA survey said he had over 70% support


      Made up out of whole cloth.

      The only 70 percent that occurs to me is that this is the number of pro-Assad talking points I hear on the Internet that are bogus.

    • This article states: "These concerns were reinforced by subsequent UN reports suggesting that the rebels might have access to their own chemical weapons." I have no idea what reports this is alluding to. There was a report presented on September 18th that found evidence of surface-to-surface missiles but stopped short of pinning them to either side--something that was impossible to do short of having an eyewitness to the attack.

      That being said, this has nothing to do with Mother Agnes's wild stories about the videos of dead children being fabricated to make it appear as if they were from Ghouta when they were actually from Latakia. In other words, she simply denied that there were casualties in Ghouta, a stronghold of anti-Baathist resistance.

      This version of what took place is so preposterous that most people in possession of their senses would understand that Mother Agnes is a lying tool of the Syrian government. It reflected poorly on Jonathan Cook that he would stick his nose into this controversy without spending a few minutes to check the record on her. And then he follows up by labeling me an "interventionist" when I am on record as being opposed to American attacks on Syria. This is what happens when you get caught up in the kind of Manichean mindset that will be on display at the STWC conference on Nov. 30th. In their laudable aim to stop imperialist intervention, they made the mistake of inviting a truly ghastly figure to speak. Thank goodness Jones and Scahill took a stand.

    • This a brief reply to a short part of Cook’s latest post that mostly tries to prove that the Palestinians and Syrians are unalike. I only wish he had devoted half of his attention and energy to the question of Mother Agnes and the “false flag” narratives that were really at the heart of the STWC conference dispute. Until he begins to realize that taking a skeptic’s position on the Sarin attack in Ghouta flies in the face of the evidence and humanitarian/pacifist principles, he will remain terribly compromised. He must understand that the Baathists have a powerful public relations machinery, much of it on a pro bono basis from places as diverse as Global Research to the London Review of Books, and that Mother Agnes and many others help the war aims of Bashar al-Assad by blaming the rebels for the killing of their supporters.


  • Shady PR operatives, pro-Israel ties, anti-Castro money: Inside the Syrian opposition’s DC spin machine
    • that’s different than making the argument the opposition in syria, the dominant forces in combat w/assad , is primarily composed of ‘moderates’.


      I certainly agree that there are no "moderates" in the Syrian opposition as understood by Kerry. In fact he is making this outlandish claim in order to line up votes for an American attack. If the SNC is supposedly the most obedient tool of American imperialism as opposed to the Local Coordinating Councils in Syria that have zero connection to American power or influence, what does one make of the statements of Ahmed Mouaz al-Khatib, the SNC leader who resigned a while back?

      Appearances may differ but the core is similar, and whether that core is French, British, Russian or American, the ultimate goal is the same; intervention, domination and supremacy and all in the name of human rights.

      The facts have proven beyond any doubt that the claws of international politics are tainted and that the world’s super powers are seeking, through the distribution of roles in the open and behind closed doors, to undermine the legitimate interests of the peoples of the world and trade in them by inciting sectarian sentiments, and the examples are plenty: from Syria and the Middle East, to Sudan and Rwanda, to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

      We should identify our own shortcomings and weaknesses that allowed Western powers to inject sectarian hatred in our societies in order to know why the talk about taking military action against Iran has become very normal.

      The bitterness in the hearts of Sunnis caused by the alleged Iranian-sponsored Shiite invasion of the Arab World is not a sufficient reason to be silent in the face of a possible military strike on Iran. If we suppose that we have 50% doctrinal differences and 20% juristical differences with Iran, we all know that we have 90% doctrinal differences with the wicked West.

      Iran’s possession of nuclear capabilities poses no threat to any Sunni but it will be a formidable deterrent to the evil powers that are rushing madly upon the Muslim World.

      The aggression against Iran is an upsurge of Western domination to snap at the riches of this region and deepen the cultural and social invasion of our Muslim World. In all honesty, it is genuinely logical and Islamic to refuse any action against Iran and to consider such action an aggression against the whole Muslim World.

    • If you read this piece and nothing else about the pro-revolution movement in the USA, you would get the impression that it is a rightwing swamp. It is unfortunate that a lot of leftists in their zeal to oppose Obama's war are on a cherry-picking expedition in order to bolster their political goals, which are certainly admirable. I imagine that I was one of the few leftists at a pro-revolution rally in Washington last year. If you base yourself solely on Max's article, you'd think it would be something like a Nicaraguan contra rally from the 1980s. It turns out that the keynote speaker was Hatem Bazian. Here's information on him from wikipedia:

      At San Francisco State University in the late 1980s, Bazian became the first Palestinian to be elected president of SFSU Associated Students and the Student Union Governing Board. He was the first student to win a second term as president in the history of SFSU. The election came as a result of a united front formed under the Progressive Coalition that brought together all the students of color organizations on a common platform and a joint political strategy.

      At the national conference United States Student Association (USSA) held at UC Berkeley in 1988, Bazian co-lead a major walk-out that culminated in the organization adopting a progressive board of directors structure granting by a 2/3 vote at least 50% of the Seats to Students of Color.

      Bazian was elected as a Chair of the National People of Color Student Coalition (NPCSC) and an executive board member of the USSA. In both, he took the lead on affirmative action, access to education, anti-apartheid efforts on college campuses, and the Central American Solidarity Movement. He authored resolutions, which were adopted by the USSA national conference in 1991 calling for cutting US aid to Israel and imposing sanctions for its sales of military equipment to apartheid South Africa.

  • Syria wrap: Grumbling This won't be easy, NYT's Bill Keller suits up for another Mid-East war
    • Just a word on this business about the FSA using Sarin. The charge is made by Carla Del Ponte, whose background is quite shady.

      Carla Del Ponte investigated over illegal evidence

      Former war crimes prosecutor accused of allowing bullying and bribing of witnesses in trial of alleged Serbian warlord Vojislav Seselj

      Ian Traynor, Europe editor
      The Guardian, Wednesday 18 August 2010 13.12 EDT

      Carla Del Ponte, the former war crimes prosecutor who put Balkan warlords and political leaders behind bars, is to be investigated over claims she allowed the use of bullying and bribing of witnesses, or tainted evidence.

      Judges at the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague today ordered an independent inquiry into the practices of Del Ponte and two prominent serving prosecutors, Hildegard Ürtz-Retzlaff and Daniel Saxon, after complaints from witnesses that they had been harassed, paid, mistreated and their evidence tampered with.

      It is the first time in the tribunal's 17 years in operation that top prosecutors have faced potential contempt of court rulings.

  • The Fog of Occupation: An interview with Dror Moreh, director of 'The Gatekeepers'
  • For Lena Dunham, Palestine is invisible
    • Bravo!

      Lena Dunham is an entertainment establishment figure, not that much different from Jerry Seinfeld or Madonna despite the outsider, hipster posing.

  • Is the 'New York Review of Books' afraid of Islam?
    • I think the NYR is simply reflecting the consensus of elite opinion on the Arab Spring, which amounts to buyer's remorse. There were high expectations that somebody like Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi would emerge clutching a copy of Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" in one hand and the phone directory of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in the other. Nowhere has the disappointment been keener than in Libya where the militias are Washington's worst nightmare. What is going on here? We expected these people to turn in their guns and follow their leaders obediently. Maybe decades of dictatorship has made them unruly. That is one of the reasons there has been no support for the FSA in Syria. Despite the bleating of the pro-Assad left, there has been no real support for the overthrow of Assad.

  • If '5 Broken Cameras' wins an Oscar-- then will you end the occupation?
  • '5 Broken Cameras' is reminiscent of 'The Battle of Algiers' (but the 'NYT' can't tell you that)
  • Barghouti: Attacks on the Penn BDS conference reveal panic that Israel is losing hearts and minds
    • Turns out Gur is also a supporter of Lawrence Summers "theory" of why women are not men's equals:

      “Men and women are in so many ways similar, but it so many ways different,” began Dr. Ruben Gur, Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and Director of the Brain Behavior Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Gur gave a brief, but compelling, history of gender research when it comes to the brain. He was among the first scientists to study female brains – which didn’t happen until the ’70s (previously, women were considered too variable to be subjects of scientific research in most areas besides reproduction).


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