Arguably the most vile Orientalism I have read in a long time: "Sheherazade took me through Damascus; in the dark early-evening streets, I felt uneasy. Mustached men stood in our path, wearing shoes from the 1980s and curiously ill-fitting leather jackets over thick sweaters." My biggest fear is that the fashion writer’s aesthetic sensibilities were insulted by the poor people’s shoes. I mean how inhospitable of us Arabs to walk in a rich westerner’s presence looking poor. And they weren’t even vintage 80s! Vulgarians. The real gems though were these musings: “”Syria. The name itself sounded sinister, like syringe, or hiss….Syria gave off a toxic aura…I met the devil and his wife…” So vile is the piece of incoherent racist rubbish that even mainstream journos like CNN’s Hala Gorani have criticized it. The piece has even spawned a new hashtag on Twitter— #countriesbyvoguewriters—which parodies the article with such priceless tweets as “#countriesbyVoguewriters “They tried to make me go to Riyadh, I said, no no no.” And this one “#countriesbyvoguewriters Norway. Neither do they have the will.”
My latest article for Akhbar English here: “Hezbollah’s Iran Money Trail: Its Complicated”.
The party’s direct financial relationship with Khamenei explains why it remains largely unaffected by changes of government in Iran – regardless of which president assumes office and the political faction he represents, the Faqih’s financial assistance to the party continues unabated. By extension, financial support neither diminishes with reformist presidents like Khatami, nor increases with radical conservatives like Ahmadinejad.
Comrade Sophia who blogs at Les Politiques has kindly translated this article from Le Monde Diplomatique which talks about the divided state of the Arab left over Syria. I am also quoted in the article. Sophia’s full article is reproduced below.
'Divisions Among The Arab Left regarding The Syria Crisis'
In August 2011, the Lebanese nationalist leftist daily newspaper Al-Akhbar undergoes its first crisis, since its creation in the summer 2006. Assistant editor, Khaled Saghieh, resigns from the journal he contributed to create citing the lack of support from the journal to the Syrian popular uprising of March 2011. Al-Akhbar has never kept secret its political proximity with Hezbollah, one of Syria’s president Bashar el-Assad principal regional allies, nor hidden its preference for dialogue between the government and part of the opposition over the pure and simple fall of the regime. However, at the same time, the daily has opened its pages for the Syrian opposition to express itself. Among those published was Salameh Khaileh, a Syro-Palestinian Marxist intellectual, arrested at the end of April 2012 by the security services.
Last June, the dissent appeared in Al-Akhbar English online version with an article by Amal Saad Ghorayeb: ‘Syria Crisis, there is a crowd’. In it, the Lebanese chronicler adopts a clear line of support for the Syrian regime and critcises ‘third wayers’ who denounce the authoritarian Syrian regime while warning against western foreign military intervention, Libya style. The same month, another Al-Akhbar collaborator, Max Blumenthal, resigns denouncing what he calls ‘Assad apologists’ inside the journal editorial team.
What happened at Al-Akhbar is symptomatic of wider strategic and ideological divisions among the Arab Left regarding the Syria crisis. Some show support for the regime in the name of the struggle against Israel and the ‘resistance against imperialisme’. Others support the uprising in the name of a ‘revolutionary logic’ and the defence of ‘democratic rights’. Finally, some express a middle position between a distant solidarity with the uprising demanding freedom for the protests while rejecting ‘foreign intervention’ promoting ‘national reconciliation’. Diverse sensibilities exist within the Arab Left : there are communists, Marxists, Leftists Nationalists, Radicals, and Moderates. The Arab Left appears, with the Syria crisis, as a fragmented mosaic.
Anti-imperialism as the analysis grid for the Arab Left
On one side, the unconditional support for Al-Assad is not mainstream among the Arab Left and very few are the voices calling to maintain the regime as it is. But, on the other side, the unconditional support for the popular uprising is not a dominant position. It can be found among movements that are at the extreme Left of the political Spectrum ; Trostkyistes, the Lebanese Socialist Forum, the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt, Maoists, and the Democratic Voice of Morocco. These latter movements have built relationships with a fraction of the opposition to the regime, namely the Syrian Revolutionary Left of Mr. Gayath Naisse. They have participated, since the Spring of 2011, in discrete mobilisations like protests in front of Syrian embassies and consulates in their respective countries.
Some intellectuals from the independant Left, like the Lebanese historian Fawwaz Trabulsi, support the logic of uprisings. They demand the fall of the regime. This current excludes any dialogue. And even if this part of the Left insist on the necessity of pacifist popular protests, they do not deny to protesters the right to take up arms. At the extreme Left, the partisans of the revolution diverge from the Syrian National Council on the alliance with Qatar, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia. They denounce such alliances as compromising the independance of the popular revolution in Syria.
Denouncing the regime and calling for its fall does not prevent the radical Left from being suspicious of the support given to the Syrian revolution by Gulf monarchies neither from dissociating itself from the anti-Assad discourse of a part of the ‘international community’ headed by the United States. However, their anti-imperialist reflex comes after their support for the revolution. The priority is given here to the internal situation in Syria : the logic of the uprising of the people against their political regime is what counts first, as in Tunisia and Egypt.
[What has been described so far is the position of a minority situated at the extreme Spectrum of the Arab Left.]
On the contrary, a cautious distance toward the Syrian revolution is what characterises the majority of the Left in the Arab World. This majority denounces the militaristaion of the uprising, a process it thinks is profiting the radical Islamists and foreign fighters entering Syria. It fears the confessionalisation of the conflict leading to opposing religious minorities, Alawis and Christians to Sunnis radicalised by repression, seeing in this the spectre of an unending civil war. This majority also takes into account the balance of regional and international powers : Iran and Syria against Gulf monarchies, Russia and China against the United States. In this confrontation between multiple international state actors, the majority of the Arab Left does not hesitate to take sides where its affinities are rooted, with Iran and Syria as state actors against Gulf monrachies and with Russia and China against the United States.
Thus, when the union of Socialist and Leftist parties in Jordan, a coalition of six political formations including communists and Arab nationalists, met in Amman in April 2012 to commemorate the 9th anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Syria crisis, more than the fall of Saddam, was front and center in the discussions, leading to firmly denounce any foreign intervention in Syria, where some of the speakers did not hesitate to draw the parallell between the military intervention in Iraq and the support the SNC and the Syrian armed opposition enjoy in the West.
In Tunisia, in a communiqué dated May, 17, 2012, the UGTT, Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail, which is the main unionised force in Tunisia whose executives come partly from the extreme Left, while affirming its support for the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people, warns against the ‘plot’ fomented by the ‘colonial states’ and ‘Arab Reactionaries’. Two months before this, the Communist Labour Party of Tunisia (POCT, acronym in French) called, along with Arab Nationalist Movements, to protest the venue, in Tunis, of the conference of the Friends of Syria formed of the SNC and 60 international delegations.
The Lebanese Communist Party has adopted a cautious position. While opening its Press to opponents of the Syrian regime like Michel Kilo (who is not member of the SNC), it abstained from participating in the daily protests that have been taking place for a year now in front of the Syrian embassy in Beirut. The party is under criticism from the extreme left in Lebanon for its support for Qadri Jamil, head of the Popular Will Party in Syria, and member of the ‘legal’ opposition, who joined the newly formed Syrian government of Mr. Riyad Hijjab in June 2012 as vice PM for economic affairs.
It is mainly a reformist logic that has the favours of a part of the Arab Left : the solution to the Syrian conflict must be political, not military. The final communiqué of the Arab Nationalist Conference meeting in June, in Hammamet, Tunisia, the gathering of 200 members of Arab Nationalist Leftist - and to a lesser extent - Islamist formations, reflects this reformist logic. Their communiqué, trying to please everybody, recognises the right of the Syrian people to ‘freedom, democracy, and pacific alternance of power’, denounces violence from all origins, thus highlighting the violence of both the uprising and the regime and calling on both to commit to a logic of dialogue based on the peace plan of March 2012 of UN special envoy, Mr. Kofi Annan.
If, for a part of the Arab Radical left, the revolutionary perspective must come first in Syria, the majority of the Arab Left has renounced this perspective. This majority does not want the brutal fall of the regime. For this majority, there is a contradiction in what’s going on in Syria : a cold war that doesn’t say its name. The fear of the void in a post-Assad Syria reconciled with the US and allied to gulf monarchies is much stronger than the fear of the continuation of the regime.
Moreover, Syria is some sort of Janus to many Leftist militants in the Arab world. Very few among them deny the repressive and authoritarian character of its regime, but even today, the defensive discourse of a regime under international sanctions, echoes the profound ideological bedrock of the Arab left which can be found in the third worldist and anti-imperialist paradigm. To some, this ideological paradigm is nuanced by the attachment to the popular character of the revolt, to others, this ideological attachment is, to the contrary, multiplied and amplified by the increasing internationalisation of the conflict.
Not to forget the Islamist dynamic born from the Arab Spring which translates by seizing power, in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, by the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. These events have provoked a backlash among part of the Left: from now on, Arab revolutions are feared because they may lead to an Islamist hegemony in the Arab world.
What stokes these fears among the Arab Left is the support of Islamist movements to the revolution in Syria: Ennahda in Tunisia, as well as the Msulim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan, are fervent supporters of the Syrian revolution. Thus, the position of a majority of the Arab Left toward the Syrian revolution reflects the history of their own confrontation with political Islam. This is why, Arab Leftist parties with commitments to ‘revolution’ and ‘progressism’, and for some, to ‘Marxism’, have, paradoxically, set their preference for a negotiated and gradual transition in Syria, out of fear of the disillusion these revolutions will bring.
If this was the result of a genuine intifada in Egypt (and no it wasn’t a CIA colour-coded revolution in Egypt) then it doesn’t take a giant leap of the imagination to envisage what a post-Assad Syria would look like:
President Shimon Peres received today (Tuesday, 31 July 2012) a first official letter from Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy. In his letter, President Morsy writes: “It was with deep thanks that I received your congratulations on the advent of the Holy Month of Ramadan. I take this opportunity to reiterate that I am looking forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle East Peace Process back to its right track in order to achieve security and stability for all peoples of the region, including the Israeli people.”
"People on both sides of the argument have been quick to rush to judgement on the motivations of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. Moral crusader or compromised egotist? In a new book about Assange written by the Guardian journalists with whom he worked closely, Assange is quoted as saying that negative cables concerning the United States & Israel were deliberately omitted from initial Wikileaks releases last year to prevent the organization being stereotyped as anti-American.
" ‘We shouldn’t go exposing, for example Israel, during the initial phase….the exposure of these other bad countries (Russia, Arab countries) will set the tone of American public opinion,’ Assange is quoted as saying in the book."
“When revolution, alternative media, leftist intellectuals and hacktivism are mainstreamed, and dissent itself is reduced to just another site for domination, revolutionary struggle becomes one of resisting “revolution”, hacking the hacktivists, countering the so-called counter-hegemonists and above all, blaspheming against the new “protest” orthodoxy.”—
"Colonel Dror Platin, who was deputy chief of IDF Galilee Division during kidnapping of reservists Goldwasser and Regev, says abduction video was ‘hard to watch’: "The video (allegedly) showing the kidnapping is part Hezbollah’s psychological warfare. We didn’t need the documentation to learn the lessons we have already learned (from the war)," said Colonel Dror Platin, who served deputy chief of the IDF Galilee Division during the incident…When asked about how the images have affected him personally, Platin responds: "It’s obviously very hard when soldiers are killed or kidnapped. But you can’t turn back time. Only in retrospect people say everything was avoidable."
Very disturbing yet unsubstantiated Haaretz report about Hamas offering to provide intel to Washington on the Syrian army’s movements (assuming it has such info), among other concessions. Not sure how accurate the cited Rose al-Yussuf story is, but if true, then it looks like there is no going back for Hamas, and it’s unlikely the movement won’t break into two or more factions in future. Al Mayadeen, which is by far the most balanced tv station on the Syrian crisis, also published the Haaretz report on its Facebook page. Some excerpts:
"The relationship with the new Egyptian leadership, abandoning of the Syrian power-base and cutting off relations with Iran along with the recognition of the hopelessness of an armed resistance against Israel, is compelling Hamas to examine different strategic alternatives.
Unlike Mubarak who did not hesitate to cooperate in imposing sanctions on Gaza, Morsi will not want to be in a position he is forced to maintain Mubarak’s policy regarding Gaza. For this purpose, he needs Hamas to make concession primarily in its armed operations, something which Mashal must have understood.
In a meeting held last week, Egyptian weekly Rose al-Yusuf reported that Hamas’ Khaled Mashal had presented Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Badia with a plan to end Hamas’ armed operations within a year. The details of the plan were not specified; however Egyptian sources believe that the plan represents Hamas’ willingness to announce an arms reduction (in exchange for an Israeli assurance to cease its actions against Hamas), disengagement from extreme Salafis operating in Sinai, and a gradual transformation of Hamas to a political movement, exclusive of a military wing.
According to the report, what surprised the Brotherhood’s leader was Mashal’s request that Egypt would ask the U.S. to pressure Israel to release 220 Hamas prisoners, handing over a list of their names to his host.
Mashal had also offered detailed information regarding the deployment of the Syrian army - information which he said could “determine the outcome of the campaign.”
Awesome. That’s right, we can build separation walls too:
"We started to practice. They came and they saw us – they didn’t like it and they went to the organizers," Feraro told Reuters. "They put up some kind of wall between us. Everyone went on and there was no interaction between us."
A lot of distortion of reality and other rubbish in this article but Israel is clearly very embarrassed by how seemingly ”easy” Hizbullah’s abduction of the two IDF soldiers in July 2006 was. See full Haaretz article here and below:
The video clip released by Hezbollah on Friday, which documents the kidnapping of Israel Defense Forces reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, and during which soldiers Shani Turgeman, Eyal Benin, and Vasim Nazel were killed, gives goose bumps to anyone that was there on the Lebanese border, during that forlorn summer of 2006.
The bend in the road near report line 105, east of the northern settlement of Zarit is well known, from multiple visits to the scene of the attack during the months and years that followed.
For the first time, that bend in the road is seen from the other side of the Lebanese border, from a viewpoint hidden in an overgrown wadi, which concealed the ambush that Hezbollah had laid in wait of IDF hummers.
Most importantly, the Hezbollah militants had the camera rolling from the moment the border was breached, and it documented every stage of the incident, up until the point that Goldwasser and Regevwere extracted from their hummer, either dead, or critically injured.
Apparently, there are details regarding the attack that Hezbollah prefers to keep to itself, and whether or not the two soldiers were alive as they were kidnapped and taken to Lebanon is at the top of the list.
Why did Hezbollah decide to release the video now, of all times? Roughly two weeks after the sixth anniversary of the start of the Second Lebanon War, with the world focus in London on eve of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games?
The explanation apparently has much to do with the internal situation in Lebanon, where calls to disarm Hezbollah have been renewed as of late.
On Saturday morning, a Lebanese website, known for its disdain for Hezbollah, quoted a senior official from within the anti-Syria camp, who called the coming elections an “operation to displace Hezbollah’s sovereignty from Lebanon.”
Lebanese parliamentary elections are expected to be held June 2013, and the Shi’ite organization’s situation is a rather uncomfortable one. The video clip is a reminder of Hezbollah’s might, as the true military defender of the Lebanese people.
“We are the only ones who can stand against the Israeli enemy,” says Hezbollah, to the Lebanese people, who are currently focusing their attention on the murders being carried out by Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.
On Friday night as well, clashes took place in Tripoli in northern Lebanon, between militants supporting Assad, and militants supporting the opposition, in which 12 people were injured.
No less interesting is the method Hezbollah chose to release the clip. The clip was released through the relatively new television channel al-Midian, founded by the analyst Rasan Ben Gado, former al-Jazeera office chief in Lebanon, who has close ties to Hezbollah. Ben Gado quit al-Jazeera over the channel’s anti-Syria policy, and founded, apparently with the help of Hezbollah, al-Midian. The release of the video bolsters the new channel, not just Hezbollah.
A few more interesting insights arise from viewing the video:
1.The unbearable ease of the kidnapping – contrary to some of the earlier estimations, that the fence was breached at night, under cover of darkness, the video reveals that the Hezbollah forces crossed the border in broad daylight, a minute or two (unless the video was edited at this point) before opening fire on the IDF hummers.
Hezbollah forces apparently watched the eastward movement of the patrol on the winding road and timed their attack. Hezbollah knew that it was a “dead area” in terms of visibility for IDF observation posts. (Division 91 had requested a camera be erected at the spot, but the request was turned down due to budgeting concerns. The camera was erected a week after the kidnapping.) The Livne bunker, located on report line 105, was not regularly manned at the time, and other posts and observation points were attacked during the kidnapping, to make it difficult for IDF forces to respond.
2. The patrol didn’t return fire – from the video clip, it was a completely one-sided fight. The ambush took the soldiers in both hummers by surprise. Some were killed on the spot by anti-tank missiles, before they could respond. Two soldiers, including the driver of one of the hummers, escaped, wounded, and hid in the bushes. The video clip does not show the arrival of other IDF forces. The first additional IDF arrived at 9:45 A.M., roughly 40 minutes after the incident began.
3. The negligence was all encompassing – Days before the end of the war, IDF forces conducted a search of the area north of the border fence, and found a Hezbollah bunker on a hill overlooking the scene of the kidnapping (apparently very close to the point where the clip was filmed). Hezbollah forces had managed to carry out extensive preparations for the operation under Israel’s nose.
IDF activity on the Lebanese border between 2000 and 2006 was low on the list of priorities, because of budget problems, and lack of availability of equipment and manpower. Israel also gave up demonstrating sovereignty, and other aggressive military activities in the area, in efforts not to start a conflict with Hezbollah at a time when Palestinian terror was running rampant within the West Bank. The result: Hezbollah took the initiative, and its efforts led to war.
Apparently there is a hidden message here, for current times. The balance of power is clear: the IDF is immeasurably stronger than Hezbollah. Even though Israel did not win the Second Lebanon War, the blow dealt to the Shi’ite organization has proven strong enough to prevent it from starting a second round, to this day, in spite of Hassan Nasrallah’s frequent victory speeches.
It would be a terrible mistake however, to underestimate Hezbollah’s capabilities once again, regardless of whether the decision to act comes from Beirut or Teheran.
In 2006 we were surprised by the kidnapping, the attack on the navy vessel “Hanit,” the Battle of Bint Jbeil, and the rocket fire in the north. If another conflict were to start in the future, it must be taken into account that not only the IDF, but Hezbollah as well have been training and improving during the years of intermission.
But Mood warned that Assad’s fall may not lead to the end of the conflict, hinting that the country could be drawn further into a civil war.
“Many think that if Bashar al-Assad falls or that if he is given an honorable exit… the problem will be solved. That is an over-simplification one should be wary of. The situation could even get worse,” Mood told a news conference.
Over and above the CHP’s opposition on these grounds and the Turkish Communist Party’s opposition to the AKP’s Syria policy, is the fact that over two-thirds of Turks polled last month by a local think tank, oppose Turkish intervention in Syria, while a majority (including the AKP’s own supporters) believe Turkey should play a more neutral role in the Syrian crisis.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has criticized the government’s policy on Syria, saying that only Israelbenefits from the current situation.
This is because a Kurdish state is in the works, Kılıçdaroğlu said. Turkey’s foreign policy has been focused on removing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, without asking what will follow it, he said. “Syria is very important for Russia, too. This was discounted as well,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding “our foreign policy has become chaotic.” He accused the government of “play[ing] backgammon on behalf of others,” on the Syria issue. “They don’t know what to do next,” he said.
So apparently, the Palestinian refugees in Syria are overwhelmingly anti-regime. I have actually been hearing this from quite a few pro-regime friends. Here are excerpts from the AP report:
"On July 11, the bodies of 15 soldiers from the Palestinian Liberation Army, a branch of the Syrian armed forces, were found outside of Aleppo, the country’s largest city. There were conflicting accusations about who killed the soldiers, but many Palestinians blamed Assad’s regime.”
This is an outright lie by the way, AFP reported PLA chief of staff Major General Mohammad Tareq al-Khadraa as telling SANA: “The fact that the armed terrorist groups kidnapped and killed 17 troops from the Palestinian Liberation Army in Syria proves the criminal, dirty role that these groups play and their links to Western and Zionist agendas.”
The AP article later acknowledges:
"While not citizens, Palestinians in Syria have greater rights than their brethren in other Arab countries. They can hold government jobs, attend state universities for free and serve in the military. Assad’s regime has long billed itself as a champion of the Palestinian cause.
Ironically, Palestinian activists say it was their integration into Syrian society - facilitated by Assad’s regime - that pushed them into the uprising.
"We have never felt that there was a big difference between the Palestinians and the Syrians," said Abu Omar, the Yarmouk activist. He is 22, has spent his whole life in Syria and was getting a free university education when the uprising broke out. He dismissed the idea that Assad’s regime has been a leader in the Palestinian struggle, pointing out that Syria’s border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights has been largely quiet since 1974. In fact, he said he hoped a regime change would help the Palestinians achieve their ultimate goal: the return to their ancestral villages in what is now Israel. "We have to work together with the free people to liberate Syria, then we’ll go to the Golan and liberate Palestine," he said. "We’ll work hand in hand."
Many Third Wayers and oppositionists will use articles like this to argue that because the Palestinians view the Syrian government as being a liability rather than a requirement for the liberation of Palestine, First Wayers and mumana’ists must respect their views and withdraw support from such a regime This is ideological nonsense of course because the Palestinian people are just as susceptible as all other Arabs are to intellectual imperialism and sectarian agitation. By that same line of reasoning, we should give up on the Palestinian cause and recognize Israel’s existence, as well as tolerate the strategic threat it poses to neighbouring Arab states, should the majority of Palestinians ever decide that in the future.
And just when you thought Angry Arab’s analysis on Syria couldn’t get any sillier, he surprises you with more simplistic and infantile analysis here. He argues:
-"Hezbollah has decided that his enemies (US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel) have basically took over the cause of ridding Syrians of the Assad regime from the Syrian armed and unarmed opposition."
Really? Hizbullah “has decided”? Because the Israeli-GCC-NATO role in steering the proxy militias otherwise known as the “armed Syrian opposition” is a figment of their imagination. Right. I urge him to read, not alternative media, but mainstream media for a reality check.
-"The alliance with the regime and the extraction of political and military benefits exceeded other humanitarian considerations."
Other “humanitarian” considerations? What is more humanitarian than protecting Syria and the region as a whole from the colonizers’ grip? What is more humanitarian than rejecting the sectarian bloodshed that the agents of destruction have sown? What is more humanitarian than defending Lebanon and Palestine from the cancer in our midst, Israel? What is more humanitarian than pursuing the liberation of Palestine?
-"If Hezbollah feels it can only choose the side that is opposed to Israel, it should know that it has alienated a large section of the Syrian people."
So according to his cost-benefit calculus, Hizbullah should sacrifice Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity not to mention Lebanon’s security and the future of Palestine because this alienates the not insignificant minority of misled Syrians who have been fed a steady diet of Qatari-Saudi-American misinformation and who happen to believe they are better served by the their colonial masters than by the resistance axis?
-“While Hezbollah is right, from its standpoint, to be most focused on its supply line from Syria and on the military support it has received from the regime. It has to know that support from the people of Syria lasts far longer than support from a regime that sooner or later will go down.”
So the other Syrian people , who otherwise constitute the majority if we must talk numbers, don’t figure into Angry’s pseudo-moral arithmetic. And maintaining the support of a segment of one country’s population is more strategically beneficial to a resistance movement than supporting a government whose fall who would spell the end of Palestine and Hizbullah as a resistance movement. But have no fear Hizbullah, the Syrian oppositionists allied with Israel will secure the weapons’ flow for your resistance and ensure Gaza is well armed for the next Israeli invasion. How do we know this? Because Angry Arab says so. From California no less.
-"But Hezbollah has yet again displayed disregard for the suffering of the Syrian people. How could Nasrallah express sympathy for the dead henchmen of the regime – even if they rendered services to Hezbollah in its fight against Israel – and not express sympathy for the any of the civilian victims of the regime? Hezbollah, like all allies of the Syrian regime in Lebanon from the Phalanges in 1976 to Jumblatt and Hariri and many others, never really expressed concerns for the welfare of the Syrian people."
So basically, Hizbullah’s fear of sectarian warfare , it’s fear of NATO and Israeli military intervention, and all the other plans being hatched by Empire are not an expression of sympathy for the Syrian people. Because people don’t die of imperialism, only of “authoritarianism”. And as for comparing this paragon of justice and self-sacrifice, a man who sacrificed his own son, Hadi, for the cause of Palestine, with the despicable collaborators and slaves of Israel and the US like Jumblatt and Hariri, what can one respond within the bounds of “civilized” discourse beyond shame ? Shame, shame, shame on your petty, colonized, self-serving little mind. Spare us your public mea culpa’s “I was wrong” (see his recent post here) when you clearly never learn from your mistakes. You were wrong then and you are wrong now.
Ahmadinejad uses the White Man’s discourse against him:
"Such brutal actions are in no way acceptable, and the officials of the country should listen to the voice of their people and allow them to participate in the major affairs of the country,” he noted. The system based on which the world’s affairs have been managed over the past century is one of the worst in history and is even worse than the one prevailing in the era of slavery, Ahmadinejad opined. Ahmadinejad also criticized the UN Security Council for remaining silent about the developments taking place in Britain and said, “Today the UN must show whether or not it can play a role in the management of the world’s affairs.” “The UN Security Council must intervene and show if it is able to condemn a permanent member for its police’s brutal crackdown on protestors,” he stated. This is a “litmus test” for the United Nations, the Iranian president added.”
So much for all those pundits who misread Iran’s intent to broker talks between the Syrian government and opposition as a policy shift. This week alone, Iranian officials have unusually fiery statements. First, was Masoud Jazayeri’s, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, threat here that any foreign powers intervening in Syria would suffer “decisive blows”, specifically referring to “hated Arabs” - a veiled reference to regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar. ”Not yet one of Syria’s friends and the large resistance front has entered this arena, and if this were to happen, decisive blows would be struck against the enemy’s front and specifically the hated Arabs,” he was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.
A high-ranking Iranian official says his country is ready to share “experience and capabilities” with the Tehran-backed regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
In a report published late on Wednesday by official news agency IRNA, Iran’s vice president in charge of international affairs, Ali Saeedlou, described the two countries as powerful nations able to influence regional and global stability.
"Tehran is ready to give its experience and capabilities to its friend and brother nation of Syria," he said, after meeting with Syria’s deputy prime minister, Omar Ibrahim Ghalawanji. He did not elaborate.
Yes I know Russia’s Syria policy is motivated by geostrategic interests but their officials make such gutsy statements like Vitaly Churkin here: "The problem is the dialogue has not started yet. The opposition groups refuse to enter into dialogue with the Syrian government, which says it is prepared for dialogue. They should try that offer of the Syrian government to enter into dialogue… And we know those greatest humanists in the world – US and UK – intervened in Iraq, for instance, citing all sorts of noble pretexts, in that particular case – non-existent weapons of mass destruction. What it caused – 150 thousand civilian deaths alone, to say nothing about millions of refugees, displaced persons and the whole dislocation in the country. So, don’t be duped by humanitarian rhetoric. There is much more geopolitics in their policy in Syria than humanism… I would not rule out that then they would move on to Iran, but I was not referring to that. In my remarks at the [Security] Council of the United Nations earlier today I was referring to their clear interest. And this is a major motivation of their policy and their effort to topple President Assad -in curbing Iranian influence in the Middle East and that entire region. And it is also a major motivation of the other Middle Eastern fighters for democracy – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – who are concerned about what they see as Iranian interest; in Bahrain as well. They claim the Shia protests there is sort of Iranian-sponsored even though some observers – including your colleagues and journalists who have experience on the ground – believe that it happens to be genuine protests against the system which is not entirely democratic, to put it mildly. So, a clear geopolitical dimension is there in the policies of a number of countries, who are extremely aggressive vis-a-vis Syria. And it has nothing to do with the interests of the Syrian people…. And about vetoes – if I am not mistaken, the US has cast 60 vetoes on the Palestinian issue alone. So, why don’t you question my American colleagues about the impact of the image of the US in the Middle East of those continuous vetoes?
Talk about political bankruptcy. The NY Times believes it had made headline news out of….nothing new. The article begins with this sensationalist lead paragraph: "The Obama administration has for now abandoned efforts for a diplomatic settlement to the conflict in Syria, and instead it is increasing aid to the rebels and redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down the government of President Bashar al-Assad, American officials say.” But then it turns out that "Administration officials insist they will not provide arms to the rebel forces. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are already financing those efforts. But American officials said that the United States would provide more communications training and equipment .." Also turns out that the international effort to “forcibly remove” Assad, is nothing more than rallying its allies to further pressure the Syrian government and to lay out contingency plans for a post-Assad scenario :“It’s going to take an international effort when Assad falls — and he will fall — in order to secure these weapons,” Adm. William H. McRaven, the head of the military’s Special Operations forces, told Congress in March.” And then this bizarre paragraph: “The administration has had regular talks with the Israelis about how Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities, administration officials said. The administration is not advocating such an attack, the officials said, because of the risk that it would give Mr. Assad an opportunity to rally support against Israeli interference.” If the US doesn’t want Israel to attack then why begin the paragraph with the ominous sounding "The administration has had regular talks with the Israelis about how Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities"?? Let’s face it, the NYT is starting to sound as bankrupt and desperate for some muscle to flex as the Obama regime for which it serves as an unofficial mouthpiece. Articles like this only convince me more that the Empire’s hands are tied and hence, must resort to this inane saber-rattling much like its colonial outpost, Israel.
When justifying imperialist intervention "goes wrong"
An excellent piece by Mazda Majidi. Indeed since when were “popular” and progressive/revolutionary synonymous? When analyzing an opposition movement anywhere in the world, this is the first question that needs to be asked. Just because part of the population of a given country comes to the streets or takes up arms does not mean that they are revolutionary or progressive. This is so even if they are responding to real social and political problems. Right-wing forces routinely mobilize parts of the population —predominantly disaffected elements of the somewhat privileged “middle class” and others—to promote right-wing agendas…. Revolutionaries and progressives must stand on principles, and make a political assessment of movements in question. Even if the majority of the population were swept up by a reactionary movement, that movement is not revolutionary. Even if the majority of Libyans supported imperialist intervention—which is highly unlikely—that would not justify support by progressives for imperialist intervention… In the imperialist era, the right to self-determination has been bound together with the “national-colonial question,” that is the specific global division of power between imperialist oppressor and oppressed nations. This has long been a cardinal question for revolutionaries inside the imperialist countries: what attitude they will take towards their own ruling class’s imperialist plans, and towards the independence movements among the oppressed nations. Lenin, the Russian Revolution and the early Communist International recognized that these independence movements weakened imperialism and could hasten its downfall. They offered a united front, although not necessarily political support, to independence movements in the struggle against imperialism. This is the specific meaning of self-determination in the era of imperialism.”
Why the Assad government and Hizbullah are not sectarian
The composition of a government or movement is never sufficient grounds for branding it “sectarian”. There can be no denying that various [security-related] branches of the Assad government are largely, though by no means exclusively, Alawite (a useful analogy is Saddam Hussein’s reliance on fellow Sunni clansmen from Takrit, though his regime did not carry a Sunni agenda) or that Hizbullah is exclusively Shi’ite. But it is their domestic and regional agendas, their rhetoric and openness to other religious communities, as well as the identity of their constituencies, which should be the measure of their sectarianism, not the sectarian identity of their members. This is even more so that case when religious discrimination is not institutionalized as it is Saudi Arabia or Bahrain for example. Both the Assad government and Hizbullah enjoy cross-sectarian support, shun any kind of sectarian discourse and more importantly, the political agendas they promote have never been about advancing Shi’ite or Alawite communal interests, but about resisting Israel and the West.
Ibrahim al-Amine reveals the resistance role of Asef Shawkat here:
There have been incessant attempts to demonize Shawkat, which can invariably be traced to the US, Israel and their clients in the region. But there was also a side to him that was hidden, for reasons related both to his position, and the nature of the tasks he undertook, far from the prying eyes of friends and foes alike.
Asef Shawkat played a major role in resisting Israeli occupation in and around Palestine. Right to the end, he took practical charge of meeting the needs of the resistance forces in Palestine and Lebanon, and of their members and cadres in Syria. He oversaw everything from their accommodation and transportation, to their training camps and provisions, and arranging for cadres from inside Palestine to come to the country secretly for training.
For the resistance in Lebanon, Shawkat was a true partner, providing whatever assistance was needed without needing orders or approval from the leadership. He was a central player in the June 2006 war whose anniversary we have been marking. He spent the entire time in the central operations room that was set up in line with a directive by Assad to supply the resistance with whatever weapons it wanted, notably missiles, from Syrian army stocks. Shawkat and other officers and men of the Syrian army – including Muhammad Suleiman who was assassinated by the Mossad on the Syrian coast in 2008 – spent weeks coordinating the supply operation which helped the resistance achieve the successes that led to the defeat of Israel.
Despite the accusations levelled against Asef Shawkat regarding security, political or other matters, for Imad Mughniyeh, the assassinated military leader of Hezbollah, he was just another comrade, a modest man, who would bow when shaking hands with Hassan Nasrallah, and liked to hear the news from Palestine last thing at night.
UN head of mission in Syria, General Mood's statement
Very interesting statement from head of UN mission in Syria, General Mood as he makes his departure from Syria. Last paragraph is just as applicable to rebels as it is to government:
"I extend my profound condolences and my heartfelt sympathies to the families of all the victims and to the wounded in Wednesday’s bombings. I expressed my condemnation of the attack yesterday to the Syria government. I call on the Parties to the end the bloodshed, and violence in all its forms, and recommit to a peaceful solution to this conflict…Government and opposition must be willing to make the necessary concessions and sit at the negotiating table. If this happens, the presence of the mission (or: a UN political-military presence), Unsmis, will be credible and the mission can contribute to improving the situation of the ground.
Let me end by saying that there is no lasting hope in the military solution. I, as a soldier, know more than many, that the decision in favour of peace, is harder than that of war. But I have learned through many years of military practice that it is still better to make that hard choice; to choose peace, even if you can win the war. For it is the fabric of a society that will be deeply damaged by war, and greatly enhanced by the prevalence of peace.”
The first goal was to crush the Resistance, Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding that the Israelis wanted Syria to be next.
"If the resistance was to be crushed, the war was aimed then at Syria on the pretext that Syria helped the resistance. The second goal was to overthrow the Assad regime and subject it to the American-Israeli scheme."
“They sought after the July war to destroy the Syrian army and the U.S. took advantage of rightful demands of the Syrian people, prevented dialogue and turned Syria into a war zone because the objective is destroying and fragmenting Syria, like they did in Iraq,”
Turning to Syria’s big role in the resistance, the secretary general assured the Americans’ problem is Syria, but not any Syria. “The Syria of Abdul Halim Khaddam is not a problem, but rather the Syria of Bashar Assad.”
"Syria is a big problem for the Americans and Israelis because Syria is the real supporter for the resistance and especially at the military level. Syria was not only a passageway for the Resistance, but also a real military supporter of the Resistance. For example, the most important missiles that fell on Haifa and central Israel were Syrian-made missiles," Sayyed Nasrallah said.
"The most important weapons we fought with during the July war were from Syria, not only in Lebanon but also in the Gaza Strip. The missiles delivered to Gaza managed to force more than a million settlers to stay in bunkers and frightened Tel Aviv. When the Arab regimes were barring bread and money from entering Gaza, Syria was sending weapons along with food for Gaza and risked for that."
"This is Syria, the Syria of Bashar Assad and martyr Leaders Assef Shawkat, Dawoud Rajiha and Hassan Turkmani,"
"We reiterate our call for preserving Syria and the only solution is accepting dialogue. As we feel the loss of today’s martyrs, we extend our condolences to their families and to the Syrian leadership. These martyr leaders were comrades-in-arms in the conflict with the Israeli enemy and we are confident that the Arab Syrian Army, which overcame the unbearable, will be able persist and crush the hopes of the enemies."
“The gloves are off. The Syrian Information Minister says Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel are responsible for today’s events. This is the first time a Syrian official singles out the conspirators by name since the start of the conflict. Indeed, this is a new stage in the war.
The same Arab traitors rejoicing the killings are also mocking Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah on twitter now. It is sickening to the core to know that if Israel invaded Syria or Lebanon today they would most likely be cheering it, if not publicly (because they still pay lip service to Palestine) in private just as March 14 collaborators did in 2006 as revealed by Wikileaks State Department cables .”—
“Remember when they assassinated Hizbullah’s military commander and security chief, the martyr Imad Mughnieh? Remember how they said this was the end of the Resistance? Incidentally, they are the same powers and states who are either directly or indirectly behind the killings in Syria today and who are now wagering on the collapse of the Army and security forces. These killings are a war on Syria as a whole not merely its regime or security apparatus, just as the assassination of Mughnieh was not only a war on Hizbullah only but on the resistance project in the region.”—
“Whoever thinks that the killing of the Syrian Defense Minister and Security Chief is going to finish off the Assad government is delusional. While demoralizing, it will not effect cohesion, but will only have a radicalizing effect on security cadres. The western colonizers and Arab traitors (al-Qaeda’s new secular bedfellows) now rejoicing are either blind or indifferent to the major escalation that is to come. Things are going to get very ugly as there will be much collateral damage. This is not the end but the beginning of a new phase in the war on Syria. Let us wait for tonight when Nasrallah will address the issue of Israel’s security threats against Lebanon and Syria.”—
Anonymous Syria hardly a credible source of email leaks
So much for the authenticity of Wikileaks’ Syria Files e-mails. They were provided to Wikileaks by none other than the clearly pro-opposition Anonymous Syria and I have written about their inherent bias on my blog here. Also, here is a tweet of theirs delighting in the Twitter account that impersonates me. That isn’t to dismiss all the emails outright, especially since many were provided by other hacktivists, but merely to emphasize the need to subject them to much more critical scrutiny. I wonder how much credibility such mails would have if my anti-imperialist (I keep forgetting that term is so passé) comrades and I were to offer such e-mails to Wikileaks…
Syrian and Palestinian sources deny massacre in Palestinian school
Syrian oppositionists have fabricated yet another massacre, this time in the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk. According to their fabricated claims, Syrian government forces had massacred Palestinians in a the Falouja School in the Yarmouk refugee camp. However, a widely followed Arabic language Yarmouk Camp News page on Facebook recently carried this announcement here , which denied the massacre had taken place. Al-Arabiyya English also cited the Local Coordination Committees as denying the massacre took place in this piece here: “ The Local Coordination Committees, earlier, denied the presence of any massacres inside a Falouja School at the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp, following reports by activists that the Syrian regime troops had stormed the camp, Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday.”
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood won't lift blockade on Gaza
So much for Hamas’ excitement about the ascendance of the Muslim Brotherhood. While Syria, Hizbullah and Iran have supported the movement and fiercely criticized Mubarak’s Egypt for its stranglehold over Gaza in Israel’s onslaught in 2008/2009 —and let us not forget how Hizbullah operatives were detained by the Mubarak regime for smuggling weapons and supplies to Hamas via Egypt— Egypt’s MB won’t even lend rhetorical support to removing Egypt’s blockade on Gaza. Excerpts from AP’s report here:
Egypt’s new president holds the key to blockaded Gaza, but he is signaling that he won’t rush to help the territory’s Hamas rulers by striking a border deal with them, even though they are fellow members of the region’s Muslim Brotherhood.
A bilateral border agreement between Egypt and Hamas could hurt chances of setting up a single Palestinian state, made up of the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel.
"I don’t think they (the Egyptians) are ready for that," said Palestinian economist and business leader Samir Hulileh.
Hamas was jubilant over Morsi’s election in neighboring Egypt in June, hoping the Egyptian leader would lift years of travel and trade restrictions that have hit the Gaza economy hard.
But for now Morsi is keeping Hamas at arm’s length, focusing on his relationship with Egypt’s powerful military and with the U.S., which gives Egypt $1.3 billion in annual military aid.
The Egyptian leader reiterated in a weekend meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that he would honor all of Egypt’s international obligations.
He has also avoided preferential treatment of Hamas. This week, he’ll receive Abbas in Cairo, while Hamas leaders are still waiting for their invitation.
Morsi would like to lift the blockade, but is worried about violating international protocols, said Egyptian security officials familiar with Gaza policy, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
A very important piece here by al-Akhbar’s editor-in-chief, Ibrahim al-Amine. Ibrhaim is always very well informed and is not prone to sensationalizing or exaggerating news. If Israel does indeed carry out its threats to invade or attack Syria, it will be interesting to see how colonized and treasonous the Syrian “revolutionaries” have become. Will they welcome their Zionist “liberators” and view Israel as a friend, as the SNC and FSA have? Some excerpts from Ibrahim’s piece:
Amid these difficulties, another aspect of Western and Israeli interest in what is happening in Syria has recently been brought to the fore.
Reports, mostly based on intelligence sources, have indicated that a frantic effort is being made (including on-the-ground activities attributed to Turkish, British and perhaps US special forces) to identify the locations of the Syrian army’s non-conventional arms – meaning not only its long-range missile arsenal, but also what the West says is the biggest stockpile of chemical weapons in the region.
There has been a profusion of reports focusing on this theme in the Israeli and Western media over the past two weeks.
Sky News and others have meanwhile quoted intelligence sources saying Israel is considering the possibility of military intervention to prevent Syria’s secret chemical weapons stockpiles from falling into terrorist hands.
This prompted a further round of alarm-bell ringing, with the commander of the occupation army’s Northern Region, Yair Golan, warning that strategic arms other than chemical weapons were being transferred from Syria to Hezbollah. When asked by the newspaper Israel Hayom about the prospective supply of chemical weapons, he said that would pose an unparalleled threat which Israel would not tolerate, which the paper took as meaning it would trigger a major war.
Military and security sources proceeded to tell The Jerusalem Post that intelligence received by the West about the transfer of chemical weapons to Lebanon could prompt it to take pre-emptive military action.
The Israelis did not stop at this. They also unleashed a sudden torrent of threats against Lebanon and Hezbollah, with numerous officials warning that utter devastation would be inflicted on the country in the event of a fresh confrontation with Hezbollah.
It has become clear that the international balance of power prevents the UN Security Council from authorizing direct military intervention aimed at toppling the regime.
Faced with this, it seems that the US and the West have reverted to seeking a role for the neighborhood bully, for whom the dirty work is left when all else fails.
As in Lebanon in 2005 and 2006, a point has been reached at which the West and its local allies feel they cannot achieve a breakthrough without a major shakeup on the ground.
Israel is thus perceived as preparing itself for a possible military blitz against Syria, under the pretext of getting rid of its WMD as in Iraq, with the aim of dealing devastating blows to the Syrian army and state. The hope is that having severely weakened them, Assad’s Western and Arab enemies could deal the killer blows, enabling the armed opposition to prevail and take over.
Some saw them as evidence that Israel is gearing up for an attack in Iran, following the failure of its talks the West over its nuclear programme. But there are few real signs of the enemy preparing to embark on so great a folly. Also, there are many reasons, well known and not-so-well known, why launching a war on Lebanon would be tantamount to inviting everyone to a barbeque party in hell.
That would suggest that the intended purpose of the threats is to “impose neutrality” on Hezbollah and deter it from taking action against Israel if it opts to attack Syria. Some decision-makers in the West, and in Israel, evidently believe it would be possible to single Assad out and pick him off.
This is not the case. Any Israeli military assault on Syria would, quite simply, be an invitation to war with Hezbollah. It would be naive to think that Hezbollah or Iran would stand idly by as their chief ally in the region is brought down, most especially by Israel.
Accordingly, the sources say, a variety of messages were conveyed to Washington, Tel Aviv and other capitals, to the effect that that an Israeli military operation, even if brief, against Syria, would tip the region into all-out war.
In that case, the barriers that prevent the fire spreading to other parts of the Arab world or the region would come down one by one. It would be hard and painful in the extreme. Strategic calculations and analyses would be of no use to anyone, nor wishful thinking or prayers. We would witness the most blistering episode yet of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with victory hinging on patience.
Let us listen carefully to Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech on Wednesday.
Syrian oppositionists on Twitter ignore mainstream media reports
I have noticed a recent and very disturbing trend on twitter among supporters of the Syrian opposition whereby they ignore mainstream media (yes, their own media) accounts of events that contradict their own narrative. In so doing, they brazenly distort and falsify reality despite a media consensus on these events.
Last week alone, these tweeps claimed that the 17 Palestinians in Syria who were killed by Syrian rebels, were in fact murdered and tortured by Assad’s forces. Separately, they have been repeating—despite the UN’s premilimary report on the issue—that those killed in Treimseh were civilians.
This despite this AFP report here which quotes a SANA interview with the head of the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA)— a battalion in the Syrian army— who condemned the kidnapping and killing of 17 of his troops by “armed terrorist groups” in northern Syria. HAMAS subsequently condemned the killings as reported by AFP and Al-Akhbar here: ”The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas issued a strongly worded statement on Thursday condemning “the ugly killing of 17 PLA soldiers” by suspected rebels in Syria.”
The second story regarding the violence in Treimseh has now been clarified by the UN investigation’s report as a battle between two warring parties rather than a massacre of civilians. As reported by the NY Times:
New details emerging Saturday about what local Syrian activists called a massacre of civilians near the central city of Hama indicated that it was more likely an uneven clash between the heavily armed Syrian military and local fighters bearing light weapons.
Their initial report said the attack appeared to target “specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists,” Ms. Ghosheh said in a statement. It said a range of weapons had been used, including artillery, mortars and small arms.
Although what actually happened in Tremseh remains murky, the evidence available suggested that events on Thursday more closely followed the Syrian government account.
The picture emerging is that there was a large group of fighters from the town and the local area bivouacked in Tremseh. The Syrian Army moved in early Thursday, blocking all exits and blasting away with machine guns, tank shells and rockets fired from helicopters, laying waste to the town.
“Whenever the Syrian Army knows there are fighters concentrated in an area, they attack,” said the leader of the Observatory, who goes by the pseudonym Rami Abdul-Rahman for safety reasons. “The majority of people killed in Tremseh were either rebel fighters from the village or from surrounding villages.”
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not the Amal Saad-Ghorayeb on twitter under the handle @AmalTheResistor shown here.
This fake account uses my real name and is an impersonation of me in violation of Twitter’s policy on parody since my actual name is used. I have reported the incident to Twitter and hopefully the account will be shut and the name modified so as to avoid confusion.
On another note, the tweets are very un-clever and unfunny and the followers even sillier. I expected more from oppositionists with all the PR they have at their disposal. And their defamation of Che Guevera and mocking of Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah just underlines what colonized lackeys of Empire they really are. Oh wait, calling anyone an imperialist or Zionist is so last year and hence mockable so I guess this post will be their next target. Hopefully it will be funnier than the others.
Russian parliament adopts NGO 'foreign agents' bill
Very interesting precedent that other countries should consider following. Story from the BBC here :
Russia’s lower house of parliament has adopted a controversial bill that labels foreign-funded non-governmental organisations as “foreign agents”.
The upper house and President Vladimir Putin are now expected to turn the bill into law.
Approval in the largely pro-Putin Duma (lower house) was overwhelming.
Human rights activists have condemned the bill, seeing it as a tool to crush dissent. The Duma also voted to impose big fines for libel or slander.
Journalists from some leading Russian news outlets demonstrated outside the Duma against the new libel law, which envisages fines of up to 5m rubles (£99,000; $153,000) for offenders. They warned that it would bring extra pressure on the media.
The NGO bill requires all the relevant NGOs’ materials to include the phrase “foreign agents”. The term carries a Soviet-era negative taint in Russia, suggesting spying, correspondents say.
The Kremlin says the bill is needed to protect Russia from outside attempts to influence internal politics.
Some NGOs complain that they have to seek funding from abroad because they cannot get it from the Russian state. There are also fears that the bill could be used to restrict independent election monitoring.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said state funding would be increased for NGOs whose activity “as a whole is deemed useful and positive for our country”.
Under the bill, foreign-funded NGOs involved in politics will also have to undergo financial audits and issue twice-yearly reports on their activities.
Failure to comply will be punishable by heavy fines or even a two-year prison sentence.
“Five articles later, this is my conclusion in the debate with the Third Way: To all intents and purposes, there is no real “Third Way”, there are only two ways. It is not so much a case of you are either with us or against us, but rather, you are either with imperialism or against it. There is simply no practical alternative to these binaries in today’s geopolitical order.”—
Has Third Wayism become an intellectual safe haven for closet interventionists?
I am starting to realize that Third-Wayism is a misnomer for many of those who identify themselves as such or who are considered as belonging to this camp. Some of them— and I don’t say all, but some— read like closet interventionists. In other cases, like Max Blumenthal’s (example #3), they sound like closet Israel legitimizers. In effect, Third Wayism is being used as an intellectual safe haven for closet interventionists.
Excerpts from 3 different Third-Wayers:
"Let us imagine a wild scenario whereby the United States would have intervened to stop the Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza in January 2009. Would Gazans, under daily bombs and bullets, have objected on the grounds of the US record of imperialism? Or perhaps, Gazans might have objected due to their suspicion of the United States’ potential designs for the post-intervention stage? Surely many outsiders will think so, and some insiders may too. But most Gazans would likely not have been entertaining ideology and geostrategic reflexivity, as their skies rained death from above. Moreover, even if, in this wild scenario, Gazan’s acceptance of external intervention would have been perhaps short-sighted, it would have been patently ridiculous to claim that all such Gazans were part of an imperialist conspiracy.
In fact, opposing foreign intervention may have a very high cost in terms of human life given that the regime might be capable of unleashing its full wrath on dissenters in the absence of external restraint. Some third wayers might argue that it is a painful price one has to bear if the issue is indeed about organic revolution and not either a grand struggle for power or merely saving lives in the short term.
“The Assad regime was running an institution of torture in prisons. Possibly 100,000 people are in prison right now. And this makes Israel look like, you know, a champion of human rights.”
Zionist collaborationist FSA thugs massacre Palestinian fighters in Syria, as reported by Akhbar here. Ironic that Hamas is condemning the side it has [indirectly] aligned itself with:
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas issued a strongly worded statement on Thursday condemning “the ugly killing of 17 PLA soldiers” by suspected rebels in Syria.
The head of the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA) in Syria condemned on Thursday the kidnapping and killing of 17 of his troops by “armed terrorist groups,” state news agency SANA reported.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Wednesday that the bodies of 13 PLA soldiers had been found after they were kidnapped days earlier while en route to Aleppo in northern Syria.
The PLA is a battalion in the Syrian army, although it is made up of Palestinians living in Syria and who are conscripted to the armed forces.
PLA chief of staff Major General Mohammad Tareq al-Khadraa told SANA: “The fact that the armed terrorist groups kidnapped and killed 17 troops from the Palestinian Liberation Army in Syria proves the criminal, dirty role that these groups play and their links to Western and Zionist agendas.”
He added that the men were “tortured and abused,” that “they were unarmed, and that they were on their way to visit their families on holiday.”
Images of the massacre show messages scrawled on the bodies of the Palestinian men, reportedly left by armed opposition fighters.
It is unclear why the armed militiamen attacked the Palestinians, who have largely kept out of the Syrian uprising since it began in March 2011.
Khadraa called the men martyrs who “gave their lives in an offering to the liberation of Palestine.”
It called the killings “a racist, cowardly act that targets the presence of Palestinians in Syria as guests who do not interfere in internal issues.”
Hamas had its political headquarters in Damascus until the uprising began, when it sought to move its operations elsewhere due to the deteriorating security situation.
Roughly 470,000 Palestinian refugees live in Syria.
Strangely, AFP and NOWLebanon carried this report today about the Treimseh massacre, which contradicts the mainstream narrative that AFP had published earlier in the day:
Most of the people killed in the Treimsa violence in central Syria were rebel fighters, an activist said on Friday, adding the bloodbath followed a Free Syrian Army attack on an army convoy.
"At this stage, though we do not yet have the final count, the number of civilians killed by shelling is not more than seven," Jaafar, an activist at the anti-regime Sham News Network, told AFP. "The rest were members of the [rebel] Free Syrian Army."
"An army convoy was on its way to the region of Hama when it was attacked by the FSA," he said. "The army staged a counter-attack with the support of [pro-regime] reinforcements from [nearby] Alawite villages. The FSA resisted for an hour before it was defeated."
Separately, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that “dozens of rebel fighters” were among those killed.
"Several dozen rebel fighters were among those killed," said the Observatory, adding that only around 40 of the more than 150 dead had been identified.
Thirty corpses were burned and 18 were “summarily executed,” said the Britain-based group.
Hands down the most diligently researched and comprehensive article on the Syrian opposition in the Guardian. Brilliant stuff:
'This is the story of the Syrian war, but there is another story to be told. A tale less bloody, but nevertheless important. This is a story about the storytellers: the spokespeople, the “experts on Syria”, the “democracy activists”. The statement makers. The people who “urge” and “warn” and “call for action”…. These spokespeople are vocal advocates of foreign military intervention in Syria and thus natural allies of well-known US neoconservatives who supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq and are now pressuring the Obama administration to intervene. As we will see, several of these spokespeople have found support, and in some cases developed long and lucrative relationships with advocates of military intervention on both sides of the Atlantic.’
Pro-opposition Anonymous are source of Syria Files' leaks
So now material provided by a group which has openly aligned itself with one party to the Syrian conflict, and which initially offered the material to the main sponsor of that party (al-Jazeera) supposedly constitutes ”evidence”. I am sure if al-Manar tv for example, hacked mails belonging to the Syrian opposition and this would be viewed as the unadulterated truth and counted as credible evidence. Right.
Days after WikiLeaks began releasing a trove of more than 2 million e-mails stolen from Syrian officials, ministries and companies, members of an Anonymous group have claimed responsibility for the hacks and document dump to Wikileaks.
In a press release published Saturday, a group calling itself Anonymous Op Syria disclosed that its members hacked into multiple domains and dozens of servers inside Syria on Feb. 5 to obtain the e-mails, which it then gave to WikiLeaks.
The Anonymous team, composed of members of three groups known as Anonymous Syria, AntiSec, and the Peoples Liberation Front, says it had been assisting activists in Syria since protests began against the Syrian regime more than a year ago, and that the team worked round-the-clock shifts to hack the servers.
“So large was the data available to be taken, and so great was the danger of detection (especially for the members of Anonymous Syria, many of whom are ‘in country’) that the downloading of this data took several additional weeks,” says the group in its statement.
Last March, the group hinted at the treasure it possessed when it leaked about 3,000 e-mails from the personal e-mail account of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma to the Guardian newspaper in London.
Leaking the entire trove of e-mails, however, proved to be more difficult.
“We gave Syrian mails to Wikileaks after trying unsuccessfully to make a deal with Al Jazeera English,” a member of the group told Wired in an instant message exchange. “We like the Wikileaks concept, and they do a good job of releasing these kinds of things. We successfully released Stratfor together previously, and both learned from our mistakes there.”
My latest piece for al-Akhbar here on why resisting imperialism takes precedence over rebelling against authoritarianism. Some excerpts:
" The very equivalence between imperialism and authoritarianism is an intellectually flawed one that is rooted in a liberal-leftist tradition that conceives of all deployments of power as being equally coercive and oppressive, irrespective of the global hierarchy of power….
In the mumanaists’ conceptual hierarchy of oppression, imperialism and authoritarianism are situated in two entirely different levels of domination. This rank-ordering is not based on an ideological abstraction that is divorced from political reality or on the rhetorical value of anti-imperialist sentiment, but on immediate, practical concerns. Imperialism is not evil because it is practiced by the West, but because it harms people’s lives and interests. Empire kills; it kills vast amounts of people, whether it occupies countries directly or intervenes militarily, economically or politically, it is responsible for innumerable deaths, destruction and impoverishment of all those in its wake….
Indeed, it could be argued that the universalization of the Euro-American-centric human rights doctrine that has come to dominate the Arab Spring freedom discourses, serves to obscure imperialism and foreign domination… “
A former editor at al-Akhbar offers a leftist critique of my own Marxist critiques of Third Wayism. Apparently, I am an Assad “apologist” who doesn’t understand Lenin and who is not a fan of the great anti-colonial thinker, Frantz Fanon. Incidentally, I had already quoted Fanon for my next piece which will appear in Akhbar later this week. I have also quoted Fanon in the past in connection with Syria and the Arab Spring on my blog here.
Unlike most Third Wayers, the author gives credit to Assad’s role in supporting the resistance project, but he makes many problematic assertions such as this one which, despite its professed anti-interventionism, appears to view NATO as the Syrian people’s saviour and a force that could potentially save lives: “ In fact, opposing foreign intervention may have a very high cost in terms of human life given that the regime might be capable of unleashing its full wrath on dissenters in the absence of external restraint. Some third wayers might argue that it is a painful price one has to bear if the issue is indeed about organic revolution and not either a grand struggle for power or merely saving lives in the short term.”
Some other excerpts from Hisham Safieddine’s piece:
"In their attempt to distort and discredit third-way politics, most first wayers identify the essence of the Asad regime as anti-imperialist, when in reality it is ultranationalist with an anti-Zionist silver lining—a thick lining one might still argue. Sometimes, they invoke Lenin’s critique of third-way politics, with little accompanying class analysis. However, a more apt analogy would be the non-aligned movement of the Cold War era. Apologists will confuse the lack of political power (i.e., the power of decision-making) with a lack of political position (i.e., a practical political agenda or plan), and draw a caricature of who is a third wayer as a criticism of last resort.
To continue to insist on blanket support for Asad under the pretense of an anti-imperialist stance is to confuse anti-imperialism with blind support for nationalist elites. Furthermore, a refusal to conflate the two is not an invention of “liberal armchair intellectuals” as some first wayers claim. Such a refusal was substantively formulated by one of the pillars of anti-colonial thought, Frantz Fanon, whose name is conspicuously absent from the political lexicon of Asad apologists. Long before neo-liberal elites had come to power, Fanon warned against the excesses of nationalist bourgeois elites in using anti-imperialist or anti-colonial discourse to disguise their own comprador role in consolidating imperialist structures of control. Fanon’s analysis might actually help explain why some Arab leftists, who are likely more sensitive to anti-colonial history than international anti-imperialists, are third wayers rather than outright supporters of the regime. But instead of invoking Fanon, apologists will go so far as to invoke Lenin’s quote about third-party politics, which is really a language trick no different than someone quoting Tony Blair’s own reference to a “third way” in order to undermine third-way politics in Syria. Lenin was at times more than willing to compromise when it came to dealing with imperialist forces (i.e., the Brest Liovsk treaty). In the instance of his critique of third-way politics, the communist leader was actually more concerned with class struggle and contemptuous of those, like liberal socialists, who did not take a firm and uncompromising position in this struggle against the bourgeois class….
Lenin’s critique of third-way politics may thus ironically lend itself more to backing calls for no compromise with Asad, given that the Syrian uprising’s class composition is largely made up of the countryside peasantry and suburban working class…”
“Nothing is more amusing than explaining to your blonde-haired, fair-skinned children that as Arabs, they are not White people. No matter how much you repeat that it’s determined by race not skin colour, they remain incredulous…”—
In the final analysis, the “democracy” that the “Arab Spring” has ushered in has only served Empire’s long-standing stratagem of divide-and-rule. Any democratic reforms which occur in a highly polarized and sectarian environment that has been stripped of all Arab nationalist identity—and with it, the preeminent status the liberation of Palestine once enjoyed— degenerates into the tyranny of imperialist-enabling majorities who win power by default in liberal, though by no means democratic, elections.
What we are witnessing in the Arab world today is the unfolding of liberalism, not of democracy. For at the end of the day, democracy isn’t merely procedural aspects like elections and political reforms, but more substantially, the ability of people enjoying popular sovereignty to shape their own political identity, control their national resources and participate in determining their national destiny. Indeed, the loss of national sovereignty and self-determination in Libya and Syria, coupled with the triumph of narrow sectarian loyalties over Arab national identities, has only resulted in the de-democratization of the region, which is now even more firmly in the Empire’s grip.