“Remember Obama’s mantra: Iran must “fulfill its international obligations”, i.e. submit to U.S. diktat, so it could “rejoin the community of nations “? Must be feeling rather lonely now in that “international community”, otherwise known as a handful of western powers and Israel, as it observes two thirds of the worlds nations ignore its wishes and attend the NAM summit.”—
Mursi’s non-non-aligned position on Syria: Mu’allem described Mursi’s reference to the Syrian government as “oppressive” and the Syrian opposition as “actively seeking freedom, dignity and human justice,” as expressions emanating from “the leader of a party” and not “the leader of a non-aligned movement”.
See quote in Arabic here on al-Mayadeen’s Facebook page
Excerpt from Khamenei's inaugural speech at NAM summit
Amen to that. Excerpt from Khamenei’s inaugural speech at NAM summit:
"The UN Security Council has an illogical, unjust and completely undemocratic structure and mechanism. This is a flagrant form of dictatorship, which is antiquated and obsolete and whose expiry date has passed. It is through abusing this improper mechanism that America and its accomplices have managed to disguise their bullying as noble concepts and impose it on the world. They protect the interests of the West in the name of “human rights”. They interfere militarily in other countries in the name of “democracy”. They target defenseless people in villages and cities with their bombs and weapons in the name of “combating terrorism”. From their perspective, humanity is divided into first-, second- and third-class citizens. Human life is considered cheap in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and expensive in America and Western Europe. The security of America and Europe is considered important, while the security of the rest of humanity is considered unimportant. Torture and assassination are permissible and completely ignored if they are carried out by America, the Zionists and their puppets. It does not trouble their conscience that they have secret prisons in various places on different continents, in which defenseless prisoners who have no legal representation and have not been tried in a court of law are treated in the most hideous and detestable way. Good and evil are defined in a completely one-sided and selective way. They impose their interests on the nations of the world in the name of “international law”. They impose their domineering and illegal demands in the name of “international community”. Using their exclusive and organized media network, they disguise their lies as the truth, their falsehood as true, and their oppression as efforts to promote justice. In contrast, they brand as lies every true statement that exposes their deceit and label every legitimate demand as roguish."
Forget the value of Ban Ki Moon’s participation at the NAM summit against Israel’s protests, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani will also likely attend, as well as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Mursi’s participation makes a lot more sense now. While this doesn’t necessarily indicate a policy shift, it does imply a growing realization on the part of some in the US/NATO/GCC axis that neither a military victory, nor a strategic one whereby Assad is toppled, are anywhere in sight. This is even more so the case considering that Iran will be presenting a proposal to resolve the Syrian crisis on the sidelines of the summit. The Syrian army’s military successes in Aleppo will surely not suffice to defeat the insurrection/civil war/proxy war, but they have strengthened the bargaining position of the Syrian government and its allies. Perhaps the summit will serve as a prelude to a wider regional “bargain” between the major powers, which ultimately, is the only way this conflict ever going to be resolved. More often than not, such deals are only struck after matters reach a tipping point.
Amerikan jihad unveiled. US policy analyst, Gary Gambill, argues in this Foreign Policy piece here ,entitled “Two Cheers for Syrian Islamism”, that Jihadism in Syria is good for US interests. He contends that Jihadis are most effective in eliminating the resistance axis and are useful to the US insofar as they will not accept a political settlement that would end the civil war. He even makes the case that al-Qaeda is a lesser evil than Iran. Some excerpts from this very disturbing commentary: "Fortunately, while the Islamist surge will not be a picnic for the Syrian people, it has two important silver linings for U.S. interests. For starters, the Assad regime would not be in the trouble it’s in today were it not for the Islamists. Islamists — many of them hardened by years of fighting U.S. forces in Iraq — are simply more effective fighters than their secular counterparts. Assad has had extraordinary difficulty countering tactics perfected by his former jihadist allies, particularly suicide bombings and roadside bombs.
The Sunni Islamist surge may also be essential to inflicting a full-blown strategic defeat on Iran.
For all of their faults, Sunni Islamists hell-bent (or heaven-bent) on purging the country of Iranian influence can be counted on to reject a “no victor, no vanquished” settlement like the 1989 Taif Accord, which brought Lebanon’s civil war to a halt but institutionalized its political fragmentation and loss of sovereignty. While there is sure to be regional spillover, it will cut mainly against Tehran. There will be tough times ahead for Lebanon, but ultimately the Assad regime’s death throes can only work against the Shiite Hezbollah movement. Of course, Syrian Islamists are no friends of the United States — merely the enemies of one of its enemies. Indeed, their long-term aspirations are arguably more reprehensible than those of the mullahs in Tehran — Shiites, after all, aren’t obsessed with converting others their faith. Syrians have also been prominent in the leadership of al Qaeda, easily recognizable by the surname al-Suri in their noms de guerre. For the foreseeable future, however, Iran constitutes a far greater and more immediate threat to U.S. national interests. Whatever misfortunes Sunni Islamists may visit upon the Syrian people, any government they form will be strategically preferable to the Assad regime, for three reasons: A new government in Damascus will find continuing the alliance with Tehran unthinkable, it won’t have to distract Syrians from its minority status with foreign policy adventurism like the ancien régime, and it will be flush with petrodollars from Arab Gulf states (relatively) friendly to Washington. So long as Syrian jihadis are committed to fighting Iran and its Arab proxies, we should quietly root for them.”
The new Liberal Enlightenment: Wahhabism meets "Pussy Riot"
I suppose it was only inevitable that the same liberal imperialists who tried to market the most repressive and archaic Arab regimes as symbols of the democratic, freedom-loving “international community”, and who desperately try to present sectarian executioners, rapists and terrorists as an armed “resistance” fighting “tyranny”, would promote a group of psychologically deranged women who public
ly perform sexually humiliating and deviant acts involving poultry, as beacons of women’s emancipation (read this excellent feminist critique of the movement here). Only in the increasingly absurd world of liberal interventionism do Wahhabism, bloodthirsty militiamen and pregnant women engaged in public orgies while stuffed bears look on, become our enlightened allies whose sole concern is to liberate us from the dark forces of anti-imperialist oppression.
The principal motivation behind Russia’s Syria policy isn’t merely dictated by national interests or even geo-strategic ones but by the need to prevent a new American imperial world order with its accompanying modus operandi:
“We believe this issue attracts so much attention not only because of the scale of the bloodshed, which worries all of us, but also because the outcome of the crisis will significantly influence the patterns for conflict settlement – either everything will fall in accordance with laws, that is according to the UN Charter, or ‘bomb democracy’ will prevail,” Lavrov said, as quoted by RIA Novosti.
US drone strikes target rescuers in Pakistan – and the west stays silent
Just a reminder [to the left which scoffs at anti-imperialists], that imperialism isn’t only our enemy because it undermines our dignity and independence, but because it is the BIGGEST KILLER. Imperialism is terrorism as Glenn Greenwald’s report below illustrates:
"The US government has long maintained, reasonably enough, that a defining tactic of terrorism is to launch a follow-up attack aimed at those who go to the scene of the original attack to rescue the wounded and remove the dead. Morally, such methods have also been widely condemned by the west as a hallmark of savagery. Yet, as was demonstrated yet again this weekend in Pakistan, this has become one of the favorite tactics of the very same US government…
In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that “the CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals.” Specifically: “at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims.”
Not only does that tactic intimidate rescuers from helping the wounded and removing the dead, but it also ensures that journalists will be unwilling to go to the scene of a drone attack out of fear of a follow-up attack.”
Confused about the US policy on Islamic jihadis? Maybe this will help clarify a little: the more jihadism overlaps with the secular concept of Moqawama (resistance) and pursues irredentist and liberationist goals (i.e. Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kashmir), which are essentially DEFENSIVE and driven by a rejection of oppression, with no ambitions to cleanse the nation of “infidels”, then jihad
is terrorism. All other types (save the global jihad against the US and the West) are more than welcome, particularly the Salafi Takfiri and Wahhabi variants of jihad as well as the Qutbist variety, when they shift focus away from fighting the external enemy to the “enemy within”, i.e. fellow Muslims and minorities, as well as Arab/Muslim regimes on account of their perceived apostasy rather than their inherent injustice. While not entirely comfortable with jihadism, the US has learned to exploit it and hence favours offensive rather than defensive jihad, which strives to re-establish the “golden age” of Islam by forceful imposition because US policy works under the [sometimes erroneous] assumption that while Moqawama cannot be co-opted, Islamic rule can be.
My latest article for al-Akhbar, "Iran Attack: Too Big for Israel"
My latest piece for Akhbar here on why Iran is dismissive of Israel’s threats to attack it— the Hizbullah factor: "In part, Iran’s self-assured stand derives from the strategic value of the 2006 July War in Lebanon; a value which holds whether it serves to deter an Israeli or US strike or to prepare Iran and its most trusted ally, Hezbollah, for retaliation….Aside from its Shia allies in Iraq, which Iran has tacitly threatened to unleash, as well as groups in neighboring Afghanistan, Tehr
an is widely believed to be relying on the services of Hezbollah…. Israeli officials regard a war against the movement as integral to any plan to attack Iran…. Given the imbalance in power between its own army and the US military, Iran has been crafting an asymmetrical national security strategy in preparing itself for the prospect of a US or Israel launched offensive, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) at its centerpiece. In pursuing such a strategy, Tehran has confirmed the worst fears of many in the US military establishment who believe that Hezbollah’s hybrid model will be replicated among both non-state and state actors, in other theaters of conflict involving the US or Israel.”
The resistance hero, Samir Kuntar, who was imprisoned in Israel for 30 years on false charges and later released as part of a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hizbullah, narrowly escaped being lynched by a group of 500 Salafi thugs armed with swords, batons, knives and other weapons, on his recent visit to Tunisia (see Akhbar Arabic’s story here). Five others were injured, some seriously. Akhbar reports that neither this nor other attacks have been deterred in the slightest by the Interior Ministry which is controlled by a Nahda official. The Salafis justified their attack by recalling Kuntar’s allegiance to Shi’ism (he is a Druze convert) and his support for the Syrian government.
Analysts point to a speech Kuntar made two days prior to the incident, when he called on al-Nahda leader Rachid al-Ghannouchi, to declare Tunisia a land of anti-normalization (with the Zionist entity) if he was indeed serious about liberating Palestine. Analysts say that this speech was regarded by some party cadres as a provocation which warranted a response. This is of course over and above the perpetrators of the crime, who are affiliated with Saudi-funded Wahhabi movements in Tunisia. Al-Akhbar also notes that the assault on Kuntar occurred a day after an Iranian band was prevented from playing in Kairouan because of the band’s Shiite identity. Shi’ites in Tunisia protested the ban but were then “fiercely” attacked using “threatening” language to “discipline” them by Al-Nahda supporters on a Facebook page. Akhbar also notes that the attack on Kuntar further antagonized the large number of Tunisians [Akhbar uses the term Tunisian “street” which I always avoid] who oppose al-Nahda and hold it responsible for the assault on Kuntar.
Brief analysis of Nasrallah's Jerusalem Day speech
Very interesting what Nasrallah DIDN’T mention or say: no condemnation of the Moqdad abductions as many had expected or were hoping for. No call for the release of the hostages, nothing, only shifting responsibility away from Hizbullah by declaring “it’s outside of our control” while laying blame on the media for the community’s outrage. In fact, Nasrallah launched an unprecedentedly scathing attack on Lebanese media for inciting the families of the 11 hostages in Syria with lies about their deaths which in turn, triggered the recent developments. This will definitely worry Turkey and the FSA who may have been banking on Hizbullah taking a tougher stand on the Moqdadi kidnapping phenomenon. Most likely Hizbullah knows it can contain a sectarian escalation should matters reach that point, hence its seemingly neutral stand vis-a-vis the kidnappings of FSA. There may also be an awareness that the abductions may succeed in securing the release of the Lebanese pilgrims where other efforts have failed (i.e. Hariri’s mediation with the Turks).
Regarding Israel, Nasrallah insinuated that chemical depots would be targets in any future war with Israel when he said :”We cannot destroy Israel but there are some targets I wont name in occupied Palestine, which can be targeted with a small number of missiles. I’d like to tell them we know of a number of targets, not a high number because we do not need a high number. And we have the missiles and they are ready and hidden…..We, Hezbollah, with our capabilities I cannot say that we can destroy Israel, but I can say that we can turn the lives of millions of Israelis in occupied Palestine into a living hell.”
Very important to note how this changes the previous equation of striking Tel Aviv if Israel attacks Beirut and Haifa for Dahyeh, and even the modified equation of Tel Aviv for Dahyeh. The new equation is if you attempt to “destroy Lebanon” [as Israeli officials have recently threatened], we will attack sensitive chemical targets that will cause mass destruction effecting hundreds of thousands of lives and which will cause “tens of thousands” of fatalities rather than the “few hundred” Israeli officials were boasting of.
Forget Farid Zakaria’s plagiarism, now you have this NYT fool who fabricates quotes. Here he quotes Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah as saying that a European blacklist would “destroy Hezbollah. The sources of our funding will dry up and the sources of moral political and material support will be destroyed.”
I have read and/or listened to almost every single speech Nasrallah has made and not once has he said any such thing. If anything he has only ever dismissed terrorist labelling. for example on August 14 2007 he said ““First, they concentrated on the charge of terrorism -and they had worked on it for many years. It could have an effect in some parts of the Western world, but it no longer has an effect among the peoples of our Arab and Muslim world or among our people in Lebanon. The charge of terrorism— for which they harnessed all the media and the means of incitement and their diplomatic efforts —has begun to break down, even in Europe and in many parts of the world.”
And then on May 25, 2011 he said “But I would like to tell you that when America and Israel attack us, and when the presidents of the biggest two countries of occupation, killing, and terrorism attack us, we feel proud and honoured.”
The quote doesn’t even make sense: why would Iran, Hizbullah’s biggest donor, cut off funding to Hizbullah if the movement was classified as terrorist? Iran has been sanctioned to death anyway so it can continue “supporting terror” as before, and it could continue funding Hizbullah under the table as it has done for decades without any hard evidence that would incriminate it. Moreover, if Hizbullah were branded as terrorist how would that diminish support for the resistance movement? Since when do western designations determine anti-Zionist Arabs’ political support? If anything, western approval of Arab political actors usually detracts from their popular support. I defy the liar who lazily fabricated this quote and/or the NYT to provide evidence such as a video link or Arabic transcription of the alleged speech from a reliable source.
So desperate is the United States to bring Hizbullah to its knees that its mainstream media branch of government (and yes it is a branch and not an autonomous civil society actor, just like think tanks aren’t) now has to invent quotes which depict the movement as being cowered by western bullying. Let them dream on.
Some historical context to the Miqdad clan’s abduction of over 20 Syrian FSA fighters: If the AMAL movement was a response to the state’s negligence of South Lebanon on the economic and security levels, and Hizbullah was a reaction to Israel’s invasion and occupation of Lebanon in 1982, then Moqdadism is surely an expression of Shi’ite rage and frustration today; rage at the FSA’s kidnapping of Lebanese Shi’ites, frustration at the government’s inability to release the captives or to curb Sunni sectarian violence in Lebanon and the rise of takfiri jihadi groups; anger at the state’s war on hashish cultivation in the Bekaa and the resultant impoverishment of the region and its inhabitants; wrath against March 14 politicians who have abetted the FSA and other militants in infiltrating men and weapons into Lebanon, and for for stoking the seeds of sectarian warfare.
While Hizbullah’s hands have been tied due to sectarian sensitivities, Shi’ite tribes and clans in the Bekaa are clearly not constrained by similar considerations. Hizbullah has only limited influence over these families—numbering in the tens of thousands—who are accustomed to taking justice into their own hands. But by kidnapping foreign fighters, diplomats and others, they have unwittingly become regional players and a clearly significant force that the Syrian opposition and its Saudi, Qatari and Turkish backers have to contend with from now on.
“Those decrying the abduction of FSA rebels and a Turkish diplomat by the Miqdad clan’s “military wing” must be longing for the good ole days when they only had to deal with Hizbullah’s “state within a state”. But I guess Hizbullah-nostalgia is the price they have to pay for exporting civil war to Lebanon.”—
Nicolas Nassif’s very insightful analysis of the reasons for the Syrian government’s cohesion here:
"The Syrian army is the president’s army and it falls when he falls.
Perhaps herein lies the West’s, and especially the United States’ insistence, on a political transition that results in Assad stepping down, while preserving the army’s unity to avoid the repetition of the 2003 Iraqi scenario.
And because the Syrian army is an ideological army controlled by a solid command and blind loyalty, this majority-Sunni army managed to fight the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist militants, who are also Sunni, without disintegrating or collapsing.
A telling statement, attributed to the deputy defense minister Assef Shawqat that he then shared with a Lebanese figure who visited him 48 hours before his assassination on July 18, reveals the substance of the confrontation that the army is engaged in.
Shawqat said to his Lebanese interlocutor, “We will not allow the Muslim Brotherhood to take what we prevented them from taking in 1982.”
Ayalon Predicts Syria’s Fragmentation and for Lebanon to Suffer Same Fate
This is the US-Israeli agenda in Syria, see Naharnet report here:
Israeli deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon noted on Friday that the Arab world is passing through a phase that will restore it back to the way it was before World War I, reported Israel Radio.
He also predicted Syria’s fragmentation into provinces, adding that Lebanon will suffer the same fate in the future.
He ruled out the possibility of the emergence of an Arab alliance that would stand in opposition to Israel in the next 10 to 15 years.
After their internal instability, the Arab countries will realize the importance of cooperating with Israel, he added.
Syria has been witnessing anti-regime protests since March 2011.
The regime’s crackdown against protesters has left over 20,000 dead.
A high-ranking Israeli officer supported on Friday Ayalon’s statements, saying that there is a possibility of the formation of a Kurdish province in northern Syria.
There is evidence of this development, he said on condition of anonymity.
He predicted the formation of an Alawite district in the coastal region, which would include the cities of Tartous and Latakia.
Moreover, he said that a Sunni province would also be formed as would a Druze one in Jabal al-Druze.
The Tehran-Damascus-Hizbullah alliance will be affected by the developments in Syria as this is the weapons route and the Iranians are very concerned with the developments in Syria, added the Israeli officer.
He also noted that Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is passing through a tense period as demonstrated by the frequency of his speeches in recent weeks.
Interview with me on Sunni Revival in Nir Rosen's book
I only stumbled on this yesterday and had completely forgotten I was ever interviewed for it. It’s an excerpt from Nir Rosen’s book on the sectarian fallout of the US invasion of Iraq, “Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World”, in which I am quoted. Although the interview on the Sunni revival dates back to 2007, it is even more relevant now when Sunni Islamist movements are frequently lumped together.
p.182, Amal Saad Ghorayeb, an expert on Shiite movements I spoke to during my time in Lebanon, saw a Sunni revival in the region running on two parallel tracks: “one being the Al Qaeda paradigm, whose sectarianism is religiously, doctrinally, and ideologically based, and which aspires to represent a new resistance, a revolutionary and populist model for the region’s Sunnis. While it is not necessarily a reaction to the Shiite Hizballah-Iranian model, it does seek to compete with it. It is insurgent (on a national level) and a resistance or jihadi trend (on the global level). It is a transnational antisystem phenomenon or antiestablishment, anti–world order movement. “In parallel with this trend is the narrower state-sponsored Sunni sectarian model, which is social and political in nature, is closely interwoven with ruling establishments and personalities, may or may not overlap with the Salaﬁ trend in some cases, but is ultimately a reaction to what is perceived as a growing Shiite threat, as distilled from Arab rulers’ discourse and the media. Unlike the Al Qaeda paradigm, though, it cannot compete ideologically with Shiite resistance, nor does it seek to.
The Sunni revival is a product of insurgent/ jihadist/antiestablishment forces as well as proestablishment forces. In both cases, a revival is taking place insofar as Sunni Islam is seen as being the most effective tool for mobilizing support and achieving objectives.” Mohsen believed that what mainstream Sunni leaders were doing was taking the racist discourse of anti-Shiite extremists (like Zarqawi) and inﬂating it into a mainstream discourse among Sunni masses. Saad Ghorayeb, on the other hand, insisted that Sunni Arab regimes had appropriated this discourse not so much from Salaﬁs but from the United States, whose leaders and pundits spoke of those who are loyal to Iran and of a Shiite crescent.
I know I keep using superlatives like “the worst”, “the lowest” , “the silliest” etc. to describe mainstream media reports, but this article, ” Why the Palestinians are turning against al-Assad”, really does exceed all others in disinformation, bias, and outright fabrication of truths that are readily available for us to fact-check given that the author, Jonathan Schanzer (vice president of research at the Zionist think tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies), has linked them all in his piece. I can boldly assert without equivocation, that this is by far the most sloppily researched and badly written article I have read until now in mainstream media—and my standards for mainstream media are really very low. I understand that CNN is not responsible for the contents of this piece of rubbish- posing- as -analysis, but the fact that the editors let him get away with so many glaring inaccuracies which are very easy to detect if they had simply opened his links, can only mean their standards of professionalism—and I am not referring to bias here, just technical competence—have slipped to an all time zero.
Excerpts and my comments in bold:
"It doesn’t help that the regime is murdering Palestinians. On Thursday, the regime reportedly killed 20 when it shelled a refugee camp. Reports before that indicated that al-Assad’s campaign had already claimed the lives of some 300 Palestinians. It’s still unclear just how many Palestinians have responded by taking up arms to challenge the regime, but a clearer picture is emerging of who is abandoning al-Assad in his hour of need."
Of course, what Schanzer fails to mention is that Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, confirmed in a statement that, “Intensive armed engagements in Tadhamoun, Yalda, Hajar Al Aswad, Al Kaddam and other districts that share borders with Yarmouk have resulted in deaths and injuries of residents of Yarmouk, including Palestine refugees.” Electronic Intifada also notes that “despite the fact that refugee homes and UNRWA property have been damaged, Gunness stated that, “There is no indication that Palestine refugees, homes or properties are being targeted.”
”Amidst the ongoing violence, Hamas spokesman Izzak Reshak recently condemned Syria for massacring 17 Palestinians.”
But if one reads the link he provides, we find that Izzat Rashak, condemned nobody in particular, and the article he is quoted in lays the blame for the massacre on the FSA: “Izzat Rashak, the politburo of Hamas, condemned Thursday morning via his Facebook account the massacre committed against the Palestinians. These actions target the Palestinian existence in Syria. Palestinian sources said that the 17 Palestinian militants of the Free Syrian Army were kidnapped on Hama-Aleppo Road.”
" The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), another long-time Syrian client, meanwhile, has been careful not to directly challenge the regime, but it may also be on its way out. Reports in Middle East news outlets recently noted that PIJ figures were exiting Syria after more than twenty years of close economic and military cooperation. Despite some denials from the PIJ politburo, other faction leaders reportedly quit Syriaand headed back to Gaza. A new report suggests that the group wants to move its headquarters from Damascus to Beirut or Cairo.”
The “news reports” Schanzer links are in fact one Arabic report from the Saudi-owned Alsharq al-Awsat which actually argues the exact OPPOSITE of what he writes. Were it not for his misinterpretation of English links, one could chalk it up to lousy translation but that is clearly not the case here. Far from distancing itself from Assad’s government and permanently leaving Syria, the report claims that Ramadan Shallah commutes between Syria and Iran, like other IJ officials, and that while difficult military and political conditions have forced the movement to operate outside of Syria, they haven’t actually left Syria. The article notes that IJ officials travel back and forth “very freely” “in contrast to Hamas whose relationship with the Syrian has sharply deteriorated”. The report further quotes an IJ source in Gaza who denied that IJ officials had fled Syria. The source went on to tell the newspaper that “the movement could only stand by its brothers in Syria during this difficult time.”
Moreover the “other faction leaders” he refers to are none other than one cited in the Maan article he links, Ibrahim Shehada. That report is actually entitled “Over 100 Gaza families flee Syria,” and describes these families as those who “had business ties in Syria or were students studying at Syrian universities”, rather than IJ officials’ families.
"Even the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA), a force that answers to Assad’s military and is charged with policing Syria’s nine refugee camps, has reportedly refused to carry out acts of violence on behalf of the regime. For this, some have paid the ultimate price. Indeed, Syrian forces reportedly kidnapped 16 PLA members and slit their throats. The regime insists that the PLA is still an arm of the military, but it’s unclear if the faction has done more than police the camps.
Schanzer audaciously links the story about the 16 PLA who were killed, to a Jerusalem Post article but the piece actually contradicts his assertion that they were killed by “Syrian forces”. Instead, the JP reports that “Palestinian sources believe the perpetrators belonged to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups. Members of the Free Syrian Army have also entered Yarmouk and other Palestinian refugees camps, the officials said.” Moreover, the Maan report which he uses to buttress his claim that PLA was urged to fight alongside the Syrian army but “refused to carry out acts of violence” makes no such mention of this. It only states that “Palestinian officials insist that refugees in Syria are not taking part in the conflict raging in the country…..” How he inferred from this that they were being pressured to partake in the war against the rebels is truly mind-boggling.
"To be sure, many Palestinians have long appreciated Syria’s political and financial assistance to Hamas, PIJ, Hezbollah, and other factions that have engaged in “resistance” against Israel. But it has become impossible for even these violent factions to support a state responsible for the deaths of an estimated 18,000 people."
I don’t know if Schanzer is referring to a PIJ or a Hizbullah who exist in some parallel universe, but the ones on this one remain die-hard supporters of the Syrian government.
"Recently, on the website of the Beirut-based al-Akhbar, the Lebanese writer Amal Saad-Ghorayeb tried to argue that the “real litmus [test] of Arab intellectuals’ and activists’ commitment to the Palestinian cause is no longer their support for Palestinian rights, but rather, their support for the Assad leadership’s struggle…” This argument suggests that al-Assad’s support for the Palestinians was never about the cause. Rather, it was a pretense he wielded for legitimacy.”
Right, that is exactly what my argument “suggests”. Does this so called “scholar” even understand the English language? How did my argument about the necessity of supporting the Assad leadership’s struggle to the Palestinian cause become an indication of the leadership’s cynical use of that cause?
I had my wisdom tooth extracted today, but reading this Reuters report below was by far more painful. The report resorts to the most brazen sectarian agitation and warmongering; the resistance front is reduced to an all Shi’ite alliance while its imperialist serving enemies (GCC, Turkey etc) are identified first and foremost as Sunni. The words Sunni and Shiíte are inserted so frequently that the paragraph just looks absurd. In the past, the words “Iran-backed” or “Syria-backed” were used to prefix every mention of Hizbullah, but now that the conflicts is being pitted as a Sunni-Shiíte one, that is no longer meets MSM’s war-mongering purposes. See excerpt below:
"The “axis of resistance” refers to Shi’ite Iran’s anti-Israel alliance with Syria’s rulers – from the Alawite faith which is an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam – and the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, with Iranian and Syrian support. Damascus and Tehran have held Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab states and Turkey, all allies of the United States and European powers, responsible for the bloodshed in Syria by supporting the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim rebels."
"Jalili vowed that Iran will never allow Assad’s regime to fall, calling it part of an anti-Israeli axis in the Middle East led by Tehran. "Iran will never allow the resistance axis — of which Syria is an essential pillar — to break," Jalili said.
"What is happening in Syria is not an internal issue but a conflict between the axis of resistance on the one hand, and the regional and global enemies of this axis on the other," he added.
On Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry announced it was calling the conference, and said nations having “a principled and realistic position on Syria” would take part….”The consultative meeting on Syria will be held tomorrow in Tehran with 12 to 13 countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America” represented, Salehi said on Wednesday, the official news agency IRNA reported.
"Hezbollah’s commitment to the Faqih does not represent a political commitment to a national head of state but an intellectual commitment to a sacred Islamic figure and his successors, whose commands are considered “fixed truths…The party’s allegiance is owed primarily to the Faqih and only secondarily to Iran the state. Though religious and political, the nature of the party’s allegiance to the Faqih leaves it with a wide margin for independent decision-making. Since the political power he wields is confined to Iran’s national borders, he is only able to exercise political authority over the Shia believers who are subject to other political powers. His authority is therefore restricted to strategic issues like jihad, political rule and the classification of “friends and enemies.”
Claims Russian general was killed in Syria are “brazen lie” - Russian military
MOSCOW. Aug 8 (Interfax) - The Russian Defense Ministry has described as “a brazen lie” foreign media reports claiming that a Russian general was allegedly killed in Syria.
"Such claims are not intended for a sensation. They are an apparent provocation targeting Russian servicemen," the Russian Defense Ministry’s Press and Information Department told Interfax.
"Media hoaxes of this sort have been invented for many years and they are circulated in accordance with the same old pattern and have the same authors. Only countries change," the Defense Ministry said.
"General Vladimir Kuzheyev was dismissed from military service in 2010. He resides in Moscow and is in good health," the Defense Ministry said.
AP attempts to whitewash Riad Hijab: he agreed to be PM to avoid death
AP’s reports on Syria are becoming increasingly insulting to one’s intelligence. See this piece on Riad Hijab’s defection here:
"Syria’s prime minister began planning his break from the regime two months ago when Bashar Assad offered him the post and an ultimatum: Take the job or die….The criminal Assad pressed him to become a prime minister and left him no choice but to accept the position. He had told him: ‘You either accept the position or get killed,’" said Otari, who told the AP that Hijab and his family planned to travel on from Amman to Qatar.
Of course, that makes perfect sense. Of all the eligible Sunni politicians he could have appointed for the post, Bashar insisted on the one he believed was most likely to defect and betray him. I mean, why select someone committed and trustworthy, when you could just as easily knowingly appoint a potentially perfidious figure, threaten his life if he rejects his new position, and promote him from a low key position as Agriculture Minister to a higher profile one so that his defection will deal the government an even stronger blow.
His break suggests that elements of the Sunni elite - long a pillar of Assad’s rule - could be growing uneasy with the relentless bloodshed and the hardline policies of Assad’s minority Alawite community, which dominates the regime’s inner circle. “The prime minister defected from the regime of killing, maiming and terrorism. He considers himself a soldier in the revolution,” the aide said.
That’s right, pent up squeamishness and delayed morality are precisely what drive Sunni politicians to defect at the 11th hour to the less bloodthirsty side of FSA/Salafi execution squads, whose most recent exploits include the execution of the Syrian tv presenter, Mohammed al-Saeed and the abduction of 48 Iranian pilgrims, a few of whom are now reportedly dead.
Gulf states and Turkey have strongly backed the rebel forces while Assad has counted on support from a dwindling list of allies such as Iran and Russia.
Dwindling list of allies? How have they dwindled from say 4 (Iran, Hizbullah, Russia and China) to the same 4? How is the number dwindling if it has remained the same as it was at the beginning of the crisis?
AP has indeed become a psych-ops tool; it doesn’t merely spread disinformation in order to deceive public opinion, but also to “lower adversary morale” as stipulated by the US’ military’s psycho-ops manual.
“Only the most totalitarian kind of hegemony could succeed in turning the progressive values, means and objectives of the oppressed into weapons against them: using anti-politics to dislodge anti-imperialism, revolution to eliminate resistance, freedom to strip away independence and people power to dominate the people.”—
I don’t understand the logic of those who see the Syrian government’s war against proxy forces as a bid to “hold on to power”. Yes, the stamping out of protests at the beginning of the uprising was precisely that but how can the conflict still be seen through the lens of regime survival and not the survival of Syria as a nation-state? How can anyone not understand that even if this was the most brutal and corrupt regime on earth which is only pursuing its survival, those fighting and dying on behalf of it are resisting the most blatant form of NATO/GCC military intervention? I am not denying there is also a sectarian civil war which has assumed its own dynamic, and which Alawites have been dragged into, but the Syrian Army’s war is to some extent a war of liberation from these agents of the Empire and Israel— a war that seeks to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and regain its sovereignty from the colonizers’ grip. The fact that the larger part of the rebels are Syrian, and that some of these groups have their own agendas which merely “intersect” with NATO/GCC/Israel’s agendas, doesn’t detract from the liberationist thrust of this war. Whether wittingly or not, these armed groups are doing NATO’s and Israel’s dirty work and sparing them a messy invasion.
To all intents and purposes, this is an Empire-Israel backed insurrection and hence a NATO proxy war on Syria, regardless of the nationality of the proxies. Even Kofi Annan and Ban Ki Moon have referred to the war in Syria as an international “proxy war”. As such, there are no “defectors” in this war, only traitors.
Even siding with the homegrown opposition has become practically useless and in some cases, morally problematic as it has renounced dialogue with the government and rejects any power-sharing formula, while some of its once respected members like Michel Kilo have called for securing Syria’s borders with Israel.
None of this is to say that the military solution is the only solution. It isn’t and can never be. But it appears that an end to this war will require a comprehensive regional agreement between the great powers which will either come about as a result of a wider regional war involving Syria, Israel, Iran and Hizbullah, or as a result of a crushing defeat of the rebels. The latter will be impossible to achieve in the context of a sectarian civil war that also features the irrepressible force of salafist jihadis. Any agreement that is brokered will have to include the same groups the government is currently fighting—Hizbullah’s coexistence with March 14 collaborators who urged Israel to continue bombing Lebanon is a case in point. And this is the best case scenario.
I am proud to be a friend of Seyed Mohammad Marandi. Mohamad is an associate professor of English Literature at University of Tehran and the founder and director of Institute for North American and European Studies there. Talking to al-Jazeeraa English, he turns colonial discourse on its head in the video link below:
“The Iranians have been talking. The Iranians are basically saying that ‘we are willing to negotiate.’ But the Western position is ‘you give up everything and then we’ll start talking.’ The Iranian right to enriching uranium is a right that all sovereign countries have. And the Iranian Revolution itself was partially about dignity and independence. The Iranians are not going to accept being a second-rate country. This is not the Saudi regime or the Jordanian regime. This is a country that is fiercely independent. So the Iranians will continue to enrich uranium within the framework of the NPT and international law. The United States cannot stop Iran from doing so. If the United States was reasonable and rational, if the Europeans were rational, then the Iranians would be willing to give further assurances to ease tensions. But the United States isn’t really after that, in the eyes of Iranians.”
Ah Angry Arab. For every good piece he writes (his last one about mainstream media for example), he must counterbalance with a really offensive one just to prove he is “balanced”. I really don’t understand how a tenured professor who teaches at a prestigious American university doesn’t understand why Ben Ali and Mubarak were more “humble” in their last days while Gadaffi and Bashar were “oddly defiant” and “arrogant” . Erm, I don’t know Angry person, could it be that the latt
er enjoyed popular support and hence didn’t need to grovel? Could it be Ben Ali and Mubarak weren’t threatened with a NATO invasion which is what accounts for the defiant attitude of Gadaffi and Bashar? And what’s with Angry’s resorting to mainstream media’s propaganda techniques like psycho-pathologizing Arab leaders, which plays into the Orientalist discourse on the White Man’s presumed rationality? It was Angry Arab who popularized the concept of the “White Man” in the English-speaking Arab vernacular. Angry Arab was much better than this. Much, much better. Shame really. Excerpts: "But he comes across as supercilious and arrogant: he speaks with the over-confidence of someone who thinks he is the smartest person in the room, or in the hall, or in the city, or maybe on the planet. If you evaluate Bashar’s performance, you can’t escape the conclusion that he was less humbled by the uprising than other Arab leaders were. Ben Ali was quite humbled and he started to beg the people to keep him in power. Gaddafi can’t be judged as a rational person and his behavior under pressure was oddly defiant and provocative. Mubarak stayed arrogant but addressed the people – perhaps under pressure from the generals. Bashar only addressed the people a few times."
In a desperate bid to whitewash the unruly bunch of criminal thugs, foreign and local mercenaries, Salafi takfiri jihadis, sectarian warlords and terrorists, mainstream media is now resorting to the oldest marketing trick in the book: sex sells. Hence AP’s attempt here to pimp up that sleazy, piggy-faced, greasy-haired, over-privileged playboy who sports Miami Vice attire and has a penchant for showing off his he-vage, Manaf Tlass: ”But many in the opposition are deeply suspicious of the handsome former general. A handsome man with tussled, salt-and-pepper hair, usually with a cigar between his fingers.” Remember their outrage after Asma al-Assad was described as beautiful and glamorous by that Vogue piece? One can only imagine their reaction if RT or Press Tv devoted an opening paragraph to describing Jihad Makdissi’s suave style and boyish looks, or a eulogy which recalled the late Basel al-Assad’s hotness. Ah, I forgot, only imperialist stooges who kiss GCC emir’s feet have that undefinable je ne sais quoi that brings out the highlights in traitors’ hair.