Tag Archive: Politics of Syria


File photo shows members of al-Nusra Front

File photo shows members of al-Nusra Front
Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:15AM GMT
An al-Qaeda-linked armed opposition group in Syria has claimed responsibility for an attack earlier this month, which killed at least 60 civilians.

The al-Nusra Front said in a statement posted on the internet on Sunday that it had carried out the February 6 attack in the town of Tal Baraq in the central province of Hama.

In the Tal Baraq attack, one of the foreign-backed militants “drove a bus loaded with 2.5 tons of explosives” towards a group of workers outside the factory, leaving at least 60 people dead.

Al-Nusra Front is among several foreign-backed militant groups fighting the Syrian government, but only this group has been listed as a terrorist outfit by the United States.

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Syria: how jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra is taking over Syria’s revolution

Aleppo has been plunged into despair. Riven with war, life in Syria’s most populous city has become a dog-eat-dog existence: a battle for survival in a place where the strong devour the weak.

A Syrian woman cries holding her injured son in a taxi as they arrive at a hospital in northern city of Aleppo.

A Syrian woman cries holding her injured son in a taxi as they arrive at a hospital in northern city of Aleppo. Photo: AFP/GETTY

By , Aleppo

6:21PM GMT 08 Feb 2013

Its luxuriant history is lost beneath uncollected litter on its pavements and streets. Feral children play beside buildings shattered by shelling and air strikes. There is no electricity, no heating; gunmen prowl the streets as night falls. Some are rebels searching for government loyalists; others are criminals looking to kidnap for ransom. Looting is rife.

It is here, behind the front lines of the war against Bashar al-Assad that a new struggle is emerging. It is a clash of ideologies: a competition where rebel brigades vie to determine the shape of post-Assad Syria.

And in recent weeks it is Jabhat al-Nusra, a radical jihadist group blacklisted by the US as terrorists and a group that wants Syria to be an uncompromising Islamic state governed by sharia, that is holding sway.

The group is well funded – probably through established global jihadist networks – in comparison to moderates. Meanwhile pro-democracy rebel group commanders say money from foreign governments has all but dried up because of fears over radical Islamists.

 

The effect is changing the face of the Syrian revolution.

 

The Nusra Front is known for some of the bravest fighters on the front lines. But the fundamentalist movement is now focusing on highly effective humanitarian programs that are quickly winning the loyalty of Aleppo’s residents.

Imbued with discipline borne of religious dogmatism it is catering to basic needs in a city that lacks everything from working factories to courts.

Chief among hardships was the languishing supply of bread. It is a staple in Syria – without it tens of thousands of the poor would starve.

When rebel fighters seized control of the grain stores around the city, the supply of flour all but ceased. Locals accused rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) of raiding the stores and stealing the grain to sell. Spontaneous pro-government protests erupted outside bakeries where families queued for bread, sometimes for days.

One started within seconds of the Daily Telegraph’s arrival at a bread queue: “Allah, Syria, Bashar! Everyone here loves Bashar al-Assad!” they screamed.

Then, in the past weeks, Jabhat al-Nusra – which is outside the FSA – pushed other rebel groups out of the stores and established a system to distribute bread throughout rebel areas.

In a small office attached to a bakery in the Miesseh district of Aleppo, Abu Yayha studied a map pinned on the wall. Numbers were scrawled in pencil against streets.

“We counted the population of every street to assess the need for the area,” explained Mr Yahya. “We provide 23,593 bags of bread every two days for this area. This is just in one district. We are calculating the population in other districts and doing the same there.

 

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US, Britain to assist militants in Syria: Report

Militants near the Syrian town of Azaz (file photo)

Militants near the Syrian town of Azaz (file photo)

A Monday report by the Independent said the head of the British Armed Forces, General Sir David Richards, held a secret meeting in London a few weeks ago with military officials from France, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates as well as an American general.

Officials from several other British government departments also hosted similar meetings and discussions with their counterparts in ‘allied states’ to review strategies and ways to ‘help’ the foreign-sponsored militants in crisis-stricken Syria.

The meetings were held at the request of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has recently been calling for further efforts to undermine the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the report said.

It further claimed that the US, Britain, and France have ‘pledged not to perform ground operation or deploy forces in Syria,’ but their training camps will reportedly be set up in Turkey where they can train militants near the Syrian border.

The countries also believe that any military action against Syria should be carried out without the authorization of the United Nations due to likely opposition on the part of China and Russia, who will likely refuse to back a resolution against Assad’s government.

Recent reports also showed that the US is planning to provide logistical assistance and sophisticated weapons for the militants fighting the Syrian government.

The reports said a wide range of modern weapons would be sent to Syria through Washington’s regional allies, such as Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of security and army forces, have lost their lives in the violence.

The country says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside, and there are reports that a very large number of militants fighting the Syrian government are foreign nationals.

The government blames the US and its regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, for funding and arming the anti-Damascus militants.

AO/HN/HJL

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Politics – War on terror  :  National Sovereignty – Unethical

 

Published on Oct 10, 2012 by

At his first press conference after his victory in last Sunday’s Venezuelan presidential election, Hugo Chavez reaffirmed his support for the Syrian government during the current unrest.

Human rights groups claim that after 19 months of unrest in Syria tens of thousands of people have been killed.

Venezuela has been one of the staunchest defenders of the Syrian government. Since the unrest began, Venezuela has provided three shipments of oil to Syria.

Chavez went on to attack his frequent foe, the United States, for their support of the foriegn backed militant groups in Syria and their involvement in the unrest.

Speaking about last Sunday’s presidential election, Chavez attacked the western and mainstream media for calling his 11-point victory against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Randonski close.

The Venezuelan president said that on January 10th, inauguration day, he would submit a second socialist plan to the national assembly. Chavez also said that he would increase dialogue with the opposition after the election.

 

Hugo Chávez comes out swinging in first post-election press conference

Venezuelan leader lambasts Washington, backs Assad and laments death of Gaddafi in ebullient address

The Guardian

Hugo Chávez press conference

Hugo Chávez speaks during a press conference with a portrait of independence hero Simón Bolívar in the background. Photograph: Miguel Gutierrez/EPA

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez may have started a new term, but it was the old, anti-imperialist, anti-US drive that characterised his first press conference since winning re-election for six more years.

Lambasting Washington, backing Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad and accusing Europe of cashing in on the death of Muammar Gaddafi, Chávez came out swinging after his comfortable victory on Sunday.

On ebullient and provocative form, the president accused the US of fomenting unrest in the Middle East, particularly in Syria. “This is a crisis that has been planned and provoked … Syria is a sovereign nation. This crisis has a single cause: the world has entered into a new era of imperialism. It’s madness. The US government has been among the most irresponsible. I hope Obama rethinks this,” he said.

Venezuela has supported the Syrian government by shipping oil to make up for shortfalls caused by US-initiated embargoes.

“How can I not support Assad. He’s the legitimate leader … We will continue in our support and advocate peace,” Chávez told reporters at the presidential palace in Miraflores.

He also lamented the death of his friend, former Libyan leader Gaddafi. “The way he died was a barbarity. Gaddafi was assassinated almost on TV.” He said the former Libyan leader had sent him a last message, in which he compared himself to Che Guevara: “I shall die like Che – I will be a martyr.”

Europe, he said, had frozen billions in Libyan assets, which was “convenient” at a time when it was facing its own financial crisis.

Chávez accused outside forces of trying to oust him in the presidential election.

“We didn’t just defeat [his rival, Henrique] Capriles. We also defeated an international coalition. This wasn’t just a domestic battle.”

He said voters had been inundated with 500,000 automated messages from the US and Europe urging them to back his Capriles.

“How much did this cost? Who has the capacity to do such a thing?”, he asked. “The great transnational phone companies were supporting Capriles. It was electoral harassment.”

Friendlier foreign forces were, however, quick to congratulate Chávez on his victory. Other leftwing leaders in Latin America gave celebration calls. Russian president Vladimir Putin reportedly told him the election news was the “best present I could have for my 60th birthday”.

Chávez also castigated the foreign media’s coverage of the election, which he won with 55.2% of the vote against Capriles’s 44.1%.

“I’ve read that Venezuela is divided. But the US is also divided. Every country is divided,” Chávez said. “I won by 10 points and the foreign media call the victory slim. How much did Hollande win by in France? How much will Obama win by? You know Obama is my candidate? … I would vote for him if I could.”

With six more years in power, the Venezuelan president said he would ask the opposition for proposals and look for possible areas of collaboration, though he emphasised that past efforts had come to nothing.

“The opposition has a catastrophic vision for the country,” he said. “They deny everything the government achieves.”

• This article was amended on Wednesday 10 October to correct the figures on Chávez’s margin of victory.

 

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Wars and Rumors of War :  War on terror – Blow back

Syria, the Story So Far

William Blum
Counterpunch
http://firstnextthen.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/n_africa_mid_east_pol_2009.jpg

“Today, many Americans are asking – indeed I ask myself,” Hillary Clinton said, “how can this happen? How can this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated, and at times, how confounding the world can be.”

The Secretary of State was referring to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya September 11 that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans. US intelligence agencies have now stated that the attackers had ties to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Yes, the world can indeed be complicated and confounding. But we have learned a few things. The United States began blasting Libya with missiles with the full knowledge that they were fighting on the same side as the al-Qaeda types. Benghazi was and is the headquarters for Muslim fundamentalists of various stripes in North Africa. However, it’s incorrect to claim that the United States (aka NATO) saved the city from destruction. The story of the “imminent” invasion of Benghazi by Moammar Gaddafi’s forces last year was only propaganda to justify Western intervention. And now the United States is intervening – at present without actual gunfire, as far as is known – against the government of Syria, with the full knowledge that they’re again on the same side as the al-Qaeda types. A rash of suicide bombings against Syrian government targets is sufficient by itself to dispel any doubts about that. And once again, the United States is participating in the overthrow of a secular Mideast government.

At the same time, the Muslim fundamentalists in Syria, as in Libya, can have no illusions that America loves them. A half century of US assaults on Mideast countries, the establishment of American military bases in the holy land of Saudi Arabia, and US support for dictatorships and for Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians have relieved them of such fanciful thoughts. So why is the United States looking to forcefully intervene once again? A tale told many times – world domination, oil, Israel, ideology, etc. Assad of Syria, like Gaddafi of Libya, has shown little promise as a reliable client state so vital to the American Empire.

It’s only the barrier set up by Russia and China on the UN Security Council that keeps NATO (aka the United States) from unleashing thousands of airborne missiles to “liberate” Syria as they did Libya. Russian and Chinese leaders claim that they were misled about Libya by the United States, that all they had agreed to was enforcing a “no-fly zone”, not seven months of almost daily missile attacks against the land and people of Libya. Although it’s very fortunate that the two powers refuse to give the US another green light, it’s difficult to believe that they were actually deceived last spring in regard to Libya. NATO doesn’t do peacekeeping or humanitarian interventions; it does war; bloody, awful war; and regime change. And they would undoubtedly be itching to show off their specialty in Syria – perhaps even without Security Council blessing – except that NATO and the US always prefer to attack people who are exceptionally defenseless, and Syria has ballistic missile capabilities and chemical weapons.

It’s likely that the American elections also serve to keep Obama from expanding the US role in Syria. He may have concluded that there are more votes in the Democratic Party base for peace this time than for waging war against his eighth (sic) country.

The propaganda bias in the Western media has been extreme. Day after day, month after month, we’ve been told of Syrian government attacks, using horrible means, almost invariably with the victims described as unarmed civilians; without any proof, often without any logic, that it was actually the government behind a particular attack, with the story’s source turning out to be an anti-government organization; rarely informing us of similar behavior on the part of the rebel forces. In May, the BBC included pictures of mass graves in Iraq in their coverage of an alleged Syrian government massacre in Houla, Syria. The station later apologized for the pictures saying that they had been submitted to the BBC by a rebel group.

On June 7, Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, citing opponents of Assad, reported that the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and that the bulk of the victims were members of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad.

According to a report of Stratfor, the private and conservative American intelligence firm with high-level connections, many of whose emails were obtained by Wikileaks: “most of the [Syrian] opposition’s more serious claims have turned out to be grossly exaggerated or simply untrue.” They claimed “that regime forces besieged Homs and imposed a 72-hour deadline for Syrian defectors to surrender themselves and their weapons or face a potential massacre.” That news made international headlines. Stratfor’s investigation, however, found “no signs of a massacre”, and warned that “opposition forces have an interest in portraying an impending massacre, hoping to mimic the conditions that propelled a foreign military intervention in Libya.” Stratfor then stated that any suggestions of massacres were unlikely because the Syrian “regime has calibrated its crackdowns to avoid just such a scenario … that could lead to an intervention based on humanitarian grounds.”

Democracy Now – long a standard of progressive radio-TV news – has been almost as bad as CNN and al Jazeera (the latter owned by Qatar, an active military participant in both Libya and Syria). The heavy bias ofDemocracy Now in this area goes back to the very beginning of the Arab Spring. The program made some unfortunate choices in its mideast news correspondents, seemingly only because they spoke Arabic and/or had contacts in the region. Where have you gone Amy Goodman? RT (Russia Today) has stood almost alone amongst English-language television news sources in offering an alternative to the official Western line.

Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research, notes that “Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria are but a sequence of stops on a global roadmap of permanent war that also swings through Iran. Russia and China are the terminal targets.” When the Syrian government is overthrown – and in all likelihood the Western forces will not relent until that happens – the al Qaeda types will be dominant in the Syrian version of Benghazi. The American ambassador would be well advised to not visit.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir. He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com

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Wars and Rumors of War

 

 

Published on Aug 18, 2012 by

A Syrian delegation, headed by the Deputy Prime Minister, together with the national reconciliation minister, has arrived in Moscow. This is the second visit by the Syrian government this month.

Politics , Legislation and Economy

Published on Aug 11, 2012 by

Hillary Clinton’s discussion of a no-fly zone over Syria is a violation of the UN charter of the Geneva Accords, journalist and activist Don DeBar told RT.

The US Secretary of State discussed plans to undermine the Syrian government, during a meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister on Saturday.

Clinton and her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, indicated they are exploring a number of measures to aid the Syrian opposition, Reuters reported. Don DeBar spoke to RT about the involvement of western powers in the Syrian conflict.

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