Archive for the ‘Assad’ Category

This text was written by Dyab Abu Jahjah in 2012. This is his site.
Relative to revolutions all around the world, the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions are historical miracles and a shining example of non-violent, civilized uprisings. The Yemeni revolution, in its insistence on non-violence and its discipline, is truly amazing, as is the revolution in Bahrain. The Syrian revolution, in its enormous sacrifices in the face of a ruthless killing machine, is a historical epic. The revolutions in Libya is an epitome of effectiveness.
We cannot just mention Libya in passing because the Libyan case has become the favorite example for conspiracy theorists and doubters in the revolution. It is true that the intervention by NATO is complicated and is definitely not innocent. But it is also true that the agenda of the Libyan revolutionaries is not identical to NATO’s agenda. This divergence will emerge slowly but surely because the relationship between the Libyan revolution and NATO is not one of submission. European powers wanted to secure the oil contracts that they had signed with Kaddafi and at the same time appear to support the Arab revolution after their shameful support for Ben-Ali and Mubarak to the very end. The Libyan revolutionaries wanted air cover in their confrontation with Kaddafi’s barbaric killing machine. and unfortunately no Arab or Islamic country was able to provide such a cover. Hence, a deal was struck, and we must look at this deal from the point of view of shared interests. In the end, Libya has been liberated and there are no occupation forces and no NATO mandate on Libya. As for the oil contracts, they are a matter of commerce because oil is nothing more than a commodity that is sold by the state based on the people’s interests; it does not represent our dignity or our honor. Isn’t it better for a free Libyan people to trade and cooperate with foreign countries to benefit itself rather than for a dictator like Kaddafi to do the same thing while oppressing his people for the benefit of himself and his sons with their many lovers?

A free people determines its path by itself and no one can claim any longer that a deranged tyrant knows his people’s interests better than the people. The alternative, for those who are always asking about alternatives, as if we were replacing one totalitarian government with another, is always the ballot box. What’s more important, and what is true in any region in the Arab World, is that foreign intervention is a small detail in the midst of the massive historical movement that the Arab revolution represents, which neither the reactionary oil oligarchies nor Western imperialism will be able to co-opt no matter how hard they try. The old regimes and their remnants will fail in their attempt to paint the Arab revolution as a western conspiracy to dethrone them because of their achievements in pursuing the interests of the people. The people know that the historical trend in our region is one of revolution, and they are aware of the West’s attempts to intervene and co-opt the revolution, but they are also capable of thwarting these attempts. In Syria, for example, the revolutionary forces have rejected military intervention and instead called for international protection and observers, and some insist on most being Arab, in spite of the enormous oppression and killing. Those who accuse the Syrian revolutionaries of being traitors are similar to someone who denies a seriously ill patient medicine because that medicine is made in Paris or London and is being distributed by United Nations agencies.

The current Syrian flag

WRITTEN BY SHIBLI ZAMAN
All kinds of scum are defending Bashar al-Assad following his attack upon the people of Idlib with chemical weapons. I’ve had to respond to many of these heartless people who prefer their vacuous Alex Jones based conspiracy theories over human life but…seriously…at least 10 kids under the age of 11 died an excruciating death so I am just way too PISSED OFF to carry on. But I want to address this Russian LIE that they supposedly bombed a munitions depot where the rebels were storing Sarin gas.

Sarin gas is highly unstable and is easily rendered inert.

“Decomposes thermally to form a variety of phosphorus containing products as well as propylene. The rate of decomposition increases with increase in temperature, and in the presence of acids. At the boiling point of GB, under atmospheric conditions, decomposition is fairly rapid.”
[PubChem: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/sarin…]

The Russian account of having bombed a Sarin containing depot is scientifically impossible. If you bomb Sarin with incendiaries, it will be rendered INERT by the exceedingly high temperature of any blast. It just takes 150 °C to decompose Sarin into various forms of phosphorous. The average missle emits 2,480 °C (4,500 °F) which is way beyond what it would take to completely erase any Sarin.

Then these imbeciles are claiming that pictures of the White Helmets wearing only gas masks and no HAZMAT suits means there couldn’t have been a Sarin attack. Make up your minds! Either there was a gas attack or there wasn’t. Russia ADMITTED that Sarin was released upon the population because even they weren’t stupid enough to deny the overwhelmingly obvious! And to debunk this nonsense about the White Helmets not wearing Hazmat suits, by the time they and other personnel would have arrived in the area the Sarin would have dissipated. This is from the Center for Disease Control: “Because it evaporates so quickly, sarin presents an immediate, but short-lived, threat.” [https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/sarin/basics/facts.asp]

Finally, as Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of the British Armed Forces Joint Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Regiment, said:

“Axiomatically, if you blow up Sarin, you destroy it…It’s very clear it’s a Sarin attack…The view that it’s an al-Qaeda or rebel stockpile of Sarin that’s been blown up in an explosion, I think is completely unsustainable and completely untrue.” [BBC]

So, the bottom line is that there are two versions of events here:

1) Tons of eye witnesses on the ground testify to the Russian/Syrian aerial bombardment of chemical weapons. There are PICTURES of the spent casings and tanks on the ground. The entire world knows Bashar and the Russians did it, and the SAA, Russia and Iran are the only people ON EARTH saying otherwise.

2) The SAA first released a statement saying they did nothing. That was a lie that Russia themselves ratted out when they admitted that they bombed Idlib. The first question is: Why were they bombing a residential area in Idlib? They claim that they were targeting a munitions depot that contained chemical weapons.

The SAA/Russian explanation is 100% a lie that can easily be proven by SCIENCE in that if they bombed a stockpile of Sarin gas, it would not release and kill everyone. It would be rendered completely inert and USELESS.

In the end you can’t argue with basic CHEMISTRY AND SCIENCE.

And there are a bunch of kids who choked to death on their own bodily fluids, and the fact that people are defending Bashar after that pisses me off immeasurably. So be warned: My tolerance level for nonsense when it comes to this tragic and painful subject is ZERO.

crop,750x427,2329709549reprinted from BALADI NEWS

On December 13, the Russian propaganda website Sputnik tweeted a photo captioned “Syrian Army prepares to retake Palmyra.” The image showed four men on a truck assembling munitions. One wore an Afghan flag as a headscarf, and another was identified as a member of the Hazara Shia minority in Afghanistan.

A month later, as ISIS assaulted Syrian regime positions at Khanaser southeast of Aleppo, an Afghan member of the Fatemiyoun brigade shot a video showing Afghans waiting for airstrikes to help push ISIS back.

The often-forced participation of Afghans is one of the great untold stories of the Syrian Civil War. It is estimated that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has sent between 18,000-30,000 Shia Afghans to fight in Syria on the side of the Assad regime since 2015. This is part of the IRCG’s effort to shore up their frontlines after six years of bloody combat against numerous Sunni rebel groups. It is also part of a wider alliance of Shia militias, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, that have poured thousands of fighters into Syria. However, unlike Hezbollah or Iraqi supporters of the Syrian regime, the role of the Afghan recruits is complicated and tragic. There is compelling evidence that they are victims of human trafficking, recruited and exploited by Iran, and then sent to Syria to die in a foreign war.

The Hazara Shia are a Persian-speaking religious and ethnic minority located mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Often persecuted, they usually end up in Iran after fleeing violence elsewhere. For example, they are victims of constant terror by Sunni jihadist groups in Pakistan. In February 2013, more than 100 were killed in a bombing in Quetta, which has been a frequent target. In June 2015, half a dozen were murdered and three businesses owned by Shia attacked. Similar attacks occurred in April and November 2015. In October 2016, gunmen shot up a bus and killed several Hazara women in Quetta. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni jihadist group, claimed the attack was in response to the Afghan Shia’s role in the battle of Aleppo. On January 6, five Shia were murdered in a drive-by shooting. Al-Jazeera called the constant attacks on Shia in Pakistan a “sustained, targeted campaign of killings,” carried out by jihadists “once allied to the Pakistani state.” Caught up in this cauldron, Hazaras flee to Iran, where Iranian intelligence scoops them up and gives young men an offer they can’t refuse: Go die in Syria for the Ayatollah.

Afghanistan also has a population of several million Hazaras, who have been the subject of brutal persecution since the 19th century. Under the Taliban in the 1990s, they were subjected to discrimination and violence. Taliban commander Maulawi Mohammed Hanif told followers, “Hazaras are not Muslims; you can kill them.” As the Taliban creeps back toward Kabul, it has been targeting them again. In July 2016, more than 60 Hazaras were murdered in a bomb attack on a Hazara rights protest, and in November, their Baqir ul Olum mosque in Kabul was blown up. Vali Nasr of Johns Hopkins University believes that the ISIS attack might be “payback for Hazara fighting in Syria.” Clearly, a particularly vicious cycle exists: Iran uses Hazara Shia, rather than Iranians, to fight in Syria; this puts the Hazaras in danger of retaliation; this in turn forces Hazaras to flee to Iran, where they are recruited or forced to fight in Syria, beginning the cycle over again.

The Hazaras have suffered numerous casualties in Syria, where they are often referred to as “cannon fodder” or “meat shields” for the regime. In November 2016, a Syrian rebel Twitter account showed an image of a man they had captured who they claimed was an “Afghan.” Afghan army IDs and bank cards were found on other prisoners, sometimes with English on them. Their owners had died in Aleppo during 2016, and in some cases it is alleged they were child soldiers. Afghan parents have been interviewed who said they were surprised to find their sons had gone to Syria. One woman told BBC Pashto that her son left Kabul for Iran to find work and was sent to Syria and killed. By July 2015, more than 700 had been killed, according to an Iranian news website.

In 2013, two years after protests broke out against Assad and the civil war began, observers first mentioned the Hazara community in Syria in the context of migrants. They were living near the Sayyida Zainab shrine in Damascus as refugees. At the time there were several thousand. Their participation in the fighting was first noticed online in January 2014. By the following year, the IRGC-run Fatemiyoun brigade, made up of Hazaras, had been formed, and photos of its fighters were being circulated online.

How are they recruited? In the beginning, Iran enticed young men through cash. Afghans guarding the Sayyida Zainab shrine were described by The New York Times as facing “little choice if they wanted to support their families [back home].” In a tweet on January 27, Qalaat Al Mudiq, an academic and military analyst, wrote that Afghans are paid $600 per month and sent to Syria on regularly organized flights. Journalist Mirwais Afghan claimed in June 2016 that the amount was $450 per month. One woman told The Wall Street Journal that her brother was lured to a recruitment office in Mashhad. He received 20 days of training and religious indoctrination before being flown to Damascus. He was killed in November 2014. Another woman told the Pakistani newspaper Dawn that her 35-year-old husband was promised $750 a month and an Iranian residency permit. A report in The Guardian found the Iranian embassy in Kabul was paying middlemen to recruit fighters. The Christian Science Monitor interviewed an Afghan man in June 2016 who said recruiters from the IRGC’s Basij militia used to visit him daily to encourage him to go, saying, “We will send you to Syria and when you come back we will give you an Iranian passport, a house, and money.”

Most Afghans said they were sent on “suicide missions” and that “Afghan lives have no value” to their IRGC commanders. Recruits said that in Iran many Afghans were coerced and threatened with being kidnapped or killed if they didn’t sign up. When Afghans die, their families are told their sons are “martyrs” and promised money, which never arrives.

A BBC investigation in April revealed that many Afghan recruits flee their units and try to get to the EU. One man said he was born in Isfahan, Iran, to Afghan refugees and lived as a second-class citizen. Then the IRCG came and promised him a passport if he went to Syria. Once he joined, he received two weeks of training. The Iranian commanders took his cellphone. He said he was sent to take a sector. If the sector were taken, he was told, he and his fellow soldiers were to hand it over to their Syrian army allies.

Another Afghan in Greece—one of 200,000 who came to Europe in 2015—told the BBC that he was arrested in Iran. At the Asgar Abad detention camp, he was offered the chance to be deported to Afghanistan or go to Syria. After a year of service in Syria, he didn’t receive a promised Iranian residency permit, but was threatened with deportation if he didn’t go back to Syria. He deserted like many thousands of others and fled to the EU.

Iran has employed other methods as well, such as recruitment videos and religious propaganda. France24 has reported that Shia clerics were dispatched by Iran to aid in the recruitment. Sometimes outright violence is used. “One 17-year-old said he had been forced to fight without being given the opportunity to refuse,” the NGO Human Rights Watch reported.

There is unquestionably a large recruiting pool for Iran to exploit. There were more than two million Afghan refugees in Iran in 2016, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. One of those refugees was a man named Murad who was captured by Syrian rebels. He told Der Spiegel’s Christoph Reuter that he was arrested in Iran and falsely accused of selling drugs. “For fifteen days he was beaten and whipped,” Reuter wrote. Then one day at Evin Prison in Tehran, Murad received a visitor wearing the IRGC’s green uniform. “Do you want the final five years of your sentence commuted?” the man asked. Soon Murad was off to Syria to fight.

In May 2016, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the families of the Afghans who had fallen in Syria. “Martyrs who die on this path are privileged,” he told his audience. “In fact your children have created a shield with their life to protect the holy shrines from these evil [forces]. Therefore their status is very important.” Iran denies the Afghans are mercenaries or coerced. The IRGC claims that they go to Syria for religious and patriotic reasons.

But the evidence proves that the IRGC has been targeting tens of thousands of vulnerable people to fight Assad’s war in Syria. Recruiters are paid a commission by the Iranian government to target Afghans rather than Iranians. The government has established a deep network throughout Hazara communities in Iran and Afghanistan, targeting the poor and those seeking work. It has lured them from Pakistan. In Iran it uses coercion by threatening those who refuse with deportation. It also offers passports and residency permits that it does not provide, hoping that the fighters will die as “martyrs” before they ask for compensation. It also recruits prisoners, paying them less than other recruits and promising them time off their sentences. It flies the recruits back and forth to Syria on civilian planes used by the IRGC. The Afghans have no travel documents, which means they are controlled entirely by the IRGC while in Syria and cannot flee. Underage teens are also recruited.

Clearly, Iran’s recruitment of refugees and asylum seekers violates UN guidelines that call on nations to “prevent the military recruitment of refugees in camps and settlements” and to “ensure that measures are taken to prevent the recruitment of refugees by government armed forces or organized armed groups.” This amounts to human trafficking.

The IRGC controls large parts of the Iranian economy and is intertwined with the leading political and military institutions of the state. Its direct and documented involvement in the violation of the rights of refugees provides more evidence of why it should be designated a terrorist organization. The Trump administration was discussing designating the IRGC in early February; the abuse of Afghan refugees adds evidence in support of the need for the U.S. and the international community to recognize Iran’s misdeeds. By providing payment and transport to Afghans who are sent to Syria under the command structure of the IRGC, Iran is also violating the Geneva Convention as spelled out in the Protocol Additional of June 1977 regarding the use of mercenaries as combatants in war.

New sanctions should be put on Iran, including sanctions specifically targeting the IRGC. The international community should target areas of the Iranian economy linked to the use and abuse of Afghan refugees, such as Iran’s use of commercial and other flights to move them back and forth. The U.S. should also call for an investigation into abuses committed by the IRGC in Syria, and members of the International Criminal Court should call for an investigation into the role and exploitation of Hazara Afghans as part of a wider probe into human rights violations in the Syrian conflict. Only by holding Iran accountable for its actions, rather than welcoming Iranian diplomats as was done by former Secretary of State John Kerry, can Iran be put on notice that its continued behavior does not put it above the law. The IRGC has continually flaunted national and international laws. The case of the Afghan refugees sent to die in Syria sheds a light on how Iran can finally be held to account.