Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

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One of the celebratory posters of the Syrian General plastered in various Italian cities. It bears almost all the signs of the Fascist and Neo-fascist propaganda, (use of this stylised alphabet, the declaration of HONOR!) Interestingly enough also the Italian far left celebrates the same “hero”.

WRITTEN BY RICCARDO CRISTIANO, translated by Mary Rizzo

(Translator’s note: CasaPound is an Italian political movement that is proudly “far right”. It is the first “centro sociale” (youth and student movement starting in the 90s that is primarily far left) that considers its inspiration Fascist. Like many far-right movements in Europe, it maintains a very active base, which often makes up for its lack of “official” political recognition, though it currently participates in elections with its own candidates and in coalitions with other right-wing parties. Though the militants of CasaPound are renowned for their frequent episodes of violence and xenophobia, they also are very active in ideological recruitment in campaigns that are nationalistic, at times having a social character, such as proposals for interest-free public housing, and together with groups such as the European Front for Syria, are involved in the dissemination on the street level (literally) of international issues with propaganda for the regime in Syria in particular, because, in their own words: “For Six years Assad has been the best defence of Europe against terrorism”.) 

Sunday morning. The British press reported that Sahar Dofdaa, who was only one month old, had died in Damascus. She starved to death. She was born in the village of Hamuriya in al-Ghouta, an area that has been besieged for years by troops loyal to the government of Damascus and controlled by a fundamentalist group, the Jaysh al-Islam, which keeps a tight hold on the town’s inhabitants. It is the same area where Assad’s army, in 2013, used chemical weapons to massacre civilians, even if the UN has been unable to officially declare the culprit, because since 2012, the UN peacekeeping troops have been removed from Syria. The British newspaper The Guardian has published the statements of Dr. Yahya Abu Yahya, who speaks about a great number of cases of severe childhood malnutrition such as that of Sahar, born from a mother who did not have the strength to nourish her child, citing seventy infants who are dying of starvation and four thousand children who suffer from nutritional deficiencies. And the sample from which he refers is limited to just nine thousand children.

If not even this fact can shake us, it is probably because the propaganda machine has convinced us that in al-Ghouta, just as in other areas controlled by fierce jihadists, everyone is a terrorist, even children who have lived just one month of life. Instead, this is in all probability precisely the dramatic outcome pursued with ferocity by the regime since 2001. This is also the case with Idlib.

Tuesday morning. Although in Italy very little media time has been dedicated to it, there is an interesting piece of news from the International press: Russia has vetoed the resolution that would allow prosecution of the investigation in regard to the chemical weapons massacres in Syria, the Joint Investigative Mechanism, whose mandate expires in November. A report was scheduled to appear by the end of October concerning the massacres perpetrated this summer at Khan Shaykhun near Idlib by means of chemical weapons. In this massacre, just as in the Ghouta massacre with chemical weapons, many children were killed. Russia sought to discuss the report on the Khan Shaykhun massacre before renewing its mandate.

Wednesday morning. It should be mentioned that one hundred Italian cities have woken up discovering that Casa Pound and the European Front for Syria have plastered walls and monuments with slogans written to celebrate one of the most notorious Syrian army commanders, Issam Zahreddine, a war criminal responsible for crimes against humanity, recently killed in combat in Syria, supposedly struck by a landmine planted by ISIS. This General of the Syrian Republican Guard, has been placed in the “short list” of individuals that are subject to special and personal sanctions on behalf of the European Union, with the accusation that he was the organiser of the chemical attack on Khan Shaykhoun.

The General had become famous for a photograph that portrays him standing close to hanged bodies that had clearly been tortured prior to their execution, as well as a film that shows him walking in front of a row of corpses so long that he cuts his walk short before even finishing the entire review. According to family members of Marie Colvin, the journalist that was assassinated in Syria, he ordered the artillery attack that killed her when he learned where the famous reporter was staying. Among his last public actions, an interview released just a few weeks ago. Turning to the millions of Syrian refugees who fled abroad after losing everything, Issam Zahreddine said, “If you know what’s good for you, you will never again set foot in Syria.” It’s important to know that in addition to the far right who signed the banners, among the environments that sympathise with him are also groups of the radical left.

Originale: http://formiche.net/2017/10/26/casa-pound-fronte-europeo-siria/

 

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spy vs spy“Even Govt don’t deny torture happened”: Spy vs Spy…. A Syrian comedy starring Vanessa Beeley. Guest starring Tim Anderson, Eva Bartlett, Scott Gaulke and Iman & Susan Safi

In the midst of the Syrian genocide, it’s always interesting when you manage to be amused by the antics of the enemy. If you thought that the Pro-Assad faction was united, you haven’t been paying close enough attention. The fact is that there is a civil war going on between the Old Guard and the New Guard. Both factions claim to be intimate with “the President” and privy to special, secretive knowledge. Yes, we know, Knowledge is Power. Both factions also are waging their own little cyber war based on calling each other spies, Mossad agents and cyber stalkers. There is so much importance given to the claim about being “invited” to countries such as North Korea and Syria by the leadership, with the other side shooting their bullets in the “DID NOT!” stakes, and bragging to have “informed” authorities about the lies and liars.

It’s a sight to savour, and you can enjoy the two pages on Facebook created for the purposes of “exposing” the Fake Experts” here and here. There are so many “proofs” that they provide that the currently popular western “Experts” such as Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett, Tim Anderson and others who have been proclaiming their devotion to “the President” are actually Zionists and spies. That they are fake, we all can see that, but the spin given by their own allies is a joy to behold.

Let’s just point out two screenshots published (in Facebook and on Twitter) by Navastev, aka Scott Gaulke, of a chat between himself and Vanessa Beeley. Please read the content carefully. Here is an admission by today’s biggest regime pimp that Assad and the Govt were quite aware of the use of torture. And, naturally that torture is “irrelevant to the bigger picture”…

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Does the rage that surrounds her declaration that Assad and the Govt knew of their torture signal a shift in position and is this disowning of Beeley a sign that she instead has joined the opposition? In fact, can claims like this let us suppose that Beeley suddenly takes on a position totally different from the established narrative that “the stories of torture are FAKE” by claiming that she is aware it is a well-known fact that the “govt” tortures?

What is probably happening is a display of bragging and loyalty that got out of hand. She is obviously (as is everyone) aware that torture is systematically used by the regime. The evidence for it is so monumental that denying it would qualify someone as being psychologically disturbed, having a completely false perception of reality and a recourse to denial to support a worldview that is shattered by the evidence. What she probably hoped to do was to score points that depict her as very intimate with Assad. She wants to show that Assad confides in her, that she is aware of private information and of course, her work will follow the course set out by Assad. Ok… she’s a fangirl bragging. But what she THINKS she is communicating is that Assad knows about every leaf that moves in his country. The great man AND HIS GOVERNMENT is fully aware of “a few bad apples”. This is a mutation of the mantra of the Syrian regime supporters in the early days of the uprising when they repeated, endlessly, “We admit there is corruption in Syria, the President is aware of it and he is seeking to make reforms, but the foreign-backed protesters are instead turning some acceptable criticisms into regime change. We will not have that! We must support the President now!”

Beeley’s just showing her immense loyalty to the regime and the display of her acknowledgment of the perfection of Assad in another way, by an admission of HIS admission of torture. However, her frenemies are upset. She never should have put a crack into their gorgeous narrative. She was attacked by the husband and wife team of Iman and Susan Safi under their pseudonyms of Ghassan and Intibah Kadi on their various sites and pages. The following is the circling of Vanessa by them, labelling her as a spy while showing her in a meeting with Bouthaina Shaaban.

susan safi kor3It seems that the Old Guard does not appreciate the New Guard getting all this attention, glory, money, fame, and so on from their promotion of the regime. At the same time, they are doing damage control of the actual incidents that could be extremely damaging for the regime, such as Christian Zionists like Janice Korkamp (seen in a photo next to Beeley) making multiple visits to regime-controlled Syria and promoting the regime in her blog. It’s hell on the image to have to deal with this! You can point out very bad connections and label them all as spies, or you can “contextualise” all of these fault lines, as Vanessa hopes she can do. However, the fact is clear that the admission of Assad’s knowledge of the regime’s torture does not bode well for the snow white image of the regime, particularly after years spent denying torture having ever taken place. The only way the Old Guard seems to be able to do it is to follow the Tankie Handbook step by step.

You see, Susan and Iman Safi think that it’s necessary for a person to have permission, an invitation and possibly even be sponsored or paid for by the various “governments”. They had “serious meetings with serious people” while THEY were in Russia and announce that Russia is far more free than Australia, their home. Here is a photo of those great days.

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And yet, fellow Australian Tim Anderson (whom they call “academic with murky past”), along with Eva Bartlett and actress Carla Ortiz has made a trip to North Korea. That’s not really a problem, but it IS a problem that they might have gone there privately. You don’t do that, even if you ARE on a propaganda trip.

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But, let’s get back to the crucial element here. When it comes to the REAL POWER in Syria, what matters is what reaches the ear of the right people in Syria, who of course will take the right “actions” against “spies”. They are bragging that they have “informed” the authorities about the visitors. We imagine so that “measures” can be taken against the “spies”. That always ends up VERY well, doesn’t it?

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If the prisons in Syria have always been filled with persons whose “explanations” were extracted through torture, an awareness of torture may no longer be just from the mouth of Assad, but it could be very personal, as formerly pro-Regime westerners such as Pierre Piccinin are able to testify.

 

 

BY SAMANTHA FALCIATORI
The Syrian situation is hell on earth. To understand what is happening is our human duty, as well as being indispensable for the comprehension of those phenomena that cross over the natural confines of that land. For this reason, our Magazine will always follow the Syrian war as closely as we can; a war which is in fact many different and overlapping wars, so as to provide an always up-to-date picture that is as accurate as possible.

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We have interviewed a volunteer of the Red Crescent, witness of the massacre of Al-Bayda and Banyas in May 2013 in which over 400 civilians were slaughtered, house by house, to then be buried in mass graves. His is a testimony that at 4 years from the massacre tells the story of one of the darkest and most bloody pages of the Syrian war.

What you are about to read is a unique testimony of one of the bloodiest pages of the Syrian war, the massacre that began on 2 May 2013 of the civilian population of two towns in the coastal area. The National Defence Force (NDF) and the Shabeeha, pro-government militias comprised of Shi’as and Alawites (the religious group to which the Assad family belongs), attacked the Sunni-majority towns of Al-Bayda and Banyas, nestled in the Alawite-majority zone between Tartous and Latakia, stronghold of the Syrian regime, with summary slaughtering the inhabitants (Sunni), breaking into their homes, setting them on fire, burning alive those who were inside, including infants.

The Banyas Local Council has identified a total of 410 victims, the Syrian Network for Human Rights has counted 459. The UN Investigation Commission on Syria has investigated this massacre, among many similar ones, identifying the perpetrators, ascertaining that there was no presence of armed opposition, nor were there any military clashes in the city during the massacre, and concluded in its report A / HRC / 24/46 (pages 32-33) that there was “reasonable evidence that the perpetrators were governmental forces”.

It is the Syrian regime itself that has confirmed the responsibilities of its militias carrying military operations on Al-Bayda and Banyas, broadcasting images of the carnage (as in this news report from al Manar) on the government-friendly TV channels, but always claiming that only terrorists had been killed. The images of women and children, including newborns, mutilated and burned alive, as well as the testimony of the survivors, tells another story.

We were able to interview an eyewitness of that massacre, already heard by Human Rights Watch investigators for their No One’s Left investigation. The man was in Banyas and was part of the team that the Syrian security forces sent after the massacre to arrange the corpses in the mass graves and clean up the streets. He accepted, asking for anonymity for security reasons, to tell Zeppelin what happened and what he saw, providing a rare and precious testimony also about the planning of the massacre (which had been in the planning for several months) and its political / religious motives. This is the transcript of the interview.

The massacre of Al-Bayda and Banyas can be understood in the wider project of ethnic cleansing of Syria, and it fits within the framework of the efforts of international justice to take the first steps toward punishing those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, thanks also to those eyewitness accounts, like this one, that, though they are brutal, should be listened to.

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Testimony of a volunteer of the Red Crescent from Banyas. 

He witnessed the 2013 massacre and disposed of the bodies in a mass grave afterwards. He requested anonymity for security reasons. The interview was recorded over Skype on January 5, 2017. 

Q: What can you tell me about that day? What happened and what did you see? 

[..] The Syrian Red Crescent could enter the city only 3 days after the massacre, because the army prevented all the people from coming in or out of Banyas [..] Banyas is a coastal town between Tartous and Latakia, the two biggest cities in the coastal area; Banyas is a smaller town, of about 50,000 people. It was one of the first which took part in the revolution, when people took to the street for many reasons, regarding what was happening in Deraa, the lack of freedom, but also because there were tensions between the rural areas of Banyas, mainly Alawite, and the city, mainly Sunni, and they felt the injustice because all the employees, all those working in courts, hospitals, in the oil industry of Banyas are all Alawites, and people felt injustice and took to the street. This was a choke for the regime because it thought that a coastal city, where the coastal area was the stronghold of the regime, would not participate in any kind of demonstrations. So Banyas was a surprise for the regime, they hated it, because they saw people demanding the fall of the regime in the heart of its stronghold.

Q: And the demonstrations were in the Sunni part of the city or all over the city?

In the Sunni part. In Banyas you have the Sunni part which is the old city of 50-60 years ago. Then when the Alawites took power, they came from rural areas, so all the officers, State employees settled in Banyas and built new neighbourhoods, so Banyas was getting bigger and now it is in two parts: the southern part, which is Sunni, and the northern part, which is Alawite. Christians are living in between, in the two parts. The Christians who are originally from Banyas are living with the Sunnis because that is the old city, and the new Christians who came to Banyas from other towns are living in the new neighbourhoods, the Alawite ones [..]. The demonstrations were 100% in the Sunni part. Christians, for many reasons, did not take part in them. I did, but secretly, because the regime tried to prevent Christians and Alawites from participating in the demonstrations because it did not want them to look like a national thing whose demands came from everybody[1], so it tried to emphasize their Sunni trait.

Q: So there was dissent also among the Christian and Alawite community? 

Yes, they tried to prevent them from getting in because when Alawites and Christians would come to the demonstrations it looked like it was not religious or radical [as the regime wanted to depict the demonstrations] but it would be a Syrian demonstration. But still, in the first 3 or 4 demonstrations, there were Alawite people coming from the Alawite neighbourhoods secretly who participated in the demonstrations. I have videos of this, many Alawite people came, they had speeches, they were welcome and people were crazy about them because they were Alawites supporting their demands, it was great. But after that, in May 2011 the Syrian army surrounded the city, they cut electricity in the Sunni part, they cut food [deliveries] preventing it from coming in, the siege lasted for 2-3 weeks, and after that they rolled the tanks and got into the city. They took a lot of prisoners, they were tortured in the Banyas stadium, where they took the people, 10,000 maybe, tortured them and humiliated them[2]. People were taken to the military prison in Tartous, Damascus and Homs, some people were never returned. We think they were killed under torture. After this, when the army came back to the town, patrolling the city, there were a couple of people trying to make very small demonstrations, like putting some homemade bombs where government forces were coming or going, but nothing as serious as it was happening in other parts of Syria[3], I think just 2 or 3 soldiers died in all these actions. This was still 2011, early part of 2012, then in Banyas everything was back to [normal] [..].

Suddenly, in early 2013 [..] all the Alawites involved in the militias of the regime, some were my friends […] they started to say that the people of Banyas were planning for something big. I said: “What are they planning for? Come on, the demonstrations have stopped, nothing is happening anymore”, so this kind of propaganda became to spread among the Alawites […]. There is a militia, the National Defence Forces (NDF), they are mainly civilians, 100% Alawites, and they are very tough, with a very strict point of view with the regime, they want all opposition dead, they started getting arms from the government and to participate in the battles all around Syria. One of them was called Ali Shaddoud, he is very famous in Banyas, he is a pharmacist. He is the founder of the NDF in Banyas and he told me personally that something big is happening in Banyas. Frankly I did not believe him.

Q: Because the opposition was not strong in Banyas? 

Yes, because in 2013 it was defeated. The government was in full control of the city, so “what will happen? Nothing”. But he told me “something very big is happening”. When I tried to understand from some friends of his, some told me that the regime was trying to focus on Damascus and the coastal area and it did not want anything to happen there, so if there are Sunnis remaining in this area they wanted them to have a lesson, so they cannot oppose the regime anymore […] Then there was no intervention by Hezbollah, Iranians or Russians, so the regime was afraid that it could not control all Syria, so it was trying to preserve Damascus and the coastal areas.

Q: They did not target the political or military opposition: they targeted the Sunnis.

Of course. From the Alawite point of view when they say “opposition” they do not mean the political meaning of the word, they cannot say “Sunni” in the street because that would be rude and sectarian, but by “opposition” they mean “the Sunnis”. And when they said “we want them to have a lesson”, they meant the Sunnis. This was clear since the early months of 2013. But it was not before the early days of May 2013 that… it happened very fast, we started to see tanks coming to the town, and it was not 100% weird, Syria was at war […] we thought maybe they are moving troops and vehicles, ok. But then they put tanks and mortars on the hill of Banyas, in the Alawite part of the town, the hill that overlooks the city. We started to see people that were not from the town, they were wearing regime uniforms but they did not sound like they came from Banays. Some people who saw them, including my brother, saw Lebanese people having dinner in a restaurant in the Alawite part of Banyas, this restaurant is famous because the NDF gather there. They were clearly Lebanese, so Hezbollah or close to Hezbollah, I do not know, and they were talking about a big operation that was coming to Banyas. There was this guy, Kayalli, the commander of a militia, he comes from Turkey, from the Alawite minority in Turkey, they are fighting for the regime and this Kayalli lived in Latakia, where he went on TV and said, literally, “Banyas is the only weak point for the government in the coastal area and we will put an end to this, the traitors can come in the coastal areas through Banyas and we need to end  it”, he said this 2 or 3 days before the massacre[4].

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The Alawite General Ali al Kayalli, better known as Mihrac Ural (he is of Turkish origin, but has Syrian nationality) is the head of a pro-government militia, composed of Alawites and  Shabeeha, called Syrian Resistance, based in al Baseet, North of  Latakia. He was among those responsible for the massacre of Banyas. In this photo, he is in the centre, with flowers in his hand, together with his men. Credits to: sbs.com.au.

On the day of the massacre I was in the church because it was the Thursday before Easter[5] and suddenly […] we heard gunshots, we went out and saw the army and militia telling people to go home, so we went home. In the evening, we started to see… not from my home, but I went to the Alawite part, I saw 200-300 men coming from the highway, they were walking on the bridge that comes down to Banyas, some of them wearing masks on their faces, and also Alawite people, some of them were my friends, started to join them and I asked them “what are you going for with your guns?” They said “there is an operation in Banyas and al Baida”, al Baida is south of Banyas and it was famous in the first months of the revolution because it was actively participating in it […] so they began with al Baida, which is Sunni. Families of Banyas are living in al Baida and vice versa, so they are very close to each other. They started in al Baida and I was on the phone with a friend, and he was shaking, he was very afraid. I was surprised and asked “what is happening?”, because we thought they were going to take some men to prison, or beat and humiliate them as they did every day everywhere, but he told me “no, it is not beating nor humiliating, they are killing people”.  And I was like “What? Killing people? Why?” and he said “Yes, they are killing people.” He told me that his mother’s family were burnt alive, some people were killed by gunshots, some were burnt, they gathered people in a shop and burnt them, like 60 or 70 dead bodies there, and people started to flee the city. So this is what they [regime people] wanted. It was May 2nd.

On May 3rd […] they came to Banyas and made a massacre […] in the heart of the Sunni part of the city. My home is very close to this so I went on the roof and I saw clearly the tanks bombing the city, I was able to see clearly the shells coming over my house, I saw them with the naked eye, and dropping down in the middle of the town. Then again these masked men came and did these atrocities. I did not see it, but many people told us, they started to kill people with swords, axes, guns, by burning, and I know families by name. They came and killed whole families…for example the Taha family had 17 people killed, they killed father, mother, sons, the son’s wives and sons and so on.

 

Q: So was it a deliberate ethnic cleansing of the Sunni population of the city?

Of course, because they targeted [Sunni] families, like the Taha family, the Shighri, even when they see “Shighri” on your ID card the government forces would be upset because they see that you are 100% from Banyas, so 100% opposition, so 100% Sunni. So they did ethnic cleansing of [Sunni] families. People started to flee, to Latakia. Also my family wanted to go there and they were accepted. I did not go there but my sister did and at the entrances of Latakia there were regime checkpoint and they were screening people from Banyas, if they knew they were Sunnis they sent them back, if they were Alawites or Christians they let them in. This lasted until May 4th, when they moved to another Sunni village […] called al Basateen, where they did not do ethnic cleansing but they took 95-96 men to prison and we have not heard of them since. So we assume they were also killed under torture. After the killing was over, it was a real shock to see even the Alawites who are 100% with the regime, being shocked and upset. A friend of mine, she was working in my same company, told me that her brother, an Alawite who supports the government, was part of these NDF and went to Al-Bayda to participate in what he thought was a regular operation of the regime, and he was shocked by the amount of atrocities done, the amount of killings, burning bodies, killing children, he fainted and they had to take him to hospital. He could not eat for two days, he was in shock, even people who are very radical with pro Assad [positions] were in shock, it was completely unprecedented, unexpected. After that they began to steal, they took a lot of cars, family homes’ furniture, we could see them putting them on army trucks. After 2-3 weeks they let people go back to Banyas, but not to Al-Bayda. Al-Baida is still empty to this day. 

Q: But they didn’t let the Sunnis come back, or also the Sunnis?

Also the Sunnis. But of course after this a lot of, and by “a lot” I mean A LOT, of Sunni families in Banyas left. As my Alawite friend said, it was a lesson. So many families went to Turkey, and from there they came as refugees in Europe. […] Now in the Sunni part of the city you can only see old men, children and Sunni people coming from other towns, like Aleppo, these are the pro-regime Sunnis of Aleppo so the regime lets them stay in Banyas.

Q: When could you enter the targeted neighbourhoods as a Red Crescent volunteer?

We entered on May 7th, 8th and 9th for three consecutive days to bury the bodies, because they were in the street. I didn’t go to al Baida, because other teams were going there. Some members of the Red Crescent managed to smuggle out some photos of the dead bodies and these are the only photos we have of this massacre. They put us in a lot of trouble because they did not expect members of the Red Crescent, which is controlled by the regime, to smuggle photos out. These are the only photos because no media was allowed to go in and I know the people who took the photos and smuggled them out.

Q: There is a lot of disinformation about the photos because they don’t have a source, being smuggled out secretly. So some people say they are Christians killed by Daesh [ISIS] or Palestinians killed by the Israelis, or whatever, so…

Look, the regime is not stupid. It is evilly smart. It tried to confuse us, its supporters put together some photos of Banyas, Palestine, Iraq and said “look, this is not Banyas!” but I can know exactly which photos were taken by us and I can tell you where they were taken, I can pinpoint them on Google Maps, and some of the photos are taken in such known streets that people know it is Banyas. These photos are taken by members of the Red Crescent. [..] I have an Alawite friend, he is the one who took the photos of the children. So let’s see the photos[6].

 The first one with children with a yellow shirt, another one with jeans, this is in Banyas. And this [scene of the] photo, I saw it personally, with the naked eye. I can assure you 100% that I saw this horrific scene. The second one, the two babies, I did not see this personally but it is in Banyas, and also the other one. The fourth one  is in Al-Bayda, I know this street, it is not Banyas, it is Al-Bayda. The other one, with the blood, the boy and the men, also this is in Al-Bayda and I know the guy, the family of the guy. The photo with the woman and the children, this is also in Banyas, in a neighbourhood called Ras Al-Nabe’. The last photos, with another woman and children, which is by the way the same as above, this is Banyas, and I know these stairs, everybody in Banyas knows them, this small street is in Banyas, in Ras al-Nabaa. The regime ordered us to open mass graves and put people in them. We were not able to put all the families in the mass grave together, respectfully. I will not forget where it is. We put a lot of bodies in it, I think 40-50 bodies and I heard from my friends that there are also mass graves in al Baida. We managed to bury all the bodies. […] We know from the Local Councils in al Baida and Banyas that there were 300 killed in al Baida and over 100 in Banyas. So totally 410. Half of them, more or less, women and children.

Q: I wonder something: after the massacre the regime blamed terrorists…

Actually no [..] they said the government attacked Banyas because there were terrorists hiding weapons there.

Q: But how can they justify the fact that in al Baida and Banyas many women and children died because of the massacre? How could they all be “terrorists”?

I know what you mean, but if you think that the people who support the regime try to find excuses, maybe you are wrong. From my friends, my colleagues, at work, at university… more than 75% of the people who are pro-regime, like Alawites and some Christians, they do not need excuses. Actually I hear some neo-fascist-nazi things, like “kill them, they are insects, they are animals, let them be taken out”. Of course some of them say “Yeah, killing children is not ok, but this is all their parents’ fault, they want the Islamic State, they want to kill minorities, so they had the right punishment”. You can hear this [being said] without any shame, so people do not need excuses, they know, they knew that the regime killed them, but they try to defend it, they try to convince themselves that they are terrorists, and maybe a couple of mistakes have been done, but they are living well with this. You cannot imagine how much hatred there is. Mainly the minorities feel like this, really, they are like Nazis, I’m sorry to say it but…of course some of the minorities are with the revolution, they stand bravely, but I’m talking about the mainstream.

Q: Many people say that before the revolution the Syrians lived together peacefully…

No, this is a big lie, we lived in a lie. We had a secretive regime that controlled every aspect of life and society […] In my classroom, we were like 20-25 guys, and 10-11 of us did not have the father because they were imprisoned and were never seen again. People tried to forget what happened in the 80’s, the horrible Hama massacre, but the hatred is real. […] The Alawites took all the positions in the coastal areas, all State employees are Alawites and many young Sunni were forced to go abroad to work.

Q: One last question: when I was reading the Human Rights Watch report… 

“No one’s left”? I was interviewed for that report[7].

Q: So maybe you remember that it says that the regime started the operation in al Baida because a man confessed there were deserters. What do you think about it?

No, I think that’s irrelevant. Banyas took part actively in the demonstrations, we hid some deserters, there was an assassination operation against a regime officer, all this happened. But I know it was deliberately planned months before, you cannot make such an operation in a city where there is no violent engagement like in Homs, Aleppo, Damascus or the rural areas. You cannot kill 400 people just to get a few deserters, the amount of forces that came to Banyas but are not from Banyas, all the talking to my Alawite friends about a lesson [to give] to the Sunnis in the coastal areas, I think it was well planned.

[…] The regime didn’t even bother to emphasise this confession as a pretext, it said “it was an operation, maybe some mistakes were done, but the rest is propaganda against us”. Since the early days there was a lot of talking about tanks, Lebanese and militia men coming to town having conversations, it was all obvious. But we were shocked by the size of it, it was huge to kill 400 in two days! […]

I think it was a deliberate ethnic cleansing. It was not part of the daily activities of the war […] We have not seen this elsewhere, in Latakia I saw a shooting on a demonstration that killed 30 people, but still that was “regular activity”.  But this and the Ghouta attack are beyond the clashes between regime and opposition. It was ethnic cleansing, also in Ghouta they were 100% Sunnis and in Banyas no Alawite or Christian was injured, not killed, not even injured. [..] My friend, who took the photos of the massacre, is still having nightmares to this day, after more than three years […] Those two days changed everything, I had friends and family who are with the regime, two of my cousins tried to defend the massacre and we are not talking anymore since the massacre. So divisions are also in the families, imagine in the society. They say there were terrorists, but in that area there was not jihadist or ISIS presence, it was a stronghold of the regime […]. I remember one thing, I was talking with a guy whose uncle was a prominent Alawite officer who worked for Hafez al Assad, Ali Douba, he was very famous because he was the head of the Military Intelligence Services, and this guy told me once: “Do you know why they chose Banyas?” and I said “No, why?”. “Because they could not do it in Latakia or Tartous because they are big cities and by doing it there they would risk to paralyse the city, so they decided to punish Banyas because it is small and even if life stopped in Banyas, that would not have affected the economy”. […]

Q: Ok, thanks a lot for your time and testimony [..].

Thank you. I don’t want this story to die, I want people to know. It’s very important what you and others are doing.

Source: http://www.thezeppelin.org/al-baida-e-banyas-massacro/

[1] Regardless of ethnicity or religion, as the demonstrations actually were.

[2]This episode is well documented. See Amnesty International, Syrian student tells of torture ordeal in mass stadium detention, 24/05/2011.

[3]For an overview of the story of Banyas from the early demonstrations to the massacre and the development of local councils and brigades, see S. DARWISH, M. DIBO, Cities in Revolution. Baniyas. Al-Bayda: The White City, 24/05/2011.

[4]Video online: https://youtu.be/y0P4rhRjR9I.

[5]The Orthodox Easter was on May 5th in 2013, the massacre started on Good Thursday, May 2nd.

[6]Yallasouriya, The Baniyas Massacre: Why Assad Did It, 6/05/2013. Online: https://goo.gl/km1NY9 In this link videos of the aftermath of the massacre can also be viewed.

[7]“No One’s Left”. Summary Executions by Syrian Forces in al-Bayda and Baniyas, ibid.

Interview by Samantha Falciatori. Introductory text by Samantha Falciatori, translated by Mary Rizzo

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.

 

gassan-asassali Certainly, by now we’ve all seen the tear-jerking, heart-rending tale of the American family of Syrian origin whose relatives (who had obtained a visa and had a nice house waiting for them in Allentown Pennsylvania) were turned back to Syria due to the Trump Executive Order banning people from entering into the US if they were citizens of one of the seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Syria.

The family told their story several times to TV crews and even had a Go Fund Me set up for them to help defray their costs for this setback.

Well, all it takes is a tiny peek into their public content on Facebook to see that their story gets quite a bit less warm and fuzzy, they actually support a mass murderer. Ghassan Assali and his wife both have regime flag profile pictures, indeed, there is a lot of pro-regime content on (particularly) Ghassan’s page. One of his shared memes was celebrating that Hillary Clinton would have to “Go Away” rather than Assad. I left a comment on that meme (which Ghassan did not leave on the meme), and he sent me this message:

assali-1

Which, in English means:

Everyone makes mistakes but thank God, Trump apologized for what happened and gave them a new visa and compensated them for everything. Now they’re on their way. There was a problem interpreting the order, which includes Islamists and terrorists only. The crushing [of the Syrian opposition translator’s note] is still going on.

Well, that’s some big news! The family is back on their way COMPENSATED FOR EVERYTHING!

Then why is there still the Go Fund Me active?

And apparently, Trump supporters don’t care enough to send money because the Organiser of the campaign had to leave this update:

Update 4
Posted by The Wild Family

13 hours ago 

   Share

As the organizer of this page, I feel compelled to speak publicly and respond to some of the comments made on this page regarding reports that the Assalis of Allentown voted for Trump. These reports are incorrect. They did not vote for any candidate, and more importantly, were vitally concerned about the safety of their loved ones in Syria. For that reason, they discussed the relative benefits of one candidate over the other, and as with many in the local Syrian community, voiced hope that Trump might bring about a safer world for their family. HOWEVER, they did not vote for him, period.
Even more important, however, is to keep in mind that their family members who have now been returned to Syria did not vote (obviously) and had no political convictions about the election in the U.S. They just knew that they had to get out of Syria. So, please do not hold any grudge against the people for whom this page was organized. I hope this answers any questions. If you have more, please send an email to the organizer of this page (me) and I will do my best to answer any questions. Peace, Susan

So, either Susan or Sarmad is lying: “Assali said her vote for Donald Trump was done out of a desire to see secure borders, though she didn’t expect one of her candidate’s chief campaign promises to be applied to her relatives, who are all Orthodox Christians with green cards.”

You see, Ghassan and his wife think Assad is the man protecting them and fighting Islamists and Terrorists, but at the same time, in televised interviews they claim that their family has even before the war had been persecuted for their religion. Oh… but they aren’t asking for Asylum, and at the same time, Assad is apparently the protector of the minorities, isn’t he?

The family had been working since 2003 to escape religious persecution in their war-torn country. They have a furnished home waiting for them in Allentown.

As of this moment, the Go Fund Me is still active, though the Assali family is also suing.

So, what is it? Were they persecuted? If they have been compensated and granted new visas, why are they still collecting money and playing the victims?

assad-must-gooh, and here’s the meme about going away that was so funny to Ghassan Assali in November. I guess he kind of changed his mind since then, because these are his groups today: no-trump

 

tumblr_nyjja5i5wm1smlx04o2_1280

photo by Fran Cresswell

WRITTEN BY DAVID A TURPIN JR.
Chomsky and company counter pose an abstract revolution to the real revolution: they will support an abstraction, they assure us, but they have reservations about the actual revolution taking place, going so far as to deny it is revolution precisely because it does not meet the standards set by their abstraction. They fail to see that the Platonic ideal is never met (and Plato did not expect it to be met). No matter how good my compass, no matter how sharp the point on my pencil, I can never actually draw a real circle. The circle can only be described abstractly through mathematics because the true circle is un-real. A circle is an abstraction, of which at best I can make an approximate, imperfect, physical expression. Chomsky’s “revolution” is a shining sphere that Syrians can never attain.

Chomsky and company, however, are not merely making an error in reasoning, confusing the abstract with the concrete, they are creating an ethical abyss into which they can retreat and can continue their retreat without end. Their assurances of support for abstract revolution are worthless, because the abstraction of “revolution” which they “support” can never be achieved. Chomsky and company have created the perfect excuse for ethical cowardice: the standards for supporting a revolution can continually be raised, and these higher and higher standards of abstraction lead to inaction, even when faced with the reality that Assad and Putin are engaged in genocide (a term which they would also contest by raising higher and higher abstract requirements).

Sadly, the same error is common place among the revolutionary leftists who are anti-Assad, to their credit, but refuse to build a united front with the actual solidarity forces because the latter demand a humanitarian intervention–by imperialism. These revolutionaries speak of “solidarity from below” as an abstraction, and counter pose this abstraction to the actual, real solidarity movement. They will support unity with an abstraction, but not with the actual, concrete solidarity movement. They will support a solidarity movement that does not call for humanitarian intervention, but not the movement we actually have. And for the same reason, these comrades also fall into ethical inaction. Their support for an abstract solidarity movement is a rejection of the real solidarity movement, it is a failure to join in solidarity with the oppressed who raise a demand to stop the repression of bombing.

Ironically, even their opposition to “imperialism” is opposition to an abstraction. These same comrades counter pose an abstract “US imperialism” to the real US imperialism, to the reality of inter-imperialist rivalry and to the reality that Russian imperialism, in alliance with Iran, has the immediate method and goal of physically exterminating all political opposition to Assad, whereas US imperialism seeks to control the opposition to Assad, or failing to do so, will allow Assad and Putin to pursue genocide. The distinction is significant–real–and the Syrian opposition’s call for humanitarian intervention, supported by the real solidarity movement–not an abstraction–is a practical response to the reality of imperialist rivalries, rather than abstract imperialist powers that are indistinguishable, one from the other. The Syrian opposition and their solidarity movement are using the best compass they have to draw the finest circle they can, but it will never be good enough for the demanding school masters of the “revolutionary” left, who prefer to pendantically lecture rather than engage in real, practical effort.

For such “revolutionaries” the illusions in “imperialism” are just as grave a threat to the revolution as are genocidal bombing campaigns; one useless abstraction is as dangerous as the other.

fn-maxxi-2Announcing their “heroic” venture, the Italian neo-Fascist party Forza Nuova writes:
[From the Facebook page of Forza Nuova]

Forza Nuova Roma, pro-Assad blitz at the Maxxi

“This morning’s blitz at the Maxxi of Rome is a warning sent to the media and the liars of the regime [translator’s note: regime = Italian government]: we will not remain silent in the face of the war in Syria.

A conflict created and desired by the USA and by the Sunni allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in primis, to destabilise a key region of the Middle East.

A war fought on the battlefield by ISIS and supported by globalist disinformation, in  which the legitimate president Assad and the Russian president Putin, the only true peace-seekers in the region, are painted as “evil”, when they are the only ones fighting against the terrorism of ISIS and defending Italy and Europe against immigration and bombs.

We cannot tolerate that mystification pollutes the minds of the people with outright lies, no less by the seductive means of an exhibition.

Forza Nuova has been with Assad since the start of the aggression against Syria and it will remain steadfast until the last breath for peace and freedom!”

Alessio Costantini, Leader of Forza Nuova Roma

So much for their press release. Here is the account of their routing as soon as things got difficult for them. Article from La Reppublica

fn-maxxiRome, Forza Nuova stage pro-Assad at the Maxxi museum

The Roman museum is currently hosting the exhibit “Code name: Caesar. Syrian detainees, victims of torture”, a selection of photographs that document the mutilation, the abuse, the beatings and the torture of the bodies of the detainees in two  government prisons in Syria

The blitz at the Maxxi (photo from Facebook, Forza Nuova Roma) Neo-fascist pro-Assad blitz at the Maxxi Museum of Rome . A group of Forza Nuova militants, political group of the extreme right, long-time backers of the Syrian president, made an irruption into the hall that currently is hosting the exhibit, “Code name: Caesar. Syrian detainees, victims of torture”. It is a crude, dramatic exhibit, of great impact, with just a few images coming from the archives of 53,275 photos taken by a former Syrian police officer who had to document the mutilation, the abuse, the beatings and the torture on the bodies of the detainees in two government prisons in Syria.

Twenty activists entered into the hall, shouting slogans in a megaphone and throwing flyers in the air, sticking some of them even inside the showcases that hold the photos, causing fear among the twenty or so visitors present who were observing the images. As soon as the museum guards called the police, the extremists made a run for it. “The blitz – explained the leader of FN in Rome, Alessio Costantini in a press release – is a warning sent to the media and the liars of the regime: we will not remain silent in the face of the war in Syria. The legitimate president Assad and the Russian president Putin are painted as “evil”. We cannot tolerate that mystification pollutes the minds of the people with outright lies, no less by the seductive means of an exhibition.”

The reply by the General Secretary of Maxxi, Pietro Barrera is firm: “This vulgar provocation by FN, which fortunately did not cause any damage, confirms just how important our commitment is for the defence of human right wherever they are trod upon”.
[end]

The organisers of the exhibit issued their own press release:

THE INVASION OF FORZA NUOVA INTO THE SHOW ON THE TORTURE IN SYRIA AT THE MAXXI OF ROME: DENUNCIATION OF THE PROMOTERS

On Saturday 8 October, at around 11:30 am, a group of members of Forza Nuova penetrated into the exhibition space of the MAXXI, where very many Romans have already visited the exhibit Nome in codice Caesar: le foto che fanno vergognare l’Umanità regarding the Syrian victims of torture, sponsored by Amnesty International – ItaliaArticolo21FocsivFNSI – Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana, Unimed and Un ponte per…

In front of the showcases, where the images of the tortured bodies were kept, members of Forza Nuova were extolling the Syrian president Assad and the Russian one Putin, accusing the promoters of the show as having sympathies for the armed group that calls itself Islamic State (Daesh). For the humanitarian operators of Focsive and Un Ponte Per… it is a particularly serious accusation, given their decades-long commitment of service in the territory of Syria and Iraq, assisting and supporting the civil populations that are among the first victims of Daesh.

Notwithstanding that the history of all of the promotors is testimony that the only “sympathy” is that for human rights, freedom and justice, this invasion has strengthened the common determination to have this exhibit circulate as far as it possibly can in all of Italy. We strongly denounce this act and we ask that those who hold the same values likewise denounce it.

The promotors.

marcell

Marcell Shehwaro: “Revolt”. Taken during Arab Bloggers Meeting in Jordan by Amer Sweidan. Photo from Global Voices Online

WRITTEN BY Marcell Shehwaro
I read Max’s article which aims to open our eyes to the dangerous hidden reality behind The Syria Campaign. I read it over and over and all I felt was a combination of patronisation and humiliation in detail after detail… Beginning with the focus on who took the photo of Omran and who published it and neglecting the fact that what happened to Omran did actually happen and the boy really was bombed. But of course this detail is marginal… just as marginal as all other Syrian men and women in that piece of writing. All of us are marginal details.

More important now is how to help the killer escape by spreading doubts around all the human rights violations they committed.

My organization is one of the 73 organizations that signed on to suspending cooperation with the UN. The decision was taken and planned as per the following steps. Months and days of dysfunctional coordination with the UN as a result of the political ties of the UN’s offices in Damascus. Let alone the grave failure, that the UN admits to, of dealing with the sieges. The Syrian anger towards this topic was portrayed through many responses, actions, banners and campaigns such as United Nothing. All those are purely Syrians but it seems not important enough for Mr. Blumenthal to mention.

We internally shared the statement, which was drafted by Syrian humanitarian organizations, for endorsement. We even objected to the mild language of the statement which some described as nice and friendly. After the internal agreement of the drafting organizations, which apparently it’s not convincing to the writer that the Syrian organizations have a decision-making mechanism, we shared the statement publicly for wider endorsement.

Of course Mr. Max is able to judge and knows better than all of us that we as Syrians have been influenced to shape our opinions! We have been “spurred” to sign! We are mislead, absent, easily manipulated.

This is how Syrian organisations are portrayed in the article.

On the no-fly zone and regime change. Here comes a more irritating speech. Early 2012, I wrote a “silly’ blog under the title “10 reasons why I am against no-fly zone”.

I wrote all possible and expected reasons in relation to sovereignty, imperialism and so on
I was “naive” back then to think there were global civilian protection mechanisms that will prevent us from tending to such solution ie; no-fly zone. I used to think that airstrikes will never be part of the regime response against people. I had the luxury to do so as by then we were not bombarded at from the sky yet.

Until today I regret that feeling of luxury.

Yes Max, The Syria Campaign say we need a no-fly zone and it is because it echoes what Syrians call for day and night.

Yes we want the shelling to stop. We want the aerial bombardment to stop. Which is until this moment just a small detail in your article.

Yes the Russian and Assad airstrikes target Syrians, their hospitals and schools. But this article is not about that small detail that takes the lives of hundreds every day. This one is about how dare an “advocacy” project for syrians to convey syrian messages to the world!!

Yes Max we do want a no-fly zone because two of our education staff were injured last week. Maybe because the manager of our education office in Aleppo has to face a decision whether to close schools and deprive children of their right to education or open schools and risk their safety and lives.

Because once we had to discuss a real decision, and not imagined, on what is the “normal” ij number of airstrikes where we would continue to operate civil and humanitarian activities and when do we cross the “Ok” number.

Because hospitals are underground. Because schools are now underground.

They brought us bunker buster bombs you know. I looked this word up in your article. It doesn’t sound that important.

Bunker buster bomb that destroys schools and hospitals and even shelters.

But what I found in your article that foreigners want a No Fly Zone. How dare they!!!
Dear Max, if you had listened to Syrians. If you just had assumed that we exist and do have opinions, maybe you would have figured out how we reached this point.

How do we live every day based on Whatsapp ringtone bringing the news of the location of each attack and who are the casualties.

Syrians there live on military air forces planes rhythm, wondering are we going to be bombed during the day only? Shall we work at night? Instead. No shall we do early mornings.

The Russians and the regime which you are discomforted with our will to topple are now working full time job. Day and night. We die. The simple logic is that we want to live. They attack us using air force. We want airstrikes to stop. Don’t you think this is logical? It is not because we are emotional people. All people across the world, I believe, don’t want to be attacked by air force. This is something common, no?

While discussing toppling the Regime it seems that you are missing some points dear Max. Let me make things clear for you. In 2011 we revolted against one of the toughest dictatorships. We called for freedom and for democracy. We as syrians, for sure if you managed to believe me, want democracy, we want the end of arrests, incommunicado arbitrary detention and shooting at peaceful demonstrations. We want the end of chemical attacks and Bunker buster bombs. We dream of change. Changing this regime, the same regime you referred to revolting against as a coup over a democratically elected government and not as a people’s will to restore its rights. Wait maybe you know better than us about our affairs.

Yes sir, The Syria Campaign as an advocacy group in support of us Syrians does say a lot of what we say over and over which no one listens to. Maybe this is considered political to you but I can see you are trying to take things to a level that is very dangerous for us Syrians. Not only as Syrians but you are undermining the activist movements across the world by painting democracy as a political issue. Hence justice, equality, freedom, and impunity become political issues that civil society activist should not get invloved in. This makes dictators happy while we work like doves of peace.

Yes Mr. Max, we syrians suffer daily from patronization over our advocacy as when we say Bashar Al Assad is killing us, our “supporters” rephrase to “ Syrians are being killed, Syrians were attacked, Syrians are starved”. The perpetrators are passive in that discourse.
Another example that comes to mind. We say:

“We want the shelling to stop so we can move on with our struggle for democracy”. Becomes “Syrians want the war to end so they can go back to peace.”

Our asks are trimmed or toned so we don’t disrupt anyone with such an ugly form of patronization. This what has forced us to see the need to define advocacy. Is it teaching Syrians what they should want while they face death everyday? Or conveying Syrian messages and voices to the world?

I will not even bother to comment on the White Helmets accusation. They have enough of the hallelujah of Syrian women every time they reach an airstrike site rushing to save people. In addition to cheers from children that they have saved and those are even more honoring than Nobel peace prizes even if I really hope they get it. We are just happy and proud as the White Helmets are from us.

Ah wait who are we? We are invisible in your article at the end. So no worries.”

%cf%80%ce%bd%ce%b9%ce%b3%ce%bc%cf%8c%cf%82-700x336Daphni, Greece. I was sitting in my office with the computer open, when a patient enters to ask for the medicine he had forgotten to take. The picture of a dead boy on a beach shows on the screen and the conversation that is below follows:

  • What’s that?
  • A child
  • Why isn’t someone picking him up? It will drown.
  • It has drowned
  • Where’s his mother?
  • I don’t know
  • She should be put in jail. She didn’t take care of the child
  • It’s not the mother’s fault. She put him in a boat to save him from war but those boats have no destination port
  • Why don’t they have a destination port?
  • Because the countries who aren’t in war don’t want them
  • So, refugees?
  • Refugees…..
  • Listen Maria…
  • John, my name is not Maria
  • It doesn’t matter. Your name is random and it’s by coincidence that you don’t live in a country that’s in war. Those who don’t want the refugees are cursed
  • They won’t change
  • Earth doesn’t belong to anyone. The people didn’t give a land for this child to walk on but earth gave him a spot to die….the soil makes no discriminations….the soil accepts everyone….whites, blacks, yellows…everyone
  • You believe he’s resting now?
  • Of course! He sleeps on his belly so not to see people
  • Go to your bed and get some rest
  • Don’t send me away when we’re discussing
  • I don’t want to discuss further
  • If you can’t take it anymore, go to the PM and tell him that we want the refugees and that he should bring them here. We have space. I’ll lie near the wall and then there’ll be enough space for one more person to lie in my bed. And the food is more than enough. It suffices fo reveryone. This is what you should tell him. Children aren’t supposed to die. Will you tell him?
  • I can’t tell the PM but I will tell lots of people in a while
  • Will you give a speech?
  • Something like that!
  • Tell people they should love children
  • I’ll tell them
  • And bring me my medicine

He’s in his bed, crying…he stopped asking for his medicine……he’s lying as close as possible to the wall and mumbles…why did I tell her just one? If I get a bit closer to the wall, two more people can lie in my bed….

Conversation with a psychiatric patient…

Ilda Dali, Nurse at Daphni Psychiatric Hospital

Translated by Christina Baseos

Original 

proudest momentWRITTEN BY DAVID A TURPIN, JR.
Ms. Terry Burke has ruffled some feathers at the United National Antiwar Coalition. The veteran antiwar and international solidarity activist has written an outstanding criticism of UNAC’s hypocritical silence in regards Assad’s war crimes. Her critique is a welcome breath of fresh air in a moribund antiwar movement. US antiwar opposition is in a profound crisis, and the crisis is a direct result of the hypocrisy of UNAC’s line on Syria. The facts about the Assad regime’s murderous policies can no longer be denied, and UNAC’s leadership is engaging in damage control, abruptly changing tactics from arrogantly ignoring critical voices, to pedantry and warning against following Ms. Burke’s example as this will “weaken and divide” the antiwar coalition. Indeed.

Lecturing Ms. Burke about US imperialism and ominous warnings about divisions, however, will not make the crisis go away. UNAC’s leadership needs to assume responsibility for the crisis of our movement: their cover ups of Assad’s chemical attacks, their denials, and their apologies for the regime’s campaign of terror from the skies have completely undermined UNAC’s moral authority.

The United National Antiwar Coalition’s refusal to condemn the Assad regime’s war crimes actually facilitates the ongoing, expanding, militarist, terrorist and misnamed US-led “War on Terror”. The moral basis for opposition to the “War on Terror” rests on condemnation of the use of modern weapons of war in indiscriminate violence against civilians, but UNAC’s leaders have betrayed principle and corrupted the purpose of building an antiwar opposition by becoming apologists for the bloodiest agents of terror in Syria: Assad, and his backers in Russia and Iran.

Assad cannot govern Syria; his regime relies on a policy of collective punishment through sieges and the indiscriminate use of air power against civilian populations in areas liberated from regime control. Assad and his supporters’ crimes against humanity are widely documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Doctors Without Borders. Denying overwhelming evidence, UNAC publicly laments the “demonization” of Assad, all the while demonizing the democratic opposition as “Islamic extremists” and “foreign financed terrorists”.

By repeating the Assad regime’s lies, the leadership has converted the antiwar coalition into an “antiwar” propaganda machine for a war criminal. This is why UNAC is unable to offer a serious challenge to the US “War on Terror”. The leaders of UNAC cheerlead for Assad as he murders and maims indiscriminately, in the name of fighting “terrorism”; what then are their objections to US airstrikes?

UNAC’s leadership seems oblivious to how well Assad has played them. Assad has proven himself to be an excellent, if cynical, student of US propaganda. The dictator has purposefully crafted his image to present his regime as potentially the most reliable ally of the US Coalition’s “War on Terror”. UNAC’s slavish repetition of Assad’s line leaves the “antiwar” coalition unable to mount serious opposition to the ongoing expansion of the direct US military intervention in Syria, which contrary to UNAC’s claims is not aimed at regime change, but specifically at targeting Daesh.

US jets already share Syrian air space with Assad’s and Russia’s air force, so the accommodation of the US, and Assad and Russia, is a consummated and objective fact. Whatever lip service the Obama administration payed to democracy and human rights in Syria has long been forgotten; anymore, Obama doesn’t even bother to mumble. Moreover, Kerry and Lavrov are working hard for an agreement on formal collaboration between Russia and the US. In all likelihood, this agreement will leave the Assad regime in place, ostensibly during a “transition period”. Once the goal of regime change has been taken off the table, and the US has never seriously pursued this goal, how will UNAC oppose the “War on Terror”? Will UNAC demand Assad be made a full partner in the US-led Coalition, because he can use his barrel bombs and poison gas without political repercussions? Do the leaders of UNAC, who loudly boast of their experience and knowledge of history, recall that papa Assad joined Bush’s US coalition in an earlier episode of the never-ending “War on Terror”?

Madelyn Hoffman being briefed before the "spontaneous" objective conference for the press!

Madelyn Hoffman being briefed before the “spontaneous” objective conference for the press!

UNAC’s leadership has been played for fools by the Assad regime. They’ve also foolishly fallen for US imperialism’s feigned support for the opposition. It is obvious from UNAC’s statements that the leadership sees the US playing homologous strategies in Afghanistan in the 80s and Syria today, but the trickle of small arms once supplied to the Syrian opposition, and always with strings attached, contrasts sharply to the flood of weaponry the US channeled through Pakistan to the Mujahideen, weapons which included ground to air missiles. In Syria, the US has imposed an embargo specifically preventing the opposition from acquiring air defense systems, and the US attempts to control the supply of heavy weapons, precisely because it wants to control the struggle against Assad. If regime change were the real objective of US imperialism, why does it dither? The pitiable US antiwar movement has certainly not been a factor even worthy of consideration.

UNAC’s tiresome and repetitious lectures about the savage history of US imperialism miss the point: in Syria the US is just as opposed to democracy as it is anywhere else, but in Syria it leaves the dirty work of butchering people to the Assad regime, Russia and Iran. UNAC presents apologies for the war criminal regime as defense of Syria’s right to self determination; Assad may be a war criminal, but UNAC’s leaders tell us he is an “anti-imperialist” war criminal. All the better for US imperialism, the dirty deeds are done for free by a “sovereign” power.

DelegationAssad-1024x511United States antiwar opposition cannot regain momentum without fully recognizing that Assad is first and foremost responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Syria. No other conclusion can be drawn from any serious assessment of the destruction and casualties attributable to the regime’s and Russia’s use of such weapons as barrel bombs, chemical gas, cruise missiles, napalm, phosphorus and cluster munitions, and vacuum bombs, against urban populations, and even against emergency, and medical personnel and hospitals. The tragic and inexcusable casualties resulting from the reprehensible US Coalition airstrikes in Syria, and the damage done to infrastructure by these attacks, simply cannot be compared to the half a million and counting Syrians who have perished, primarily due to the regime’s and Russia’s air strikes in densely populated urban areas. Relentless bombing is the primary reason why half of the country has been displaced, with many millions driven into refugee camps or into desperate and dangerous journeys to Europe.

As for how to defeat Daesh without US Coalition airstrikes, it should be obvious upon reflection, that the only alternative to sectarian violence is a united, democratic Syria. Opposition to the bombing campaign, both by the regime against the people and by the US Coalition is how our antiwar movement can immediately take a stand in support of this alternative. UNAC, however, has chosen to lead the US antiwar movement behind the Assad regime, presenting the monstrous Assad as the most effective gendarme for crushing terrorists. This position is not only morally repugnant and clearly a betrayal of antiwar principles, it actually paves the way for the US “War on Terror”.

It is essential the US antiwar movement take a principled stand against Assad and Putin’s relentless bombing campaign. It is essential that we stand with the oppressed in their struggle against a regime that rules through incarceration, torture and terror. Our antiwar movement must reach out to the Syrian people, and stand in solidarity with their struggle. This was Ms. Burke’s simple message, which sadly has fallen upon deaf ears and hard hearts.

US-SYRIA-POLITICS-PROTEST

Some “anti-imperialists” who think that the US Empire is the cause of the war in Syria. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

WRITTEN BY DAVID A TURPIN, JR.

Putin cynically offers humanitarian corridors to Aleppo. The cynicism of his proposal is so obvious that even the spineless United Nations must insist on control of the corridors, so as to offer the proposal a fig leaf of “legitimacy”.

Putin’s offer must be understood for what it is: 1) He is responding to international pressure to end the siege of Aleppo, 2) He is preparing a “justification” for new massacres.

Just as the Assad regime only “negotiated” while preparing military offensives, the “humanitarian corridors” offered by Putin are only intended to deflect international criticism as Putin and Assad starve 300,000 people and bury them with air and artillery strikes.

The “terrorists” are using the people as shields, we are told by the apologists for the war criminal Assad regime. A casual comparison of the relatively easy military victory over Daesh (IS) at Fallujah with the titanic struggle over Aleppo gives instant lie to this infamy.

The relatively quick collapse of IS at Fallujah compares nothing to the titanic struggle taking place in Aleppo, and the reason is obvious: Assad and his backers are fighting the forces of a popular democratic revolution.

The revolutionaries are fighting to the death because they know Assad can only offer death. There is nothing to negotiate.

Yes, indeed, the “Terrorists” are using the people as shields: but the terrorists in the battle of Aleppo are Assad, Putin and Tehran’s thugs.

In attempting to understand the course of the Syrian democratic revolution and how it is that the Assad regime has gone from near collapse to its current position of strength, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the Syrian democratic revolution has been abandoned by the US and European left. To say this does not ignore the role played by the US arms embargo placed upon the opposition to Assad, or the intentional effort by the US and its Gulf State allies to prevent the formation of a cohesively united military command for the struggle against Assad–the fracturing of the opposition was engineered because the Obama administration has never supported the formation of a strong democratic Syria. Yet, these factors are givens: international solidarity movements for the democratic struggles in Latin America were always built as movements in opposition to US policy; the solidarity movement with Syria has also always objectively been opposed to the actual course followed by the Obama administration–his lip service to democracy notwithstanding.

It is an inescapable fact that the leaderships of our antiwar coalitions consciously decided against building solidarity with the Syrian people. The decision to abandon the Syrian people to Assad, Putin and Tehran’s thugs was led by pro-Baathist and Stalinist forces, which openly apologize for the war-criminal Assad regime and defend their treachery with claims of “anti-imperialism”, but these usurpers of our antiwar opposition were only able to triumph by cynically appealing to “unity”. Fears of splitting our antiwar coalitions allowed the apologists for the war criminal Assad regime to dictate our movement’s political orientation.

In the UK, it's clear that the support is for the regime.

The pro-Baathist traitors within our antiwar opposition have completely demobilized our movement.

The antiwar movement is dead. It’s last action was to stand in solidarity with the Assad regime!

We should never, ever, let this ignominious demise be forgotten.

Attempts to get around the defeat and demise of our antiwar opposition by ignoring it will gain nothing. There cannot be any serious proposal for the victory of progressive forces that ignores the terrible dangers of a military triumph by the Assad regime. The reasons are becoming increasingly obvious, no matter how hard they are ignored by the US and European left.

Even if Assad triumphs militarily, his regime cannot rebuild and stabilize Syria. Assad can only burn Syria; he has no other power; he cannot inspire and mobilize–he can only terrorize. Crushing popular revolutionary movements does not advance national development; crushing the energy of these movements destroys the very spirit that builds nations.

In the context of a burning Syria, despair and demoralization will only feed the growth of violent extremism. The centrifugal forces unleashed in Iraq will gain momentum in Syria. Daesh may be defeated in Raqqa and Mosul, but the anger and despair that feed the plague of sectarian violence can only deepen with the bitter divisions fomented by the Assad regime and by Tehran’s sectarian policies in Iraq and Lebanon. The alternative to violently sectarian forces has always only ever been solidarity with the struggles for democracy and self determination.

The alternative to violent sectarianism, building international solidarity with the democratic struggles–and centrally with the struggle in Syria, is also the only alternative to the never-ending “War on Terror” and to the imposition of permanent states of siege and the targeted repression of Muslims and immigrants in the West.

Daesh can be militarily defeated in Raqqa and Mosul, as it was in Fallujah, but the fight that must be won is to build a political alternative to the despair and alienation that allows Daesh, or any such nihilistic forces, to recruit. Walls, spies, permanent occupation forces in far away lands, and never-ending military operations cannot bring safety and security to the citizenry in the West. Demagogic proponents of a strategy to “follow Israel’s example” fail to recognize that much of the high command of the Israeli military is gripped by a sense of despair at the impossibility of maintaining a permanent occupation in the West Bank and a never-ending siege on Gaza. The Apartheid system of permanent repression could not hold in South Africa; it cannot hold in the occupied territories of Palestine and it cannot work as a strategy to contain the democratic aspirations of the peoples of the Middle East.

The leaderships of our antiwar coalitions want to ignore Syria, but by doing so they ignore the reality that the victory of the democratic struggle in Syria is the only alternative to the never-ending “War on Terror”, and by ignoring this reality, these leaderships have completely paralyzed our movement. It is no accident that there have been no mobilizations against the growing presence of US troops in northern Syria, against Obama’s decision to reverse one of the central campaign issues that brought him electoral victories–a US withdrawal from Afghanistan. It is no accident that even when US air strikes result in documented large numbers of civilian casualties in Syria, there are no mobilizations. The US antiwar “movement” is dead; it died when it mobilized in solidarity with the Assad regime. It was betrayed and murdered by the apologists for the Assad regime. The pieces that make up our antiwar coalitions may be able to regroup and rebuild, but only if they embrace solidarity with the democratic struggles.

framing 1

WRITTEN BY Mary Rizzo

Framing the debate is about using the best language to draw others into one’s worldview. It is based on values and influenced by a set of assumptions about how the world is and how it works.

Most of us in the Free Syria campaign identify with progressive and nurturing values and believe in the Enlightenment idea that “the truth will set us free”. We tend to consider humans as basically rational beings. This means that our belief is that when people are presented with the facts, they will reach the right conclusions. But this is sadly NOT the case! We’ve seen this time and time again, as we become stupefied that people have reacted in the ways they have, with indifference, hypocritically, with hostility and with their insistent clinging to the negation of facts, even ones that cannot be denied or covered up.

That is because we haven’t realised that people don’t react to facts, but they only accept them if they already fit into their personal worldview, if they fit into their “frame”. Knowing what a frame is and how to use it to promote the Syrian freedom struggle is important, so we shall begin with explaining how this mechanism functions. All people are born into a world where language already exists and serves to maintain the dominant social order or the community, creating a common identity through its use. Because of how the human brain works, based on language-based thought, people are strongly “identity-based” and use automatically and adopt without critical thought, the framing of what they know or accept (or adopt) as their personal identity, as individuals in a common group. The identity can be based on factors such as nationality, sex, political leaning, religious or ethnic belonging, being part of a majority or minority in one’s own environment and notions of the “moral order”, a sociological concept that comprises a body of unwritten social values and conventions which serve to maintain societal order. The hierarchical moral order of value to society that is the dominant one in the US, God is above man, man above nature, adults above children, Western culture above non-Western culture, America above other nations, men above women, whites above non-whites, Christians above non-Christians, is perceived, even if we don’t personally adopt it, particularly in the light of American foreign policy following 9/11, as being the values of America and its people, also because many do adopt it. In a multipolar world, even wanting to have an alternative framing, the dominant hegemonic one cannot be simply brushed off, and therefore, a very different framing evolved in the various peace movements, and many of us have adopted the alternative framing as our own, despite the fact that it is not the model in force when we were brought into the world. So we know we are able to reframe, but the world remains basically what it is.

Framing, particularly when it comes from a strong identity that is reinforced by the media and entertainment industry, has a preference for certain words. It is simply enough to hear the word so that an entire value system is conjured up in the listener, the value system behind that word, so we should know who developed those words and what their goals are, and if they fit into our value system. Every value system is going to have its own framing and it is going to use it during debate or when making points in discussion.

Here we come to a first principle for effectively framing an argument: DO NOT USE THEIR LANGUAGE. Their words are going to draw you and your audience into their worldview. If you keep the language of the adversary or their framing and just argue against it you do not win because you are merely reinforcing their existing frame.

Framing confusion!

Framing confusion!

So, it’s important to know what the adversary thinks and why they believe what they do. We have to try to predict what they will say, but also to understand the reasons why they hold these values. That means you have to plot people on a spectrum. It’s not a case of “we are good and they are bad”. Aside from a minority of truly convinced supporters of totalitarian societies and leadership, most of our adversaries got their opinions on Syria based on what we can even consider as “shared values”. Indeed, while it feels impossible that those defending the Assad regime’s crimes, its attacks on the civilian population and destruction of the country have any shared values, it is not as absurd as we might think. The denial of the genocide of the Syrian people is something that many who share common values with us buy into. Most of those who are currently our adversaries in Answer and Stop the War, advocating for staying out of the Syrian situation and letting it run its course without “us” made their first forays into protests shoulder to shoulder with us, against the Iraq war, in struggles for the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and aggression against southern Lebanon. They were our comrades in leftist, progressive and anti-imperialist groups. Like them, we do not accept unilateralism or the violations of the sovereignty of nations. We too adopt the ideas of self-determination of populations. These are some common values that also contained strong and consolidated linguistic framing and slogans such as “not in my name” and “don’t bomb”. The pro-Assad movements co-opted many of these slogans and framing, but they did not adopt the most important frame and slogan, which is our patrimony and our core value, that of “freedom and dignity of the Syrian people”.

There are other common values that the defenders of the regime attempted to co-opt, and we simply cannot allow them to consider the regime as defending the values such as acceptance of diversity, rejection of sectarianism, the co-existence of diverse ethnic and religious groups in a common form of State, the separation of religious and governmental powers, equality of women and men.

CODE-PINK-and-Popular-Resistance-protest-at-Armed-Services-hearing-9-16-14-e1410967258834But there are many other values that are common which have slipped away from the framing of those who once were progressives or, are Progressive Except for Syria, but who have now joined the debate in the defence of Assad. Our framing highlights the principle of protection of the people and of the infrastructure. There is also the idea of the lack of legitimacy of Assad. The idea we have of a revolution that demands the fall of the regime predominates, while our adversaries see the concept of Syrian sovereignty, i.e., the maintenance of the current State apparatus, as the core value. They buy into the view of the Syrian revolution as being just one more “colour revolution”, repeating the Russian framing that it is a form of warfare promoted from Washington and has nothing to do with protests against corrupt leadership or the desire to overthrow a totalitarian authority. Naturally, Russia is against all popular uprisings for their own political reasons, and thus, it is natural that the country that had a revolution as its foundational story, but was actually a new tyranny that still exists in different form today, would promote such a line to maintain their own hegemony. It also stood to reason that persons who wear Che Guevara shirts are unable to recognise an actual revolution when it happens because their fetish about revolution was based on State Capitalism and not true Socialism, and they still follow the dogma of the frames provided by those who promote themselves as the true opposition to American unilateralism.

The protesters in the streets who were shot at, thus in one fell swoop taking away any kind of moral legitimacy of Assad as Syria’s president and driving the country into war, with the soldiers who dissented forming the basis of the Free Syrian Army, were not seen as having their own legitimacy or right to self-determination. They view the Syrian revolution from the previous framing that comes from the post 9/11 policy of the USA, where wars in the Middle East derive from the unilateral American imperialist drive to dominate the area and control the resources. They know the USA lied about basic issues in order to pull the USA into wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. They know they depicted Saddam as an evil man and not the President of a country, so he would have to be fought and the population that died would be “collateral damage”, human blood on the hands of the West. The people who accept this framing do not really care about the facts that make Syria a completely different situation with a totally different scenario. They do not recognise that the people themselves in the Arab Spring were the ones demanding the fall of the regime, not “regime change”, a concept that entails foreign meddling for their own national interest. People who denounce UN Vetos when they are used against actions that defend Palestinians are supportive of them and applaud them when Russia and China use them to prevent actions that defend the Syrian people, protecting Assad from inspections about his chemical weapons, which his supporters first denied, but had to backpedal when Assad admitted having them and a deal was worked out to “hand them over” to the Russians. If there is an imperialist orchestration of the war, facts point out that it is Russia at the conductor’s podium. They aren’t interested, obviously, in overthrowing a regime that serves their interests so well and, but they are interested in providing it with arms to keep it firmly in power.

No-more-war-on-SyriaIn every situation involving a conflict, which we can define as a “story”, there is a crime, a victim, a villain and a hero. The legacy of Iraq plays heavily on the perception of these categories. People are not again willing to be fooled again. They don’t want to be dragged into what they call “oil wars”. Therefore, they don’t want to follow the pattern of the past, but can’t forget it, and the supporters of the regime use this framing to win international support. They don’t want to make Assad another Saddam, they don’t believe he is a true villain, but is instead the victim. His use of chemical weapons was ignored also because consensus in the USA will not “fall for” more frames that include WMDs. Slogans like “Bush lied, millions died” are not going to be forgotten easily. Thus, the crime scenario has changed as well. It is seen by these people not as what evidence and facts show, i.e., a crime against civilians where arbitrary arrest and torture and oppression, that were already the reason for the protests in the first place, were brought to an extreme level and done out in the open because they were framed with a scenario of “self-defence”. The victim shifted from being primarily the Syrian people into the Syrian government, busy defending itself in order to protect its people from foreign intervention and terrorism.

The regime’s justification for openly doing things that international conventions and common ethics do not allow was that they were defending themselves from various nefarious entities. They in fact, didn’t always deny the crimes they were accused of, but downsized them, attempted to put the responsibility for some of them on their opponents and used them in their framing on a continuative basis. The narrative of resistance to the Zionist state was no longer very convincing, as they never lifted a finger to liberate an inch of the occupied Golan, so the villain had to be promoted more fully and was effectively done with those who already have adopted the anti-imperialist narrative and framing. It also roped in the neo-cons and Islamophobes because it claimed that the enemy was more on various fronts, it was the Imperialist West, the Jihadis, Islamic Terrorists, Foreign Agents who trained traitors to overthrow a legitimate government, not respecting the will of the Syrian people to be governed by whoever they wanted, and in this case, by Assad.

Since any narrative functions only when the language can be quickly understood by the listeners, the previous slogans and language of peace movements were used to bolster the power of the regime. Rather than use the language in a reactive way, they used it in an assertive way, with some exceptions such as “Don’t Bomb Syria”. It has worked to depict and sell the war as a heroic struggle of good over evil with Assad and nations outside the unilateral power paradigm fighting those who want to destroy it and make it conform to an evil system. You will see many arguments about it not being in the Rothchilds banking system, about it being part of the Axis of Resistance to Israel, about it being some kind of state with a socialist division of wealth and its refusal to align with Western powers and serve their interests. The regime is depicted as a force against homologation and they are fighting against foreign invasion. The struggle that the regime is fighting is depicted as an existential struggle and he is framed as a good guy… or, if not quite a “good” guy, he’s certainly depicted as the “lesser evil”.

To do this, the regime has to be depicted as “moderate” and opposition to the regime has to be depicted as “extremist”, and the FSA and the many militias that oppose the regime but also oppose the Islamic State and the idea of a Caliphate have been either painted out of the picture, or reframed as belonging to some extremist Jihadi form of warfare that is anti-democratic and against our values that include secularism, pluralism, equality of the sexes, etc. The position and the power of the Islamic State had to be framed as the opposition to the regime, their presence had to be the only one acknowledged, their crimes against minorities had to be highlighted, while the crimes of the regime against the majority had to be ignored for this framing to be complete. The vastness of the regime crimes are nothing, really, if you compare it to what the Islamic State has in store. Thus, if you couldn’t whitewash Assad, you had to at least “admit he was the lesser evil”.

The concept of “lesser evil” should also be rejected as a frame. It somehow seeks to depict all sides as being forces of evil, current or potential, and it allows for the violation of human rights and exceptions to our ethical rules, because there would have to be exceptions made in order for a “greater good”. The violation of basic human rights, arrest of minors, arbitrary arrest of the adult population, disappearances, the suspension of freedom and so forth, have to be tolerated, stretching the moral and ethical standards beyond known acceptable limits. All of these things would never be allowed in democracies such as our own, and if they were, they would be slippery slopes indeed, so people rightfully march in the streets against these violations in their own countries. But when the Syrians marched, their rights did not matter, what mattered was the ideological and dogmatic things activists started to accept as the norm when supporting a “lesser evil” while also believing they were in the right and progressive.

If there are terrorists, it is commonly held that they must be fought and they must not win, by any means necessary, or so goes the narrative. By clumsy or manipulative definition of who the terrorist is, the regime allowed decent human beings to think that it was for a greater good that children and adults are preventively arrested, shot at and their cities even held under siege and arbitrarily bombed, creating what we know of in the West as the “refugee crisis”, but which in fact means that half of the Syrians have been displaced from the country and countless have been killed, arrested and disappeared. The activists in the West who support Assad accept starvation sieges and the suspension of freedom. These people are going to accept forced expulsions and ethnic cleansing of population to be replaced with populations supportive of the regime, because they accept the regime framing of them as “evacuations”: all in the name of their adoption of the “lesser evil” framing, and duly manipulated through the use of the framing they were already using since the Iraq war.

In our framing, rejecting the “lesser evil” framing, we must present the value that any evil is unacceptable. That we operate according to other values and standards and we are not willing to compromise on them. We uphold human life and freedom and we also recognise the manipulative nature of the fallacy of the regime narrative because we witness the effects of his policy. Since he bases his action on a goal of defending his power, but frames it as saving the nation, everything can be sacrifice to preserve the State apparatus as it exists under his control. There never could have been reform, as it would have threatened his power, so the narrative shifted from peaceful protests demanding reform to that of foreign-backed regime change and currently is centred on prevention and defeat of radical Islamic Terrorists.

Protesters use their shoes to hit a defaced poster of Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad during a demonstration to express solidarity with Syria's anti-government protesters in front of the Syrian embassy in Ankara June 10, 2011. The words on the poster read: "Murderer. Go away". REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Protesters use their shoes to hit a defaced poster of Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad during a demonstration to express solidarity with Syria’s anti-government protesters in front of the Syrian embassy in Ankara June 10, 2011. The words on the poster read: “Murderer. Go away”. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY – Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The revolution was reframed as external meddling, with a popular framing being that the Islamic forces, (ignoring the fact that they were often actually fighting against the Islamic State) were all terrorists that were “Al Qaeda affiliates” or they were part of the Islamic State. In some cases, the framing was that both Al Qaeda and ISIS were creations of the CIA, so the full spectrum of the opposition was nothing more than a CIA regime change operation. The Syrian regime was thus justified for almost any crime it committed. The systematic and institutionalised security apparatus that had been used to control the population and punish dissent in order to preserve power had been morphed in the framing into being a tool for prevention and containment of Islamic terrorism. In the framing of the anti-imperialists, he became a heroic defender of his country’s autonomy, sovereignty, and a pillar of secularism and pluralism. To those who  never harboured much affection for him, the  War on Terror narrative meant that he was the lesser evil when put next to Jihadi Terrorism, which basically only becomes problematic to them because it is without distinct boundaries, capable of recruitment, uses unconventional and random attacks more often than war on the battlefield, or it occupies rural areas and roads in faraway places in Africa, the Middle East and Asia but also in the cities of the West such as New York and Paris. Since it can’t be easily contained, but causes fear, it is perceived as a greater threat to the world. New alliances to support this new paradigm have been formed, such as those with Iran and Russia, entering into the framing as actions to “protect the world”.

The principle remains that facts serve the narrative, not the other way around. People will ignore the number of deaths caused by the regime because they feel that its struggle is noble, that it is also THEIR struggle, that he is a lesser evil. The facts that they illustrate are looked at and accepted as long as they fit the pre-existing or predominant frames.

So, how do we overcome this impasse when what is actually an aggressive, destructive, tyrannical force is passed along as the “good guy”? Not by ignoring or abandoning the facts, but by working on our framing. Facts will be ignored, but the frame, if it resonates with the VALUES of the listener, will remain. We have to focus on our shared values, think strategically and with the BIG PICTURE in mind, not moving from crisis to crisis or issue to issue, though at times we need to do that because of the humanitarian emergency that we are dealing with in Syria, and that our adversaries ignore until people land on their shores or cross over their borders.

a Syrian child doing some real-life framing!

a Syrian child doing some real-life framing!

Our enemy is war. Or enemy is terrorism. Assad started the war. Assad enabled terrorism and has used it over and over to stay in power. Assad raised the war to atrocity levels also by violating human rights further than what he has done already in “peacetime” but he now does it openly in the fog of war, where people are ready to suspend their ethics and values for a perceived “greater good”. He brought in foreign fighters to carry out his war, from places such as Russia, Iran and Lebanon, with their militias and their commanders leading battles and carpet bombing entire areas. Assad’s enemy is the Syrian people and their tendency to dissent, as a free people will try to do. He is against their dignity and self-determination. He is willing and able to destroy the people, drive them out of their homes and country, all in the name of holding onto power. His army uses the slogan “Assad or we burn the country”, and this is also their military policy. He allowed forces such as ISIS to develop by freeing the most radical elements from his prisons and replacing them with secular dissenters. He has never actually attacked ISIS and in fact, his army fled from cities they controlled, rather than defend them from ISIS, leaving the population at the mercy of the brutal Islamic State militias. He has labelled all those who oppose him as Islamic Jihadi Terrorists, Saudi or American agents, etc. The point is. Be PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE. List what Assad has done, talk about how he has taken advantage of the fear and uncertainty that has been a dominant theme of the world since 9/11 to oppress his people further, to consolidate his power and to create a “Coalition of the Killing” to help him carry out his own agenda, which is totally anti-democratic, not at all moderate, but is blood-drenched and destructive for the entire region and beyond. He created the refugee crisis that is affecting Europe, he is laying the basis for imperialist domination of the Levant. He is following the opposite of the principle of non-interference, as his internal calls for reform were met with violence and the nation’s army, rather than defend the country’s assets and people, was asked to wage war against them. Since they were insufficient for such a task of bringing the whole country under his control once the uprising became a revolution, he called for other armies and militias to do his battles, lead his forces and bomb opposition areas.

Keep the framing on a level of values, then substantiate with facts. Recognise that neutral people may actually be using a language and framing that they don’t fully agree with or adhere to, but that is because they are more familiar with it or have heard it more often Since television and the media focus, both mainstream and alternative, focus on ISIS crimes, the public may not actually be aware of the scope of the crimes of the regime and how it created the war in Syria.

In debates, never answer a question framed from your opponent’s point of view. Always reframe the question to fit YOUR values and frames. Stay away from set-ups where you have no control of your own presentation or language and are forced to conform to a frame you know is a lie. If you can’t participate in events due to their nature as set-ups, CREATE your own opportunities, and be aware that the adversary is just waiting for an opportunity to trap you into his frame. Don’t let that opportunity arise.

framing 3Stay with values that you truly hold, be aware of the values that those in the public hold and frame the shared values. Stay on the offensive, not the defensive. You can actually convince people simply by asserting something, bear that in mind. People do not always know enough about something to fact-check it, but if you know your facts, can assert your frame calmly and rationally, it shows that you are knowledgeable, convinced of the reasonableness of your point of view and it then becomes authoritative.

Reinforce our terminology and framing. We know Assad is not a “President” as the term is understood within a democracy, but instead, he is a “Dictator” and a “Tyrant”, illegitimately holding power by the force of a completely twisted election in which only his supporters were allowed to participate freely. We know his is not a democratic government with a legislative and judiciary branch and a security system that would be tolerated in any normal democracy, but it is a “Regime”. We know he is not a “Moderate”, but an “Extremist” who uses unconventional warfare and has committed crimes against humanity against his people. He routinely uses terrorism. We know he is not “defending” his country, but “attacking” it and has dragged the entire world into his war against the people just to maintain his power, which is also economic. Those countries dragged in are not freedom and sovereignty lovers, but instead are making profits and a killing (literally) through their arms sales and use of their weapons and soldiers. They are interested in their energy deals and the huge reconstruction that they will be paid to do in the post-war period. They have geopolitical designs in the area that go from their own control of a naval base to the re-alignment of the Levant under Iranian/Shi’a predominance. They want to stockpile their arms and forces in the area for expansionist policies.

We will be pulled into issues where we are put on the defensive. A current one is the denial of the starvation policy that the regime uses against opposition-held areas. We are told (in fact) two different narratives, and there are two framings that are used interchangeably. The first is that the “rebels” (which we should call simply “the Opposition”) have kept the food out and that they use the civilians as their hostages and human shields and the second goes that they there is actually no starvation going on, because what we see are pictures from other places and dates that are used in the reports that come out of these places.

We can use and pick apart both of these framing attempts and reframe so as to point out that it is indeed Assad behind the starvation campaign. First of all, we can point out that it is the regime that controls access to the city, which is not a secret to anyone. Nothing goes in or out unless the regime (or its proxy, Hezbollah, in the case of Madaya) lets it. UN and ICRC convoys that officially have delivered the first aid allowed in after six months, as well as independent convoys, all have acknowledged the regime restriction on aid being delivered unless it obtains permission from the regime, which finally gave it after the international outcry. Any other food coming in must be smuggled or bribes paid to the regime soldiers at the roadblocks, which has been how some aid has made it in through even the regime controls. Is it not morally bankrupt for food to have to be smuggled in? Restricting food violates all rules of war and international conventions about those caught in war and how they shall be treated. Secondly, we can point out that people are ethnically cleansed in order that the most ill can be treated and have food, while the word “evacuated” is used. They are not being evacuated from a disaster area, they are being further punished and forced out of their homes as part of a greater plan of ethnic cleansing and replacement of the population with a different one.

Regarding the authenticity of the pictures, reframing here also works to our advantage: we recognise that regular professional journalists are denied entry unless they are embedded by the regime. We also know that independent journalists are killed by the regime and the numbers alone prove that the regime has targeted journalists and hoped it would be a war in the dark, despite the age of internet and cell phones. Individuals who are not journalists smuggle out pictures and videos taken with their phones. Word-of-mouth is used to circulate the pictures and the tam-tam is not always accurate because the profession of journalism has not been allowed to do its work. Citizen journalists may not speak anything but their own language, they do not control the use of their images after they start to circulate and not even taking into account the disinformation campaign the Russians and regime supporters are trained in and practice, it’s not common practice for people to use due diligence and check the photos. And yet, their efforts have been verified by non-political agencies on the ground who have testified that what they had seen when being finally allowed in by the regime were indeed entire areas of forced starvation and siege, the withholding of food and medicine and the survival of the people by resorting to eating grass, leaves and salt. They claim that photos may be from one of the many besieged cities, that it is not just one city, but that this practice is widespread. Covering up crimes and atrocities this outrageous by shifting the focus onto the authenticity of specific pictures when there is ample evidence this is in fact the actual situation is nothing less than genocide denial. We refuse to adopt this as our principle. We do not miss the forest for the trees as the regime defenders do in their pitiful attempts to change the framing into one of “it’s all lies, none of this is true, nothing to look at, move on.”

By predicting what the adversary’s framing is, refusing to use it and thus reinforce it, but using OUR OWN framing in a PROACTIVE way, based on our values, we can draw others into our worldview, which puts the protection of the Syrian people as the priority, as well as the defence of their struggle for freedom, because freedom and justice are our core values, and we will never compromise on these humanitarian and human values.

428097_262703293816760_2024946056_nKen O’Keefe has followed in the great tradition of many cult leaders or conmen, (which are basically often the same thing). He has to make the public see him as an outsider who broke from the masses by suddenly having seen the light, and then HE is going to get you to also “think out of the box” as he leads you to Truth. But first you have to just TRUST him… oh, yes, and finance his projects. That’s always the important part! Others pay for him to be “free”. He’s worth it!

His latest scheme is … well…. We don’t know exactly what it is, and oddly enough, neither do his fans and supporters. They have to TRUST him and just shut up and send the money because this plan is just so… so EARTH-SHATTERING that he could be KILLED for revealing it. Ooooh, the DRAMA!

Message on Facebook from a supporter when unwilling to respond to direct questions about his Indiegogo money collecting page:

For those of you who would like more information on what we are proposing and the strategy involved, a note from Ken O’Keefe…

“What can be said about the strategy has been said quite clearly, we are going to employ a method of lawfully, peacefully removing ourselves from the obligation to fund war. The details of the strategy will not be released however, unless I am harmed or killed or have an “accident” or we get the funding, so only the crux of the strategy can be released now, and this is done for valid strategic reasons. I fully accept that some will not donate because of this limited information, but it does not change the fact that it is the wisest path for us to take. Put it this way, does a warrior advertise the method of his attack before he attacks? The answer to that question reveals why we cannot wisely release the details of the strategy before we have the resources to initiate the mission and critically, to defend it. People who respectfully acknowledge this wisdom of this decision I respect wholeheartedly. People who DEMAND to know the details right now, when it would be incredibly stupid for us to do so, that I have no respect for.

The bottom line is we do not start this mission without the money or me getting hurt or killed, the latter being particularly unfortunate for me so let us just get the money. TJP”

Got it? It’s really clear as mud, but it HAS TO BE!

Ken O'Keefe with other characters of this story, Max Igan and David Icke

Ken O’Keefe with other characters of this story, Max Igan and David Icke

But Ken is NOT alone, he is just ONE WORLD CITIZEN. One of the other organisers, Max Igan (is: “a researcher, truth seeker, radio host, film-maker and one of the leaders of global awakening movement. This man is a must listen to for all those serious about stopping the NWO in its tracks. His real given name remains anonymous and his second name is Maxwell. His last name also remains anonymous. He lives in Queensland, Australia and at the time of June 2012 he was 54 years old” – taken from a fan site) wrote this to promote the incredible project and “explain” what it is:

O’Keefe is working on a legal, lawful framework to be able to checkmate the Government cronies from within their own legal fiction and provide a platform whereby support for war essentially becomes illegal. It is only one initiative been launched by one man from one idea, but I believe it may be an idea whose time has come and I fully support Ken O’Keefe’s World Citizen initiative because I truly believe that if enough people get involved, it will indeed stop the system in its tracks by using a language average people can understand to legally and lawfully implement an initiative that everyone wants. Namely, an end to all war.

Ultimately whatever the remedy turns out to be, nothing will ever work until we are prepared to face the stark and obvious truth, that all that exists here within our civilization is people, and we as a species are allowing people we entrust with positions of management to wage endless wars, destroy and pollute our habitats and strip us of our rights, our dignity and our freedom, simply because they write things down on paper and call it “law”. It is time we created and implemented the means to peacefully, lawfully and effectively remove ourselves from this farce, and to hold those responsible for it accountable for their actions. Should we fail to rise to this occasion and do so, then the responsibility for this mess lies with ourselves alone.”

Again, clear as mud!

kok indie 24There are many, many requests for the money. It’s posted and shared thousands of times, and it even has so far gotten a huge amount of donations from 650 people:

They also get exclusive prizes like a World Citizen Decree, but they have to pay the shipping themselves!

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Some of Ken’s begging looks like this:

Seeking the Better World in 2016

Aloha brothers & sisters,

First off to those I have neglected to stay in touch with as friends and family should, please forgive me, it is not for a lack of love or respect, I hope we will see or talk to each other soon.

I am sure many if not most of you can see the incredible pace with which this world is moving, and it should be noted that this is in positive and negative ways, not just the latter. It truly is remarkable and unprecedented if you ask me and I remain realistically optimistic about our prospects for creating a better world in 2016. But I am also fully aware that our world is fraught with danger and the ever present possibility of full scale World War III looms; and it is with that perspective I finally launched something that I truly believe will change the world… if only WE get this mission to the full launch stage in the next 3 months or so. And so it is I write this appeal to you with a most sincere Happy New Year’s wish to all of you and your families and loved ones, with a 100% commitment to do my part to make 2016 the breakout year for a better world.

While I really despise asking for money, I will ask your support in this mission and also request that you share the link below with everyone you can.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/world-citizen-solutions#/

Thank you again and all the best in this new year.

TJP (Truth Justice Peace)

And then Ken gets a little pushier, and also explains that he has to pay all the key people, including himself. This is very, very important that he does not lose any money on any of this saving the world stuff.

Ken O’Keefe with Trevor Labonte and 91 others.

25 December 2015 at 08:38 ·

I want to wish everyone a lovely Christmas Day and thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the love and support and generosity in giving to the world citizen mission. I truly accept whatever happens in this crowdfunding campaign, all that is important is that I do my best. If it succeeds we go forward, if it does not then it won’t. I have worked with “volunteers” and lost control of great missions because of a lack of finance to pay people to do quality world changing work. This time I operate with the money to pay all key people, including myself, or it ain’t happening. I see that there are some attacks occuring and I always expected this and it truly does not phase me in the least, been there done that. So on this Christmas Day I send love and respect to my genuine friends and wish all the best fo the tortured souls who find solace in slander/libel. That is a painful place to be and I truly feel sorry for such people. Let love be your guide and you will not operate in such a way.

I provide the link once again to give and will do so repeatedly until the end of the campaign or the beginning. TJP

Let’s look at the actual begging for money in its entirety to get a better idea of what someone is being asked to finance (spelling and grammatical errors in the original):

“Humanity’s challenge at this decisive point in history is to face a monster that is desperately attempting to expand it’s tyrannical system of human enslavement. Simultaneously human consciousness is growing with unparalleled expansion and this is a grave threat to the tyrants. Only one of these forces, humanity or tyranny, can succeed and the world we handover to our children and future generations will be defined by our success or failure in this regard. The irony is that the tyrants have no power but that which we have unwittingly relinquished to them… in order to create a better world we simply need to take our power back. That is my ultimate goal; a better world. My wisdom in this matter comes from the knowledge that the attainment of this goal is not up to me, it is up to us.”

Ken O’Keefe, Nov. 2015

Finally you can create real and lasting change!  You, as an individual, can positively impact and influence all of humanity, not just for now but for all future generations. We are excited to introduce the pre-launch for the world citizen solution, a no compromise yet peaceful and lawful way to extract ourselves from tax obligations that literally make us accomplices to perpetual war.  Or in other words, financiers of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We are 100% entirely dedicated to ending the perpetual cycle of war and ushering in a lasting era of justice and peace. The success of this Indiegogo Campaign will ensure that by March 2016 you will be part of something ‘game changing’.

Ken O’Keefe and his team are currently developing a legal and social strategic initiative that will have profound effects on releasing humanity from its current paradigm. It’s time to stand up for what you know is right. It’s time for your voice to be heard. The time is now.

Stand for those who have no voice, for those who are set to inherit what we leave behind, for our children and their children. Make a stand for real peace and real transformation. Be part of this growing movement of change and ensure a peaceful future for those you love.

Funds raised for this project will be allocated for the following:

–  Legal documentation and support
–  Copywriting
–  Website development
–  Staff costs
–  PR / Media / Branding
–  Video / Editing
–  Administration Costs

Our dedicated team and the contracted individuals involved will be paid for their time while spearheading this initiative. Such a solutions focused project requires complete and confidential commitment and we are proud to support our team members with monetary appreciation for their time, effort and skills.

Should we not meet the required funding target we will not proceed with the project and allocate funds to the parties involved for their time and the remainder to a nominated charitable organisation.

It is our conviction that success will bring forth a highly effective and robust, revolutionary strategy ready for immediate implementation. This strategy will enable the good people of the earth to break free from the control systems we have unwittingly submitted to. This will result in the cessation of mass murder due to war and ongoing world conflicts.

Such an endeavour does not come without its risks and challenges, aspects we are not ignorant to and will do our best to overcome. The greatest challenge at this birthing stage of the project is exposure and funding. This is where we need you!

If you resonate with this project, are tired of the never ending cycle of war and want a better world for your children then please SHARE this with your friends, family and acquaintances.

Your donation, your time and your efforts to share and broadcast our mission across the world is symbolic of so many of the great leaders before you. Make your mark and be part of the movement. We are inviting you to join us, by challenging the existing concept of social responsibility, to create genuine security through justice with a real and lasting peace on earth.

As with all great endeavours, it is the follow through and commitment of those involved that will define success or failure.  But arguably the most critical elements of all with such a potentially world changing mission is that of timing and presentation.  The question of timing is critical and it is our position that we are indeed at that time in history wherein billions of people around the globe are completely opposed to war and genuinely seeking a way to end this madness.

(end)

There… understand now? It’s just about not paying taxes, and a few of his friends took that up with him, as it is not a new or original idea. The following discussion is from a public post on Facebook.

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Steve Lewis The solution he is proposing is Lawful Rebellion. Withhold all taxes.

Tahra Ahmed Hahaha. That solution has been around for years. There are already many groups promoting that. So what is so top secret about this?

Tahra Ahmed Steve I am very well aware of Lawful Rebellion. Indeed it was I who introduced Ken to the concept for the first time when I had him as my key speaker at my Seek Speak Spread Truth Conference over 2 years ago. I was also going to have David Messenger of Practical Lawful Rebellion speak but he couldn’t make it . However his details remaineeded on my website so Ken was interested to find out more and I discussed it with him.

Steve Lewis Interesting. I do have to say I am only guessing it’s LR or some form of global tax rebellion having listened very carefully to what he says. He does mention it very briefly. The whole thing does seem ill thought out and, well, rushed. Possibly deliberate simply to cause exactly this kind of debate and questioning. Perhaps a little like those single word or phrase advertising campaigns we occasionally see which arouses curiosity until we find out what it’s all about.

Or perhaps I’m just making excuses as I could not bear the fact that he may have sold out. There are many hideous double bluffs out there after all.

Tahra Ahmed posted the following, basically concerned about others involved in the project: “The New Age / Spiritual New Age Movement has been completely infiltrated, created, managed and corrupted by a network of handlers, intelligence agencies, gangsters and criminals to gather information, gain access to and manipulate claims to the collateral accounts and ownership of titles, trusts, investments, UN grants, funds, accounts and technology on behalf of the Vatican and Rothschild and fraudulent banking families.

It seems fitting that he recently ratified (ITNJ) International Tribunal for Natural Justice is set up and chaired by Sacha Stone. How and when does he sleep?”

Well said Patrick Soddoff.

My question is how do two of the Alternative Media’s biggest names ‘Ken O’Keefe and Max Igan become thick as theives with the likes of this narcissistic ego Sacha Stone of the Agenda 21 Transhumanism promoting NEN?

Apparently they have all come up with a world solution in taking on the private Banking cartel. And they have set up a Go Fund Me account for which Ken is very busily asking for money. But this is the strangest thing of all – the detailsof the solution are all top secret! Eeer but I thought it was because of SECRET societies, which have created the cancer of corruption, that the world is in the chaos it Is in right now!

But wait. It gets even stranger…… people are actually donating! For something they have no knowledge about.

I have been asking both Max Igan and Ken O’Keefe for an explanation since yesterday but have not heard anything back from either. Please see my comments for a full list of questions.”

So…. Tahra Ahmed started asking Ken and Max some questions, which have since been removed from Facebook (see below) and was dealt with in the standard way that anyone is who asks for transparency and explanations for where people’s money is going, the persons involved and what they are going to do, since we are not talking about feeding the hungry, clothing the poor or putting the roof over the head of a refugee. She was attacked. But in the KOK world, even among those who are his supporters, it gets morphed into “haters gonna hate”. I  myself begin to feel sorry for the poor truthers who can’t get no truth from fellow truthers who ask them to TRUST!!!!

Max Igan wow, working on the ‘secret solution’ were we?…. damn, and I thought we were all just gathered to get a pic together by the gate while we were all in the one spot….. Im glad you were there to clear up what we we ‘actually’ doing in this pic….. but wait…. you weren’t there at all were you…. you just thought it would be a good way to attack someone who has defended you, supported you, gone out on a limb and copped abuse for you…. nice….. lying little turncoat that you are Tahra…. you could have asked either of us about this before launching your hate campaign… all you have proven to the world is how self absorbed and spiritually bankrupt you are and how little you require to fabricate a story…. totally disgusted with you

Tahra Ahmed And guys I know I am pretty fierce and fearless. But I am sure there are at least a few of you who can stand with me in asking questions to get to the TRUTH. After all that is what is most sacred to us Truth Seekers.

Ken responded with his usual anger in the way cult leaders will do, diguised as “feeling sorry for this sad individual” and claims that his very life is in danger:

Ken O’Keefe I have been in the so-called activist scene for so long that I have witnessed and experienced the sort of backbiting and smearing that Tahra is exhibiting over and over and over. One of the things that is truly remarkable is how people who have done little all too often mouth off and talk shit and sit in judgement of those who actually do physical, tangible work. “Thick as thieves”, what an interesting way to describe me and brother Max Igan, by a woman who sits in judgement because she apparently wishes to play God. I feel sorry for this sad individual, truly I do.

I do not know what questions she has asked because I have not been online for a couple of days and have yet to see any communications from her. But the only one I reckon that merits a reply is with regard to the lack of details as to the strategy. The are very solid reasons for this, and as the plan requires serious tactical execution, I will not compromise the strategy because Tahra so and so wishes to play God. The crux of the plan is to peacefully, lawfully remove ourselves from the obligation we currently have to pay for mass-murder. A sort of “Not in my name” for real kind of thing. If you do not think that is enough for you to support, then do not support. I respect that, but sniping and playing God merits no attention beyond what I have written here.

For those who think my record is sufficient to merit trust, please give and rest assured this plan is world changing. And as for strategy, if anything happens to me, such as me going to jail or having an “accident”, the entire strategy will be revealed and in death if necessary, the mission will happen. TJP Bona Dea

Tahra Ahmed Dear All Inc ‘Ken O’Keefe and Max Igan, I am saddened that my asking some very pertinent questions on Ken’s idea has resulted in quite vitriolic attacks on me personally. I am sad because I have a lot of respect for both Ken and Max on a professional level and love them as fellow passionate, activist brothers. No where have I cast assertions on their good character. At no time have I been disrespectful to either. Not even when they have used particularly offensive and personal language against me.

All I have asked are a few pertinent questions. Am I really being a “paranoid backstabbing” blah blah because I don’t trust blindly?

And the only person that I have real concerns about is Sacha Stone. I have given my reasons for this.

My post stems from protecting ken and Max from him. And ultimately protecting our movement. Ken is probably our best man for the job of uniting our movement and so he will be targeted by the cabal. And we must be vigilant of such infiltrators.

We all need to pull together and be prepared to be held to account at all times. For our own protection! And we need to always be fully transparent. So I will not back down from asking questions. That is what makes me a Truth Seeker. So why should I stop now?

I would love to give this project my backing. I have been call for us to unite for over two years. And first I must have my questions answered.

Tahra Ahmed Max Igan what has been particularly shocking is the extreme venom you have first directed towards me and then Bob. I have never heard you be so angry, foul mouthed and vile about the evil satanic IsraelI Jews when they have been butchering and bombing and torturing the brave and beautiful innocent souls in Palestine. It’s been very disturbing to know that your hate and venom for us is more than for those devils. So why is that? Usually people lash out like this when they are cornered and exposed.

I still hope this is not the reason why you ‘Ken O’Keefe and Patrick Soddoff are behaving in such a way. I hope that it’s bcos you genuinely blv that Kens idea is great and you are lashing out bcos you don’t want it to be derailed,

So if the latter is the case then I respectfully urge you all to be TRANSPARENT about

  1. the idea,
  2. about the breakdown of the budget and how much each item on Ken’s list will cost and
  3. about the structure of showing the financial accounts.

Our main concern is that we do not have a repeat of the financial theft and fraud of the hard earned money of the good folk who are so desperate for a solution..

This is the main concern. Can you appreciate that it is a very reasonable concern especially after the disgusting fiasco of how TPV turned out to be another financial fleecing scam?

Max Igan no Tahra, what has been the most shocking is your lies and fabrication of bullshit in order to undermine this initiative and big note yourself…. My tolernce level for liars who fabricate bullshit about myself or my friends is at an all time low….. all I can feel for you and your spiritually bankrupt actions is pity and disgust

 

Yes, they often respond to those who ask for transparency that they Pity them, after thy of course insult them and call them liars.

Not content to be left out, the person who fabricated the promotional video joined in, insisting on the cult of secrecy and asking why something was even being questioned:

Patrick Soddoff Tahra, when you wrote these words… “My post stems from protecting ken and Max from him. And ultimately protecting our movement.” I would imagine you wrote them because you cared.

When I have a good friend who I see heading for trouble, I privately contact them, explain my concerns and see how things develop, keeping an eye on the situation at all times.

By your own words you “trolled him” incessantly, and very publicly, to the point of harassment. I will not bother quoting each and every post you cast aspersions directly at Ken on, but go back and look at how you presented yourself. Not even the most arcane among us could possibly construe this treatment as rational, or caring for someone you love and respect. Not by a long shot. It was openly hostile.

I too offered you some insight privately, trying to head off what I construed as the beginning of your diatribe, but you refused, telling me that you wanted transparency, so you were going to pursue this in a public forum, claiming “insight” as your guide.

Ken has spilled his own blood giving his support to several causes and has been a fearless warrior for change for a long time, probably back when you were still a schoolgirl, and I find it appalling that you would step up to the bitchy level with such gusto when you self admittedly say you have no idea what it’s about. It’s hardly the course of action one would expect from a friend who loves and trusts you.

If you and your group refuse to participate in his initiative, all well and good, but trying to poison the well in the manner you displayed only causes the very division you say you are concerned about.

Tahra Ahmed Patrick my trolling consisted of copy and pasting my list of questions in reply to about 5/6 comments as well as in the comments of the post Ken tagged me on. So me thinks you are running away with your imagination when you refer to “each and every post” . It was only one post. And bcos of the respect I have held him in, it is still just the one post. Not hostile. Just persistent. Not an iota of diatribe against Ken or Max. Just shock and disgust at their even associating with the likes of Sacha even in the minimum of ways! And huge concerns for the wellbeing of any world solution with that snake slithering around. And admittedly where my angry undertones towards Ken and Max were coming from was at their terrible judgment in having him actually endorse this project. This does raise huge concerns in me about Ken and Max for the first time. Not for their intention. But their judgment.

With regards to your offer to disclose to me the contents of Ken’s “highly embargoed” project, I was shocked at your lack of integrity in offering to show me something that you had given your word to Ken to keep secret. I am a stand for complete integrity and transparency. I don’t want to be part of a secret hierarchy who have all the information. That is exactly the vile belief that has been so destructive to humanity. How could I demand transparency and openness of ken and then be privy to a secret little society?

(end)

But what about the money…. A few people ask about it:

Selene Woods So what happens to the money already donated…if this appeal does not reach its target?

If the money can not be returned…and theres only 17days left on the appeal….with only a quarter of the overall amount raised…..what is really going to be done with £30, 000 to stop war?

Bona Dea Hi Selene, I believe the money is being returned if target is not reached… if target is reached all necesary will be employed to make worldcitizen.solutions idea into a reality and i believe once launched it will be a gamechanger… but ideas dont just magically manifest without funding – many projects are injected with hundreds of thousands or millions with no promise of transparency or duty to create a better world… so i gave what i could financially and am putting in a lot of time and energy to spread the word so i know in my heart i did *something*

There are even some who don’t care if it’s a scam. They like Ken, that’s enough. That his previous projects have never had any success doesn’t seem to occur to them.

Sam Spruce I know quite a bit about Ken O’Keefe and I support this project because he is behind it. If it fails it fails. If it’s a scam then I’ve been scammed. But the failure will be extremely small scale. If it comes to something it will be significant and for me, given Ken’s record to date, it is one of the few initiatives I will lend my efforts to. Just sayin’ like. wink emoticon

but, friends, let’s just assume the money will be returned, because the Facebook page states this (and don’t miss the heart going into the open hand, but they want stuff you can put in the bank:

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Then other doubts begin to emerge, (the previously expressed one about Sacha Stone and his pro Agenda 21 campaigning and NGO), but this one is particularly interesting, because the truthers are concerned about another fleecing:

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the two million dollar scam of David Icke and TVP . You can read about it from another one of the many who donated, in the article linked here and quoted below. http://beforeitsnews.com/banksters/2014/07/david-icke-responds-to-the-peoples-voice-2-million-dollar-scandal-2434760.html

“For those who are not up to speed, over the course of the last year or so, David Icke raised almost two million dollars for the People’s Voice Network. (I mistakenly said it was only 1 million on our show, so forgive me for underestimating the size of the scandal). The People’s Voice operated for about a month before another emergency fund raiser was put out, threatening to shut down the network. The people responded with even more of their hard-earned money and they were relieved of not only their money, but also their voice.

I knew this was a scam right off the bat, but I bit my tongue, smiled, and continued to be cordial to the people promoting it. How did I know it was a scam? Because I’ve built a network myself. While this network isn’t as elaborate as the People’s Voice wanted you to believe it was (even though it turned out to be nothing more than uploaded videos to Youtube or live streamed on their Youtube channel), I know what a thousand dollars buys, what ten thousand dollars buys and what two million dollars buys.”

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But wait! Ken lists as his “employer” TPV

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He had his own little show called Ken O’Keefe’s Middle East, where the argument was naturally…. 9/11

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BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!

Those who were questioning about where the money was going and why Ken was actually reinventing the wheel if all it is is HIS version of Legal Rebellion (not paying taxes, or picking your own personal “World Citizenship”, something that has existed since the early 1900s) noticed the photos from Bali. Yes… Ken and company had a business meeting in Bali and here is one of the souvenir photos:

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With a fun-packed thread that followed, truly a MUST read where you will see the suspicions not only about the campaign and those involved in it, but the extensive usage Ken makes of Illuminati symbolism: https://www.facebook.com/bobbie.brand.96/posts/1528164517482415

In which we find these gems where Ken’s minions reported her questions enough to get them removed:

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Among those pictured with Ken O’Keefe (not his real name), the above-mentioned Max Igen (not his real name), Sacha Stone (not his real name), are a few new-age and global awareness “activists” and a Life Coach / Liz Taylor impersonator named Samantha Bachman. Who is she? I had to look her up because I’m not that familiar with the new age scene, but know it revolves around sales.

I found her website where there is a manifesto that ends with the line:

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Quite.

You can clearly see that for someone who puts her picture on her site where she holds her book next to the king of cheap flights, her own services don’t come cheap:

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But she’s worth it, she’s got a PhD in “metaphysics”. Never mentions from where though. Looking it up in internet, you can get most of them through home learning, and you too can become a life coach.

Also in the gang are persons named Deanna Amato and Sean ADL Tabatabai, who raised funds for the 2 million dollar scandal of TPV, and one of the donors to that fundraiser is NONE too happy:

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T

The fans are not at all happy, at least, the Truthers are raising some red flags:

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There is one last thing though: Ken doesn’t only appeal to Truthers and New Age followers. His main base he has chosen as those in the Palestinian campaign. While he doesn’t have that many Palestinians that interact with him, that doesn’t seem to bother him. He knows all about the situation and he has explained it in his own take on History, which I will call “The One World Citizen (Final) Solution”. All you need to do is to read his last Facebook wallpost. While he’s still asking for support and money, he’s also promoting films that stress that Hitler was not so bad, that he was misunderstood, and he puts a link up and asks persons to watch endless episodes of “Adolf Hitler: The Greatest Story Never Told” and some  video by a woman who wrote that: Adolf Hitler was “just not to be understood from the believed Holocaust or his alleged war obsession, but only by a divine mission in the world-historical context.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursula_Haverbeck

Check out the screenshots, and lose no time to pay into the ONE WORLD CITIZEN (FINAL) SOLUTION

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Now, since this blog is very concerned about war, and not just in words, we feel it is important that you know Ken’s position on the Refugee issue and in particular, the war in Syria. Watch this video (and if you can bear the over-wrought gesturing) see for yourself that Mr Ken O’Keefe pulls out the standard lines used in the mainstream media that there is no uprising, there is no revolution, there is no tyranny, there is just Wahabi-inspired terrorism of ISIS and that is what the Syrians are fleeing. You will see him state that the Syrian war is “our problem, we created it” and that the people are fleeing from ISIS, while Assad is instead an independent leader who has just gotten a lot of bad press… Sounds like how he feels about Hitler, doesn’t it. Ken O’Keefe is a genocide denier. Throw your money at him!

101677e1441761633o6071WRITTEN BY Mary Rizzo

There are various moments / instances involved in the act of participation in discussions/debates

  • Launching the argument (starting the discourse)
  • Entering into a discussion that is already in course
  • Leaving a discussion (or closing a discussion)

For each of these, there are factors to consider: among which

  • Who is the interlocutor
  • Who is the listening public
  • Preparation of the participants
  • Preparation of the public – present at public events, broadcasts (real) or / Internet, Facebook, comments on articles (virtual)
  • Expectations of the public

Therefore, it is essential to know three things:

  • One’s own level of preparation and that of the interlocutor,
  • Determine the interest that the public has to follow your reasoning (and therefore, to adapt yourself, if necessary, to the climate of the debate and to the new elements that have emerged during the debate),
  • Know exactly what you hope to obtain and also that which you are unwilling to compromise on in terms or conclusion. The public often determines a “winner” of a debate. This is true even regarding interventions that do not include rebuttals, because the listener evaluates whether or not his or her own position has changed as a result of what the speaker has said.

Regarding our own preparedness, we are personally responsible, therefore, we have to keep well-informed of the arguments to handle, do our research, have an archive of facts and information that are easily accessible to us. We also have to be clear and convincing in our presentation of the information. We thus have to believe in what we are saying and also be able to support it with arguments based on reason, logic, supported by data that is as recent, reliable and convincing as possible.

In consideration of the level of preparation of the interlocutor, we also must do our research. Often, it is a person who has expressed his or her positions publicly, therefore, before the encounter, it is necessary to prepare ourselves on the arguments of this person. This means that we should know not only the probable content of her or her interventions, but also the sources he or she uses, the communication style, if in the past he or she has obtained something for supporting a position (we must not forget that almost all of the Assad supporters in Italy and Europe have been guests of the regime in Damascus or they have been paid or remunerated for their interventions, articles and sites in Europe). We have to mentally anticipate the discourse of the interlocutor, know his or her sources and their reliability, and we have to understand where he or she wants to bring the argument, as well as where he or she does not want to be brought by us.

The climate of the debate could also be determined by the moderator, or when there is no moderator, by the persons on the discussion panel. At times the public could also influence the climate, particularly when the debate begins to get heated or during the Q & A. Each interlocutor always tries to have the public on its side, and therefore has to always be aware of the signals it is sending. Sometimes it is possible to know if the public is sympathetic, hostile or neutral. If one does not know, it is a good policy to assume that it is sympathetic, but not too much. The approach in this case is to explain / define some lesser-known points, but assuming that the public has basic notions and also has already formed an opinion. It is also correct to assume that your values and the values of the public are specular or similar. It is a good policy to anticipate (mentally) the questions and the worries of the public and to satisfy their need to obtain answers that are honest, concise and correct. If, during the debate, one finds oneself on the defensive, it is preferable to acts as if the public were neutral and in this case, rather than be argumentative or assuming a defensive attitude (which is not appealing to anyone), it is necessary to take a step back and explain basic concepts in which a common ground can be found once more. In this case, it is also a good practise to assume that the public is in good faith, just as you are in good faith, but only that it does not have some necessary information. Your task is to provide the information they are lacking.

Instances of discussions:  

Launch: When one begins a discourse, it should be clear what he or she hopes to obtain, but it should also be clear to the public. Therefore, decide and express immediately if it is an informational meeting, if the public will be involved in some way, if some kinds of  actions are being asked of them, if there is also going to be the presence and participation of persons with opinions that are in conflict with their own (debate), etc.

The introduction (prior to opening the participation in the debate to others) should also incorporate the point or points that are going to be addressed. It is an ACTION THAT PROPOSES AND SHOULD NOT BE REACTIVE.  It also should not anticipate conflicting opinions (which could emerge during the debate). It is important that if we are the ones to launch the discussion, the evolution of the discussion follows specific paths that we are the ones to direct. Therefore, we have to use the concept of “framing the discourse”, in which we do not allow that the argument is changed into a different argument,  we should avoid becoming distracted or brought too far away from our theme, we should not lose control and ownership of the discourse. Every time it becomes necessary, we have to know how to bring the discourse back on track. In these moments, the adversary could attempt to use various “derailment” strategies, trying to not allow us to conclude our line of reasoning, and to make us feel frustrated. It is important to NOT become frustrated, to not lose patience, but to communicate in a clear and reasonable way that the argument is going to get back on track now. Often we find that the adversary uses “argumentative or logical fallacies” which are violations of the rules of critical discourse, when he or she is unsuccessful in taking down an argument based on merit of logic of with facts. A fundamental resource of the discipline of Pragmatics and with helpful suggestions for persons engaged in public debates is the Journal of Pragmatics: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03782166

In conclusion, if you are launching the discourse, REMAIN THE OWNER OF THE DISCOURSE.

Argument already begun: This is generally the case during events when you are on the panel but have not organised the event, when you are in the public and have asked a question or “challenge” one of the interlocutors during the Q & A, when you are participating in a radio or television broadcast, when you participate in discussion groups in Internet, when you respond to comments in articles in newspapers or on sites.

Differently from the first instance, you are more REACTIVE and are responding to the points already expressed by others. Your form of response in general would be one of demonstrating the errors (or reasoning, source, data) of the information that’s been presented, or, if it is not a contrasting opinion, but only one that is not complete, to complement the intervention with further information.

It is always important to not deviate from the theme, or you actually CAN deviate the discourse of the others as long as it is logical and correct, but NEVER violating the rules of discussion. Always avoid fallacies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

Leaving a discussion or closing a discussion:  If it is an event that we or others have organised, the time limit has generally been established, and we should keep the discussion always within those temporal limits. The organiser has to always advise the public that the event is coming to its closure at around fifteen minutes prior to the end, and during this time will also try to express a conclusion or, if possible, to have the final word. If you are responsible for concluding the meeting, it has to be closed in a climate that is pacific, calm and conciliatory, even if during the event there has been heated debate. Never leave the public with the sensation that you are argumentative and quarrelsome or that you hold grudges. It is equally important to avoid using expressions that are exasperated or excessive.

If it is a virtual intervention, (that is, without a known time limit or the need to bring it to a conclusion) we have to always consider if it is worthwhile to persevere or if it is more beneficial to leave the conversation. Elements to consider: number of participants, if others are influenced/can be persuaded by our intervention, how many colleagues we have to sustain us and contribute or whether we are alone against everyone.

In addition, we have to always keep in mind the type of public that is present, and to choose both the method and the arguments where we can find common ground. There are various ways to convince the public of the correctness of our argument, but it will be more effective if our language, the issues we focus on and our conclusions are easily assimilated. We should participate in debates where we can contribute in a positive way with our knowledge, and we also have to know the terrain in which we are not knowledgeable and to leave the space to colleagues who are more informed than we are or who have particular experiences and information that could reach the public. We have to be aware of our own limits and recognise the merits of others, asking them to contribute in our place when they could communicate the concepts better than we can.

Also in Italian in Le Voci Della Liberta

CONL74vUAAAJUI-1

The greatest threat to Syrian civilians is not ISIS or terrorism, but the regime and its allies.

Any credible peace initiative cannot ignore the information that comes directly from the field nor the direct and indirect complicity of Italy and Europe in the massacre underway: this is not about taking sides with one of the warring parties, it is about saving the lives of civilians when they are buried in the rubble of their homes and not first determining what the geopolitical consequences of their tragedy might be.

More information about the weapons trade agreements of Italian companies with the Russian arms monopoly Rosoboronexport: https://www.change.org/p/laura-boldrini-impedire-contratti-…

Italian light weapons and targeting systems in Syria: http://www.unimondo.org/…/Siria-rifornita-di-sistemi-milita…

The Italian Iveco LMV vehicles deployed by Assad: https://www.facebook.com/Abu.Diana/posts/10153658728853627?__mref=message_bubble

Italian technologies in the service of repression of Assad: http://tetra-applications.com/21030 http://www.bloomberg.com/…/syria-crackdown-gets-italy-firm-… http://arstechnica.com/…/wikileaks-italian-firm-sold-syria…/

Open letter to Italian movements for peace, disarmament and solidarity. SIGN THE LETTER

The ongoing conflict in Syria since the beginning of 2011 has caused more than 250,000 victims, over 10 million people (half the population!) have been forced to flee their homes, hundreds of thousands of women and men have been arrested, tortured and made to disappear, while another 650,000 human beings are currently living in areas under siege, with no guaranteed access to water, food and medicine.

Despite the fact that the UN Security Council, with Resolution no. 2139, has unanimously called – as early as February 2014 – for the cessation of the bombing of the civilian population, it has continued, and alongside the bombing undertaken by the regime, including the use of the notorious barrels bombs, are the bombs of the “international coalition” that are justified by saying they are going against the terrorists of the so-called Islamic State, but that, to date, has hit mainly civilians, not sparing even schools and hospitals. In 2015 over 73% of the civilian victims were caused by the Syrian government forces, followed by ISIS with 8%, 6% for the armed opposition and in just three months the Russian air force has been responsible for 5% of the number of victims in the year. The direct entry into the conflict by Russia – which has supported and armed the regime of the Assad clan, along with Iran and Hezbollah – has worsened an already desperate situation: three months from the first Russian aerial bombing, less than 20% of them have hit targets linked to ISIS, while the vast majority of bombs were dropped on other targets, with no regard for the civilian population.

Affected were hospitals and schools, bread production facilities and civilian homes, adding more blood to the already huge amount that has run over the past five years. According to the NGO Syrian Network for Human Rights, which recently published a detailed report, between 85% and 90% of Russian bombings have hit areas controlled by opposition groups to the regime of the Assad clan and densely populated areas. They have bombed, among other things, 16 schools, 10 hospitals or health care facilities, 10 markets, 5 bread production facilities, two archaeological cemeteries and one bridge.

Even more recently, Amnesty International has documented of the Russian bombing campaigns on the Syrians, claiming that they can be configured as war crimes and defining the attempt of the Russian government to deny having committed these crimes as “shameful”.

It seems clear, therefore, as the renewed efforts of the international governments – born in the wake of the conferences in Vienna and New York in the last two months and aimed at reaching a political solution to the conflict in Syria – are at high risk of failure, when which (in addition to being launched in the absence of any Syrian party) do not call for the immediate cessation of attacks on civilians. Significantly, after the approval of Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council of 18 December, they attacks and bombings have increased dramatically on all areas no longer under the control of the Assad regime. There is an upsurge in the use of cluster bombs, while the Damascene suburb of Moaddamye has denounced even a new chemical attack.

Faced with this scenario, the silence of the movements and organisations, of peace activists, of proponents of disarmament and of the Left in Italy is extremely embarrassing. Sorry to say it, but it seems that they think that the bombs from the White House are criminal and those of the Kremlin are innocuous or even positive. As hard as you look, you cannot find a statement or a simple comment on the devastation caused in Syria by Russian bombs, and no shortage of protests – sacrosanct – against sending Italian bombs and other weapons to Saudi Arabia, in the legitimate presumption that these bombs will be used in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. This double standard, in our opinion, is delegitimising the initiative of the movements and of the left: it is not credible to have a denunciation of the bombing on civilians when they are operated by the US at the same time as a total silence when similar bombings against civilians are carried out by another power. The excuse that these States are supposed to be our allies and so it is to Washington and the chancelleries close to it that we should focus our attention is a weak one, from the moment the Assad government has deployed the Italian means of production supplied to him by Moscow and still employs Italian targeting systems on his tanks, as well as Italian spy technologies used to detect and suppress nonviolent activists who gave birth to the Syrian revolt since 2011. Even the Italian weapons sold to the Russian Rosoboronexport are likely to be used against civilians.

With this open letter, we want to urge the movement and the Left towards undertaking a coherent initiative requesting the cessation of all military operations in Syria against civilians, by whomsoever they are committed, in the same way that we have to request the cessation of sieges and the creation of humanitarian corridors for cities, villages and refugee camps, that have been subjected to this collective punishment for years, as well as the release of all political prisoners.

In the absence of such an initiative, all talk of sustaining peace in Syria cannot but appear completely hypocritical.
Comitato Khaled Bakrawi

To join and support this open letter:  comitatokhaledbakrawi@gmail.com

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Original in Italian https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1iqSTSxnN5Af_TcWIzYIs90v0uQ14MDpZM_FS_BVrIm0/viewform?c=0&w=1&fbzx=-1784805715108071000

 

Il sangue di Parigi è sulle mani di Assad

Posted: 11/20/2015 by editormary in Iran, Middle East, Politics, Syria, War
Tags: ,

putin-assad-ready-share-power1Il dittatore siriano non è il nemico di ISIS – è il suo abilitatore

SCRITTO DA ROBERT COLVILLE tradotto da Mary Rizzo

Gli attentati di Parigi sono nauseanti, scandalosi e sconvolgenti. E uno dei momenti più scandalosi è giunto quando il presidente siriano Bashar al-Assad ha deciso di attribuire la colpa degli atentati alla politica estera francese. Ciò che i parigini stanno affrontando, ha detto, è esattamente ciò che i siriani hanno affrontato negli ultimi cinque anni. Se solo la Francia lo avesse aiutato contro gli islamisti, invece di mantenere le distanze!

Ovviamente, la maggior parte della colpa per la tragedia di questa settimana è di ISIS e della sua dottrina di terrore e atrocità. Ma l’individuo più direttamente responsabile dell’ascesa di ISIS, e del suo consolidamento, è Bashar al-Assad.

Non solo perché, trascinando la Siria in una guerra civile, ha creato i presupposti per lo sviluppo di ISIS, ma anche perché ha fatto tutto quanto in suo potere per rafforzarlo. La verità è che Assad e ISIS non sono nemici: sono alleati.

Per capire cosa intendo, dobbiamo tornare al 2012/13, quando i ribelli – guidati dal Free Syrian Army – erano alle porte di Damasco. Al fine di salvare se stesso, Assad ha fatto due cose.

an Iranian opposition group understands the actual situation in this "election poster"

un gruppo iraniano d’opposizione ha capito che comanda in Siria

In primo luogo, ha accettato quello che era essenzialmente un cambio di gestione della campagna militare in chiave iraniana: come Dexter Filkins ha scritto sul New Yorker, Qassem Suleimani – il capo della di Teheran Quds Force – è volato a Damasco per assumere il controllo delle operazioni personalmente, inondando il conflitto con denaro iraniano, armi iraniane e combattenti provenienti sia da Teheran che dal suo alleato libanese Hezbollah.

Ma l’altro polo della strategia di Assad è stato più insidioso. Dall’inizio della guerra aveva etichettato i suoi nemici come terroristi islamici e nel corso degli anni ha fatto di tutto per far sì che questa etichetta diventasse una realtà.

Pericolosi jihadisti sono stati rilasciati da Sednaya, la mega-prigione del regime, e sostituiti in carcere da blogger e attivisti dei diritti umani. Bombe e fucili del regime sono stati rivolte ai moderati, mentre agli islamisti radicali (molti dei quali avevano dato prova di sè nella rivolta contro gli Stati Uniti in Iraq) è stata data carta bianca nel nord. A maggio hanno ricevuto persino supporto aereo da Assad, durante la loro avanzata su Aleppo [ndt: 31/05/2015 a Mare’a, nord di Aleppo, quando i ribelli subirono simultaneamente un offensiva di terra da parte di ISIS e attacchi aerei da parte di Assad].

Mideast Syria Alternatives to AssadQuesto, tuttavia, era solo l’inizio. ISIS ha catturato giacimenti petroliferi – ma non aveva mercato per il petrolio. Ecco che entra in scena il presidente Assad. Non solo ha comprato il petrolio dei militanti dell’ISIS, ma gli ha garantito accesso al cibo e persino riparazione per le loro torri di telefonia mobile. E i suoi amici in ISIS hanno restituito il favore, non marciando su Damasco, ma su Baghdad. Così inizia il panico nell’occidente e gli attacchi aerei – contro ISIS, non contro Assad.

Perché Assad lo ha fatto? Semplice: per convincere sia il suo popolo che le potenze straniere che lui è l’unica alternativa ai fanatici. La sua strategia è sempre stata, come David Blair (una delle più sagge voci britanniche in materia di politica estera) ha scritto sul Telegraph lo scorso anno, di agire prima come piromane, poi come vigile del fuoco.

Assad ora afferma di essere l’unico in grado di contenere ISIS. Ma la verità è che non ha fatto quasi nulla per contenerlo. Anche ora, i suoi alleati russi non bombardano ISIS, come dicono, ma i pochi moderati assediati che rimangono.

Il risultato è una macabra simbiosi. Assad bombarda, mutila e uccide, spingendo la gente nelle braccia degli estremisti. Poi può additare alla crescita dello Stato islamico e dire, come ha fatto riguardo Parigi: “Guarda questi fanatici barbari. Come posso io essere una minaccia più grande di loro?”

Ma, come quanto detto finora dimostra, Assad non è il minore dei due mali qui: dei due mali è il maggiore. Dal 2011, dice Emile Hokayem dell’International Institute for Strategic Studies, “il regime di Assad è stata la principale fonte di morte e distruzione in Siria”. Anche ora, non solo sta uccidendo più cittadini siriani dello Stato islamico, ma anche in quantità enormemente maggiori.

Quindi no, i morti di Parigi non sono il risultato della politica del governo francese. Sono il risultato di un’azione deliberata di Assad: prendere una piccola cellula tumorale chiamata ISIS e darle tutti i nutrienti di cui ha bisogno per crescere in qualcosa di vasto e maligno.

Dal 2011, infatti, tutto ciò che ha peggiorato questa guerra può essere fatto risalire al dittatore siriano e nulla di quello che ha fatto l’ha mai resa meno dura.

L’uso di armi chimiche e bombe a barile contro i suoi stessi cittadini? Pesa su Assad.

La morte di migliaia di persone e lo sfollamento di milioni? Pesano su Assad.

La distruzione di Palmyra (forse il posto più bello che abbia mai visto) e di gran parte del resto del patrimonio e della cultura della Siria? Anche questo pesa su Assad.

E le morti di Parigi e dell’aereo di linea russo e di Beirut? Di nuovo, Assad.

Sì, ISIS è la più grande minaccia immediata per l’Occidente. E sì, non ci sono praticamente buone opzioni per porre fine a questo orribile, brutale conflitto.

Ma ogni scenario in cui noi diventiamo gli alleati di Assad per combattere gli islamisti, qualsiasi scenario che lo lasci al potere piuttosto che in prigione, sarebbe disgustosamente immorale. Non solo perché incoraggerebbe i dittatori in tutto il mondo a seguire la stessa linea, ma anche perché rappresenterebbe una vittoria per la sua strategia diplomatica della barbarie calcolata.

I morti di Parigi meritano di più.

L’autore è l’ex editore dei commenti del Telegraph e delle notizie presso BuzzFeed UK.

ORIGINALE:  https://medium.com/@rcolvile/the-blood-of-paris-is-on-assad-s-hands-93f3b5a40cdc#.tevbhsqj4

show_imgReport to the National Conference for Freedom in Syria – 10-11 October, Bologna, Italy

Mary Rizzo

Since the beginning of the revolution, the civil society, in Syria and in the world, has expressed its solidarity or condemnation by means of declarations that were then signed by organisations and individuals, often prominent ones. These declarations are intended to be distributed with the purposed of informing the public about positions regarding principles but also on the policies that are desired but not yet in force. Most of these statements are concentrated in particular periods. Many of them were issued on anniversaries such as 21 August, the anniversary of the massacre of Ghouta. Others were issued after what is perceived as an emergency such as recent arrivals in Europe with the Balkan route.

These declarations fall into different genres and are used for various purposes: short-term and immediate policy declarations, statements of terms to enter a phase of transition and political solution, declarations of long-term policies and recommendations for entities like states, international bodies or political groups.

In statements that express reference to immediate policies, the most frequent requests are for the free passage of humanitarian aid without the authorisation of the regime, which blocks the arrival of aid in areas not under their control, forcing activists and charities to tackle many risks to bring these relief goods, medicines, clothes and products for infants in the first place, to areas where there is need, and denying them any type of protection. The protection of civilians is articulated in particular with requests for humanitarian corridors but especially with the request for the establishment of a No Fly Zone. The request for a No Fly Zone which started already in 2012 by civil society in Syria, initially was only for parts of Syria under the constant bombardment of the regime, but last year this request has been extended (particularly from groups belonging to the left) to all parts of Syria, which is now also under aerial bombardment by the Coalition and more recently, Russia. In one of the statements, by Rethink, Rebuild Society, the request is extended to the British government to support the coalition in the American bombing of ISIS and to extend it to Iraq after the population has been moved to safe places.

The other request of an immediate nature is often directed to foreign countries, and has to do with the policy of management of refugees and expansion of Operation Triton for rescue in the Mediterranean.

manifesto_for_syria_2_740Among the declarations of a more immediate nature is the Manifesto for Syria, written by Syria Solidarity Movement and inspired by the demands of Planet Syria and The Syria Campaign (which includes The White Helmets), grouping more than 150 different groups in Syria and in the diaspora. It is divided into two different proposals, supported by an international campaign of petitions with the titles, “A No Fly Zone for Syria” and “Syrian Refugees Welcome Here”.

Among the statements that express a principled stand for the transition, those standing out are from Syria, in particular the document of the National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in April of 2013 and the Declaration of the Syrian Islamic Council issued a few days ago and called The Five Principles of the Revolution. Both documents (which in fact mirror every single declaration regarding the transition) pose as a principle priority the end of the Assad regime as a prerequisite for any political solution or international initiative. They also exclude the participation of close associates of Assad in the transitional phase and exclude them as part of the solution for Syria. However, the fight is not against the state but against the regime and therefore the structures and state institutions must be preserved and re-organised for the purpose of protecting the state and the people who worked for the State but who are not corrupt or guilty of crimes. The Coalition also includes in military and security personnel the people to protect.

CPMjOpPWoAAS3OVThe document of the Syrian Islamic Council, signed by 74 revolutionary formations and 52 high personalities indicates the other four principles: The dismantling of the security agencies affiliated with the regime; that all foreign forces must leave Syria; the preservation of the unity, territorial integrity and national identity; the refusal to share power based on sectarian criteria.

The Syrian Islamic Council, founded in 2013, consists of 128 delegates, 50 of which in the liberated areas, represents 40 leagues and religious committees that have grown especially in the Diaspora since 2011. It does not include the Islamic Front but consolidates a moderate Islamist axis inside the opposition. The Council has issued a fatwa against Isis in 2014 but also a Fatwa this June, which forbids enlistment in YPG or PKK, who are seen as sectarian forces.

The rejection of sectarianism is a dominant feature of all the statements, and is part of the “Core Values”, in particular the statements offering long-term policies insist that the core values should be integrated in any transition framework or constituent phase. The values ​​are those for which the revolution began in the first place: the desires of equality, rights, representation, freedom of expression, assembly, affiliation, religion, rights for minorities and women and just distribution of the wealth of the state.

A core value of all the statements is territorial integrity and rejection of divisions along ethnic or sectarian lines. The Syrians have always lived as one people and the division would cause great instability.

4dea0958f8d68b45113c0a797d9fa256A declaration of principles that is perhaps the most representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people is The Freedom Charter by the Foundation to Restore Equality and Education in Syria (FREE-Syria), a humanitarian organisation of civil society development founded by people involved with the LCC (Local Coordination Committees). The Freedom Charter, inspired by the South African Freedom Charter, a document of national unity, was based on tens of thousands of face-to-face interviews carried out by a team of more than one hundred activists coordinated by FREE-Syria and the LCC with Syrians in each governate of the country, asking what kind of society they desired to live in. The Charter however reflected the values ​​of the revolution, for a state based on equality, justice and freedom. Aspirations are included in a State based on the rule of law, in which leaders are elected by the people. An independent, sovereign state, within the current UN-recognised borders and that follows and obeys international conventions and treaties. That the assets of the country belong to all of Syria and the Syrian armed forces serve only to protect the borders of the nation and defend its sovereignty without interfering in political, economic or social issues. That courts are independent and not subject to the authority of other government agencies or the pressure of special interest groups. Education shall be free, compulsory and available to all.

Syria_Between_Dictatorship_and_ISISIt is followed by a section that lists the rights, the principles of equality and respect for all cultures and ethnic groups in Syria. The Freedom Charter represents the aspirations of the Syrians, but does not suggest how to achieve these results. Similar to it, but with more concrete proposals is the document called Policy Proposals for the UK, a lengthy document issued by Rethink Rebuild Society, signed by Syria Solidarity Movement, Scotland For Syria, Kurds House, Syrian Association of Yorkshire and Syrian Revolution Committee in Newcastle. It is based on the Core Values of almost all the documents cited so far, but also includes policy suggestions for the United Kingdom in order to help overcome the current situation and rebuild Syria’s future. In its twenty pages, beginning with a brief introduction to the situation and its history, it contains seven wide spectrum proposals and suggestions of policies and strategies for the government to use to implement the proposals.

The basis of the Rethink Rebuild document is for the protection of civilians both inside Syria and in exile. The first step is the establishment of a No Fly Zone over all of Syria followed by British intervention against ISIS extending also to Iraq.

It demands a unified and democratic Syria without Assad. Indeed, the second point mentions the strengthening of Syrian National Coalition (whose document I mentioned earlier) and the Free Syrian Army to facilitate a transition to a post-war Syria. It demands the British government to actively support the emergence of a unitary and democratic Syria which adheres to internationally-recognised human rights standards. As the transition period is expected to be long and very difficult, it asks the British government to support the principles and encourage the incorporation of these ideals in any transitional or constituent phase. The values ​​to be supported are the same as all the documents cited so far and in the Freedom Charter.

The third point asks a guideline for humanitarian aid, both for its collection and its distribution and with the insistence that Britain calls for full implementation of UN resolutions 2165 and 2191 authorising the distribution of humanitarian aid anywhere in Syria, across borders and without the consent or authorisation of the regime.

The last points are more specific to European relations with individual Syrians. Topics include support for refugees and rehabilitation and education of Foreign Fighters and people that have extremist views, but who have not committed crimes. The sixth point is the ability to maintain banking services to Syrian individuals and entities and the last point asks for appropriate treatment to be given to Syrians that are residents in the United Kingdom, equivalent to that of other residents.

373047_313146128710043_1498568290_nThere are two earlier declarations to be considered as important references, and they are the Declaration of Dignity issued in December of 2011 by the LCC and the Declaration signed in Geneva in May of 2012 by the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Syria, the World Campaign in Support of the Syrian People and the Syrian National Council. The first announces the values of the revolution, the rights of the people and the rejection of sectarianism and commitment to upholding human dignity. The second is based on defining the Syrian struggle along the lines of the Preamble of the UN Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly in 1948. It is an appeal for a pacific transition in Syria, an immediate end of the violence and repression against civilians, release of political prisoners and reform of the mass media to allow free press. Its crucial point is that the UN Declaration supports the recourse to rebellion against tyranny and oppression and the protection of human rights by rule of law. It calls for a constitutional assembly to be appointed to draft a new constitution that limits the functions of the president, restoring Syria to the people and not allowing it to belong to a single individual, family or party. It requests the recognition of the revolution as legitimate, legal and worthy of support.

syria-istanbul-declaration_403x227The last document that I include in this overview is The Istanbul Declaration, signed this summer by many activists and members of civil society, including some prominent historical Syrian left. It begins with an introduction that identifies the suffering of the people. It declares that Assad oppresses the people strictly to stay in power to protect his interests. Then it talks about the determination of the people in its long and difficult resistance, even moral. It speaks of the institutions that civil society has created, such as the LCCs, but in particular, it cites with admiration the steadfastness of a people who despite everything continue to protest and to do everything possible to communicate their situation through an intense activity in social media.

The declaration continues with a description of all the enemies of the people, the atrocities committed by the reactionary forces and religious extremists and includes a denunciation of the occupation of Syria by foreign forces, naming in particular the massive presence of Iran in support of reactionary forces and the regime.

The statement is divided into seven points.

The first: support of resistance and denunciation of the complicity of the Left with the regime, calling their behaviour betrayal.

The second: rejection of the intervention by anyone who is hostile to the revolution.

The third: condemnation of fundamentalist forces.

The fourth: the belief that there is no political solution that presupposes the existence of the current regime.

The fifth: denunciation of the policies of Fortress Europe.

The sixth: the connection with any popular struggle and solidarity with all oppressed people and those without justice, particularly in the region, citing, Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Palestine and any other country in the world oppressed by dictators and imperialists.

The seventh: support to the LCCs, the revolutionary councils and to humanitarian groups in addition to the independent brigades of the FSA fighting against the regime and against ISIS.

Any statements that we Italians and Syrians in Italy write and ask to be disseminated and supported should take into account the content of the existing statements. We can integrate many of their points, but also introduce points particularly relevant to our particular Italian circumstances. I hope that in the working groups we identify requests to our government, to Europe and to the general public, to come together in support of this glorious revolution.

hands offCi auguriamo che vi unirete a noi nel sostenere questo appello. Se è così, scriveteci il vostro nome così come vorreste che appaia nella versione pubblicata insieme a una frase breve (10 parole o anche meno) che vi identifichi (ad esempio professione, attivista, blogger, ecc), compreso il vostro Paese di residenza. Si prega di utilizzare questo indirizzo e-mail per contattarci: magpie68@outlook.com

“Giù le mani dalla Siria” vale anche per la Russia.
Come persone e gruppi provenienti da molti Paesi, uniti da un comune impegno per la pace, la giustizia ed i diritti umani, condanniamo l’offensiva militare russa in Siria (successiva escalation) iniziata il 30 settembre 2015.
Mentre il governo russo ha dichiarato che queste operazioni sono dirette contro lo Stato Islamico (ISIS), la maggior parte degli attacchi si sono verificati in aree con nessuna presenza dell’ISIS. L’obiettivo dell’offensiva militare russa sembrano essere le comunità civili e militari dell’opposizione nella parte a nord della regione di Homs, centro permanente di resistenza al regime di Assad.

Le vittime dell’aggressione russa il 30 settembre sono state prevalentemente civili, tra cui molti bambini. Le condizioni umanitarie erano già disperate nella zona prima che la Russia lanciasse la sua offensiva aerea, perché la zona era da tempo sotto assedio del regime per la sua resistenza.

Il regime di Assad ha provocato il caos in tutta la Siria. E’ responsabile di avere innescato la guerra civile con la sua politica di sparare contro i manifestanti che chiedevano democrazia. Il regime ha ucciso oltre un quarto di milione di siriani, ha costretto metà della popolazione ad abbandonare le loro case e ha creato milioni di profughi. Nel corso di questa operazione, ha perso il controllo di metà del Paese. Anche se la pace non potrà mai essere ripristinata dal regime che l’ha distrutto, sembrerebbe che la Russia ora utilizzi direttamente la sua potenza militare per puntellare ulteriormente un regime che, senza il sostegno straniero, sarebbe crollato anni fa. Questa operazione dalle forze russe può solo prolungare l’agonia del popolo siriano, aumentare il flusso di rifugiati e rafforzare forze estremiste come ISIS.

Le dichiarazioni russe circa la legalità dell’escalation militare non sono più veritiere di quelle usate dagli Stati Uniti per giustificare la sua guerra contro il Vietnam. Quando il governo che invita un Paese straniero a intervenire è illegittimo, lo è anche l’invito. Anche gli Stati Uniti hanno responsabilità per la catastrofe, come tutti gli attori regionali e internazionali che hanno ignorato le aspirazioni ed i sacrifici del popolo siriano in ogni loro tentativo di risolvere la crisi, sostituendoli con i propri bisogni strategici e ambizioni.

Noi condanniamo in modo inequivocabile sia le brutali azioni repressive del regime di Assad che l’intervento militare russo volto a prolungarne l’esistenza. Se la Russia vuole una transizione politica negoziata in Siria, deve fermare la sua assistenza alla brutalità e agli attacchi indiscriminati del regime siriano contro obiettivi civili e deve smettere di incoraggiare il rifiuto persistente del regime di Assad di impegnarsi in ogni serio processo di pace. Gli attacchi contro le popolazioni civili sono in violazione del diritto internazionale. Ci appelliamo alla comunità internazionale, ai governi nazionali e alle Nazioni Unite affinché assicurino il rispetto della Risoluzione del Consiglio di Sicurezza numero 2139, di cui la Russia è parte, che prevede che “Tutte le parti cessino immediatamente tutti gli attacchi contro i civili, così come l’impiego indiscriminato di armi in aree popolate.” Chiediamo a tutti coloro che si occupano di pace internazionale e di difesa dei diritti umani ad unirsi a noi nel condannare le azioni di ostentata arroganza della Russia con tutti i mezzi a vostra disposizione – lobbying dei vostri rappresentanti, manifestazioni pubbliche, petizioni pubbliche e le altre forme di protesta.

FIRMATO:

Mike Gapes, Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Ilford South, UK

Rt. Hon Sir Gerald Kaufman, MP, UK

Thomas Pierret, (Lecturer, University of Edinburgh, UK)

Rupert Read (Reader in Philosophy, University of East Anglia; Chair of Green House Think Tank, UK)

Peter Tatchell (Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation)

Yassin al Haj Saleh (Syrian Writer Living in Exile, Istanbul)

Abdulaziz Almashi (Syria Solidarity Movement, UK)

Haytham Alhamwi (Managing Director, Rethink Rebuild Society, Manchester Syrian Community, UK)

The Syrian Community of the South West UK

Hussam Ayloush (National Chair, Syrian American Council)

Faisal Alazem, Director, Syrian Canadian Council

Abdulrazzak Tammo (Leadership Consultant, Kurdish Future Movement, Syria/UK)

Planet Syria (Organization, UK)

Laila Alodaat (Lawyer, UK)

Juan Cole (Professor of History, University of Michigan & Blogger, Informed Comment, USA)

Jean-Pierre Filiu (Professor, Sciences Po, Paris School of International Affairs)

Sune Haugbølle (Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University, Denmark)

Nader Hashemi (Director, Center for Middle East Studies, University of Denver, USA)

Steven Heydemann (Professor of Middle East Studies, Smith College, USA)

Rana Issa (University of Oslo, Norway)

Mohja Kahf (Professor of Comparative Literature & Middle Eastern Studies, University of Arkansas & Member of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement)

Vinay Lal (Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles, USA)

Ziad Majed (Assistant Professor of International and Comparative Politics, The American University of Paris, France)

Danny Postel (Center for Middle East Studies, University of Denver, USA)

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad (University of Stirling, Scotland)

Luke Cooper (Lecturer in Politics, Anglia Ruskin University, UK)

Juliette Harkin (Doctoral Student, University of East Anglia, UK)

Brian Slocock (Senior Lecturer in Political Science, University of Paisley, Retired, UK)

Mary Rizzo (Syria Solidarity Activist, Blogger at wewritewhatwelike.com, Italy)

Peter Clifford (Middle East Blogger, UK)

Saskia Sassen (Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University, USA)

Saleh, Syrian, network engineer, KSA

Qusai Zakarya (Syrian Activist)

Lilia Marsali,. blogger and activist, Member, Algerian Congress for Democratic Change,France

Bill Fletcher, Jr. (Writer/Activist, Former President, TransAfrica Forum)

Gail Daneker (Friends for a NonViolent World, Minnesota, USA)

Clay Claiborne (Linux Beach Productions, Venice, California, USA)

Terry Burke (Minnesota Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria, USA)

Afra Jalabi (Syrian Writer & Vice-Chair, The Day After Association)

Andrei Codrescu (Poet, Professor Emeritus, Louisiana State University, USA)

Stephen R. Shalom (Editorial Board, New Politics, USA)

James Sadri (The Syria Campaign, UK)

Robin Yassin-Kassab (Writer, Scotland)

Leila Al Shami (Activist and Writer, Jordan)

Rafif Jouejati (Director of FREE-Syria, the Foundation to Restore Equality and Education in Syria & English-language spokeswoman for the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, USA)

Nicolas Hénin (Journalist, Author, ex-ISIS hostage)

Leila Vignal (Fellow, Refugee Studies Centre, Department of International Development, Oxford University, UK)

Paul Woodward (War in Context, USA)

Ella Wind (New York University and MENA Solidarity Network, New York)

Roxanne Abbas (Activist, Minnesota, USA)

Ian Keith (Public School Teacher, Minnesota, USA)

Andrew Berman (Veterans for Peace, USA)

Mujeeb R. Khan (Department of Political Science, University of California Berkeley)

Şener Aktürk (Department of International Relations, Koç University, Turkey)

Omar Qureshi (Teacher, New York)

Michael Karadjis (Teacher, Sydney, Australia)

Fazal Khan (Associate Professor, University of Georgia School of Law, USA)

Kareen El Beyrouty (Economist and Member, Syria Solidarity Movement, UK)

Mark Boothroyd (Syria Solidarity Movement, UK)

Graham Campbell (RISE Glasgow East and Glasgow TUC Unite/ Scottish Trades Union Congress Delegate, UK)

Clara Connolly (Immigration and Human Rights Lawyer, UK)

Soumya Datta (Assistant Professor, South Asian University, New Delhi, India)

Bronwen Griffiths (Activist, UK)

Adina Mutar (Journalist, Romania)

David L. Williams (Peregrine Forum of Wisconsin, USA)

Ed Potts (Socialist, UK)

Nina van Krimpen (Human Rights Activist, The Netherlands)

Alfonso Vázquez (Human Rights Activist, Spain)

Pete Klosterman (Retired Software Engineer, New York, USA)

Therese Rickman Bull (Human Rights Activist, USA)

David Turpin Jr. (Antiwar Committee in Solidarity with the Struggle for Self Determination, Northwest Indiana, USA)

Kelly Grotke (Fellow, Society for the Humanities, Cornell University, USA)

Stephen Hastings-King (Author, Ithaca, New York, USA)

Dr Ahmad Sadiddin, research fellow in development economics, Univ of Florence, Italy

Mazen Halabi (Activist, Minnesota, USA)

Barry Rubin (Independent Scientist, UK)

Subhi Hadidi (Writer, Syria/France)

Farouk Mardam Bey (Publisher, Paris, France)

Wael Khouli (Physician Executive, Member of Syrian American Medical Society, USA)

Mary Lynn Murphy (Grandmothers for Peace Delegate to the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, USA)

Rihab Naheel (Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria, Minnesota, USA)

Susan Ahmad (Syrian Human Rights Activist and Journalist, UK)

Adnan Almahameed (Syrian Citizen, Community Organizer, Canada)

Pierluigi Blasioli (Student, University of Pescara, Italy)

James Bloodworth (Journalist, Editor of Left Foot Forward, UK)

Samantha Falciatori (Humanitarian Volunteer and Solidarity Activist, Italy)

Terry Glavin (Author/Journalist/Columnist, Canada)

Nancy Lindisfarne (Anthropologist, Author, UK)

Grant Padgham (Solidarity Activist, UK)

Harry Shotton (Student and Campaigner, UK)

Kellie Strom (Artist and Children’s Author, UK)

Jonathan Neale (Writer, UK)

Bill Scheurer (Executive Director, On Earth Peace, New Windsor, Maryland, USA)

Kenan Rahmani (Syrian American Activist, Washington DC)

Harald Etzbach (Translator/Journalist, Germany)

Ken Hiebert (Activist, Ladysmtih, BC, Canada)

Andrew Pollack (MENA Solidarity Network-US, Brooklyn)

Richard Dawson (Concerned Citizen, Los Angeles, California)

Robin ‘Roblimo’ Miler (IT/Science Reporter and Editor, USA)

Louis Proyect (Writer, CounterPunch film co-editor, New York City)

John Wilborn (Veterans for Peace, Chapter 168, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)

Fouad Roueiha (Journalist and co-founder of Solidarity with Syrian People Committee, Rome, Italy)

Gerard Di Trolio (Editor, rankandfile.ca, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Thomas F Barton (Military Resistance Newsletter)

Ricardo Salabert (Political Activist, Portugal)

Manuel Barrera (Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA)

Jason Schulman (Editorial Board, New Politics, USA)

Edna Bonhomme (Doctoral Candidate, Princeton University, Brooklyn, New York, USA)

Associazione Rose di Damasco (Como, Italy)

Riccardo Bella (Activist for Syria and Palestine, Milano, Italy)

Veronica Bellintani (Student, Activist and Volunteer with Syrian Refugees, Italy)

Karama Napoli (Committee to Support the Arab People, Italy)

Fiore Haneen Sarti (Human Rights Activist, Italy)

Jane Kelly (Activist, UK)

Jamie Milne (Labour Friends of Ukraine, UK)

Lara Bartocci (Freethinker and Graphic Designer, Italy)

Enrico De Angelis (Media Analyst, Free Press Unlimited, Italy)

Comitato Permanente per la Rivoluzione Siriana, Italy

Luke Staunton (Syria Solidarity Movement, UK)

Joshka Wessels (Postdoctoral Researcher on Syria, Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

Carol Coren (Social Enterprise Entrepreneur, Oregon and Pennsylvania, USA)

Anthony Saidy (Author, Los Angeles, USA)

Ralph Apel (Engineer, Frankfurt am Main, Germany)

Linda Parsons (Supporter of the Syrian People’s Revolution, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA)

Ali Rahabi (Syrian Activist, Local Coordination Committees in Syria, Deir ez-Zor, Syria)

Zaher Sahloul (Physician, President of the Syrian American Medical Society, USA)

Mohamad Khouli (Activist, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)

Jennifer Kaiser (Researcher, Turkey)

Polly Kellogg (Retired Associate Professor, St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, USA)

Basel Watfa (Pharmacist & Translator, Syrian refugee camp, Kusel, Germany)

Luna Watfa (Freelance Journalist/Photographer, Syrian refugee camp, Kusel, Germany)

Seyla Benhabib (Professor of Political Science and Philosophy, Yale University, USA)

Annalisa Roveroni (CIVIC Cooperativa Sociale, Italy)

Enzio Zuffo (Istituto Sviluppo Olistico, Italy)

Fred Mecklenburg (News & Letters, Chicago, USA)

Ron Aminzade (Professor of Sociology, University of Minnesota, USA)

MJ Maynes (Department of History, University of Minnesota, USA)

Meredith Tax (Writer & Chair of the Centre for Secular Space, New York, USA)

Deidre A. Kellogg Ketroser (Human Rights Activist, Refugee Advocate/Advisor, Minneapolis, USA)
Originale in inglese: http://www.syriauk.org/p/hands-off-syria-applies-to-russia-tooas.html