Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How a 24hr truce to pick up bodies became a non-aggression pact between ISIS & Syrian rebels

Today Democracy for America sent this out in an email:
Recent reports have claimed some of the so-called "moderate" Syrian rebels that would receive money and weapons under this plan have agreed to a "non-aggression pact" with ISIS. It's possible that, despite the president's best intentions, weapons sent to Syrian rebels could find their way into the hands of ISIS -- and be used to target Americans.
By most reliable accounts, one group, Sons of Golan, associated with the Free Syrian Army, that had been waging a heroic and hard fought campaign to rid an area near Damascus of ISIS agreed to a 24 hour truce so that both sides could remove their dead from the battlefield and bury them, after which the battle between the two forces resumed. This led to widespread reports in the western anti-war movement that the Free Syrian Army generally had concluded, in words design to invoke memories of the opportunistic agreement made between Hitler and Stalin, a "non-aggression pact" with the extreme jihadist group ISIS in Syria.

Based on a single unverified source, this story is being spread like wildfire by groups that hitherto have shown little concern for the 200,000 Syrians that have died in the last three years as a result of dictator Bashar al-Assad's vicious attempts to cling to power. For example VoteVets included this language in petition opposing the Syrian people's struggle against the Assad regime:
VoteVets cannot support sending arms to Syrian rebels that many reports continue to suggest are still fighting alongside some of the same groups we fought against in Iraq, and are even reportedly entering into truces with ISIS.
And Just Foreign Policy said in their Congress call-in campaign:
Congress is expected to vote soon on a controversial proposal to arm and train Syrian rebels. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have expressed opposition. With recent reports that some so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels this proposal seeks to arm have signed non-aggression pacts with ISIS, as in the past, now is not the time to rush into a policy whose consequences remain so unknown.
The Putin mouthpiece RT ran with this headline:
ISIS and moderate Syrian rebels strike truce…

The militants of Islamic State have reportedly struck a deal with moderate Syrian rebels not to fight each other and focus on toppling the government. Some reports say the deal was brokered by the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda branch in Syria.
While the openly right-wing WND put it this way:
'Moderate' Syrian rebels sign truce with ISIS

While the Obama administration works to coordinate aid to the Syrian rebels, moderate and Islamic Syrian rebels reportedly just signed a first-of-its-kind non-aggression pact with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, according to a monitoring group.
None of these reports noted that the FSA and other forces allied to defeat the Assad regime have been the only groups fighting ISIS in Syria for the past year. They didn't mention that at all.

All of these stories have one source, a 12 September Agence France-Presse report:
Syria rebels, IS in 'non-aggression' pact near Damascus

Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time in a suburb of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group said on Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the ceasefire deal was agreed between IS and moderate and Islamist rebels in Hajar al-Aswad, south of the capital.

Under the deal, "the two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime."
The Daily Beast got the real story, and reported that these false reports:
are easily disproved by evidence that ISIS and the moderate rebels are still fighting each other in that region, according to rebel commanders on the ground and activists supporting the Syrian opposition.

“The only report we have received on anything resembling a ceasefire was that ISIS and Sons of Golan, an FSA brigade outside Damascus, halted fighting for 24 hours to collect bodies before hostilities resumed. However, this report also confirms that there is substantial fighting between the two groups that is leading to fatalities,” said Mohammed Alaa Ghanem, director of government relations for the Syrian American Council, a Washington NGO that works with the Syrian opposition and the FSA. “It is fantastical to think that rebels outside Damascus would expend lives and resources to rout ISIS from the Damascus suburbs; besiege the group for over a month; wait until two days after Obama announces he will aid the rebels to fights ISIS; and then sign a deal with ISIS (the first ever) while the group was besieged in its last holdout.”

The Syrian American Council collected public statements from several of the rebel commanders on the ground near Hajar al-Aswad, the town where the supposed ceasefire was reported to take place. All of the rebel leaders on the ground issued statements to deny the report, according to the group.

“The threat of ISIS is omnipresent across Northern Idlib and is a threat to the Syrian people, the region, and the international community at large,” said Jamal Maarouf, the head of the FSA-linked Syrian Revolutionaries’ Front, in a statement. “SRF remains committed to combating the terrorist threat of ISIS wherever it may be found in order to liberate the Syrian people from all threats, whether foreign or domestic.”
It's no secret that Putin's Russia has long supported Assad's bloody campaign to stay in power. They have supported it with bombs and bullets so it should surprise no one that RT also supports it by spreading the vilest lies against his opposition. Likewise extreme right-wing and fascist forces from around the globe have supported it in a similar manner, so we know where WND is coming from. But why are these so-called "progressive" and "anti-imperialist" groups so ready to spread the same pro-Assad propaganda against the forces fighting for democracy in Syria without the slightest attempts at fact checking?






Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Obama still seeking $500 million to arm Syrian rebels!

After US president Barack Obama's initial request on 26 June, 2014 for funding to arm those fighting the fascist regime of Bashar al-Assad, the media was full of stories like this:
President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $500 million to train and arm vetted members of the Syrian opposition, as the U.S. grapples for a way to stem a civil war that has also fueled the al-Qaida inspired insurgency in neighboring Iraq.
Many on the so-called anti-imperialist "Left" found this request somewhat embarrassing because they had been saying for years that Obama has always been the principal force funding and training Assad's opposition. So without offering something like a shred of evidence of previous funding, they simply claimed it and made reports like these.

From Anti-War.com we got:
Having thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at the various “moderate” Syrian rebel factions, the US has very little to show for it...Still, President Obama sees no reason to try something new, and is doubling down with a request to Congress for another $500 million for Syrian rebel funding, aiming at both training and equipment for the factions.
And from Democracy Now we got:
President Obama has asked Congress for $500 million to train and arm Syrian rebels. If approved, it would mark the most direct U.S. military role in the conflict to date, following more covert forms of support for the rebels.
If by "more covert forms of support," they mean radios and MRE (meals ready to eat), I will concede the point, if they mean military support of the type that Obama started requesting then and is still requesting today, then they have a steep hill of proof to climb.

At the time it was also being reported that 160,000 people had been killed in the Syrian conflict. Now after almost three months, 40,000 more Syrian lives and the prominent be-headings of three westerners, Obama is still campaigning for that $500 million to arm those now fighting both Assad and ISIS in Syria.

This is the long and short of Obama's celebrated support for those fighting for democracy in Syria. For more than three years now he has been all bark and no bite in the fight for freedom in Syria.








Like I've been saying:
How Obama has supported Assad's gas murder always
Obama's Real Syria Policy: Endless War
The Courtship Continues: Obama stopped French strike on Assad
The Courtship Continues: Obama's New Gift to Assad
How Obama Helped Assad Kill with Poison Gas in Syria
Win-Win for Assad as Obama Response to CW Mass Murder Put on Hold
Obama Denied Gas Masks to Assad's Victims
Obama's Dilemma and Assad's Opportunity
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad Exposed!
Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
Chemical weapons use in Syria, Has Obama's red-line has been crossed?
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
SecState John Kerry and his "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad
How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring
More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy
Obama: Did the CIA betray Assad's opposition in Syria?
Obama planning drone strikes against Assad's opposition in Syria
How Obama helps Assad: US tried to start war between FSA & al Nusra Front

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Are ISIS and Assad enemies in Syria?

The fall of Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq to forces under the leadership of ISIS is blow back from Obama's failure to take action after Assad's chemical attacks.
Now that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, also known IS, has finally forced itself onto our national radar, we hear many strange things from media experts. We hear that ISIS has been the principal force fighting the Assad regime in Syria and that since ISIS and Assad are enemies, any strikes US President Barack Obama takes against ISIS in Syria will indirectly aid Assad. This is nonsense. Obviously these people haven't been reading my blog.

Raqqa is the Syrian headquarters of ISIS. Raqqa is where over a hundred Syrian POW were marched out in their underwear and murdered in trenches on 27 August. US intelligence officers think Raqqa is where the Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff were beheaded. Raqqa was initially freed from Assad Regime control by a coalition of groups including the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front in early 2012. They were bombed mercilessly by the Assad regime. As these force left to prosecute the war against Assad, ISIS moved in and eventually forced Assad's opposition out. Assad never attacked ISIS headquarters in Raqqa until very recently, in fact only after Obama ordered air strikes against ISIS in Iraq. For months, Assad left the clearly marked and well known ISIS bases untouched. He allowed ISIS to grow and fester in this safe-haven he allowed them in Raqqa. Only the FSA and other opposition groups took up the battle against ISIS, but they have been badly under-armed and forced to fight on two fronts, the Assad regime and ISIS. This is how ISIS could grow to become the threat we face today.

Since Obama is about to reveal his plan for fighting ISIS and since there is still so much confusion about the relationship between ISIS and Assad, I think some of the things I have been saying for almost a year now bear repeating, so to recap:

In December 2013, I listed 10  items that showed that Assad was behind much of the terrorism happening in Syrian and many of them revealed direct connections between these jihadist terrorists and Assad.

Item 1
The Assad regime has a long history of collaborating with Islamic terrorists and other extremists. This type of activity started with Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafez Assad. In the 1970's and 1980's Syria and Syrian occupied Lebanon became a safe haven for some of the most violent terror groups in the region and beyond. This is what the US State Department's "1995 Patterns of Global Terrorism" had to say about Syria:
Syria provides safehaven and support for several groups that engage in international terrorism. Spokesmen for some of these groups, particularly Palestinian rejectionists, continue to claim responsibility for attacks in Israel and the occupied territories/Palestinian autonomous areas. Several radical terrorist groups maintain training camps or other facilities on Syrian territory and in Syrian-controlled areas of Lebanon...
Item 2
During the US-Iraq War, Bashar al-Assad provided safehaven and ran the "rat-line" for al Qaeda fighting in Iraq. Speaking of the 2003-2011 Iraq War, Rowan Scarborough, writing in the Washington Times says:
Mr. Assad allowed al Qaeda operatives to set up a “rat line” through his country and into northeastern Iraq. Hundreds of young terrorists, many recruited from North Africa, took airline flights into Damascus and joined networks ready to sneak them across the border.
...

[Retired Army] Gen. [John M.] Keane, recalling briefings he received in Baghdad, said the Assad regime actively promoted the flow of terrorists into Iraq.

“Syria intelligence services facilitated the movement of al Qaeda fighters from Damascus airport to the eastern border of Syria,” he said.

At Damascus airport, he said, they were easy to pick out: “Bearded. One-way ticket. Very little luggage.”
After the US withdrew from Iraq, Assad had these al Qaeda terrorists locked up, saying they were a threat to state security. He also announced that he was now a willing partner in the US "War on Terror" and began cooperating with the CIA's torture and special rendition program.

After mass democracy protests broke out in March 2011, he declared an amnesty and released them from prison. In fact, between March and June of 2011, Assad declared three separate amnesties. Al Jazeera reported, 21 Jun 2011:
Bashar al-Assad, Syria's president, has ordered a new general amnesty for all crimes committed in the country up until June 20, in another apparent attempt to calm months of protests against his rule.
...
The president ordered a reprieve on May 31 for all political prisoners in the country, including members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Hundreds of detainees were released, according to rights groups.
That last was a big deal because in Assad's Syria, mere membership in the Muslim Brotherhood could get one the death penalty. Bashar al-Assad said these amnesties were meant as concessions to the democracy movement, but that explanation just doesn't stand up to scrutiny because while he was releasing Islamic terrorists and even common criminals from his prisons, he was shooting unarmed peaceful protesters in ever increasing numbers.

It is recognized that some of those released in these amnesties eventually found new homes in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS] and al Nusra Front, and given his past cozy relationships with these people, it is very easy to imagine that some of them became his covert agents and are working for him still.

Farid Ghadry, a Syrian writer from Aleppo, summed up the situation recently, 19 Dec 2013, in a piece titled "Assad is al-Qaeda:"
During the Iraq War, Assad trained, supplied, and facilitated al-Qaeda’s terror against US troops causing over 4,400 casualties and 32,000 wounded. In response, the US chose not to confront him. Not one shot was fired to weaken Assad with the exception of one raid on the Syrian-Iraqi town border of Bou Kamal that netted an al-Qaeda facilitator recruited by the Assad regime to wreak havoc on US troops. Most people have forgotten how and by whom US troops were killed in Iraq.

Forward to today’s civil war in Syria where Assad, fearing US threats to strike him, re-deployed the same Iraqi tactics by empowering and inviting the same al-Qaeda he trained to join the war in Syria against his rule. This was a high price gamble Assad reasoned would scare once again the Americans into submitting to the threat of al-Qaeda as they did in Iraq. Never forget that Assad is the arsonist and the firefighter both at once. All those voices screaming “better Assad than al-Qaeda” are but fools who fell for Assad’s ploy once again.
Item 3
Abdullah al-Omar is a defector that claims he worked in the press office of the presidential palace in Damascus, as part of a 15-person team under the direction of long-time government spokeswoman and presidential adviser Bouthaina Shabaan. After he defected in Sept 2012, CNN conducted a four hour interview with him and reported:
Until he defected and fled the Syrian capital last month, al-Omar said, the bulk of his work consisted of lying.

"Our job was to fabricate, make deceptions and cover up for Bashar al-Assad's crimes," he said.
[Added note] And he said something else almost a year ago that makes me think Assad wouldn't have opposed ISIS's treatment of James Foley and Steven Sotloff:
"Bashar al-Assad has 16 TV screens in the meeting room, in his office, and also in the press office," the defector said. "Most news channels on the top row of the TV screens were Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC, CNN. ... He considered media people his first enemy. He hated them more than the revolution of the Free Syrian Army, especially the foreign reporters who enter Syria, because these were people who were showing the true picture and truth about what's happening in Syria. ...

"He would get very angry and swear, cursing the secret police and security forces saying, why can't they find out where these reporters are, capture them and 'bring them to me so that I can kill them.'" [Al Jazeera video now blocked in the US]
Item 4
Adham Saif al-Din, writing for Asharq Al-Awsat, 4 Jan 2013, spoken to an anonymous "Syrian regime media defector, who previously worked at the pro-Assad Addounia TV" and reported:
Al-Arabiya published a video, leaked by the same media defector, which shows a young Syrian woman – her features blurred to protect her identity – relating the story of how she was kidnapped by Syrian rebels in the city of Harasta in Rif Dimashq governorate. Following this, we see a clip of one of the young men confessing to his part in this kidnapping; the only problem is that the story is a complete sham. In fact, the compete video clip shows the young Syrian woman – her features uncovered – relating the same story, only this time smiling and stumbling over her lines.
Item 5
Nawaf Fares, formerly Syria's ambassador to Iraq, defected in July 2012. He was interviewed by James Bay of Al Jazeera live on Inside Syria. Among the many interesting things he said was that all the large explosions in Damascus were not the work of terrorist but of the regime. He said the explosion that struck the intelligence headquarters, most people got a 15 minute notice to get out of the building. that's how he knew it was the work of the regime. He said they had also done this sort of thing in Iraq. [Al Jazeera video now blocked in the US]

Item 6
From my blog post Senior Syrian Officers Defect, June 2012:

And with these defections, more of the gory details of the Assad regimes crimes came out, as with this June 3 report in Al Arabiya News:
Syrian air force officer defects, tells horrors of Houla massacre

A senior Syrian military officer decided to defect and join opposition forces after witnessing hundreds of pro-regime militiamen massacring more than 100 civilians in the town of Houla one week ago, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
...
However, the witness account of Major Jihad Raslan to the UK-based Observer online newspaper, defied the Syrian government’s propaganda and “made-up” scenarios.

Raslan said he was in his house, around 300 meters from the site of the first massacre in the village of Taldous, when several hundred men, whom he knew to be Shabiha members, rode into town in cars and army trucks and on motorbikes.

“A lot of them were bald and many had beards,” he told The Observer. “Many wore white sports shoes and army pants. They were shouting: ‘Shabiha forever, for your eyes, Assad.’ It was very obvious who they were."

“We used to be told that armed groups killed people and the Free Syria Army burned down houses,” he said. “They lied to us. Now I saw what they did with my own eyes.”
The Assad regime has insisted all along that "terrorists" committed the Houla massacre.

Item 7
Al Arabiya News Exposes Assad Phony Terrorist Arms Seizures

All Voices has provided this English language description of the video:
Syria - Corrupt Syria Cops sell Video Clip of themselves planting fake arms evidence to smear pro Democracy movement. - 15000 lira was earned by one dirty cop who sold a hidden video of other dirty Cops opening packages of brand new weapons and then putting them in a pile with a bunch of weapons allegedly seized from the pro Democracy protesters. Yes - The Syria Security forces are so dirty they even will make hidden videos of each other committing crimes and evil acts and then sell the video for money.
Item 8
I broke this story myself when I showed that a photo which many Assad supporters, like the FARS News Agency, were claiming to be of children massacred by al Nusra in Tal Abyad, Syria on 5 Aug 2013, was actually a picture of children killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan a year before and credited to Daniel Berehulak of Getty Images and published on 23 July 2012. See BREAKING NEWS: Fake Photo Exposes Assad Regime Lie about Rebel Massacre in Tal Abyad

Item 9
Iran's PressTV Promotes Fake Syrian Rebel Massacre Video is a blog post I wrote about another false charge of Islamic terrorism in Syria made this August by Assad and friends:
The PressTV video does depict the very ugly scene of three men being burned alive but this didn't happen in Syria, and it wasn't done by "the al-Qaeda-affiliated group al-Nusra Front militants" as the pro-Assad propaganda outlet claims.

That video came from Iraq and was posted on-line 09 April 2011, almost two years before the events PressTV claims it is showing. It shows up as a link in a posting to the Islam Watch website on 9 April 2011 with the title Islamic Barbarism: Gays Burned Alive in Iraq. The link leads to a video posted on Zandiq.com.
Item 10
Writing for World Affairs, Michael Weiss criticizes the snap conclusions made by the Assad regime and Guardian reporter Jonathan Steele that al Qaeda has behind a Damascus bombing that took place just before Christmas two years ago on 23 Dec 2011:
According to the Syrian state media, suicide bombers drove two cars rigged with explosives to points just outside two hard-to-reach facilities: the State Security Administration building and the Military Security base in Kafarsouseh, a neighborhood in central Damascus. These facilities are preceded by several military checkpoints, and any person or vehicle desiring access to them will need to carry a special permit. Cars also tend to be searched thoroughly before being able to roll right on up to the doorstep of secret police headquarters.

When a terrorist attack is perpetrated, it takes oodles of man-hours of forensic analysis and data-gathering to determine the party responsible and the methods used. Not so in Syria. The regime’s Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported in an impressive 13 minutes that al-Qaeda was the culprit and that a man called Munir al-Binjali “conducted” the attack. The only problem is, al-Binjali is alive and well in Saudi Arabia, not blown to bits in Damascus.

Ah, but temporal contradictions are no match for Baathist logic. Syrian television cut straight to one of its many dolled-up talking heads, who reassured a troubled nation of the “arrest of the terrorists who blew themselves up today.”
There is much more, but these 10 items should be enough to discourage anyone from just taking the Assad Regime's word that the terror threat to Syrians is coming from the sources the regime claims.
In early January 2014, I wrote Bashar al-Jihad: Is ISIS a child of the regime?:
Bashar al-Assad is one smart mass murderer. He has been saying all along that he is fighting al Qaeda and not a revolutionary movement of the Syrian people while at the same time letting al Qaeda leaders, many of them known terrorists and murderers, out of his prisons so they can provide "leadership" to the al Qaeda like groups, the ISIS and al Nusra, that are proving to be a boon to him and a plague on the democratic opposition.

Assad also has a history of attacking the Free Syrian Army more that he attacks these jihadist groups, while they have a very spotty record of attacking the regime. Assad also has a practise of bombing Syrian civilians in schools, hospitals and breadlines while leaving the camps and headquarters of these groups untouched.
[Added note] This was true about ISIS but not so true about al Nusra, a point I was not so clear on at the time.
From Al Arabiya we have this report:

Syrian opposition: Jihadists ‘serve Assad’s interests’

2 January 2014
Syria’s opposition National Coalition described on Wednesday al-Qaeda-linked group in the country of having ties to the Syrian regime, and accused it of serving the government’s interests.

The strong criticism against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) comes after the group reportedly tortured and killed an opposition doctor in northern Syria.

“The Coalition believes that ISIL is closely linked to the terrorist regime and serves the interests of the clique of President Bashar al-Assad, directly or indirectly,” Agence France-Presse quoted the Syrian opposition group as saying in a statement.

“The murder of Syrians by this group leaves no doubt about the intentions behind their creation, their objectives and the agendas they serve, which is confirmed by the nature of their terrorist actions hostile to the Syrian revolution,” it added.

It called on rebels who had joined ISIL to abandon the group and for the “prosecution of the leaders of this terrorist organization along with the criminals of the regime.”
NOW published this revealing report back in November:
ISIS is the child of the regime
The Assad regime helped establish the most repressive jihadi groups by releasing its leaders from prison, say activists
...
Doha Hassan
November 11, 2013
“They asked for my ID and if I was working with the Free Syrian Army or the [Syrian] Military Council,” said cameraman Abd Hakwati, recounting how a masked man arrested him at a roadblock at the entrance of the supposedly-liberated city of Raqqa. The man said through an Iraqi accent, “You cannot enter Raqqa before you get the emir’s approval.”


Hakwati goes on: “A while later, another masked man came over and asked me which institution I was working for and what media channels I communicated with. He noted the address of the person I was going to see in Raqqa and why I was going there, and then allowed me to go in. I felt like I was entering a foreign land for the first time, as though we were back under the Syrian regime with all its tyranny and repression, albeit in an extremist Islamist form.”

This is the violence of the Assad regime-bred Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which spread its doctrinal control by the sword in regions that were once known as “liberated.” In early 2012, Hakwati took his camera and started shooting short documentaries in northern Syria. “A masked man came in Deir Ezzor’s Mayadin and pulled me by the hair, insulting me and threatening to slaughter me. He took me to the Religious Committee. My friend tried to intervene by telling them, ‘We are sons of the same revolution,’ but the masked man answered, ‘I have nothing to do with this revolution of yours.’”
...
On September 29, 2013, 15 students at Raqqa’s Commerce School were killed in a regime air raid. “I went to the ISIS headquarters and was showered with insults levelled by masked Tunisian men,” says Nawfal. “So I fled to a female friend’s house. ISIS is currently after me and its emir has ordered my killing and threatened my family. What I don’t understand is why the regime bombed the school rather than the security centers housing ISIS and the Nusra Front.

According to numerous studies and reports, regime prisons are the womb that birthed the extremist Islamists who have become today’s leaders of ISIS, Nusra, and others.

Activist Maher Esper says: “I saw prisoners who were with me in the Saydnaya prison in most YouTube videos since the emergence of Nusra, ISIS, and other Islamic brigades.” Syrian regime forces arrested Esper in 2006 and sentenced him to seven years in prison, five of which were spent at the Saydnaya prison before he was encompassed in the presidential amnesty issued at the start of the revolution.

Esper asserts, “There’s a person I saw in a video in which fourteen Raqqa clans pledged allegiance to ISIS, he used to sleep on the bunk directly above mine. The regime released those individuals despite their involvement in murders, even in prison. All those I saw became members or leaders of ISIS (like Nadim Balous), al-Nusra (like Baha’ al-Bash), Jaysh al-Islam (like Zahran Alloush), Ahrar al-Sham (like Hassane Abboud), or Suqur al-Sham brigades (like Ahmad Issa al-Sheikh).” More...
This article is a translation from the original Arabic.
War in Context was onto this story back in October:
By accident or design, ISIS is helping Assad

October 6, 2013
By James Traub
...
ISIS appears to have up to 8,000 soldiers in Syria, a tiny number compared with the 100,000 or so rebel fighters. But the group’s medieval ideology, as well as its pathological obsession with enforcing Islamist rectitude in the towns and cities its soldiers have infiltrated, has made it a source of terror. One evening I was sitting at an outdoor cafe where a grizzled man was steadily smoking a hookah and shooting jets of tobacco smoke through his nostrils. He called himself Abu Abdul, and he was a fighter with a brigade affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the “moderate” forces backed by the West. We talked about the jihadists. Then he said something else. “He asks that you not mention the name of his brigade,” my interpreter said. “Everyone is scared of ISIS.”

President Bashar al-Assad has received two enormous gifts in recent months. The first is the Russian-brokered deal to remove Syria’s chemical weapons, which distracted attention from his relentless campaign to kill and terrorize his enemies and also compelled Western governments to work with him as the country’s legitimate ruler. The second is ISIS, which has also deflected attention away from the war between the regime and the rebels and has vindicated as nothing else could Assad’s persistent claim that he is confronting, not political opponents, but “terrorists,” as his foreign minister, Walid al-Muallem, recently claimed at the United Nations.
[Added Note] Never has this been more true than today, because while ISIS terrorism is all over the news, Assad is killing Syrians at a steady rate of about 500 a week with hardly a mention in the "left" or mainstream media.
For this reason, it has become a fixed conviction in Antakya that ISIS functions as a secret arm of the regime. This sounds like an all-too-understandable conspiracy theory, yet even Western diplomats I’ve spoken to consider it plausible, if scarcely proved. In the summer of 2012, Assad released from prison a number of jihadists who had fought with al Qaeda in Iraq and who are thought to have helped formed ISIS. Reporters, activists, and fighters also note that while regime artillery has flattened the FSA’s headquarters in Aleppo, the ISIS camp next door was left untouched until the jihadi group left; the same is true in the fiercely contested eastern city of Raqqa. ISIS, for its part, has done very little to liberate regime-held areas, but has seized control of both Raqqa and the border town of Azaz from FSA forces. More...
Also in January 2014, I published this:

Now comes this report from al Monitor that lends more weight to that conclusion, and takes it one step further, indicating that the Assad Regime has direct command authority in the ISIS, or at least, important sections of it, and its atrocities are less about some Islamic fanaticism, and more about slaughtering and terrorism the Syrian people from within while warding off any support from those outside:
SOC member Michel Kilo claims evidence of Assad links to ISIS

by Andrew Parasiliti
23 January 2014
MONTREUX, Switzerland — Michel Kilo, a member of the Syrian National Coalition delegation participating in the Geneva II talks, said that the opposition is preparing its own case implicating the Syrian government in collaboration with terrorist groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

“There are photos that have been found of several emirs of ISIS with [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad,” said Kilo, who spoke with Al-Monitor on the sidelines of the Geneva II talks.

“The pictures were taken before they became emirs in ISIS, when they were all officers in the Syrian special service. There are documents sent by the special service to ISIS telling them to capture or kidnap people in Raqqa and Jarabalus, and these documents will be published. And you will see how the regime fabricated these extremist groups that did not exist in our country at the beginning of the revolution.

“Without a doubt, we will use this as an argument during the negotiations,” Kilo warned. “We have officers who have defected from the [Syrian] special service who worked to create these terrorist organizations; people who used to work with al-Qaeda. They know the names and the dates and what they have done along with the directions they were given. All this is documented. The chief of the cabinet of [special security adviser to Assad] Mr. Ali Mamlouk defected one year ago, and he has documented this. If [Syrian Foreign Minister] Walid Moallem will talk about terrorism, he will receive a true lecture about terrorists. And you shall see.” More...
In June of this year I wrote:

The support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was critical to the growth of al Qaeda in Iraq in its formative years. During the US occupation of Iraq, he gave them safe haven in Syria and ran the rat-line for them into Iraq. Syrian security forces ran a series of safe houses leading to the Iraqi border. He also ran the main pipeline through which foreign jihadists joined the fight against US imperialism in Iraq.
...
Through this alliance, the Assad regime was able to develop intimate ties and personal connections to al Qaeda in Iraq. Ties between the jihadists and fascist regimes have a long history. Bashar's daddy, Hafez Assad, also used the jihadists before he chopped them up. Mummar Qaddafi funded jihad all over Africa and as far away as Asia. An alliance of jihadists and Qaddafi regime remnants is behind most of Libya's current security woos. Now we see reports of former Iraqi Baathist security officers and Syrian security officers acting as "emirs", or commanders in ISIS.

In Assad's Prisons
Among other things, these ties allowed Bashar al-Assad to know who exactly to lock up after the US started pulling out of Iraq in 2008. Suddenly, jihadists in Syria were more trouble than they were wo
So don't be fooled by those who say attacking ISIS in Syria will help Assad. Barack Obama should support the Free Syrian Army and the other democratic forces in Syria and help them send both ISIS and Assad to hell.

And for those that claim their are no progressive or revolutionary forces in Syria, i.e. "there is no moderate opposition," I have a video for you:
rth. Assad welcomed the change in the White House. President-elect Obama sent his people to Damascus a week after winning the election. Soon Assad was being brought in from the cold and signing on as a partner in the "War on Terror," US military delegations followed the diplomatic and congressional ones to Damascus and Assad was making his famous water-boarding plus detention facilities available for the CIA's special rendition program. When the Arab Revolt came to Syria in early 2011, it came as a surprise. Obama's Damascus envoy John Kerry and Bashar al-Assad were collaborating on some grandiose plans for the whole region the same week Qaddafi started shooting protesters in Benghazi.

Meanwhile, back in Iraq, the continued effects of US war damage to Iraq's infrastructure, the chauvinistic US occupation, and the sectarian Shiite government the US left in its wake, continued to ignore and antagonize the Sunni community and consequently jihadists continued to multiply. Mummar Qaddafi wasn't the only regional leader happy to see his jihadists off to fight the Americans in Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq grew and morphed into the Islamic State of Iraq and it continued to dispatch suicide bombers to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities with tragic regularity.

After massive peaceful protests broken out in Syria 15 March 2011, and grew in April and May, Assad knew just what to do with the jihadists in his jails. He let them out! He needed them free, i.e. at large, to form the terrorist groups he claimed were his real opposition. Besides, he needed the space to lock up those protesters demanding democracy!

Many of the jihadists freed by Assad, together with some Syrian state security officers, joined Baghdadi's people in Syria. This is the core group that brought jihadism to the Syrian conflict and allowed the Islamic State of Iraq to grow its pretensions to include the Levant. From his earlier collaboration with some of these same personalities, Assad knew just how to utilize this terrorist threat. He also knew how to help them recruit internationally and could "fail" to stop their entry into Syria. He knew that if he could make it appear that the only choices for Syria's future was al Qaeda or al Assad, the West would back Assad and so would most Syrians. Assad knew it was a big risk to let those mad dogs off the leash but he was desperate. He needed the jihadist threat to grow. That wasn't difficult.

Thanks in large part to Obama's interdiction of arms to the Free Syrian Army and the other pro-democracy fighters, ISIS & JAN tended to have the best weapons, win the most victories and recruit the most fighters, and just as a decade earlier young Muslims were being drawn to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight US imperialism, now they were being drawn to Syria to aid a people seemingly otherwise abandoned by the world.

ISIS should have been stopped in Raqqa

As the conflict dragged on and Assad's violence and murder increased with Western tolerance and acceptance, the blood of a growing number of Syrians provided fertile ground for the growth of jihadism. When Obama reneged on his pledge to respond to Assad's growing and continued use of chemical weapons, he showed again that Western promises were worth nothing and Western regard for Arab lives was worth even less. This failure to act on long promoted "humanitarian" concerns greatly demoralized the democratic forces and represented a propaganda coup for those that said only fools would look to the West to find a vision of Syrian or Iraqi future. After 21 August 2013, many more fighters cast their lot with the jihadists. The fall of Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq to forces under the leadership of ISIS is blow back from Obama's failure to take action after Assad's chemical attacks.

The Syrian revolutionaries regard ISIS as a tool of the regime. Its brutal imposition of Shura law in the areas it controls, complete with beheadings and torture for religious infractions, creates precisely the image of terror and sectarian violence the regime wants for its opposition. Their terrible reputation causes Syrians to fear the revolution and foreigners to refuse it support. It has carried out assassinations and kidnappings against the Free Syrian Army and other anti-regime forces and where ISIS has been routed, it has been FSA fighters not SAA soldiers found in their jails. Why they rarely attack regime forces remains a mystery but it is easy to see why the Assad regime so rarely attacks them, by accident or design, they are doing the regime's work.
Clearly marked ISIS HQ in Raqqa remains unbombed

Well funded by Shaalan's Saudi backers and free from attack by Assad's forces, ISIS was on a roll. By May 2013 they had taken over control of Raqqa and the surrounding liberated areas from the Free Syrian Army. Once they did, Assad's air force stopped bombing military targets in Raqqa. It was there, in Raqqa, that ISIS was able to establish a center. With the Syrian opposition forces tied up fighting Assad's forces and with their own forces seemingly safe from regime attacks, these foreign jihadists could grow in the safe haven they had been allowed to establish in Syria. From there they have been able to take the battle back across the border to Iraq.
So don't be fooled by those who say attacking ISIS in Syria will help Assad. Barack Obama should support the Free Syrian Army and the other democratic forces in Syria and help them send both ISIS and Assad to hell.

And for those that claim there are no progressive or revolutionary forces in Syria, i.e. "there is no moderate opposition," I have a video for you:


 
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria


Saturday, August 30, 2014

The worst thing about our plunder of the Earth's Oil

I have thought this for a long time and yet I've never heard it spoken of or written about it myself before, but I will now. Maybe it has something to do with being in Texas. And forgive me it my numbers don't have the usual precision. I'm not going to Wikipedia this one. I'm going to "ball park" it, but I know my numbers are close enough for government work, so here goes.

First some context.

This is how I see the human experiment I'm trying so hard to help succeed, and I have no idea how it has or will work out on other inhabitable planets, but here's how it went on Earth:

This is my time-line. About 2 million years ago we started to separate out ourselves as a species, probably 200,000 years ago we were fully formed as modern homo sapiens. Still we stumbled around the rain forests for most of that time, learned the basics - how to make fire, how to make tools, how to hunt, how to hunt in teams, how to raise animals we didn't have to hunt, and finally, how to grow our own food so we could stay in one place and start making some real progress. Those basics took a really long time. We call that period pre-historic because we didn't even start writing things down until say 8,000 years ago.

So here we are today. We've made a lot of progress since then. The technology we don't yet have is easily within our grasp. Not knowing how to conjure up fire when it gets cold is not our problem our problem is a lack of justice within the dominate species on this planet.

Now, if we can get through this rough spot and make it into clearer waters, and I believe that will sort itself out, one way or the other, in the next couple hundred years. if not in our lifetime, the prospects are for a very long future ahead of us given that its said that our Sun is but a middle-aged star and it is about 4.5 billion years old. What we may do with that time is beyond my imagination, I'm just trying to do my part to keep us from imploding before we get there.

Did I mention that I'm an optimist? I think we should be planning on that very long future.

Now Oil is two things. On the one hand, it is a highly complex mixture of organic compounds that nature has cooked up for us by subjecting once living matter to heat, pressure and time. We get an almost endless list of lubricates, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, name it from Oil. While all of those things can probably be synthesised without petroleum, that can only be done at greater costs while using more energy. After all, nature has already put a lot of energy into creating them.

On the other hand, Oil is a cheap and easily used source of energy. You simply put fire to it, or you refine it a bit and put fire to it. All those lovely complex molecules, that nature took so long to build, are turned into air pollution, but you do instantly release all that energy.

As a source of energy, we can easily replace Oil with solar, water or wind power, replacing it as a starting point for producing lubricates? Not so easy. So I think one of the sorriest things we can do with Oil is to burn it. We are going to need that stuff for a long time. Using it as a highly portable fuel to jump-start the industrial revolution may have been justified for a hundred years or so, but we are past that now. We should stop using oil for energy now! We need to save that stuff for the future, We should be around for a billion more years, These first million or so have just been the birth pangs. We are bound to run out of Oil no matter how sparingly we use it. Just think of what future generations will think of us for letting so much of it go up in flames.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

If Obama doesn't want to do it, he'll go to Congress

That's what the commentator or politician, I didn't get the name, said on CNN this morning. He was talking about President Barack Obama's threat to attack ISIS in Syria. His point was that if Obama was bluffing and really didn't want to attack, as was the case after Bashar al-Assad's use of sarin to kill more than a thousand people in East Ghouta, Syria last year, he would go to Congress and let it die. If he did want to bomb ISIS in Syria, he would just do it.

When Obama was looking for a reason to renege on his promise to attack Assad if he killed with chemical weapons, he took his problem to Congress. Most of the anti-imperialist "Left" promptly started organizing anti-war protests to protect Assad from Obama, as if Obama ever had any real intentions of attacking the fascist dictator that for years he has been publicly appealing to "step down" voluntarily.


When Congress did what everyone knew they would do, oppose Obama's "proposed" military action against Assad, the whole anti-imperialist "Left" burst out in celebration, took credit for the "reversal", and bragged about their growing power. I heard David Swanson do exactly that when he spoke in Los Angeles afterwards. Now he calls Obama's new bombing in Iraq without going to congress first "justified." What jerks these people are! At the time I likened them to the little boy in car commercial dressed as Darth Vader that thinks he started the family car with "the Force," while his father creates the magic with the cars remote start.



Ironically, the threat we face from ISIS this year is owed, in no small part, to Obama's failure to attack Assad last year. When Obama went back on his word, when all of America, as represented by Congress, reneged on its promise to the Syrian people to finally respond militarily when Assad used chemical weapons, many Syrians who had been looking to the West felt stabbed in the back. Some left the fight entirely, others joined fighting groups with an anti-western stance. The Free Syria Army lost strength and ISIS gained strength, as many concluded that the west lacked even the moral foundations to do what it says and only a return to the most reactionary forms of Islam may save them.

Now Obama really is in the advanced stages of planning the bombing of Syria. It is clear he will only go to Congress if it suits him. Most likely he won't go to Congress at all, and where is the anti-imperialist "Left" this time? Silence! One would think they would be trying to fill the streets to defend the "gains" they made a year ago by "forcing" Obama to seek congressional approval before taking military action. Instead the silence is deafening.

As I said, what jerks these people are.

From Linux Beach in San Antonio.

Like I've been saying:
How Obama has supported Assad's gas murder always
Obama's Real Syria Policy: Endless War
The Courtship Continues: Obama stopped French strike on Assad
The Courtship Continues: Obama's New Gift to Assad
How Obama Helped Assad Kill with Poison Gas in Syria
Win-Win for Assad as Obama Response to CW Mass Murder Put on Hold
Obama Denied Gas Masks to Assad's Victims
Obama's Dilemma and Assad's Opportunity
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad Exposed!
Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
Chemical weapons use in Syria, Has Obama's red-line has been crossed?
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
SecState John Kerry and his "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad
How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring
More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy
Obama: Did the CIA betray Assad's opposition in Syria?
Obama planning drone strikes against Assad's opposition in Syria
How Obama helps Assad: US tried to start war between FSA & al Nusra Front

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria