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Man behind the Curtain for al-Qaeda in Syria is Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wanted the recent Geneva II peace conference to focus on terrorism. He says terrorism is the main problem a...

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Peace talks stall as the slaughter of Syrian civilians continues

International peace talks in Geneva on Syria have been called off by the UN because Russia is carrying out a massive carpet bombing campaign in support of a new Syrian Army offensive that has so far succeeded in cutting the lifeline to Turkey for over a million Syrians living in opposition held Aleppo. They are trying to add Aleppo to Madaya and the 21 other areas that the Assad regime and its allies is trying to starve into submission.

Russian bombers carried out over 200 sorties over Aleppo Tuesday. The encirclement of Aleppo came only after "more than 500 raids by Russian airplanes".

Wednesday Russian and Syrian warplanes launched dozens of strikes on the anti-Asssad towns of Hayan and Hreitan in northern Aleppo according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. SOHR also says more than 1,015 civilians, including 200 children, have been killed by the Russian attacks since they started in September 2015. They also report that the US lead coalition has killed 312 civilians including 90 children since it began in September 2014. The difference results from the fact that while the US and it allies don't mind killing civilians, Russian and its allies specifically target them.

SOHR said Russian has killed 3,049 people in Syria since September 2015. Apart from the civilians, they have killed 893 members of Daesh and 1,141 members of Assad's armed opposition. These numbers reveal Russian President Vladimir Putin's real purpose in Syria. The US lead coalition has killed 4,256 people in Syria since September of 2014. That number includes 3,787 members of Daesh and 150 members of Assad's opposition.

Russian FM Lavrov: We'll keep bombing Syria "until all the terrorists are defeated...I see no reason to stop these airstrikes."

Want to know why there is a Syrian refugee crisis? This is what we let Assad do to Homs. It is about to get a whole lot worst as Syrians flee Aleppo.

Syrians know what Assad did to Homs, Middle East Eye reported on the threat he made to Aleppo:
The Syrian army has warned residents of Aleppo they face "bloodshed", "destruction" and the death of their loved ones if they do not expel rebel fighters from the city within 48 hours, in leaflets dropped from government helicopters. Pro-opposition news sites published one of the leaflets, which they said were dropped on Tuesday night over rebel-held districts of Aleppo. The leaflet told residents: "The war is coming to its end. It will be tragic for all of us if it ends with the death of your loved ones and the destruction of your homes,” the Arabic leaflet read. “The leaders of the Arab Syrian Army are proposing [either] bloodshed or [a chance to] avoid this fate by expelling the foreign and intruding fighters from your area – safe passage for their exit will be arranged.” The leaflet offered safety to local fighters provided that they hand over their weapons and all foreigners fighting in their ranks – it did not specify which specific groups or nationalities it addressed.

We have a new report from Amnesty International:
Syria's refugee crisis in numbers

3 February 2016, 19:02 UTC

Refugees in the region

More than 4.5 million refugees from Syria are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:

Turkey hosts 2.5 million refugees from Syria, more than any other country worldwide
Lebanon hosts approximately 1.1 million refugees from Syria which amounts to around one in five people in the country

Jordan hosts approximately 635,324 refugees from Syria, which amounts to about 10% of the population

Iraq where 3.9 million people are already internally displaced hosts 245,022 refugees from Syria

Egypt hosts 117,658 refugees from Syria

The UN’s 2015 humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees was just 61% funded by the end of the year.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Monday, February 1, 2016

From Luna Watfa: Under The Mercy of Potentials 2

Under The Mercy of Potentials 2

By Luna Watfa, first published on Basel & Luna's blog  1 February 2016
Brothers and sisters from Syria, Aleppo. Happily waiting at Budapest train station to move towards Austria the day when Germany closed its borders at night. Hungary. 13/9/2015.
Taking semi shower at Budapest train station, Hungary. 13/9/2015.
After crossing Hungarian – Austrian borders waiting for buses to reach Vienna which may take whole day, 13/9/2015.
Temporary tents on the Austrian side where refugees wait for buses, 13/9/2015.
After crossing Hungarian – Austrian borders waiting for buses to reach Vienna which may take whole day, 13/9/2015.
Temporary tents on the Austrian side where refugees wait for buses, she was very tired and crying. 13/9/2015.
He was afraid of being photographed shy of his looking and what this horrible trip left him with. Refugees camp in Trier – Germany. 25/9/2015.
Feeding her sun while waiting in the queue for getting weekly allowance. Refugees camp in Kusel – Germany. 1/10/2015.
I have been wearing my clothes since two weeks.. when this would end ?! Mytilini Island – Greece. 6/9/2015.
Tiresome waiting in Mytilini Island – Greece. 7/9/2015.

Basel & Luna Syrian
Refugee Fund
See also:
From Luna Watfa: "Do not stop, keep going ... keep moving!"
From Luna Watfa: Death accompanies you on every step
Basel & Luna made it from Syria to Germany safely but they still need your help
A report from Luna & Basel, Syrian refugees in Germany: "Waiting is not Healthy"
From Syria refugees Luna & Basel Watfa: Like living in the Stone Age

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Donald Trump's #MakeAmericaWhiteAgain campaign faces 1st test in Iowa

There are many, many ways that white supremacy is baked into the very fibers of the political system that likes to think of itself as the fairest and most democratic on Earth. One way is that the election of our commander-in-chief, the most powerful political and military position in the United States, a country that is 63% white, begins in Iowa, a state that is 90% white.

For a week now we have heard the pundits talk about the crucial role of the Iowa caucuses in choosing our presidents. How its make or break for some campaigns, how it is almost impossible to win a presidential election without a good showing in Iowa ..blah, blah. It is true that Iowa Democrats have made some very progressive choices, they nominated a black man for the presidency in the last go-around, and I hope they nominate a "socialist" for the job this time. However, that doesn't diminish the fact that placing the first election of delegates in Iowa, a state that is 90% white, and New Hampshire, a state that is 96% white, give whites a bigger role in choosing our presidents than they would have in an America that is 63% white if the system wasn't seeped in white supremacy.

In 2016, this built-in racial bias may play a more important role that in most presidential elections because this year Donald Trump is running the most racist presidential campaign of my life time, and since I hope to turn 68 before we elect a new president, that covers a considerable period of time.

                                                                           Clay Claiborne


Remember Hitler was elected. So was Mussolini!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Syrian Civil Society Declaration

Note from Linux Beach: Those that would deny the Syrian Revolution deny the forces signed below. Those that claim the only substantial forces in the Syrian struggle are the regime fascists and Daesh in the name of a "lesser-of-two-evils" acceptance of Assad, betray these people. There is an armed component to the Syrian Revolution. Regime violence made that unavoidable. That armed component centers around the Free Syrian Army and is a component part of revolutionary Syrian civil society.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Syrian Civil Society Declaration

Over 200 Syrian organisations and more than 790 individuals, including civil society organisations, local councils, NGOs and refugee groups, have laid out their expectations of the Geneva III peace process, and demanded the immediate implementation of confidence building measures, in a new declaration released this week. The full text of the declaration can be found below.

Text of Declaration

The Syrian cause is at a pivotal moment following recent political and field developments coupled with regional and international agreements – including the Vienna Declaration and Security Council Resolution 2254 – that have called for the launch of a negotiated political process between the Syrian opposition and regime.

In preparation for a political process, international envoys and diplomats tasked with the Syrian file have continuously engaged representatives of Syrian civil society on the political process and issued multiple proposals calling for the participation of civil society in any discussions or negotiations between the Syrian regime and opposition.

The signatories of this declaration – both organizations and individuals – hereby affirm that Syrian civil society would not have emerged but for the March 2011 revolution; a revolution that resisted all tyrannical restrictions of a regime that consistently suppressed calls for basic freedom and the formation of civil society since 2000 through the sacrifices of its people, the suffering of its detainees and the souls of its martyrs.

The signatories also affirm that the main conflict in Syria remains with the leadership of the ruling regime based in Damascus and its repressive policies that have led the country down a catastrophic path.

The signatories of this declaration further affirm that in order for Syria to be put on the road to salvation, the Syrian people and what remains of Syrian state institutions must be liberated from this brute force and that civil society, in its many manifestations, must play a key role in furthering the March 2011 revolution and its values. Only then can Syrians realize peace through justice and thereby transition to a democratic pluralistic system where equal rights and responsibilities are granted to all Syrians. And if indeed civil society is to participate in the political process, it must be those members of civil society who emerged from the womb of the struggle for freedom and dignity and sided with the people’s just demands who should participate.

The success of any political process requires the commitment to the following:
  1. Prior to any political process, there must be confidence-building measures including: an end to the regime’s indiscriminate shelling of residential areas using explosive barrel bombs amongst other munitions as required by Security Council Resolution 2139 (2014); the lifting of the sieges on besieged areas and the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid without the regime’s prior consent as mandated by international human rights law and Security Council Resolution 2165 (2014) renewed by Resolution 2258 (2015); the release of all detainees and full disclosure on the fate of all those forcibly disappeared; the authorization of human rights organizations to visit prisons and interrogation centers; and the cessation of arbitrary political detention once and for all.
  2. That the final outcome of the political process be Syria’s independence, unity and territorial integrity as well as the expulsion of all belligerent foreign forces.
  3. That the rejection of terrorism that Syria currently suffers from and the efforts to end it and address its complex root causes be clear and unequivocal, with the recognition that the foremost cause of terrorism is the Assad regime, its affiliated militias and allied countries as well as other extremist organizations such as ISIS. All Syrians have the right to live securely, freely, and with dignity. Indeed, no party or entity has the right to forcefully dictate an ideological or political vision on the Syrian people.
  4. That the points of reference and goal of the political process be the enforcement of the Security Council resolutions relating to the situation in Syria that have been issued since 2011, including resolutions 2042, 2118, 2139, and 2254.
  5. That the political process lead to a transitional phase towards a democratic pluralistic system where all the powers of the current leadership in Damascus are transferred to a transitional governing body nationally agreed upon and that there be no role for Bashar al-Assad and those responsible for persecuting the Syrian people in the transitional body.
Lastly, the signatories of this declaration emphasize that it is of the utmost importance that the political, military and civilian forces representing the March 2011 revolution values and goals who are involved in the political process take unified positions and coordinate efforts during the negotiations.

254 organizations and 942 individuals signed this statement, for details kindly refer to the Arabic version.

The first 196 Syrian Organizations to sign the Statement (further updates will be to the Arabic statement only):

Al Ameen for Humanitarian Assistance
Al Bab and its Neighborhood Local Committee
Al Baraa Institution for Care and Development
Al Dar Al Kabira Local Administrative Council
Al Fajr Charitable Association
Al Houla Local Administrative Council
Al Irtiqaa Association for social development
Al Jisr Fund Institution
Al Jisr Newspaper
Al Jumhuriya Group
Al Kawakibi Center for Human Rights
Al Kawakibi Organization for Human Rights
Al Maara Media Center
Al Nahda Youth and Scholars League
Al Nasiryeh Local Administrative Council
Al Waar Local Administrative Council
Al Qalamon Local Administrative Council
Al Rastan Local Administrative Council
Al Rhaibeh Local Administrative Council
Al Salamiyah Local Committee
Al Shadadi Local Administrative Council
Al Tadamon Institution for inclusive development
Al Ukuwa Organization for Development and Human Rights
Al Watan Organization for Charitable and Humanitarian Works
Alaa Charitable Association
Alaan Al Janoudiah
Aleppo Abrar Association
Aleppo Free Police
All for Syrians Newspaper
Arabiska föreningen i Töreboda
Asbar Center for Research and Studies
Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU)
Pro Media Syria
Atareb Youth Gathering
Badael Organization
Bahr Organization
Barada Organization
Basma Social Institution
Basr Al Harir Local Administrative Council
Bayan Movement
Baytna Syria
Bonyan Organization
Darb Organization
Childcare Institution
Dahadeel Local Administrative Council
Darayaa Local Administrative Council
Deir Graf Network
Deiri Youth Lens
Dhmeir Local Administrative Council
Dikostamin Initiative
Douma Local Administrative Council
Eye on the City Magazine
For All Organization
For our Children Organization
Free Syria Conference
Free Syrians in Romania
Freedom Raise Magazine
Freedom Youth for Citizenship and Non Sectarianism League
Ghad Syria Movement
Hamish – The Syrian Cultural House in Istanbul
Hashtag Aleppo
Help 4Syria UK
Hikayet Amal
Homs Provincial Council
Humena Organization
Huntah Magazine
I think Magazine
Ibaa Institution for Development
Initiative for a New Syria
Jdeidet Artouz Local Committee
Jeiroud Local Administrative Council
Juzoor Developmental Institution
Kesh Malek
Kurdish Youth Movement
Lawadessa Center
Linartaqi Volunteering Team
Local Administrative Council Unit (LACU)
Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC)
Local Development and Small Projects Support Office (LDSPS)
Maan Organization for Social Development
Madad Organizations
Madar Alyom
Masaken Hanano News Network (MHNN)
Masaken Hanano Revolutionary Council
Masar Center for Studies
Mazaya Center
Moazamiyah Local Administrative Council
Molham Volunteering Team
Mowatanah Movement
Najda Now International
Najda Now Syria
New Syria Website
Occupied Aleppo Local Committee
Orient Policy Center
Oxygen Syria Magazine
Qalam Project
Sada Al Sham Newspaper
Sada Center for Opinion Polling
Sanabel Al Namaa
Saraqeb Local Administrative Council
Shafaq Organization
Shams Movement
Shura Council in Maasaran
Sons of Euphrate Association
Sons of Horan Association for Support to the Syrian Revolution
Souriana the Hope
Start Point
Steps Institution
Syria a homeland for all
Syria Civil Defence (The White Helmets)
Syria First League
Syria’s Clans
Syrian Dignity News Movement
Syrian Emergency Task Force
Syrian Hope Alliance for Modernity and Liberty (SHAML)
Tadef Local Committee
Tal Zahab Field Hospital
Tal Zahab Local Administrative Council
Talbisseh Local Administrative Council
The Aleppo Revolutionary Council
The Bright Future
The Civilian Democratic Dialogue Forum
The Deir Ezzor Relief Office in Qatar
The Executive Bureau of Rif Damascus Provincial Council
The Free Aleppo Doctors Committee
The Free Sweida Diaspora Association
The Free Sweida people League
The Free Syrian Engineers Trade Union
The Free Syrian Lawyers Association
The Free Syrian Lawyers League
The Free Writers of Syria
The General Commission for Sports and Youth in Syria
The International Association for Relief and Development
The League for Freedom and Dignity
The League of Ahfad Al Kawakibi
The League of Syrian Intellectuals
The Media Center in Barada Valley
The Medical Council for the city of Aleppo
Deir Ezzor Local Administrative Council
The National Association of workers in the Syrian State
The National Committee to protect Civil Peace
The Pulse of Life Team
The Revolutionary Council of Bustan Al Qasr and Kallaseh
The Romanian Arab Club for Culture and Media
The Supreme Council for Syrian Clans and Tribes
The Supreme Council for the Revolution Command
The Supreme Relief Commission
The Syria Advisory Center
The Syrian American Council
The Syrian civil society instances in Istanbul
The Syrian Economic Forum
The Syrian Engineers Association
The Syrian First School in Kilis
The Syrian Forum
The Syrian Human Rights Association
The Syrian Media Group
The Syrian Network for Human Rights
The Syrian Organization for Studies and Services
The Syrian Revolution General Commission – Al Raqqa
The Union of Syrian Kurdish Journalists
The United Media Commission in Damascus and its suburbs
The United Medical Office in Eastern Ghouta
The United Office for Golan people in Southern Damascus
The United Relief Commission in Madaya and Zabadani
The Medical Commission in Zabadani
The United Services Office in Eastern Ghouta
The Virtual National Syrian Movement
The Youth of Aleppo Revolution
The Youth of Future Syria Movement
The Youth of the Syrian Revolutionary Movement
This is my Life
Thought and Building Association
Union of Aleppo Revolutionaries
Union of Free Syrian Students
Union of Homs Neighborhoods
Union of Syrian Revolution Coordination Committees in Europe
Vector Design
Violations Documentation Center
Voice of Free Damascus Radio
Warsheh Organization
Wisdom Cultural House
Women Now for Development
Yasmine Syria Magazine
Youth for Change in Salqin
Zaitoun Newspaper

Monday, January 25, 2016

The UN repeats mistakes of the past in Madaya

The price of rice offers a measure of the relative severity of the different sieges: a kilogram in rebel besieged Kefraya is $1.25. In ISIS besieged Deir Ezzor, it’s $5. In regime besieged Madaya it’s $256.
The National has just published and important commentary by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad on the sieges in Syria. I wanted to bring your attention to it so I am republishing this extensive selection at Linux Beach:
The UN repeats mistakes of the past in Madaya

25 January 2016
Two weeks before an aid convoy delivered food and medicine to the 42,000 people of Madaya, a representative for the town’s council made an urgent appeal to the UN office responsible for the region. The town had been strangled since July 2015 by Bashar Al Assad’s army and the Lebanese Hizbollah. The condition was precarious: inhabitants were subsisting on grass, cats, dogs, insects, salt and water. At least 28 had died of starvation since the beginning of December. The council representative received an automated reply: the staff were away until January 5.

On New Year’s Eve, when the UN chief Ban Ki-moon wished his Twitter followers a peaceful 2016, he made no mention of the unfolding tragedy.

The inertia was broken when a determined social media campaign forced Madaya on the world’s attention and, eventually, the UN relented. On January 7, the regime agreed to allow a one-off supply of aid. The UN was quick to praise the regime for this concession, but it took another four days before it delivered aid to the town. The delay resulted from the “complexity” of synchronising deliveries to the 12,000 inhabitants of Al Fu’a and Kefraya, two pro-regime villages in Idlib encircled by rebels. On entering the town, aid workers were shocked by the “horrifying” conditions. “There are people in Madaya, but no life,” said Sajjad Malik, the UNHCR chief in Syria. “They are fighting for survival. No food, no electricity, no heating, no medicines. People did not even have the energy to complain.”

The representative for the UN’s Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Syria, Yacoub El Hillo, too was moved: “We saw a people that are desperate; a people that are cold; a people that are hungry; a people that have almost lost hope.”

But in a curious statement, Mr El Hillo added that before entering Madaya, “it was at times difficult to determine whether what we were seeing was actually fabricated or exaggerated.”

It is unclear why Mr El Hillo should’ve faced such difficulty. The conditions in Madaya had been known to the UN for months. This scepticism may be unfounded but it is consistent with the state-centric bias of the UN’s humanitarian practices. UN agencies are required to respect state sovereignty regardless of legitimacy. And in Syria, they have been reluctant to act without the consent of the regime. This has turned the UN into an unwitting agent of the status quo, allowing the regime to politicise aid.

It has since emerged that in compliance with the regime’s wishes, the UN also censored its “humanitarian response plan” to downplay the enormity of the regime’s crimes and thereby foreclose the possibility of assistance or accountability.

For nearly four years the regime has used food and medicine as a weapon of war. It started in April 2012 by bombing breadlines, bakeries and hospitals. Since the siege on the Yarmouk refugee camp in 2013, the regime escalated to a “surrender or starve” strategy. Rebellious regions were punished or rewarded based on their willingness to submit. Of the 91 requests for aid delivery made by the UN to the Syrian regime last year, only 13 were allowed to proceed. Consequently the UN delivered aid not to where it was most needed, but where it best served the regime’s interests.

Madaya’s inhabitants represent just 1 per cent of the 4.5 million Syrians trapped in the “hard-to-reach” areas and 10 per cent of the 400,000 under siege in 52 towns (49 of them by the regime, one by ISIL, and two by the rebels). The price of rice offers a measure of the relative severity of the different sieges: a kilogram in rebel besieged Kefraya is $1.25. In ISIS besieged Deir Ezzor, it’s $5. In regime besieged Madaya it’s $256.

Still, the horrors that the UN rep witnessed in Madaya did not prevent him from the anodyne apportioning of blame to “all parties to this conflict”.

Mr El Hillo’s language is part of the compromises humanitarian agencies have to make to function in places such as Syria. But this artificial leveling of moral responsibility normalises repression and diminishes any possibility of accountability thereby removing a potential deterrent to war crimes.

Following the Russian intervention, Mr Al Assad is secure in his power. And escalating war crimes notwithstanding, the UN is now facilitating his rehabilitation. Given the West’s exclusive focus on ISIL, the UN lacks leverage. Consequently the regime, backed by Russia, has been able to dictate its terms. It is using the Vienna “peace process” as a temporising measure while consolidating militarily. Meanwhile the sieges are tightening around other towns such as Moadamiyeh. More...

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria