Featured Post

The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mother Agnes Updates: The Choir Strikes Back

Mother Agnes-Mariam's press conference scheduled for 3 December in Montreal, Canada has been cancelled. The HEAR MOTHER AGNES MARIAM SPEAK IN MONTREAL! link on the tour's central website, the pro-Assad Syria Solidarity Movement, returns "Oops! That page can’t be found." But no explanation for their mistake is offered.

This is just the latest success in a campaign, being spearheaded by the Syrian American Council and Syrian Christians for Peace, to expose Mother Agnes-Mariam as a propaganda mouthpiece for the Assad Regime.  In a press release last month they said:
The Syrian American Council (SAC) joins Syrian Christians For Peace (SCP) in protesting the pro-Assad regime group “Syrian Solidarity Movement” for organizing a multi-city tour for Mother Agnes, a nun who is proclaiming to the world that the chemical weapons attacks in Damascus suburbs, were “staged” and the videos “fabricated.”
Mother Agnes is promoting Assad's views as her own on this tour. The campaign has the aim of getting venues to either dis-invite her or provide for an opposing view. In many cases, she has been able to wrangle venues based on her religious affiliation from those unaware of her controversial stands, like absolving the Assad regime of responsibility for the Ghouta sarin gas attacks that killed more than 1400 people and embellishing the regime story that the opposition gassed its own supporters. Owen Jones of The Independent, talks about her response to the Ghouta gas attack as well as Mother Agnes's 2011 claims that there never were any peaceful demonstrations against Assad in Damascus:
Mother Agnes is perhaps most infamous for publishing a 50-page report claiming that the video footage of the Ghoutta massacre was faked, that the children suffocating to death had been kidnapped by rebels and were actually sleeping or “under anaesthesia”. This was the most striking, crank-like example of Mother Agnes blaming what were widely accepted atrocities on the rebels, and therefore her detractors regard her as a mere mouthpiece for the Assad dictatorship.

Syrian Christians for Peace have previously attacked Mother Agnes for publicly claiming that there had been no peaceful demonstrations in Damascus, despite been seen witnessing one herself. They further claimed that they had never received any money she had raised, and even called for her to be “excommunicated”.

A Jesuit priest named Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, who was been exiled by the Assad dictatorship and is now imprisoned by ISIS, an al-Qaeda group, has denounced her for being “consistent in assuming and spreading the lies of the regime, and promoting it through the power of her religious persona. She knows how to cover up the brutality of the regime.”
While Assad and his supporters continue to claim the regime had nothing to do with the chemical slaughter in Ghouta, there is no doubt that the regime was behind the attack. I have written about that in some detail at Linux Beach, most notably:

        Who Used Sarin in Syria?
        Why would Assad use CW with UN Inspectors in Syria?
        Secret Intel Source of Ray McGovern & VIPS Revealed!
        Why did Assad Regime first Deny CW Attack if Blameless?
        Assad Knows: Chemical Attacks Kill Children First!
        1300+ Dead after Obama "Green-lights" new CW attack in Syria
        Where Robert Fisk's defense of Assad falls down
        More on ex-journalist Robert Fisk's defense of Assad
        The Courage of Ghouta in a Craven World

AP also thinks the regime did it and reminds us that the recent poison gas attack was not the first time Mother Agnes claimed the videos were fake:
The nun was skeptical of the 2 1/2-year-old Syrian uprising from the start.

She claimed much of the footage of anti-Assad demonstrations posted to social media networks was faked, along with video of Syrian forces beating and killing protesters.
She simply refuses to believe her own eyes!

I have gone into Mother Agnes's history and the many reasons people see her as an Assad stooge in my first post on this campaign Syrian American Council takes on Agnes-Mariam and I also reported on the biggest win of this campaign so far: Mother Agnes-Mariam was forced to withdraw from Saturday's International Anti-War Conference Conference.
It was entirely proper that she withdrew because she is anything but anti-war. She speaks only of opposition violence, and exaggerates that, when the lion's share of the civilian slaughter is being done by Assad's war machine. For example, just yesterday one of Assad's Scuds killed 40 and injured 200 when it hit a bakery in Raqqa, one more in a long string of attacks on people waiting in breadlines, but you will hear nothing of such massacres from Mother Agnes.

In fact the only people who claim that Mother Agnes is not pro-Assad are adamantly pro-Assad themselves and now they are livid that their mouthpiece won't speak at the Stop the War Coalition's anti-war conference.

From the Choir: ad hominem ad nauseum

At RT, Neil Clark calls those opposing the Mother Agnes show "liberal hawks and serial warmongers" and accuses us of having "a collective hissy fit" about "this elderly lady, who is working tirelessly for peace and an end to the bloodshed in Syria." He continues:
Mother Agnes has been subject to a vicious internet campaign of character assassination, smears and defamation.
But he doesn't address any of the things I and others that oppose her have said about her.

Blogger Phil Greaves calls it a "Zionist-led smear campaigns." Richard Edmondson at Fig Trees and Vineyards has a similar take on those who oppose this tour, saying "it[s] been obvious to me for a while now that the attacks on Mother Agnes are Zionist motivated." Since I oppose Assad, I must be a Zionist? Is this what passes for critical thought with these people?

Those that have been following this story already know that the withdrawal of Mother Agnes from the Stop the War Coalition event was given a big boost when two of the leading speakers at the event, journalist and filmmaker, Jeremy Scahill and The Independent writer Owen Jones, announced that they would refuse to share a stage with Mother Agnes, and so now the Mother Agnes supporters reserve a special kind of vitriol for them. William Bowles @ [dis]Information Clearing House calls them "a couple of rogues" and "these two buffoons."

 Jeremy Scahill sent out this tweet:
Which William Boardman, writing for the pro-Russian Global Research, called "his blackmail note to an established anti-war organization." He also accused Scahill of "flogging a movie," which is his way of putting a negative spin on what a filmmaker with a new film should be doing.

Owen Jones has also been subjected to much abuse by this pro-Assad crowd. He gave a good description of the problem in his blog:
There is a section of the left that is incapable of accepting a disagreement within its own ranks. They refuse to believe that an opponent can disagree with them on the basis of principle; it has to be on the basis of bad faith. In other words, I am a careerist, or a closet supporter of Western intervention, or I am part of some sinister conspiracy against Mother Agnes.
Apparently all those that are outraged because Scahill and Owen spoke out against Mother Agnes aren't satisfied with exercising their free speech rights in response. Owen tells us that both he and Scahill were subjected to "a cyber-attack involving hundreds of spam-bots." Personally, I think it smells like an attack by Assad's Syrian Electronic Army.

Mother Agnes was able to find another venue to speak at in London, an event called “Save the Children of Syria” but blogger Stephen Sizer complained:
The meeting was disrupted by Syrian activists opposed to the message of reconciliation
By which he means reconciliation with fascism. Thanks to Abdulaziz Almachi we now have some video from this meeting. Roll tape [Video 3: Discussion & 1st challenge 4:21] [Video 4: Main challenge 9:54] [Video 5: Meltdown 1:54]

Preaching to the Choir?

It is interesting to note that just about everyone on the Mother Agnes side of this struggle also believes, as she does, and as he claims, that Assad has not been responsible for a single poison gas attack in Syria. As far as they are concerned, it has always been the opposition, which like Assad, and Mother Agnes, they refer to as terrorists. Nevermind that yesterday's Scud that took 40 lives in Ragga clearly came from Assad.

And while these writers may allow that they are Assad supporters, they insist that Mother Agnes is as neutral as the day is long.

William Boardman says:
It’s hard to find any evidence that Mother Agnes has committed anything worse than what others consider thought-crimes and politically incorrect observations, some of which are actually correct.
What makes her controversial to people around Stop the War Coalition is their perception of her as a supporter of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. Clear reasoning behind this perception is hard to come by.
Of the charge that she is a regime apologist, William Bowles says:
No proof was offered for this opinion, nor has any emerged since then as far as I know that Mother Agnes is an ‘apologist’ for the Assad regime.
Phil Greaves calls the attacks on her "baseless conspiracy theories."

They simply refuse to believe their own ears!

So nevermind what Linux Beach, Not George Sabra, Democratic Revolution, Pulse or any of the other radical blogs have had to say about Mother Agnes. They don't even acknowledge them so they don't have to answer them, but this is what AP had to say about Mother Agnes:
Mother Superior Agnes-Mariam of the Cross has thrust herself into the role of go-between and publicist, arranging cease-fires, organizing pro-government media trips and conducting speaking tours as perhaps the country's most prominent critic of the uprising against President Bashar Assad.
The Syrian government heavily restricts foreign reporting on the fighting. But Agnes-Mariam organized pro-government media tours, using her connections to obtain visas for journalists.
Speaking of a deal struck by Mother Agnes to get civilians out of the besieged town of Moadamiyeh, AP said:
The truce failed several times, but over a series of days, some 5,000 people were evacuated.

Activist Qusai Zakariya, however, accused of nun of breaking her word by allowing Assad's security forces to seize men suspected of being armed rebels as they left. Zakariya said she bears responsibility for their fate if they were tortured or killed in custody.

The nun said the men were taken to determine their status as civilians or fighters. She said that two men disappeared but that volunteers were trying to locate them.

George Kallas, an official at the Beirut-based Greek Catholic Patriarchate, which oversees Agnes-Mariam's convent, would not comment directly on her work and said her statements do not reflect the opinion of the Greek Catholic Church.
Michael Weiss was able to talk to Zakariya about these events in Damascus, this is his report back:
I have just got off a Skype interview with Quasi Zakarya, a rebel spokesman in the besieged and starved town of Moadamiyah, Damascus, as well as a local doctor who would only give me his first name, Omar.

According to both, yesterday the regime allowed the “evacuation” of 800 civilians from Moadamiyah, which has been subjected to a terror-famine for months. Those let go included women, children, adult males, and the elderly; their number estimated at 1,800. However, as was the case with previous evacuations, as many as 300 men between the ages of 15 and 50 were arrested upon their flight from the town. Some were taken to the Fourth Armored Division’s Mezze Airbase in Damascus, while others were detained in Qudsaya in a facility the regime claimed to have requisitioned to provide medical treatment and dispense badly needed food to civilians. “Instead, the civilians there are being interrogated,” Zakarya said.

“We also have information from officers inside the Assad army that they are now being forced to join the army or the shabiha,” he added.

The fate of children, who were arrested weeks ago by the regime during the first evacuation of Moadamiyah, is still unknown, Zakarya said.
As with previous regime-orchestrated evacuations, Mother Agnes Mariam was enlisted yesterday as the liaison. “She is the big, strong media face for the Assad regime,” Zakarya said. According to a “very reliable source inside the regime,” the Catholic cleric meets daily with Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria’s National Security Bureau, and Jamil Hasan, the head of Air Force Intelligence who was rumored to have been killed in August 2012 by the Ahfad al-Rasul Brigade of the Free Syrian Army. Al Dunya, the Syrian state television network, denied the assassination the same day. “Yes, he is still alive,” Zakarya said.
Freedom of Speech or Platform to Deceive?

[Dis]Information Clearing House accuses the anti-war movement of "effectively censoring Mother Agnes because two men objected." Global Research accuses us of "suppressing the truth." RT called us "anti-free speech bullies."

Speaking about "the debate about the inclusion of Mother Agnes at a Stop The War Coalition event in London," the Solidarity Collective said "although not all of us in the collective would endorse the views of Mother Agnes we defend her right to express them." If the Solidarity Collective is split over the question of which side of the barricades it stands on, it certainly has its work cut out for it.

They claimed to have studied all the available material carefully and that they too "could find nothing to suggest she is pro-Assad," and even if she was "she still has the right to her opinion." But it's not her opinions that are in dispute, it's her "facts." Finally they get to their position, including, naturally, another ad hominem attack:
We are saying that there is clearly a pro-intervention/pro-war agenda at work and we cannot stand by and not raise our voices to support the right of Freedom of Speech.
So this is how they are now attempting to frame the opposition to Mother Agnes. So now it is a Freedom of Speech issue and we are opponents of Freedom of Speech. This is completely laughable when you see how these Mother Agnes events are run when they are in control. As I reported earlier, at the Mother Agnes event in Los Angeles, 9 November 2013, hosted by Arab-American for Syria, another pro-Assad group, I wasn't even allowed in the door because of my known sympathies for the revolution. They wouldn't even take my $10, nevermind being allowed to speak. Nor was any opposition view heard from the program that evening or at any event when they can prevent it. They don't believe in free speech in Syria and truth-be-told, they don't like it here too much either, but now it is a convenient argument and a way of throwing more dust into the conversation. I think Owen Jones wrote well when he answered that charge on his blog:
The first claim is that I have attacked Mother Agnes’ freedom of speech. This is an issue which was very well covered by blogger Steve Doran in a witty YouTube video, which I recommend you watch. The obvious point is that Mother Agnes is free to say what she wants: well, that is clearly not true in Syria, but nothing that I have done prevents her from expressing herself. My detractors are effectively claiming that I should be forced to attend a conference, because a consequence of me pulling out is that Mother Agnes is no longer speaking on a platform. In other words, I no longer have any right to my own political conscience: I must be forced to speak on a platform against my will.

It should also be pointed out that freedom of speech does not mean the right to a platform. If the Independent suddenly cancelled my contract, they have not attacked my freedom of speech, they have simply stopped me broadcasting my views on their platform. If a radio phone-in does not put somebody through on-air, they haven’t attacked their freedom of speech either. Mother Agnes has not been prevented from saying what she wants in any way.
Exactly, she can tell her story walking...

Magpie's Nest has just published and important new investigative piece in the Mother titled The Many Faces of Agnes-Mariam of the Cross. Many new facts. I highly recommend you give it a read.

This video is entitled "An appeal for Peace and Reconciliation" and in it Agnes-Mariam calls on NGOs not to provide aid to the refugee camps outside Syria because they contain "the families of fighters" and the aid will be used to buy weapons. 2:00 onwards

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria


  1. shilling for Alnusra/alqaeda/israel?? shame on you

    the real Mother Agnes

    and syrians support their govt not your insurgents

    In #Aleppo massive demonstration for SAA http://youtu.be/Saa3caGknjg

    if ever someone tells you that 'brutal tyrant' Assad and the syrian army are crushing syrians and need the help of the FSA or USA to cdome to their aid...show the videos like this

    i never see videos showing massive throngs of syrians cheering the FSA/aljusra/ISIS

    1. So if I don't support Assad and Agnes-Mariam, I must be a paid agent of Israel & al Qaeda? Thank you for reinforcing my point how you Assad supports must rely on a ad hominem attacks.

      "massive demonstration for SAA" - I saw maybe a couple hundred people, all men of fighting age. I imagine Assad can still whistle up a piece like that.

  2. Syrian-Americans are grateful to the #SAA for defending the people of #Syria from the depraved barbarians

    1. Are you with AA4S? Clearly you are an Assad supporter and you repeat his lie that all of his opposition are "depraved barbarians"

      This blog needs and ad hominem attack filter, but then that would leave you nothing to say!

  3. cognitive dissonance or you seek to aid struggles of people everywhere to advance human progress and do so by aiding USrael/saudi backed repressive ISIS and alnusra islamic terrorism in their war on secular inclusive syria....you need to reevaluate your goals and method of getting there...cause they are out of alignment

    1. Is that what you see in the Assad Regime = "secular inclusive syria"?

      Then why does he keep bombing bakeries. The 40 killed and 200 injured when one of Assad's Scuds hit a bakery in Raqqua 28/11 Where all those queuing up for bread repressive ISIS and alnusra islamic terrorist?


  4. What kind of fool would believe the western propaganda about the Syrian army using chemical weapons exactly when the inspectors arrived?

    Use your common sense.

    1. see http://claysbeach.blogspot.com/2013/09/why-would-assad-use-cw-with-un.html

      This seems to be a core argument of those who don't think the Assad Regime responsible for the chemical weapons attack which took place in Ghouta, Damascus, Syria on 21 August 2013. The thinking goes: Assad would be shooting himself in the foot to pull off a chemical attack just days after the UN chemical weapons team hit town. Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi even raised the UN inspection timing defense in his initial statement after the attack:
      How much difference did UN inspectors in Damascus make?

      They argue that there are so many negatives associated with the close proximity of the UN inspectors that the Assad Regime wouldn't dare carry out an attack at that time. At first glance this may seem to make a strong circumstantial case for Assad. Unfortunately, someone did use a great deal of sarin gas just miles from the UN inspectors so we are now in a position to see how much of an impediment they actually would have been to an attack carried out by the Assad Regime.
      Since this UN investigation won't fix blame, those commentators who demand that any decision or action wait until its results come in, without mentioning the purposefully limited results we'd be waiting for, are simply being disingenuous.

      after the attack

      After the attack, the UN investigators weren't allowed to go anywhere near Ghouta. They couldn't even leave their hotel without Syrian government permission and their Syrian government minders. This is the key fact that undermines the claim that Assad wouldn't do it because the UN investigator were in town. What real difference did it make? They could have been on the other side of town or the other side of the planet; it would have made no difference since it would be four days before they were allowed to access the chemical weapons attack sites in Ghouta.

      First, the Syrian government had to continue its rocket and artillery bombardment of the sites of the chemical weapons attack, just as they had been bombarding those areas for months before 21 August. Now they were destroying evidence the UN investigators would need and ironically using the continuing attack as the reason to deny the UN investigators access.
      As you can see, not only did this UN inspection team have an extremely limited mandate, they also had no real control over their own investigation. The Assad Regime was able to play them like puppets on a string. They led them to the crime scene only after they had time to destroy the evidence and murder the witnesses. Why should the Assad regime be concerned that UN inspectors were nearby when they could be so easily controlled?

      By 28 August, the UN team had already determined that a chemical attack had taken place, with no finding of fault in its future, all else would be details.
      That still leaves a great deal to be determined and without the slightest doubt, the most important question to be answered is, well, "who dunnit?" Assad knew he had already negotiated a criminal investigation that would fail to name the criminal party. He also knew they couldn't move an inch in Syria without his authorization. The fix was in!

      So why should the presence of this UN chemical weapons inspection team effect his decision to use chemical weapons or not? Unless, of course, he thought their presence would provide good cover.

      This is the reality of the much touted UN CW investigation, and knowing this, it's easy to see that those insisting that the mere presence of this team in Damascus is strong exculpatory evidence of Assad's innocence, without noting how really feeble the investigation is, are not telling the whole truth.

  5. We now have an excellent video archive of the early anti-Asad protests (and mutch else):
    For "massive throngs" against Asad try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7r5tIB6Bx7s

  6. Thank you, a blog on Creative Memories of the Syria Revolution will be posted shortly

  7. Did you see this latest analysis of Hersh’s article related to Ghouta gas attack?