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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Friday protests roll on in Syria, the Paris Commune of the 21st Century

There were more massive popular protests across Syria this Friday. The large anti-government protests that started the revolution five years ago have now returned in a big way for the last four Fridays in a row. They illustrate a number of facts: 1) The popular democratic revolution has not been defeated by five years of horrific violence by the regime of Bashar al-Assad and his supporters, only suppressed. 2) The main purpose of this murder of almost a half-million Syrians has been to suppression of this popular resistance and not to fight "terrorism."

The first fruits of the relative lull in violence brought on by the ceasefire agreement in Syria has been the return of massive peaceful protests demanding an end to the regime. The vigorous return of the people to the streets five years after the original protests show that the regime violence initiated five years ago, with Hillary Clinton's blessing, has always been primarily about suppressing those protests and the revolution they represent.

That is why regime violence, and recently the even more horrific Russian bombing, has always been directed at this rebellious civilian population. Their "War on Terror" has always been a ruse. It was they that first breathed life into Daesh, gave it substance and save-haven in Raqqa. Even today, Assad buys Daesh oil and Russian experts work in Daesh gas plants.

Maybe this is our problem after all...

Most Americans thought they could pay the situation in Syria no-never-mind. It was a small Middle-East country far away. So what if a dictatorship was massacring its own people? Not my problem! The general attitude of the US "Left" has been much more scandalous - on balance, it has weighed in on the side of the Assad regime and its Russian backers. It denied the sarin murder of 1400 the same way it denied the more generalized murder of half a million. They have been mostly quiet [check Democracy Now's coverage] while the first holocaust of the 21st century has been taking place under their noses - which is to say - available in their YouTube streams.

Not only did what start in Syria not stay in Syria, it now threatens to rock the world. I didn't know this conflict would be the engine behind two of the biggest issues in the 2016 US presidential campaign - the refugees from Syria and terrorist from Syria, when I first made the Syrian revolution the focus of my political work in 2011, but here we are. So now I say again:

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

And because this is the 21st century when imperialism is in its end game, and not the 3rd quarter of the 19th century, when imperialism was just getting started, this commune is much more important than the original.

I have been so bogged down with Linux SysAdmin work lately that I haven't had much time for blogging, so please allow me a few quick observations.

On the Brussels attack...

Since the Brussels attack, most of the commentary has been about how this shows that Daesh terrorism is a really a massive problem in Europe and, considering San Bernardino, the United States too. They speak of thousands of ISIS operatives in Europe and hundreds in the US. Promoters of Daesh call it ISIS. The object is to make us all very afraid and they have their own reasons for this.

They want us to fear a new Godzilla rising from the past, but I see in the evidence of their own police work, indications that this is not the case. The DNA evidence they have developed indicates that the Paris attack in November and the Brussels attack were the work of one close-knit Daesh cell from the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels. And, in spite of the terrible loss of life they have managed to inflict, it sounds like they are falling apart. Salah Abdeslam was on the run because he chickened out in the Paris attack and threw his suicide vest into a trash bin. It took four months to track him down because he was hiding in a basement apartment, not because a whole community was protecting him, as some commentators would have you believe. Its really not that hard to hide if you stay inside. I don't know what's going on in most of the apartments in my building.

When he was found, the others panicked and carried out the hurriedly prepared Brussels attack, and as bad as it was, it would have likely been much worst if they hadn't been rushed, if they had time to get all their bombs to the site, for example. Here again one of their "dedicated jihadists" fled without carrying out his mission. Most significantly, their chief bomb maker blew himself up! And while this is most often the way jihadist bomb makers leave this Earth, this was not by accident. Precisely because most would-be bomb makers do depart before gaining the necessary experience to be effective, the experienced bomb maker is highly prized and protected by the terrorist organization. For one to blow himself up is a true kamikaze move. For a terrorist organization, it's the equivalent of a farmer eating his seed corn. So I see in all these things, a small [14 by one count] terrorist cell disintegrating fast. What I don't see in this story, so far, are signs of the other Daesh cells, that we are told number in the hundreds.

That doesn't mean a workplace shooting in San Bernandino by a couple that had no contact with Daesh won't be listed as one of their big terrorist attacks because they claim it, or that hundreds of innocent Muslims in Belgium and France won't be arrested to help authorities keep up the scare, because that's the way these ISIS promoters want it.

Another reason targeting Muslims to defeat Daesh misses the mark...

Trump and all the other Islamaphobic demagogues that see in the rise of Daesh an excuse to target Muslims in the US and Europe always seem to forget about the 20%.

What 20% you ask?

One study of French Daesh recruits found that about 20% had actually converted to Islam to join Daesh. In my own survey of US Daesh followers I was also surprised to see how many came from Christian families. Consider just three American Daesh wannabees I wrote about in November:
Sam R Hall of the local Clarion-Ledger reported "She [Jaelyn Delshaun Young] was a cheerleader, an honor student and a member of the homecoming court in high school." She also was the daughter of a Vicksburg police officer and a "recent convert" to Islam.
Shannon Maureen Conley, a 19 year old Colorado youth was arrested at Denver International Airport while attempting to travel to Turkey to join ISIS as a nurse and marry an ISIS member she met on the Internet. She was reported to the FBI by the pastor of her church, Family Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colorado.
Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen is the son of Vietnamese immigrants who was still attending Sunday Mass with his mother when he was arrested in Santa Ana, CA while boarding a bus to Mexico.
I don't know if 20% is the right figure, or what might apply across the board, but my point is that Daesh's appeal to young people in the US and Europe, while cloaked in religion, is not based on religion, and is effective only because of the deep alienation these people feel from their society. Just how will the Trump/Cruz plan to coral Muslims catch these non-Muslims before they make life changing errors? This is an angle on the story I haven't heard, so I thought I'd mention it.

While the people of Syria courageously press forward their revolution, the people of European and America are told to cower behind the threat of Daesh, a criminal-terrorist gang which the western authorities honor by calling the Islamic State. Juan Cole is right, it is neither. Those who know recent Syrian history know that Daesh is in large part the creation of the Assad regime, that it has Syrian security operatives serving as Daesh emirs, and that four years ago a representative of the Assad regime threaten to visit upon Europe and America precisely the type of terror attacks we have witnessed in Paris and in Brussels if the West ever bombed Syria, as it is now doing.

After the Paris attack, I reminded the world of that history with a post here, 20 November 2015, Assad's Grand Mufti threatened Paris type attacks in 2011. Last Friday, after the Brussels attack, the Syrian revolution turned out in force to remind the world of that history. The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces reports:
Anti-regime Demonstrations Sweep Across Syria on Friday

25 March 2016
For the 4th Friday in a row since the truce has been declared on February 27, the Syrian people took to the streets today in many cities and towns across Syria chanting for freedom and demanding the fall of the Assad regime.

Activists dubbed today’s demonstrations “Assad is Source of Terror," referring to threats made openly by the regime’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun who previously threatened to send suicide bombers to carry out terrorist attacks inside Europe.

Demonstrators in the provinces of Damascus, Aleppo, Idlib, Homs, Dara’a, and Rural Damascus called upon rebel groups to unify and reaffirmed commitment to the goals of the revolution.

Detailed list of towns and villages where demonstrations took place: Jiza, al-Hirak, Dael, Saida, Jobar, Qaboun eastern Ghouta, Ein Tarma, Saqba, Douma, Arbin, Zamalka, Talbeesah, Rastan, Kafranbl, Maart al-Nouman, Khan Sheikhoun, Taftanaz, Bashiriya, al-Habeet, Hazzano, Jarjanaz, Azaz, Hullu, kafarhamra, al-Abzimo, and al-Hour. (Source: Syrian Coalition)

Saqba Near Damascus — “We Want Freedom”

Saida in Daraa Province

Friday protest at Busra al-Sham's ancient amphitheater today. Daraa, Syria

Friday protest in Qaboun, Damascus

Friday protest in Aleppo - Huluk neighborhood

Friday protest in Saqba in Damascus suburbs today

Aleppo residents use Syria truce to resume Friday protests

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

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