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Sunday, September 28, 2014

The role of US Imperialism in Syria and the Left's Dilemma

US President Barack Obama's air war in Syria has been a long time in the making. I wrote about it more than 18 months ago in a blog post titled Obama planning drone strikes against Assad's opposition in Syria, 16 March 2013. I reported then:
From the LA Times today we have breaking news that the Obama Administration is presently in the planning stages for direct US armed intervention into the Syrian civil war. The plan will be to intervene on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with a series of armed drone strikes against his opposition.
While drone strikes against Islamist militants fighting Assad may be taken in the name of saving US lives in some hypothetical future, they won't save any Syrian lives now or hinder Assad's massive "Death from Above" campaign against Syrian civilians. Actually, since al-Nustra has been most effective in relieving Assad of bases for his air operations and is attempting to implement a "no-fly zone" over Syria, any Obama attack against al-Nusra would certainly be most welcomed by the embattled Assad regime.
Now those strikes have come, the danger to US lives has been declared "imminent," and not just drones are being used, but the whole range of the US air arsenal is being employed. I was banned from blogging at the Daily Kos for talk like that, but as I predicted, these strikes are against Assad's opposition, have not interfered with his own air campaign of bombing hospitals, schools and breadlines, and have been most heartily welcomed by the regime.

The same day Obama killed 50 al Nusra militants and 27 civilians, including at least 6 children and 4 women, Assad continued his own devastating air campaign against those seeking to end his 42 year old dictatorship, and this US intervention was most welcomed by the Assad regime. The New York Times reported:
A Syrian diplomat crowed to a pro-government newspaper that “the U.S. military leadership is now fighting in the same trenches with the Syrian generals, in a war on terrorism inside Syria.” And in New York, the new Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said in an interview that he had delivered a private message to Mr. Assad on behalf of Washington, reassuring him that the Syrian government was not the target of American-led air strikes.
“Of course coordination exists,” said a pro-government Syrian journalist speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, who had criticized the prospect of the strikes but turned practically jubilant once they began. “How else do you explain the strikes on Nusra?”
Ali Haidar, Assad's minister for national reconciliation, told Reuters on Wednesday:
"As for the raids in Syria, I say that what has happened so far is proceeding in the right direction in terms of informing the Syrian government and by not targeting Syrian military installations and not targeting civilians," he said.

"Notification of the Syrian government happened," he said. "Confirmation that they would not target Syrian military installations, and confirmation they would not target civilians happened."
Targeting civilians is what the Assad regime does best, and having been assured by Obama that US warplanes were not entering Syrian air space to interference with that, Assad has felt free to continue his own campaign of "Death from Above." Reuters reported on Friday
Assad steps up bombing as West strikes militants in Syria

U.S.-led forces hit Islamic State bases in eastern Syria on Friday and a monitoring group said the Syrian army had intensified its bombing campaign in the west. More...
From Syrian Observatory for Human Rights we get a more detailed look at what Assad's air force has been free to do as it shares its air space with the US allies. By the numbers:

Tuesday 23 September 2014 On the day the US strikes started, this is what Assad's air force did:
[1]: Aleppo Province: Helicopters dropped 2 barrel bombs onto areas near al Imam al Nawawi mosque in the neighborhood of Tariq al Bab leading to the injury of some people. Two other barrels were dropped onto the neighborhoods of Masaken Hanano and Jabal Badro in the east of Aleppo.

[2]: Idleb Province: Some surface-to-surface missiles struck areas in the city of Khan Sheikhon followed by the dropping of barrel bombs onto the city killing a man, his daughter and a woman while others were injured. Helicopters dropped barrel bombs onto areas in the town of Saraqeb with no information about casualties.

[3]: Helicopters dropped 5 barrel bombs onto areas in the west of Khan al Shih Camp and 5 barrels onto places in Bet Sayer in the Western Ghouta,  casualties were reported in Bet Sayer.

[4]: Idleb Province: Warplanes carried out a raid on the town of Ma’er Zayta in the southern countryside of Idleb.

[5]: Warplanes carried out a raid on al Dokhaneyyi area and 9 raids on the Wastelands of al Qalamun.

[6]: Idleb Province: Warplanes carried out 3 raids on areas in the town of Khan al Sobol, 2 raids on the town of Madaya in the southern countryside, a raid on the outskirts of al Hbet town, a raid on the southern outskirts of Ma’arret al Nu’man, a raid on the town of al Rkaya and a raid on the town of Deir Sonbol leading to the killing of 2 children from the same family in Khan al Sobol. They also attacked areas in the town of al Taman’a.

[7]: Daraa Province: Warplanes carried out a raid on an area in the town of Kafar Nasej.

Wednesday 24 September 2014
[8]: Helicopters dropped barrel bombs onto areas in Handarat Camp. Two barrel bombs dropped near the Central Prison of Aleppo. A woman died while other were injured due to air raids launched on the town of Qbasin near the city of al Bab.

Most telling about the unity that has developed between the US air force and Assad's is that in one case the SOHR had to report: "It is unknown till the moment whether the aircrafts that attacked the area are affiliated to the Syrian regime or to the International-Arab Coalition."

[9]: Deir Ezzor Province: Warplanes attacked areas in the village of al Shola with no information about casualties. They also carried out a raid in the vicinity of Deir Ezzor airbase.

[10]: Helicopters dropped 7 barrel bombs onto the city of al Rastan with no information about casualties.

[11]: Helicopters dropped 2 barrel bombs onto areas in the town of Allatamneh.

[12]: Helicopters dropped 4 explosive barrels on al-Zabdani, no reports of losses.

Thursday 25 September 2014
[13]: 8 civilians ( 3 children and a woman ), killed by aerial bombardment on Duma, a man killed by regime's bombardment on Duma, a woman killed by air strikes on Arbin, and a man from al-Abada town.

Apparently, in the first days of US air strikes, Assad didn't entirely trust the US promise that he could carry on with his usual routine. The SOHR reported: "The provinces of Deir Ezzor, al Raqqa, al Hasaka, Homs, Aleppo and Idleb have witnessed a significant reduction in the regime’s aerial bombardment, where the rate of strikes has declined since the beginning of the International- Arab Coalition aerial strikes 2 days ago. There have been only few sorties during the last two days while aerial bombardment stopped completely in some provinces." That changed as his confidence built that the US was not going to interfere with his carnage.

Friday 26 September 2014
[14]: Homs Province: Helicopters dropped 4 barrel bombs onto the city of al Rastan causing the death of 7 people while others were injured.

[15]: A man was killed by aerial bombardment on Ein Terma in eastern Ghouta.

[16]: Homs Province: Helicopters dropped 4 barrel bombs onto the city of al Rastan causing the death of 5 men while 5 others at least were injured.

[17]: Al Qunaytera Province: Warplanes carried out a raid on the town of Swisah in the southern countryside causing material damages to people’s properties. They also attacked areas in the villages and town of the countryside of al Qunaytera.

[18]: Daraa Province: Helicopters dropped several barrel bombs onto areas in the town of Alma causing material damages to people’s properties, while 2 other barrels fell onto the town of Tafas and a barrel onto the town of Bosra al Harir killing a man and a woman in Tafas. Warplanes carried out a raid on Daraa al Balad in the city of Daraa and a raid on the town of Syada.

[19]: Lattakia Province: Warplanes carried out 2 raids onto areas on the outskirts of Salma town and other areas in the villages of al Akrad Mountain.

[20]: Rif Dimashq Province: Helicopters dropped 2 barrel bombs onto the city of al Zabadani yesterday night.

[21]: Helicopters dropped yesterday night 2 barrel bombs onto the city of Ankhel and a barrel onto the town of Otman.

Saturday 27 September 2014
[22]: Hama Province: Warplanes carried out raids onto the towns of Kafar Zayta and Allatamneh with no information about victims.

[23]: Idleb Province: Warplanes carried out a raid on places near the town of Abo al Dohur and a raid on places on the road of al Debsheyyi- Abo al Dohur, amid bombardment on al Debsheyyi area by the regime forces. They also carried out a raid on the northern outskirts of the city of Khan Sheikhon.

[24]: Helicopters dropped 2 barrel bombs onto areas in the town of Otman followed by launching shells on the town by the regime forces.

[25]: Rif Dimashq Province: Warplanes carried out several raids on the Wasteland of the town of Qara.

[26]: Deir Ezzor Province: Warplanes carried out 2 raids on the vicinity of the airbase of Deir Ezzor.

[27]: Hama Province: Helicopters dropped barrel bombs onto areas in the village of al Masasnah in the northern countryside.

[28]: Warplanes carried out a raid on an area in the city of al Bab in the east of Aleppo, initial information reported the injury of some people.

[29]: Idleb Province: Aircrafts carried out 3 raids on the villages of al Taman’ah, al Hbet and Hafsarjeh as well as a raid on the northern neighborhood of the city of Ma’arret al N’man causing material damages to people’s properties.

[30]: Deir Ezzor Province: Warplanes carried out 2 raids on the Granaries Area on the outskirts of al Husayneyyi as well as 2 raids on areas near the School and the Club in the city of Mo Hasan. They also strafed areas in the village of al Jnayneh.

[31]: Hama Province: Warplanes carried out raids onto the towns of Kafar Zayta and Allatamneh with no information about victims.

[32]: Daraa Province: Warplanes carried out a raid on an area on the town of Aqraba with no information about casualties. Helicopters dropped a barrel bomb onto the northern neighborhood of the city of Nawa, 2 barrels onto areas in the town of Deir al Adas, 2 barrel onto the northern neighborhood of the city of Bosra al Sham and 2 barrels onto the city of Ankel.

[33]: Helicopters dropped 4 barrel bombs onto the city of Darayya and 2 barrels onto the eastern mountain of the city of al Zabadani causing material damages. A woman died of wounds due to the regime’s bombardment on the city of Doma.

Sunday 28 September 2014
[34]: Helicopters dropped 2 barrel bombs yesterday night onto the eastern mountain of al Zabadani city.

This happened before the first US bombs fell on Syria.

This is the daily slaughter that the US Media and the US Left have been ignoring for years.

Assad could be finding it increasingly difficult to get his pilots to bomb their own people. Last month, he executed three military pilots, two of them Alawites, for refusing orders. This may be another reason he welcomes the intervention of US pilots who historically have shown few qualms about bombing foreigners.

The Obama may have intervened in Syria to fight "terrorism" but as we have seen from its assaults in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the US has never considered aerial bombardment of civilians terrorism.
ANSWER & Code Pink Protest Syria Bombing at the White House | 9/24/2014
Of course, these weren't the air strikes they were protesting. In more than three years, and two hundred thousand Syrian lives later, they have never seen the need to protest Assad's air strikes. In fact ANSWER Coalition has long been outspoken in its support for the Assad regime, and now Code Pink is standing with them.

With their pro-Qaddafi, pro-Assad, pro-Putin interpretation of anti-imperialism in the 21st century, and their demonization of all those who disagree with them, they have succeeded in reducing the anti-war movement to a shadow if its former self.
Washington, DC March against the Iraq War - 15 September 2007
The Free Syrian Army and other opposition forces that have been under Assad's daily aerial bombardment for years have long pleaded with the NATO powers to provide them with modern air defense weapons so that they could put an end to Assad indiscriminate bombing campaigns. No such weapons have been forth coming. They were also terribly disappointed when Obama reneged on his promise to strike Assad if he used banned chemical weapons to increase his kill rate. Now that Obama has intervened in Syria on the side of the regime, they are speaking out against it.

Zaman al Wasl, founder of the FSA sees in Obama's intervention an attempt to crush the Syrian opposition and Syrian Arab Army defector, Colonel Raid al-Asaad, was downright pessimistic about Obama's "War on Terror" in Syria, telling Zamam al-Wasl the "Syrian revolution will be eliminated under this pretext." He should learn from the Vietnamese experience; that is more easily said than done.  

The fact that Assad's supporters back Obama's intervention while his opposition opposes it, gives you the real skinny. SYRIA:direct said 24 September 2014:
Harakat Hazm, a moderate-leaning rebel coalition that has received aid from the United States, called the strikes an act of “aggression towards national sovereignty” in a press release widely circulated Tuesday on social media websites.

Foreign intervention “will harm the revolution, especially seeing as the international community continues to ignore revolutionary forces' calls for weapons,” the group said, adding that “the only side to benefit... is the Assad regime, without any real strategy to bring about its downfall.”
Even as the pro-government news network Damascus Now cheered on the US air strikes, calling this a historic moment, in which “happiness was etched on the faces of the majority of Syrians, because they found international support towards eradicating a cancer which has been rooted in the diseased Syrian body,” referring to the rebels.

Michael Karadjis writes in his well researched and very informative:
Syrian rebels overwhelmingly condemn
US bombing as an attack on revolution

25 September 2014
In particular, given the grave situation in Aleppo, where the revolutionary forces are being jointly besieged from the south and the north-east by Assad and ISIS, the fact that the first US attacks were on JaN inside Aleppo – where JaN is playing an important role in the epic defense of the rebel-held, working-class, half of that city, alongside the FSA and other Islamist groups – is perhaps the most blatant attack on the revolution possible.
The Assad regime must be very pleased with having acquired for itself a new air force. More...
These developments pose a serious dilemma for the US "anti-imperialist" Left that has long maintained that the Syrian rebels were a "US backed" attempt to overthrow one of the essential partners in the "axis of resistance" to US imperialism.

Is the US Left going the way of the 9/11 Truth movement - increasingly irrelevant to anyone?

For years now it has largely ignored the growing conflict in Syria and when it has spoken out, it has been to oppose what it believed was US support of opposition to the Syrian government and military support for the rebels, but now, after three and a half years of conflict, when that military intervention comes in the familiar form of air strikes, and it is being welcomed by the regime and condemned by its opposition, there can be little doubt which side Obama is on.

A year ago they took to the streets, wrote their congresspeople and made as much noise as they could to oppose air strikes threaten against the Assad government for killing more than 1400 Syrians with sarin. Really they were demanding that Obama do what he intended to do all along, which was nothing. They spread 9/11 like conspiracy theories, but this time about how the government didn't do it. And when Qbama sent the matter to congress for a vote he knew he was going to lose, they hailed it as a great victory and a testimony to their growing strength.

18 months ago when I was blogging at the Daily Kos and saying that in spite of his fine words, Obama supported the Assad regime and was working to undermine the Syrian revolutionaries, that he was playing "good cop" to Putin's "bad cop", I was roundly criticized. Now it must be becoming increasingly obvious, even to them, that by opposing the Syrian insurgency, the "anti-imperialists" have been supporting the imperialist game all along.

Like I've been saying for a couple of years now:
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
How Obama helps Assad: US tried to start war between FSA & al Nusra Front
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
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

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
PS: The Lockheed Martin F-22 saw its first combat flights this week over Syria. It is a very expensive aircraft, costing $178 million each, but that pales in comparison to the next generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at $337 million a piece. The electronics design magazine ECN writes "according to one estimate, the money spent on the program could buy every homeless person in the U.S. a $600,00 mansion."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What if FDR had declared war against both Hitler & Stalin

That would have made no sense, which is to say that it would have only made sense if President Roosevelt wanted to see the allies lose World War II. While many parallels have been drawn and could be drawn between these two ruthless dictators, the wise leader knows that you have to pick your battles carefully and it would have been suicidal to attack Russia at the very moment they were the main force opposing Germany, no matter how similar the two leaders might have been in the abstract.

And yet this is precisely what President Barack Obama has done by attacking both the Islamic State and Jabhat al Nusra in Syria. While both groups have very similar al Qaeda outlooks, they have played very different roles in the struggle in Syria. ISIS has an Iraqi leadership and has built its ranks largely by recruiting foreign jihadists. It also has avoided combat with the Assad regime just as the regime has forgone attacks against ISIS, even while the terrorist group claimed growing expanses of Syria for itself.

Al Nusra Front has Syrian leadership and mainly Syrian fighters. It also has a pretty decent record of working with the more democratic forces in the Syrian rebellion and it has actually been fighting the Assad regime. Most importantly with regards to the current campaign against ISIS, al Nusra has been one of the main forces fighting ISIS in Syria.

When the Obama administration announced that it had attacked the "little known" Khorasan group as well as ISIS in Syria, it was really talking about al Nusra, or a section of it. The reason those of us that have been following events in Syria for years never heard of this "Khorasan group" before now is that the name was entirely the creation of the "Obama group", just as the term "Viet Cong" was never what the National Liberation Front fighters in Vietnam called themselves. It was the creation of a US army psyops officer in 1958 which was immediately picked up by all the media. The new name "Khorasan group" is a thin veil to cover what they are really doing just as their story about an "imminent attack" on the US by these fighters around Idlib and Aleppo is a thin story to cover Obama's attack on ISIS's opposition in Syria.

The Pentagon was so proud to show how precisely they could use smart bombs to take out an antenna array on top of an ISIS command and control building without harming the building itself - or the expensive radio equipment and ISIS commanders inside. Such a strategic attack would have made sense, knocking out ISIS communications, if it was part of an immediate ground assault, otherwise it means very little because antenna arrays can quickly be replaced, and at very little cost.

The Obama administration was also so kind as to give the Assad regime a "heads-up" as to the coming attack. ISIS also had plenty of time to fortify and reposition itself in preparation for the US air campaign. In fact the only forces caught by surprise were those that have been fighting both the Assad regime and ISIS.

Like I've been saying for a couple of years now:
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
How Obama helps Assad: US tried to start war between FSA & al Nusra Front
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
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

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Obama's air strikes in Syria - a first look

What follows is information that has come my way in the few hours since the United States and its five Arab allies - Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirate, Bahrain and Qatar began air operations in Syria. Most of this information is "unvetted" so I'm not vouching for it, but since it goes further and is almost certainly more accurate than the dribble being put out by CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC and their instant experts, I thought I'd share it with you.

From Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office correspondent in ‪‎Hasakah‬ we have this early report:
American‬ missiles hit ISIS military camp

Revolutionary Forces of Syria
Media Office correspondent in Hasakah confirmed that the international coalition used American Tomahawk missiles to bombard ISIS military camp of al-Bahra al-Khatoniyah located to the east of al-Houl near the Syrian-Iraqi boarders. The missile attack was followed by Sukhoi air strikes and vacuum missiles attacks. Our correspondent added that the camp was severely destroyed and no civilian casualties were reported in the area.

EAWorldView has always produced very creditable reports about events in Syria, this is their first report, check them for frequent updates:
Syria Daily: US Airstrikes & Missiles Hit Islamic State

By Scott Lucas September 23, 2014 11:17
UPDATE 1145 GMT: General Martin Dempsey, the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has hailed airstrikes as a success: “We wanted to make sure that ISIL knew they have no safe haven, and we certainly achieved that.”

Dempsey played up the claimed involvement of Arab states — Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Qatar — in the operations as proof of a coalition effort:
Once we had one of them on board, the others followed quickly thereafter. We now have a kind of credible campaign against [the Islamic State] that includes a coalition of partners.

UPDATE 1115 GMT: The Russian Foreign Ministry has condemned the US airstrikes:
Attempts to pursue own geopolitical goals through violating the sovereignty of other states only escalates tensions and aggravates the situation even further. Moscow has repeatedly warned that those who initiated one-sided military scenarios bear full international legal responsibility for the consequences.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that those who initiated one-sided military scenarios bear full international legal responsibility for the consequences.

UPDATE 0730 GMT: Unconfirmed claims are circulating that the US airstrikes have also hit a headquarters of the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra in Aleppo Province, causing casualties.

Jabhat al-Nusra split with the Islamic State in spring 2013 over a dispute about leadership of the jihadist movement in Syria. The faction fights alongside the main Syrian insurgent blocs, but it is still on the US list of terrorist organizations.

However, the US Central Command indicated that its target is the Khorasan Group, a small faction identified as an enemy last week by the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

Central Command announced, “The United States has also taken action to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests conducted by a network of seasoned Al Qa’eda veterans — sometimes referred to as the Khorasan Group — who have established a safe haven in Syria to develop external attacks, construct and test improvised explosive devices and recruit Westerners to conduct operations.”

The Command said it carried out eight strikes against Khorasan Group targets west of Aleppo, including training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communication building, and command and control facilities.

US intelligence said Khorasan is led by Muhsin al Fadhli, a Kuwaiti whom it claims was Al Qa’eda’s “senior representative” in Iran. The Americans say al-Fadhli arrived in Syria in April 2013 and began working with Jabhat al-Nusra, but subsequently split from the organization.

The US also claims that Khorasan also includes Abd Al-Rahman Muhammad al-Juhni, a Saudi national designated by the Treasury as “part of a group of senior Al Qa’eda members in Syria formed to conduct external operations against Western targets”.
Peter Clifford closely follows the military situation in Syria and his reports have always proven to be accurate in the past. This is his first report:

For the very 1st time, US forces, backed by Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), attacked Islamic State targets in Syria last night, around 8.30pm Eastern Time in the US, 1.30am (Tuesday) GMT.

The attack started with the launch of Tomahawk missiles from the destroyer USS Arleigh Burke positioned in the Red Sea, followed by F-18 aircraft flying off the USS George H. W. Bush in the Persian Gulf.

B-1 bombers, F-16s, F-18s and Predator drones where also used in the assault, some of them flown by Arab nations, though the full details are not yet available.

The first wave of attacks lasted 90 minutes with other attacks over the course of several hours. Confirmation of the attacks has come from sources in the Islamic State main base in Syria at Raqqah and several amateur mobile phone videos appeared on the web including this one:

The Pentagon is denying that there were any civilian causalities, and the media isn't reporting them, but of course there were:

But as I have learned by being a close observer of this conflict from the beginning, few things are what they seem at first glance and people who I have come to trust are raising serious questions about who is really behind some of these attacks:

The surprise was that the first attacks were not against ISIS but against Khorasan, a group I'd never heard about before Obama targeted them, which has been described as formerly with al Nusra Front. Many questions remain about this group and this strike. This tweet raises one of them:
Some have questioned how "imminent" this threat could have been if the operatives were still in Syria, while others have pointed out that the Pentagon has a very flexible definition of "imminent":
an "imminent" threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons will take place in the immediate future.
While al Nusra shares many of the same jihadist views of ISIS, it is a largely Syrian group and has been actively fighting ISIS. If this group that Obama struck is or was associated with al Nusra, we can only hope that it doesn't prove counter productive:

The Independent has an informative article about Khorasan:
Khorasan: Muhsin al-Fadhli - the man leading a terror group more feared by US officials than Isis

Discussions of the terror plot were almost always discreet. So when the towers burned that September day, many al-Qaeda operatives didn’t know of their group’s involvement. Only Osama bin Laden and several top commanders knew the truth.

Now, more than 13 years later, one of those commanders is back and perhaps more dangerous than ever. On Sept. 11, 2001, Muhsin al-Fadhli had been barely more than a boy, aged 19. But today the steely-eyed 33-year-old operative is in Syria, leading a group of clandestine al-Qaeda operatives called “Khorasan,” which some American officials said may be more dangerous in some respects than the Islamic State.

Khorasan hasn’t arrived to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. It’s not interested laying claim to great swaths of land and resources, as is the Islamic State. Rather, American officials told the Associated Press, its members have come from Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan to exploit the flood of Western jihadists who now have skin in the fight — and possess very valuable passports. According to the AP, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri dispatched this deputy to recruit those Western fighters, who have a better chance of escaping scrutiny at airports and could place bombs onto planes. More...
Meanwhile, Bashar al-Assad's air war against Syrian civilians continues. Obama doesn't interfere with them, and Assad doesn't try to stop the US air strikes:

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vijay Prashad's Syrian contradictions

Vijay Prashad's latest defense of Bashar al-Assad, Obama’s Syrian dilemma, is a bundle of contradictions . The only thing that holds it together is his covert support for Assad.

Vijay says near the very beginning of his piece:
In Syria, IS faces three adversaries: Kurdish fighters, the Syrian government and an assortment of the Syrian opposition.
This is a laugh, after all that has been written on this score, Vijay still counts Assad as a force fighting ISIS in Syria. Sure there have been a few outbreaks but on balance, Assad has been much more friend than foe to ISIS.

The sad news this week is that ISIS has succeeded in taking 60 villages away from the badly out-gunned Syrian Kurdish forces and sending another 60,000 of Assad's citizens fleeing across the border to Turkey. The Kurds don't have an air force, but Assad does, well supplied by Putin. So why was Assad's air force MIA, while ISIS took another slice out of Syria? Were they too busy bombing Syrians demanding democracy in Aleppo and Idlib? Vijay takes the position that Obama should team up with Assad to battle ISIS in Syria, rather than those who are really fighting ISIS. In fact, near the end of his piece Vijay seems to contradicted himself when he excuses Assad's failure to take the fight to ISIS with:
Mr. Assad will not throw his troops at the IS unless he has an assurance that the rebellion against him is over.
So if Assad has yet to throw his troops at the IS [i.e. ISIS], while the Free Syrian Army certainly has, in what sense is he an adversary of IS, to be named ahead of those that have actually been fighting it? This statement is also an admission that both Vijay and Assad know that IS is not a part of the rebellion against him!

Vijay goes on to confuse rhetoric with reality when he speaks of:
Mr. Obama’s commitment to the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Based on what does he make this claim? Is it like Obama's "commitment" to a living wage, affordable healthcare, and clean energy? If Obama has been so "committed to the overthrow of Assad," why is this morning's CNN headline "US plans to arm Syrian rebels", sometime in the future, 3.5 years into the conflict? Vijay seems to recognize this problem near the end of his piece when he says:
Mr. Obama’s gesture appears resolute, but empty...
Another woeful contradiction. Then he revives an old slander to attack Assad's real opposition:
It is little wonder then that on December 11, 2013, his fighters (along with the al-Nusra) conducted a massacre of Alawites, Christians, Ismailis and Druze in Adra (north-east of Damascus).
This one really ticks me off, especially since Vijay affects, excuse me, has a detailed knowledge of the players in this fight. Assad propaganda seems to never die, in the words of his supporters, no matter how completely if has been exposed, in this case even by me: Fake Adra massacre photos expose bloody hands on Left. There have been other good take-downs of this Assad propaganda including The Massacre in Syria That Wasn’t by the Interpreter Magazine, so Vijad really has no excuse for playing dumb and raising it here again, but as we have seen, time and time again with "anti-imperialist" and pro-Assad propaganda, a good lie never dies.

For example, never mind that the Free Syrian Army is still a potent force in the struggle for democracy in spite of the lack of any real support from Obama and the NATO countries or the horrific attacks they have suffered from a regime that has enjoyed almost unlimited military support from its Russian and Iranian allies, and over looking the fact the regime let many of the jihadists that found their way to ISIS out of his jails, Syrian security officers have been seen in the leadership of ISIS or that Assad buys its oil, Vijay is prepared to blame the democratic forces for the rise of ISIS because they have had the gall to demand an end to the fascist regime:
The rebels remain obdurate that Mr. Assad must go, even if this means delivery of Syria to the Islamic State.
This line, that the only choice for Syria is ISIS or Assad, is straight out of Assad's play book and more than anything exposes which side Vijay is on.

The rebellion is not finished by a long shot:

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

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?

UPDATE 19 September 2014: When Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the Senate on Wednesday he added a new dimension to this particular controversy because he made the claim that it was a propaganda ploy of the Islamic State. He said this about the story of a non-aggression pact between ISIS (or ISIL as he calls it) and the Free Syrian Army: "Let me say to you, that's---disinformation fundamentally put out by ISIL." Not reading Arabic I have seen this disinformation spread most widely by whose in the "anti-imperialist" Left. I don't know the basis of Kerry's statement and have to say I don't have much faith in his intelligence no matter how you mean it, but upon reflection, I have to agree with him.

Here is my reasoning: Its not hard to understand why a section of the FSA would agree to a 24hr truce to remove the dead from the battlefield. Such breaks in the fighting to evacuate the dead and wounded are quite common in the annals of warfare, even between the most bitter of opponents, if only in the name of simple decency. They happened in the American Civil War and after the truce the two sides returned to killing each other. But ISIS is not known for its decency. If this is indeed the first such truce that they have agreed to, which is what most of these "anti-imperialist" reports claim, then the real question it why did ISIS agree to it at this juncture?

The logical answer is that they agreed to it precisely so that their propaganda allies could use it as the grain-of-truth in a dis-information campaign that claimed, as the women in the pink blouse did on CNN this morning, that "hundreds of FSA units have entered into a non-aggression pact with ISIS" at the very moment when the United States is considering whether to support the FSA with training and arms in a serious way for the first time. So I think Kerry has a point.

ISIS is very sophisticated in it propaganda, as is the Assad Regime. The highlight of the ISIS video released today is a North American sounding jihadist executing members of Assad's army. Now that they have gotten the attention of the American people, they are making a great show of opposing Assad, just as Assad appears, for the first time, to be opposing ISIS. Of course, in the past, Assad has been much quicker to shoot his own soldiers, as punishment for attempting to defect, than he has to bomb ISIS headquarters in Ragga or ISIS camps anywhere. Had he done so, they never could have had the safehaven that has allowed them to conquer so much territory in Syria and Iraq, just as ISIS has waged war against the FSA and not Assad, who purchases their oil. As I have reported earlier, ISIS prisons have been found to be filled with FSA soldiers while defecting Syrian soldiers so foolish as to flee to ISIS have been turned over to Assad, most likely to be shot. Now it is convenient to boaster claims that ISIS is the main force fighting Assad and visa versa with these displays. Those who have been following this conflict for the past three and a half years are not fooled but those that have just waken up to it may be.

So ISIS allowed a truce in one area, near Damascus, with one FSA unit, and with the help of its friends and allies, have scored another propaganda victory. These "anti-imperialists" only oppose western imperialism and follow the logic of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." This has long made them supporters of Putin and Assad. Now they seem quite willing to add ISIS to that club and spread ISIS misinformation for the purpose of discrediting the forces that have remained in the struggle, in spite of three and a half years of pounding by Assad and over a year of fighting ISIS, as either non-existent or having concluded a "non-aggression pact" with ISIS.

I regret to inform you that to this roll call of dishonour we can also add Syrian Arab Republic, Counterpunch, The Tea Party.org, The AntiMedia.org, Infowars.com, BreitBart, David Icke, Fire Dog Lake, Anti-War.com, Global Research, Truthdig, The Right Scoop, Uprooted Palestinian, The Ron Paul Institute, Dennis Kucinich, Information Clearinghouse, Hebrew Nation Radio, War in Iraq, Red State, The Nation, Veteran's Today, Counter Currents.org, Moon of Alabama, and Huffington Post. All together in support of ISIS propaganda. What a wonderful example of "left-right convergence" this makes!

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