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    • Blowback: Paris Terror Suspects Recently Returned from Syria and Demonstrated Military Training

         
        Dan Sanchez,   January 07, 2015
    • Briefly noted in the third paragraph of a USA Today report about the suspects in today’s Paris terror attack: “Both brothers returned from Syria this summer.”

       

      What would French radical Islamists be doing in Syria around that time? Quite possibly getting training from the US and its allies to fight Assad. And as Ben Swann reports: “Analysts have said that this attack was carried out by men who had formal military training and was carried out by men who acted like a ‘special forces unit’.”

       

      However, such training is by no means certain, for as Mitchell Prothero reports:

    • “Other evidence suggests they could be linked to a top French al Qaida operative, David Drugeon, who’s been the target at least twice of U.S. airstrikes in Syria over the last four months.”

       

      Yet, even if they didn’t manage to get past U.S. “vetting,” and instead received training from al Qaida alone, the fact that the war they earned their spurs in was persisting at all was due to U.S. aid to the rebels.

       

      This is the kind of blowback that is so quick to follow intervention that Scott Horton incisively terms it “backdraft.”

       

      And once again, just as with Sony and North Korea, the implications concerning empire are getting lost in the hullabaloo over rogue groups allegedly seriously threatening freedom of speech.

    • US-led strikes may have killed civilians: Pentagon
    • Washington (AFP) - The US military is reviewing several incidents in which civilians may have been killed in coalition air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria, officials said.
    • The comments marked the first time the US military has acknowledged that the air war may have exacted a toll on civilians.

      US Central Command, which is overseeing the air campaign, initially looked into 18 cases and concluded 13 were not credible but five merited further review. Of those, two incidents -- one in Iraq and one in Syria -- prompted formal investigations, defense officials told AFP.

      The current probes involved one case that occurred as recently as December 26, officials said.

      "What I know is that Central Command is investigating several (of) what they believe to be credible allegations of civilian casualties," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

      "This is something we always take seriously. We are very mindful of trying to mitigate the risk to civilians every time we operate, everywhere we operate."

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    •     <!-- Content Start -->  
         

      PHYSICIANS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS JOIN THE RANKS OF PRO-IMPERIALIST NGO’S

    • Starving Syrians For Human Rights

       

      *John V. Walsh

       

      The wing of the U.S. human rights movement which targets foreign countries can wind up as a cruel business, aiding the ruthless and violent actions of the U.S. Empire, wittingly or not. For the U.S. all too often uses human rights as a cover for taking action against countries that defy the Empire’s control.

       

      Some weeks back, I decided to look into one such group, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), an organization I had long refrained from joining out of skepticism. But perhaps, I thought, PHR had sidestepped the dangers inherent in this work. So I joined to find out.

       

      Some days later I received my first email from PHR. I was floored by the heading, “Protect Syrian Citizens: Help Make Sanctions Tougher.” The word “tougher” struck me. The email read in part: “Help us impose tougher sanctions on Pres. Assad’s brutal regime. The Syria Sanctions Act of 2011, S. 1472, will target Syria’s energy and financial sectors. Contact your Senators today and urge them to back S. 1472.” The sponsor of this bill was Kirsten Gillibrand, and among the 12 co-sponsors were two neocon leaders, John McCain and Joe Lieberman, the latter hardly a human rights stalwart when it comes to Palestinians. Did that not ring alarm bells at PHR?

    • Sanctions Target the Syrian People, Bringing Poverty and Hunger

       

      PHR argues that the sanctions are “targeted” at the oil and financial sectors and therefore are of consequence only for the Syrian elite. Since 25% of the revenue of the Syrian government comes from oil revenues (according to  the text of the bill), expenditures providing needed relief to the population, for example, the current price supports for food, will certainly be affected. But it is not only the revenues of the Syrian government that are affected.  The Financial Times reports:

       

      The most significant sanctions are on the oil industry, estimated by the International Monetary Fund to have accounted for almost a fifth of gross domestic product in 2010. Analysts estimate that they helped contribute to a contraction of 2-10 per cent to Syria’s economy last year (2011).

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    • Six years in, Obama gearing up to be a war president

       

      President Obama's dismissal of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today is the latest sign of the president's growing hawkishness in the face of unresolved conflicts in the Middle East.

    •  
    • Barack Obama's meteoric rise to the presidency probably wouldn't have been possible without his decision to stake out a strong position against the Iraq War while still an Illinois state senator in October 2002. In a speech in Chicago that month he warned of "a dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics."

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    • AP Source: Hagel resigning as Defense secretary
    • JULIE PACE and ROBERT BURNS
    • WASHINGTON (AP) — Under pressure from President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel submitted his resignation Monday amid White House concerns about his effectiveness and broader criticism from outside about the administration's Middle East crisis management.

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                  Molly O'Toole        November 19, 2014 

       
       
       

          UN Ambassador Warns Against Intervention Fatigue 

    • Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, warned the American public against a kind of intervention fatigue, emphasizing that U.S. leadership is needed now more than ever amid global threats from Ebola to the Islamic State.
    • “I think there is too much of, ‘Oh, look, this is what intervention has wrought’ … one has to be careful about overdrawing lessons,” Power said Wednesday during the Defense One Summit. At the same time, she said, “we are asking an awful lot right now of our forces.”

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    • Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:38
      Ex-Opposition Leader Admits Mistake about Syrian Gov't, Says Assad Fighting Terrorists
    • TEHRAN (FNA)- Former President of the National Coalition for Syrian Opposition Forces Moaz Al-Khatib confessed that his opposition to the Damascus government has been a grave mistake, saying that President Bashar Al-Assad has been fighting against the terrorists.

        "I acknowledge that I have made a mistake in the past as I imagined that the western and Arab countries as well as Turkey wanted to help Syria and its people," Turkish news website Ulusal quoted Khatib as saying on his account on a social network.

       

        He wrote that the so-called Friends of Syria are actually the enemies of Syria and terrorists are cooperating with them to destroy Syria.

       

        "I have come to the conclusion that the Syrian government is fighting against the terrorists; it is paying salary to its employees in different parts, supplies electricity and do things that show it is thinking of the people," Khatib said.

    • Moaz Al-Khatib is a former president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. He is also a former prayers imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.

       

        Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs and terrorists against both the army and civilians.

       

        The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle-East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.

       

        As the foreign-backed insurgency in Syria continues without an end in sight, the US government has boosted its political and military support to Takfiri extremists.

    • Nov
       
      14
       
      2014
       
       

      No Debate and the New War

       

      Study finds little opposition to US attacks on Iraq, Syria

    • While Congress may soon debate the ongoing US wars in Iraq and Syria, a new FAIR study shows that at the critical moments leading up to the escalation of US military action, mainstream media presented almost no debate at all.

       

      The study of key TV news discussion programs from September 7 through 21 reveals that guests who opposed war were scarce.

    • The study evaluated discussion and debate segments on the Sunday talk shows (CNN's State of the Union, CBS's Face the Nation, ABC's This Week, Fox News Sunday and NBC's Meet the Press), the PBS NewsHour and a sample of cable news programs that feature roundtables and interview segments (CNN's Situation Room, Fox News Channel's Special Report and MSNBC's Hardball).

       

      The key findings:

       

      --In total, 205 sources appeared on the programs discussing military options in Syria and Iraq. Just six of these guests, or 3 percent, voiced opposition to US military intervention. There were 125 guests (61 percent) who spoke in favor of US war.

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    • Wednesday, June 15, 2011
    • Still Angry at the Hoax. And It is Not Just About Amina 

       
       
       
       
       
      Days after the Amina hoax came to light, and despite the reams of virtual ink wasted by the media on the story, I have found myself feeling furious each time I think of the way the story unfolded.
       

       
      I got news of the story when it suddenly showed up on my twitter feed, with various activists and journalists being informed that “Amina” had possibly been abducted by Syrian security forces.  I re-tweeted the initial abduction tweet and then checked the blog in question.  And that is where things got messy!

       
      While I am no Syria expert, I noticed some odd details, none of which made the story impossible but did stand out as improbable: “Amina” seemed to have a close, very physically affectionate relationship with her father, with a level of intimacy that seemed unusual. Perhaps, this was the Indian in me – and we share quite a few cultural traits with west Asian cultures – but the idea of a father writing on his daughter’s body – even if it were identifying details to prepare for a demonstration – seemed somehow culturally implausible.  Similarly, the idea of any father standing up to state security in a totalitarian state with impunity seemed fanciful.
    • The third and to me, most telling detail, was the lack of access and information “Amina” had to and about feminine cultural spaces.  Regardless of sexuality, and very much like India, most west Asian cultures continue to have numerous, intimate, powerful communal spaces for women.  In fact, as a teenager and young adult in New York and Boston, I had experienced this lack of shared feminine spaces as a distressing albeit hard to articulate aspect of culture shock. I still find myself seeking these in Europe, and often find them amongst friends from Africa and Asia, instead of amongst European or American women. As a result “Amina’s” lack of access to women and indeed, her lack of relationship with any women (even her mother) except lovers baffled me.

       
      However, perhaps my own prejudices came through as I decided that these discrepancies were a result of “Amina’s” bi-national identity. Perhaps, I told myself, she was too American, much like the “diaspora” kids we see in India who have little understanding or knowledge of cultural codes.  This sense was heightened as some of the posts reminded me of the old French “harem” paintings, recognisable and yet somehow indefinably fantastic.

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        #BBCTrending: Syrian 'hero boy' video faked by Norwegian director

                    
    • Millions of YouTube viewers have been captivated by the 'Syrian hero boy' who manages to rescue a little girl while under gunfire. Now a group of Norwegian filmmakers have told BBC Trending they are behind it. They say it was filmed on location in Malta this summer with the intention of being presented as real.

       

      Lars Klevberg, a 34-year-old film director based in Oslo, wrote a script after watching news coverage of the conflict in Syria. He says he deliberately presented the film as reality in order to generate a discussion about children in conflict zones.

       

      "If I could make a film and pretend it was real, people would share it and react with hope," he said. "We shot it in Malta in May this year on a set that was used for other famous movies like Troy and Gladiator," Klevberg said. "The little boy and girl are professional actors from Malta. The voices in the background are Syrian refugees living in Malta."

    • Were they comfortable making a film that potentially deceived millions of people? "I was not uncomfortable," Klevberg said. "By publishing a clip that could appear to be authentic we hoped to take advantage of a tool that's often used in war; make a video that claims to be real. We wanted to see if the film would get attention and spur debate, first and foremost about children and war. We also wanted to see how the media would respond to such a video."

       
        A film being shot in a desert setting   The crew filming the video in Malta

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    • Obama seeks review of Syria strategy, sees Assad removal as necessary: CNN

    • WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama wants his advisers to review the administration's Syria policy after determining it may not be possible to defeat Islamic State militants without removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, CNN reported on Wednesday.

       

      Citing senior U.S. officials, the network said Obama's national security team held four meetings in the past week that were driven by how the administration's Syria strategy fit into its campaign against Islamic State, which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq.

       

      "The president has asked us to look again at how this fits together," CNN quoted one senior official as saying. "The long-running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIL, we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria." ISIL is another acronym for Islamic State.

    • A White House National Security Council official told Reuters: "The strategy with respect to Syria has not changed."

       

      The official said Obama's national security team "meets frequently to determine how best to carry out the strategy he set forth to counter ISIL in Iraq and Syria through several military and non-military lines of effort."

       

      "While the immediate focus remains to drive ISIL out of Iraq, we and coalition partners will continue to strike at ISIL in Syria to deny them safe haven and to disrupt their ability to project power," the official added.

       

      Noting that Obama had made clear Assad had lost his legitimacy, the official said: "Alongside our efforts to isolate and sanction the Assad regime, we are working with our allies to strengthen the moderate opposition."

    • Syrian rebels armed and trained by US surrender to al-Qaeda

       

      Moderate rebels in Syria that the US have armed and trained to fight jihadists have surrendered to al-Qaeda

    •    
       

      12:33PM GMT 02 Nov 2014

    • Two of the main rebel groups receiving weapons from the United States to fight   both the regime and jihadist groups in Syria   have surrendered to al-Qaeda.  

       

       The US and its allies were relying on Harakat Hazm and the Syrian   Revolutionary Front to become part of a ground force that would attack the   Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  

       

       For the last six months the Hazm movement, and the SRF through them, had been   receiving heavy weapons from the US-led coalition, including GRAD rockets   and TOW anti-tank missiles.  

       

       But on Saturday night Harakat Hazm surrendered military bases and weapons   supplies to Jabhat al-Nusra, when the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria stormed   villages they controlled in northern Idlib province.  

       

       The development came a day after Jabhat al-Nusra dealt a final blow to the   SRF, storming and capturing Deir Sinbal, home town of the group's leader   Jamal Marouf.  

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    • William Blum: Why You Can Hardly Believe a Word of What You Read About ISIS

       
      October 28, 2014 by Brad Hoff
    • William Blum is a Washington D.C. based analyst and historian whose books chart the history of CIA abuses and U.S. government crimes abroad. His latest article for Counterpunch is an excellent critique of the recent months-long ISIS hysteria in American media and culture.

       

      He makes the point that we shouldn’t uncritically trust the dominant narrative on ISIS coming out of U.S.-Saudi-NATO media establishments, especially when it was this very alliance that produced and fed this Frankenstein monster in the first place.

    • Indeed, while the U.S. Department of Treasury has publicly blamed governments like Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia for funding the most radical elements on the Syrian battlefield, the White House continues enlist the help of those very countries in its supposed anti-ISIS campaign. But in all the constant barrage of ISIS coverage in mainstream media, one almost never gets truthful investigative analysis of how ISIS came to be so strong. As even the Vice President of the United States has publicly admitted, it is the American alliance in the region that has directly assisted the terrorist group’s meteoric rise.

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    • Oct 24, '14
    • THE ROVING EYE
       The Kobani riddle
       By Pepe Escobar
    • The brave women of Kobani - where Syrian Kurds are desperately fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh - are about to be betrayed by the "international community". These women warriors, apart from Caliph Ibrahim's goons, are also fighting treacherous agendas by the US, Turkey and the administration of Iraqi Kurdistan. So what's the real deal in Kobani?  

       Let's start by talking about Rojava. The full meaning of Rojava - the three mostly Kurdish provinces of northern Syria - is conveyed in this  editorial (in Turkish) published by jailed activist Kenan Kirkaya. He argues that Rojava is the home of a "revolutionary model" that no less than challenges "the hegemony of the

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    • What do you think of the US bombings?


       Before the US decided to bombard and hit the ISIS bases, there were a lot of rumours and news that ISIS was created by the US, UK and Israel. The more reliable evidence that we can refer to was from Edward Snowden about this. Now when they (UK and US) decide to attack ISIS and sell weapons to the KRG, it is to undermine Edward Snowden's information and the rumours that spread widely.

       

      We are against intervention from the US and Western countries and also selling weapons to the KRG. We know this is big business for them, that can make a lot of profits through this trade. We also do not want Kurdistan to become a battlefield for all the Jihadist groups in the world against the US, Western countries and the Kurdish, in which so many innocent people would be killed and many places would be destroyed. In addition, the war situation creates more haters between Kurds and Arabs, between Kurds and Sunnis. In the meantime it caused the emergence of many racist and fascist groups.

       

      The only winners in the wars are the big companies who sell weapons and war equipment, and the losers - as always - are the poor people.

    • Graeber and ISIS

       
       

      Graeber really annoyed me with this because he’s being really deceptive about his intentions so I ended up writing a big response. This is directed at no-one in particular btw, just my thoughts and some context:

    • The international left hasn’t been ignoring Rojava! He’s completely erasing every position I’ve read on Rojava over the past year or so. What David is trying to do in this article is claim that a) he cares more b) because he cares more his position on the Syrian Civil war is more correct. Anyone excoriating the left on their moral failings is trying to sell you a war, without fail. Not in this article (though pro-empire dogwhistles such as ‘Syrian Revolution’ and ‘Agents of the Assad regime’ are a clue), but on Twitter he was supplementing this with call for western left to rally for NATO to arm the Kurds and supporting the airstrikes (he’s not ‘actively opposed’ to them) and going so far as to say that those opposed to them are invoking racial privilege. And he calls himself an Anarchist!
       https://twitter.com/davidgraeber/status/519840885933359104
       https://twitter.com/davidgraeber/status/519849079908888576
       
       The truth is actually the opposite. Nobody has been ignoring Rojava. The west as well as the GCC has been intent on destroying it since the very beginning. The PKK have been on the US terror list ever since the Iraq war (the US wanted to use Turkey's Incirlik airbase) Obviously, the left hasn’t resigned itself to letting empire’s plans unfolding without a response. This is just TODAY (notably, not getting as much attention as the Hong Kong protests) http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/turkish-police-kills-least-12-clashes-anti-isis-protesters
    • The charter of the social contract the Syrian Kurds issued is inspiring, and should be noted in contradistinction to the inchoate or meagre statements proffered by ‘revolutionary’ forces, who have stated nothing so bold apart from recently issuing a few genial statements on women’s rights. (A reluctant PR exercise if ever there was one)
       
       'We, the people of the Democratic Autonomous Regions of Afrin, Jazira and Kobane, a confederation of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Arameans, Turkmen, Armenians and Chechens, freely and solemnly declare and establish this Charter, which has been drafted according to the principles of Democratic Autonomy. 'In pursuit of freedom, justice, dignity and democracy and led by principles of equality and environmental sustainability, the Charter proclaims a new social contract, based upon mutual and peaceful coexistence and understanding between all strands of society. It protects fundamental human rights and liberties and reaffirms the peoples’ right to self-determination. 

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    • About This Campaign

       
       

      In an article in the Guardian David Graeber compares what happens in Rojava, Syria, to what happened in Spain 1936, when the people rose up against fascism and lost. With the progressive forces of the Kurds under threat by the authoritarianism of Isis he argues the situation could not be more similar.

       

       

       

      He expresses the fear that history repeats itself and is wondering why the international left fails to recognize this facts. He also states that he cannot remain silent on the topic, as his father fought in the Spanish civil war, and this experience influenced his family life intensely. Therefore, we think he deserves the opportunity to gain the same experiences, and the same historical influence on the world as his dad.

       

       

       

      "Is the world – and this time most scandalously of all, the international left – really going to be complicit in letting history repeat itself?"

    • As he is the author of several books already, all we ask back from him is to write a book about his experiences, in the same manner as George Orwell wrote about his volunteering in the Spanish civil war, which was called 'Hommage to Catalonya', hence the title of this project. The full article can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/08/why-world-ignoring-revolutionary-kurds-syria-isis

       

       

       

      Risks:

       

       

       

      With people like David Graeber there is always the possibility that they prefer to write articles from a safe office somewhere in academia instead of actually doing some fighting. But if he doesn't go he'll be single-handedly responsible for genocide in the middle east and the abortion of the "rojave revolution" and be tried as a traitor to the international proletariat and the world party

    • Godspeed You, David Graeber! Anarchist Professor Commits to Go Fight in Syria

       
    • Think you know courage? Think again. Then, think again while envisioning David Graeber, Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics, who has just today volunteered to go fight in the trenches for the protection of the people of Syrian Kurdistan.
    • David Graeber already demonstrated his bravery when he wrote a 987-word piece for The Guardian headlined “Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds of Syria?” Graeber, lone voice of courage, takes anti-imperialists to task for failing to see the obvious historical parallels between the current situation, with the leftist YPG currently fighting the well-funded nihilists of ISIS, and the doomed anti-fascist fighters of the Spanish Republic in the 1930s (Graeber’s father was among their ranks). All agree that the situation is tragic, but the Professor distinguishes himself by suggesting we do something about it.

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    • Is it safe to say Graeber is a likely CIA asset championing another NATO coup in Syria?

      • the Egyptian military could take out Gaddafi's mercenaries in about a day. But I guess they have too much on their hands already? 
      • as having been amazingly noble, marching in the streets even when they know government thugs will mow them down, standing up to tanks and jets with hunting rifles... What have you done lately that's noble like that Simone?
      • the Egyptian military could take out Gaddafi's mercenaries in about a day. But I guess they have too much on their hands already? 
      • as having been amazingly noble, marching in the streets even when they know government thugs will mow them down, standing up to tanks and jets with hunting rifles... What have you done lately that's noble like that Simone?

    27 more annotations...

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