Know Your Limits: Syria

by craig on February 6, 2012 5:35 pm in Uncategorized

An important rule of good blogging is not to comment on matters which you do not understand. An important rule of my own life is not to try to understand everything, as no one man can. I have never tried to master the intricacies of Syrian internal politics, (or Lebanese for that matter). Assad senior perpetrated atrocities on a grand scale without ever getting much attention from the West. Hopes that Assad junior would make things much better seemed to come to nothing. If the revolutionary tide swept away the Assad crew, I should be pleased.

I do not know in depth why Homs is a hotbed of opposition, and what the tribal divisions are. I do know that Saudi Arabia – the apostle state of repression – is funding and arming the Free Syrian Army, which is anything but a good sign. I am very interested that the BBC reports bombings in Damascus as false flag bombings by the Assad regime, when I found that to note false flag bombings by UK/US ally Karimov in Tashkent was treated as crazed conspiracy theory.

But what I understand most is the diplomacy. On Libya, NATO took a UN Security Council Resolution authorising a no fly zone, and twisted it as cover to wage all out aerial warfare on one side in a civil war. Long after pro-Gadaffi sources lost any serious offensive capability, NATO were carpet-bombing Sirte, killing many times more people than Assad has killed in Homs to date.

If given an inch you take 500 miles, you should not be surprised when in future nobody will give you half an inch. That is the context of Russian and Chinese veto of any UNSCR authorising action against Syria. The total disregard for the spirit and precise wording of the resolutions on Libya to which Russia and China agreed, has stymied the chances of future united security council action, perhaps for many years. I actually predicted this, blogging on 5 October 2011

“Having absolutely abused UNSCR 1973, plainly NATO was seriously damaging the ability of the Security Council to work together in future, and making quite certain that China and Russia would not for many years agree to any SC Resolutions which might be open to similar abuse.”

All the sham indignation about a consequence the US, UK and France so directly brought upon themselves, and which was so obviously predictable, is pathetic.

It is fascinating the way this has been presented in the media, with graphics on all the major news channels showing the national flags of the thirteen countries who voted for the resolution, compared to the two against. There is some interest here – Azerbaijan is certainly a surprise and will be causing real heartache in the Kremlin. But the language from Clinton on the irresponsible use of the veto and on need for action outwith the United Nations, is completely out of order.

The United States has stymied UN action against Israeli aggression on numerous occasions, very often vetoing alone. I do not recall the BBC ever showing a graphic of all the national flags on one side versus just the stars and stripes on the other. Funny that. The threat of a veto is usually enough to stop a motion being tabled, but I am fairly confident in saying that the USA has exercised its veto to protect Israel on over thirty occasions. That US prevention of international action includes over Operation Cast Lead, not so long ago, where again the Israelis were killing far more civilians than are dying in the current – still deplorable – assault on Homs.

The drive for another war in the Middle East, from the same old suspects who profit from such wars, is relentless and pretty well any war of opportunity will do. What is happening in Syria is sad in its violence, and also hopeful insofar as some of it is motivated by a genuine spark of freedom. Those who purport to believe that internal conflict anywhere is best resolved by us bombing the hell out of a country and/or invading it, are a combination of cranks and cynical profiteers.

What worries me most is not the turmoil in Syria; it is the vultures circling over it.

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  1. “What worries me most is not the turmoil in Syria; it is the vultures circling over it.”
    Vultures that like to drink copious amounts of oil and copious amounts of blood.

  2. A challenge to Paxman to check the veracity of the statements made by one of his interviewees, Danny Abdul Dayem, of Syrian descent.


  3. Craig, another informative piece. Please see attached link concerning Arab League Monitors report that has been ignored.

  4. Along these same lines, someone at Jadaliyya made a list of US vetos, and I think it is still incomplete. Have a look.

  5. Assad is not bombing his own people. We are!!
    Seriously. I’ve been reading up on it all day. Heavily armed gangs of foreign mercenaries trained in Turkey. Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council who are experienced in pitting local volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting Gaddafi’s army.
    The 165 Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) observers reported from on the ground. They’re not Syrian forces doing all the killing but heavily armed gangs of foreign mercenaries. The report was suppressed by the GCC. But it’s available here>

    A recent poll showed that about 55% will vote for Assad in March (i think) and the US will not be happy about that. A democratically elected leader who is not a US puppet.

  6. Hague sounds off.
    William Hague says UN veto a ‘betrayal’ of Syrian people
    UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says Syria’s president heads a “doomed regime as well as a murdering regime”
    UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has accused China and Russia of “betraying the Syrian people” by vetoing a UN resolution condemning violence there.
    The BBC have given the first seven minutes of the 6 pm news to a filmed piece from Paul Wood followed by a live piece. He did say he was reporting a very narrow view of the situation in Syria.

  7. I wonder if Azerbaijan could be used as a staging area for an Israeli attack on Iran.

  8. @guest

    That article is big on grand theory and thin on hard evidence. It could all be perfectly true, but for now it should be filed under ‘S’ for spurious.

  9. “thin on hard evidence”
    With all that is going on I don`t think that is so, there must be a reason!.
    “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.

  10. Yes, it’s obviously the same propaganda and similar tactics on the ground as well. Stinks. Once again, it seems, the West is providing arms and money to Islamist paramilitaries, who, once again, have come loyally to serve their masters in the West.

  11. MerkinOnParis

    6 Feb, 2012 - 6:35 pm

    Well, General Wesley Clark was telling us years ago what countries were on the hit list.
    We should not really be surprised about what is happening in the run-up to the big one – the planned attack on Iran.

  12. Craig, I entirely agree with you about the gross abuse of the Security Council resolution on Libya by NATO, and the inevitable consequences that we are seeing now in regard to Syria. In fact I can’t imagine that any action which the Security Council would be prepared to authorise would resolve the problem of what looks increasingly like a civil war in Syria. It looks very much like gesture politics, which raises false hopes and achieves nothing.

  13. Weak, weak weak. Russia uses the veto because it fears the abuse of SCR or Russia uses its veto because Assad’s is a client regime and it wants instability to drive up the oil price. Don’t use your hatred about your treatment blind you to the realities of Russian power or the foul character of the sinister tortures.

  14. you people are the vultures. circling over the heads of the violence, using it, desperate to prove that all deaths are a prelude to something your pretend to fear but subconsciously will into reality, as there no feeling like feeling you are right, oppressed and ignored, then finally vindicated.

  15. Kevin Boyle

    6 Feb, 2012 - 6:49 pm

    Western powers are in the business of regime change across the middle east and beyond.

    The Arab League report on Syria states CLEARLY that there was no organized, lethal repression by the Syrian government against peaceful protesters. Instead, the report points to shady armed gangs as responsible for hundreds of deaths among Syrian civilians.
    Webster Tarpley has reported from Syria that these gangs are Nicaragua-style death-squads armed and financed by the west.

    The Russians know that western ambition is limitless. After Syrian and Iran are dealt with, they will be next.

    We are, apparently, already financing Russian opponents of Putin.

    The Lies! The lies!

  16. Lloyd,

    My subconscious is not nearly that imaginative, but thanks for the therapy attempt.

  17. you like to be watched and be a watcher too. You are the audience and you are the star.

  18. Lloyd
    ”Russia uses the veto because it fears the abuse of SCR or Russia uses its veto because Assad’s is a client regime and it wants instability to drive up the oil price.”
    It’s not the US and European threats of war against Iran and the sanctions that have pushed up oil prices. No. it’s those sneaky Russians.
    And of course western intervention in Syria would lead to regional stability with weeks of the first cruise missile attack.
    Look at Iraq! What could possibly go wrong?

  19. Lloyd its only Monday, can I have some of what you’re smoking?

    The only people pushing up the price of oil is that fabled ‘entity for good’…..Wall Street, or Al-Wall Street as they should be called

  20. Craig

    I remember you prediction that there would be a heavy cost to abusing the UNSC Resolution on Libya. It was foolish of the UK and USA to expect either Russia or China not to use their veto. The laws of political physics are that each action has an equal reaction; and an opposite one if the action was foolish.

  21. conjunction

    6 Feb, 2012 - 7:54 pm

    Craig as usual attempts to be rigorous about the limits of his knowledge. Syria is a difficult case. For long I have admired the way they have been their own person, standing up to Russia, Israel, Egypt and onyone else if necessary. Although Assad senior was cruel he was a mature watcher of the internastional scene, and kowtowed to no-one, Kissinger included. i am not sure the son has the nous.

    Personally I don’t beleive there will be a war over Iran or Syria, I think its just bluster. All the main blusterers on both sides have reasons to be careful. As for Aserbaijan its a festering swamp, see Kleveman’s great book. To get depth on Syria the Observer journalist patrick Seale was a friend of Assad senior and wrote an informative biography.

    In a sense this is the new cold war and Saudi Arabia with their extensive Wajid political and financial base and Syria are the new Breznev. Their opposition to US hegemony is not without function.

  22. Well, Craig, you’re correct about Syria, it’s internal politics are fiendishly complex, contradictory, and not least potentially very violent, though one can argue that… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

    It’s this very complexity that should make one wary of becoming so deeply involved in something one has so little chance of fully understanding, one would imagine that caution would be fairly obvious position to adopt, though this certainly isn’t the West’s line when confronted with complex problems, we seem to just barge in all guns blazing, as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and very recently, Libya.

    Syria isn’t really ruled by a tyrant, more like a clan, a unified, religious minority, in a land full of disunited and waring tribes and ethnic groups. Syria is similar to Lebanon. But in Syria the army has always been the backbone of the very centralized state, which is about all that keeps the coutry together and the rival groups from tearing each other to pieces.

    Is this another ‘genuine, people’s revolution’ as in Libya? Or is it really a western financed, armed, and supported, revolt aimed at overthrowing the last secular regime in the region and empowering loyal Islamists, which seems to be why the Gulf States and the Saudis are pooring men and money into the ‘revolution’, but the idea that the Saudis would support a ‘genuine, people’s revolution’ which many on the left fantasize about seems a tad fanciful to me.

    It’s very difficult to know what’s happening inside Syria, but the propaganda in our ‘free’ media is reaching hysterical proportions, presenting rumours as facts, and stories from the rebels about ‘massacres’ without any scrutiny, as in Libya. In fact this whole affair is strikingly and frighteningly similar to the Libyan propaganda campaign which was such a resounding success.

    As in Libya special forces from western and the Arabian peninsular are already on the ground in Syria. Nato is supplying the rebels with weapons which are flooding in from every direction to fuel what ammounts to a civil war, as the Assad regime is not as unpopular with sections of the Syrian population as it is portrayed.

    The recent report from the Arab Leagues observers makes interesting reading, though for some unknown reason our ‘free’ press, even those bastions of ‘liberalism’ the Guardian and the Independent seem reluctant to publicize the report, which despite its faults, is a report by people who’ve seen what’s happening in Libya, sorry, Syria, and are hardly mouthpieces of the Syrian regime. It’s a good as we’ve got at the moment.

    There are so interesting points in the report, which, at the least, are worth considering, whether one treats it a gospel is another thing altogether.

    The regime isn’t deliberately attacking unarmed civilian demonstrators and mowing them down in huge numbers. There are casualties on both sides and killings too. Many civilians have been killed by the opposition, and soldiers, using methods that in another context would be considered as terrorist attacks, for example bombs in buses in busy streets. There is a heavily armed ‘entity’ that’s taking on the Syrian army in a virtual guerrilla war. The report seems to say that the ‘entity’ comes from outside Syria.

    That’s a bit about the report, which seems to have come to conclusions that weren’t the ‘right’ ones.

    In a still wider context, toppling the Syrian regime would be a substantial set-back for both Russia and Iran, and if one could impose the Saudi model, that is a weak regime that needs western protection as in old gangster movies, everything would be fine and we wouldn’t wet ourselves over abuses of human rights because Saudi is moving in the right direction and just needs a bit more time to morph into Switzerland.

    Topple Syria and one is closer to isolating a toppling the regime in Iran, which is the Big Prize. Also a destroyed Syria would be an obvious gain for Israel, and severely weaken the resistance groups in Lebanon and Gaza, who refuse to surrender on Israel’s terms, that is they accept that they’ve lost, and live quietly and peacefully on their reservations like the American Indians.

    Oh, and there are supposed to be hundreds of Islamist fighters fresh from Libya inside Syria, which is reassuring.

    Smash what we can’t contol, which is also a form of control, and drown these regimes, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria, in rivers of blood, replacing totalitarian stability with religious chaos, what an appealing prospect, and then on towards Iran!

    This is only a detail, though perhaps telling, I wrote a similar piece in the Independent today before they realised their guard was down on the comments side, imagine my amusment when it vanished!

    This site is becoming my last refuge, as the ultra-liberal Guardian has ‘pre-moderated’ me to Siberia as well, for defending the human rights of Julian Assange too defiantly, as I know Sweden very well indeed, and find their coverage appalling, ignorant, and biased.

  23. “you people are the vultures. circling over the heads of the violence, using it, desperate to prove that all deaths are a prelude to something your pretend to fear but subconsciously will into reality, as there no feeling like feeling you are right, oppressed and ignored, then finally vindicated.2
    Come again dear boy??

  24. A couple of months back I was talking to a Syrian guy in a Lebanese restaurant. Asking him about this apparent attack by Assad, and what he thought would happen, he said the situation is the opposite of what you’d infer from watching the TV.
    He too thought the dictator was making a one-sided attack, and he had no great love for him either. But when he telephoned home to see how the family was doing, he learned that it’s far more a case of a civil war than a one sided suppression of popular sentiment. Whatever the real truth is, and he was uncertain himself, there’s a lot more to it than we’re led to believe.
    The hurry to get rid of Assad and get some compliant stooges installed in Syria is so that the most important part of the Great Game can be got underway – the invasion of Iran. Can’t have a full-out attack on Iran with a sympathetic Syria still in the picture.

  25. Alexander Mercouris

    6 Feb, 2012 - 8:17 pm

    Dear Craig,

    I agree with every single comment you have made here.

    I would just add a few points:

    1. I have read the text of the draft Resolution. Though it makes a token reference to the need for the opposition to desist from violence the body of the Resolution consists of a list of demands expressed in the most vitriolic language directed exclusively at the Syrian government. Though the media is reporting that the Resolution’s sponsors dropped the demand that Assad resign, paragraph 7 refers to a transition arrangement in accordance with the timetable set out by the Arab League in its 22nd January 2012 peace plan, which of course demands just that. Moreover paragraph 15 threatens further measures if Syria does not comply with the Resolution within 21 days.

    2. In other words it seems to me that the concessions to the Russians and the Chinese we have been hearing so much about over the previous few days were largely cosmetic and that the substance of the Resolution was unchanged. If the Resolution had been passed what would surely have happened is that we would have had a further Security Council meeting in 21 days at which the western powers and their Arab allies would have proposed another Resolution in even stronger terms almost certainly including sanctions on the grounds that the Syrian government had not complied with the previous one Given the nature of the demands made of the Syrian government it is difficult for me to see how it could have complied with the Resolution without putting its own existence at risk and anyway I am sure that the media would have been reporting an increase in the violence regardless of whether it was increasing or not. Given that the Russians and the Chinese would have previously agreed to a Resolution that puts the blame for the violence overwhelmingly on the Syrian government and given the claims that the Syrian government had not complied with the demands in that Resolution I cannot see how in those circumstances the Russians and the Chinese could have resisted such a further Resolution when it was demanded.

    3. That surely was the gameplan of the authors. In other words despite everything we are hearing the purpose of the Resolution was to set the stage for a process that could only have ended with regime change. That surely is what its authors intended and is why Russia and China vetoed it.

    4. On the subject of the thirteen countries that voted for the Resolution, you can if you wish read on the UN website a summary of the debate. The comments of the Indian, Pakistani and South African ambassadors, who voted for the Resolution, were lukewarm to say the least. I wonder what sort of pressure was put on their governments to get them to support it. I read a few days ago a piece written by the Indian ambassador in which he complained bitterly that the abuse of Resolutions 1970 and 1973 to achieve regime change in Libya had poisoned the atmosphere in the Security Council and that he was a consistent advocate of the doctrine that Resolutions should mean exactly what they say, no more and no less. That of course is precisely the point you make in your wholly excellent article.

  26. I suppose I should add that I’m not a supporter of the Syrian regime, which is authoritarian, but then so’s virtually every regime in the Middle East. I do find it strange though that we’re happy to be allied with Saudi Arabia in Egypt, Libya, and now Syria. If anything the Saudi regime is the worst of the lot, yet we protect it, or maybe it’s the oil we’re protecting? Sorry, that sounded awfully like a conspiracy theory shoving it’s way through, and as we all know, those kind of base commerical considerations never cross the minds of our democratic leaders, who selflessly only consider the ‘good’ we can do, and the opportunities for progress present on a silver platter, as we send armies half-way around the world, on our ‘crusade for freedom.’

  27. Alexander Mercouris

    6 Feb, 2012 - 8:40 pm

    Dear Craig,

    Here is the interview with the Indian ambassador to the UN that I referred to in my previous comment in which he made exactly the point you make in your article about the damage the Libyan affair has done.

  28. Craig

    I remember you prediction that there would be a heavy cost to abusing the UNSC Resolution on Libya. It was foolish of the UK and USA to expect either Russia or China not to use their veto. The laws of political physics are that each action has an equal reaction; and an opposite one if the action was foolish. Mind you, they might have wanted the vetoes, the more easily to blacken Russia and China. With the USA’s record of obstructive vetoes, that’s not going to work.

  29. Syria will NEVER live under the USA rule and they know that.

  30. It is all about dominating the middle East. The West is losing its ecomonic power to China and India. Aas a result the West (actually the USA)wants to have control of oil and to do that the USA needs a destabalised middle East. OIL OIL that is all that matters

  31. Please find following link on Gaddafi.

    I heard Gaddafi had Billions ready to spend on infrastructure in Africa and he also was building a large aquaduct system for irrigation in the region for agriculture and self suffiency.

    Statesment make policies for future generations
    Politicians make policies for their next term.

    Apparently Assad lives in a modest neighborhood and drives his kids to school, Or at least he probably used to..
    Check out the official Syrian website it looks quite normal to me.


    Wikleaks document on Syria regime change 2006. America – Dirty Tricks Campaign

  33. Frank Fitzwalter

    6 Feb, 2012 - 9:36 pm

    A media pundit was pronouncing on how terrible that Syria was killing its own people. I presume he would prefer that we did the killing as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. As for the boy, William Hague, we should equip him with a combat suit, rifle, and a parachute and send him into Syria. He appears to have forgotten totally the mess we created in Iraq where women are now giving birth to monsters thanks to the use of depleted uranium munitions. How do you spell hypocrite?

  34. US and co conspirators have been having an easy time of it in the UNSC for the duration of the last decade. These having set the agenda, then bribed, coerced, and lied their way into resolutions, that in turn have been interpreted in their most widest possible, to form a protective umbrella/ permit for wars to be waged on weaker nations. The last decade started with the Iraq resolutions getting passed in UNSC, which the famous John Negroponte, and Jeremy Greenstock both intorcuding a new word into dictionary refuted any “automacity” for war built into the said resolution. However as we recall the attacks on Iraq went ahead because French were likely to Veto the attacks, as Mr. Blair put it.
    Hence the indignations of the current batch of warmongers, is akin to the reactions of bully suddenly finding the tables turned and gets smacked in the mouth; furious, disbelief. Therefore the full gamut of emotional vocabulary we witness along with the promises of fire and brimstone to be poured on those frustrating the mournful bully engaged on his routine errand.
    So far as Syria is concerned just take a note of the “Free Syrians” interviewed on the telly. These seem to have only one primary wish; imposition of a no fly zone across the Syrian airspace! Fact that so far there has been no reports of use of air power by the legitimate Syrian government against the said “Free Syrians”, it beggars belief how could so called Syrian Nationals wish for a group of foreign jet jockeys to streak at will across the Syrian skies, bombing the place back into stone age? Alas the make believe civil war that ought to be quelled urgently by the selfless US, UK, NATO, and token Arab forces, arriving as the cavalry did in the old cowboy movies, is just that, an illusion, as in “wag the dog”. (recommend watching this film)
    The facts before us are; yet another war, that is to be fought on the cheap, using local rabble as the cannon fodder, in conjunction with the application of aerial bombardment, on the way to the Planet US. Fact is by now it is patently clear to any observer, US will not stop, unless it is stopped, as the first phase of operations begin with Russia and China, the questions remain, will there be a cold or a hot war?
    PS those thinking it is only Iran that is in the cross hairs ought to be taking note of the Russian demonstrations against Putin’s re-election.
    PPS for those progressive souls here is the The Revolution Business – World

  35. ‘On Morning Joe, Niall Ferguson makes a sociopathic case for attack on Iran, while 4 journalists sit there passively’ (via Glenn Greenwald on Twitter)

  36. The “west” is playing a very dangerous game here by employing its clients in the Gulf and Jordan to attack Syria and facilitate the infiltration of fifth columnists. Sooner or later it is going to become clear again to Arabs that either all of them wrest independence from the Empire or none will.

    The Gulf princelings and Saudis in particular are ill advised to sponsor uprisings of any sort anywhere, even when they are smokescreens for coups. And Syria is ill advised to maintain its pretense of normal relations with its enemies: traffic over the border with Jordan, for example, goes both ways and for every Syrian opposed to Assad there are Jordanians equally unhappy with the Hashemite King. How long can it be before snipers and bombers start appearing in Amman protests against tyranny and servility to the foreigner?

    As to the Gulf, it is often pointed out how well bribed the locals are, but part of that regime of bribery consists of employing a badly treated cheap labour force of immigrant workers. The “west’s” best friends are sitting on a powder keg of dispossessed workers in an Aladdin’s Cave of wealth, and their confidence in their ability to survive is largely based on the guarantees the US and its satraps have given them to preserve them all, as the Kuwaiti rulers were preserved.

    No doubt Genghis Khan’s descendant in Tashkent felt the same confidence that the victorious powers of the Great War would easily preserve his patrimony. Attacking revolutions of any kind is just as likely to spread them and strengthen them as suppress them.
    Whether Assad survives or not is not of much importance; it is very possible that he will be swept aside by a revolution aimed at driving out the invaders and their sinister foreign allies. ‘

    The entire Arab world is in ferment, and increasingly angry with the “west.” Nobody believes for a moment that the motives of the imperialists are not at least as bad as those of the local tyrants. Washington knows this but does not care, having bought the racist Israeli nonsense that Arabs are cowards who can be made to submit to force. Hence these almost wholly military responses to an upsurge of Arab nationalism. They are pouring petrol on the flames.

  37. Syria is referred to 18 times in Oded Yinon’s Strategy for Israel translated by Israel Shahak. As relevant today as it was in the 80s.
    The following essay represents, in my opinion, the accurate and detailed plan of the present Zionist regime (of Sharon and Eitan) for the Middle East which is based on the division of the whole area into small states, and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states. I will comment on the military aspect of this plan in a concluding note. Here I want to draw the attention of the readers to several important points:
    1. The idea that all the Arab states should be broken down, by Israel, into small units, occurs again and again in Israeli strategic thinking. For example, Ze’ev Schiff, the military correspondent of Ha’aretz (and probably the most knowledgeable in Israel, on this topic) writes about the “best” that can happen for Israeli interests in Iraq: “The dissolution of Iraq into a Shi’ite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part” (Ha’aretz 6/2/1982). Actually, this aspect of the plan is very old.
    2. The strong connection with Neo-Conservative thought in the USA is very prominent, especially in the author’s notes. But, while lip service is paid to the idea of the “defense of the West” from Soviet power, the real aim of the author, and of the present Israeli establishment is clear: To make an Imperial Israel into a world power. In other words, the aim of Sharon is to deceive the Americans after he has deceived all the rest.
    3. It is obvious that much of the relevant data, both in the notes and in the text, is garbled or omitted, such as the financial help of the U.S. to Israel. Much of it is pure fantasy. But, the plan is not to be regarded as not influential, or as not capable of realization for a short time. The plan follows faithfully the geopolitical ideas current in Germany of 1890-1933, which were swallowed whole by Hitler and the Nazi movement, and determined their aims for East Europe. Those aims, especially the division of the existing states, were carried out in 1939-1941, and only an alliance on the global scale prevented their consolidation for a period of time.
    The notes by the author follow the text. To avoid confusion, I did not add any notes of my own, but have put the substance of them into this foreward and the conclusion at the end. I have, however, emphasized some portions of the text.

    Israel Shahak
    June 13, 1982


  38. Today’s Pepe Escobar ATOL article features a long email excerpt from an eyewitness resident of Homs of which this is just a tiny excerpt: “The thing that we know fully well is that there are no army presence in Homs.” Then in the same publication, we have MK Bhadrakumar’s item and likens what we’re witnessing as a return of the Cold War’s “Proxy Wars” and provides a tidbit from former CIA agent Philip Giraldi:

    “Giraldi adds that the CIA analysts themselves are “skeptical regarding the approach to war”, as they know that the frequently cited United Nations account of civilians killed is based largely on rebel sources and uncorroborated. The CIA has “refused to sign off on the claims” of mass defections from the Syrian Army. Likewise, accounts of pitched battles between deserters and loyal soldiers “appear to be a fabrication, with few defections being confirmed independently”.

    But the email from Homs is quite telling about the lockstep lies emanating from Western electronic media and related governments, which is very similar to the lies they put forth when Georgia attacked South Ossetia and kept repeating depsite the truth being readily available. I think it best to look at electronic western media for the lies it’s spewing while looking for valid info elsewhere.

  39. Anon the one and only

    6 Feb, 2012 - 10:54 pm

    What Assad is doing in Syria to his own people is wrong and evil (and has been so for many years). Turning a blind eye and doing nothing about it is also wrong – one can argue about what the right thing to do is, but many here are either in denial or worse, as Lloyd has already pointed out.

    As for Russia, it is worth bearing in mind the comment in Luke Harding’s book that one of the best places to get an understanding of how that state now works is from the novels of Mario Puzo. I don’t know as much about China but what little I hear suggests that their nomemklatura has pretty much gone the same way as that in the Soviet Union (including Uzbekistan please note Mr Murray).

  40. “Niall Ferguson makes a sociopathic case for attack on Iran, while 4 journalists sit there passively’”
    The levels of literacy/optimism among that bunch is highly questionable, just because Niall Ferguson is hot foot back from Jerusalem delivering the talking points memo point by point, somehow does not make it true.
    Any attacks on Iran will kick start WWIII.

  41. “What Assad is doing in Syria to his own people is wrong and evil”
    Are you a Syrian?
    What business of yours is it, how Assad treats his people?
    How were/are Iraqis/Afghanis treated by the US et al?
    What is the tally of deaths occurred in Libya before NATO, and after NATO intervention?
    Why Syria and not Isreal, Yemen, Bahrain, or Saudi?
    How much of Bozos, do you think we are; to buy your crap?

  42. Mary,
    Thanks for the data.

  43. I never read Mario Puzo’s novel, but isn’t it clear from the script of the movies that the parallel that was primarily at work was with American politicians?

  44. New Executive Order (dated today) blocking property of the Government of Iran and Iranian financial institutions appeared on the White House Web site today: Executive Order — Blocking Property of the Government of Iran and Iranian Financial Institutions.

  45. The tape record of transactions between the Qatari Hamed bin Jasem and Russian envoy to UN Vitaly Churkin has been aried on French Channel two. The transaction is as follows;
    HbJ- Russia ought to agree with the anti Syrian resolution we are warning you against any probable veto.
    VC- You dare to speak to me again in this manner, and I promise there will not be any Qatar left for you to go back to.

  46. 5 Feb: Novinite, Bulgaria: FM: US Army Bases in Bulgaria Won’t Be Used for Strike on Iran
    Mladenov was speaking ahead of Sunday’s visit to Sofia by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is set to discuss a number of security issues with Bulgarian leaders, including the situation in Iran and Syria.
    Over the week, Bulgarian media quoted anonymous Bulgarian government sources, who said that Secretary of State Clinton is expected to request that one of the 4 contracted US military bases in Bulgaria be open for use for an operation against Iran…
    The military base Bulgarian media mentioned was Bezmer in south-eastern Bulgaria, a transportation air force military facility…
    Mladenov has added that US-Bulgarian relations should not be reduced to defense and security matters, as ties and cooperation between the two countries are broader and deeper.

  47. 6 Feb: National Geographic: Marianne Lavelle: Iran’s Undisputed Weapon: Power to Block the Strait of Hormuz
    The UAE’s oil minister said last month that the nation has nearly completed building the conduit from Habshan near Abu Dhabi’s onshore crude production complex to an offshore oil terminal in the emirate of Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman. But the Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline’s capacity would be 1.5 million barrels per day, or less than one-tenth of the current flow through the Strait of Hormuz. And the project, which has faced repeated delays, will not be operational until May or June.
    In fact, some analysts see May or June as a likely timeline for an Israeli attack on Iran, based in part on Barak’s signal that his nation would not be able to devote resources to an annual U.S.-Israel military exercise this spring…

  48. 31 Jan: Financial Times: Iran keeps oil market guessing on Greece factor
    When the European Union announced an oil embargo on the country from July 1 – designed to give Greece, Spain and Italy time to find alternative suppliers – Iran responded with a threat to pre-empt the ban halting exports immediately…
    The most likely scenario is that Iran announces it would not sell oil to France, the UK and Germany – the trio behind the EU’s agreement to tighten sanctions on Iran. Tehran only sells token amounts of crude to the three countries after Total of France stopped earlier this month buying the 80,000 barrels a day it used to import from Iran…
    If Iran targets Greece, the economic consequences would spread far beyond the crude oil market, potentially hitting the European sovereign bond market and the euro…

  49. Well said!

  50. conjunction

    7 Feb, 2012 - 4:30 am

    Some bloggers above, notably Kevin Boyle and Martin, citing links to the Arab Council report, are coming to conclusions which do not reflect my reading of that report at all.
    Certainly the report, in its earlier sections, makes clear mention of armed groups now fighting the government. However the later part of the report, the ‘Evaluation’ makes it clear that this defiance of the government only arose because of excessive government repression of mass anti-government protests.
    My impression from reading the report is that the Council made a noble effort to act as intermediaries.
    Thanks to Writerman for an attempt to provide a nuanced overview.
    I have some sympathy for Syria, despite the long evidenced virulance of their repressive regime, because they are the only Arab state that has always showed unambiguous intolerance for US bullshit, going back many decades.
    Equally, as far as I know they only ever accepted Soviet aid strictly on their own terms. They are the only country in the Middle East which have always stood up to Israel where appropriate without talking about ‘wiping them out’ or anything like that, but adopting a measured position.
    But at the same time I believe that to claim all the opposition to the Assad regime comes from some fiendish unnamed foreign source is patently untrue, and opponents of US talk of involvement do themselves no favours by not considering the evidence carefully.

  51. boniface goncourt

    7 Feb, 2012 - 4:47 am

    Cherchez le Chuif….

  52. The odd couple.
    Tuesday 07 February 2012
    Cable and Hague to be questioned over Middle East arms deals

    Two Cabinet ministers will be challenged today over fears that British-made weapons have been used to suppress dissidents in Bahrain and Egypt.
    Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, are to be tackled by MPs over arms sales worth more than £12m to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in just three months.
    Ahead of their session with the Commons Committee on Arms Export Controls , Mr Cable will announce moves to make defence contracts more transparent – and to impose temporary embargos to countries hit by internal strife.

  53. Arthur Askey

    7 Feb, 2012 - 6:41 am

    Hauge was proudly listing those companies, oops – countries, that stood against Russia and China, oops – Syria, at the UN.
    He even had the nerve to refer to Libya as a supporter of Western mendacity. Just mere months after NATO’s ‘shock and awe’ and while the country is fully reeling under the jackbooted lawlessness of Western trained, financed and supplied TERRORISTS.
    In Homs, there are videos available online which show the Free Syria Army hanging Assad supporters from trees. This is very similar to the atrocities that were committed in Benghazi by anti-Gaddaffi foces. It also begs the question that if public hangings can get on the Internet why not the Syrian army’s recent alleged mass rocket attack?
    I heard one Syrian claim, via Skype from Homs, that he had seen over 70 rockets hit Homs. Obviously he was so shocked he didn’t bother to take any pictures, so we had to rely on shaky images of one explosion, complete with war-movie sound effect, to ‘suggest’ the massive onslaught of rockets.

  54. Arthur Askey

    7 Feb, 2012 - 6:52 am

    Now that the Axis of Evil has been defeated at the UN they will use alternative routes to secure their objectives.
    The only way the Free Syrian Army can serve Western interests is if it is supported externally. With the UN vote many think that’s the end of the story. But, like with Iraq, the Axis of Evil has many paths to glory and Turkey is one of them.
    It back story will be along the lines that the Syrian army are chasing people across the border in order to kill them, the Turks will have to set up a ‘buffer zone’ (military invasion) followed by a ‘humanitarian corridor’ (no fly zone) to Homs. As a member of NATO Turkey should receive much support from the Axis powers.

  55. DownWithThisSortOfThing

    7 Feb, 2012 - 7:41 am

    Turkey and Qatar (population less than 2 million) both came out condemning further Iran sanctions yesterday. It should be noted that Qatar (population less than 2 million) financed the Benghazi rebels and provided air craft for the subsequent bombing of Libya.
    Qatar (population less than 2 million) along with Saudi Arabia is one of the main sponsors of the Arab League actions against Syria. Turkey is a member of NATO providing material support to the Free Syria Army. Cynics may suggest that they are trying to ferment a rift between Iran and Syria, two countries that have a mutual defense treaty. Divide and conquer etc.
    The observant may realize that a conflict between Iran and NATO can be ignited through Turkish intervention in Syria. Western governments should wake up to the slippery slope they are about to step onto.

  56. Here’s another list of US UNSC vetoes for Israel, with brief commentraies on each, plus links to the original UN papers – no fewer than 41 of then since 1972!!
    UN vetoes for Israel

    The Machiavellian hypoctricy of the US/UK and the fawning servility of the Western MSM in matters of so called ‘foreign policy’ can be truly breathtaking. And the likes of Hague and Clinton actually manage to keeps straight, serious faces whilst hurling their anathamas.

  57. Q. Will Hague be questioned by the Commons Committee on Arms Export Controls today on his decision to send ‘strategic equipment’ to help the rebels in Syria?
    A Of course not. Purely rhetorical question.

  58. To be honest I’m shocked at the cover of the conflict in Syria in our media. The bastions of liberalism, the Independent and the Guardian, which are supposed to be the ‘best’, are as biased and full of warmongering trash, as the ‘worst.’

    The lack of scrutiny, criticism, analysis of motives, and examination of the stories emanating from Syria, especially as they all come from one side, the rebel side, is extraordinary and deeply troubling. One would think that natural link between war and propaganda were completely alien concepts to the journalists employed by the Guardian and the Independent!

    But I suppose the editors have been briefed by ministers and officials who vouch for the provenance and truth of these stories, and it would be a brave journalist or editor that would dare to ask too many akward questions when confronted with William Hague in full flow, so, as in Libya, it’s off to war we go!

    And this ‘credulity’ and voluntary ‘self-lobotomization’ on the part of our ‘free’ journalists, if after Iraq, and after the bullshit about Libya and mass-rapes, massacres, aerial bombardments, threats of genocide, thousands of African mercenaries, the murder of chilren, waves of mutilation and torture, and on, and on. Propaganda and exaggerations on a colossal scale in the service of war. These journalists are incapable of learning anything, except how to sell the wars more effectively.

    It’s like we’ve entered the totalitarian phase of democracy, where there is ‘no alternative’ and no opposition any longer, and the once active and critical liberal intellectuals have been duped into supporting blatant imperialist expansionism tarted-up as a ‘crusade for freedom.’

  59. Writerman I have never thought of the Guardian and the Independent as ‘the bastions of liberalism’, or perhaps you were being ironic.

  60. Arthur Askey Perhaps it was the fantasist Danny Abdul Dayem.

  61. Isn’t William Hague’s statement about the UK moving to arm the Syrian rebels, (a public admission of what’s been happening covertly for months) tantamount to an act of war against Syria? And as the UN Security Council has specifically not santioned war against Syria or supplying arms to the rebels, isn’t the UK brazenly breaking international law, and argubaly committing a war-crime?

    But I suppose these ‘old-fashioned’ concepts like international law, territorial integrity, and national soveriegnty no longer apply in our brave, new, totalitarian, democratic, world?

  62. The political actions of Russia and China make me sick. they knew full well what NATO would do in Libya,. It’s is simply retarded to believe otherwise. Of course past experience has taught them e.g. USuk’s past military slaughter fests in Yugoslavia and Iraq.
    I suspect R&C had some reason to go along with the ‘western’ take over of Libya. It just so happens that in the case of Syria, R&C this time think it’s in their interests (they don’t give a shit about the Syrian leadership or the Syrian people) mean that this time thy think the same hegemonic door shouldn’t be opened.
    So to believe R&C this tim won’t go along with Obomber and Cocaine Camerons plan because have felt like they have been taken advantage of seems incredibly silly.
    I fear that the same perceptions of advantage will see them do nothing to prevent an ariel attack on Iran. Perhaps part of that plan or a new plan meant.
    Damn them all, and as you say “Saudi Arabia – the apostle state of repression”. That Israyhell is to be damned is automatic.

  63. “China and Russia would not for many years agree to any SC Resolutions which might be open to similar abuse.” – Uttrely wrong. They will cooperate when it’s in their interests to do so. If you still believe so, then how many years? 2.3, 2.4? Many moons ago on it was said R&C were suckering the US to overextend itself with the aim of causing their eventual collapse. I don’t believe that either but it’s a lot more credible than R&C being duped previously and going in a huff. Still playing the diplomats pseudo game, China will simply have to use it’s debt laden dollars to buy out US/UK oil companies and franchises.

  64. Writerman,

    I don’t think the UK is actually breaching international law by supplying arms to the rebels, absent an arms embargo. I think it would be for the government of Syria to deem it an act of war. It is what we would characterise as state sponsorship of terrorism. I should be interested in other views; it falls under the law of armed conflict.

  65. The coalition government are not going to answer that simple question as it would expose what they are doing to the disabled

  66. DownWithThisSortOfThing

    7 Feb, 2012 - 10:35 am

    “The Machiavellian hypoctricy of the US/UK and the fawning servility of the Western MSM in matters of so called ‘foreign policy’ can be truly breathtaking.”

    Foreign policy and the British armed forces have been contracted out for sometime now (hint: think Werritty/Gould).
    Whenever the UK government reports on it’s latest war-crimes in parliament the first thing the opposition leadership do is jump to their feet to offer their complete support to the government and the “people of” Libya/Syria/Iraq/Iran/Somalia/Yemen/Sudan/Nigeria/Uganda or whoever it is getting a good going over by the West, they then both agree that the latest banker bonus or tit implants is what they need to be talking about for the next two hours because the “British people deserve better”. No shit.

  67. @Writeman, It is not only UK arming the rebels, a plane with supplies was detained at Beirut airport, with all sorts of supplies (guns, credit cards, passports,,,) from USA and Brazil, no doubt bound for Syria. We live in a dirty world with dirty governments, we need a European Spring, but I am afraid people are so depoliticised
    that will not happen, (remember Bliar was elected even after disaster in Iraq, because the bubble had not burst at that time).

  68. Craig, thanks for clarifying. So, state-sponsorship of international terrorism is ‘better’ and not so illegal under international law, as supplying arms to a revolt inside a country, how interesting, or is it the other way around? I’m getting confused. Maybe Syria is my limit after all?

  69. Such a great set of comments, everybody! I really took a lot from this. For anybody not aware of it, reading round the Syria situation, I found this site that is, in my opinion, well worth a look.
    They are a little bit into the ‘world systems theory’ of Wallerstein, it seems. Feeling is that blocking the US intervening in Syria will curtail the neocon plan for a unipolar world. We’ll see.

  70. Your post duplicated in the Telegraph gathered 12 recommends in one minute Craig – Bravo!
    Moussa Koussa believed to be in a safe house in Doha, Qatar is according to a believable source at risk of assassination by a paid assassin of MI6 currently in transit from Saudi. HRO and lawyers Leigh Day and Cohave have documents that may well prove Sami al-Saadi was tortured with the MI6 complicity.
    Assad himself is accused of using his secret police to torture political opponents. His actions are comparable to the West, control of the media, detention in poor conditions, biased judiciary and denial of trial. Torture, sexual abuse, disappearances and murder are unproven by UNHCR.
    In an evil world Assad is an avid and vehement supporter of the Palestinian course and also used Syria’s seat in the UNSC, attempting to prevent the Iraq war. Accused of antisemitism Assad is protecting the ancient minute Jewish community in Syria.
    Wife Asma Fawaz al-Akhras, slammed Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip as “barbaric” and, “as a mother and as a human being,” called for an end to the violence.

    “This is the 21st century. Where in the world could this happen? Unfortunately it is happening,” she said in a calm, soft voice.

  71. Uzbek in the UK

    7 Feb, 2012 - 2:35 pm

    Well, what is happening in Syria today is obviously horrible and this should be stopped. But the main question is how?
    On the one hand we have Russia and China that always support tyrannical regimes to their own gain. It is much owed to Russia that only 3 former Soviet republics have made it to the liberal democracies while 12 others including Russia itself remain neither liberal nor democratic and includes such tyrannies like Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan and yet many here see Russia playing positive role.
    It is certain fact that regimes, dictatorships and tyrants do not give up their power without fight unless they managed to secure safe haven for themselves and their families. Both sides in Syria today are engaged in fighting in which day after day larger and larger number of civilians are getting involved. Whether or not regime change in Syria was on table it is certain that ignoring casualties and allowing Assad to continue to rule over Syria would be greater evil. Syria like Iraq also suffers from postcolonial syndrome where different religious groups with common ethnic roots are engaged in power distribution and where national borders were formed ahead of nation itself.
    Situation in Syria today is difficult but then those who think that tyrants would give up their power easy and that after over 30 years of tyranny peaceful regime change is an option are very much mistaken. Particularly when great powers are involved in maximising their gain and treat troubled nation like Romans treated non-Romans.

  72. Alexander Mercouris

    7 Feb, 2012 - 2:51 pm

    Dear Craig,

    I have never been an international lawyer but my understanding is that sending an armed man across a country’s border is an act of war as is supplying weapons to a country’s internal enemy. Besides as I understand it international law forbids interference in the internal affairs of other states except in very exceptional circumstances where these have been authorised by the Security Council. In the absence of such authorisation I would have thought that arming rebels who are fighting against a country’s government would be interference and would therefore be illegal.

    In saying this I want to stress again that I am not and never have been an international lawyer. If someone better qualified than me knows otherwise I would be interested to know.

  73. Alexander Mercouris

    7 Feb, 2012 - 2:57 pm

    On the subject of the report by the Arab League monitors my overall impression is that it said that though the protests were provoked by repressive actions by the Syrian authorities the Syrian authorities now are making a genuine effort to permit peaceful protests and that most of the violence whilst the Mission was underway was being initiated by the opposition.

    The report also complains of a press campaign directed against it, which it says had the side effect of aggravating tensions within Syria itself, and says that many of the incidents of violence reported in the international press were outright fabrications.

    Again I am not saying that all this is true. I am merely summarising the report as I understand it.

  74. Uzbek in the UK

    7 Feb, 2012 - 4:05 pm

    @ Alexander Mercouris
    It is hard to judge from what is actually going on in Syria as reports are very much biased and bias degree depends on where you are getting the information from. But one thing is certain that from the nature of Assad regime it does not look like it will settle with a truth with opposition. It might have backed down slightly but only to hit everyone who opposes it even harder.
    And also International law is pretty much based on so called Westphalian system with its unconditional respect for sovereignity. It does not take into account legitimacy of the state or authority. Thus if like in city of Andijan in May 2005 Karimov ordered to kill hundreds of people including women and children current International Law with bunch of pencil pushers in UN will defend Karimov from any sort of responsibility because IRONICALLY he was acting within International Law (restoring order within national borders of sovereign state). Not sure about you but my respect for such LAW is equal to absolute zero.


    SYRIA: CIA-MI6 Intel Ops and Sabotage

    by Felicity Arbuthnot

    “In order to facilitate the action of liberative (sic) forces, …a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals. …[to] be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention, …

    Once a political decision has been reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main (sic) incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals. …Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus …

    Further : a “necessary degree of fear .. frontier incidents and (staged) border clashes”, would “provide a pretext for intervention… the CIA and SIS [MI6 should use … capabilitites in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.” (Joint US-UK leaked Intelligence Document, London and Washington, 1957)

    “’The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.” (George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950.)

    For anyone in two minds about what is really going on in Syria, and whether President Assad, hailed a decade ago as “A Modern Day Attaturk”, has become the latest megalomaniacal despot, to whose people a US-led posse of nations, must deliver “freedom”, with weapons of mass, home, people, nation and livelihood destruction, here is a salutary tale from modern history.

    Have the more recent sabre rattlings against Syria* been based on US-UK government papers, only discovered in 2003 – and since air brushed (or erroneously omitted) from even BBC timelines, on that country?(i)

    In late 2003, the year of the Iraq invasion, Matthew Jones, a Reader in International History, at London’s Royal Holloway College, discovered “frighteningly frank” documents:1957 plans between then UK Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, and then President, Dwight Eisenhower, endorsing: “a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion (of Syria) by Syria’s pro-western neighbours.” (ii)

    At the heart of the plan was the assassination of the perceived power behind then President Shukri al-Quwatli. Those targeted were: Abd al-Hamid Sarraj, Head of Military Intelligence; Afif al-Bizri, Chief of Syrian General Staff: and Khalid Bakdash, who headed the Syrian Communist Party.

    The document was drawn up in Washington in the September of 1957:

    “In order to facilitate the action of liberative (sic) forces, reduce the capabilities of the regime to organize and direct its military actions … to bring about the desired results in the shortest possible time, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals.

    “Their removal should be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention, and in the light of circumstances existing at the time.”

    In the light of President Assad’s current allegations of foreign forces and interventions, cross border incursions (as Colonel Qadafi’s before him, so sneered at by Western governments and media – and, of course, ultimately proved so resoundingly correct.) there are some fascinating, salutary phrases:

    “Once a political decision has been reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main (sic) incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals.

    “Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus … care should be taken to avoid causing key leaders of the Syrian regime to take additional personal protection measures.”

    Further : a “necessary degree of fear .. frontier incidents and (staged) border clashes”, would “provide a pretext for intervention”, by Iraq and Jordan – then still under British mandate.

    Syria was to be: “made to appear as sponsor of plots, sabotage and violence directed against neighbouring governments … the CIA and SIS [Her Majesty’s Secret International Serivce, MI6] should use … capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.”

    Incursions in to Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, would involve: “sabotage, national conspiracies, and various strong arms activities”, were, advised the document, to be blamed on Damascus.

    In late December 2011 an opposition “Syria National Council” was announced, to “liberate the country”, representatives met with Hilary Clinton. There now seems to be a US – endorsed “Syrian Revolutionary Council.”

    The Eisenhower-Macmillan plan was for funding of the: “Free Syria Committee” and “arming of political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities”, within Syria.

    CIA-MI6, planned fomenting internal uprisings and replacing the Ba’ath-Communist-leaning government, with a Western, user-friendly one. Expecting this to be met by public hostility, they planned to: “probably need to rely first on repressive measures and arbitrary exercise of power.”

    The document was signed off in both London and Washington. It was, wrote Macmillan in his diary: “a most formidable report.” A Report which was: “withheld even from British Chiefs of Staff …”

    Washington and Whitehall had become concerned at Syria’s increasingly pro-Soviet, rather than pro-Western sympathies – and the Ba’ath (Pan Arab) and Communist party alliance, also largely allied within the Syrian army.

    However, even political concerns, were trumped by Syria then controlling a main pipeline from the Western bonanza of Iraq’s oil fields, in those pre-Saddam Hussein days.

    Briefly put: in 1957, Syria allied with Moscow (which included an agreement for military and economic aid) also recognized China – and then as now, the then Soviet Union warned the West against intervening in Syria.

    Syria, is unchanged as an independent minded country, and the loyalties remain. It broadly remains the cradle of the Pan Arab ideal of Ba’athism, standing alone, since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

    In 1957, this independent mindedness caused Loy Henderson, a Senior State Department official, to say that:“the present regime in Syria had to go …”

    Ultimately, the plan was not used, since, British mandate or not, neighbouring countries refused to play. However, the project, overtly, bears striking similarity to the reality of events over the last decade, in Syria – and the region.

    In a near 1957 re-run, Britain’s Foreign Minister, William Hague has said President Assad “will feel emboldened” by the UN Russia-China vote in Syria’s favour.

  76. Hello Craige.
    It seems you know nothing about Syria but what Fawaz Alakharas and Sami Alkhiyami tell you.
    You should know that the revolution in Syria was sparked from Syria and the job to remove Alasad family will be completed by Syrians their selves. Peaceful protesters are left alone without any support from outside. It isn’t true that Saudi finances the Free Syrians Army. If FSA is really getting any support the situation would be completely different. (FSA consists from defected soldiers, it doesn’t enrolled civilians and it isn’t armed or terrorist gang. These soldiers are struggling to protect their own lives first and trying to protect the peaceful protesters, they don’t do attacks).
    I think this article in fact just for expressing the view towards the USA’s policy. Ok. I may agree with you. But don’t mix your ideology or political view with the responsibilities of the international community towards the facts of the crimes against humanity in Syria.
    We all know how USA protected Israel, but you – maybe -don’t know how Alasad’s regime protected Israel for decades. That why Israelis don’t want Alasad to go and they think he’s better than any alternative regime.
    If you think Americans and the west support dictatorships, that doesn’t mean to keep our mouths shut towards obvious crimes against civilians in Syria. Also you should remember that USA and Europe in addition to Gulf states all used to support the dictator in Syria at least since 2000 when Bashar Alasad inherited his position from his father Hafiz. And we still remember how man detainees were sent to Syria by CIA to be tortured and interrogated in very dirty and horrific security branches. Is USA real enemy to Alasad’s regime?
    I would like to reassure you that Syrians aware of these “vultures” and whom (Russia, China and Iran) support and protect the criminal regime in Syria.
    Finally, most of Syrians reject any military invasion. But did think how many would be killed by Mu’mmar Algaddafi in Libya if the international coalition wasn’t involved? Surely, more than the 50,000 whom known to be killed in fact.

  77. How refreshing to see the genocidal Libya con stated so clearly and accurately. It actually seems somewhat arrogant for NATO to attempt the same crimes against Syria, using the same methods: special forces creating tensions and unrest, with a compliant and dysfunctional (as far as proper reporting is concerned) media to keep the sheep onside.

    Thank you Mr Murray. Keep it up sir.

  78. I did not know that the same propaganda, used at the start of the Iraq war about babies in incubators being killed, was being used against Assad last August. Must have missed it amongst the reports of the slaughter and mayhem of the NATO assault on Libya. The same propaganda was being pumped out by the BBC this morning. This time it was 18 babies being killed.


  79. The media are subjecting us to the biggest snowjob in history about what seems to be going on in Syria, especially around Homs.

    While no one can be sure, I would urge everyone to be more sceptical about it.

    Too many reports and photographs appear just too much of some kind of charade – e. g., bombs always going off where no Western reporters are, and no follow-up by them; photographs of people allegedly dying in hospital when little or most likely nothing is being done to prevent it; what few deaths that do occur could be natural ones or those committed by the rebels instead of by Assad’s regime; bodybags of alleged deceased where the contents fill them up as if it were sand; doctors who are used to most difficult emergency conditions running around, wringing their hands and expressing the utmost grief: old women being filmed extensifly screaming about about some unidentified loss, etc.

    Seems to me that this is a ‘false-flag’ effort to overthrow the regime internally when there is too little to support it, and none from outside to strengthen it.

  80. The Egyptian delegation to US have abruptly cancelled meetings with some politicians in Washington, hence the usual suspects; John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Joe Lieberman, having failed to see the Egyptians face to face to threaten and humiliate them in person, instead have resorted to megaphone diplomacy. As reported by zioBBC; the government in Cairo is exacerbating tensions in order to “advance a narrow political agenda”.
    Then the auntie grudgingly accepts to fleetingly expand upon the current difficulties arising in Egypt;
    “The International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) – loosely associated with the US Republican and Democratic parties – were among 17 US-based and local foreign-funded groups whose offices were raided by Egyptian prosecutors in December”
    Further adding the news of detention of one Sam LaHood, the son of US transport secretary Ray LaHood, who is the director of the IRI in Cairo.
    Evidently the zioBBC researchers have had no time to check on the wikipedia entry on IRI, a US government funded shop front that has been active during the so called Arab Spring.
    As found here:
    IRI was involved in Haiti prior to the 2004 Haitian coup d’état,[4] in Honduras following the 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis,[5] organised right-wing political parties in Poland,[6] and has been involved in political activities in Egypt during the Arab Spring.[7]

  81. British and Qatari troops dispatched to Syria.

  82. Ahh good old Craig Murray, always offering latent support for repressive regimes. “I disagree with them! But don’t you dare to do anything that threatens them!”

    The claims that anyone is attempting to “bomb the hell out of a country” is absolutely and patently false. The resolution has been thoroughly cleaned of anything that could be in any way construed as an approval of an intervention. The US and other forces have repeatedly stated that a mass armed intervention is absolutely out of question.

    You take an upper moral ground trying to frame it as an issue of western coalition trying to “start another war” while in fact nothing could be further from the truth. You even fail to consider that there is, in fact, a war going on. Unless min. 6000 dead and an artillery bombardment is some sort of an ordinary skirmish to you.

    Hey Craig, why won’t you instead talk about how Russia is backing it up its arms sales customer? Strange how silent you are about that part of the story.

  83. Syria and the seeds of world war
    Bill Van Auken

  84. “always offering latent support for repressive regimes”
    When did Craig ever support the apartheid theocracy regime set up as Isreal?
    As for the rest of your diatribe, considering that the constant update of the tally of the dead and the continuous loop of shaky phone clips with added bells and whistles in the various editorial rooms are not cutting the mustard, however, you have the audacity of repeating the bilge in cyberspace too?

  85. Anon the one and only

    8 Feb, 2012 - 8:28 pm


    You talk as although murdering its own citizens is only a recent and contested phenomenom of the Assad dynasty. Might I suggest you look up the Hama massacre if you want to see that the Assad’s have long had blood on their hands.

    Please try and get it into your head that human rights are meant to be universal (and that is what International Law says) and that decent members of the human race don’t believe that they should just be stood up for in those countries one opposes.

  86. Anon the one and only

    8 Feb, 2012 - 8:30 pm

    Apologies for the stray apostophe in the last post.

  87. Anon&……,
    Might I suggest you look up Deir Yassin massacre, and the continual mass murder of Palestinians by the zionists, which evidently does not concern you or your “human” counter parts. Further, any criticism in this direction is always harangued down as the racist hatred of antisemites etc.
    Further given the bloody history of the zionists, and their mass affliction by nassada syndrome, we all know that Syria is being destroyed so that zionists can go after the big fish in the area.
    That is the situation that the world is witnessing and fully aware of, and no amount of whitewash and obfuscation is going to change that perception. Hence spare me the usual homilies about “human rights” and crocodile tears of concern for the dead Syrians.
    How dare you, to think you can fool all the goyim, all of the time?

  88. Craig,

    Like yourself – I do not have a detailed or more than superfluous “understanding” of the dynamics of Syrian politics. So you say:-

    “If the revolutionary tide swept away the Assad crew, I should be pleased.”

    I ask:-

    A. Pleased about what ( just look at the state of Iraq or Libya at present post regime changes)?
    B. Leading to which powerful grouping centralising and controlling power in Syria post regime change?
    C. Moving from a secularist regime to a fundamentalist one after the ouster of Assad?

    Seems like very backward prospects to me at present – cum regime change – given the immediate options.

  89. With regard to the correct response to Syria, take a look at this:
    I am really stuck on this one. Avaaz is normally a force for some good, but they write:
    > Right now, the regime is murdering men, women and children and
    > tearing cities apart. **China and Russia just handcuffed international
    > action at the UN and gave Assad license to unleash his murder machine to
    > crush the Syrian Spring once and for all** (my emphasis).
    There is no note as to why Russia and China have vetoed UN action – no hint that the ‘humanitarian intervention’ that might come about from US/UK could end up killing more people. I am worried that Avaaz is actually in favour of intervention – I should think quite a lot of US liberals position Libya as a success, in contrast to Iraq & Afghanistan. Maybe they want another Libya, despite all of the bloodshed that entailed?
    I may write to them, but I think I’d be wasting my time.
    @Michal – I think you do Craig, and most liberals opposed to military intervention, a great disservice. It is quite clear from Craig’s writing that he is no friend to the Syrian regime. Opposition to military action comes from a good faith calculation of least-harm. Maybe it’s right, maybe it’s wrong – but mocking from the sidelines is unhelpful. All people who want more justice and less suffering should be working together regardless of their politics.

  90. @Michal – one other thing of note is that in discussions like these, it is difficult to see where other people are coming from. I try to assume good faith of everyone, but you’ll appreciate that your views could come from aggressive militarists and/or super-power unilateralists, whose positions generally I regard as being antithetical to peace and justice.
    I am not opposed to all intervention, but it needs to be carefully framed so that UN resolutions are not torn up, as per Libya. With that in mind I would rather that, if military action were to go ahead – and I am not in favour of that option generally – that UK/US is not involved. Perhaps that is wishful thinking. Maybe an arms embargo or a good financial embargo (not the kind that killed half a million children in Iraq, mind).
    My fundamental problem is that – sadly – Nato governments are always calculating what they can get out of an invasion. The sum total of actions at the top of governments is selfish – and I desperately wish it was not.

  91. @ Michael,

    You posted:-

    “Ahh good old Craig Murray, always offering latent support for repressive regimes. “I disagree with them! But don’t you dare to do anything that threatens them!”

    The claims that anyone is attempting to “bomb the hell out of a country” is absolutely and patently false. The resolution has been thoroughly cleaned of anything that could be in any way construed as an approval of an intervention. The US and other forces have repeatedly stated that a mass armed intervention is absolutely out of question.”

    A few questions for you:-

    ” The claims that anyone is attempting to “bomb the hell out of a country” is absolutely and patently false.” ?

    Myself a lawyer, I would argue that:-

    In much the same way, on the domestic level, that the police are expected to abide by the law, they sometimes don’t.

    Likewise, in international law there are rules to be abided by, and the fact that so recently in both Iraq and Libya the bounds of the law have been overreached, seems to weigh as nought, in the mind of someone, who would not even consider the probability that the true intent does have within it an element of seeking the cloak of legality ultimately to pursue illegal ends ( based on quite recent precedent). But of course, one must inquire:-

    A. On which planet does one live , who could conclude that bombing and/or military intervention are off the table, but that person would also have to be asked – what century is this ( just to be sure that we are speaking about the same place and time)?

    B. Was it not UN Resolutions misused in both the case of Iraq and Libya that led to the debacle that Iraq is today and leading fast to the one that Libya is becoming post liberation bombings.

    C. For a country with a small population of some 6 million to have been bombed for 9 months, by the very forces who are trying to repeat the scenario in Libya, quite similar to the situations stated at B above – how, with a sane mind, a clear focus on world events, more specifically – a reasonable grasp of recent and current events in the Middle East, can anyone seriously post the words “The claims that anyone is attempting to “bomb the hell out of a country” is absolutely and patently false.” But, in all fairness you may have a point:-

    “The US and other forces have repeatedly stated that a mass armed intervention is absolutely out of question.”


    True – mass bombing is not the same as mass armed intervention.

    Your words were designed to provoke responses. You got them. So, ahh, over to you – good old Michael.

  92. Jon,
    What did Lenin say about leading an opposition?
    Interesting how the forces of progression suddenly prove to be mere recalcitrant reactionaries?
    You should hear the truly Al-Jazeera’s shocking anti Syrian propaganda

  93. Courtney if you wish to engage in lawyer discourse, then you should surely realise that it can be, in fact, very successfuly argued on legal grounds that the resolution has not been overreached in Libya. This is however irrelevant.

    We are not talking about Libya. We are talking about Syria.

    Please show me how could have the presented resolution condemning Bashar Al Assad’s regime be in any way construed as permitting any armed or other intervention, considering it has even barred an embargo from taking place, and considering repeated statements from western countries that they have no intention of militarily intervening, and considering that these countries have repeatedly said that in their mind, this resolution does not permit them from taking military action?

    So far, not even the Russians have attempted to do so, they merely keep repeating their mantra about how they hope Arab people can live together in harmony, and that everyone must come to the table. That’s why they won’t sign a resolution condemning Assad’s forces. All the while we all know the situation is highly assymetrical, and Bashar Al Assad’s forces very clearly are crushing the democratic forces under their heel.

  94. Michael,

    Thank you for your reply. You ask:-

    ” Please show me how could have the presented resolution condemning Bashar Al Assad’s regime be in any way construed as permitting any armed or other intervention”

    With respect I believe that you miss the point.

    My reference to Libya, had in mind UN Resolution 1973. The point being made, that the excessive bombing accompanied by arming an opposition to effect regime change in Libya went well beyond the bounds of Resolution 1973. Now, one can argue that the forces that exceeded the bounds of the Resolution in Libya, first sought a legal fig leaf to cover the ulterior motive behind having obtained the Resolution. By partity of reasoning, the Russians and Chinese having recently observed the abuse made of Resolution 1973, are now resolved, with regards to Syria, not to permit a replay of the misuse of another UN Resolution by the same powers that had recently acted in the Libyan situation.

    Kind regards.

  95. …”very successfuly argued on legal grounds that the resolution has not been overreached in Libya. This is however irrelevant.”
    Sadl Michael, you miss the point:-
    You should have a close look at a fundamental principle of international law which is that no state shall use force against another State. The principle appears at article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter of the United Nations. There should not be violation of this principle of international law. The reason is that post-World War 11 framers of the UN Charter (see: the preamble) were fully aware of the effects of wars of aggression given the state of human knowledge and armaments at the time that the Charter was written. Neither can a State nor the Security Council violate this principle of international law, should one give strict and proper interpretation to Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter requiring that the Security Council “shall act in accordance with the Principles and Purposes of the United Nations.”( and ) :-
    “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”
    Preamble to UN Charter:-
    • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
    • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
    • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
    • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

  96. I just got this from a Syrian friend, whom I do not wish to name. I’d asked them their views on what has been happening and also expressed the wish that their family remain safe. It is heartbreaking.
    “My father, mother and brother are fine since they are in Damascus but two of my cousins who are in the army have been seriously injured by the armed gangs who are attacking the civilians and the army and sarcastically are claiming the opposite.
    My country is suffering from a fierce global media war and an internal war with the terrorist gangs who mostly have the same fanatic beliefs as alqaida (the Muslim brotherhood) who will bring Syria to the dark ages if they will rule, and who are doing jihad against the army and civilians as if these people are not Syrians like them. The other side of these gangs are paid people to disturb the peace of the country.
    One of the things which makes my heart ache is that the behind the scenes players, Al Jazeera, Saudi Arabia, Qatar among others, grew hatred between Syrians to create a civil war (divide and rule) which is a new thing because all Syrians from all religions sects political beliefs were an example of harmony and peace.

    As for the government, they are not perfect and it’s so easy to throw everything on the president but the government has done, and is doing, reforms which made a lot of difference in Syrians’ lives which not a single media channel has spoken about. I believe that the media is desperate to make it another Lybia, another Iraq, which I believe is not going to happen because we have friends who know the real situation.

    Syria has always been with the resistance and with the Palestinians since many years and that’s why we are paying for our stands now. As for the shameful Arab League, they remind me of a folklore tale which talks about a village invaded by a foreign army in which all women have been raped except one, and when the other women got to know that the woman was still a virgin all of the women united to rape her! I hope I answerd your concerns and please feel free to share any thing on this topic.”

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