Syria and Diplomacy 2917

The problem with the Geneva Communique from the first Geneva round on Syria is that the government of Syria never subscribed to it.  It was jointly chaired by the League of Arab States for Syria, whatever that may mean.  Another problem is that it is, as so many diplomatic documents are, highly ambiguous.  It plainly advocates a power sharing executive formed by some of the current government plus the opposition to oversee a transition to democracy.  But it does not state which elements of the current government, and it does not mention which elements of the opposition, nor does it make plain if President Assad himself is eligible to be part of, or to head, the power-sharing executive, and whether he is eligible to be a candidate in future democratic elections.

Doubtless the British, for example, would argue that the term transition implies that he will go.  The Russians will argue there is no such implication and the text does not exclude anybody from the process.  Doubtless also diplomats on all sides were fully aware of these differing interpretations and the ambiguity is quite deliberate to enable an agreed text. I would say that the text tends much more to the “western” side, and that this reflects the apparently weak military position of the Assad regime at that time and the then extant threat of western military intervention.  There has been a radical shift in those factors against the western side in the interim. Expect Russian interpretations now to get more hardline.

Given the extreme ambiguity of the text, Iran has, as it frequently does, shot itself in the foot diplomatically by refusing to accept the communique as the basis of talks and thus getting excluded from Geneva.  Iran should have accepted the communique, and then at Geneva issued its own interpretation of it.

But that is a minor point.  The farcical thing about the Geneva conference is that it is attempting to promote into power-sharing in Syria “opposition” members who have no democratic credentials and represent a scarcely significant portion of those actually fighting the Assad regime in Syria.  What the West are trying to achieve is what the CIA and Mossad have now achieved in Egypt; replacing the head of the Mubarak regime while keeping all its power structures in place. The West don’t really want democracy in Syria, they just want a less pro-Russian leader of the power structures.

The inability of the British left to understand the Middle East is pathetic.  I recall arguing with commenters on this blog who supported the overthrow of the elected President of Egypt Morsi on the grounds that his overthrow was supporting secularism, judicial independence (missing the entirely obvious fact the Egyptian judiciary are almost all puppets of the military) and would lead to a left wing revolutionary outcome.  Similarly the demonstrations against Erdogan in Istanbul, orchestrated by very similar pro-military forces to those now in charge in Egypt, were also hailed by commenters here.  The word “secularist” seems to obviate all sins when it comes to the Middle East.

Qatar will be present at Geneva, and Qatar has just launched a pre-emptive media offensive by launching a dossier on torture and murder of detainees by the Assad regime, which is being given first headline treatment by the BBC all morning

There would be a good dossier to be issued on torture in detention in Qatar, and the lives of slave workers there, but that is another question.

I do not doubt at all that atrocities have been committed and are being committed by the Assad regime.  It is a very unpleasant regime indeed.  The fact that atrocities are also being committed by various rebel groups does not make Syrian government atrocities any better.

But whether 11,000 people really were murdered in a single detainee camp I am unsure.  What I do know is that the BBC presentation of today’s report has been a disgrace.  The report was commissioned by the government of Qatar who commissioned Carter Ruck to do it.  Both those organisations are infamous suppressors of free speech.  What is reprehensible is that the BBC are presenting the report as though it were produced by neutral experts, whereas the opposite is the case.  It is produced not by anti torture campaigners or by human rights activists, but by lawyers who are doing it purely and simply because they are being paid to do it.

The BBC are showing enormous deference to Sir Desmond De Silva, who is introduced as a former UN war crimes prosecutor.  He is indeed that, but it is not the capacity in which he is now acting.  He is acting as a barrister in private practice.  Before he was a UN prosecutor, he was for decades a criminal defence lawyer and has defended many murderers.  He has since acted to suppress the truth being published about many celebrities, including John Terry.

If the Assad regime and not the government of Qatar had instructed him and paid him, he would now be on our screens arguing the opposite case to that he is putting.  That is his job.  He probably regards that as not reprehensible.  What is reprehensible is that the BBC do not make it plain, but introduce him as a UN war crimes prosecutor as though he were acting in that capacity or out of concern for human rights.  I can find no evidence of his having an especial love for human rights in the abstract, when he is not being paid for it.  He produced an official UK government report into the murder of Pat Finucane, a murder organised by British authorities, which Pat Finucane’s widow described as a “sham”.  He was also put in charge of quietly sweeping the Israeli murders on the Gaza flotilla under the carpet at the UN.

The question any decent journalist should be asking him is “Sir Desmond De Silva, how much did the government of Qatar pay you for your part in preparing this report?  How much did it pay the other experts?  Does your fee from the Government of Qatar include this TV interview, or are you charging separately for your time in giving this interview?  In short how much are you being paid to say this?”

That is what any decent journalist would ask.  Which is why you will never hear those questions on the BBC.




2,917 thoughts on “Syria and Diplomacy

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  • mark golding

    Thanks Clark for the info – yes Javascript security is a tricky problem. I use this: – but it will not analyse secure (https) sites which provide a measure of security.

    Anon (LutzSec) has no leadership. The collective have ways to be known. If you can get to me Clark I will introduce you. Nuff said.

    Notice I said ‘frustrate’ 😉

  • guano

    “If God has any Moderators”. What is difficult about not looking at contributions from trolls? i.e. switch on Self moderation. From time to time, by reading them, they get under your armour of politeness, then under your skin, causing you to turn against your self and get cross.

    One of the ways they play with us is to engage our sense of national pride and then mug us by reminding us of all the bad things our UK governments have done. We are not responsible for a single sausage of anything our UK government has ever done. I was not there in Palestine in 1956, clad in nappy, wrecking the chances for the Palestinian people, and even if my family had been, which one great uncle once was during the war, I am categorically not responsible for any of them.

    I can’t remember if I told you the story of the Istanbul Congestion Charge? They charge for toilets in Turkey, 1 lira, 30p. The toilet staff directed me to an Asian toilet cubicle that had a huge turd laid right in front of me. I did what I needed to do and left, but on the way out the toilet staff tried to charge me for the turd which they had put themselves to charge me. Why am I going to take responsibility for crap my government has done? I’m not responsible for problems created by governments and I’m not responsible for problems created by political Muslims that have, sorry to put it like this, back-fired on them and they want to try and blame my government or me.

    Please do not pay the History Congestion Charge. You have paid your toll for your own life and you do not need to take responsibility for burdens other people want to put on you. Indeed the Qur’an says that those who invite you to wrong-doing and say that they will take responsibility, as Blair on Iraq and Thatcher on banking de-regulation both promised to do, are outright liars. They will be burdened with full responsibility for hearing the advice of the UK people and not listening to it.
    We cannot impeach our leaders for not listening but God can and will do. Sorry to speak of Him in the context of the terrible example above. Why let the trolls draw you into a sense of responsibility for something that you did not do? Ignore them please completely.

  • Irish butter

    Speaking of fraudulent behaviors, I just concluded an episode with an internet hoax. Selling an item on Craigslist got a text from someone in Texas. He wanted to send me a check (fedex) and I should wait until it clears then he will send an agent to pick item up.

    I’ve been to the circus and have experienced this nonsense before, but decided to pursue it just for fun. Got the check, opened a new account with the check. I suggested to the bank the check may be no good and they ran it. The sending acct had some flags on it, but I notified the buyer that the check will clear in about 7 business days. Thing is, the check was nearly double the asking price. Now why would someone do that? Immediately I started getting texts. “My bank says the money is in your account’ Please send me a check for the difference immediately”. (Oh good, now I’ve got an address)

    You see, a lot of folks think a cashier check is gold. They don’t realize the money can be there for the check, and then ‘poof’ the money is pulled…check no good.

    Now let’s say I took the surplus cash and mailed it off. Now when the money disappears, it looks as though I’VE scammed the bank and I am responsible. I was going to wait the full 7 days, but yesterday called the bank and they said the check was fraudulent, and that my account was closed.

    But I’ve already filed a complaint with the FBI and FTC. Hopefully this guy gets his ass handed to him.

  • Resident Dissident

    The arrogance of these trolls is outstanding in the way they interrogate and cross question posters here on their beliefs.

    At least we have don’t have the arrogance to ask questions before making assumptions about what the answer may be. We do not accuse others of being in the pay of someone else. We are polite enough to answer questions about our beliefs and the courage to justify the positions that we take. We don’t make assumptions about others motives or state of mind. We don’t insult people except in response to being insulted. We don’t lecture others about the behaviour that is expected, except when we have first been on the receiving end of such lectures. We are not obsessed with a single issue. We participate in debates rather than light the blue touch paper and run. We accept and understand that people can have opinions other than our own.

    So Mary do you think Dieudonne is an anti-Semite? Yes or no will suffice – but you are happy to add more if you wish.

  • guano

    Irish Butter

    To push out the fraud boat a little further, maybe the extreme Zionist rage in both UK and French government circles at the quenelle of M. Dieudonne ‘doth protest too much’. Maybe the Zionists are doing a Pallywood (in Paris) film, much as they are doing a Sylliwood film (in Syria). We have all been manipulated like dough during twenty years of warmongering.
    Beware the leaven of the Pharisees.

  • Resident Dissident

    “Resident Dissident, you do seem to have avoided any mention of whether Palestine or Palestinians derive any rights from the resolutions you’ve mentioned. To me, your comments on that matter seems evasive when compared to Fred’s. I hope you’re not exhibiting anti-Arab racist bias, as that would be hypocritical.”

    I quote

    “More correctly it established a state for the Arabs and an independent Jerusalem. Some of us still believe in a 2 state solution as the best way forward – and like it not we have current international law on our side. Not that you would be likely to get an agreement around the provisions of resolution 181.”

    Who on earth do you think would be entitled to the other land in a 2 state solution. As for human rights I have always made the point that they are universal – and you will not find anywhere that I haven’t. I resent the insinuation that I have an anti-Arab racial bias.

  • Clark

    Guano, 3:35 pm: some reasons:

    1) There is no foolproof way to tell a persons reasons and motivations for the comments that they post here.

    2) We know that we live in a world of propaganda. How am I to tell whether a person is a victim of propaganda or a purveyor of it? Some years back I could have made comments similar to some that we find posted here.

    # Reasons 1 and 2 summarised: I have merely human power, not the divine power to look into people’s hearts, and I’m as prone to human mistake and misinterpretation as any other mere human.

    3) People change over time, so I wish to recruit friends to the cause of goodness rather than alienating people into becoming enemies, as such enmity may perpetuate itself. If they continue to resist my efforts, I will at least have done my best, and done as little harm as I could. I learned this from Craig:

    But you’re right, it can take an emotional toll upon me. My psyche is not yet so developed that I don’t occasionally lapse into an outburst. But practice makes perfect, so they say.

  • Resident Dissident


    I have also made it clear many many times that I live in the UK, I am British, an agnostic – who some of my heroes are, the books I read, the bodies I belong to etc.etc. I am not hiding anything except my personal identity as do you and many others here.

  • Mary

    No irony. I make the point about the arrogance of the troll interrogators.

    Then we get a holier than thou statement similar to a self authored reference. This is followed by another interrogatory question. Worthy of the proceedings of the Stasi or those at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo.

    ‘We have ways of making you talk’. Not this one. Good Afternoon and bad luck.

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, 4:57 pm

    “We are not obsessed with a single issue”
    So Mary do you think Dieudonne is an anti-Semite? Yes or no will suffice

    How many people have you asked that today? Looks pretty obsessive to me. It’s all guilt by association in any case.

  • guano


    ‘You can warn only those who follow the reminder and who fear Allah in secret’ Qur’an Surah Ya Sin.

    You do not have to have the knowledge of the unseen to be aware of who is searching for truth and who is hindering truth. The Germans had not found the truth they were seeking in Christian Protestantism. Just more of the same as they had had under Roman Catholicism, but with new tyrannies in new shapes and forms. But they were seeking the truth possibly. The South Africans under Apartheid were also possibly searching for truth in cultural separation if you look at it from Craig’s comment about German Nazis.

    Similarly, I’ve spent a long time puzzling about the rules of Electrical Installation Electrical Reports, EICRs. Lots of people have told me that you can only check if it meets the regs that were in place at the time of the installation. i.e. it’s crap and live with it because nobody can force you to do anything about it. But when I looked in the Electrical Safety Council Document it says you have to check it for compliance to the current regs as in force at the time of the test. Searching for truth is difficult and deep process, full of twists and turns.

    You’re telling me that the Hasbara trolls are feeling their way towards enlightenment. Bless. I will direct them to the truth of the Qur’an and they can make what they will of Allah’s statements on the matter of Judaism and Zionism. Matter solved. BTW Does i-weed make you feel giddy same as the real brew?

  • Anon

    Interesting reading Rosa Klebb’s cold reactions. She seems to think this blog exists for her alone. She can’t deal with questions, challenges, debate, anything like that. She treats them as an attack on her personally. Interrogation, she calls it, and those who take a different view, well they’re just trolls, paid to disrupt her. Rosa merely pronounces and that is it.

  • Mary

    The daily log of the cruelty of the Occupation of Palestine.

    Zionism in practice – Israel’s Daily Toll on Palestinian Life, Limb, Liberty and Property

    24 hours to 8am 13 February 2014

    26 raids including home invasions – 3 beaten – 10 injured – 3 acts of agricultural/economic sabotage – 26 taken prisoner – 3 detained – 105 restrictions of movement

    Israeli soldiers terrorise 11-year-old Palestinian boy
    Israeli Army destroys Palestinian tent dwellings and livestock shelters
    4am home invasions: Israeli troops abduct 3 youngsters aged 16 to 17
    Israeli troops plunder Bethlehem home
    Israeli Army military exercises force 18 Palestinian families out of their homes
    Night peace disruption and/or home invasions in 4 refugee camps and 5 towns and villages

    Read the details here

  • Mary

    Such A Deal
    Palestinians Should Walk Away

    By Philip Giraldi • February 13, 2014

    Australian-American former Ambassador Martin Indyk is the lead negotiator for Secretary of State John Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative. He heads a nearly all-Jewish American negotiating team, including David Makovsky, a “mapping expert” from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spin-off Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Indyk is currently briefing an array of Jewish leaders in the US about his plans while keeping them secret from everyone else. Scott McConnell has observed that the Israelis are characteristically screaming about being forced into an agreement even though they will get nearly everything they want.

    As if to demonstrate that no good deed goes unrewarded, Israeli politicians have reviled Kerry in personal terms, leading to a rare rebuke by the White House, while a group of conservative rabbis has warned that God will destroy him. Meanwhile the corrupt Palestinian leaders will likely cave to US pressure in anticipation of the personal rewards they will receive when the donor cash begins to flow after an agreement is signed. The Palestinian people will get the sharp end of the stick.

    Make no mistake, Kerry’s objective from the start has been to get the maximum possible for Israel while enticing the Palestinians to accept the barest minimum that will get them to agree to sign on to something. Even if Kerry wanted to be an honest broker he knows he can’t go that route because the Israel Lobby is so powerful and pro-Palestinian sentiment means nothing in terms of American elections. Kerry’s boss President Obama is looking at congressional elections later this year and would be extremely reluctant to antagonize Israel’s friends. So it is better to let the process limp along until the end of the year. If Kerry is very fortunate he might be able to give Israel a lopsided deal that would at least limit the incessant settlement expansion and just might create a modus vivendi that would not threaten to explode every couple of years. But more probably the peace process will again die a natural death, linked inexorably to the US two year election cycle.


  • Herbie

    “‘We have ways of making you talk’.”

    It’s much more like, “we have ways of making you conform, or we’ll out you as a heretic”.

    It’s all quite medieval really and involves nothing more sophisticated than submission to authority.

  • Clark

    Anon, here, I forgot to pass this back; sorry…

    ~~~~ O>

    Give Mary a break, man; she’s been putting up with that shit for over a year now.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    Mr Scourgie!

    You have disappointed – but not surprised – me.

    Whne you wrote that you accept Israel’s right to exist – within its 1967 borders – I was much gratified. The qualification is acceptable, particularly as it was a qualification I had myself previously suggested to Mary in an attempt to get her to express an opinion (she didn’t, of course).

    But then – your second qualification is that you accept Israel’s right to exist but not as Jewish state.

    Now, as you are certainly aware, Israel’s Basic Law (as with Germany, this Basic Law is in fact its constitution), defines Israel as a Jewish state.

    The conclusion is, therefore, that I was right – you do not accept Israel’s right to exist.

    Breathe again, Mr Scourgie, for you are still on the same denier page as Mary and Nevermind.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!


    “If you claim 181 established a state of Israel then you must claim it also established a state of Palestine.”


    Why not. And now tell us why Jordan took the entire West Bank under “administration” rather than helping it set up as an independent state of Palestine.


  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!


    “…and the UN allows Israel to have a seat and a permanent representative at the UN.”

    I don’t recall seeing that in Resolution 181, maybe you could point it out.”

    Fred, you’re lazy as well as being a chump. I referred to the UN General Assembly Resolution admitting Israel to the UN a couple of pages back.

    Wakey wakey!!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!


    ““BTW Do you think Dieudonne is an anti-Semite? Yes or no will suffice.”

    How the hell would I know?”

    No one is expecting you to look into his soul. Just tell us what YOU think, based on the numerous links and sources which have been provided on this thread. Read, reflect, and then give us your opinion.

    Wakey wakey!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    Mary splutters from leafy Surrey

    “The arrogance of these trolls is outstanding in the way they interrogate and cross question posters here on their beliefs. We know fuck all about them, who they are, whether they are in this country or overseas….”

    Note the “..or overseas..”. Does it matter where the commenters are? You seem to be suggesting that overseas commenters should hold their peace – which does not sit well with your support for unfettered immigration, for instance. Sounds a little rascist to me!

    This little phrase, together with your apparent rage at so many aspects of British life, is starting to make me wonder if you are not….UKIP!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!


    “So she don’t like guns and shooting, so what? Most of the ladies don’t like that.”

    Include the Duchess of Devonshire (Debo to me) out of that, please! 🙂

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    Looking back over the last page or two, I’m thinking “My God, it’s Passendaele all over again”! Eminences, candidate-Eminences, useful idiots and rude mechanics (that’s for you, Fred) hurl themselves against the splendid defences of the dissidents only to be mown down in swathes.

    Oh, the pity, the pity! Not.

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