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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  • Phil

    I am slightly done in by these climate change predictions. If I may say you all seem to be taking it in your stride. Are the ‘Six Degrees’ predictions tripe? What resources do you use to assess predictions?

    Glenn, I don’t need convincing of that GW is happening. I do want to know more about possible outcomes. I am looking now but any links appreciated.

    Hello Nevermind, I had a make over. Hello Sofia, I didn’t really intend to be back.

  • Anon

    SKN

    I don’t believe there is a media bias against MMCC theory. Virtually every news organization I can think of, barring Fox News and a few journalists on the Telegraph, was plugging it incessantly. Their more recent quietness on the matter is a result of the shoddiness of the science, rather than a conspiracy to hide the truth.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    OK. If it was only 25,000 Germans roasted in Bomber Harris’s oven (and don’t forget all the other “Thousand Bomber Raids”), would that mean Harris wasn’t one of history’s high achieving terrorists?

    WTF the message behind putting a statue of the murdering fecker outside a London church?

    Now where did I put my Scroll-a-Pest®?
    Ah! Here it is. Apologies for my lapse.

  • Anon

    SKN

    It troubles me that

    1. You have not one criticism to make of John Goss’ and PressTV’s figure, exaggerated by a factor of over ten.

    2. That you would rather focus your ire on me. I never said “only” as if the figure of 25,000 was an irrelevance.

    3. That you exhibit such a complete ignorance of the nature of WW2 and the concept of all-out war as instigated by Nazi Germany.

    4. That you are clearly too young/ignorant to appreciate just what it was this country was fighting.

    5. That you dare to call yourself an anti-Fascist.

  • John Goss

    Anus, if you had read the second article I linked, the history learning site, it corrects a few of the inaccuracies your history teachers failed to tell you. But as you could not scroll down, here it is:

    “61 German cities were attacked by Bomber Command between 1939 and 1945 containing a combined population of 25 million inhabitants;
    3.6 million homes were destroyed (20% of the total)
    7.5 million people were made homeless

    300,000 Germans are thought to have been killed as a result of the raids, and 800,000 were wounded.

    Berlin was 70% destroyed by bombing; Dresden 75% destroyed.”

    Now what is inaccurate about the 250,000 in the PressTV article?

  • Anon

    “Now what is inaccurate about the 250,000 in the PressTV article?”

    The figure of 260,000.

    Now put on your orange jumpsuit and go sit outside Parliament for 12 hours HAARPing on about the Rothschilds you dumb fuck.

    See, I can change the subject too.

  • Anon

    Just to clear up any possible future confusion from watermelons Phil & Glenn, can we have an assurance that they are demanding the immediate reduction of fossil fuel consumption in India, Russia and China by 60%.

  • John Goss

    Tut, tut, sometimes it is wise to change the subject. I sense a little peevishness creeping into your last comment just because the History Learning Site has challenged your own beliefs. Never mind, we all have to learn!

  • Anon

    [Ignoring, of course, your proclivity for switching the subject after you are shown up, which is almost every time you post.]

  • fred

    “3. That you exhibit such a complete ignorance of the nature of WW2 and the concept of all-out war as instigated by Nazi Germany.”

    I thought we declared war on them.

    We get people questioning the number of people killed in the Holocaust like they could somehow make it not a crime against humanity as well.

  • John Goss

    “It troubles me that

    1. You have not one criticism to make of John Goss’ and PressTV’s figure, exaggerated by a factor of over ten.”

    The reason I was not corrected is because most people who comment on this blog know who to trust and who the trolls are.

  • Anon

    “The reason I was not corrected is because most people who comment on this blog know who to trust and who the trolls are.”

    Are you saying that the good folk on this blog will trust the person who is making up shit as he goes along, merely because he says the ‘right’ things? Perish the thought!

  • Anon

    “WTF? I’m a child of the internet age”

    A starry-eyed grad fresh from the student union with next to no experience of the real world. Really, Sofia, I’ve seen it all before.

  • John Goss

    “Are you saying that the good folk on this blog will trust the person who is making up shit as he goes along, merely because he says the ‘right’ things? Perish the thought!”

    Can’t think of anyone except the trolls who support you!

  • Anon

    That’s right, John. Because the prevailing consensus on this blog does not support me, you must be right.

    I think we’ll leave it there.

  • John Goss

    “WTF? I’m a child of the internet age”

    A starry-eyed grad fresh from the student union with next to no experience of the real world. Really, Sofia, I’ve seen it all before.

    Who was it recently who asked one of the comment-makers if they could not recognise irony?

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    Irony?

    Can one of the grown-ups help me here? Did Hitler outlaw Gangham Style or did’nt he?

  • John Goss

    “That’s right, John. Because the prevailing consensus on this blog does not support me, you must be right.”

    Anon, I am sure we would all support you, and do, when you’re right. It is tough I realise. For example, I would not oppose your statement:

    “Nevermind, I can see mankind’s destruction and unsustainability all too well, which is why we need to be concentrating on real conservation issues.”

    Whether the issues we see are the same, or the solutions, is a different matter. But common ground is a good starting point.

  • John Goss

    “Irony?

    Can one of the grown-ups help me here? Did Hitler outlaw Gangham Style or did’nt he?”

    That’s classic. However Sofia since your dad and I have had an irretrievable breakdown I should be obliged, for your own welfare, if you did not mention our fling on Valentine’s Day.

  • nevermind

    Gosh all this goading. Bomber Harris, due to his own daft proposal to fly in large groups has caused over 55. 000 British airmen to loose their lives.

    That they attacked a beautifull City with no strategic purpose or military industrial logistics, was a policy to break the spirit of ordinary Germans, to kill those Britain believed were his main supporters.

    Little did they know and some 30.000 did not suirvive the firestorm created.

    Now why would one want to argue the toss over numbers, pedantry and small mindedness.

    Syria, peace talks that meant to fail?? Brian Thankfully pointed to the fact that a cease fire should really be a good start.

    Collective Yawns and Rah rah rah, boring innit, lets talk about something vile we have been brought up on, something reoccuring like summer, an important event in the last Millenium, more, the greatest thing that ever happened to us, wow, and thanks to our tabloidal excesses we regurgitate ad rectum, argueing about established and pathetic party political views as they are presented and rewritten to us by those who can’t stand up to their unfortunate equilibriums.

    Dresden was and is beautifull, despite the brutalities metted out on it, it is the home of my family, Saxons, and proud of it.
    Same with the firestorm in Hamburg, a military target, except for the bombed hospitals, thousands of innocent victims died, but what is always forgotten and belittled is that this madman has deprived families of thousands of young lives.

    Carpet bombing is evil to all sides and we should have some respect for the dead, what utter palaver.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    That was you John. Well the leather and studs sure suits you, and the green mohican is gorgeous.

    But what about the secret transcripts?

    “They ought to be sent to hell for a million years for doing that ridiculous dance. To hell, just like Stalin!

    Do you know how long I have wanted to make “Heil Hitler” sulute into a global phenomenon? A dance to glorify ME, the Greatest Leader of All!

    But now it’s all over. Defeated by that dancing bastard! God it’s so fucking unfair!

    Do you know how many clicks that dance video is getting on you tube? Half a billion clicks in two months!…” A Hitler. 29 Apr 1945

  • John Goss

    True Nevermind. “Carpet bombing is evil to all sides and we should have some respect for the dead . . .”

    It is worse today. Modern airmen can operate from hundreds, even thousands, of miles away, killing people who may or may not be guilty of a crime (and anyone else, women, children, elderly, infirmed) but the good thing for ‘our boys’ is they will all be coming home. My theory is that the cowboys who are in power today are the descendants of those cowboys who shot the the good guys in the back.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    BTW. A close relation of mine was punished for an infringement of army rules and instead of being demobed in 1945 he was sent into the wreckage of Germany for a year.

    The experience forever altered his attitude regarding the “good fight” he had believed he had been fighting. Did’nt make him a Nazi but it taught him the meaning of industrial scale slaughter.

  • John Goss

    Now, now Sofia, telling the whole blog our secrets . . . Hairwise I’m thinking of bright orange next time. But I have to say Sweden is out . . . Honey . . . I know you wouldn’t trap me, but would prefer the other place, Ecuador was it? Just to be safe you understand.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    Fred

    “Admitting Israel to the UN did not create the state of Israel, by that time they already claimed to be a state.”
    ____________________

    Yes, and that claim was accepted by the UN when the UN admitted Israel to membership.

    Why do you think the UN won’t admit “Palestine” as a full member? Because Palestine isn’t a state. But it would have been for over 60 years now if Jordan had not sat on the West Bank until 1967 and instead had helped it to become one.

    Why do you remain so strangely silent about Jordan’s rôle in prevcenting the creation of a Palestinian state?

  • glenn_uk

    Anon said, “Just to clear up any possible future confusion from watermelons Phil & Glenn, can we have an assurance that they are demanding the immediate reduction of fossil fuel consumption in India, Russia and China by 60%.

    “Watermelons”? Oh I get it – green on the outside, red on the inside! A regular knee-slapper, worthy of a 1970’s put-down.

    Perhaps you might explain what my personal position on Chinese fossil fuel consumption has to do with the reality of climate change. Or is your desperation to change the subject just that obvious?

    Come on, “Anon” – let’s have some more of that famous whataboutery from you! And are you enjoying the http://www.skepticalscience.com site?

  • BrianFujisan

    In case Nevermind has Taken himself off to bed…. I hope he wont mind me Correcting a Typo on his behalf…. Nevermind Meant to say 300,000 did not survive.

    ( but a widely held final estimate is closer to 500,000 deaths..B,Fujisan )

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