Aleppo 343


The Morning Star has today come under massive criticism for hailing the near total recapture of Aleppo by pro-Government forces as a “liberation.” I would agree that the situation calls for more nuance. However a feeling of relief that the fighting that has ravaged Aleppo for four years is coming to a close, must form part of any sane reaction. If we are not allowed to feel relief at that, presumably it means that we must have wanted al-Nusra and various other jihadist militias to win the hot war. What do we think Syria would look like after that?

I am no fan of the Assad regime. It is not a genuine democracy and it has a very poor human rights record. If Assad had been toppled by his own people in the Arab spring and replaced by something more akin to a liberal democracy, which kept the Assad regime’s religious toleration, protection of minorities and comparatively good record on women’s rights, and added to it political freedom, a functioning justice system and end to human rights abuse, nobody would have been happier than I. Indeed I strongly suspect I have in the past done much more to campaign against human rights abuse in Syria than the mainstream media stenographers who all decry the fall of rebel Aleppo now.

But sadly liberal democracy, human rights and women’s rights are not in any sense what the jihadist militias the West is backing are fighting for.

Of course it is essential that human rights are now respected in Aleppo by the government, that civilians are looked after, and that rebel fighters once identified are incarcerated in decent conditions. I add my voice to those calls. It should be noted that the threat to life and limb, and the violations and war crimes, have been on all sides, and the oppression of the government is most unlikely to be worse than the oppression of the rebels. The jhadists impounded relief supplies from the civilian population, shot those attempting to flee, and raped on a grand scale. That is not in any way to minimise the potential for mirror abuse from government supporting troops. But it is nonetheless true and must be stated.

The freedom from rebel mortar bombardment of civilian areas of Western Aleppo will also be an added mercy.

But it is not only the western media which has been hopelessly one-sided in its coverage of events. I have been deeply shocked by the heavily politicised role played by western charities and relief agencies. And sure enough, reports reaching me today from an independent source in Syria indicate that now the Syrian government has taken over most of the ex-jihadist held areas of Aleppo, those western agencies and charities that were screaming for a ceasefire so they could get aid in to the communities, have lost all interest now that it is safe to do so and the Syrian government is begging them to go in. They appear interested only in servicing rebel-held areas.

Last week saw a rare moment of truth in western diplomacy as Boris Johnson accused Saudi Arabia of financing proxy wars in the Middle East and spreading the ideology of terrorism. It is a strange world when it comes as a shock when a government minister for once says something which is true. But it was a rare moment. Boris is now in Saudi Arabia touting for more arms sales. In fact the anti-democratic regimes in the Gulf loom extremely large in the affections of the current Conservative government. Both Hammond and May have recently been to Bahrain. As I said, the Assad regime does have a poor human rights record, but the Bahraini government beyond argument has a much worse one, with torture a widespread and everyday measure of oppression. The Sunni “royal family” was only maintained in its despotic rule over its majority Shia population during the Arab spring by the invasion of the Saudi army. Torture and repression has been stepped up ever since even beyond its normal appalling standards.

To repeat, Bahrain beyond doubt has an even worse human rights record than Assad. It is also even less democratic. Yet this is the UK’s close ally, and in a stunningly stupid flourish of neo-imperialism, Britain has just opened a new military base in Bahrain, indicating our desire to indulge in further disastrous military intervention in the Middle East for decades to come.

I don’t think I have ever been more ashamed of my country than when reading Theresa May’s speech last week to the assorted despots, torturers and head-choppers of the Gulf Co-operation Council. A plea for our relationship with “old friends” that nowhere at all gives even a passing reference to democracy or human rights, to the extent that it even references the East India Company as a good thing in our history! A litany of begging for their cash, while at the same time focusing on the “security” and “terrorist” threats they face, the “terrorists” in question being their own disenfranchised populations.

Shameful, shameful stuff. yet where is the condemnation from those mainstream media journalists waxing lyrical today on the evils of Assad?

The game goes on. With financing and ideological underpinning from these Gulf states, and covert intelligence aid from the West, ISIS forces are allowed to slip out of Iraq, regroup and retake Palmyra as “retaliation” against Russian/Syrian success in Aleppo, and as a propaganda counter to ensure the West’s jihadist “allies” are not demoralised. The cynicism of it all is sickening. The Morning Star may indeed have not been sufficiently nuanced; but compared to the lies and elisions of mainstream media it is a beacon of truth.

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343 thoughts on “Aleppo

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  • michael norton

    Russian military police help create law enforcement in Aleppo – official

    The Russian military police helped Syria to establish law enforcement in the city of Aleppo, which had been liberated from terrorists, the head of the Main Operations Department of Russia’s General Staff, Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy, said Wednesday. He said that Russian sappers have cleared 3,210 buildings of mines on more than 2,000 hectares in Aleppo and 709km of roads, making it possible for more than 10,000 people to return to their homes. Russian doctors have provided medical assistance to more than 5,000 people, including 1,847 children, Rudskoy said, adding that work is continuing to distribute hot food and prime necessities among the people of Aleppo.

    Good for Russia, i am sure we all wish for peace and stability and a prosperous future for the people of Syria.
    Now OBOMBA is almost gone, it might be possible.

    • michael norton

      More terrible goings on by Islamic state in Palmyra
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-38678189
      So-called Islamic State militants have beheaded four people and shot eight dead in the Syrian city of Palmyra, a monitoring group says.

      Some of the killings took place in a museum yard near the city’s Unesco-listed ancient ruins, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

      Four teachers and state employees, four government soldiers and four captured rebels were killed, it added.

      IS retook the site and nearby city last month, after being pushed out in March. A report from a local activist group, the Palmyra Monitor, said some of the killings were carried out in the site’s Roman amphitheatre.

      The group has previously carried out killings in front of crowds in the ancient stone auditorium, including 25 Syrian government soldiers who were shown being shot dead in a video released in 2015.

      In August the same year, the jihadists also beheaded the 81-year-old archaeologist, Khaled al-Asaad, who had looked after the Palmyra ruins for 40 years.

      IS had seized control of the archaeological site and nearby city, known locally as Tadmur, three months earlier.

      They destroyed a number of monuments and, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, killed an estimated 280 people in the 10 months before Russian-backed government forces recaptured the area.

      A Russian conductor led a classical concert in the amphitheatre in May 2016.

      But while forces allied to President Bashar al-Assad were focused on battling for the city of Aleppo in December, the militants returned and regained control.

      US-backed Iraqi forces have pushed the Islamic State group out of large swathes of northern Syria and Iraq in the past year and have been battling to retake the city of Mosul in northern Iraq since October.

      On Wednesday, a Russian Defence Ministry official, Lt Gen Sergei Rudskoi, said the Mosul offensive was pushing IS fighters back into eastern Syria.

      He said the Islamic State group was shipping large amounts of explosives to Palmyra in order to blow up more of the heritage site.

      • michael norton

        US: Air strikes killing dozens of Syrian troops legal
        Pentagon investigation shows US-led coalition bombed Syrian army loyalists after mistaking them for ISIL fighters.

        http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/air-strikes-killing-dozens-syrian-troops-legal-161129180300666.html

        An investigation has found air strikes by the US-led coalition that reportedly killed dozens of troops fighting for the Syrian government did not violate international law, the US military said.

        The targets of the strikes near the Syrian city of Deir Az Zor were misidentified as ISIL fighters on September 17, but they turned out to be loyalists of the Syrian army, the US Air Forces Central Command said in a statement on Tuesday. “Although air strikes likely hit forces aligned with the government of Syria, the strikes were conducted under a good faith belief that the strikes were targeting Daesh, in accordance with the law of armed conflict and the applicable rules of engagement,” it said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
        It added that evidence showed there wasn’t “a deliberate disregard of targeting procedures or the rules of engagement”. ussia said 62 Syrian soldiers were killed and at least 100 more wounded. The attack was the first known direct strike by the US-led coalition on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

        Brigadier General Richard Coe, the investigating officer, said a number of “human factors” contributed to the misidentification.

        “In my opinion, these were a number of people all doing their best to do a good job,” Coe said. “In many ways these forces looked and acted like the Daesh forces the coalition has been targeting for the last two years.”

        Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said there was no information on whether anyone was being punished for the series of human errors that led to the deadly incident.

        She also noted prior to the attack the coalition tried to communicate information about the planned air raid with Russia to make sure Russian or Syrian fighter jets would not be in the area getting in their way. The Russians were not able to get back in touch with their coalition point of contact on time, she said.

        “When the coalition found out that the targeted fighters were known to the Russians, the strikes stopped,” said Jordan.

        The United States, Australia, Denmark and Britain participated in the attack.

        Syria denounced the air strike and said it was “conclusive evidence” of US support for ISIL, calling it “dangerous and blatant aggression”.

        ——

        I understand, that after this U.S.A. agression against Syrian government troops at the airfield.
        Islamic State them made their way in armoured vehicles to Palmyra.

  • michael norton

    B-52
    Syria conflict: US says Idlib strike kills 100 al-Qaeda fighters
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-38700441

    This is where the “Moderates” of Eastern Aleppo, have mostly been relocated.
    Possibly, also, The White Helmets?
    —–
    A US military air strike in north-western Syria has killed more than 100 al-Qaeda militants at a training camp, the Pentagon says.

    Spokesman Capt Jeff Davis said the camp in Idlib province had been in operation since 2013.

    The attack involved a B-52 bomber and an undisclosed number of drones, officials said.

    The strike on Thursday was the second major US military attack in the final hours of Barack Obama’s presidency.

    Less than 24 hours earlier, a combination of B-2 stealth bombers and drones killed up to 90 so-called Islamic State (IS) militants in two camps in a remote area of Libya, officials said.

    Capt Davis said the Syria attack disrupted training operations “and discourages hard-line Islamist and Syrian opposition groups from joining or co-operating with al-Qaeda on the battlefield”.

    He said it capped a series of successful strikes against al-Qaeda recently.

    “These strikes, conducted in quick succession, degrade al-Qaeda’s capabilities, weaken their resolve, and cause confusion in their ranks,” he said.

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