Syria

droid

Beast of Burden
"Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

Reports of a large scale chemical weapons attack in Douma on Saturday causing high numbers of casualties are deeply disturbing. It is truly horrific to think that many of the victims were reportedly families seeking refuge from airstrikes in underground shelters.

Despite Russia’s promise in 2013 to ensure Syria would abandon all of its chemical weapons, international investigators mandated by the UN Security Council have found the Asad regime responsible for using poison gas in at least 4 separate attacks since 2014. These latest reports must urgently be investigated and the international community must respond. Investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons looking into reports of chemical weapons use in Syria have our full support. Russia must not yet again try to obstruct these investigations.

Should it be confirmed that the regime has used chemical weapons again, it would be yet another appalling example of the Asad regime’s brutality and blatant disregard for both the Syrian people and its legal obligations not to use chemical weapons.

We condemn the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere. We are in close touch with our allies following these latest reports. Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons have lost all moral integrity and must be held to account."
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/...rts-of-chemical-weapons-attack-in-douma-syria
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
And in case anyone thinks that might be an aberration or the responsibility of a rogue press officer junior, here's everyone's favourite tankie siding with Assad and Putin after a chemical attack back in 2013. (I'm assuming this is the first Ghouta attack (1400 dead) but need to double check that.) You can see here the fair-handed, critical thinking that he recently applied against our own governm.... Oh no, you can't actually. He just swallows the Russian line wholesale. Is he just fucking stupid or actively odious? I can't decide.

 

yyaldrin

in je ogen waait de wind
Yes, I would like to say I was shocked by the Labour Party response but I wasn't really. It's a fucking horrendous statement, absolutely fucking abject. I wonder to what degree Douma might be a turning point? In both people's perceptions of the anti-war Left, and in the war itself? A big joint response from the US and France is being promised, but I'm wondering if they'll roll back from it?

BTW in response to the question that pops up "Why would Assad use chemical weapons when he's winning?" - strategically, because it works. It's forced the estimated 8,000 Jai Al Islam troops to withdraw from the city and they're being bussed out as I type. They were heavily committed and would've been fighting for their homes - not "militias occupying Douma (as that fucking statement says) so Assad would have had his work hugely cut out fighting street by street. Still 170,000 civilians left there facing renewed bombardment with conventional weapons though.
am i the only person here who believes in this narrative? plus, this jai al islam group is just another one of those saudi-arabic backed jihadist groups no? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaysh_al-Islam

"The group was a part of the Islamic Front.[24][25][26] The organization has rejected membership of the Free Syrian Army.[41] The group along with Ahrar ash-Sham are among the main rebel groups supported by Saudi Arabia.[42] Having previously promoted an Islamic state under Sharia law,[43] since 2015, Jaysh al-Islam has called for the Syrian government to be replaced by a technocratic body that represents the diversity of the Syrian people.[44] The group cooperated with Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front.[45]"

and

"As an example of the earlier sectarianism, in 2013 or earlier, Alloush in a speech suggested that "Sham" or Bilad al-Sham (the Levant or specifically Damascus) should be "cleansed of the filth" of the Shi'ites (whom he called "Rafida" = rejectionists) and Alawites (whom he called "Nusayris" or "Majous" = Zoroastrians, pre-Islamic Persians): "And I give you the news, oh unclean Rafida: Just as the Umayyads crushed your heads in the past, the people of Ghouta and Sham will crush them soon, they will make you taste a painful torment in this world, before God makes you taste it in the hereafter".[66]"

and

"In March 2016, The Huffington Post reported: "...the leader of Jaish al-Islam, or “Army of Islam” was killed in December last year in a government air strike. His death, however, did nothing to stop to the group’s totalitarian rule in Eastern Ghouta, where residents say torture and imprisonment without trial occur routinely in the name of “liberation” and Sharia law."[75]"
 
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DannyL

Wild Horses
There's a lot of detail about JaI in the Michael Karadajis article I've posted upthread. He specifically mentions Alloush's statement and a later change of heart and retraction. You're correct in that they are an Islamist group, and nominal enemies or rivals of the FSA. This shit is just complicated on the ground and trying to understand it at a remove via blog posts and wikipedia is probably near impossible.

However "even if there were a smidgeon of truth in this [the rebels are jihadists], it is difficult to see how anyone on the progressive side of politics could use this to justify this all-out slaughter of the civilian population. Surely this is the kind of argumentation that imperialist invaders and oppressive regimes have always used to justify slaughter. The Assadist justification for the slaughter in Ghouta is identical to the Zionist justification for the slaughter in Gaza, the American justification for Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq, the Russian justification for Grozny, the Saudi justification for Yemen, the Turkish justification for its decades-long war on the Kurds in the east, and the list goes on." The link again here: https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/201...se-armed-and-civil-rebellion-class-and-islam/


Not quite sure what you are saying in your first sentence there - are you saying you believe the gas attack was a "false flag" etc. Apologises if I'm misunderstanding you. I hope you are not saying that, because if you are, my head will explode.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
This just in: militant Islamists often aren't very nice.

Given the way non-Alawite Syrians have suffered, and continue to suffer - and bear in mind the severe economic hardship they were under even before the violent anti-protester crackdown that precipitated the entire war - anti-Alawite prejudice among non-Alawites should be about a surprising as anti-white prejudice among black South Africans.

And even you add up all the killings, incarcerations and torture committed by ISIS, JaI and all the other Islamist groups active in Syria, they still only come to a fraction of the crimes committed by the regime and its Russian backers (and Iran/Hezbollah). To say nothing of the fact that the vast majority of casualties are clearly civilians and not 'militants' of any sort, Islamist or otherwise.
 
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DannyL

Wild Horses
Yeah, it's also pretty well documented how Assad tried to "Islamicise" the conflict by releasing known jihadis back in 2011. He released about a 1000 or so known militants - Alloush was one of them (the lists of prisoners released are online somewhere). This made a violent edge to the protests more likely, and aided his anti-terror narrative and the accompanying violent suppression.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
... but the principle dynamic remains Assad against his own people. And when those people are being tortured, gassed and murdered on an industrial scale, you don't have to know every last nuance to want to offer support, aid and solidarity.
 

yyaldrin

in je ogen waait de wind
There's a lot of detail about JaI in the Michael Karadajis article I've posted upthread. He specifically mentions Alloush's statement and a later change of heart and retraction. You're correct in that they are an Islamist group, and nominal enemies or rivals of the FSA. This shit is just complicated on the ground and trying to understand it at a remove via blog posts and wikipedia is probably near impossible.

However "even if there were a smidgeon of truth in this [the rebels are jihadists], it is difficult to see how anyone on the progressive side of politics could use this to justify this all-out slaughter of the civilian population. Surely this is the kind of argumentation that imperialist invaders and oppressive regimes have always used to justify slaughter. The Assadist justification for the slaughter in Ghouta is identical to the Zionist justification for the slaughter in Gaza, the American justification for Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq, the Russian justification for Grozny, the Saudi justification for Yemen, the Turkish justification for its decades-long war on the Kurds in the east, and the list goes on." The link again here: https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/201...se-armed-and-civil-rebellion-class-and-islam/


Not quite sure what you are saying in your first sentence there - are you saying you believe the gas attack was a "false flag" etc. Apologises if I'm misunderstanding you. I hope you are not saying that, because if you are, my head will explode.
well, i don't mean to make your head explode but yea i consider it a possibility. i consider saudi-arabia, the usa and turkey to go as far as possible to bring down assad and to remove russia from the region. but like we all say in this thread, it's hard to see what is really happening. i have just been reading a lot about post-ww2 usa interventions in the world and some of that stuff is too cynical to be true, yet it is.
 

firefinga

Well-known member
well, i don't mean to make your head explode but yea i consider it a possibility. i consider saudi-arabia, the usa and turkey to go as far as possible to bring down assad and to remove russia from the region. but like we all say in this thread, it's hard to see what is really happening. i have just been reading a lot about post-ww2 usa interventions in the world and some of that stuff is too cynical to be true, yet it is.
well, you might educate yourself about Assad, his dear daddy and the "baathist way" in general at the same time. Trust me, a "Assad" is perfectly capable of gassing his own people.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
Well I don't want to get into an argument about it and leave fragments of my skull embedded in the screen but a couple of things to consider:
i) the rebels (Islamist/FSA/otherwise) don't have an airforce
ii) they have no access to stocks of chemical weapons - Assad does: http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire...-from-stocks-he-pledged-to-relinquish-in-2013
iii) the UN has attributed blame for the previous Khan Shikhoun attack and (IIRC) at least 3 other chemical weapons attacks to Assad, so he absolutely has form here
iv) false flag narratives are routinely deployed in the aftermath of any major incident in Syria - you can set your watch by them, they start emerging about 2 or 3 hours afterwards, obviously before anyone has had a chance to assess evidence, but that's not the point. The point is to instrumentalise our cynicism towards our own governments, to make us doubt the truth and this prevents any consensus for action building. It's very clever. Doesn't the fact that there are cries of "false flag!" after pretty much every event make you reflect on this? They can't all be false flags surely? I saw a Twitter thread yesterday that was documented the conspiracy theories about Douma - the writer had countered 13 so far. Obviously, they can't all be true so what is the purpose of having them in circulation? Who benefits? Obviously, the perpetrators. This popped up in my feed this morning. It's about who profits if you believe in these kinda narratives: https://medium.com/dfrlab/putinatwar-far-right-converges-on-false-flag-in-syria-2d94ff0a018e

When I say, it's hard to figure out what exactly going on, I was being imprecise (typing quickly between other things and Droid has "helpfully" pulled me up on it) - what I meant was I don't know what it's like to live as a citizen of Douma, under JaI, the FSA etc. I don't understand the micropolitics that exist at that level. What I do understand, and what I think is accessible to anyone who wants to put in a few hours of reading, is that the Assad regime is murdering it's own people on an horrific scale and the Douma gas attacks are simply a continuation of what they've been doing since 2011.
 
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DannyL

Wild Horses
If you want to educate yourself about Assad and what he's capable of, watch this. Take note of the interview with Assad at the end, and the routine, boilerplate denials. It does contain some harrowing footage, so brace yourself: https://vimeo.com/229981563

 

DannyL

Wild Horses
it's probably worth mentioning that you can of course, find people who'll deny the above. We are in post-truth times and people believe or deny on the basis not of evidence assessed, but its implications for their worldview (witness people bending over backwards to convince themselves that Corbyn is a "good man"). I try not to argue too much with people online for this reason. Dissensus has been remarkably free of this stuff so far. One up for old school messageboards.
 
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droid

Beast of Burden
Its entirely possibly, and likely this latest atrocity is the work of Assad or forces nominally under his control. There's also some possibility it wasnt that cant be entirely discounted.

The question is, other than lambasting Labour for issuing near identical statements of condemnation as those noted appeasers, the US & UK governments, what course of action is being proposed here?

Israel is taking the opportunity to widen their strikes against Iran at a time when their massacre of civilians in Gaza could spark retaliation from Lebanese Hezbollah forces. The Russians are already smarting from US airstrikes and sanctions and the Salisbury nerve attack which is being played as dirty propoganda (with some justification) in Russia. We have an already dangerous breakdown in cold war failsafes, communications and heightened tensions between Russia and the West - and look at the personnel involved, Trump, Bolton, Netanyahu, Putin, Assad, Macron... a cast of venal grotesques, macabre thugs and idiots.

How precisely do you think this will pan out if the conflict widens as the UN is already warning it could? This is an exceptionally dangerous situation.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
The statements aren't that same - Labour's only mentions Assad to imply equivalence between him and the alleged "jihadists". Every line of Labour's reeks. it's thoroughly disingenuous, the asking for a "full and independent investigation" is the worst kind of kicking the can down the road, and will ensure that Assad and his backers never face a single consequence for their actions. it also discounts the fact that the last UN investigation (which Corbyn called for) - surprise surprise - found that Assad used Sarin in Khan Sheikhoun. The Labour Party - or the cranks in charge currently - haven't acknowledged that.

There's also some possibility it wasnt that cant be entirely discounted.

This is nonsense and gives credence to false flag conspiracy bullshit. You're better than that, mate.

I agree with you it's a dangerous situation - I do know what I would like to happen and I know how unlikely it is. I'd like a policy with the protection of civilians from gas and conventional attacks at its centre, imposed. This could be done for instance causing minimal casualties with the imposition of a no fly zone with hitting military bases and installations if breached. This is kinda what happened with the strike against Shayrat airbase. In reality I think we'll get much more strum und drang than that but I won't be crying if Assad's airforce is permanently grounded. The real danger to civilians is from Russian planes but I doubt we'll see much action to stop them.
 
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