This is my response to the question I received this morning which asked me to explain what is going on in Syria.
Syria is a small country nestled in the Middle East. It is bordered by Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq and Jordon. Syria has been in a massive civil conflict that has been raging for +2 years now.
On August 21 chemical weapons were unleashed in an attack outside Demascus. This is the capital of Syria and also one of the oldest cities in the world. These chemicals killed a great deal of Syrian civilians, many of which were women and children.
The Obama administration has accused the Syrian president, Basher Assad, of using the chemical warfare. The government of Syria, led by Assad, has denied any role in this and has said that the opposition forces are to blame. The ones they are fighting AGAINST in their* civil war. This is where things get tricky. The rebel group (also known as Al Qaeda) that is being blamed by the Syrian government are actually backed and funded by the United States and its other allies which include Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Syria (led by their President Assad) have very powerful allies as well - including Russia and Iran.
So the Obama admin. has repeatedly insisted that they have absolute, undeniable proof that the Assad government is indeed to blame for the chemical use on civilians - but nothing has been shown to the public. Nothing at all.
In 2003 America invaded Iraq because there was ‘overwhelming evidence of weapons of mass destruction’ … Thousands upon thousands of innocent people were killed over many years - and then in the end, there were never any weapons of mass destruction found. So many believe (myself included) that there is really no logical reason to trust the US governments version of what actually happened on Syria, ESPECIALLY without any proof at all. If it were so absolute and definite - why not present it to the world? Especially when people ALL OVER the globe are up in arms and fuming over the thought of an American attack on yet another country.
Protests were held in cities all over the world speaking out against any attack on Syria. London, Paris, Istanbul, New York, Los Angeles, and TONS more. Google it. You will find photos of all sorts of people —- black/white, yellow/ purple/orange/ polka dotted, young/old, rich/poor, American/immigrant — all holding signs and flags and speaking out against US military intervention in Syria. ‘Yeah America! Bomb Syria’ saaaaid no intelligent person ever. If we do attack Syria, Iran will step in to defend them. They will then take a go at Israel. Russia and China say no go to US strikes as well so that basically puts us at the early stages of World War III. This is not some outlandish hypothesis, this is how wars start. Wake up people!
We do not have the right, we are not the world police, we do not need to send our soldiers into a death zone without actual reason because no one is threatening us or attacking us, we do not have the money (we are already trillions in debt, half the country is on welfare and a ton of others are working shitty jobs to make ends meet because degrees mean practically nothing now).. Not to mention we do not remotely have our own country in order - we do not need to go into other counties and start interfering. Congressmen have come forward to the press and revealed countless photographs sent in from US Army men who are shielding their faces in fear - they are holding signs saying they do not support going to war in Syria and that they did not join the US Army to fight another country’s war.
Bombing another country in the Middle East is not going to bring anything positive to the people who call it home. It will only bring death to the doorstep of more families. People have been fighting in the Middle East for thousands of years literally. It does not make the chemical attacks any less real or less tragic, it is just not a justifiable reason to go kill MORE civilians and that is what bombs do. There is no such thing as a humanitarian attack. It doesn’t make sense. A humanitarian action could be something HUMANE like medical aid, or food and water - absolutely not missiles. Only more people will die and the people are already suffering in ways we literally cannot even imagine.
I am American and I truly love my country. That does not mean I support another unjust war. There is no proof and we have been lied to before (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, NSA to name a few). US attack on Syria is not supported by the UN (United Nations). It has not been supported by Congress. England, Russia, Iran and a fuck ton of other world powers say no too. A BBC poll conducted on 9/2 showed that ¾ of the UK population support Parliaments decision to reject military intervention in Syria.
Just think what it must feel like for the people of Syria - when the whole world is watching and waiting to see on the news if the US has started bombing. And they are laying their heads on their pillows at night and waiting to see if they wake up or not. This is such a fucked up head game for those people, it is absolute torture on a daily basis!
On eve of 9/11 President Obama will announce a new U.S. war of aggression. We must mobilize to oppose this new war for oil and corporate profit. Emergency response actions are urgently needed.
Obama will lie tonight just like Bush and Colin Powell lied in 2003 and Lyndon Johnson did in 1964. He will tell us how terrible ISIS is, how barbaric. He will announce a new “Coalition of the Willing”. He is using the Big Lie to launch another war.
But ISIS is not the “reason” the U.S. is going to war. ISIS is the PRETEXT. It is the latest of a string of pretexts from the Maine in 1898 to Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 to “weapons of mass destruction” in 2003, pretexts/lies to maintain an empire.
ISIS is barbaric? It is the Pentagon that is barbaric. What are more barbaric than U.S. bombs in Syria and Iraq? U.S. drones wipe out whole wedding parties from Pakistan to Yemen, slaughtering men, women and yes, children.
It was U.S. war and occupation that killed more than a million Iraqis and destroyed that country. It was U.S. arms that fed Syria’s civil war, killing hundreds of thousands and half-destroying that country. Now Obama wants to destroy the other half.
ISIS grew from the poison of U.S. wars, arms and the cynical policy of enflaming sectarian divisions. Stop the Pentagon from waging war on the people and the people there will take care of ISIS. Continuing to wage war will arouse a billion people against the U.S. and its war machine.
The Bush “War on Terror” militarized every police force in the U.S. targeting people of color. The prison population soared. It globalized invasive surveillance and locked thousands in secret detention and solitary confinement. Now Obama promises a new “war on terror” reaching years into the future. We say NO!
The Climate Change march on Sept 21 must address this new war. It is the worst enemy of the climate and our future. The Pentagon is the greatest polluter on the planet and the greatest purveyor of violence.
Xican@s against occupation! We printed some posters together at First Friday in Oakland tonight. Thanks for hanging out @thisisaprilsfist and @muertealpoder it was fun. #handsoffsyria #endalloccupations (at Stork Club)
“I really think the troops posting the picture saying "I didn’t join the army to fight for Al Qaeda in a Syrian civil war” are right wingers! They probably listen to Glenn Beck and think Obama is about to reestablish the caliphate! LMAO They are NOT making an antiwar statement! There is no denouncing US imperialism, no talking about the tragedy US interventions bring people in countries it invades!
Why someone is against US foreign policy matters! A ) A person who is against imperialism, who realizes the horrible atrocities committed by imperialist scum! Who understands there is no such a thing as humanitarian intervention and that a nation where 1 in 5 of its kids go hungry isn’t a nation interested in the well being of anyone! B ) A person who is a paranoid libertarian obsessed with the federal reserve! Who cares more about their tax dollars than about the lives of human beings. Who denounces “tyranny” while upholding Thomas Jefferson as a hero! C ) A Euro fascist obsessed with conspires about Jewish people controlling the world. Hates Arabs and assaults Arabs in the streets of Paris and Brussels but then pretends to care about the plight of Palestinians. Goes on about how US wars are for Zionism, refuses to talk about their country’s complicity in US wars. D ) A right wing freak who normally gets hard at the thought of war but pretends to be against Obama’s wars because they just can’t come terms with their president not being white. E ) A neo fascist who hates the US simply because they wish it was their country that was the super power. Considers anyone not in their ethnic and religious group inferior….
All these people may be against an attack on Syria but are against it for drastically different reasons! And those reasons matter!“
Khalid is from Darayya, a rebel-held city on the outskirts of Damascus. He spoke about his work on the Local Administration Council, a committee that has built a new civic order in a city that now runs itself, without the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Darayya is different from the rest of the cities in Syria. In no other city are the armed groups reporting to civilian command. In other places both the civilians and armed groups compete, and there are conflicts between them – for example, in Douma.
The Local Council in Darayaa was formed when we realized we needed to serve the city and replace the state [whose influence] was now gone from the area. The groups that cleaned the streets, the hospitals, all of these services had disappeared, so we wanted to replace them. The Local Council started working to clean the city. We also worked with the armed groups: we decided that armed resistance to the regime should be organized and should report to one civilian person in the council.
We were able to organize all of the brigades under one [umbrella], called the Brigade of the Martyrs of Darayya, and organized a local council to have control over the armed groups.
But we haven’t been able to live in peace for long, because fighting has come back to the city. The regime keeps attacking Darayya because it is in a very strategic position: you can see the presidential palace, you can see the Meze Military Airport, the Daraa highway and the Kafr Sousa neighborhood that is home to the President’s cabinet.
Starting a Local Newspaper
In the beginning of 2012 we started our own newspaper – Enab Baladi, or “Local Grapes.” We felt our country deserved more than just the three newspapers that the regime ran, or a few state TV channels.
Courtesy of Demotix
Young people have a peaceful mentality in our city. We wanted to be an alternative to the regime. We realized that to defeat this regime you cannot just defeat it on the battlefield; you must defeat it in society, and this is why we wanted a media pulpit not just to talk about the revolution but also economics, our history, society and other educational things.
When the newspaper began it was published online and in print. We started printing it out on Saturday night and handing it out to people on Sunday morning. When we could and things were safe, we would print 400-600 copies. The biggest number we printed was 800.
The newspaper has opinion columns, politics columns. We remind people of those who are detained in jail, 2,000 of whom are from this city, some of whom have been [detained] for two and a half years. We have our own page on how to teach people how to hide their tracks on Facebook. We have entertainment sections.
We gained the experience in how to start a newspaper through people who knew enough to help start such a project. We also spoke through Skype and took online journalism classes on how to write articles from people outside the country. Many of our youths went to Lebanon and Turkey and learned how to write articles and teach themselves.
Teaching the Laws of War
I am a founding member of the local council of Darayya and a member of the legal office; I was a member of the office that holds the Free Syrian Army to account for their mistakes. I was given the opportunity to learn the laws of war from working with nongovernmental organizations in Lebanon. We went back to Darayya to see if we could teach these laws of war to the Free Syrian Army so that they could fight, but comply with the 15 principles of the laws of war with regards to dealing with civilians.
We have begun a new initiative, called “a fighter and not a murderer.” This is an educational initiative to teach the Free Syrian Army how to abide by the laws of war and to implement them on the ground. We are giving training sessions to the soldiers to teach them the laws of war.
We tell them that the laws of war are fully compatible with Islam and and also exist in the Quran. To convince them we are trying to locate the verse in the Quran that applies to each of the laws of war in the Geneva Conventions. We also tell them that there is an international court for war crimes after the war is over. If you commit war crimes, it will punish you just as it will punish Bashar al-Assad.
We tell them you have to be a fighter and not a murderer. The difference between the two words in Arabic is one letter – “m” [the word for Arabic fighter is muqatil, the word for killer is qatil] – but the difference is huge. Fighting with military honor and with the honor of a soldier for a just cause is different. If you kill a woman or an old person, then you turn into a murderer.
Everyone in the Free Syrian Army accepted the idea of learning and implementing the laws of war but two brigades: Islamic State of Iraq and Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra. We could not talk to them because it is dangerous to do so. In every brigade there is one person that is responsible for talking to us about this; just like every brigade has a member who talks to media, we asked for someone to be responsible for the laws of war.
Coming Together to Clean the Streets
After the Darayya massacre, the state disappeared from Darayya. The city became very dirty. We started a campaign in August 2012 during Ramadan.
We made a rule that every day after the Asr [afternoon] prayer we would get together in front of the mosque and give out cleaning supplies; people would donate their cleaning supplies to us. Activism came to every part of the city. Any time we came to clean a neighborhood, people would come out from the neighborhood and help us. We wanted to make sure everyone in the city was active.
We began to have a major problem with theft and realized the importance of protecting [private] property. People would say they wanted to go back to their homes to get something, but often came back with things that were not theirs. It’s one thing to go back and get something you forgot, and another to come out with a big television.
We realized we had to protect private property from theft. We put up flyers up all around the city, and for those who have internet access we made sure to post this on the council’s Facebook page, which has a lot of followers from the city. We were able to stop many thieves. We caught a thief trying to steal from a church.
One of the biggest arguments against further U.S. support of the Syrian opposition is that “the rebels are terrorists aligned with al Qaeda.”
It is a claim Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made over and over during the 29-month conflict.
But the notion that the Syrian opposition is dominated by al Qaeda is a myth.
“They have a presence, and they’ve captured some territory. But [al Qaeda fighters are] in the minority,“ Major Issam Rayyes, a former Syrian Army communications officer who defected in June 2012 and now serves the Free Syrian Army (FSA), told The Weekly Standard. "Congress is making a mistake in thinking the opposition is al Qaeda.”
Liz O'Bagy, an Institute of The Study for War researcher who made trips to various parts of Syria in the last year, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that ”the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al Qaeda die-hards.“
O'Bagy’s post has been criticized for her links to "moderate” rebels — which O'Bagy defines as those who have respected women’s and minority rights while calling for a civilian government — nevertheless, jihadist experts agree that the fear of an “al Qaeda takeover” is exaggerated.
“Rebel units are distributed across a broad ideological spectrum, with secular units at one pole and Salafi jihadists at the other, and most falling between the two,” according to a new report by experts Jeffrey White, Andrew J. Tabler, and Aaron Y. Zelin of The Washington Institute. “A major differentiation among Islamic units is between those that are Islamic with a national or Syrian agenda and those with a global jihadist mission.”
The Institute of the Study of War
Zelin estimates that there are 5,000 to 10,000 fighters comprise Nusra, which wants to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the country’s north.
O'Bagy estimates that supporters of Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS — the two main al Qaeda-linked groups — probably involve about 5,000 to 7,000 fighters while the number of rebels participating in offensive operations is about 80-100,000 rebels.
So a subset of Syrian rebels are certainly linked to al Qaeda, but terrorists make up about 10% to 20% of the opposition.
Two stories, one from an FSA fighter and one from an ISIS fighter, shed light on why the Syrian rebel picture isso complex.
Maher is “a member of Liwa al-Islam, the strongest rebel brigade in Damascus province, which counts both the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the jihadist Jabhat al-Nusra as allies.”
A former university student, Maher joined Liwa al-Islam after he beat a security officer unconscious for beating up a woman and the security forces subsequently raided the office he shared with other Damascus activists.
The goals of Liwa al-Islam are the same [as those of the FSA]: to remove the current government and create an alternative that would be formed by the people who have been working for it most effectively on the ground. Most of these people identify as Muslims.
… the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria does not exist on the ground as it does in the media. They are concentrated in the north, where you often have foreign fighters entering from outside Syria. In Damascus and its suburbs where I am, they are practically nonexistent.
Farhan al-Juma is “a fighter with the al Qaeda-backed group the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)” because he because he thinks that they are the most effective fighting force for the time being.
“As a battalion, we support ISIS, but we haven’t pledged allegiance. Once Syria is free we are able to walk away,” al-Juma told Syria Deeply. “It is up to each fighter whether they will be loyal to ISIS or not.”
Palmyra one of the oldest cities in the world founded in 2000BC located in Homs Suburbs is now under attack by the hundreds from ISIS terrorists. Until now 36 civilians are dead in a massacre ISIS committed in the villages surrounding Palmyra in an attempt to concur the city and destroy and sell its ancient artifacts that are thousands of years old. The Syrian Army is now engaging in one of most fierce battles defending Syria’s History and trying to free the city and the people trapped in areas that ISIS took over it.
The Syrian directorate of Antiquities and Museums : Palmyra is an archaeological global city and the international community has a responsibility to keep its artifacts in Palmyra where it belongs and defend it against ISIS.
But since the Syrian government has been warning for days now that ISIS is trying to take over Palmyra and the international community as usual did nothing so the The Syrian directorate of Antiquities and Museums just announced an hour ago that: The Syrian Army and the people of Palmyra are defending the historical , Archaeological and humanitarian position of this city with their own lives on the behalf of the silent world!
Palmyra will not fall. ISIS will try to wipe out and sell our history but we will remain!
Al Rahiba, #Damascus: Ahmed Al Hamuk and his sister Dima, killed in regime bombardment of Al Rahiba on Sunday September 1st, 2013 are two more of the thousands of child victims of Assad’s war on Syria.
Since they were killed in regime bombardment with conventional weapons, however, their deaths and those of 100,000 other innocents are apparently not considered a ‘moral obscenity’ by the world’s leaders, the international community’ and indeed the selective 'anti-war’ protesters and 'anti-interventionists’ who have no objection to Assad’s war on the Syrian people or to the Russian and Iranian intervention that enables and allows his genocide to continue.