“The right to know is like the right to live. It is fundamental and unconditional in its assumption that knowledge, like life, is a desirable thing.” — George Bernard Shaw
Reuters and Ahmadinejad: Anatomy of a Dangerous ‘Misquote”
By News Vandal
September 27, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – Headlines are designed to grab the reader’s attention and pull ‘em in.
Today, Reuters rolled out a serious eye-grabber: In New York, defiant Ahmadinejad says Israel will be “eliminated”
Just sounds like par for the course when it comes to Iran’s dangerous doom-dealer, right?
Well, there is a bit of a problem. Read more: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32569.htm
A critique of
Can We Stop a Civil War in Syria?
By Phyllis Bennis
June 28, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — Syria is close to full-scale civil war. If the conflict escalates further, as former UN Secretary-General and current envoy of both the UN and the Arab League Kofi Annan noted, “Syria is not Libya, it will not implode; it will explode beyond its borders.”
The human cost of this conflict is incalculably high. It’s not surprising that the normal human reaction is “we’ve got to do something!” But what is needed is serious diplomacy – not an army or air force action. U.S./NATO military intervention didn’t bring stability, democracy or security to Libya, and it certainly is not going to do so in Syria.
Despite his government’s history of brutal repression, Bashar al-Assad still enjoys support from parts of Syria’s business elites, especially in Damascus and Aleppo, and some in minority communities (Christian, Shi’a, others) whom the regime had long cultivated. The opposition was divided from the beginning over whether massive reform or the end of the regime was their goal. It divided further when part of the opposition took up arms, and began calling for international military intervention. The non-violent opposition movement for freedom and democracy, which still rejects calls for military intervention, survives, but under extraordinary threat. Read more http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31720.htm#idc-cover
A brief critique.
Bennis draws the conclusion that war would be worse for Syrians as in Libya, however taken as a whole, her essay justifies war.
Below are just a few examples among many that show her bias and lack of even cursory research.
“Despite his government’s history of brutal repression.. . Certainly the regime has committed brutal atrocities against civilians, potentially including war crimes” Bennis does not deviate from the psy-ops script throughout her text. The last ‘brutal repression’ in Syria was 30 years ago.
2.”Bashar al-Assad still enjoys support from parts of Syria’s business elites, especially in Damascus and Aleppo, and some in minority communities (Christian, Shi’a, others)’ – She didn’t mention the other 50% of the population – women – who were very evident and scarfless in pro-Assad rallies and almost non-existent in rebel demos.
3.“It is increasingly difficult to confirm who may be responsible for each attack.” No it isn’t, not if she opened her eyes e.g. https://fitzhenrymac.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/hillary-clinton-pays-her-terrorists-to-massacre-in-houla/
4.“the Assad regimes – from father Hafez’s rise to power in 1970 through his son Bashar’s rule since 2000 – have always been ruthlessly secular.’ While the government is secular as is Britain, Australia, France etc who operate under the separation of powers, it is hardly ruthlessly secular when the constitution decrees the President has to be Moslem and religious freedom sacrosanct. Syria includes numerous versions of Christianity, Jews and even earlier spiritualism particularly amongst women.
5.”They (the US) would also prefer a less repressive government, since that brings protesters out into the streets, threatening instability.” Bennis is unbelievable. Is she that naïve. Clinton boasts of supporting the opposition with non-military aid (sic)precisely to cause instability.
6.‘The “CNN factor” –the relentless depiction of all-too-real heart-wrenching torment” – complete with disclaimers that they cannot be verified and often faked. https://fitzhenrymac.wordpress.com/images-that-lie-3/
7.‘The original non-violent opposition – broad and diverse, secular and faith-based.’- So broad-based that nobody turned up for their first day of rage. So diverse but only male Sunnis. Why didn’t she mention the millions of men and women who came out against the opposition? Hasn’t she heard of Wikipedia? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_2011%E2%80%932012_Syrian_uprising_(January%E2%80%93April_2011)
I could go on. There is hardly a statement in her text that cannot be disproved with a minute’s internet search.
This is a dangerous piece of work that will appeal to many people because it sounds reasonable and pushes the right buttons. “The human cost of this conflict is incalculably high. It’s not surprising that the normal human reaction is “we’ve got to do something!”” At the same time it demonises the Syrian government and president without providing any evidence. Propaganda.
WHEN THE WORDS DON’T MATCH THE IMAGE
Here we have an image of the twin car bomb blasts on May 11 2012, near two security centres in Damascus in which 55 people were killed and over 400 injured. Mostly they were civilians going to school and work.
The title and caption above the image is completely and deliberately misinformative’ (this is from a highly professional media outlet)
Protesters opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have faced violent responses from security forces.”
There was no protest. The people killed and injured were not protestors but children, women and workers on their way to school and work at peak hour on a major highway. The image shows a horrifically killed small person (perhaps a young teen) being carried from the scene by volunteers.
The bombings were not government crackdowns or violent responses from security forces, many of whom were killed and injured in the blasts as was considerable government real estate. They were terrorism of the civilian population.
The headline and caption bear no relationship to the image. Therefore, as professional media know that most people only look at the image and the headlines to form their opinions, this image and caption must be a deliberate attempt to ameliorate the actions of the rebels against civilians.
You could say they are trying to use the childish tu quoque fallacy. http://www.logicalfallacies.info/presumption/tu-quoque/
In a situation as serious as this, it is nothing but propaganda.
From Human Rights Watch,
Open Letter to the Leaders of the Syrian Opposition
Regarding Human Rights Abuses by Armed Opposition Members
March 20, 2012
We are writing to express our concern about increasing evidence, as described below, of kidnappings, the use of torture, and executions by armed Syrian opposition members and strongly urge you to work to ensure that all opposition members refrain from engaging in these unlawful practices.
Human Rights Watch has repeatedly documented and condemned widespread violations by Syrian government security forces and officials, including disappearances, use of torture and forced televised confessions, arbitrary detentions, indiscriminate shelling of neighborhoods, and deaths in custody under torture. Now, in the face of evidence of human rights abuses by armed opposition members, Human Rights Watch calls on the leadership of leading opposition groups including the Syrian National Council (SNC) and its Military Bureau to condemn such practices by the armed opposition and to work to prevent such unlawful practices.
While the protest movement in Syria was overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011, since then Human Rights Watch has documented apparent crimes and other abuses committed by armed opposition elements. These crimes and abuses include the kidnapping and detention of security force members, individuals identified as members of government-supported militias (referred to locally as shabeeha), and individuals identified as government allies or supporters. They also include the use of torture and the execution of security force members and civilians. Some of the attacks targeting Shias and Alawites appear to be motivated by sectarianism.
Abuses of this nature, including torture, taking of hostages, and executions by armed opposition members, have also been documented by the UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry in its February 2012 report. In addition to concluding that armed members of the opposition have committed gross human rights abuses, the Commission’s report also references and appends documentation received from the Syrian government indicating that armed opposition members have kidnapped, killed, and disappeared civilians and security force members and displaced civilians.
We recognize that the perpetrators of these abuses are not always easy to identify nor do they necessarily belong to an organized command structure that follows the orders of the SNC or other opposition groups. Some reports received by Human Rights Watch indicate that in addition to armed groups with political motivations, criminal gangs, sometimes operating in the name of the opposition, may be carrying out some of these crimes.
Following the creation of the SNC Military Bureau on March 1, 2012, to liaise with, unify, and supervise armed opposition groups including the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Human Rights Watch calls on the Bureau to condemn and forbid these abuses in order to achieve its objective of ensuring members of the armed opposition comply with international humanitarian law and to meet its human rights obligations. Human Rights Watch also calls on members of the armed opposition that are not under the operational command of the SNC to desist from committing these rights abuses.
A number of witnesses have told Human Rights Watch that non-state armed groups identifying themselves with the opposition have kidnapped both civilians and members of the security forces. “Marwan,” an Alawite resident of Karam el Zeitoun,Homs, told Human Rights Watch that on January 23 an armed gang entered his neighborhood and kidnapped his elderly parents from their home. He said,
When the armed gang went into the house, my father called me on the phone, but they grabbed the phone from him. I tried to call back and couldn’t reach him, so I called a neighbor, who told me they took my father and mother, put them in a car, and went south. The head of the gang, known as Abees, called me the next day. He told me they had my parents and asked for money and weapons as ransom. He told me my father was okay and was with them. I said I would give him what he wanted, but that he had to let me hear my father’s voice. I spoke with him, and he noticed I was crying. He said: “Don’t cry. Don’t be afraid. I am not afraid. This is what God has written.” My father had the Quran as his weapon. He said, “Don’t worry and don’t listen to them.” After that they cut the line. I tried calling back a number of times but the phone was closed. The next day I kept trying; Abees answered and was swearing. He said to stop calling, and that they had killed my parents. After that we saw a video on YouTube showing their dead bodies. We have not received the bodies back despite numerous pleas. They took them because they want money. Myself, I am a supporter of the government, but this is a sectarian crime, and it has to do with money. My father had nothing to do with the government.
“Mazen,” a Syrian activist, told Human Rights Watch that members of the Abu Issa group in Taftanaz, a village north of Saraqeb, Idlib, told him that they had kidnapped individuals who worked with the government and tortured three of them to death.
“Samih,” another Syrian activist who said he has worked closely with the FSA in Saraqeb, told Human Rights Watch that while he was there he saw residents of Sarqeb complain to the FSA on more than one occasion that the Al-Nur battalion, a Salafist group that is not part of the official FSA structure, was kidnapping civilians for ransom. He said, “The people in Saraqeb were fed up with the battalion for doing this and that they asked the FSA to intervene” and that “Sometimes people would come to me when this happened and I would talk to members of the FSA on their behalf or I would direct them to local FSA leaders.”
“Samih” also told Human Rights Watch that members of the FSA were kidnapping soldiers:
They would kidnap them and ask their parents to pay a ransom to let them go. One time, the FSA in Saraqeb kidnapped a colonel from the Presidential Guard. In return, the military kidnapped two children from Saraqeb. The children were 15 and 16 years old. I was working with the FSA members and local government officials to negotiate a trade. At one point, the family members of the two kids called me pleading that I speed up the negotiations as much as possible. They said that they got a call at home from the captors and that they could hear their kids being tortured. They told them their kids would be released when the FSA released the colonel. We were able to negotiate a trade for the colonel and the kids have now been released.
“Mazen” said he spoke to a member of the Syrian security forces who was kidnapped and detained by opposition fighters in Saraqeb. He said,
The detainee told me he was a First Assistant in theNationalHospitalinAleppo… I asked the revolutionaries to bring him to me so I could speak to him. He said that opposition fighters had beaten him with electrical cables and on the head… and he was blindfolded. He said they let him speak to his parents…and that they asked them for money to release him.
The media coordinator for another FSA group operating in Homs, Al Farouq batallion, told Human Rights Watch that the battalion is not kidnapping soldiers but detaining them during military operations. He said,
We are not kidnapping soldiers. During an armed confrontation, soldiers surrounded by the FSA are surrendering themselves to the Al-Farouq battalion, so we are capturing and not kidnapping the soldiers. After capturing the soldiers, the FSA calls the government to negotiate the terms of their release but they refuse to negotiate simply because they don’t care about the captured soldiers. The captives are placed in a room not a prison. The room has one door with a lock, but no windows. The Al-Farouq battalion is treating them very well.
In addition, Human Rights Watch is deeply concerned about the FSA kidnappings of Iranian nationals, some of whom the FSA has confirmed are civilians. On January 26 the FSA Al Farouq battalion claimed responsibility for capturing seven Iranian nationals, five of whom they allege are members of the Iranian armed forces. In an interview on February 22, 2012, with Human Rights Watch, the Al-Farouq battalion media coordinator explained that the other two individuals detained are civilians but that they were detained at the point of capture because a Persian speaker was unavailable to confirm this until later. When asked why the detainees identified as civilians had not yet been released, he would not comment.
In tandem with its announcement of their capture, the battalion released video footage of the five detainees that they identified as members of the Iranian armed forces. In the video, one of the captives, Sajjad Amirian, explains that the five were following orders from Syrian security forces to shoot at civilians. On January 27 Syrian state media, SANA, reported that Iran’s MAPNA Group, an Iranian power company in Syria, said that the on camera statements were made under duress and untrue, and that the five individuals were in fact Iranian engineers. In an interview with Iranian state-owned Press TV, one of the detainee’s family members, Mehdi Sohrabi, spoke out against their detention, insisting that they are all engineers. The Islamic Republic News Agency reported that all seven men were released on February 10, but on February 15 indicated that the report was false and that the men remained in custody. The Al-Farouq battalion media coordinator told Human Rights Watch on March 16 that the seven detainees were still being held inSyria and that they were in good health.
According to media reports on February 1, members of the FSA also kidnapped 11 Iranian nationals traveling to Damascus on a pilgrimage tour, claiming that they had connections to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The FSA Abu el Fida battalion announced their release on February 6 following Turkish mediation efforts. An additional 11 Iranian pilgrims reportedly kidnapped on January 26 are still believed to be detained.
Human Rights Watch has reviewed at least 25 videos on YouTube in which Syrian security forces or their alleged supporters are filmed confessing to crimes under circumstances in which it appears that their statements were made under duress. At least 18 of these videos show footage of detained individuals who are bruised, bleeding, or show other signs of physical abuse.
In one video, three individuals described by the accompanying text as shabeeha are asked what their names are, where they are from, their religion, and what they are doing in Tal Kalakh. In the video they are shown on their knees during this interrogation, their hands bound. The face of one is clearly badly bruised. They all identify themselves as Shia, from el Rabwie,Homs, and “confess” that they were killing peaceful protesters.
In another video bearing the emblem of the FSA Khaled Bin Al Walid battalion, an unnamed individual described by the accompanying text as a shabeeha member is interrogated. He appears bound and his face is bruised. At the end of the video, he denies an allegation against him and the interrogator calls him a liar, tells the videographer to stop shooting, and directs someone off camera to bring him the “electricity machine”.
All individuals in the custody of the FSA and other opposition forces, including members of the Syrian security forces and shabeeha, should be treated humanely in accordance with international human rights standards.
Other video footage reviewed by Human Rights Watch and information received in interviews indicates that members of the FSA have executed individuals suspected of crimes against the opposition in their custody.
One video, released on YouTube on February 4, shows an individual hung from a tree by his neck in front of several armed fighters. Commentary indicates that he is a shabeeha fighter captured and executed by the FSA Kafr Takharim battalion on January 22, 2012. In a second video, which appears to have been released by the FSA Al Farouq battalion on YouTube, an individual identified as a member of Air Force Intelligence based in Homs is interrogated and confesses to shooting at protesters. The detainee’s face is very badly beaten, cut, and bruised, and he appears disoriented. Written statements accompanying the video state that it was filmed before his execution, and the interrogator in the video, amidst curses, asks him for his final request before dying.
In a separate incident, the Al Farouq battalion media coordinator told Human Rights Watch about the execution of an Air Force Intelligence member. He said, “The death of the member of the Air Force Intelligence was an act of revenge because the branch is responsible for horrific killings in Homs.”
In light of these reports, we strongly urge you to publicly condemn kidnappings, the use of torture, and executions by armed Syrian opposition members and to work to ensure that all opposition members do not engage in these unlawful practices.
Sarah Leah Whitson
Middle East & North Africa division
Some points I take issue with:
Looking at the Human Rights Watch letter addressed not to the UN but to the leaders of the Syrian opposition, their bias is still evident. They begin the paragraph exposing the rebels by having a concerted and predictable dig at the Syrian government using the same unverified script as in every western media. “Human Rights Watch has repeatedly documented and condemned widespread violations by Syrian government security forces and officials, including disappearances, use of torture and forced televised confessions, arbitrary detentions, indiscriminate shelling of neighborhoods, and deaths in custody under torture.” I particularly take issue with the point of indiscriminate shelling of neighbourhoods because even the rebels showing the damage around cities, showed only small arm and RPG damage. Tank shells are on a whole different scale. If there had been much actual shelling, the rebels would certainly have had the damage blasted over you tube within minutes. I fact they went to some length to fake tank attacks. The words “arbitrary detentions” in their letter is facetious; what country wouldn’t detain rebels running around with guns, RPGs, bombs and tanks and who boast on you tube about executing civilians who support the government?
HRW states that “the protest movement in Syria was overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011” This is untrue with rebel torture, sniping and violence evident on you tube the whole time. Here’s a particularly bloody compilation that CNN waited six months to show. HRW mentions part of this video later in the letter but gives the date CNN used it not the date the incident actually happened on. http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2012/03/21/pkg-damon-syria-opposition-abuses.cnn
HRW mentions rebel murder and torture of government supporters but does not mention tactical murders and sniping, particularly of young boys; designed to stir up fear of the government and sectarian violence. They then prevaricate with “Some reports received by Human Rights Watch indicate that in addition to armed groups with political motivations, criminal gangs, sometimes operating in the name of the opposition, may be carrying out some of these crimes.” thus preserving the myth that the rebels are noble and peaceful agents for change.
Human Rights watch also does not mention the systematic falsification of video images of alleged protests, government actions and rebel activity. Nor does it mention any of the You Tube videos where rebels admit to this falsification and to torture, executions and lies, such as in http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/27/syrian-rebels-caught-embellishing-on-tape.html and http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30943.htm
What does Human Rights Watch stand to gain from this letter? The rebels will certainly ignore it and adapt their propaganda war to take into account the points it raised, just as they adapted their You Tube videos when there fabrications became too obvious. The letter gives the rebels a varnish of a much-put-upon opposition responding in kind. It also suggests that criminal gangs are responsible for kidnappings and extortion under the banner of the rebels. Not once does it admit, as even rebels and the relevant governments have, that this so-called peaceful opposition are armed gangs, supported, armed and trained by The US, France, Turkey and several arab countries for the purpose of change of government.
UN Security Council Resolution, Syria
The UN Security Council adopted this resolution concerning Syria on March 21, 2012.
“The Security Council recalls its Presidential Statement of 3 August 2011 and its Press Statement of 1 March 2012.
“The Security Council expresses its gravest concern at the deteriorating situation in Syria which has resulted in a serious human rights crisis and a deplorable humanitarian situation. The Security Council expresses its profound regret at the death of many thousands of people in Syria.
“The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.
“The Security Council welcomes the appointment of Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan, following the General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/253 of 16 February 2012 and relevant resolutions of the League of Arab States.
“The Security Council expresses its full support for the efforts of the Envoy to bring an immediate end to all violence and human rights violations, secure humanitarian access, and facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs, including through commencing a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition.
“To this aim, the Security Council fully supports the initial six-point proposal submitted to the Syrian authorities, as outlined by the Envoy to the Security Council on 16 March 2012, to:
1) commit to work with the Envoy in an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people, and, to this end, commit to appoint an empowered interlocutor when invited to do so by the Envoy;
2) commit to stop the fighting and achieve urgently an effective United Nations supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians and stabilise the country.
To this end, the Syrian government should immediately cease troop movements towards, and end the use of heavy weapons in, population centres, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centres.
As these actions are being taken on the ground, the Syrian government should work with the Envoy to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism.
Similar commitments would be sought by the Envoy from the opposition and all relevant elements to stop the fighting and work with him to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism;
3) ensure timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and to this end, as immediate steps, to accept and implement a daily two hour humanitarian pause and to coordinate exact time and modalities of the daily pause through an efficient mechanism, including at local level.
4) intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities, provide without delay through appropriate channels a list of all places in which such persons are being detained, immediately begin organising access to such locations and through appropriate channels respond promptly to all written requests for information, access or release regarding such persons;
5) ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them;
6) respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed.
“The Security Council calls upon the Syrian government and opposition to work in good faith with the Envoy towards a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis and to implement fully and immediately his initial six-point proposal.
“The Security Council requests the Envoy to update the Council regularly and in a timely manner on the progress of his mission. In the light of these reports, the Security Council will consider further steps as appropriate.”
* * * * *
Some points I take issue with:
“. . . .facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system”
The Syrians have already democratically chosen their own path at the referendum. So-called democratic pluralist governments such as Washington are proving far from ideal.
“1. . .to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people”
So the aspirations of a few hundred agitators (many of whom are not Syrian citizens) are more important than the millions of people who voted with their feet against the insurgents.
“2. commit to stop the fighting and achieve urgently an effective United Nations supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms”
I notice that this demand specifies the Syrian army as if they are fighting all by themselves. Considering the number of utube videos taken by the rebels of themselves shooting, laying mines, making bombs, this resolution is patently unfair. Does it also mean that the UN will step in militarily? It seems to be saying so.
“3) ensure timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and to this end, as immediate steps, to accept and implement a daily two hour humanitarian pause and to coordinate exact time and modalities of the daily pause through an efficient mechanism, including at local level.”
This contradicts the demand for a ceasefire above. Or is it just the Syrian government that’s expected to stop and the rebels can keep terrorising the population?
“4) intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities, . . . “
Does this mean that all rebels are arbitrarily detained not just peaceful protestors? I expect that people running around with guns and bombs and who actively promote violence and insurrection would be legally detained in any country. Do the vulnerable categories include the young boys that are so evident on the videos carrying weapons and yelling for the death of Assad. Encouraging young boys to take part is one of the most concerning issues of the insurrection.
“5) ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them”
After the example of Libya ,where several journalists admitted being operatives for the CIA, after seeing journalists entering Syria with the rebels and Al Jazeera journalists resigning because of bias by their news media, not only have some amply demonstrated their bias but also their propensity to act as spies. I would like to see how a pro-Iranian journalist was treated if they tried to enter the US and Britain. Each journalist should receive a visa depending on their personal history as independent reporters.
“6) respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed.”
A right that is not legally guaranteed in Britain, Australia and the USA. In Australia, all demonstrations require a police permit and a meeting of three or more people is illegal -however the law is usually only applied to unionists.
China and Russia have made a mistake signing this.