Attempts by Third World leaders to establish independent control of their economies, in preference to their economies being used as spheres of profit-accumulation for the sole direct benefit of foreign investors, is almost invariably met by the opposition of investor-dominated foreign governments.” Stephen Gowans
Adrift on an uncharted ocean we call Life, humans seem drawn to the illusion of certainty like wasps to an open jam jar. God is good! … I think so I am! … Brexit will be dandy/a disaster! … Bashar al-Assad is a Demon/a Saint! … Kurds Good, everyone else Baad!
A self proclaimed spiritual teacher I turned to for life guidance – and still do, since the truths he spoke remain untainted by his own failure to walk the talk – said often that the path of spiritual inquiry is a journey from thinking we know to knowing we don’t. Which is flat out comical when pretty much the first thing you encounter on the spiritual scene is a bunch of know-alls trying to pass off as humble.
Not all, to be sure, but way too many. Me, I never did like the word ‘spiritual’ – too many insipid or downright daft connotations – but substitute ‘existential’ and the proposition works fine.
I don’t mean we fear not knowing per se – only when we are desperate to know. In the context of Syria some are happy with not knowing but it soon becomes clear why. They don’t care, and when we’ve ceased to care the tension of wanting to know, while realising we can’t, disperses like a mild headache after codeine.
That’s what makes cynicism in all its forms attractive. It’s the opium of the intelligentsia.
But I’m talking Syria, not psychology.
Most folk are brainwashed – sorry, no other term will do – into accepting a ludicrous narrative on this unfortunate nation, recipient of imperialism’s wrath for reasons I’ve gone into many times and will do so again in a moment.
When we couple that inability to bear not knowing with another human attribute, laziness, it’s not hard to grasp why we like binary narratives. We want our good guys good, our bad guys bad, and ne’er the twain shall mix. Bob Dylan had a point. On Desolation Row, his metaphor for the human condition, everyone is shouting, which side are you on?
And once we’ve raised our flag on what it pleases us to call The Truth, comfort floods in, if only the bleak comfort of “It’s All Shite”. Like a cornered beast we’ll go for anyone threatening that comfort, however logical and evidence based their approach.
The more so given another very human attribute, ego. Once I’ve raised my flag on The Truth, challenge it and you challenge me.
I just might have to take you out.
I’ll get to the Kurds shortly. First let me set out my take on Syria’s ordeal, in light of the above – and the facts that (a) our best knowledge about anything is necessarily provisional; (b) access to facts in this crime scene of a country is limited by on-the-ground realities, and by the tight fit of market-driven media agendas with those of Wall Street and Western imperialism.
In a July post on Israel, I wrote:
First, [imperialism must] install privileged groupings, beholden to the distant power, in those nations whose resources are plundered. Hence a Shah of Iran or King Hussein of Jordan, loathed by the peoples on whom they’d been foisted. Hence puppet monarchs in Egypt prior to Nasser, in Libya prior to Gaddafi and in Iraq prior to Saddam. Hence too the House of Saud.
Second, divide-and-rule, always of the essence, is all the more so in a Middle East whose most numerous people, Arabs, should they transcend their differences, could control the gateway to the East and the world’s greatest concentrations of its key commodity. Such a coming together is to be averted by all available means.
For instance by doing as Britain and France did, and carving the Arab world into artificial states as WW1 synchronised the fall of the Ottoman Empire with the rising importance of oil – which is why on the one hand Nasser’s pan-Arabism, on the other Ba’athist Iraq and Syria, had to be crushed with help from Israel and, in Syria’s case, ‘moderate Islamists’.
Or by favouring minorities – Kurd, Alawite, Druze, Maronite – much as a gerrymandered Six County statelet played the orange card whenever Protestant and Catholic workers found common cause in Belfast’s linen mills and shipyards.
Or by recognising that of the three currents – Arab socialism, communism and Islamism – vying for hearts and minds on the Arab Street, only that last lends itself, albeit with attendant risks, to co-option by imperial designs.
That is from my review of a book arguing that Israel offers the West a beachhead from which to control the middle east. I’ll return to this idea. I see it as highly germane to our being primed to view the Kurds in a particular way.
But back to Syria, a state created by European powers – as had been Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and so many other Arab entities for the divide-and-rule reason given. In this context the importance of Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein can hardly be overstated, likewise the necessity of his humiliation by Israel and the West in the years from Suez 1956 to the Six Day War of 1967.
Nasser’s pan-Arabism inspired not just his own generation of Arabs but, even more important, the next one. Though his reining in – a fatal heart attack at fifty-two merely the coup de grace – was arguably a crueler end even than Saddam’s and Gaddafi’s, he fired future Arab leaders just as Simón Bolivar had fired Latin America’s anti-colonialists of the nineteenth century, and anti-imperialists of the twentieth and twenty-first. Among that next crop of leaders were Muammar al-Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Hafez al-Assad.
The common denominator? Ba’athism, which we can here read as Arab socialism. All sought to negotiate for their states, in the context of cold war and imperialism, a degree of protection by the USSR while insisting on a uniquely Arab path. To this end they rejected both marx-leninism and, with tragically less success, the ‘free market’ ideology of Western powers as advanced by IMF, WTO and World Bank.
And where those agencies didn’t do the trick, by lethal sanctions and force of arms under cover of humanitarianism.
Prior to the dismantling at terrible human cost of Iraq and Libya, and the severe mauling plus ongoing occupation and creeping balkanisation of Syria, all three states displayed two striking features. They raised living standards, literacy levels and welfare infrastructure while promoting secularism and retaining state control of key economic sectors. None of these things, that last in particular, endeared them to Western ‘advisors’ increasingly in the grip, after the 1973 OPEC crisis, of Chicago School orthodoxies road tested in Pinochet’s Chile.
The second striking feature? All three were marked by the ruthlessness with which opposition – communism and violent Islamism in particular – was suppressed. These were hardly models of the Open Society but at their stage of development as imperialised, postcolonial nations it is my view that such a state of affairs could exist only in the abstractions of armchair idealists.
In Syria under Hafez al-Assad, the Muslim Brotherhood resisted Ba’athist reform at every turn while the West, its agendas in the region hidden from its own peoples, watched with bemused ambivalence.
I’ve written elsewhere on the schizoid relations Zionism and imperialism have with Islamism. Think WWI and Lawrence of Arabia. Think cold war Afghanistan, Israel backing Hamas against Fateh, and that faustian bargain with Riyadh. Think ‘moderate Islamist’ Kurds in Syria.
All these relations are driven, on and off and more or less covertly, by a range of motives that include: oil; oil pipelines; Israel’s need as a usurper and expansionist state to sow division; Washington’s visceral mistrust, rendering salafism the lesser evil, of ‘Arab communism’.
I spoke of the brainwashing narratives through which independently minded Arab leaders are vilified in Western media. By such means is Chomsky’s manufacture of ‘consent’ (including for war and sanctions) engineered. Certainly they reach saturation levels in the cases of Saddam, Gaddafi and Assad Junior – Chavez and Maduro too – but propaganda is only half the story.
The other half is that few in the West have experienced destitution. Yes, baby boomers like me remember the haunted look of mothers with too much week and not enough money. I recall – I’d be seven or eight – the despair and humiliation on the face of one whose kids I played with, as she left a local grocer’s under the silent gaze of a line of customers, having failed to get milk and a few other items on tick.
But destitution of the kind which in the thirties stalked the Gorbals, Bowery and slums of every Western city? Which came hand in hand with rickets, polio and TB? Few alive today remember such things. For that we must turn to Steinbeck, Orwell and those harrowed and haunted faces captured in the lens of Dorothea Lange.
(Though it is once again on the march with the fall of the Soviet Union and with it the business case, rooted in a cold war drive to win hearts and minds, for caring capitalism.)
Our ignorance of poverty combines in a perfect storm with existential realities sketched out at start of this post. And with Western media’s simplistic narratives, their lies of omission and the willingness of their deskbound columnists – they have no reporters in Syria – to mix allegations that make little sense, other than comic book evil-for-evil’s-sake villainy, with just enough truth or plausibility to make them stick.
We hear of torture, show trials and scant regard for habeas corpus. We do not hear of raised living standards, universal literacy or other upsides of Ba’athism. We hear of executions and disappearances but not of the many Daraa protestors who drew a clear distinction between a popular leader, and the system he’d inherited and sought – always a dangerous endeavour – to liberalise.
Nor of those who gave Bashar the thumbs-down when, their demands for greater freedom hijacked by Islamists, his initial response was deemed namby-pamby, lacking the steel of the old man: a Hafez now remembered – truly, folk are fickle! – with fond respect.
We hear Bashar al-Assad is a tyrant but not that he won an internationally observed election in 2014. We hear the mass of his people want shot of him but not that credible experts – among them two former UK ambassadors, UN weapons inspectors and former CIA agents – challenge the claims against him. (As in many cases do elementary logic and such fragments of evidence as have come to light.)
And we hear barrel bombs are vile, but not that they stand in relation to white phosphorous used by the IDF in Gaza, and depleted uranium used by America wherever it damn well pleases, as flint tipped spears to automatic rifles.
I can’t be sure none of the accusations against Damascus is true. Neither can you. What I can be sure of is that those making them combine staggering hypocrisy – Extraordinary rendition? Abu Ghraib? – with a venality toward the middle east abetted by the silence of ‘our’ media?
But such questions aside, and regardless of whether or to what extent those charges are true, we rush to judgment because the idea that repression might coexist with genuine desire to raise a people en masse from the greater tyranny of poverty is way too much nuance.
What we want are nice simple accounts of third world leaders with the one-dimensionality of Enid Blyton’s creations; the goodies squeaky clean, the baddies reassuringly loathsome.
Speaking of squeaky clean it’s time to consider the Kurds. I’ve done the heavy lifting so needn’t take long. The Kurdish issue is far from clear cut but for my narrow purposes just two questions apply. One, why have the Kurds been sold to us since the first Gulf War and especially since the Daraa protests of 2011 as goodness incarnate? Two, what would be the impact of ‘autonomous’ Kurdish territories inside Syria?
The mainstream answer to the first question is that these are our brave allies in the war on ISIS.
(For the counterview, subject as ever to my health warnings about our drive to embrace, either way, the illusion of certainty, try this from Sarah Abed, this from Stephen Gowans, or this from a Vanessa Beeley who, unlike mainstream media, has a presence in Syria. That does not make Beeley an unimpeachable source, but does give her the right to be taken seriously.)
I’ve already sketched out in general terms why we should be suspicious of so hard a sell on the cuddliness of Kurds. We might add – since of late it is rare to hear mention of Kurdish fighters in Syria without the word ‘brave’ attached – that attributions of courage and cowardice are often irrelevant. Hitler was twice awarded an Iron Cross, the second time on the recommendation of his Jewish commanding officer. Often ridiculous too.
During the ‘Troubles’ it was de rigeur for a British politican to describe any act of terror by the Provisional IRA as ‘cowardly’, as it is now de rigeur to apply that descriptor to any suicide bombing on Western or proxy targets.
More specifically, the West’s chief enemy in Syria has never been salafist terror but Ba’athism.
The removal of Assad is an aim that predates, for reasons easy to fathom if we are so minded, the Daraa protests. On empire frustration at economies closed off to Wall Street, Naomi Klein’s account in Shock Doctrine of what happened to post invasion Iraq is a model of highly detailed investigation.
For the pipeline aspect try this; for Israeli and Western hydrocarbon grabs in the Golan, the Economist.
All this, mark you, before we even get to Syria’s geopolitical significance in light of the wider issues of China’s One Belt One Road, Russia’s post Yeltsin resurgence, and the fears both raise on Wall Street.
Given these things, and a century of willingness to work with salafism “for the greater good”, it takes immense but sadly not rare naivity to buy the notion that swathes of Syria are stomping grounds for the West and its proxies – all, unlike Russia and Hezbollah, uninvited – for the sole reason that ISIS must be defeated.
Had defeating ISIS been the priority for America and its junior partners, President Trump would have had every backing for his initial desire to work with Putin to that end. Instead warmongers in both parties combined with deep state, military-industrial complex and ‘liberal’ media to halt such an idea in its tracks. Hence Muellergate. Hence Ukrainegate.
Had defeating ISIS been the priority for America and its junior partners, resolving the situation which initially sparked this post would be easy. That situation being Trump’s abandoning the YPG and YPJ to an Ankara preparing to crush them as brothers in arms to a PKK it sees in much the same way Britain saw the IRA, Sri Lanka the Tamil Tigers.
And the easy resolution?
Call me a dupe, but unlike many people I do not automatically rule out all possibility of RT (née Russia Today) being worth a read from time to time.
In this case, what it had to say on October 7 – Worried for Kurds in Syria abandoned by US? Here’s an obvious solution but it will make Washington hawks MAD – may be judged on its merits:
What happened in August 2016 should have … been a clue – and offers a possible way out of the present conundrum. Back then, Turkey invaded from the north in ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’, attacking the Kurds from the rear just as [they were] launching a major push against Raqqa. The US did nothing to stop this. Only when the Syrian Arab Army – accompanied by Russian observers – stepped in to create a buffer zone between the Turks and the [Kurdish led] SDF, did the invasion stop.
While Ankara thinks nothing of attacking the Kurds, it is hard to imagine it would dare open fire on Syrian troops or the Russians fighting alongside them. The obvious solution for the Kurds is to make a deal with Damascus and secure the protection of the Syrian government that the US could never provide. This would keep them safe, while keeping Damascus happy and Ankara without grounds to object.
The only ones displeased by this would be regime-change advocates in Washington – but that’s their problem.
So there’s my cautious response on the first question: why are the Kurds sold to us as goodness incarnate? Again I stress that it is offered not as Absolute Truth. Simply as more likely, on both evidential and logical grounds, than the mainstream accounts on offer. (Accounts dismayingly accepted and relayed by most of the far left, but that’s a tale for another day.)
My second question, on the consequences of ‘autonomous’ regions inside Syria, should be a no-brainer. Recall that I said earlier:
Israel offers the West a beachhead from which to control the middle east. I’ll return to this idea. It is highly germane to our being primed to view the Kurds in a particular way.
To the fury of Washington, Whitehall and Quai d’Orsay their attempt to remove Assad – as they had removed Saddam and Gaddafi, and as they wish to remove the Ayatollahs in Tehran – was thwarted by Russia’s decisive intervention.
Needless to say, this did not lead to philosophical – you win some/you lose some – acceptance of defeat. The West is still very much in the game of seeking to control Syria and the wider region; a game it has been in for a century.
For that section of America’s ruling class prepared to go for broke in Syria, Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump was a serious setback.
Yes, as noted already, Trump’s oft stated willingness to work with Putin has been reined in. (In this regard Robert Mueller’s falling flat on his face as the Russiagate narrative unravelled does not greatly matter. Trump has spent most of his first term on the back foot and that’s what does.) But all talk of going eyeball to eyeball with the world’s second military power, to see who blinks first, is for now on ice.
Bogging the Syrian Army and its Russian allies down in an endless war of attrition is likely to be causing headaches in Moscow, but yet another aspect of the smoke’n mirrors at work here is the difficulty of assessing the cost to Putin’s popularity. In any case steady SAA gains since 2016 mean that without Western boots on the ground in serious numbers – politically unthinkable – or Russia pulling out – ditto – Damascus cannot be brought by slow degree to its knees.
Which leads us to option three: Syria’s balkanisation, with calls for autonomous regions for the Kurds analogous, on a smaller scale, to the gathering momentum for a Zionist state in the first half of the twentieth century. Analogous in the appeal to ancient nationhood. Analogous in the usefulness to the West of a beachhead within a fragmented Syria.
And this, I believe, answers that second question. Just one last thing. There’s a growing trend on the liberal left to speak in glowing terms of a women’s cooperative movement in a Kurdish controlled Rojava the world seems to have forgotten sits firmly within the borders of Syria. Vice Magazine – its co-founder insistent that‘we’re not trying to say anything political …’ – hails The Most Feminist Revolution the World Has Ever Witnessed.
Other responses from liberal, socialist, anarchist and feminist outlets have not all been quite so gushing but the trend is the same. Rojava ticks all the boxes for Western progressives. Kurds good! Feminists good! Cooperatives good! Me, I shudder. I feel hairs standing at the back of my neck. I fear that yet again we are being played, our best instincts co-opted for imperial ends.
I haven’t been to Rojava but am willing to believe there’s magic in the air, the kind that always breaks through in revolutionary situations – which to some Kurdish eyes this may well seem to be. I dare say Kurdish patriarchs are worried, and seeking by gross means or subtle to rein in the ringleaders. I dare say – I’m guessing of course – that Kurdish capitalists mutter darkly of the threats of communism and anarchy.
Seen through the narrowest of lenses, this all looks to the good to progressive eyes. The more so when the owners never thought to question the premises on which Syria was so grievously violated. But then, didn’t the brightest and most altruistic of western youth once give the same rapturous welcome to another wonderful ideal: the kibbutzim of Israel?
For direct-transfer bank details click here.
A Venezuelan paints a clear picture of the Kurds and why they should be thankful that their country Syria doesn’t allow Turkey to kill them.
Thank you very much for your comment, but although I stand 100% for Venezuela and Syria, I am not Venezuelan, I’m Portuguese (yes, that pitiful vassal state of the US )
Consider reading Thierry Meyssan’s 3-part essay “ALL THAT IS HIDDEN FROM YOU ABOUT TURKISH OPERATION “SOURCE OF PEACE”.
It is an extensive and detailed resume of “The Kurdish Question” not to be missed:
“The unanimous international community multiplies its condemnation of the military offensive in Rojava and watches helplessly as tens of thousands of Kurds flee, pursued by the Turkish army. However, no one intervenes, considering that a massacre may be the only possible way to restore peace, given the inextricable situation created by France and the crimes against humanity committed by Kurdish combatants and civilians.” — Thierry Meyssan
I have been following the occasional youtube videos of SyrianGirl, for around 10 years – well before the actual war started there at the behest of the British, French and US Governments, all of which I find completely disgraceful. The panopoly of lies, constructed largely by The British Government and their agents re Syria White Helmets etc is completley disgusting.
Her latest effort is Brilliant too. Everything she has said has been confirmed by the likes of Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley who had the courage to go to Syria, independently as real journalists to interview and observe what was really happenning, rather than the lies and propaganda, promoted by the entire Western Media, the most disgraceful of which came from our own BBC, that I used to be a massive supporter of, and know some of the people who worked there (some of who’m are couragous – especially the bloke who leaked the Jane Standley 9/11 BBC broadcast “20 mins before it had happenned” a few years later after the event.
“Syrian Exposes Media Lies About Syria Withdrawal”
Elijah Magnier’s magnum History of the Kurds, current front runners in Stateless Minority Sympathy Stakes
Good to see Syrian Girl back with a little masterpiece of video explanation. Vivid red lipstick adds pleasure for lip-readers.
Comparing to previous videos/appearances, she had a lip job done. Why? Does the cuase require lips like Angelina Jolie? The truth about Syria is also known to all non-gullible people on earth. But I do understand the need for an income and more viewers of lips equals more as revenue.
What I do like though is the apparently Chinese T-Shirt.
NOT1, I think she is aiming to enlighten the gullible rather than preaching to the already enlightened. Hence the careful presentation with lots of pictures, maps and rhetorical inflexions of her voice. More power to her lips and now that peace is coming to Syria may she get back to her science studies.
PS re Syrian-Australian Girl’s Chinese Teeshirt, here is my edited clip from one of her fellow Ozzies, who used to post on OffG quite a lot:
“Mulga Mumblebrain on October 15, 2019
The prime motivation is to paint China as ‘the New Nazis’ here in Austfailia, where the tsunami of racist and ideological Sinophobia just grows and grows”.
So even when she returns to her science studies, she will still be reminding the ‘Giant Subtropical Cockneys’ that other peoples are also people.
What importance is there in her hair style or appearance?
Should she apologise for being an attractive woman?
I’m interested in what she has to say, not her lipstick or her eye liner.
And what she says makes a lot of sense.
More than I’ve ever heard in our MSM.
This sort of sneering and sniping is becoming more prevalent.
And it isn’t confined to the ladies any more.
The Independent was sneering at Assange for wearing a pink shirt.
The Guardian was sniping at Snowden for having a “wispy, not very manly” beard.
Gently, dear Mark, gently! I have always had the greatest respect for that young lady — even more so after learning she is a Science student. And I do not put up Links unless I think they further the cause of Truth and Justice. But we need not be always long-faced with seriousity.
“Tread lightly for you tread upon my jokes” — with apologies to WB Yeats
Trump imposes sanctions on NATO ally Turkey; Erdogan calls for NATO help in Syria
Interesting and not impossible given the British “liberal” media narrative of a likely “humanitarian catastrophe” if Syria acts to retain their own land.
The only contribution I can make today is a caption to the image above:
“There will be no cheating”
“…the idea that repression might coexist with genuine desire to raise a people en masse from the greater tyranny of poverty is way too much nuance.”
The eternal curse of a vicious, id-driven ambition (politely known as ‘aspiration’) on any superego-driven venture towards idealistic communalism. Not that it matters much any more: “Who cares what tips the rockets I send up, it’s not my business where they come down,” says Commandant Nevil Shute von Braun.
We hear Bashar al-Assad is a tyrant but not that he won an internationally observed election in 2014.
Really? El Salvador had elections in the 1980s that most people would categorize as “demonstration elections” in Chomsky’s terms. How can you have a real election during a civil war, as was the case in El Salvador? Anybody who ran against the American-supported candidate Duarte would have gotten a bullet in the head.
The candidate who ran against Assad agreed with him on all the key questions, including the need to exterminate the Sunni rebels. If this is your idea of a fair election, it just goes to show that you have a double-standard. When the USA-backed regime tramples on human rights, you join in the condemnation. But when Putin backs a dictator, he is defended against all charges: bombing hospitals, using chemical attacks, murdering prisoners, imposing starvation sieges, bombing hospitals and all the rest.
“But when Putin backs a dictator, he is defended against all charges: bombing hospitals, using chemical attacks, murdering prisoners, imposing starvation sieges, bombing hospitals and all the rest.”
Bombing the already bombed hospitals all over again? Has the man got no shame? Has the country got an unlimited defence budget?
Ah, but that’s because Russian bombs automatically home in on any hospital in the area.
They are all programmed to do this by Roboronexport.
By contrast, American star spangled democracy bombs are designed by Raytheon to spread peace and justice and universal happiness, in an ethical and politically correct way, with due regard for diversity issues. They also work wonders for people’s love lives. All the scientists agree on this.
Children in Yemen are known to exclaim, “We’re so grateful that we’re being bombed with those nice American star spangled democracy bombs! So much better than those nasty Russian bombs!! How lucky we all are!!!”
Everybody knows that evil dictators demonstrate their fearsome malevolence by using “barrel bombs”. American democracy bombs, by contrast, are made from 100% recycled depleted uranium, which accounts for their uniquely peaceful and humanitarian properties.
I don’t know what the problem is with barrel bombs.
They were invented by our Zionist friends, so they must be okay.
Unless you’re anti semitic, or something.
How can you have a real election during a civil war, as was the case in El Salvador?
How can you have a real election during a civil war, as was the case in Nicaragua?
Maybe you can tell us about the great war for democracy waged by Reagan’s contras, against the evil Sandinista government. Any similarities to the current situation in Syria, are of course entirely coincidental.
Louis I’ve been quite open to the possibility that presidential election was rigged. Assuming you haven’t cherry picked your way through my piece, you’ll know I do not regard Ba’athist states as models of openness and pluralism.
But you speak of the worthlessness of any election held in what you call a civil war. (I don’t, for reasons I make clear, but otherwise take your point about when is, and when is not, an ideal time to hold an election. IMO Damascus had a stark choice: wait possibly years for what essentially was a plebiscite on Bashar’s legitimacy, or hold it on terms and in circs far from ideal butwhose fault tis that?)
I spent many hours reading accounts of that election. No evidence did I find of electors frog marched at gun point to polling stations, whereas I did find that nations sending observers declared the election fair. I’m willing, for reasons I begin my post with, to reconsider. Could you provide whatever evidence of a charade you wish me to consider?
Meantime, I note that the West did not, with a few snarky asides not dissimilar to your own, choose to rubbish the election process. Rather, it chose to ignore it.
As for the other stuff, you know perfectly well that bombing hospitals (again: see Robbobbin’s point below) and chemical attacks are disputed on both logical and evidential grounds. Those experts – like Postol – who don’t share your acceptance of empire-friendly claims you dismiss as idiots.
Speaking of ad-hominem attack, are you ready now to apologise for that vile description of Vanessa Beeley as “too ugly to fuck”?
On the so-called election results in Syria, I’ll let Michael Karadjis offer up some cogent reasoning to take at least a small measured pause on the issue:
In 2017, some believe “free elections” occur in fascist dictatorships
Anderson also claimed that Assad had been “elected” at an “election” held in 2014, and from memory one of the questioners even asked why we shouldn’t accept the results of a free election. This is indeed a unique occasion in leftist history when people who have rejected oppression and repression all their lives, and made great efforts at understanding how even our own bourgeois democracy is deeply flawed, uphold an “election” farce run by a murderous dictatorship. Aside from the fact that the only candidates allowed to stand against Assad were two nobodies, allowed precisely because they were Assad clones (to be allowed to stand, the first condition was that a candidate must have the support of at least 35 members of the existing Baathist-dominated parliament, and so 21 of 23 were rejected); aside from the fact that “voters” had to bloody their thumb to stamp the electoral roll, and thus could be spotted at workplaces the following day if the evidence was absent (a possible death or disappearance certificate); aside from large parts of the country being outside regime control; aside from 5 million Syrians being in exile; aside from all of this and more, why would anyone assume that the figures released by the State Ministry of Truth (ie, the 73.4 percent participation rate and the 88.7 percent vote for Assad) mean anything at all? Is anyone able to check?
If we assume these figures are “true” (even taking into account the manipulation and other factors), then do we also accept that in every other “election” that Assad has called since 1971, he has received 99 percent of the vote? Why would anyone with a brain accept that? And if so, do you also accept that Zairean tyrant Mobutu received 99 percent in his 1970 election? That Saddam Hussein got 99 percent and 100 percent in his last two elections? That Mubarak always got 97 percent? That Enver Hoxha usually got around 100 percent?
Anderson claimed large numbers of Syrian refugees voted in Lebanon, though outside Assad state control, thus proving that participation was genuine. However, every media report referred to “tens of thousands” rushing the embassy in Lebanon to vote. Yes, that is a great many. But there are 1.1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, so do the maths – the “tens of thousands” probably do represent the actual level of support for Assad among Syrians in Lebanon. But in any case, the great majority were barred from voting even if they had wanted to: a law was passed that refugees who had fled Syria at checkpoints not controlled by the regime were not eligible to vote. I wonder which groups of refugees fled at regime-controlled checkpoints?
What a sad day for the left that it is even necessary for me to explain this.
You can find those paragraphs in a piece by Karadjis if you Google: “My debate with Tim Anderson on Syria: Reflections on the collapse of solidarity — Michael Karadjis”
And pertaining to Vanessa Beeley, since you do bring her up as a source to be consulted, see THIS.
Whether we like it or not, there are in fact internal and regional dynamics in play in every region of the world. Not everything is the West’s (or the U.S.A.’s) doing.
If one is to come to terms if only conceptually with as much of the range of the insanity of the war at hand, one comes closest to understanding that reality and, therefore, to grasping the real requirements for a more lasting and equitable social peace going forward, by taking as many factors into account as possible, that is to say, by examining both the geopolitical and internal dynamics affecting Syria as a whole.
Otherwise, in my opinion, one runs the very real risk of running afoul of les masses populaires, that is to say, of inadvertently finding oneself ‘in solidarity’ with tyrants and murderers, rather than with the truly oppressed, as one should be . . .
Hi Norman. Good to hear from you. I’ll try to be brief here since I’ve been asked to review a forthcoming book on Syria. That review may usefully double as the fuller response your contribution deserves.
Re that election, and Ms Beeley, you will be aware – from my intro, and my multiple caveats on the dangers of taking too fixed a position, of being Too Knowing.
I read your commentary as provided in the piece you link to and will do so again, at greater leisure and with greater care, as soon as I can. Unlike Mr Proyect you show both courtesy and a grasp of nuance. Take your comments on the White Helmets. You give credit where due to their critics, while taking issue with said critics’ failure to grasp that it is unhelpful and simplistic to see WH as homogenous and uniformly evil.
(A recent conversation with my thirty-something daughter is relevant. She spent the past three years as a senior manager, based in Mosul, for a European NGO, its mission in Iraq that of dealing with fall out from the liberation of that city from ISIS control. Any Sunni male between 11 and 99 had to prove they were NOT in Daesh, and the tales she told me, the things she has seen, turned my stomach. But that was at the coal face. The other aspect of her role saw her sitting face to face with terrorists, corrupt politicans and aid workers runnig the gamut from starry eyed idealists to cynics who’s been too log in the job. She made precisely the point you do on the heterogeneity of White Helmets. For instance, when I raised the fact their most senior figure was denied entry to the US as a known terrorist – while the State Department was funding his outfit – my daughter, battle hardened in a realpolitik most of us never have to deal with, all but laughed in my face at my simplistic assertions.)
Such black and white thinking inspired me to write as I did. Realising the West has an utterly corrupt set of agendas for the global south, and for a Russia rising, can lead us to embrace Assad and Putin as saints. That is understandable for reasons I give in my first few paragraphs, but useful it ain’t. It generates a good deal more heat than light.
However, and this may be the sticking point between us, your concluding words – “one runs the very real risk of … inadvertently finding oneself ‘in solidarity’ with tyrants and murderers, rather than with the truly oppressed, as one should be” – may be stood on their head.
“One runs the very real risk of inadvertently finding oneself ‘in solidarity’ with the far greater crimes of imperialism, rather than with the truly oppressed, as one should be.”
I repeat: I appreciate your courtesy and attention to nuance (as well as detail in what is inevitably a sea of “he said/she saids”). But the problem I have with your concluding calls for “international solidarity” with the peoples of Syria is the problem I have with almost all the far left takes on imperialism’s wars on the region. They too call for international solidarity – much as they call for general strikes in the West in response to capital making workers pay for its crises – and the call is worthy in abstract and general terms. But in the here and now there are only two players in town: imperialism, and the forces, however flawed, on the receiving end of its wrath. I’m cautiously backing the latter.
PS I haven’t read your views on Russia but many of the anti-Assadist far left groups – SWP and Workers Power for instance – have concluded it is an imperialism. I deem them wrong. Worse, these avowedly marx-leninists groups are debasing the term – much as ‘fascism’ is so often debased – by flinging it around without a scintilla of empirical investigation of the nature of the Russian economy. Do you agree?
PPS Shit: so much for my “I’ll try to be brief …”!
In my previous reply I failed to respond, even briefly, on the 2014 election. As I said to Louis Proyect, I’ve seen no evidence of Syrians intimidated into voting. Disgust with a charade would have led to high abstention rates, no? FWIW, here’s US Green and Vietnam veteran Ajamu Baraka on the issue:
“First, it became clear that substantial numbers of non-Alawite people and communities support the government. And even those elements of Syrian society that were not enthusiastic supporters of the government grew to understand that the legitimate indigenous opposition had been displaced by powerful non-Syrian forces from the U.S. and the Gulf States who provided material, political and diplomatic support to an opposition that not only had tenuous ties to the country but seemed only committed to waging war. This convinced many that the only politically consistent option was to support the government, as an expression of support for Syria’s sovereignty and its’ national project.
“As a result, not only did popular support for the government hold over the last three years of carnage, it expanded to include those in the opposition who were against the destruction of the country and the slimy Syrian ex-pats who traveled from one European capital to another begging for the U.S. and NATO to do what it did in Libya – destroy the infrastructure of the country through the use of NATO air power and flood the country with weapons.
“But the most graphic undermining of the dominant Western narrative has been the participation of tens of thousands of ordinary Syrians who have braved threats and violence to participate in the election process.
“Western corporate news outlets, especially in the U.S., were unable to explain the huge turnout of Syrian refugees voting in Lebanon preceding the election on Tuesday, so they just decided not to cover it. Images of Syrians displaced by war yet backing al Assad for president did not support the carefully crafted story that the only people fleeting war were those who had been terrorized to do so by the government.
“Instead, the U.S. press raised the question of the “legitimacy” of elections taking place in a country involved in a “civil war,” a position consistent with their narrative of the war being one between the Syrian people and the government as opposed to what it has turned out to be – a war largely being fought by foreign forces, with the indigenous opposition forces allied with the feckless Syrian National Coalition; isolated, out-gunned and militarily irrelevant.
“And while the U.S. press uncritically propagated the position of the U.S. state, which wrote off the election as illegitimate and a farce, the media seemed not to notice the contradictory position of the U.S. writing off the election in Syria because of conflict but giving enthusiastic support to the election in Ukraine in the midst of a conflict and contested legitimacy. The Western media could explore a few obvious questions if it was really independent, such as: what makes the election in Ukraine legitimate when half of the country boycotts the vote and the national army violently attacks its own citizens in Eastern Ukraine who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the coup-makers in Kiev?
“Other questions might be: if they deem it appropriate to support an election in Ukraine, why would the Obama Administration violently oppose elections in Syria, especially if, as it claims, the majority of the people oppose the current government? Wouldn’t the illegitimacy of the government in Syria be confirmed by the low turnout, even in areas where there was a modicum of security?”
Maybe Baraka wears rose tinted glasses. But why would we suppose Karadjis has more privileged access to The Truth?
On the question of calling for ‘international solidarity:’ some on the ‘left’ use it as a rationale for supporting imperialist intervention; that isn’t the kind of ‘international solidarity’ I stand for.
I stand against all forms of oppression and repression to which ordinary people may be subjected, regardless of whom or what may drive that oppression and repression, whether committed by Western Imperialism or by, as you would put it, ‘the forces, however flawed, on the receiving end of its wrath.’
You see, the problem I have with your stance is how it hinges on your eminently abstract and general principle of “however flawed.”
The trauma caused by imperialist oppression and repression is in no wise more nor less than the trauma caused by an autocratic regime waging war on its so-called citizens.
You object to a call for ‘international solidarity’ on the grounds that it legitimizes in one way or another the ‘greater’ violence of Western Imperialism only in the same moment to legitimize an equivalent violence, at least from the standpoint of the victims, committed by what you deem to be ‘the forces on the receiving end of the West’s wrath.’
In what sense, then, might your position not be characterized as an inversion of that so-called leftist support for Imperialist intervention? Each of these stances is the equivalent of the other in presuming the legitimacy and necessity of extreme violence being primarily inflicted on civilians.
Rather, “No to the invasion and occupation of northeastern Syria by the Turkish army,” and no to “the interventions and the presence of other foreign forces in Syria (Iran, Russia and the United States),” and no to “the dictatorship of the Assad clan-led Syrian regime and the Islamic fundamentalist movements, which are the two main pillars of the counter-revolution in Syria.”
Is Russia imperialist? It isn’t only if it isn’t capitalist.
Capitalism expands or it stagnates and withers.
Imperialism is willy-nilly the result of capitalist expansion.
As Putin has put it, Russia has its interests. Would those be capitalist interests? Do not capitalist interests of necessity coincide with those of an imperialist impulse?
You see, Norman, the problem I have with your stance is how it hinges on your incorrect reading of what I am saying. You write:
“You object to a call for ‘international solidarity’ on the grounds that it legitimizes in one way or another the ‘greater’ violence of Western.”
Wrong. I do not find you – or for that matter Proyect – guilty of supporting the West’s greater violence. I find you both, and much – not all – of the far left guilty of the lesser offence of seeking some ‘third way’ to be pulled like a rabbit from a hat. The call for international solidarity is all very noble but in the here and now we may as well get down on our knees and pray.
Your other points I find confused. You say if Russia isn’t imperialist then it isn’t capitalist. Wrong, rendering the observation of your final paragraph irrelevant. Of course Russia is capitalist – as is Bangladesh. Is that also imperialist? If so, words have lost their meaning. I agree of course that the vector of all capitals is toward monoply and imperialism – as you put it, ‘willy nilly the result of capitalist expansion’ – but not only does that vector mark the biggest of its many contradictions, it begs a more immediate question. If end and start points are the same – a kind of buddhist attitude to path and goal as one – why have separate terms? A caterpillar then is not to be distinguished from a butterfly, nor life from death.
Logic and the meaning of words aside, serious empirical work needs to be done before we say Russia is imperialist. A good start was made by Renfrey Clarke and your compatriot, Roger Annis.
In the meantime, I welcome the Russian intervention – as I do the rise of China – not because I think of either as knights in shining armour. But the demise of the USSR – to which state I adopted Trotsky’s stance of “critical but unconditional defence” – created two decades of ‘unipolarity’ in which the USA wreaked fearsome carnage on the global south and tore up the rule book on international law. Though Russia’s and China’s rise make the world an even more dangerous place, I welcome the end of that unipolarity.
Thanks for the debate, I enjoy such exchanges as I am sure you do. I may not be able to respond to further points you make, as I have much else to do – not least that book review. In solidarity, Philip.
“Your other points I find confused. You say if Russia isn’t imperialist then it isn’t capitalist. Wrong, rendering the observation of your final paragraph irrelevant. Of course Russia is capitalist – as is Bangladesh.”
Of course Russia is capitalist — as is every bloody nation currently in existence on the planet. And that is the point.
Just because every nation is capitalist doesn’t mean that from the standpoint of its military potential, which exists only to enforce its capitalist prerogatives, either against a capitalist competitor or a recalcitrant population, or alongside an equally opportunistic ally, that it equally matches all other contending capitals.
Some national factions are more organized and better supplied than others to impose their will internationally.
In the meantime, the weaker, dominated or contained national capitals bide their time while exerting themselves to develop the wherewithal to either merely preserve their rank in the international pecking order or to eventually ascend in turn to a position of dominance.
The essence of imperialism is competition for a position of ascendancy in all of the available capitalist markets on the planet.
Imperialism is only capitalism writ large, that is to say, in its globalized form.
To the degree that capitalism is inherently a contest for market dominance, as soon as it strives to assert itself on the international scene, in international markets, it becomes in its movement and striving, on this level, imperialistic.
This, it seems to me, is the difference between us: for you, it seems, a capitalist nation can only be ‘imperialistic’ if it already occupies the pinnacle of the hierarchy of international dominance in economic, political and military terms, that is to say, if its striving for dominance is to all intents and purposes a fait accompli.
In other words, ‘actual rank of dominance’ is what from your standpoint seems to qualify this or that nation as being imperialistic.
For me, any capitalist nation competing against other capitalist nations for market share in the globalized economy is ipso facto imperialistic, as imperialism is nothing but the process of nationally organized capitals striving to dominate the markets of other nationally organized capitals.
Of course, in a situation of market competition, which all too often unfortunately assumes the guise of military competition, there will always be some players who will by far and away dominate the field. This doesn’t, however, mean that the current laggers aren’t as equally committed to winning the game by any and all viable means. For capitals either expand or they disappear. The process that is capitalism is a process of concentration of wealth and power, whether in domestic or international terms. Power increases and becomes concentrated. A hierarchy develops and some nations predominate. This is what capitalism does.
Is Russia capitalist? Of course it is! Does it compete in international markets for profits, that is to say, for market dominance? Of course it does. Is it imperialistic? Of course it is! If its luck holds up, it will one day be where the U.S.A. currently finds itself: at the top of the imperialist heap. Likewise with Bangladesh if given enough time and a great deal of luck.
Of course, you recognize the element of imperialist competition between Russia, China and the U.S.: “Though Russia’s and China’s rise make the world an even more dangerous place, I welcome the end of that unipolarity.” I mean, if words have any meaning . . .
But you are busy and I am, too. We can let this exchange rest just as it is.
LouisP. would be better off trolling for Greta and the livelihood of Albino Porcupines.
Lesson number one for any troll & controlled opposition is, that you MUST mention the KIDS ! LouisP.eeing myself laughing at this renewed pathetic attempt at GASLIGHTING.
Off you trot and let us know as soon as possible, if you see an albino porcupine bombing hospitals and all the rest: and remember, if you want to really tug at heart strings, you’d best be sure to mention the baby albino porcupines . . . 🙂
“How can you have a real election during a civil war…?”
But the whole intention of an election is to establish which party has the democratic right to govern a country at a given point in time. Surely a time of civil conflict is precisely the circumstances in which that is all the more important in the hope of bringing that conflict to an end or at least establishing the democratic will of the people.
Let’s face it, President Assad was on a hiding to nothing. If he hadn’t held the election I am sure there would have been complaints about his failure to hold democratic elections.
The issue of the legitimacy of the election proceedings is a separate issue and I look forward to seeing what specific evidence you come up with to support your concerns about malpractice, as requested by Philip (Roddis). If, as you contend , you believe that the challenging candidates were too aligned to the policies of the existing government to offer meaningful competition then perhaps you could tell us who should have been up for election but wasn’t. With a name to focus on I would be happy to research why they failed in their bid to be nominated and would be more than willing to acknowledge any evidence of wrongdoing.
Ukraine held an election in the middle of a war (after taking the precaution of first banning all opposition parties.)
This was perfectly acceptable and a triumph of democracy when Washington’s bought and paid for puppets duly won.
I agree whole heartedly, unfortunately this isn’t really the website for such utterances as it has a fair amount of Putin fan boys
unfortunately, the zionist troll infestation seems to be increasing.
Louis Protect, Unrepentant twat of the Tony Blair Ilk.
Roddis has a much better understanding on what is going on in Syria than most writers.
A few years ago, I watched an excellent documentary “The Gatekeepers” where a French film director interviewed the last five heads of Sin Bet.
All of them were clearly highly articulate and clever but one made the point that Israel would win every battle but would eventually lose the war.
I think that point has come and that a complete reversal of present aims should be undertaken as the forces around them, battle hardened over many years, are becoming stronger rather than weaker and will soon pose a very real threat.
Now is the time to start rebuilding all the shattered countries and infrastructure and to prepare for the new silk road and all that that will bring.
A few years ago when reading about molten fluoride thorium reactors, the thought came to me that Israel has the technical expertise in abundance and Iran has the resources. So if the two counties collaborated the outcome could be nothing but good.
Simplistic I know but there is a simple solution to everything.
“Simplistic I know but there is a simple solution to everything.”
@Brian Eggar: “Israel has the technical expertise in abundance and Iran has the resources.”
I hear White Man speaking. Or Wellmeaning White Woman, genus Hilarienses, the more dangerous species on the Anglo Zio Capitalist Globe.
“Take up the White Man’s Burden,
Protect your captured Peoples,
Half devil and half child.”
Great White Protector thinks: Fuzzy Wuzzy Woggy is not advanced like we are. We have the Right to Protect them. And it is only Right they should reward us for the “technical expertise” which we “have in abundance” and they have not. Let them give us their “Resources” and we, who are “The Only Democracy in the Middle East” and “A Light Unto the World”, shall guide them away from their deviltry and their childishness.
Methinks I behold my good Jewish Communist friend, Prof.Guido Pontecorvo who was consulted on education by the Islamic Revolution half a century ago and advised them to build technical colleges which they did, quietly smiling.
Better believe it!
But where’s his M.S.G.A. baseball cap, vexarb?
Oh, that’s right – he isn’t a childish and insecure buffoon who needs to use cheap props to get his point across.
You got it, Gwyn. Neither does he do Stupidly Come Dancing onto a conference platform like our own dear PM, the Clergyman’s Daughter.
Gaah! I’d completely forgotten about that abomination involving the Clergyman’s Daughter! The horror!
Nor does Bashar al Assad get stuck on a zipline and look foolish for doing so.
Unfortunately Britain is stuck with a Prime Minister who did.
(You Brits really should have left BoJo hoist with his own non-exploding petard.)
He’s making the evil White Supremacy OK sign. That proves he’s really a nazi.
Milosevic, more likely a natural physiological trait found in some people who think delicately and deeply about important and complex problems. For instance, a French Chef will make that sign when a dish has been prepared to perfection. Classical music conductors often make this sign to signify a moment of silent concentration. Another instance: Philip Glass, while composing “Einstein on the Beach”, studied photos of the great thinker and noticed him unconsciously making the same instinctive gesture from childhood onwards. Try putting the tip of forefinger to the tip of your own prehensile thumb, and you might feel this: I belong to Homo Faber, more delicate and more thinking than my cousin apes.
Is it really possible that you imagined that a suggestion that the President of the Syrian Arab Republic was a “white supremacist”, was intended seriously???
Mark, no; but I thought some nerdy readers might like to be reminded that Dr.Assad’s gesture is a characteristic of Homo sapiens and Homo Faber (Man the thinker and Man the maker). Like our little ankle bone which enables us to stand upright and make such a delicate gesture with our opposed finger and thumb.
“Tread softly for you tread upon my jokes”.
Tommy, mind the door doesn’t hit your arse on the way out…
Urgent || British media: Brutish special forces preparing to leave Syria
But here it’s more like “Kurds Bad, Headchoppers Good!”
sure sign of a disinfo shill: fake quotations of claims that absolutely nobody has made. When you can’t refute people’s actual arguments, just make up some ridiculous bullshit, falsely attribute it to them, and attack them on that basis, while assuming that nobody will notice. CIA disinformation tactic #17.
Slušaj Slobu,samo ću to jednom reći…
I’ve been here for 3 years. Disinfo my arse. I love some articles on OffG and post my approval accordingly.
What really gets my goat is:
When I see their mad comments here or elsewhere, I post accordingly. It’s not disinfo, it’s a difference of opinion. I realise that’s hard for an Ultra Serb to handle, but that’s your problem.
Frank Speaker / Iskren Govornik
Jon Snow and Ch4 News tonight desperately trying to “avert the humanitarian disaster” of Syria retaking control of their own country.
If rumours of a Ruassian, SAA and the Kurds striking a deal is true, then I’m happy. This is something I’ve been hoping for for a long time.
I dont blame the Kurds for taking help from the Americans when their imminent slaughter was being televised live on TV.
If it was a game played by Russia to dupe the Turks and the Americas from acting rashly, then well played. They have similtaneously caused the removal of US troops out of Rojava whilst creating rift within NATO and the GOP.
Also, though not popular on these boards, fuck Trump.
Well said Moosy.
Saying anything bad about Trump here will get you down voted as well as pointing out facts. As Trump would tweet, “SAD”
try harder, troll.
“Attempts by Third World leaders to establish independent control of their economies, in preference to their economies being used as spheres of profit-accumulation for the sole direct benefit of foreign investors, is almost invariably met by the opposition of investor-dominated foreign governments”
Why so shy?
Independent control of their economies .. is usually met by CIA and State department operations, sanctions, regime change, napalm, agent orange, depleted uranium, massacres and drones.
Again, why so shy?
You could ask Stephen Gowans. He authors books, and blogs energetically. His email address is in the public domain.
Philip, for a moment I thought you had digressed to analyse the UK’s take on justice. 🙂
Lol, exactly the same crossed my mind, JudyJ. Assange’d, being the take on UK justice 🙁
Damn good Philip, and much appreciate the links to the articles by Sarah Abed, Stephen Gowans, and Vanessa Beeley.
Various times I’ve visited anarchist sites over the last few years only to find almost uniform, effusive praise for both Rojava and Afrin.
I can’t recall seeing anything critical of the Kurds in Syria except one time a brief statement that the YPG were ‘regrettably allied with Washington’. These articles just didn’t sit right with me.
The 0.01% are playing us all the time, everything is smoke and mirrors – they will use anyone or any group of people for their sordid geopolitical ends that inevitably involves more pillaging of the Planet. What else is new?
For some reason kept thinking of Extinction Rebellion as I read this. Don’t ask me why, I just did. Have to agree with you that most people don’t care, and don’t want to know. They have other things to do. Like shopping.
Extinction Rebellion has Little Greta.
The Kurds have female soldiers who seem to spend most of their time as extras in Channel 4 puff pieces.
And also on a number of allegedly anarchist and socialist sites I’ve looked at in the past. The penny dropped Mark. Lots of slick PR and propaganda pieces everywhere that by sheer coincidence (!) dovetails with the narrative of the Empire. Odd that, aye.
Well it could be coincedence. Do you actually think there is no possible case for the Kurds plight that ISNT driven by western zionism/propaganda? Maybe it is a 100% coincedence – its as likely as saying it is 100% just PR propaganda.
This is what I think Bob. I believe nearly all these groups have been infiltrated by the intelligence agencies, combined with a highly romanticised view of the Kurds – as a bulwark against capitalism and imperialism as well as a high level of gullibility amongst members of these groups. I have seen some reference The Guardian or BBC for petes sakes.
I also believe there is an intense yearning amongst some on the Anti Capitalist Left (incl. Anarchists) for some ‘Beacon Of Hope’ somewhere… anywhere.
I also noted some of these groups, or writers even admitted the Kurds were being supported by the United States! That was deemed… “Regrettable”. Yet it didn’t ring alarm bells with them. Why? Surely no one could be that blind as to why the United States was there.
Just curious, but “That does not make Beeley an unimpeachable source”, why would you say that??
Fine journalism, Philip.
(What you said)
“Rojava ticks all the boxes for Western progressives. Kurds good! Feminists good! Cooperatives good! Me, I shudder. I feel hairs standing at the back of my neck. I fear that yet again we are being played, our best instincts co-opted for imperial ends.”
Made my hairs stand up, too, just thinking about the sickening charades: worst of all, it is not just idle fear, moreover, we know the media of old and how empires were ‘reportedly’ established, (with requisite brainwash to finance same), the only difference today being, that the empires are more corporate and transcend any form of sovereign governance in ‘Media Wars’, to ‘win’ over idle minds of populations supporting wars.
Great article. Does anyone know what America’s plans are for the 8 or 9 illegal bases they have in Syria?
They’re going to convert them into luxury vacation condos for Israeli war criminals.
And for British Middle East peace envoys?
Thanks, Phil – great article.
Much to ponder before commenting.
Syrian Kurds and Syrian army strike a deal?
Hopefully, Because I regard the Kurds, Syrian Army under Assad, Russia and Iran, as being a more reliable coalition than anything Turkey or the US/UK/France is involved in. Erdogan is an incredibly arrogant, evil person who would wipe out every single Kurd if he could. Given half a chance, Turkey would do to the Kurds what they did to the Armenians.
I heard it was also the Kurds who did for the Armenians.
“I have contacted the Enemy, and He is Us”. — Pogo Possum
Yup, the Ottoman Turks and Kurds worked together to get rid of Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Orthodox Christian communities in many parts of the Ottoman empire during WW1. The Christians were suspected of disloyalty and the Ottoman government was under the influence of the nationalist Young Turks movement, many of whose members were probably quite extreme in their views. Many parts of southeast Turkey where Kurdish people currently live were ethnically purged of Armenian and Assyrian communities.
Of course, this collaboration did later have its costs: when the Ottoman empire was replaced by the Turkish Republic, shorn of its empire in the Levant, it expected all Muslims in its territory to adopt Turkish nationality, culture and language. You’d be surprised at how many Turkish people have non-Turkish ethnic origins. Even President Erdogan himself has admitted to having Georgian ancestry.
Erdogan freeing Kurdish imprisoned ISIS could be another coffin in the EU as soon the return to their passport countries when they start creating their mayhem amongst the many European infidels.
nail in the coffin
The Self-administration of Northeastern Syria, a Self-important political wing of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF/IDF), announced on October 13 evening that it had reached a deal with the Damascus government.
I think I would prefer to hear from Damascus as to what exactly has been proposed and agreed……
I don’t want to make the mistake of blaming the victim, but Arab countries, or at least their leadership, generally do themselves no favours.
They are always willing to fall for the divide and rule games of outside powers, and this has remained constant for a thousand years. You could say they deserve all they get.
In the 11th century, Europe was relatively backward and unsophisticated compared to the cities of the Levant.
When the First Crusade began in 1096, Arabs viewed the Frankish invaders as little more than bandits. They thought they would steal some livestock and clear off. But they stormed the cities of Syria and massacred the population of Jerusalem in 1099 – almost by default.
Why? Because there was a civil war going on at the time between Sunni and Shia.
Does that sound familiar to anyone?
I have spoken to a lot of Sunni moslems and often been surprised by their visceral hatred for the Shia. It completely blinds them to the intrigues, aggression and exploitation of outside powers, and they always allow themselves to be used.
They have been described as a silly, childish people, obsessed with their little petty feuds and internecine hatreds to the exclusion of all else, including their own interests.
This is the reason they have been invaded, conquered, humiliated and exploited by outsiders for centuries.
If they had been united, they would never have been colonised. Palestine would never have been usurped. The recent bloodbaths in Lebanon, Iraq, Libya and Syria would never have occurred. Millions would still be alive.
But what do we see? Saudi Arabia in bed with Israel and its Sugar Daddy, begging both to destroy Iran, and offering to pay the full cost. How contemptible is that?
Or the 2006 war in Lebanon, where most of the puppet Arab dictators were scheming with Israel and its backers to destroy Hezbollah, the only people to stand up against Zionism for decades.
Or the 1991 invasion of Iraq, with troops from Egypt and Syria. Though Iraqi troops had stood with Syria on the Golan Heights in 1973 at a crucial phase of that war.
Or the recent Zionist conspiracy to destroy Syria, with the full support of moslem Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf Dictatorships. You could say much the same about Libya. Other examples are legion.
They will always be shafted by outside powers.
Because they are always willing to bend over and drop their trousers.
That is the truth of it.
You just have to shake your head, shrug your shoulders, and accept the inevitability of it all.
Maybe one day they will wake up and show some common sense.
But I wouldn’t hold your breath.
mark on sunni moslems:
This is the reason they have been invaded, conquered, humiliated and exploited by outsiders for centuries.
LOL!!! Your “victims” started out from one town in a remote desert with a band of a few dozen and managed to conquer a quarter of the globe permanently thanks to their robber ideology legitimizing about anything -for Arab men. Moroccan Berbers never spoke Arab in the past, nor did Egyptians or Bangladeshi nobles. Due to non-evolving religious strictures their inventiveness was killed off so they ended up hiring tech and weapons from outside with booty. Oil was their $avior.
The vast majority of people in Bangladesh still don’t speak Arabic in their daily lives outside the mosque if you care to look, Antonym.
Yes they speak Bengali, not Urdu or Punjabi as rump Pakistan wanted. The “pure” ones want to speak Arabic, have Arabic names, titles (Sheikh etc): more status.
My point is that various invaders have pressed cultural elements on them by brute force, and some succeed. If mark wants real victims, there is a bunch.
At last – Antonym seems to be offering some of the real Sunni Muslim victims that Mark was referring to previously, and from his own favourite Middle Eastern country that he (Antonym) is always wanting to drag into the Off-Guardian comments forum even when no-one else has mentioned it.
Pakistan is solidly in Asia, not the ME. Even Israel and Jordan are in Asia.
Do ready V.S. Naipaul’s 1981 “Among the Believers” for actual victims.
@Mark: “Arab countries, or at least their leadership, generally do themselves no favours.”
Dr.Assad, MD, Syria, maintained a high standard of social welfare while successfully resisting a vicious nine-year onslaught by “the irresistible armed might” of NATZO.
The Rev.Nasr’Allah, Lebanon, set up social services while successfully resisting a series of vicious invasions by Israel, Britain and the U$A.
The late lamented Pres.Gadafi, Libya, set up the highest _general_ living standard in Africa before succumbing to a particularly vicious onslaught (even by F UK U$ standards) under the “irresistible armed might” of NATZO.
Now name your non-Arab leaders, and the favours they have done your non-Arab country. (Failing that, you can name the favours they have done themselves)
I don’t understand the last sentence.
I have a great deal of respect for Hezbollah, Nasrallah and his predecessor. They stood firm and showed what was possible against powerful hostile foreign actors and their local satraps.
But Hezbollah makes my point for me.
They took on Israel in the 2006 war, which was supported by Bush and Blair. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Dictatorships, Egypt and Jordan were openly supporting Israel and scheming to destroy Hezbollah.
Traitors like Siniora in Lebanon were also in bed with Israel and working against the interests of their own people. One of the reasons for the effectiveness of Hezbollah was secure communications. They laid a fibre optic cable Israel was unable to tap into. Siniora demanded that this be removed to please his Zionist masters, though Hezbollah ignored him and treated this quisling stooge with the contempt he deserved.
Hezbollah and Assad are the exceptions that prove the rule.
They have been endlessly stabbed in the back, and worse, by the whores who rule Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the Gulf Dictatorships.
Iran, of course, is non Arab.
Or you could look at the history of Zionist massacres and pogroms in Gaza. The Arab whore leaders did nothing. Nada. Zilch. They didn’t lift a finger. US supplied F16s dropped 20,000 tons of bombs on Gaza, a greater explosive yield than Hiroshima (by far.) Gaza is only a small place, so when they did their bombing runs, they used Egyptian air space to manoeuvre and turn round. Egypt did nothing. It didn’t even make a token complaint about the intrusion into its air space.
They are always ready to whore themselves out, play the Judas, play the weasel.
How contemptible is that?
If people don’t respect themselves, how can anyone else be expected to?
Or, take the required action in your own country (an “outside power”) that would prevent the government that represents you from participating in machinations intended to ‘shaft’ other countries and their peoples.
As Philip wrote above, “And once we’ve raised our flag on what it pleases us to call The Truth, comfort floods in, if only the bleak comfort of “It’s All Shite”.” It’s comfortable to blame the victims and reject any responsibility; they bring it on themselves, what can we do? It’s All Shite.
This pattern of betrayal and backstabbing goes back to the 1948 war in Palestine, indeed long before then.
Palestinian organisations had been crushed by the British colonial administration, to hand the country over to Zionist rule.
The Zionist terror organisations began a carefully pre planned campaign of ethnic cleansing, committing massacres and atrocities of a Nazi character on a Nazi scale.
It is part of Zionist mythology that “seven Arab armies” then invaded the country.
In fact, the response from surrounding countries to the Zionist genocide was weak, pathetic, pitiful.
Small contingents from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq entered the country only after the genocide had been taking place for several weeks.
In all, they totalled 21,500.
Many were volunteers acting on their own initiative.
They were opposed by 65,000 Jew terrorists, outnumbered 3:1.
Not surprisingly, they lost, though they did what they could, and saved Jerusalem and the West Bank from Zionist theft for another 20 years.
The Palestinians and the whole region have been paying the price of betrayal ever since.
As Israeli historians have acknowledged, Zionist militias began attacking Arab towns and villages and expelling the inhabitants in December 1947. Arab armies did not declare war until Israel was established in May 1948, by which time 250,000 Arabs had already been kicked out of their homes and off their land.
Mention these facts in public and you risk being called vile names.
Never met anyone before who also resents the word spiritual.
The religions are a curse because they promote emotional thinking over rationale. There will be no peace, in Syria or anywhere, until people can shake off the religions. No banning, no prohibition – just coming to the conclusion that religions are superfluous and shackles.
Willmers, your 19th century rationalism is wearing threadbare, and the holes are showing through. The religion of Dr.Assad and Mrs.Assad, the religion of Allah the Compassionate, is at the core of their social conscience. 20th century Humanism is a milksop remnant of that nourishing Bread and Wine which is the Body and Spirit of Christ.
Or alternatively you could see all that stuff about the Body and Spirit of Christ as an earlier version of 20th century Humanism. We constantly find new words to describe the same basic feelings and concepts. (And feelings and concepts are not completely separate either.)
George, that is true, concepts evolve and keep the imprint of their former shape. But Humanism is a very narrow niche-occupier of the spiritual and social movements which led from Hinduism through Buddhism and Hellenism to Christianity and Islam. Humanism is stuck ca.20 BC with the pedestrian rationalism of Lucretius and a comfortable hedonism like an Edwardian armchair and a good cigar. Communism is equally narrow in its rationalism but has more vigour because closer to the Sermon on the Mount and the Cleansing of Money Changers from the Temple. What we are seeing today in Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Russia is the spiritual force of two religions — Islam and Christianity — standing up against the materialism of Mammon. Humanists haven’t a hope of standing up to Mammon — they would have to get up from their armchair.
“Every humanism is a failed God” Jacques Derrida.
Every humanism is a failed God: up to and including the Existential Humanism of Sartre (on whom Derrida was commenting). Why? Because the individuated independent human (a recent invention) is not human. And is incapable of maintaining the illusion of freedom of independence whilst remaining fully human.
“No man is an island” John Donne.
What is the common thread of the *philosophia perrenis*? Not the timeless, unchanging, independent ground of all Being that some suppose. The common thread of all *philsophia humanis* is the transcendence of the Self …to die unto Self. What do we suppose replaces the small rational independent self – some super Self – the Maha-Atman, the Tathagata, the Christ?
When we fully embrace our vulnerability, our feelings, our emotions, our irrationality, our stupidity, our weakness, and realise just how independently alone and weak we are: something amazing happens. Where there was only disunity: unity appears. Where there was only weakness: strength and courage appear. Where there was only stupidity: true felt intelligence appears. Where there was only sectarianism: solidarity appears. Where there was only atomised individuality – masquerading as humanism – universal humanism finally appears.
We are violently conditioned against any form of collectivism. So we maintain the pretense of individualism – which is the worst form of violently imposed collectivism. The circularity of this is the self-imposed order. Collectivism is a function of atomised individualism – the conceptual person – actualised at the level of the intellect. What we have yet to discover is the deeper levels of connectionism that lie below the level of intellect – the ecology of interconnectedness and interbeing that connect everything in the ‘more-than-human’ core affect of the live experience …the raw intensity of the ‘*chair du monde*’ (‘flesh of the world’ – as Merleau-Ponty called it).
The paradox is that it is not collectivism we really fear – because that is what we have got – it is our freedom we are in fear of. Which keeps us collectively chained. It is really going to take something to bust out of our self-imposed exile from freedom. The mythical *Second Coming*: only, do not expect the Maitreya or the Christos to be walking outside of our shoes. That is the one true humanism we crave: the humanism we know we really are.
Exactly, religion builds walls, encourages supremacy and elitism, is used to control people.
I might add that from the halls of Chattam House ,Brookings Institute ,Council of Foreign Relations and the Atlantic council in the mid ninties had all put out op eds on what is occurring Today.
reflect one moment the term balkinisation was born from the crimes against humanity purported by the our western nights in shining armour NATO when the bombed Belgrade back to the stone ages in the Yugoslavian war. The reason I mention the aforementioned western fascistic thinktanks is they were alluding back then on perpetual war and total disintegration of the nation states that were not part of the Antlantacist anglo-zionist sphere of influence. Also known as the Wolfawitz doctrine.
When one applies a little intellectual honesty and really does some full on research it was all by design in order to keep pax-amaericana top dog. Dedollirization is now in full swing and the petro dollar is waning hence voila the narrative and the continuous changing of the narrative and the consistent black and white agendas. Just think of the Syrian Kurds were to get their second Israel what would that do the other three nations that have Kurdish population with in them IE Turkey,Iran and Iraq continuous destibilisation and perpetual war.
Isn’t that what its all about the Military Industrial Complex and the petro-dollar and the finincilisation of the west.Reflect and look back from 1990 to this very day from Jugoslavia to the maghreb and the ME including Afghanistan the death and destruction that has been inflicted on these people all for the sake of London,Paris and New York and Washington. These events make Hitlers Nazism look like choir boys.
The Bathist countries including Nasser’s Egypt have been one of the most secular states known to mankind further more these countries had more female representation in politics and professional classes than most western countries but hell little details like that tends to elude the so called left ,progressive liberal class which to me seem like cheer leaders of the fascistic state we are living in the west.
Post Scriptum : So you still think we defeated fascism during WW2
Docius in Fundem: The western oligarchs along with their plutocrats underestimated the the slavs just like they did with Stalin and let alone the sino rise
Hammer&Sickle, I agree with everything you say, but kindly allow me one little correction. The term Balkanization did not start with the rape of Yugoslavia by NATZO at the end of the 20th century. It started with the rape of Mesopotamia by Britain at the start of that same century: The Century of Anglo Zio Capitalist Resource Wars.
The Brutish Foreign&Colonial Office had a slogan around 1900: “Mesopotamia is Oil; Serbia is the Gateway to Mesopotamia”. So they destabilised the Balkans, engineered an incident at Sarajevo, and that’s where the term came Balkanization came from.
I agree with ur argument but the term Balkan kinfd of gives it its origin.
Have a great day.
Hmm, ’twas only the other day I found this article by War Is Boring:
The Kurds Won’t Let Their Women Soldiers Anywhere Near the Front Line
It seems that the majority of women fighters in the Peshmerga really are fighting … for the right to able to fight on the front-line at all.
I do not know why this new agenda is being pushed, that suddenly the Kurds are bad, and that Kurdish/Yazidi women do not actually fight. Is this being pushed by US/UK propaganda which wants to make us feel sorry for “poor little Turkey” our NATO ally?
The article I linked to was written in 2014 so it’s not very recent.
The release of ‘thinking we know’ is not into knowing we don’t know – which if you pause a moment reveals itself a contradiction in terms – because to know cannot be a state of lack – but it can reveal a presumed self to be lacking foundation in truth BECAUSE truth is known. But as a knowing that is in itself formless and yet responsive to asking, or enquiry as innate supporting intelligence of self-awareness. Why then don’t we ask and receive? Because from the presumption of thinking we know, our questions are framed statements that ask for nothing or merely for confirmation and reinforcement of our invested and often non-negotiable beliefs. This is to say we can invest identity in a sense of possession and control that runs counter to our true Good, and interpret negative results as caused by our true nature, so as to war against the messengers of truth while seeking out false witness and alliances by which to regain or restore our sense of our Good denied.
In such a predicament the enemy of my enemy is my ‘friend’ – while the common enemy threatens.
But such friendship can be that of being used to be discarded by those who care only for their own agenda and weaponise anything and everything to further it.
Insofar as we inherit a cultural tradition we inherit both gifts and ignorances both. An identity can be more truly aligned in what it holds value for rather than what it is set against. This is releasing the division of ‘sides’ to a recognition that we don’t know and need to know – and so get out of our own way – especially in an emergency. The need to know is more of a felt discernment of connected love or honest recognition and respect for what is actually here in willingness to discern where – within ourself – to be in relation to all that is also within ourself that is presenting as conflict, challenge or block.
The idea that everything is within is not so hard if you recognise that you make an ego for everyone you meet or even think of – and the interaction is an energetic that changes the thinker. Releasing of others from who you thought you knew them to be – in the narrative identity – is the capacity to know of them anew – that is to open a direct connection or knowing.
I am not suggest you start this with those you may regard as your greatest challenges or hated or feared enemies – but with people you already meet and share your life with.
You think you know but only judge.
There is a world of the script of judgement as the idea of possession and control that runs its course – but it has no power to enforce acceptance in your mind as true but the power you give it by engaging judgement as if to know and then base your actions or reactions on what you or the judgements you have inherited and acquired, dictate.
Aligning to our own integrity may be a leap of faith if we think we know we have none – or if you prefer, secretly fear and believe otherwise and thus seek to mask in the forms of it so as to seem to have it.
But That you exist is the basis for an integrity of being that can be covered over and lost sight of and yet remains uncoverable to the willingness to align in it by recognising we are mistaken in beliefs that become internalised and invisible by our acting as if true – and so making a space of opening to knowing that is both the willingness, curiosity and desire – but also the spirit of its natural fulfilment.
When we are truly moved to ask, we are not asking trick questions. But then there is also a matter of right. I have no right to (know) what is not mine (to know) and if I seek to take a right wrongly I in-debt or entangle myself with those I transgress. But also there is a way of unfolding disclosure that is not only kind to what we have made but takes the whole into account in all its parts and so there is no need to know what you don’t need to know now – and this also brings to awareness that knowing – in the sense I am using it – is always present or better within the presence that is current – even if pertaining to probabilities or past experiences.
If others make war on us we engage to bring war to an end – not to make war and end. Vengeance is associated with loss of FACE as loss of self. But humiliation is built in to the desire to control reality. And humility the redeeming of the will to power within the will that aligns truly without presuming to know – but knowing to listen and be guided truly.
No one can live another’s part, but in living our own truly, we serve and call forth the same purpose in others. The Middle east is an inflammation point of proxy wars – which are always waged for possession and control but may be defended against as an expression of spiritual alignment.
This can be holding faith in Life even through entanglements in and discharge of debts. Rather than invest in undying hate as self-certainty.
Such hate runs down the generations as if a sacred covenant that gives only to take away.
It is easy to talk about hate when we are not triggered in its experiential re-enactment. It is easy to be ‘spiritual’ when we are not suffering loss of face, self or capacity to cope. That is the mind set in’ thinking about’ is easy to fall into as a wishful sense of self and world, that opens a fearful or hateful experience of dashed hopes and wished denied. How much do we create our experience by the meanings we set?
@Brian Steere: “framed statements that ask for confirmation and reinforcement of our invested and often non-negotiable beliefs”.
That’s a good description of Scientific Hypothesis but with one important difference — scientific beliefs are “heavily invested” for sure: with a little blood sometimes, much sweat and a few tears. But scientific belief is never “non-negotiable” in the face of fact and logic.
@vexarb You are stating your ideal and presuming it as a given that scientific institution and establishment – unlike any other human endeavour – is able and willing to question its founding and funding beliefs, open to new evidences that do not support the accepted model which includes peer acceptance, career opportunity, public credibility, regulatory protections and personal identity or world-view.
The phrase scientific belief is a doublethink or oxymoron. Scientific explorations and discoveries may bring interpretation that causes beliefs to change, but the act of accepting ideas as true is the willingness or decision to act from their acceptance. this is a decision of the human heart – or more often a default of assigning the power of the heart to the thinking that most aligns with survival – because deferring to faith in the cult of experts is felt easier and in some sense safer than standing in your own consciousness, as willingness to ask and to follow the answers – wherever they may go.
The new term for a new non negotiable fact is ‘settled science’ and ‘scientific consensus’ both self-contradictions in terms – as by the way is organised religion.
The negotiability of ‘reality’ beliefs may change when an influx of new perspective brings freedom from old burdens and opens new energy and inspiration – but ‘old burdens’ may be fiercely defended and protected against change when they are associated with possession and control – ie power, privilege, wealth, reputation.
Much of our bias operates ‘invisibly’ within social norms that express the underlying structures of belief much as a river’s surface can express the riverbed’s relation to its flow.
Even without the issues of personal, socio-political bias under corporate capture, we have a fragmentation of specialisation and pursuance of technologism for its own sake.
Ideals can blind us to the current situation and assign an unworkability the status of requiring more sacrifice to and application of the ‘ideal’.
Workability doesn’t support ideals or idols – and so persisting in the unworkable generates a burden of conflicts that can become the basis of a witch-hunt or an assertion of coercive (weaponised) narrative set to seem salvatory and authoritative relative to ‘anti-sciencer’ insurgency that calls for a crackdown by which to deny a voice by shutting and shouting out any challenge to and invested agenda of wealth and power without substance.
Truth – and the love of truth need fear no real challenge – but needs be itself to discern the baiting of attack by deceit – weaponised language and trick questions, smear statements and attack on the person.
Perhaps the good news is that aligning in a true willingness for life is to meet persecution.
When those who love life persist regardless of persecution, they are leaving the territory of a herd immunity from truth to the willing alignment in truth – which is at once both an inner and an outer responsibility of acceptance to revealed reality, rather than an inner mindset set in judgement over and outer reality.
Possession and control is not absent from scientific endeavour. And seeking to define in order to extend control over life and world and others can mask itself in vague or general notions of the human good or human progress while actively running the archetypal intent to lord it over a private ‘creation’.
Whatever we do believe or are actively believing is setting the frame of our current perception. Ideas that contain self-contradictory elements unfold a conflicting, polarising and depleting dead end. FROM which faithful feedback we can wake from following along the wheel rut of ‘accepted reality’ by questioning it from a RECOGNITION that there is an error in the foundations or indeed and interloper in the ‘temple’ of our devotions.
We stand on the shoulders of giant mistakes – that have also served to bring us to where we are now. Don’t demonise the past – or you undermine the present by stamping a past made hateful upon the face of the future. Why should uncovering a rightness of being demand a wrongness in others – or past – in order to set a frame of justification in self-specialness?
Lets have real science of transparency and accountability, as a process of willingness to uncover and align in truth – rather than give allegiance to the lie that pays or mitigates penalty under the ‘Caesar of our day’.
Practical workability – yes. Human gods, idols or ideals demanding or enforcing sacrifice – no thanks.