Starvation: a Twisted Example of the Assad Regime’s Terrorism

starvation in Yarmouk

Images of people who allegedly starved to death in the Yarmouk neighborhood of Damascus

 

by Matthew Barber

A fabulous documentary about the situation of children in Syria is being shown on Canadian and British television. The documentary, “Children on the Frontline,”  will be available for viewing for a limited time online, but unfortunately only for viewers in Canada or the UK. The documentary contains enlightening footage of life inside war-torn neighborhoods of Aleppo, and interviews with a number of children who talk about their experiences living on the frontline of the Syrian war. One little girl talks about how she searches for salvageable scrap metal that she brings home to her father who makes bombs. She describes, as though it is perfectly ordinary, seeing the head of a man split open when a bomb in their workshop was accidentally detonated. Another girl, about 5 years old, relays a dream of being surrounded by a circle of snipers who begin opening fire on her. “They hit me here, here, here,” she says, touching her body in the places where she dreamed the bullets hit. The scene that brought tears to my eyes was seeing several sisters searching through abandoned homes, looking for weapons. The harsh juxtaposition of the world of children and the world of war is depicted so clearly: One of the girls is carrying a gun and they are discussing finding weapons, when suddenly they become distracted by a stash of little toys and stuffed animals they discover. The gun is laid aside as colorful little bears and plastic balls are examined. Their older sister then won’t allow them to remove the items from the house, because “it would be stealing” from the people who own the house. The mother of the girls explains on camera that she won’t allow her children to loot anything from any home, whether it had belonged to regime-aligned people or not.

A well-known activist named Aboude is also profiled, who lives in Aleppo and is 13 years old. He began taking the courageous stance to criticize the government openly, at school, two years ago when he was only 11. No one put him up to this; his parents were against his involvement in activism, but he has been leading protests ever since. The documentary also examines the plight of the area that is now threatened by al-Qaida-linked Islamists who punish even the most stalwart revolutionaries for “un-Islamic” behaviors. The area in which the documentary was filmed is an FSA stronghold at the edge of rebel territory, directly adjacent to regime positions. Though sniper fire is a serious threat, one of the fighters explains that “being close to your enemy is the safest place to be,” because aerial bombardment is unlikely on the frontline where rebel positions are so close to regime forces. In addition to daily confrontations with regime forces, the people of the area now have to contend with the threat of kidnappings by al-Qaida rebels who target even the most committed activists who pioneered dissent in the early days of the uprising. Those who follow events in the country have known for a while that this has been a growing problem, but there are still plenty of FSA-controlled areas that are feeling increasingly hampered by the oppressive involvement of ISIS members who are more interested in imposing their own religious norms than in uniting with rebel forces to provide defense. (A significant example of this occurred this week when Raed Fares, the man behind the famous protest artwork that comes out of Kafranbel, was shot—likely by ISIS—but survived the assassination attempt.)

[Update: the video was made available for now on Youtube: http://youtu.be/rYWiOsvBRTk ]

Something evident in the area depicted in the documentary, still controlled by FSA forces, is that food is available. Other areas of resistance that become surrounded or captured by the regime do not remain so fortunate.

Over the past month or more, a high number of photos and narrated accounts have emerged that present evidence of horrific levels of suffering, due to starvation.

Starvation is a weapon of torture employed against the regime’s opponents; it is less about any military strategy but more about collectively punishing political enemies and breaking the will of those who defy the state. Starvation in Syria has been taking place in two contexts: 1) opposition areas that fall under regime control and are subsequently blockaded, food supplies being prevented from entering these districts, and 2) prisoners in custody who are not fed by their captors.

Over the course of the Geneva peace talks, the regime’s narrative was unsurprising. It highlighted instances of terrorism committed by jihadists and then portrayed itself as trying to combat the terror problem. Even as we near the beginning of the 4th year of the conflict, regime figures at the talks would not acknowledge that their opponents were Syrian or that a great portion of the Syrian population does not recognize Assad as president. They portrayed their own narrative as “the Syrian side” or “the Syrian story” implying that contrary views were not Syrian. For regime proponents and members of the Ba’athist cult of unreality, a Syrian is not someone originating within the geographical bounds of the historical place called Syria; to be a Syrian, one must embrace and endorse the rule of the current state, as defined by the rulers.

The Guardian reports that during the Geneva talks this past week, nearly 1,900 people have been killed in Syria. Allegations of blockades that result in starvation continue, reportedly occurring in multiple locations within the country. In addition to the accounts of starvation, Human Rights Watch yesterday released a detailed report on the Syrian regime’s systematic use of punitive housing demolition—the destruction of entire neighborhoods—over the last two years. The report can be accessed here: “Razed to the Ground.”

After hearing the tired yet predictably deceitful language propagated by regime figures at the Geneva talks, it is important to remember that yes, terrorism has been rampant among many Syrian rebel factions—typical in asymmetrical warfare, and in this conflict often directed at sectarian targets—but nevertheless, no single player in the conflict has utilized terrorism as widely as the Syrian regime.

The places currently under siege in Syria that we could identify (that may experience the risk of a lack of food or from where reports of the absence of food have been received) are: Babila, Beit Sahem, Duma, Harasta, Zamalaka, Deir al-Asafir, Mukhayam Yarmook, Yelda, al-Mo’adamia, Daraya, Qabuun, Jobar, Berzeh, Homs, Homs al-Qadima, al-Qasour, al-Qarabiss, Jorat al-Shayah, al-Waer, Rastan, Telbissa, Hola, al-Dar al-Kabira, Qal’at al-Hosn, Zara.

The following are a few of the examples of starvation that have been circulating recently.

An old man from Rif Dimashq (Damascus countryside or suburbs) cries while talking about the imposed blockade and the inability to find food.

Starvation in the Yarmouk Palestinian neighborhood of Damascus, showing recently deceased emaciated body and an emaciated man still alive:

Emaciated infant dead from starvation in Jisreen:

An article in Arabic describes how a family in Yarmouk was poisoned after eating cat meat

‘Eating grass to survive’ in besieged Homs - BBC

“We are now eating anything that comes out of the ground, plants, even grass. We pick it, then cook it with some water using wood because we have no gas…

“These shrubs and grass that we’re eating causes illnesses, such as indigestion and fever. A few days ago an elderly man died within six hours from eating the grass and shrubs.”

An Amnesty International article discusses, in addition to the absence of food, the danger of being shot by snipers while trying to bring leaves/grass for family members to eat:

… “Every day, we receive around four people – probably half of them women – who were shot at by snipers as they were picking plants and shrubs in the fields. The women say they prefer to risk their own lives to spare their children. On one occasion, we received a teenager, probably aged 16 or 17, who was shot dead. His father started talking to him, saying: ‘You died for the sake of bringing hibiscus leaves for your siblings.’ It was heartbreaking,” he said. …

BBC article from today describes some aid reaching Yarmouk:

… In a separate development, the UN relief agency UNRWA said it had delivered 720 food parcels to a besieged Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus on Thursday.

Yarmouk camp, which is held by the rebels, is suffering severe shortages of food and medical supplies, with activists reporting dozens of deaths there from starvation.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness described “chaotic scenes” as 700 of the total 900 food parcels brought into the camp were distributed to residents.

He said it was the first aid to reach the remaining 18,000 residents since 21 January, when UNRWA distributed 138 food parcels. …

More images are here: 1, 2

In addition to the issue of blockades that will not allow food to those inside, evidence emerged recently confirming widespread starvation within Syrian prisons. On Jan. 20, the Guardian published a report it had received from an independent commission on the issue. The report, available here, consisted of an analysis given by several individuals who examined photographic evidence of torture and starvation. The photographs had been smuggled out of Syria by a regime defector who worked inside the prisons. The evidence consisted of 55,000 photographs of around 11,000 bodies. A large percentage of the photographed corpses showed signs of emaciation. I won’t relay the story of the defector or details of the investigation. The report is worth reading. Aspects of the report’s methodology were criticized, as were the political motivations behind the timing of its release just prior to the Geneva talks, in addition to scrutiny on those who funded the report. This notwithstanding, the findings of the report deserve attention.

One article to discuss the report was published on Mail Online: Starved, tortured then throttled: The true horror of how Assad’s soldiers execute rebel prisoners is revealed in new images

The article contains a number of the leaked photos of tortured and starved bodies, a few of which I will post. On the one hand I feel apologetic for posting these, but on the other I believe its important to consider the extent of suffering experienced by prisoners in Syria. This is a reality we must not ignore, and it should disturb us.
starvation 1

starvation 2starvation 3torture

Commentary on the report appeared here and in the following article: Syrian regime document trove shows evidence of ‘industrial scale’ killing of detainees

Senior war crimes prosecutors say photographs and documents provide ‘clear evidence’ of systematic killing of 11,000 detainees

Syrian government officials could face war crimes charges in the light of a huge cache of evidence smuggled out of the country showing the “systematic killing” of about 11,000 detainees, according to three eminent international lawyers.

The three, former prosecutors at the criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone, examined thousands of Syrian government photographs and files recording deaths in the custody of regime security forces from March 2011 to last August.

Most of the victims were young men and many corpses were emaciated, bloodstained and bore signs of torture. Some had no eyes; others showed signs of strangulation or electrocution.

The UN and independent human rights groups have documented abuses by both Bashar al-Assad’s government and rebels, but experts say this evidence is more detailed and on a far larger scale than anything else that has yet emerged from the 34-month crisis.

… The authors are Sir Desmond de Silva QC, former chief prosecutor of the special court for Sierra Leone, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, the former lead prosecutor of former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic, and Professor David Crane, who indicted President Charles Taylor of Liberia at the Sierra Leone court. …

“This is amazing. This is the type of evidence a prosecutor looks for and hopes for.  We have pictures, with numbers that marry up with papers with identical numbers – official governmentdocuments. We have the person who took those pictures. That’s beyond-reasonable-doubt-type evidence.” …

“These photos – if authentic – suggest that we may have only scratched the surface of the horrific extent of torture in Syria’s notorious dungeons. There is only one way to get to the bottom of this and that is for the negotiating parties at Geneva II to grant unhindered access to Syria’s detention facilities to independent monitors.”

ISIS has also starved their prisoners. The narrator in this video says that after being imprisoned by ISIS and not being given food or water, prisoners had to eat rats. The video shows the mutilated body of a man who was in prison with him. He says there were 325 prisoners. ISIS guards came and led out a group of them, including some militia commanders, after which they heard gunshots. The guards came back and took out another group, including a 14 and a 15 year old. More gunshots were heard. When they asked the guards where they were taking these people, they were told that they were letting them go home, but then one of the prisoners who was arrested for a trivial reason and tortured at the hands of a British interrogator was shot and killed in front of them for not being able to move after being tortured. That’s when they realized that they were all being executed in turns. One of the prisoners was arrested for simply walking past an ISIS headquarters building and looking at them. Another was a 73 year-old diabetic man with very swollen fingers and feet. The arrested children were more resistant to the hunger and thirst than were the adults. As the cameraman moves the camera around, people standing near the narrator cover their faces out of fear of being seen by ISIS.

Starvation of pro-regime civilians by blockade is also used as a weapon on the part of rebel forces: The politics of starvation: Syria’s civilians go hungry after months of sieges - Patrick Cockburn

blockades & sieges in Syria

… Unnoticed by the outside world, the largest single community currently besieged and on the edge of starvation in Syria lives in two Shia towns west if Aleppo, Zahraa and Nobl, with a combined population 45,000. In this case the besiegers are Sunni rebels who accuse the Shia townspeople of supporting the government of President Bashar al-Assad and are seeking to starve them into submission. …

Zahraa and Nubl form an isolated Shia pocket in an area where most of the people are Sunni supporting the rebels. The towns have received no supplies from the outside apart from an occasional delivery by a government helicopter. …

The politics of starvation are complex in Syria and open to manipulation for propaganda purposes. The problem stems primarily from the government forces’ strategy of sealing off areas that have been captured by the armed opposition and not letting people or goods in or out. …

Round-Up

 


Landis and Tabler discuss why nothing got done at Geneva and who is to blame on PBS Newshour

 

For those interested in more translations of the @wikibaghdady leaks, the folks over at reddit continued them. See here

The Other Syrian Peace Process – Aron Lund

… On January 23, Moheisini launched a peace plan called the Umma Initiative…

…The plan is as follows: after an immediate ceasefire between the ISIL and other rebels, the factions will elect a joint arbitration court from a list of ten independent religious scholars. …

… Just as this post went online, the ISIL announced that it is rejecting the Umma Initiative. The group demands that all signatories must first cut their ties to states like Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and of course the West, and to non-Islamist groups like the SMC and other foreign-funded entities. Until this happens, it will continue to fight its enemies. While this is a clever way of trying to play the ball back to the signatories of the Umma Initiative, the end results seems to be that the ISIL has opted for increasing isolation instead of reconciliation. It will attempt a military solution to the conflict, in the hope that the anti-ISIL ranks will splinter with time.

Assad’s hopes thwarted at Syria talks – Liz Sly

… That hesi­ta­tion is evidence that the regime is rattled by the way the talks have gone, a senior U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“I find Minister Moualem’s reluctance to make a commitment telling, and it probably is an indication of their understanding that they have a very hard case to defend,” the official said, referring to Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, the head of the Syrian delegation. …

Fascinating article: At Neutral Site, Syrians Feel Free to Confront the Other Side – Anne Barnard & Hwaida Saad

For Syrian officials, a lakeside idyll here, far from their country’s war, has been marred by what plainly feels to them like an endless stream of impertinent questions.

They have been asked why their government is bombing its citizens, when their president is leaving office, what happened to a British doctor who died suspiciously in a Syrian government prison. They have even been offered the coordinates of jihadist fighters — and asked if they will drop bombs on them instead of on civilians.

The questions that gall them the most, judging by their reactions, are not from the foreigners whose queries they are accustomed to viewing as part of a “media war.” The ones that really nettle them come from Syrians.

… It is an encounter that neither side has experienced before, and in some ways it is the most significant thing taking place at a peace conference that has been more about optics than results. Here in neutral and secure Switzerland, Syrian government delegates used to meeting journalists only inside a government-controlled bubble are finding that almost anyone can come up to them anytime, anywhere, and ask anything.

It is a surreal experience, too, for Syrian activists like Adnan Hadad of Aleppo, who sees it this way: “If we tried this in Syria, they would torture us to death.” …

Yet the government bubble is far older than the war. An Arab journalist who worked in Syria for years said government delegates probably had “never seen, let alone spoken to, anyone in the opposition.”

So for them to sit across from Haitham al-Maleh, an opposition delegate in his 80s who is a former political prisoner, is “historic,” the journalist said, “as if people from the Stalinist system suddenly sat down with Solzhenitsyn or Sakharov.”

“‘Darkness at Noon,’ you have to think in these terms,” the journalist added, referring to the book about Soviet repression and speaking anonymously to freely express his personal views. …

An example of the kinds of encounters that Anne was describing above can be seen in this video of Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi running from a reporter who keeps asking “Why won’t the regime bomb ISIS targets?” (It was recently reported that an ISIS defector claimed he and his comrades always slept soundly in their bases, knowing that the regime wouldn’t be bombing them.)

Even if the Syrian regime doesn’t attack ISIS bases, the Turkish military attacked an ISIS convoy on Wednesday. Turkey’s longstanding policy of leaving the border open to jihadists was certain to return to haunt them at some point. ISIS and others seeking to create what they term an “Islamic state” will recognize the legitimacy of Turkish borders as much as they do Syrian borders. The irony is that after tacitly (and actively) supporting the jihadists, Turkey may at some point begin fighting them. The attack was in retaliation for cross-border fire. al-Arabiya – Turkish army strikes ISIS convoy in Syria

The Turkish armed forces opened fire on the convoy of an al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group’s vehicles in Syria in retaliation for cross-border fire on Tuesday, destroying three vehicles, Turkish media said on Wednesday.

“A pick-up, a truck and a bus in an ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) convoy were destroyed,” Agence France-Presse quoted published by Turkish media. There were no casualties on the Turkish side.

The army said the attack, carried out Tuesday, came after two Turkish military vehicles had been fired upon at the Cobanbey border post in the south of the country.
The Turkish military targeted ISIS positions in northern Syria after a mortar shell fired from Syria landed in Turkish territory during clashes between ISIS and the rebel Free Syrian Army, Reuters reported broadcaster NTV as saying.
The incident is considered to be the first pitting Turkey against ISIS which has been fighting forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad as well as fellow rebel groups in the north of the country since January.

Al-Qaeda in Turkey?

The Turkish military action also comes after Israel’s military intelligence chief said some of the al-Qaeda militants fighting in Syria have set up bases in Turkey, where they can also easily access Europe.

Al-Qaeda fighters from around the world enter Syria weekly, but they “do not stay there,” Major-General Aviv Kochavi told a security conference, while presenting a map of the Middle East marking areas with an al-Qaeda presence. According to the map, there are three al-Qaeda bases in Turkey. …

If you missed it before, make sure to view a documentary released at the beginning of this month, on the struggle of the Kurds in northeastern Syria. The Kurdish fighters in the video point out that Turkey keeps its border with Arab areas of Syria open, allowing fighters and journalists in and out. However, they keep the portion of the Turkish border adjacent to the Kurdish area of Syria tightly sealed. The Kurds believe that Turkey is worried about the success of the Kurds, and is happy to allow ISIS fighters through to fight them. That those ISIS fighters may eventually pose a terror threat inside Turkey, or become a force that Turkey itself will have to fight, highlights the irony. Another significant moment in this film is a scene in which a Kurdish fighter displays a knife he retrieved from a fallen ISIS fighter. He says the knife was bloody when he got it and had been used to cut someone’s throat. Printed on the side of the knife was “Made in USA” and the words “9/11 – We Will Never Forget.” The implication was that US military equipment, complete with pro-US nationalist (and ultimately anti-jihadist) slogans, destined as aid for FSA rebels, wound up in the hands of ISIS jihadis who were using that very equipment in their executions. Layers of irony.

While Turkey worries about its border, Israel is worrying about its border as well, going so far as to take an active role in supporting rebels. Israel’s Growing Role in Southern Syria Arabic version here: دور إسرائيل المتنامي في جنوب سوريا

Concerned about the possible drift of al-Qaeda affiliates to areas adjacent to the Golan Heights border, Israel finds itself obliged to increase its assistance to local rebel militias in southern Syria.

As the fighting in Syria rages, Israel has been moving cautiously and often reluctantly toward assuming a modest role in the civil war, restricted to areas along the Golan Heights frontier line. What began as a purely humanitarian step — extending emergency medical aid to injured and sick Syrians from neighboring villages — has by now reportedly expanded into a well-developed mechanism for providing a whole range of items, from medications to food, fuel, clothes, heaters, and more. …

Intra-jihadist ideological conflicts: The Islamic State of Disunity: Jihadism Divided - Cole Bunzel

More on the nature of ISIS: The Dawn of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham - Aymenn al-Tamimi

Comments (143)


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101. Tara said:

Matt@97

Dear Matt, your opinion and analysis @97 is the best I have heard and expect. Thank you.

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February 4th, 2014, 8:50 am

 

102. Hopeful said:

#96 Ghufran

You can it have it both ways. They are either dumb ignorant Bedouins being played by the US and the west, or they are so smart that they can fool the CIA and other western intelligence. Which one is it?

I do not understand your last statement. Why would “some” of us be threatened if you attack the Saudi government?

By the way, I am not defending the Saudi government. But when it comes to Syria, I believe they are on the right side.

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February 4th, 2014, 10:34 am

 

103. Observer said:

I think JL is now clear about the eventual collapse of the regime and with it the entire clan and the community that supports it.

It is simple there are many more Sunnis than Alawis and at the end their fate will be similar to the Maronites of Lebanon small players and that if they do not get massacred in the process.

What a pity that so many intelligent decent hard working hopeful Alawis swallowed the regime’s propaganda wholesale including some on this very blog.

I would put it differently: if the regime stays it is a disaster and if the salafists take over it is a tragedy for in the later case change will happen and only Sunnis will be able to defeat their own extremists.

In the meantime it is clear that the regime has no other strategy than to destroy what it cannot control. It is now in an effort to split the country and to make the other parts as miserable as possible.

Misery will visit it as well in due course.

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February 4th, 2014, 11:42 am

 

104. Hopeful said:

A miracle!

http://youtu.be/-m_IgNakiXc

These men used their bare hands. No tools available, not even spoons.

Assad would like it very much if Turkey would stop supplying these guys with tools and supplies. Can the US also stop giving assistance so that these terrorists would cease to be able to rescue buried children? Saudis, please stop sending money as well, ok?

What hypocracy!

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February 4th, 2014, 12:09 pm

 

105. Hopeful said:

#103 Observer

I have no doubt that, if the country is divided tomorrow between Sunnistan and Alawistan, the Sunnis will get rid of the jihadis and the Alawites will revolt and overthrow Assad in less than a week.

The jihadis and the regime are both assuring that the other is surviving. That is the real tragedy.

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February 4th, 2014, 12:13 pm

 

106. Alan said:

Mr. JL
Please ! Can you turn the light on the operational and political role of the United States and its allies for regime change in Syria,
protracted since the start of the pre-zero hour to the present day, especially after american politicians announced the failure of their policy in Syria!
What are the limits of this policy and what are the limits of this failure? Please dared to publish details! We know that when the scheme fails to be forming a committee to look into the details and draw lessons
Thank you

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February 4th, 2014, 1:47 pm

 

107. Alan said:

Kerry Tells Senators That Obama Syria Policy Is Collapsing
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-03/kerry-tells-members-of-congress-that-obama-needs-new-syria-approach.html

US imperial system ‘wants to destroy Syria’
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/02/04/349214/us-imperial-system-wants-to-destroy-syria/
An American political analyst says it is the US imperial system that wants to destroy Syria because the system is after “war and destabilization.”

“This is a continuation of the same strategy that the White House is employed for what’s going on in three years,” founder of stopimperialism.com Eric Draitser told Press TV on Tuesday.

He made the comments after Republican lawmakers said US Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressional delegation that the Obama administration’s Syria policy is failing.

Kerry spoke to a bipartisan congressional delegation about Syria at the Munich Security Conference in a closed-door session.

“He acknowledged that the chemical weapons is being slow-rolled, the Russians continue to supply arms [and] we are at a point now where we are going to have to change our strategy,” Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.

The White House, however, on Monday said it “absolutely” stood by its policy in Syria.

The analyst says the Obama administration is not after peace in Syria even after holding meetings in Geneva to resolve the Syrian crisis.

“The Geneva negotiation process was the pretext that the United States is using to ramp up towards yet another war,” Draitser said………

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February 4th, 2014, 2:02 pm

 

108. Hopeful said:

#97 Mathew

The contradictions you talk about that exit within GCC societies regarding the rebels in Syria are very similar to what the Palestinians experienced during the second Intifada. A suicide bomber blows himself up in Israel. He kills, among others, many Arabs. The Palestinian authority condemns it. Most Palestinians, and Arabs, approve of it, although many feel unease about it. The bomber’s parents say they are proud of their son.

The fact is that the vast majority of citizens in GCC countries feel that they should help their Syrian brothers against a tyrant. Many of them are conservative Sunnis who do not like the Shiaa and are very suspicious of Iran and its interference in Arab countries. Many of them are very wealthy and are more than willing to donate to the cause of spreading Islam. It won’t be too difficult for a group of would-be fighters to raise $10M dollars and head to Syria and recruit more fighters. The governments of these countries: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, cannot afford to crack down on these activities, but that does not mean that they are “behind” them, or even in support of them. One reason these governments have survived for so long is that they do not use heavy handed tactics when dealing with their elitist countrymen. Saudi Arabia has many billionaires presiding over massive empires. The Saudi Arabia rulers are not going to question them on whom their money is supporting in Syria. At least not now. But that is very different from saying that the Saudi government is supporting and funding ISIS or Alnusra in Syria.

Perhaps the most appropriate description of the relationship between GCC governments and the jihadis is how you described the relationship between ISIS and the Syrian regime. The regime did not create ISIS but it certainly is not too unhappy that it exists as it indirectly helps it in its fight against the moderate rebels. Similarly, GCC governments did not create ISIS and Alnusrah, but perhaps they were not too unhappy initially that they entered Syria to help the rebels against the regime. I think that situation has changed by now.

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February 4th, 2014, 3:04 pm

 

109. habib said:

Wow, Syrcomment is now officially a mouthpice of the opposition. Great.

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February 4th, 2014, 3:44 pm

 

110. Tara said:

Habib,

I understand your frustration. Any publication that does not worship القائد المؤمن الملهم الفذ الدكتور بطة is always going to be a mouthpiece of something. Loyalists frustration reminds me with the Syrian delegation to Geneva being confronted for the first time in their pathetic lives with a Syrian journalist asking why does the regime use barrel bombs against civilians, all that while not being able to lock and torture to death that journalist who for sure serving as a mouthpiece for something. I’m sure you feel the same shock and frustration every time you read SC and you think it is not worshiping Batta enough.

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February 4th, 2014, 4:02 pm

 

111. Tara said:

Habib, read and enjoy:

أضافت وكالة أنباء النظام (سانا) نقطة جديدة واستثنائية، في سجلها الحافل بالمصداقية والمهنية ونقل الحقيقة للسوريين ولمختلف شعوب الأرض، حينما أوردت خبر تلقي “الرئيس القائد المؤمن الدكتور” برقية من “علماء وخطباء مساجد سوريا” –كل سوريا!!-، يعظمون فيها دعوته لصلاة الاستسقاء، التي أثمرت ثلوجا وأمطارا، رأى فيها مرسلو البرقية أنها تبشر بالفرج والنصر القريب.

وتذكر هذه البرقية بصيغتها التي نشرتها “سانا” جميع السوريين أن “حافظ ما مات”، وقد خلف وراءه إعلاما قادرا على اجترار أوقح أنواع الكذب، حتى في أحلك الأوقات وأشد الظروف كارثية.

وهذا الخبر كما أوردته “سانا”
تلقى السيد الرئيس بشار الأسد برقية من علماء وخطباء مساجد سورية جاء فيها:
سيادة الرئيس القائد المؤمن الدكتور بشار الأسد وفقه الله لما فيه خير البلاد والعباد.. قال الله سبحانه وتعالى “وقال ربكم ادعوني أستجب لكم”.. كان لدعوتكم الكريمة للمواطنين عامة ولأئمة المساجد وخطبائها لإقامة صلاة الاستسقاء والتوجه إلى الله سبحانه بالتضرع والدعاء مع التوبة إلى الله بأن يغيث البلاد ويكرمها بالسقيا بعد طول جفاف استجابة عظيمة من المواطنين ظهر صداها في مساجد دمشق وسائر المحافظات.. فارتفعت الأكف إلى الله سبحانه بالدعاء والابتهال والتضرع وفق الهدي النبوي واستغاث الناس به سبحانه أن يغيث البلاد بالأمطار وأن يرفع عنها البلاء والفتنة.. وقد استجاب ربنا سبحانه للأصوات التي ارتفعت إليه وأغاث البلاد بالأمطار والثلوج ولله الحمد والمنة..
وإنا لنسأل الله سبحانه كما أغاث الأمة بالسقيا أن يغيثها برفع البلاء والمحنة عن سورية وأن تسير البلاد بقيادتكم الحكيمة المؤمنة نحو غد مشرق تعيش فيه سورية بطمأنينة وأمان وازدهار ولعل استجابة الله تعالى دعاء الأمة بالأمطار والثلوج بشائر لاستجابته بالنصر والفرج القريب.. إنه سميع مجيب.

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February 4th, 2014, 4:04 pm

 

112. Syrialover said:

MATTHEW #97

Your post includes an important description of the motives and character of “holy warriors”.

The fact that they and their mission are predatory, pathologically cruel, thrill-seeking, irrational and deeply delusional is given inadequate attention in their home communities and media coverage.

Also unstated is the fact that they are NOT REPRESENTING ISLAM, and the main “prey” they seek to have power over and violently punish to get personal thrills, are innocent normal Muslims who don’t conform to their bizarre made-up-as-you-go-along fake version of Islam. Their behaviour is sick and criminal by universal human measures.

I congratulate you for stating the following in your comment above. This needs to be universally, clearly spelt out:

“Syria is the ultimate fantasy-playground for jihadists—a Disneyland where the glorious conquests of the early years of Islam (as imagined in the minds of young, contemporary aspiring martyrs) can be reenacted and brought to life. It’s World of Warcraft, except that in the minds of its participants, it’s real.

“… Tons of young “players” all over the world were ready to come join the game as part of their testosterone-driven quest for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. … this opportunity to find someone to label “evil” so that killing him and directing violence toward his community will be justified… and satisfying.”

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February 4th, 2014, 4:20 pm

 

113. Syrialover said:

Another powerful and accurate insight into “holy warriors” came from Racan Alloch after direct experience with them in Syria.

“ISIS has one goal: to make their own dicks feel bigger”

(https://twitter.com/Racanarchy

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February 4th, 2014, 4:32 pm

 

114. Syrialover said:

#109. HABIB said:

“Wow, Syrcomment is now officially a mouthpice of the opposition”

CORRECTION:

Since the departure of ZOO, REVENIRE, ANN and a couple of other Team Assad members who routinely occupied up to 70% of this forum, it has stopped serving as an unofficial mouthpiece of the regime.

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February 4th, 2014, 4:41 pm

 

115. Syrialover said:

HOPEFUL #108

Thanks for your comment on private GCC support for fighters in Syria #108.

A couple of things which may bring change:

1. Returnee jihadists are increasingly seen to be a potential threat to the social fabric and political stability of the Gulf states.

They are part of rising socialization issues with the native young of these countries, with their problems including unemployability, a falling marriage rate, and lack of purpose and constructive engagement. This is no longer just anecdotal – it is now being officially discussed and documented by studies.

2. Saudi Arabia and a couple of the Gulf States have now turned on the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Saudis rushed to provide major financial support to the post-MB government in Egypt.

The UAE last year arrested, prosecuted and stripped local MB figures of their assets, and Dubai officials labelled the MB a threat to their society.

Also Qatar is finding itself under increasing pressure from other Arab League members to dilute its association with the MB.

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February 4th, 2014, 5:29 pm

 

116. SYRIAN HAMSTER said:

A link to a great production. (Youtube) . hope it is not a violation

تأييدك للقاتل يجعلك شريكا له

Definitely far more intelligent than anything produced by regime thugs including Allan’s three rats disgusting clip.

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February 4th, 2014, 5:36 pm

 

117. ghufran said:

I do not believe that any Saudi official, dumb or smart, will be able to directly recruit Jihadists to kill Americans without getting caught. The royal mafia in KSA does not answer to anybody except the US but still has to accommodate the Wahhabi religious establishment, their main backer domestically, and that where the Saudi regime’s dilemma is.
GCC support for Jihadi and Takfiri movements is easier to spot outside the official circle for obvious reasons. What Saudi officials did for decades was providing a hospitable environment for Wahhabi thugs and deviant Sheikhs and allow them to operate freely at the expense of Saudis(especially Saudi women) and non Saudis who are in the Wahhabi range of influence. The Saudi regime also finances Wahhabi activities outside KSA in the name of spreading the message of Islam. Saudi authorities have also released members of Islamic militant groups only to mysteriously find them practicing Jihad in Syria.
The royal mafia in KSA will not react negatively to Jihadi and Takfiri groups unless those groups threaten the rule of Al-Saud or if big Daddy (USA) gets upset, you can see a hint of that in abdullah’s decree.
It will be great for the cause of religious liberty and freedom if the two evil forces, Al-Saud and the Takfiris, fight in KSA and provide Muslims and the world with a much needed break but I do not see that happening any time soon.
(Dood alkhall minno w’feeh)

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February 4th, 2014, 6:40 pm

 

118. SYRIAN HAMSTER said:

what a contradictory incoherent rubbish… yes it is your post Ghufran

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February 4th, 2014, 6:44 pm

 

119. Ghufran said:

Clapper on Syria:
Clapper said Assad’s government is likely to remain in power, absent a diplomatic agreement for a new transitional government, which most analysts consider a long shot.
“I foresee kind of more of the same, sort of a perpetual state of a stalemate where … neither the regime nor the opposition can prevail,” he told the House Intelligence Committee.
Clapper added that the chemical weapons agreement strengthened Assad’s position but he did not elaborate.
Jordan through Al- Bakheet ( close ally of the king) warned about a possible dangerous twist in the conflict where rebels are pushed out of Horan inside Jordan, he also expressed concerns that KSA may be pressuring Jordan to take more risk than it can tolerate.

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February 4th, 2014, 10:01 pm

 

120. Mick said:

Matt #97

Syria was not behind the Libyan/Saudi/Jordanian Salafists that went into Iraq any more than they are behind ISIS. Again you present rumors and not facts. Every time the Syria government approached the U.S. to help, the were dismissed. So again, my anger because of my knowledge wants me to lash out. I have been battling this idiocy for over a decade. I have had idiots tell me that ‘Asif Shawkat was behind meetings with Hamas, Hizballah, Jundallah, Al Qaeda, and the MEK and was making strategies. You know, complete bullshit. But the person said it with a straight face so idiot number 2 believed it.

According to U.S. magical thinking, the Syrians were capable of stopping everything from crossing the border. If they didn’t, they must be supporting it. This became lazy mainstream thought. (ever been to the tribal region that is the Iraq/Syrian border?)

So even though at the time we had an Ambassador, a DAO (who happened to know the border quite well), and full knowledge of the area, we never had any evidence of what you claim about government support of the same groups that are active from Libya to Pakistan.

It doesn’t mean the media didn’t claim it. I thought it funny that we had UAVs, Marines, and every resource available to the most advanced military in the world, along the Syrian/Iraq border, and Syria had its conscripts, and if someone got across, it was the 3rd world nation with conscripts’ fault.

Rhetoric. Not a study of who supports the agents. Then as now, you just accuse Syria for the Sunni fundamentalists attacks.

Syria did not call on Libyans or Saudis to go to Iraq to attack. They did not build the rat lines. They did not fund them. Although they did once in a while find and arrest them.

Please quit trying to link Syria with the Gulf sponsored terrorists. I realize a lot of bigots have spent years for both political and personnel gain on the subject, but Sunni fundamentalists don’t sacrifice their life for an eye-doctor. There are quite a lot of Arab media channels paid for by gulf actors to encourage this. To ignore them, or at best minimize them while thinking that Sunni fundamentalists are swayed by some unfunded, unviewed rumor mill is not exactly what I call historic level reasoning. Just gossip.

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February 4th, 2014, 10:51 pm

 

121. Mick said:

And I actually find this line of thinking quite rich coming from a bunch of people who are defending their support for the Nusrah Front…you know the group that Zuwahiri thinks is his best buds in Syria.

Yeah, Bashar is the one that has some kind of problem of who he picks and chooses as friends.

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February 4th, 2014, 11:07 pm

 

122. Mick said:

And where was Matt and the West when ISIS and Nusrah had complete blockade on Aleppo? I guess that wasn’t part of the political messaging timing so it didn’t matter.

“Rebels stopped supplies from entering western parts of the city in a bid to weaken the supply routes for President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, they add.

They say the blockade has led to severe food and medicine shortages.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23261026

It’s only bad NOW when the West says it is because it has pictures to show how bad Bashar is.

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February 4th, 2014, 11:27 pm

 

123. Ghufran said:

Kerry suggested allowing KSA, Iran and Turkey to participate in Geneva 3 in what he called a ” parallel course “.
Jamous of the NC ( I find the Jarba- Jamous combo interesting ) said that the NC now welcomes adding more members to opposition team:
أعلن الأمين العام للائتلاف الوطني المعارض، بدر الدين جاموس, يوم الثلاثاء, أن الائتلاف مستعد لتوسيع وفد المعارضة المشارك في الجولة الثانية من مفاوضات جنيف.
وقال جاموس للصحفيين، عقب مباحثات رئيس الائتلاف أحمد الجربا في موسكو إن “وفد الائتلاف يضم 16 شخصا ويمكن تغيير تشكيلته”، مضيفا أن “الائتلاف كان من البداية يريد تمثيل مصالح المعارضة إلى أقصى حد ممكن”.
Do not ask me why this was not done 2 weeks ago !!

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February 5th, 2014, 12:28 am

 

124. Juergen said:

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February 5th, 2014, 12:53 am

 

125. Juergen said:

Insightful article about the relationship between al-Qaeda central command and ‪ISIS‬ in ‪Syria‬ and Iraq‬:

Al-Qaeda and ISIS: The Renunciation of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The Islamic State of Iraq, which later became the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was never really a subordinate of al-Qaeda. The groups’ relationship dates back to 2003, when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi swore an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden. The religious dispute between the two jihadi groups, however, is new, as all reconciliation attempts have so far failed.

A statement attributed to al-Qaeda, published by the Fajr Media Center, a jihadi propaganda platform, announced that al-Qaeda has no official ties to ISIS. According to the statement, al-Qaeda was never notified, consulted, or approached about the founding of ISIS. Instead, the statement continued, al-Qaeda has called for dissolving the group, stressing that ISIS “is not a branch of Qaedat al-Jihad [al-Qaeda], and has no organizational ties to it.”

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/al-qaeda-and-isis-renunciation-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi

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February 5th, 2014, 12:55 am

 

126. Juergen said:

Insightful article about the relationship between al-Qaeda central command and ‪ISIS‬ in ‪Syria‬ and Iraq‬:

Al-Qaeda and ISIS: The Renunciation of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The Islamic State of Iraq, which later became the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was never really a subordinate of al-Qaeda. The groups’ relationship dates back to 2003, when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi swore an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden. The religious dispute between the two jihadi groups, however, is new, as all reconciliation attempts have so far failed.

A statement attributed to al-Qaeda, published by the Fajr Media Center, a jihadi propaganda platform, announced that al-Qaeda has no official ties to ISIS. According to the statement, al-Qaeda was never notified, consulted, or approached about the founding of ISIS. Instead, the statement continued, al-Qaeda has called for dissolving the group, stressing that ISIS “is not a branch of Qaedat al-Jihad [al-Qaeda], and has no organizational ties to it.”

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/al-qaeda-and-isis-renunciation-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi

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February 5th, 2014, 12:56 am

 

127. Juergen said:

ukrainian children sing for Syria

whatever happend to the often stressed arab solidarity?

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February 5th, 2014, 2:04 am

 

128. Hopeful said:

#123 Ghufran

Better late than never. I am glad that more opposition groups will join.

I suspect that timing was the issue. They needed more time to get others involved, and the UN/US/Russia decided to go ahead and stick to the timeline for the opening rounds. I think it was a good decision to signal seriousness.

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February 5th, 2014, 4:01 am

 
 

130. habib said:

110. Tara said:

Being balanced is better than being a mere mouthpiece, no?

Or has the Qatari/Saudi influence corrupted you the same way as it corrupted the opposition?

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February 5th, 2014, 7:45 am

 

131. Observer said:

The fall of Erdogan indeed through democratic principles and at the ballot box and people have no shame comparing that to the iPad retard 98% approval elections.

No wonder peasants remain peasants forever.

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February 5th, 2014, 7:56 am

 
 
 

134. Alan said:

Obama to visit Saudi Arabia in March
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/02/obama-visit-saudi-arabia-march-2014231917823523.html
Obama to visit Saudi Arabia in March
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/02/obama-visit-saudi-arabia-march-2014231917823523.html

If the radical Islamist militants from the Salafi organizations supported by Al-Riyadh (terrorism exporter) will be arrested by Russian security services and give testimony, then Saudi Arabia will face the threat of sanctions under international conventions on the fight against international terrorism and terrorist sponsorship as minimum. Moreover, even the U.S. will not be able to help in this situation, given the bitter experience of the events of September 11, 2001

Unfortunately, Wahhabism and Salafism continue to spread across the world, where there are large Muslim communities, due to the head of Saudi intelligence services Prince Bandar who, according to media reports, almost openly offered President V.V. Putin in July and December 2013 to help in the fight against Caucasus Islamists in exchange for Russian participation in plans to remove the current Syrian regime. Nevertheless, Russia continued to support Bashar Assad.

It is worth recalling that Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan headed Saudi intelligence services in 2012, and before that, he had served as ambassador to Washington for nearly 20 years. In those years, he was nicknamed “Bandar Bush” because of his close relations with the Bushes and the neoconservatives. He is the heir of the Sudairy Clan in the royal family of Al Saud (that competes with the Twaijri Clan, to which the current King Abdullah belongs) and, in fact, holds considerable power in Saudi Arabia, being the Secretary of the National Security Council of KSA at the same time. It was he who conducted the country’s extremely aggressive policy against Iran, Shiites and any democratic movements in the Arab States. In 2012, he openly admitted that he was behind the creation and support of the Islamist militant movement of Dzhabhat en-Nusra, that is one of the main opponents of the most radical type of B. Assad’s regime.

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February 5th, 2014, 2:58 pm

 

135. Observer said:

And here is the UN report on the fate of children in the conflict.

Heartbreaking but we are all familiar with the regime depravity. Perhaps Laughvrov should read it first.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/middleeast/2014/02/140205_syria_children_suffering_report.shtml

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February 5th, 2014, 5:16 pm

 

136. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Lavrov and Putin mafia should be killed. They are being denounced by tens of thousands of testimonies.

Unfortunately this russian mafia, the hugest in the world today, will stage covered up operation against the Olympic Games in Sotchi and will charge it to Al Qaeda of Raqqa and Aleppo. And we will believe it because we are stupid and silly.

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February 5th, 2014, 7:23 pm

 

137. Tara said:

The interview with Fayez Sarah in regard to his tortured martyred son is heart breaking.

May those who killed him and those who knowingly propagandized and distracted to cover up The peasant’s crime fare a worse fate.

A day will come in Syria when those peasants will lie and do anything to hide their identities to avoid contempt.

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February 5th, 2014, 8:03 pm

 

138. Alan said:

الجربا يلتقي نبيل فهمي تحضيراً للجولة الثانية من محادثات جنيف-2
http://anna-news.info/sites/default/files/2011/u511/Al-Jarba_0.jpg

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February 6th, 2014, 3:25 am

 

139. Sami said:

So the “resistance camp” barrel bombed Quneitra… How ironic!

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February 6th, 2014, 7:41 am

 

140. Observer said:

I do not recall who was always praising the glory of Putin Norman or some other person. But here is the story on the glory of Putin in Sochi by the WSJ. Doors without knobs and toilets without partitions and no running water in a spotty fashion but still present. No trash cans and no soap in the hotels.

Glory indeed
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304680904579366712107461956?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories&mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304680904579366712107461956.html%3Fmod%3DWSJ_hp_RightTopStories

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February 6th, 2014, 1:05 pm

 

141. Alan said:

Timing of such threats is never a coincidence.
They are looking at a false flag event, or perhaps several, of epic proportions somewhere in the West, to attempt to inflame public outrage to the point where people will support some kind of military action in Syria to oust both the Al-Assad government, and the alleged rebels.
The bottom line here is, certain elements in the US and Israel want to attack Syria to “neutralize” it, in advance of an attack against Iran.
I personally get sick of the way of thinking of Western institutions! tfuuuu!
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2552626/Fanatics-Syria-vow-bring-terror-UK-Terrorists-vow-attack-public-transport-financial-centres.html

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February 6th, 2014, 1:09 pm

 

142. Alan said:

Saudi Cleric Admits on TV that Saudis Form Majority of Takfiri Group Members in Syria

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February 6th, 2014, 1:46 pm

 

143. Syrialover said:

New thread started

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February 6th, 2014, 3:21 pm

 

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