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This blog is a glimpse into the mind of a history nerd sitting behind a laptop screen. Enjoy a series of ideas he hopes to be thought provoking.
I am quite proud of my Contemplations and Discussing Islam pages. Feel free to contact me anytime.

A one hour discussion on the Syrian conflict.

It is Political, not Sectarian. 

The video quality is rather low. We’d also like to make a shorter version of it in the future. 

The first 20 minutes are the most important ones.

Thanks :)

Western rationality | " Before our eyes "

In a statement released by the White House, the U.S. Director of Intelligence, James Clapper, said that 1,429 people were killed in a massive chemical attack on a dozen localities, August 21, 2013 in the suburbs of Damascus [1] .

The French services were unable to conduct an on-site victim toll, according to the declassified notes of intelligence coordinator Alain Zebulun [2]. However, they saw about 281 victims on videos, while the French “non-governmental” organization, Doctors Without Borders, counted 355 in hospitals.

Allied services all refer to videos. So, the Americans have collected a hundred on YouTube, while the French have only found 47. Washington and Paris consider them all as authentic. However, some of them were posted at 7:00 am, Damascus time (which explains why they are dated August 20th on YouTube, which is based in California), but with an almost midday sun, which implies they were filmed in advance [3].

All observers have noted the high proportion of children among the victims. The United States has counted 426, or more than a third. Some observers, but neither those of the US nor their French counterparts, were intrigued to find that victims were almost all of the same age and they had no families to cry over them. Stranger still, the gas would have killed children and adult men, but would have spared women.

The wide distribution of satellite channel images of victims allowed Alawite families near Latakia to recognize their children who had been abducted two weeks prior by the “rebels.” This identification was long in coming because there are few survivors of the massacre by the allies of the United States, the United Kingdom and France in loyalist villages where more than a thousand bodies of civilians were discovered in mass graves.

Americans, British and French agree that the victims were killed by nerve gas that could be sarin or contain sarin. They claim to base their findings on their own analysis, carried out in their laboratories on samples collected by each of their services. However, the UN inspectors, who came on site to collect other samples will give their verdict in a dozen days. Indeed, the analyzes carried out by the Americans, British and French are unknown to the world scientific community for whom culturing tissue samples requires a much longer period.

Though it is clear that the children died of chemical poisoning, it is not at all certain that they were gassed. The videos show that the dying produce a white foam while sarin causes yellow emissions.

The three Western powers also agreed to attribute the responsibility for this event to various extents to the Syrian Arab army. The U.S. Director of Intelligence says that its services observed the Syrian military, during the previous four days, mixing chemicals. The chairman of the British Intelligence Committee, Jon Day, assures that the Syrian Arab army is not at its first attempt and has used gas 14 times since 2012 [4] that is to say as many cases as reports of the use of chemical weapons by the United States during the Second Gulf War.

The revelations of the US, British and French services are corroborated by a telephone interception. According to this narrative, a senior official of Syrian defense would have made a panicked call to the head of the chemical gases unit about the massacre. However, the interception was not made ​​by the Americans, British or French, but was provided by Unit 8200 of the Israeli Mossad [5].

In summary, US, British and French services are 100% certain that the Syrian Arab army gassed an unknown number of civilians:

- 1. For this they would have used a new kind of old sarin gas that does not affect women. 
- 2. For four days, the United States observed the preparing of the crime without intervening. 
- 3. The day before use, the magic gas killed children who were kidnapped by jihadists two weeks earlier and more than 200 miles away. 
- 4. These events are known through authentic films made and sometimes posted in advance on YouTube. 
- 5. They are confirmed by a telephone interception produced ​​by the Israeli enemy. 
- 6. Western secret services have a secret method for identifying sarin gas without having to culture human tissue. 
- 7. As it would be the fifteenth such operation, the “régime” would have crossed a “red line ” and should be “punished” by bombing it to deprive it of its means of defense.

In international law, war propaganda is the most serious crime because it makes all other crimes possible.

Hezbollah defends the people of the Mashreq | «Orient Tendencies»

[click link to read more]

What the Syrian Constitution says about Assad and the Rebels


By Stephen Gowans

Prior to Assad drafting the new constitution, the US State Department complained that Syria had “failed to join an increasingly interconnected global economy,” which is to say, had failed to turn over its state-owned enterprises to private investors, among them Wall Street financial interests. The State Department also expressed dissatisfaction that “ideological reasons” had prevented Assad from liberalizing Syria’s economy, that “privatization of government enterprises was still not widespread,” and that the economy “remains highly controlled by the government.” 

Were Assad to demonstrate a readiness to appease Wall Street’s demands he would have departed holus bolus from the dirigiste practices that had irritated the State Department. Instead, he did the opposite, drafting a constitution that mandated that the government maintain a role in guiding the economy on behalf of Syrian interests, and that the Syrian government would not make Syrians work for the interests of Western banks, oil companies, and other corporations. This was effectively a slap in Washington’s face.

He then compounded the sin by writing certain social rights into the constitution: security against sickness, disability and old age; access to health care; and free education at all levels. Now these rights would be placed beyond the easy reach of legislators and politicians who could sacrifice them on the altar of creating a low-tax, foreign-investment-friendly climate. To make matters worse, he included an article in the constitution which declared that “taxes shall be progressive.”

Finally, he took a step toward real, genuine democracy—a kind that decision-makers in Washington, with their myriad connections to the banking and corporate world—could hardly tolerate. He included a provision in the constitution requiring that at minimum half the members of the People’s Assembly are to be drawn from the ranks of peasants and workers.

Therein were the real reasons Washington, London and Paris rejected Assad’s concessions. It wasn’t that they weren’t genuine. It was that they were made to the wrong people: to Syrians, rather than Wall Street; to the Arabs, rather than Israel. And nor was it that his reforms weren’t democratic enough. It was that they were too democratic, too focused on safeguarding and promoting the interests of Syrians, rather than making Syrians promote the interests of Wall Street, Washington and Tel Aviv.

(via mutualassureddistraction)

Palestinian hero Leila Khaled opposes US machinations in Mid East

Leila Khaled, member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was in Turkey to speak in a forum titled “The Dynamics of Transformation in the Middle East” organized by the Socialist Refoundation Party. Khaled talked about imperialist plans in Middle East and the resistance against these plans to the Turkish publication YURT (Liberation translation by Taylor Goel).

What do you think of the latest developments in the Middle East?

The Middle East has been a region of conflicts for centuries. The peoples in the region are waging liberation wars. European colonialists have come and gone from the Palestinian land, Ottomans, the same. Now Israel has come. Lying to the whole world and using religion, they came. They claimed they were given this land by God. We reject this. Why? Is God in the real estate business? Promising land for some and exiling others. We absolutely reject such a thing.

There are imperialist forces in the region that support and defend Israel. There are Arab leaderships in the region that pay homage to Israel. USA has been pushing a carrot-and-stick policy in the region. Reactionary Arab forces went to the White House and prostrated themselves one by one and apologized. “We will do whatever you say, our oil is yours”, they said. But the Arab people refuse to succumb.

Where does Turkey stand at this point?

Turkey leads the group that protects Israel. Israel has brought Turkey to her knees. Nine people from Turkey were murdered on the Mavi Marmara. Later, the Turkish consul was insulted. The Turkish government said that Israel was going to issue an apology but Israel never did. They even explicitly said “We will not apologize”. Despite all this, the Turkish government has further increased economic and military cooperation with Israel. The real defense of Israel is accomplished via Turkey. The biggest military base that belongs to the U.S.A. in the region is the Incirlik Base. My call to you: Get rid of that base. Expand the boycott against Israel.

Simon Peres has a new book “The new Middle East”. Check it out, it exactly follows the “Greater Middle East Initiative” of the U.S. As they will, they draw us like a picture and tear us into pieces. They determine how we shall live. You and us, all of us are in the same trench, targeted by these.

Turkey is an unconditional supporter of imperialism. In Turkey, the Kurds do not have the same rights as the Turks. More than ten thousand Kurds are piled in jail. Like the Palestinian inmates. Whatever Israel is doing to the Palestinians, Turkey is doing the same to the Kurds.

You will now ask why does Turkey draw so much of my attention? Of course it does because Turkey pokes her nose into everything in the region.

Would you explain the position of PFLP on the imperialist aggression in Syria?

Now, they want to establish the “Greater Middle East Initiative” using religious and sectarian conflict. This is what is going on in Syria. According to the last census, there are 11 million, 800 thousand Palestinians. But only a quarter of this population is living on Palestinian land. A huge population is exiled and the only country that has received that population with open arms is Syria. What was done to us is now being done to Syria.

I am screaming with the top of my voice: We stand by the Syrian Army and the people of Syria. We are confident in the people of Syria, who have taken us, Palestinians, under their wings and hosted us on their land for over sixty years. We are confident that they will prevail over this problem.

Is the revolutionary claim of PFLP still on?

Yes. After the death of George Habas, Abu Ali Mustafa was chosen as the General Secretary, to be killed by Israel shortly after. Our third President Ahmad Sa’adat was elected. He is now being held hostage in an Israeli prison. Despite all these hard times, as PFLP, we are still standing strong, continuing our struggle. Our biggest priority is the unity among Palestinians. As the PFLP, we are trying really hard to achieve this unity. I can say that PFLP is in good shape. And we played an important role in the last Gaza war.

What do you say about the cooperation of Hamas with Turkey?

Hamas has accepted cease-fire with Israel. As PFLP, we do not accept this and view this as the wrong attitude. As far as the relation Hamas has established with Turkey, we see it as one between political Islamists. Hamas does not represent all of Palestine.

Do you have any message for the revolutionary women in Turkey?

Continue your struggle, unite, act in unity. Do not believe in lies. It is not the “Greater Middle East Initiative” of the U.S. that will shape the Middle East but only us. All the peoples of the Middle East will rebuild it. together.

Syria militants have kid behead prisoner

A shocking video has surfaced on the Internet showing militants in Syria having a child behead a kidnapped man. The clip, recently posted on YouTube, displays a child using a sword to chop off the head of the kidnapped whose hands are tied up. The incident is believed to have taken place in the western city of Homs, located about 160 kilometers north of the capital, Damascus. The video also displays one of the militants at the scene showing the severed head and placing it on the dead body. Other beheaded prisoners can also be seen in the footage. However, the identities of the victims are not known. Experts say the Arabic language spoken by the militants does not belong to Syrian people and they are believed to have Saudi accents. On November 29, a similar footage surfaced online displaying foreign-backed militants in the country killing 10 unarmed Syrian prisoners. Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil. The Syrian government says a very large number of the militants operating in Syria are foreign nationals.

Hezbollah condemns Beirut bombing; Effort to destabilize Lebanon underway


By Mick Kelly, Fight Back! News

Hezbollah, the largest anti-imperialist political party in Lebanon, condemned the Oct. 19 Beirut bombing that took the life of Brigadier General Wissam Al-Hasan and others. In a statement, Hezbollah declared, “This hideous crime is a vicious attempt to target stability and national unity,” and urged the “security and judicial apparatuses to use all efforts to control the crime, uncover its committers, and bring them to justice.”

Much of the western media is implying that supporters of Syria are behind the blast. There is no evidence that this is the case.

Syrian Information Minister, Omran al-Zoubi, denounced the bombing as “cowardly,” and on Oct. 19 stated, ”Such terrorist acts are condemned and unjustifiable wherever they happen.”

Hezbollah and other progressive political forces, including Lebanese communists, have worked hard to build a powerful national resistance project that is capable of standing up to imperialism and Zionism. They have struggled to overcome sectarian divisions within the country. The main leader of Hezbollah, General Secretary Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, has been crucial to the effort to build national unity and to beat back Israeli aggression. Hezbollah and other democratic forces now play a leading role in the government of Lebanon.

Not everyone hates Bashar al-Assad


ARIHA, Syria — They aren’t much talked about. And they are rarely talked to. But supporters of the Syrian government exist.

While President Bashar al-Assad’s hold on power appears to be tenuous after rebels landed a fatal blowon his inner circle Wednesday, there are many families across the country that continue to support him and his administration.

In one family, which GlobalPost spent several days with here in northern Syria, four of the five members still back Assad. On one recent night they all sat, anxiously, watching a state television report about “insurgents” closing in on Damascus.

As they watched, the sound of chanting began to fill their living room. A small parade of anti-government protesters passed by.

“Those for the regime will meet your graves soon!” the crowd of mostly teenagers and children yelled, waving revolutionary flags, during their nightly parade through the dark streets of Ariha, a town now held by rebel forces.

The youngest daughter, who attends university in nearby Aleppo, spoke first. “Now that the army is gone, there is no one to stop them from killing us for speaking out,” she said.

“At the beginning I loved the idea of a revolution. We have a lot under Bashar — free medical care and quality education. But yes, I think we deserved more. But we’ve now gone backwards. This isn’t freedom. We’re being told how to think, how to dress, and threatened for having our own thoughts.”

Fearing retribution from rebel forces, the entire family asked to remain anonymous. Their ages have also been withheld to protect their identity.

They are not alone. Others in the city — who were all too scared to say much on the record — also said they supported Assad. The rebels that now control Ariha admitted that about a quarter of the people living here remained loyal to the regime.

By all accounts this is a typical Syrian family. No one works for the government. They have no connections to the army and they do not belong to the Allawite minority that dominates the ruling elite. Like the majority of the rebels, they are Sunni.

But their opinions vary. The mother and daughters felt strongly that the rebels are to blame for the worst atrocities so far committed in Syria. The father blames both sides. And as for the son, he joined the revolution from the beginning and still participates regularly in protests.

He said his outspoken sisters are persuasive.

“From the first day, this revolution was violent,” said the oldest sister. She went on to describe the stone-throwing, destruction of public property and the physical violence against police that were prevalent during the very first protests last year.

She said her brother asked one boy early on why he destroyed the town’s only ATM machine, through which the majority of the city’s workers accessed their wages. The boy replied, “It belongs to the government, doesn’t it?”

“These are revolutionaries!” she said cynically.

The family said they had felt safe in Ariha when the army controlled the streets. While the opposition says army checkpoints were used to arrest the innocent, the family said the soldiers were friendly and their presence proved that the government was doing its best to maintain security.

The checkpoints are now manned by “5th graders with guns,” said the oldest sister, referring to the rebels.

“Even if one person in this town is killed by an army bullet, it is the fault of the Free Syria Army,” the younger sister said. “Every clash I have seen in this city, they always attack first. Of course the army must return fire if they are fired upon.”

She said the Free Syrian Army uses “shabiha” as a perpetual scapegoat. The shabiha are a feared group of paid government thugs, civilians who activists say are responsible for large scale slaughters, particularly of women and children.

“If they kill anyone, they just label them shabiha,” she said dismissively. “They kidnap people for money and say they are shabiha.”

The younger sister said the father of a school friend, who supported the revolution, was once kidnapped. The man had worked as a clerk in a government prison. After the family paid money to his captors, and he agreed to leave his job, he was released unharmed. Frustrated, she said her friend still supports the rebels.

“As a teacher, all kinds of authority has been taken from me,” said the older sister, who teaches English at a local primary school. She said students come and go as they please, claiming they want to join demonstrations. Boys chant offensive anti-Assad slogans in class.

“I am forced to condone this behavior or be labeled ‘anti-revolutionary,’” she said.

The family members went on to recount the numerous false reports and exaggerations that they said emerge daily.

The previous day GlobalPost witnessed an examle. Pro-revolution television stations reported that the bodies of 20 men from Ariha, who had been imprisoned by the government, were found on the outskirts of town with their hands tied, throats cut and bodies mutilated.

Distraught families and rebel groups gathered at the town morgue, waiting for the arrival of the bodies. But they never came and soon news filtered down that the reporter had confused Ariha with a neighboring town. Eventually it was revealed that the whole report had been false, a fact that was never corrected by the local media.

The girls recalled attending the funeral of a friend who had died from cancer in the provincial capital of Idlib. They said that as journalists approached the scene, the crowd began to chant “as if she had been killed by government forces.”

Their mother added the account of a shopkeeper who had been caught in the crossfire of government and rebel clashes and was accidentally shot by the rebels themselves. He was buried the following day as a celebrated martyr.

“He was with them and they shot him by accident. How can they call him a martyr?” she asked. “They seem to think they can hand out passes for righteousness.”

As the regime continues to crumble, it is hard to believe there is any way Assad could remain in power. But families like these exist all over the country, and they are not fooled by propaganda from either side.

“I am not going to try to tell you about what is happening in another place like Homs or Damascus, although I have many friends that have told me what is really happening,” said the oldest girl, when asked about the reports of government massacres. “I am talking to you only about my town and what I have seen with my own eyes.”

Iran hosts conference on Syria

(Reuters) - Iran has launched its latest diplomatic initiative to resolve the intensifying conflict in Syria, warning that the abrupt fall of president Bashar al-Assad would have catastrophic consequences for the country.

At least 12 nations with “a correct and realistic position” would attend a meeting on Thursday in Tehran to discuss the conflict, a senior Iranian diplomat said this week, indicating that no nation that backs the opposition and calls for Assad to leave power would be present.

Russia - which along with Iran has strongly supported Assad since the crisis erupted 17 months ago - has said it will attend the meeting at ambassadorial level but it was unclear which other key players would be present.

Iranian media has reported that China would also be present, along with Algeria, Tajikistan, Venezuela, Pakistan, India and six members of the Arab League but there was no independent confirmation.

In an opinion piece published by the Washington Post on Wednesday, Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi warned that the fall of Assad would catastrophic consequences for the countries.

"Syrian society is a beautiful mosaic of ethnicities, faiths and cultures, and it will be smashed to pieces should President Bashar al-Assad abruptly fall," it read.

While Salehi said Iran sought a solution that was in “everyone’s interest”, Western diplomats have dismissed the conference as an attempt to divert attention away from bloody events on the ground and to preserve the rule of Assad.

"The Islamic Republic’s support for Assad’s regime is hardly compatible with a genuine attempt at conciliation between the parties," said one Western diplomat based in Tehran.

It showed Iran was “running out of ideas”, he added. Another Western diplomat said Tehran was trying to broaden the support base of the Syrian leader.

Along with Russia and China, Iran has strongly supported Assad whose forces have launched crushing operations against anti-government protesters and armed opposition groups since the crisis erupted 17 months ago.

The Islamic Republic has resisted an agreement on Syria that requires Assad to quit as part of any political transition. There is no sign that Tehran is ready to adopt a new approach, despite setbacks for Assad including the defection this week of his prime minister.

But analysts say the recent signs of cracks in the Syrian leadership have taken Iran by surprise.

"Iran is trying to show strength and regional presence, but if they were going to make a big play why not do it at the Non-Aligned Movement summit (taking place in Tehran in late August)?" said Scott Lucas of the EA Worldview news website that specialises in covering Iran.

"They seem to be so jittery about Syria, they couldn’t afford to wait," he added.


Iran’s Shi’ite rulers have accused Western and Arab nations - specifically Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia - of fomenting terrorism in Syria by arming opposition groups.

In turn, Syria’s mostly Sunni Muslim rebels accuse Tehran of sending military personnel to Syria and of providing light arms, as well as tactical and communications expertise to Syrian government forces.

The crisis has soured Iran’s relations with neighbouring Turkey which has hosted opposition meetings, extended assistance to Syrian refugees and demanded Assad leave office.

"Iran wants to co-ordinate efforts among countries that don’t accept the Western and Saudi approach to Syria," said Mohammad Marandi of Tehran University. "It’s a counter-force to the so-called Friends of Syria gathering."

Iranian involvement in the crisis has been complicated by the seizure by rebels of 48 Iranians in Syria on Saturday on suspicion of being military personnel. Tehran has said they were pilgrims, but acknowledged that some of the men were retired soldiers or Revolutionary Guards.

Iranian officials have engaged in intensive diplomatic efforts in the region this week.

On Tuesday, while Foreign Minister Salehi was in Ankara trying to maintain relations, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili was in Damascus to reassure Assad of Tehran’s support.

"They’re in chaos in terms of the bureaucracy. There have been lots of statements but no-one’s co-ordinating it," said EA Worldview’s Scott Lucas.

The meeting comes just days before a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation set to focus on Syria. In recent days Iran has warned the Muslim world of the threat posed to it by the United States.

"In the new plan that the Americans have provided for the Middle East, they have foreseen changes for all countries," Iran’s state news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying on Wednesday.

"I am certain they have plans for changes in Saudi Arabia as well … they do not want Muslim countries to have power and in opposition we must stand together more than before," he added.

(Reporting by Marcus George; Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, editing by Rosalind Russell)