I was very moved by Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, Grand Mufti of Syria when I met him last summer in Damascus. Like Bashar Assad, the Mufti has been misrepresented and demonized in the Western press. Though a very different personality than the Syrian President, the Mufti, like the President, represents what is good and strong in Syrian society.
The Grand Mufti of any country is the highest Sunni official who is endowed to interpret Islamic law for his people. Many Muslim countries have a Grand Mufti. So, like most other Sunni majority countries, Syria has a Grand Mufti. According to my research, the Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun studied in a relatively conservative tradition of Islamic Law, but my sense of him was that he is a man who is open to the spirit as well as the letter of the law, whose faith and understanding have grown through the experiences of life, If Mr. Assad is the head of a Syrian state fighting for survival, Grand Mufti Hassoun is the heart of a great people who will not be divided by terrorism and threats, by isolation from an arrogant Western led global economy, or the by lure false prophets who offer an Allah limited to the imaginations of impoverished humanity.
Since the liberation of Aleppo, there have been a broad swathe of terrorist attacks across Syria. A truck bomb was detonated at a checkpoint in Latakia killing numerous women and children. The water supply to Damascus has been shut down by Al Nusra Front militants since around Christmas. There was a massive attack against the SAA in West Hama which […]
You probably thought, when you read my last post about imminent reconciliation in Aleppo, that I was bonkers. Indeed the war rages on in Aleppo. Not only is the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) moving to retake the Eastern side of the city, but the fighters in East Aleppo, with Al Nusra and ISIS flags at the forefront, are persistently bombing areas of West Aleppo that their weapons can reach. Numerous civilians have been killed and wounded in these attacks on strictly civilian areas including many children (RT News, October 14 – 17). There is no doubt that there are also civilian casualties in Eastern Aleppo where the fighting is actually occurring as reported in the Western media.
The latest from the Syrian war reporters is that the SAA now holds a number of critical hills around East Aleppo, and they are feeling confident of an imminent victory. The reconciliation message is popular in Syria and so the government is promoting it, just as the US style reconciliation imposed by international agreements among competing states is popular in the west, and the absence of that possibility is the source of endless one sided propaganda in our news. In fact, it is a very aggressive schedule to expect the reconciliation plan to work so quickly. However, the cards are on the table. Amnesty for fighters who lay down their arms, a bus trip to Idlib for those who do not wish to continue a hopeless battle but do wish to fight for independence, and a rout for the foreign mercenaries and extremists leading too relief for civilians and ongoing support from the government.
When we met with Ali Haidar, he told us that whenever the reconciliation is imminent the intensity of resistance rises. He also said that building the reconciliation is a slow process. This is surely a problem in Aleppo where they are under a great deal of pressure from the international forces that are vying for power in Syria. The Syrians and their Russian allies have once again called a unilateral halt to fighting so that civilians and the wounded can be evacuated to West Aleppo. I hope this time they will be allowed to leave, but it is certainly not guaranteed. Al Nusra leadership has rejected the offer to leave Aleppo under international protection. The issue of sorting FSA moderates from Al Qaeda is once again on the table, though that too has been repeatedly rejected.
Meanwhile, the US is currently engaged in a battle to retake Mosul, Iraq from ISIS. Along with the Iraqi Army, Shia militias from the south and local Sunni militias, the Kurdish Peshmerga and Turkish forces, there are 1500 Americans in this battle as ‘advisors’. Shades of Vietnam. The coalition is not stable. Unlike the Syrian coalition, which is composed of allied forces, this is an ad hoc coalition of opportunity. The Sunni and Shia militias don’t trust one another. The Peshmerga expect to be repaid in villages given over to Kurdish governance, and Turkey has coveted Mosul since they lost it in the negotiations that ended the Ottoman Empire.
A little bird just whispered in my ear that the Syrian Government is in the final stages of securing a Reconciliation plan for East Aleppo.
There are a few details to be resolved, but it appears that fighters who wish to continue fighting will be bused out of town, and civilians allowed to leave in safety so that the field will be clear for a final battle with foreigners and those determined to stand to the end.
Apparently there is also a deal on the table in the UN Security Council to rescue the foreign fighters of Al Nusra/Al Qaeda/Fatah Al Sham -.
Below are some links that lead to some articles with basic Syria facts. Some of these writers, even after undermining much of the US propaganda on Syria, repeat harsh and biased western judgements as if it is just too dangerous to step entirely outside the Political ‘consensus’. But, I trust my readers to separate factual presentations from the kind of reflexive judgements that keep one within the bounds of ‘mainstream analysis’ and are the foundation of the US drive for the destruction of the Syrian Republic. Others stand proudly outside the Washington consensus.
The US has moved from supporting proxies to direct intervention in Syria. It is the second time in as many months that they have killed nearly 100 Syrians in an air raid. They have betrayed a long negotiated treaty and when confronted, US Ambassador Samantha Power dissembled and attacked the messenger. It is clear that the United States remains committed to overthrowing the internationally recognized government of Syria. Pentagon planners have shown no respect whatsoever for international law or for the United States diplomatic commitments in Syria. They hope to prevent any resolution before a new president is inaugurated.
US participation in the ceasefire was a sham and now the US continues to dissemble, buying time to reinforce their proxies and put more US soldiers on the ground. The Pentagon is sowing the seeds of open warfare against the legitimate government of Syria (and the threat of war with Russia) while exacerbating the horrific humanitarian crisis of the Syrian people.
“Reconciliation” is what I called my presentation in Syracuse on Tuesday, August 30, the first related to my recent participation in the US Peace Council Fact Finding Peace Delegation to Syria. There was a pretty good audience of 30-40 people, and they were very positive towards the presentation and asked a lot of questions. There is so much potential for unity in Syria if only the people could be allowed to resolve their own problems without becoming pawns in a global power struggle.
Wilton Vought made a video of the talk where he integrated my slides in with my words so it is very easy to follow what I am talking about, and also covered a good part of the Q&A. See what you think.
I plan to write a piece soon that looks at some of the fluid facts on the ground in relation to the plans and ideas that I talk about in this presentation. JB’
Below is my recent interview with George Payne on his radio show, The Broken Spear Vision. We talked about my trip to Syria from a variety of perspectives. I’m always amazed at how much information we pack into each 1/2 hour show of the Broken Spear Vision. George wrote an excellent article in which he embedded the interview and posted to his personal blog. If we don’t agree on what is possible, George at least is open to what I have to say about my experiences and to the fact that I continue to look at the positive initiatives in Syria and the Region with the potential to restore not only the sovereignty of the smaller nations of the world but to move these populations towards a just peace.
I did a 15 minute Talk Nation Radio interview with David Swanson a week after I returned from Syria, which I never brought into this blog. If you haven’t heard it, I give a summary of my impressions of Syria when they were very fresh in my mind.