Journal, February 21-23, 2017

My friend Sarah Ahmed, an Iraqi dentist from Baghdad who is deeply engaged in helping the people of her country,  was interviewed for a an article on World Watch Monitor. She said “Cleaning up towns freed from ISIS erases their crimes.” .     She suggested that the damage done to people’s lives and communities be documented before the cleanup begins.    I completely agree and not only should the damage to towns in northern Iraq be documented but the damage to towns occupied by ISIS and Al Nusra in Syria should be documented as well.    We only hear about the damage done by the governments who are attempting to drive the terrorists from these communities just as they drove the original residents from them in an attempt to create ethnic and religious purity.

Directed attacks on Christians, Alwaites, Druze, Kurds and Yazidis have displaced large segments off the multi-ethnic and religiously diverse regions of the Middle East.    One can only hope that the people can and will return to their homes and communities one day.   One can only wonder at the determination of the secular west to privilege fanatics and mercenaries in diplomatic talks that malign the actual governments for their insistence on secularism and equal respect for all the different peoples and belief systems that have inhabited the region for millennia.


At the very beginning off the Syrian war, there was an incident in the city of  Dara’a where it was claimed that the government abused some teenage boys who were accused of putting anti-Assad graffiti on a wall somewhere in public.    The central government took this very seriously.   They removed the governor who was accused of this abuse from his post and sent a delegation to investigate and pacify the outraged citizens.    The delegation, which included Grand Mufti Hassoun was met with violence.   The police station was firebombed and the initial instance of sniper fire occurred, with both civilians and police targeted.    The shooters were never identified.

In fact, we were told when I was in Syria that the delegation was never able to identify the boys either.    Nor did their families come forward.   Since the initial act was the responsibility of a local governor rather than the central government, I never repeated the story.   The situation had rapidly devolved into violence and chaos so who knows what went on in the uproar.   However,  some of the people around me did repeat the assertion that the boys were never found with some indignation.   This isn’t surprising given the endless abuse heaped on the government of Syria by western human rights organizations, press and politicians.

In any case, Al Jazeera has responded to claims that the event never happened with an article documenting The Boy Who Started The Syrian Civil War.    They want you to know that a boy meeting the initial description of events exists.  So, from a group of unruly boys who were abused or killed by a brutal government, we now have a story of one boy who survived the government abuse  that set off the Syrian Revolution to grow up and fight with the Free Syrian Army, a motley crew of miscellaneous militias, mostly trained in Turkey and Jordan, who are generally allied to either ISIS or, more likely, Al Nusra/Al Qaeda.

All this begun by a childish prank which caused the Bashar Assad to lose his cool.    While the author taunts Russians, of all people, for not knowing how the war began, he doesn’t answer the question himself.   There is a video where the boy is interviewed.  He is a youth working on a laptop.   They show an image of a younger boy, bloodied and beaten.   The youth, as he is today, is now a fighter with the Free Syrian Army.   He mentions his companions, but they are only mentioned.  All were released at the same time he was.     The young man says that had he known his prank would set the whole country on fire he probably wouldn’t have done it.  I’ll bet!

The video with the story shows the protesters under attack by armed men in helicopters. The story told again and again is of snipers on rooftops.    Initially it was claimed that snipers on rooftops fired into the crowd of protesters killing a large  number of civilians, but later reports revealed that as many police were killed as ‘protesters’.  There was no mention of helicopters by either side.   Al Jazeera’s video of the scene is very convincing, but it could have been filmed in numerous times and locations in the 6 years that have passed since the events in question.

The video claims that the central mosque was raided because it was set up as a first aid station.   In fact that mosque held a huge stash of weapons brought in by foreign fighters from Libya through Jordan over a period of months.   Dara’a is very close to the Jordanian border.   It was raided because of the weapons stashed there not because there was a first aid station set up inside.  This presence of the weapons is not (and was not) disputed by anyone – well, maybe by Al Jazeera.    However, this is the first time I heard there was a first aid station there.    But it gets worse.   They show footage of some men (they aren’t wearing uniforms) overrunning a makeshift hospital in the mosque with audio of a man shouting something derogatory about a first aid station.   Where have we seen this meme before?

A working theory as to the identities of the snipers is that they were foreign fighters based in that mosque.  During the following months, government forces were repeatedly ambushed by violent militias across the country, notably near Banyas in Tartus and and in Jisr al Sugr, a town in Idlib near the Turkish border.   These facts have been conveniently forgotten by those promoting the story of a ‘revolution’ triggered by government violence against peaceful protesters. Around minute 13 they start talking about a government battle with the ‘protesters’ in a town or village outside Dara’a  many months after the scenario with the teenage boys is said to have taken place in there.  I stopped watching.

This video is more of the propaganda that is generated by the supporters of the Syrian conflict.  Another hospital attacked.  The government says they never did find out exactly who the boys were, so one of them is highlighted in a video that provides an opportunity to reinforce the founding myths of the Syrian ‘Revolution’.    It is clear that at least some of the content off the video is manufactured and significant facts are not mentioned.  The time line is distorted by omissions and the story has additions that can’t be verified.

And so, boy or no boy, this article doesn’t pass the smell test.

Today on Mondoweiss, Scott Roth and Phil Weiss complain that ‘NY Times’ runs Israeli’s OpEd recommending that Palestinians ’emigrate voluntarily’.     So, suddenly Trump is agreeing with (in his view) both Israelis and Palestinians prefer a one state solution to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.   But what does this mean?   I have always called it the ‘one state devolution’.   It is the obvious state that will emerge from Israel’s continual building on Palestinian territory on the West Bank,    Of course, the immediate consequence of Israel swallowing all of Palestine would be that Palestinians would outnumber Israeli Jews in the new state,  Yes, even thought they have been subjected to home demolitions and arbitrary imprisonment and murder for 70 years, Palestinians continue to inhabit Palestine.

The emerging population would be, like it or no, largely Palestinian – not Israeli.    And I suppose there would be some kind of attempt to change that through violence.    Hard to say.    I hadn’t expected the situation to arise so soon.  But this would create a situation that is intolerable under international law.    And Israeli lives would become immeasurably harder.   Are they ready to exterminate the Palestinians to have their Jewish state?

Well, apparently some Israelis are chewing on this – trying not to choke I imagine.    It’s a hard nut to swallow if you aren’t in complete denial about what is going on around you.   Though many Zionists do appear to be in perpetual denial about the existence of the indigenous people of the land they covet.   So, this author featured in the New York Times, suggests that the Palestinians will have to go.   And they ought to be nice about it.   After all, history and God himself have made this the land of the Jews.

One might note, however, that Israel has been brutally pressuring the Palestinians to leave for a long time.   But the Palestinians remain; and their numbers are increasing while no amount of bribery and propaganda seems to increase the number of European Jews residing on their land.   So, it looks like interesting times ahead in Palestine.

Finally, Consortium News ran a piece by Jonathan Marshall  today on “The West’s Moral Hypocrisy in Yemen“.   Oh Yeah!    While Amnesty International and the US Mainstream Media (and Samantha Powers – gone at last, Masha’ Allah!)  rail at the horrors they attribute to the Syrian government in that government’s effort to secure the state and protect the majority of the Syrian people who remain supportive of that state and continue to reside in government held areas, they turn a blind eye on Yemen.   Yes, lord.   See no Evil – Hear no Evil – Speak no Evil.   Mum’s the word on Yemen.

So what’s up in Yemen?  Well, Marshall first points to the failed Special Ops raid that killed 8 children including one of Anwar Awlaki’s children.   That’s always the headline in the MSM.   Anwar Awlaki’s 8 yr old daughter and 16 yr old son, whatever, was killed in a US attacks.  Every USian ought to feel shame when they read this.    But, it wasn’t just any child.  It was the child off an ‘enemy’.   Right?  Wrong!   Both of Awlaki’s murdered children were completely innocent of his disagreement with the US government.

In any case. Marshall then goes on to describe another raid on February 12 in the port city of Mokha, that targeted a woman, the head of a shelter for women and children, and a followup at the funeral.   Sick Sick SIck.  I saw the photos a few days ago but I couldn’t figure out exactly what they were talking about.   Now I know.   He asks if raids like this on port cities where aid comes in will trigger a devastating famine in Yemen.   Well, my understanding is that the war in Yemen already has created a devastating famine.   Children are dyinig of hunger and thirst and preventable diseases every day.   The U.S. and its allies have been keeping a blockade on the gulf of Aden almost since the beginning of the confrontation.   They want to make sure that the legitimate government of Yemen, (the Saudis and their puppet Hadi) get to decide who gets what little aid is allowed into the country.

Graham does describe US culpability in this war, and he elaborates his comparison to the coverage of the Syrian war.   I want to go further, though.   Yes, of course the US is supplying the majority of the weapons and unlimited political cover.   The U.S. is fueling Saudi planes in the air, and as I said, blockading the southern ports so as to make sure the ‘internationally recognized’ government of Yemen stays in charge off resources.   And the irony deepens.

So who is the ‘internationally recognized’ government of Yemen?  it is one man, Abd Rabbah Mansur Hadi, an unelected President selected by the Saudi and US puppet masters, who refused to share power and who, when the time came for a promised election, refused to do that.   When confronted by the Houthi rebels, he fled to Aden where he was attacked by members of his own guard, and on to Riyadh.   After 2 or 3 years out off power, ex President Saleh. still retained enough control of the national army to back the Houthi rebels (members off his own tribe with whom he fought while he was President) with a formidable force on the ground,   They have formed a transitional government in Sana’a.

Just to add a twist of Irony,  RT is reporting “Saudi Arabia gives Yemeni govt $10 Billion to Rebuild – President.”   They must be feeling the heat.    But, it’s hard to see what the Yemeni President can rebuild given that the war is ongoing and Mr. Hadi doesn’t even have a residence in Yemen. I wonder how he is supposed to spend the money?  Maybe he can just put it into his personal bank account in Switzerland until the war is over, or maybe just leave it in escrow with his Saudi hosts?

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that Hadi’s army, the army off the ‘legitimate government of Yemen’ is the Saudi Air force backed by ground forces from the Gulf states and their western allies, with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula –  AQAP (who the U.S. apparently still considers an enemy – even though they are fighting on the same side in this war) holding the ground.   Graham says that the only ones to benefit from the war are AQAP, but he fails to mention that they are the Saudi’s most effective ground forces.  And they are not foreign mercenaries like the opposition fighters in Syria, but a coalition of frustrated factions of the local political scene.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism landed “Nine young children killed: The full details of botched US raid in Yemen” in my email this morning as well.      TBIJ has been investigating U.S. drone strikes in Yemen for some time, so they were well prepared to investigate the recent Special Ops raid that killed 8 children – like, not man-boys, but little kids – and as many women and a lot more people.   They put a reporter on the ground and they have the names and ages of the children who were killed.   They have lots of numbers.  And they have a precise description of events on the ground as described by the surviving victims.


Better yet, if you have a taste for horror stories or just want to see a little context, they tell the details of other strikes in Yemen that targeted civilians. And, did you know that one of the victims of the special ops raid was a survivor or a previous drone attack on his wedding a few years ago?  Abdallah Mabkhout al Ameri has finally joined his bride.


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