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 […]Read more
Vitaly Churkin died at the UN this morning. Listened to the obituaries for a while. He was a man who knew diplomacy. Susan Rice and Samantha Power sent their messages off condolence. Power said she was ‘devastated’. Imagine! This is the same shrew who refused to attend the emergency meeting of the Security Council that Churkin called last fall after […]Read more
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.
I find my self focusing (obsessively at times) on the fact that much of what Trump has promised has already been enacted by Obama and the Clintons.
Even Thom Hartman was saying the other night that Trump now says he’s just going to build a fence on the Mexican border and since there is already a fence on the Mexican border, it will just be filling in extensions. So, he’ll just be (in Hartman’s words) adding a few more stretches of barbed wire. Hartman framed this is a bad thing on Trump’s part because he backed down from a campaign promise. But it seems to me that he, like pretty much every President faces realities when he comes to office that didn’t affect campaign rhetoric, and he is openly acknowledging the status quo which is an open invitation to us who want to reject it.
Same thing about not allowing Syrian immigrants into the country without special vetting. That bill passed with nearly unanimous Democratic support more than a year ago. I remember I was mad that my supposedly very liberal Democratic Congresswoman supported it unequivocally. Only a couple thousand Syrian refugees have been allowed to migrate to the US over the entire course of the horrific war the US and allies are fueling, funding and even fighting in their country.Read more
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 […]Read more
Today, President Obama, in a most undignified act, closed two Russian Diplomatic Centers and gave 35 “diplomats and their families 72 hours to get out of the country. The front page headline in the New York Times Reads Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking. When I arrived home from work today my son was watching the MSM coverage. Loud, hysterical debate over the politics of the event, hysterical discussion of ongoing Russian interference in US internal affairs and what we should do next. What will Trump do when he takes office emanated from his room. He likes House of Cards and I wondered for a moment if they were so far ahead of the game that they somehow managed to simulate the events of the day. But no. This is our real president (for a few more weeks) and our real media (God help us).
One of the funniest bits was a commentator denouncing the dastardly Putin for continuing to interfere in US internal politics by not taking the bait and escalating the situation with a tit for tat expulsion of diplomats. The commentator was truly distressed. How dare Putin change the rules by refusing to play the game?! But he truly funniest remark was a quote from a Republican who said that we will just have to wait for Donald Trump to come to power so we can have a mature and competent president. I felt like I just fell into a rabbit hole! Alice, are you still here?Read more
In the United States activists really need to focus on understanding and appreciating the depth of the connection between US foreign policy and domestic oppression. This is key to making any unified movement for change in this country, In the interview below, Chris Hedges and Rania Khalek address this issue around US support for Israel. They show how the militarized Israeli occupation of Palestine is interwoven with the US deep state war machine, often referred to as the Military Industrial Complex. After nearly 70 years, Israel remains at war with the indigenous population of the region within its borders as well as neighboring states. The Israeli occupation of Palestine has significant parallels with the European oppression and ultimate genocide of the native population of the Americas, and especially North America.Read more
Members of the US Peace Council and our Fact Finding Peace Delegation to Syria recently published the following video on Syria. It provides an excellent overview of what is really happening in Syria.
Terrorism in Syria: Sponsored by the U.S. with Middle Eastern & European AlliesRead more
Reconciliation and the War in Aleppo
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.Read more
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 -.Read more