YPG Arrest White Helmets Director

I don’t know any of the details yet, but the Syrian Kurdish YPG has arrested the director of the White Helmets/Syria Civil Defence and closed their offices in Afrin.

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The men of Kafranbel are very upset.

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I wonder what Philip Hammond thinks of this – the head of a British-backed ‘humanitarian’ group bring arrested by another group the UK apparently supports?

syriacivildef

There have been other reports recently regarding fighting between the YPG and Western-backed factions in Aleppo; It is difficult to see how Syria can ever return to a sense of normality with so many different groups fighting among one another.

I suppose for the chief instigators – US, UK, France and Israel – a permanent state of warfare is not an undesirable outcome.

SaudiLeaks: ‘Syrian regime must be overthrown to avoid revenge for what we’ve done to them’

saudileaks

A new cable released by Wikileaks says that the ‘Syrian regime must be overthrown to avoid revenge for what we’ve done to them’.

Notably the Saudileaks have received next to no media attention, likely because they reveal the extent to which the medieval Kingdom bribes journalists in order to receive positive coverage and suppress negative stories.  This could also account for the media blackout on the Saudi-led siege of Yemen.

Realistically, it seems that continuing the destruction and bloodshed is what is most likely to result in harm to Saudi Arabia itself; it already having experienced two suicide bombings within a week of each other in May. Overthrowing “the regime” in Syria is not going to save the country from attacks now that the takfiri genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

The Saudi Cables
Over half a million cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry
https://www.wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/doc110212.html

Victory for the Syrian ‘Revolutionaries’ in Idlib

Syrian rebels have been celebrating, having a few days ago captured the city of Idlib after days of intense fighting – causing the government’s forces to withdraw completely in the face of collapse.

A statue of Syrian national hero Ibrahim Hanano.

A statue of Syrian national hero Ibrahim Hanano.

Hanano fought for Syrian independence and was imprisoned by the French.

Hanano fought for Syrian independence and was imprisoned by the French.

His statue was pulled down and destroyed when the militants took the city.

His statue was pulled down and destroyed when the militants took the city.

The operation was undertaken by the “Fattah Army” coalition of rebel groups, which included al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate,  the al-Nusra Front. Other factions within the Fattah Army umbrella included  Ajnad al-Sham, Jund al-Aqsa, Jaish al-Sunna, Liwa al-Haqq,  and Faynad al-Sham. I can’t say I know much about any of these groups apart from al-Nusra, but having just Googled them, I see they’re all Islamist groups.

A source from within the Syrian military alleges that both Turkey and Jordan helped the militants capture the city, accusing both of planning the operation and supplying the insurgents with advanced communication apparatus. This information is likely to be accurate, as it was recently reported in some Arab media that Turkey was now directly helping the rebels. In February, the Turkish military violated Syrian sovereignty by leading an army convoy into northern Syria to evacuate a historic tomb, and the soldiers who were guarding it. However despite the media stating in their reporting of this incident that ISIS had earlier threatened to destroy the tomb, there had actually been no negative interactions between the two groups, and ISIS and Turkish soldiers had lived side-by-side peacefully for months. In fact Turkey has also allowed ISIS to use its territory to stage attacks, including on Kobane, and there is currently a black flag flying atop a Turkish village along the Turkish-Syrian border. Thus it is most likely that at least Turkey helped with the taking of Idlib.

The al-Nusra Front declared their conquest by tweeting: “Thanks be to God, the city of Idlib has been liberated,” in response to their new victory.

The head of the Free Syrian Army – General Salim Idriss – also seemed to endorse the outcome of Fattah Army’s campaign, as can be seen below.

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In a later tweet he then stated that the Nusra Front are only “al-Qaeda affiliated”, and must “defect,” in order to become good little moderates like himself.

Due to the source of amusement and ridicule these comments were to Syria supporters – with Idriss having previously aligned himself and the FSA with the goals of a liberal democracy – the Western-backed opposition, the Syrian National Coalition, ended up releasing a statement announcing that the Twitter account was a hoax, and that Idriss does not use social media in an official capacity. The Idriss account now states that it’s a parody profile.

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However it is interesting that the SNC or the “Secretary of Defense in the interim Syrian government” felt the need to distance  Idriss from al-Nusra and “extremism and terrorism,” when they themselves hailed the taking of the city, saying that it was an “important victory on the road to the full liberation of Syrian soil from the Assad regime and its allies.” They also made fresh pleas for more assistance from the West.

The statement is also a bit odd because many high-figures within the FSA have openly collaborated with ISIS and al-Nusra, and have been filmed doing so and talking about it. The SNC and their US, British, French and Gulf backers don’t really care about who’s “moderate,” they’re happy for anyone – no matter how ideologically insane – to get the job of removing the Assad government done. All this stuff about moderates is just PR for the domestic audiences.

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As for these supposed 5000 “moderates” that the US are going to be sending into Syria each year…anyone who is willing to take up arms against both ISIS and the Syrian Arab Army five years into a civil war has to be a complete nut-job. I’m also pretty sure that whoever’s doing the vetting process isn’t being too strict. Currently it seems like they (the US army) is having trouble finding recruits, having a total of 300 men at last count. However let’s face it, these guys probably aren’t going to fight ISIS at all. Just as the FSA told Theo Padnos – the American journalist who was kidnapped and handed over to al-Nusra by the FSA – they lied to the Americans about working and sharing weapons with al-Nusra, there’s nothing to stop this new group doing the same.

What does need to be said about these fresh recruits is that they could be a Trojan horse for the West to directly wage war on the Syrian government. The Obama administration is currently thinking up legislation that will protect these forces should they come under attack from the SAA, and this may include some US forces working alongside the ‘rebels’. It could also possibly include even more US soldiers being sent in as a result of such an attack. This all seems like laying a trap for Assad, as it essentially means America’s mercenaries are free to attack the Syrian army, but if they attack in retaliation, this will allow the US and its allies to intervene. And obviously, if these guys are causing bloody havoc in their country, the SAA will need to do something about it.

To return to Idlib…

It seems that some ‘revolutionaries’ are no longer satisfied with the way things are now being run there. For example:

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Isn’t this to be expected from a city taken over by Islamists? In the government half of Aleppo, nightclubs have started to reopen every night, and there are always people to be found there at 3am. On the rebel-held half of the city, restaurants and cafes are split into male only and family sections – just like in Saudi Arabia. I suspect things are about to get a lot worse in Idlib.

The video below was posted on May 30th:

(It shows Islamists engaging in Takbeers before being interrupted by SAA warplanes overhead, and is quite amusing – in fact it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of guys!)

I assume the barrel bombs have just begun to fall on Idlib.

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Idlib after government bombing

Taken on 3rd April 2015.

Taken on 3rd April 2015.

The Ominous Symbolism of Libya & Syria’s Rebel Flags

There is something slightly ominous about the reemergence of a number of colonial-era flags in the twenty-first century.

Libya
In 2011 rebel militias in Libya took the old flag of the Kingdom of Libya as their standard, and this is now used as the official Libyan flag in the post-Gaddafi era.

Flag of the Kingdom of Libya under King Idris (1951-1969), and the current Libyan flag since 2011.

Although this symbol – red, black and green with a white star and crescent in the centre – was used in the African nation following its independence in 1951, ordinary Libyans continued to be treated like second-class citizens during this period, as the country was home to several British and American military installations. The bloodless coup that brought Colonel Muammar Gaddafi  to power took place in 1961. In 1977 he renamed the state the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” –  “Jamahiriya” roughly translating to “state of the masses” – and the country’s flag was reborn as a plain green field.

Flag of the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” from 1977-2011.

Despite the simplicity of this insignia-free flag, it was a powerful representation of Libya’s national identity, with the green symbolising both Gaddafi’s Green Book, and green being the traditional colour of Islam.

Syria
As with Libya, the armed groups currently attempting to overthrow the government of Syria – led by President Bashar al Assad – have raised the banner that first came into being as the country struggled to win its independence from France in the 1930s.

Flag of the Syrian Republic, from 1930-1958, and current standard used by the SNC and FSA.

However, despite the creation of a treaty of independence to end official French rule in 1936, the French government refused to accept this agreement. Due to the outbreak of WWII and the fall of France in 1940, Syrian independence was deferred until after the war.

Khaled Kamal, an official of the Syrian National Council, has commented: “We are using the old flag because it symbolises independence. It’s a symbol of independence and the end of the Bashar regime.”

Flag of Syria, 1980-present.

 The Financial Times says that the return to such earlier flags in Libya and Syria is an attempt by the opposition to distance themselves ideologically from both country’s periods of Arab nationalism. Despite the Western-backed SNC’s insistence that the old flag represents independence, it can alternatively be considered as an emblem of dependence; dependence on the old colonial powers – and the new American superpower – for survival. This is certainly true when considering that the SNC consists of Western-educated elites that haven’t set foot in Syria for years – possibly decades.

In reality war is being waged on Syria for refusing to give up its sovereignty to the forces of globalisation, just as Libya was destroyed by NATO for it’s self-determination. Syria is one of the world’s remaining nations to have a state-run banking system and gold reserves which fall outside of the global private central banking syndicate; Iran is another, and Libya was pre-2011. The use of these twentieth century flags by the proxy armies are a sinister symbol of the fate that awaits those nations whom attempt to follow an independent path.

Iran be warned.

References:

Syrian rebels raise a flag from the past
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6c332676-32f4-11e1-8e0d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3UFIkUyFD

German Media Reveals ISIS Supply Routes

Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) have released a report containing concrete evidence that supplies for the Islamic State are entering Syria via its Turkish border. Hundreds of trucks containing billions of dollars worth of supplies such as food, weapons, and cement are allowed to pass freely through checkpoints. One driver tells DW that his vehicle is bound for Raqqa – ISIS’s self-appointed capital. Militants are also allowed to cross the border freely, while the Turkish army has used tear gas, water cannon, and even shot dead Turkish Kurds attempting to make their way to Kobani.

Much of the British public has been shocked by the clear display of cooperation between Ankara and ISIS, saying that they should be chucked out of NATO. However NATO teamed up with Islamic militants in its war on Libya in 2011, so Turkey’s attitude is not that different – both the wars on Syria and Libya were fought to remove secular dictators. The ‘coalition’ to fight ISIS had already proved itself to be an utter farce, as the Americans and their Arab ‘partner nations’ have refused to include any of the actors who are actually on the ground fighting the jihadists: the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah, and Iran’s Quds Force, preferring instead to ally themselves with all those complicit in the creation of ISIS.

Their campaign to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ ISIS has so far failed to do the group any damage, and the US State Department actually released a statement a few days ago condemning the Syrian Air Force’s own strikes on ISIS. This does have to make you wonder what the Americans are trying to achieve here. Other rebel groups are complaining that the US has secretly allied itself with Assad, but with training camps currently being hosted in Qatar and Turkey, and another one planned to operate in Saudi Arabia, it looks like regime change for Syria is still on the menu.

Western Media’s Syria Narrative Shaped by One Guy

islamic-state-flag-plane-ap

Last weekend the world media was awash with articles claiming that ISIS militants are building their own air force, having apparently captured three fighter jets from the Syrian Arab Army. The Guardian’s piece states:

Islamic State (Isis) is takings its first steps towards building an air force by training pilots to fly captured fighter planes, according to a group monitoring the conflict in Syria.

Isis is using lots of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery and Jeeps taken from the Syrian and Iraqi armies but this is the first report that it has planes in the air.

Isis, which took the US by surprise this year with its rapid territorial expansion in Syria and Iraq, has three Russian-built MiG jets, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which appears to have a good network of observers on the ground and has often proved reliable in the past.

Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the British-based group, said Isis has trainers who had gained experience in the Iraqi air force under former president Saddam Hussein.

Abdulrahman cited witnesses who had seen the planes flying low over Aleppo, in rebel-held northern Syria.

If Isis was able to train pilots, they could mount 9/11-style suicide attacks on key installations in Damascus or Baghdad.

The astonishing part of this report however, is not the information regarding ISIS, but the fact that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – cited by every Western media agency since 2011 – consists of one guy sitting in an English apartment.

The SOHR is quoted in pretty much every article on Syria, essentially having shaped the West’s entire narrative of the war. However Rami Abdulrahman does not just run “the British-based group,” he is the British based group. He is also a member of the Syrian opposition, and can often be found at the British Foreign Office – where he has in the past met directly with ex-Foreign Secretary William Hague. The image below is of Abdulrahman exiting one such meeting.

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Evidently, this means the SOHR is not an impartial source. While Abdulrahman does get his information from people on the ground, these are mainly made up of members and supporters of the so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’; their reports always implicating the government and army in every crime.* What is particularly irritating is that the Guardian knows this, having actually included Abdulrahman in an article titled The Syrian Opposition: Who’s Doing the Talking? (which I recommend having a look at). This piece from July 2012 says of him:

That name, the “Syrian Observatory of Human Rights”, sound so grand, so unimpeachable, objective. And yet when Abdulrahman and his “Britain-based NGO” (AFP/NOW Lebanon) are the sole source for so many news stories about such an important subject, it would seem reasonable to submit this body to a little more scrutiny than it’s had to date.

However since then – like every other agency – the Guardian has conveniently forgotten to apply these standards again. Having been jailed three times for opposition-related political activities back in Syria, Abdulrahman fled to the UK in 2000. He has previously stated:

“I came to Britain the day Hafez al-Assad died, and I’ll return when Bashar al-Assad goes.”

That this one-man observatory is working alongside the Syrian opposition and UK government, whilst also providing the media with a profoundly biased narrative to shape their war-mongering agenda, is laughable at best, but at worst is a shocking willingness to deceive both the British public and the suffering Syrian people.

Funnily enough, this latest story of an ISIS air force appeared just as Turkey has been calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone as part of their terms for joining the anti-ISIS coalition (backed by France), despite – until now – the group not possessing any planes. Apparently two of the jets have just been shot down by the Syrian Arab Army, so the purpose of any future no-fly zone will be blindingly clear to anyone who has been paying attention.

Sources:

*In Cynthia McKinney’s The Illegal War on Libya

Islamic State training pilots to fly MiG fighter planes, says monitoring group
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/17/islamic-state-training-pilots-mig-planes-syria

Coventry – an unlikely home to prominent Syria activist
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/12/08/uk-britain-syria-idUKTRE7B71XG20111208

The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking

West’s Syrian Narrative Based on “Guy in British Apartment”
http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/wests-syrian-narrative-based-on-guy-in.html