Paris horror as ISIS/Daesh opens a new front in its war against civilisation

The intimitable horror of the attacks we have just seen in southern Beirut and Paris follow in rapid succession the downing of the Russian passenger aircraft over the Sinai, which even though the Russian authorities are yet to conclude their investigation into this event and provide confirmation of what most of the world already believes – namely that the aircraft was destroyed by a bomb smuggled on board – is iikely to have also been connected to the conflict in Syria and Iraq against ISIS/Daesh.

I have already written an in-depth piece on the Paris atrocity and its political fallout, which can be found at Counterpunch here.

The point of this article is to explore the strategy being pursued in broadening the war out of theatre, so to speak, by ISIS/Daesh. Patrick Cockburn identified it in relation to the targeting of the Russia aircraft in a recent article at The Independent. In the article Cockburn suggests that the attack on the Russian airliner is evidence that Russia’s air campaign in Syria is having a significant impact, causing them damage and degrading their ability to operate.

With this in mind, it is no coincidence that southern Beirut was targeted, what with Hezbollah’s key role in the ground war, while Paris was attacked due to France’s role in conducting airstrikes against ISIS/Daesh in Syria but primarily Iraq.

These horrific attacks, carried out one after the other against these specific countries and/or communities, offer compelling evidence that ISIS/Daesh is being defeated in Syria and in Iraq, and is attempting to bring the war home to the civilian populations of said countries and communities with the intention of turning them against their government or organisation’s continued participation in it. It reveals desperation on the part of an organisation which this time a year ago appeared well-nigh invincible as it swept forward in convoys across a vast exapanse of eastern Syria and northern Iraq.

Not now. Now they appear far from invincible; and with the SAA, Hezbollah, and NDF retaking territory in western Syria as part of a major offensive to clear the last pockets of resistance and thereby secure Damascasus, the Russian aribase in Latakia, and the country’s population centres – and with the Peshmerga, combined with Yazidis and other anti-ISIS forces, managing to retake the town of Sinjar in northern Iraq this past week – a point of critical mass appoaches for the first time in five long bloodsoaked years when it comes to the Syrian conflict and its echo in northern Iraq.

French President Francois Hollande spoke movingly in response to the horror that erupted in the French capital. However in describing, understandably, the attack as an act of war and pledging that France’s military involvement in the struggle against ISIS will continue, there are grounds for concern. Hopefully the French Government and its British and US counterparts are now waking up to the incontrovertible fact that unless they ally their efforts against ISIS/Daesh and al-Qaeda to those of Russia, Syria, and Iran, the absurdity of a status quo which has only prolonged the conflict, will continue to reap the lack of results it has up to now.

France has the added challenge of being home to Europe’s largest Muslim community, which stands at around 5 million strong. When it comes to youth unemployment, crime, health, and income in its Muslim community is suffering more than any other demographic, pointing to a failure of assimilation. This has had a deleterious impact on social relations in France over some years now, which has manifested in a rising tide of resentment within the French Muslim community on the one hand, particularly among young Muslims, and the entrenchment of Islamophobia throughout French society on the other.

Its political manifestation is reflected in the increase we have seen in support for the controversial Marine Le Pen’s extreme right National Front, while culturaly fames French novelist Michel Houellebecq’s latest bestseller – which in grotesque irony was published on the same day as the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January – stirred up a lot of controversy both within and without France and became an instant bestseller. Submission sets out a future scenario in which a devout Muslim, with the aid of the country’s Socialist Party, becomes prime minister of France and sets about imposing Sharia law. That such a novel could be so widely praised and critically acclaimed in France is no fluke. Houellebecq’s reactionary views are far from marginal and have deep historical and cultural roots as a result of France’s egregious colonial history, in particular with regard to Morocco and Algeria. Of the country’s Muslim population the vast majority are of Algerian and Moroccan descent.

The point is that not only in France but throughout Europe, Muslims will now again find themselves under pressure within countries where their presence is, for the most part, tolerated rather than welcomed, with things likely to get ugly going forward.

The struggle against ISIS/Daesh in Iraq and Syria has for some time been a non negotiable condition of returning something resembling stability to the Middle East and eradicating one of the most potent threat to civilians, particularly minorities, there and throughout the region in decades. Now, with this spate of attacks in Paris, it is also the most potent threat to civilians in Europe we have seen in many years. The campaign to eradicate it must continue on that basis. With Russia’s intervention proving a significant factor in this regard, the days of this cancer as physical presence in both countries are surely now numbered. The ideology that underpins them, however, is another matter.

Eradicating this will take far, far longer, and presents even more of a challenge. Muslims and Islam is not and has never been the enemy of people in the West. Our enemy has and continues to be the hypocrisy of Western governments that have destabilised the Middle East over many years of hubristic-driven wars, occupations, and support for regional actors, such as Saudi Arabia, where this poison resides and is given the legitimacy of a state religion. If now is not the time to reappraise our role in this part of the world and change it so that it resembles something approximating to coherence – when?

120 comments on “Paris horror as ISIS/Daesh opens a new front in its war against civilisation

  1. There is a serious danger that (similar to the impact of 9/11) the Paris attack will be used to justify Western ‘boots on the ground’ in Syria. That would- at the very least- hinder the military progress being currently made against ISIS & Co by the Syrian army with support from Russia, Hezbollah & Iran, and could be the springboard for the destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/11/14/us-france-shooting-military-idUSKCN0T31HY20151114

    As was the case with Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the effect of such western wars is to increase, not reduce, the sectarian jihadi movement. Islamist terrorism and Western militarism feed off each other in a kind of mutually assured escalation.

  2. sussexlabourleft on said:

    It is not the case, John Wight, that everyone in the world thinks, ‘that the aircraft was destroyed by a bomb smuggled on board,’ referring to the Russian Kolavia Flight 9268 downed on 31st October 2015.

    https://www.rt.com/news/320337-russian-plane-crash-recovery/

    Gordon Duff on the Veterans Today website argues that the Russian investigators and authorities must know of another logical explanation……:

    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2015/11/11/381067/

    He refers to a military air exercise taking place in Israel at the same time involving Israel, USA, Greece, Poland, France with Germany observing. He argues that Kolavia Flight 9268 could have been brought down by a missile fired by a plane involved in the air exercise.

    Other sources have reported that Israeli warplanes struck targets near the Damascus international airport on Wednesday 11th November 2015:

    http://off-guardian.org/2015/11/11/breaking-israeli-air-force-attacks-damascus-airport-reports/

    The Russian Federation’s airforce has official Syrian government support to operate in Syrian airspace. The Russian navy uses the port of Tartus . The danger of a clash between Russia and Israel and or any of the other western powers is increasing.
    The western governments which most enthusiastically support regime change in the Middle East and now Syria are driving and exacerbating the crisis.
    France, now a member of NATO, is talking about the attacks on Friday the 13th (13.11.2015) as an act of war and may want to step up its role in the war in Syria or even invoke Nato involvement.
    The anti-war movement, the labour and trade union movement and other progressive groups should demand that Britain and Parliament does not join in with RAF bombing and instead works to de-escalate the crisis around a ceasefire and plan to rebuild the region. The Labour Party leadership should speak up louder right now on these demands and get some momentum behind it.

    Sussexlabourleft

  3. Andy Newman on said:

    sussexlabourleft,

    I don’t buy your insinuations about Israel at all.

    Russia and Israel have gone out of their way to initiate military liaison for avoiding the potential of clashes over Syria.

  4. Peter Hitchens very good I thought in today’s Mail on Sunday (it has upset James Bloodthirsty as well):

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3318980/PETER-HITCHENS-Really-want-beat-terror-calm-THINK.html

    TBH, I think Hitchens is completely excellent in this article, and all the better for carrying this argument to Mail readers. I recommend you read the whole thing, as a few short quotes cannot do justice to his compassion, but this struck me as wise:

    And then there is the rapid casting aside of ancient, wise rules. Our irreplaceable liberty and justice, which took a thousand years to create, are in shreds thanks to hasty and emotive measures that did no good. And now we have the shame of lawless confinement of untried men in Guantanamo, of torture that Englishmen, far fiercer and crueller than we think we are, abandoned as barbaric hundreds of years ago. And we have the horrors of ‘extraordinary rendition’ by secret flights to secret prisons, in which dark things took place. How can we claim to stand for liberty and justice if we do such things?

    And we see the dubious and dangerous use of pilotless drones to conduct summary executions of our enemies. Few can be sorry at the death of Mohammed Emwazi (the so-called ‘Jihadi John’), but what precedents are we setting? For the moment, our fanatical foes do not have drones of their own. One day, they will.


    After all, let us not forget that Islamist terror has grown in strength and reach, not diminished, since we embarked on our supposedly benevolent interventions in the Muslim world. The Iraq invasion, the Afghan intervention, the wild and brainless enthusiasm with which we greeted the disastrous ‘Arab Spring’, the supposedly humanitarian interference in Libya which turned it into a failed state, the aid and comfort we gave to the rebellion in Syria. Not only have these things failed to prevent terror. They have visited a violent chaos on the whole Muslim world, in which fanatical and grisly death cults thrive and prosper.
    And alongside them, there is the enormous migration of desperate young men, from Africa, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, many of them Muslim, some of them no doubt easy recruits for the fanatics.

    We pretend to understand these nebulous and varied terror groups, for years placing them under the all-embracing trademark of ‘Al Qaeda’, now insisting they are part of a new and greater menace called ‘ISIS’. The truth is there is no mastermind sitting in a cave issuing orders (though of course someone is always willing to claim responsibility for these outrages after they have happened – and who can be sure if such claims are true?).

    That is a James Bond fantasy. And it is also why these things would still be hard to prevent if we turned ourselves into a totalitarian state of surveillance, identity cards, perpetual searches of the innocent – like going through an airport, only all the time.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3318980/PETER-HITCHENS-Really-want-beat-terror-calm-THINK.html#ixzz3rYa5Zfr6
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  5. Jack Ford,

    Better not call Peter Hitchens that — the term is usually applied to his late brother Christopher. Funny how the Christian, conservative Hitchens is often more sound on some issues than his ostensibly radical sibling.

  6. I’m quoting this from today’s Morning Star:

    The Communist Party of Britain executive committee sends its
    solidarity to our comrades in the French Communist Party (PCF) in their endeavours to maintain the principles of internationalism and working-class unity in the face of sectarian terror, state repression, racism and right-wing chauvinism.

    We express our condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in the atrocities of Friday November 13.

    We call for unity of all who face sectarian
    and state terrorism, imperialist oppression and capitalist exploitation and who strive to uphold democratic freedoms and the right to take collective action for social progress, whether in France, Britain, the Middle East or anywhere else.

  7. I wanted to post this as I think it is an excellent piece of analysis in avoiding the obvious push-buttons that the mainstream media are constructing and dares to look at the geopolitical chessboard. It is the first piece I’ve seen that deals with the Wahhabi-push in working class areas that is radicalising youth. It’s focus on NATO touches on the area laid out by Daniel Gansar in his work on Stay Behind Armies in Operation Gladio; finally a journalist that discusses the role of the intelligence apparatus…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7GAbVhjTSw
    (Geroid O Colmain reporting on RT from Pars)

  8. John Grimshaw on said:

    sussexlabourleft: It is not the case, John Wight, that everyone in the world thinks, ‘that the aircraft was destroyed by a bomb smuggled on board,’ referring to the Russian Kolavia Flight 9268 downed on 31st October 2015.

    The Russians have just announced conclusive proof that the airliner was downed by a bomb taken on board despite previous statements to the contrary.

  9. Hi John

    There is something troubling about your piece, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is… you say that the western powers should ally more closely with Syria, Russia et al, but how will this help to put a stop to the violence?

    I did scoff when Hollande gave his ‘act of war’ statement, there has been a war going on for 14 years, but obviously war isn’t really war unless it’s on western soil. I also had to vomit at the reports in our press about ‘british’ deaths like that is somehow more relevant than the deaths of others.

    I know this is nothing new, but there is a danger somewhat of falling into a trap here on how we view this war, and I think this is my problem with this discourse in general, there is a trace of the ‘jihadi/isis/al qaeda’ resistance being somehow worse and more evil simply because of it’s religious character. People can no doubt point to the reactionary nature of ISIS and document horrors carried out by them and their affiliates – I’m not saying they should be supported in any way, my point is about the tone we use.

    I also question our position to support both western and eastern imperialism in their struggle against ISIS. We can’t stand against imperialist aggression while supporting it at the same time – what i am saying I that there is no distinction between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ empire – it’s one empire and we are either for or against it.

    Sorry if I have mis-interpreted what you have said, as I said it’s hard to actually pinpoint what I find problematic with the discussion, clouded as it all is by recent events.

  10. #11 British deaths are no more tragic than any others.

    And I find the bias and hypocrisy of the British msm pretty disgusting on a number of levels.

    But I’ve never understood why some people have an objection to them reporting on the fact that a British person or some British people have died in an incident in another country.

    It would be pretty strange if they didn’t.
    Is there a country in the world whose media would not do the same?

  11. tomj: there is a trace of the ‘jihadi/isis/al qaeda’ resistance being somehow worse and more evil simply because of it’s religious character.

    I have to say, I do find your formulation here troublesome. What you describe as ‘resistance’ I describe as medieval barbarism with genocidal intent. Are you seriously drawing an equivalence between groups and an ideology driven by the objective of turning the clock back to the seventh century, massacring and enslaving on a mass scale in the process, with the Maquis and the Partisans?

    I hope not and that I have misconstrued your words. if so, I apologise in advance.

    tomj: I also question our position to support both western and eastern imperialism in their struggle against ISIS.

    What is ‘eastern imperialism’? I really don’t recognise such a thing, either semantically or concretely. Please elaborate, if you could.

    When the Republican government in Spain in the 1930s, the legitimate government of the country, appealed for solidarity in its struggle against Franco and his fascist allies, the position of the left in Britain and throughout the West was to campaign for active intervention by their respective governments – on the basis that the emerging threat of fascism superseded any other at that particular moment.

    There is a distinct historical parallel in this regard today when it comes to Syria. The legitimate and sovereign Syrian government is facing a growing and potent threat in the shape of a Middle Eastern equivalent of the aforesaid European fascism, intent on turning the country into a mass grave. It is calling for help in its struggle to combat this threat. Our position should be to join that call and pressure our own govt to change its stance of viewing Assad and IS as two sides of the same coin, and to join in the united front that has long been called for by not only the Syrian govt but also its Russian and Iranian counterparts, in order to meet the most potent threat the world has faced since the rise of European fascism.

    Fiddling while Rome burns is no longer an option.

  12. Hi John

    ‘eastern Imperialism’ I just invented the term 🙂 I meant Russia basically.

    From what you are saying perhaps the khmer rouge (spelling?) might be a more accurate parallel? And western bombs did nothing good to help anybody there.

    There is something obviously more dignified about ‘western’ intervention in Spain in the 30s, people think immediately of Orwell and the POUM, international solidarity etc, I don’t see how this is in any way similar to a NATO bombing campaign… was there military involvement there from the British government?
    I think there is a definite problem with the comparison in that politically it just does not make sense, fascism was basically supported by ruling elites as a solution to the problem of mass discontent, this is very far away from where we are today. It appears, and I admit a lot of ignorance here (I am here to learn), that ISIS are occupying a very different space, one created out of most reactionary elements of resistance to imperialism in the middle east (?) … but yes, resistance is maybe a poor choice of words – do you have links to articles with opinion on the character of ISIS? I admit I am behind on that and that is obviously important. But, I still stand that western powers (and Russia, and china) are interested in oil and power only and their involvement will only intensify and escalate the war.

    I understand that Syria under Assad is a comparatively reasonable state to live in (apparently) and obviously we wouldn’t support the overthrow of elected governments but as always this is a question for the people, not western governments.

  13. Vanya,

    I think

    Vanya:
    #11 British deaths are no more tragic than any others.

    And I find the bias and hypocrisy of the British msm pretty disgusting on a number of levels.

    But I’ve never understood why some people have an objection to them reporting on the fact that a British person or some British people have died in an incident in another country.

    It would be pretty strange if they didn’t.
    Is there a country in the world whose media would not do the same?

    I guess not. I think it was the way David Cameron spoke about ‘british’ lives that got me going. I mean if a man from my area died I’d want to know, that’s news, that’s relevant, I might know him or know of him. But the way this is used is that British lives are more important than other lives – there is an inherent racism here that just churns my stomach

  14. “There is something obviously more dignified about ‘western’ intervention in Spain in the 30s, people think immediately of Orwell and the POUM, international solidarity etc…”

    I agree with the first bit but to be honest I suspect rather more people think of the International Brigades 🙂

  15. John Grimshaw on said:

    tomj: ‘eastern Imperialism’ I just invented the term I meant Russia basically.

    Tomj. This is an important issue that you raise here, although I’m not sure I would call it “Eastern”. For historical and political reasons some people on this blog don’t see modern Russia as being imperialist rather they see it as a country on the defensive from the only true imperialism which originates in the West. For myself, especially since the collapse of the USSR I am content that Russian Imperialism is real. It’s just that they have a lot less power than the USA.

    tomj: perhaps the khmer rouge

    I think people on the left (including myself) struggle to understand the nature of Daesh and other similar groupings. Some such as the AWL Trotskyite group characterise them as “clerical fascists” but then they characterise any extreme Muslims as such. Some opt for looser terms such as barbarians (which in my view is an insult to barbarians) or medieval (ditto). Your comparison with the Khmer Rouge, as the end result seems to be the same, maybe apposite, but they’re still not the same. The Khmer Rouge, as I’m sure you know was some weird (even by any standards) Maoist death cult, whereas Daesh is openly religious and reactionary. In the end I don’t know what they are exactly. To me they seem like parasites. They feed on desperation, historical regional conflicts and the open wounds caused by Imperialism. They’re also extremely contradictory, marrying back to basics Islam with greed, corruption and unholy behaviour. Some of the stuff they’ve been doing is not new however it’s just that they have more weaponry and cash to bring about their strange twisted world view. So for example the Yazidis have been persecuted for quite some period of time as devil worshippers by Sunni and Shia, Daesh were able to take this persecution to a much higher level. I was thinking also of the Mahdi movement in Sudan in the late Nineteenth Century which had features in common with Daesh but no machine guns, missiles and computers obviously.

    tomj: I understand that Syria under Assad is a comparatively reasonable state to live in (apparently) and obviously we wouldn’t support the overthrow of elected governments but as always this is a question for the people, not western governments.

    This is and was a matter for debate. John’s views are clear. However just because Assad’s regime is secular doesn’t necessarily mean it is a model of democracy and tolerance. Both Assad’s were responsible for significant massacres of people (Hafez somewhere in the region of 30,000) and opposition was routinely punished with imprisonment and torture. Depending upon who you read the Assad regime is responsible for more deaths of civilians and refugees than Daesh, although this maybe because the civil war has been going on for a long time now and in the more populace west of the country. If Syria was a democracy how come the leadership of the country was passed from father to son?

  16. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: It is calling for help in its struggle to combat this threat.

    I am unclear why you view the democratically elected Spanish Republican government of the 1930s in the same light as the Assad dictatorship?

    John: and to join in the united front that has long been called for by not only the Syrian govt but also its Russian and Iranian counterparts,

    Does this mean you are calling on your own Imperialist government to intervene militarily in Syria? Or rather increase it’s military profile?

  17. John Grimshaw: just because Assad’s regime is secular doesn’t necessarily mean it is a model of democracy and tolerance.

    Pentrating the surface of things to get at their roots and essence, isn’t this a requirement of a politics that aspires to understand the world rather than merely observe and catalogue it?

    Democracy is a word used to abnegate critical thinking and analysis, as if Syria – its history, development; its specific and concrete social, and economic base – can be judged solely on the criteria of whether it conforms to Western ideas of democracy.

    The Paris Commune had democracy. It lasted 72 days. Do you think in hindsight its citizens may have preferred a little less democracy and more survival?

  18. John Grimshaw on said:

    John,

    Is any of this true?

    “Assad has attracted support from the far-right both before and during the Syrian Civil War. Former leader of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke hosted a televised speech on Syrian national television in 2005.[190] The Ukrainian far right figure Georgy Shchokin was invited to Syria in 2006 by the Syrian foreign minister and awarded a medal by the Ba’ath party, while Shchokin’s institution the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management awarded Assad with an honorary doctorate.[191] In 2014, research by the Simon Wiesenthal Center concluded that Bashar al-Assad had, like his father Hafez al-Assad, sheltered Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner in Syria. Brunner was Adolf Eichmann’s top lieutenant and was believed to have advised the Assad regime on torture techniques[192] and on purging Syria’s Jewish community.[193] Brunner is thought to have died in Syria of natural causes in 2010.

    The National Front in France has been a prominent supporter of Assad since the civil war,[194] as has the former leader of the neo-fascist Third Way (Troisième voie) organization.[190] In Italy, the far right parties Forza Nuova and CasaPound have both been supportive of Assad, with Forza Nuova putting up pro-Assad posters and the party’s leader praising Assad’s commitment to the ideology of Arab nationalism in 2013,[195] while CasaPound has issued statements of support for Assad.[196] Syrian Social Nationalist Party representative Ouday Ramadan has worked in Italy to organize support movements for Assad.[197] Other far-right political parties expressing support for Assad include the National Democratic Party of Germany,[198] the National Revival of Poland,[190] the Freedom Party of Austria,[199] the Bulgarian Ataka party,[200] the Hungarian Jobbik party,[201] the Serbian Radical Party,[202] the Portuguese National Renovator Party,[203] as well as the Spanish Falange Española de las JONS[204] and Authentic Falange parties.[205] The Greek Neo-Nazi political party Golden Dawn has spoken out in favor of the Assad regime,[206] and the more radical Strasserist group Black Lily has claimed to have sent mercenaries to Syria to fight alongside the Syrian regime, specifically mentioning their participation in the Battle of al-Qusayr.[207]

    Far-right politician Nick Griffin, the former leader of the British National Party, has been chosen by the Assad regime to represent the United Kingdom as an ambassador and at regime-held conferences; Griffin had been an official guest of the Assad regime three times since the outbreak of the civil war.[208] The European Solidarity Front for Syria, representing several extreme right political groups from across Europe, has had their delegations received by the Syrian national parliament, with one particular delegation being met by Syrian head of parliament Mohammad Jihad al-Laham, Prime Minister Wael Nader Al-Halqi and Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.[197] Most recently, Assad met with Filip Dewinter of the Belgian far-right party Vlaams Belang.[209]”

  19. John Grimshaw,

    Not sure if any of this is true but a government struggling for the survival of its country is entitled to make a pact with the devil himself if it thinks it will help it survive.

    If it is true then cearly whoever’s providing Assad with information on political influence in the US or UK is misinforming him. I believe Griffin has been to Syria a couple of times, so perhaps that explains it.

    I fail to see how this means we should support the Assad govt’s demise in the present though. It rather illustrates how things have been so desperate it’s been seeking support anywhere it can get it.

    This is not about Assad or even his govt. it’s about Syria’s survival as a sovereign state, its minority communities, and its culture and history.

  20. Frank: What makes you so sure that things have an essence?

    Because if they did not they wouldn’t exist except as an idea. Rather than a brick wall it would be the idea of the brick wall, a reflection of our thoughts rather than a concrete fact.

    Good way to test is ram your head against it. See what happens. I think you would find that the brick wall does indeed have an essence – i.e. it really does exist separate and distinct from the idea of it.

  21. John: Democracy is a word used to abnegate critical thinking and analysis, as if Syria – its history, development; its specific and concrete social, and economic base – can be judged solely on the criteria of whether it conforms to Western ideas of democracy.

    This reminds me of the sort of arguments used by military dictators and their cheerleaders over the years in south-east Asia. In fact, remove the word ‘Syria’ and replace it with Thailand and this is pretty much the song sheet that the right wing mobs who mobilized against the elected government in 2014 in Bangkok were singing from. Those mobilizations paved the way for the military to move in yet again, and, as they have outlawed criticism and attempted to turn the clock back on what little progress has been made in the country, their message has been the same – ‘Don’t judge us by the standard of the West. This is Thai-style democracy.”

    In fact, democracy is a fairly simple and straightforward idea, and its appeal has proved to be pretty universal. To compare Assad’s decrepit dictatorship with the explosion of democracy in Spain in the 1930’s or the Paris Commune is, I’m afraid, beyond ludicrous.

  22. jack: To compare Assad’s decrepit dictatorship with the explosion of democracy in Spain in the 1930’s or the Paris Commune is, I’m afraid, beyond ludicrous.

    No, what is luidcrous is judging a society solely on the basis of whether people are able to vote in the mass murderers and criminals who govern them or not.

    More crimes against humanity, more mass murder, more carnage and mayhem has been unleashed on the world by elected governments than non elected governments. Even the most committed apologist for colonialism and imperialism cannot argue with that.

    So rather than engage in this misty-eyed worship of form over content, I prefer to judge governments by their actions and economic objectives rather than the rhetoric and propaganda they spout in order to enlist the support of unthinking leftists who seem to have no problem with rich and powerful countries undermining and destroying poor and weaker countries in the name of democracy.

    Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya…when and where will this disregard for the fate of nations and societies at the hands of the democratic West end?

    jack: democracy is a fairly simple and straightforward idea,

    Unfortunately, for too many, ‘simple’ and ‘straightforward’ describes the rendering of a world which for them exists on a blank sheet of paper.

    While Kantian moral absolutes may simplify things, they do nothing when it comes to understanding them with any degree of clarity or accuracy.

    jack: To compare Assad’s decrepit dictatorship with the explosion of democracy in Spain in the 1930’s or the Paris Commune is, I’m afraid, beyond ludicrous.

    You might not respect Syria’s sovereignty, but the thousands of soldiers and civilians who’ve given their lives for it over the past four years and more do. I think on this one their courage and sacrifice is more resonant than any judgement from afar when it comes to the legitimacy of their government.

    It probably wasn’t clear enough, but the Paris Commune reference was in relation to the fetishisation of democracy that played a key part in its downfall. Criticisms over the lack of democracy in Syria against the Assad govt are not valid given the threat it is facing and the stakes involved in the conflict the Syrian army and people are engaged in. Once that conflict and struggle has been won then, yes, things can be looked at anew in this regard. Until then, no.

  23. “Democracy” is not possible in Syria. It requires a well-functioning state, a high degree of social consensus about the tasks of that state, a recognition on all sides of that state’s legitimacy, civil peace, as well as elections and all those trappings which our rulers still pretend are all that is needed. No, for the foreseeable future Syria, or whatever successor states may emerge from the Syria/Iraq catastrophe, is going to be run by organised groups of men with guns. There is no point in prettifying Assad and his rule – there is too much information out there about it, from too many sources for that. Nevertheless, despite everything, is a Syrian government victory preferable to all the other conceivable outcomes? And if it is, does that hold true for all of Syria, or, say, just the non-Kurdish bits?

  24. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: More crimes against humanity, more mass murder, more carnage and mayhem has been unleashed on the world by elected governments than non elected governments. Even the most committed apologist for colonialism and imperialism cannot argue with that.

    I accept your analysis up to a point. So called democratic governments have been just as destructive over the years as have those which are some form of dictatorship or “…ocracy”. I say “so called” because I often think of Western style “democracy” as in reality a form of periodic elective “rich-ocracy”. It’s no surprise that the only demand made by the Chartists, namely yearly elections, was the only one that was never met. Of course we have to be careful with our analysis. Having the economic and technological capacity for mass destruction goes hand in hand with the act. I’m sure there have been some none democracies over the years who would’ve loved to have the fire power of say Imperial Britain in the nineteenth century but because they didn’t they didn’t kill as many people as they wanted. There are of course exceptions also. I know Hitler was democratically elected in 1933 (on a reduced vote) but he rapidly secured his position by creating a dictatorship and you could hardly describe his regime as being slow when it came to slaughtering innocent people. However it’s not just about “form over content”, although I accept this up to a point, ask yourself this concrete question. Would you rather live in a Germany in say 1938 or in an America of say the 1980s (chosen at random before you ask). In other words where democratic rights hard fought for by workers still exist, even in a truncated form, rather than where they don’t exist at all?

    Which I think brings us back to Bashar-al-Assad and his mates. His regime is some form of secular dictatorship (or maybe more accurately an oligarchy) where workers and ordinary people have very few rights. The regime has been responsible for the imprisoning, torture and killing, on mass on some occasions, of anybody who seeks to oppose it’s rule. On some occasions it has been reckoned that upwards of 200,000 people have been incarcerated at any one particular time. The regime has come to rely on support from the Alawite minority, who are justifiably scared for the future for a number of reasons I suspect, and more latterly it’s Russian allies. As I have pointed out above it has consistently kept some strange bed-fellows. Whilst I don’t think the Ba’athist regime is fascist the fact that it kept inviting these people over tells you something about their priorities; staying in power at any cost. There are constant rumours that the regime used chemical weapons against it’s own population and that it nurtured ISIL as a pole of attraction against it’s opponents in the ongoing civil war. There are still fairly credible sources that allege that the government is buying oil from Daesh controlled areas. I fail therefore to understand why committed socialists would want to give (uncritical?) support to such a regime. It seems that there are very few “good guys” in this situation.

    These are dark and complicated days for all socialists and will get worse before they get better. The French and Russians have upped the ante, and don’t assume that Putin’s support for Assad is unconditional. Now that he seems to be moving closer to the French at least and the British (desperate for a slice of the action) are moving on the same trajectory, I wouldn’t be surprised that if a more viable alternative presents itself, Assad will be ditched. And I don’t think it’s just the blood thirstiness of the likes of the Tories by the way. Two years ago I don’t think there was an appetite for serious military action amongst the British population (yes I know the Brits have ben n involved in Syria to some degree already) but now amongst non-socialists I sense that the mood is (reluctantly) changing. Since Friday I’ve been having conversations in the pub etc. with people saying the likes of come on John we’ve got to get involved now and sort these fuckers out. It will become hard to argue against further Imperialist intervention on “our” behalf. It makes it even harder if we are seen to be uncritical supporters of the Assad regime with nothing else to put forwards.

  25. John Grimshaw on said:

    Francis King: Nevertheless, despite everything, is a Syrian government victory preferable to all the other conceivable outcomes? And if it is, does that hold true for all of Syria, or, say, just the non-Kurdish bits?

    If my choice is between violent secular oligarchy or violent theocracy then I’m moving to Germany! Balkanisation is a potential outcome though Francis.

  26. John Grimshaw: Would you rather live in a Germany in say 1938 or in an America of say the 1980s

    Would a black resident of Harlem, Detroit, or South Central rather live in today’s America with no healthcare, lack of eduction, and rampant institutional racism, or would they prefer Cuba? This for me is a more appropriate comparison.

  27. jack: In fact, democracy is a fairly simple and straightforward idea, and its appeal has proved to be pretty universal.

    Thing are a bit more complicated than that.

    Syria does in fact hold elections, which are contested although for obvious reasons voting only takes place in government-held areas. These elections are not regarded as valid by countries opposed to the Syrian government.

    Were Assad to stand for president in an internationally supervised, ‘free and fair’ election, there would be little doubt that he would win. Two indicators of this:-

    1) Opinion poll results, eg the ORB survey in July this year, showing Assad much more popular than any of the opposition groups mentioned. This is particularly so in government-held and urban areas- in the ORB poll, 81% of residents of Damascus gave a ‘completely’ or ‘somewhat’ positive view of Assad.

    2) The US position in negotiations (a key sticking point in talks with the Russians) that Assad should be banned from standing in a future democratic presidential election in Syria. If the USA thought it likely that he would lose such a vote, they would not be so insistent on this point.

    Of course, the level of support for Bashar al Assad among Syrians is hardly surprising when you consider what the alternative is.

  28. John Grimshaw: Since Friday I’ve been having conversations in the pub etc. with people saying the likes of come on John we’ve got to get involved now and sort these fuckers out. It will become hard to argue against further Imperialist intervention on “our” behalf. It makes it even harder if we are seen to be uncritical supporters of the Assad regime with nothing else to put forwards.

    I agree and disagree with you here.

    We need to learn the lessons of the past but the right lessons. Inaction against this clear threat to all of us everywhere is not an option. I am not against military intervention in Syria. I support Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah’s intervention and always have done.

    The issue for us is how this intervention is undertaken and if it is in cooperation with the legimiate Syrian govt and its allies or not.

    The discussions I’ve been having have revolved around this question and everyone I speak to agrees it is time we united with Putin and Russia, and that there is no equivalence between Assad and IS. None.

    If the West is forced by events to accept the inviolability of Syria’s sovereignty it will mark a defeat for their imperialist objectives where Assad is concerned. This is key.

  29. John Grimshaw:I wouldn’t be surprised that if a more viable alternative presents itself, Assad will be ditched.

    There is no chance of Assad being ‘ditched’.

    For one key factor among several, this would mean caving in to a US veto on who Syrians are allowed to have on the presidential ballot paper in a future election. This does not accord with how the Russians see the issues of national sovereignty and multilateralism.

  30. John: No, what is luidcrous is judging a society solely on the basis of whether people are able to vote in the mass murderers and criminals who govern them or not.

    Actually, being able to hold governments, whether mass murderers or not, accountable is important. Electoral considerations can inhibit warmongering politicians, as they have over Syria in the UK. The fact that aggressive wars can be unleashed by elected governments is not an argument against democracy.

    John: It probably wasn’t clear enough, but the Paris Commune reference was in relation to the fetishisation of democracy that played a key part in its downfall. Criticisms over the lack of democracy in Syria against the Assad govt are not valid given the threat it is facing and the stakes involved in the conflict the Syrian army and people are engaged in. Once that conflict and struggle has been won then, yes, things can be looked at anew in this regard. Until then, no.

    The Paris Commune was an experiment in democracy that was crushed because it didn’t spread out from Paris and defeat its enemies. The level of democracy that can be maintained by a working class government under attack, either internally or externally, is a difficult balance between political principle and practical necessity. Assad, however, has not been blown off a democratic course by the civil war in Syria. He was an undemocratic thug before, just as he is now. What’s the point of pretending otherwise?

  31. Francis King: No, for the foreseeable future Syria, or whatever successor states may emerge from the Syria/Iraq catastrophe, is going to be run by organised groups of men with guns.

    Is this not true, in essence, of every state?

  32. Nick Wright,

    Not really, Nick. For the most part functional modern states are run and organised by bureaucracies, relying on consent and voluntary acquiescence. They take on all sorts of social functions and provide all sorts of services. Men with guns are there as a last resort, and even there they generally operate in accordance with certain rules. Here in Britain, we all have numerous interactions with the state daily; if we avoid falling foul of the law, most of those interactions involve no discernable coercion. The likely position in Syria, even once the war is over, is rather different. The relationship between power and coercion is likely to be far more direct and naked. The reconstruction of a state machine capable of taking on the full range of functions is a slow process; gaining the legitimacy and consent needed for “democracy” is even slower.

  33. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: Would a black resident of Harlem, Detroit, or South Central rather live in today’s America with no healthcare, lack of eduction, and rampant institutional racism, or would they prefer Cuba? This for me is a more appropriate comparison.

    Honestly john I take your point. But I’m not clear you are comparing like with like. Cuba’s regime has many achievements to it’s trophy cabinet (including I might add, and little known, 300 “advisors” supporting Assad’s government) but democractic behaviour and working class freedom of expression has been sadly lacking. You’re partly right in what you say but I’m not seeing a flow of Black Americans moving to Cuba.

  34. John Grimshaw on said:

    Noah: Syria does in fact hold elections,

    Noah Syria has held elections, but you fail to mention that there is only one runner and that the elections are probably rigged.

    Furthermore I would be extremely dubious about any poll held in Syria at the moment.

  35. John Grimshaw on said:

    Noah: Of course, the level of support for Bashar al Assad among Syrians is hardly surprising when you consider what the alternative is.

    This is a peculiar claim Noah when you consider that over 200,000 Syrians have been killed since the beginning of the civil war and that the country is essentially splitting into parts and is hollowing out. How many Syrians have now left the country on route for somewhere else?

  36. John Grimshaw on said:

    Noah: There is no chance of Assad being ‘ditched’.

    For one key factor among several, this would mean caving in to a US veto on who Syrians are allowed to have on the presidential ballot paper in a future election. This does not accord with how the Russians see the issues of national sovereignty and multilateralism.

    I’d watch this space if I were you.

  37. John Grimshaw on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    It’s difficult to be clear but estimates say that over 4 million people have left Syria since 2011. Do I believe that this many people are anti-Assad Western agents? Or that they have all left since the advent of Daesh, especially given that the refugee flows pre-date Daesh.?

  38. John Grimshaw: Noah Syria has held elections, but you fail to mention that there is only one runner [etc]

    I find it mystifying that it must have taken you 2 minutes to write and post that comment, but 30 seconds checking via Google would have saved you the trouble.

    There were in fact three candidates in the most recent presidential election, held in June 2014.

    To save you further time & energy, you may note that I made no claims about the fairness or reliability of the election (although it was endorsed by observers from various Third World countries).

  39. John Grimshaw: I would be extremely dubious about any poll held in Syria at the moment.

    Some of the methodology is given in this BBC article:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34173549

    If anything, I would suspect that the ORB poll underestimates support for Assad and overestimates backing for the ‘opposition’ groups. This is because the results are weighted to the supposed numbers living in the areas controlled by the different sides in the war; figures which may now be highly inaccurate as most residents have fled from the main urban zones held by ISIS, Nusra etc, with those most sympathetic to the Islamist sectarians staying behind.

  40. John Grimshaw on said:

    Noah,

    Noah I have done as you asked. The constitution was changed in 2012 so that in theory at least it was possible to have candidates other than Al-Assad. The rules are stringent however. Only two other candidates were allowed to stand and they had little chance of winning. I note that the new rules state that you have to have been resident in the country for ten years or more to be eligible.

    A total of 24 candidates, including 2 women and a Christian, submitted applications to the Supreme Constitutional Court for the presidency.[31][32][33] Of these, two candidates other than Assad met all the conditions to run, including the support of 35 members of the parliament.[34] The two other candidates chosen to run are seen as “mostly symbolic contenders” and “little known figures”[1]
    Bashar al-Assad, the incumbent president, leader of Ba’ath Party
    Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri, from the National Initiative for Administration and Change in Syria, a 54-year-old MP from Damascus
    Maher Abd Al-Hafiz Hajjar, formerly from the People’s Will Party, a 43-year-old MP from Aleppo. This party is led by veteran opposition leader Qadri Jamil who supported the initial protests in 2011 but then described calls for the overthrow of the government as “unrealistic and useless”. Jamil was a member of the committee that drafted the new Constitution of Syria in 2011. However, People’s Will won just two of 250 MPs in the 2012 parliamentary election with their allies from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party won a further four. Jamil was nominated Deputy Prime Minister by President Assad in June 2012 but removed in October 2013. The small number of MPs from the party indicates that most of his nominations must have come from either independents or MPs from the ruling National Progressive Front. A statement from the People’s Will Party on 27 April distanced the party from Hajjar, claiming that Hajjar was no longer a member of either the People’s Will Party, or the Popular Front for Liberation and Change. Instead the statement claimed that Hajjar represented only himself.[35]

    The other 21 candidates that did not meet the criteria were:[36]
    Sawsan Omar al-Haddad, born in Latakia Governorate in 1963. (woman)
    Sameer Ahmad Mo’alla, born in Quneitra Governorate in 1961.
    Mohammad Firas Yassin Rajjouh, born in Damascus in 1966.
    Abdul-Salam Youssef Salameh, born in Homs governorate in 1971.
    Ali Mohammad Wannous, born in Homs in 1973.
    Azza Mohammad Wajih al-Hallaq, born in Damascus in 1962. (woman)
    Talie Saleh Nasser, born in Kafrin in 1967.
    Samih Mikhael Mousa, born in Btaiha in 1963. (Christian)
    Mahmoud Khalil Halbouni, born in Harasta in 1946.
    Mohammad Hassan al-Kanaan, born in al-Sanamayn in 1964.
    Khaled Abdo al-Kreidi, born in al-Al in 1966.
    Basheer Mohammad al-Balah, born in Damascus in 1931.
    Ahmad Hassoun al-Abboud, born in al-Mayadin in 1962
    Ayman Shamdin al-Issa Alam, born in al-Husseinyeh in 1967.
    Ziad Adnan Hakawati, born in Damascus in 1955.
    Ahmad Ali Qsei’eh, born in Jabaq in 1951.
    Mahmoud Mohammad Nassr, born in Zahiriye in 1969.
    Ali Hassan al-Hassan, born in Deir Saras in 1965.
    Ahmad Omar Dabba, born in Tazeh Shamaliye in 1969.
    Mahmoud Naji Moussa, born in Tadmur in 1950.
    Hossein Mohammad Tijan, born in Aleppo in 1961.

  41. John Grimshaw on said:

    Noah: I find it mystifying that it must have taken you 2 minutes to write and post that comment, but 30 seconds checking via Google would have saved you the trouble.

    There were in fact three candidates in the most recent presidential election, held in June 2014.

    To save you further time & energy, you may note that I made no claims about the fairness or reliability of the election (although it was endorsed by observers from various Third World countries).

    Noah it took me longer than two minutes as my typing skills leave something to be desired. 🙂 Anyway see above. I’m mystified also here because if you aren’t making any claims for “…fairness and reliability…” what exactly are you saying?

  42. John Grimshaw,

    No, perhaps that’s something to do with the mountain of anti Castro and anti Cuba propaganda that’s been peddled in the US over decades, an example of which sadly you repeated in your comment.

    This propaganda is extraordinarily effective, whether used to demonise Castro, Chavez, Arafat, or as most recently Assad.

  43. John Grimshaw: I’m mystified also here because if you aren’t making any claims for “…fairness and reliability…” what exactly are you saying?

    Merely that which I have already said: your claim that “there is only one runner” in Syrian elections was incorrect.

    Do you believe that it doesn’t matter whether the ‘facts’ you cite when arguing for your opinion are true?

  44. John Grimshaw: Honestly john I take your point. But I’m not clear you are comparing like with like. Cuba’s regime has many achievements to it’s trophy cabinet (including I might add, and little known, 300 “advisors” supporting Assad’s government) but democractic behaviour and working class freedom of expression has been sadly lacking. You’re partly right in what you say but I’m not seeing a flow of Black Americans moving to Cuba.

    Hmm.
    A couple of years ago in Cuba I met just a few of the Black US citizens – unable to gain entry to costly US medical schools, who were being trained at the Latin American School of Medicine. (ELAM)
    11,000 physicians from 123 countries have been trained at ELAM.

  45. George Hallam on said:

    Francis King: Here in Britain, we all have numerous interactions with the state daily; if we avoid falling foul of the law, most of those interactions involve no discernable coercion.

    The words “if” and “discernible” make this statement a tautology.

  46. jack: The Paris Commune was an experiment in democracy that was crushed because it didn’t spread out from Paris and defeat its enemies.

    That certainly explains why it became a purely defensive action rather than an offensive one. But here again the problem was a lack of leadership as it quickly became bogged down in matters of process rather than action required to spread and broaden it.

    However when it came to its survival the fact they were debating and voting on abolishing night shifts for bakery workers while Thiers and his reactionary hordes were at the gates was not very conducive to it, I think. Neither was the disconnect between the Central Committee of the National Guard and the Committee of Public Safety, forming a de facto dual administration.

    It was an experiment in democracy that failed due to the fetish made of democracy.

    The main point is that those who do not support the Syrian govt, at a time when the country is embroiled in a conflict the stakes of which involve not just the survival of said govt but the state itself, have failed to learn the lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

  47. John,

    What a ridiculous comparison. Syria=Spain, Russia=USSR (well, that’s still cold but warmer), Assad=Negrin (oh god), Syrian Opposition of all stripes=Franco. So who is Hitler here? Uncle Sam? Who’s the Luftwaffe?

    Analogies to Spain and fascism have a very bad track record. They’ve been used prominently by Hitchens to justify the crusade against Islamo-Fascism and by Russia to smear Maidan as Stormtroopers. Now Syria is the pivotal “anti-fascist” struggle of the twenty-first century. This is positively insane.

  48. John,

    If I hear any more talk about “legitimate government” my head will explode. Is this a special category of government? Virtually all governments claim a measure of “legitimacy”. I can’t think of any regime that has such low self-esteem that it cannot point to its friends or produce any justifications for its own existence.

    And every government ever is “legitimate” in the sense that is “legal”. That’s true by the very definition of legality.

  49. Vanya,

    Ooh I’m scared … hold me tight Vladimir.

    Yeah, I’m sure Russia and Eastern Ukraine have none of that. Everybody there is a principled Communist, who believes firmly that all working men are brothers regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation etc. You had no idea that fascism, extreme racism, homophobia are rife and completely acceptable in Russia? That blacks and “blacks” get beat up and even killed on a fairly regular basis?

  50. Vanya,

    BTW That was entire Maidan protest? I was under the impression that it was bigger than that. That’s approx the number of Russophile astroturf who showed up in support of the “anti-Fascist” struggle.

  51. jock mctrousers on said:

    Vanya,

    Good catch, dude!

    max: BTW That was entire Maidan protest? I was under the impression that it was bigger than that.

    Are you talking about Victoria Nuland handing out chocolate biscuits or whatever?

  52. jock mctrousers on said:

    max: You had no idea that fascism, extreme racism, homophobia are rife and completely acceptable in Russia?

    No, they’re not – they’re illegal!

    max: That blacks and “blacks” get beat up and even killed on a fairly regular basis?

    Maybe they should start up some sort of campaign like ” Black Lives Matter” like somewhere else where y’know…

  53. jock mctrousers,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euromaidan

    Feel free to edit the wiki as follows:
    Euromaidan (/ˌjʊərɵmaɪˈdɑːn/; Ukrainian: Євромайдан, Russian: Евромайдан, Yevromaidan, literally “Euro Square”) was a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began on the night of 21 November 2013 with public protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (“Independence Square”) in Kiev, demanding closer European integration [INSERT: and hoping to get a taste of Victoria Nuland’s cookies]

    I know you and your buddy Vanua are playing dumb, but you really don’t have to. Just be yourselves, and the idiocy will flow spontaneously. It’s been fun, but I really wanna dont feel listening to this shit. I’m from Moscow and get a full dose of Medveput propaganda every fucking time I turn on the radio. Those guys do it much better than you, almost as well as Fox News. It’s like comparing Mark Levin to some random idiot at freerepublic.com.

    You and Vanya (земляк, что ли??) should really move here, but I got a feeling you’ll eventually get sick of it and your contrarian impulses will kick in. Then you’ll say “God, how could I have been so stupid?”. Peace.

  54. jock mctrousers,

    No, they’re not – they’re illegal!

    You should go and tell them that, but i’d not recommend it. You might get told off. However, if you ain’t white or are slightly shall we say … feminine … they’ll tie you up, piss in your mouth, then take a baseball bat to your skull.

  55. jock mctrousers on said:

    max: … they’ll tie you up, piss in your mouth, then take a baseball bat to your skull.

    Is that how you got like that?

  56. jock mctrousers,

    Oh you shouldn’t laugh at such things, at least not out loud. Don’t they teach you to be politically correct and sensitive to the suffering of minorities over in Britain? You a BNP member by chance? Come to Moscow Comrade – you’ll fit right in. Might even land some Moscow Gold like Comrade Le Pen.

    Russia very far from a fascist country, but there are enough chauvinist assholes here to make you feel right at home.

  57. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: No, perhaps that’s something to do with the mountain of anti Castro and anti Cuba propaganda that’s been peddled in the US over decades, an example of which sadly you repeated in your comment.

    I don’t deny it. But neither do I think you can show that Castro’s Cuba is a shining example of really existing Socialism. I’m inclined to the view that we should defend Cuba against Imperialism but that it should be possible to criticise the “weaknesses” of the regime such as it’s tendency to lock up journalists it doesn’t like.

  58. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: This propaganda is extraordinarily effective, whether used to demonise Castro, Chavez, Arafat, or as most recently Assad.

    I don’t think you can put Castro in the same bag as Assad.

  59. John Grimshaw on said:

    Noah: Merely that which I have already said: your claim that “there is only one runner” in Syrian elections was incorrect.
    Do you believe that it doesn’t matter whether the ‘facts’ you cite when arguing for your opinion are true?

    The facts are Noah that until 2012 (my apologies for being slightly out of date) it was only possible for Bashar-Al-Assad to stand as leader of the country and that he was handed this post down from his father. After 2012 Al-Assad’s regime created a fake democracy where it was only possible for him to win. I assume that the new 2012 constitution was created as a cover given the difficult situation Syria had begun to find itself in. Do you believe that it is important that the regime have an election system that is fair and reliable?

  60. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers:
    max,

    And instead of wasting your time on wiki, you could try this handy little resume from the ever tidy-minded Robert Parry:

    https://consortiumnews.com/2015/11/19/tangled-threads-of-us-false-narratives/

    Jock this is a useful critique of US policy but it doesn’t say much about Russian policy, but then the article is slightly out of date. Putin’s new lash up with Hollande may very well be a game changer in a number of ways.

  61. John Grimshaw: Do you believe that it is important that the regime have an election system that is fair and reliable?

    It’s a very curious thing, the inculcation of imperialist arrogance that pervades even the left throughout the West.

    What is important is the sovereignty of the Syrian people, esp a people who have risen in arms to defend it against the most barbaric and heinous foe the region has seen.

    Maybe better, John, if you focused on ensuring that we have a fair and reliable electoral system. Let the Syrians deal with their country once this conflict has been won. Our concern is to ensure they are allowed to do that without the intervention of our own and other nations, whose role in their suffering should never be forgotten.

  62. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: It’s a very curious thing, the inculcation of imperialist arrogance that pervades even the left throughout the West.

    That’s a very unpleasant accusation to be chucking around. It’s not a curious way of avoiding a serious debate is it? If you look up thread you’ll realise that I was using this form of words responding to Noah. I didn’t introduce that phrase rather I was questioning why he didn’t seem to think it was that important.

    John: What is important is the sovereignty of the Syrian people, esp a people who have risen in arms to defend it against the most barbaric and heinous foe the region has seen.

    As I’ve already pointed out earlier quite a lot of Syrians have not risen in arms to defend the state, rather they’ve left the country on route somewhere else.

  63. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: Maybe better, John, if you focused on ensuring that we have a fair and reliable electoral system. Let the Syrians deal with their country once this conflict has been won. Our concern is to ensure they are allowed to do that without the intervention of our own and other nations, whose role in their suffering should never be forgotten.

    Oooooh! Matron. For what it’s worth I’ve spent a considerable period of my life “focussing” on my country’s electoral system and how to change it for the better. As I suspect have you? However I find it patronising to be told that I should only involve myself with my “own” country and not pay any attention to what happens elsewhere. Should I have no opinions about the USA, China, Columbia etc. etc. Or are you saying I should keep my nose out of the affairs of countries that you ideologically support?

    On your second point I agree wholeheartedly that the Syrian people should decide their future. It seems obvious that for that to happen there needs to be a political situation that allows all the people to be involved in that process.

  64. John Grimshaw,

    There’s probably a list out there somewhere of countries whose governments it is OK to criticise, and others whose governments it is “imperialist” to criticise. I would hope that it gets updated regularly in line with political developments – is it more or less permissible to criticise Burma, for example, in view of the recent changes?

  65. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: It seems obvious that for that to happen there needs to be a political situation that allows all the people to be involved in that process.

    How do you see this situation coming about, John? What is it you advocate?

  66. Francis King,

    The SU should probably publish and maintain such a list on its homepage. The composition of the “Popular Front” has changed significantly since the 1930’s, and there is much of confusion about its current membership – or its opponents.

    That should clear things up, and keep out the wild men in the wings, who come here posting “objectively fascist” (or is it still classically imperialist?) seditious commentary, hoping to find an audience. Sorry fifth columnists and wreckers. The progressive patriotic forces stand firmly with Bashar, Zakharchenko, Putin etc.. “No Pasaran!”

  67. John Grimshaw,

    John Grimshaw: The facts are Noah that until 2012 (my apologies for being slightly out of date) it was only possible for Bashar-Al-Assad to stand as leader of the country and that he was handed this post down from his father. After 2012 Al-Assad’s regime created a fake democracy where it was only possible for him to win. I assume that the new 2012 constitution was created as a cover given the difficult situation Syria had begun to find itself in. Do you believe that it is important that the regime have an election system that is fair and reliable?

    El Salvador had competitive elections in the 1980’s. Which is why the FMLN et. al. were terrorists fighting a “legitimate” (and fully legal, mind you) regime.

    important that the regime have an election system that is fair and reliable?

    Hell no! We just need to point its existence so we can legitimate the duly-elected butchers. Let’s not make a fetish out of electoral protocol, shall we? Except for when Ukrainians “illegally” toppled their own government, thus making the result of their subsequent election null and void, technically speaking. Luckily, Putin was a real stickler for electoral protocol, and quickly invaded so as to restore democracy to the country. Plebiscites were held in the separate enclaves (Crimea, DNR, LNR), in this case all free and fair.

    John you clearly have much to learn.

  68. john Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman:
    John Grimshaw,

    So you are demonstrating that it is easier to stand as an alternative candidate in Syria than in the USA?

    So I shouldn’t criticise the Ba’athist regime in Syria because of the obvious failings of the U.S. Electoral system? Ironically Andy you Say the above but at the same time must have a healthy respect for the British Imperialist electoral system as you stand in it.

  69. john Grimshaw,

    The point is that you seem to be making a ridiculous argument that some sort of election will be part of the conflict resolution in Syria.

    The preconditions for an election are entirely absent. There is no tradition of rule of law, no tradition of peaceful transition of power, and the parties are literally killing each other.

    The western fetishisation of elections in circumstances where the preconditions are absent was shown in all its disastrous folly a few years back in Ivory Coast where elections actually reignited a civil war and unravelled a peace process.

    For the avoidance of doubt, although it is far from an ideal situation, I believe that the Syrian war can only be ended by isolating and defeating ISIL, the key component of the military coalition to do that is the Syrian government.

    Britain has a legitimate role in air support for military operations in Iraq , where the sovereign government has asked for such support; but a far more effective role could be played by Britain in forensicly unpicking the web of states, banks and corporations who are trading with, arming, funding and supplying ISIL, and developing effective sanctions.

    This is why Britian’s relationship with Saudi is highly relevant.

  70. Andy Newman: Britain has a legitimate role in air support for military operations in Iraq

    So more of the same?

    Seriously, if we take the “war on terror” at face value (just for a second), it has undeniably been a total and catastrophic failure. Why then are politicians from Moscow to London lining up for War on Terror, Mk II?

    IS (and similar organisations) are primarily a product of the endless wars to which the Middle East has been subjected. That is of much greater significance to their use of terrorism than the specific ideological and religious trappings that they dress it in. The situation is unlikely to be resolved by perpetuating the exact same conditions that created it.

    Much more probably it will just continue the cycle of slaughter and counter-slaughter, increasing support for IS on the one hand and for racism, war-mongering, and the far-right on the other.

  71. Andy Newman: a far more effective role could be played by Britain in forensicly unpicking the web of states, banks and corporations who are trading with, arming, funding and supplying ISIL, and developing effective sanctions.

    That might actually achieve something, but is it something the Tories or Blairites would even attempt? Much easier for them to just bomb somewhere.

    Andy Newman: This is why Britian’s relationship with Saudi is highly relevant.

    But would the government risk damaging that highly profitable relationship, the arms deals, the oil supply, etc? Would they risk the collapse of Saudi Arabia, a state that wouldn’t even exist without British, and later American, backing?

  72. JN,

    Well duh!

    That that is why the left needs to demand economic sanctions, firstly they would probably be effective, secondly, the left needs to be the ones demanding it because the Tories won’t.

    I cannot see how we can logically oppose British military action in Syria on the basis that Syria is a sovereign state that has not approved UK military action, without accepting that Iraq is a sovereign state that has asked for UK military assistance.

  73. JN,

    The Syrian civil war is an actually existing conflict, the only logically existing options are perpetuating it or ending it.

    If you are indifferent to how it ends, then you are correct that there is no purpose in perpetuating the war.

    I am not indifferent because I want ISIL to be eradicated.

    The war has – I believe – been perpetuated because the west has seen defeat of ISIL as less of a priority than defeating Assad. Meanwhile, the regional allies of the West, Saudi, et al , have actually supported ISIL.

    However the only ground forces on the ground capable of defeating ISIL are the Syrian state, Iran, Hezbollah and the Kurdish forces.

    These are therefore the indispensable allies of anyone who actually wants to wage war on, and defeat ISIL.

  74. john Grimshaw: it’s difficult to have a grown up debate with a Stalinist without them resorting to rudeness,

    Presumably you are objecting to my use of the word ‘facile’?

    In that case, perhaps I should say instead that your opinions are based on the conventional Western liberal discourse regarding whichever leaders and governments happen to be obstacles to whatever the Western powers are trying to achieve: ie, a simplistic, superficial and misleading characterisation regarding ‘dictatorship’ and ‘democracy’, while ignoring or concealing the social, economic and strategic factors and forces involved.

  75. Andy Newman: I want ISIL to be eradicated.

    Like the US/NATO and the Afghan government have been “eradicating” the Taliban for the past 14 years?

    Perpetuating the war in an attempt to eradicate IS means perpetuating the conditions that created IS and under which it is best able to recruit members, acquire arms and money, and operate. It is totally counter-productive.

    The best step that could possibly be taken to eradicate IS as an organisation and ‘radical Islamism’ as a movement would be to establish peace in Iraq, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East. And yes, distasteful as it might be, that would require some kind of negotiated settlement and subsequent political process.

    The most important and immediate priority is to end the killing. That’s the necessary precondition for any other improvement in the situation.

  76. JN: Like the US/NATO and the Afghan government have been “eradicating” the Taliban for the past 14 years?

    ISIS/Daesh is of an entirely different order than the Taliban. Indeed the Taliban, for all their undoubted regressive aspects, were an improvement on the gang of cutthroats, the Mujahadeen, they replaced, who ran the country as a giant criminal enterprise. Those elements were later rehabilitated by the US/UK as the Northern Alliance when they invaded the country in 2001.

    It’s not just important that we learn the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s vital that we learn the right lessons.

    Any is absolutely right when he identifies the pressing priority of eradicating IS as a physical presence in the region, esp with the spat of atrocities committed outwith the region. This sort of thing was not the Taliban’s modus operandi.

    IS has more in common with the Khmer Rouge, inasmuch as they are driven by a similar nihilistic ideology and objectives. They have no political programme that can be negotiated with, and in fact have no desire to negotiate anything. It is simply a case of them or us.

    We have two options available. We can embark on unilaterial intervention, which will put us on a collision course with Russia, Iran, and indirectly China. or we can go down the multilateral route and begin to rebuild trust, respect, and cooperation between nations that have far more in common than not.

  77. jock mctrousers on said:

    John: We can embark on unilaterial intervention, which will put us on a collision course with Russia, Iran, and indirectly China. or we can go down the multilateral route and begin to rebuild trust, respect, and cooperation between nations that have far more in common than not.

    Quite. And could you trust Cameron to deliver that? So the first priority is to oppose any British military intervention,.

  78. jock mctrousers on said:

    So who’s Cameron going to bomb? This is an excellent piece with copious supporting links to credible sources:
    Tony Cartalucci
    Logistics 101: Where Does ISIS Get Its Guns?
    http://journal-neo.org/2015/06/09/logistics-101-where-does-isis-get-its-guns/

    Excerpts:
    … the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) … we are told, is built upon a logistical network based on black market oil and ransom payments.

    … And were ISIS’ supply lines solely confined within Syrian and Iraqi territory, then surely both Syrian and Iraqi forces would utilize their one advantage – air power – to cut front line ISIS fighters from the source of their supplies. But this is not happening and there is a good reason why.

    … ISIS’ supply lines run precisely where Syrian and Iraqi air power cannot go. To the north and into NATO-member Turkey, and to the southwest into US allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Beyond these borders exists a logistical network that spans a region including both Eastern Europe and North Africa

    While many across the West play willfully ignorant as to where ISIS truly gets their supplies from in order to maintain its impressive fighting capacity, some journalists have traveled to the region and have video taped and reported on the endless convoys of trucks supplying the terrorist army.
    Were these trucks traveling to and from factories in seized ISIS territory deep within Syrian and Iraqi territory? No. They were traveling from deep within Turkey, crossing the Syrian border with absolute impunity, and headed on their way with the implicit protection of nearby Turkish military forces. Attempts by Syria to attack these convoys and the terrorists flowing in with them have been met by Turkish air defenses.

    Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) published the first video report from a major Western media outlet illustrating that ISIS is supplied not by “black market oil” or “hostage ransoms” but billions of dollars worth of supplies carried into Syria across NATO member Turkey’s border via hundreds of trucks a day.

    … One could imagine similar convoys crossing into Iraq from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Similar convoys are likely passing into Syria from Jordan.

    In all, considering the realities of logistics and their timeless importance to military campaigns throughout human history, there is no other plausible explanation to ISIS’s ability to wage war within Syria and Iraq besides immense resources being channeled to it from abroad.
    If an army marches on its stomach, and ISIS’ stomachs are full of NATO and Persian Gulf State supplies, ISIS will continue to march long and hard. The key to breaking the back of ISIS, is breaking the back of its supply lines. To do that however, and precisely why the conflict has dragged on for so long, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and others would have to eventually secure the borders and force ISIS to fight within Turkish, Jordanian, and Saudi territory – a difficult scenario to implement as nations like Turkey have created defacto buffer zones within Syrian territory which would require a direct military confrontation with Turkey itself to eliminate.

  79. JN,

    How do you propose to “end the killing” in the face of murderous aggression from ISIL?

    You seem to totally misunderstand the nature of ISIL, which is actually dependent upon perpetuating warfare.

    There is certainly a persuasive case – as Peter Hitchens again makes in another great article in the Mail on Sunday today – that the UK government simply has not made a thought out argument for involvement in the Syrian civil war.

    If the UK does actually want to fight ISIL, then it should support the powers on the ground able to do so. The Syrian government and its allies, and the Kurds.

    But I repeat, Britain could play a key role in defeating ISIL, by throwing the resources of the British state into investigating, exposing combatting those who are buying oil from ISIL, those who are funding them, and those who are arming them.

    That would be a really effective front line where the UK actually does have a capability to deliver

  80. jock mctrousers,

    That is an interesting paper, which shows that ISIL has many attributes of warlordism but aspires to state functions due to its ideology.

    A weakness of the paper is that it only discusses opposition controlled areas of Syria, and seems to rule out any role for the Syrian state.

    This becomes a weakness particularly because they demonstrate that the expansion of ISIL is into areas controlled by the opposition, due to the lawlessness. (Western liberals who support the FSA, and shamefacedly Al Nusra, should reflect on the evidence in this paper that the population of opposition areas regard FSA and other anti Assad militias as such failures that they generally welcome ISIL who are able to secure basic civic services). But if the expansion of ISIL is into the chaotic opposition controlled areas, then the most obvious method of extending stable governance to those areas is to back Assad in recapturing them.
    Furthermore, the objective of reaching a political solution that encompassess all actors except the extreme islamists will be facilitated by squeezing the opposition groups.

  81. JN: Like the US/NATO and the Afghan government have been “eradicating” the Taliban for the past 14 years?

    Perpetuating the war in an attempt to eradicate IS means perpetuating the conditions that created IS and under which it is best able to recruit members, acquire arms and money, and operate. It is totally counter-productive.

    The best step that could possibly be taken to eradicate IS as an organisation and ‘radical Islamism’ as a movement would be to establish peace in Iraq, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East. And yes, distasteful as it might be, that would require some kind of negotiated settlement and subsequent political process.

    The most important and immediate priority is to end the killing. That’s the necessary precondition for any other improvement in the situation.

    +1 to this and basically everything said in JN’s posts.

    We actually have a chance to influence the direction of our own government here and make at least some kind of difference, by pressuring MPs to vote against joining the bombing. I don’t see the difficulty in taking part principled stand against war and highlighting that the US and UK created ISIS by taking exactly the same kind of action… well duh…

  82. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: For the avoidance of doubt,

    For the avoidance of doubt I actually have faith in the people of Syria. I actually believe that they are capable of making decisions for themselves, after all a large number of them seem to be very well educated. The problem is that neither the Assad regime or the Western interventionists want to allow that to happen because their agenda’s are somewhat different.

    Andy Newman: Britain has a legitimate role in air support for military operations in Iraq , where the sovereign government has asked for such support; but a far more effective role could be played by Britain in forensicly unpicking the web of states, banks and corporations who are trading with, arming, funding and supplying ISIL, and developing effective sanctions.

    Britain has no legitimate role in any of these places. It is soley motivated by it’s own self interest. That the Iraqi government has invited “us” in tells you far more about the nature of the Iraqi government itself. For what it’s worth, as I have said before, stopping the killing is the most important issue. If that means some form of negotiated settlement which, lets say, Putin could broker then well and good. However if the solution is that Assad stays in power in the form that he is used to then make no mistake there will be further conflict in the future. This is of course a big if as, as you quite rightly point out, the Saudis in particular show no signs of compromise.

    I should point out that it now seems to be a matter of time before the British Parliament votes for “our” own air strikes over Syria without the agreement of the Assad regime. Given that the anti-airstrike Tories are only opposed because they think soldiers on the ground are needed and that the latest raft of US spokespeople are softening us up on the radio etc. for the same, then it may well be only a matter of time before that happens as well. Of course this is formally. We all know British special forces are knocking all over the area all ready.

  83. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: been perpetuated because the west has seen defeat of ISIL as less of a priority than defeating Assad.

    Undoubtedly true.

    Andy Newman: However the only ground forces on the ground capable of defeating ISIL are the Syrian state, Iran, Hezbollah and the Kurdish forces.

    A spokesperson from the Tories came on the Today programme saying exactly that. Then later backed up by an ex-US general on same.

  84. John Grimshaw: If that means some form of negotiated settlement which, lets say, Putin could broker then well and good.

    ISIL are not interested in any negotiated settlement.

    It is worth considering that Dr Najibullah did have some early signs of success in reincorporating warlords into the Afghan state structures, before the fall of the USSR removed the stability and subventions that the Kabul government relied upon. So a peace process involving warlords is not impossible, however, I find it ironic that Western liberals decry how unacceptable Assad is, while being quite sanguine about a peace process that brings in those who behead homosexuals, like Al Nusra, or film themselves eating the corpses of their foes, like the FSA.

    However, ISIL are a hybrid that have some of the attributes of traditional warlord polities, such as dependency upon a war economy and plunder, but also seek to actually control territory with the trappings of statehood, due to their ideology and political ambitions.

    ISIL’s aspirations to establish a Caliphate where they exercise undisputed power will be surely non-negotiable by them, and would leave them in control of territory and infrastructure to wage Jihad. So a negotiated settlement would involve partition of Syria and abandoing territory to ISIL, and let us remember that the populations of the areas controlled by ISIL have not chosen this fate.

    Now you may be happy to end the war with such a victory for ISIL, but in my view that cannot be allowed.

  85. Andy Newman: If the UK does actually want to fight ISIL, then it should support the powers on the ground able to do so. The Syrian government and its allies, and the Kurds.

    An interesting point here is that all these forces that have been making advances into Deash held territory in Syria and Iraq have done so by closely coordinating ground forces will air support. The Iraqi Kurds have now cut off the route supplying Mosul from to Syria by working with US airpower and on the ground observers despite their lack of sufficient arms and ammunition caused by the Iraqi govt boycott.

    In Syria also the Syrian Kurdish forces work closely with the US airforce and special forces. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah; Syrian army, the shambles of the irregular militia, the Iraqi forces are all working with the remains of the Syrian airforce and the Russians to provide a co-ordinated offensive.

    What ever I may think about these foreign interventions they do appear to be gaining some traction, whereas the French retaliation bombing, and any likely intensification of UK bombing seems to me to be absolutely and utterly pointless, playing to a domestic audience.

  86. John Grimshaw on said:

    It has just been announced that the Turks have shot down an airplane on their border with Syria. No real details as yet but it might be Russian.

  87. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: ISIL are not interested in any negotiated settlement.

    Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. I was thinking rather of a negotiated agreement between the Assad regime and other Syrians who are not ISIL. My premise was that it’s something the Russians could do if they wanted. And it’s certainly the case that some in the West are moving closer to that position. However see above with regards to the “Russian” jet.

  88. John Grimshaw,

    The continuing Russian bombing of Turkomen civilian centres close up to the Turkish border in support of the Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah ground forces has been raising protests from Turkey for weeks. The behavior of particularly the shiite militia towards the Turkomen minority has been nothing short of ethnic cleansing. From a Turkish perspective I imagine they see this as an appropriate response.

  89. Pete Shield: The continuing Russian bombing of Turkomen civilian centres close up to the Turkish border in support of the Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah ground forces has been raising protests from Turkey for weeks.

    Oh really? I suspect that what the Turkish authorities are upset about is Russia, plus Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah ground forces, closing off their supply lines to ISIS… and also preventing a Turkish land grab of Syrian territory.

  90. redhand on said:

    Oh really? I suspect that what the Turkish authorities are upset about is Russia, plus Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah ground forces, closing off their supply lines to ISIS…`If that was really the intention of the shite jihadis from the party of god, you’d think they might focus on somewhere, such as Jarablus, where ISIS are actually in control, rather than Latakia province whee they no presence whatsoever.

  91. redhand on said:

    “It looks as though the Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war is about to give us a textbook example of the operation of the law of unintended consequences.” The law of entirely foreseeable unintended consequences.

  92. redhand: you’d think they might focus on somewhere, such as Jarablus, where ISIS are actually in control, rather than Latakia province whee they no presence whatsoever.

    For sure, I should have added al Nusra and Ahrar al Sham, who Turkey are sponsoring in Latakia.

  93. John Grimshaw on said:

    Russia now says one pilot was rescued but that another two were killed by Jihadists. They have blamed the Turkish government for harbouring and supporting terrorists.

  94. John Grimshaw on said:

    Just for fullness people may be interested to know that the alleged leader of the alleged Jihadi Turkmens is supposed to be called Alparslan Celik. His first name being the same as Alp the Lion who lead the Seljuk Turks to victory at Manzikert in 1071AD.

  95. John Grimshaw on said:

    Noah: Oh really? I suspect that what the Turkish authorities are upset about is Russia, plus Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah ground forces, closing off their supply lines to ISIS… and also preventing a Turkish land grab of Syrian territory.

    This might be true Noah but it’s unclear yet whether this Turkmen group was operating independently or with the express support of the AKP in Ankara. It’s still unclear whether the jet was shot down by F-16s (Turkish version) or by ground based missiles supplied from someone but originating from the US.

  96. John Grimshaw,

    My understanding is that Turkey has been actively involved in the training and arming of both Iraqi and Syrian Turkomen. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this wiki entry but it gives a general idea https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Turkmen_Brigades . When I was in Iraqi Kurdistan; an eon ago just after the first US aggression the Turkomen forces were closely aligned with the KDP, as their terrotories were very close, one of my body guards provided by the KDP was a seconded Turkoman. But as I said that was last century.

  97. John Grimshaw on said:

    The Western Press is saying that the second Russian, the navigator, was rescued by the Syrian Army and an “elite” Hezbollah force.

  98. John Grimshaw, the Kurds of Tuz Khormato and the Sunni Arabs of Anbar certainly seem to think so. Flying the banner of Hussein whilst in battle on the plains of south Aleppo hasn’t gone down too well with the local populace their either, although the latter have more pressing concerns to deal with such as avoiding Russian cluster bombs.

    “My understanding is that Turkey has been actively involved in the training and arming of both Iraqi and Syrian Turkomen”. My understanding also, with the justification thereof pretty much identical to that used by the Kremlin and its apologists in the west when supporting the ongoing occupation of the Donbass.

  99. “bombing an aid convoy…”. Linked to the IHH, it appears. Mavi Marmara-style outrage to follow?

  100. John Grimshaw on said:

    Sorry Redhand I was having a humorous moment caused by your original spelling of Shiite. Where I come from in Manchester….Anyway my apologies.

  101. redhand:
    “bombing an aid convoy…”. Linked to the IHH, it appears. Mavi Marmara-style outrage to follow?

    Probably not. Quote:

    “Our teams helped to extinguish the fire… The trucks do not belong to us and there is no information on who bombed them,” Mustafa Özbek, an İstanbul-based official from the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), told Reuters.

    http://www.todayszaman.com/diplomacy_casualties-reported-as-airstrikes-hit-aid-convoy-near-turkey-border_405297.html

    This may also have some relevance:

    Quote:

    Turkey’s state intelligence agency helped deliver arms to parts of Syria under Islamist rebel control during late 2013 and early 2014, according to a prosecutor and court testimony from gendarmerie officers seen by Reuters.

    The witness testimony contradicts Turkey’s denials that it sent arms to Syrian rebels and, by extension, contributed to the rise of Islamic State, now a major concern for the NATO member.

    Syria and some of Turkey’s Western allies say Turkey, in its haste to see President Bashar al-Assad toppled, let fighters and arms over the border, some of whom went on to join the Islamic State militant group which has carved a self-declared caliphate out of parts of Syria and Iraq.

    And:

    “Who were those who tried to stop MIT trucks in Adana while we were trying to send humanitarian aid to Turkmens?,” Erdogan said in a television interview last August.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/21/us-mideast-crisis-turkey-arms-idUSKBN0O61L220150521

  102. redhand:
    “bombing an aid convoy…”. Linked to the IHH, it appears. Mavi Marmara-style outrage to follow?

    Further indications about the nature of the Turkish state’s ‘aid convoys’ to ‘Turkmens’ in Syria can be gleaned from a recent report in the Hurriyet daily news:

    Quote:

    “Everybody should know that Turkey’s support for the Turkmens is meaningful and qualitative,” Ömer Çelik, a spokesperson for the AKP, told reporters late on Nov. 25.

    “We are standing by the Turkmens in every way. What I mean when I say ‘meaningful and qualitative support’ also includes their being equipped with some resources that will ensure their material and moral security, that will ensure their resistance against all kinds of threats against the existence of the Turkmens and that will allow them to oppose, in the required way, attacks on their region, as in the attack against Türkmendağı. There is no need to list it item by item in any way; Turkey is standing by the Turkmens materially and morally and with abstract and concrete resources,” Çelik said after a Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting chaired by AKP leader and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

    Çelik also reiterated that Turkish F-16 jets shot down a Russian plane on Nov. 24 under its rules of engagement, not because it considers Russia as a hostile country.

    His remarks followed earlier remarks by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who also justified the use of trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to send “humanitarian assistance” to Syria at the time.

    Dismissing Russian claims that the Russian plane had been on an anti-terror mission against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists in northern Syria, Erdoğan said, “No one should ever fool themselves: There are no Daesh [ISIL] elements in the Bayırbucak region where Turkmen live.”

    Erdoğan also attacked those who criticized his government’s ostensible aid to the Turkmens.

    “You know the famous MİT truck betrayal which took place right after the Dec.17-25 coup attempt, don’t you? There are some who still make their headlines for their newspapers without any shame. Those trucks were trucks taking aid to our Bayırbucak Turkmens. Some are saying, ‘Prime Minister Erdoğan was saying that there were no weapons inside those [trucks].’ What if there were, what if there weren’t? What are we saying: ‘We are taking humanitarian assistance there.’ Who are they? They are our mistreated and oppressed Bayırbucak Turkmen siblings. That’s what we did,” Erdoğan said late Nov. 24.

    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/akp-vows-meaningful-support-for-syrian-turkmens-will-continue.aspx?pageID=238&nID=91698&NewsCatID=352

    So, as blatant an admission as one can get that ‘humanitarian aid’ trucks are being used by Turkish ‘intelligence’ to send weapons into Syria.