82 comments on “Scenes of jubilation as the Syrian Arab Army enters Homs

  1. brianthedog on said:

    Good news and I have just raised a glass to the Syrian Army.

    I still find it sickening that the BBC is still peddling the ‘rebel’ nonsense with the headline that they have left Homs and then goes on to say that these ‘rebels’ are Al Qaeda. Its like 9/11 and 7/7 never happened.

  2. John Grimshaw on said:

    John,

    Thanks for this john. Whatever my suspicions about the Assad regime I have always argued that the least worse option is a negotiated settlement of some kind. I note that the BBC agrees with me. 🙂 Although I remain suspicious about any “deal” being done in Saudi.

  3. John Grimshaw on said:

    Thanks for this John. Despite my suspicions about the Assad regime I have always said that I thought a negotiated agreement was best if it stops the killing. However I have to say I am not convinced about the “meetings” in Saudi.

  4. John Grimshaw:
    John,

    Thanks for this john. Whatever my suspicions about the Assad regime I have always argued that the least worse option is a negotiated settlement of some kind. I note that the BBC agrees with me. :) Although I remain suspicious about any “deal” being done in Saudi.

    Agreed.

  5. jock mctrousers on said:

    Negotiated settlement? Nice. It’s just there’s that who’s to negotiate with thing that we’ve discussed before.

    Seems to me ‘negotiated settlement’ is a euphemism for a surrender of the elected Syrian govt to the Royal families of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and the USA i.e. for Assad to go and live in Russia, his ‘regime’ to be replaced by one appointed by the USA who will implement full neo-liberalisation ( no healthcare, education, full expatriation of profits, the usual…), and most of the country to be given to jihadi bands. Then the Qatar pipeline can go ahead, Hezbullah will be isolated, leaving Israel free to waste Lebanon…

    The Syrian people can come and live in Europe, right?

  6. jock mctrousers on said:

    Subject: [what’s left] Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that Bashar al-Assad has more support than the Western-backed opposition. Would that not be major news?
    Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2015 02:02:43 +0000
      Stephen Gowhttps://gowans.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/suppose-a-respectable-opinion-poll-found-that-bashar-al-assad-has-more-support-than-the-western-backed-opposition-would-that-not-be-major-news/ans What the Syrian Constitution says about Assad and the Rebels
    https://gowans.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/what-the-syrian-constitution-says-about-assad-and-the-rebels/#_blank

    Excerpts:
    …the constitution mandated that important sectors of the Syrian economy would remain publicly owned and operated in the interests of Syrians as a whole. Western firms, then, were to be frozen out of profit-making opportunities in key sectors of the Syrian economy, a prospect hardly encouraging to the Wall Street financial interests that dominate decision-making in Washington.

    He then compounded the sin by writing certain social rights into the constitution: security against sickness, disability and old age; access to health care; and free education at all levels. Now these rights would be placed beyond the easy reach of legislators and politicians who could sacrifice them on the altar of creating a low-tax, foreign-investment-friendly climate. To make matters worse, he included an article in the constitution which declared that “taxes shall be progressive.”
    Finally, he took a step toward real, genuine democracy—a kind that decision-makers in Washington, with their myriad connections to the banking and corporate world—could hardly tolerate. He included a provision in the constitution requiring that at minimum half the members of the People’s Assembly are to be drawn from the ranks of peasants and workers.
    Therein were the real reasons Washington, London and Paris rejected Assad’s concessions. It wasn’t that they weren’t genuine. It was that they were made to the wrong people: to Syrians, rather than Wall Street; to the Arabs, rather than Israel.

    The persistence of the myth that Assad lacks support calls to mind an article written by Jonathan Steele in the British newspaper the Guardian on 17 January 2012, less than one year into the war. Under a lead titled, “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know it from western media,” Steele wrote:
    Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favor of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news? Especially as the finding would go against the dominant narrative about the Syrian crisis, and the media consider the unexpected more newsworthy than the obvious.
    Alas, not in every case. When coverage of an unfolding drama ceases to be fair and turns into a propaganda weapon, inconvenient facts get suppressed. So it is with the results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll…ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go.
    Steele reminds us that Assad has had substantial popular support from the beginning of the war, but that this truth, being politically inconvenient, is brushed aside, indeed, suppressed, in favor of falsehoods from US, British and French officials about Assad lacking legitimacy.

  7. jock mctrousers on said:

    Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria |
    http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/10/deconstructing-the-nato-narrative-on-syria/
    The most telling barometer of Assad’s support base was the Presidential elections in June 2014, which saw 74 percent (11.6 million) of 15.8 million registered Syrian voters vote, with President al-Assad winning 88 percent of the votes. The lengths Syrians outside of Syria went to in order to vote included flooding the Syrian embassy in Beirut for two full days (and walking several kilometres to get there) and flying from countries with closed Syrian embassies to Damascus airport simply to cast their votes. Within Syria, Syrians braved terrorist mortars and rockets designed to keep them from voting; 151 shells were fired on Damascus alone, killing 5 and maiming 33 Syrians.
    For a more detailed look at his broad base of popular support, see Professor Tim Anderson’s “Why Syrians Support Bashar al Assad.”
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/why-syrians-support-bashar-al-assad/5405208#_blank

  8. Support for Assad is the best option, the alternatives are far worse. There is no Nelson Mandela figure waiting in the opposition.

  9. Andy Newman on said:

    I see that Tatchell picketed the STW dinner.

    He has for many years seemingly been more interested in self publicity, and fund raising for the “Peter Tatchell human rights foundation” than in actual political engagement, but his effectively becoming a shill for Al Qaeda has suprised me.

    This is in a way explainable as after years of Tatchell promoting what was then an unpopular cause, the sudden realisation by the establishment that gender and sexual orientation issues can be weaponised in the interests of regime change has allowed Tatchell and others to come in out the cold

  10. Molotov on said:

    None of these joyous liberated Syrian people matter a toss to the War Party, to Hilary Benn, to Peter Tatchell, to the BBC…
    But their boys, Al Qaeda, ISIS et al are now taking a terrible beating! The tide has turned, just like at Kursk. The fascists are in retreat. Interestingly none of the chanting was directed at Assad. All of it was for Syria and for the Army. The largely Sunni Army, which has made such sacrifices for the country. Long live the Syrian Arab Republic, Long live the Syrian Arab Army. Long live their allies who helped make this victory possible.

  11. George Hallam on said:

    john e: Support for Assad is the best option, the alternatives are far worse. There is no Nelson Mandela figure waiting in the opposition.

    It is the logic of our times,
    No subject for immortal verse—
    That we who lived by honest dreams
    Defend the bad against the worse.

  12. Andy Newman
    : He has for many years seemingly been more interested in self publicity, and fund raising for the “Peter Tatchell human rights foundation”

    Even Jesus managed to resist the temptation to name his own foundation during his own lifetime

  13. George Hallam on said:

    john e: Support for Assad is the best option, the alternatives are far worse.

    Have you been reading ‘Stars and Stripes’ again?

    US-Backed Syrian Rebel Group on Verge of Collapse

    Unlike the Islamic State and other more extremist groups, however, the FSA has failed to achieve any significant victories or create a “liberated” zone of its own. On many occasions, its former fighters say, FSA units have cooperated closely with the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, which is strong in the north and shares the same battlespace as the FSA in southern Syria.

    “The lack of battlefield success has mitigated against them,” Ed Blanche, a Beirut-based member of London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies and an expert on Middle Eastern wars, said of the FSA. “They haven’t been getting significant (outside) support because they haven’t been showing results.”

    Among other problems, Salabeh and others say, FSA fighters are losing faith in their own leaders.

    “They regularly steal our salaries,” said Salabeh, who came to this city in northern Jordan after being wounded in battle and now intends to stay here. “We’re supposed to get $400 a month, but we only actually receive $100.”

    He also complained of lack of support for those killed or wounded in battle. Fighters who lost legs in the fighting were reduced to begging inside the massive refugee camps in northern Jordan.

    “If somebody is wounded, they just dump him in Jordan and abandon him,” he said. “Widows of martyred fighters also receive nothing after their deaths.”

    As a result, many FSA men in southern Syria were abandoning the group, usually leaving for Jordan or joining the estimated 15,000-strong Nusra Front, according to Saleh and other Syrians interviewed in northern Jordan. By contrast, the Nusra Front reportedly pays its fighters $1,000 a month and cares for its wounded members, paying their medical bills and providing for the families of those killed in combat.

    The situation has gotten so bad, Salabeh said, that some FSA fighters are questioning the reason for continuing the conflict. He said a growing number believe the time has come for a cease-fire, even it means cooperating with Assad.

    “After all, Bashar isn’t all that bad,” Salabeh said.

    http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/12/14/us-backed-syrian-rebel-group-on-verge-of-collapse.html

  14. john e,

    you’ve got high standards! ooh let me try:
    “Those brutal Vietnamese commies are certainly no Gandhi: they take Moscow gold and cut off childrens’ hands. And anyhoo Diem got over 90 percent of the vote! He’s not perfect but he is legit(imate)”. Source: “Some Asshole, “Communist subversion” National Review

    “Those FMLN terroristas are certainly no Rosa Parks, and the junta just won by a landslide.” Source: Random Asshole, ‘Trouble Brewing in our Backyard’. Human Events

    Only go further in your ridiculous assertions. I can’t even think of comparable idiocy on the nationalist Right. Well, at least you lack the power to do much damage.

    You guys are something. the links to gloabresearch and gowans really complete the image. Disgusting.

  15. jock mctrousers on said:

    max: the links to gloabresearch and gowans really complete the image. Disgusting

    Sounds like Louis Proyect.

  16. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers:
    Negotiated settlement?Nice.It’s just there’s that who’s to negotiate with thing that we’ve discussed before.

    Seems to me ‘negotiated settlement’ is a euphemism for a surrender of the elected Syrian govt to the Royal families of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and the USA i.e. for Assad to go and live in Russia, his ‘regime’ to be replaced by one appointed by the USA who will implement full neo-liberalisation ( no healthcare, education, full expatriation of profits, the usual…), and most of the country to be given to jihadi bands.Then the Qatar pipeline can go ahead, Hezbullah will be isolated, leaving Israel free to waste Lebanon…

    The Syrian people can come and live in Europe, right?

    You’re right Jock we have discussed this before. Your position seems to be one of uncritical support for the Assad regime, rather than a critical one which other people on this blog have. I can understand the latter but not the former. Can I remind you that 4 million Syrians are already on the road to somewhere. That a substantial body of evidence suggests that more civilians have been killed by the Syrian Army than by ISIS. That the current crisis was in effect caused by people’s reaction to Assad’s dictatorial methods including the illegal imprisonment and torture of a large number of people. That Hafez al Assad was responsible for the deaths of 30,000 people in the 1980s. The elections you refer to were gerrymandered and in any case how can you have a meaningful election in such a war torn and hollowed out country? The Syrian Army is making progress with Russian Imperialist support (in the West I might add) but can they win the war? What would happen if they did? Who will rebuild the country? All I am saying is a simple thing. The most important priority is to get the slaughter to stop. This is not a euphemism for Saudi hegemony. We both know they’ve gpt no honour whatsoever and no principles that’s why I said above I was concerned about that “deal” that’s going on. Why is it not possible to forsee a democratic settlement in Syria (probably not the ISIS part) with Assad as the leader of his people agreeing to subject himself to reasonable principles. It is not maybe impossible that the Russians could facilitate this.

  17. John Grimshaw: a substantial body of evidence suggests that more civilians have been killed by the Syrian Army than by ISIS. That the current crisis was in effect caused by people’s reaction to Assad’s dictatorial methods including the illegal imprisonment and torture of a large number of people. That Hafez al Assad was responsible for the deaths of 30,000 people in the 1980s. The elections you refer to were gerrymandered and in any case how can you have a meaningful election in such a war torn and hollowed out country?

    Every single word of that has been lifted straight from the pro regime change script and been utterly discredited.

  18. John Grimshaw: Your position seems to be one of uncritical support for the Assad regime, rather than a critical one which other people on this blog have.

    For the record, I’m with Jock.

  19. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: Every single word of that has been lifted straight from the pro regime change script and been utterly discredited.

    Nope. I think it’s possible to be critical of the Assad regime without being pro-western/Saudi etc. However if you have the evidence that say for example the 30,000 (estimated) people killed by Hafez didn’t happen I’m happy to listen.

  20. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    John Grimshaw – do you have any links to evidence for all the standard US propaganda you have reiterated above? I have provided many links to pieces which offer substantial evidence that there is at least doubt about all these claims.
    I am sure you haven’t read any of these pieces, because from what you write here it seems you never read ANYTHING, just pick up snatches from BBC news or worse, and are happy enough to spout here interminably on that basis – ” It must be true because it’s on the telly…”

    ARE you a socialist, a leftist, whatever? Are you serious about it, or do you just like a chat?

    And to say that I am uncritically supportive of the Assad regime is just slander. You say that others here are ‘critically supportive’ of the Assad regime? I have exactly the same position as most of the regulars here – it’s Assad or the jihadis!
    YOU, on the other hand, do NOT ‘ uncritically’ or otherwise support the continuation of Assad’s leadership.

    Or do you? DO you accept that Assad must be part of any settlement you advocate? Or do you, as it looks to me, actually support regime change, the agenda of the US, Saudi, Qatar and Turkey? If so, then say so!

  21. jock mctrousers on said:

    I suppose this won’t meet Max’s high standards either:

    from WSWS, 15/12/15
    ”Left” propagandists for escalation of imperialist war
    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/12/15/pers-d15.html

    Some Snippets:

    … a collection of pseudo-left organizations from Europe, the US and beyond have joined in issuing a statement that serves as propaganda for a dramatic widening of the imperialist campaign.
    The signatories of the statement include the French New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), the British Socialist Workers Party [SWP – GOT THAT???], Socialist Alternative of Australia, the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) of Sri Lanka, and the International Socialist Organization (ISO) of the US.

    The French NPA was at the forefront of those supposedly “left” organizations that cheered on the imperialist war for regime-change in Libya. Its leading spokesman on the Middle East and North Africa, Gilbert Achcar, hailed the US-NATO intervention that toppled and murdered Muammar Gaddafi, while killing at least 30,000 Libyans and leaving the country in a state of permanent civil war.

    … The thrust of their intervention is made clear in the second paragraph of the statement: “In Syria, the first form taken by the counterrevolution is support for the Assad regime. Russia’s deadly raids and the intervention of Iran, Hezbollah and sectarian Iraqi militias champion this profoundly reactionary, anti-democratic project. Assad is fuelled, too, by the mistrust Western powers routinely demonstrate toward democratic and revolutionary forces in Syria…”

    … This last phrase is employed in much the same way as Western governments use the term “moderate rebels.” In both cases, the democrats, revolutionaries and moderates go unnamed

  22. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: do you have any links to evidence for all the standard US propaganda you have reiterated above?

    No

    jock mctrousers: I am sure you haven’t read any of these pieces,

    I have and I will consider them, although I have to say I am not familiar with their origin.

    jock mctrousers: just pick up snatches from BBC news or worse

    Well I read John’s post from the BBC so I can’t be the only one. Not sure what you mean by worse. I’d be careful if I were you!

    jock mctrousers: ARE you a socialist, a leftist, whatever? Are you serious about it, or do you just like a chat?

    No I just come on this blog because I’m sad and got nothing better to do. What do you think Jock?

    jock mctrousers: And to say that I am uncritically supportive of the Assad regime is just slander.

    My apologies I misunderstood. Good.

    jock mctrousers: DO you accept that Assad must be part of any settlement you advocate?

    I do. And have already said so. You don’t need to shout by the way.

  23. John Grimshaw: However if you have the evidence that say for example the 30,000 (estimated) people killed by Hafez didn’t happen I’m happy to listen.

    This is infantile in the extreme. The military operation to crush the MB in their Hama stronghold in 1982 did not take place in isolation from the preceding six years of MB terrorism across the country, including assassination attempts against Hafez Assad himself.

    In 1973 Assad amended the country’s constitution to improve the status of women and stipulate that a non Muslim could be president. In response the Syrian MB declared all out war on the Assad govt.

    Clearly, you believe non sectarianism and women’s rights in Syria are bad things. I don’t. This is the difference between us.

  24. jock mctrousers on said:

    max,

    Stephen Gowans is a Canadian academic who produces the occasional ‘What’s Left’ blog and newsletter. He is an excellent writer with a sound perspective (similar to Michael Parenti’s) who is careful about the ‘evidence thing’. He is one of Louis Proyect’s pet hates (envy), which is how I knew that Max is Louis Proyect – his spite always gets the better of him.

    Global Research is a site that reposts critical, leftist, radical pieces from wherever… Most of these are sound, often vital, and as credible as the evidence they offer.

    However, I would concede that the ‘original’ pieces produced by those closely associated with GR – like Chossudovsky and Engdahl – often show a tendency to let a good story run ahead of the evidence .

  25. jock mctrousers: I suppose this won’t meet Max’s high standards either:

    Neither would FrontPageMag, Moskovskiy Komsomolets, InfoWars or the New York Post. I confess to being a bit of a snob.

    What was the purpose of posting the WSWS link? Another way of saying “I have no shame”? For example, American rightwing nutjobs will cite crap like Frontpage Mag and littlegreenfootballs, partly as a way showing that they don’t give a shit about what the world thinks. They know where they stand (in deep shit) and are proud of it. Is this the what you are after?

  26. John,

    John: In 1973 Assad amended the country’s constitution to improve the status of women and stipulate that a non Muslim could be president.

    Mussolini made the trains run on time. Are you against that???

  27. jock mctrousers on said:

    Still there Louis (Max – private joke)? Me too. Wtf

    max: What was the purpose of posting the WSWS link?

    Well, duh, what was the CONTENT of the WSWS piece? Do you doubt that these people did that stuff? Particularly the UK SWP?

  28. It’s possible to have the position that the survival of the Assad government is the best of all the possible alternatives and also to be utterly critical of it for all sorts of reasons.

    The problem with those trotskyists such as the USFI/ SWP who have signed the document referred to by Jock is that it is classical wishful thinking – the opposite of approaching things in a materialist way.

    Let’s first imagine we had a tin-opener (that joke becomes more profound the older I get. It doesn’t get funnier, quite the opposite).

    Even if there were leftist forces of any significance whatsoever involved in the uprising against Assad they would be utterly swamped by the non-leftists. At one time it was possible to have the illusion that at least a substantial part of that swamp would not be sectarian Sunni islamists.

    So the question these people need to answer is, why do you think that the overthrow of the Assad government in the conditions that actually exist or could reasonably be expected to develop would be a better outcome than its remaining in power?

    A better government? An end to the slaughter and destruction?

  29. jock mctrousers,

    do i trust WSWS to fairly describe the positions of Achcar etc on Syria? No. Do I need to rely on them for ANYTHING for lack of better sources? No. Do I care what WSWS thinks? No.

    WSWS is authoritative on the issue of “who the WSWS thinks is an imperialist lackey and a cheer leader for murdering innocent babies etc.” as well as “who is attacking the legacy of Leon Trotsky now, according to the WSWS”. I don’t think these are important issues.

  30. The same principle applies to what did or did not happen in Hama in 1982.

    In fact it applies to any situation where “regime change” is on the agenda.

    Does the fact that a government is willing to use ruthless force to remain in power in and of itself render it unsupportable? Does it mean that anyone who seeks to replace it must be an improvement?

    Clearly nobody who believes for example that the Russian revolution was a good thing or that it was a good thing that the North won the US Civil War could subscribe to that view.

    Does it mean that anyone who criticises the level of force used must automatically want said government to be overthrown?

    Let’s face it the same government also played a pretty awful role in some aspects of the Palestinian struggle and at times in the civil war in Lebanon. It also supported the George Bush Senior-led imperialist attack on Iraq following Saddam’s attempted annexation of Kuwait.

    All of which is recognised by people who currently favour its successor prevailing in the current conflict.

  31. Vanya,

    If the regime murders its own people at a greater rate – by an order of magnitude – than its opponents, then that puts its legitimacy in question, at least in the minds of those on the receiving end of the violence. This should be elementary. If it does so preemptively, as in the case of the Syrian regime, that’s strike two. If the regime has not the slightest pretext for maintaining its grip on power, other than the “stability/normal life” which it has itself destroyed, that’s three. The Jacobins, Republicans, Communists etc. certainly has laudable goals for which they could at least claim to be fighting, and which distinguished them from their opponents. Incidentally, the Ukrainian regime – which has not done a tenth of what Assad has done – at least has the goal of maintaining national sovereignty against a hostile invasion (pretty anti-imperialist eh?) *in addition to simply maintaining order against a band of mercenaries who have absolutely nothing to offer*. Interesting how you don’t make that case. Certainly the revolt has not been peaches and cream for the Syrian people because Assad, Russia and ISIS have done a pretty bang-up job destroying the place and decimating the Arab spring forces. You know, in the sort run, even slave revolts usually ended in nothing more that bloodshed and defeat. What you are doing is rubbing the victims’ faces into the jackboot. Of course you probably think you rubbing their faces into a lolly pop, considering how much time you’ve spent licking it.
    All this should be obvious, once the ideological blinders are removed, but you can continue playing Vanya Durachok as long as you like,

  32. John: I’m against regime change

    Ok ok, I get it. You are an arch-reactionary, which squares nicely with your crush on Putin. God save the Queen?
    That RT link is perfect reactionary turd sandwich; I love the ideological eclecticism in that piece – the true mark of a fascist mindset.

  33. max: you can continue playing Vanya Durachok as long as you like,

    That means absolutely nothing to me Louis. The problem with being so clever is that often people who are not as clever as you won’t understand you. After all, I haven’t written lots of books and you have so I can’t be.

    Then again I manage to discuss politics without constant scatalogical references as well. Is that a sign that I’m less clever I wonder? Or perhaps I had more effective therapy.

    max: If the regime murders its own people at a greater rate – by an order of magnitude – than its opponents, then that puts its legitimacy in question, at least in the minds of those on the receiving end of the violence.

    If in the course of an armed conflict you aim to kill fewer of your opponents than they kill of you then you’re likely to lose.

    Is that the aim of any of the opposition in Syria?

    As for legitimacy, if you were treating this discussion as a serious exercise rather than an opportunity to massage your ego you would provide evidence that the majority of the Syrian people would like to see the Assad government gone, in favour of any of the existing scenarios.

    And you would explain who has more legitimacy out of those actually likely to take power in the event that the current government goes. And why.

  34. Vanya,

    by opponents, do you mean civilians? You are right that the point of war is to kill and not be killed. But how many do you need to kill to win? A thousand people? 200,000? A million? These things usually matter to normal people. If you literally need to wade through rivers of blood to win, are you sure you have the support of the people? And this victory, is it really worth all that blood and destruction? These are just the most elementary moral questions to consider. You can consider them, but there is little you can do at the end of the day aside from taking in more refugees (whom the Russian mass media now demonizes like an invasive species of rat. if you heard this shit you’d cringe, I hope. And this is about people who are not even getting anywhere near the Russian border.) Of course the refugees are bad PR Assad (and perceived as such), but that’s something you gotta live with.

    Ivan Durak is a famous figure from Russian folklore. As a “Russophile” who goes by the name Vanya, that’s something I expected you to pick up on – if nothing else.

    As for my motivations for posting here, ego is probably part of it, but it’s mostly a sense of disgust.

  35. Noah,
    I am sure there is a major campaign afoot to paint ISIS as “moderates” or leftists. You’ll say just about anything.

  36. max: As a “Russophile” who goes by the name Vanya, that’s something I expected you to pick up on – if nothing else.

    My use of the name Vanya is only partially linked to Russia.

    I’m not an expert on the place and don’t claim to be one. For a clever person you make a few too many assumptions.

    In any case, I checked the reference and (again, showing my lower level of intelligence to your good self I’m sure) I see no relevance. Perhaps you could deign to clarify?

    max: If you literally need to wade through rivers of blood to win, are you sure you have the support of the people?

    That’s pretty shaky evidence in relation to the extent
    of support Assad has within Syria. I note that you don’t seem to present any other evidence.

    max: But how many do you need to kill to win? A thousand people? 200,000? A million? These things usually matter to normal people.

    Do they matter to any of the forces involved in this conflict who are likely to overthrow Assad?

    max: And this victory, is it really worth all that blood and destruction?

    In any military conflict a question all parties would do well to consider.

    As for my attitude to refugees, as a communist I tend to go along with this:

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=KKE+acropolis+refugees&espv=2&biw=1030&bih=566&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiin-D-797JAhWB0RoKHTIsBmsQ_AUIBygC#imgrc=U0IYtpvrCtrbxM%3A

  37. max:
    Noah,
    I am sure there is a major campaign afoot to paintISIS as “moderates” or leftists. You’ll say just about anything.

    I guess that on your side of the pond you haven’t heard of David Cameron’s army of 70,000 moderates in Syria- which turn out on closer inspection to be groups affiliated to Al Qaeda.

    But to be fair to Dodgy Dave, by making that ridiculous claim he does at least admit that a substantial armed and organised ‘force on the ground’ would be required in order to make the agenda he claims to espouse at all credible.

    Do you?

  38. jock mctrousers on said:

    Louis, seen as you’re so smart, see if you can come up with some links to authoritative discussions (y’know – sources etc) of the origins of the casualty figures in Syria. I would not, for instance, be satisfied with a UN report based substantially on claims from opposition forces and propaganda/intelligence operations like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

  39. Andy Newman on said:

    max: “Those brutal Vietnamese commies are certainly no Gandhi: they take Moscow gold and cut off childrens’ hands. And anyhoo Diem got over 90 percent of the vote! He’s not perfect but he is legit(imate)”. Source: “Some Asshole, “Communist subversion” National Review

    I just noticed this.

    The issue surely, is that the view could rationally have been entertained that it would have been preferable for the North Vietnamese and the NLF to win, or it could reasonably have been entertained that you might prefer the South Vietnamese government to win. The point is that both of those combatants actually existed as political and military forces.

    In Syria the only actually existing forces who have the capability to prevail are ISIL or the Syrian state.

    You it seems wish to take the rather non materialist position that it would be better for moderate forces to win, that only exist in the imagination of Western liberals

  40. Andy Newman on said:

    max: If the regime murders its own people at a greater rate – by an order of magnitude – than its opponents, then that puts its legitimacy in question, at least in the minds of those on the receiving end of the violence.

    Well the government of the United States did not accept the argument that the states which purported to have seceded had in fact legally done so, and therefore the populations of the so-called Confederate States were rebels against the US government, and many many died in supression of the rebellion. Certainly the language you use about Syria is very reminiscent of the language used by pro-slavery apologists to criticise, for example, the actions of General Pope in his actions to supress insurrection in Virginia and Tennessee; or the generally robust views of Sherman and Sheridan.

    I like the possibly aprocrophal account of Lincoln issuing orders to Sheridan about the need to prevent the Shenendoah valley being a source of food for the army of Virginia

    I want you to leave the Shenandoh so that if a crow wants to fly over it, it must take provisions, said Lincoln.

    I understand, replied Sheridan, I will leave them nothing but their eyes to cry with.

  41. Andy Newman: Well the government of the United States did not accept the argument that the states which purported to have seceded had in fact legally done so, and therefore the populations of the so-called Confederate States were rebels against the US government, and many many died in supression of the rebellion.

    This is extremely apposite. It is also true to say that more German civilians were killed by British and American bombs during WWII than vice versa, yet this surely did not and still does not invalidate the righteousness of the Allied cause in the war against European fascism.

    Having said that, given LP’s position on the Second World War, he no doubt takes a different view.

  42. Andy Newman: You it seems wish to take the rather non materialist position that it would be better for moderate forces to win, that only exist in the imagination of Western liberals

    Funny that. Hmmm.

  43. BTW, I’m not Proyect and my view of WWII probably has nothing in common with his. I say probably, because it’s hard to tell what the “Trotskyist” take on WWII is in practical terms.

    I don’t see the relevance of WWII or the Civil War to Syria. Moreover, the balance of violence and terror was overwhelmingly on side of the Axis powers, as everyone knows. Perhaps WWII and the Civil War are to Andy what the October Revolution is to the Trots: feel good stories to be recited at every opportunity. You’d be far better off comparing the Civil War to Ukraine, but that comparison hits a little too close to home. Chomsky would have a field day with this kind of rhetoric.

    Andy and others are really hammering home the TINA argument. Assad, bolstered by Russia, is winning and he has no incentive to compromise, never mind to step down. The opposition is losing, but it can’t bring to surrender and face the consequences. So it’s better that Assad win sooner rather than later. (I won’t attempt to refute the implied point that the opposition is nonexistent. )

    Indeed many Syrians seem to be on the same page. The TINA argument also cuts the other way: if ISIS is winning let them have at it. Hell, you could use the findings of your poll to show that the residents of Raqqah are just lovin it. I really have no response to this cynicism, except to say that you have been virulently pro-Assad even before the outcome (including the success of ISIS) was certain. Now that that Assad and ISIS are finished bolstering each other, we must decide between the two evils. This obliteration of hope would make a normal person sad, but to you appear to gloat over it, as proponents of TINA invariably do. Assad’s crimes and your own complicity become conveniently irrelevant, due to the “facts on the ground”.

    I myself would have preferred a Libya outcome, but it never panned out, despite all the nonsense about Western imperialism waging relentless war on Assad and Russia. (Russia incidentally could bring a lot of pressure to bear on its client) Naturally, that’s sacrilege from your point of view: much better to have the dictator destroy the country than give in to the internal imperialist aggression (south vietnam parallels are clear i hope). Indeed even Galloway supported arming the rebels early on. Where were you then?

  44. max,

    I’ll also add that its up to you to prove that a total Assad victory will bolster Syria’s chances of surviving as a country against ISIS (something we’re all for). As strong as Assad’s position is, he still has a lot of killing and wrecking to do before he eradicates the opposition. And the weaker the opposition, the more remote the possibility of a ceasefire. For all the talk about Assad and Russia being our last hope against ISIS, they have not done much of substance on that front yet, unless you include the bombing of ISIS’ enemies. And that’s with all their resources. So we are supposed to just take your word for it that once Assad is finished with internal business, he’ll have the desire and resources to take on ISIS (which by then would have taken more territory)? That’s even more absurd than “Assad and the Opposition, under the pressure of circumstances and paymasters, decide to temporarily set aside their differences in order to deal with ISIS”

  45. jock mctrousers on said:

    max: For all the talk about Assad and Russia being our last hope against ISIS,

    Where did you here that talk? That’s news to me. The Russians say they’re there to support the Syrian army against its aggressors, whoever…

    max: they have not done much of substance on that front yet, unless you include the bombing of ISIS’ enemies.

    I don’t believe that any of these 101 flavours of jihadi are determined to overthrow ISIS and impose a kinder sort of crucifixion and slavery… You’re a waste of time, basically.

  46. Andy stop blocking the comments where I say I’m not LP. I appreciate that your desire to have some fun, but it;s not fair to your readers. I mean they’ll spend all that time replying, thinking they were sparring with their bete noir, when in actuality it was just some random dude from another country.

  47. max: Andy stop blocking the comments where I say I’m not LP. I appreciate that your desire to have some fun, but it;s not fair to your readers.

    Okay Louis.

  48. jock mctrousers on said:

    The stand out thing to me is that for instance yesterday the foreign sec Hammond spoke to the house and tv stating his displeasure with Russia bombing the ‘rebels’ we support. You can read in ANY mainstream newspaper that these rebels are Al Qaeda, but NO-ONE in Parliament or on tv will say out straight ” You mean the British govt is supporting Al-Qaeda to overthrow the govt of Syria, and that’s ok because ‘he’s killing his own people’ according to…”

    Well who? Still waiting for those links Max, sorry, Louis.

  49. jock mctrousers,

    I remember last time you were asking me to prove that Maidan was NOT a long queue for Nuland;’s tasty cookies. You can try asking th evil proyect – maybe he’ll take the bait.

  50. max: I mean they’ll spend all that time replying, thinking they were sparring with their bete noir

    Don’t flatter yourself Louis, you are no one’s “bete noir”. You are a sad no mark who I haven’t given a second thought to for a very long time.

    max: Andy stop blocking the comments where I say I’m not LP.

    No such “blocking” has taken place. This is just misinformation from you, perhaps seeking to feed your martyr complex.

  51. Andy Newman,

    Hmm. even you think i am louis? you must have a low opinion of him, but he would be insane to say “i’m not proyect” over and over. you can easily check the ip if you have admin rights. different country, different nationality etc. not much in common aside from animosity toward putin, assad and their apologists. as a russian, i see you folks in the same light as people like Sakharov, Solzhenitsyn, Bukovsky et al. Your hatred for your domestic elites leads you to fall in love with those in other countries. It’s a phenomenon common to all countries, just like stultifying patriotism.

    and i was not complaining about censorship – i was joking about it. i thought you brits had a sense of humor. i should have known that prejudice has a tendency cloud one’s judgement.

  52. George Hallam on said:

    max: i thought you brits had a sense of humor.

    We have no sense of humor. However, we do pride ourselves on our sense of humour.

  53. max: I won’t attempt to refute the implied point that the opposition is nonexistent.

    Nobody is saying that.

    The nonsense line which the media, and yourself, are peddling, is that there are three sides in the war in Syria: Assad, ISIS and ‘the rebels’.

    Whereas in fact, the armed opposition to the Syrian Arab Republic is composed of a variety of Jihadi Sunni sectarian extremist groups, of which ISIS is a main component; the others being groups which are mainly still affiliated to or associated with al Qaeda.

  54. max,

    Поскольку я знаю, Луи Проект не знает русского языка. Раз вы действительно хотите доказать, что вы – не он, а какой-то москвич, отвечайте на это сообщение на родном языке.

  55. Noah: Whereas in fact, the armed opposition to the Syrian Arab Republic is composed of a variety of Jihadi Sunni sectarian extremist groups, of which ISIS is a main component; the others being groups which are mainly still affiliated to or associated with al Qaeda.

    There have recently been three concurrent conferences of opposition groups, one in Riyadh, one in Damascus, and one in Kurdistan, that tell us a great deal about the rebels, I will write about it shortly.

    But one outcome of the Russian military intervention and the militarily and politically wise decision to fight both ISIL and the rebels more acceptable to the West, is that the pro-Western armed groups have now been forced to contemplate a negotiated settlement which they previously refused to engage with, and that some have also sought to distance themselves from JIhadism.

  56. Peter Oborne recently narrated an excellent Radio 4 documentary on al-Qaeda in Syria, which alleges that Britain and the West entered a covert marriage of convenience with the group in an attempt to topple Assad.

    Interviewing former militants and analysts, the documentary alleges that the FSA have operated less as a resistance group as a conduit through which Western and British supplied weapons and equipment has been passed to the various jihadi groups operating in the country.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06s0qy9

  57. George Hallam on said:

    John,

    Seymour M. Hersh has an interesting article on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war in the LRB.

    Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. …

    The military’s resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya. A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs told me that the document was an ‘all-source’ appraisal, drawing on information from signals, satellite and human intelligence, and took a dim view of the Obama administration’s insistence on continuing to finance and arm the so-called moderate rebel groups. By then, the CIA had been conspiring for more than a year with allies in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to ship guns and goods – to be used for the overthrow of Assad – from Libya, via Turkey, into Syria. The new intelligence estimate singled out Turkey as a major impediment to Obama’s Syria policy. The document showed, the adviser said, ‘that what was started as a covert US programme to arm and support the moderate rebels fighting Assad had been co-opted by Turkey, and had morphed into an across-the-board technical, arms and logistical programme for all of the opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State. The so-called moderates had evaporated and the Free Syrian Army was a rump group stationed at an airbase in Turkey.’ The assessment was bleak: there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad, and the US was arming extremists.

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n01/seymour-m-hersh/military-to-military

  58. George Hallam: The military’s resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya.

    Consider that people on this blog have been saying this for years and the wonder is we haven’t been recruited as intelligence analysts by now. If only they’d kept up to date with the articles and comments on here they could save themselves a lot of money.

  59. John,

    I think that we share an unsentimental attitude to war and the limits of what it can achieve. Many mainstream politicians seem to feel issues of war and peace can be guided by moral judgement and an idealist belief that bad people will always be replaced by better ones

  60. jock mctrousers on said:

    Andy Newman: Many mainstream politicians seem to feel issues of war and peace can be guided by moral judgement and an idealist belief that bad people will always be replaced by better ones

    I think you’re letting them off too lightly, but there may be the slight excuse that politicians have a lot of demands on their time, and therefore even less time than most people to check out alternative viewpoints, and a lot to lose from challenging the pre-packed ‘moral judgments’ handed to them by the more powerful…

    But still, somewhere along the line they KNOW they’re lying. Take for instance (a particular bugbear of mine) Malcom Rifkind on the Beeb before the bombing of Libya, telling us all that Qadaffi’s men were going to go door to door and kill every woman and child in Benghazi (he actually said that!) – he certainly doesn’t have the excuse of being too hard-pressed to check out the facts, as we saw in that video of him selling his lobbying services, saying that he had plenty of time to kill, spent his days browsing the shops and reading novels…

  61. Andy Newman: I think that we share an unsentimental attitude to war and the limits of what it can achieve.

    This is a strange way of putting it. It presupposes that those who advocate imperialist war share the same motives and goals as those of us who don’t, and that the the differences are merely tactical. Would you also suggest in the same way that:

    I think that we share an unsentimental attitude to racism and the limits of what it can achieve?

    As for

    Andy Newman: Many mainstream politicians seem to feel issues of war and peace can be guided by moral judgement and an idealist belief that bad people will always be replaced by better ones

    I don’t think it is useful to criticise pro-war politicians for being over-reliant either on either moral judgement or on idealistic belief.

  62. Andy Newman on said:

    Zaid,

    No i am saying that there can be common ground between those who oppose war and include in their assessments a realistic understanding of the military realities, with the also realistic assessments by military professionals.

  63. John,

    How do expect to find common ground when your blog churns out love letters every other day. Maybe it’s not your own doing, but your comrades lay it on waaaay too thick, right down to seeing Assad as being in the best traditions of American Abolitionism and the anti-fascist struggle. How do you expect to find common ground with anyone other than the nationalist ultra-right and the conspiracist and simple-minded pro-Assad left. “Socialist Unity” … gimme a break. Also why u block my IP and my cyrillic comments? Trying to hold down the Baathist fort?

    Andy Newman,

  64. P Spence on said:

    Andy Newman: Many mainstream politicians seem to feel issues of war and peace can be guided by moral judgement and an idealist belief that bad people will always be replaced by better ones

    Andy, you are being far too kind. Moralising and warmongering are joined at the imperialist hip. Imperial imperatives and righteous bluster always coincide: I offer as Exhibit 1 Hilary Benn’s speech. The end result for the sovereign nations and colonised masses of our R2P is always disaster. I have no time for any Labour MP who remains on the side of empire; we have to break the long disgraceful tradition of Labour Party support for imperialism. Now is the time.