MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : REELLE RECHNUNG – Mehr Tote = Mehr Erfolge !

2014 Putins Krieg in der Ukraine tötet 10.000 und macht 1.5 Millionen zu Flüchtlingen. > Strafe: Ausschluss aus der G7. 2018 Putins Krieg in Syrien tötet 7.500 und macht 2 Millionen zu Flüchtlingen. In der Ukraine sterben weiter Menschen im Krieg. > Belohnung: Rückkehr in die G8.

FAZ.NETVerified account @faznet

Seit der Krim-Annexion ist #Russland bei den Gipfeln nicht mehr erwünscht. Nun fordern ganz gegensätzliche Politiker, aus G 7 wieder G 8 zu machen. Es geht dabei auch um #Syrien. https://buff.ly/2K3ZLQQ  

Mehr via  www.mesop.de

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : PUTIN’S MERCENARIES NOW WITH CONTRACTS

22 April 2018 – BIG:#Russia‘s State Duma passed legislation enabling designation of conscripts to #Syria“at times of emergency circumstances or for activities to restore peace&security or fight internatnl terrorism outside RUS or in naval expeditions.”Previously it were only contract servicemen.  More via www.mesop.de

MESOP NEWS : THE CONVINCED SWASTIKA MOVEMENT IN SYRIA & THE ASSAD BAATH PARTY

The Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s (SSNP) Expansion in Syria
By Jesse McDonald – @JJMcDonald10  –   – April 22

What does the future hold for political groups operating in the Syrian theater?  The plethora of loyalist militias and whether they fall under the central governments authority is something to monitor.  However, there are forces also politically represented who have remained obedient without straying too far outside the regimes orbit.   One group in particular developing quite rapidly at the grassroots level is the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), which the remaining of this article focuses on.

Now, there is a faction of the SSNP which initially joined the opposition, including its leader Ali Haidar, who is currently the Syrian Minister for Reconciliation (an extremely important ministry).  This split, known as the intifada bloc, never caused too much of a headache (as evidenced by Ali Haidar’s appointment).  In fact, Haidar is quoted as saying he is opposed to a complete break with the regime since that also entails a break with its popular base.  As a result, SSNP headquarters in Beirut and Haidar in Damascus seem to have reconciled, an act needed considering they are united on standing with Assad.

This paper will highlight the SSNP’s sudden influence in Syria since the war began, in part due to their relationship with both the Assad regime and Ba’ath Party.  It explores the possibility of some form of cohesive partnership between the SSNP and Ba’ath in the years ahead.  A partnership generated by the necessity to maintain and hold allies during this delicate phase.  Then, showcasing several areas in Syria where the SSNP has flourished will be presented, before ending on the party’s connections to Hezbollah and Russia.

SSNP’S STRENGTH

Ironically, one of the characteristics which hurt the SSNP in the past, namely competition with the Ba’ath, may in fact be a great asset looking to the future.  The two parties have always been close (going back to the 1940s), but it was the SSNP ultimately banned in Syria from 1955 until 2005. Previous competition stemmed mostly from similarities opposed to outright hostility based on solid discrepancies rooted in their core.  Both competed for members who often switched party lines.  For lack of a better term, these feuding cousins appear to have sued for peace during Syria’s current turbulent environment.  War can bring historical political rivals closer together when allies are desperately needed.

The Assad’s have always been closer to the Syrian nationalism side of their Arabism vision compared to one focused on a traditional Michel Aflaq –type Ba’athism.  Additionally, and more importantly, numerous Syrian political groups with initial SSNP leanings eventually merged into the Ba’ath Party.  One example being Akram al- Hawrani- a leading figure in Syrian politics and one of the SSNP’s first members.  Akram helped found the National Youth Party, becoming its leader in 1939.  Negotiations for cooperation with the SSNP failed, so Hawrani turned the National Youth Party into the Arab Socialist Party in January 1950, before merging with the Ba’ath Party in 1953. 

MORE OVERLAPP

Ghassan Jadid, a leading member of the SSNP in the 1940s and 1950s, rose to the position of defense chief for the party in 1954.  His brother Salah, first paid his allegiance to the SSNP before switching over to the Ba’ath in the 1950s.  Salah Jadid was one of the five members of the secret Military Committee catapulting the Ba’ath to power in Syria.  Hafez al-Assad was another one of these five members.

Hafez al- Assad was married to Anisa Makhlouf al-Assad, Bashar’s mother, who was an active member of the SSNP before her marriage to Hafez.  Anisa’s brother, Mohammad, was also a member and one of his sons, Rami Makhlouf, recently declared he was a party member in 2013.  Rami Makhlouf, Assad’s first-cousin, is considered the wealthiest man in Syria with vast influence over multiple sectors of Syrian society.  It goes without saying his addition would be a major boost to the SSNP’s role in the years ahead.  A declaration of support by a figure of Rami’s magnitude would have been unfathomable years ago.

BA’ATH / SSNP UNION?

As somewhat touched upon above, such a shift of allegiance is not staggering considering the two parties interests overlap in many ways.  Championing secularism, espousing anti- Zionist views, attracting minorities, and passionately defending the integrity of the Syrian nation are a few common attributes that have brought these two closer.  Melting together behind a matching vision for Syria, and considering the ease both have targeting similar support networks, enables the SSNP and Ba’ath a certain degree of flexibility to join forces.  Any potential ‘merger’ works for the Ba’ath in this regard while simultaneously allowing the SSNP valuable time to attract followers and reestablish themselves in society after fifty years sitting on the sideline.  High ranking officials in the Assad / Mahklouf camp have an avenue, by working together more with their SSNP allies, to preserve their status without disrupting any assets or the day-to-day affairs of running the country.  A smooth transition could very well occur even if no formal announcement or legal procedure makes it official.

Active in Syria since the 1930s and sharing a long history with the Ba’ath Party puts the SSNP in a unique position.  This is a party whose rich literature coupled with an abundance of educational publications available to Syrian’s provides a foundation to cultivate future generations.  Entrenched in the political landscape with a structural organization already in place has allowed the party to accelerate their outreach to Syrian communities.  Not only is the regime aware of their activities, they actively join in some of the SSNP’s celebrations.  Such events include, honoring Syrian soldiers who have died, culture seminars, opening offices and publicly teaching SSNP ideology, which will be explored below.  Notwithstanding, Ba’ath Party officials direct participation in these events, exhibits a level of understanding between both parties.  Trust is further solidified following years of the regime fighting together with the SSNP’s militia- Eagles of the Whirlwind.

SSNP SPREADS ITS WINGS

Over the last couple years (2014-present), the SSNP has significantly increased its presence throughout Syria, particularly in Homs and Hama, but also in Latakia, Damascus and its suburbs.  Their growth in these governorates primarily centers around towns and cities inhabited by minorities but this should not take away from the fact that the party is indeed expanding.  Becoming the second largest party in Syria behind only the Ba’ath.  It appears the SSNP is able to accomplish this in coordination with the regime, not in spite or because of any rebellion due to regime weakness or inability to act.

The following are several displays of the SSNP’s activities in Syria, beginning in Homs.

The SSNP’s stronghold in Homs is located in the city of Homs’ Old City neighborhood.  Here, SSNP members are in full control of certain areas, even conducting security checks and manning checkpoints.  Vehicles are checked for bombs by local SSNP men and party celebrations are guarded by armed members. These acts point to confidence in the regime and the local population.

 

SSNP HOMS FB POST on 3.13.16 OPENING A NEW OFFICE IN THE OLD CITY PART OF HOMS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OVER 50 YEARS. SSNP LEADER IN HOMS-NIHAD SAMAAN ADDRESSED THE CROWD.

However, such overwhelming freedom from a party banned until as recently as 2005 does not seem to be threatening the regime.  The regime is instead delegating authority to a trusted partner who as of now does not challenge Assad or circumvent his authority.  In fact, the two parties participate together at speeches, rallies, seminars and anniversary events in the city.

SSNP HOMS FB POST 11.17.17 CELEBRATING WITH THE BA’ATH PARTY ON THE SSNP’s FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY.

The SSNP has a big following in Wadi al-Nasara (‘Valley of the Christians’) in western Homs and also in the towns of Sadad and al-Qaryatayn- members are most likely gelled with NDF or SAA units in these two cities.  However, there are indications Sadad is completely controlled by local fighters in the SSNP.  Nevertheless, the SSNP’s freedom to operate, often with members of the Ba’ath Party, is quite striking.

In Hama, the SSNP is most visible in the towns of Marhdeh, Suqaylabiyah, and Salamiyah, with fighters participating in battles on the provinces eastern countryside front.  Marhdeh and Suqaylabiyah, in northern Hama, have been on the front lines for years and SSNP fighters were with government troops spearheading assaults on rebel positions stationed in adjacent towns (such as Halfaya).   The city of Salamiyah (birthplace of Fatimid Caliphate) has witnessed its share of attacks with local Isma’ili men joining the SSNP to defend their town.  Consequently, since fighters with the SSNP in these three cities are often locals, as danger recedes, the SSNP is already fairly entrenched to carry out municipal administration.  As recently as last November the party opened a radio center in Marhdeh but have had offices serving local needs for a couple years at these three locations.

SSNP Hama FB post on 8.1.17 showing SSNP members handing out candy to Syrian troops in Marhdeh

SSNP Salamiyah FB post on 12.1.17 celebrating the party’s founding anniversary.  Syrian Peoples Assembly member and SSNP figure Mazen Azzouz (who was born in Salamiyah) attended along with a member of the Ba’ath Party in Hama.

The SSNP is also very active in the city of Latakia, hosting sporting matches, excursions for the youth, and training seminars.  The province of Latakia is an Alawite, and subsequently Assad stronghold, so the SSNP’s activities in this area is something to pay attention to.  Lastly, the countryside and suburbs of Damascus with an SSNP presence are the cities of Maaloula, Zabadani and Saidnaya (Eagles Whirlwind fought in all three cities) located outside the capital, with an office also in Damascus.  The SSNP’s flag openly waiving in Damascus, even if solely for visual effects, is significant for a party beginning to taste freedom under Bashar’s regime.

SSNP FB POST SHOWING A YOUTH TRAINING FACILITY IN LATAKIA

SSNP DAMASCUS FB POST ON 6.11.17 SHOWING MEMBERS DISTRIBUTING FOOD AS PART OF A SOCIAL WELFARE PROGRAM IN THE CAPITAL

SSNP DAMASCUS FB POST ON 3.22.17 SHOWING MEMBERS IN THE CAPITAL HANDING OUT SWEETS TO PEDESTRIANS ON MOTHERS DAY

The regime forming local committees or delegating security still ensures movements and decisions are under the watchful eye of the central government.  Changes, such as conceding room for organizations like the SSNP to maneuver, have been imposed out of necessity.  The Assad regime is aware that on their own they will not be enough to guarantee its power.   Weapons provided to the SSNP or sensitive decisions ultimately rests with high level regime officials.  This might explain why the SSNP is able to: stage rallies; open media centers and headquarters throughout several cities; hold seminars, conduct training sessions in party ideology as well as fitness exercises; hand out leaflets to civilians informing them of the parties message; and organize blood drives for Syrian troops (the list goes on).  All of the above suggest regime trust in the SSNP.  If Rami Makhlouf is indeed a SSNP comrade, and considering his families history of allegiance to the party, coupled with an overlapping interests between the SSNP and Ba’ath parties, such developments might be an early indicator of a new alliance.

High ranking officials will head to the party which preserves their interests while ambitious individuals with the means will follow in search of prosperity.  For decades the Ba’ath was the only option.  Consequently, people joined.  The situation in Syria might not allow for the Ba’ath to continue as it did before the war.  Hence, gravitating, or blending in with various elements of the SSNP could be a viable option to safeguard their status moving forward.

SSNP FB POST SHOWING NEW MEMBERS BEING SWORN IN ON 8.26.17 IN HAMA

 

Distributing leaflets in Homs city on anniversary of SSNP’s founding FB post 11.17.17 

SSNP’s ALLIANCE WITH HEZBOLLAH IN SYRIA

Given Hezbollah’s vital and dominant position in Syria’s war, the organizations link to the SSNP is relevant when analyzing what role the SSNP could play in the years ahead.  Upholding a Syrian nationalist attitude, re-establishing control of cities (SSNP fights with SAA and Hezbollah to do this), maintaining and even expanding economic hegemony and not upsetting support coming from Damascus to supply Hezbollah in Lebanon remain priorities for Assad.  The SSNP is not, for the moment at least, deemed a threat in the matters mentioned above.  There aren’t sweeping reports of looting, violence, or insubordination (plaguing many regime militias) in the areas they have most clout.  Perhaps this signals a degree of comfort on the part of the regime to allow SSNP added freedom.  Garnering the trust of Hezbollah also certainly helps.  Moreover, the SSNP is in a political alliance with Hezbollah in Lebanon (March 8th) and the two sides fight together at times in Syria.

SSNP FB POST SHOWING SSNP FLAGS ALONGSIDE HEZBOLLAH’S AND LEBANON’S FLAG

EXAMPLES WHERE THE SSNP & HEZBOLLAH FOUGHT ON THE SAME FRONT IN SYRIA

There are not many independent Syrian forces fighting with the SAA and Hezbollah, certainly not while also representing a political party.  Below features several strategic Syrian cities and provinces where Hezbollah and the SSNP fought together.  This section is not going to delve into every front or town, but rather, inform the reader on areas of higher interest that witnessed a more sustained presence of fighters.  Let’s begin with the historical town of Maaloula near Damascus.

A delegation from SSNP’s leadership presented condolences and congratulations on the death of three reporters from al-Manar crew in Maaloula Syria on March 14, 2014.  Asad Hardan was part of this delegation while head of SSNP’s political bureau, Ali Qansu, expressed his condolences on behalf of the SSNP in a statement to al-Manar (showing the strong partnership with such high level representation).  It is important to remember that when fighting erupted in Maaloula in 2013, Hezbollah was fighting with the Syrian army and members of the SSNP for control of the ancient Christian town.  In September of that same year, allied rebels alongside what was then al-Nusra, briefly took control of a section of Maaloula.  However, Hezbollah and their allies mentioned above were able to regain control and drive the rebels out.  It was at this time, when residents and media outlets began to investigate what had just occurred, al-Manar’s crew was ambushed and killed.  Such instances of cooperation however further strengthen Hezbollah’s and the Assad regime’s argument that they are the protectors of minorities.  Bashar paid a visit to Maaloula, where residents still speak Aramaic, the following Easter and Hezbollah has the ability to demonstrate their bodyguard role for Christians in Lebanon as well as in Syria.

Other examples of Hezbollah fighting side by side, or at least in the same town, as the SSNP:

The mountains of Latakia province have been a particularly deadly area for the Eagles of the Whirlwind.  The Kurd Mountains (Jabal al-Akrad) and also the towns of Kabani and Kinsaba are several hot spots where members of Hezbollah and the SSNP found themselves fighting on the same front.  According to Fars News Agency, in 2016 large number of reinforcements from the provinces of Tartous and Homs were sent to the Northwestern battlefields where many were to replace the Desert Hawks (Liwa Suqour al-Sahra) in Jabal al-Akrad.  The SSNP were one of these groups tasked with protecting captured territory.  Besides holding territory, SSNP fighters have been very active as part of offensives in the countryside of Latakia over the years.

In addition to fighting with Hezbollah in Latakia countryside, SSNP fighters were also stationed together in the Qalamoun region along the Syria-Lebanon border, primarily in the battle to retake the town of Qaryatayn.  The following is from one report out of Fars News Agency: The Syrian army’s 81st and 120th brigades of the 2nd Division- in close coordination with the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP), Dara’a Qalamoun (Qalamoun Shield), and Liwa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade)- liberated several sites from ISIL near the strategic city of Quaryatayn in Homs provinces’ Southeastern countryside. Homs province is another part of Syria with a heavy SSNP presence.  Speaking with members based in Homs city, the party plays an overwhelming role in security, checking for car bombs, and making sure vital services are running properly.

In 2015 the Syrian army pushed to gain control of the strategic town of Zabadani.  According to several media reports, the units involved were from the Syrian army’s 63rd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division, in coordination with Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (NDF), and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP).  The Eagles Whirlwind were mostly stationed in the eastern sections of Zabadani acting as a bulwark against attempts by forces from the FSA, Nusra, and Ahrar al-Sham to infiltrate into the city.  While the SSNP’s forces were stationed in the East, Hezbollah alongside the Syrian army, were spearheading the advance in the western sections.  Similar to reports coming out of Latakia countryside, indications point to the Eagles of the Whirlwind acting more as protectors of a secured territory as opposed to a force on the front lines of an attack.  Perhaps such a maneuver is strategic from the Assad regime or perhaps this simply comes down to a lack of experience / manpower from those fighting under the Eagles emblem.

To close this section, both parties are also present in Hama province.  Specifically, in the northern countryside of the province, with the city of Mahrdeh being a focal point.  The strategic town sits along a highway connecting the provincial capital and is considered one the largest Christian cities in Syria.  There is a definite SSNP presence with a growing local party office, along with a local NDF unit.  When offensives were launched from Mahrdeh, particularly on the town of Halfaya, SSNP forces were on the front lines alongside (reports of) Hezbollah fighters.  Hezbollah’s presence in Mahrdeh was addressed thanks to a letter by a group calling themselves ‘Syrian Christians for Peace.’

RUSSIAN CONNECTION

Russia’s military intervention certainly changed the dynamics of the war.  In addition to conducting airstrikes, Russian generals are stationed on the ground to assist with reconciliation deals.  This aspect of the war, local committees engaged in dialogue, as well as peace talks held in Astana and Sochi, witnessed members of the SSNP partner with the Russians.  Ali Haidar (mentioned above), leader in the SSNP and long- time oppositionist to the Assad regime, now is Syria’s Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs, inevitably putting him in contact with Russia.  It is also highly likely both sides would have interacted due to the Eagles of the Whirlwind and SAA fighting together.

Recently, a delegation composed of three members of the SSNP held talks with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow.  The talks zeroed in on the conference in Sochi and Turkey’s military maneuvers near Afrin.  Additionally, Ali Haidar has been working more closely with the Hmeimim – based Russian Coordination Center as one team, to boost local reconciliations throughout Syria.  He was recently seen with Russian General Victor Bankov from the coordination center meeting members of local reconciliation committees.  Moreover, fighters with the Eagles of the Whirlwind have received medals of excellence from the Russian Ministry of Defense.  Further evidence of the growing alliance between the SSNP and another power with influence over Syria’s affairs.

SSNP EAGLES OF THE WHIRLWIND MEMBER RECEIVING A RUSSIAN MEDAL OF EXCELLANCE

ANOTHER SSNP FB POST SHOWING AN EAGLES OF THE WHIRLWIND FIGHTER RECEIVING A RUSSIAN MEDAL

CONCLUSION

Syria is increasingly under the stewardship of a new class of businessmen with ties to the Assad’s and Makhlouf’s.  Reconstruction deals favoring these connected individuals will only benefit them at the expense of Syrian citizens.  While still operating under the Ba’ath Party guise, it is uncertain how the party will emerge through the scars of war or restructuring due to possible peace deals.  Regardless, the SSNP has a deep-rooted history with many of these power brokers, which is worth paying attention to when analyzing the party’s potential cushion in absorbing Ba’ath party officials.  Such a scenario might paint a picture of revamping the political establishment, while in reality nothing much would change, at least in the short term.

The SSNP not only has a close relationship with the Assad’s and Mahklouf’s, but also more so recently, with the Ba’ath Party.  Meaning, members are familiar with one another’s vision for Syria, which is currently geared around stabilizing the Syrian state and cohesion of Syrian society.  The party is also in a position of strength negotiating reconciliation deals with rebels through Ali Haidar’s ministry.  Assad relies on Haidar’s (and the SSNP’s) image as opposition figures to appear more neutral during negotiations.  Moreover, the party has an active fighting force (Eagles of the Whirlwind), and a long record of political involevement in Syria, helping cement its position in towns across the country.  Figuring the parties intimate friendship with Hezbollah (thus factoring in Iran), and now Russia into the equation, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) is in a favorable spot during this critical moment of Syria’s history.

–Al-Akhbar. “Hezbollah military investigation reveals who killed Al-Manar TV crew.” http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/19459

-Al-Akhbar. “Syria’s Ali Haidar: Both Sides Have Extremists.” http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/9716

-Fars News Agency. “Hezbollah Hits ISIL’s Military Positions in Lebanon’s Al-Qalamoun Region.” http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950121000473

-Fars News Agency. “Syria: Thousands of Fresh Recruits Joining Army’s Imminent Operation in Idlib.” http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941221000333

-McDonald, Jesse. “The SSNP’s Military: The Eagles of the Whirlwind & Their Emblem.” Syria Comment. www.joshualandis.com/blog/24853-2/

-Pipes, Daniel. “Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition.” Page 102.

-SANA. “Minister Haidar: We work with Russian coordination center in Hmeimem as one team to boost local reconciliations.” http://sana.sy/en/?p=121734

-Seale, Patrick. “Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East.” Page 63.

-Syria Times. “SSNP Politburo Member to ST: Sochi Congress Must be Based on Current Military Developments in Syria.”  http://syriatimes.sy/index.php/editorials/opinion/34516-ssnp-politburo-member-to-st-sochi-congress-must-be-based-on-current-military-developments-in-syria

-Syrian Christians for Peace FaceBook post on April 3, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/syrianchristiansforpeace/

-Zaman Al Wasl. https://www.zamanalwsl.net/index.php?url=news/article/47283

www.mesop.de

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : BEMERKENSWERTE ANZEICHEN EINER NEUEN VERSTÄNDIGUNG GUELEN BEWEGUNG + ERDOGAN

22 April 2018 – Der per Haftbefehl gesuchte Enes Kanter ist anscheinend in der Türkei. Ist das ein Anzeichen für eine Wiederannäherung zwischen Gülen Bewegung und AKP Machtblock? İn der Vergangenheit haben bereits Journalisten der Yeni Akit so etwas angedeutet. Wäre eine interessante Wendung – Mehr www.mesop.de

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : ERDOGAN’S BRINKMANSHIP – The U.S Issues Three Warnings to Turkey in Two Days

By Ilhan Tanir – AhvalNews  2018-04-21 16:25 GMT – The first of three warnings from Washington to Turkey came on Wednesday morning from the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). Speaking before the committee was A. Wess Mitchell, assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. State Department.

There were several Turkey-related issues Mitchell addressed. Many of HFAC members questioned the detention and ongoing trial of American pastor Andrew Brunson who has been jailed in Turkey for over 18 months. Mitchell stated that Turkey’s indictment, which also included accusations that Brunson was working with both the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and what the Turkish government calls the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), to divide Turkey are “laughable.” He also said that Turkey appears determined to purchase the S-400 air defense system from Russia, which could spell US embargoes on Turkey.

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MESOP NEWS SHORT CUTS : MY CHOICE TODAY BY JENNIFER CAFARELLA

A @cspan interview with @JennyCafarella about #Syria‘s war, the United States’ need for a strategy, the crimes of the Asad regime, and Russia’s moves in the Middle East. https://www.c-span.org/video/?443973-4/jennifer-cafarella-discusses-us-strikes-syria …

22 April 2018 – www.mesop.de

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS OPINION : Kirkuk versus Afrin / A GREAT DEAL ?

Dr. Saman Shali | Ekurd.net

The leaders of the political parties in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq decided to hold a referendum on September 25th, 2017 for the purpose of deciding the fate of the Kurdistan Region and the disputed areas including the oil reach city of Kirkuk.

After the announcement came, the enemies of yesterday, become friends of today. The lobbying forces of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria—which is representative by the Iranian government—actively colluded to halt the referendum by all means. And this strategy was gauged to minimize the rule of the people of the Kurdistan Region so as to ensure that they would play no role as power brokers in the future of the region.

They apparently took the bid for a referendum as their excuse to blindside the people of Kurdistan, because after the war against ISIS the popular army (Iranian’s proxy arm) in Iraq were determined to retake the city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas. We all know today that the leaders of the popular army are running the show in Iraq, while undermining the Iraq Government.

After a meeting in Ankara between the Presidents of Turkey and Iran including their top generals, they strategized to take back all the disputed areas under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government—areas which the Kurds had defended from ISIS attacks in 2016 and thereafter.

But Turkey took advantage of this agreement to make the deal based on the following conditions—and, of course, to be silent about it:

  1. The Turkmens would get a larger and more important role in the future of Kirkuk.
  2. Iran would not react to any attack on the city of Afrin or other areas under control of the people of the Kurds in Syria.

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MESOP NEWS : LEFT WING EUROPEAN ANT-IMPERIALISTS LIKE ASSAD

Are Academics at UK Universities Pushing Pro-Assad Propaganda & Disinformation?


Chris York writes for HuffPostUK:


Academics at some of the UK’s top universities have been accused by parts of the Syrian community of pushing pro-Assad propaganda, peddling conspiracy theories, and whitewashing war crimes.The Working Group on Syria, Propaganda, and Media has been set up by a group of academics to examine the “role of both media and propaganda” and provide “reliable, informed and timely analysis for journalists, publics and policymakers”.Although in its infancy, the Working Group’s published material as well as public posts by its members have already drawn accusations of circulating Islamophobic tropes and willfully ignoring the depravity of the regime.

Two of the academics in particular, Professor Tim Hayward of Edinburgh University and Professor Piers Robinson of the University of Sheffield, promote the work of a fringe group of bloggers and activists who have been accused of spreading false information about the Syrian civil war, which is now in its eighth year.

As part of an ongoing series on propaganda and disinformation in the Syria conflict, HuffPost UK has analysed some of the material published by the academics, including an open letter to the Guardian newspaper. The survey reveals a number of problematic areas and false claims, and illuminates the murky world of online pro-regime activism the academics are promoting.

Denying The Chemical Attack in Douma

Piers Robinson appeared on Sky News last week to discuss the recent chemical attack in Douma, and claimed: “the Syrian Red Crescent (SRC) and the UN agency in Damascus are reporting that they’re not finding any evidence of a chemical attack”.

When asked by HuffPost UK to back up the claims, Robinson did not respond. The SRC statement to which the academic was referring was issued in January, and the identity of the “UN agency” is unclear – international inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were still en route to Douma when Robinson was speaking.

See also The Viral Disinformation that Douma’s Chemical Attack Victims Were Killed by “Dust”
Fog of Trolls: Pro-Assad Misinformation Over Douma Chemical Attacks
Russia’s Helpers — Disinformation and Conspiracy Trolling After Assad’s Latest Chemical Attacks

Leila Shami, a British Syrian and co-author of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War, said:

[Pro-Assad activists see] what’s happening in Syria as a geo-political chess game, in which Assad is fighting an imaginary war against US imperialism instead of against his own people; those who wanted freedom, democracy and social justice.

In such an analysis, Syrians themselves are denied all agency and are merely pawns for outside powers – the white men who are capable of making history.

As the left whitewashes the regime of its crimes, it also works to slander any opposition to Assad as “head-chopping jihadis” using the worst kind of Orientalist and Islamophobic tropes and adopting whole-heartedly the “War on Terror” discourse.

[These people] often peddle in conspiracy theories in support of its claims.

In a statement Robinson, speaking on behalf of the group, said:

You can rest assured that our claims and discussions follow academic norms with respect to rigour and truth seeking and we strongly encourage your readers to follow our media appearances, publications and briefings as we believe they will play a vital role with respect to initiating open and honest public scrutiny with respect to the multiple wars we have experienced over the last 15 years.

Attacking the White Helmets

The insistence on framing the Syrian conflict through an anti-imperialist lens leads to a number of problematic areas in the Working Group’s statements which, when raised to the two academics in an email, were dismissed.

The points below were based on an open letter published by the Working Group in January, which states it is “seeking the truth about the White Helmets” and questions the legitimacy of the civil defense group as an “impartial humanitarian organisation”.

It appeared after The Guardian published a piece detailing the Russian-backed disinformation campaign to discredit the White Helmets, the Syrian search and rescue NGO who rescue people in the wake of airstrikes and bombings.Two of the five paragraphs of the open letter detail the funding sources of the White Helmets, information which is available publicly online.

It’s claimed that, because the White Helmets are funded through the UK Government’s £1bn Conflict, Stability, and Security Fund, they have a “potential dual use” as “first, as a means of supporting and lending credibility to opposition structures within Syria; second, as an apparently impartial organisation that can corroborate UK accusations against the Russian state”.

According to the CSSF’s 2016/17 annual report, the UK Government has also funded a range of other projects, including negotiating a deal between the FARC rebels and the Colombian government; helping to reduce cattle-raiding in South Sudan; and rehabilitating 20 Soviet-era irrigation projects in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

When it was noted that these are all detailed in the same 2016/17 report to which the Working Group links, they did not raise issue with any of these other projects despite being from the same funding source.

There has been controversy regarding the CSSF, as details of some of the projects it funds are secret and even senior MPs are not told what they are.

But the White Helmets, along with the projects listed above, are among those that are public and highlighted by the UK Government.

Ibrahim Olabi, founder of the Syrian Legal Development Programme which trains the White Helmets in international law, explained that this is how some of the biggest international NGOs are funded:

The ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross], the most impartial organisation that exists on planet Earth, is funded by states.

The funding per se isn’t a breach of independence because the largest humanitarian organisations are funded by taxpayer money channeled through states.

Relying on Pro-Assad Propagandists

The open letter also states:

n a context in which both the US and UK governments have been actively supporting attempts to overthrow the Syrian government for many years, this material casts doubt on the status of the White Helmets as an impartial humanitarian organisation. It is therefore essential that investigators such as Vanessa Beeley, who raise substantive questions about the White Helmets, are engaged with in a serious and intellectually honest fashion.

Vanessa Beeley is a British blogger who has written extensively about the White Helmets, which she describes as “al-Qaeda Civil Defence” and calls “legitimate targets” for military strikes – in direct contravention of international humanitarian law.

She is the daughter of the late British diplomat Sir Harold Beeley, and worked in various sales and management roles before turning to activism in 2012, writing about Gaza.

As well as attacking the White Helmets, she has also said she believes the attack of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a staged operation, that al-Qaeda wasn’t behind the 9/11 attacks, and that NATO has “sleeper cells” living in suburban America who have infiltrated the anti-war movement. She has appeared onstage alongside holocaust deniers and has been interviewed for far-right German magazines.

Her reports on the ground from Syria are often produced under the supervision of Syrian MPs and the Syrian Arm. The official regime line, Assad is fighting and killing terrorists, is uncritically repeated and then promoted by members of the Working Group.

Pat Hilsman, a freelance journalist who reported from Syria from 2012 to 2015, said:

When they say ‘we’re on the ground’, what they actually mean is they’ve been escorted to government-held zones.

Their entire thing is to appeal to a low-information audience. They’ll say “we’re on the ground and no one’s ever heard of the White Helmets”, but then they’ll say “we’re on the ground, everyone who’s heard of the White Helmets say they’re thieves”.

The statements are completely contradictory, but so long as they’re negative and are arranged in this collage of lunacy it doesn’t matter to them.

Fares Shehabi, Syrian MP for Aleppo, is a particularly big fan.

Vanessa Beeley has also described meeting Bashar al-Assad as her “proudest moment”, and lauds his wife, Asma.

ASSAD BEELEY

She has also secured the tacit backing of the Russian government: in May of last year Russia presented a document detailing allegations that the White Helmets were terrorists, consisting entirely of a presentation Beeley had given at a talk in London earlier in the year.

Despite this, the Working Group insists Beeley is a credible source on which to base upcoming research.

Beeley has refused to be interviewed on a number of occasions.

The “Real” Syrian Civil Defense

First, the “Syria Civil Defence”, the “official title” given to the White Helmets, is supported by US and UK funding. Here it is important to note that the real Syria Civil Defence already exists and is the only such agency recognised by the International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO).

What the Working Group refers to here as the “real” Syria Civil Defence is an official force also referred to as “self-protection squads”.

They are part of the Syrian Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defence, are trained by the Syrian Army, and operate only in government-held areas of Syria. They often act as a fire brigade and residents call 113 if they are needed.

There are no such forces in rebel-held areas.

James Le Mesurier, the founder of the NGO that trains the White Helmets, told HuffPost UK: ”[This idea] asks readers to somehow believe that following a bombing from the Government, that the Government would then send its fire brigade to these areas to rescue the civilians that they’ve just bombed – [a deception] which is exactly why the White Helmets were founded.”

The Anti-Imperialists

Robinson and Hayward have spoken at events alongside Beeley, sharing a stage with, amongst others:

*Eva Bartlett — a blogger who went on a regime-sponsored trip of North Korea and has since written that western media is conspiring to present the country as a “nest of iniquity and oppression” – despite thousands of testimonies of escapees

*Robert Stuart — a man who has suggested that the BBC faked the aftermath of an attack in Syria

*Peter Ford — a former UK ambassador to Syria who took over from Bashar al-Assad’s father-in-law as head of the British Syrian Society, after emails were published showing Ford had advised Assad how to counter videos appearing to show the Syrian regime torturing children

Together they form a small but incredibly vocal group of fringe anti-imperialist campaigners who deny or downplay atrocities committed by Assad despite the extensive evidence to the contrary, arguing the president is simply fighting terrorism.

Instead, they focus on crimes committed by opposition forces and extremists groups. The vast majority of civilian deaths in the conflict as well as the documented cases of major chemical attacks have been perpetrated by the Syrian regime, according to UN war crimes investigators and Human Rights Watch.

Hassan Akkad, a Syrian who was imprisoned and tortured by the regime in 2011 for the crime he describes as “the audacity to go on the streets and yell ‘freedom’”:

That argument that Assad is fighting terrorism – it’s bollocks. Assad was funnelling jihadists to Iraq to fight the Americans, it was Assad that pardoned terrorists who had leading positions in ISIS in 2012, it was Assad who colluded with ISIS who sold him oil.

They are blinded by anti-imperialism, and sadly the war in Iraq and what happened in Libya gives these people even more motives to voice their opinions on this matter as if Syria is Iraq.

Others say this anti-imperialism fringe infuriates the people it purports to be fighting for.

Robin Yassin-Kassab, a British Syrian and co-author of Burning Country, said:

It’s shocking – the very people in society you’d expect to be supporting the democratic struggle of the Syrian people are the ones slandering it in the most Islamophobic terms.

If a Zionist or an American official describes all Palestinian resistance to Israel as “they’re all jihadist terrorists”, left wing people are rightly outraged by that but they’re doing exactly the same thing in Syria.

Syrian writer, Yassin al-Haj Saleh, has written extensively on this topic:

Annexation is a fundamental aspect of imperialism, and the anti-imperialist activists who deny the autonomy of our struggle and supplement it to their pseudo-struggle are no different from imperialist powers. The two parties find common cause in the denial of our struggle, our political agency, and our right to self-representation.

Practically, they are telling us that they are the ones who can define which struggles are in the right; and that we are not worthy of either revolutions or the production of knowledge. But isn’t that a wonderful definition of imperialism?

Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett began their blogging careers in Gaza, writing about the plight of Palestinians under Israeli rule. They then appear to have made the transition to defending Assad, despite the regime brutally cracking down on Palestinian refugees in Syria and killing far more than have been slain by Israel since 2011 — with thousands more languishing in Syrian jails.

But for the bloggers, the element that connects Palestinians in Gaza and Assad is the belief both are fighting the forces of Western imperialism.

Joey Ayoub, a Lebanese/Palestinian activist, said:

It was a wake up call for many Palestinians in Palestine that these people weren’t actually on their side and they took advantage of them.

There’s an element of “white saviour-ism”. It’s completely selective, it’s an opportunistic way of seeing things. They know that most of their followers won’t look that deeply into checking things.

Dismissing Torture

The torture of civilian detainees by the Syrian regime is extensively documented.

Abdel-Samed, a business owner from rural Daraa, recalls just one of the thousands of cases, that of 13-year-old Hamza al-Khatib in 2011, whose death helped spark the Syrian revolution:

Later they returned the body of Hamza al-Khatib. He’s a cousin of mine and looks just like my son. He’d been tortured. They didn’t leave any spot on his body without cigarette burns. His body was full of stab marks and his neck was broken. They’d cut off his genitals.

I’ve heard that in some countries the Government only arrests the wanted person himself, not his brother or mother or sister. In Syria, the entire family and the entire neighbourhood is accused and targeted.

The biggest trove of evidence is the Caesar Photos — 28,000 photos of deaths in government custody that were smuggled out of Syria.

Hayward has questioned the validity of the reports in a piece entitled How We Were Misled About Syria: Amnesty International saying, “the evidence has not been credibly certified, and I for one do not expect it will be”.

Mounir, a Syrian man who can’t be identified due to security concerns, said: “Hayward simply has no idea of Assadland. He wilfully ignores the depravity of the regime.

Additionally, Assad’s assistance in the rendition and torture of detainees, such as Maher Arar, by the CIA in America’s War on Terror, is completely ignored – as is the regime’s role in 1991 as part of the US-led coalition in the first Gulf War.The fringe anti-imperialist narrative asserts that NGOs who have exposed and condemned torture, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, are all part of the wider conspiracy to promote regime change in Syria.

Vanessa Beeley has described Amnesty International as “pernicious liars and Empire’s little helpers” and Piers Robinson has written how NGOs engage in “propaganda activities” that contain “obfuscation and exaggeration”.

What is ignored is that these very same NGOs write extensively on abuses carried out by Israel and those that occur in Yemen, both causes championed by these activists.

The Silencing Of Syrians

Notably, there are no Syrians among this fringe group, and numerous Syrian individuals have said that they have been shut down or blocked on social media when they have tried to engage with them.

One such person, Maher Barotchi, lives in Sheffield and was forced out of Syria by the regime 30 years ago when he discovered he’d been blacklisted whilst studying in the UK.

It makes me angry to see people who are supposedly educated supporting Assad. You don’t expect people to have posts at universities and still…these people…their so-called principles are more important than the suffering and the human rights.

These so-called anti-imperialists, anything that’s anti-Western, even if it’s a mass murderer, they will defend them and find excuses for them.

How can you be an educated person living in the West, enjoying the freedom of speech which the countries you defend don’t have and don’t allow?

Last year at an event at which Beeley, Hayward, and Robinson were speaking, a Syrian protesting the talk was dragged outside for voicing her opinion and told by an unidentified man from the audience that “her people control the media”.

Asked who “her people” were, the man replied: “Of course, the Pentagon. Israel.”

www.mesop.de

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS EVALUATION : Minimal Strike on Assad Shows Extent of Russian Deterrence

By April 20, 2018 – BEGIN – SADAT CENTER – ISRAEL

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: While the purpose of the US strikes was to target Syria’s chemical-weapons capabilities, the relatively modest scale of the strikes are an indication of Russia’s ability to cause Western powers to limit their actions.

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DIE UNAUFLÖSBAREN DILEMMATA DER HISTORISCHEN FRAUENBEWEGUNG EN ROUTE CYBORG

SIEGFRIED GERLICH –  DAS FEMINISTISCHE WEIBLICHKEITSOPFER – Über den hohen Preis des Emanzipationsgelingens

„Da es »eine Mutter-Kind-Beziehung […] in jeder Gesellschaft in irgendeiner Form gegeben« hat, muß die Tyrannei der biologischen Familie« gestürzt werden, und angesichts der –„barbarischen« Schwangerschaft gilt es überhaupt eine neue Bevölkerungsbiologie  zu entwerfen und die Frauen auf „künstliche Fortpflanzung einzustimmen, bis endlich die »Mutterschaft, und mit ihr das Inzest-Tabu, verschwunden« sein wird: »Die bewußte Wahl des Geschlechts des Fötus und die Befruchtung im Reagenzglas sind […] nur eine Frage der Zeit. […] Sogar die Parthenogenese — die jungfräuliche Geburt — könnte ziemlich bald entwickelt werden.«17 – Sulamith Firestone

Die Tage, in denen noch von einer »Abtreibung der Frauenfrage« (1)  gesprochen werden konnte, sind in westlichen Ländern längst vorüber, denn die Abtreibung ist keine Frage mehr, seit ihr Bauch den Frauen gehört. Ihr Kopf hingegen gehört seither den Feministinnen, welche die weibliche Innenwelt ebenso gründlich zu kolonisieren suchten, wie es vormals miteinander verschworene Patriarchen getan haben sollen. Die Melancholie der Erfüllung aber, welche den Feminismus der zweiten Generation umfing, als die Frauen endlich »uneingeschränkt gleichberechtigt«2 waren, ist in der dritten feministischen Welle in eine Manie notorischer Unzufriedenheit umgeschlagen, die je nachdem puritanisch-mimosenhaft oder auch exhibitionistisch-schlampenhaft zutage tritt. Von wahrlich gewichtigerer Art waren die Empörungsgründe, die eine Bewegung der Frauen überhaupt erst ins Leben gerufen hatten.

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