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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:24 am

mission accomplished?

'US to announce aerial blockade on Syria'
US readies for possibility of intervention without UN resolution, Asharq Al-Awsat reports, citing US military official; plan to include humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees on Turkey's border
Roi Kais
Published: 02.25.12, 13:21

The Pentagon is readying for the possibility of intervention in Syria, aiming to halt Syrian President Bashsar Assad's violent crackdown on protesters, the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Saturday, citing a US military offical.

According to the official, the intervention scenario calls for the establishment of a buffer zone on the Turkish border, in order to receive Syrian refugees. The Red Cross would then provide the civilians humanitarian aid, before NATO crews would arrive from Turkey and join the efforts.

Related articles:
US to use 'every tool available' to stop Assad
'Friends of Syria' ready ultimatum for Assad
Syria: We're not responsible for journalists' deaths

The measure would pave the way for the US to declare an aerial blockade on Syria.

The intercession is to be modeled after NATO's efforts in Kosovo, which brought an end to the Serbian control of the region. NATO's plan of action included prolonged aerial shelling.

The US' diplomatic efforts have yet to yield an effective international resolution that would stop the bloodshed. More than 100 protesters have died over the weekend alone, human rights activists said.

Russia, China to join aid efforts?
According to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Pentagon does not anticipate a change of heart on the part of China or Russia, who have opposed foreign intervention or sanctions against Syria. But the US expects the two nations to join the humanitarian aid efforts, support a ceasefire between the Syrian regime and rebels and send special UN envoys to investigate the developments in the country.

The next step in the reported US Department of Defense plan would be to appoint a team of UN observers to monitor the humanitarian aid, and enter Syria. They would need aerial protection, which would eventually lead to an aerial blockade.

The military official said in the interview that the plan is a cautious one, and takes into account the Syrian air force's advanced capabilities.

In his most forceful words to date on the Syrian crisis, US President Barack Obama said Friday the US and its allies would use "every tool available" to end the bloodshed by Assad's government.

"It is time to stop the killing of Syrian citizens by their own government," Obama said in Washington, adding that it "absolutely imperative for the international community to rally and send a clear message to President Assad that it is time for a transition. It is time for that regime to move on."

As government troops relentlessly shelled rebel-held neighborhoods in the besieged city of Homs, thousands of people in dozens of towns staged anti-regime protests under the slogan: "We will revolt for your sake, Baba Amr," referring to the Homs neighborhood that has become the center of the Syrian revolt.

Opposition groups reported that 103 people were killed on Friday by the regime's forces.

Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby JackRiddler » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:35 pm


Can't know if she's right in all she writes (10:1 sounds suspicious) but so worth quoting for the bolded part! ... ropaganda/

Tuesday 31 Jan 2012

New York Times interview with Lizzie Phelan

Earlier today I was video interviewed over Skype by New York Times journalist Robert Mackey about my coverage of events in Libya and Syria and my criticisms of the mainstream western and GCC media in relation to events in those countries.

This was my first interview by a mainstream western media organisation and I have been told that the video will be published in full tomorrow.

Prior to the interview I was sent three questions outlining the general topics that would be covered in the interview. In some ways the interview veered away from these topics and so here I will publish the questions that were outlined prior to the interview and publish my full answers to them, just because I feel like it is important that full responses are given to these questions in particular, and while I made most of these points in the interview, there are some points that I omitted.

ROBERT MACKEY: Since your impressions of what is happening in Syria seem to be strikingly different from those of many foreign reporters who have worked there recently, I wanted to ask you about how you found your sources and what you think accounts for the different picture painted of the conflict by other journalists.

LIZZIE PHELAN: First of all I hope that you will give me the opportunity to answer all of your questions in full, so that the context which is always lacking can be provided. I also hope that you will ask all the questions that you proposed when I agreed to do this interview. If not I will myself publish the full questions and my full answers.

This question is flawed, because what you really mean is that my impressions of what is happening in Syria seem to be strikingly different from those reporters from the NATO and GCC countries which have a vested interest in destabilising Syria. Of course my impressions are actually shared by the majority people of this world, from those countries outside of NATO and the GCC and particularly those which are victims of these powers. But because they do not own a powerful media their voices are drowned out by the impressions of the minority reflected in the mainstream media of the NATO and GCC countries.

So in relation to my sources, I find my sources through a number of different means, but my main means is I talk to ordinary people every where I go and in Syria this is not difficult because people are really keen to speak about the crisis in their country, especially to foreigners who they feel strongly have a false impression about their country and current events.

This was overwhelmingly, but of course not exclusively, the point of view that I encountered. And this is reflected in my reporting.

In fact, like in Libya, I was so overwhelmed by the volume of people that wanted to talk about their anger at the fabrications in the media of the NATO and GCC countries that my colleague Mostafa Afzalzadeh and I decided to make a documentary so that we could reflect what ordinary Syrian people are really saying. This documentary will actually expose how if it was not for such media the crisis in Syria would have been over before it started and the people of Syria would be living in peace now.

The difference with journalists from mainstream media in NATO and GCC countries is that they come with an agenda, and that agenda is to cover what they call is a “revolution” happening inside Syria and to give substance to the false claims that the Syrian government is a threat to the Syrian people. So if for example they walk down the street and they have 10 people telling them there is no revolution happening in Syria and actually the people want the army to protect them from the terrorists that are flooding the country, and then they have one person who tells them that there is no democracy in Syria, they will discard the 10 as government spies and run with the one person who said something different, I witnessed this myself.

If they were to do the reverse and reflect the majority view on the street, then this would undermine the coverage of their media organisations over the previous 10 months that have painted a picture of a government hated by its people, and in turn it would undermine their own credibility as journalists working for those organisations.

But in time they will not be able to supress the truth. However, like in Libya the danger is that the truth only comes out when it is too late, when a country has been successfully destroyed by the NATO and GCC countries, with the vital help of their media. Then the western media can afford to be more honest, although never entirely, because the aims, for example of regime change, of their paymasters have been achieved.

I on the other hand am not concerned about towing a line in order to “make it” as a journalist working for one of the world’s most respected media organisations, I became a journalist in order to reflect the truth at whatever cost that may come. The only thing I am loyal to is my conscience.

RM: Since you have appeared on Press TV and Russia Today, as well as Syria state television, do you have any concern that you might seem to be endorsing the governments that finance those channels, or do you see your role more as that of an activist, opposing the policies of the US and UK, than as a neutral reporter?

LP: This question in itself is a very deceitful and loaded question, and it is taken out of all context. It implies that BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera etc and the journalists who work for those organisations are independent from their financiers. If I worked for BBC does that mean that I am endorsing the British government which funds it and that government’s centuries long and present abuses across the world?

Why is the NYT concerned about my work for Russia Today and Press TV? I challenge you to find me specific examples of journalists that work for these organisations that have engaged in bad journalistic practise. Why are you not concerned about journalists who work for Al Jazeera that is funded by and reflects the foreign policy of the Qatari emir and royal family. Al Jazeera has been proven many times over in the past few months to have published false reports about events in the region, not least Libya.

How can their journalists be neutral when their employer hosts the largest US military base in the region, and has been responsible for sending thousands of fighters, weapons and a lot of money to kill and destroy in Libya and is now doing the same in Syria in addition to having called for Arab troops to invade the country. Likewise, I have yet to hear the NYT question the “neutrality” of journalists who work with the British state funded BBC, or journalists who work for the Murdoch Press which is well documented to have strong connections with all the major western powers which are responsible for the greatest violations of international law.

So the question should start from the premise that no news organisations are neutral, and each represent a certain ideology.

So if you ask me if I feel more at peace working for news channels which reflect the ideology of states that are defending themselves from constant attack by the west, that is an ideology that opposes foreign interference in their affairs and promotes their own independence, or would I feel more comfortable working for media organisations that reflect the arrogant ideology that western civilisation is superior and should be imposed across the world by any means necessary, then I think any person with the slightest understanding of global politics and at least recent history would say the former.

An additional deception in this question is that there is such a thing as neutrality and that journalists are able to separate their own beliefs in what they choose to cover and how they cover it, or indeed the pretence that journalists do not hold an opinion.

As I said, I am not concerned about others perceptions of these things, because anyone who perceives that because I have worked for Russia Today or Press TV it means that I am in someone’s pocket, whereas if I was working for a western organisation I would be “neutral,” is deceiving themselves and choosing to look at a tiny portion of a whole picture.

Incidentally, when I was stuck in the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli with those 35 other journalists, one of the days, two New York Times journalists rushed into the hotel and swiftly exited when they realised that the hotel was being defended by Gaddafi supporters. Actually one of the two in particular was worried about the Gaddafi supporters harming him, but they requested that they just leave. Why was he so worried? Because he said he was related to somebody senior in the NTC no less. I have never seen his neutrality being called into question by the mainstream media.

Finally, what is an activist? If it means that the role you play has the effect of agitating events, then I would say that we are all in some shape or form activists. For anyone to think that their actions are benign and have no repercussions, is at best naïve. This is particularly true for all journalists, whose actions as reporters have greater repercussions than other ordinary citizens of this world. And this is of course because their voice is afforded a special platform, and when you study journalism you are taught that a reporter should act as the eyes and ears of the general public, and thus you have greater influence than the ordinary citizen.

So you either use that platform to promote justice and the principles of international law which are fundamental for everyone’s well being, or you bury your head in the sand about the responsibility that comes with that platform and you use it to promote your own personal career or interests.

RM: I also wanted to find out more about your reporting from Libya, and ask how you respond to allegations that you supported the government of Col. Qaddafi? All in all, I’m trying to get a better understanding of what drives you to speak out against Western governments but apparently lend your support to governments, like those in Iran, Russia and Syria now, that have been accused of serious human rights abuses.

LP: Again this is another deceitful question and epitomises the manipulative approach of the world’s powerful media, such as newspapers like the NYT.

Here you are asking me this question because the west’s major powers and media criminalised Muammar Gaddafi, Iran etc by accusing them of abusing human rights.

So you are trying to put me into this trap by saying that if I support Muammar Gaddafi, and Iran I also support abuses against human rights.

But first of all this question of human rights is an absolute fallacy and is at present the number one stick used to bash leaders of independent developing countries in order to provide a moral justification for the imposition of the western system upon those countries.

My colleague Dan Glazebrook did an interview on Russia Today last week following the decision by Doctors Without Borders to stop their work in Libya in despair at the appalling torture against tens of thousands of pro-Gaddafi Libyans by those rebels who have been cheered on for the past year by the western media. He reminded the public that according to HRW reports from the past 5 years, there were three possible cases of deaths in custody in Libya over 5 years, which is really exemplary, but in Britain there were 4 cases last month alone. So I would be far more concerned about being associated with the British government and thus its appalling human rights record. And that is just Britain – the rest of the NATO countries, particularly the US and also Israel and the GCC countries fare no better.

Factually speaking Libya was a paradise for human rights and Muammar Gaddafi was due to receive a human rights award prior to the NATO onslaught. And of course Libya had the highest standard of living in Africa and much of the region, including a much higher standard of living than Saudi Arabia which hardly ever is in the spotlight in the mainstream western press.

Nonetheless, you wouldn’t dream of implying that a journalist who works for the Sun or the Guardian in Britain, both of which take a position of supporting one way or another the Conservative party or the Labour Party, of supporting abuses on human rights because they work for papers which support parties that have committed some of the greatest injustices known to man throughout history all across the world and up until this present day. Injustices which far outstrip any injustices that have occurred at the hands of any leader of a developing country.

So why the two-faces? This is all part of the prejudice in western media that western civilisation is superior to anything else and therefore those responsible for the injustices committed by the west need not be held accountable, and anyone who speaks out against that should have their name dragged through the mud.

Malcolm X famously said “if you are not careful, the media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the oppressor”, and that quote rings true more than ever today most recently in the way that the western and GCC media has covered events in Libya and Syria.

But to respond to your question directly, as I have stated, what I support is respect for international law, and the most important principle in international law, and one of the main stated aims for the body that was set up to uphold international law, the now redundant UN, is respect for the sovereignty of nations and non-interference in the internal affairs of states. Recent history shows that the root of the greatest injustices known to man is the violation of these principles and so anyone who violates these principles is a criminal and should be treated as such, and anyone who is a victim of such violations should be defended.

Now not only these principles, but all relevant international laws and norms were violated in the case of Libya and the west’s treatment of Muammar Gaddafi, and this has been well documented. The same violations are playing out against the Syrian government.

How is it that one can moralise about human rights, but not give a second’s thought to the fact that a senior member of the US government, Hilary Clinton called for the death of another head of state, Muammar Gaddafi, just two days before he was assassinated. I hope I don’t need to tell you that that was entirely illegal and abhorrent.

I am wholly against such violations, just as anybody who believes in international law and justice would be, and therefore I will support the right of anyone to defend themselves against this violation by any means necessary.

I have been accused by some of being a mouthpiece for the Libyan government but now the truth is coming out, we know that the essence of the former Libyan government’s analysis has been proved correct, whilst almost everything reported by the mainstream Western media has been proved wrong:

- The rebellion WAS indeed armed from the very first day of the uprising (this was confirmed in Amnesty’s in-depth report from late last year) – not a peaceful movement.

- The rebels WERE working hand in glove with Western intelligence agencies to facilitate a NATO blitzkrieg.

- The NTC ARE disunited and incapable of governing the country.

- The rebels DO have a racist, even genocidal, policy towards sub-Saharan African migrants and the third of the Libyan population is dark skinned

- Gaddafi’s government WERE NOT conducting aerial attacks against protesters or mass rape (or indeed ANY rape, according to Amnesty)

- There HAD NOT been 10,000 people killed in Benghazi by Gaddafi’s government during the uprising (as the NTC claimed), but 110 (Amnesty figures again) killed on both sides prior to NATO’s attack

On every major issue, the Gaddafi government’s analysis and figures have been proven far far closer to the truth than the NTC’s and the western media’s initial and unequivocal position. So ANY journalist telling the truth about these issues would have “sounded like a mouthpiece of the regime”, because the government’s analysis was essentially correct, and has now been proven correct.

Nina Westbury

February 2, 2012 at 1:48 am

Instead of having an honest discussion about the role of media in promoting “humanitarian” wars, Mackey tried to make the interview all about Lizzie. The dichotomy between what is written here and what happened on camera is striking. He kept trying to make insinuations that she had copied an article from the Voltaire Network or was otherwise dishonest. His allegations, not backed up with facts, were a clear attempt to discredit her in the eyes of people who were not familiar with her work. When Mackey asked her, “do you think Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad are legitimately elected leaders like David Cameron?” Lizzie missed an opportunity to explain in brief that Gaddafi had no legislative authority and decisions were made by the people.

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February 2, 2012 at 2:51 am

Lizzie was wise posting her actual interview in advance as insurance against any damage he intended to do with her information.

It is unfortunate that the interview focused on her but the attacks against anyone reporting truthfully about Libya have focused on the personal to discredit the reporter/blogger and turn readers away.

“Lizzie missed an opportunity to explain in brief that Gaddafi had no legislative authority and decisions were made by the people.”

I hope people are inspired by her interview to take responsibility to do their own research so they can verify that everything she stated was fact.

I will be adding more links to the post that will help.
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The highest Wisdom and the first Love.

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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby AlicetheKurious » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:07 pm

Great interview, Jack; I wonder how many people will read it, compared to the NYT version.

slad: Asharq al-Awsat is a Saudi propaganda rag only useful for monitoring what the Saudis want people to think. I'd call it cheap, but actually the Saudis distribute it for free, to artificially boost circulation figures. This wouldn't be the first time that the Israeli press uses it to "launder" its own propaganda; in fact, in the past few years especially, it's become hard to know where one begins and the other ends.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:50 pm

AlicetheKurious wrote:Great interview, Jack; I wonder how many people will read it, compared to the NYT version.

slad: Asharq al-Awsat is a Saudi propaganda rag only useful for monitoring what the Saudis want people to think. I'd call it cheap, but actually the Saudis distribute it for free, to artificially boost circulation figures. This wouldn't be the first time that the Israeli press uses it to "launder" its own propaganda; in fact, in the past few years especially, it's become hard to know where one begins and the other ends.

Thank you Alice for pointing that out...I wish I could post the names of rags from around the world who publish propaganda every day denying the holocaust others have endured.....

it would take up way too much space

have you ever seen this in ANY paper you read?

or to go back further this?
The Slaves That Time Forgot

Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.

African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than 5 Sterling). If a planter whipped or branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African.

The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce. Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish moms, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their kids and would remain in servitude.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves.

This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia.

There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.

There is little question that the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is, also, very little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry.

In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end it’s participation inSatan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded THIS chapter of nightmarish Irish misery.

But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong.

Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories. But, where are our public (and PRIVATE) schools???? Where are the history books? Why is it so seldom discussed?

Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims merit more than a mention from an unknown writer? Or is their story to be one that their English pirates intended: To (unlike the African book) have the Irish story utterly and completely disappear as if it never happened.

None of the Irish victims ever made it back to their homeland to describe their ordeal. These are the lost slaves; the ones that time and biased history books conveniently forgot.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby AlicetheKurious » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:13 pm

seemslikeadream wrote:I wish I could post the names of rags from around the world who publish propaganda every day denying the holocaust others have endured.....

Denying is bad enough, how about those supposedly respectable rags that systematically incite holocausts?

Take heart: Meallan muilte Dé go mall ach meallan siad go mion.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:22 pm

AlicetheKurious wrote:
seemslikeadream wrote:I wish I could post the names of rags from around the world who publish propaganda every day denying the holocaust others have endured.....

Denying is bad enough, how about those supposedly respectable rags that systematically incite holocausts?

Take heart: Meallan muilte Dé go mall ach meallan siad go mion.

from personal experience :)
Is minic a bhris beal duine a shron.




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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Ben D » Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:16 am

Didn't expect to find a piece like this in the NYT.....

Syria’s Sectarian Fears Keep Region on Edge

Published: February 28, 2012

NAJAF, Iraq — Abu Ali fled his life as a Shiite cleric and student in Homs, the besieged Syrian city at the center of an increasingly bloody uprising, but it was not the government he feared. It was the rebels, who he said killed three of his cousins in December and dumped a body in the family garbage bin.

“I can’t be in Homs because I will get killed there,” he said from this religious city in Iraq where he has taken refuge. “Not just me, but all Shiites.”

Like his fellow Shiites in Iraq, Abu Ali, who used his nickname to protect his family back in Syria, said he regards the Syrian rebels as terrorists, not freedom fighters, underscoring one of the complexities of a bloody civil conflict that has persisted as diplomatic efforts have failed. In spite of President Bashar al-Assad’s willingness to unleash a professional military on a civilian population, with lethal results, Mr. Assad retains some support at home and abroad from allies, including religious and ethnic minorities who for decades relied on the police state for protection from sectarian aggression.

“What the government is doing is trying to protect the people,” Abu Ali said, echoing the Assad government’s propaganda. “They are targeting terrorist groups in the area.”

The insurrection in Syria, led by the country’s Sunni majority in opposition to a government dominated by Alawites, an offshoot of Shiism, is increasingly unpredictable and dangerous because it is aggravating sectarian tensions beyond its borders in a region already shaken by religious and ethnic divisions.

In Hilla, another Shiite town north of here, Mohammed Tawfiq al-Rubaie, the representative for Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most widely followed Shiite religious leader in Iraq, said, “We wish for the survival of Bashar al-Assad, but the prophecies of the Shiite books expect him to be killed.”

Mr. Rubaie explained what Shiites believe would happen if the Assad government were toppled by Sunnis: “We expect that the blood would run heavy in Iraq if they held power in Syria, because they think that Shiites are infidels and our lives, our money and our women are permissible for them to take, and that killing us is one of the requirements to enter paradise.”

As Western and Arab governments consider actions to stop the bloodshed — options that have been explored include more aggressive diplomacy, arming the rebels or military intervention — those discussions have been encumbered by a lack of cohesion among the Syrian opposition, evidence that some of the rebels may be affiliated with Al Qaeda and credible reports of sectarian killings.

At the core of the unity problem is an issue of sectarian identification. Sunni radicals with the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group that includes the local branch of Al Qaeda, have urged fighters to go to Syria, which makes it harder for the West to embrace the opposition. Recently the group released a statement on its Web site calling for new violence against Shiites here in Iraq, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the communications of jihadist groups.

Syria’s minorities have the example of Iraq in considering their own future, should the Assad government fall: Assyrian Christians, Yazidis and others were brutally persecuted by insurgents. In Egypt, where a similar paradigm was toppled with the long-serving dictator Hosni Mubarak, Christians have experienced more sectarian violence, increasing political marginalization and a growing link between Islamic identity and citizenship.

“Christians are all saying that Syria risks becoming the new Iraq, a country divided among ethnic and religious lines where there is no place for Christians,” said the Rev. Bernardo Cervellera, the editor in chief of AsiaNews, a Catholic news agency. Syria, while not a democracy, “at least protects them,” he said.

Abu Ali recalled hearing anti-Shiite slogans chanted in Homs by rebels in opposition to Syria’s alliance with Iran, which, like Iraq, is a majority-Shiite state in a region that is predominantly Sunni. He heard calls for “Christians to go to Beirut,” and “Alawites to the grave.”

In Najaf on a recent Sunday, Abu Ali sat on a couch in the office of a local religious leader who had taken him in. Outside, chickens roamed the narrow streets lined by flat-roofed concrete homes, jostling for space with women covered in black abayas and security men who guarded the office with assault rifles.

At the main checkpoint on the outskirts of the city, a billboard hailed Najaf, where millions come each year to visit the Imam Ali Shrine, as this year’s “capital of Islamic culture.”

On this day, Syria was holding a vote on a new constitution, an effort at reform by the Assad government that much of the international community regarded as a farce, but that Abu Ali believed was a step in good faith to stop the violence.

“Of course, the government needs to reform, and there needs to be more freedom and more rights,” he said. “The government is trying to make reforms, but no one is listening.”

But his fear, he said, is that Syria is heading down the same bloody path that Iraq followed after the American invasion.

“In the neighborhoods that are Sunni, they are kicking out Shiites and using their homes as bases and for the storing of weapons,” he said.

For many in the region, the fight in Syria is less about liberating a people under dictatorship than it is about power and self-interest. Syria is drawing in sectarian forces from its neighbors, and threatening to spill its conflict into a wider conflagration. There have already been sparks in neighboring Lebanon, where Sunnis and Alawites have skirmished.

And here in Iraq, where Shiites are a majority, the events across the border have put the nation on edge while hardening a sectarian schism. As Abu Ali discovered, Iraq’s Shiites are now lined up on the side of a Baathist dictatorship in Syria, less than a decade after the American invasion of Iraq toppled the rule of Saddam Hussein and his own Baath Party, which for decades had repressed and brutalized the Shiites.

“This is difficult,” said Sheik Ali Nujafi, the son of one of Najaf’s top clerics and his chief spokesman, of the Shiite support for Mr. Assad. “But what is worse is what would come next.”

The paradox, of Shiites supporting a Baathist dictator next door, has laid bare a tenet of the old power structure that for so long helped preserve the Middle East’s strongmen. Minorities often remained loyal and pliant and in exchange were given room to carve out communities, even if they were more broadly discriminated against.

As dictators have fallen in neighboring countries, religious and ethnic identities and alliances have only hardened, while notions of citizenship remain slow to take hold. The fighting in Syria has exacerbated that, as Shiites worry that a takeover of Syria by its Sunni majority would herald not only a new sectarian war but actually the apocalypse.

People here say that is not hyperbole, but a perception based in faith. Some Shiites here see the burgeoning civil war in Syria as the ominous start to the fulfillment of a Shiite prophecy that presages the end of time. According to Shiite lore, Sufyani — a devil-like, apocryphal figure in Islam — gathers an army in Syria and after conquering that land turns his wrath on Iraq’s Shiites.

“Among these stories we get from the Prophet and his family is that Sufyani will come out and will start to kill the believers in Syria, and then come to Iraq, where there will be many killings and massacres,” Mr. Nujafi said.

He said events in Syria were “similar but not completely the same” as the story of Sufyani. With an easy grasp of history, he recalled the siege of Najaf and the sacking of Karbala, another holy city to the north, in the early 1800s by radically orthodox Sunni Muslims, an invasion that raised the same apocalyptic fears Shiites have now.
He added, “There’s real terror among the Shiites there.”

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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:13 pm

U.S. military draws up further Syria options: report
February 29, 2012 10:55 AM (Last updated: February 29, 2012 03:14 PM)
The Daily Star

The Pentagon. (AP)
BEIRUT: Detailed plans developed to carry out military action against Syria have been drawn up by the Pentagon and could be implemented upon orders by President Barack Obama, CNN, quoting a senior U.S. official, has reported.

The crucial progress in military planning comes after several weeks of initial analysis by the Pentagon of what the official says are a "full range of options," CNN said.

“The detailed plans for each option include more precise concepts of how a variety of operations could be carried out, as well as estimates of the numbers of personnel, types of units and military equipment and weapons that could potentially be needed,” the report published Tuesday said.

Despite the planning, Pentagon officials from across the board highlighted that it would be highly problematic to involve the U.S. army in any scenario as long as the violence in Syria remained unchecked.

“There are lots of ideas floating around,” the official told the American cable network.

“But all of them require heavy lifting.”

The official noted that both at the political and military levels, involvement of U.S. troops would be difficult in such a sensitive part of the world.

However, he added, administration and military commanders are still actively considering what to do.

“We want to understand what is the art of the possible,” the official said.

Should the American president consider to order any type of action, more planning and deployment orders would be some of the further steps taken, the report said, adding that several officials noted the Obama administration was considering whether there was anything the U.S. military can or should do to facilitate humanitarian assistance.

Syria, headed by President Bashar Assad since 2000, has been shaken since mid-March 2011, when a brutal crackdown was launched against protesters calling for reforms in the tightly controlled state.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:58 pm

Syria: A Conspiracy Revealed

by Felicity Arbuthnot / March 1st, 2012

We have met the enemy and he is us.

— Walt Kelly, 1913-1973

It was political analyst Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, in November 2006, who wrote in detail of US plans for the Middle East.

“The term ‘New Middle East’, was introduced to the world in June 2006, in Tel Aviv,†by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who was credited by the Western media for coining the term) in replacement of the older and more imposing term, the “Greater Middle East’”, he wrote.

Sanity dictated that this would be a U.S. fantasy rampage too far and vast – until realization hit that the author of the map of this New World, planned in the New World’s “New World Order”, was Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters, who, in one of the most terrifying articles ever published, wrote in 1997:

There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines …The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing. (My emphasis.)

At the time, Peters was assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, where he was responsible: “for future warfare.” His plans for Iraq worked out just fine – unless you are an Iraqi.

A month after Nazemroaya’s article was published, William Roebuck, Director for the Office of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, was composing an end of year strategy for Syria from his study in the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, where he was been based between 2004-2007, rising to Deputy Chief of Mission.

The subject title was: “Influencing the SARG (Syrian Arab Regime Government) in the end of 2006.”

“The SARG ends 2006 in a much stronger position domestically and internationally (than in) 2005.” Talking of President Assad’s “growing self-confidence”, he felt that this might lead to “mistakes and ill-judged … decisions … providing us with new opportunities.” Whilst “additional bilateral or multilateral pressure can impact on Syria”, clearly he had even more ambitious plans:

This cable summarizes our assessment of … vulnerabilities, and suggests that there may be actions, statements and signals, that the USG (US Government) can send that will improve the liklihood of such opportunities arising.

The proposals would need to be “fleshed out and converted in to real actions and we need to be ready to move quickly to take advantage of such opportunities.” (no, not le Carre, Forsyth, or Fleming, “diplomat” in Damascus.)

“As the end of 2006 approaches” wrote Roebuck, “Bashar appears … stronger than he has done in two years. The country is economically stable …regional issues seem to be going Syria’s way.”

However, “vulnerabilities and looming issues may provide opportunities to up the pressure on Bashar … some of these vulnerabilities “(including the complexities with Lebanon) “can be exploited to put pressure on the regime. Actions that cause Bashar to lose balance, and increase his insecurity, are in our interest.”

The President’s “mistakes are hard to predict and benefits may vary, if we are prepared to move quickly and take advantage of opportunities …”

A “vulnerability”, wrote Roebuck, was Bashir al Assad’s protection of: “Syria’s dignity and international reputation.” Pride and “protection”, clearly a shocking concept.

In the light of the proposed Tribunal into the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister, Rafic Hariri (14 February 2005) killed with his friend, former Minister of Economy Bassel Fleihan and twenty colleagues and bodyguards in a huge bomb detonated under his motorcade, this “vulnerability” could be exploited.

Unproven allegations have pointed the finger at Israel, Syria, Hezbollah and myriad others as behind another Middle East tragedy, but Roebuck regarded it as an “opportunity to exploit this raw nerve, without waiting for the formation of the Tribunal.”

Another idea outlined under a further “vulnerability” heading, was the growing alliance between Syria and Iran. “Possible action”, was to “play on Sunni fears of Iranian influence.” Although these were “often exaggerated”, they were there to be exploited:

Both the local Egyptian and Saudi missions here … are giving increasing attention to the matter and we should co-ordinate more closely with their governments on ways to better publicize and focus regional attention to the issue.

Concerned Sunni religious leaders should also be worked on. Iraq-style divide and rule model, writ large.

The “divide” strategy, of course, should also focus on the first family and legislating circle, with “ targeted sanctions (which) must exploit fissures and render the inner circle weaker, rather the drive its members closer together.”

The public should also be subject to “continual reminders of corruption … we should look for ways to remind …”

Another aspect to be exploited was “The Khaddam factor”.

Abdul Halim Khaddam was Vice President from 1984-2005, and acting President in 2000, during the months beween Bashir al Assad’s accession and his father’s death.

Thought to have Presidential ambitions himself, there was a bitter split between Khaddam and al Assad after Hariri’s death. Allegations of treasonous betrayal by Khaddam have validity.

The ruling party, writes Roebuck:

…follow every news item involving Khaddam, with tremendous emotional interest. We should continue to encourage the Saudis and others to allow Khaddam access to their media … providing him with venues for airing the SARG’s dirty laundry.

As a result, anticipated was “an over reaction by the regime that will add to its isolation and alienation from its Arab neighbours.”

On January 14th, 2006, Khaddam had formed a government in exile, and had predicted the end of the al-Assad government by the year’s end.

He is currently regarded as an opposition leader, and has claimed, on Israel’s Channel 2 TV, receiving monies to help overthrow the Syrian government from the U.S. and E.U.

The ever creative Mr Roebuck’s further plans included, “Encouraging rumours and signals of external plotting.” To this end “Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like Kaddam and Rifat (sic) al Assad, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards. This … increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction.”

Rifaat al Assad, Bashir’s uncle, was in charge of the Defence Brigade, who killed up to thirty thousand people in, and flattened much of, the city of Hama, in February 1982. So much for endlessly trumpeted concerns for “human rights violations.” Rifaat al Assad lives in exile and safety in London. Khaddam lives in Paris.(v)

Here is a serious cause for concern for the overthrow-bent. “Bashar keeps unveiling a steady stream of initiatives on reform and it is certainly possible he believes this is his legacy to Syria …. These steps have brought back Syrian expats to invest … (and) increasing openness.”

Solution? “Finding ways to publicly call in to question Bashar’s reform efforts.” Indeed, moving heaven and earth to undercut them, is made clear.

Further, “Syria has enjoyed a considerable up-tick in foreign direct investment”, thus, foreign investment is to be “discouraged.”

In May of 2006, complains Roebuck, Syrian Military Intelligence protested: “what they believed were U.S. efforts to provide military training and equipment to Syria’s Kurds.” The Iraq model yet again.

The answer was to “Highlight Kurdish complaints.” This, however, “would need to be handled carefully, since giving the wrong kind of prominence to Kurdish issues in Syria, could be a liability for our efforts … given Syrian … civil society’s skepticism of Kurdish objectives.”

In “Conclusion”, this shaming, shoddy document states, “The bottom line is that Bashar is entering the New Year in a stronger position than he has been in several years”, meaning “vulnerabilities” must be sought out. “If we are ready to capitalize, they will offer us opportunities to disrupt his decision-making, keep him off balance – and make him pay a premium for his mistakes.”

The cable is copied to The White House, U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Treasury, U.S. Mission at the UN, U.S. National Security Council, CENTCOM, all Arab League and EU countries.

The only other U.S. Embassy copied in is that in Tel Aviv. When William Roebuck worked at the Embassy in Tel Aviv (2000-2003) embracing the invasion of Iraq year, he “narrowly missed assassination.” Perhaps someone there too thought he was hard to warm to.

In 2009, he was Deputy Political Consul In Baghdad “leading efforts to support the critical 2009 Iraqi elections.” The “free and fair, democratic” ones, where people were threatened with the deaths of their children even, if they did not vote the “right” way.

The result was Nuri al Maliki’s premiership, complete with his murderous militias, the man under whose Ministry of the Interior, U.S. soldiers discovered tortured, starving prisoners.

The Damascus cable comes courtesy Wikileaks. Lt. Colonel Peters called, on Fox News, for founder, Julian Assange, to be assassinated. The forty second clip is worth the listen.

The Colonel also writes fiction and thrillers under the name Owen Patterson. Perhaps he is living the dream.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Ben D » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:21 am

To highlight the muddiness of the waters surrounding the strife in Syria, I've juxtaposed some of the known active players and or supporters involved on both sides.

Israel, Palestinian Hamas, USA, Al Quada, France, Turkey, Britain, most of the Sunni Arab States such as Libya, Egypt, Saudi, Jordan, Lebanese Sunni, Qatar, on the one hand supporting the Syrian Sunni uprising (Syrian National Council), while Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Labanese Shiite (Hezbollah, Amal), and Syrian Alawites, Shiites and minorities are supporting the Syrian Government of President Assad.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:48 am

Turkey steps up rhetoric on Syrian 'massacre'

Rescued journalist tells of being abandoned in tunnel as China urges government and rebel to end all acts of violence

Turkey has called the violence in Syria "a crime against humanity" on the scale of the 1990s bloodshed in the Balkans, as a Red Cross convoy was once again barred from entering the Homs suburb of Baba Amr.

The comment by Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu follows similar remarks from the EU on Friday, which called for the documentation of war crimes in Syria.

"No government, no authority, under no circumstances, can endorse such a total massacre of its own people," Davutoglu said. "The international community must speak louder. The lack of international consensus is giving Syria the courage to continue."

The criticism came at the end of a week in which the UK and France closed their embassies in Syria, and China and Russia appeared to shift position in calling for President Bashar al-Assad's regime to admit UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.

"The situation in the field seems to resemble Sarajevo or Srebrenica. This seems to be the way we are heading," Davutoglu said at a joint news conference with Giulio Terzi, Italy's foreign minister. "We believe that diplomatic pressure on the Assad regime must be increased. We say this not only from the point of view of the EU. We believe all international institutions must do this."

China urged the government and the rebels to immediately end all acts of violence, especially against civilians. A foreign ministry statement urged both sides to "launch an inclusive political dialogue with no preconditions" under the mediation of former UN secretary- eneral Kofi Annan, the newly appointed UN-Arab League envoy on the Syria crisis, .

On Friday, current UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said he had received "grisly reports" that Assad's troops were executing, imprisoning and torturing people in Homs. Syrian forces continued to pound the battered city and authorities handed over the bodies of two journalists killed in Baba Amr last month – including Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times – to diplomats in Damascus.

Meanwhile, the wounded French journalist Edith Bouvier described for the first time how she feared her attempt to escape from Homs had ended inside a dark, three-kilometre tunnel that rebels were using to supply the besieged district of Baba Amr when the Syrian army bombarded its exit.

Bouvier was abandoned, taped to a stretcher with a broken leg, as rebels and dozens of wounded headed back to the neighbourhood. "One of them placed his Kalashnikov on me. He put his hand on my head and said a prayer. It wasn't very reassuring. Then he left," Bouvier told Le Figaro newspaper, for which she was working in Syria. "I didn't know what was going to happen. Was the exit blocked? Were Syrian soldiers going to enter? I wanted to run away, before remembering that I was taped to a stretcher." Bouvier and French photographer William Daniels, who stayed with her, were finally rescued by a rebel who drove down the tunnel on a motorbike.

Concern was mounting for civilians in freezing conditions in battered Baba Amr, where trucks from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were still blocked from entering. "The ICRC and Syrian Red Crescent are not yet in Baba Amr today. We are still in negotiations with authorities. It is important that we enter today," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said.

Anti-government activists said they feared troops were keeping out the ICRC to prevent aid workers witnessing a massacre. UN chief Ban blamed Damascus for the fate of civilians. "The brutal fighting has trapped civilians in their homes, without food, heat or electricity or medical care; without any chance of evacuating the wounded or burying the dead. People have been reduced to melting snow for drinking water. This atrocious assault is all the more appalling for having been waged by the government itself, systematically attacking its own people."

Bashar Ja'afari, Syria's UN ambassador, said Ban's remarks included "extremely virulent rhetoric which confines itself to slandering a government based on reports, opinions or hearsay".

Elsewhere in the country, Syrian state news agency Sana said a suicide car bomber in the town of Deraa, near the border with Jordan, had killed two people and wounded 20. Residents claimed seven people had been killed, and anti-Assad activists denied the attack was a suicide bombing. Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said anti-Assad fighters had earlier killed six soldiers and wounded nine in al-Herak.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Ben D » Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:45 pm

Perhaps it is the beginning of the end for the Syrian regime change plan...if it follows then that an attack on Iran becomes less likely in the immediate future. Still I put nothing past Benjamin Netanyahu and team Zion..

Mossad, Blackwater, CIA Led Operations in Homs

Al -Manar, Israa Al-Fass

“The crisis is at its end” is no longer a relieving statement made by some political analysts, as the crisis is really close to its end. Baba Amro is now under the control of the Syrian army… and so are the armed groups of which a big number escaped to the Lebanese borders dubbing their retreat “tactical”.

Around 700 Arab and Western gunmen surrendered in Baba Amro, well-informed sources told Al-Manar website, adding that “huge and critical surprises will be uncovered in the coming few days… such as the kinds of arms seized, as well as the military tactics the armed groups followed, and the sides that supervised the operations.”

The sources further assured to the news website that the security operation in Homs will be over in a maximum of five to eight days.

Weapons from Israel used for First Time in Baba Amro

For his part, Syrian expert is strategic affairs Salim Harba pointed out that Baba Amro neighborhood and the areas surrounding it were emptied from the armed groups’ organizational as well as command structures with minimum army and civilian casualties, as the area was mainly concentrated by gunmen.

Speaking to Al-Manar website, Harba said that “the captured gunmen held Arab nationalities, including Gulf, Iraqi, and Lebanese… among them were also Qatari intelligence agents and non-Arab fighters from Afghanistan, Turkey, and some European countries like France.

“The Syrian army also uncovered tunnels and equipments there,” he added, pointing out that “advanced Israeli, European, and American arms that have not yet been tested in the countries of manufacture, in addition to Israeli grenades, night binoculars, and communication systems were confiscated by the security forces.”

Harba went on saying that “communication stations where established on the Lebanese borders to oversee the military operations in Baba Amro, and to ensure contact between field commanders and a coordination office led by members of information in the Qatari capital Doha.”

He clarified that “the escape of British journalists from Homs through the Lebanese-Syrian borders was the result of this coordination.”

In parallel, the Syrian strategic expert revealed that “the communication stations were being operated by Lebanese figures; some of them were members of the Future parliamentary bloc,” and considered that “these figures worked on transforming Wadi Khaled region into a strategic depth for Baba Amro.”

Mossad, Blackwater Directed from Qatar Operations in Homs

Additionally, Salim Harba revealed to Al-Manar website that “a coordination office was established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office includes American, French, and Gulf –specifically from Qatar and Saudi Arabia- intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”

“Qatar has also made deals with Israeli and American companies to arm the armed groups, and Gulf countries have been financing the agreements,” he added.

The Syrian expert pointed out that “the significance of the security operation in Homs is due to the high expectations that regional and international sides had from the armed gangs in Baba Amro … they wanted Homs to be turned into a new Benghazi.”

Indicating that the operation was implemented with high professionalism and accuracy, Harba reassured that documents will be exposed at the right time.

“The authority will not reveal everything it has now… the Syrian security forces have documents and confessions that could harm everyone who conspired against Syria, and could make a security and political change, not just on the internal Syrian level, but also on the regional level,” he assured.

In the same context, Harba considered that all the conferences and meetings by what he referred to as the “enemies of Syria” were aimed at paving the way for an American initiative under a “humanitarian” title.

He concluded: “At the end, the US will submit to the Russian initiative after it realized that confrontations will only result in its defeat, and that the Syrian regime is still strong enough to deal with any conspiracy.”

Translated by Sara Taha Moughnieh
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Allegro » Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:48 am

Stopping the next Rwanda in Syria?Transcript
— Submitted by Ann Garrison | Sat, 03/03/2012 - 23:29
KPFA Weekend News, 03.03.2012

    Rwanda Genocide has been invoked as a reason for NATO and the U.S. to intervene militarily to stop mass atrocities in Africa and on the Arabian subcontinent in Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, and now, Syria. At the beginning of February, NPR held a panel discussion titled “The ‘Responsibility To Protect’ In Syria And Beyond,” which was introduced with reference to the world’s failure to intervene to stop the Rwanda Genocide.

    Yesterday NPR published what appeared to be a Sky News and BBC report on Paul Conroy, a British photographer injured and then rescued from the Syrian city of Homs who urged the international community to act before Syrians suffer massacres like those in Rwanda.
    KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to former National Lawyer’s Guild President, former National Lawyers Guild President and a former defense lawyer for the UN Tribunal on Rwanda, about the Rwanda rationale for US/NATO intervention in Syria.
    Audio→ At the moment, the audio link above and the audio link on Garrison’s site are working fine.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby StarmanSkye » Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:10 am

I'm not sure that Peter Erlander's conclusion that the Rwandan genocide is 'different' because it was sponsored by and the natural conclusion of strategic US and UK arming of Paul Kagame's invading forces -- while in Syria it at least LOOKS like the US, Saudi and regional Arab nations, and Israel have been providing arms, expertise, material, intelligence and manpower to the rebel forces which are driving the conflict. It appears that even France, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan may be providing troop manpower!

In short, there is more than a superficial resemblance to the behind-the-scenes incitements, provocations, media 'news' management, military and intel support by many of the key players, neocolonial and corporate interests who were involved in the US/UN-led Unconventional War that dismantled Yugoslavia -- and that can also be seen in the west's 'liberation' and 'humanitarian support' that sabotaged Libya's sovereignty, destroying Libya's leadership role in the Meditteranean Alliance with enthusiasm for a vigorous pan-Africanism, greater regional co-development, and plans for establishing an independant pan-regional currency ie. Gold-dinar based monetary system that would eliminate the stifling fiscal oversight of France with routine devaluations that essentially rob the six-nations of much of their export earnings.

Apparently, a covert UW destabilization is occurring in the Ivory Coast for much the same reason, as the election of popularly-elected President Laurent Gbagbo was declared by a consortium of neocolonial interests to be 'illegitimate' -- though upheld by the nation's Supreme Court.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Nordic » Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:03 am

A friend posted this on FB tonight, from Wikileaks: ... rawal.html

INSIGHT - military intervention in Syria, post withdrawal status of forces
Email-ID 1671459
Date 2011-12-07 00:49:18
A few points I wanted to highlight from meetings today --

I spent most of the afternoon at the Pentagon with the USAF strategic
studies group - guys who spend their time trying to understand and explain
to the USAF chief the big picture in areas where they're operating in. It
was just myself and four other guys at the Lieutenant Colonel level,
including one French and one British representative who are liaising with
the US currently out of DC.

They wanted to grill me on the strategic picture on Syria, so after that I
got to grill them on the military picture. There is still a very low level
of understanding of what is actually at stake in Syria, what's the
strategic interest there, the Turkish role, the Iranian role, etc. After a
couple hours of talking, they said without saying that SOF teams
(presumably from US, UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground
focused on recce missions and training opposition forces. One Air Force
intel guy (US) said very carefully that there isn't much of a Free Syrian
Army to train right now anyway, but all the operations being done now are
being done out of 'prudence.' The way it was put to me was, 'look at this
way - the level of information known on Syrian OrBat this month is the
best it's been since 2001.' They have been told to prepare contingencies
and be ready to act within 2-3 months, but they still stress that this is
all being done as contingency planning, not as a move toward escalation.

I kept pressing on the question of what these SOF teams would be working
toward, and whether this would lead to an eventual air camapign to give a
Syrian rebel group cover. They pretty quickly distanced themselves from
that idea, saying that the idea 'hypothetically' is to commit guerrilla
attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite
forces, elicit collapse from within.
There wouldn't be a need for air
cover, and they wouldn't expect these Syrian rebels to be marching in
columns anyway.

They emphasized how the air campaign in Syria makes Libya look like a
piece of cake. Syrian air defenses are a lot more robust and are much
denser, esp around Damascus and on the borders with Israel, Turkey. THey
are most worried about mobile air defenses, particularly the SA-17s that
they've been getting recently. It's still a doable mission, it's just not
an easy one.

The main base they would use is Cyprus, hands down. Brits and FRench would
fly out of there. They kept stressing how much is stored at Cyprus and how
much recce comes out of there. The group was split on whether Turkey would
be involved, but said Turkey would be pretty critical to the mission to
base stuff out of there. EVen if Turkey had a poltiical problem with
Cyprus, they said there is no way the Brits and the FRench wouldn't use
Cyprus as their main air force base. Air Force Intel guy seems pretty
convinced that the Turks won't participate (he seemed pretty pissed at

There still seems to be a lot of confusion over what a military
intervention involving an air campaign would be designed to achieve. It
isn't clear cut for them geographically like in Libya, and you can't just
create an NFZ over Homs, Hama region. This would entail a countrywide SEAD
campaign lasting the duration of the war. They dont believe air
intervention would happen unless there was enough media attention on a
massacre, like the Ghadafi move against Benghazi. They think the US would
have a high tolerance for killings as long as it doesn't reach that very
public stage. Theyre also questiioning the skills of the Syrian forces
that are operating the country's air defenses currently and how
signfiicant the Iranian presence is there. Air Force Intel guy is most
obsessed with the challenge of taking out Syria's ballistic missile
capabilities and chem weapons. With Israel rgiht there and the regime
facing an existential crisis, he sees that as a major complication to any
military intervention.

The post 2011 SOFA with Iraq is still being negotiated. These guys were
hoping that during Biden's visit that he would announce a deal with
Maliki, but no such luck. They are gambling ont he idea that the Iraqis
remember the iran-iraq war and that maliki is not going to want to face
the threat of Iranian jets entering Iraqi air space. THey say that most
US fighter jets are already out of Iraq and transferred to Kuwait. They
explained that's the beauty of the air force, the base in Kuwait is just a
hop, skip and jump away from their bases in Europe, ie. very easy to
rapidly build up when they need to. They don't seem concerned about the
US ability to restructure its forces to send a message to Iran. They gave
the example of the USS Enterprise that was supposed to be out of
commission already and got extended another couple years to send to the
gulf. WHen the US withdraws, we'll have at least 2 carriers in the gulf
out of centcom and one carrier in the Med out of EuCom. I asked if the
build-up in Kuwait and the carrier deployments are going to be enough to
send a message to Iran that the US isn't going anywhere. They responded
that Iran will get the message if they read the Centcom Web Site. STarting
Jan. 1 expect them to be publishing all over the place where the US is
building up.

Another concern they have about an operation in Syria is whether Iran
could impede operations out of Balad air force base in Iraq.

The French representative was of hte opinion that Syria won't be a
libya-type situation in that France would be gung-ho about going in. Not
in an election year. The UK rep also emphasized UK reluctance but said
that the renegotiation of the EU treaty undermines the UK role and that UK
would be looking for ways to reassert itself on the continent ( i dont
really think a syria campaign is the way to do that.) UK guy mentioned as
an aside that the air force base commander at Cyprus got switched out from
a maintenance guy to a guy that flew Raptors, ie someone that understands
what it means to start dropping bombs. He joked that it was probably a

Prior to that, I had a meeting with an incoming Kuwaiti diplomat (will be
coded as KU301.) His father was high up in the regime, always by the
CP's/PM's side. The diplo himself still seems to be getting his feet wet
in DC (the new team just arrived less than 2 weeks ago,) but he made
pretty clear that Kuwait was opening the door to allowing US to build up
forces as needed. THey already have a significant presence there, and a
lot of them will be on 90-day rotations. He also said that the SOFA that
the US signs with Baghdad at the last minute will be worded in such a way
that even allowing one trainer in the country can be construed to mean
what the US wants in terms of keeping forces in Iraq. Overall, I didnt get
the impression from him that Kuwait is freaked out about the US leaving.
Everyhting is just getting rearranged. The Kuwaitis used to be much
better at managing their relations with Iran, but ever since that spy ring
story came out a year ago, it's been bad. He doesn't think Iran has
significant covert capabililiteis in the GCC states, though they are
trying. Iranian activity is mostly propaganda focused. He said that while
KSA and Bahrain they can deal with it as needed and black out the media,
Kuwait is a lot more open and thus provides Iran with more oppotunity to
shape perceptions (he used to work in inforamtion unit in Kuwait.) He says
there is a sig number of kuwaitis that listen to Iranian media like Al
Alam especially.

On the Kuwaiti political scene - the government is having a harder time
dealing with a more emboldened opposition, but the opposition is still
extremely divided, esp among the Islamists. The MPs now all have to go
back to their tribes to rally support for the elections to take place in
Feb. Oftentimes an MP in Kuwait city will find out that he has lost
support back home with the tribe, and so a lot of moeny is handed out.The
govt is hoping that witha clean slate they can quiet the opposition down.
A good way of managing the opposition he said is to refer cases to the
courts, where they can linger forever. good way for the govt to buy time.
He doesnt believe the Arab League will take significant action against
Syria - no one is interested in military intervention. they just say it to
threaten it.
"He who wounds the ecosphere literally wounds God" -- Philip K. Dick
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