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Mother Agnès, Withdraws from StWC International Conference, Defended by Socialist Unity.

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Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix will not be attending the Stop the War Coalition’s International Anti-War Conference on the 30th of November.

It seems that two speakers due to speak at the event – Owen Jones and Jeremy Scahill – threatened not to come unless her invitation was withdrawn.

The Stop the War Coalition announced on Saturday,

Over the last few days a campaign has developed over the invitation we extended to Mother Agnes — a nun from Syria, who leads a campaign called Mussalaha (Reconciliation) — to speak in London at the International Anti-War Conference on 30 November organised by Stop the War Coalition.

Mother Agnes has now withdrawn from speaking at the conference.

In inviting speakers to participate in its events, Stop the War has never sought to endorse all their views. We have always provided a platform for a diversity of opinions within a broad anti-war perspective.

John Wight of Socialist Unity writes today,

She has been demonised by her detractors as a ‘pro regime stooge’ due to her support for Assad and his government. But why wouldn’t she? As with the majority of Syrians who support their government – and none more so than Syria’s various minority communities – she understands that the only force capable of preventing her country being turned into a killing field by western and Saudi backed savages is the Syrian Government, the Syrian Arab Army and its allies.

The BBC reports on Mother Agnès-Mariam (Extracts)

In recent weeks she has become the focus of media attention because of her attempt to prove to the world that Syrian opposition activists fabricated the videos showing victims of the Damascus chemical attack.

She argues the horrifying scenes – of men, women and children either dead or dying from inhaling sarin gas – which caused such international outrage were stage-managed.

The BBC’s Richard Galpin  spoke to Mother Agnes.

Mother Superior Agnes Mariam de la Croix sprinkles blessings liberally over our conversation.

I’ve phoned her to request an interview about her strange role as an analyst of the chemical weapons attack in Damascus.

In her most startling conclusion she alleges some of the people seen in the videos are in fact women and children abducted by rebels from minority Alawite areas of the country. President Bashar al-Assad and his family belong to this community.

The BBC asks, “So how credible are the claims made by Mother Agnes which have been so eagerly seized upon by Moscow as it still tries to save the Assad regime?”

There’s just no basis for the claims advanced by Mother Agnes,” says Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, which has produced many detailed reports on Syria.

“She is not a professional video forensic analyst… we have found no evidence to indicate any of the videos were fabricated.”

One by one, Mr Bouckaert rejected the claims, saying:

  • There were tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the Ghouta area of Damascus, according to very regular reports received by Human Rights Watch
  • Children were often sleeping in the basements of buildings in significant concentrations because of the intense shelling and that is why so many died (Sarin gas accumulates at low levels)
  • The dead and those injured in the chemical attack were moved from place to place and room to room both at the clinics and ultimately for burial
  • There were many men and women who were victims of the attacks. But there were separate rooms for the bodies of children, men and women so they could be washed for burial
  • Almost all of the victims have been buried

Human rights researchers have spoken to the relatives of Alawite women and children abducted by rebels. None of them said they had recognised their loved ones in the gas attack videos

It is perhaps not a coincidence that arch-conspiracy theorist lunatics  Lyndon LaRouche’s group have diffused (November the 14th) a video of an interview with Mother Agnès-Mariam.

Bob from Brockley has been following this controversy closely.

He comments (yesterday),

Her invitation provoked outrage from Syrians and supporters of the Syrian revolution, as “Mother Agnes” has been a widely disseminated mouthpiece for the Assad regime’s propaganda, including vigorously denying some of Assad’s war crimes. (Of pictures of dead children in Ghouta, for example, she claims they are only sleeping.) Her lies are widely promoted by Russian media sources, by Christian news agencies, and by the LaRouche network. There are also live allegations about her own involvement in war crimes, and in the regime murder of journalists. Below the fold, I have pasted some information about her, but some good starting points are Linux BeachDemocratic Revolution, and Pulse.

The Stop the War Coalition could do without this kind of “opinion” amongst its “diversity”.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 18, 2013 at 11:48 am

Syrian Intervention: The British Left in Confusion as The Stop the War Coalition Blames Israel.

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Kriegsspiel: How British Left Sees Middle East.

The British left has had a hard time adjusting to the post-Soviet international scene.

Dropping Marxism, which is based on the working class and democratic movements, some have adopted  mixture of ‘anti-globalisation’ and an anti-imperialism.

Some have considered  just about any country that opposes US foreign policy, from Iran even to Russia,  to be progressive. Others have become obsessed with Israel, considered the epitome of evil. A few clung to the idea that Islamist movements, like the Moslem Brotherhood, were a repeat of the genuine struggles for liberation that marked 1960s anti-colonialism.

Their politics  resemble a Kriegsspiel played by the cast of the Big Bang Theory.

The position of these ‘anti-imperialists on Syria’s unfolding civil war has shown the confusion, political and moral bankruptcy of one of these political currents.

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC), to which most of the British left is affiliated (apart from, notably a miniscule openly  pro-Assad band),   must be going through a hard time.

It is opposed, rightly, to Western Intervention in Syria.

But…

At one point it was allied with the Muslim Association of Britain. That is, the British arm of the Moslem Brotherhood, which now makes up a very substantial  part of the Syrian Opposition. Indeed the Syrian National Council (Arabic: المجلس الوطني السوري‎, al-Majlis al-Waṭanī as-Sūri) according to Wikiepdia, includes many members of the exiled Syrian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Now the StWC carries prominently on its site an article by Abdel Bari Atwan, which is headlined.

“Reasons why western military intervention in Syria is coming soon: to protect Israel.”

Atwan is a strident Arab nationalist and former sympathiser with Saddam Hussein. He has expressed this view, Atwan opined (Here): “The events of 11 September will be remembered as the end of the US empire. This is because all empires collapse when they pursue the arrogance of power.”

On the  StWC site Atwan discusses the recent furore about Syria’s possible use of chemical weapons.

He makes this peculiar argument,

What concerns the United States first and foremost is Israel. What the United States really fears is the possibility of these weapons being used against Israelis whether by the regime in a state of despair, which cannot be ruled out, or by the currently militarily stronger jihadist groups in the Syrian territories. When jihadist groups fight against a common enemy like the Syrian regime, this fight would be commendable, but after toppling the Syrian regime, as happened in Libya and earlier in Afghanistan, the Americans’ new enemy would be these very groups.

Overthrowing the regime in Syria has absolutely nothing to do with democracy and human rights, but with the Iranian nuclear programme. This does not mean that the Syrian people’s demands for democratic change are not legitimate. These legitimate demands have been and are being exploited and used by the United States, Europe, and Arabs to shatter Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

We assume, though it is difficult to unpick the reasoning from the rants in this piece, that he thinks that Iran’s nuclear weapons are a threat to Israel. That this is why – Syria interposed – the US wants an end to Assad’s regime.

Most would assume that the USA wants to establish allies in a post-Assad regime. The same motive, dressed up with ‘humanitarian’ concerns  go for the French government, and other European states, which are funding the Free Syrian Army.

The former StWC allies, the Moslem Brotherhood, no doubt prefer this, and their Gulf and Turkish  backing, to the mighty British left.

But there you go.

The article  finishes with this even more curious defence of Syrian chemical weapons,

The Syrian chemical weapons were obtained to serve as deterrence against nuclear Israel, not to be used against the Syrian people or any other people. If the Syrian regime really uses such weapons against its people, something we doubt and strongly oppose, it would deserve any potential consequences. These are Syrian Arab weapons and must remain in Syrian hands. Neither the United States nor any other country has a right to seize or destroy them, as happened to Iraqi weapons, unless all weapons of mass destruction –biological and nuclear — in the Israeli military arsenal are destroyed.

The political degeneration of the StWC is clear.

They are unable to clearly ‘defend’ the vicious regime ruling Syria, they are unable to ‘defend’ the, predominantly Islamist (and anti-democratic) Syrian opposition.

They are fearful that the Free Syrian Army will become the US’s cats-paw.

They are in a complete mess.

Those who support Syrian democrats, oppose the Islamists, and are against Western military intervention, are unlikely to look to them to support their cause.