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Posts Tagged ‘Syria

Turkey Shells Kurds in Syria.

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Turkey, US finalize steps for joint patrols in Manbij

Turkey and US to Jointly Clear Northern Syrian Manbig of Kurdish YPG forces.

While the rest of the world was looking at the Khashoggi killing in the Saudi Istanbul Consulate…

The state run Turkish News Agency Anadolu announces today:

Turkey, US finalize steps for joint patrols in Manbij  Kasim Ileri

‘Mission rehearsals and interoperability training for combined patrols are complete, says Pentagon

Turkey and the United States have completed preparations for joint patrols in northern Syria’s Manbij area, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

The patrols are part of a roadmap between Turkey and the U.S. that focuses on the withdrawal of forces of the PKK’s Syrian affiliate YPG to stabilize the city, which is in Aleppo province.

“Mission rehearsals and interoperability (note: ???????) training for combined patrols outside Manbij city are complete,” said Cmdr. Sean Robertson. “Both forces are resetting in order to begin combined patrols.”

Without providing an exact date, Robertson said the rehearsals were grounded in synchronizing Turkish and American forces’ ability to conduct patrols outside of Manbij.

“The mission rehearsals address safety and familiarizations (Note ??????) with combined tactical operations,” he said.

The training program included rehearsals of mounted patrol operations, weapons training, IED procedures, vehicle recovery, stabilizing traffic control points and situation de-escalation exercises.

Another spokesperson for the Pentagon, Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner, said the patrols “should be in shortly.”

A defense official, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency that the patrols are expected to begin in “a couple of days” or in “less than a week”.

This happened on Sunday:

Turkey Strikes U.S.-Backed Kurds After Erdogan’s ‘Final Warning’.

(Bloomberg) — Turkey fired on U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militants in northern Syria on Sunday, moving ahead with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vow to rout them from his country’s southern border.

Turkish howitzers targeted positions held by the YPG fighters on the eastern flank of the Euphrates River that splits northern Syria roughly into eastern and western halves, state-run Anadolu news agency said. Turkey had earlier pushed out the American allies from most of the border areas to the west of the river, seeing them as an extension of PKK separatists it’s battled for decades at home.

Sunday’s shelling, albeit limited in scope, threatens to increase tensions between Ankara and Washington, which backed the Kurdish fighters because it saw them as best equipped to drive Islamic State fighters from Syria. The attack on YPG came just two days after Erdogan accused the U.S. of stalling on a June agreement to push the group away from the town of Manbij on the western flank of the Euphrates, and said he was warning Kurdish fighters for the last time to retreat.

Turkey shells US-backed Kurdish fighters’ positions in Syria: State media.

Middle East Eye.

Turkey’s military has fired artillery shells at a Kurdish armed group in Syria that is backed by the United States but deemed a terrorist group by Ankara, state-run Anadolu news agency has reported.

The shells targeted “shelters” of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) east of the Euphrates River in the Kobane region of northern Syria on Sunday, Anadolu said.

The move comes two days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued what he said was a “final warning” to those who would endanger Turkey’s borders, saying Ankara was determined to focus its attention on Syrian Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates.

The bombardments also come a day after Erdogan hosted a summit in Istanbul on the Syrian conflict with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany, in which they adopted a joint statement committing to work “together in order to create conditions for peace and stability in Syria”.

The strikes targeted YPG positions and trenches on a hill near the eastern bank of the Euphrates, across the river from the city of Jarablus, AFP news agency reported.

The YPG, which has been a key ally of the US in the fight against the Islamic State group, took control of large areas of northeast Syria in 2012 as government forces pulled out to fight rebels in the west

However, Ankara is bitterly opposed to the group, regarding it as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey since 1984.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.

Washington’s support of the YPG remains a major point of contention between the US and Turkey, NATO allies who have seen relations deteriorate over the last two years.

Both oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Turkey’s military incursions have recently focused more on Kurdish fighters near its border.

Turkey has launched two offensives west of the Euphrates since 2016 to repel “radical” fighters from its border and prevent zones under YPG control from joining.

The offensives include an operation against YPG forces in northern Syria’s Afrin region earlier this year, which saw thousands of Kurds displaced from their homes.

Spokesperson says Turkey violates US-Turkish agreement on Manbij

Kurdistan 24.

RBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Sharvan Darwish, spokesperson of the Manbij Military Council (MMC), on Sunday accused the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield rebels of targeting MMC positions in Manbij and villages near the city, such as al-Harima, Kareidiya, and al-Hamran.

“A woman who was working in an olive field with her family was severely injured. This deliberate acts by these factions, acting under direct Turkish command, violate the terms of the initiative put forward by international coalition forces with the Turkish side to end tensions and conflicts, and establish security and stability in this area,” he said about the Turkish cross-border shelling that happened Sunday morning.

On June 4, Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, met with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, where the two endorsed a “general roadmap” for Manbij that was “conditions-based,” and included the establishment of joint Turkish-US patrols on the demarcation line separating the MMC and the Turkish backed forces. So far, US troops are still in Turkey for training to create these joint patrols.

“We in the MMC, in order to create stability, have worked hard with the international coalition forces to implement this initiative, which is in the interest of our people in Manbij, specifically for the people living near the demarcation line,” Darwish explained.

“The factions operating under the banner of the Turkish army [could damage] any serious and sincere approach [by Washington and Ankara] working for the benefit of the local population,” the official warned.

He accused the Turkish-backed factions and the Turkish army of provoking tensions, which could lead to war and an “end to the stability in Manbij,” suggesting they were “tampering with civilian lives.”

The MMC “confirms to the public that repercussions to these provocations are directly borne by the Turkish military forces, which support and push these factions to carry out these acts,” Darwish argued.

“While we stress that we will take the measures required to deter these successive provocations, we ask the parties concerned to prevent escalation and tension for the Syrian situation to work.”

Darwish also noted that the current tensions were destabilization the security of Manbij, which it had not witnessed “since its liberation from Daesh [Arab acronym for IS].”

Turkish armed forces shelled the People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions east of the Euphrates River, in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), with Turkish state media, Anadolu Agency, claiming the attack was “within the scope of self-defense.”

The Turkish bombardments targeted “the villages of Zormikhar, Charikhli, Siftek, and Ashme, all of them located west of [Kobani], with tank, mortar, and howitzer fire,” the YPG said in a statement.

In the shelling, Mohammed Kobani, a conscript was killed in the village of Zor Maghar, and two others were injured.

The Democratic Union Party (PYD) on Sunday accused Western countries of remaining silent toward Turkish provocations and cross-border bombings following a quartet meeting between Turkey, Russia, Germany, and France on the Syrian crisis, in Istanbul.

“We emphasize that, without this position, Erdogan would have not dared to bomb northern Syria,” the PYD alleged.

“Therefore, we call on everyone not to submit to the blackmail and threat of Turkey, and to do their duty to create a solution to the Syrian crisis, without excluding the representatives of the real people of Syria,” the PYD concluded.

Editing by Nadia Riva.

Just to remind people what people in Syria have faced, the tragedy of Yazids has been put on film by the Kurdish activists.

Heartbreaking film on Ezidis introduces the Kurdistan Memory Programme

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2018 at 1:47 pm

On Louis Proyect’s The Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism and the European left.

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Idlib, Syria: Thousands protest peacefully against Assad’s war, Friday 14 September.

Louis Proyect has just published this article (in Counterpunch), of significance not only in the US but for the European left, and across the word.

On the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism.

Beginning with an overview  of “Rohini Hensman’s recently published Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism” it extends to a wider series of reflections.

Project tunes into some of the key ethical and political problems, thrown up by a number of intense  conflicts across the world since 2011 and the response of various parts of the left to them.

In each of them the politics of an ‘anti-imperialism’, limited to opposing the ‘West’ (and de facto backing, amongst others, Assad’s regime, Putin and , though he mentions this to a much lesser degree, Iran) has been called into question.

Rohini Hensman’s recently published Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism is an important contribution to the debate that has divided the left since 2011, the year that Syria became a litmus test. For some, support for Bashar al-Assad became tantamount to backing Franco in the Spanish Civil War while others saw my perspective as lending support to the USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other reactionary states carrying out the same neoconservative foreign policy that turned Iraq into a failed state.

In other respects, he observes that on a range of social and economic issues the US left was united (“ranging from defending immigrant rights to opposing fracking),at the start of the decade.

But, “The polarization deepened in 2014 when the Euromaidan protest became litmus test number two.”

“As was the case with Syria, the overwhelming majority of the left sided with Yanukovych who was seen as a progressive leader ousted by a coup organized and funded by the CIA. When war broke out in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin-backed militias were freedom fighters while Kyiv became a tool of NATO and Western banks. Trying to avoid such geopolitical dualities became difficult, if not impossible.”

This could equally be seen here. The left (with at least some hope of a wider political influence than the US left, which was increasing after Ed Miliband began his Labour leadership)  has in general terms  been united on issues such as anti-austerity. This has parallels across Europe, although since that time the EU (UK) or sovereigntism has become  dividing lines.

It was during the Ukraine crisis that the same divisions over international issues, as in the US, became serious.

There was (lightly covered) with support for Putin and the Russian Federation’s claims  from the Morning Star, and the Stop the War Coalition (Counterfire-led) – a position not reflected so widely in the rest of Europe outside of the direct inheritors of the Stalinist parties – but also present.

Here is their activity in sharp focus,

Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine’ launched in London Socialist Appeal. 2014

Lindsey German (Counterfire), Boris Kagarlitsky (Institute for globalization studies and social movements), Andrew Murray (Communist Party of Britain), Alan Woods (International Marxist Tendency) and Sergei Kirichuk (Borotba) discuss the threat of fascism in Ukraine, the role of imperialism in the current situation and the need for a campaign in support of the antifascist resistance in Ukraine to provide a counterweight to the lies and distortions of the Western media.

Then there is the Middle East, where unity over opposition to the Invasion of Iraq began to crack, above all as the Arab Spring brought forth a movement for democracy against the Assad dictatorship.

Proyect talks of Syria, the cause of whose people he has been a consistent champion.

He cites US writers who have sided with Assad (and not, odd as it may seem, the worst of the red-brown Assad apologists….)

For Syrians, the notion put forward by Stephen Gowans et al that Syria was some sort of socialist utopia rivaling if not besting Kurdish Rojava was a cruel joke. Hensman writes:

Finally, it is an irony that people who see themselves as socialists fail to note the class dimension of the uprising. Janine di Giovanni provides a vivid description of the Damascus elite who support Assad: “[In June 2012,] for several weeks running, I watched the fevered hedonism of the Thursday afternoon pool parties at the Dama Rose Hotel … By lunchtime, women were rushing to hairdressers; the roads leading out of the city … were clogged with luxury cars … Restaurants such as Narenj, which … served traditional Arabic food to the elite, were still packed.” (di Giovanni 2016, 8). By contrast, in 2007 a third of Syrians were living beneath the poverty line, with nearly another third only slightly above this level. Swiss-Syrian socialist activist and scholar Joseph Daher (2016) writes that “even the regime-controlled Syrian General Federation of Trade Unions deplored in 2009 that “the rich have become richer and the poor poorer … (and) low income earners who make up 80 percent of the Syrian population are looking for additional work to support themselves”. He continues, “We must not forget that the popular revolution in Syria began as a result of social economic injustices and widespread poverty, in addition to political issues.”

This is the crucial, the crunch point: his summary of what’s facing people in Syria now:

We are now in the final hours of the seven-year ordeal in which attempts to restore the democratic values of Hourani’s government have been crushed by overwhelming air power and massive intervention by Iran, Hezbollah and Afghan mercenaries. The looming victory against “imperialism” leaves the country in shambles with dismal economic prospects and inescapable environmental disaster.

He continues, looking at the “campists” now backing, more or less openly, Assad.

A certain political myopia exists in such quarters. Despite their anti-fascist pretensions, they cannot fathom how Assad’s victory will strengthen reaction throughout the Middle East and Europe. In an interview on Portuguese television, General al-Sisi stated: “The priority is that we support the national armies to impose control over the territory, deal with the extremists, and impose the necessary stability in Libya, Syria and Iraq.” When the interviewer followed up with “When you refer to the National Army in Syria, do you mean the Syrian army?”, the General replied: “Yes.”

In  Proyect’s conclusion he suggests that capitalists, and those states who wish for  Assad’s victory, have their own interests at heart.

Hardly a surprising claim but can this be extended to speculation that a bloc is being formed out of “With Assad, al-Sisi, Putin and Haftar” in a “new axis of resistance against Islamists” or, even more speculatively, “would anybody be surprised that Netanyahu would apply for membership?2

One can only note that Louis’s belief that Boris Johnson is still UK foreign Secretary is one, amongst many reasons to doubt the emergence of such an alliance. And there is a leap from a certain support for Libya’s Hafter to….Assad, and Putin, Israel, Macron….. which is hard to jump. (“In July, Haftar met with an Israeli intelligence officer in Amman, to “deepen security coordination between him and Israel”. Not only does Haftar have these considerable forces in his corner, he can also rely on the backing of France’s President Emmanuel Macron and the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, as well as the United Arab Emirates.”).

The conclusion is, nevertheless, worth serious reflection:

 In all their heartfelt objection to imperialism, Assad’s supporters on the left seemed to have forgotten that Lenin wrote a book titled “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”. If you forget about the capitalism part of his analysis, you don’t get very far.

One cannot imagine that Iran (whose capitalist rather than geopolitical and religious-ideological interest, if there is one, which it far from sure,  goes unmentioned) and Putin’s Russian Federation, have backed Assad out of a wish to strengthen a multipolar world contesting American dominance purely out of hearty anti-imperialist good will. The extent to which religious ideology as a material force in the conflicts remains unclarified, but who can seriously doubt that it plays a substantial role in these wars.

While one is certain that much of the US left, anxious at all times to distance itself from any hint of support for its own imperialist military machine, has good reason to be wary of its state’s involvement.

But today this is of utmost urgence: 

Indefensible: Idlib and the left Leila Al-Shami

Chris Williamson MP Praises Assad Apologist.

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The “Rebel” tent at The Levellers festival: Who on earth would want to attend this event?

Or this:

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Or this?

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Well now we know:

Not surprisingly Williamson has already got some stiff replies:

Vanessa Beeley — the Syrian conflict’s goddess of propaganda

Brian Whitaker. 

One spin-off from the Syrian conflict has been a war of words that reaches far beyond the Middle East. It’s a battle in which honest reporting and the search for truth have come under sustained attack.

Those leading the attack claim they are simply asking questions that need to be asked. It’s healthy scepticism, they say. But it’s a selective kind of scepticism where reports from some sources, primarily mainstream media in the west, are dismissed as untrue — not because evidence shows they are wrong but because they don’t fit the desired narrative.

At the same time, reports that do fit the narrative win praise on social media, regardless of supporting evidence, and people who venture to question them are liable to be assailed with abuse.

A prominent example is the work of Vanessa Beeley, a supporter of the Assad regime whose reports from Syria have turned her into a social media celebrity. The Russian propaganda channel, RT, describes her as “an independent investigative journalist” and, in addition to her Russian TV appearances, she is associate editor of 21st Century Wire, the conspiracy theory website that publishes most of her work.


Beeley (fourth from right) with President Assad in 2016. She described it as her proudest moment.
 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 20, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Tragedy of Yazidi Woman Who Met Islamic State Gaoler in Germany.

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Yazidi woman encounters ‘Islamic State’ captor in Germany

The past she was attempting to flee came back to haunt a young Yazidi woman in a small town in Germany. Her former IS tormentor confronted her on the street and “told me he knew everything about me.”

A 19-year-old Yazidi woman has fled Germany with her family after encountering the “Islamic State” (IS) fighter who had enslaved her in Mosul on the streets of Schwäbisch Gmünd, a town in Baden-Württemberg.

Ashwaq Haji Hamid arrived in the southwestern state with her family in 2015 through a programme aimed at assisting Yazidi women who had been subjected to violence by IS.

In 2014, IS committed what the UN concluded was a genocide of Yazidis in northern Iraq. The militant group also abducted scores of women and children, including Hamid, who were sold into slavery.

But while attempting to leave her past behind, she was confronted by her tormenter, who had kept her as a slave for 10 weeks.

“I ran away from Iraq so I would not see that ugly face and forget anything that reminds me of it, but I was shocked to see him in Germany,” Ashwaq Haji Hamid told InfoMigrants, a news site about migration run by DW, France Medias Monde and Italy’s ANSA agency.

“The first time was in 2016,” she said. “He was chasing me. He was the same person, but the second time, he came close to me and told me he knew everything about me.”

Deutsche Welle.

This tragic case raises the issue of how to prosecute Islamic state genociders.

Some of the members of the modern Einsatzgruppen who went and fought for Daesh have been found, some executed,  and others face prosecution.

Prosecuting the Islamic State Fighters Left Behind.

Jenna Consigli

 

In Syria, the SDF operates amid a civil war and depends on U.S. aid to maintain operations. It is reportedly holding 593 fighters from more than 45 countries, including Egypt, France, Germany, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.

For local IS fighters, the Kurdish enclave also holds no official legal authority complicating their ability to prosecute Syrian and Iraqi fighters. Still, the SDF set up counterterrorism courts, which have focused on reconciliation and prohibit the death penalty. In some cases, the SDF negotiated with local tribal leaders to have fighters released to face tribal tribunals. Though, the Kurds face an uncertain operating environment and overstretched prisons. Lack of adequate security has already allowed a number of ISIS fighters to escape.

In Iraq, out of the approximately 19,000 individuals detained for ISIS-related terrorism charges since 2014, some 1,350 are foreigners. Foreigners and citizens face quick trials, differing standards of evidence and harsh penalties. Iraq’s 2005 counterterrorism lawpermits judges to sentence anyone holding membership in a terrorist organization—regardless of their role—to death. As of March, more than 3,000 individuals had received the death penalty and many others faced life in prison for their involvement in the group. The Iraqi government now needs to delicately balance sectarian tensions. Building trust between citizens residing in formerly ISIS held territory and the Baghdad-led government remains its biggest challenge to permanently rooting out the Islamic State.

Western governments shifting responsibility to local forces to prosecute or indefinitely detain their citizens are unlikely to prevent these individuals from falling through judicial loopholes to reengage in jihadist activity. Especially for those detained in Syria, uncertainty about the country’s future and U.S. engagement creates potential for foreign fighters, like John Doe, to be released if they are not sent home. Such releases are likely to further destabilize an already volatile region.

Foreign fighters are known to exploit weak political and security environments to advance their jihadist agendas. If released, these fighters are likely to find another conflict zone to advance their violent ideology, disrupt communities and conduct attacks. Foreign fighters well versed in governance and combat will continue to pose a global threat, whether or not their citizenship is revoked. And if countries do not take responsibility for their citizens, the alternative—fighters further destabilizing other countries and taking advantage of civil unrest—feeds the cycle of terrorism.

Recall that those responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and subsequent strikes across Europe fought in foreign conflicts and formed global jihadist networks. While counterterrorism efforts have improved since 9/11, ISIS attacks across Europe, especially those in France in 2015, demonstrate that foreign fighters, and their networks, still pose a threat.

The U.S. and its allies need to choose a path for those who become Islamic State fighters. History has shown that leaving foreign fighters on the battlefield can have serious repercussions.

Daesh poses  the same kind of problem that came after the Second World War, of tracking down and prosecuting war criminals and those who took part in genocide.

This present case illustrates the difficulties faced: Two British ‘Beatles’ Islamic State Fighters Captured In Syria. They were part of the same group as ‘Jihadi John’.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 17, 2018 at 4:27 pm

As ISIS Massacre in Sweida Druze call for “international force” protection as charges of Assad and Russian complicity surface.

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Druze Women Kidnapped by Daesh.

“She thinks reports of the demise of Isis are exaggerated and dangerous. “Every politician wants to be the one to prove he has made real headway against this group. Granted, 97% of the territory it held is now gone. But 3% is still around 1,000 square miles. That’s not a small amount of land. And its caliphate was never just Iraq and Syria. It was this global project. It is growing in Niger, it’s growing in Nigeria, it’s growing in Afghanistan, in Libya. It’s like seeds that have gone to the wind.”

Rukmini Callimachi: the podcasting terror expert getting into the minds of Isis.

Yazidis in Afrin forced to convert to Islam

5th of August. ANF News (Kurdish News Agency)

Occupation forces are forcing the Yazidi people in Basufane village of Afrin to send their children to mosque. Those refusing to do so are subjected to torture.

According to the sources, Yazidi citizens A.S. ve F. S. were tortured by the gangs because they refused to obey this imposition.

According to sources from Kaxira village of Mabata district, Furqat al-Hamzat gangs under the command of Abu Amsha have turned the village school into a center where religious lessons are lectured.

The house of villager Henan Ebdo stated has been turned into a mosque where children are given religious lessons. Another resident’s house has been burned down by the gangs.

Two months ago, the gangs tore down the Afrin Yazidi Union building, detonated the Zarathustra statue and burned the books about the Yazidi faith kept in the building.

After a New Massacre, Charges That ISIS Is Operating With Assad and the Russians

Daily Beast.   

The slaughter in the Druze region of Syria cost hundreds of lives last month. It happened after the Druze told the Russians they wouldn’t fight for Assad.

July 25 in the Syrian province of Sweida a massacre began in the early morning. Ten jihadists from the so-called Islamic State entered Sweida town. They wore the traditional baggy trousers and loose-fitting overgarments of Druze men, but beneath the clothes they had hidden explosive vests. Three detonated in the main vegetable market, then one of them accompanied the many injured to the hospital and set off his explosive charge there. The other six suicide bombers were overcome before they could detonate, according to senior officials in the Druze community.

At the same time, hundreds of ISIS fighters entered three nearby villages, moving house-by-house slitting throats and shooting to death men, women and children. Some reported that the killers left a witness from each family alive to tell their hideous story. In all, 273 Druze were killed and 220 injured, Druze officials told us.

They strongly suspect that the attack by ISIS was carried out in cooperation with the Russian-backed Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and this is corroborated to some extent by ISIS prisoners we have interviewed who are being held by U.S.-allied Kurdish forces here in northern Syria.  The Druse politicians and officials came here to try to forge an alliance with like-minded Kurds for mutual self-protection, which is when they told us the details of the massacre.

The horror of the Sweida massacre in an area most considered safe—and in these last moments when ISIS rule in Syria appears to be all but over—was magnified when the Druze learned that some of their women and children had been taken captive by ISIS cadres. “Most of the Daesh attackers were killed,” a Druze official told us. “The only escapees were those who were kidnapped in the first village: 29 women, teenagers and babies.”

One 19-year-old student already has been beheaded by ISIS, which also quickly posted pictures of their Druze female captives and demanded that the Syrian regime stop attacking them and exchange ISIS prisoners held by the regime for these women and children.

In addition to the sensational pictures of the helpless women holding their hands above their heads in the desert, ISIS sent a video of one of their Druze captives, 35-year-old A Shalguinz, who delivered her baby in the desert.

“Daesh said they will make them sabaya [slaves] if the regime doesn’t’ give 100 prisoners to them and the regime refused,” one of our interlocutors told us.

The article, by respected reporters of the horrors of the Syrian events gives details of why the Druze suspect Syrian state complicity.

“We think there is complicity between Daesh and the regime,” another of the Druze leaders said. “It’s so obvious to us. The regime refused to send ambulances to assist the population. They cut the electricity as well and the local telephone service to make it difficult to communicate. They couldn’t cut the mobiles.”

One of the 10 captured ISIS attackers admits on an interrogation video shared by the Druze leaders that in the village massacres a man from the Syrian government guided them from house to house, knocking on the doors and calling the inhabitants by name so they would unwittingly open their doors to the ISIS attackers.

This is the heartfelt conclusion,

The leaders of Druze mountain tell us that they are now also appealing to the international community to be protected by an international force, as the Kurdish area is protected by the Americans, and to assist them to bring back the kidnapped women to their families.

“To safeguard our community and to protect the diversity in the future of Syria, we need to create a crescent against aggressors,” said one of the politicians. Running from north to south, including parts of Iraq, it would protect the Kurds, the Yazidis, Christians, and Druze. “The minorities are looking to the Coalition as the only credible force in the area,” he said, adding, “The crescent strategically speaking would also cut the Iranians from access to the regime.”

The world must decide whether or not to respond, but the record thus far does not hold out much hope.

Background:

Lebanon’s Druze leader attacks Syrian government over massacre

Reuters 27th of July.

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The main leader of the Druze sect in Lebanon on Friday attacked the Syrian government for failing to stop an Islamic State massacre of Druze in Syria, saying it should have noticed the militants gathering to attack.

No one can tell me that the squadrons of many American, Russian and foreign planes did not see this gathering which suddenly took the regime by surprise and raided Jebel al-Arab,” said Walid Jumblatt.

Islamic State’s assault on the city of Sweida and nearby villages in the Jebel al-Arab area on Thursday killed more than 200 people, many of them civilians.

Syrian state media said the army had intervened and battled the militants with both ground forces and air strikes.

Jumblatt, who heads the largest Druze political party in Lebanon, is a strong critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Other Druze parties are pro-Damascus.

The Kurdish led YPG issued this statement,

People’s Defense Units (YPG) Press Office released a statement condemning the ISIS attack in Suwayda city of Syria.

The statement by YPG Press Office reads as follows;

On July 25, more than 250 people were killed and hundreds more got injured due to IS attack on the Druze people in the city of Suwayda. During the attacks, hundreds of other people, mostly women, were kidnapped by IS. The attack carried out through suicide bombings and the following random shootings, caused us great sorrow.

The attack reveals once again the true face of IS and shows clearly that this terrorist group must be destroyed as soon as possible. IS terrorist organization continues its existence as a threat to the Syrian and all Middle Eastern peoples. As People’s Defense Units we will continue to intensify our efforts to struggle against the IS. As YPG-YPJ defense forces, we will continue our struggle in every place where the IS terrorism is present. We once again emphasize our determination to fulfill our responsibility concerning protection of all the peoples of Syria, including the Druze people, and we declare that we are ready to protect them everywhere where it will be necessary. This attack is as burdensome and painful as an attack on Kobanê and Cizir for us.

We give our condolences and respect to the Druze people, to those who lost their lives in this massacre.”

There is an entire Wikipedia pages in English, and in French on these massacres:  2018 As-Suwayda attacks.  Attaques de Soueïda.

The lack of an international response led the French weekly Marianne to write with indignation:

SILENCE, DAECH MASSACRE LES DRUZES

Written by Andrew Coates

August 11, 2018 at 12:29 pm

Today is the Anniversary of the Yazidi Genocide.

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SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN AIMS FOR AWARENESS ON 4TH ANNIVERSARY OF YAZIDI GENOCIDE

Activists on social media hope to raise awareness for thousands of missing people kidnapped by ISIS in 2014, hold events around the world and online.

 

Absolute solidarity and love to the Yazidi people.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 3, 2018 at 11:22 am

City of Ghosts: from Syria to Europe and the fight against the far-right.

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City of Ghosts was shown on BBC 4 last night.

This moving documentary about a group of Syrian activists, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.  (RBSS)

The hopes of an Arab Spring resounded in their home, the city of Raqqa in the north of Syria. Protests against the Assad regime were countered by violent repression. The arrival of ISIL, in April 2014, the country’s branch of  Islamic State, was followed by the rule of their version of Islamic ‘law’. There were public beheadings, firing squad executions, mock crucifixions and  Volkish placard shaming.

At great risk to themselves RBSS opposed the take-over in the only way they could. They reported and filmed undercover the regime of what became the de facto capital of Daesh.

The documentary showed images of clandestine protests against Daesh and the slaughters the jihadists committed. Perhaps the most disturbing moments were when the new rulers tried to bring the young into their fold. “Children are Isis’s firewood” they said, and we saw a band of joyful babes and youngsters following a bearded fighter chanting their hate. A near-infant was filmed being trained to stab and behead on a large teddy bear.

This backdrop confirmed the worst scenes in Peter Kosminsky’s The State.

Many RBSS activists left the city, though they kept a core group of courageous witness inside Raqqa.

They used social media and the Net to broadcast their message. ISIL devoted a great deal of time to trying to search their supporters out.

In May 2014, Al-Moutaz Bellah Ibrahim was kidnapped by ISIL and murdered. In July 2015, ISIL released a video showing two men being strung up on trees and shot. Though ISIL claimed the two murdered men had worked with RBSS, one of the founders of RBSS denied they were members. Another friend of the group was similarly executed. Hamoud al-Mousa, the father of one of the group’s founders, was killed in ISIL custody. On October 30, 2015, RBSS activist Ibrahim Abdul Qadir (age 20) and his friend Fares Hamadi were found stabbed and beheaded in Urfa Turkey. It was the first acknowledged assassination outside of ISIL controlled territory. (Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently)

The sight of Hamoud al-Mousa’s execution, followed by that of the same RBSS activist’s brother’s murder, being watched in a safehouse in Germany was harrowing.

City of Ghosts deserved the highest awards.

But above all the activists of RBSS, merit the greatest respect we can possible give to other human beings.

Avoiding fruitless debate about the essential nature of ‘Islam’ one of them says,

“It is not my Islam”.

Europe.

Towards the end of the documentary there were scenes in which the Syrians were  confronted by  the German far-right Pegida calling for the removal of refugees.

There was also  commentary on the actions of Daesh in Europe, including the Bataclan massacre.

This opens up the issue of how we should both support the fight of groups of democrats like RBSS and combat the racist far-right.

With the Tommy Robinson campaign in Britain this has become an issue of burning importance.

People have noted that the groups Stand up to Racism and Unite against Fascism are dominated by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) (“Both these groups are front organisations of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and receive their political direction from its leadership.”  Socialist Resistance)

In 2014, as Raqqa fell to the genociders Socialist Worker published this article by Hassan Mahamdallie, co-director of the Muslim Institute.

There is resistance to this frenzy of Islamophobia

The beheading of US journalist James Foley by the Islamic State, formerly known as Isis, was horrific. But is the Nigerian military slitting the throats of 16 young men and boys any less horrific?

Or last week’s Israeli air strike that blew to smithereens the wife and seven month old son of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif? Surely that was horrific and disturbing too?

..

In the 1930s radicalised young men from the same mining communities illegally made their way into Spain to take up arms against general Franco’s fascist army.

It must have been the fault of their Welsh Methodist upbringing.

But Howells’ drivel was modest fare compared to the truly millennial frenzy that was gathering pace.

In authentic End of Days tones, US secretary of defence Chuck Hagel said Isis represents “an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else.

“They’re beyond just a terrorist group. This is beyond anything we’ve seen, so we must prepare for everything.”

I much preferred the response of the spokesperson from south east London’s Lewisham Mosque.

The press asked him to condemn a tweet from a woman “Jihadi” in Syria who might have once attended the mosque.

He retorted, “The young woman’s desire to travel to Syria has nothing to do with the Centre. Unfortunately, the Muslim community are being subjected to a burden of proof based on a ‘guilty by association’ standard”.

He rightly attacked the press’s demand, as “loaded with an Islamophobic assumption that Muslims by default condone such brutality”.

It was good to see someone refusing to bow to the frenzy, a spark of resistance in a very dark week.

There was much in a similar vein, from the SWP and groups such as Counterfire, understanding the ‘radicalisation’ of those who volunteered to be part of Einsatzgruppen and concentrating their fire on the prospect of Western intervention in the civil war.

Unlike RBSS their criticisms of the Assad regime was fairly muted.

This ambiguity continued.

When Charlie Hebdo (12 deaths) and the Porte de Vincennes Hypercacher (5 deaths)  attacks took place  in 2015, the same forces took it upon themselves to understand why this “blowback” against France in general and the ‘Islamophobic” satirical weekly took place. Charlie “had it coming to them”. Counterfire railed against ” a crude and absolutist fetish of free speech”.

These people are unable to confront violent Islamism.

With such a tainted history these groups have no moral authority whatsoever.

There are many many people on the lest who do not back groups which fail to take a resolute stand against the jihadist Islamism, and against Assad.

The fight against Robinson’s supporters, many (from the Clarion to Socialist Resistance) suggest, should come from the mass organisations of the labour movement and the Labour Party.

We cannot unite around  “defeating fascism” as Lindsey German puts it, until we have a clear view that the violent jihadists and the mouvance around them, with roots in Europe as well as the Middle East and the Maghreb,  are also enemies of the far right.

And we need to back the Syrian democrats, whose heroism is so powerfully illustrated in City of Ghosts.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 12, 2018 at 10:37 am