Counterpunch: So Wrong on Syria
There is a whole trend of the Left, perhaps the dominate trend, that views
world politics as largely a struggle between two camps that more or less
represent the two classes whose struggle dominates the modern era, the
proletariat and the bourgeois. These two camps are the imperialist camp,
headed by the US, with the UK & EU, among others, coming up the rear and
militarily organized through NATO and the anti-imperialist camp, headed by
the former Soviet Union and China, and including a number of other
socialist or ex-socialist countries and a number of countries ruled by
dictators that have found it useful, for domestic as well as international
purposes, to mock socialism [as Hitler did with his *"national socialism"*]
and feign opposition to the imperialist camp.
Libya's Mummar Qaddafi and Syria's Bashar al-Assad are prime examples of
this later category and they have been darlings of this trend in the Left.
So what did these Leftist do when the people of those countries, buoyed by
the general uprising that shook the whole region beginning in December
2010, rose up to demand an end to these twin 40 year old dictatorships?
They backed the fascist
Because Libya <http://anthrocivitas.net/forum/showthread.php?t=11292
> were run by fascist
dictators, the response to peaceful protests was the immediate application
of military power. There was none of the milk toast stuff where police were
used but not the army as in Tunisia and Egypt, where the regime was *
"overthrown"* without ever using the army against the people, where the
regime was *"overthrown"* with the old army still in place. That happened
partly because certain Western powers, in positions of influence in those
countries, encouraged the army to stand down. They saw that as the best way
to salvage their position from a bad situation and I believe history will
prove them right. The revolution in Libya is real, thoroughgoing, and far
more advanced than the changes in Egypt or Tunisia. Syria will soon move
ahead of them as well.
Because they were fascist dictators, Qaddafi and Assad had build armies
with lots of weapons and a willingness to use them against their own
people, or so they hoped. Because they had the backing of a major fascist
dictator, Putin of
they had support for this most violent suppression of the people's
Fortunately, the people of both countries rose to the tasks history has
handed them and met armed suppression with armed resistance. They fought
In Libya, the dictator *and* his army were overthrown, the
to be recreated from scratch. Now that they were free to do so, the people
quickly built a free
and held elections just about as free and
anywhere in the world. Oil production was quickly brought back
the violence has been coming
The murder rate in
was half what it was in
a tenth of what is was in
year. NATO planes have long since flown home and they were never able to
put an army on the ground. Nevertheless, many Leftist, like those who write
are still in the *"Libya, just like
* mode. They continue to dis the Libyan Revolution and they refuse to learn
from the Libyan people.
When it comes to Syria, they are blind to the world that is right in front
of them. They see Assad as the victim of an imperialist plot, just like
Qaddafi or Saddam Hussein, another fascist
really was the victim of an imperialist plot and not an uprising of his own
In a disconnect with reality that rivals those that think atomic bombs
don't explode <http://heiwaco.tripod.com/bomb.htm
> and the moon landing
they see the Syrian Revolution as *"Obama's War"* and they blame him, not
Assad, for the murder of 70,000 Syrians. This position leads them to
obfuscating the suffering of the Syrian people and attempting to discredit
the heroic nature of their struggle to overthrow their ruling class.
Examining a Counterpunch slap at the Syrian Revolution
> recently published an excellent
exposition of this thinking by way of an article by Shamus Cooke titled *How
Obama Chose War Over Peace in
* in the weekend edition. As you have probably learned long ago, a mess is
a lot easier to make than to sort out, so please bare with me while I
dissect a few selections from this essay and show why it, and the trend it
presents, is so tragically wrong.
President Obama will have no talk of peace. He has chosen war since the
very start and he�s sticking to it. A recent New York Times article
revealed that President Obama has been lying through his teeth about the
level of U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict since the beginning.
Some people might say President Bashar al-Assad chose war over peace on 25
April 2011 when he ordered the6,000 soldiers deployed in
open fire on unarmed protesters killing about 200 civilians and 81 defected
soldiers in the next ten days, but not the Counterpunch crowd, all of
Assad's crimes are forgiven in the name of fighting imperialism.
Speaking of *"lying through his teeth,"* the recent NY Times article
With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply
increased their military aid to Syria�s opposition fighters in recent
months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising
against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data,
interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel
Nothing in this article talks about *"U.S. involvement in the Syrian
conflict since the beginning."* This is just a flat out misrepresentation
of what the article he cited says. The first airlifts started in January
2012 according to the NY Times piece they cited, which is to say that the
Syrian revolution managed to survive ten months without even these meager
The airlift to Syrian rebels began slowly. On Jan. 3, 2012, months after
the crackdown by the Alawite-led government against anti-government
demonstrators had morphed into a military campaign, a pair of Qatar Emiri
Air Force C-130 transport aircraft touched down in Istanbul, according to
air traffic data.
They were a vanguard.
Counterpunch would have you believe Obama is the puppet master running the
whole show but I think Fouad Ajami came much closer to the truth in an opinion
piece he penned<http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-27/haunted-by-iraq-obama-is-failing-syria.html
Bloomberg 27 March 2013:
In the matter of the Syrian rebellion, the U.S. hasn�t even *�led from
behind.�* The Obama administration has pioneered a new role for a great
power: We are now the traffic controllers, directing the flow of
The money isn�t ours; it is Qatari and Saudi and Libyan. The planes hauling
the weapons are Jordanian, Qatari and Saudi. And the risks are run by
Syria�s neighbors, principally Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
These Leftist are so US centric and haughtily taken with the power of *
"their"* country that they assume that if the US is involved in anyway, its
a US show all the way. The real situation is much different. They embellish
the imperialists with powers they don't really have.
The truth is that, all his rhetoric aside, Obama has bet on
the past two years and now that its looking like Assad won't make the tape
on this track, Obama's looking for influence with the likely winners. Also,
Obama wants what Israel wants, even if, now that the election's over, he is
willing to let the Syrian rebels have a few more weapons. But no MANPADS!
Israel likes Assad
Israel has also been betting on Assad, even through they condemned his
*. This is the description that accompanies a video titled Israel - Secret
Supporter of Syria Dictator Assad - Zionists Prefer Fascist Killer to
Peoples Rule <http://youtu.be/deXTB9qRJzA
> and posted to YouTube by
*Published on Mar 1, 2012*
The Fascist Dictator of Bashar Assad , whose family has ruled over our
long-suffering people for the past 42 years, has a secret friend in Tel
Aviv. Yes, many prominent Israeli policy makers have weighed the pros and
cons of having Assad the Dictator and have decided that*"The Devil you Know
is better than the one you don't know"* and have secretly been pushing for
the Americans to back off on calling for Assad for step down and resign as
The Israelis know that Assad is a half-hearted anti-zionist and has not
fired one single bullet at Israel in over 40 years and has kept the Israeli
border with Syria quiet and "safe" for Israel for decades. The Israelis
even blew up a suspected nuke plant in northern Syria and also had their
War planes fly low over Bashar's summer home in Latakia and the Dictator
hid and did nothing in response to the aggression. Assad will never take
any forceful steps to regain the Golan Heights and the Israelis know that
his anti-zionism is all pure politics and that he uses Israel as a *
"boogeyman"* to justify continued anti-democratic measures at home and to
continue to rule over Syria with his tightly controlled and corrupt Police
Along the same lines Haaretz had a piece by Salman
Israel's favorite Arab dictator of all is AssadMar. 29, 2011
*Both Assad senior and Assad junior advocated resistance against Israel.
This slogan was hollow, serving the regime merely as an insurance policy
against any demand for freedom and democracy.
As strange as it sounds, everyone in Israel loves Arab dictators. When I
say everyone I mean both Jews and Arabs. The favorite dictator of all is
president Assad. As Assad junior inherited the oppressive regime in Syria,
so did both Jews and Arabs transfer their affection for the dictator from
Damascus from Assad senior to his son.
Obama doesn't want regime change in Syria
Obama's goal in the Syrian Revolution has not been regime change, that is
why the Counterpunch piece can say:
Obama�s rebels are � after two years � still in a poor position to bargain
a favorable peace to the United States, no matter how many tons of guns the
U.S. has dumped into Syria.
They didn't receive any heavy weapons until after they started acquiring
them on their own, mainly by taking Assad's bases, to date that is the only
way they have gotten any anti-aircraft missiles, thanks to Obama's *"No
MANPADS for You"<http://claysbeach.blogspot.com/2013/01/how-obama-manpads-for-you-policy-in.html
* policy. [MANPADS is an acronym for man portable air defense system]
As the NY Times article cited by Counterpunch notes, only in the past 3
months have they begun to receive large shipments of modern heavy weapons
but still no badly needed modern anti-aircraft weapons to neutralize
Assad's hold card, his *"lifeline"*, his air force. The rebel assault on
Aleppo has been stalled many times simply because they were running out of
small arms ammo<http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gOYEgqfdJj2eY-sfeZmi-13wds8A?docId=CNG.dbc892dd707cd35467a975f24949b937.91
Anybody that thinks this is how an imperialist superpower, hell bent on
regime change, supports its proxy army, is a fool.
No, Obama's strategy is to use the people's uprising to weaken the Assad
regime, to force important concessions from the Assad regime to be sure,
but to preserve the state machinery of the Assad regime even as it becomes
clear, at this late date, that Bashar al-Assad, the man, will have to go.
While Counterpunch can talk about *"tons of guns the U.S. has dumped into
Syria,"* the truth is that what Obama's CIA has been doing in Turkey and
Jordan is attempting to regulate the weapon's pipeline feeding opposition
fighters from Qatar, Libya and Saudi Arabia, and since the US isn't
contributing any weapons itself to this flow, they can only regulate it by
slowing it down, acting as a filter to determine what weapons get through
Again from the NY Times piece cited by Counterpunch:
The American government became involved, the former American official said,
in part because there was a sense that other states would arm the rebels
anyhow. The C.I.A. role in facilitating the shipments, he said, gave the
United States a degree of influence over the process, including trying to
steer weapons away from Islamist groups and persuading donors to withhold
portable antiaircraft missiles that might be used in future terrorist
attacks on civilian aircraft.
American officials have confirmed that senior White House officials were
regularly briefed on the shipments. *�These countries were going to do it
one way or another,�* the former official said. �They weren�t asking
for a *�Mother,
may I?�* from us. But if we could help them in certain ways, they�d
Behind the "No MANPADS for You!" policy
The US imperialist didn't fret too long about MANPADS falling into the
hands of extremists when they were hell bent on regime change in
Afghanistan in the 1980's and they weren't too worried about WMD in the
hands of Saddam Hussein when they were helping him build chemical weapons
factories to weaken Iran in the 1980's.
Obama doesn't refuse the rebels effective anti-aircraft weapons that could
save thousands of lives because he fears they will fail into the hands of
Islamists. If the does, he should have me introduce him to some rocket
scientists that will build secure irreversible digital expiration dates
that insure those puppies won't work after 6 months or a year, your choice.
They may still hack them up for explosives and parts but they'll never take
down an airliner. Hell, there are a million ways to secure them now. That
wasn't possible in the 1980's but it sure as hell is now.
Ten years ago the Federation of American Scientists
G8 Action Plan [to prevent MANPADS proliferation] of 2 June 2003 for its
plans to *"explore the feasibility of preventing unauthorized use of these
weapons through the development of launch control features and other design
changes."* So maybe Obama should get a progress report.
Obama refuses the rebels effective anti-aircraft weapons because he knows
that as long as Assad is free to use his air force he can kill even in
territory he can no longer control on the ground. He can make sure there
are no safe liberated areas and the opposition can do very little to bring
safety and normality to the 60% of Syria they already control. As long as
Assad has air supremacy the opposition can't win.
Obama refuses the rebels effective anti-aircraft weapons so Assad doesn't
lose. Again from the NY Times piece cited by Counterpunch:
Many [rebels] were also complaining, saying they were hearing from arms
donors that the Obama administration was limiting their supplies and
blocking the distribution of the antiaircraft and anti-armor weapons they
most sought. These complaints continue.*�Arming or not arming, lethal or
nonlethal � it all depends on what America says,�*said Mohammed Abu Ahmed,
who leads a band of anti-Assad fighters in Idlib Province.
I would suggest that Obama's real strategy in regulating this arms pipeline
is to assure that the resistance has enough arms to keep them from losing
but at the same time, lacks enough arms to allow them to win. This is a
very old and cynical imperialist game and while I blame Assad first for the
bloodshed of the Syrian people if Counterpunch were to credit Obama with
much of it as a result of this craven policy, I would applaud them for it.
Instead, they really think Obama is behind the struggle for regime change,
and apparently think Assad is justified in attacking civilians in defense
of his state, and following that logic, blame Obama for all of the
bloodshed in Syria:
This *�arms pipeline�* of illegal gun trafficking has been overseen by the
U.S. government since January 2012. It has literally been the lifeblood of
the Syrian *�rebels,�* and thus the cause of the immense bloodshed in Syria.
In other words, Counterpunch is laying responsibility for the deaths of
more than 70,000 Syrians, not on the Assad regime or those that supply him
with the cluster bombs and Scud missiles doing much of the killing, but on
the US and anyone else they think is supporting the resistance to the Assad
Russia and Iran keep Assad afloat
It is the Assad regime, not the revolution, that is on life support at this
point. Without regular flights of money and arms from Russia and Iran, he
would have been finished a year ago, but the anti-interventionists won't
tell you that. Counterpunch may claim Assad *"still enjoys a large social
base of support"* but from The
have yet more proof of the way Russia and Iran are propping up Assad:
I flew secret missions carrying cash and weapons
into Syria for Assad, pilot reveals*A former Syrian army cargo pilot has
revealed how he flew secret missions for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to
carry cash and weapons into the country in the face of international
By Nigel Wilson, Amman
8:00AM GMT 24 Mar 2013
The pilot, who asked to be identified only as Nazim, revealed that he or
fellow pilots flew a cargo plane two or three times a month to collect bank
notes from Russia - including large quantities of euros and dollars needed
to prop up the regime.
He also recounted at least 20 missions to Tehran, two of which he flew
himself, to collect Iranian arms and explosives for use by the regime in
its effort to crush the rebellion that began two years ago.
Nazim, 50, spoke to The Sunday Telegraph from a border town in Jordan,
where he fled with his family last September. He decided to quit Syria,
where he had once been a supporter of the regime, after he and fellow
pilots were arrested and imprisoned for 60 days over a plane crash that the
regime regarded as suspicious.
This struggle has produce so many testimonials, videos, photos and reports,
far more than any other conflict in history, that anyone in the world can
know what the truth is. This is just one more story.
All wave the *"War on (Islamic) Terror"* in Syria
The Counterpunch piece goes on to define the opposition in Assad's terms:
The only effective fighting force for the Syrian rebels has been the
terrorist grouping the Al Nusra Front, and now we know exactly where they
got their guns.
This is a slight against the Free Syrian Army which formed up from Syrian
Army defectors and Syrian activists more than 6 months before Jabhat
>, which translates to
*"The Support Front for the People of Syria,"* was founded. If the FSA
wasn't an effective fighting force, as Counterpunch would have us believe,
one would have thought Bashar al-Assad would have put down the rebellion
long before al Nusra had time to form up.
While the al Nusra Front describes itself as an Islamic or jihadist
fighting group, it
a terrorist organization, pointing out that it has not carried out any
operations in other countries, hasn't targeted civilians, and has employed
suicide missions only against the Assad regime. But as we have seen, *
"terrorist"* is a very flexible and politically shaped charge. For example,
during the Vietnam War, the US considered the National Liberation Front a
terrorist organization, but not the US, even though we killed more than 3
million Vietnamese, most of them civilians, mostly with bombs.
In the case of Syria, President Obama, President Assad and Counterpunch are
united in calling Islamic fighters against the Assad regime terrorists but
they don't apply that label to the Assad regime even though they have
clearly been responsible for the lions share of the slaughter.
Putting al Nusra on Obama's terrorist blacklist at the very time when they
are one of the most effective, but not the only effective, military
organization fighting Assad, is just another way to undermine the fight to
overthrow Assad. The Guardian
The State Department said the al-Nusra Front for the People of the Levant,
which is taking part in the fight on the ground against president Bashar
al-Assad, is an alias for al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), and designated it as
terrorist organisation"*. The Obama administration said that AQI has been
supplying money, weapons and manpower to the al-Nusra Front.
"It is an extremist organisation that has to be isolated," the official
said in a telephone conference call with reporters. He said the aim was to
expose the role of a-Nusra amid concern that its influence was expanding.
By which they mean, winning battles against Assad.
Al Nursa is a jhadist group and their politics may be similar al Qaeda, and
therefore may be opposed for the same reasons for opposing al Qaeda, but
the need to make then an alias for al Qaeda stems completely from US
propaganda requirements. Since al Qaeda has been branded as the group that
attacked the US on 9/11, all jhadist groups, irrespective of their origin,
have to be branded as al Qeada, While Counterpunch happily accepts the
Obama/Assad designation of al Nusra Front as an al-Qaeda alias and a
terrorist organization, they fail to address the contradiction that arises
from their claim that this is Obama's war, al Nusra is *"the only effective
fighting force for the Syrian rebels"* according to them, and Obama's
attempt to deny them weapons and support by blacklisting them.
Peace through Victory for Assad!
Counterpunch swings away:
If not for this U.S.-sponsored flood of guns, the Syrian rebels � many of
them from Saudi Arabia and other countries � would have been militarily
defeated long ago. Tens of thousands of lives would thus have been spared
and a million refugees could have remained in their homes in Syria.
Provided, of course, that Bashar al-Assad decided to spare them once he was
fully back in control. Lauren Wolfe, writing in the
3 April 2013, gives us some idea of what they do when they are in control,
as well as the type of regime the Counterpunch crowd wants to see prevail:
One day in the fall of 2012, Syrian government troops brought a young Free
Syrian Army soldier's fianc�e, sisters, mother, and female neighbors to the
Syrian prison in which he was being held. One by one, he said, they were
raped in front of
Yes, hundreds, maybe thousands, of foreign fighters have come to Syria to
support the struggle against the dictatorship, even some from the US, but
the vast majority of the fighters are from Syria, even from the Syrian
Army. In a 2 April 2013 article titled "Foreigners make up a tiny fraction
of the Syrian opposition<http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/04/02/foreigners_make_up_a_tiny_fraction_of_the_syrian_opposition
in Foreign Policy, John Hudson cites a recent study that concludes
foreigners make up less than 10% of the fighters. This is an inconvenient
truth for Counterpunch as is the reality that the US has not sponsored a
flood of guns to the Syrian rebels. Most of the weapons used against the
Assad regime have been taken from the Assad regime as has almost always
been the case with revolutions.
Counterpunch ignores that fact that the Syrian people were tired of being
dragged from their homes and tortured for the slightest suspicion. Nazim,
Assad's defected cargo pilot, adds to the
police state horrors heard from Syria:
A Sunni Muslim, Nazim also described how he and other officers were
arrested and imprisoned in a tiny cell, measuring four feet by seven and a
half feet, after a cargo plane crash landed, killing the pilot - a member
of the Alawite sect to which the Assad family belong.
*�They took me from work and they put me in prison for 60 days. We were 12
people,�* he said. �There were some pilots, some civilians and some
artillery. All of them were officers.� He was interrogated about the plane
crash almost daily until in mid-September - with no explanation offered -
he was abruptly released.
*�I decided to leave Syria when I got out of prison, because when I got
home I found my house was burned down,�* he said.
I was in the army, working for the government, and yet they burned my house.
The people were tired of 42 years of Assad family rule and rose up against
it as part the general Arab uprising that began in December 2010.
Counterpunch doesn't credit them with having any autonomy, just as they
don't blame Assad for any of the slaughter. To hear Counterpunch tell it,
those who took up arms against the regime after it responded to peaceful
protests with gun fire, and those who supported an armed resistance are
responsible for all the misery and destruction. It would appear that
Counterpunch thinks it wrong to take up arms against the Assad regime and
is still hoping to see the rebels defeated militarily and the Assad regime
Counterpunch is pushing the Assad line that all of his troubles are the
result of a US plot. This piece is sprinkled with phrases like *"Obama�s
National Coalition of Syrian Revolution"*, *"Obama�s precondition for peace"
*,*"Obama�s rebels"*, *"Obama�s prized rebels"* etc. in lieu of anything
like evidence, as if repetition alone could establish the facts. Never mine
that it is the Syrian opposition that has been steadfast in demanding an
end to the Assad regime, according to Counterpunch they are of no account,
its all an Obama show.
To prove the point, Counterpunch indulges in another bit of
misrepresentation and slander:
The most popular leader of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution,
Moaz al-Khatib, recently quit in protest because he was prohibited from
pursuing peace negotiations by the U.S.-appointed opposition Prime
Minister, Ghassan Hitto, a U.S. citizen who had lived in the U.S. for the
previous 30 years.
So according Counterpunch, al-Khatib quit because he wants peace
negotiations and Obama and his rebels want only war.
Again, I find it ironic that Counterpunch chose to lead with the charge of
lying through teeth. To show you what I mean, I'm afraid I'll have to quote
a big exert from a Reuters
Wednesday that includes the words of the man himself:
The refusal of international powers to provide Patriot missile support for
rebel-held areas of northern Syria sends a message to President Bashar
al-Assad to *"do what you want"*, Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib
said on Wednesday
Alkhatib, a popular figure in the opposition, also said he would not
rescind his resignation as leader of the main anti-Assad alliance but he
would still perform leadership duties for the time being.
NATO said on Tuesday it had no intention of intervening militarily in Syria
after Alkhatib said he had asked the United States to use Patriot missiles
to protect rebel-held areas from Assad's air power.
*"Yesterday I was really surprised by the comment issued from the White
House that it was not possible to increase the range of the Patriot
missiles to protect the Syrian people,"*Alkhatib told Reuters in an
*"I'm scared that this will be a message to the Syrian regime telling it
'Do what you want'."
Asked about his resignation on Sunday as leader of the rebel coalition -
which he has said was motivated mainly by frustration at Western reluctance
to increase support for the opposition - he said: *"I have given my
resignation and I have not withdrawn it. But I have to continue my duties
until the general committee meets."*
So Moaz al-Khatib is saying that he *"resigned"* (but nonetheless,
represented the National Coalition at the Arab League.) in protest of a
lack of military support from Obama and NATO, and not, as Counterpunch
would have you believe, because they are pushing war and he is a man of
As to the *"U.S.-appointed opposition Prime Minister, Ghassan Hitto,"* it
would seen that what really happened was much more nuanced and complex than
Counterpunch is letting on. According to the NY
The member [of the National Coalition] said that Saudi Arabia threatened to
cut off financing and divide the coalition if its favored candidate for
prime minister, Assad Mustafa, was not chosen. That demand enraged
coalition members, who responded by quickly choosing Mr. Hitto, who was
backed by Qatar and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, the member said.
This scenario is a bit more complex than Counterpunch can admit to. They
can't allow that any daylight exists between the Obama administration and
the House of Saud, let alone between the Syrian opposition and US
imperialism. Puppets can't show such independence. Counterpunch says:
By appointing Hitto as the leader of the opposition, Obama has splintered
the already-splintered opposition ...
So as far as Counterpunch is concerned, Obama appointed opposition leader
Hitto much as he appointed John Kerry his Secretary of State and the Syrian
people had no say in either choice.
This Counterpunch piece tries to make its case by spouting a shallow
narrative of events, cherry picking a few quotes from the main stream
media, and then maligning them. A prime example follows:
Obama has rejected both Russian and Syrian calls for peace negotiations in
recent months, as he has greatly increased the frequency of the weapons
trafficking plan. Reuters
the Obama Administration�s reaction to peace proposals from Russia and
*��[Syria's Foreign Minister's] offer of [peace] talks drew a dismissive
response from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was starting a
nine-nation tour of European and Arab capitals in London [to help organize
support for the Syrian rebels].�*
Once you take away Counterpunch's inserted conclusions about what the talks
and trip were for, and add the sentence following that quotes Kerry, you
get a different view of why he was dismissive of *"peace talks"* with Assad:
His offer of talks drew a dismissive response from U.S. Secretary of State
John Kerry, who was starting a nine-nation tour of European and Arab
capitals in London.
*"It seems to me that it's pretty hard to understand how, when you see the
Scuds falling on the innocent people of Aleppo, it is possible to take
their notion that they are ready to have a dialogue very seriously,"* Kerry
Kerry here is just echoing the demands of the Syrian opposition when the
says they won't negotiate with Assad, rather than the other way round.
Since Counterpunch is all about denying the National Coalition any
autonomy, they can't have it that way.
Assad and Putin are quite willing to talk about talking as long as it
doesn't interfere with their slaughter of civilians with Scuds and cluster
bombs, because terror and slaughter are tools they prefer and depend on.
Counterpunch also makes no demands that they stop weapons trafficking or
the purposeful attacks on civilian targets, they do demand that Assad's
opposition have no such preconditions for talks before they come
hat-in-hand to the table with Assad while he continues to let the Scuds
crash into neighborhoods.
And with regards to Moaz al-Khatib's alleged proposal for a *"political
settlement"* via peaceful negotiations with Bashar al-Assad, that was
nothing but a very good propaganda ploy, designed to make Assad be the one
that refused the negotiation, which it did, because it contained conditions
al-Khatib knew Assad would never agree to, conditions Counterpunch
neglected to mention. The National
Mr Al Khatib said he was prepared to meet representatives of the Syrian
regime in Cairo, with important caveats. First, he said, 160,000 detainees,
including all of those held by the feared air force intelligence security
branch, must be released.
The second condition was that all Syrians living abroad have their
passports reinstated. Many exiled opposition figures have no legal status
Mr Al Khatib said the proposal was a *"goodwill initiative to seek a
political solution to the crisis, to prepare for a transitional phase that
prevents any more bloodshed".*
It was reaction to a plan by Mr Al Assad calling for rebels to
unconditionally surrender and for the opposition to enter negotiations.
I hope that this detailed examination of these excerpts gives you some idea
of the sort of intellectual dishonesty these Leftists have to stoop to prop
up their bankrupt position.
These Counterpunch Leftists are only opposed to intervention on the side of
the Syrian people, as far as they are concerned, anyone has every right to
supply requested support to the legitimate government of Syria, the same
way the French are doing in Mali or the US did with South Vietnam.
Counterpunch quotes the Russian government as saying:
*"Moscow is convinced that only a political settlement and not encouraging
destructive military scenarios, can stop the bloodshed and bring peace and
security to all Syrians in their country.�*
But they fail to even mention Russia's admitted supply of
the Assad regime and even their recent threat to put Russian boots on the
defense of the Assad regime.
Counterpunch lets us know that they are predisposed to blame any chemical
weapons use on the resistance:
if the Syrian rebels get hold of chemical weapons and use them on the
Syrian government � as seems to be the case �
In his closing paragraph, Shamus Cooke comes back to the overriding theme
of this Left trend when it comes to the Syrian Revolution, its all a remake
of the Iraq War, with variations:
Obama�s Bush-like determination to overthrow the Syrian government has led
him down the same path as his predecessor, though Obama is fighting a *
�smarter�* war, i.e., he�s employing more deceptive means to achieve the
same ends, at the exact same cost of incredible human suffering.
Counterpunch is supporting a fascist regime in its struggle against the
people and yet this passes for a respectable Left position and that is so
wrong because the Syrian people are suffering mightily from that
dictatorship and struggling heroically to overthrow it and they could use
the help of more dedicated revolutionaries, even here in the US.
Click here for a list of my other blogs on
>THE SYRIAN ELECTRONIC ARMY ARE AT
CYBER WAR WITH ANONYMOUS
By Oz Katerji <http://www.vice.com/en_uk/author/ozkaterji
Since protesters first took to Syria's streets in March of 2011, the crisis
has cost over 70,000 lives and displaced over a million refugees. And while
Bashar al-Assad's government continues to fight against armed opposition
groups, a new war is beginning to take place online. However, this
cyber-war isn't restricted to just a room full of high-fiving neck-beards
firing DDoS attacks at rebel computers, it's having real and sometimes
lethal effects on the ground.
The Syrian Electronic Army <http://syrian-es.org/index.php?lang=en
are a pro-Assad hacker organisation who claim
attacks on websites belonging to the *Washington Post*, Al Jazeera, Human
Rights Watch, the *Telegraph* and the*Independent,* among others. Most
recently, they hacked the BBC Weather
it with pro-regime propaganda, which was more hilarious than it was an
inspiration to load up, ship out and go to battle with Assad's enemies, but
I suppose it's still getting their message out there.
I spoke to a Western security analyst (who wished to remain anonymous), who
specialises in tracking malicious hacker organisations, about Syria's
�The SEA has been present for a long time," he told me. "They do a few
things: on the one hand they deface websites, and on the other hand they
attack activists computers. While they claim to have worked independently,
most believe that they are coordinating some of their efforts with elements
of the Assad Regime.
�They seem fuelled by the perception that Syria is being misrepresented by
Western propaganda and pitch themselves to journalists as trying to show
'the real story'. They'd be more credible if they were more honest about
their own affiliations and didn't engage in their own propaganda. There's
also a widespread belief that the SEA shares the information that they
gather from their attacks against activists with the Syrian government.�
The security analyst then told me that there's a widespread belief that the
information handed over by hackers has led directly to the murders of a
number of anti-regime activists, which is when the whole thing stops being
flippant and funny and gets a lot more sinister and scary. After a week or
so of trying, I eventually got in touch with a hacker representing the SEA
� who calls himself 'Th3 Pr0' � to discuss the group's intentions.
*VICE: So how was the Syrian Electronic Army formed and what does it hope
*Th3 Pr0:* The SEA started at the beginning of the Syria crisis. Young
Syrians came together to defend their country against a bloody propaganda
campaign by media organisations such as Al Jazeera, BBC and France24. We're
all Syrian youths who each have our specialised computer skills, such as
hacking and graphic design. Our mission is to defend our proud and beloved
country Syria against a bloody media war that has been waged against her.
The controlled media of certain countries continues to publish lies and
fabricated news about Syria.
*Why did you choose to attack the BBC Weather Twitter feed to get your
message across? It seems like a weird choice.*
Because the BBC have never published any truth about Syria � they've been
completely biased in their coverage � so we used their Twitter feed to do
it ourselves. Revolutions don't need foreign guns and they don't need to
force civilians from their homes and execute anyone who opposes them.
Revolutions ride on the back of popular uprisings, and there's nothing
popular about the Muslim Brotherhood running this �revolution�. The word
revolution invokes a sense of mass public support, but what Syria is facing
is not a revolution, it's a foreign-backed armed insurrection.
*What's your view on hacktivist organisations like Anonymous who have
previously targeted Syrian government affiliated sites?*
Anonymous isn't one organisation; there are many taking on that name, some
of whom claim to be genuine fighters for justice but are actually FBI and
CIA agents. By attacking Syria they're simply following the agenda of the
US government. They're not a threat to us � we've hacked several of their
websites and released the personal details of their members.
*What's the SEA position on the Syrian government's internet blackout in
restrictions such as blocks on
We think that the internet will be better without Facebook and YouTube,
because it's like prison � if you get into them, it's hard to get out. But
internet freedom in Syria is better than many other Arab countries.
However, unlike what the mainstream media reported, it wasn't the Syrian
government that blacked out the internet, it was the opposition group, who
call themselves the Free Syrian Army. They're all using satellite phones
given to them by the US, so they don't need Syrian internet access. They
attacked the lines to coincide on a push to control Damascus airport.
*And what about claims that the SEA have passed on details of anti-regime
activists to the government, which in some cases have led to those
activists being arrested and/or killed?*
No, that's not true. We don't give any information about any activists to
the Syrian government. We don't think the Syrian government needs our
information; every country has its own intelligence.
*So you're saying you've never passed on information to the government in
If FSA activists are planning on setting a bomb off or killing or
kidnapping anyone, then yes, we'll tell the government. We don't hide the
fact that many of the emails we obtained were forwarded to the Syrian
government because of their importance and the fact they contained security
and military information.
*Okay. Thanks, Pr0. *
After hearing that the SEA are apparently pretty nonplussed about
Anonymous, the world's best known hacktivist group, I figured I should get
in contact with them to hear what they think about the situation. Commander
X is one of Anonymous' more vocal members and founder of the People�s
Liberation Front <http://www.peoplesliberationfront.tk/
> (PLF), a group
linked with Anonymous who actively participating in
an anti-Syrian government hacking campaign, as well as other Arab Spring
hacktivist operations. With all that in mind, I thought he'd be a good
person to talk to.
*VICE: Hi, Commander X. Can you tell me a bit about Anonymous' work in
Syria and how you got involved with the conflict?"*
*Commander X:* I and the PLF, under the flag of Anonymous, launched
Operation Syria the very first week that the protests began in Deraa, Syria
and the police had brutalised some young protesters caught doing political
the university there. As a movement, we were fresh out of victories in both
Tunisia and Egypt, and I guess we felt that we and the Arab Spring were
both sort of invincible. I think we all honestly felt Assad would be easy
to topple � I don't think any of us back then could have predicted how
things would turn out.
Our involvement in the events in Syria involve a sort of standard template
within Anonymous and the movement that's come to be called "Freedom Ops".
So our focus is, first and foremost, how do we keep the activists and
protesters on the ground � as well as the entire population of Syria �
safely connected to the internet? We also distribute the Anonymous Care
>, providing tech support
for journalists and activists, media campaigns and, of course, offensive
attacks on government web assets.
Anonymous: Message to the Syrian Electronic Army
*Can you tell me about your war with the Syrian Electronic Army?*
The SEA was actually founded by Assad back when he was thought to have next
to no chance of inheriting his fathers position as dictator because he was
just such a geeky nerd. So they've been around a while, and we were aware
from day one that they could become involved in the cyber conflict. As for
our dealings with them, that's pretty straightforward. They are, by their
own choice of allegiance to the dictator, the enemies of Anonymous. And
they introduced themselves into the conflict fairly early on with a rather
spectacular hack of a fairly well known Anonymous web site. We, in turn,
responded by attacking their web assets and that conflict continues to this
It's a cyber war; they attack our assets, we attack theirs. They have their
victories, and some spectacular defeats, and we have ours. To be honest,
the war has gone on so long now you could probably fill up a book if you
were to detail every engagement between Anonymous and the SEA.
*Does Anonymous have a plan of action in place to target the SEA?*
Frankly, both sides are a bit exhausted by the cyber war and I don't think
you could say that there's any sort of battle plan other than to simply
persevere and continue the fight. As long as they continue to support
Assad, I think it's safe to say the SEA would do well to expect us to carry
*Follow Oz on Twitter: @OzKaterji <http://twitter.com/OzKaterji
*More hacking and Anonymous:*
*Meet The Mysterious Hacking Collective Who Love Trolling
*Anonymous Taught Twitter About The Rohingya
*Anonymous Tried To Storm The Houses Of Parliament Last
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