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  • Cort Greene
    http://claysbeach.blogspot.com/2013/04/counterpunch-so-wrong-on-syria.html Counterpunch: So Wrong on Syria There is a whole trend of the Left, perhaps the
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6 3:44 AM
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      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
      the people!

      Because Libya <http://anthrocivitas.net/forum/showthread.php?t=11292> and
      Syria <http://storify.com/samioj/baathism-is-fascism> 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
      political parties<http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/06/2012626224516206109.html>
      and held elections just about as free and
      fair<http://www.cartercenter.org/news/pr/libya-070912.html> as
      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
      for Counterpunch<http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/07/25/is-libya-the-next-somalia/>,
      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
      dictator<http://jonjayray.tripod.com/saddam.html> that
      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
      never happened<http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/07/photogalleries/apollo-moon-landing-hoax-pictures/>,
      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
      Counterpunch <http://www.counterpunch.org/> 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.

      From Counterpunch<http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/29/how-obama-chose-war-over-peace-in-syria/>,
      2nd �:

      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
      Daraa<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Daraa> to
      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
      foreign weapons.

      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 rebels.

      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
      regime *once<http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2frNaLspPRs>
      *. 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
      Syria2012Archives <http://www.youtube.com/user/Syria2012Archives>:

      *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
      and when.

      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
      appreciate that.�
      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
      applauded<http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/asmp/MANPADS.html> the
      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
      al-Nusra <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Nusra_Front>, 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
      a *"foreign
      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
      in Syria.

      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
      weapons<http://en.rian.ru/world/20120204/171137441.html> to
      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

      NEWS <http://www.vice.com/en_uk/news>THE SYRIAN ELECTRONIC ARMY ARE AT

      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> (SEA)
      are a pro-Assad hacker organisation who claim
      responsibility<http://syrian-es.org/section.php?id=3&lang=en> for
      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
      and flooded
      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
      virtual warriors.

      �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
      to achieve?*
      *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
      and YouTube<https://opennet.net/blog/2011/06/syria-goes-mostly-offline-protests-intensify>
      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
      the past?*
      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
      Package <http://youranonnews.tumblr.com/downloads/>, 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

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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