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Syria: Assad regime close to over amid rising violence

The 50-year rule of the Ba'ath Party in Syria looks to be effectively over.
In the past month armed clashes have spread to the Syrian capital, Damascus, and the largest city, Aleppo. Armed opposition forces have taken control of several border points. On August 6, Prime Minister Riad Hijab defected to the opposition.

The regime of Bashar al-Assad — who inherited the presidency in 2000 from his father, Hafez al-Assad, who seized power in a 1970 military coup — no longer controls the country.

However, an end to the violence, which has claimed 20,000 lives since the uprising that broke out in March last year against Assad, looks far away. So, too, does the realisation of the uprising's original aims: democratic rights and economic justice.

The regime has indicated it will cling to whatever power it can with counter-offensives in Damascus and Aleppo. Western demands that Assad face an international war crimes trial, and the nastier fate of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi who was brutally murdered after his overthrow and capture by NATO-led forces, has given Assad no incentive to compromise.

The West's winner-takes-all diplomacy has also encouraged the regime's international allies to keep arming Assad, particularly Russia, whose only naval base outside the former Soviet Union is in Syria.

Furthermore, anti-democratic forces have become more prominent within the opposition — which began as a non-violent mass uprising and became a civil war — due to the regime's military response and Western support for armed opposition. Both the West and the Assad regime have also been fuelling conflict between religious communities.

As in Libya, the aim of Western support for the opposition has been to manipulate its agenda. However, unlike in Libya, the West has not intervened militarily against Assad.

One form of Western interference has been diplomatic: the creation of the Syrian National Council (SNC) from exiled politicians and defectors and its promotion in international institutions as a government-in-waiting and in the world's media as the sole opposition voice.

Supply of weapons and cash has mostly been indirect, with the Western-aligned oil monarchies of the Gulf, in particular Qatar and Saudi Arabia, serving as intermediaries.

The role of these countries has meant that the main beneficiaries of outside military aid to the opposition have been Sunni Islamist outfits who have been joined by fighters from the international jihadi milieu.

However, the mass-based non-sectarian uprising has not been completely overshadowed by the military opposition, most of which is actually not comprised of Western-armed jihadis.

Mass protests, civil disobedience and strikes continue to be organised by the Local Coordinating Committees — the largest opposition network inside Syria. The LCC is opposed to Western intervention and stands for "transition to a pluralistic, secular and democratic system of governance, based on public freedoms, as well as legal and political equality among all Syrians".

The SNC regularly appeals to the West, but another exile-based opposition group, the National Co-ordination Body for Democratic Change (NCBDC), has opposed Western direct and indirect intervention and blamed Western aid for the increasingly religious-sectarian nature of the conflict.

NCBDC president Haytham Manna, in an article in the June 23 Guardian, argued that taking up arms against the regime was a tactical mistake.

The LCC, however, argues that becoming armed was necessary for the opposition to survive the government's military response and maintains a relationship with the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The FSA is more of a brand name than a unified military force. Originally the name was used by groups of soldiers defecting from the government army.

It was later taken up by groups formed from local recruits in the communities where the uprising was strongest and by some of the foreign-armed and funded jihadis.

Most FSA groups are not foreign-armed. Some weapons were brought over by defecting government soldiers while others were simply purchased.
Weapons such as assault rifles are relatively easy to obtain in Syria, which has porous borders with Lebanon and Iraq. Some of these lightly armed FSA groups share the LCC's secular stance. Others are influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, which was the largest underground opposition group under the old regime.

However, the armed opposition advances in Damascus and Aleppo showed that recipients of foreign support gained a significant advantage through access to heavier weapons that could counter the government's tanks and artillery.

An opposition fighter in Aleppo enthused to the August 9 Los Angeles Times: "Six or seven months ago, we didn't have anti-tank weapons; now we do, and it has changed things for us. We already had the fighters ready, but now we have the weapons too."

The July 22 New York Times linked the rebel advance to more US support, quoting "a senior Obama administration official" as saying: "You'll notice in the last couple of months, the opposition has been strengthened. Now we're ready to accelerate that."

The NYT said: "A small number of CIA officers have been operating secretly in southern Turkey for several weeks, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive weapons to fight the government."

The CIA was trying to "keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups," the NYT claimed, despite having acknowledged that US "non-lethal" military aid was benefiting the Qatari and Saudi-armed groups.

One apparent beneficiary is the Tawheed Brigade. On August 8, Reuters said that with 2000 fighters, it was the largest armed group in Aleppo and had some foreign jihadis in its ranks.

A Syrian fighter from the group told Reuters: "There are some really extremist battalions that don't cooperate well with us. They stay on their own. We're trying to fold jihadis into our group so they back off their more aggressive tactics.

"That doesn't mean we aren't nervous. They could still turn and rebel against us."

A separate August 8 Reuters article said that "leaders of several rebel brigades" had signed a pledge not to kill captives or "practice any form of torture, rape, mutilation or degradation". This was prompted by mobile phone video footage of opposition fighters in Aleppo summarily executing prisoners who may or may not have been members of pro-government paramilitaries.

"The Aleppo-based Tawheed brigade, believed to have captured the men who were shot dead in Aleppo last week, was not on the list of signatories," Reuters said.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on August 7 armed men randomly shooting at members of the Christian and Alawite minorities, killing 16 people. On August 8, AP reported that a journalist from French television station France 24 had to flee Syria because of death threats received on Twitter from armed opposition forces.

The August 9 NYT reported a wave of violent crime, particularly kidnapping, in Aleppo since the conflict spread there, perpetrated by both sides and by opportunistic gangs.

"Rebel fighters have also been seen stealing cars and destroying a restaurant in Aleppo where Syrian soldiers have sometimes eaten. Some residents of Aleppo who say they care about peace and distrust both sides in the conflict said that both rebels and government militias ... were targeting anyone they thought supported the other side."

Despite the rising war crimes by elements of the armed opposition, the government remains responsible for most of the killings and abuses.

The reporting of opposition crimes in the Western mainstream media has risen to a greater extent than the crimes themselves, although overall coverage has remained sympathetic to the pro-Western external and internal opposition.

This, and increasing references from the Western media and politicians to the danger of Al Qaeda-affiliated groups taking root in Syria, reflects Western anxieties over controlling developments after Assad finally falls.

The West's promotion of regime defectors such as Hijab and Manaf Tlass, a general who defected to France in July, reflects that the safest model of regime change is to decapitate and realign the existing regime.

However, to achieve this Russia's support would have been necessary and a countervailing motivation in US policy was to use the opportunity to detach Russia from its closest Middle East ally.

On the one hand, the West has relied in Syria on the type of Islamist group that, from the proxy war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s to the intervention in Libya last year, have proved open to being used by the West against common enemies — but difficult to control afterwards.

On the other hand, the democratic movement has not been entirely extinguished. At the heart of this movement is a rejection of economic injustice stemming from Western-dictated neoliberal economic policies that Assad imposed.

Furthermore, public opinion in Syria is sympathetic to the Palestinians and intensely hostile to Israel, which has occupied the Syrian Golan Heights since 1967. Assad's alliance with Iran and material aid to Lebanese and Palestinians resistance groups notwithstanding, Israeli politicians have noted that their border with Syria was Israel's quietest, despite being inside Syrian territory.

Israel has been lukewarm toward the West's interference in Syria, fearing either democracy or chaotic disintegration.

Assad is a Fascist, but... 16.Aug.2012 16:21

Right to Rebel

...he has the usual friends and sympathizers in Portland just because he rattles saber against U.S. imperialists. These "isolationists" oppose international solidarity in overthrowing dictators.

The whole bandwagon that was doing PR for Gaddafi in Libya is now licking boots for the fascist Assad.

lifted from LA 16.Aug.2012 19:37

Too Much

-This is another apologist for terrorism against a peaceful ation loaded with falsehoods or, simply, lies.
"the realisation of the uprising's original aims" >which was the destabilization of Iran's ally.and they're doing well on that front.
"Despite the rising war crimes by elements of the armed opposition, the government remains responsible for most of the killings and abuses. " > and the proof of these claims that Assad commanded any of the massacres against his own people? Actually there is ample proof that the terrorists known as the Free Syrian Army committed these mass killings.
"Israel has been lukewarm toward the West's interference in Syria, fearing either democracy or chaotic disintegration." > that statement is total crap because the AIPAC driven American congress is salivating at the prospects of a fractured Syria on the way to a war on Iran.
Anymore nauseating quibbling about the death sqauds sent in from NATO and the CIAduh are pure noise to sugar coat the bloodbath now being created by western interests in Syria.-

Every Non-Austerian Must Be A "Fascist" 17.Aug.2012 19:20

blues

Excerpts Regarding The Difference Between Libya And US Occupied Haiti

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Beyond Money — Devoted to the liberation of money and credit, and the restoration of the commons — by Thomas H. Greco
 http://beyondmoney.net/2011/04/07/what-is-the-truth-about-libya/

By retaining Libya's oil wealth for the benefit of all its people, Gadaffi had created a socialist paradise. There is no unemployment, Libya has the highest GDP in .Africa, less than 5% of the population is classified as poor and it has fewer people living below the poverty datum line than for example in Holland. Life expectancy is 75 years and is the highest in Africa and I0% above the world average.

With the exception of the nomadic Bedouin and Tuareg tribes, most Libyan families possess a house and a car. There is free health care and education and not surprisingly Libya has a literacy rate of 82%. Last year Gadaffi distributed $500 to each man, woman and child (population 6.5 million).

Libya has a tolerable human rights record and stands at 61 on the International Incarceration Index, comparable with countries in central Europe (the lower the rating, the lower the standing - the USA occupies the no.1 spot!). There is hardly any crime and only rebels and traitors are dealt with harshly.

Anyone who has read Gadaffi's little Green Book will realize that he is a thoughtful and enlightened leader. Libya has been accused of having committed numerous acts of terrorism in the past, but many of these have been perpetrated by foreign intelligence agencies as false flag operations - the Lockerbie bombing being a prime example.

The CIA and MI6 and their frontmen have been stoking up dissent in the east of the country for almost 30 years. Libya produces exceptionally high quality light crude oil and its production cost of $1 a barrel, compared to the current price of $115, is the lowest in the world.

Riba (usury) is not permitted. The Central bank of Libya is a wholly-owned by the Libyan Government and is run as a state bank, issuing all government loans free of interest. This is in contrast to the exploitative fractional reserve banking system of the West. The no-fly zone and the bombing of Libya have nothing to do with the protection of civilians. It is an act of war ­ a blatant and crude attempt by the oil corporations and international bankers to steal the wealth of Libya.
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Consortium News — by William Blum
 http://www.consortiumnews.com/2011/050311b.html

So why is only Libya the target for U.S./NATO missiles? Is there some principled or moral reason? Are the Libyans the worst abusers of their people in the region?

In actuality, Libya offers its citizens a higher standard of living. (The 2010 U.N. Human Development Index, a composite measure of health, education and income ranked Libya first in Africa.)

None of the other countries has a more secular government than Libya. (In contrast some of the Libyan rebels are in the habit of chanting that phrase we all know only too well: "Allahu Akbar".)

None of the others has a human-rights record better than that of Libya, however imperfect that may be — in Egypt a government fact-finding mission has announced that during the recent uprising at least 846 protesters were killed as police forces shot them in the head and chest with live ammunition. [Associated Press, April 20, 2011]
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True US History — Cynthia McKinney visits a hospital in Libya — by dondebar
 link to abundanthope.net

Video:
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYoXwH5bu0E

[Comment by gerryhiles] This is all breaking my heart. I lived in Libya for a while and nothing being said about the country, nor Qadafi is true. Yes he is eccentric, including being eccentric-enough to have transformed Libyans from being amongst the most impoverished people on Earth, to having free education, free health care and even free housing if necessary.

Not the "American Way". He is a socialist, can't have that can we!!
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Associated Press — Adam Schreck — Diplomatic efforts heat up as bombs target Tripoli
 http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/06/16/general-ml-libya_8520904.html

One of Gadhafi's sons told an Italian newspaper that while his father would not seek exile, elections under international supervision could offer a way out. A vote could be organized within three months, he said.

The son, Seif al-Islam, told Corriere della Sera that Gadhafi would step aside if he lost, which the son said was unlikely. He acknowledged, however, that "my father's regime as it developed since 1969 is dead."

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland rejected the idea of elections in Libya.

"It's a little late for any proposals by Gadhafi and his circles for democratic change," she said Thursday. "It's time for him to go."
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American Everyman — CNN's Misogynistic Cell Phone Porn Propaganda — by Scott Creighton
 link to willyloman.wordpress.com

This latest effort of theirs centers around what "rebel activists" say are cell phones "captured" from Libyan soldiers with videos of rapes on them.

The FAT CNN "journalist" filing this report (same one who did the bullshit interview with the woman in the hospital) admits that they can't see who the supposed victim is, they can't verify the validity of the video, and that the men assaulting the woman are NOT wearing Libyan army uniforms but are instead wearing civilian clothes. And yet the fat "journalist" still reports it as fact.

They blur the video so you can't see the bad acting and probably even worse staging of the ridiculous scene, but listening to the HORRIBLE FUCKING ACTING is enough to PROVE it is BULLSHIT!

Porn actors do a better job!

CNN video of "rape":

 http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/06/14/libya.rape.hfr/index.html?hpt=hp_t2
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From Wikipedia, (the "non-profit" encyclopedia (a private asset) built by volunteers)
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libya

Tripoli, is home to 1.7 million of Libya's 6.4 million people. The three traditional parts of the country are Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica. Libya has the highest HDI in Africa and the fourth highest GDP (PPP) per capita in Africa as of 2009, behind Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. These are largely due to its large petroleum reserves and low population.[10][11] Libya has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world and the 17th-highest petroleum production.
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Why would one suppose, the US and EU are invading Libya, and bombing Tripoli, killing Muammar Gaddafi's son and three grandchildren? (Wikipedia now claims that Libya's government is run by Chairperson of the National Transitional Council Mustafa Abdul Jalil, and the Chairperson of the Executive Board Mahmoud Jebril — not by Muammar Gaddaji.) Maybe because we've done so very well transforming Haiti into an island paradise.

SO WE DO SUCH A GREAT JOB OF TRANSFORMING NATIONS, INCLUDING LIBYA, THAT HAVE GREAT FREE HEALTH CARE, EDUCATION, HOUSING, GENERAL WELFARE INTO FEUDAL WARLORD GANGLANDS!

Do you think the Libyans get zero unemployment, great free healthcare, free education, guaranteed housing, etc. under the Warlords we have unleashed there now? Probably not?

So now we want to grant the same wonderful "freedoms" to the citizens of Syria? How kind of our Western Empire! We are just so obsessively benevolent! We have Diebold - Self-service, security and service solutions to the "voting problem"!