Children’s trauma is a laughing matter—if you are Vanessa Beeley

by Amr Salahi

The notorious Assad regime propagandist Vanessa Beeley has been recently on a speaking tour of the UK. She has been showing up at small venues  in Bristol, Birmingham, and London to give a presentation entitled “Aleppo: Fall or Liberation”. These talks have been hosted by the Communist Party of Great Britain Marxist-Leninist (CPGB-ML), which openly supports and glorifies Josef Stalin. In Bristol, her talk was held at the Palestine Museum and attended by about 70 people.

The general gist of Beeley’s talk is similar to her published work on websites such as 21st Century Wire and Mint Press News. The rebels are non-Syrian terrorists from Al-Qaeda who commit atrocities against the population in the areas they hold; what is happening in Syria is part of a regime change conspiracy that has been in place since the 1980s involving the media, human rights organizations, and Western governments; Bashar Al-Assad’s army is the main humanitarian agent, providing Syrians in East Aleppo and other rebel-held areas it captured with relief and medical care.

Members of Syria Solidarity UK who attended Beeley’s presentation (two and a half hours ong) have provided a more detailed account of the meeting here. This article will only look at a few minutes of her talk, which encapsulate the maliciousness of her propaganda and how it is designed to make the targeting and murder of Syrian civilians acceptable to people who consider themselves “progressive” and “anti-imperialist”.

Continue reading “Children’s trauma is a laughing matter—if you are Vanessa Beeley”

Syria and Leftwing Hasbara

Or how hawkish and dovish leftwing denialists on Syria echo hawkish and dovish Zionists on Palestine

By Sergio Pérez

While Syrians continue to lose their lives, or struggle to survive, under atrocious conditions, subjected to indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes, displaced, besieged, starved, and tortured in every conceivable way, a heated exchange of indictments has taken place among left-wingers in the stormy arena of the social media.

At the centre are some prominent, mostly Western figures of the pro-Palestinian activism, who are charged with denialism and/or accused of displaying a deafening silence on the Syrian uprising and the brutal repression that it has been facing at the hands of Assad regime—a regime, we shouldn’t forget, that is responsible for over 95% of civilian deaths and accused by the UN of crimes against humanity amount to “extermination” which “far outnumber those of ISIS militants and other jihadist groups”.The arguments that these figures have used seem to reveal, oddly enough, striking similarities to those that Zionists make in defense of Israel.

To be precise, we must distinguish two principal trends in the so-called denialist Left: the hawkish and the dovish.

Hawkish and Dovish

Detached from reality, hawkish Zionists will deny any evil inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians. When acknowledged, the evil will be justified as a collateral damage or a necessary step in the name of security and counterterrorism. Their denialism will frequently lead them to claims of forgery and fake (“Pallywood”) even in the face of insurmountable evidence to the contrary.

Detached from reality, the Geo-Stalinist anti-Imperialist Left will deny any evil inflicted by Assad and his allies on the Syrian people. When acknowledged, the evil will be justified as a collateral damage or a necessary step in the name of security and counterterrorism. Their denialism will frequently lead them to claims of fabrication (“White Helmets’ soap opera, just to force NATO to intervene”), all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Partially detached from reality, dovish Zionism will acknowledge many evils inflicted by Israel on the Palestinian people, but they will all be rationalized in the name of the lesser evil, that is, the preservation of the Zionist regime and its allegedly more progressive cause (a modern, secular, supportive of minorities regime). Moreover, dovish Zionism adopts the discourse of the “moral equivalence”, that is, the idea that both Palestinian and Israelis commit crimes and must therefore resolve their differences through “diplomacy” (as if both sides are equal). But most of the time, dovish Zionists remain silent.

Partially detached from reality, dovish left denialists will acknowledge many evils inflicted by Assad and his allies on the Syrian people, but they all will be rationalized in the name of the lesser evil, that is, the preservation of the Assad regime and its allegedly more progressive cause (a modern, secular, supportive of minorities regime). Moreover, dovish denialist Left adopts the discourse of the “moral equivalence”, that is, that both pro-regime and anti-regime sides have committed crimes and all they need to do is to engage in “diplomacy”, their imbalance in power and legitimacy notwithstanding. But most of the time, dovish denialist Left remains silent.

Continue reading “Syria and Leftwing Hasbara”

The Moral Dysfunction of Assadism

By Abed Abu-Shehade (translated by Ofer Neiman)

During one of the last lectures given at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna before his passing, Professor Sadiq al-Azm rejected the notion that what was happening in Syria was a “civil war”. He explained that unlike the Lebanese case, in which civilians of various religions took up arms and went out to seek vengeance upon others, the Syrian case involves a struggle between the regime and civil society. Sadik does not ignore the fact that there are identity-based elements in the struggle between Alawis and Sunnis, but he stressed that the regime is the key player acting against both civilians and rebels to suppress the uprising using every means at its disposal. He added that even at its most extreme, rebel actions pale in comparison to the regime’s barrel bombs and the Russians’ bunker busters.

Syrian intellectuals have reached such a state of despair in the face of the crisis, that they have ironically proposed to the US Administration to allow the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons, as long as the latter stopped its bombings — because dying by chemical weapons is a lot ‘cleaner’, and at least no body parts would litter streets or children lie buried under rubble.

Sadik wonders how people can still dispute the legitimacy of the Syrian uprising. He compares the Syrian case to Hungary in 1956, when Hungarians rose up against the Soviet regime. But back then, no one (except for dogmatic supporters of the USSR) criticized the Hungarian people for what seems like a human act, a popular uprising against a violent regime.

Continue reading “The Moral Dysfunction of Assadism”

How it came to this

mohjaBy Mohja Kahf

 

It Came to This

 

i.

For Kurdish rights in Syria

For Kurds stripped of citizenship since 1963

stripped of their land   their language   their names

whipped by the Arab Belt of the Baath

no economic justice no equality no

 

dignity for prisoners of conscience in Syria

families of prisoners assemble on the curb

outside the Justice Building in Damascus

for Tal Malouhi, 17, imprisoned for a poem

for a word   for an essay   for a blog

no charge no warrant no

redress and no recourse

for Raghda Hassan, imprisoned for her novel manuscript

her ten-year-old son on the curb beaten at the vigil

no charge no warrant no

 

accountability of government

its rubber-stamp parliament

its executive all powerful for life

its security branches all powerful

all seventeen of them

its Mr. Ten Percent lining his pockets

the Assad family plundering the country

Continue reading “How it came to this”

How “Stop the War” and Patrick Cockburn justified atrocities in Aleppo

By Amr Salahi

Last week, as Assad’s forces and their foreign militia allies closed in on the last remaining opposition enclave in East Aleppo, the horrific crimes being committed during their assault became headline news across the world. In one massacre alone 82 people were killed and there were reports of children being burned alive.

Activists and civil defence workers in Aleppo uploaded photos and videos to social media and gave interviews to the UK media, telling the world that they were trapped and completely surrounded in East Aleppo. Nearly 100,000 people were herded by the Assad regime and its allies into an area of less than 2 square kilometres. The people in this tiny enclave were deprived of food, medicine, and electricity while barrel bombs and cluster bombs dropped by the Russian and Syrian air forces rained down on them.

Eventually, what was called an “evacuation” agreement was signed. This was a misnomer. The people remaining in East Aleppo were being given a choice. Either a horrific death at the hands of the regime and its militia allies or permanent forced displacement from their city to other opposition-held areas of Syria – where they would be subject to continued aerial bombardment by Russia and the Assad regime.

Continue reading “How “Stop the War” and Patrick Cockburn justified atrocities in Aleppo”

No, climate change did not “cause” the Syrian war

On talking responsibly about climate change and conflict

By Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik

The notion that climate change lurks behind the Syrian crisis is nothing new. In 2015, media articles and recognized public figures started drawing the links between changing temperatures, Syria’s drought, and the country’s staggering violence.

Former US vice-president Al Gore observed that the “underlying story of what caused the gates of hell to open in Syria” was a “climate-related drought.” Secretary of State John Kerry echoed Gore’s words:

It’s not a coincidence that immediately prior to the civil war in Syria, the country experienced its worst drought on record. As many as 1.5 million people migrated from Syria’s farms to its cities, intensifying the political unrest that was just beginning to roil and boil in the region.

Prince Charles noted there was “very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria was a drought that lasted for about five or six years.” Senator Bernie Sanders and artist Charlotte Church attracted attention after publicly making the link. Reports from government commissions and leading NGOs seemed to bolster the conclusion.

As Alex Randall has pointed out, there was a particular context to these conversations. 2015 was the year that the plight of Syrian refugees penetrated into mass European consciousness, and the year of the Paris climate negotiations. Major media, both mainstream and environmental, rode the wave of public interest. The Washington Post ran a column titled: “Climate future will be the Syria refugee crisis times 100.” The New Scientist published a piece headlined: “Calais migrant chaos is a taste of what a warmer world will bring.” The National Observer posted an article bearing the image of Aylan Kurdi, headlined “This is what a climate refugee looks like.”

These overly-simplistic depictions made their way into the language of many environmentalists. As an active participant in climate justice movements, I regularly attend events, rallies and conferences related to environmental issues. At such gatherings, phrases such as: “The Syrian war was caused by climate change”, “Climate change was a major factor behind the Syrian civil war” or “those fleeing to Greece today are climate refugees”, have become recurrent in speeches and conversations.

Continue reading “No, climate change did not “cause” the Syrian war”