Stop pretending that you can’t do anything to save Syrians

This open letter was first published at the New York Review of Books.

The UN says it has run out of words on Syria, but we, the undersigned, still have some for the governments, parliamentarians, electorates and opinion leaders of the powers on whom the international legal order has hitherto depended.

The world is a bystander to the carnage that has ravaged the lives of Syrians. All has happened in full view of a global audience that sees everything but refuses to act.

Through Russian obstruction and western irresolution, the UN Security Council has failed to protect Syrians. To the extent that it has been able to pass resolutions, they have proved ineffectual. All they have done is provide a fig leaf to an institution that appears moribund. Perhaps conscious of the stain this might leave on its legacy, the UN has even stopped counting Syria’s dead. After seven years, these nations appear united only in their apathy.

It will be redundant to list the nature and magnitude of all the crimes that the Assad regime has committed against Syrians, aided by local and foreign militias, by Iranian strategic and financial aid, by Russian airpower and mercenaries—and by international indifference. The world that watched and averted its eyes is its passive enabler.

Syrians were shot and killed in broad daylight for protesting injustice. They were imprisoned, tortured and executed. They were bombed and shelled. They were besieged, raped and humiliated. They were gassed. They were Adisplaced and dispossessed.

Continue reading “Stop pretending that you can’t do anything to save Syrians”

Did a Kremlin Pilgrimage cause Alternet blogger’s Damascene conversion?

A blogger who once supported the Syrian revolution has reinvented himself as an advocate for Bashar al Assad. Did his pilgrimage to Moscow occasion this conversion?

by Sam Charles Hamad and Oz Katerji

Last March, a live performance in support of Syrian first responders by a flashmob orchestra at New York’s Grand Central Station was physically disrupted by a group of six protesters. Within hours, the video of the disruption was uploaded to social media and promoted by an RT employee. Max Blumenthal, a blogger at Alternet, soon released documents that suggested the performance was organized by a pro-Syrian campaign group. In characteristic inversion of reality, RT billed the disruption as a triumph for “anti-war” direct action.

Three participants in the protest have so far been identified: all have links to RT, the Russian state-funded propaganda network now under investigation by the U.S. government for its alleged interference in the last presidential election. Alexander Rubinstein, the man who filmed the protest, is an RT employee, and Taryn Fivek and Sara Flounders, the two protesters, are RT contributors. Blumenthal, who amplified the story, is also a regular on RT.

Fivek was an officer with the International Organization for Migration until she was found to have used the pseudonym Emma Quangel on Twitter to cheer Russia’s actions in Syria and mock civilian suffering. Flounders, a steering committee member of the pro-Assad Syria Solidarity Movement, has graduated from denying Serb atrocities in Bosnia to denying Assad regime atrocities in Syria. Both have limited influence.  It is Blumenthal who with Alternet has created an effective beachhead in the US for Kremlin propaganda.

Things were not always thus. In 2012, Blumenthal had publicly resigned as a columnist from the pro-Assad Lebanese daily Al Akhbar, citing as his reason the paper’s publishing of cheerleaders who blamed Assad’s victims and maligned critical journalists. He likened their behavior to that of Israel’s apologists. Blumenthal has now dramatically resurrected himself as an apologist for Assad, a scourge of critical journalists, and a mirror image—by his own logic—of Israel’s apologists.

What happened in between to occasion this dramatic reversal?  Continue reading “Did a Kremlin Pilgrimage cause Alternet blogger’s Damascene conversion?”

Small wonder: The global fascist love affair with the Assad regime

by Alex Rowell

When the neo-Nazi who smashed his Dodge Charger into a crowd of anti-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia – killing a woman and injuring many others – was found to have posted a Facebook photo supportive of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, more than a few lay observers were left scratching their heads.

Adding to the confusion were videos from the scene showing fellow white supremacists in Charlottesville voicing sympathies for Assad (‘Assad’s the man, brother! Assad’s the man!’); one even wearing a t-shirt depicting a helicopter next to the words, ‘Bashar’s Barrel Delivery Co.’.

That the fascist mob should be enamoured of President Trump seemed comprehensible enough. But why should they be keen on a non-Aryan, non-Christian – indeed, Arab and Muslim, no less – leader with ties to such notorious Islamist entities as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Republic of Iran? Continue reading “Small wonder: The global fascist love affair with the Assad regime”

Tim Anderson’s Dirty War on Syria

By Brian Slocock

Assad regime supporter Tim Anderson, who is on the teaching staff of the University of Sydney, is organising a conference at the University entitled “After the War on Syria” on 18-19 April. This is presented with all the paraphernalia of an academic gathering, though I cannot comment on the political diversity or otherwise of the speakers and presenters. But I do recognise some familiar names from Anderson’s local entourage, and I see that one of the keynote speakers is Leith Fadel, editor of the vociferously pro- regime Al Masdar News.

I’m not concerned here with the Conference but rather with Anderson’s long standing attempt to project himself as an authority on the Syrian conflict with academic credentials. Anderson’s principal claim to authority is a book entitled The Dirty War on Syria, much of which first appeared as posts on the Global Research website. This work provides a handy conspectus of Anderson’s approach to the Syrian conflict and to knowledge in general. It merits a closer look.

Continue reading “Tim Anderson’s Dirty War on Syria”

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”