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KEEPING UP-TO-DATE: Reference list for February 2012

February 6, 2012

There is a constant need to add to the reference list already on this blog to enable people not very familiar with Syria to  develop an understanding of events and some of the main players.

The original reference list on this blog provides links to articles and videos which will always be key to an understanding of the crisis in Syria.  The list below will hopefully help to answer questions in people’s minds at this point.

(To access the links, please copy and paste the site address given.)

For General Reference:

Political science students would go to a variety of sources to best understand and assess the truth behind the crisis in Syria.  With this readership as well as the general reader in mind, a range of reference sources is provided below.  Included are links to Syrian news sites here. Although most people in Australia would probably confidently claim any news out of Syria must be ‘propaganda’, without a doubt it is possible to better understand Syria if these sources are examined.

NB: It is assumed that all sources are examined with a critical eye.

‘Russia Today’ has been consistent in presenting a more balanced view of the crisis in Syria than Australian media outlets. (But that is for you to judge.)


The full articles of Diana Johnstone and Fiona Hill are published on this blog. They both give great insight into the crisis in Syria and what it may mean for the region and indeed for the wider world.

Road to Damascus and on to …. Armageddon? 




What if pollsters put this question to citizens of the United States and the European Union :

“Which is more important, ensuring disgruntled Islamists freedom to overthrow the secular regime in Syria, or avoiding World War Three?”

I’ll bet that there might be a majority for avoiding World War III.

But of course, the question is never framed like that.

“Syria’s ‘Arab Spring’: failed or hijacked?” 

by Fiona Hill,    “The Drum Opinion” 14th Feb, 2012

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is ‘disgusted’ at the stance taken by Russia and China against foreign military intervention in Syria.

But clearly ‘Madame Clinton’, as many Syrians enjoy calling her, has not made time to read the report by the Head of the Arab League (AL) Observer Mission that was deployed throughout Syria’s provinces from December 24, 2011 to January 18, 2012.

It seems our media have not read it either, even though it was publicly released in English over two weeks ago.


For an up-to-date resource bank of articles and interviews on Syria, go to COUNTERPSYOPS

USA, Israel gearing up for Valentine’s Day massacre


The west, and particularly the USA, are turning the Middle East and North Africa into a no-man’s land. It’s become a place where no one is safe and there is complete and total instability. There are kidnappings, rapes, mutilations, burnings, hangings, beheadings…every savagery the mind can conceive of and more.

All this is thanks to the terrorists the west and the USA have trained, armed and funded.

Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria. Moscow and Beijing explained that if adopted, the resolution would enable NATO to ‘replay’ the Libyan scenario in Syria. There have already been several attempts to do so.


British, Qatari troops already waging secret war in Syria?

British and Qatari troops are directing rebel ammunition deliveries and tactics in the bloody battle for Homs, according to an Israeli website known for links to intelligence sources.


Al Qaeda’s Zawahiri calls for war to oust Syria’s Assad

In a video message, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called for Muslims to rally for a war to oust Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

By Elizabeth A. Kennedy, Associated Press / February 12, 2012


Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called for the ouster of Syria‘s “pernicious, cancerous regime,” raising fears that Islamist militants will try to exploit an uprising against President Bashar Assad that began with peaceful calls for democratic change but is morphing into a bloody, armed insurgency.  (Note: this Al Qaeda call  differs little from the fatwas of Sheik Qaradawi which have been broadcast on Al-Jazeera since March 2011, and extremist cleric Adnan Arour’s calls to kill in order to overthrow the Syrian government, also broadcast on a satellite TV station. See previous reference list)


Russian diplomat’s Syria warning

Published on Feb 10, 2012 by

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations warns that Western strategy could lead to problems in Syria.



Nawaat: The massacre in Homs, killing more than 200 lives, the deadliest since the events started, does it seem suspicious to you?

A.M: This massacre is signed and its authors are making fun of our intelligence. Is it possible to believe for a moment, a government, whatever it is, could commit such a massacre on the day his case is brought before the Security Council?

In fact, this is a stunt as part of a comprehensive and concerted intervened where the “Syrian activists” abroad to fill the Syrian embassies and consulates, “referring to the call of Syrian ambassadors in Arab countries and of course the massacre of Homs.
While this massacre: those who followed the TV that day have seen pictures of many victims. Most of these victims had their hands tied behind their backs and some had their faces to the ground.
The directors told us that they were the victims of the bombing of buildings and houses by tanks and even by the Syrian Air Force. Curiously these victims were not wearing injuries nor any sign of the collapse of their houses and dwellings. Each can draw the conclusions he wants. In any case throughout the 4th of February, Syrian citizens testified that they recognized among the victims, relatives and neighbors removed for a week and even months.
Each can draw the conclusions he wants.


Contrary Views of US Diplomats:

Robert Ford, (former?) US Ambassador to Syria, is an extremely controversial figure. There have been claims he has been organizing death squads to go into Syria.

More recently, he has been interviewed on CNN to make sure he gets his message across about Syria:

But not everyone in the US who knows Syria agrees with Ambassador Ford. This former US diplomat who has worked in Syria, is much more sober and considered than Ambassador Ford:

I have serious problems with all the talk about military intervention in Syria. Everyone, especially the media, seems to be relying solely on anti-regime activists for their information. How do we know 260 people were killed by the regime in Homs yesterday? That number seems based solely on claims by anti-regime figures and I seriously doubt its accuracy.

… When I was in Damascus over two years ago, I was less than impressed with the Embassy’s sources and with its understanding of the dynamics of what was going on Syria. And the same is true when I talk to officials at the State Department.

I don’t think we know how to play in this arena, just as we don’t understand how to play in the Afghanistan-Pakistan arena. US military intervention, whether under the guise of NATO or some other umbrella, could have serious unforeseen consequences for the US, Europe and the region. Officials in Washington should have the law of unforeseen consequences hammered into their heads every morning.”


Interview with member of Australians for Syria, Robert B., on ABC Radio National, Friday 10 February 2012  (edited version of 30 to 40-minute long recorded interview)

Robert’s views are very different to those of Mohammad Al-Hamwi’s:

Interview by Emma Alberici on ABC’s Lateline of a member of the Australian Syrian Association, which is an ‘opposition group’ outside Syria that supports foreign interference in Syria.


Foreign Troops on the Ground Inside Syria in Violation of International Law

by Global Research News

According to Debka, the Israeli intelligence news media, both British and Qatari Special forces have been dispatched to Syria.


Who is a Credible Witness?  So often the media’s  ‘big’ stories in regard to Syria are both shocking and outrageous, and often proven to be unfounded.  On ABC RN”s Breakfast 9/2/12, Fran Kelly interviewed “Danny”, introduced as a ‘resident of Homs’. She listened to him listing all the possible war crimes an army could be guilty of, telling listeners that he hopes the Syrian president is killed, and then she  wished him ‘well’.  Danny had been interviewed by the BBC in September and it appears from the questioning the interviewer wasn’t quite as gullible as Ms Kelly, though he made an effort to be respectful. But it is not just the ABC which is putting its trust in Danny to tell the world what 22 million people in Syria want and need. Avaaz is using an interview with him in its latest campaign to ‘help’ Syria and, at the same time, to raise funds.

From London, a critical view of Danny and his claims:


Russian Foreign Minister’s Visit to Syria, Syrian TV News in English (Satellite TV) 7/2/12

Foreign Minister Lavrov explains Russia’s stand on Syria. He makes some important points which have not been reported in the local Australian media.

Note: The news item at the end of the report regarding the killing of 8 members of one family because they had refused to take part in opposition demonstrations. (This is some of the ‘balance’ which should be presented to Australian public. There are many stories to report. Whose to believe?  Peace, not war, must be the focus to ensure there is no more killing, no more stories to tell.)


Australian Foreign Minister’s response to situation in Syria 8th Feb 2012

Australia will pursue further independent sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad as a result of the worsening situation in Syria, and the killing of at least 200 people in the city of Homs earlier this week.

In a speech to Parliament yesterday the Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, labelled the escalating violence in Syria, which has seen more than 5000 killed in a little more than a year, as appalling.

He also announced a further $3million in funding for the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria, on top of $3million provided by Australia last year.

Editor’s Note: Like most people in Australia who have a public voice, Mr Rudd gives no reference to the 2,000 plus soldiers who have been killed since March 2011, or the brutal killings and assassinations by ‘militia’ of civilians. He doesn’t condemn the medieval calls to kill by extremist clerics, some of which are even broadcast on our beloved and trusted Al-Jazeera. It is hoped that the Australian defence intelligence service and ASIO are wiser and better informed than the ABC or The Age on Syria.  Assuming they are, are they passing on what they know to Mr Rudd? If they are, then he knows ‘stuff’. But is the Australian media and public ready to listen?  Are we all too worried about losing face. We backed the wrong horse?  Better let the situation get even messier so no-one can discern what is going on and we can all at some point say, ‘the bloody Arabs are fighting each other again’. …However, this time it is different. The war is going to come to us because extremist ideology recognizes no borders.  It must be condemned, and rational voices which promote peace heard.


Local News Alert:  “Sydney Shooting Linked to Syrian Politics”, 6 Feb 2012

A young father who was shot three times in the leg in Sydney’s latest gun violence is refusing to assist police, even though he may never walk again.

Ali Ibrahim, 29, was shot three times in the leg outside his home on Christian Rd, Punchbowl, in an attack said to be linked to his views on the bloody crackdown in Syria….

Jamal Daoud from the Social Justice Network refugee support group, who spoke to the family, said Mr Ibrahim had been shot over a heated Facebook debate over his support for the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

“The government and security authorities have obligations to crack down on these extremists who think that they can rule Australian streets ” Mr Daoud said.



Analysis of current situation http:   SYRIA: CIA-MI6 Intel Ops and Sabotage

by Felicity Arbuthnot
For anyone in two minds about what is really going on in Syria, and whether President Assad, hailed a decade ago as “A Modern Day Attaturk”, has become the latest megalomaniacal despot, to whose people a US-led posse of nations, must deliver “freedom”, with weapons of mass, home, people, nation and livelihood destruction, here is a salutary tale from modern history.

In late 2003, the year of the Iraq invasion, Matthew Jones, a Reader in International History, at London’s Royal Holloway College, discovered “frighteningly frank” documents:1957 plans between then UK Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, and then President, Dwight Eisenhower, endorsing: “a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion (of Syria) by Syria’s pro-western neighbours.” (ii)

At the heart of the plan was the assassination of the perceived power behind then President Shukri al-Quwatli. Those targeted were: Abd al-Hamid Sarraj, Head of Military Intelligence; Afif al-Bizri, Chief of Syrian General Staff: and Khalid Bakdash, who headed the Syrian Communist Party.



Intervention in Syria will escalate, not stop the killing

Russia and China blocked a bid to force regime change. But a negotiated settlement is the only way out of civil war

by Seumas Milne, Guardian, 7 Feb 2012

The Saudis and Qataris are reported to be funding and arming the opposition. The Free Syrian Army has a safe haven in Turkey. Western special forces are said to be giving military support on the ground. And if that fails, the UN can be bypassed by invoking the “responsibility to protect” civilians, along Libyan lines.



Full text of the speech of the Syrian Ambassador to the UN, Feb 4 2012, with thanks to the Blog “Essays on Empire”.  Russia and China vetoed the resolution put before the Security Council.   The last paragraph of the speech is –

I do not want to speak at length, Mr. President, but I would like to close my remarks by raising an important matter, namely that a journalist working at the Al Jazeera English channel in London said today–and this is documented–that instructions have been issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Qatar, to escalate the media coverage tonight just hours before the convening of this Security Council session. I leave it for your discretion, ladies and gentlemen, to come to your own conclusions about these instructions that were issued to that media channel, according to these claims, in order to ratchet up pressure, falsely, against Syria that some massacres were underway.


Response on Matt Carr’s “Infernal Machine” to the outcome on 4/2/12 of the UN resolution on Syria:

the resolution was no less cynical, and no less driven by geostrategic motives, and the idea that it was motivated by any concern for ‘the Syrian people’ is utterly hypocritical and dishonest.   Russia knows this perfectly well, even if much of the Western media has chosen to ignore it.  As Nir Rosen writes at The Angry Arab, ‘ I have never seen a conflict covered as poorly as this one, with less interest in empirically collected data and more reliance on hysteria and manipulation and rumor.’

Rosen is right.   Much of the coverage of the conflict taking place in Syria has been quite stunningly vacuous and devoid of  any analysis or context.  Why do some Syrians support the Assad regime and others oppose it? What are the politics of the Free Syria Army or the Syrian National Council?  Is it true, as the former CIA officer Philip Giraldi claimed last December, that ‘NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict’ and if so why?


Commentary by Michel Chossudovsky  Global Research, February 1, 2012

The report acknowledges the existence of  “an armed entity” involved in the killings of civilians and police as well as the conduct of terrorist acts, which in turn have contributed to triggering actions by government forces. 

The Report refers to “armed opposition groups” as well as to the “Free Syrian Army”,  both of which, according to the AL Mission, are involved in the deliberate killing of innocent civilians.  (This article provides a link to the AL report)

The following link to the report was found on a blog.

Click to access 120131_1306_001.pdf


The Fourth Media, 1st Feb 2012

The Arab League Observer Mission succeeded in providing a different perspective from that of the mainstream western media about what has been happening on the ground in Syria. After a resolution by the Arab League which was worked out in an agreement with the Syrian government, Observers from the League went to Syria and provided a means of investigating what was happening.

The report of the Observers mission that was concluded on January 19, noted several important observations.(1)

1. The mission noted that there were false reports being made of explosions or violence and when the observers went to the location, they found that the reports were unfounded.

2. The mission found that media accounts were exaggerated about the nature of incidents or numbers of people killed in incidents and protests.

3. There were discrepancies in the lists the Mission received of people in detention. Names were repeated, or information was missing or inaccurate about detainees.

4. The Mission observed armed groups committing acts of violence against Government forces, resulting in the death and injury of the forces being attacked. Some of the armed groups were using flares and armour-piercing projectiles.


Exposed: The Arab agenda in Syria   Feb 4, 2012
By Pepe Escobar

Here’s a crash course on the “democratic” machinations of the Arab League – rather the GCC League, as real power in this pan-Arab organization is wielded by two of the six Persian Gulf monarchies composing the Gulf Cooperation Council, also known as Gulf Counter-revolution Club; Qatar and the House of Saud.


Report from Xinhua on the response of people in Damascus to the Russian and Chinese veto of the UN resolution.

Feb 6, 2012

Taleb Ibrahim, a political analyst, said the double veto would usher in a new balance of global power. “The UN will no longer be a tool in the hands of the United States and its allies to pass their military schemes,” he said.

He said the veto would be conducive in restoring peace and stability in Syria and would also save the lives of Syrians.

Back in the street, another protestor only giving his name as Amir said that “I do not believe violent means can bring real freedom and democracy… Only reform would do the trick, which al- Assad intends to do, but he was deprived of such a chance in the face of spiraling conflicts.”

Amir, owner of a clothes shop in southern Damascus, said he had never participated or seen an anti-government protest in the capital despite the more than 10 months of unrest in the country.

“At the current stage, protests and violence might create chaos, jeopardizing the already worsening economy,” he said.


Interview with a member of Australians for Syria who has recently returned from 3 weeks in Lebanon.  He gives his views on how the crisis in Syria is impacting on people in Lebanon and gives some information about the smuggling of weapons and fighters into Syria from Lebanon. (NB: Homs, a current ‘hot-spot’ is very close to the border with Lebanon.)

(07/02/12 This page has been ‘unpublished’ by the ABC and the author of it has been warned not to upload any more pages about Syria onto Pool.)


Interview with former CIA officer:

 Historian Michael Scheuer, an author of “Through our enemies’ eyes”, who worked for the agency for over 20 years till 2004 and at one time was the chief of the CIA’s ‘Bin Laden unit’, says America’s greatest enemy — radical Islam — never existed: neither when Bin Laden was alive, nor now.

US is interfering unconscionably in Syria.  … We’re very efficient at creating enemies… We’re encouraging the growth of a new generation of people who are going to fight us.


Counterpunch 3-5 Feb, 2012
Russia as Smokescreen

Cynicism Around Syria


Rehearsed statements filled the stale air of the UN Security Council on the last day of January. The Arab League’s Nabil el-Araby pleaded with the Council to adopt a draft resolution on Syria furnished by the Moroccan delegation to the UN. The Moroccan resolution is based on a report by the Arab League’s human rights mission to Syria. This draft called for an immediate cessation of violence in Syria and a national dialogue. “We are attempting to avoid any foreign intervention,” el-Araby told the Council, “especially military intervention.”

Emma Alberici’s interview with the Russian Foreign Minister, ABC 1, “Lateline”, 31/1/12

The Foreign Minister: The Arab League initiated a peace plan in November which was very straightforward and consisted of three points.

First, end of any violence, irrespective of wherever it comes from, meaning that the opposition must also distance itself from the armed extremist groups.

The second point, the beginning of the dialogue resulted in pre-conditions.

And the third point, no outside interference.

These three elements of the Arab League initiative of last November became the basis for a draft resolution which Russia introduced in the Security Council and which is on the table of the Security Council. We strongly supported the Arab League initiative which was introduced in December to send an Arab League observer mission to Syria, to watch both the government and the opposition and to establish facts about what is going on on the ground.


Syrian Snapshot I: A View From the Capital

By: Sharmine Narwani

Published Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Comments by people inside Syria who oppose the government

Another one parried: “The external opposition are not an effective part of the opposition. They don’t participate in any political parties here. We want to change the system in a safe way – we don’t want to pay a higher price than necessary. We want national cohesion, we don’t want a collapse of the economy and we don’t want to lose our sovereignty.”

Most of these domestic-based opposition figures I met were disparaging about international sanctions too: “Life is very expensive for the Syrian people now and [the sanctions] will take the country into a vicious cycle of poverty and violence and harm the democratic transition,” says Louay Hussein, leader of the Building the Syrian State movement, who spent seven years in prison during his 20s.

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A 2002 article discussing Amnesty International which has relevance today.

Interview: Amnesty on Jenin

Dennis Bernstein and Dr. Francis Boyle Discuss the Politics of Human Rights

CovertAction Quarterly, Number 73, Summer 2002, pp. 9�12, 27.

Amnesty International is primarily motivated not by human rights but by publicity. Second comes money. Third comes getting more members. Fourth, internal turf battles. And then finally, human rights, genuine human rights concerns. To be sure, if you are dealing with a human rights situation in a country that is at odds with the United States or Britain, it gets an awful lot of attention, resources, man and womanpower, publicity, you name it, they can throw whatever they want at that. But if it’s dealing with violations of human rights by the United States, Britain, Israel, then it’s like pulling teeth to get them to really do something on the situation. They might, very reluctantly and after an enormous amount of internal fightings and battles and pressures, you name it. But you know, it’s not like the official enemies list.


From the Media Lens Message Board

Background to “New York Times interview with Lizzie Phelan on Syria/Libya”

An excerpt:

This question is flawed, because what you really mean is that my impressions of what is happening in Syria seem to be strikingly different from those reporters from the NATO and GCC countries which have a vested interest in destabilising Syria. Of course my impressions are actually shared by the majority people of this world, from those countries outside of NATO and the GCC and particularly those which are victims of these powers. But because they do not own a powerful media their voices are drowned out by the impressions of the minority reflected in the mainstream media of the NATO and GCC countries.

So in relation to my sources, I find my sources through a number of different means, but my main means is I talk to ordinary people every where I go and in Syria this is not difficult because people are really keen to speak about the crisis in their country, especially to foreigners who they feel strongly have a false impression about their country and current events. This was overwhelmingly, but of course not exclusively, the point of view that I encountered. And this is reflected in my reporting.

Lizzie Phelan’s interview on New York Times Video

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