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Recent Highlights

February 23, 2012

Note by Editor:

On the ABC TV and Radio News, there are a lot of reports on Syria, but for anyone who makes the effort to investigate what is really happening in Syria and what the majority of Syrians want for their country, ABC reports are extremely unsatisfactory.

For example, on the Victorian ABC TV 7pm News on 27/2/12, there was reference to the referendum held in Syria that day.  ABC viewers were told that ‘opposition parties’ have boycotted the referendum and said it was a “sham”.  The ABC did not tell us which “opposition parties” boycotted the referendum and their reasons for doing so.  It would have helped to have been told who the spokespeople of the ‘opposition parties’ were, so viewers, particularly Syrian Australians, could assess their credibility.  There are so many groups which could be deemed ‘opposition’, including those that participated in the writing of the new constitution and those four or five parties which are preparing to stand candidates in the elections later in the year. And of course, there is the Syrian National Council which operates outside Syria and which is recognized by the US Secretary of State, and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, Turkey, and others who dub themselves “Friends of Syria”; they like to imagine the Council represents the legitimate concerns of the  Syrian people.  Is that the ‘opposition’ the ABC is quoting?  One of the spokespersons for that opposition is Bassma Kodmani, a woman with a Palestinian background who left Syria in 1968 with her family. Since then, it seems she has established strong links with the rich and powerful in France, the US, and Israel and has been give a voice on the ABC. (Ref: http://www.mercatorfund.net/modules/global_philanthropy/prize/kodmanihttp://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/behind-the-secrecy-in-syria/2951964 )

What the ABC didn’t tell us was that the new constitution allows for a 7-year term for a president and that there is a clause which stipulates that a president cannot serve more than 2 terms.

But the ABC did tell us that ‘activists said’ 30 people died on the day of the referendum.  Who these ‘activists’ are we do not know.  Why they are defined as ‘activists’ we do not know.  What their ‘activities’ are, we do not know.  How many soldiers were killed on 27/2/12, we do not know. How many members of the militia were killed is unknown. We are left to imagine that the “Assad forces” (not the Syrian army) killed 30 innocent civilians.

Is Australia at war with Syria that ABC viewers and listeners are usually denied information which can challenge the information presented by anonymous ‘activists’?

Apparently 120 French special forces soldiers have been captured in Syria. This helps to explain the return of the French ambassador to Damascus and meetings between the French Foreign Minister and the Russian Foreign Minister.  It appears, though, that this would be too much information for an Aussie audience.

This site offers alternatives to the mainstream media’s spin on Syria.  It is hoped that ‘truth’ can prevent another Iraq and another Afghanistan.  Hilary Clinton is predicting ‘civil war’ in Syria.  Certainly efforts are being made to manipulate the situation on the ground in Syria to achieve that result.

However, Syria is not a pushover for the US State Department.  The people of Syria are more politically sophisticated, more defiant of the West and oil-rich monarchies, and more committed to the freedom offered by an independent secular, pluralist Syria than people who wish to destroy their country realized. Much more courageous and united than the “Friends of Syria”  imagined.  It is hoped there can be more courage shown in the West.  It seems courage is needed to present the bigger picture of Syria, even on ‘our ABC’.

The articles and videos are presented as alternative sources of news and commentary on Syria.  None by itself can  present the ‘truth’ and the end of the story of Syria; Syria is too complex and dynamic for that.  So please be analytical as you go to any of these sources and respectful of the complexity of Syria and the lives of the 21 to 22 million people in Syria. If you are not comfortable with one source, search for another which you respect.

Information can save lives and countries.

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Questioning the Syrian “Casualty List”

By: Sharmine Narwani

Published Tuesday, February 28, 2012

“Perception is 100 percent of politics,” the old adage goes. Say something three, five, seven times, and you start to believe it in the same way you “know” aspirin is good for the heart.

Sometimes though, perception is a dangerous thing. In the dirty game of politics, it is the perception – not the facts of an issue – that invariably wins the day.

In the case of the raging conflict over Syria, the one fundamental issue that motors the entire international debate on the crisis is the death toll and its corollary: the Syrian casualty list.

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/questioning-syrian-%E2%80%9Ccasualty-list%E2%80%9D

 

NB: Sharmine Narwani writes: Besides featuring on the SOHR list, Lt. Col. Yasar Qashur, Iyad Harfoush, Mohammad Abdo Khadour and General Abdo al Tallawi and his two sons and nephew also appear on two of the other casualty lists – the VDC and Syrian Shuhada – both used by the United Nations to compile their numbers.

 

The deaths of General Abdo al Tallawi, his sons and nephew were reported to the Amnesty International Melbourne and Sydney offices in December 2011.  An official report from Amnesty Australian was sent to London, but Australians for Syria is still waiting for notification that the killings of these four people by ‘militia’ have been condemned by the Amnesty London office.

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For the release of our compatriots and colleagues held captive in Baba Amr

by Thierry Meyssan

Several journalists are held in the sealed-off Baba Amr area. According to Atlanticist leaders, they are prevented from leaving by the constant pounding of the rebel stronghold by the Syrian Army. As an on-the-spot privileged witness of the negotiations, Thierry Meyssan gives an account of the situation: the journalists are kept as prisoners by the Free “Syrian” Army which uses them as human shields. Their evacuation by the Syrian Red Crescent has been obstructed by the rebels.

Voltaire Network | Homs (Syria) | 26 February 2012

http://www.voltairenet.org/For-the-release-of-our-compatriots

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The following link to a video interview of an articulate, sophisticated Syrian woman in Damascus is a must-view for those who are seeking complexity and truth.  (NB: It may be necessary to copy and paste the address in order to open the page.)

Reality In Syria
Syrian Girl – What Syria Should Do

What is happening in Syria, and what Syria should be doing.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30613.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk1sLqfWdVw&feature=player_embedded  (on Youtube)

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‘CIA & Western media’s total fiasco in Syria’

Uploaded by on Feb 24, 2012

Calls for tougher economic sanctions against Syria are getting louder at the ‘Friends of Syria’ meeting in Tunisia, with the EU already preparing to freeze the Syrian Central Bank assets next week. It’s among the new measures to cripple the Assad regime being proposed by the U.S. and its allies, as they gather to hammer out the Syrian crisis. German government consultant Christoph Horstel thinks that the West is trying to transplant its regime-change strategy from Libya to Syria.

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How Islamists hijacked the Arab Spring

ABC The World Today 20 Feb 2012

British author and former foreign correspondent John Bradley is warning that the Arab Spring has been hijacked by dangerous extremists.

His latest book, After the Arab Spring, is subtitled, How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts, and he cautions that the international community is taking the wrong approach to Syria which he says is also set to fall to Islamist extremists.

http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3434650.htm

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For a video view of a crowd of  ‘rebels’ in Syria, see

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21 February, 2012 2:41PM AEDT

What’s what with Syria?

Richard Stubbs takes a long hard look at Syria to try and better understand who’s fighting and why

You probably keep hearing about Syria on the news, but how much do you understand?

Richard Stubbs takes the time to talk to people who know about what is going on in Syria in an attempt to broaden our understanding of the issues the country is facing.

Dr Benjamin McQueen is from the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University.

Robert Bekhazi is a Lebanese/Australian who imports alcohol and kitchenware from Syria and Lebanon.

http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2012/02/21/3436002.htm

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

ABC The Drum Opinion, 14 Feb 2012

by Fiona Hill  (NB: this article is highlighted on another page of this blog.) Dr Fiona Hill an Australian anthropologist who’s been visiting Syria for the last 25 years.

Russia and China’s conviction that a mediated domestic political process and cessation of violence by all perpetrators in Syria is a far more sustainable course of action and is completely affirmed by the AL Report.

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3827746.html

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February 20, 2012

News About Syria: Information or Propaganda?

Sharmine Narwani: Many opposition leaders want end to militarization on both sides as GCC and US neo-cons call for arming opposition

Sharmine Narwani is a writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. She is currently a Senior Associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, and has a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in both journalism and Mideast studies. Sharmine writes political commentary on the Middle East as a blogger for Al Akhbar English and the Huffington Post. She has also written opinion pieces for Al Jazeera English, the New York Times and USA Today.  (Interview with transcript on page.)

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=7969&updaterx=2012-02-20+11%3A13%3A52

Check Sharmine Narwani’s blog for regular commentary:

http://mideastshuffle.com/2012/02/10/447/

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Syria: British and Qatari troops involved in Homs operation… ~09 February, 2012~

Leaked Arab League Observer Report Confirms War on Syria.
http://pastebin.com/ihubJuuw
http://pastebin.com/ihubJuuw
From: Russia Today
British, Qatari troops already waging secret war in Syria?
Published: 09 February, 2012, 14:25
Edited: 10 February, 2012, 09:14
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.

­Four centers of operation have been established in the city with the troops on the ground paving the way for an undercover Turkish military incursion into Syria.

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Syria watcher says majority fears revolt

Interview with Dr Fiona Hill on ABC PM, April 19 2011.

(President al-Assad has) brought in a lot (of reforms) and everybody speaks about how much better the country is now than it was eight years ago. I’ve been coming here for 25 years and I’m with them. It is.

http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2011/s3195955.htm

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Syrian Gore Or US Awe: Looking For The Moral High Ground

ABC The Drum Opinion, 16 Feb 2012

Mike Carey

Mike Carey is a Walkley Award-winning journalist and producer who was executive producer of SBS Dateline. He has worked for the ABC, SBS and Al Jazeera living in South-East Asia and Brazil. View his full profile here.

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3833864.html

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