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Thoughtlines with BOB CARR

Senator Bob Carr, Australia’s foreign minister, presents Australia’s policy on Syria on his blog, “Thoughtlines on Bob Carr”.   Those who manage the blog have occasionally allowed critical comments to be posted, sometimes not.  To ensure there is a public response to Bob Carr’s ‘thoughts’ on Syria, responses to some of his postings will be collected here.

Editor 15 July 2012

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A slide show of images taken from Syrian satellite TV in July 2012.  They include the most recent news report on the killings in Tremseh

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http://bobcarrblog.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/massacre-in-tremesh-syria/#respond

Massacre in Tremesh, Syria

JULY 15, 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has renewed calls for Russia to support the removal from office of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as a step towards ending the ongoing civil war which has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

“The world has again been appalled by the reported slaughter of up to 200 civilians in the town of Tremseh,” Senator Carr said.

“This is another brutal and barbaric crime against innocent civilians.

“The use of artillery, tanks and helicopters provides clear evidence of the Assad regime’s involvement.

“The only solution to the Syrian civil war remains the six-point peace plan brokered by UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan.

“But an immediate stumbling block is President Assad, whose complicity in these massacres impedes negotiations between government and rebels.

“We share the views of the United States and other nations, that a transition of power away from President Assad would be a step toward implementing the ceasefire that the people of Syria so desperately require.”

Senator Carr said he had instructed his Department to communicate Australia’s views to the Russian Chargé d’Affaires, Mr Nikolay Nozdrev.

Australia remains committed to a unified international response on Syria, through adoption of a new Chapter VII resolution at the United Nations Security Council.

Senator Carr said Australia is seeking international support for this action through the Ambassador to the UN, Mr Gary Quinlan.

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COMMENT submitted at approximately 1.15pm 15 July
Dear Senator Carr,
From your postings in regard to Syria, it appears you do no research beyond listening to Hillary Clinton’s ravings about what she claims is going on in that country.  Is this because the Australian government is so intent on securing a seat in the Security Council that it will do anything, even go along with the US policy of aligning itself with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and extremist fighting groups, including Al-Qaeda, who commit terror in Syria?
You do not have the interests of Australia in mind as long as you continue to adopt without question and censor the current US administration’s stand on Syria. In order to go all the way with Hillary and Obama, you are condoning the dissembling and lies necessary to make statements like the one you make above.  You are also condoning the massacres of Syrians who refuse to support the armed ‘opposition’; these are people from all religious backgrounds. And you are condoning the genocide being carried out in particular against the Christian and Shia minorities.
Syrian Australians have many personal stories to tell about their relatives and friends of relatives who have been killed in Syria by ‘terrorists’. But you seem to refuse to want to hear them.
Terror knows no borders.  The ideology which incites it knows no borders.  If Australian politicians and public figures do not represent the best in ‘mankind’ in regard to striving for peace, justice, truth and compassion for all, we will be lost in the wilderness of history just as the US empire inevitably will be.  This will not be America’s century; Hollywood and Fox and CNN will not be able to camouflage the heinous crimes of the US administration.
Australia should take a truly informed and courageous stand we and our grandchildren and their grandchildren can be proud of.  History does not have to view us as quislings of a corrupt and criminal empire if we choose to be honest and courageous, no matter what the consequences for our lifestyle and economy.
There are many people in America who challenge the current administration’s policy on Syria and who work for peace. (Note Ron Paul’s recent speech to the US Congress: http://socratesandsyria.com/2012/06/24/ron-paul-and-john-rosenthal-on-syria/ )  We can join them and stand proud.
To research what happened at Tremseh, please go to  https://australiansforsyria.wordpress.com/
Regards,
Susan Dirgham
(A member of Australians for Syria)
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Another comment has been added to the page.  It is a link to the following page:

the interpreter – Lowy Institute for International Policy

Syria: Bob Carr’s rush to judgment

By Rodger Shanahan – 16 July 2012 4:34PM

It would be nice to believe that the entirely abhorrent Assad regime in Syria is being opposed by a group of morally upright freedom fighters rigorously observing the rules of war.

The reality is otherwise. While Syria has been a ruthless mukhabarat state for decades, the fact that the regime has been able to hold on for so long is only partly a testimony to its military power and ruthlessness. It also speaks to a suspicion on the part of many Syrians that the opposition is simply a group of ruthless Sunnis wanting to right the sectarian imbalance. And while there is no doubt about the brutality of the Syrian Government, the anti-regime forces, be they Free Syrian Army, jihadists or journeymen, have also earned the attention of the UN and human rights groups over their use of child soldiers, summary executions and improvised explosive devices in populated areas.

Which makes Foreign Minister Carr’s rush to judgment yesterday, before all the facts have been gathered on recent events at Tremseh, smack of naiveté. Claims of a massacre were first aired by the Free Syrian Army, hardly an objective source. Facts are still emerging, but the New York Times has a more nuanced story which raises significant questions about claims, repeated by Senator Carr, of 200 civilians being massacred. Reports of the initial UN investigation lend more weight to the NY Times story than the DFAT claim.

In the fight against the Syrian military a lot of civilians will die. Rebels fight among the civilian population to minimise their own casualties but civilians die as a result. And the army employs standoff weapons to minimise its casualties and maintain unity; it doesn’t care about civilian casualties.

It’s a tough choice for the armed opposition: become a guerrilla force outside populated areas and expose yourself to the Syrian military’s conventional capabilities, or stay within populated areas to minimise the technological disadvantage. It is even more difficult when the Syrian military (or its proxies) attacks villages regardless of the presence of armed opposition.

The complexity of the situation in Syria makes it all the more important to obtain objective evidence when there has been fighting in civilian areas. A willingness to place the label ‘civilian massacre’ without examining the facts reflects a desire on the part of the West to try to embarrass the likes of Russia into supporting more robust international action against Syria. The trouble is that when you get it wrong, it gives those same countries cause to question the West’s judgment, intelligence information and motives.

http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2012/07/16/Syria-Senator-Carrs-rush-to-judge.aspx

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LETTER TO GREENS LEADER, SENATOR CHRISTINE MILNE
The following letter from members of Australians for Syria to Senator Milne is included on this page because it refers to the Australian government’s position on Syria, with reference to Senator Carr. 

16 July 2012

Senator Christine Milne

Leader of the Australian Greens

Australian Parliament House

Canberra

Dear Senator Milne

Re. Corporate Media Lies on Syria and Greens Change Bias

We, Australians for Syria, are concerned about the misinformation being spread by western media and how this has infiltrated public opinion as well as the views of prominent MPs, including the Greens.

We believe some of the Greens public comments have been naïve and biased.

For example, on Feb 12, 2012: “Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania—Leader of the Australian Greens) (11:57): I move: That the Senate—

(a) condemns the appalling human rights abuses and escalating violence in Syria, that has seen thousands of innocent civilians killed; and

(b) calls on President Assad to step down, to finally put an end to the intolerable bloodshed of the Syrian people.

Question agreed to” (1)

Section b of former Senator Brown’s motion meddles into Syria’s internal affairs. Mr Brown at no stage condemns the real terrorists, who are being funded, trained and armed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, NATO with the support of the US and Israel.

The same can be said of the Australian Government’s position on Syria. The expulsion of the Syrian Charge d’affairs and other Syrian diplomats by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Bob Carr, after the Houla massacre, was arbitrary and biased.

Senator Carr’s inconsiderate action took place two days after the Houla massacre. A UN Report dated June 27 wasinconclusive about the perpetrators and stated 3 possibilities about the crime: “‘First, that the perpetrators were Shabbiha or other local militia from neighbouring villages, possibly operating together with, or with the acquiescence of, the Government security forces; second, that the perpetrators were anti-Government forces seeking to escalate the conflict while punishing those that failed to support – or who actively opposed – the rebellion; or third, foreign groups with unknown affiliation.’”(2) Yet, the Australian Government became judge and jury, deciding to take action against the Syrian Government based on malicious lies. [An article by David Edwards in Media Lens provides an insightful analysis on the corporate and mainstream media lies in regards to the Houla massacre. (3)]

It is difficult to discern the truth when we are bombarded by corporate media lies. However, when our MPs decide to accept these corporate media lies as truth, especially when they have the resources and staff to seek alternative information, it reflects badly on our democracy.

We know there are a large number of articles and comments made by lazy journalists, whose sources are Syrian opposition forces, many of them residing in the West. Much of this is malicious spin designed to cause harm to Syrian and its government. For example, on the “Houla massacre” on May 27, 2012, the BBC published on their website a photograph taken in Iraq in March 2003. The photographer, Marco Di Lauro, said on his facebook page:

…[T]he attached image which I took in Al Mussayyib in Iraq on March 27, 2003…was front page on BBC web site illustrating the massacre that happen in Houla the Syrian town and the caption and the web site was stating that the images was showing the bodies of all the people that have been killed in the massacre and that the image was received by the BBC by an unknown activist…(4)

A half hearted apology from the BBC News Editors can be found in their blog under the title: Houla massacre picture mistake. (5)

Media Watch, Episode 14, of May 16, made critical comments about ABC 24 and SBS. Both TV channel news of Sunday May 8, 2012, aired a “disturbing video of protests in Syria” which happened to be a video taken in Lebanon and placed on Youtube on “20 August 2008.” (6) They have been ‘ethnically cleansed’ by the Salafist elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

However, we have heard little from the corporate media about the more than 135 thousand Christians forced to leave the city of Homs. Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross has given a number of interviews providing detailed information of the unfolding tragedy. (7)

In April 2011, more than 13,000 Syrians demonstrated in support of the Syrian Government in Sydney. Did any MP seek their opinion? Today the Australian Syrian community is being intimidated and targeted by criminal elements that have a campaign of terror against them. (8) We have not heard The Greens condemning such actions.

We believe it is time for The Greens to remedy their past biased stand. Therefore, we ask that the Greens condemn the foreign regimes currently funding, training and arming mercenaries and anti-Syrian terrorists, that they condemn the proxy war taken place in Syria; that they demand the reinstatement of Syrian diplomats and offer an apology to them; and that they condemn any intimidation and/or criminal actions against the Australian Syrian community supportive of their government. All this is consistent with international law, respect for sovereignty and non-intervention.

Yours faithfully

Marlene Obeid, Dr Tim Anderson, Hanadi Assoud, Dr Mohamad Assoud, Tania Boulos, Wayne Sonter, Tony Backhouse, and Adam Haddad.

Australians for Syria, Sydney

c/- PO Box 109, Glebe 2037

Reference

  1. http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;adv=yes;orderBy=customrank;page=0;query=syria%20Dataset%3Ahansards,hansards80%20Decade%3A%222010s%22%20Party%3A%22ag%22;rec=3;resCount=Default
  2. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session20/COI_OralUpdate_A.HRC.20.CRP.1.pdf
  3. http://medialens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=687%3Ahoula-massacre-update-the-un-report&catid=25%3Aalerts-2012&Itemid=69
  4. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150999096543125&set=a.10150999096533125.482292.632908124&type=1&theater
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2012/05/houla_massacre_picture_mistake.html
  6. http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3218415.htm
  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=E-M4YK-odkU
  8. http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3533143.htm

Here are additional links to information on Syria:

a.  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/for-democracy-to-thrive-bashar-al-assad-needs-a-chance/story-e6frg6ux-1226165234200

b. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/bobb-carr-condemns-alawite-attacks-in-australia/story-fn59niix-1226409356234

c. http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3533143.htm
d. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UXH84LE8Js&feature=related

e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tRXEm9LzZR0

2 Comments
  1. Bravo Susan,the unprincipled voices and statements from Bob Carr are humiliating and are not fair dinkum.

  2. Mike permalink

    Dear Senator Bob Carr,

    I am appalled at you extreme stance and view towards Syria and particularly the Goverment.
    I never expected an Australian of any ranking to jump to extreme emotive decisions even if they were based on real facts which yours are not.
    Australia must continue to have an independant opinion on the world stage based on its morals, beliefs , and finally its Interests . This has always been the Australian way . Not to scream louder then the Cheer Leaders about something you know nothing about and not want to know. Your opinions and judgements thus far in regards to Syria makes you look weak and shows you are illinformed. You can excuse the Public for saying the things you say because they can only base it on the fabricated Western Media but you as a representative of this country of 20 million plus ,you cannot get it wrong.
    I am writing this article to raise an extra voice to make you aware that there are many people in this country who disagree with you. How do you explain yourself to the victims’ families who were massacred at the hands of “savages” and blaming the true protectors of these people.
    Who asked you to speak for the 20million + Syrian People ?
    You seem to conveniently have prepared inflammatory statements to use after the planned massacres that conveniently occur prior to any UN Meeting without wanting to know the facts . Or do you know the facts?

    There are many sites that still portray the real truth and if you want I can direct you to many but look at these for examples ;

    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Duplicitous-Human-Rights-C-by-Stephen-Lendman-120629-20.html
    http://www.infowars.com/shocking-videos-reveal-truth-behind-syrian-freedom-fighters/
    being scapegoated

    I am unable to believe as an Australian who cares for people including children that the you can turn a blind eye to the death of innocent women and children especially …the cutting of throats of children etc cut by savages which I am certain from the many sources in Syria including credible people and families of the victims that this was performed by savages ! not humans or “Syrians”. They , including yourself, blame it on the Goverment .
    I cried watching some of these massacres. I could never believe that something that resembles a “Human” could ever kill a child. I am Outraged. How do you sleep at night knowing that this is what you are indirectly allowing to happen. Because more of this will happen in the country if you keep going along the path you are with the rest of the so called “Friends of Syria”.
    For them , “The End Jusitfies the Means”. They have to keep the Qataris and Saudis happy. But when the Oil runs out , these countries would have created enough Savages around the world that what is Imploding in all the Middle East will Explode and come after the very countries that supported them.
    I have always lived with Western Values and i still am unable to fathom where this world is headed, when you cannot go to the UN for help or Human Rights is nothing but a tool in the hands of the Powerful ….

    You should have never asked the the Syrian Representative to leave Australia . He still represents the Syrian People here . Your based this on a Knee Jerk reaction after the so called Houla Massacre that was proven many times over to have been at the hands of the terrorists. If you cannot help Syria , do not fuel it up. The people that are dying are real humans that do not need this. Your words should be balanced and not Inflammatory. This will only cause strife even in this country as emotions are running high and the media war is playing with both the simple minds and the well informed. Support Dialogue, Communication and Peace in the world . Nothing ever gets resolved with the Gun. Look at the rest of the Middle East.

    Regards

    Mike

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