Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 15, 2012

New FAZ Piece On Houla Massacre: "The Extermination"

A well regarded and qualified author of the prime German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported (in German) how the recent massacre in Houla, Syria, was perpetrated by Sunni rebel forces. I translated the piece to English. There was some push back against the piece and an anonymous rebuttal from Houla activists.

In a new piece (in German) the reporter, Rainer Hermann, extends on the first one and explains why his reporting is correct and why other reporting was terribly wrong.

What follows is my translation of the FAZ piece:

The Extermination

The Houla massacre was a turning point in the Syrian drama. There was great worldwide outrage when 108 people were killed there on May 25, among them 49 children. Calls for a military intervention to end the bloodshed became louder and the violence in Syria has since steadily escalated. Based on Arab news channel and the visit of UN observers on the following day, world opinion almost unanimously blamed the regular Syrian army and the Syrian regime's Shabiha militia for the massacre.

In the past week and based on reports from eyewitnesses the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung put this version into question. It reported that the civilians killed were Alawites and Shiites. They were deliberately killed by armed Sunnis in Taldou, a town in the plains of Houla, while fierce fighting between the regular army and Free Syrian Army was taking place at checkpoints around the village. Our report was taken up by many media outlets worldwide and was rejected by many as implausible. We have therefore to ask four questions: Why did the world opinion so far followed a different version? Why does the context of the civil war makes the doubted version plausible? Why are the witnesses credible? What other facts support the report?

Firstly, why world opinion follow a different version? It is undoubted that during the first months of the conflict, when the opposition did not yet possess weapons and was defenseless, all atrocities were done by the regime. The assumption is therefore obvious that this would continue. [Note by the translator: Here Mr. Hermann errs. There were reliable reports about deadly attacks against government forces by well armed perpetrators, allegedly foreign financed, as early as April 10 2011.] Furthermore, the Syrian state media enjoy no credibility. They use the standard labeling "armed terrorist gangs" since the beginning of the conflict. Thus no one believes them, when that is indeed the case. Two media outlets, the Arab news channel Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya have become key sources even as their owners, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are two states which are actively involved in the conflict. Not without reason do we know the saying "In war, truth dies first."

Secondly, why is, in the context of the civil war, the doubted version plausible? During recent month many weapons have been smuggled into Syria and the rebels have long had mid-sized weaponry. Every day more than 100 people are killed in Syria with about equal numbers of dead on both sides. The militias that operate under the banner of the Free Syrian Army control wide parts of the provinces of Homs and Idlib and extend their dominion over other parts of the country. The increasing lawlessness has led to a wave of criminal kidnappings and also facilitates the settling of old disputes. If one looks through Facebook pages or talks to Syrians: Everyone knows everyday stories of "religious cleansing" - of people being killed just because they are Alawite or Sunni.

The plain of Houla, which lies between the Sunni city of Homs and the mountains of the Alawites, is predominantly inhabited by Sunnis and is burdened by a long history of sectarian tensions. The massacre took place in Taldou, one of the largest sites of Houla. Of the names of civilians killed, 84 are known. These are the fathers, mothers and 49 children of the family Al Sayyid and two branches of the family Abdarrazzaq. Residents of the city state that these were Alawites and Muslims who had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. A few kilometers away from the border with Lebanon, this made them suspect of being sympathizers of Hezbollah, detested among Sunnis. Additionally killed in Taldou were relatives of the government loyal member of parliament Abdalmuti Mashlab.

The homes of the three families are located in different parts Taldous. The members of the families were targeted and killed up to one exception. No neighbor was injured. Local knowledge was a prerequisite for these well-planned "executions". The AP news agency quoted the only survivor of the family Al Sayyid, the eleven year old Ali, as saying:. "The perpetrators were shaved bald and had long beards." This is the look of fanatical jihadists, not of the Shabiha militia. The boy said he survived because he had pretended to be dead and smeared himself with the blood of his mother.

On April 1 the nun Agnès-Maryam, from the monastery of Jacob ("Deir Mar Yakub") which lies south of Homs in the village of Qara, described in a long open letter the climate of violence and fear in the region. She comes to the conclusion that the Sunni insurgents operate a stepwise liquidation of all minorities. She describes the expulsion of Christians and Alawites from their homes, which are then occupied by the rebels, and the rape of young girls, who the rebels pass off as "war booty"; she was an eye witness when the rebels killed a businessman in the street of Wadi Sajjeh with a car bomb after he refused to close his shop and then said in front of a camera from Al Jazeera that the regime had committed the crime. Finally she describes how Sunni insurgents in the Khalidijah district of Homs locked Alawite and Christian hostages into a house and blew it up only to then explain that this was an atrocity of the regime.

Why are, in this context, the Syrian witnesses (in my report) regarded as credible? Because they do not belong to any party of the conflict, but are caught in the middle and have no other interest than to stop a further escalation of violence. Several such people have already been killed. Therefore, no one wants to reveal their identity. In a period in which an independent review of all facts on the spot is not possible there can be no certitude that all details have happened exactly as described. Even as the massacre in Houla took place in the version described here, no conclusions can be drawn from it for other atrocities. As before in Kosovo every massacre must be examined individually after this war.

What other facts support this version? The FAZ was not the first to reported on a new version of the massacre of Houla. Other reports could just not compete with the big key media. The Russian journalist Marat Musin, who works for the small news agency Anna, was in Houla on May 25 and 26, in part became an eyewitness and also published the statements of other eyewitnesses. Additionally the Dutch Arabist and freelance journalist Martin Janssen, who lives in Damascus, contacted the Jacob Monastery in Qara, which has taken in many victims of the conflict with the nuns doing devote humanitarian work, after the massacre.

Sunni rebels perpetrate "liquidation" of all minorities

The nuns told him how on that May 25th more than 700 armed rebels, coming from Rastan, overran a roadside checkpoint of the army near Taldou, how these, after the massacre, piled up the corpses of the killed soldiers and civilians in front of the mosque and how they, on next day, told their version of the alleged massacre by the Syrian army in front of the cameras of rebel-friendly channels and to the UN observers. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced on May 26 at the UN Security Council that the exact circumstances are unclear. The UN could confirm, however, "that there has been artillery and mortar attack. There were also other forms of violence, including shots from up close and serious abuses."

The following sequence of events can be reconstructed: After the Friday prayers on May 25th more than 700 gunmen under the leadership of Abdurrazzaq Tlass and Yahya Yusuf came in three groups from Rastan, Kafr Laha and Akraba and attacked three army checkpoints around Taldou. The numerically superior rebels and the (mostly also Sunni) soldiers fought bloody battles in which two dozen soldiers, mostly conscripts, were killed. During and after the fighting the rebels, supported by residents of Taldou, snuffed out the families of Sayyid and Abdarrazzaq. They had refused to join the opposition.

Posted by b on June 15, 2012 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

Comments
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I don't understand why Muslims let themselves be divided and conquered by the Ziomonsters.Same as here,we have this stupid fighting between red and blue states,as we go down the tubes.
Bribery must be at the heart of it all.

Posted by: dahoit | Jun 15, 2012 10:40:33 AM | 1

On Syrian Rebels:

http://truth-out.org/news/item/9785-syrian-rebels-now-using-efps-in-bombs-bane-of-us-in-iraq

Posted by: ben | Jun 15, 2012 10:42:52 AM | 2

its called genocide and it has he support of the USrael EU QAUDI canadian australian etc dictatorships

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 10:52:00 AM | 3

notice how none of these jihadis are doing anything to help the palestinians..yet here they are: tunisian libyan jordanian qaTARI etc all ready and willing to kill and die for ...Great Satan! What a waste!

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 10:54:19 AM | 4

@dahoit,
Unfotunately this is about power and personality ego's - the House of Sauds want to give the Iranians a kick up the groins and they are doing it by wrestling Syria away from the "Resistance Axis". This is the price they want Iran to pay, for taking Iraq away from the Saudi-UAE orbit.

All we can do is ensure the truth comes out and let the Russians, Chinese and Iranians ensure there is no armed intervention by Western powers. The Syrian state can deal with the rebels.

Posted by: Irshad | Jun 15, 2012 10:57:31 AM | 5

Russian federation foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Syria “On the Right Side of History”

Unfortunately, the process of implementing Kofi Annan's plan in Syria is proceeding with great difficulty. The world was appalled by massacres of unarmed civilians, including the tragedy that happened in the village of Houla on May 25, 2012 and the subsequent bloody violence in the vicinity of Hama. It is necessary to clarify who is responsible for this and to punish the perpetrators. No one has the right to usurp the role of judge and to use these tragic events to achieve their own geopolitical goals. Abandoning such attempts will make it possible to stop the spiral of violence in Syria.

Those who say that Russia "is saving" Bashar al-Assad are wrong. I would like to reiterate that it is the Syrian people themselves who choose the political system and leadership of their country. We are not trying to whitewash the multiple mistakes and miscalculations made by Damascus, including the use of force against peaceful demonstrations at the beginning of the crisis.

For us, the issue of who is in power in Syria is not the major one; it is important to put an end to civilian deaths and to start a political dialogue in a situation where the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the country will be respected by all external actors. No violence can be justified. The shelling of residential areas by government troops is unacceptable, but it cannot be viewed as an indulgence for terrorist acts in Syrian cities, for murders conducted by insurgents opposed to the regime, including those of Al-Qaida.

The logic that dictates the need to break the vicious circle of violence has manifested itself in the unilateral support that members of the UN Security Council have given to the Annan Plan. We are upset by the claims and actions of some actors involved in the Syrian situation that manifest their stake on the failure of the Special Envoy's efforts. Among them, are the calls of the Syrian National Council (SNC) leadership for foreign intervention. It is unclear how such claims would help SNC sponsors to unite the Syrian opposition under its umbrella. We stand for the integration of the Syrian opposition only on the platform of preparedness for political dialogue with the government - in exact accordance with the Annan Plan.

Russia keeps working with the Syrian authorities almost every day urging them to fully comply with the six points proposed by Kofi Annan and to resolutely abandon their delusion that the internal political crisis in Syria will somehow go away. We also work with representatives of almost all branches of the Syrian opposition. We are sure that if all our partners work in the same concentrated manner without any hidden motives or double standards, there is a chance for a peaceful settlement of the situation in Syria. We need to bring all the weight to bear on both the regime and the opposition and make them cease fighting and meet at the negotiating table. We consider it important to urgently take collective effort to this end and to convene an international conference of the States directly involved in the crisis in Syria. With that goal in mind, we maintain close contacts with Kofi Annan and other partners.

Only by acting in this way we can keep the Middle East from sliding into the abyss of wars and anarchy and thus stay, as it has become fashionable to say, on the right side of history. We are sure that other formulas that involve external intervention in Syria - ranging from blocking TV channels that do not satisfy someone, to increasing arms supplies to opposition groups, to airstrikes - will not bring peace either to that country or to the region as a whole. And that means that those formulas will not be justified by history.


The above is a much longer piece, so go read it.

There was some news that Russian troops are on the way to Syria "to protect Russian installations" - one wonders if those include the Syrian air defense network :-)

Posted by: b | Jun 15, 2012 11:30:01 AM | 6

from the angry arab:

sectarian affiliation of the victims in Hula

I have received information in the last few days that some of the victims in Hula were Shi`ites. That was also reported on New TV and on the Syrian dissident website, Al-Haqiqah. I was told that the victims from the families of `Abdur-Razzaq and As-Sayyid were Sunnis who had converted to Shi`ism in the 1980s. I contacted those who reported that and I contacted people in Hula itself and I can tell you that there is no evidence whatsoever to that claim (which has obvious propaganda value particularly since that Syrian regime media never discuss issues of sects--unlike the Syrian opposition media which are blatant in its sectarianism and sectarian agitation). And if you add this (the story that has not been proven) to the lousy and empty press conference in Damascus yesterday about the Syrian regime investigation of the massacre, I can only conclude that the Syrian regime is looking more and more guilty. We don't have all the facts as of yet, but this is my feeling now in the absence of evidence to the contrary. What makes the Syrian regime more frustratingly noncredible is that it never ever admits killing an innocent person--not even by mistake.


Posted by: omen | Jun 15, 2012 11:39:13 AM | 7

Houla Activists Respond to FAZ Accusations

The following letter was written by activists from the Homs town of Houla that witnessed a massacre at the hands of government-sponsored security forces on May 25. The letter comes in response to a report published in the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. [...] :

We write this letter in the name of the residents of the four cities of Houla (Taldo, Kafarlaha, Taldahab, al Tiba al Gharbiya), in response to a disgusting slur published in the weekend in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung German newspaper, which shamefully presented lies as facts in the report written by reporter Rainer Hermann and published on June 7, 2012. The report cast the 108 people who died here at the hands of the regime as conspirators instead of victims. In almost four weeks since this dreadful act of savagery was brought to our village, we have been contacted by numerous reporters from many countries, all of whom have been in search of the truth. None of us recall being contacted by a German or non-German reporter that works for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. We most certainly have not been contacted by Rainer Hermann or any representative of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The least that can be said about the claims of the newspaper that the families killed were Alawite and that the FSA is responsible for the massacre, is that they are ridiculous. Everyone who is involved with the Syrian issue knows that the four cities of Houla (Taldo, Kafarlaha, Taldahab, al Tiba al Gharbiya) are exclusively Sunni all the families who lost members to this slaughter are identifiably Sunni.

To anyone foolish enough to doubt this we invite you to look at the Sunni burial rituals, which are there for all to see on videos posted on YouTube.

The FSA is an essential part of Houla. They are our brothers, fathers, uncles and sons. Any reporter suggesting that they are in fact the villains in this plot are woefully blind or lying.

To conclude we say without reservation that this reporter spoke to no one from Houla before compiling his disgusting report from Damascus. If he has spoken to anyone at all it is stooges put up by the regime in an attempt to deceive. Despite the renewed anguish that this reporter has caused our community and the shame he has brought to himself and his newspaper, we invite him to come to our village to interview survivors and meet the community he has defamed. We guarantee him protection from justifiably angry residents here but wonder whether he first has the courage to slip from the grip of his masters in Damascus.


Posted by: omen | Jun 15, 2012 11:46:44 AM | 8


from tony badran writing for now lebanon:

There were obvious indicators that the German article was false and based on claims made by the regime and its fellow travelers. For instance, the report stated that the supposed Alawite victims were from the “Shomaliya” family. The confused German author—and everyone who uncritically picked up his report—didn’t even bother to check his facts or his sources. There is an Alawite village by the name of al-Shumariya, near Houla, which the regime’s media and its third-party amplifiers claimed was attacked by “armed gangs.”


this current version of hermann's piece has evolved along with the criticism he's been receiving.

skim through tony badman's twitter timeline to note changes and updates to the faz piece and how it's being parsed.


https://twitter.com/#!/AcrossTheBay

Posted by: omen | Jun 15, 2012 12:02:07 PM | 9

b @ 6: Thanks b, for the article. One of the most responsible articles I've read on Syria. Has the ring of truth, based on historical facts. One can only hope Russian motives are as stated. I believe the West's motives are not.

Posted by: ben | Jun 15, 2012 12:14:20 PM | 10

@ Omen

Why should the "activists" claims, on behalf of the villages in question, be credible? The FSA supporters "activists" counter argument to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reporting of the FSA rebel massacre is essentially to say that they have not spoken to the reporter, for concerned observers to watch youtube burial ritual videos and to claim that since the FSA are the "brothers, fathers, uncles and sons" of the exclusively Sunni majority areas they would never engage in such acts.

Hard to believe the "activists" take-my-word letter. The pattern of a generalized sectarian rampage of the fundamentalists on christian and minority communities as their only strategy of "politics" (sowing chaos) stops when it came to the SELECTIVE murder of Alawi and Shi`ites families in Hula who had refused to politically align themselves with the FSA fundamentalists.

Angry Arabs amateur phone-in journalism to see what is going on leaves much to be desired. Although AA is ok he has at time's shown himself to not know what the F**CK he is talking about. This is one of those moments.

Posted by: thirsty | Jun 15, 2012 12:27:13 PM | 11

@Omen Tony Badran is a neocon warmonger (fellow of Foundation of Defense of Democracy, i.e. the new PANAC), not a credible source.

Posted by: b | Jun 15, 2012 1:05:15 PM | 12

The anti-Syria blog, Lebanon Now was started in 2005 in the aftermath of the Hariri assassination. It was believed by many that Syria was behind the assasination and the blog's mission was to help end Syria's 25-year occupation of Lebanon. It was rumored that funding for that blog as well as for another anti-Syria blog that was started at about the same time, Ya Libnan, came from the Hariri family. A couple of years back, the International Tribunal investigating the Hariri asassination declared that although Syria was not absolved of the Hariri crime, it was no longer a suspect. But the tribunal's declaration didn't change anything in the anti-Syria passion at the 2 blogs.

Posted by: www | Jun 15, 2012 2:49:03 PM | 13

@ 8.
The following letter was written by activists from the Homs town of Houla...

It's interesting how quickly the language in the letter descends into smears and motherhood statements with a few emotional hooks thrown in for good measure.

It reads like the cue cards for one Shrillary's 'spontaneous' speeches.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 15, 2012 3:28:35 PM | 14

Rainer Hermann's new piece contains absolutely nothing that moves me in the direction of believing that the bulk of the victims at Houla were Allawite/Shiite. Whatever evidence he's able to muster all says the victims were pro-goverment but absolutely none of his evidence says the victims were mostly Allawite/Shiite.

By the way as already mentioned on this board today by Brian, there was a confession on Syrian State TV tonight were a SUNNI suicide bomber was caught planning to go into a SUNNI mosque today Friday in Damascus, a mosque whose congregation is pro-government. We've seen many other cases of PRO-GOVERNMENT SUNNI civilians deliberately killed by rebels and terrorists. Hence when Allawites are killed one should presume it's because they're pro-government not becuase they're Allawites. I reject Rainer Hermann's claim that in Syria "everyone knows everyday stories of religious cleansing - of people being killed just because they are Alawite or Sunni." One thing in Rainer Hermann's story above that's right is that most of the Syrian army soliders killed by rebels are Sunni in their religion.

As a footnote, about sectarianism, here's from a story from rebel-controlled Qusayr town in Homs is dated 12 Jun 2012:


(1) "The situation in Qusayr is... Christians face a harsh reality: they either join the opposition, or are victims of harassment, discrimination, violence." Please note what that's saying: The Christians are okay if they join the rebellion (which virtually none of them do); harrassment against Christians is not directed at Christians as such but against government supporters.

(2) In early June an ultimatum was issued against Christians in Qusayr to leave town or be driven out. The ultimatum was issued by the faction lead by Abdel Salam Harba. It was not ratified by other rebel groups in Qusayr. There are numerous gangs and military groups that operate in a totally independent manner, outside the coordination of the Free Syrian Army. In a statement, the coordination of the same Free Syrian Army, stationed at Qusayr, says it is "shocked by the news" and rejects the ultimatum, saying that it is not responsible and does not share it in any way. http://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=31718&lan=eng

(3) The bulk of Christians in Qusayr had departed the town long long before this would-be ultimatum issued by one rebel faction in Qusayr in early June. Fides.org reported on 30 May 2012 that "the Christians have almost all fled Qusayr, there are very few left." -- http://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=31626&lan=eng . Back on 23 Apr 2012 it was reported from on the ground by David Enders of McClatchyDC.com that Qusayr was then "all but abandoned" of population, and "what civilians had chosen to stay were largely dependent on the Free Syrian Army." http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/04/23/146425/rare-inside-view-of-syrias-rebels.html

Sectarianism occurs in Syria alright, but I find that it gets overhyped whenever it is found occuring, and those who overhype it are starting out from an assumption that it's more socially pervasive and powerful than the broad hard evidence shows it to be.

There is growing Islamization among the rebels, and this puts the non-Sunnis in firm opposition to the rebels. But this shouldn't be simplified to "sectarianism". Especially because most Sunnis support the government. That includes the Sunni religious establishment in Syria, as I've said many times before. It will be very very difficult for the rebels to grow politically for so long as the generality of the muftis and mosque leaders are still supporting the government's pathway out of the crisis.

PS: My thanks to 'b' #6 for the link to the piece by Lavrov.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 15, 2012 3:48:58 PM | 15

If the annonymous, unsourced activists are pro-regime? Not credible. If anti-Assad? They are the Voice of God.
btw: Russia backs down on sending Syria more copters, even as Hillary holds meeting (telegraph, UK) to discuss supplying the rebels. what does that tell you?

Posted by: JL. | Jun 15, 2012 4:12:02 PM | 16

Thanks for clarifying that the sectarian divide is a narrative largely pushed by the western media. Maybe most rebels are Sunni, but most sunnis are not rebels. Is that an accurate statement? At least being sunni does not automatically mean you are with the rebellion, whether you are Syrian or not.

Posted by: Alexander | Jun 15, 2012 4:12:44 PM | 17

JL @ 16
Russia backs down on sending Syria more copters

No, Hillary is lying, Russia had carried out service on 4 copters, there wasn't a shipment of new ones.

Posted by: Alexander | Jun 15, 2012 4:15:56 PM | 18

thirsty @ #11

AA's especially WRONG and lazy(?) in his main "support" for his conclusion;

I contacted those who reported that and I contacted people in Hula itself and I can tell you that there is no evidence whatsoever to that claim (which has obvious propaganda value particularly since that Syrian regime media never discuss issues of sects--unlike the Syrian opposition media which are blatant in its sectarianism and sectarian agitation).

As if this is in the same category of "sectarianism" that surmisedly would be left undiscussed by the Syrian MSM. We're talking about a "discussion" that could very well preserve Syria's sovereignty, it's not some lowly PR decision or matter of etiquette.

Things like this really make me wonder about him. Like, has he had his coffee yet?

As for the piously defiant explanation letter from the family members of the FSA, well, it's almost as rank and vacant as the rest of Omen's links in this thread.

Posted by: L Bean | Jun 15, 2012 4:24:09 PM | 19

"Maybe most rebels are Sunni, but most sunnis are not rebels."

And then, after the matter of sects, comes that of nationalities. Many of those advertised as rebels are foreigners, who are definitely not in rebellion against their own governments, which actually employ them.

Certainly the High Command of the "rebels" appears to be in the pay of foreigners, using their arms and carrying out their orders. They operate from foreign bases and are led in battle by veterans of NATO Death Squads in Libya and elsewhere.

Syrians, of all persuasions, are caught in the middle of a war being waged by the Empire, through its satraps and proxies, with global strategic objectives. The Syrian whether christian, shia, sunni, druze, jew, pagan or atheist is more than expendable, his death is actually longed for by the "rebel" propagandists who package their victims as martyrs to the cause that kills them.

This is Big Lie propaganda of the crudest kind. Anyone killed in Syria is automatically deemed, by the west, a victim of the Baath regime, just as anyone killed in a drone attack in Pakistan is deemed a militant.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 15, 2012 4:35:07 PM | 20

T/U, b, for this article.

I was out today, listening to NPR while in the car. I had trouble believing what I was hearing from the NPR reporters and pundits asked to pontificate. Houla? Well, that was the Syrian "regime" showing the populace how badly they would be treated should they not hew to the government's dictates.

Not one mention that those killed were supporters of the Syrian government.

And so it went: Assad = Evil, Syrian "regime" = extension of Evil, and so forth.

And people are read on the web, who were properly skeptical of the run up to Iraq from Bush/Cheney and the MCMers (members of the Mainstream Corporate Media) playing stenographers to the Bush administration's lies, edited info, etc., today are all deeply concerned about getting people killed...for humanitarian reasons.

So sad, and so maddening.

Posted by: jawbone | Jun 15, 2012 5:44:50 PM | 21

Angry Arab has just posted b's translation on his site:

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2012/06/another-account-of-hula.html

Asad has claimed from the beginning that he found it very difficult to ascertain the truth of events that are going on in Syria.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jun 15, 2012 5:55:19 PM | 22

this troubles me. i have never in all my travels in syria seen men that look like this- and i was followed and watched like anyone else. isnt it against islam to get tatooed? all across m.e., this sort of physique didnt exist, but maybe i just wasnt in the right circles. the headshot-muscle flexing one especially, seems staged, like the guy could be any nationality and certainly removable or surface henna tatoos are easy to apply. not buying it. hard pressed to see guys that look like this. he looks like a special ops armed forces type.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2157518/Syria-massacre-The-steroid-mad-Ghost-killers-Assad-power.html

Posted by: JL. | Jun 15, 2012 6:03:22 PM | 23

Posted by: bevin | Jun 15, 2012 4:35:07 PM | 20

i agree. the sickening part is that in syria- and even more so in iraq- you find multitudes of mixed shia-sunni marriages. this sectarian "civil war" is a created conflict using latent animosities for foreign benefit. anoyone recall how the CIA-Mossad backed operatives blew up the mosque in Samarra to ensure an sectarian explosion?

Posted by: JL. | Jun 15, 2012 6:08:08 PM | 24

I would agree that the war was not in origin sectarian, but it is becoming that rapidly. There was the suicide bombing today outside the Sayyida Zeinab shrine.

Back in 2005, in Iraq, there were already signs of maniac anti-Shi'a feeling among Sunnis. I remember debating that on Helena Cobban's webpage. King Abdullah of Jordan evinced his feelings at that time.

Since then Sunni anti-Shi'a feeling has bloomed. Most importantly, it has convinced King Abdullah of Saudi, an aged person who fears for the future. Send out the jihadis (who brought the Saudis to power in the 1920s) to bring down the ancient Shi'a enemies, in Iraq and in Syria. Never mind that in Iraq, the Sunni rebellion being defeated, the result is only occasional bombs in Baghdad.

In Syria, however, there is still success. The Sunnis are not defeated. It may be that all the women in the videos are veiled to the nose, but still Asad is being defeated.

It is not that the conflict in Syria is naturally sectarian, but it is being made so by the outside participants.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 15, 2012 6:19:52 PM | 25

Anti-shia forces are mainly funded by Saudis, however, anti-shia secretarianism may benefit Iran as well, as shias in other countries may turn to Iran for support

Posted by: nikon | Jun 15, 2012 7:58:25 PM | 26

Here's what Robert Mood says about sectarianism in Syria in an interview on 15 Jun 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=HaF3WK8505c#t=610s

Separately from the sectarianism question, here's another thing Robert Mood says in the above video today that puts in him in stark contrast to Reiner Hermann: "In all our [UNSMIS] reporting, we don't tell stories. We don't go somewhere and hear something and then decide whether we believe this story or don't believe it, nor tell the story. We report the facts the way we have seen them. This is extremely valuable. It helps to bring complicated speculative pictures [from other reporters] to be narrowed down [i.e. constrained] by verified known realities on the ground.... UNSMIS has an extremely valuable role to play on the ground to verify facts."

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 15, 2012 8:00:07 PM | 27

Another comment by Robert Mood on 15 Jun 2012:

"When we got into the hotspot areas, we are leaving the areas that are under full control of government forces and going into areas where armed opposition groups are in control of that local area. I do not see a situation in which the rebel-controlled areas are getting bigger. I'm rather seeing a situation in which the control of these areas are being challenged." http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=UOTJdHTloLg#t=109s

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 15, 2012 8:16:34 PM | 28

the dodgy angry arab adds this bit to the germans report:

'Now, again. I don't know about the methods and sources of the German reporter and what makes things more complicated is that the Syrian regime media don't discuss sects and sectarian affiliations but I have not seen any evidence that the victims were Shi`ites and `Alawites. In fact, I have not even heard claims that any of the victims in Hula were `Alawites.
Posted by As'ad AbuKhalil '

which is not true...its known the murdereds religious affiliation...about 14 of them were of the family of a member of parliament! Angry arab needs to stop shilling for the MSM

so lets go to a eyewitness Angry ignores:
http://www.syrianews.cc/marat-musin-anna-news-syria-report-houla-707.html

How can he claim not to have not even ' even heard claims that any of the victims in Hula were `Alawites.'...when ive been sending him articles like that one!

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 8:48:14 PM | 29

Posted by: thirsty | Jun 15, 2012 12:27:13 PM | 11

see my comment on AA above..

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 8:51:18 PM | 30

Omen @7

this comment to his posted article is more relevant:
Antifo says:
15/06/2012 at 15:01
@activists

(1) You should have read the articles by Dr. Hermann:

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/neue-erkenntnisse-zu-getoeteten-von-hula-abermals-massaker-in-syrien-11776496.html
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/arabische-welt/syrien-eine-ausloeschung-11784434.html

You’ll find, that response refers merely to a tiny sub-set of the information provided by him.

(2) Your claim, that 100% of the citizens of Taldo, Kafarlaha, Taldahab, al Tiba al Gharbiya are Sunni is incredible. If that is true today, then mabye because all other citizens were silenced, driven out or murdered.

(3) Activists are never unbiased.

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 8:53:58 PM | 31

another comment to the AYYAM article:
tegucigalpa says:
15/06/2012 at 16:28
Your response to the FAZ article remains vague.

The FAZ quoted sources that gave a lot of names, precise location descriptions and timelines of the attack on Taldou.

There are quite a few witnesses quoted on ANNA News, with names, locations, setups in the place of the attacks. They witness, among other things, to an attack on the UN observer mission that tried to come through to an army checkpoint near Taldou. They show wounded and shot syrian soldiers. They publish eyewitness reports, which can, of course, be put into question, but they give details that your response lacks of.

The accent of the initial reports, unlike those from the FAZ, was not that the victims were Alawite or Shiite, but rather that they were government supporters like the family of the brother of one of the new parliament members which has been entirely killed.

These are facts. You are, of course, free to bring up yours.
---------------------------------------------------------

and another in response to a comment defending the AYYAM article and quoting western media:

tegucigalpa says:
15/06/2012 at 16:46
By the way, Shaque, there was no final proof of shelling.
Also, the report by Gen. Mood given after the Houla investigation does not blame anyone. You can see a copy of this original report here: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rXDyKvVJrZM/T8VLoloYhsI/AAAAAAAAL0c/6ADUEwWiQE4/s1600/2012-0529+Schockstarre+nach+Al-Hula_1.jpg

The mythical “Shabiha” is a concept that came up as a second version after it was proven that no substantial shellings have taken place, but rather that the victims have been killed by knife or been shot from a close range.

But the finest thing is the Russian and Chinese subtitles version of some footage from Houla published by the activists. First, it said “people were killed by heavy shellings”, later on, it was corrected as to say “and some were slaughtered by knife”. It was first published only a few moments after the massacre.

Well, there are a lot of things unclear. Especially the description of a Shabiha militant by a 10 year old survivor boy: “bald men with beards”. That’s a sunni militant in my perception.
-----------------------------------

and:

Antifo says:
15/06/2012 at 22:38
In their reply the activists object Dr. Hermann has not contacted them before he wrote his article from 7th of May.

In countries with press freedom it is not common, that one must go to a certain group of folks and have them approve media articles in advance. Instead it is common that dissenters write an article that brings up their view point.

In that particular case the principles of press freedom require the activists to come up with a plausible description of the events that lead to the slaughtering of of children and women by knife.

The activist’s reply would ideally cover all relevant aspects that were brought up by Dr. Hermann. That means it would include also a statement on the relatives of the People’s Assembly member Abdul-Moa’ti Mashlab. His name can be found under “Homs Constituency” in “The Other Sectors (B)” in the corresponding by SANA:

http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2012/05/15/419139.htm

Note, that list was released May 15th, i.e. ten days before(!) the murdering of the children and women.
============
so who are the 'activists'? they are unnamed...they could just as easily be this guy: http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/wests-syrian-narrative-based-on-guy-in.html

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 9:01:59 PM | 32

'I can only conclude that the Syrian regime is looking more and more guilty. We don't have all the facts as of yet, but this is my feeling now in the absence of evidence to the contrary. What makes the Syrian regime more frustratingly noncredible is that it never ever admits killing an innocent person--not even by mistake.


Posted by: omen | Jun 15, 2012 11:39:13 AM | 7

with a friend like Angry who needs enemies. As ive shown above Angry claims the victims werent Alawaite and that he has not even heard claims they were... even tho ive been emailing him such claims!@ so ANGRY who claims to have contacted locls('activisits' maybe?) who refute the FAZ story...can be challenged as to his credibility...The ANgry Arab news service is a bit like SOHR: a dodgy very personal one man operation...

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 9:11:12 PM | 33

Posted by: jawbone | Jun 15, 2012 5:44:50 PM | 21

on NPR:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPR#Governance
'The original purposes of NPR, as ratified by the Board of Directors, are the following:
Provide an identifiable daily product which is consistent and reflects the highest standards of broadcast journalism.'

Funding

In 2010, NPR revenues totaled $180 million, with the bulk of revenues coming from programming fees, grants from foundations or business entities, contributions and sponsorships.[18] According to the 2009 financial statement, about 50% of NPR revenues come from the fees it charges member stations for programming and distribution charges.[18] Typically, NPR member stations receive funds through on-air pledge drives, corporate underwriting, state and local governments, educational institutions, and the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). In 2009, member stations derived 6% of their revenue from federal, state and local government funding, 10% of their revenue from CPB grants, and 14% of their revenue from universities.[18][24] While NPR does not receive any direct federal funding, it does receive a small number of competitive grants from CPB and federal agencies like the Department of Education and the Department of Commerce. This funding amounts to approximately 2% of NPR’s overall revenues.[18]
During the 1970s and early 1980s, the majority of NPR funding came from the federal government. Steps were taken during the 1980s to completely wean NPR from government support, but the 1983 funding crisis forced the network to make immediate changes. Now more money to fund the NPR network is raised from listeners, charitable foundations and corporations instead.[citation needed] According to CPB, in 2009 11.3% of the aggregate revenues of all public radio broadcasting stations were funded from federal sources, principally through CPB.[25]
====================

the US likely has no real unbiased journalism left.

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 9:17:49 PM | 34

Anti-shia forces are mainly funded by Saudis, however, anti-shia secretarianism may benefit Iran as well, as shias in other countries may turn to Iran for support

Posted by: nikon | Jun 15, 2012 7:58:25 PM | 26

NO..this is conspiracy thinking with no foundation to it

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 9:19:33 PM | 35

'Rainer Hermann's new piece contains absolutely nothing that moves me in the direction of believing that the bulk of the victims at Houla were Allawite/Shiite. Whatever evidence he's able to muster all says the victims were pro-goverment but absolutely none of his evidence says the victims were mostly Allawite/Shiite.'

parviziyi @15

i dont agree with this speculative assessment...it reads like the 4 'activisists' in AYYAM post,.

would Parv care to show us non-alawwite victims? if sunni were they pro- or anti govt?

i do think this has merit:
'Hence when Allawites are killed one should presume it's because they're pro-government not becuase they're Allawites'

but that undercuts the clear intentions to cleanse syria of all non sunni

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 9:24:45 PM | 36

journalist Anhar Kochneva reports on HOMS

'Especially kidnappings are more and more a part of the dirty business of “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) and of the associated armed gangs.'
http://www.syrianews.cc/syria-kidnappings-homs-armed-rebels-kidnapper-799.html

freedom fighters? peaceful protestors? or criminal gangs backed by Riyadh Washington and Telaviv?

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 9:41:15 PM | 37

clear intention to cleanse syria of all non sunni? I don't see it, the object is intimidating those who are non rebel. Chance would have it, most of the non sunni are pro gov, but so are most sunni.

Posted by: Alexander | Jun 15, 2012 10:13:30 PM | 38

".. i have never in all my travels in syria seen men that look like this- and i was followed and watched like anyone else. isnt it against islam to get tatooed? all across m.e., this sort of physique didnt exist, but maybe i just wasnt in the right circles..."

JL this Daily Mail video is a crude fabrication: the men are evidently using children's plastic toys, to which wooden dowels have been added. It is completely discredited.

It strikes me that part of the problem is that there is a sort of interregnum in Saudi Arabia. No adults are in charge and the jockeying for position when Abdullah finally croaks means that idiots such as Bandar (Bush) are able to use the Kingdom's immense wealth and weaponry as they wish. In truth the Saud family are piling up enormous troubles for themselves, in the very near future, by their crass and open alliance with zionists. Neither ibn Saud nor Feisal would have painted themselves into this corner: claiming power in the Kingdom on the basis of their support for islamic puritanism while openly aligning themselves with zionists involved in genocide and a United States launching crusades against muslims.

It can't last: currently the Sauds are much more dangerously positioned than the Assads, particularly if Syrians finally start to fight their enemies.
What we are seeing in Syria is the sort of intervention to be expected by a man who paints his private 737, purchased with a billion dollar bribe from the British, in the colours of the Dallas Cowboy Football Club.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 15, 2012 10:15:26 PM | 39

Syrians need to take their fight to the Turks in Ankara and Istanbul. The unheeded majority in America know who their enemy is and if Syria attack goes ahead, the traitors may get some real blowback in USA. This would have been unheard of even 5 yrs ago:

http://mondoweiss.net/2012/06/stop-30-billion-campaign-plasters-los-angeles-with-billboards.html

Posted by: JL. | Jun 15, 2012 11:10:12 PM | 40

mother Agnes on Syria massacres of christians:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUQPfHILhV0&feature=share
the interviewer says he was with FSA an they claimed not to be behind HOMS massacre....but what does such a denial mean? would they say to the jounro: yes we killed christians? or is there a third force in syria with their own agenda?
Journo brazenly asserts: there will be people seeing this who say you are lying....Well whats to say you and your FSA men arent lying?

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 11:25:15 PM | 41

alex @38
Youd be right most sunni support the govt...esp now with Libya as a eg of what happens if a people dont support their govt

Posted by: brian | Jun 15, 2012 11:26:33 PM | 42

Syrian Armenians support President Bashar Al-Assad
from march 2011
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8qxWbgUyos&feature=related

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 12:01:29 AM | 43

Syrian Christians and Lebanese Shia rally in Dearborn favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGAQbVVrx_w&feature=related

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 12:21:39 AM | 44

‏@Baahanaa
Free Syrian Army executing a citizen for being pro-regime by throwing him from a building http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB_Nd0-erm8&feature=youtube_gdata_player #Syria cc

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 12:51:25 AM | 45

"Maybe most rebels are Sunni, but most sunnis are not rebels."

When the February Revolution broke ou in Russia, the Bolcheviks were a small minority in The Soviets, and an infinitesimally small percent of the population. 8 months later the Bolcheviks seized power in the October Revolution.

Castro said the his 26th of July Movement was less than 1% of the population.

Mao said that an insurgency only needed about 15% popular support.

The lesson is that what matters is the morale of the State´s Armed Forces, not rebel´s "order of battle."


Posted by: Mafer | Jun 16, 2012 1:23:29 AM | 46

Clinton,Loyally serving Israel as its secretary of war: how appropriate :'With an Israeli flag behind her and waving her right hand in the air '

U.S. Exploits Syrian Situation For Showdown With Russia
Rick Rozoff

On June 12 what passes for the U.S.’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, further escalated tensions with Russia in an appearance with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Brookings Institution, a think tank that has supplied the Barack Obama administration with many of its key foreign policy personnel.

With an Israeli flag behind her and waving her right hand in the air
etc
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/u-s-exploits-syrian-situation-for-showdown-with-russia/

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 2:30:23 AM | 47

Thanks for the Robert Mood Video: "There are locals who tell one story and there are locals who tell another story ..."
"Syrians are proud to be a secular society ..."
"the rebel controlled areas do not get bigger, they are challenged"

I guess FAZ has taken a position in the conflict, just like other papers have taken a position.


Posted by: somebody | Jun 16, 2012 3:22:05 AM | 48

yes there position is called the Truth

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 3:43:39 AM | 49

it sees the germans know salafists are dangerous:


'Nationwide raids targeting Islamic Salafists have swept Germany, with one Salafi group being banned, as Berlin steps up pressure on the ultra-conservative movement to quell its members' “anti-democratic behavior."
Announcing the crackdown, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said the freshly outlawed Millatu Ibrahim group “works against our constitutional order and against understanding between peoples.”
Raids across seven German states, involving searches in about 70 apartments in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and other locations, could produce evidence allowing the ban of two more Salafists groups associated with extremism and violence, Friedrich added.
http://www.rt.com/news/muslims-berlin-group-anti-democratic-856/

note the terrorists attacking syria are mostly salafists..so ill europe now reconsider their support for the terrorists attacking syria?

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 3:47:02 AM | 50

>>> note the terrorists attacking syria are mostly salafists..so ill europe now reconsider their support for the terrorists attacking syria?>>>


Brian, before you work yourself into another corner, find out what Salafism is about.

Posted by: www | Jun 16, 2012 4:18:39 AM | 51

i already did WWW..ive posted on salafism before..it and saudi Wahhabism are connected, which is why the saudi (or Qaudi) dictatorship is interested in supporting the insurgency

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 5:09:44 AM | 52

Saudi Clown Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz is dead..Let the power struggle begin...If the US thinks they've seen enough trouble in the region, this is only just the begging..

They've overplayed their hands in Egypt, Bahrain, Syria and on top of that Saudi Arabia..The word blowback will be an understatement...

Posted by: Zico | Jun 16, 2012 6:58:49 AM | 53

The wicked Prince is dead.

Posted by: Amar | Jun 16, 2012 7:02:15 AM | 54

plus ca change c'est la ...

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-assad-will-breathe-a-sigh-of-relief-at-death-of-arab-spring-7855131.html

let's see if this is going according to plan, probably not ...

Posted by: somebody | Jun 16, 2012 7:23:31 AM | 55

'RIYADH, Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Nayef, the hardline interior minister who spearheaded Saudi Arabia's fierce crackdown crushing al-Qaida's branch in the country after the 9/11 attacks in the United States and then rose to become next in line to the throne, has died. He was in his late 70s.

Nayef's death unexpectedly reopens the question of succession in this crucial U.S. ally and oil powerhouse for the second time in less than a year. The 88-year-old King Abdullah has now outlived two designated successors, despite ailments of his own. Now a new crown prince must be chosen from among his brothers and half-brothers, all the sons of Saudi Arabia's founder, Abdul-Aziz.

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/06/16/3322120/saudi-crown-prince-nayef-has-died.html

Notice that the US didnt complain when this saud cracked down on terrorists..but US regime when syria cracks down on terrorists.

also...saudi arabia is the last word in nepotism!

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 7:24:44 AM | 56

video

A nun at a Syrian Christian monastery says eyewitnesses saw militants take corpses from a hospital near Houla and pile them in a mosque to convince UN observers that a massacre had occurred.

The video includes the Russia Today logo but I can not find the video on RT.com. Take it as not verified.

Posted by: b | Jun 16, 2012 10:39:00 AM | 57

The UN observer mission has suspended its patrolling due to high danger to get shot. The had three (armored) cars shot at last week - likely form the opposition.

Posted by: b | Jun 16, 2012 10:41:32 AM | 58

Just wanted to chime in with Jawbone on US so-called left media. I watched a lengthy segment covering Syria on Democracy Now this week (Wednesday, I think it was). It was appalling coverage... many of the long discredited images, footage, tales were hammered upon viewers as the truth. I took ten or more minutes to ever so slightly give some semblance of week balance.

rafif jouejati (watch out for this one!) was one of two main people given a bull horn... she supposedly represented the Free Syrian side, was clearly neo-liberal-con pnac material.... I couldn't believe Amy let her on, much less let her carry on and on. DN has two major strikes against it in my war and peace reporting book. They have been awful on both Libya and Syria in the last year.


Posted by: Eureka Springs | Jun 16, 2012 11:16:12 AM | 59

Give credit where credit is due, May the man rest in peace, many in Saudia now will too: Last fall, the Daily Beast wrote an uncomplimentary and unfair piece on him; he will be missed very much in Saudia:


Prince Naif’s War On Saudi Liberals And How Obama Is Abetting The Crackdown
Nov 11, 2011 10:51 AM EST


The ascent of the latest dictator-in-waiting spells the death of reform for the Saudi Kingdom. Bloggers, dissidents, reformists are all feeling the pressure—and Obama is tacitly abetting the crackdown.

When King Abdullah appointed Prince Naif heir to the Saudi throne, congratulations poured in from leaders around the world. President Obama was no exception. “I congratulate King Abdullah and the Saudi people on the selection of Prince Naif as crown prince. We in the United States know and respect him for his strong commitment to combating terrorism and supporting regional peace and security” he said. “The United States looks forward to continuing our close partnership with Crown Prince Naif in his new capacity as we strengthen the deep and longstanding friendship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.”

Who is Crown Prince Naif? For the past three and a half decades, he has run the Interior Ministry and waged war on Saudi liberals, dissidents and human rights activists. Naif oversees a system of extreme repression. Bloggers have been arrested, hundreds of thousands of websites censored and cinemas banned. Just weeks ago, three Saudi filmmakers were imprisoned for making a movie about poverty in the Kingdom. Men like Abdul Hamid Al Fakki are beheaded for the crime of “sorcery” and Hadi Al Mutif imprisoned for two decades for making a joke about religion.

President Obama’s boilerplate diplomatic platitude may seem harmless, but it is demoralizing Saudi dissidents and liberals who have faced Naif’s wrath for over three decades. “We’re headed toward the medieval ages” a leading Saudi blogger told me on condition of anonymity. “Jihad is coming! The infidels are going to burn!” he exclaimed mocking Naif. “I’m really worried that a decade of our dreams as liberal dissidents is going to be demolished in a single second. What takes years to build can break down in a second.”

In November 1990, forty-seven women drove in the Kingdom and were summarily arrested. Twenty thousand fundamentalists gathered in Riyadh calling the women “whores” and one week later, it was Naif who officially announced that women are forbidden from driving.

“We’re headed toward the medieval ages” a leading Saudi blogger told me on condition of anonymity.

In 2002, fifteen Saudi girls were killed when the religious police blocked them from fleeing their burning school because they were not properly covered. Saudi newspapers demanded an investigation, but it was Naif who ordered an end to all editorials on the subject. Two years later, Naif said of Saudi elections “[W]omen’s participation is out of the question.”

Full article:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/11/11/prince-naif-s-war-on-saudi-liberals-and-how-obama-is-abetting-the-crackdown.html

Posted by: www | Jun 16, 2012 11:29:15 AM | 60

"A nun at a Syrian Christian monastery says eyewitnesses saw militants take corpses from a hospital near Houla and pile them in a mosque to convince UN observers that a massacre had occurred.

The video includes the Russia Today logo but I can not find the video on RT.com. Take it as not verified."

Sky News had an interview with a Mother Agnes Mariam De Le Croix, I don't know if thats the same lady in the video in the link you have posted b. I expect it may have been along the same lines though as Sky made a point of adding the label "Assad Supporter" above her name and not "local witness" ...

Posted by: Rod | Jun 16, 2012 11:36:01 AM | 61

Russia will not defend Assad with heavy, consequent, military action.

All the diplomatic guff shows that real clear.

as exemplified in b’s post no 6. - Lavrov.

What, realistically, can it do? A sincere question.

It hasn’t acted until now (or only marginally so as far as I can make out but happy to be contradicted or kept up to speed)

It will fold. It will not engage in this proxy war.

Not now, in 2012, not on this occasion, not in this country, not in this territory, Syria.

Imho.

It will pass. (As in poker or bridge.)

Posted by: Noirette | Jun 16, 2012 11:39:57 AM | 62

Irshad,yes,I agree with that,but I believe all this crap is gonna backfire on all the dictators in the region,from Jordan,to Egypt,to Saudi Arabia,to the Gulf States.And it wasn't Iran that hijacked Iraq,it was the Ziomonsters who caused it to happen,another backfire.
Bad intentioned morons whose cluster f*cks pale any other screw ups in world history.
We aint seen nothing yet,and aint it funny,the only democracy in the area,Iran,is the bad guy according to the democracy hypocrites.
It's all alCIAda,all the time.

Posted by: dahoit | Jun 16, 2012 11:41:30 AM | 63

Noirette, I agree, Russia is putting on a show and sooner or later it will walk away. It always does.

Posted by: www | Jun 16, 2012 11:44:56 AM | 64

@www 64,
The weasels who run Russia (especially Dmitry Medvedev) might, but it's people, it's church will hold steadfast. You must remember that too many loses a line must be drawn and the line will be Syria. WRT Iran, Iran has only a few allies in the Islamic world, the only true friends Iran has are countries with Christian majorities.

Posted by: hans | Jun 16, 2012 12:05:18 PM | 65

are we being fed another illuminati world power "spat" like the fake turkey vs israel theatrics?

reuters moscow reported on Jun 9 that russia is not against assad departure, "Syrian Rift Will Not Hamper Russia’s WTO Bid – White House"

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120615/174041728.html

Posted by: JL | Jun 16, 2012 12:05:29 PM | 66

b @ 58 -- The reporting about the UN leaving Syria so far on NPR has been that most of the violence the monitors encountered is from civilian supporters of the Syrian government who threw rocks at the UN vehicles or it was inability to go to areas with active fighting. No direct mention of any violence from "activists," "rebels," or the SFA and other fighting groups opposed to the government.

There was, however, on a media coverage program, mention that since Syria has allowed more foreign journalists into the country there has been more mention in the US MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) that violence is coming from all sides (which are more than just two). The host intro'd the program asking the guest, BBC Middle East Bureau Chief Paul Danahar, if Assad was allowing journalists into the country to muddy the waters. Danahar said that while Syria had been covered as a black and white situation for a long time, it was very far from being clear cut.

Even the reporter from CH 4 who has written that his car had been led by rebels into a no-man's free-fire area and felt he was being set up to be killed or injured to increase the bad image of Assad was mentioned. But, it was brought up by the host as being a report which very well might not be at all credible Danahar sais he had spoken to someone who had been there and believed Thompson's report was true, but then he added that since the rebels have no command and control it could be, he implied, a rogue group.

The host's last question was about the effect of Western journos getting into Syria and now reporting on the "complexities," aka rebels being pretty violent. He asked, as closely as I can transcribe, whether this new complexity was making "truth itself a stooge of Assad" in order to take the momentum out of Western action.

Even when pointing out the details of the "complexity," Danahar tended to word things or present them in such as way as to make it clear Assad's government is the main culprit of any violence.

This was one of the segments on the topic PR for dictators, which also covered PR firms which take on governments with bad images and charge through the nose to try to improve their images.

There is no transcript, but the segment is just under 6 minutes.

If there were a transcript and I could highlight in, oh, yellow, the terms and wording which were clearly slanted against Assad and in favor or Western action, the screen would be a caution sign. The propaganda has sunk into our media people's minds very deeply.

Posted by: jawbone | Jun 16, 2012 12:21:03 PM | 67

@Eureka Springs #59

DemocracyNow! has better, and generally more comprehensive domestic coverage than foreign; and that's saying a lot because the foreign reports are also quite good most of the time. And personal conduct counts for a lot; and this organization has integrity built into it. When she was younger, Amy Goodman took great personal risks, and came within an inch of being killed by Indonesian soldiers, in East Timor, back in the day.

Goodman's program often relies on phone-in reports from local people with whom the producers of the show have formed a bond of trust. The show's coverage of the revolution and counter-revolution in Egypt has been, and remains, excellent. The show's former producer is now its permanent correspondent in Cairo. They flubbed on Libya because their only real reporter went into the country surrounded by those who ardently hated Gadhafi, and also the reporter never ventured much outside the cordon of the rebel's main advance, west of Benghazi.

As always, our grasp of the situation is only as good as our sources; and our reliance on sources depends on trust, which has to be established over time. This trust is based on observed performance, intellectual honesty, proven ethical conduct, scrupulous analytical thought and copious reading, and the capacity to appreciate nuance, and evidence of mature judgment that is not polluted by sophomoric reflexes or emotionalism run wild. The trust is earned.

I trust DemocracyNow! for its coverage of our domestic issues; and while on occasion the foreign stories are still incomplete, for the most part, its news reporting has been commendable, with fair coverage of many places around the world. Their coverage of Latin America has been solid and especially good, as well as their reportage of the Empire's far-flung wars.

Amy's coverage of our domestic scene is about the best, and the most prolific, and the most in-depth, of any other authentic alternative news network. On that account I think they are superior to anything else we have in the US.

Posted by: Copeland | Jun 16, 2012 1:06:03 PM | 68

b,
The interview with the nun was shown on RT today at the 1'o'clock news. Its very interesting what she has to say - she probably will be in the FSA, AlQaeda hit list now!

Also RT reported Russia had troops and ships ready to go to Syria and a ship is on its way to TArtous carrying troops and equipment which the USA is "monitoring". Things are heating up now but the spanner in the works will be the instability in Saudi after the death of Nayef. God willing the Saudis and their backers pay a heavy price for all the death and mayhem they have caused everywhere.

Posted by: Irshad | Jun 16, 2012 1:37:41 PM | 69

It would be better not to report at all rather than report with bad sources, obviously pro war liars, imo. Seriously, it's because of her background this is inexcusable. Amy could have best served her audience by stopping the obvious propaganda and sending those cretins on their merry way. Syria and Libya coverage on DN! were/have been inexcusable. Though i agree with you on the rest (domestic and Egypt), as best I can tell... but it makes me wonder just how good central and south american reporting has been.

I often admire what DN! accomplishes with what must be small amounts of staff and other resources. They should admit their limits rather than risk leading a trusting audience right down the blind war path.

Here's the link, btw

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/6/13/is_syria_in_a_civil_war

Posted by: Eureka Springs | Jun 16, 2012 1:40:05 PM | 70

As mentioned at #58, UN observers as of today have suspended patrols and will stay in their base locations until further notice, due to escalating violence on both sides over the past 10 days. The suspension will be reviewed on a daily basis and "operations will resume when we see the situation fit for us to carry out our mandated activities," Robert Mood said today.

As mentioned at #28, Robert Mood said yesterday morning, before the decision to suspend patrols: "I do not see a situation in which the opposition-controlled areas are getting bigger. I'm rather seeing a situation in which the control of these areas are being challenged."

There has been lots and lots of evidence from 10 June onward that the Syrian security forces have taken an initiative against the rebels. The initiative seems to have been prompted by a rebel initiative taken in some areas in the days just prior to 10 June.

There is also lots evidence that the government's initiative has been successful on the ground in the targeted areas in the days since 10 June. Therefore the government can terminate its security initiative initiative for the time being.

We on the government side want the UN observer mission to resume. Therefore, the government should terminate its initiative for the time being.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 16, 2012 2:29:59 PM | 71

You must have noticed that the UN observer mission has published very few reports or findings in the almost two months since it entered Syria. Here's a comment by Robert Mood on 15 Jun 2012: "Would it be a good idea for the UN mission in Syria to share openly with the news media all our reports and all our findings? Well, for the time being that's not my choice. That's very simple. I have a reporting chain. I report to the headquarters in New York and Geneva. It's their decision. [But] I think we probably could be more pro-active in information dissemination." http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4W0Rq9-_dfc#t=63s

Question: Why are more reports and findings not getting published by the UN observer mission? And who is making this decision?

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 16, 2012 2:34:18 PM | 72

Eureka Springs, I had seen the interview. But I think Patrick Seale more than held his own in the interview; and he was by far more open, informative, and responsive; while Ms. Jouejati was cagey and not very well-spoken. I don't think she came off that well in the debate.

By the way, I always respect your comments, and wasn't aiming anything derisive in your direction. I am also willing to criticize DN! if they go astray on coverage of Syria, allowing that this crisis is as grave as it is, and we can't afford sloppy or inadequate reporting to pass without rebuttal.

Posted by: Copeland | Jun 16, 2012 2:47:59 PM | 73

re Irshad 69

Things are heating up now but the spanner in the works will be the instability in Saudi after the death of Nayef.

It will be interesting to see how much the death of Nayef will affect Saudi policy. I'm not quite sure how much influence he had over Saudi activities (comments please!). Right now Saudi policy, intervening everywhere, has death-wish characteristics; it's putting at risk the survival of the dynasty.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 16, 2012 3:04:34 PM | 74

Syrian activists reply FAZ
http://antifo.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/syrische-aktivisten-antworten-der-faz/

Amongst other you find there (in German) a short summary and critique of the activist's reply, and a call to the activist to come up with a version of the events that lead to the killing of women and children.

Posted by: Antifo | Jun 16, 2012 3:20:19 PM | 75

I read through the Lavrov paper from b's link. I found it impressive; and I don't think the admonitions and cautions that have come from the Russians can, or should be, dismissed as "guff". The danger here is miscalculation by the aggressors, and failure to appreciate Russia's crucial security interest in this matter.

Taking into account today's realities in Syria, reliance on one-sided support for the opposition, particularly for its most belligerent part, will not lead to peace in that country anytime soon and will therefore run counter to the goal of protecting the civilian population. What seems to prevail in that option are attempts to bring about regime change in Damascus as an element of a larger regional geopolitical game. These schemes are undoubtedly targeting Iran, since a large group of States including the USA and NATO countries, Israel, Turkey and some States of the region appear to be interested in weakening that country's regional positions.

The possibility of a military strike against Iran is a much-debated topic today. I have repeatedly stressed that such an option would lead to grave, catastrophic consequences. An attempt to cut the Gordian knot of long-standing problems is doomed to failure. We may recall in this regard that the US military invasion in Iraq was once considered to be a "golden chance" to change the political and economic realities of the "greater Middle East" in a quick and decisive manner, thus turning it into a region which would follow the "European pattern" of development.

Irrespective of the situation concerning Iran, however, it is evident that fuelling intra-Syrian strife may trigger processes that would affect the situation in the vast territory surrounding Syria in the most negative way, having a devastating impact on both regional and international security. Risk factors include loss of control over the Syrian-Israeli border, a worsening of the situation in Lebanon and other countries in the region, weapons falling into the "wrong hands," including those of terrorist organizations, and, perhaps the most dangerous of all, an aggravation of inter-faith tensions and contradictions inside the Islamic world.

I am especially doubtful that the Russians will allow a military overthrow of the Syrian government, especially one that is linked to, or might facilitate, the transfer of Syrian missiles or heavy military assets south, into Lebanon. Such a destabilization, and movement, would set events into motion which no one can control, or hope to control.

Posted by: Copeland | Jun 16, 2012 3:21:55 PM | 76

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 16, 2012 2:34:18 PM | 72

considering that the UN is fully behind Syrian regime change, it could be reasonable to assume that the UN monitors findings do not serve those ends. otherwise, certainly they'd be published far and wide- and it would preclude having to constantly manufacture hoaxes

Posted by: JL | Jun 16, 2012 3:42:34 PM | 77

Eureka Springs #70, I don't see why you are upset at DN for having invited the the spokeswoman of the Syrian opposition. I think it was great that it did because it exposed her as a clone of the younger Rice and just as much a liar. Patrick Seale on the same show did a fantastic job of explaining that all this shit-disturbing by the US on Iran and Syria is being done for the benefit of Israel. Maybe it's that last part that pissed you off about the program.

Posted by: www | Jun 16, 2012 3:45:26 PM | 78

Posted by: Eureka Springs | Jun 16, 2012 1:40:05 PM | 70

sorry i dont share your enthusiasm. dem now is a waste of time and is a slickly veiled intelligence operation, nee gatekeeper. a limosine liberal of media, or maybe just a jalopy

Posted by: JL | Jun 16, 2012 3:46:21 PM | 79

>>> (comments please!)>>>

Alexno #74, read between the lines of post 60.

Posted by: www | Jun 16, 2012 3:50:26 PM | 80

JL, your head is so far up your ass, it is unlikely to ever be recovered.

Posted by: Copeland | Jun 16, 2012 3:56:28 PM | 81

>>> dem now is a waste of time and is a slickly veiled intelligence operation>>>

JL, I think you are mistaken.

Posted by: www | Jun 16, 2012 4:10:36 PM | 82

re Copeland 76

I am especially doubtful that the Russians will allow a military overthrow of the Syrian government, especially one that is linked to, or might facilitate, the transfer of Syrian missiles or heavy military assets south, into Lebanon.

It's very unlikely that the Russians will intervene physically, other than to land troops to defend their base in Tartous, which they are reported to have done. Political defence is a different matter. There's no reason for them to abandon their political defence of the Asad regime. The Asads are still pretty widely supported, and the Russians would be wrong to abandon them.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 16, 2012 4:44:03 PM | 83

re www 80

Alexno #74, read between the lines of post 60.

I was asking for something deeper than simply a biography of Naif, even if reading between the lines.

Political relations in the Saudi family are very complex, though it is true that one person could have sufficient influence to affect the opinion of the aged king.

The question is: after the disappearance of Naif, was it only him who forced the policy of intervening in Iraq and Syria against the Shi'a? Or is it more widely supported?

For myself, I would only be too happy if the Saudis let up on their policy of bombing Baghdad, so that I can go back and work there.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 16, 2012 5:10:22 PM | 84

alexno: my view is that Saudi policy is completely uncoordinated. As you note, it seems suicidal.
I wrote, somewhere, earlier, that the political chaos seems to me to be a function of the long rolling struggle for succession which involves several candidates and is not unlikely to be decided by force, in the end.
This alliance between the guardian of the two sacred places and the ruler of the third, brokered by the United States and central to an anti-muslim crusade, is not destined to last long. It seems unlikely that among the candidates for the succession there will not be factions ready to appeal to the populace for support.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 16, 2012 7:22:36 PM | 85

This is how the opposition has been holding civilians as human shields!! Sad story from Homs;

.."Currently, the Syrian army would be available for a cease-fire to release the civilians, but a faction of rebels holed up in the city, headed by leading Abu Maan, refuses to consent. The militia, in fact, fear that, once the civilians are outside, the Syrian army can strengthen its offensive towards the city center. The situation is still stalled, but the condition of families worsens by the hour."

http://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=31741&lan=eng

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 8:53:34 PM | 86

B @57
the syrian nun is mother agnes, i believe

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 8:57:24 PM | 87

Posted by: Antifo | Jun 16, 2012 3:20:19 PM | 75
and who are these activists?

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 8:58:17 PM | 88

parviziyi @ 72

another bunch of observers had their report squashed:

Essentially, the GCC created an Arab League group to monitor what's going on in Syria. The Syrian National Council - based in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries Turkey and France - enthusiastically supported it. It's telling that Syria's neighbor Lebanon did not.

When the over 160 monitors, after one month of enquiries, issued their report ... surprise! The report did not follow the official GCC line - which is that the "evil" Bashar al-Assad government is indiscriminately, and unilaterally, killing its own people, and so regime change is in order.

The Arab League's Ministerial Committee had approved the report, with four votes in favor (Algeria, Egypt, Sudan and GCC member Oman) and only one against; guess who, Qatar - which is now presiding the Arab League because the emirate bought their (rotating) turn from the Palestinian Authority.

So the report was either ignored (by Western corporate media) or mercilessly destroyed - by Arab media, virtually all of it financed by either the House of Saud or Qatar. It was not even discussed - because it was prevented by the GCC from being translated from Arabic into English and published in the Arab League's website.

Until it was leaked. Here it is, in full.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NB04Ak01.html

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 9:01:54 PM | 89

saw this on posted as a comment on facebook:

'Down with all of them, not a single UN employee decided to go out of their way to speak of the apparent violations and politically driven decisions of all its political and humanitarian bodies.

An American intern in the UNHR who was studying Arabic in Aleppo when the crisis started only started posting the most horrible lies about Syria on facebook after she landed that internship, I'm sure she's not stupid or blind, she just wants to impress her bosses to land a job with a prestigious title and big fat salary.

A Bahraini Fulbright in NY and a close friend of mine used to be one of the most outspoken people I know in support of the Bahraini revolution until she got invited to a couple of events in the UN headquarters, since then she posted GOD BLESS AMERICA and glorious pictures of her with the American flag a bazillion times and not a single post about Bahrain.

Both a relative of mine and a Palestinian friend work for UN bodies, they both know the truth about what's really happening in Syria and they both tell me that they know that they shouldn't discuss the Syrian issues or go public with their opinions if they want their careers intact.

Frankly, they all make me sick, I don't care if the UN has thousands of good people working for it when they all choose to turn a blind eye to the wrong doings of this imperialist tool. I don't want to offend anyone and usually I try to keep my righteousness to myself but now my hate to the UN has become personal with my country slipping away from us while everyone there is watching.'

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 9:19:21 PM | 90

copeland @68
'Goodman's program often relies on phone-in reports from local people with whom the producers of the show have formed a bond of trust. The show's coverage of the revolution and counter-revolution in Egypt has been, and remains, excellent. The show's former producer is now its permanent correspondent in Cairo. They flubbed on Libya because their only real reporter went into the country surrounded by those who ardently hated Gadhafi, and also the reporter never ventured much outside the cordon of the rebel's main advance, west of Benghazi.'

yes i read an early DN report and saw that the writer spoke of the Gadafi 'regime' and the Idris 'government'...and was alerted to a bias in the reporter...who guess never saw the racist cartoons on the walls of benghazi...Later DN has refused to interview or acknowledge Cynthia McKinney on her trips to libya....DN is history...why did they destroy their reputation just to suport those who hate them?

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 9:30:24 PM | 91

Sky News had an interview with a Mother Agnes Mariam De Le Croix, I don't know if thats the same lady in the video in the link you have posted b. I expect it may have been along the same lines though as Sky made a point of adding the label "Assad Supporter" above her name and not "local witness" ...

Posted by: Rod | Jun 16, 2012 11:36:01 AM | 61
=======

yes is Mother Agnes....here she also is:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysKtld_VGbk

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 10:07:13 PM | 92

SKY NEWS is clearly a terrorist and saudi dictatorship supporter..add THAT label to there site!

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 10:08:27 PM | 93

This was one of the segments on the topic PR for dictators, which also covered PR firms which take on governments with bad images and charge through the nose to try to improve their images.

There is no transcript, but the segment is just under 6 minutes.

If there were a transcript and I could highlight in, oh, yellow, the terms and wording which were clearly slanted against Assad and in favor or Western action, the screen would be a caution sign. The propaganda has sunk into our media people's minds very deeply.

Posted by: jawbone | Jun 16, 2012 12:21:03 PM | 67
---------------

yoube got to laugh at that! who is doing PR for dictators if not the media left and mainstream! including NPR BBC ABC SBS FOX etc

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 10:11:07 PM | 94

great comments regarding Democracy Now, Copeland.

I have nothing substantive to back this up, but I'd say those of us in the states critical of the Syrian/Libyan situations and how it's been framed by western corporate media are in the extreme minority. even DM's audience is not going to be as suspicious as we moonbats.

the free Syria shill was awful; it was a very forced performance. DM will remain a weekday staple in my information diet.

Posted by: lizard | Jun 16, 2012 11:05:52 PM | 95

@Copeland #68

One of the most problematic aspects of the Democracy Now coverage of Libya and Syria has been not just the reliance on untrustworthy sources in the field but the over reliance on Juan Cole as a major commentator on both. Cole has consistently and shamelessly used his position on DN to promote US government propaganda on both Libya and Syria without being seriously questioned by any of the hosts, even when his statements are unproven or provably false.

Posted by: Jim Steel | Jun 16, 2012 11:41:07 PM | 96

@ Lizard

Based on polls, a large majority of the US population opposed the US role in the overthrow of the Libyan government.

Posted by: Jim Steel | Jun 16, 2012 11:44:33 PM | 97

Posted by: Jim Steel | Jun 16, 2012 11:44:33 PM | 97

when democracy is eventually installed in the US, this will mean something!

Posted by: brian | Jun 16, 2012 11:48:40 PM | 99

HRW is on the attack once again spreading lies about Syria..go have your say:
https://www.facebook.com/HumanRightsWatch/posts/319133814836832?comment_id=1922521&offset=0&total_comments=116

Posted by: brian | Jun 17, 2012 1:10:35 AM | 100

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