Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 10, 2012

Syria, Nir Rosen And Ignoring Ideologies

As the Angry Arab, Professor As'ad AbuKhalil, wrote:

Western media (of course you can add Saudi and Qatari media) are involved in the biggest propaganda spectacle that I have ever seen.
Have you read one report in the Western press about the political orientations of the rebels and the Free Syrian Army? (I am sure that Nir Rosen would soon tell you that they are not really Salafites but that they are all Marxist-Leninists with deep feminist principles).

Shortly after that Nir Rosen, just back from Syria, publishes at the Qatari Al Jazeera: The battle for Homs - Government forces appear determined to regain control of opposition-held areas in restive Syrian city.

Well - in my view that is what government forces are supposed to do. Would the U.S. leave Denver in the hands of hostile armed religiously extreme revolutionaries?

In his report Nir say's nothing about the ideological background of the fighters among which he reports. Why not?

But there is an interesting detail in his generally pro revolutionaries tale:

Members of the Revolutionary Council said fighters in the Homs province had taken advantage of the presence of Arab League monitors in December and January to reinforce themselves and bring supplies in from Lebanon, knowing the regime would be limited in its ability to obstruct them at that time.

Fighters announced that they attacked security forces in Rastan, expelled them from Talbiseh, and took control of more territory in Homs city, launching two attacks on the State Security and Military Security headquarters.

The terrorists, after 28 dead and many more wounded in car bomb attacks in Aleppo today I am more willing to call them such, have used the visit of Arab League monitors to get more arms and salafi Libyan fighters into the country. That is of course a good argument for the Syrian regime to never again allow such an Arab League or similar mission. The report of that last mission was suppressed by the western and Arab media because it admitted that the terrorist gangs the Syrian government complained about did exits and killed people all around. Nir quotes some of those folks:

"Homs will not surrender. They are bombing us from a distance, they don't dare to enter the city. They think they will destroy our will and resistance.

"We are waiting for them and we will defeat them in our neighbourhoods. Finally they will enter the city. We are waiting for them."

Did they ever hear of Grozny?

Posted by b on February 10, 2012 at 19:42 UTC | Permalink


Well - in my view that is what government forces are supposed to do. Would the U.S. leave Denver in the hands of hostile armed religiously extreme revolutionaries?

heck, they won't even leave parks in the hands of the peaceful occupied movements!!!!

Posted by: Rd. | Feb 10 2012 20:26 utc | 1

Just watched a bit of Susan Rice on Charlie Rose. The official narrative is shifting from "shooting unarmed protesters," to "protesters finally standing getting disgusted and arming themselves."

Of course, there have been armed skirmishes almost from day one.

Also interesting is the fact that I posted some notes on Juan Cole's site. One was a summary of the Arab League observers' conclusions. The rest was a summary of Al-Akhbar's reporting of the flow of illegal arms, people and video equipment to Syria from Lebanon. There are whole floors of hospitals in Lebanon treating wounded rebels from Syria!

Cole deemed this information inappropriate and wouldn't approve the post! It shows how in synch he is with the overall narrative and desirous to block information about the rebellion's armed aspects.

Posted by: JohnH | Feb 10 2012 21:23 utc | 2

JohnH, those two conflicting story lines (unarmed protesters being mowed down v. heroic freedom fighters battling ferociously against impossible odds) have been present since day one, and the fact that the official story lines conflict with each other makes the propaganda even easier to see in this case than normal. Either story leads to the same result: unarmed protesters must be protected by Western "humanitarian" intervention, and heroic freedom fighters must be aided by idealistic Western intervention. In passing, you also see this conflict with Israel, which likes to play the two simultaneous and conflicting storylines of Israel the super technological and intelligence baddass (our drones and Mossad agents can do anything) and Israel the helpless victim before the ravening Muslim horde (will the US again abandon the Jews to the gas chambers?). The storylines are in perfect conflict, but each somehow leads to the same result, that the US must show absolute support for Israel.

Posted by: Bill | Feb 10 2012 21:43 utc | 3

Lord, but the Nir Rosen article makes my head spin:

1) It makes it clear that the government assault began only AFTER the rebel assault:

This latest army offensive, which began on the night of February 3, was interpreted by leaders of Homs' uprising as a response to their recent gains.
On February 3, the day government forces began their offensive, opposition fighters attacked at least three army checkpoints, including one at Homs’ Qahira roundabout, where they reportedly seized a large armoured vehicle - either a personnel carrier or a tank.
After the attack on the Qahira checkpoint, security forces shelled the neighbourhood of Khaldiyeh. Opposition activists say shelling started around 8:30pm and lasted until 4am, with scores of civilians killed.

2) The details of the attack are more complex than just "Syrian army shelling town," with real on-the-ground combat:

The Revolutionary Council said there had been no exchange of gunfire on the ground, just shelling from locations where government forces could operate safely.
When some wounded and dead were taken to Jurt Ashayah, they were attacked by government forces in armoured vehicles, according to opposition members. Some of the injured were reportedly captured, along with those trying to evacuate them.

3) The casualty figures suggest something interesting:

The Revolutionary Council later said it had documented the deaths of 105 civilians from the shelling. About 100 others were seriously wounded and 25 more missing or captured. One opposition fighter was reported killed and five others wounded.
The council, which has a sophisticated documentation team, claimed that 559 people had been killed since the government offensive began, including 43 children and 16 women.

=> 559 people killed minus 105 civilians leaves 454 as potential fighters. This does not comport with the stories of Syrian artillery randomly shelling civilian neighborhoods.

BTW, did anyone look at the satellite recon photos the state department posted of Syrian artillery over the last week- ? Beyond pretty much admitting that the US is supplying the rebels with itellegences, these photos generally have the artillery pointed in the wrong direction. They're generally pointed AWAY from the towns.

Posted by: Bill | Feb 10 2012 22:22 utc | 4

It's just not true that the Syrian resistance is dominated by bootlickers of the Empire. This is nonsense, and discredits in a mostly "Orientalist" manner the intelligence of brave Syrian dissenters who have worked for two generations to unseat the Assad regime.

Consider Riad al-TUrk, and the situation explained by Tariq Ali. They probably know more than you do.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 10 2012 23:41 utc | 5

I'm a fan of Nir Rosen. He is a courageous journalist and writer. From spending 5 years living, unembedded, in Iraq to defending Hezbollah while a fellow at US think tanks, the guy is very honest and won't just say stuff he doesn't believe to advance his career. Also As'ad AbuKhalil seems to get along with him generally (a good few of his posts have quoted Nir before).

On Syria, his stance does seem at odds with his anti-imperialist credentials and some of his implied support in the past towards the Resistance Axis. Could be a few reasons behind it. Spending the last few months travelling Syria and talking to the fighters could certainly have caused him to have romantise the struggle. Or maybe he thinks it is a genuine revolution and not just another of the "color revolutions" paid for by outside powers.

Also on Juan Cole, the guy is a tool. Used to read "Informed Comment" daily during the Bush years, but his cheerleading for Obama wore on me a bit. He seemed to be against Empire but in reality is just for "Empire with a better PR campaign". When the Arab protests started I phased him out completely.

And finally if anyone needs a good laugh they should take the time to read about this gift Iran just mailed to Obama.

And another funny one today:,27325/

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Feb 10 2012 23:50 utc | 6

Lord, but the Nir Rosen article makes my head spin

Doubtlessly due to the fact that the Rosen article is a definitive denouncement of the horseshit peddled on this blog about the Syrian resistance for the past six months.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 11 2012 0:01 utc | 7

Nir Rosen is a typical zionist "good cop" and is useful to his establishment think tanks, who also pay his bills. He wont get access to Hezbollah by criticising them thats for sure. Hezb not nearly as saavy as many think, quite surprising. More media myth. Like "good cop" Noam Chomsky who denounces the boycott and divestment campaign against Israel by the Palestinians... btw: like 'left peacenik' Chomsky, Juan Cole is a long time consultant to the CIA and other govt agencies. He's in charge of "humanitarianizing" intervention spin (counterpunch 8/20/2011)

Posted by: blue beam | Feb 11 2012 1:08 utc | 8

Ya know, I am increasingly dumbfunded by the seeming blind ignorance, (such as exhibited by this "Slothrop" asshole), that enables a parroting of the bullshit we are sold daily about what is happening in the middle east. One can only assume, in noting the competent and literate manner in which they exhibit such stupidity, that they are in fact partisan liars, mouthpieces, advancing an agenda at the expense of the truth.

Fuck 'em.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Feb 11 2012 3:20 utc | 9

Colm, thanks for that link about the pink drone Iran has sent to Obama, what a hoot.

B, you wrote "...that is what government forces are supposed to do. Would the U.S. leave Denver in the hands of hostile armed religiously extreme revolutionaries?

Or Fallujah and Gaza for that matter. Western hypocrisy knows no bounds. Anybody who stood by or cheered for the US invading Iraq or Israel going on a rampage in Palestine and is now huffing and puffing about whats happening in Homs can stfu. Once Syrian government forces start using white phosphorus and F16's, we'll get to a point where they have caught up with Western moral standards.

In this news report it is clearly the armed rebels err demonstrators attacking a Syrian Army checkpoint. As you wrote B, is there one country on earth where the government would not strike back at those armed insurgents.

On the other hand, and that's what makes this argument about Denver a slippery slope, using the same reasoning, since they are government forces, are Afghan National Army troops therefore entitled to lay siege and shell Taliban strongholds?

Slothrop, re the Riad Al-Turk piece you linked, what strikes me as odd is that Riad is able to reconcile so easily his view that Israel and by extension the US with its illegal occupation of the Golan Hights is aggressing upon [sic] the Syrian people, with his supportive stance towards a US supported rebellion against the Syrian government.

The US government doesn't give a flying fu.k about the Syrian people and their aspirations, the Golan saga tells the story. The very same US government that is now supporting any way it can his beloved Syrian armed militias. If I'd be Riad I'd be scratching my beard and be going does that work? Maybe my fellow Syrians are being used as canon fodder by those powers interested in installing dictators friendly to the west.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Feb 11 2012 4:08 utc | 10

Syria's Uprising in Context 10th Feb, 2012.

Steve Gowans' analyses are always thoughtful, comprehensive and on the money (pun intended). This one follows the path established in his analyses of Libya last year while delving into the historical tensions unique to Syria which the West is attempting to exploit.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 11 2012 4:37 utc | 11

' Would the U.S. leave Denver in the hands of hostile armed religiously extreme revolutionaries?'

anyone remember WACO! they didnt there!

Posted by: brian | Feb 11 2012 5:14 utc | 12

Doubtlessly due to the fact that the Rosen article is a definitive denouncement of the horseshit peddled on this blog about the Syrian resistance for the past six months.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 10, 2012 7:01:16 PM | 7

says the chief peddler! what syrian resistance? when they include Belhadj, a man even the americans sent to Guantanamo as a terrorist! before making him an offer he couldnt refuse

spin that, Slops!

Posted by: brian | Feb 11 2012 5:37 utc | 13

McClatchy's Landay: U.S. officials: Al Qaida behind Syria bombings

The Iraqi branch of al Qaida, seeking to exploit the bloody turmoil in Syria to reassert its potency, carried out two recent bombings in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and likely was behind suicide bombings Friday that killed at least 28 people in the largest city, Aleppo, U.S. officials told McClatchy.

The officials cited U.S. intelligence reports on the incidents, which appear to verify Syrian President Bashar Assad's charges of al Qaida involvement in the 11-month uprising against his rule. The Syrian opposition has claimed that Assad's regime, which has responded with massive force against the uprising, staged the bombings to discredit the pro-democracy movement calling for his ouster.
The first Damascus attack occurred Dec. 23, when suicide bombers detonated cars packed with explosives outside intelligence agency compounds in the Syrian capital. At least 44 people were killed and more than 160 wounded.

Then, on Jan. 6, at least 26 people were killed and dozens injured in a bombing against a second intelligence agency compound.

As regime forces continued pummeling the opposition stronghold of Homs on Friday, two suicide bombers driving explosives-packed vehicles attacked security compounds in Aleppo, killing at least 28 people. It was the first significant violence to strike the commercial center, which has largely remained loyal to Assad.

The Assad regime blamed all of the attacks on al Qaida, citing them as proof that it is fighting terrorists and not a pro-democracy movement. In each case, opposition activists accused the regime of staging the bombings to discredit their movement and undermine the support it's receiving from the United States, European powers and the Arab League.

The BBC yesterday peddled that bolded conspiracy theory. Not any longer I guess.

Landay's sources are likely CIA. They do not like the "official program" run by HR Clinton (and Dennis Ross) and are now taking it down?

Posted by: b | Feb 11 2012 5:53 utc | 14

Thanks for the Gowan piece @ 11. This paragraph 'bout says it all..

"Apart from Syria’s irritating Washington by allying with Iran, backing Hezbollah, and providing material assistance to Palestinian national liberation movements, the country exhibits a tendency shared by all US regime change targets: a predilection for independent, self-directed, economic development. This is expressed in state-ownership of important industries, subsidies to domestic firms, controls on foreign investment, and subsidization of basic commodities. These measures restrict the profit-making opportunities of US corporations, banks and investors, and since it is their principals who hold sway in Washington, US foreign policy is accordingly shaped to serve their interests."

A truly great synopsis of U.S. foreign policy.

Posted by: ben | Feb 11 2012 7:27 utc | 15

It isn't the Government doing the wide spread killing
it is Militias backed by NATO/US

11h/ SIRTE - Yesterday night at 11h, NATO puppets killed a pregnant woman Fatima in #Sirte #Libya with a bullet, while she was on her way to Ibn Sina hospital to give a birth, accompanied by her husband. Citizents of Sirte are devastated by this crime

I am really ashamed to be an American. We (as a Nation) are no better
than those we sanction and slaughter for the same actions as we our selves commit. We are a Hypocracy not a Democracy.

Posted by: OldMan | Feb 11 2012 7:51 utc | 16

Hoarsewhisperer 11, normally i read the links before commenting on them but i'm only 1/2 way thru gowan's article and it's such a good read i thought i would take a breather and stretch it out by commenting.


and thanks b, of course. 99.999% of the time i agree with everything you write. i don't really recall what it is i don't agree with but i like to leave some room for dissent.


Posted by: annie | Feb 11 2012 10:18 utc | 17

Contagion: Explosion in Tripoli arms depot follows clashes over Syria

Beirut - An explosion ripped through an area in the northern port city of Tripoli late Friday, causing panic hours after clashes broke out between armed Lebanese over Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, a security source said.

The blast occurred near Al Jinan University in the mainly Muslim-Sunni neighborhood of Abi Samara, causing material damage and setting some parts of the campus on fire, the source, who requested anonymity, told dpa.

'Initial investigation showed that there is an arms depot in the area,' the source said without giving details to whom this depot belongs.

Hours before the blast took place, clashes erupted between gunmen loyal to the Syrian regime and others who back the 11-month uprising in neighbouring Syria, injuring seven people, among them three Lebanese army soldiers, Lebanese police said.

Tripoli is dominated by Sunni Muslims, but it is also home to members of Al-Assad's Alawite minority sect.

Posted by: b | Feb 11 2012 11:23 utc | 18

Syrial liars lie Syrially.Believe it or not,and only your soul will feel the pain,if one has one,as Zombies seem to be running amok lately.

Posted by: dahoit | Feb 11 2012 16:12 utc | 19

So, slobtrhob, basically you're saying we should ignore the small obscure blogs written by the actual participants in the conflict and stick to CNN, the Timeses, Wapo, Reuters et al?

Posted by: yes_but | Feb 11 2012 16:27 utc | 20

@hoarsewhisperer -- Clearly the West is not anti-muslim as many muslims say. The Lizards don't care what fable you follow: God-had-a-son, God-had-a-stenographer. As long as you're focused on the hereafter they are free to rob you in the here and now.

Posted by: yes_but | Feb 11 2012 16:47 utc | 21

Seems like the MoA reader profile these days is a mean caught somewhere between Alex Jones-like libertarian conspiracy paranoia and sad enthusiasm for global apocalypse.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 11 2012 17:31 utc | 22

@ slothrop

You seem to be good at attacking people personally but light on your views. Should we all just cheer along while the US-Saudi-Dubai axis installs another Israel-friendly puppet under the banner of Democracy? You brought up Riad Al-Turk and it was an interesting read certainly the Syrian Communist Party that Riad heads are no US puppets... but lets keep it real. It's not like Riad Al-Turk and the Syrian Communist Party are on the verge of storming the gates and seizing power in Damascus. They are a TINY element of the Syrian Revolution, barely worth mentioning. We all know that if Assad is overthrown it will be the Syrian National Council and the Free Syrian Army.

Look, the problem is not the Syrian Revolution or the young people marching in it. The problem is the hijacking of the Syrian Revolution by outside forces to create a puppet regime. It's straight out of the counter-revolutionary playbook. Even 200 years ago during the French Revolution, Robespierre called these elements "Circa". At the time it was wealthy businessmen in France who used their money to attempt to hijack the revolution for their own agenda. Now it is wealthy neighbouring states using the same methods.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Feb 11 2012 18:14 utc | 23

the "puppet regime" in Syria has been one serving the interests of the Russians. It seems that b defends the institutional inertia of this historical arrangement – or prefers the arrangement to what appears to be the foment of oppositional forces combining in lethal ways to hopefully produce some semblance of democracy in Syria.

seems to me we are to trust the intelligence of the people on the ground there, rather than assume they are "puppets."

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 11 2012 20:11 utc | 24

actually the Alêp bombing was claimed by FSA colonel Aref Ahmoud on France 24 before FSA came with another replacement story hours later. Priceless

This article was considered too "minor"/not enough relevant to be translated on their english pages I guess...sigh...

Posted by: rototo | Feb 11 2012 20:19 utc | 25

The Angry Arb on Nir Rosen:

Nir Rosen reports from Homs. His article is simply an anthology of exaggerations, claims, rumors, fabrications, lies, deceptions and inventions by the Saudi/Qatari-supported Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Nir did not even bother to talk to any side except the side that killed the French journalist. Oh, yes: Nir did mention sectarian attacks on innocent `Alawites in one line: "Members of the Alawite community in Homs, as well as security officials, claimed that Alawites had been killed by mortars originating from Sunni areas." Notice that news of their killing is merely "claims".

Posted by: b | Feb 11 2012 20:34 utc | 26

Harsh words from the Angry Arab. Especially interesting since 6 days ago he was quoting Nir Rosen himself on Homs.


Also compare the Angry Arab's words on Nir today with what he was saying in Jan 2011 when he reviewed Nir's book:

Nir is so free of mainstream journalistic ambition that he frees himself from the ideological-terminological baggage of Western reporters.
It is the best attempt by a Western reporter to carry the vies, pains, wishes, aspirations, and suffering of the occupied. His treatment of the US military occupiers was refreshingly non-worshipful. He also is not lazy: in covering Lebanon, Iraq, or Afghanistan, he travels around. He rightly observes that Western reporting on Lebanon is deficient--highly deficient--because they don't travel beyond the narrow "green zone" (whether in Beirut or Kabul or Baghdad). In each of those countries, the Westerners develop and reside in a "green zone." Nir does not shy away from writing about the destructive and (war) criminal role of the occupiers: and how they treat the natives. You don't read about that in the Western press. I would only suggest that in the paperback edition, Nir ads another chapter to his 600 page volume: a conclusion. The book cries out of a wrap-up: a conclusion in which he gives his final thoughts, conclusions and analysis, as much as he may not like that. The reporter grew so much from his last book: he is more sensitive without being ever naive (you can't say that he went "native" as they say because he is open eyed about what people may say about themselves to impress a Western reporter). His language is sensitive: i loved when he said: in Arabic, and in other languages, etc (he was talking about a form of insult).


Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Feb 11 2012 21:08 utc | 27

Did I say Grozny?

Looks like the Syrian government has deployed ZSU-23 Shilka air defense tanks. The Russian used these in Grozny because of the high gun elevations against rebels fighting from high rises.

Posted by: b | Feb 12 2012 13:14 utc | 28

Nir Rosen is now working for #AlJazeera, so what do you expect?

Besides, there area number of people writing now for Al-Akhbar English who are being totally uncritical of #Syria opposition propaganda.

Look at this article on SOHR:

And tell me what you think especially when compared with this one:

Posted by: Sophia | Feb 13 2012 1:42 utc | 29

Hi, I have never commented here before, but Nir Rosen is not a zionist. He's anti zionist, and his articles are probably being censored/edited by Al Jazeera to reflect the proper narrative that Qatar wants to impart. I have heard about this happening from the Egyptians.

Posted by: shekissesfrogs | Feb 13 2012 13:35 utc | 30

There are no anti-zionists zionists. There are only different kinds of zionism...

Posted by: Sophia | Feb 13 2012 18:39 utc | 31

Another take on Nir Rosen from Angry Arab

Posted by: Sophia | Feb 14 2012 20:02 utc | 32

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