Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 28, 2013

Syria: NYT Starts Telling The Truth About Syria

After more than two years of obfuscating the obvious the New York Times finally decided to write something truthful about the Syrian insurgency:
Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.
The Islamist character of the opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion, which has been led since its start by Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, mostly in conservative, marginalized areas.
From the very start in Daraa the violent protests started at mosques. In late March 2011 a weapon cache was found inside the Omari mosque in Daraa. All of the "battalions" founded by the various insurgent groups were named after venerated Sunni figures or themes. It was therefore absolutely clear that this was a sectarian insurgency, with foreign support, from the very beginning.

The U.S., as the NYT, so far promoted this sectarian monster as some kind of civil rights movement. As the NYT now removed that mask (likely due to some White House proding), how long will it take until it helps to kill it off?

(Media note: Today's A1 NYT piece is the first written for the paper by Ben Hubbard. Hubbard, an Arabic speaker, earlier reported for the Associated Press. So far most NYT pieces on Syria were written by Anna Barnard from Beirut. Barnard speaks Russian but no Arabic and her news often comes straight out of the sectarian Sunni Hariri press office. One hopes that Hubbard will get more space for reality based reporting on Syria.)

Posted by b on April 28, 2013 at 10:23 UTC | Permalink


Plus another quote: “My sense is that there are no seculars,” said Elizabeth O’Bagy, of the Institute for the Study of War, who has made numerous trips to Syria in recent months to interview rebel commanders.

Its strange to see a relatively objective article in zionists NYT. Either Hubbard wasnt up to speed yet with NYT policies, or management is changing its tune. We'll see soon.

Posted by: Harry | Apr 28 2013 12:34 utc | 1

Another major revelation: former SNC leader Moaz al-Khatib came up clean about the goals of an attack on Syria (followed by sectarian war on Lebanon, Iran, etc).

Disclaimer: I dont know if translation is accurate.

Posted by: Harry | Apr 28 2013 12:42 utc | 2

This article at PressTV is interesting:

Posted by: bevin | Apr 28 2013 12:57 utc | 3

Right in line with Pushing Al Qaeda to Take on Hezbollah.

Posted by: john francis lee | Apr 28 2013 12:58 utc | 4

Harry @1 and b. The so-called 'Institute for the Study of War' is a neocon organizatn, headed by Kim Kagan. Ari Ratner, also quoted in the article along with the ISW's Elizabeth O'Bagy, is described as 'a former Middle East adviser in the Obama State Dept' (whatever that term 'adviser' means: Presumbly not a career FSO?)

Looks to me like the Israel-firsters have decided to try to have Washington repeat inside Syria the policy it pursued so successfully throughout the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s: To use Washington's power to tip the balance in such a way as to keep the war going as long as possible, with neither side winning but with the host population suffering unbelievable losses... and Israel & its many friends in the U.S. laughing all the time.

Posted by: Helena | Apr 28 2013 12:59 utc | 5

5) possible, just for this they need the US intervening not reaching a deal with Russia which might have just happened.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 28 2013 13:25 utc | 6

@3, excellent article. It often helps to clear up the confusion in world affairs to simply look at a map.

Posted by: ruralito | Apr 28 2013 13:32 utc | 7

The US established the Supreme Military Command (SMC) in December, with two-thirds of the leadership having Muslim Brotherhood ties. The formation of the SMC was seen as bowing to intense pressure from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who the fighters said promised more advanced weapons once a central military council was in place.

Also in December the US appointed brigadier general Salim Idriss, a military engineer who defected from the Syrian army in July, as SMC chief of staff and promoted him to division general.

Like everything else the US has tried in Syria, the SMC hasn't worked out. It is an ineffective chat club. Provision of arms and money has continue to flow from the Gulf States, primarily Qatar, to the jihadists, primarily the terrorists Jabhat al-Nusra but also others like Ahrar al Sham.

What to do? The neocon Hoover Institution's Institute for the Study of War, Kimberly Kagan, referenced in Helena's #5 above, has a plan -- "The Smart and Right Thing in Syria."

The United States must embrace the Syrian opposition fully in order to strengthen its moderate elements, convert the networks of opposition groups into a functioning hierarchy that can govern the country, and ensure that a moderate, representative state friendly to the United States emerges in the wake of Assad.

“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 28 2013 14:41 utc | 8

@8 Interesting that the Institute chose a poster of the Allies marching into Syria for their website. Presumably Ghassan Hitto will head the next triumphal entry.

Posted by: dh | Apr 28 2013 15:00 utc | 9

"Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of."

Well, then, we must send US troops immediately! They'll fit right in. And don't count out our home-town boys when it comes to prostlytising. They'll have those Muslims weeping at the foot of the Cross before you know it.
Oh, I'm sorry, is "secular" supposed to be a good thing in Syria?

Posted by: Mooser | Apr 28 2013 15:34 utc | 10

Jeez, I'm sorry. I just about crucified "proselytising" didn't I.

Posted by: Mooser | Apr 28 2013 15:36 utc | 11

Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo,and Bishop Boulos Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Aleppo, were kidnapped on Monday, April 22 near the Turkish border. They were on a humanitarian mission to try to gain the release of two other priests who had been kidnapped. An armed rebel group stopped the car and kidnapped the two bishops while the driver was killed. The rebels element holding the two bishops are believed to be Chechen.

It's become obvious in recent days that Washington/NATO are constructing a scenario in which the West must mount an aggressive military intervention in order to save the Syrian revolution from radical Islamists. That basically is the line Kimerbly Kagan is putting out there.

The kidnapping of the bishops fits nicely with that scenario, doesn't it? Those damn Chechens have got to be stopped!

Posted by: Berry Friesen | Apr 28 2013 16:01 utc | 12

It'll be nice to hear the tune changing as well on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" or on "The Diane Rhem" show. Once these mouthpieces of government propaganda start giving more truthful accounts of the situation in Syria, then the low information listener, who never reads or researches the info will finally stop saying things like; "The brutal Assad regime", the horrible Alawites". I will finally be able to listen to the radio again with out punching the steering wheel of my car.

Posted by: Fernando | Apr 28 2013 16:03 utc | 13

Even that snippet from the NYT shows them trying to spin the insurgency as a democratic. The 'Sunni Muslim majority" does not "lead" the insurgency. If it did, the insirgency would be massive and Assad would be long gone. A very small, militant minority of sunnis leads the insurgency. A minority that has no faith in its own powers and relies on serving as the mercenaries of NATO.

Posted by: Charles Kautsky | Apr 28 2013 16:05 utc | 14

If SyrPer to be trusted (and thats one of the most reliable source of info we have, even if it reports only wins from one side), over 900 terrorists were killed yesterday! 600+ killed north of Idlib, near border with Turkey. SAA is annihilating rats with increasing efficiency and lethality.

Posted by: Harry | Apr 28 2013 16:25 utc | 15

“We have no illusions about the prospect of engaging with the Assad regime — it must still go — but we are also very reticent to support the more hard-line rebels.”

This quote from Ari Ratner seems to give the nub of the problem which NATO/Israel still has not - and possibly cannot - solve: Assad must go, but the only forces opposing him must not be allowed to replace him.

This is the question they cannot figure out, and may be out of their hands. The situation on the ground may be more dependent on Saudi/GCC vs. Iran/Assad/Hezbollah. What card does NATO/Israel have to play except for indiscriminate bombing? And will that solve the question posed by the Ratner quote above?

Posted by: guest | Apr 28 2013 16:31 utc | 16

Ari Ratner? Why is it that I keep hearing Jewish names when in comes to Syria? Wouldn't their opinions be slanted towards Israel?

Posted by: Fernando | Apr 28 2013 17:41 utc | 17

We'll soon be up to four Friedman Units for "Assad must go."
--Clinton, Jul 1, 2011: "It is absolutely clear that the Syrian government is running out of time."
--Clinton, Jul 10, 2011: Syrian leader has “lost legitimacy,” and should not see himself as indispensable to the country’s future.
--Obama, Aug 18, 2011: “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”
--State Department official, Frederic Hof, Dec 14, 2011: "Our view is that this regime is the equivalent of dead man walking."
--Clinton, Apr 1, 2012: "We think Assad must go."
--Obama, Mar 24, 2013: Syrian President Bashar al Assad has lost his legitimacy and “must go,”

That is the position of the US with UK and France, it is not a United Nations position, and it does (still) seem unlikely.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 28 2013 18:07 utc | 18

"Ari Ratner? Why is it that I keep hearing Jewish names when in comes to Syria?"

Consult a licensed, certified audiologist about that. And you might want to see a proctologist, too.

Of course, there's no denying that the opinions of Jewish names might be slanted towards Israel, They're like that, you know?

Posted by: Mooser | Apr 28 2013 18:10 utc | 19

Nice one Don on the Friedman units! The other way of applying them is to look back at the predictions from all the various, not-expert experts on "How long Asad will last".... Definitely, in May-June 2011 I was hearing a lot of "He won't last till the end of summer." Somehow, his demise was always touted as being imminent...

Posted by: Helena | Apr 28 2013 18:12 utc | 20

"It often helps to clear up the confusion in world affairs to simply look at a map."

You're absolutely right! If somebody had told me that the 1880s-1914 Balkans had moved to the Middle East, I wouldn't have belived it. But as you say, the proof is right there in the map.

Posted by: Mooser | Apr 28 2013 18:13 utc | 21

"The United States must embrace the Syrian opposition fully in order to strengthen its moderate elements, convert the networks of opposition groups into a functioning hierarchy that can govern the country, and ensure that a moderate, representative state friendly to the United States emerges in the wake of Assad."

Exactly! The exact same plan which has worked so well, in so many other places! Naturally the first step is to flood the place with arms, the second is get our boys in there and the third? Profit, I guess! What could possibly go wrong?

Posted by: Mooser | Apr 28 2013 18:20 utc | 22

"Definitely, in May-June 2011 I was hearing a lot of "He won't last till the end of summer." Somehow, his demise was always touted as being imminent..."

Wow, I didn't know I had so much in common with world leaders!

Posted by: Mooser | Apr 28 2013 18:21 utc | 23

Harry #15,

That's probably true, BUT unfortunately, They just keep flocking in as fast as the Syrian army kills them, awash in NATO provided weapons & "aid."

This is the thing that will make it difficult for the Syrian military to break the stalemate. If there was no outside interference, the rebels would've been crushed over a year ago. Nevertheless, the media continues the old tired narrative that this is a homegrown insurgency, which if that were the case, they would be able to stand on their own two legs and not require the "aid" of outsiders. If it were a genuine mass insurgency, Assad would've been toast by now.

Posted by: RC | Apr 28 2013 18:22 utc | 24

@ Helena #20
Definitely, in May-June 2011 I was hearing a lot of "He won't last till the end of summer."

Why did it take the world's emperor SO LONG to say "Assad must go?"
Inquiring minds want to know.
Apparently it was "Leading from Behind" again for the DeciderUndecider.
CSMonitor, Aug 18, 2011
Why it took so long for Obama to say Syria's Assad must go

Obama's call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign was a long time coming. The US president didn't wait as long after protests broke out in Egypt to say that Hosni Mubarak had to go.

For one thing, the US wanted to make sure it was acting in coordination with allies, said a senior administration official. . . it was part of a coordinated verbal and legal multinational assault, as the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, and the European Union issued similar statements that Assad must go now.

I bet getting the allies to toe the line was difficult. Or not.
The former Western colonialists always know what's best for their former colonies. Or not.

trivia: Last night at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza won the Aldo Beckman Award, which recognizes excellence in the coverage of the presidency. Lizza was the first to print the phrase "leading from behind" to describe President Barack Obama's policy in Libya in 2011.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 28 2013 18:58 utc | 25

I've got a feeling, only a feeling, that times they are a-changin' in Syria, in favor of the government.
--The Syria army is tightening the noose around al-Quseir, a key area near the border in Homs governate. There are also gains near Damascus. Time is on their side.
--Hezbollah knows that the Western-supported attacks on Syria are in great part directed at Hezbollah too, and it is getting involved particularly around al-Quseir. They're good street fighters.
--Russia is improving ties with Lebanon, will strengthen its presence in the Med, and has made it clear that The Bear supports Syria and Hezbollah. Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, had repeatedly acknowledged and shown appreciation for Hezbollah’s insistence on safeguarding Lebanon’s stability.
--Iran continues to support Syria, because it knows that the US position on Syria is basically really an anti-Iran position.
--The turmoil in the Syria "Coalition" indicates strong dissatisfaction with Western support, and it means that the West allies have nobody to replace Assad even if they could.
--The rebel Syria military is ineffective; only the terrorists are effective.
--The US congress-critters and think-tanks are at wits end regarding any course of action, and are now grasping at straws as with chemical weapons (again).

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 28 2013 19:23 utc | 26

Strategically, the US idea was to take its impotence in the ME out of the news with the "pivot" to East Asia, coupled with recent US provocations in Korea. Those are signs that "national power" has declined to such a degree that it is totally ineffective against real problems such as Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and it's time to pick on one of the poorest countries in the world, yet again, with a new concocted "crisis" on the Korean peninsula. So, they brought out the B-2 bombers.

Clinton, November 2011: "The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action." [Hey, Afghanistan and Iraq are in Asia, but we know what the honorable US Secretary of State meant.]

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 28 2013 19:50 utc | 27

@26 Another sign of changing times is the ineffectual bleating of the Graham/McCain duo. They have been pulling out all the same old stops lately but nobody seems to be buying. When they quit we'll know there's been a sea change.

Posted by: dh | Apr 28 2013 20:06 utc | 28

It seems to have escaped some people many of whom still consider it to be of a certain importance what this or that zusa "lies and brainwashing Inc." utters.

May I direct your attention for a moment toward reality on the ground?

zusa failed against an extremely weakened Iraq.

zusa failed against a rather midieval nation of (then not any more) heroin growers and peasants. (Heroin productions has since, thanks to zusa, increased > 50-fold)

zusa has failed so far in Syria and the way it looks they are bound to continue failing.

zusas economy and finances are troublesome to say it diplomatically and their state is way worse than bankrupt.

Feel free to again concentrate on this or that "newspaper" and related trivia.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Apr 28 2013 20:08 utc | 29

"usa's economy and finances are troublesome to say it diplomatically and their state is way worse than bankrupt."

The USA is bankrupt because its ruling class want it to be. And the rapidly increasing masses of poor Americans aren't able to keep their tax averse bosses and their tax burdening corporations in the manner to which they have grown accustomed. Consumption tax yields have to be falling while the costs of maintaining a reserve army of labour tens of millions strong are rising.

Like capitalism itself the US state has to keep expanding to survive. (The MIC, which owns Congress, the media and the Academy, insists on that.) But it can't. It isn't as easy as it used to be and there is no Red Army to fight the tough opponents.

Posted by: bevin | Apr 28 2013 22:31 utc | 30

Hahaha thank you so much looser, I mean Mooser about the proctologist recommendation. I'm sure one will be able to help me get your head out of my arse. I'm sure there are many well informed Jewish intellectuals concerning the situation in Syria and you oy vey, you might even be one. However I think it disqualifies them since there is so obviously a conflict of interest. You know!?

Posted by: Fernando | Apr 29 2013 3:30 utc | 31

New questions on Boston bombing suspects’ ties to US intelligence

In fact, the close ties between the US foreign policy establishment and Chechen Islamist forces form a critical part of the background to the Boston bombings. By suppressing such information the media are denying to the public key information regarding not only the identity of possible forces involved in the bombing, but also the reactionary implications of Washington’s ongoing collaboration with Islamist terrorist forces in the Middle East.

The US is working in alliance with Muslim extremists in Syria, who function as Washington’s proxy force in the war to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In this war, Chechen Islamists play a major role. The Muhajireen Brigade of foreign Islamists fighting as part of the Syrian opposition is led by an ethnic Chechen, Abu Omar al-Shishani, and reportedly includes many other Chechens.

Before his death last October, the Chechen Abu Bara was a brigade commander in the Al-Nusra Front, the Al Qaeda-affiliated group that is playing the dominant military role in the US proxy war against Assad.

Posted by: john francis lee | Apr 29 2013 6:40 utc | 32

Harry @2: Thanks for the video, the translation is accurate. Jabhat al-Nusra is making statements in the past couple of weeks about taking the fight to Hizbullah and Lebanon so what al-Khatib says is not surprising. Do you have any idea of the context of this speech and what channel originally aired it?

Posted by: Inanna | Apr 29 2013 10:41 utc | 33

I'm with Mooser. Racial and religious prejudice in all its manifestations is stupid and wrong. It has no place here.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 29 2013 13:55 utc | 34

@21, Mooser, again, don't know if sarcasm or not, but balkanizing the ME is definitely on the US Pack of State's bucket list. Otherwise, nothing lines up.

Posted by: ruralito | Apr 29 2013 14:10 utc | 35

Bevin 30
'The USA is bankrupt because its ruling class want it to be'

no. because of this

times that by x number of programs and there you go.

Posted by: heath | Apr 29 2013 14:39 utc | 36

Indeed. Iraq is disintegrating. Syria too.

Interesting to note that the Iraqi Government has suspended Qatari owned Al-Jazeera for inciting sectarian violence. The same could be said of its coverage of the Syrian conflict. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Israel all seek the balkanization and weakening of two countries whose present Governments align themselves with Iran.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Apr 29 2013 14:52 utc | 37

@36 That is a curious situation. All about protecting the manufacturing base obviously. Maybe the Saudis would like to buy a few more? Qatar gets their tanks from Germany.

Posted by: dh | Apr 29 2013 15:22 utc | 38

Not so curious. The war industry employs a lot of people, and since people vote, congress-critters are loath to scale back the war industry. So keep the production lines open and the military bases activated to Keep America Secure.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 29 2013 15:38 utc | 39

@38 I get that. But an actual public disagreement is quite rare no? Especially with all the sequestering talk.

Posted by: dh | Apr 29 2013 15:42 utc | 40

@36, reminds me of the opening of the Iliad bk.2.

Agamemnon awakes from a dream convinced he can take Troy that very day. He gathers his generals and proposes a little theater: he, Agamemnon, will harangue the troops to arm themselves; while the generals, for their part, will seek to restrain him. Then, after they win(he thinks!) he will look pretty good next to his general staff.

Posted by: ruralito | Apr 29 2013 16:03 utc | 41

insolidarity with islamic terror Pulse media: @im_PULSE again in soldiarity with terror

y not tweet them and ask why they support FSA terrorism?
Progressives - real progressives - in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s (although things started to go wrong in the 60s) never had this muddle-headed problem in figuring out what they were really promoting. In this case they are unquestionably promoting the human rights standards of the Middle Ages.
the list includes apart from the foolish Tariq Ali Ilan Pappe!

Posted by: brian | Apr 29 2013 17:31 utc | 42

brian 42

its because their boy, Barry sits on the imperial throne and if things like the mortgage on the house in DC are going to be paid, the proggies are going to overlook some minor details. just like the other side wails about socialism and activist judges and tearing up the Constitution then when it gets back into power it does exactly those things.

Posted by: heath | Apr 29 2013 18:35 utc | 43

Seems to me they are pushing for the Sunni-Shia showdown.

-Syria is being pushed towards sectarian warfare
-Iraq is heading that way again
-Lebanon is particularly volatile (tripoli tensions)

Who is to gain is pretty clear.
-Israel will have the 2 islamic variaties at each other's throat and not directed at them.
-US will have a new market and have al Qaeda in a long war of attrition
-Saudi Arabia whose state religion is the Whahabi strain would love to see their religious enemy reduced

Is the trouble in Iraq related to the war in Syria (Al Nusra/AQI fueling sectarian tensions again as they have done in the past or is it the Awakening council (Sons of Iraq)? Is the US fomenting this for Iraq's unwillingness to aid in the destruction campaign of Syria or is Iraq totally unrelated?

I know the US had quite a lot of trouble in Iraq but managed to quell the insurgency with the help of the Anbar Awakening council. So that is a powerfull militia able to go toe to toe with Al Qaeda.

What are your views on this?

Posted by: Gehenna | Apr 29 2013 18:37 utc | 44

Posted by: heath | Apr 29, 2013 2:35:58 PM | 43

this has nothing to do with Obama: Pulse media is left wing, one of their members is TARIQ ALI, whos association with Hugo Chavez should have made him wise about syria.

Posted by: brian | Apr 29 2013 22:09 utc | 45

#39 & #40:
The Military Industrial Complex intentionally places a little of its production in each congressional district, so that congresscritters are motivated not only to increase the military budget, but to compete to bring the latest project to their districts (as well as create convoluted arguments about why archaic military hardware which are built partly in their districts should not be phased out). They then can run for reelection partly on their successful track record of bringing jobs to their districts. They have been known to vote for weapons systems that the Pentagon has said that it doesn't need. The only way the Pentagon could get a reduction in military spending through congress was not through cutting outmoded weapons systems, but through across the board cuts with the sequester -- if congresscritters complain, at least their districts are not getting hit worse than anyone else's.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Apr 29 2013 23:37 utc | 46

@dh 40
BECAUSE of the sequester talk. The Army is really hurting for money. Really. The Pentagon was in denial on sequester under Panetta, so the army spent 80% of its operations money in half the year. Tanks are the last thing they need right now. Where to use them? No more ground wars in Asia, they say. Europe is quiet. Africa - special forces only. The Navy can send its useless obsolete aircraft carriers abroad to (supposedly) impress and scare people, but the Army can't do that with obsolete tanks. I started off in tanks years ago, when it was "shock action and firepower."

I've got country music on Sirius right now: "Another story, another time, another place." That's tanks. Producing them is only a make-work program for local employment. Make 'em in Detroit and shove 'em into Lake St. Clair. Might as well. Meanwhile money spent on tanks is less money for boots on the ground. That's good.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 30 2013 0:23 utc | 47

@44 "I know the US had quite a lot of trouble in Iraq but managed to quell the insurgency with the help of the Anbar Awakening council. So that is a powerfull militia able to go toe to toe with Al Qaeda."

I don't know if the Sunni would be so ready to line up against Al Qaeda this time. After all, the Sons of Iraq were largely funded by the US military - and with the US gone, Al Qaeda has no reason to attack Sunnis for "cooperating with the occupier".

With the US gone, I'm afraid what is brewing in Iraq will be even more brutal (if that's possible).

The real question, I suppose, will be to see if a renewed Iraqi Civil War draws Iran in on the ground in a real way.

Posted by: guest | Apr 30 2013 0:29 utc | 48

@34. Agreed. I am amazed that people have trouble making a principled attack on one of the most violent, oppressive nations on the face of the earth. It couldn't be easier to attack Israel for real reasons. And yet some people still have to resort to dumb dumb racism.

Posted by: guest | Apr 30 2013 0:33 utc | 49

I've commented on the West promoting a Shi-Sunni divide. Currently there is an "Islamic Awakening and Ulama Conference" going on in Iran, at which Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke on this subject and others. I suggest you read the whole thing, but here's a part, a teaser:

Propaganda campaigns of the West and dependent and mercenary media in the region pretend that the destructive war in Syria is a Shia-Sunni conflict and they create a safety margin for the Zionists and the enemies of resistance in Syria and Lebanon. This is while the two sides of the conflict in Syria are not Shia and Sunni, rather they are the supporters and opponents of anti-Zionist resistance. Neither the Syrian government is a Shia government, nor is the secular and anti-Islam opposition a Sunni group. The only achievement of the plotters of this calamitous scenario is that they have managed to make use of religious sentiments of simple-minded people to kindle this deadly fire. A look at the scene and those who are involved in it at different levels can clarify the issue for any just individual.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 30 2013 0:35 utc | 50

@ RP 46
Exactly right.
1. For every weapons system, I'm sure, there is a map room with pins placed for every sub-contractor, by congressional district. Every (or most) district better have a pin.

2. And then the congress-critters lobby each other - help me with tanks and I'll swing your way on submarines, etc. In New England the critters have a regional caucus to keep Bath Iron works in Maine pumping out naval iron, and then there's the unmanned systems caucus, etc. etc. all promoted by highly-paid lobbyists who are mostly former government employees.

Most people probably can't conceive of the high level of corruption in the United States government. The media writes about bags of money for President Karzai in Afghanistan, but they never talk about the bags of money for congress-critters, except once in a while, like when that congressman in San Diego (Duke Cunningham) got sent to prison. What did he do wrong?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 30 2013 0:46 utc | 51

General "Pokey" Petraeus warned us that Iraq -- his crown jewel -- was "fragile and reversible."

WaPo, September 7, 2007
General Petraeus’s view is considered overly cautious by some other senior military officials and some members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. But they said it reflected his concern that the security gains made so far in Baghdad, Anbar Province and other areas were fragile and easily reversed.

sinodaily, Dec 23, 2007
"Obviously, we want to reduce the strain on our ground forces as much as we can while recognizing that what has been achieved here remains tenuous and is still fragile in a number of areas," Petraeus said on Fox News Sunday.

limun, Dec 28, 2007
Iraq has pulled back from the brink of civil war, but recent security gains are fragile and still reversible, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said on Saturday.

Reuters, Dec 29, 2007
Assessing the overall security situation in Iraq, Petraeus said progress toward curbing sectarian violence was "tenuous in many areas and could be reversed".

humanevents, Mar 6, 2008
Citing the reduction in violence in most areas of Iraq in the past six to eight months, a confident but cautious Gen. David Petraeus told me Thursday that the progress in Iraq is both tenuous and reversible.

WaPo, April 9, 2008
During a day of hearings against the backdrop of a heated campaign for the White House, Petraeus called security in Iraq "significantly better" than before last year's troop buildup but still "fragile and reversible."

NYTimes, Aug 20, 2008
“It’s not durable yet. It’s not self-sustaining,” he added. “You know — touch wood — there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Fox News, April 24, 2009
Progress in Iraq is still "fragile and reversible," Gen. David Petraeus warned Friday after back-to-back homicide bombings killed nearly 80 people one day earlier in Iraq's deadliest day in more than a year.

Reuters, Mar 16, 2010
"The progress in Iraq is still fragile. And it could still be reversed," Petraeus told a Senate hearing.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 30 2013 0:54 utc | 52

This one slipped by me, and it may be untrue.
BusinessInsider, Apr 29

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) reports that Israeli fighter jets slipped into Damascus over the weekend and bombed a chemical weapons depot outside the city. Neither Damascus nor Jerusalem have yet confirmed the attack, according to UPI.

It came up at the State Dept today.
QUESTION: Okay. What can you tell us about these reports about Israeli strikes on the Syrian chemical weapons plant?
MR. VENTRELL: I don’t have any information for you one way or another on that. I’ve seen some news reporting, but I don’t have any information one way or another, Jill.
QUESTION: So this is kind of a repeat of the last time, when nobody knew anything?
MR. VENTRELL: I just – I don’t have information one way or another, Jill.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 30 2013 1:49 utc | 53

@53 jawbone mentioned that on another thread. I speculated that it could be a gamechanger. It could even be a red line. Either way we should fire in a few cruise missles and see what happens.

Posted by: dh | Apr 30 2013 2:20 utc | 54

On the major topic of getting at the truth, we've (mainly b) highlighted many press diversions from the truth, but as with Jill's 'attitude' in #53 above there are some good people about. I used to run a "rummywatch" feature on my website when Rumsfeld was SecDef and at that time the Pentagon press were like a bunch of lambs, which Rumsfeld being a very sharp guy took advantage of, and he did his own press conferences.

Now, at State, (1) we have stand-ins for the SecState, understandable because of travel, and (2) the reporters attending are often not lambs. A couple other examples from today's presser:

QUESTION: What do you mean “statement or some kind of reaction”? You mean some kind of an announcement? Like, might Secretary actually speak or --
MR. VENTRELL: I’m not sure about press arrangements for post-meeting, but we’ll certainly endeavor to get you all a readout.
QUESTION: And, I mean, so if it’s all so constructive, I mean, it’s just not clear to me to why you guys wouldn’t have – even have a sense of whether you’re going to issue a statement afterwards.
. . . . . .
QUESTION: Yeah. Well, I was hoping for something a little bit more exact.
MR. VENTRELL: I know you are, Matt.
QUESTION: If you can drill down a little bit on the granularity [he's mocking and repeating]. Maybe like: Assad future, situation on the ground – and I’m not trying to be facetious.
MR. VENTRELL: No, I know you’re not, Matt.
QUESTION: But I would prefer that it not be, “The Secretary and Mr. Brahimi met and spoke about issues of mutual concern.”
MR. VENTRELL: All right. We’ll endeavor to --
QUESTION: Because, frankly, I read enough of the New Light of Myanmar many years ago, and we don’t need those kinds of readouts anymore. So I’d also make the same plea for the Arab League meeting.
MR. VENTRELL: Okay. Let me clear, though --
QUESTION: If we could actually get some remnant of scrap of substance in what the readout --
MR. VENTRELL: Let me be clear here, though, Matt. The purpose is to encourage him to continue in his good work, and so that’s really the message that Secretary wants.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 30 2013 3:20 utc | 55

We have fresh reports from Brown Moses (AKA Eliot Higgins) on an alleged chemical attack on the town of Saraqeb, Idlib, complete with photos and links to Aleppo. Don't miss the videos.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 30 2013 3:51 utc | 56

56) of course, those chemical weapons threats go two ways. Bombing a depot would release these agents no? A breakdown of the Syrian state would mean non state actors get hold of them, isn't Hezbollah already defending those chemical plants :-)) How would you keep these weapons from getting thrown to Israel without many men in boots on the ground and even then ...

This here is John Boltons :-)) take:

True, the humanitarian costs of chemical-weapons use inside Syria are potentially high, but so are the risks to American and allied forces trying to destroy or seize chemical weapons, given the dangers and complexities involved. Taking military or covert action against the chemical weapons is therefore justified only where the global risks to American citizens or our allies are palpable, and where the operational risks are more acceptable.

Supporters of aiding Syria's opposition argue that U.S. assistance should not focus on chemical weapons, but instead should consist of establishing no-fly zones, providing weapons and possibly even direct military involvement. But these advocates (who favored precisely the same aid before the claims of chemical-weapons use) are missing a key point: Syrian's chemical-weapons attacks in no way altered the unpleasant fact that the opposition is thick with terrorists—including al Qaeda—and radical Islamicists. However incrementally more reprehensible Assad's regime is for using chemical weapons, the underlying strategic realities, and America's interests, have not changed.
The understandable temptation to urge the president to make good on his red-line warning should be resisted. Even given the harm of failing to impose penalties on Assad for defying the ultimatum, there is no compelling logic to compound the president's foolishness by risking the lives of American soldiers. Unfortunately, this wound to U.S. credibility is now part of Mr. Obama's legacy. His successor will have to work hard to recover that credibility through real international leadership."

Now, when John Bolton suddenly talks sense ...

Posted by: somebody | Apr 30 2013 5:47 utc | 57

@ Guest #48
"Al Qaeda has no reason to attack Sunnis for "cooperating with the occupier"."

Not so sure about that. The insurgency by AQI (among others) was stopped in its tracks by the Awakening council so there will be old wounds and old scores to be settled but if the awakening council is drawn into sectarian strife those will be shoved aside and they will stand together. There is bad blood between them and the question is wether that will stand in the way between cooperation.

"With the US gone, I'm afraid what is brewing in Iraq will be even more brutal (if that's possible).

The real question, I suppose, will be to see if a renewed Iraqi Civil War draws Iran in on the ground in a real way."

That it will be brutal goes without saying. I agree with the question on Iran. When the US had boots on the ground it was more a proxy war between Iran and the US. Wether or not Iran will be drawn into the conflict will depend on a lot of things. Too soon to speculate I guess but I'd wager Qatar and Saudi Arabia would bankroll the Sunni's and try to get Iran bogged down there.

@Don Bacon #50
Thanks for the link!! Didn't know about this conference. Very interesting and he has a lot of good arguments. The question remains if they (the awakening council) will listen to reason and of course how the Iraqi government/army handles this. Another fail like we've seen with the whole "sit in" clusterf#@# and all good arguments aside there will be blood.

Posted by: Gehenna | Apr 30 2013 9:59 utc | 58

50 - Don Bacon
The only achievement of the plotters of this calamitous scenario is that they have managed to make use of religious sentiments of simple-minded people to kindle this deadly fire.

When a religious leader of a theocracy talks like that you know there is trouble.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 30 2013 10:21 utc | 59

I'm sure everyone saw this, maybe it's already been linked to:

The Shia street waiting: Syrian rebels' attacks on Shiites drag Lebanon into conflict

Posted by: guest | Apr 30 2013 12:34 utc | 60


Bolton is against it? I can't get a fix on who is pushing for it and who isn't anymore.

Or maybe it is just like b says - ain't gonna happen.

Posted by: guest | Apr 30 2013 12:48 utc | 61

'Missiles fired at' Russian plane with 159 passengers onboard flying over Syria

Posted by: guest | Apr 30 2013 13:12 utc | 62

UPI published a Qatari story today: "suspected chemical attack kills 2 in Idlib" --

Elsewhere, two people were killed and 20 others were injured Tuesday when planes dropped bags of suspected chemicals in Idlib province, al-Jazeera reported.

Videos from the Qatari news network appear to show victims having difficulty breathing, and in one, a patient at a makeshift hospital has white foam coming from his mouth.

Now we have "bags of suspected chemicals" and mouth-foaming whereas in #56 above they were small canisters and barfing. They need to work on the scripting.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 30 2013 13:24 utc | 63

"bags of suspected chemicals"? Wtf. Since when is this reporting? Let me guess how the chain of events goes:

UPI published that...
al-Jazeera reported that...
The State Department Said that...
The Syrian News Observatory (an opposition aligned group) claimed that...
A civilian in Idlib heard that...
A woman in Damascus saw that...
An Al Nusra flyer said that...
the Al Qaeda political commander was told that...
Adam Ghadan got word that...
The CIA got orders that...
The Neocons really want to push this chemical weapons bullshit.

Posted by: guest | Apr 30 2013 13:40 utc | 64

Wondering what the rest of you make of the current neo-con, eg frontpagemag, apparent support for Assad. I say "apparent" because the word Assad only appears in the comments:

Posted by: ruralito | Apr 30 2013 15:55 utc | 65

My take: at some point a top conniver has decided toppling "the brutal oppressor" using rent-a-jihad is not working so well and has come out pretending they felt that way all along.

Posted by: ruralito | Apr 30 2013 16:10 utc | 66

NYTimes reporter cum Syrian "rebel" is appearing all over the public radio and TV airwaves, talking about the good men and true, never radical or even radicalizable!, who are fighting the good fight against Bad Bad Bad Assad. Today, it was Fresh Air's turn to broadcast his propaganda.

Is it impossible to speak with anyone other than "rebels" in Syria??

(Sorry if this has been posted already, but I don't have time right now to check the comments, etc.)

Posted by: jawbone | Apr 30 2013 18:30 utc | 67

How is it that, in Syria, chemical weapons kill so few people when --purportedly or reportedly, by the "rebels"-- used there? WTF?

Posted by: jawbone | Apr 30 2013 18:32 utc | 68

@ 53 -- So, per State, the eyes in the skies are, like, on vacation? Out of order? Somehow Israelis only fly when the satellites are elsewhere in the orbits. And the US can't afford overlap?


Posted by: jawbone | Apr 30 2013 18:45 utc | 69

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