Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 28, 2013

Open Thread 2013-29

News & views ...

Posted by b on December 28, 2013 at 18:59 UTC | Permalink


Some Xmas weekend reading:

- Patrick Cockburn has a good end of year review on the Arab Spring uprisings, why they are failing, why the humanitarian interventionist crowd never learn, and why there is one group (the Kurds) who are emerging as the real winners.

Source: A Long Ferment in the Middle East

- Joshua Landis over at Syria Comment had a good profile on the leader of the new group Islamic Front. I expect in 2014 we will hear more on this group since the Saudi's want to unite the various rebel groups into this one Army. Moving forward it looks like in 2014 the 3 main rebel groups will be Al Nusra, ISIS, and Islamic Front, but as Landis profile makes clear the differences between the 3 are marginal to say the least.

Source: Zahran Alloush, his Ideology and Beliefs

- Elizabeth Dickinson of the Brookings Institute has a 32 page report in PDF format titled "Follow the Money: How Syrian Salafists are funded from the Gulf" that looks at the supply chain of how money is raised in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia through formal networks, how the money is then transfered into Syria and how it is causing the rebels to fracture even more. Of course for anyone who doesn't want to read a 32 page report its summed up below in a blog post.

Source: Carnegie Endowment

- Janine Di Giovanni has a good piece in Newsweek looking at how the Muslim Sisterhood in Egypt is starting to organise the grassroots effort due to the imprisonment of Muslim Brotherhood figures.

Source: Enter the Muslim Sisterhood

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Dec 28 2013 20:58 utc | 1

Would you say that Russian and Iranian military might is not as good as they claim to be? If it is,, how come they can't get rid of a bunch of apes with AKs?

Posted by: Shoes | Dec 28 2013 21:43 utc | 2

re 1

Cockburn is good until he gets to the Kurds. The Kurds combined, and did not continue their internecine fighting, because of American and Israeli advice, with Israeli agents on the ground to create opposition to the Arab state in Baghdad.

Nevertheless, Kurdistan has only succeeded economically because of the 17% of oil revenues from the Arab south, that they are due from the national share.

The Kurds talk about new wells, but in fact nothing has yet happened, and no figure is available about production of the new wells. Kirkuk produces about 65,000 barrels, as against 2 million from the south.

Evidently, if the Kurds go independent, as they claim, they will face an immediate economic problem. Which Cockburn does not talk about.

Posted by: alexno | Dec 28 2013 21:55 utc | 3

re 1 Zahran Alloush

I see no reason to suppose that any new 'uniting' leader is going to be more successful than any other in Syria.

Posted by: alexno | Dec 28 2013 22:05 utc | 4


"assymetrical warfare" is a way for small bands of lightly armed but flexible combattants to maintain or even prevail over a well equipped, traditional military force.

Russia and iran are, like the USA, slow at overcoming their own miltary-industrial complexes and their insitence that more money, more soldiers and more weapons will solve the problem.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 28 2013 23:04 utc | 5

@1 does that muslim sisterhood also want to wage war on syria?

Convincing evidence suggests that Egypt’s President Mohammad Morsi was ousted from power in a military coup in part because the Egyptian army feared he was plotting to order them to invade Syria in support of the embattled death squad insurgency against the Assad government there.

The combination of Morsi’s aggressive designs against Syria, together with some trial balloons from presidential circles about a possible conflict with Ethiopia, plus the massive anti-Morsi demonstrations organized by the National Salvation Front and the Tamarod movement, convinced military leaders that the incompetent and erratic Morsi, who had destroyed his own popularity by selling out to the demands of the International Monetary Fund last November, represented an intolerable risk for Egypt.

According to the Washington Post, the dissatisfaction of the Egyptian military with Morsi “peaked in June, when Morsi stood by twice as officials around him called for Egyptian aggression against Ethiopia and Syria, threatening to suck Egypt into conflicts that it could ill afford, former military officials said.” (Michael Birnbaum, “Protests Were the Catalyst for Military’s Move against Morsi,” Washington Post, July 6, 2013)

Morsi’s call for Holy War against Assad came just three days after US Secretary of State John Kerry, at a meeting of the Principals’ Committee of the US Government, tried to ram through an immediate bombing campaign against Damascus, but had to settle for the option of arming the Syrian terrorist opposition, leading many observers to conclude that the Egyptian president was acting as part of a US anti-Syrian strategy.

June 15: Morsi Breaks Diplomatic Relations with Damascus

The beginning of the end for Egypt’s first elected president came in mid-June, when he attended a militant Islamist conference “in support of the Syrian uprising” at a 20,000-seat indoor stadium in Cairo. As the packed hall chanted and applauded deliriously, Morsi announced: “We have decided to close down the Syrian Embassy in Cairo. The Egyptian envoy in Damascus will also be withdrawn. The people of Egypt and its army will not leave Syrians until their rights are granted and the new elected leadership is chosen.” (Al Ahram online, June 15, 2013)

By thus breaking off diplomatic relations with another Arab state, Morsi was joining the dubious company of the NATO-backed puppet regimes in Libya and Tunisia, the only Arabs so far to have called home their envoys from Damascus. And for Cairo, such a move has far greater significance, given that Egypt and Syria were politically united between 1958 and 1961 in a single nation as the United Arab Republic, one of the fruits of President Nasser’s Pan-Arab Socialism.

Posted by: brian | Dec 28 2013 23:07 utc | 6

please stop insulting apes

Posted by: brian | Dec 28 2013 23:08 utc | 7

If you ever get a chance to see Hunger (2008), the feature-length debut of Steve McQueen, the director whose 12 Years a Slave is still in theaters, make sure to check it out.

Hunger deals with the Provisional Irish Republican Army blanket and dirty protests in H-Block Long Kesh culminating in the hunger strike led by Bobby Sands. It is an art film but one that packs a wallop. I got to see it again Christmas Day, and I have to say that the long dialogue scene between Bobby and his Catholic priest at the center of the movie is like nothing I've ever seen in cinema.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Dec 28 2013 23:52 utc | 8

@ Alexno

Agree, the Israelis have always wanted a united Kurdistan, since it would A) give them a non-arab state in the neighbourhood that it could do business with, and B) since it would balkanise Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran weakening many of Israels historical enemies. Israel has always pushed for Kurdish statehood even while denying Palestinian statehood.

On Zahran Alloush I also agree with you, many have tried to unite the rebel ranks and all have failed, likely Alloush will suffer the same. But he does seem to be Bandar's man on the ground, which is a big advantage. He also now commands the largest rebel force in Syria, double ISIS and Nusra's manpower combined (if you believe his numbers).

@ brian

Yeah I remember Morsi's comments on Syria and I also know the MB has historical back channel ties with the US. Still I'd prefer a Muslim Brotherhood revolutionary government in Egypt, than a General Sisi counter-revolutionary government in Egypt. Two reasons.

For one, it was the Saudi's that engineered the coup that Sisi led. The Saudi's hate the Muslim Brotherhood. Having them sweep back into power after the Saudi's stabbed them in the back would be a huge blow.

Second reason is Israel-Palestine. Hamas needs to have the MB in Egypt to be powerful itself and it would worry the Israeli's greatly to have a Muslim Brotherhood government leading Egpyt.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Dec 29 2013 0:09 utc | 10

Would you say that Russian and Iranian military might is not as good as they claim to be? If it is,, how come they can't get rid of a bunch of apes with AKs?
Posted by: Shoes | Dec 28, 2013 4:43:37 PM | 2

As ralphieboy says at 5, ""assymetrical warfare" is a way for small bands of lightly armed but flexible combattants to maintain or even prevail over a well equipped, traditional military force."

The Yankees are utterly hopeless at boots-on-the-ground 'counterinsurgency' as they discovered in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (where the real US death-toll was defined in such a way as to exclude between 80% and 90% of total US deaths from the Official US body count - remember the ban on photographing/counting flag-draped coffins?), and are now discovering in their dumbass Afghan SNAFU.

Russian and Iranian "military might" are irrelevant to the on-the-ground conflict in Syria. It's illegal for either of them to interfere directly in the 'civil war' - unless specifically requested to do so by the Syrian Govt, and even then (if) ONLY at the specific, task by task direction of the Syrian govt.
Russia's role is to supply anything Assad needs to conduct the fight AND to kill (stone dead) any attempt at direct Western intervention. That will be such a non-problem for the Russian military that no Western leader/military wonk/wanker will even raise the subject intervention again.

I'm not sure what Iran's role is but it's a fairly safe bet that they are supplying the SAA with whatever materiel they can spare AND supplying trained personnel to fulfil a role similar to Hezbollah.

The Syrian Fake Civil War will probably continue for at least another 2 years (my guess) unless Russia can dream up a good excuse to wreck some Saudi and/or US infrastructure as an 'incentive' to cut off "rebel" funding. If the Russians are thinking this way, a violent event at Sochi could provide a casus belli for some blowback on Saudi assets.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 29 2013 3:14 utc | 12

If this is, in part, a post-Morsi regime thread it should be obvious, as it was in June, that the coup was a good news- bad news story.

The good news was that an Egyptian government that was trying to move Egypt into a military confrontation against the Assad regime was removed. Egypt with a population of 85 million people was in a position to send 10s of thousands of MB fanatical volunteers to fight against the secular Assad government. That would have had disastrous consequences for Syria.

The bad news is that the remnants of the Mubarrak regime seized power and installed another military dictatorship. This signaled the death of the "Arab spring" rebellion against military rule. That is sad but the net result of the rebellion against Mubarrak is that nothing has really changed.

All in all I think it was better that Morsi failed in his efforts to move Egypt into military confrontation in Syria. I hope the next time the Egyptian people try to topple the military rule they will be a little more sophisticated and finally realize that the military is not their ally. There is something really nuts in Egyptian politics. The 1967 war against Israel revealed incredible military incompetence on the part of the Egyptian military. And the result: millions of Egyptians worship the military. It is not for me to tell them how to get out of that contradiction, but someday they will have to if they want to gain some political freedom.

Posted by: ToivoS | Dec 29 2013 3:29 utc | 13

“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island;
Who rules the World Island commands the World.”

hey, maybe this is why NATO always try to pry eastern Europe away from Russia.

Posted by: spiuk1 | Dec 29 2013 4:29 utc | 14

Reports on communication with Shaaban’s office regarding suicide of British Doctor baseless

Dec 26, 2013
Damascus, (SANA)- Office of Presidential Political and Media Advisor, Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, categorically denied as baseless anybody contacted them on the accident of the suicide of the British Doctor, Abbas Khan.

“Statements of the doctor ‘s sister Sara Khan to the British BBC channel and what the Lebanese al-Jadeed TV and al-Joumhuria Gazette have circulated are groundless allegations”, the office added.

The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry on December 18 summoned representative of the Czech Embassy in Damascus who is charged with managing British interests section in Syria, submitting to him a tripartite medical report on the death of the British citizens Abbas Khan Shah who had entered Syria illegally and participated in illegal activities.

The report stated that Khan Shah's death was caused by asphyxiation caused by self-inflicted hanging performed with the intent of committing suicide, with examination of the body's torso and x-rays showing no sign of violence, struggle or use of force.

Receiving the Czech Embassy official, Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Dr. Fayssal Mikdad said that Syria was about to hand over Khan Shah to his mother and UK MP George Gallaway who intervened to pardon him.

H. Zain/ Ghossoun

Posted by: brian | Dec 29 2013 6:26 utc | 16

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Dec 28, 2013 7:09:21 PM | 9

a preference for MB is a preference for WW3 and a syria thats history...

sorry but al-Sisi for me.

a govt that wants to attack another loses its legitimacy and should be removed

Posted by: brian | Dec 29 2013 6:28 utc | 17

15) They would say that wouldn't they?

Posted by: somebody | Dec 29 2013 7:51 utc | 18

part backtrack - New York Times

“The dimensions of the inserted rocket motor very closely match the dimensions in the 9M22-U artillery rocket,” Dr. Postol wrote in an email on Thursday. “If the inserted motor is the same as the standard 9M22-U motor, then the maximum range of the munition would be no more than three kilometers, and likely less.”

That would be less than the ranges of more than nine kilometers calculated separately by The New York Times and Human Rights Watch in mid-September, after the United States had dropped its push for a military strike. Those estimates had been based in part on connecting reported compass headings for two rockets cited in the United Nations’ initial report on the attacks.

This was clear to any physics teacher immediately after the attack.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 29 2013 8:25 utc | 19

This most recent post from China Matters has nothing to do with China, but is of some interest for its analysis of the RSA-NSA collusion, which probably coincides with the prevailing views here.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 29 2013 9:22 utc | 20

A report in The Nation gives details of Syrian rebels detailing their weapons and training setup:

"Rebel fighters and opposition members say the command centre, based in an intelligence headquarters building in Amman, channels vehicles, sniper rifles, mortars, heavy machine guns, small arms and ammunition to Free Syrian Army units – although it has stopped short of giving them much coveted anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.

Officials in Amman denied the command centre exists. “We dismiss these allegations. Jordan is not a host or part of any cooperations against Syria. Jordan’s interest is to see a stable and secure Syria, one that is able to keep its problems inside its borders,” said Mohammad Al Momani, minister of media affairs."

Not so long ago, a British Army Chinook crash landed in a minefield near Jericho, Israel. It was described as being on a routine flight.

It was flying from Amman to Cyprus, detouring far south through Israeli airspace (so Israel agreed to the flights). So I think it is now safe to conclude that it is routine for the British Armed forces to train and supply "Syrian rebels" (aka al Qaeda). This was rumored and comes as no surprise of course, but evidence has a way of creeping out.

Posted by: Yonatan | Dec 29 2013 9:28 utc | 21

That's the UAE National, not the USAian 'Progressive' entity, The Nation. And what is interesting is that although the one you link is so to say, the 'official non-official line,' author Phil sands wrote another one which they published on the same day, yesterday, which undermines the 'official non-official' claims in the first one. Whereas the first one says:

Islamist factions outside of the FSA, including groups aligned to AQ, are not involved with the operations room and do not directly receive weapons or military advice... The US and EU are not supplying munitions to rebels... FSA units also had to pledge they would not transfer weapons to militant Islamist groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, which has a small but powerful presence on Syria’s southern front...

The second one says:
Islamist rebel units that are not part of the FSA are also key players in Dera’a, and opposition figures said these factions were also supplied directly with weapons from Gulf states and cash from private donors. Some of the direct funding and munitions supplies ends up in the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra, rebels in Dera’a said. Nusra, while small in terms of numbers in Dera’a, is well-equipped and cooperates with the FSA and other Islamist rebel factions in carrying out attacks against regime forces, rebels said.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 29 2013 9:55 utc | 22

In 2013, Western foreign policy finally lost the plot.

It’s not just a matter of a badly designed computer system or missed target; rather, Foreign Office errors and stupid initiatives risk intensifying global insecurity and causing the loss of thousands of lives. This year, Whitehall demonstrated more than ever before that it really hasn’t got a clue on foreign policy. From the outset, its policy towards Syria could have had just one consequence: to turn that country into a failed state and strengthen the global movement that fights under the banner of al-Qaeda. Anyone with a minimal grasp of reality knew that the attempt to bring down the Assad regime would destroy a precarious political balance between different ethnic groups in Syria and lead to a bloody civil war. Any intelligent observer could have predicted that such a civil conflict would attract jihadist militants from across the world. One did not need to have a PhD in international relations to understand that such a conflict would help al-Qaeda to cultivate a new generation of supporters. Only fantasists in Whitehall or Washington could have imagined that the so-called Free Syrian Army represented the will of the Syrian people. If the Foreign Office were the Department of Health, there would be an inquiry into this disastrous adventure. Embassies would be put under special measures and inspectors would announce that the work of the Middle East Desk at Whitehall was substandard and that private consultants were being brought in to repair the damage. But of course, the damage caused by the ill-conceived adventure in Syria, which has led to the further destabilisation not only of Syria but also of Lebanon and Turkey, cannot be repaired. Indeed, it is unlikely even to be acknowledged. Who needs charismatic radical mullahs when our very own officials are doing such a sterling job of radicalising a new generation of jihadists?

Posted by: somebody | Dec 29 2013 10:02 utc | 23

from Pussy Riot to gay olympics and Greenpeace shenanigans to this:
'DEVELOPING: At least 18 people were killed in a blast at a railway station in Russian city of Volgograd, according to the regional government. A female suicide bomber is suspected to have carried out the attack, says the National Anti-terrorism Committee.'

Posted by: brian | Dec 29 2013 11:50 utc | 24

@12,..but the egyptian military is syrias ally, because they refused to be used as an instrument of attack

Posted by: brian | Dec 29 2013 11:52 utc | 25

Hollande is meeting Hariri "the chief of Lebanon's Sunnis" (SIC) in Saudi Arabia, "where he has most of his businesses", while he normally lives in Paris, "for security reasons" (LOL)

Posted by: Mina | Dec 29 2013 14:44 utc | 26

Good news
I met a friend who was going back to Damascus after 2 weeks of holidays in Europe. He told me about another former teacher who is 80+ years old and has plenty of relatives in Beirut but has spend the last 3 years in Damascus and intend to stay there!
This makes me feel optimistic.

Posted by: Mina | Dec 29 2013 14:56 utc | 27
KSA opens a line for Lebanon's army funding
Bankrupt France gets a tip

Looks like to exist as the godfather of "Arab" countries, KSA needs Egypt and Lebanon to survive (but no more).

Posted by: Mina | Dec 29 2013 19:21 utc | 28

Hollande said Assad "is not fighting Islamists" he is placing the blame on armed Islamists to pressure the moderate opposition. He adds Saudi Arabia is among France's "Top partners" and claimed that " both countries also share the will to work for peace, security and stability in the middle east". Saudi Arabia is France's top client in the middle east. What a load of bollocks, Hollande kowtowing to a pervert who should, and hopefully will one day be hanging from a lamp post.

Posted by: harrylaw | Dec 29 2013 20:45 utc | 29

@ Mina | 27

About KSA funding:

"The king of the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is offering this generous and appreciated aid of $3bn to the Lebanese army to strengthen its capabilities," Mr Sleiman said in his address.

The BBC's Arab Affairs Editor Sebastian Usher said the president indirectly touched on a dangerous taboo in Lebanon - the unchecked power of the Shia movement, Hezbollah.

So KSA is buying not only Lebanese politicians but army as well now, and in turn Hezbollah will have to be checked, or worse - by Western and KSA definition eventually treated as terrorists.

Posted by: Harry | Dec 29 2013 20:45 utc | 30

The Ring of Fire is on fire....activity has been extensive now for weeks. Most active I've seen it in a few years of monitoring. New volcanic islands being formed offshore from Japan. Quakes on both sides of the Pacific daily now, not unusual, except the amount. Note Japan on the map......

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 29 2013 20:58 utc | 31

Interesting too that the last two weeks activity has been so arrayed along the tectonic plates outside of the Ring of Fire. Don't think I have ever seen that before.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 29 2013 21:02 utc | 32

28/29 :-))

As I understand the deal Hollande/France is supposed to get the money (for saying Assad has to go) and the Lebanese army is supposed to get Frenche weapons.
You can't really bribe anyone with weapons, in this deal France is bribed.
The interesting part is who is going to decide which weapons the Lebanese army will get.
Presumably it will not come to that as France is no superpower and KSA will not pay when they realize France is not going to be able to get rid of Assad.
The timing of the announcement is awkward. It is more so when you assume that Chatah was the US guy in March14.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 29 2013 21:05 utc | 33

32) Something seems to have changed from November

Two weeks have passed since President Michel Suleiman returned from his visit to Saudi Arabia, and the bad news about how it went keeps flowing. It was billed as a critical visit during which the Lebanese president was hoping to get a Saudi nod in favor of forming a government.

In the end, very little was achieved other than a cold reception by the king, who barely had anything to say to Suleiman, other than ordering him to send the army after Hezbollah to prevent it from fighting in Syria.

Worse yet, when the president arrived at the meeting with the king, he was surprised to see former prime minister Saad Hariri sitting by the monarch’s side, as if he were the honored guest.
At this point, it was impossible for Suleiman to raise the issue of forming a government – if the Saudis want the Lebanese army to fight Hezbollah, then having a reasonable discussion about a new cabinet seemed impossible.

The president did manage to raise the issue of Syrian refugees and support for the army with other Saudi officials he met. In the end, however, he returned demoralized, with nothing more than promises and a sense that Lebanon will continue to be site of confrontation and violence for the coming months.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 29 2013 21:16 utc | 34

He adds Saudi Arabia is among France's "Top partners" and claimed that " both countries also share the will to work for peace, security and stability in the middle east". Saudi Arabia is France's top client in the middle east.

Looks like Hollande, the whore of Paris, has found a client with deep pockets...could it be love? Shame to see a Socialist bending down so low to the reactionary Monarch. Where have all the revolutionaries who guillotined Kings gone to? Liked the line about France and Saudi "working for peace and stability in the middle east".

Saudi Arabia trying to buy the Lebanese Army with a "gift" of 3 Billion dollars is also fairly pathetic. Shows they have no plans other than buying as much people off as possible. Hezbollah leader, Hasan Nasrallah, mentioned in one of his speeches that Saudi Arabia has spent 30 Billion dollars so far backing the Syrian rebels. I guess another 3 billion to the Lebanese Army is chump change but doubt it will have much effect since most of the Lebanese Army are Shia and Christians.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Dec 29 2013 21:23 utc | 35

34) This here is Iranian press tv's interpretation of events :-))

Lebanon needs strong army to confront Israel: Sleiman

Actually, France is desperate to export Rafale fighters

Should be fun.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 29 2013 22:16 utc | 36

@ Colm O' Toole

Just as Obama is worse than G.W. Bush, Hollande is worse than Sarkozy. This is an example of the degradation the West has fallen into.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 29 2013 22:59 utc | 37

Has anyone seen the New Year's greeting to NATO from the Russian Deputy Premier? It's really pretty droll. (read the comments below the story for more humor)

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 29 2013 23:09 utc | 38

@35 "Actually, France is desperate to export Rafale fighters". Well that certainly beats the bi planes and flintlock rifles the US supply

Posted by: harrylaw | Dec 29 2013 23:09 utc | 39

37 It is Russian humour. Like this

What Russia proposes right now is a common economic and humanitarian space between Lisbon and Vladivostok.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 29 2013 23:22 utc | 40

Should Russia begin covert ops against Saudi Arabia -- with the aim of removing the regime?

With today's events, should it not be in Russia's strategic interest to get rid of the Wahhabi serpents?

Posted by: bingerlot | Dec 30 2013 0:36 utc | 41

@40 I would rather Russia didn't do anything covertly, but I think a simple insult in public e.g. not invite them to the winter Olympics (with the reasoning that they don't talk to terrorists) might do wonders.

Posted by: simon | Dec 30 2013 2:00 utc | 42

@ Copeland | Dec 29, 2013 6:09:23 PM | 37.

Thanks a lot!
I'm not convinced it's very "Russian" to be quite this un-subtle. But on the other hand, who cares?
There's no doubt in my mind that Russia has got the cowardly dumbass Yankees and their cowardly dumbass NATO f(r)iends, well and truly SNOOKERED.
So why not let everyone in on the joke?
And you're right. Some of the comments are better than the original barb.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 30 2013 3:20 utc | 43

BEIRUT: Syrian children have suffered the "sharpest and most rapid" decline in education standards in the history of the region, UN and aid agencies said in a report published on Friday.

"Nearly three years of brutal conflict in Syria have reversed more than a decade of progress in children's education," said the children's fund UNICEF, refugee agency UNHCR, and the World Vision and Save the Children charities.

While Syria once had one of the Middle East's best education indicators, the decline has been "the sharpest and most rapid ... of anywhere in the region," it said.

"More than 4,000 Syrian schools have been destroyed, damaged or turned into shelters for displaced people," said the report, adding that nearly half of Syria's 4.8 million Syrian children of school age are not in school.

Also, "more than half a million refugee children are not in school outside Syria. The numbers are rising by the day."

Children "have been forced to quit their education as fighting has destroyed classrooms, left children too terrified to go to school, or seen families flee the country," said a statement accompanying the report.

"At best, children are getting sporadic education. At worst, they drop out of schools and are forced to work to support their families," it added.

Teachers have been killed or have fled, schools destroyed or used as military positions, and parents have grown wary of the "risk" of sending their children to class.

Refugee children also face a "different dialect, different curricula, limited or no learning spaces, physical safety, poverty and community tensions."

In host countries such as Lebanon or Jordan where hundreds of thousands of Syrians have sought refuge, local communities also pay the price of Syria's conflict as classrooms have become "overcrowded."

Jordan is expecting a 40 per cent rise in the number of Syrian schoolchildren by the end of 2014, and in Lebanon, the number is expected to double, said the report.

It recommended long-term planning for the education of displaced Syrian children and called for more support to host countries.

- AFP/fl

The West, we are told, at some point emerges from the Age of Religion which supposedly led to the Age of Reason!?!

120.000+ death, destroyed lives and future, billions of dollars of the Arab's patrimony gone.

An irony of this article is that in the second passage are mentioned the so-called NGOs, self- aggrandized "humanitarian", which coming from the country that is chief source of the evil and the cause of calamity in Syria. Two of them are Evangelical/Zionist sponsored NGOs, and the UN (as globalist) is trailing them in their mission. Thus we have the worst mixture of the evangelical zeal and the corporate fascism cloaked as a humanitarianism. If I were "somebody" in Damascus I would know what to do with them... "Fear the Greeks bearing gifts"

Seen and witness this before, in another place, in another time. But the story is same. Hope this refuges will stay in its land, and there not going to ask the White Man for asylum.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Dec 30 2013 4:18 utc | 44

the last moment of saddam hussein

Posted by: denk | Dec 30 2013 4:26 utc | 45

The White Man with the Hermes ties and the Ferragamo shoes.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Dec 30 2013 4:33 utc | 46

“The footprints of the US, Britain and the Zionist regime (Israel) can always be found in conflicts in Muslim countries,” Head of Iran-Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Group Mo’ayed Hosseini Sadr said on Sunday.

“We should remember that the US has proved in the past that it is not happy with the progress of any country, particularly a Muslim one,” the Iranian lawmaker noted.

“As a Muslim country, we are pleased with Turkey’s progress. But the US, Britain and the Zionist regime have never been happy with Turkey’s progress and are trying to create major problems for them by complicating issues as in the financial corruption case,” Hosseini Sadr added.

On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will not step down after the corruption scandal that has forced the resignations of three ministers.

The ministers' sons were among those detained as part of a huge corruption probe.

On Thursday thousands of demonstrators took to Turkey’s streets demanding the resignation of Erdogan.

No, there are not happy to see Turkey is holding the keys of Bosporus and Dardanelles.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Dec 30 2013 4:39 utc | 47

raise you hands if you trust the 'fairmindedness of the american people', by which T Friedmann means the US system of justice?
'Most Americans see Edward Snowden as whistle blower and not a traitor, yet The NY Times star editorialist, Thomas Friedman, isn't so sure, “The fact is, he dumped his data and fled to countries that are hostile to us,” though he doesn't elaborate on why Russia is a ‘hostile’ nation and he advises Snowden to come home and face the music if he’s truly a patriot, “It would mean risking a lengthy jail term, but also trusting the fair-mindedness of the American people.”'

Posted by: brian | Dec 30 2013 4:44 utc | 48

Obama is not worse than Bush had the neocons and Cheney, and they killed far more

Posted by: brian | Dec 30 2013 4:46 utc | 49

Hollande does for 'socialist' presidents what Obama does for black ones

Posted by: brian | Dec 30 2013 4:48 utc | 50

Yulia Shapovalova ‏@Yulisha 38m
The latest blast in Volgograd took place near a very busy Kachinsky market full of people getting ready for the New Year celebrations.

Yulia Shapovalova ‏@Yulisha 44m
States around the world express their condolences on the blasts in Volgograd. Pledge to fight terrorism together.

Yulia Shapovalova ‏@Yulisha 46m
The driver of the targeted trolley bus in Volgograd is alive. Can't testify yet. Shocked.

Posted by: brian | Dec 30 2013 7:30 utc | 51

Department of State ‏@StateDept 2h
We stand with the #Russian people against terrorism and condemn in strongest terms the attack in #Volgograd

Posted by: brian | Dec 30 2013 8:09 utc | 52

Its likely Bandar is keeping up his promise about bringing terror to Russia if it doesnt ditch Syria, question is, what Putin is going to do about it.

Brutal wahhabi monarchies overstayed their welcome, while Russia-Iran-Syria-Iraq havent moved a finger (yet). Ostritch strategy of keeping head in the sand and hoping salafies will just go away is very unwise tactic, solution should start with cutting the head of the snake (including sponsors). As long as salafies risk only petro-dollars, terror will continue all over the World.

Posted by: Harry | Dec 30 2013 9:27 utc | 53

53) Harry, the same logic applies to the perpetrators of terror as to the rulers of the populations sitting at the receiving/backlash end.

Terrorism does not challenge power. It aids power as frightened populations flock to their rulers kissing the sheep dog.

Putin is not worried about Caucasus terrorism by mad religionists. He would be worried by a viable Caucasus nationalist movement claiming indigenous resources.

KSA is safe except from people claiming freedom and their resources.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 30 2013 9:53 utc | 54

Harry @ 53 " while Russia-Iran-Syria-Iraq havent moved a finger (yet). Beats me how the Saudis can build and supply an army of 50,000 head chopping nutcases, yet the "Arc of resistance" can't or won't pay a dozen or so saboteurs [unattributed]to give the perverts a taste of their own medicine.

Posted by: harrylaw | Dec 30 2013 9:58 utc | 55

One aspect of the Libya and Syria Fake uprisings I still can't get my head around is the fact that the (Muslim extremist) jihadis are doing exactly the same thing to those two Muslim countries as "Israelis" and Yankees would have done to them - if they had the balls to go there in person.
Maybe the "Israelis" were right all along.
This brand of Islamic Tomfoolery redefines the meaning of the term Useful Idiots.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 30 2013 11:31 utc | 56


Au contraire, Obama is America's black Menem. Bush was merely Cheney's pet goat, 'a useful idiot'. AHA will suck all of the discretionary spending out of the US middle class and then collapse small business, which is the mainstay of any ex-finance, real economy, leaving only the Chosen and their Magic Bubble Machine, coddled by WADC-NOVA and refueled by $3,400,000,000,000 a year of our last life savings that ain't comin' back. There is no problem Mil.Gov.Sci.Edu can't putter around and obfuscate and agitprop, as long as we keep pouring another $28 BILLION a year in perpetual interest-only debt, forever, at their fancy Ferragamo feet.

Posted by: Chip Nihk | Dec 30 2013 11:46 utc | 57

murikka owes china more than just money, a lot more...

these just the tip of the iceberg !

Posted by: denk | Dec 30 2013 16:49 utc | 58

China and Russie bring back Cold War tactics

*“Is this a new Cold War?”

Every time I say anything to anyone anywhere about Russia nowadays, that’s what I’m asked. And there is a clear answer: No. This is not a new Cold War. Neither the United States nor Europe is locked in a deadly, apocalyptic competition with Russia, China or anyone else. We are not fighting proxy wars. The world has not been divided into two Orwellian halves, democrats vs. communists.

But the elites of both of these countries do have one thing in common: They dislike the institutions of liberal democracy as practiced in Europe, the United States, Japan and elsewhere, and they are determined to prevent them from spreading to Moscow or Beijing. These same elites believe that Western media, Western ideas and especially Western capitalism — as opposed to state capitalism — pose a threat to their personal domination of their economies. They want the world to remain safe for their particular form of authoritarian oligarchy, and they are increasingly prepared to pay a high price for it. *

the world according to muricuns...
they hate our way of life

i missed this one, else i'd have given her a piece of my mind. !

but at least wapo hasnt gagged me yet, unlike the war street journal ,
new york [all the news fit to print] times.....

Posted by: denk | Dec 30 2013 17:06 utc | 59


Yeah, well, what can you expect from someone with a name like Anne Applebaum? At least she doesn't call herself Annie. That would be too cute to bear.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 30 2013 17:53 utc | 61

If you want to waste time on Sibel's contentless bleating and moaning, let alone infantile puns, that says more about you than it does about Snowden & Greenwald. But it really doesn't matter. Sibel is wasting your time. She isn't going anywhere with that stuff. She did her best work several years ago, she has no new sources, no new material, and I assume her 'whistleblowers coalition' is turning rancid. There is in any case no intelligible political purpose for it to serve. Providing concrete aid to would-be whistleblowers still is the system is a nonsensical project, because obviously such an organisation would only draw attention to them (notably, none of her group is a cryptographer, like Assange). Even assuming that she is in good faith, which I am beginning to doubt. Just to clarify, my own view is that Greenwald is intensely ambitious, and intends to join the radical wing of the global ruling class. This, unlike Sibel's activities, is an intelligible goal, and who knows, if I had his talent, worked as hard as he does and took so many risks, maybe I would share it.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 31 2013 3:28 utc | 63

Rowan Berkeley 60

i speak too soon,
cant post at wapo now...:-(

Posted by: denk | Dec 31 2013 6:01 utc | 64

Old but important film: "The Business of Hunger"

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 1 2014 21:43 utc | 65

The Fetuallah Gulen movement is a CIA front.

More unrest in Turkey

A must read website: "Informed Comment":

Posted by: Willy2 | Jan 3 2014 22:52 utc | 66

how do you get rid of a good popular and independent president....
The shocking conspiracy to assassinate Robert Mugabe

Posted by: brian | Jan 3 2014 23:09 utc | 67

a rare admission
Conor Friedersdorf: "What good are frequent elections if the people are ignorant as to the actual policies their representatives have put into place?"

Posted by: brian | Jan 3 2014 23:18 utc | 68

The Year of the Pig, 1968

Incredibly powerful Viet Nam documentary.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 4 2014 3:20 utc | 69

since this has nothing to do with the other topics but is something that shows up from time to time, I thought I would send Bernhard to this site to see if there is anything there that might keep really long urls from breaking the margins.

many thanks for a most excellent site. as many others have offered, should you need equipment or some spare change, just let us know.


Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 4 2014 14:27 utc | 70

'The Trans-Pacific Partnership Leaks

Then came the TPP leaks. On November 13, WikiLeaks released a complete draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. TPP is a backroom corporate deal that enforces US interests and corporate hegemony over other countries. A major controversy over this bill is how its documents and dealings have been kept in extreme secrecy. Fast-track authority written into it is part of the corporate takeover of basic lawmaking, as only a few members of Congress have seen parts of it. Upon releasing the documents, WikiLeaks provided their interpretation in a short statement:

If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.

Critics call the bill “ACTA on steroids“ and a “super-sized NAFTA“, arguing that it violates privacy, sovereignty, internet freedom and effectively tramples many basic information and environmental protections. Its main elements undermine popular sovereignty and democracy and empower transnational corporations to change certain laws to suit their fancy. After WikiLeaks revealed this group of documents that seems designed mainly to expand US hegemony and corporate penetration, there was a serious backlash from civil rights groups and the other negotiating parties. Despite the Obama administration’s aim to reach a deal by the new year, disagreements boiled over and the time-line for the agreement is now delayed.

Once concealed information is revealed, conspirators lose the cloak of invisibility and the public can grasp the tails of the conspirators’ intentions. This begins a process that can lead to justice. In the case of the TPP leaks, people could see real corporate interests and agendas disguised as a governmental trade agreement. This is the formula: expose heavily guarded secrecy = correct public deception = bring about social and political transformation toward justice.

WikiLeaks’ “mathematical” formula to dissolve conspiratorial governance seems to have begun proving its validity. Yet, as the world engages with deepening political and moral dilemmas, a more complex problem has surfaced within this increasingly corrupt and corporatized civil society. What new variable was added to the equation?

Posted by: brian | Jan 5 2014 0:06 utc | 71

bad men make bad laws

Posted by: brian | Jan 5 2014 0:08 utc | 72

Hearts and Minds

Another excellent Viet Nam documentary. This one from 1974. Clearly influenced by the above "In the Year of the Pig"

It shows in no uncertain terms the pure and simple insanity of America - and we still haven't come to our senses.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 5 2014 5:13 utc | 73

Australia's Northern Territory government is starting to hire out prisoners to businesses.

NT government defends plan to put prisoners to work in abattoir

[...] prisoners would get minimum wages after being trained, although the money will be held by the Territory to pay for their board.

"One of the great things about the Sentenced to a Job program is that it enables training to occur, so that many of these people who have no particular skills at all when they come into custody develop skills and then move into full-time work before they leave prison," he said. [...]

In true Nazi fashion inmates are made to work for the industry, wages garnered to pay for being locked up. Instead of building war machinery however they get to slaughter pigs and cows. Great skill to teach prisoners.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Jan 5 2014 6:14 utc | 74

Denis Rodmans trips to DPRK never fail to get a rise out of americans: never mind the story, read the comments! a fine display of american table manners, where a visit by an american to North Korea incites hatred derision, scorn, outrage, racism, laughter and wish to murder....this is all due to the lies fed to the readers in US and elsewhere by the 'free press' about DPRK and its leader...esp note the wish to murder along side the media fed idea Kim feeds people to dogs... a total a lack of humanity, basic american values and intelligence

Posted by: brian | Jan 7 2014 6:58 utc | 75


Watched a piece on CNN this morning about this, with the commentator prattling on about Kim's "human rights abuses", and how despicable it was to give this basketball game to Kim as a birthday present.

Lets see.... Abu Ghraib....Gitmo....500,000 children dead from the 1991 thru 2003 many dead from the actual invasion???

Lets see....Netanyahu, Congress's butt buddy and our "most valued middle east ally"....

Human rights for Palestinians??? HUH??? They're human? Who knew?

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Jan 7 2014 15:08 utc | 76

only a psychopath is able to produce this kind of trash....

Posted by: denk | Jan 7 2014 17:20 utc | 77

thousands of chinese workers fleeing from the unrest in south sudan !
sounds familiar....iraq, libya, myanmar, pakistan,
sudan ?

robbery in broad daylight.

Posted by: denk | Jan 11 2014 5:23 utc | 78

Yo, Annie, have you read this? and if so, what's your opinion? Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion - A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict ?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 11 2014 7:50 utc | 79

The comments to this entry are closed.