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Two years ago today Anonymous kicked off Operation Tunisia, as mass uprisings that would change the social fabric and political landscape of North Africa and the Middle East to its core were just getting started.

In a social movement that became known as the Arab Spring, the people of MENA showed tremendous determination to cast out autocratic regimes that had ruled over them for 20, 30, in some cases 40 years, and reclaim their nation's future for themselves. Many called it the "Death of Fear" because the people showed time and again that they would not be silenced even by murder.

The rulers looked upon the masses as their mules so they responded with the usual mixture of the "stick" and the "carrot" applied by oppressive regimes the world over. The "carrot" was generally the promise of political and economic reforms. The "stick" was mainly detention, pain compliance, including torture, and worst.

All of the regimes faced with revolt in the Arab Spring heavily favored the use of the "stick" as compared to the "carrot". Owing to the world economic crisis and the rate of inflation, the cost of real "carrots" was seen as prohibitive and the Arab street was not inclined to put much value on promises, so the "stick" was considered to be the only thing holding its value to these dictators. Plus there are many international subsidies available from arms makers and imperial governments for the stick approach whereas money for reforms may be hard to come by in this economic climate.

The ultimate "stick" is simply murder and all repressive states reserve the "right" to use it. Killing an opponent is at the same time the ultimate suppression of that opponent and the ultimate warning to others. In both Tunisia and Egypt, the presidents used murder as a tool to suppress the protests before they fled, but they used murder in small ways like having police shoot into demonstrations and killing people taken into custody. They never used the "big stick" of military power, the army, to murder wholesale, their political opposition.

Qaddafi did in Libya, and with international support, the Libyan people overthrew him, at a cost of some 30,000 lives in 2011.

Assad preferred the "stick"

Bashar al-Assad in Syria also relied almost exclusively on the "stick" as his answer to the demands of masses. From the very beginning, about 22 months ago, he had snipers shooting protesters and he has escalated his use of murder as a tool to suppress the rebellion steadily since then to the point that now President Obama and many other world leaders are warning him not to resort to the use of chemical weapons in his murder spree.

Most recently this dairy has been using the SOHR figures of ~45,000 deaths to date but today the United Nations came out with the results of a exhaustive, 5 month study of conflict deaths in Syria and said that more than 60,000 Syrians had been killed in the conflict.  

In addition to the wholesale use of air power against civilian neighborhoods, one of the more criminal methods the regime has use to simply murder civilians has been to bomb or shell them while they are standing in line at the bakery or shelling the bakery. This tactic is favored because it spreads terror. In addition it kills not only the people lining up for bread, but also those who must do without.

I knew this was happening a lot in 2012 but I didn't know that it had happened an astounding 33 times until I saw this video put on YouTube by Translator Syrian which describes itself as "a group of independent young people, our goal is to distribute and publicize all the crimes of Bashar Al Assad against the unarmed Syrian people to the whole world."

The two minute video they have created and released on New Years Eve described how the Assad regime first started using systematic attacks on bakeries in Homs in January 2012 and has escalated the practice as the year progressed. Aleppo saw 24 such attacks as Assad has attempted to starve the population into submission. More recently he has also been using his warplanes against the bakery crowds.

There's no big mystery

One advantage a foreign observer has with regards to the Syrian conflict as compared to any other conflict that has ever happened anywhere on the Earth before in history is the availability of first hand information. Thanks to the proliferation of cell phones, cameras and computers, not only is virtually everything recorded and generally recorded from more than one angle, it is all available to a worldwide audience via the Internet.

Therefore there should be no excuse for the careful observer to be confused about what the Syrian conflict is: 1.) The regime started murdering non-violent protesters. 2.) The protests grew and demanded regime change, i.e. the protests became a revolution 4.) The regime responded with military violence and the use of mass murder as a method to suppress the rebellion. 5.) The revolutionary forces organized an armed self-defense, the core of which has been Syrian soldiers that have defected from the regime, they have been joined by citizens that have taken up arms and others that came to Syria specifically to support their armed struggle.

Where the "hearts and minds" of the masses of Syrian people stand in all of this can best be determined by the order of battle, and the people are winning.

The Assad regime has had all the advantages that come with holding state power for 40 years. In addition to its control of the very formidable Syrian armed forces, it has had the military backing, including military specialists and a seemingly endless supply of ammunition, from Russia and Iran. While on the other side, the international "community" has refused anything like the help it extended to the Libya people and the United States has even been imposing an anti-aircraft weapons embargo on the people being bombed.

This international "community" has also put very limited restrictions on instruments of mass murder at his disposal. In August, President Obama gave Assad a green light to use anything below "a whole bunch of chemical weapons." President Assad has murdered ~30,000 since then without crossing Obama's red line.

The truth is that most of these world powers would like to preserve at least the Assad regime even if they are forced to throw Assad under the bus, and all of them would like to reserve the "right" to use such violence against their own populations should that ever be necessary.

Yet, in spite of this "License to Kill," Assad is not prevailing. The ranks of the revolutionaries is growing, not shrinking. He can't kill fast enough! He can't use his regular infantry, they will defect, his best people already have. The terror just isn't working anymore.

And neither is the refusal of most international support. The revolution has armed itself from Assad's armories and now they have announced that they are at long last imposing a "no-fly" zone over parts of Syrian themselves, thank you!

The only reason it looks like a stalemate now is that Assad still has a very brutal killing machine that doesn't require much human support to strike at opposition areas and he has a lot of foreign support, including personnel, the masses of Syrian people are with the revolution. If they didn't whole heartedly support the fighters, their struggle would turn to dust.

Using the logic of US laws, I believe all the 60,000 deaths caused by the Syrian conflict should be considered people murdered by Assad. Clearly, he has sought to maintain his rule by criminal means. He has openly wielded the tool of mass murder to suppress his population. So just as a bank robber is charged not only with the deaths of the patron and policeman he shot, but also the murder of his partner shot by the cops, Assad must stand not only for the slaughter of civilians and self-defense fighters, but also for the deaths of the SAA soldiers he employed in his criminal undertaking.

Hurray for the good guys!

What is going on in Syria now is a struggle between good and evil, between right and wrong, between the people and a dictator.

Those that say there is no good side in this war serve that dictator.

Certainly it is a very complicated situation and there are many forces at work. This is bound to be the case in any world-historic struggle as more and more forces get involved, but that should not blind us as to the nature of the main struggle.

Certainly, the revolutionary forces have included some unsavory characters, have killed innocent civilians and been guilty of war crimes. This is always the case for all sides in every war. This must not be allowed to stand in the way of choosing sides. We can see that while those mistakes are the exception for an opposition still trying to free itself from the methods of the old order, as well as its dictatorship; they are the rule for the Assad forces.

Civilian deaths are not damage that is collateral to the Assad mission of wiping out just its armed opposition. That is why the murder of civilian protesters in large numbers predated that armed opposition. Civilian deaths are a key part of the strategy the Assad regime is using to maintain its power. It is now quite openly using mass murder in ever growing proportions, in an increasingly desperate attempt to hang on to state power.

And the international powers are letting him have at it. That is the truth of Annan and Brahimi, all else is rhetoric. Of course, if the people should triumph, and Assad survive, the ICC is standing by to take possession and save him from the death penalty, otherwise its all good!

And it is not just people waiting in line for bread that get slaughtered. Just today, an Assad regime warplane bombed a gas station outside of Damascus and killed dozens of people waiting to buy gas. You can find amateur video of the charred bodies on line. i will try to find some and post them here for the doubting Thomases among you.

Defections fuel this Struggle

The main thing that shows that this struggle is one with a good side and a bad side, between a side that is deserving of support and a side that should be condemned,  is that it is fueled by defections. The tide of battle is turning because those closest to the struggle and with the most to lose are overwhelmingly choosing the side of the revolution. Even those in the pay of the regime, that have professed loyalty to it and with much to fear by deserting it, are defecting to the revolution, whereas no one is moving in the opposite direction. Therefore it is a dynamic entirely with the Syrian people that the revolution gets stronger and the Assad regime gets weaker with every defection.

Recent high-level defections included two generals and three reporters from Syrian government radio. After describing how they were forced to denigrate the opposition, toe the SANA line, ignore the facts and report government lies as truths. Lama al-Khadra, who was the head of political and cultural programming at Radio Damascus summed up her work with the grim phrase:

"Our mission was to kill with words."
I think those on the Left in the US, such as certain Kossacks here, that never fail to show up in my diaries and promote the view that this is somebody else's fight, that both sides are equally bad, or that the number of deaths claimed is an exaggeration, and those that parrot the lies of the Assad regime in the name of "balance" should consider it they aren't doing the same thing.




Below is more background related to today's diary.

From Reuters we have this report on the UN announcement:

Over 60,000 dead in Syria conflict, UN says

GENEVA | Wed Jan 2, 2013 9:45am EST
Jan 2 (Reuters) - At least 60,000 people have died in Syria's conflict, U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said on Wednesday, citing an "exhaustive" U.N.-commissioned study.

Over five months of analysis, researchers cross-referenced seven sources to compile a list of 59,648 individuals reported killed between March 15, 2011, and Nov. 30, 2012.

"Given there has been no let-up in the conflict since the end of November, we can assume that more than 60,000 people have been killed by the beginning of 2013," Pillay said. "The number of casualties is much higher than we expected, and is truly shocking." More...

The sad truth is that even this 60,000 figure is deceptively low. The UN used the "Iraqi Body Count" method which requires that the dead be identified by name and the death be verified. This method is known to seriously undercount conflict deaths because it refuses to count deaths that don't meet these strict requirements. In addition, in the case of Syria, there are an estimated 185,000 Syrians that have been arrested or disappeared by the Assad regime. While we can hope that all those presumed detainees are among the living and will eventually be liberated, the history of the regime's treatment of those in its custody allows no room for such fantasies.

The main reason the Syrian death toll is so high is that the Assad regime has used high civilian deaths as there main "stick" in its effort to force the Syrian people to submit to its continued rule. Few examples show this cleared that the repeated attacks on people lining up at bakeries for their daily bread.

The Assad regime has attacked bakeries and the people queuing for bread 33 times in 2012 and the fact that this has happened so many shows exactly what the war policy of the regime is.

More than 33 bakeries were shelled in 2012 according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. More than 300 people were killed and more than one thousand were injured due to shelling on bakeries. We hold the regime fully responsible for the massacres that were committed against the innocent people there.
The Doha Centre for Media Freedom carried interviews with the three defecting journalists:
Three state journalists defect

Three radio journalists state leave Syria for Lebanon before moving to Paris with the help of the French authorities.
30/12/2012
...
The one-time head of the station's political and cultural programmes, Khadra said she had for months toed the regime's line in reporting events of the uprising that began in mid-March 2011.

"We were confined to following reports from (state news agency) SANA and denigrating the opposition, it wasn't easy," she said.

The newsroom was beset by paranoia, she said, with no one daring to watch anything but state television.

"It was dangerous to watch Al-Jazeera without looking like a revolutionary," she said. "Within the official media, many journalists are suffering along with the people."

The journalists said they were under near-constant watch and faced frequent intimidation.

"Some of us were called in by the secret services," said Kamal Jamal Beyk, the station's programme director, who fled along with Khadra and Baddur Abdul Karim, the former head of the station's cultural programming.

"We were threatened, as were our families," said Jamal Beyk, who said he was questioned three times by secret police.

"Working for the state media in Syria is like living in an invisible prison," said Abdul Karim.

"We were no longer journalists," she said, describing a newsroom where "some support the regime and don't hide it, while others stay because they have no choice."

Jamal Beyk said "Iranian information experts" had been brought into the newsroom to train journalists and that the "most zealous" pro-regime reporters were sent to Beirut to study with Hezbollah's Al-Manar satellite television channel.

There stories sound very similar to those told by another defector from Syrian state media. Ghatan Sleiba, who worked for both the state-owned al-Akhbariya network and the al-Dunya channel, and defected in July, was one of the first high level propaganda agents to escape from Assad. He told the Guardian:
Sleiba, 33, arrived in Turkey last Wednesday after a long journey from Hassaka in eastern Syria, where he had been responsible for television coverage of the east of the country. He is now being hosted by rebel groups.

He claimed opposition guerillas are now in quasi-control of much of the east, especially the countryside surrounding main towns and cities.

"This is one of the things they never wanted us to talk about. What we were doing was not reporting. It was simply acting as the tongue of the regime. I stayed as long as I could to help the revolutionaries, but I couldn't take it any more.''

Al-Dunya is part-owned and supervised by Bashar al-Assad's maternal cousin Rami Makhlouf, a key member of the inner sanctum. It has pushed the official narrative that the Syrian uprising is a plot by the west and key Sunni Arab powers to use al-Qaida-linked insurgents to overthrow the regime.

Sleiba said that before interviews he regularly gave people answers to questions he was about to ask them. "Those answers and the subjects of things to talk about were given to us by the head of the Ba'ath party in the area, or by the political security division."

He said he developed doubts about the official version of events about two months into the uprising, which started in March last year. "Many of us knew then it wasn't terrorists they were fighting. It was people wanting their rights. But it was very difficult to do anything about it. We have families and we need to protect them."

Last November he made contact with the Free Syria Army, first near Hassaka and then in Turkey, saying he wanted to flee. "They told me that I was more use to them if I stayed in my job. And so from then on we talked on Skype and I told them what I could about regime and military movements."

Sleiba accused regime intelligence units in the east of sending a gang to maim him with a knife and rob him of more than $2,000 (£1,300), then blame the attack on the rebels. "I know who did this to me," he said, pointing to a deep gouge on his forehead. "The Free Syria Army needs to win people's confidence in our area and they have done that. We know who their members and their commanders are and they did not do this, no way. It was the regime."

One of the three Assad radio programmers to defect on Sunday was Kamal Jamal Beyk [Bik], Damascus Radio's program director. He spoke to France 24:
Bik said that continuing to work at Radio Damascus had made him “an accomplice to the regime” and called on his colleagues he left behind not to believe claims by the regime that his defection was part of “a foreign agenda”.

Deploring the lack of truth, Bik conceded that he had finally been forced to take a position in a conflict he said was “not a civil war, as is being reported, but an ongoing revolution against a tyrannical regime.”

“We can’t remain silent, we have to take a position, to take sides,” he said. “It is because of this that we had to leave Syria.”

Bik's colleague Lama al-Khadra repeated that their defections were “about taking a side” and that she would rather be “announcing the victory of the revolution on Syrian radio than announcing our defection from a foreign country.”

“From the beginning of the uprising, all our radio broadcasts made us feel like we were killing the Syrian people with our words,” she said. “It was like committing suicide.”

Explaining why she had stayed so long at the radio station, she said: “We had the choice between carrying on with our jobs or going to prison, in the hope that we would find a solution and be given the opportunity to report the truth and to work differently. We were hoping in vain.”


Click here for a list of my other Daily Kos dairies on Syria


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrAnon, Chaddiwicker, Kingsmeg, majcmb1, Unduna

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:04:14 PM PST

  •  Any reports (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mickT, protectspice

    On how many of these are rebels and how many are Assad/external forces, as well as civilian/militant breakdown?

    Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

    by MrAnon on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:05:33 PM PST

    •  Either you read damn fast or you don't read at all (0+ / 0-)

      Your're asking questions 1 minute 19 sec. after I publish.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:09:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The UN report doesn't say. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm sure that's a very disputed figure.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:53:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  These numbers are hard to come by due to a lot of (0+ / 0-)

      propaganda from both sides. Each wants to minimize/maximize the numbers depending on what "image" they want to convey at different times and for differing purposes.

      Here's the wiki site (probably the most reliable due to above effects)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      Combatant deaths

      Due to the opposition's policy of counting rebel fighters that were not defectors as civilians[21][22][23] a comprehensive number of rebels killed in the conflict, thus far, has not been ascertained. In late November 2012, the opposition activist group SOHR estimated that at least 10,000 rebels had been killed, but noted the possibility of the figure being higher because the rebels, like the government, were lying about how many of their forces had died to make it look like they were winning.

      In a civil war, there are a lot of civilian deaths where revenge killings take place from the various factions in the conflict.

      Due to the massive gains being made by the rebels recently, I would say that the deaths of government forces are being under reported. It was estimated that the rebel/government kill ratio was 4/1 at the beginning (remarkably low) and is now closer to 2/1 (with some battles the inverse of that number). The rebels have also gained access to heavy arms such as tanks, large mortars, cannon and large caliber guns.

      http://www.liveleak.com/...

      http://www.liveleak.com/...

      http://www.liveleak.com/...

  •  If it wasn't so important, it would be funny... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BigAlinWashSt, protectspice, Jim P
    Therefore there should be no excuse for the careful observer to be confused about what the Syrian conflict is: 1.) The regime started murdering non-violent protesters. 2.) The protests grew and demanded regime change, i.e. the protests became a revolution 4.) The regime responded with military violence and the use of mass murder as a method to suppress the rebellion. 5.) The revolutionary forces organized an armed self-defense, the core of which has been Syrian soldiers that have defected from the regime, they have been joined by citizens that have taken up arms and others that came to Syria specifically to support their armed struggle.
    Therefore there should be no excuse for the carful observer to be confused about what the Syrian conflict is: 1.) Hizb ul-Tahrir, a Salafist movement, derailed the peaceful uprising demanding only political change. 2.) The Sunni-extremists grew and demanded regime change. 3.) The regime had to deal with two different uprising, one of which was backed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia (with the blessing of U.S., France, and England) to use Sunni forces to weaken the Iranian regional threat (that Bush caused by giving Iraq to the Shi'ites and the more moderate movement inside the country that wanted change. 4.) The regime responded with both a military attack against armed insurgents and a political movement. The U.S. and its allies NEVER wanted a political solution. To this day, the U.S. doesn't even lay blame on Jubhat Al Nusrah, an Al Qaeda  group, for destroying the latest attempt at a ceasefire. 5.) Most 'high-ranking' defections usually turn out to be low-level defections.....Your so-called Maj Gen was a Colonel.

    Oh yeah, not only was he only a colonel, but no one believes that the regime has used chemical weapons (other than you).

    The head of Syria’s military police defected to the opposition, accusing the Assad regime of systematic “murder” and claiming that reports of chemical weapons being used against rebels in the restive city of Homs were true.
    you
    There is as yet no proof that Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons against the opposition, Western intelligence services say.
    Haaretz
    •  your citing "Hurriyet foreign sources" that did a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      UnaSpenser

      search and found only a colonel by that name, proves nothing.

      And, in as much as Israel wants to keep Assad, Haaretz is hardly a credible source on Syrian WMD.

      You don't have a tear for the 60,000, you just keep defending the Assad regime.

      You kill with words.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:14:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Hürriyet article reports that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        protectspice

        Turkish government officials stated that the man was a Colonel and that it had no information that he was a high-ranking officer in the Syrian police.

        The article goes on to state that questions about the man's rank and position had been raised by a rebel commander from Hamah.

        Your comment proves that you are either very sloppy with the 'information' you put forward or just plain make things up to suit your agenda.

        Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

        by InAntalya on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 09:26:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You say (0+ / 0-)
      The regime responded with both a military attack against armed insurgents and a political movement.
      Are you specifically denying that the Assad regime has initiate military attacks against unarmed civilians?

      Are you supporting the attacks on bakeries and gas stations as "military attack[s] against armed insurgents." Are you that depraved?

      Are you trying to make up for the Assad propagandists that have defected?

      Are you trying to kill Syrians with your words?

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:23:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You haven't been watching - (0+ / 0-)

      The schoolboy graffiti which touched off the Syrian revolt in February last year said "the people want to topple the regime" (doubtless echoing the common message of the Arab Spring). Hizb ut-Tahrir has had no influence over the course of the Revolution (its a  marginal group that joined the movement late in the day).
      The regime "responded with a military attack" against civilian demonstrators The armed revolt developed in stages in response to that repression.

  •  The "More..." link is busted. (0+ / 0-)

    Keep on keepin on, Clay.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:50:07 PM PST

  •  Everyone should read this article and follow links (3+ / 0-)

    The actual "study" was done by the orwellian-named "Benetech" ....

    They Make Up Numbers

    At least 60,000 people have died in Syria's conflict, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay says.
    How does Navi Pillay knows this? The UN does not have any presence in Syria.

    At least 60,000 people have died in Syria's conflict, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said on Wednesday, citing what she said was an exhaustive UN-commissioned study.
    ...

    The new study, by Benetech, a non-profit technology company, showed deaths rising from around 1,000 per month in the summer of 2011 to an average of more than 5,000 per month since July 2012.
    Benetech:
    Using scientific methods from demography, epidemiology, and mathematical statistics, the Human Rights group at Benetech® transforms information into knowledge about past and on-going human rights violations.
    But that does not explain where the information that gets "transformed" by Benetech is actually coming from. I have yet to find their "sources".
    Benetech's funders, according to its website, include the National Endowment for Democracy, the Soros Open Society Institute and the US Department of State. Are those also the entities that generate the information Benetech is "transforming"?

    Is it really well advised for the United Nations to use a U.S. government funded entity to calculate some inevitably disputed numbers of casualties when the U.S. is supporting one side of the conflict?

    UPDATE: Here is the full Benetech report (pdf). As expected the analysis is based on information that, at least for all of 2012, comes solely from Syrian opposition groups. The process of analysis performed therein can be described as garbage in, garbage mixing and garbage out. It is pure opposition propaganda, laundered through a U.S. financed entity, to be presented by a partisan UN Human Rights Commissioner.

    From Benetech:
    Palo Alto, CA, June 6, 2004: Benetech®, the leading Silicon Valley technology development nonprofit, announced today that it has received a $450,000 grant from the United States Department of State to support the Martus™ Project, an innovative open source technology tool and support network that assists grassroots NGO workers worldwide to collect, safeguard and disseminate information on social justice violations. This grant will enable Benetech to introduce the Martus technology to NGOs throughout Africa.
    The grant is intended to fund outreach and training initiatives to extend the Martus technology to work for individuals and groups operating in Algeria, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria in social justice fields such as human rights. Benetech will be working in partnership with regional, national and local NGOs to help identify and train NGO workers that monitor human rights in these countries. This project represents the first grant awarded to Benetech by the Department of State.

    “The State Department represents a funder that recognizes the importance of monitoring human rights abuses and that once this information is collected by NGOs, it can be used to bring insight, clarity and justice around the world," stated Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman. “Through this program, NGOs will be able to monitor human rights abuses with a level of security never before available.”

    Sounds like a really "useful" bunch of contractors. Where were they for Fallujah, Cast Lead, Burma? You name it, they aren't contracted unless the US wants to demonize a "regime".
    •  So you think this report false, that it is just (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      volleyboy1

      designed to demonize a regime that doesn't deserve it.

      Please don't complain when I say that you are an Assad supporter because you clearly are.

      How about the attacks on the bakeries? Are they all lies too?

      How about the attack on the gas station? More lies?

      Or are you another propagandists trying to kill Syrians with words?

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:31:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You mean the victims at that "bakery" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Claudius Bombarnac

        that were all dressed for battle?

        Clay nearly every one of your hysterical "breaking" stories have been debunked or at least discredited due to the sources...or just plain COMMON SENSE.

        What is killing the Syrian people is the same thing that is killing the Pakistanis, the Iraqis, the Afghanis, and pretty much every poor foreigner who's had the bad luck to be born into a "regime", or a soon-to-be-designated "regime".

        For whatever reason, you believe you have a "direct line" to what is happening in Syria, and therefore won't employ your common sense when it comes to these things. BASIC COMMON SENSE. Come into the 21st century and OPEN YOUR EYES CLAY. Propaganda is not a fixed concept in history.

        •  What "battle dress" are you talking about? (0+ / 0-)

          Which is it? Are you denying that bakeries have been attacked or are you justifying it because they weren't bakeries and the dead were rebel soldiers.

          Also generally you thing the presence of opposition fighters makes it okay to bomb civilian sites.

          No, you aren't pro-Assad much!

          Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

          by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:19:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  When rebels or insurgents operate within civilian (0+ / 0-)

            enclaves, they put the civilians at risk. This is a long standing tactic in asymmetrical warfare. Where was the outcry when US forces bombed and strafed civilian areas? Obama routinely attacks homes with civilians if the target is considered important enough.

            What I've heard from most Americans is, "Serves them right. The cowards shouldn't be hiding behind their women's skirts."

            Bombing civilians areas is not new in warfare - ESPECIALLY in civil wars.

    •  You didn't complain about Navi Pillay's numbers (0+ / 0-)

      When she reported on civilian deaths caused by US drone strikes.

      But now they are a problem. Yes, I see.

      Isn't this what you are trying to cover up and muddy the waters around? Isn't this what you are trying to aid and abed?

      Here are the results of another regime attack, posted today:

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 08:16:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Information Clearinghouse BS (0+ / 0-)

      This article you posted is exactly the kind of BS I've come to expect from Information Clearinghouse.

      It sets out to dispute the UN report that 60,000 have been killed in Syria. First it throws out a false point:

      The UN does not have any presence in Syria.
      This is the fault of the Assad government, so is the UN now to be considered disqualified from making any count or estimate, even relying on others in Syria? Besides how many people would the UN have to have in Syria to do the count themselves?

      It gets to its main point, and yours, I suppose:

      But that does not explain where the information that gets "transformed" by Benetech is actually coming from. I have yet to find their "sources".
      But  Tettodoro told you that:
      Its data come from 7 opposition databases drawn from sources on the ground, mainly the Local Coordinating Committees, plus the Syrian Government. There is a large overlap between these databases (because they draw on similar sources) but also a significant degree of complementarity (because each will have some sources that others do not). The methodology of the report was designed to sort this out and identify the total number of "unique killings" recorded across all sources - and that is 59 648
      .
      But that gets in the way of this ad homein attack on the report, and most people reading Information Clearinghouse may think the author actually looked for the sources before he complained.
      Benetech's funders, according to its website, include the National Endowment for Democracy, the Soros Open Society Institute and the US Department of State. Are those also the entities that generate the information Benetech is "transforming"?

      Ten of thousands of Syrians are dead, that is indisputable. Information Clearinghouse seeks to undermine an attempt to shed light on this with a fundamentally dishonest proposition:
      I have yet to find their "sources".
      I hate this fucking Russian sponsored shit!.

      Also its premise is BS
       

      Engineering Consent For An Attack On Syria
      Nobody is planning an attack on Syria.

      Re: The UPDATE section on the ICH email you sent, It has another slick lie:

      As expected the analysis is based on information that, at least for all of 2012, comes solely from Syrian opposition groups.
      What the report says is:
      This report presents an analysis of killings that have been reported in the
      Syrian Arab Republic between March 2011 and November 2012, based on seven datasets: 1) the Violations Documentation Centre1 (VDC), the documentation arm of the Local Coordination Committees; 2) the Syrian Network for Human Rights2 (SNHR); 3) the Syrian Revolution General Council (SRGC), which was combined with the SNHR (see below); 4) the Syria Shuhada Website 3 (SS); 5) the March 15 Group (15Mar); 6) the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights4 (SOHR); and 7) the Syrian government (GoSY). For brevity, each list will be referred to by its acronym in the tables and figures throughout this report.
      So again it is playing games, maybe they didn't have Syrian government reports for "all of 2012" and that makes the statement technically correct. But hell they didn't have information from anybody "for all of 2012" from anybody at the time the report was prepared.

      I hate this fucking slimy shit!

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:41:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Its heartbreaking how many people don't care (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    majcmb1, Clay Claiborne, volleyboy1

    or will defend Assad. Or blame the violence on other groups.

    We watched live the peaceful protests. We saw live, how those protesters were shot at and attacked.

    And no one has planes to bomb cities and towns with, except the regime.

    I don't get why so many want to whitewash what is happening.

    •  You can't be serious (2+ / 0-)
      We saw live, how those protesters were shot at and attacked.
      So what you hear becomes a visual memory? Oh man.

      And for some time now the "rebels" have had heavy weaponry. But IEDs and car bombs work in a pinch. There are videos of rebels employing these techniques of terror, there are countless videos that evidence the pure chicanery and mayhem wraught upon the Syrians by the rebels. None of this will be confronted by our media because it makes them look idiotic for falling for it in the first place(if one believes they are actually that naive).

      What about the close range massacres of civilians in government-supported areas? Are we still going with the fantasy that Assad is responsible for them too? The Youtubed executions and beheadings of Syrian soldiers or suspected government sympathizers? What about the rebels' looting and destruction of civilian structures all over Syria? The burning of foreign fighter's bodies to hide their identities? I could go on but if you don't want to see it, you wont. The "UN" has spoken I guess.

      •  it's a civil war. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angry marmot, Clay Claiborne

        I think it's reasonable that the vast majority of casualties have been inflicted by the regime (because that's what regimes are capable of).  The rebels, who consist of everything from unarmed civilians initially involved in the Arab Spring protests to fringe terrorist groups--have probably inflicted several thousand deaths as well--but far less.

        Yeah, Clay's reports are one-sided--but it seems like your full-on dismissals of them are pretty one-sided too.

        •  So on what do you base (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BigAlinWashSt

          your numbers?

          have probably inflicted several thousand deaths as well--but far less.
          As to it being a "civil war", afaik civil wars aren't aided and fought by foreigners.
          •  Because those numbers are reasonable. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angry marmot, Tettodoro

            In any case, lots of civil wars have some foreign influence.  Your assertion that the war is fought 'by' foreigners has little merit...it's the same 'proxy-war' myth that I see over and over again...Libya, etc.

            Countries don't have iron fences around them.  Trade continues, arms shipments continue, intelligence continues, maybe some foreign fighters come into the picture.  But it's a Syrian war.  

        •  I disagree with the words 'vast' and 'far' (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BigAlinWashSt

          in the first paragraph.

          If there are 50,000+ rebel fighters, as many claim, and if only one-third of them have caused just one casualty each that would amount to high percentage of the alleged number of casualties.

          As to your second paragraph, is it a problem if protectspice tries to add a dimension to the poster's one-sided narative?

          Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

          by InAntalya on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 09:54:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  1. Rebellion hasn't been 50,000 (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            InAntalya

            heavily armed soldiers since day 1--i don't know what it is now.  Do you not think it would stand to reason that the military regime controlled by Assad would cause greater loss-of-life, at least in the first year of the war?

            2. I have no problem with protectspice's perspective--but if you're going to call out bias perhaps it is wise not to do the exact same thing on the other side.  A lot of spice's comments read as if they're coming from an Assad public service anouncement.

            •  Greater - yes (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bevenro

              vastly greater - no

              If I recall correctly the rebels claimed that their were 50,000 or more rebel fighters during all of 2012 and last summer claimed that there were 100,000.

              I agree with

              if you're going to call out bias perhaps it is wise not to do the exact same thing on the other side
              but I have been quite busy for the past few months so I'm sure I have missed quite a few of protectspice's comments and as a result will have to take your word on the
              A lot of spice's comments read as if they're coming from an Assad public service anouncement.
              part.

              Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

              by InAntalya on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 08:35:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I just see too many one-side posts (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                InAntalya

                that are either rebels-can-do-no-wrong  or It's-not-Assad's-fault.  Drives me nuts, because I want to learn things.

              •  You are so fucking selective! (0+ / 0-)

                If "the rebels claim" bakeries were bombed, massacres were committed, such and such number of people died. Its all bull shit.

                But if they claim 50,000+ fighters, that's gold. You can take that to the bank.

                You tend to believe whatever supports Assad's arguments?

                Biased much?

                Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

                by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:51:46 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  And you are so fucking confused, (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  protectspice, Claudius Bombarnac

                  maybe you need to see a doctor or cut down on the booze.

                  1 - Take a look at my comments in your posts - that is if you are able to find them - because obviously you have no clue about what I have written or which commenters have mentioned bakaries and rebel claims,

                  2 - go see a doctor to make sure that you are fit,

                  3 - and then try again.

                  Unbalanced or drunk much?

                  Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

                  by InAntalya on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 10:09:24 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Oh my comments "read" a certain way do they? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Claudius Bombarnac

              Just come out and say it then why don't you? And provide proof while you're at it. Thx.

              And yeah, I could think of a few other of our regional allies whom are much more deserving of the title of "evil dictator", but I digress; fwiw, of course I couldn't care less if Assad were to fall out of power. If the Syrian people are the ones to decide it. This is not what is happening. To state the obverse is a result of effective propaganda that's been manufactured for western audiences, who would rather not, and usually never do delve deeper than the completely nonsensical pronouncements that unnamed officials make on conflict "developments", any given day.

          •  See how this works? (0+ / 0-)

            If there are 500,000 SAA fighters, as many claim, and if only one-third of them have caused just one casualty each that would amount to 3 times the number in the UN study.

            Only your depraved support for the Assad regime can explain your twisted logic or your persistence.

            Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

            by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:46:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  @InAntalya -Benvenro is right (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            InAntalya

            If we take the most reliable and comprehensive of the opposition databases - the Centre for Documentation for Violations in Syria, it suggests that c.75% of deaths are of civilians, 16% FSA forces, and 9% from regime forces. We also know that most deaths have occured in the Sunni areas. While there have been some sectarian killings of civilians or deaths from bombings by FSA or allied Jihadist forces, these have been few in number (if there were large numbers we would have heard about them from SANA, RT etc) Thus the "vast majority" of deaths are of Sunni civilians, and  it logically follows that "the vast majority" of deaths have been inflicted by the regime" as benvenro states.
            Your estimate of FSA forces is in the right ball-park but you seem to be confusing "casualties" with deaths. (Of course its wrong that non-fatal  casualties alway get overlooked in these discussions.)

            •  Interesting figures from the Centre for (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              InAntalya

              Documentation for Violations in Syria. The figures do not reflect the Syrian demographics of 1.05 male(s)/female and age 0–14 years: 35.2%:

              Deaths in Syria:

              Adult - Male 33137 - Female 505
              Child - Male 838 - Female 28

              That tells us that the deaths were not a random, indiscriminate occurrence. The deaths were mostly within the fighting age males by an extremely wide margin.

              BTW, the Center For Documentation Of Violations in Syria can hardly be called an unbiased source of information.

              from wiki:

              is a network of Syrian opposition activists whose aim is to document human rights violations perpetrated since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, including victims of the violence, detainees and missing people. The network works with the activists from the Local Coordination Committees of Syria,[1] and documents identified victims of the violence[2] from the rebels and the civilians.[1] The center's main sources of information include medical records, families of the victims and information received from the Imam of the mosque that performed the burial.

              We also know that most deaths have occured in the Sunni areas.
              The worst atrocities have occurred when villages and enclaves of Sunni/Shia existed in close proximity. There is nothing that I could find showing the number of deaths of each.
              •  My conclusion stands (0+ / 0-)

                I didn't say that the VDC was "unbiased" (whatever that might mean in a situation like that of Syria) - I said it was the most "reliable and comprehensive" - the wiki description your provide is a quote from the UN Human Rights Council, who obviously agree.  
                I don't know where the figures you cite come from, but its not the VDC (or its not their current figures). These are:
                Adult male 33097
                Adult Female 2630
                Child Male 2890
                Child Female 1247
                Its obvious that the deaths are not randomly distributed,  but there could be many reasons for that. For example, the army and shabiha during raids and roadblocks  focus on adult males because they regard them as potential opposition activists. Males are more likely to  go out of the home for food and supplies, exposing them to snipers and aerial attacks.
                The VDC distinguishes clearly (doubtless with some margin of error) between Civilian and Non-civilian deaths. There's plenty of detailed data on its site if you want to test out your particular hypothesis, such as your claim that "the worst atrocities have occurred when villages and enclaves of Sunni/Shia existed in close proximity".
                In any event, almost all of the latter have involved deaths of civilians at the hands of the security forces or shabiha . So it makes no difference to  my conclusion that "the vast majority of deaths have been inflicted by the regime"

                •  You are correct. I chose the wrong column. (0+ / 0-)

                  http://www.vdc-sy.org/...

                  But the demographics still don't match.

                  A New England Journal of Medicine report found that 46 per cent of the victims of US air strikes in Iraq whose gender could be determined were female and 39 per cent were children. The follows the demographics of the country.

                  Number of women and children killed in Iraq air raids 'disproportionately high'

                  So it makes no difference to  my conclusion that "the vast majority of deaths have been inflicted by the regime"
                  I would not agree that the "vast majority of deaths have been inflicted by the regime". The gains made by the opposition in the last year have shown they have also inflicted a substantial number of the reported deaths. Reports last year put kill rate rebels/army at 4/1 and current rate is getting closer to 2/1.

                  One point of contention is that rebels who are not deserters are classed as civilians if they are killed.

                  The VDC distinguishes clearly (doubtless with some margin of error) between Civilian and Non-civilian deaths.
                  Civilian 32747  Non-Civilian 7126

                  If this were true then the number of FSA killed is less than that of Assad's forces.

                  •  The Assad regime clearly has a strategy of (0+ / 0-)

                    attacking civilians. This is what CB is trying to paper over with all this number talk.

                    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

                    by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:46:26 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The targeting and killing of civilians is self (0+ / 0-)

                      defeating and generates bad press as well as increased resistance and anger from the populace. Just look at the effort you yourself put into this here in DKos in order to gain more support for foreign intervention in Syria.

                      You still haven't stated what you want the world to do in Syria. This conflict will not be resolved once Assad is gone. The reason is that the conflict is not as black/white, good/evil as you portray it to be. Not in Syria and not in any other country involved in the Arab Spring.

                      Take Tunisia for instance:

                      http://www.timeslive.co.za/...

                      Jobless Tunisian kills himself in uprising town: witnesses
                      Sapa-AFP | 26 December, 2012

                       A young unemployed teenager has killed himself in Sidi Bouzid, the marginalised town in central Tunisia where the country's revolution erupted two years ago, witnesses said on Tuesday.

                      Wissem Hani, 17, died on the weekend from a massive electric shock after clinging to an electric pylon in protest at his bleak circumstances, the witnesses told an AFP journalist.

                      The number of people committing suicide or attempting to take their own lives has multiplied since a young Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, in a drastic act of protest against police harassment.

                      Mohamed Bouazizi's death ignited a mass uprising that toppled ex-dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali the following month and touched off the Arab Spring.

                      Limited economic prospects, especially in the neglected interior, were key factors behind Tunisia's revolution. Two years on, nearly a quarter of the population lives in poverty, with unemployment at around 18 percent.

                      Last week in Sidi Bouzid, protesters angry at the government's failure to improve living standards hurled rocks at President Moncef Marzouki after a speech he gave to mark the anniversary of the uprising.

                      Tunisia: Two Years After a Martyr’s Death, His Struggle Remains Unfinished
                      ...
                      Two years after Bouazizi’s act of martyrdom, however, the quest for dignity is far from won — and it has unfolded on lines quite different from what Tunisians had expected.
                      ...
                      As protests threatened to tip the rebellion’s inspiration into violence, the World Bank approved a $500 million loan to Tunisia, while the government deployed the military on the streets of Siliana to restore calm and stanch the anger. But two years after Bouazizi’s desperate act, few believe that the peace will last long.

                      Read more: http://world.time.com/...

                      As you well know, I was correct about Libya in the weeks leading up to killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens. If even I could see the distinct warning signs, the US government should have also been able to do the same. Things are not as fine in Libya as most seem to think.
                  •  If your going to make claims about statistics - (0+ / 0-)

                    at least look at the sources.
                    You - "If this were true then the number of FSA killed is less than that of Assad's forces."
                     Where on earth do you get that from? The figures you mention don't include any for regime deaths and you haven't  bothered to look for them.  If you had would have found that the VDC reports:
                    FSA deaths 7126
                    SAA deaths 3955.
                    Do I need to point out to you that the FSA deaths are 80% higher than those of the regime forces?
                    You - One point of contention is that rebels who are not deserters are classed as civilians if they are killed.
                    VDC - "there are two sub-classes: Civilian and Non-Civilian. The latter contains information on defected recruits and officers, and Free Syrian Army (FSA) non-military volunteers. "
                    They even have a facility for differentiating between deserters and non-military volunteers.
                    A pity you don't display one-tenth of their intellectual rigour.

            •  All of you points are valid (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Claudius Bombarnac

              according to the information you have and cite, but I base what I have written on my own experiences and research and it is possible that much of the information which I have is not available to you for several possible reasons - such as my fluency in Turkish, the availability to me of information in Arabic, the necessity of my being well informed about events in Syria, and my being in direct contact with many Syrians.

              I still feel that 'greater' is more correct than 'vastly greater'.

              I understand your view and hope that you accept that mine can be different. In time - it might take years - one of these views will be proved correct and I accept that it is possible that mine might not.

              I understand the difference between casualties and deaths, and I used "casualties" in my comment because the comment I was replying to used that term.

              Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

              by InAntalya on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 12:20:00 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm all for an exchange of informed views (0+ / 0-)

                I accept that you have access to sources that I do not for the reasons you cite. I appreciate that you have other things on your plate, but it would be useful if you could occasionally summarise them for our benefit. And you are quite right that the precise quantititative issues will not be resolved easily - historians are still arguing over the East Bengal / Bangladesh death toll 40 years after the fact.
                But while the stats may be uncertain I find the moral choices relatively clear (or maybe it would be more accurate to say I find the need to make a moral choice compelling despite the uncertainties ).

                •  When I can write posts I do - (0+ / 0-)

                  my posts yesterday and today, for example.

                  And I hope that what I write provides information, encourages curiosity, provokes thought, and every now and then entertains.

                  Needing to make a moral choice or wanting others to make and/or confirm the moral choice that you have made may be important for you, but right now I am essentially only interested in there being a workable equitable resolution to the Syrian tragedy.

                  Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

                  by InAntalya on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 03:39:05 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  How does any of that impeach the UN study? (0+ / 0-)

        Even if it was true, which it is not. You just make up 'facts' to fix your argument.

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:23:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Like the diarist? I.e., whitewash what is (3+ / 0-)

      really happening, who is really involved and why?  
      Assad is an evil dictator, he should go, but I don't see anyone defending him on here.  I see people trying to explain what is really going on and it sure isn't this diarist.  

      "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

      by BigAlinWashSt on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:58:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Syrian Revolution according to BigAlinWashSt (0+ / 0-)
        The situation is Syria is not a civil war, it is an instigated agressive war by outside powers against the Assad regime.
        What is clear is that there have been terrorist acts happening for the last 15 months in Syria that have been blamed on the Syrian govt when it wasn't true.
        Syria is being torn apart by a number of actors led by western imperialists and Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, while using proxy fighters, terrorists fighters, and staging terrorist acts to instigate the entire situation. ... this is another regime change and destabilization campaign, simple as that.  
        It's a fact there are armed groups creating sectarian violence and divisions and they are as responsible for as much of the violence and killing as the Assad govt.
        This is the western imperialists next propaganda (4+ / 0-) move to edge closer to a No-Fly zone over Syria so they can bomb the shit out of that country.  They need justification that Assad is using air power against the so called rebels (mercenaries/terrorists).   War propaganda on full display. | June 2012
        It's an agressive war staged by western interests using proxies, mercenaries and terrorists against the Assad regime.  The Assad regime is largely responding to outside interference, which is what he and Russia have been saying all along. It's the U.S. fucking with another country to destabilize it and probably balkanize it, and using the massive propaganda machine to tell the story they want told, i.e., another evil dictator with WMDs supposedly killing his own people.
        where's the proof, the evidence that Assad is ordering torture of children?  We've already seen the hoax of premature Syrian babies being killed by Assad's secret police.  Not defending Assad here
        IOW, the U.S., thru the U.N, is trying for regime change, Russia certainly knows that and is trying to prevent it. | Feb 2012
        Regardless your propaganda, what's happening in series is another in a long line of western instigated regime change and country destabilization campaigns.  They're using the Sunni/Shia divide they've fostered, imported terrorists and mercenaries into Syria, armed them, created death squads, etc.  Syria of course is one of the countries on the neocon hit list that General Wesley Clark told us about a number of years ago, just as was Libya.
        it's not as simple as a peaceful protesters getting shot by the govt.  There is evidence half the deaths are actually govt, military and civilians killed by outside terror groups. Again, I guess I'll have to say I'm not defending Gaddafi, I mean Assad.  I'm just trying to avoid another war for regime change that is being instigated and engineered from the outside.  
        Where did I say I was an apologist for Assad?
        I would be called an Assad loving conspiracy theorist.   Again.  
        BigAlinWashSt,

        You sound like a broken record. [young people won't know what that means soon, anyway I digress]

        What do you think about the defections? Take these 3 Radio Damascus people, you think they were deep moles? Turned by the CIA in Damascus? Or what?

        Because I just don't see much daylight between the views of Syria you promote here at the DailyKos and the ones promoted by those Syrian journalists before they defected from the Assad regime.

        They now describe what you repeat as "killing Syrians with words."

        Don't you think it's time you consider whether you might be doing the same thing?

        In Solidarity,

        Clay

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 11:37:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Claiborne: "You are either with me or you are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          protectspice

          with the enemy." That is bullshit.

          I'm Canadian and I've watched this kind of shit going on in the US in every goddamn conflict the US has EVER been involved in. At least this is not occurring by the US government - at this time. Just by you and a few others here.

          There are many sides and nuances to the Syrian conflict that you have completely failed to take into consideration even though it is been shown time and time again. Your diaries have devolved into nothing more than one-sided propaganda.

          •  At least I took a side (0+ / 0-)

            This is our fight too!

            Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

            by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 12:10:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  This is not Canada's fight. This is a fight that (0+ / 0-)

              started decades ago by western powers, primarily the US, meddling in the MENA for access to it's oil and gas. It's ALL blow-back.

              The US government 'rendered' Maher Arar, a Canadian, to Syria to be tortured. As typical of US politics, Assad was a bastard but he was America's bastard (as was Saddam as was bin Laden and a whole litany of other bad actors).

              About 15% support the rebels and 15% support Assad. The other 70% want both these factions out of the country. That is the side I am on.

              This conflict was militarized almost from the very start with a very large amount of funding and armaments coming from outside the country to give it impetus.

              I see no good ending for this Pandora's box that has been opened other than more strife and war. The US is fucked if they intervene and fucked if they don't - maybe it's payback time?

    •  I think, Una... (4+ / 0-)

      that if you cull through the comments associated with Clay's oeuvre on Syria (impressive in quantity, far less so in quality) you'll find that there are very few who can be said to "defend Assad" or "whitewash what is happening." The fundamental question is one of narration, propaganda and how to deal with the formidable problems emanating from a situation where access to verifiable facts is difficult at best. Naive heroization of the opposition and naive credulity to the opposition's English-language propaganda-machine (and make no mistake, that is the diarist's raison d'écrire) doesn't assist in a realistic comprehension of the events, processes and status of the Syrian Civil War, both internally and internationally. Hell, I'm rooting for the deposition of al-Assad, but that doesn't entail subscription to the diarist's simplistic and typically hagiographic narration.

      Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

      by angry marmot on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:22:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I say - long live Clay's passion! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Clay Claiborne

        I've not been seriously involved with this site long enough to assess the accuracy of what you say - but there seems to have been quite a bit of what I would call anti-anti-regime narrative served up over the time that I have. And I think you need to allow for the left milieux in which Clay is rooted, where such views are even more prevalent (and vociferous.)
        Sure, Clay feels passionately about Syria and that's conveyed in his diary. It motivates him to do a lot of slog that certainly calls my attention to things I might otherwise miss, and sometimes provides useful insights into important problems. OK, sometimes he is selective, overstates his case, or looks at things one-sidedly: but I'm an adult, I can identify when that is the case, and adjust for it either by discussion or by doing my own homework. Frankly, I prefer the living passionate Clay, with his faults, to the sort of bland-rationalist that you seem to be holding out as a universal model for us all.

        •  I on the other hand I prefer the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          protectspice

          bland-rationalists because I know that they have the best chance of bringing about an at least reasonably just end to this killing and ruining of innocent people's lives and futures.

          Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

          by InAntalya on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:03:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  In meta-terms, I've previously (0+ / 0-)

          described the dominant pattern of discourse re Syria here on-site as one between two over-determined narratives, the Romantic and the Cynical. I've little patience for either Romantic hagiography or Cynical FUD, as it seems to me that neither serves our professed reality-based community well. Your mileage may vary...

          Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

          by angry marmot on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:10:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  @ angy marmot I've seem your schema - (0+ / 0-)

            And it doesn't capture the complexity of people's views or the real dynamic of gaining understanding. I work on the interface - I'm often pretty Romantic when Swimming among cynics and bloodless rationalists, and pretty rationalist among Romantics. But mostly I want to interact and negotiate differences as a way to developing understanding.

      •  Are they having a sale on $2 words where you live? (0+ / 0-)
        access to verifiable facts is difficult at best
        That is BS!

        Never before in history have we had more "verifiable facts" from a conflict so quickly.

        We get thousands of YouTube videos a day from Syria, many about the same event or subject. They verify each other.

        Or do you think they are all the product of some huge fabrication?  Studio production or what?

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 12:18:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this post (0+ / 0-)

    This story should remain in the forefront of our hearts and minds-

    thanks

  •  Plausible figures - but does it matter? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clay Claiborne

    The "deniers" of this report seem not only not to have read it, but to rely on sources that have done likewise. It is quite explicit about its sources and its methodology.
    Its data come from 7 opposition databases drawn from sources on the ground, mainly the Local Coordinating Committees, plus the Syrian Government. There is a large overlap between these databases (because they draw on similar sources) but also a significant degree of complementarity (because each will have some sources that others do not). The methodology of the report was designed to sort this out and identify the total number of "unique killings" recorded across all sources - and that is 59 648.
    Of course, there may be some degree of inaccuracy or exaggeration in the original source data (e.g inclusion of rumours) but most of the databases try to exercise some "quality control" over their data, primarily by providing detailed information about each case. And there is also good reason to believe that there has been systematic under-reporting of deaths:  Jacques Beres of Medecins sans Frontieres, who spent two weeks in August in a frontline hospital  in Aleppo,  described how "the names of the dead at the hospital he volunteered in were 'written by hand in a little book which remained in the hospital', and he doubted the numbers reached external sources."
    http://www.irishtimes.com/... Add these factors together and the figure of c.60 000 seems to be in a  plausible range.
    But how important is all this number crunching? Is Assad suddenly cleansed of his crimes because "only" 45 000 have died and not 60 000? We know from a myriad of sources the qualitative facts about what his regime is doing in Syria. No one is better at conveying this than the MSF volunteers: try http://www.msf.org.uk/... for a flavour of the reality on the ground.

    •  Some people commenting here work very hard (0+ / 0-)

      at minimizing Assad's crimes and exaggerating the crimes of the opposition. They generally only talk about these opposition crimes. They see external forces as Assad's main enemy and in most other respects they parrot the SANA line.

      But don't you dare call them pro-Assad!

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:34:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fall of Assad will not end the conflict in Syria. (0+ / 0-)

    It will morph just as in Iraq when Saddam was toppled.

    Nusra Front reportedly leading Syrian rebels’ fight for key Damascus area

     BEIRUT — An Islamist rebel group that the United States has listed as a terrorist organization has taken the lead in fighting in Damascus, according to residents who’ve recently fled the violence there.

    The reports that the Nusra Front, which the Obama administration last month declared to be an affiliate of al Qaida in Iraq, is at the forefront of the fighting in Syria's capital underscores the deepening sectarianism inside Syria that many analysts feel is likely to thwart new U.N. efforts to promote a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
    ,,,
    Supporters of rebels fighting to topple the government of President Bashar Assad say that groups like Nusra make up only a small minority of the anti-Assad fighting force. But Nusra increasingly is leading the fighting across Syria, a development that raises the prospects of sectarian bloodletting as rebels move from areas where the population, like the rebels, is predominantly Sunni Muslim to cities and towns where the residents are Shiite Muslim or Alawites, the Shiite sect to which Assad and Syria’s governing elite belong.
    ...
    Nusra released an hour-long video in December documenting some of its operations in northern Syria. The video used openly derogatory language to refer to Shiites and Alawites.

    Analysts say that it will be difficult for the United States to keep any aid it might give to the rebels from also benefiting the Nusra Front. Only after Assad falls will it be possible to separate Nusra from other rebels.

    “In many respects the U.S.’s policy is too late,” said Aaron Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who studies radical Islamist movements. “The next opening won’t happen until after the regime falls, once all the rebels groups no longer have the same goals. Then I think the U.S. will have a better opportunity to exploit these divisions for its interests. Until then, it could be an uphill battle for the U.S. due to its dithering policy up to this point.”

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/...

    •  Yeah and when Obama called Nusra 'terrorist' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clay Claiborne

      the opposition denounced him, not because they had illusions in Nusra but because they had no illusions in the US NO1 terrorist waiting to hijack their revolution. Better the devil fighting alongside you than the devil that rules the world.
      It seems you think that the US rules the world, but you cannot imagine how to escape its all powerful influence. There can be no popular revolution against it it seems.
      You claim to oppose it, but you turn your back on the most advanced struggle against the US underway. That to me says more about you than anything. It makes you anti-imperialism fake.
      No amount of painting a popular revolution as fought by proxy US or anti-Us interests can prove that this is not a popular national revolution rooted in the masses.
      So what if the big majority are Sunni? It is their poverty and oppression under Assad that motivates them not sectarianism.
      Yes life in Syria will go on after Assad is gone, but the victory of the popular revolution will only be assured if it joins forces with the Palestinians and Egyptians to shift the balance of power in favor of the masses against imperialism and all their local lackeys which includes the Brotherhood and Salafists who are all jockeying to be the next dictatorship with the US franchise.
      Lets see those who call for balance in this war take a stand on the future of this struggle. Are they for the defeat of Israel and the US in the Middle East or not?

      •  I'm just the messenger. (0+ / 0-)

        I have posted dozens of times that the Arab Spring is mainly about economic and social disparity. It was fueled by income inequality and the concentration of power among elites compounded by 30 percent plus unemployment rates amongst the younger citizens. It was OWS on steroids.

        Tunisia and Egypt are currently looking for money from the IMF and World Bank. All they have to do is toe the Washington Consensus line - reduce deficits, reduce subsidies, reduce social spending, privatize, privatize, privatize and open the country to investment by multinationals, big oil and banks. The US, UK and EU ruling elite (governments) could care less about the politics and people of any country as long as these demands are met. The Muslim Brotherhood and Ennahda have shown they are eager to work within these parameters. The only problem they face is how to go about it without creating conditions for further uprisings.

        Watch Libya go down the same road. The IMF has already been advising the current government about ending subsidies, privatizing and reducing the social safety net. Privatizing health and education were very high on the list.  In fact, one of the last things Ambassador Stevens did was to speak publicly about US firms getting involved in the education and health care sectors of Libya. The US has the worst health and education system for ordinary people amongst the developed nations. To export this crap to developing (rich) nations is disgusting.

        I don't support the rebels nor do I support the Syrian government. The destruction of Syria assures that the IMF and World Bank will get involved in the reconstruction - Disaster Capitalism at it's finest.

        http://peacenews.info/...

        Erica Chenoweth & Maria J Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

        This study charts the success and failure of over 300 nonviolent and violent campaigns – aimed principally at regime change, self-determination/anti-occupation, or secession – between 1900 and 2006.

        Overall during this period nonviolent campaigns proved twice as likely to achieve full or partial success as those that resorted to armed insurgency. This was the case regardless of the nature of the regime and its readiness to resort to repression. Moreover, whereas nonviolent campaigns have become increasingly successful in recent decades, reflecting perhaps a better understanding of technique and strategy, the success rate of armed resistance has declined.
        ...
        Armed insurrections tend to rely much more heavily for their success on help from outside in the form of arms, training and funding. This, the authors argue, may be because of the difficulty of involving large numbers in violent insurrection. However, they note that some armed uprisings have been accompanied by a mobilisation of the population and it is where this occurs that they have most often succeeded – for instance in the Russian, Chinese, Algerian, Cuban and Vietnamese revolutions. Even so the human costs of such revolutions can be appallingly high and nonviolent campaigns are much more likely than violent ones to result in more open and peaceful societies.
        ...
        Some analysts have argued that the existence, or even the background threat, of an armed resistance produces what the they term a ‘radical flank’ effect, that is to say the authorities are prepared to make concessions to the civil resistance campaign to forestall the possibility of having to deal with a more radical armed opposition. If the threat is only a potential one, that may sometimes be the case.

        But the authors point out that acts of violence by an armed insurgency may undermine the dynamic of a civil resistance campaign by causing those with a stake in the regime to close ranks and thus consolidate rather than undermine the regime’s pillars of support.
        ...

  •  Bombings from both sides. Opposition using (0+ / 0-)

    car bombs in Barzeh al-Balad district to hit back.

    And it is not just people waiting in line for bread that get slaughtered. Just today, an Assad regime warplane bombed a gas station outside of Damascus [eastern suburb of Mleiha] and killed dozens of people waiting to buy gas. You can find amateur video of the charred bodies on line. i will try to find some and post them here for the doubting Thomases among you.
    http://uk.reuters.com/...
    Car bomb rips Damascus petrol station, casualties feared
    Thu Jan 3, 2013

    AMMAN (Reuters) - Dozens of people were feared dead or wounded after a car bomb exploded on Thursday at a petrol station in the Syrian capital Damascus, opposition activists said.

    The petrol station was packed with people queueing for fuel that has become increasingly scarce during the country's 21-month-long civil war, the activists said.

    The bombing took place in the Barzeh al-Balad district, whose residents include a mix of majority Sunni Muslims and several other religious and ethnic minorities. (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Michael Roddy)

    I'll post videos when they come out.
    •  Why do you assume the bombing is by opposoition (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clay Claiborne

      forces? - your source doesn't say that.

      •  Because he can get away with it. (0+ / 0-)

        It says volumes about his mindset.

        If a warplane hadn't been used in the earlier gas station bombing, he would be blaming that on the rebels, but he can't.

        Now, knowing already that the regime is attacking people lining up for gas the first time one might reasonably suspect the regime of the 2nd attack too, although in this case the method of delivery doesn't prove it.

        But not CB, since the method of delivery doesn't prove it, he can make the opposite assertion and blame it on the rebels.

        But don't dare call him pro-Assad.

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 12:58:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's a signature strike. It also doesn't help the (0+ / 0-)

          regime which is desperately trying to show that they have control of Damascus. It doesn't make sense for the regime to bomb an area they are in control of.

          Here's another. Was this also caused by Assad?

          Jan. 04 2013

          The Observatory added that a car bomb blew up outside a military intelligence building in the northern Damascus suburb of Nabk.

          •  Its not a "signature strike" - (0+ / 0-)

            The main car bombers are Jabhat - al-Nusra, who choose military targets (but often with civilian casualties) and claim responsibility (or credit as they see it), as most of the media sources reporting this story note (and therefore avoid your leap of logic).

            In what sense could a killing of a group of civilians by a car bomb be a way of "hitting back" at the killing of another lot of civilians by the regime?
            As for the regime's motive - how about "a way of creating a smokescreen"?
             In any event, Barzeh al-Balad is not in central Damascus, but is an oppositional area on the outskirts.

            •  Al-Nusra are no longer the main IED and VBIED (0+ / 0-)

              bomb makers. The main difference between the the Salafist jihadists and the rebels is in the use of suicide bombers. The gas station VDIED was remotely detonated. There have been many hundreds of VBIED and IED attacks against the regime.

              Syrian Rebels Hone Bomb Skills to Even the Odds

              Al-Nusra has stopped claiming responsibility for these kind of attacks in order to lower their profile.

              In what sense could a killing of a group of civilians by a car bomb be a way of "hitting back" at the killing of another lot of civilians by the regime?
              As for the regime's motive - how about "a way of creating a smokescreen"?

               In any event, Barzeh al-Balad is not in central Damascus, but is an oppositional area on the outskirts.

              The area bombed is home to more wealthy Syrians and this is an attempt to show them they are not immune from the fighting and that Assad cannot protect them even inside Damascus.

              It is obvious that the SAA are in nominal control of the area by the speed at which they responded. Assad still has the support of the more wealthy Syrians, even the Sunnis. The fact that these Syrians fled into Assad controlled Damascus shows they prefer the SAA over the FSA forces who control the more outlying areas.

              VBIED bombing has been occurring within Damascus since the start of hostilities. They all have tended to destabilize the regime rather than strengthen it. They have been an effective tool for the rebels.

              Cui Bono.

              Smokescreen for what?
               

              Damascus suburbs scene of fighting

              In Damascus, Syrian security officers check a gas station heavily damaged by a car bomb that killed 11 people on Thursday, activists said.

              While no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, they could be guerrilla strikes by rebel groups who lack the force to battle Assad’s troops in the capital. The ring of contested Damascus suburbs, known as the ghouta, is home to wealthy Syrian landowners and many Sunnis who flocked to the city from the countryside.
              ...

  •  Illegal for Australians to join fight in Syria (0+ / 0-)
    http://au.news.yahoo.com/...?
    Australia warns citizens against fighting in Syria
    AFP January 4, 2013

    SYDNEY (AFP) - Australians who take part in the fighting in Syria face up to 20 years in jail, a spokesman for Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on Friday after a Melbourne man was reportedly killed in the conflict.

    The spokesman said the government was aware of reports that more than 100 Australians had engaged in the conflict since 2011 but he had "no evidence" of any citizens currently involved.

    Under the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978: "A person shall not enter a foreign state with intent to engage in a hostile activity... or engage in a hostile activity in a foreign state.

    "Penalty (is) imprisonment for 20 years," the spokesman said.

    "Anyone in Australia who recruits someone to fight overseas faces seven years."
    ...

  •  Rami Abdel Rahman disputes UN numbers (0+ / 0-)
    Key source for Syrian death toll questions accuracy of recent UN-sponsored report

     BEIRUT — A new United Nations-sponsored report that estimates more than 60,000 people have died in Syria’s political violence has touched off a new dispute that underscores how little is truly known about the toll from a civil war just weeks from beginning its third year.

    One Syrian activist who provided some of the numbers for the study says he believes the new numbers are inflated, while another says he believes they underrepresent the dead.

    “They are being used as propaganda,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who believes the new numbers overstate the number of dead. “The U.N. is not a human rights organization, it is a political one.”

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/...

    •  Its interesting how parameters shift (0+ / 0-)

      Six months ago Rahman was being demonised by Syria-deniers as an opposition who hack who ran his operation from a clothing shop (as if that was some sort of disreputable profession) - now he's becoming the go-to person for reliable statistics. But this is all a storm in a teacup: 45 000 or 60 000 are easily within margins of error for a task like this. And, as I've said before, the moral difference between them is nil.

      •  I'm just the messenger. Did you take the time to (0+ / 0-)

        read the entire report? It doesn't appear you did.

        Syria’s death toll has long been a hotly debated topic. The United Nations stopped publishing a death toll nearly a year ago after officials realized that they could not independently document the killings and that most of the groups purporting to have information were sympathetic to the rebels and did not delineate between civilian deaths and those of rebel combatants. For its part, the Syrian government provided statistics primarily for its supporters and police and soldiers killed in combat with the rebels. The government stopped publicizing those casualties late last spring as it became clear rebels were taking an ever greater toll on government forces.

        The Benetech study was an effort to arrive at an accurate figure by comparing the reports provided by both Rahman’s and Ziadeh’s groups and four others as well as the Syrian government. The firm’s statisticians compared each of the databases with one another in an effort to weed out duplicates and insufficiently documented deaths. Researchers included only casualties that had been identified with a first and last name and a date and place of death.

        The process yielded a list of 59,648 unduplicated death t reports from March 2011 through November. Of those, 76.1 percent were male and 7.5 percent were female. The sex of 16.4 percent could not be determined from the records, the report said.

        But there were many questions that the report could not answer. For one, the analysis could not determine how many of those killed were civilians and how many were combatants. It also said that more than 70 percent of the records did not provide an age for the victim, meaning that the study could reach no conclusions about the death toll among children and the elderly.

        The lack of information about whether the dead were bystanders or combatants also leaves open the debate over Syrian government tactics. Anti-Assad groups have consistently accused the government of targeting civilians in its bombardment of urban areas, a charge the Syrian government answers by claiming that the areas were occupied by armed rebels.
        ...
        He cited a recent attack on a gasoline station as example of the misrepresentation of some of the attacks that take place inside Syria.

        “People said more than 30 people died,” Rahman said. “But no one had more than 12 names, or video of more than 12 bodies.”

        Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/...

        Remember Claiborne's diary?
        BREAKING: 300 killed in air strike on breadline in #Syria
        And, as I've said before, the moral difference between them is nil.
        The moral difference between combatants and non-combatants dying is great. This is why rebels or insurgents fighting an asymmetrical war hide amongst civilians. They hope it will either prevent attacks or, if it doesn't, it will at least bring in help from foreign forces.

        All propaganda is a morality play.

  •  National Movement for Syria's Rescue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    protectspice
    Published on Jan 3, 2013

    A new Syrian coalition by the name of "National Movement for Syria's Rescue" has been announced today (Jan 3, 2013) in Beirut, Lebanon. It is comprised of Syrian figures from the opposition, regime loyalists, and the "silent majority". The group claims to speak on behalf of Syria's silent majority, which does not want a Sharia-based Islamist-run state but rather a democratic and secular state. This meeting was first in a series of meetings that this coalition will be holding in Cairo, Damascus, and Tunis. Those meetings' aim is to get enough support to counter what they referred to as the Muslim Brotherhood project whose center is Istanbul, Turkey.

    Some of the issues the new coalition will be working on is to reach out to as many external and internal forces as possible to engage in a national dialogue and to uncover any links that exist between the "Doha Coalition" (Syrian National Coalition) and the al-Qaeda Wahhabi Takfiri groups currently fighting on the ground. The statement also stressed that the Syrian Army is a 'red line'.

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