Whoever saves a life -
In a war with many villains, these are the good guys
. Earlier this month Khaled Hajjo and the majority of the Hanano team were briefly arrested by a rebel brigade in the city, and then forced to flee to Turkey
Patrick Cockburn a Middle East correspondent since 1979 has a couple of new articles:
and The Underrated Saudi Connection, Why Washington’s War on Terror Failed.
Video has emerged showing the beheading of journalist James Foley.
James Foley has been reportedly beheaded by Isis in retaliation for US airstrikes in Iraq. He was working in Syria when he was reported missing in 2012. [more inside]
From his time in Cairo, Lawrence was aware of the extravagant promises the British government had made to Hussein in order to raise the Arab Revolt: full independence for virtually the entire Arab world..............His first act of sedition — and by most any standards, a treasonous one — was to inform Faisal of the existence of Sykes-Picot.....The True Story of Lawrence of Arabia
. Previously and Previously
The militant Sunni group Isis has said it is establishing a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria.
This is not the first border we will break, we will break other borders," its spokesman warns. Standing on a border sign he threatens to "break the borders" of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. [more inside]
He tells you he is one of the martyrs now. He tells you it is not safe for you to stay in your apartment, that soldiers may come soon. At any moment. You agree. It is time to go. You don't have the leisure to cry now over Ali's death now but you are eternally saddened. You pack only the most essential belongings for yourself, Emad and Yara. Before you head down the stairs with your children, you take one last look back at your home and whisper,
xaatrak to yourself. Goodbye.
1,000 Days of Syria
is a "choose your own adventure" historical fiction newsgame
, in which you live the first 1,000 days of the Syrian conflict through the eyes of one of three optional characters. Guardian article
. [more inside]
Forty maps that explain the Middle East.
Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
"The post-attack intelligence on Turkey did not make its way to the White House. ‘Nobody wants to talk about all this,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘There is great reluctance to contradict the president, although no all-source intelligence community analysis supported his leap to convict. There has not been one single piece of additional evidence of Syrian involvement in the sarin attack produced by the White House since the bombing raid was called off. My government can’t say anything because we have acted so irresponsibly. And since we blamed Assad, we can’t go back and blame Erdoğan.’"
A report by Seymour Hersh alleges
that Turkish PM Erdoğan's National Intelligence Organization is responsible for last August's sarin attack in Syria, in an attempt to force Obama's hand on air strikes. [more inside]
The All-American Life and Death of Eric Harroun.
Eric Harroun, a U.S. Army vet on disability labeled "The American Jihadist"
until the case against him unraveled
, has passed away at home in Arizona.
Inside The One-Man Intelligence Unit That Exposed The Secrets And Atrocities Of Syria's War
He had no formal intelligence training or security clearance that gave him access to classified documents. He could not speak or read Arabic. He had never set foot in the Middle East, unless you count the time he changed planes in Dubai en route to Manila, or his trip to visit his in-laws in Turkey.
Yet in the 18 months since Higgins had begun blogging about Syria, his barebones site, Brown Moses [previously], had become the foremost source of information on the weapons used in Syria's deadly war. Using nothing more sophisticated than an Asus laptop, he had uncovered evidence of weapons imported into Syria from Iran. He had been the first person to identify widely-banned cluster bombs deployed by Syrian forces. By The New York Times' own admission, his findings had offered a key tip that helped the newspaper prove that Saudi Arabia had funneled arms to opposition fighters in Syria. [more inside]
, graphic film about the past few weeks barrel bombing
A team of war crimes prosecutors has produced a report [PDF
, alternate PDF
] showing "clear evidence [...] of systematic torture and killing of detained persons by the agents of the Syrian government". The report is based on more than fifty thousand photographs, showing approximately eleven thousand individuals. The photographs, which were taken to substantiate the victims' execution, demonstrate that many of the detainees were emaciated and had been tortured.
Primary coverage of the report has been produced by The Guardian
Warning: Graphic footage. Little is
known about the origins of the Abkhazian Network News Agency
, ANNA. What we do know is that the agency, nominally from the breakaway Georgian republic Abkhazia
, has been covering the brutal Syrian Civil War
while embedded with the SAA
on its Youtube channel
(be sure to enable English captions). Defiant and unapologetic about its pro-government position, the videos nevertheless provide a unique perspective on what is perhaps the most well-documented war in history. Brief sample: GoPros mounted on tanks
, civilian traffic driving by tanks
, near misses
, and close quarters combat
. Sometimes the other side is taking a video too
] [more inside]
And if a series of well-timed massacres by the regime would provoke outrage in the West, Assad also knew that images of carnage would cause Gulf states to arm the Islamist opposition and escalate the sectarian warfare. This was his strategy: to make intervention so unpalatable that the international community would take no steps to alter the course of the conflict. “These jihadists who have come in, largely courtesy of private Gulf money, these are his enemies of choice,” says Frederic C. Hof, the Obama administration’s former envoy to the Syrian opposition and currently a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “I call it a coalition of co-dependency.”
- An in-depth piece in The New Republic Examines Bashar Al Assad
How Jihadists Are Blackmailing, Torturing, and Killing Gay Syrians.
Even between the plush sofas and mood lighting of one of Beirut’s hippest bars, Ram shook with fear as he relived his ordeal. He turned his large green eyes from me to the translator and then back to me again, speaking in a low voice, even though we were the only people in the room. "I think I was targeted for two reasons: because I'm a Druze, and because I’m gay," he said. "They told us, ‘You are all perverts, and we are going to kill you to save the world.'"
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
has been awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize
, with the Norwegian Nobel Committee saying, "Recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons have again been put to use, have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons." [more inside]
Conflicts of interest in the Syria debate:
An analysis of the defense industry ties of experts and think tanks who commented on military intervention
The Spies Inside Damascus
: The Mossad's secret war on the Syrian WMD machine.
On Aug. 20, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama declared that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began shifting around or using his chemical weapons, Obama would consider that "a red line." The implication was that such a move would lead to American intervention in Syria. Some officials from the Israeli Foreign Ministry believed that Obama drew the line because he believed it would never be crossed. If that was his assumption, he made it based, in part, on assessments received from the Israeli intelligence services, which have waged a multidecade clandestine campaign to strip Assad of his deadliest weapons -- and which also have emerged as the United States' primary partners in collecting information on Middle Eastern regimes.
A Plea for Caution From Russia
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
The big news yesterday was Miley Cyrus' twerking
on Robin Thicke at the VMAs, and revelations
of Syria's flagrant violations of international law by using chemical weapons against its own civilians. [more inside]
from the Syrian civil war are being treated
in Israeli hospitals, some of them with referrals
from Syrian doctors. The identities of the patients and the route they have taken is being kept secret for fear of repercussions from authorities in Syria, which is formally at war with Israel. [more inside]
Patrick Cockburn: Syria's Civil War is complicated
and from the LRB in May
The quagmire is turning out to be even deeper and more dangerous than it was in Iraq.
Did Syria gas its own people
? The evidence is mounting.
The Guardian postulates
that it was Assad's ruthless brother who mastermind alleged the Syria gas attack.
"The arms manufacturers of Aleppo used to be ordinary men—network administrators, housepainters, professors. Then came the bloody Syrian crisis. Now they must use all their desperate creativity to supply their fellow rebels with the machinery of death." [Via]
Shooting The Messengers
So, what guides a journalist's decisions in these unlovely places? The frequently repeated maxim that "no story is worth dying for" rings a little hollow. The awkward truth is that, in this field, personal bravery is simultaneously discouraged and rewarded. [more inside]
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah
gave a major speech today to a large gathering of party leaders where he confirmed that Hezbollah militia members have been sent to fight in Syria. Watch him explain in his own words his reasons behind this decision (English Subtitles)
. (via LiveLeak)
Hezbollah soldiers are said to be playing a key role in the battle for Qusayr
a strategic rebel held town situated on the road between Lebanon and Homs. More background on the battle of Quasyr is available at Syria Deeply
a site featuring the works of independent journalists covering the Syrian civil war.
Since the end of March, the Wall Street Journal's
new Middle East Real Time
blog has written about Turkey's "unstoppable" export boom in soap operas
, Saudi Arabia's "life after jihad" rehab program
, the persistence of obviously fraudulent bomb detectors across Iraq
, YouTube branding discussions among Syrian rebel factions
, a rising media star Sunni cleric in Lebanon
, a post-revolutionary Cairo arts festival
, and attempts to overcome conservative objections and change the Saudi Thursday-Friday weekend to match the rest of the business world
. Previous non-paywalled WSJ
Real Time blogs include Korea
, Emerging Europe
The Onion's Twitter feed was apparently hacked
by Syrian Electronic Army
, the group that recently hacked the White House Twitter account and sent the stock market on a short-lived dive.
The Onion has responded to the hack, darkly
Syria Options Go From Bad To Worse
As reports have surfaced of possible use of sarin gas in the Syrian civil war, calls by long-time proponents of U.S. intervention on behalf of the anti-Assad rebels have grown to a fever pitch. These same voices, both at home and abroad, have evoked the administration’s previously stated “red line” on use of chemical weapons. But even assuming that reports of WMD usage in Syria turn out to be true, the Obama Administration’s position may be far more nuanced than previously thought. [more inside]
It's been five years
since the death
of Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh
in Damascus. No one ever claimed responsibility for killing him. Hezbollah publicly blames
Israel's Mossad, a charge they unsurprisingly deny. So, who killed The Driver? [more inside]
Frontline journalist Olly Lambert captures the event of a Syrian government air strike on the town of al-Bara.
Powerfully upsetting and tragic, his footage conveys the sheer terror afflicting the lives of Syrian refugees struggling to survive under the Assad regime. [36min SLYT] [more inside]
Syrian music of revolution and war
. The first song is by Ibrahim Qashoush
, a fireman and amateur poet from Hama, he was called the "nightingale of the revolution".
proliferation in Syria
has become something to watch. [more inside]
"What is currently happening in Manbij, once a sleepy provincial city in northern Syria, is the first future-oriented experiment in the midst of horror. "
In the Syrian city of Manbij, the first larger city to be liberated by rebel forces, residents have been left with the task of governing amidst Syrian forces' daily attempts to destroy schools, hospitals, access to clean water and other infrastructure using air strikes.
Life and death in Aleppo.
GlobalPost correspondent Tracey Shelton
was filming a feature on the daily life
of Syrian opposition fighters when a mundane chore for the men turned into a bloodbath... (Warning: Graphic.) [more inside]
Until that point, she had been questioned in English and German. But this time a different man spoke — in what she identified as perfect Hebrew. He was dark-skinned and had a thin face. “This interrogation was different from the ones that came before,” Keunecke said. “There was a sense of expectation. It was like a show, as if they wanted to see how we reacted to each other.”
- The soldier who vanished: Guy Hever, a 20-year-old artilleryman, walked out of his base on the Golan Heights 15 years ago this week. Despite searches, half-sightings, clues and theories that stretch the imagination, he has not been heard from since
Watching Syria's War [Caution: war]
. The New York Times is posting video coming out of the Syrian Civil War with context and background: Street Fighting in Allepo
), Crusader Castle Becomes Rebel Redoubt
), Tank Stalking
, Harrowing ride through the streets of Homs
. The online video has "allowed the war to be documented like no other", according to the Times, presumably because of the ubiquity of video cameras among the fighters and access to the Internet.
"The Western observer tends to split the Russian press into two camps: evil statists and martyrs. But for their part, members of the Russian press are convinced of their superiority over their Western colleagues, at least when it comes to Syria. Russian journalists aren’t under the illusion that they are more objective than their Western counterparts, but they are convinced of their ability to convey a more realistic, complex picture of the events in Syria."
- The New Republic: In Russia, Even Putin’s Critics Are OK With His Syria Policy
Brown Moses Blog
curates and analyzes news regarding the Syrian uprising, the wider Arab Spring
, and the UK phone hacking scandal
. It is written by Something Awful
forums moderator Brown Moses. Recent entries include discussion of the increasingly well armed Free Syrian Army
, senior members of the Catholic Church criticizing pro-Assad clergy
, and a look at the evidence of more sophisticated IEDs
being used in Syria. [more inside]
Gil Cohen-Magen takes pictures of daily life
among Hassidic and Holy Land communities.