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News from Aleppo – the human story of war

Updated on 10 March 2016

 

Above: Remembering International Women’s Day – images of women in Syria. 

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Below is a message from a local in Aleppo, Syria.  It begins with a reference to a recent article in the Boston Review

Message from Aleppo

“The best thing outside powers can do in the interest of peace is to include civil society groups in future negotiations, listen to what they have to say, and refrain from imposing top-down solutions that ignore the Syrian people”.

 

The above paragraph mentioned at the end of an article on Boston Review , called “Syria after the Ceasefire”, by Stephen Zunes:

https://bostonreview.net/world/syria-ceasefire-stephen-zunes

 

However, if the Syrian people dared to say that they want Assad, the western powers will either punish the Syrian people more and more till they are all well tamed; or the western media will explain what is happening as “Syrian people are not free, they are terrified from regime repression and punishment. They are forced to vote for Assad”. Therefore, let’s go and free those people by killing their leader and destroying their army! …. Superman is coming to rescue the Syrians!

 

Although the article is talking about how complex the Syrian crisis became, but they are mentioning all the stereotypes and clichés, as tiding themselves with ropes and asking stupidly: “what a mess! What shall we do now?”…

 

Imposing democracy on countries and societies that have different ruling types, is like imposing Apple Macintosh operating system upon a Microsoft Windows one: We’ll have a failed and damaged PC. The usual next argument that comes after that mess would be: “Now that we have a damaged PC, what shall we do to clean the mess?”. The PC could be useful only for junk markets, where people can buy its dismantled contents by piece. Dismantling war-torn countries and societies have the same result and future.

 

After years of 24/7 brainwashing of the world with tons of lies, on all type of media, in focusing on spreading democracy by force on other nations, or changing regimes that don’t obey them, and after all these evil strategies were in vain; perhaps they could solve the problem by removing the “democracy glasses” they forced the globe to wear in the first place. Let alone that no one believe that they really wanted to spread real democracy and freedom in the world. It’s all phony and fake versions of democracy that destroy nations.

 

Syrians were living peacefully for decades, happily and independent. We had corruption? And who doesn’t have? We needed some reforms on politics? Many reforms actually took place between 2000-2010, and the old corrupted figures left Syria before 2005 to live in abroad with their stolen fortunes (who later became supporters to the so-called rebels). Yes, new layer of corrupted figures started to pop up, and it’s just a continuous work, just like cleaning and vacuuming houses, there will be new dust covering the surface every week, you deal with new dust by vacuuming it again, not by burning the house and bring it down upon the heads of it’s inhabitants.

 

I always asked normal people over here, such as taxi drivers, how were their lives before the crisis. They always say that they were so happy. Everything was cheap. The poor and rich were working and happy. On weekends you would see the poor ones parking their mini pickup vehicles or bicycles on the highway outside Aleppo in front a green zone (we call that area al-Mohallaq), gathering with families in a picnic and BBQ activities, smoking Sheesha, and eating corn in summers. Those were the poor ones’ weekly entertainment, where they might stay from midday till midnight. It was peaceful. Today, it’s the other way around.

 

What I always used to say is that before the crisis, Syria had almost 80-95% of what any nation seek to have (75-80% legal and straightforward progress, 15-20% corruption in its best, where the progress is possible after paying bribes, something no one is proud of but we can’t do much about it unfortunately), we only missed 3-5% of political reforms and freedom. This whole crisis, destruction, cleansing, uprooting people from their homes, poverty, refugees problem, infrastructure systematic destruction, raping women, beheading innocents, looting, erasing priceless heritage and historical and sacred buildings and architecture, creating all zombie-like trash criminals that invaded us from all over the world….. All that and a lot more, had been made in the name of gaining those missing 3% of rights. As result, Syrians lost 80% of what they had before, and didn’t gain the 3% they were promised to have! Today we might still have 20% of our origin rights and order, however corruption is controlling more than 75% of it. In the past, bribes were somehow like taxes in the west, we pay it to one party (corrupted employee) and guarantee that our problem going to be solved, or the paperwork going to be submitted. Today, people might pay hundreds and thousands – if not million -folds, as bribes, ransoms, taxes, looting and theft; the paying is for too many parties; and there is no guarantee whatsoever that we will survive!

 

Still, the same lame mentality, of searching for solutions, by concentrating on their first big fat lie of toppling leaders and replacing them with puppets, in the name of freedom and democracy. Some misleaded Syrians still running after those rosy lies, like thirsty travelers in the desert running after mirage. They just don’t want or can’t wake up and smell the coffee.

 

Updates:

 

The road to Aleppo is still under daily attacks, and the SAA is protecting it. Sometimes the terrorists are occupying little part of the road for couple of hours before defeated or fleeing the scene. People are traveling on it safely, yet it’s still a worrying subject for every traveler.

 

As for the city, and as I mentioned in my last email, the terrorists of al-Nusra in Aleppo city are targeting the Kurds sector of the city so badly. The SAA is defending them from time to time by airstrikes and artillery; but it’s coming on the mainstream media as if the SAA is violating the ceasefire, which is not. Civilians are dying in dozens in the Kurdish sector (Sheikh Maqsoud) after heavy mortar shelling, yet writers are saying that they can’t trust the ‘regime’ in holding the ceasefire! I’m attaching photos that came on the media from over there.

 

Syria became another Palestine, where the blames always goes on Palestinians reactions, never on Israelis provocations. That is the Israeli flavor in conflicts. Everything so far they blamed the Syrian government of doing it in the last 5 years, they did it themselves. They used chemical weapons against civilians. They besieged villages and towns and cut all food and water supply of reaching them, the hunger strategy in wars. They forced people to leave their homes and to become refugees. They forced people to vote for them and didn’t give them their freedom. They kidnapped cities and tortured masses of people because they don’t share the same religion, sect, or political opinion. They brought multinational fighters (from 80+ different nationalities) to fight with them, years before Syria asks the help of Hezbollah, Iran, Russia (3 nationalities). They did all kinds of atrocities and yet dare to blame it on the Syrian government. That is typical the Israeli flavor in wars. Who targeted hospitals, schools, and markets in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan; claiming that the enemy is launching rockets from them? Yet they dare to talk about Russian or Syrian jets attacking terrorist hospitals!

 

Going back to what the Syrian people want, I’m afraid there won’t be much of them left anymore in the next presidential elections. The refugees in Europe and other countries can’t vote. They had been replaced with multinational fighters. They are the new Syrians now, and they could change the voting results to their sake. Maybe that is one of the reasons of emptying the country of its real people and scattering them in the world as refugees.

9 March 2016

 

 

 

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Above: Rose, a former lion tamer now Syrian soldier: “As for my motivation, what brought me here is the homeland, love of the homeland, love of the family, love of the people, love of friends, love of peace, love of the secure life we used to live.”

 

Above: Images of Rose’s beloved Syria.

 

Below is a message sent on 2 March 2016 by another local in Aleppo.   

– Ceasefire agreement: Aleppo city is much more calmer since the beginning of the agreement, beside some violations took place the first hours of the agreement, and yesterday at 21:50, when 2 mortars shelled on the government held area, followed by ambulance sirens around 22:00. In general, so far, Aleppo city is so calmer than before. No shells, no jets in the sky, no clashes. 80% better than before.

 

– Situation in Aleppo province didn’t change much, according to news. The terrorists attacked the liberated villages of Nobbol & az-Zahraa with rockets, but there were no casualties. In other areas of the province, fighting is still on going: SAA vs. Nusra & Da’esh; Kurds vs. Turks from the borders; Kurds vs. Terrorists; terrorists vs. other terrorists… Violations of the ceasefire are from the terrorist groups and Turkey.

 

– Russians recorded 15 violations in Syria in the last 24 hours. Russia said as well that Nusra terrorists were shelling mortars in Latakya province from the Turkish borders (from Turkey). The Turks are targeting the Kurds in Tell Abyad border town, claiming fighting Da’esh on the media!

 

– Aleppo road had been finally liberated, but needs a lot of repairing. It had damaged so badly. Aleppo was isolated for almost a week of tough fighting to take it back. There were snipers and a lot of mines.

 

– Prices, obviously, started to jump up because nothing was coming in to the city. Goods and fuel became expensive, part because of the road battles, and part because of the dollar rising price. The crisis traders and merchants were the happiest group of the situation! Prices will take some time till it goes down, when goods and fuel start to enter the city, after repairing the road.

 

– There are news or gossips about treasons that happened in 3 checkpoints on the road to Aleppo that caused the setback and the loss of hundreds of lives among the Syrian soldiers. The morals are down regarding such news. While Hezbollah brave fighters and Syrian special forces paid high price to liberate the long road, others are bribed because they are corrupted rotten members in the body. The war had exposed the worst things in us, but it had motivated others to do the best they could do. From one side you see the traitors, opportunists, and corrupted ones, on the other side there are the brave heroes and martyrs who are defending millions like myself.

 

– The thermal station of Aleppo that had been liberated lately by the SAA, needs billions of dollars to start working again. Before leaving it, the terrorists made sure to loot everything they can, and sabotage the rest. Even its fuel, they loot as much as they could, and burn the rest. Aleppo is without power (electricity) for 5 months now, and without water for more than 1 month. Repairing that station will needs a miracle.

 

That’s all for now. Take care!

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In October 2012, not long before he was abducted, US freelance journalist James Foley wrote about the disenchantment of people in Aleppo with the ‘revolution’,

Syria: Rebels losing support among civilians in Aleppo

 

 

A CONVERSATION WITH MOTHER AGNES MARIAM ~ UK COLUMN NEWS SPECIAL.

Source: A CONVERSATION WITH MOTHER AGNES MARIAM ~ UK COLUMN NEWS SPECIAL.

Giving Regard to Syrians, their Secular Society and a Search for the Truth

Images by author: Syria and Syrians before the war  The Targeting of a ‘Pariah State’ After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, there was cause for Syrians to be concerned that their country would one day be targeted by the United States. Though not officially in what George Bush termed the “Axis of Evil”, Syria … Continue reading

Statement: An Alternative Response to the Syrian Crisis

Statement: An Alternative Response to the Syrian Crisis

  1. While the war in Syria has led to a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions, we support retired ADF General Peter Gration’s view that Australia should not participate with the U.S. and its allies in bombing raids in Syria.
  2. Like retired General Gration, we are aware of the civilian casualties that almost inevitably occur when action is taken to disarm terrorists, such as ISIS insurgents, who terrorize communities.
  3. We support a settlement of the conflict in Syria based on UNSC resolutions.
  4. We abhor the sowing of hatred between people of different faiths. Such hatred contributes to the killing fields in Syria.
  5. We call for non-partisan, balanced reporting on the Syrian conflict by journalists and NGOs which includes rigorous investigation of all claims of torture, massacres or atrocities.
  6. We are concerned that unverified claims could incite extremist ideological responses and some young Australians may embrace a violent response to the war in Syria which could impact on our own communities for years to come.
  7. We note a scientific report by MIT Professor Theodore Postol and Richard Lloyd (a former UN weapons inspector) casts serious doubt on oft-repeated claims that the Syrian government was responsible for an alleged chemical weapons attack on 21 August 2013. We urge all concerned Australians to seek well-researched reports on the war and to challenge partisan reports that may prolong the war and terror.
  8. We call for a robust and fearless discussion in the Australian Parliament and in our mainstream media which focuses on a search for the truth, on peace and reconciliation efforts, and on an end to foreign interference in the war in Syria. We urge everyone to respect the capacity of Syrians to end the conflict themselves.
  9. We urge Australians to listen to the voices of Syrians who believe in peaceful political change, as Australian citizens do, and we note and celebrate the freedoms Syrian women and people of all faiths have enjoyed in Syria.
  10. We strongly support a humanitarian response to the Syrian refugee crisis concurrent with actions that can lead to the end of the conflict so Syrians can return to their communities to rebuild their lives.

FORTY YEARS ON: THERE IS STILL MUCH TO LEARN ABOUT THE USS LIBERTY SAGA, by Tim Fischer

The article below was printed in 2007: Middle East Magazine.

Note: On 27 May 2007, the AGE newspaper printed a shorter article by Tim Fischer, former Deputy PM of Australia, on the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty.

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FORTY YEARS ON:  THERE IS STILL MUCH TO LEARN ABOUT THE USS LIBERTY SAGA

-Tim Fischer, former Deputy PM of Australia and former Army Officer 1 / 6 / 2007

Forty years ago in a quiet corner of the Mediterranean off the Sinai Desert, an incredible attack was launched by Israeli jet fighters and torpedo boats on the USS Liberty.

It was the fourth day of the Six Day War, it was in international waters and it was clearly marked as the USS Liberty, a large intelligence gathering ship proudly flying the United States Flag. Conditions were calm and clear but by days end thirty-four American sailors were killed and one hundred and seventy two injured.

The USS Liberty limped back to Malta with several gaping holes visible and with a US Navy Court of Inquiry team on board making some investigations of what happened. President of this Court of Inquiry was Admiral Isaac C Kidd, and Captain Ward Boston, JR, was Counsel assisting, but under Pentagon orders the Court was not permitted to travel to Israel to complete its investigations.

There is an emotional and fierce debate to this day over the question of whether the attack by Israeli forces was deliberate, which was allegedly mounted to disrupt US intelligence gathering and provide cover for the day five invasion of Syria and capture of the Golan Heights. Against this chilling accusation, there is the book by retired USA Bankruptcy Judge Jay Cristol that contends the attack was undertaken by Israeli jet fighters and Israeli torpedo boats, but it was a dreadful mistake, an accidental attack.

As Donald Rumsfield say ‘Stuff happens in war’ and as Shimon Peres said recently about the cluster bombs into Southern Lebanon last year, ‘Mistakes occur in war’.

However as a reaction to the Cristol book, many key US Intelligence Officials and Ward Boston Jr himself have broken their strict orders under the Official Secrets Act to speak up and detail the chilling truth.

Ward Boston, JR, signed an Affidavit and I quote

“The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack, which killed 34 American sailors and injured 172 others, was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew. It was our shared belief, based on the documentary evidence and testimony we received first hand, that the Israeli attack was planned and deliberate and could not possibly have been an accident.

“I am certain that the Israeli pilots that undertook the attack, as well as their superiors, who had ordered the attack, were well aware that the ship was American. I saw the flag, which had visibly identified the ship as American, riddled with bullet holes”.

The Affidavit is readily available through google, along with key statements debunking some official transcripts released to fudge the truth, somewhat retro fitted transcripts involving Israeli helicopter pilots who arrived on the scene well after the first fierce hour of attacks.

This statement by Stephen Forslund (US Air Force intelligence analyst) is clear enough and in anticipation of attack on the transcripts aspect, I quote:

“The transcripts made specific reference to the efforts to direct the jets to the target which was identified as American numerous times by the ground controller. The ground control began asking about the status of the target and whether it was sinking. They stressed that the target must be sunk and leave no trace.”

The reader can research the subject and reach a conclusion on deliberate or accidental, what is accepted by all is that it was an Israeli attack and 34 US sailors were killed. For my part, I now believe the evidence all points to it being a deliberate attack by Israel.

The two key issues arising continue to this day, if Israel did deliberately attack the most powerful nation on earth, it knows it can do so and get away with murder. Worst still, US military personnel now know that if it is politically inconvenient, they and their legacy are expendable.

The White House and Pentagon of the day, more so the US Congress, needed to bring the truth out and these key institutions today still need to get to the bottom of this saga, once and for all.

Why is this important forty years on? Because Israel needs to know that it will be exposed and held accountable for its actions and incidents, likewise Syria and the Palestinians, the Palestinians who might contend the Liberty saga was one factor in delaying the creation of the Nation State of Palestine. This type of action by Israel firstly must never be allowed to happen again and secondly must never be covered up.

In 1956, during the Suez crisis, Israel learnt that it could not rely on so-called Allied Nations when the chips were down. In 1967, with the Six Day War, it learnt that accidentally or otherwise it could attack the most powerful nation on earth and that the President of the day, Lyndon B Johnson, would order a monumental cover-up, effectively letting them off the hook.

We now know it is from this period that Israel cheerfully commenced building its own atomic bomb and cheerfully will push over the edge whenever it suits, because recent history shows that it that it can get away with such adventures. Remember the thousand of cluster bomblets that went into Southern Lebanon last August, after the cease-fire had been agreed, but before its actual commencement.

However I say again, it is the US that has most to answer for not honestly dealing with the attack on the USS Liberty, in turning its back on the families of the 34 killed and the families of the 172 survivors. Further in a very curious move, a Medal of Honour was awarded to the Liberty Commander, William L McGonagle, fair enough, but the actual ceremony was a secret, private ceremony.

The Pentagon has ugly spin form, just ask the family of Pat Tillman killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan but initially reported otherwise. In relation to the 34 sailors killed by the Israeli Forces, it is corrosive in the extreme that the Pentagon did not fiercely fight to bring the truth out, if not initially for operational reasons then surely after 30 years, if not 40 years.

To the thousands of US and Allied Forces this is the really ugly part, the cause of their death will be air brushed out if it is politically inconvenient for it to be revealed, for a period of at least 40 years, or more. You will fight for your country, you may die in battle for your country, but now you can have an expectation that the truth associated with your death will be tampered with, if it is politically inconvenient, by your own HQ.

There are further allegations that US Defence Secretary of the time, Robert McNamara, and President Lyndon Johnson ordered US fighters, launched from a nearby US Aircraft Carrier, to turn back and not go to the defence of the USS Liberty. Again, because of all of the ramifications arising, the world is entitled to know whether this is true of not.

It is a sad fact that on the 8th June 1967, the USS Liberty was definitely attacked by Israeli jet fighters and Israeli torpedo boats, it is a sad and confirmed fact that 34 US sailors were killed in the attack. It is true that Israel has paid some reparations to the families involved, and full marks to Israel in this regard.

It remains for the real truth to come out, particularly from the USA, the country Australia fought alongside in two World Wars, two Gulf Wars, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan and still counting.

A former Attorney General of Israel, M Ben Y Air, once made a famous observation, and I quote exactly : “The Six Day War was forced upon us, the seventh day continues to this day and is our choice.”

To all of this I would observe the seventh day of ongoing conflict can be brought to an end with peace and tourism ushered in, and this will be greatly helped by bringing the truth out officially in relation to the incredible fourth day of the Six Day War, a war which was momentous for not only the Middle East but for the world and deadly for 34 USS Liberty sailors.

ENDS

Are we flying blind into a very dangerous world?

On Friday 21 August 2015 in Melbourne, the Wheeler Centre and the Melbourne Writers Festival presented a panel discussion:

Media Makers: Journalism Then & Now

What’s it like to be a political reporter today, when breaking news is measured by second-by-second tweets (instead of next-day newspapers)? How has it changed over the decades?

In this Fifth Estate event, we’ll hear from Fairfax’s Latika Bourke and ABC TV’s Barrie Cassidy.

There was time for questions after the discussion, but there were no microphones on my side of the hall, so I submit my question on this page to Barrie Cassidy, Latika Bourke and Sally Warhaft, 

 

ARE WE FLYING BLIND INTO A VERY DANGEROUS WORLD? 

 

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On August 21 2013, there was an alleged chemical attack in Damascus Syria. It almost led to US and UK military strikes against the Syrian government.

 

Professor Theodore Postol from MIT and Mr Richard Lloyd, a former UN weapons inspector wrote a paper on the alleged chemical attack in Damascus and concluded that the munitions could not have been fired from Syrian army positions.

 

In a letter to Dan Kaszeta, an ‘activist’ who disputed the conclusions of the paper, Dr Postol referred to the scandalous failure of due diligence by the mainstream Western press.’

 

The report by Dr Postol and Richard Lloyd challenges the ABC and Fairfax narrative on Syria.

From the beginning of the crisis in Syria, there has been one basic narrative in ABC and Fairfax reports: Assad, the brutal Alawi dictator, did it (whatever it is). And the vast majority of people in Syria are ignored and the secular society they live in is unexamined.

Resources and geopolitics are key factors behind the wars in the ME. However, the war in Syria is also an ideological war, much like the war in Spain in the 1930s was an ideological war. The local rebels fighting the republican government in Spain were Franco’s fascist forces. The local rebels fighting the republican government in Syria are mostly ‘Islamists’, ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood to Al-Qaeda to ISIS.

ABC and Fairfax journalists reporting from the Middle East imply in their reports and tweets that they’re on the side of the ‘rebels’ in Syria, yet there is little to no examination of their ideologues. There’s little to no examination of who funds them and why and no investigation into the claims of ‘activists’ who support them.

Q: What impact might this common narrative on the war in Syria have on young Muslim Australians?

Q: Can the conformity, shallow analysis and lack of critical thinking evident in our mainstream media lead to even deeper intolerance and divisions in our society, and even to Australia’s being caught up in a much wider war? Are we flying blind into a very dangerous world?

 

 

Susan Dirgham

National Coordinator “Australians for Reconciliation in Syria”

Email: susan.dirgham51@gmail.com

 

The Front Page of Ted Postol’s and Richard Lloyd’s Report:

 

Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013

Richard Lloyd, Former UN Weapons Inspector,

e-mail: rlloyd@tesla.net

Theodore A. Postol, Professor of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology e-mail: postol@mit.edu

Washington, DC

January 14, 2014

What is the Main Policy Issue?

  • The Syrian Improvised Chemical Munitions that Were Used in the August 21, Nerve Agent Attack in Damascus Have a Range of About 2 Kilometers
  • The UN Independent Assessment of the Range of the Chemical Munition Is in exact Agreement with Our Findings
  • This Indicates That These Munitions Could Not Possibly Have Been Fired at East Ghouta from the “Heart”, or from the Eastern Edge, of the Syrian Government Controlled Area Shown in the Intelligence Map Published by the White House on August 30, 2013.
  • This mistaken Intelligence Could Have Led to an Unjustified US Military Action Based on False Intelligence.
  • A Proper Vetting of the Fact That the Munition Was of Such Short Range Would Have Led to a Completely Different Assessment of the Situation from the Gathered Data
  • Whatever the Reasons for the Egregious Errors in the Intelligence, the Source of These Errors Needs to Be Explained.
  • If the Source of These Errors Is Not Identified, the Procedures that Led to this Intelligence Failure Will Go Uncorrected, and the Chances of a Future Policy Disaster Will Grow With Certainty.

Letter to the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, MP, Minister for Communications, Australia

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The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull

MP, Minister for Communications

PO Box 6022, House of Representatives

Parliament House,

Canberra, ACT 2600

21 May 2015

Dear Minister,

As you are Australia’s Communications Minister, I urge you to give attention to a program broadcast this month on Al-Jazeera.

The program targets an Arabic speaking audience, and it would have a significant number of viewers in Australia. The host of the Al-Jazeera program and one guest express support for the killing of Alawis in Syria. They do not exclude women and children.

Note, there is at least one petition being distributed protesting this incitement to genocide by the host of an Al-Jazeera program.

This call for genocide on Al-Jazeera may appear to be an aberration and as such dismissed by many. However, I contend that there is a tolerance for such vitriolic hatred within our own community and the groundwork for it has been partially laid by mainstream reporting of the Syrian conflict. (It is worth noting that prominent Al-Jazeera journalists have resigned in protest over that media outlet’s coverage of the conflict in Syria and Bahrain.)

In the last four years, I have contacted the ABC on numerous occasions to alert journalists to the distortion and bias in reports on Syria and to warn them that such reporting will encourage some in the community to support a violent jihad in Syria, something which can have repercussions in Australia. My last formal complaint was in regards to the bias in a report on AM. Despite the weight of my arguments and the implications of a mainstream broadcaster presenting in a positive light militias who are intent on destroying the army of a secular society, it was not upheld.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, much of the reporting and official commentary on Syria has been framed in terms of ‘a brutal Alawi regime oppressing the Sunni majority’.  As the guest who stood up against the calls for genocide on the Al-Jazeera program explained, this does not reflect the reality of the Syrian government, the army or the conflict.

I was heartened this week to see an article in the alternative magazine New Matilda by Michael Brull that analyses and challenges mainstream reports on Syria.

There must be some serious examination of the media presentation of the conflict in Syria and how that impacts Australians who support ISIS or Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria. It would seem appropriate that you initiate it.

Like Syria, Australia is a diverse and secular society. It too can suffer from hatreds and divisions stirred up by malevolent forces.

For example, there are tens of thousands of people with Alawi Muslim backgrounds in Australia who have come from Syria, Lebanon or Turkey.  Unbeknownst to most of us, they may already be facing intimidation from sections of the community who are influenced by calls to hate, both direct and indirect, from a range of sources.  The harassment of Muslim Australians generally is already a matter of grave concern.

Besides this host on Al-Jazeera, other key commentators have presented the conflict in the Middle East in sectarian terms.  For example, Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, has described the terrorist group ISIS as the ‘lesser evil’; in his mind ‘Shia’ are the greater evil.  No doubt such views expressed by a prominent person have an impact on communities and reporting.

On the other hand, retired U.S. General Wesley Clark has claimed that friends and allies of America created ISIS in order to destroy Hezbollah in Lebanon.

What is the truth? At times it seems the world is edging towards an abyss and we are being taken there with our minds, our eyes and our mouths closed.

An esteemed professor at M.I.T., Professor Theodore Postol, and a former U.N. weapons inspector, Mr Richard Lloyd, published a paper that contended that the Syrian army could not have fired the weapons that purportedly carried sarin and killed over 300 people in Damascus in August 2013.  Unsubstantiated claims that the Syrian government was responsible for this ‘massacre’ and others have contributed to many people’s bafflement regarding the war and to their disengagement in regards to supporting peace and the victims of the war.  On the other hand, the claims have led to the active engagement of others on the side of terror.  The implications of Postol and Lloyd’s findings are extremely significant, yet our public or corporate media eschews them.

To unite Australians and to fear the future less, it is vital that we espouse and live values that reflect our common humanity and which can inspire us all.  Organizations cannot display courage; individuals must.

In the past four years, many brave people in Syria have been committed to the work of reconciliation. If Syria is not to become a failed state and its people destitute and brutalized for decades to come, these efforts must be acknowledged and supported. (For evidence of this reconciliation work, please refer to “The Babbila Reconciliation: a Light at the End of Syria’s Dark Tunnel“)

As Communications Minister and as someone committed to reconciliation, you are in an excellent position to take a lead.  I urge you to give attention to the call for genocide on the Al-Jazeera program and to respond appropriately. Also, with the increasing number of reports of Australians being lured to Syria to support designated terrorist organizations, there is an urgent need for an independent parliamentary enquiry into the coverage of the conflict in Syria by our Public Service Broadcasters.

Yours faithfully,

Susan Dirgham

National Coordinator of “Australians for Reconciliation in Syria”  (AMRIS)

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