Home » Be Informed About Syria: Reference List (3)

Be Informed About Syria: Reference List (3)


Displaced Syrians being failed by foreign governments, charity warns

Syrian Arab Red Crescent says governments have supplied only 30% of $1.5m aid pledge to help 4m internally displaced

Foreign governments are failing to deliver the money they promised for homeless Syrians fleeing the civil war, and this, rather than lack of access, is the main reason for the massive shortage of aid, according to the main volunteer agency in the country.

“We can reach people in 90% of Syrian territory but we need help financially. There are 4 million internally displaced but we’re only able to cover the needs of half of them”, Khaled Erksoussi, head of operations at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (Sarc), told the Guardian.

Britain’s Disasters Emergency Committee, which represents the main British charities, has broadcast an appeal for donations for the millions of war-displaced Syrians. The committee includes the British Red Cross which invited Erksoussi and Sarc’s president, Dr Abdul Rahman Attar, to London last week.

While strongly supporting the appeal, Erksoussi pointed out that the shortfall in necessary funding could largely be met if foreign governments made good on their promises at a donors’ conference in Kuwait in January.

Arab and western ministers surprised the UN by pledging just over $1.5bn (£1m) in aid. It was a rare case of a UN appeal target being fully met. Almost half was promised by Arab governments, although there were some dramatic exceptions. Qatar, which has become one of the major funders of weapons to armed groups fighting the Syrian government, pledged nothing.

But two months later governments have supplied only 30% of the promised cash, even though the number of Syrians forced to flee their homes has accelerated over the past two months. “Don’t pretend you’re involved in humanitarian aid if you don’t give money”, Erksoussi said….. CONT.


Turkey deports 600 Syrians from refugee camp following unrest




Outsiders are killing Syrian People, destroying Churches and mosques – Christian Bishop

RUSSIA TODAY   March 26, 2013 15:14

“A person who has no homeland is nothing”, says Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop Luke, an Arab Born in Syria. His forefathers were Orthodox Christians long before Islam came to this land. We are talking in the Maronite Cathedral in the Old City of Damascus.On October 21, 2012, a car bomb exploded here in the Christian neighbourhood near Bab Tuma gate, killing 13 people. The explosion happened during the UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s visit to Syria. Just like during Obama’s visit to the Middle East a suicide bomber killed a prominent Sunni preacher Mohammad al-Buti and his students at the Eman Mosque on March 21.The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch was created two thousand years ago, and is the largest and the most ancient Christian church in the East. All its adherents are Syrian Arabs. The Cathedral was built in the first century AD. Parishes of the Patriarchate can be found all over the world – in the US, South America, Australia, and Europe.

“Our culture implies no intolerance towards Islam. It’s the basic principle of our relations. We call Muslims our cousins” , says Metropolitan Luke. It’s the Orthodox Lent – the time to offer the most sincere prayers of absolution.

Nadezhda Kevorkova: Do you think that the events in Syria are a sign of God’s wrath?

Bishop Luke: I do not think so. God is love. This is the Holy Land. Saul was christened and took the name Paul here. The burial-place of John the Baptist is here. Ananias lived here, as well as John Damascene. How could God be angry at the believers? And if God is angry, is he really God? What’s been happening here is in no way connected to faith. If we are being killed by the outsiders, it doesn’t mean that God is angry at us. In our holy country people believe in God, and that’s why they want to destroy us. This crime was initiated from outside Syria. Now that Lent has begun we say prayers every day. We are under attack, all of the Syrian people. These people say they act with Syrian people’s best interests at heart, but it’s not true. We are the Syrian people, and they have been sent to our country from the outside.

NK: Do the militants target Orthodox Churches?

BL: They kill people. They do not care about people, about human lives. And that’s more important than churches and cathedrals, because if there are no people, there’s no need for cathedrals. They do not care about having killed hundreds of our people, let alone destroying churches or mosques. Our churches have been attacked in all provinces. In Saidnaya the monastery was under fire, but, thank God, a miracle happened – the shell landed in the yard, breaking through the wall, but didn’t explode. It broke in two, with all the gunpowder in one half of it. If not for this miracle, the shell would’ve killed 30 orphan girls. I’ve been there and saw everything. Everywhere – in Harasta, Arbin, Zabadani, Daraa, Aleppo, and around Damascus – our churches and our people have been attacked. They are suffering. Our cathedral in Raqqa has been severely damaged. These outlaws assault parishioners, kidnap and kill priests. Father Fadi Haddad from Qatana was kidnapped and killed when he attempted to rescue his people. They tortured him and killed him. The same happened in Hama. Currently we’re trying to rescue the two priests that remain abducted…..CONT.



The Palestinian Greek Orthodox Archbishop Theodosios “Atallah Hanna speaks in support of the people of Syria and peace (in Arabic):


Archbishop Atallah Hanna honours and pays tribute to the Sheikh al-Bouti

Below is a link to a 2010 interview  with the Archbishop on Palestine and Israel

Intifada Exclusive Interview with his Eminence Archbishop

Archbishop of Sebastia Greek Orthodox Patriarchate Of Jerusalem

23 July 2010

The views of Sheikh Imran Hosein as well as those of the late Sheikh Ramadan al-Buti should be a wake up call to commentators in the West who present the conflict in Syria and the wider region in very simplistic, misleading terms: Sunnis vs Shias; “Sunni majority” vs “Alawi president”.  This editor does not mean to endorse views on this blog, but to present them to visitors for a deeper understanding of the conflict in Syria and of the world.  Searching for truth must be the goal to achieve peace and reconciliation, and a focus on this must include a reminder of the essential truths of Islam and Christianity; these religions espouse peace, love and acceptance of the other. (The headings of videos and articles on the blog are the originals found online.)

The Zionist Jihad of Syria – Sheikh Imran Hosein!

Published on Feb 16, 2013

An Eminent Islamic Scholar Sheikh Imran Hosein(ha) exposes the Zionist Jihad in Syria and the roles of Saudis, Qatar and Russia..

The Zionist Attack on Syria By Sheikh Imran Nazar Hosein 25 March 2013

Talk given in Malaysia, 25 March 2013


Sheik Nazar Imran Hosein

He was born in the Caribbean island of Trinidad in 1942 from parents whose ancestors had migrated as indentured labourer from India. He is a graduate of the Aleemiyah Institute in Karachi and has studied at sevaral instutions of higher learning including the University of Karachi,the University of the West Indies, Al Azhar University and the Graduate Institute of International Relations in Switzerland.

He lived in New York for ten years during which time he served as the Director of Islamic Studies for the Joint Committee of Muslim Organizations of Greater New York. He lectured on Islam in several American and Canadian universities, colleges, churches, synagogues, prisons, community halls, etc. He also participated in many inter-faith dialogues with Christian and Jewish scholars while representing Islam in USA. He was the Imam, for sometime, at Masjid Dar al-Qur’an in Long Island, New York. He also led the weekly Juma’ah prayers and delivered the sermon at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan once a month for ten years continuously.


THE TELEGRAPH  March 27 2013

Syria: ‘up to 100’ British Muslims fighting in war

Up to 100 British Muslims are fighting in Syria’s civil war amid fears some could return home to carry out terrorist attacks, senior intelligence chiefs disclosed yesterday.

There are “hundreds” of Europeans now fighting in Syria, some of whom are with groups linked to al Qaeda, the Home Office told MPs.

The British-born jihadis are said to have joined the fight with Jabhat al-Nusra, the country’s most militant al-Qaeda gang.

The fighters have come from range of ethnic backgrounds include young Asians, converts to Islam and men from north African backgrounds.

Some are said to have fought in conflicts elsewhere while others waging war for the first time.

Officials warned of the risk to Britain and other European nations posed by foreign fighters now gaining military experience in Syria……CONT.




Syria’s Civil War and its Unintended Consequences

by  Henry Precht, a retired Foreign Service Officer, worked mainly in the Middle East. His assignments included the Arab-Israel Desk after the 1967 war, four years in Tehran as political-military officer, in charge of the State Department Iran Desk during the revolution and hostage crisis, and two tours in Egypt – Alexandria in the 1960s and deputy ambassador in Cairo 1981-85. Precht speaks and writes on the region, and has published a book of short stories, A Diplomat’s Progress.     Published on 26 March 2013

………..The Obama Administration was finally able to declare that it was “doing something meaningful” to aid the Syrian rebels and push Bashar al Assad out of Damascus. A gesture, perhaps, useful for buying time and cooling demands for the full commitment of US forces in the conflict. Even more useful in this regard were reports of CIA assistance to the rebels in transporting weapons from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Assad’s foes. Helping rebels and blocking supplies to Assad reinforce the rhetoric of active American engagement against Damascus.But are these prudent moves? Does the US posture on the Syrian civil war make long-term sense?Not if Washington means what it says when it constantly urges peace and harmony for the Middle East. The US — despite denials — is aligning itself with one of its two openly castigated enemies in the region — Sunni fanaticism of the al Qaeda variety — in order to weaken the other: the Iranian clerical regime and its cousin, Hezbollah. Rather than seeking some sort of accord between regime and rebels and restraining the latter’s backers, Obama’s stated policy is to keep the pressure on Assad to yield unconditionally, whatever the cost to his nation….the continuing pressure on Tehran and its resistance could bring open warfare led by Israel and the US. Thus, the end of the track of the Syrian war could be a conflict that will work severe damage for American interests far beyond the Middle East.We can only hope that Obama and his team will find the vision to foresee the unintended wreck that may lie ahead. To be sure, there will be tough congressional and media criticism and active opposition against any American move to relieve the pressure on Assad and join the Russians in promoting compromise between the two sides. The Administration can argue that the overthrow of Assad will mean al Qaeda rule in Damascus, but many will reject that argument. There are no easy choices: ending Syria’s war will mean applying strong pressure on Saudi Arabia and Turkey to cease and desist. It will be messy, but a negotiated truce will slow down the killing and end the drift towards a major war.The ultimate stakes for regional stability are too high and the continued suffering of the Syria people too great for America to allow the war to continue and probably escalate. The President will have to show uncustomary political courage. We can only hope he will.http://www.lobelog.com/syrias-civil-war-and-its-unintended-consequences/**************************************************************************************

Remaining Syrian Christians fear chaos

AL-JAZERRA   25  March 2013

More than a million people have left Syria to escape what is now more than two years of fighting.

In the Christian village of Yacoubiyah, many say their families have fled to safer places, both inside and outside the country.

Those who have chosen to stay are confronting new fears close to home, with some abandoned villas now used as bases for opposition brigades.

Villagers told Al Jazeera their worse fear today is the fact that there is no authority on the ground.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports from Yacoubiyah, in Idlib province.


Kofi Annan claims it is too late for outside intervention in Syria

The TELEGRAPH  27 March 2013

“Further militarisation of the conflict, I’m not sure that is the way to help the Syrian people. They are waiting for the killing to stop. You find some people far away from Syria are the ones very keen for putting in weapons.


‘Arab League (AL) Violates Its Own Charter On Syria’

PRESS TV  27 March 2013

A political analyst tells Press TV that the Arab League (AL) has violated its own charter with respect to the Syrian crisis and they are doing whatever they can to prevent any peaceful negotiated solution in Syria.

The comments came after the Syrian government censured a decision by the Arab League (AL) to hand Syria’s seat to opposition forces on the eve of the organization’s annual summit in the Qatari capital.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Daoud Khairallah, professor at Georgetown University, to further discuss the issue.



Thomas Friedman spoke to audiences in Australia in 2011 about his concern that the 21st century should be America’s century.  This editor suggests it is that concern which underpins his opinion pieces on the Middle East, certainly not concern for the independence of Syria, for the well-being of the secular nation or its people.  However, he is a clever and creative writer (In his talk to a Melbourne audience, he spoke about the need to be ‘creative’ to compete this century.) . The reader may come away from Friedman’s articles supporting the neo-cons’ policy on Syria convinced that they have come away with a fair, balanced view of the war in Syria. And of course, “Assad has to go”.

Caution, Curves Ahead

26 March 2013

There are mounting reports that the U.S. is getting more deeply involved in supporting the Syrian rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad. There is a strong argument for everyone doing more to end the Syrian civil war before the Syrian state totally collapses and before its sectarian venom and refugees further destabilize Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. But I hope that before President Obama gets more deeply involved in Syria, he gets satisfactory answers to the following questions:



Al-Jazeera 27 March 2013

Arab League welcomes Syrian opposition

The Arab League has kicked off a two-day summit in Doha where opponents of President Bashar al-Assad are representing Syria for the first time.

Richard Murphy, US ambassador to Syria during 1970s, tells Al Jazeera ‘momentum is with Syrian opposition’

Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, opened the conference on Tuesday by inviting Moaz al-Khatib, the president of the Syrian National Coalition, to take Syria’s seat.

He told the audience of kings, emirs and presidents that he still supports a “political solution” to the crisis in Syria, but one that does not “rewind the clock.”

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a strong backer of the two-year-old Syrian rebellion, and Iraq’s president Jalal Talabani will be absent from the summit for health reasons.



Assad urges BRICS to help end violence in Syria
March 27, 2013

(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

BEIRUT: Syria’s beleaguered President Bashar Assad urged the BRICS group meeting in South Africa to help end the now two-year-old civil war in his country.

Assad urged the leaders of the five-nation economic forum to “work together for an immediate end to the violence in Syria in order to ensure the success of a political solution, which requires a clear international will to drain the sources of terrorism funding and arming.”

According to the SANA state news agency, his appeal came in a letter sent to the BRICS group, the powerful emerging market group comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“For the past two years Syria has been suffering from terrorism supported by Arab, regional and Western countries who are killing civilians and destroying Syria’s infrastructure, its cultural heritage and its identify of coexistence and equality among all components of its people,” Assad said.

The Syrian uprising, which is backed by the West, began in March 2011 with protests demanding Assad’s ouster.

AL-JAZEERA 27 March 2013

Iran criticises Arab League over Syria

Tehran says the pan-Arab bloc’s decision to hand over seat to Syrian opposition is “dangerous behaviour”.

Iran has criticised the Arab League for allowing an opposition leader to fill Syria’s vacant seat at the organisation’s annual summit and described it as “dangerous behaviour”.

With Syrian membership to the 22-member league suspended in November 2011, the seat at Tuesday’s summit was filled by Moaz al-Khatib, the leading figure among Syria’s opposition coalition that is battling to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
“Assigning Syria’s seat to the Arab League to those who don’t have the backing of the people establishes a pattern of dangerous behaviour for the Arab world

“These actions will bring an end to the organisation’s role in the region,” he said.

Shia Iran has given crucial backing to Assad since the protests erupted in Syria in 2011.

Tehran regards him as key in the axis of resistance against Israel and a bulwark against what it says are extremist Sunni groups operating in Syria.

Iran has proposed a six-point plan for Syria and emphasised the importance of elections and reforms, but does not accept the removal of Assad, saying a solution to the crisis cannot be imposed from outside the country.

At the summit in Doha, the Qatari capital, Khatib demanded that the opposition be allowed to also represent Syria at the United Nations.

‘Only Syrians decide’

Taking the seat at the invitation of Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Khatib was flanked by other senior opposition figures, including newly elected opposition prime minister Ghassan Hitto.

“We demand… all forms of support from our friends and brothers including our full right for self-defence,” Khatib said.

He also stressed that the Syrian people alone would determine the future of their country.

“They ask who will rule Syria. The people of Syria will decide, not any other state in this world,” Khatib said in an apparent allusion to the influence of summit host Qatar and its heavyweight neighbour Saudi Arabia over the opposition.

The summit endorsed the provision of military aid to Syrian rebels.

A communique affirmed member states had a right to offer assistance “including military, to support the steadfastness of the Syrian people and the Free Army”.

However, “efforts aimed at reaching a political solution to the Syrian  crisis are a priority,” it added.

Khatib asked US Secretary of State John Kerry for American forces to help defend rebel-controlled northern parts of Syria with Patriot surface-to-air missiles based in Turkey.

NATO swiftly rebuffed the idea.


European Jihadists: The Latest Export

by Soeren Kern
March 21, 2013 at 5:00 am

More than 1,000 Muslims from across Europe are currently active as Islamic jihadists, or holy warriors, in Syria, which has replaced Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia as the main destination for militant Islamists seeking to obtain immediate combat experience with little or no official scrutiny.

As the number of European jihadists in Syria grows, European officials are beginning to express concerns about the threat these “enemies within” will pose when they return to Europe.

In Britain, for example, Foreign Secretary William Hague recently said, “Syria is now the number one destination for jihadists anywhere in the world today. This includes a number of individuals connected with the United Kingdom and other European countries. They may not pose a threat to us when they first go to Syria, but if they survive, some may return ideologically hardened and with experience of weapons and explosives.”

British authorities believe that more than 100 British Muslims have gone to fight in Syria in the hope of overthrowing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and replacing it with an Islamic state.

Many of the British Muslims in Syria have joined extremist groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, the most dangerous and effective Sunni jihadist group fighting against the Assad regime. Jabhat al-Nusra, linked to al-Qaeda, was declared a terrorist organization by the United States in December 2012. Due to a steady flow of money and arms from backers in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Sunni Muslim countries, the group has grown in size and influence.

According to the British newspaper The Independent, most of the British Muslims participating in the fight against Assad “are not deemed to be doing anything illegal” and are thus able to reenter Britain without any problems. The paper reports that only a small number of those who have returned to Britain from the fighting in Syria have been arrested, but all for one specific offense: their alleged role in the July 2012 kidnapping of a British freelance photographer, John Cantlie, after he crossed into Syria.

Cantlie, along with Dutch photographer Jeroen Oerlemans, was abducted by a group of British jihadists near the city of Idlib in northwestern Syria. Both men were later rescued by “moderate” fighters linked to the Free Syrian Army.

After his release from captivity, Cantlie expressed astonishment at the number of “disenchanted young Britons” fighting in Syria. In an account of his experience published in The Sunday Times on August 5, 2012 (site operates behind a pay wall), Cantlie wrote: “I ended up running for my life, barefoot and handcuffed, while British jihadists — young men with south London accents — shot to kill. They were aiming their Kalashnikovs at a British journalist, Londoner against Londoner in a rocky landscape that looked like the Scottish Highlands. Bullets kicking up dirt as I ran. A bullet through my arm, another grazing my ear. And not a Syrian in sight. This wasn’t what I had expected.”


Trévidic said Syria was a natural destination for French jihadists. There are no visa requirements for French citizens to enter neighboring Turkey, where it is easy to find Syrian contacts and then cross a porous border. He also said that trained and experienced jihadists, once back in France, could become a dangerous problem for the authorities.

“No one,” Trévidic said “is trying to stop them going into Syria;” he then referred to their fight as an “authorized jihad.” He added: “It is particularly complicated to qualify their adventures in Syria as acts of terrorism. But let’s not be fooled. A good proportion of them are going there in the hope of helping to establish a radical Islamic state. The actual terrorism will begin just as soon as the Assad regime is defeated.”

….. France “faces an enemy from within which is the fruit of a process of radicalization.”


A training ground for European jihadists

PRESS EUROP  25 March 2012

When armed rebellion began in Syria two years ago, there were fears that European Muslims interested in jihad would go there to train to fight a holy war. If the headline in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, “Youthful gang members are going to war in the name of Islam,” is to be believed, that time has come.

According to the Danish Secret Services —

… several members of the most violent gangs of immigrants in Copenhagen are currently in Syria where they have gone in order to participate in jihad. This may turn hardened criminals into hardline fundamentalists. “This is a new trend. These people are already potentially dangerous and when they return home, they have access to arms and explosives. It is very worrisome to see these types of ties forming between Islam and criminals,” says the head of the Danish Secret Services.

If the Danes are concerned, the Belgians also have their share of woes. In Europe, Belgium has become the “primary supplier” of youth going to Syria for the jihad, reports Belgian daily De Morgen. The paper cites a terrorism expert who says that “in Belgium, there is still a great potential for finding combatants” but “most will return disillusioned” —

… they have heroic visions in their heads and expect to become warriors but most of them will not even have weapons. They will be deployed either to build barricades or to man an observation post or as cannon fodder.

According to another Belgian daily De Standaard, the Sharia4Belgium group, which was officially disbanded at the end of 2012, plays an important role in the recruitment of young jihadists in Belgium for the Syrian rebellion.


Syrian Rebels Hit Central Damascus Square With Mortar Shells

NEW YORK TIMES  25 March 2013

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Mortar shells crashed into Umayyad Square in the center of Damascus, the Syrian capital, on Monday, killing at least one person, state news media reported, in some of the worst shelling in the heart of the city since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began two years ago.
Umayyad Square is a large open space at the center of a major downtown crossroads, less than a mile from the presidential palace. A year ago, it was the scene of a large demonstration in support of Mr. Assad.

Around the square are the state television offices, the army’s general staff headquarters, university buildings, the Sheraton hotel and the Damascus Opera House, which is a showpiece of the commitment to high culture that Mr. Assad liked to project and was where he made a rare public speech in January. Some state media said that as many as six people were killed and that dozens had been wounded.

The Free Syrian Army, the rebel umbrella group supported by the United States and its allies, took responsibility for the attack, saying it used rocket launchers aimed at the state broadcaster.

Shelling in such central areas has panicked residents, who fear that Damascus, which has largely been spared the urban warfare that has devastated Syria’s other major cities, could be next. But so far, the government has managed to keep rebels from pushing deep into the capital.


The commander of the rebel Hajar al-Aswad battalion in Damascus, Abu Omar, said another battalion had fired rockets at the city’s center from suburbs east of the city. He said rebel groups around Damascus had been strengthened recently by the new flow of arms provided through Jordan with American assistance.

Americans had set up an “operation room” in Jordan to coordinate with military councils, Abu Omar said, and had asked his battalion to join. But the battalion declined the invitation because the Americans did not want it to advance further into Damascus.

“The idea is to topple Assad politically and not militarily,” he said, “but we reject this.”

Abu Omar’s account could not immediately be confirmed, but it comports with one of the contradictions of American policy in Syria: the United States backs the opposition but wants a political transition to prevent a collapse of the state. It is trying to bolster more moderate rebel factions to check the rising clout of Islamist battalions, but has few levers to stop the better-armed Islamists on the ground…..


Tunisian Jihadists Fighting in Syria

AL-MONITOR March 2013

By: Nesrine Hamedi Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon).

The subject of foreign jihadists coming to fight in Syria is nothing new. But the issue of Tunisian fighters who have flocked by the dozens over Syria’s borders, passing through a long process of enlistment and training, has garnered a great deal of attention in recent days. It has shed light on the events transpiring behind the scenes of the jihadist journey to Syria, and upon those forces driving it.

At present, Tunisia estimates that around 40% of foreign jihadists in Syria hold Tunisian nationality. More than two-thirds of them are fighting in the ranks of Jabhat al-Nusra. A number of their families have organized demonstrations demanding that the authorities return their sons to Tunisia. At the same time, the Guide of the Ennahda Party, Rachid al-Ghannouchi, took the occasion as an opportunity to stress that his movement was not responsible for the phenomenon.For his part, President Moncef Marzouki minimized the gravity of the issue by noting that “their numbers don’t amount to much” even as representatives in the Constituent Assembly demanded that the authorities identify the organizations now dispatching Tunisian youth to Syria. The Tunisian press has been occupied with exposing the extent of this phenomenon and its various aspects.The details of the journey undertaken by Tunisian jihadists embarking for Syria say a great deal about a country where jihadist propaganda is spreading at an alarming pace and a grinding war for which foreign jihadists provide a continuing source of fuel. More important than either is the foreign hand moving events. According to this Tunisian narrative now circulating, this hand is that of Qatar….


Obama Unleashes Dogs of War in Syria

By Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR

March 26, 2013 “Information Clearing House  The smoke screen given to the United States President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel has lifted. But then, no one really bought the thesis that it was a mere kiss-and-make-up visit aimed at improving Obama’s personal chemistry with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that prompted the US president to jet down to the Middle East in a rare overseas trip. 

The expose came dramatically at the fag end of the visit just as Obama was about to get into the presidential jet at Tel Aviv airport on Friday. Right on the tarmac, from a makeshift trailer, he dialed up Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and after a brief exchange of pleasantries, he handed the phone to Netanyahu who thereupon went on to do what he had adamantly refused to do for the past two years – render a formal apology to Turkey over the killing of nine of its nationals in 2010 who were travelling in a flotilla on a humanitarian mission to help the beleaguered Palestinians in the Gaza enclave. 

The Gaza incident had ripped apart Turkish-Israeli relations and things deteriorated sharply when Tel Aviv point blank refused to render an apology and pay compensation, as Ankara demanded. This is probably the first time in its entire diplomatic history that Israel, which pays much attention to its «macho» image, went down on its knees to render a national apology to a foreign country for sins committed. But then, the breakdown in ties with Israel left Israel stranded and helpless in the region, reduced to the role of a mere spectator at a historic juncture when the region is going through an upheaval. 

The alliance with Turkey is vital to Israel to safeguard its core interests. In his statement welcoming the Turkish-Israeli reconciliation, US secretary of state pointedly said that the development “will help Israel meet the many challenges it faces in the region” and a full normalization between the two counties will enable them to “work together to advance their common interests”.


… In sum, Obama’s mediatory mission to Israel and his stunning success in healing the Turkish-Israeli rift resets the compass of Middle Eastern politics. In a way, American regional policies are returning to their pristine moorings of perpetuating the western hegemony in the Middle East in the 21st century, no matter how. 

In the process, the Palestinian problem has been relegated to the backburner; Obama didn’t even bother to hide that he feels no particular sense of urgency about the Middle East peace process. The resuscitation of the Turkish-Israeli strategic axis gives the unmistakable signal that the Obama administration is shifting gear for an outright intervention in Syria to force «regime change». Thereupon, the strong likelihood is that Iran will come in the US-Israeli-Turkish crosshairs… 

Turbulent times indeed lie ahead for the Middle East and Obama’s Israel visit will be looked upon in retrospect as a defining moment in his presidency when he cast aside conclusively and openly even his residual pretensions of being a pacifist. Indeed, he can be sure of a rare consensus in the Congress applauding his mission to Israel, which could have interesting fallouts for his domestic agenda as well. Netanyahu can help ensure that.

Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR, Former career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. Devoted much of his 3-decade long career to the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran desks in the Ministry of External Affairs and in assignments on the territory of the former Soviet Union.  After leaving the diplomatic service, took to writing and contribute to The Asia Times, The Hindu and Deccan Herald. Lives in New Delhi.



Aleppo – a city abandoned by the world?

In the first of a Channel 4 News series charting Syria’s descent, German filmmaker Marcel Mettelsiefen’s film about Aleppo- witnessing a civilian population isolated and under siege.



Syria opposition refuses their leader al-Khatib’s resignation
25 March

The Syrian National Coalition has refused the resignation of its leader Ahmad Muaz al-Khatib, the opposition bloc said in a statement released on March 24 hours after he announced he was quitting.

Neither the Coalition’s presidential office nor its general assembly has accepted Khatib’s resignation. “They are asking Mr Moaz al-Khatib to go back to his work as the president of the Coalition,” the English-language statement said.

“Khatib has led the Syrian National Coalition at a very critical stage. He has pushed the Coalition forward skilfully, and has gained popularity and acceptance among the Syrian people,” it added.

“Khatib will continue the management of the Coalition at this stage according to the agreement of the General Assembly’s members.” But a Coalition spokesman admitted to AFP that it was unclear whether Khatib would go back to running the group or not.

“We will have to wait and see whether he agrees to return to the Coalition’s leadership,” said Soner Ahmed Taleb.

Khatib’s resignation came just five days after the controversial election in Istanbul of rebel prime minister, Ghassan Hitto, who pledged to form an interim government for the large swathes of territory inside Syria that have fallen into insurgent hands.

Khatib resigned because he was under pressure from “several states, including Arab states, which aimed to make the interim government fail. This pressure annoyed Khatib”, Taleb said.

“I announce my resignation from the National Coalition, so that I can work with a freedom that cannot possibly be had in an official institution,” Khatib had said earlier on March 24 in a statement published on his Facebook page.

“For the past two years, we have been slaughtered by an unprecedentedly vicious regime, while the world has looked on,” Khatib said.

“All the destruction of Syria’s infrastructure, the detention of tens of thousands of people, the forced flight of hundreds of thousands and other forms of suffering have been insufficient for the international community to take a decision to allow the people to defend themselves,” he added.

Syria insurgents refuse to recognise new rebel PM: FSA

Meanwhile, Syria’s mainstream insurgent Free Syrian Army does not recognise Ghassan Hitto, a rebel prime minister chosen by dissidents after hours of heated last week, a rebel official told AFP on March 24.

“We in the Free Syrian Army do not recognise Ghassan Hitto as prime minister because the (main opposition) National Coalition did not reach a consensus,” when they chose him on March 18, said Louay Muqdad, FSA political and media coordinator.

Syrian opposition leader resigns

Russia Today 24 March 2013

The president of the Syrian National Coalition Moaz Khatib has announced his resignation from the office just four months after being elected.

The head of the West-backed opposition group has stepped down amid high tension in the coalition. He said in a statement he is resigning “to be able to work with freedom that cannot be available within the official institutions.”

“I had promised the great Syrian people and promised God that I would resign if matters reached some red lines. Now I am fulfilling my promise,” the statement on Khatib’s Facebook page says.

The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) has been rife with internal fighting among its various factions. Lately the body has been struggling to form an interim government, which would serve as replacement for the current government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the event of an overthrow or resignation.

The SNC managed to elect Ghassan Hitto as prime minister of the provisional government, but his candidacy sparked protest from some members of the coalition. At least 12 members of the council resigned following the election, which ground the process of forming the cabinet to a halt.

Members of the coalition have been disagreeing on other important issues, including whether or not they should negotiate a political solution of the Syrian crisis with Assad’s government, and who should be on their negotiators’ team.



Saturday 23 Mar 2013

Searching for truth in the debris (the use of chemical weapons in Syria)


What follows amounts to Syria’s version of events in the attack near Aleppo on Tuesday in which 26 people died in unexplained circumstances. It comes from three senior medical and military sources in Damascus and in the Aleppo area. All wish to remain anonymous.

It is the government version of events but it conforms to the few undisputed facts of the case: the low number of causalities for an alleged chemical attack; the fact that the UN took Syria’s complaint seriously and acted upon it and the fact that Syrian soldiers are among the fatalities.

Damascus says it has conducted tests on the Victim’s blood samples and also soil samples and the rocket debris itself.

It says the results have already been sent to the UN team investigating. I am told the Syrian officials have also supplied the phone numbers of the doctors who treated the victims to the UN and has vow to co-operate fully with the UN investigation which is now underway……



Syria chemical weapons: finger pointed at jihadists

By Alex Thomson, Chief Correspondent, Channel 4 News

6:18PM GMT 23 Mar 2013

Whatever happened last week in the town of Khan al-Assal, west of Aleppo, it achieved something extraordinary in the Syrian civil war: unity among Washington, Moscow and Damascus.

All welcomed the rapid decision by Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, to investigate an alleged chemical attack that reportedly killed 26, including Syrian soldiers……..


It must be obvious the US/CIA Brit and France aren’t interested in peace when their special forces fight beside terrorists in Syria against a secular society made up of many sects and ethnic groups.  It is a recipe for a decades long regional war, the spread of terror and extremism, genocide, millions of refugees.  When will the terrorists it spawns touch every shore?

CIA Passing Info to Syrian Rebels: Report


March 23, 2013 “Information Clearing HouseAFP” – The US Central Intelligence Agency has been feeding information to select rebel fighters in Syria to try to make them more effective against government troops, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

Citing unnamed current and former US officials, the newspaper said the new CIA effort reflected a change in the administration’s approach that aims to strengthen secular rebel fighters.

The CIA has sent officers to Turkey to help vet rebels who receive arms shipments from Gulf allies, the report said.

But administration officials cited concerns about some weapons going to Islamists, the paper noted.

In Iraq, the CIA has been directed by the White House to work with elite counterterrorism units to help the Iraqis counter the flow of al Qaeda-linked fighters across the border with Syria, it added.

Syrian opposition commanders said the CIA had been working with British, French and Jordanian intelligence services to train rebels in the use of various kinds of weapons, the paper said.

The move comes as the Nusra Front, the main al-Qaeda-linked group operating in Syria, is deepening its ties to the organization’s central leadership in Pakistan, The Journal said.

The new aid to rebels doesn’t change the US decision against taking direct military action, the paper added.




EU ‘united’ on need for Syria political solution

RTE NEWS WORLD  Saturday 23 March 2013

The European Union’s Foreign Policy chief has said that there is a real sense of urgency to ensure political progress in Syria.

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton was speaking at the end of a two-day meeting of EU foreign ministers at Dublin Castle, which failed to find a common position on the future of the EU’s Syrian arms embargo.

The ban is due to expire in May and Britain and France are keen to look at ways to send arms to those fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The High Representative said the talks had been extremely productive and that the EU was united in the need to find a political solution to end the bloodshed in Syria.

This morning’s discussions also focussed on the EU’s relationship with other international organisations.

Ministers yesterday reaffirmed a commitment to finding a political solution to the two-year conflict in Syria.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said he was opposed to the proposal to lift the embargo, because adding more weapons would escalate the situation.

France and Britain failed to persuade ministers to back their call to lift the embargo, despite warning that Mr Assad could resort to using chemical weapons.


AL MANAR NEWS,  by Franklin Lamb  22 March 2013

For the past year, a plan C or D, depending on how one numbers the failed “sure-fire” US-Israel projects in Syria was badly needed. And this week, according  to Congressional staffers, both Tel Aviv and the White House are pinching themselves in disbelief over their good luck with  installing republican leaning conservative Dixie businessman, the congenial, Ghassan Hitto, as Syria’s new interim Prime Minister.

Securing the key position for Mr. Hitto, a decision made last year, was not easy and had to be approached gingerly. But finally, after weeks of sometimes intense debate within Syrian opposition circles, Washington, Ankara, Doha and Tel Aviv among others managed to appoint their preferred guy.  “Hitto was the best of a bad lot”, one Congressional committee source, whose work load includes Syria, explained. “Bottom line, he’s an American, nearly thirty years here makes Ghassan one of us. And who cares if he came here as a teenage to dodge military service in Syria. We can count of him!”



The following article draws attention to the thousands of foreign fighters in Syria for their version of a ‘jihad’.  It suggests this radical Islamist element was not present at the beginning of the crisis; however, there is evidence to refute that. See interview with Syrian Australian whose uncle was killed in April 2011 by Islamist fighters http://socratesandsyria.com/uncle-of-syrian-australian-killed-by-terrorists-in-april-2011-amnesty-international-silence/  Also, a report on the crisis written after a visit by the editor of this blog to Syria in April 2011: http://pool.abc.net.au/media/syria-questions-must-be-asked-and-answered

News article from France24 news

Tunisian architect turned jihadist talks of holy war in Syria

“In my unit, there are several people of several different nationalities: Tunisians, Kosovars, and Chechens. We fight shoulder to shoulder with a unit that includes Americans, Frenchmen, Malysians, Romanians, etc.

I recently had tea with a French fighter. This man, who is over the age of 50, is not of Arab origin —he is a white man who converted to Islam and chose to come fight with us against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.”



WW3 BBC caught changing headline over chemical attack in Syria trying to shift the blame



US and UK public reject stronger military support for Syrian rebels

Bilateral poll shows support for current ‘non-lethal’ assistance but widespread opposition to prospect of supplying arms



Most of the activists quoted by the mainstream media in regard to Syria support the militias, the vast majority of them Islamists and many made up of foreign jihadists.  Danny Makki is an activist who speaks in support of peaceful reform and opposition to the arming of militias by foreign governments which aim to overthrow the government and destroy the secular society.

“dannymakki syrian” – Syrian British activist

Video Interviews:


Reports about the rape and exploitation of women and young girls in refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan have surfaced since 2011.  What does surprise it that these reports don’t seem to have been investigated by Western news sources.


‘Syrian refugees raped in Turkish camp’

Hundreds of female Syrian refugees have been raped in a camp in southern Turkey and have been forced into prostitution, a report says.

Some 400 Syrian women in Boynuyogun camp in the southern Turkish province of Hatay were forced to work as sex workers, Turkish newspaper Aydinlik has reported.

The scandal was disclosed after some 250 of the raped women obtained a positive result on their pregnancy test.

Abdo Aslaner, the owner of the land where the camp is set up, supported by the security personnel and officials of the camp, took the female Syrian refugees out of the camp and forced them into prostitution, according to the report.

Thousands of Syrians living in villages near the border had crossed into Turkey to seek shelter following the launch of an operation by Syrian security forces in border cities and villages to hunt down armed gangs.

After security had been restored in the region, hundreds of Syrian refugees returned to their homes.



Female Syrian refugees in Turkey being sold to Arab states: Turkish politician

The deputy chairman of the Turkish opposition Republican People’s Party, Faruq Logoglu, says female Syrian refugees in Turkish camps are being sold to rich sheikhs in Arab countries.

Addressing the parliament on Tuesday, the Turkish official criticized the violation of human rights in the refugee camps in Turkey, saying women and girls are being sent to neighboring rich Arab states in exchange for money, Turkish Taraf daily reported on Tuesday.

He said refugee children from Syria are also being trained to use guns and are sent to Syria to fight against Syrian government forces.

Turkey is home to 180,000 of the Syrian refugees in camps in the south of the country.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 75 percent of the Syrian refugees who have taken shelter in Turkey are women and children.

The Turkish Republican People’s Party has repeatedly pronounced its opposition to Turkey’s stance on Syria, calling for an end to the Syrian conflict and a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis in the country.


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