What is going on in Syria is not a “War”, nor a “Civil War”, it is a game being played by the major powers, principally the US and Israel, where the goal is to weaken the Shia and Sunni participants and perhaps, get an opening to deal a death-blow to Hizbollah. The willing players in this game, are the Shia and Sunni Syrians who are being goaded into an unbridgeable sectarian war with each other. Ultimately, the winners will be the Western powers and the losers will be everyone in Syria, plus Hizbollah in Lebanon.
When Hafez Al-Assad died in June 2000 and his son Bashar Al Assad took over, there was a brief period of hope that this British-trained Ophthalmologist would bring some freedom to the country and maybe a degree of democracy. After all, Bashar was a reluctant heir-apparent because it was his older brother Bassel, who was being groomed to take over, not him.
Bashar did bring in a little liberalization here and there, but people who held high hopes for the introduction of democracy and freedom in Syria were doomed to be disappointed. Things got tighter and tighter until March of 2011, when the people of Syria started a popular movement for the end of Assad rule and for a popular government rule in Syria. The movement was generally peaceful in the beginning, with people from all sects and religions participating against the Assad regime, but the regime successfully divided the people using fear of the “other” to gain greater support. At first, Bashar’s government sought support from their own sect, the Alawites of Syria. The government took advantage of the fact that about 70% of Syrians were Sunni while the country was ruled by the tiny Alawite Sect which is closer to Shia. The government portrayed the opposition as being close-minded Sunnis who would exact revenge on the Alawites for the tyrannical rule of the Alawite Assad family; it was a persuasive argument and the tiny Alawite minority felt they had no choice but to support Assad. The government’s next step was to approach the Christians and other minority sects who were struggling to remain neutral and tell them that an intolerant, pro-Saudi government can only bring brutal oppression on them. Read more »
Updated March 13, 2012…
When the news of a US soldier going out to kill Afghans, first broke, American media were focusing on TWO deaths even as they also reported that the Afghanis were saying about 17 had been killed. Almost immediately other diffusers and excuses began to pour forth, giving “News Coverage” a new meaning.
The New York Times can STILL not bring itself to report the 16 murders without offering some softening words; in the headline, the US soldier is said to kill civilians even as NYT goes on to describe what the soldier (from our Puget Sound area) did:
New York Times: “U.S. Sergeant Is Said to Kill 16 Civilians in Afghanistan“
- “…the soldier, who had walked more than a mile from his base, tried door after door, eventually breaking in to kill within three separate houses. The man gathered 11 bodies, including those of 4 girls younger than 6, and set fire to them, villagers said.”
As if to justify the murders or at least, to minimize the tragedy, Super-Patriot, Angry-Bird John McCain shamelessly shifted the focus to 9-11 instead of offering even a few grudging words of regret or sympathy.
“We should not forget that the attacks on the United States of America originated in Afghanistan,” Senator John McCain told CNN. Inferring of course, that a few deaths of the unwashed, here or there, should not be a cause for concern. Read more »
- Business Week Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) — A European Union embargo on Iranian oil will probably be phased in to protect countries with the greatest reliance on imports from the country, according to an EU official familiar with the talks.
- Telegraph (UK): Japan agrees to cut dependency on Iranian oil as US scores significant coup against regime…
However, any embargos are only likely to come into effect gradually. Refiners generally buy two thirds of their crude on long term contracts, and these will probably be honoured. The proposed EU embargo – which all member states are understood to endorse in principle – is likely to be phased in over a period of up to 12 months.
Out-going Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen accused Pakistan of not only aiding terrorism against the US, but of fomenting it by supporting and directing the militant Haqqani network. By the way, the Haqqanis are located among the semi-autonomous, Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and are a US-manufactured group dating back to the days of our war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Not to be out-done, calls are coming from Congress to take military action against Pakistanand to send US troops within Pakistan to resolve the “Haqqani problem”; it is, after all, time for elections.
While such strong statements may pander well to the American public, they do nothing to help ease the increasingly worsening situation in the “Af-Pak” region in fact, such speeches only underscore the dismal state of understanding of the problems in that region. America defines problems exclusively as they relate to itself and attempts to define the origins and broader impacts of the underlying issues, are regarded as treason. Read more »
Today is the ninth anniversary of the terrible tragedy that we call 9-11. There are observances all over the world, people crying as they recall their lost loved ones or, that terrible day.
In these sincere, honest expressions of pain, there are also expressions of people whose hate of Islam and Muslims is so consuming that for them, there is no other reality except that Islam and Muslims are Read more »