Thursday, September 26, 2013

Syria's crisis: reactions from left and right

Some comments on Jeff Weintraub's Who carried out those poison gas attacks around Damascus? – Human Rights Watch pins the blame on the Syrian regime:
 The Syrian government has denied responsibility for the attacks
More crucially, so have the Russians.
[Syria] is a party to the 1925 Geneva Gas Protocol
I don't think, though, that anyone has pointed out that Syria was a French colony at this time. See Jeff 's link to the Steve Coll piece. As he says,
 the Syrian opposition is fractured and influenced by jihadi fighters.
See the article by Charles Lister, Syria's insurgency beyond Good Guys and Bad Guys.

Jeff Weintraub again, Playing the Al Qaeda card on Syria:
many of the same people who usually go out of their way to make excuses for jihadist violence by murderous theocratic fanatics (whose actions, after all, are just understandable "blowback" provoked by western violence against Muslims)
This is referring to the "Left" (see George Galloway & Vladimir Putin on liver eaters). But also on the isolationist right: a clip made its way onto British TV (Channel 4 News) of Rand Paul questioning why, "on this day of all days" (11 Sept.), we would be taking the same side as al Qaeda (*). 
and the less extremist tendencies within the opposition are starved for arms and supplies.  The result is to strengthen the role of the most murderous, intolerant, and fanatical Sunni jihadists on the rebel side.)
I absolutely agree, as The Economist, amongst others, argued some months ago. But the argument seems to be getting harder and harder to win.
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I had a trawl through Twitter (David Pi ‏@DavidPi992000) and found 2 more great pieces, on the Left and Right and their curious bedfellows:

12 Sep  Read 's great takedown of Assad propagandists. Same is true of some anti-Assads. Qn, verify.

12 Sep, The New Truthers: Americans Who Deny Syria Used Chemical Weapons via . I love this sentence: "What the letter lacks in verifiable sources, it makes up for in its ideological serviceability." This is also an important point:
Kucinich also cites Global Research in reprising a claim, long since discredited, that the United Nations accused Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons. That rumor originated with a controversial Swiss member of the U.N. independent commission of inquiry, Carla del Ponte, who suggested in May that Assad’s opponents had used chemical weapons. The U.N. swiftly distanced itself from her statements and made clear that its inquiry had "not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict.” 
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More notes:
17/9 Armchair analyst
President’s Speech and Online Army Video Point to Iran’s Dueling Interests in Syria
Think Back: America and Isolationism From Charles Lindbergh to the Syrian conflict, the idea of isolationism has a long history in America’s political debate. Sam Tanenhaus explains.

"Less than one third of the opposition forces are "palatable" to Britain, while American envoys put the figure lower.

Hard to argue with much here from 's question, "Who are 's rebels?" - Except this: we can influence!

18 Sep FSA leader:"If we do not get support now, the coming war between us and al Qaeda will not have a good result.”
18 Sep What is next for ’s opposition? | I try to say at or at
19 Sep Rebel-on-Rebel Violence Seizes - WSJ looks at the emerging "three-front war"
-- 19 Sep Every area the FSA liberates, ISIS sets up a headquarters as FSA move on ISIS stay behind. The attacks on FSA were a premeditated plan
--  ‏ 19 Sep Now Syria's rebels are fighting each other via

Syria opposition rejects Iran mediation offer 

22 Sep “Mothers of Gouta's Martyrs” A brave all-female FSA unit formed in eastern Gouta

22/9 Interview with Syrian nun, Ghouta CW attack 21/8, BBC WS Newshour 21:20

Ed Miliband horrified by the appalling CW attacks in . It would have been a rush to war, So I said no. (Ed Miliband MP’s speech to Labour Party Annual Conference 2013. If David Cameron's performance over Financial Times on the debate in the US, but it can't have helped.)

24 Sep Pro-al-Qa'ida page from Tripoli, eulogizes Saddam Hussein: 'You departed, then the Shi'a dogs appeared': 

26/9 Hezbollah faces pressure at home: Zeina Khodr reports, Hezbollah has paid a heavy price ...  Giving up CW has been a strategic loss for Hezbollah as well as Syria.

* Rand Paul, of course, inherits the mantle from his father, Ron. During the presidential election, I was struck by how close his foreign policy position was to that of Ralph Nader, to the point where somebody suggested they could be running-mates  (C-span, 16 Jan 2012).

Jeff Weintraub comments in another post:
One other point does strike me, though, concerning the US right-wingers in this drama.  Rand Paul is a long-term, consistent, and principled isolationist, so it's not surprising that he should be reaching for any propaganda lines he can find to help increase public opposition to US involvement in Syria (military or otherwise).  But people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, as well as other right-wingers now singing the same tune, have no record as dyed-in-the-wool isolationists.  It's pretty clear that their positions on Syria are based simply on reflexive opposition to anything Obama proposes and an across-the-board commitment to demonizing Obama whatever the circumstances or issues involved, whatever the repercussions, and whatever company it puts them in.  As Glenn Beck put it (sounding remarkably like the obsessively anti-American Australian/British ranter and one-time journalist John Pilger):  Nowadays Vladimir Putin "looks like the Nobel Peace Prize winner, and our President looks like the mad killer."
Published 11 Nov 2013

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