Syria’s crisis is leading us to unlikely bedfellows

David Cameron and William Hague are at risk of over-simplifying a dangerous and complex situation

18 Feb 2012

When two car bombings killed nearly 50 people in the heart of the Syrian capital of Damascus just before Christmas, we in the West were quick to challenge claims made on state TV that the atrocities had been carried out by al-Qaeda. We were inclined to award more credibility to the Syrian rebels, who denied that the terror group was involved at all, and insisted that the attacks had been cynically staged by the government, perhaps as a bid for international sympathy.

However, all doubt ended last week when James Clapper, director of US national intelligence, informed the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Damascus bombings “had all the earmarks of an al-Qaeda attack”. Mr Clapper added that “we believe al-Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria”. So, it’s official. Al-Qaeda is acknowledged as an ally of Britain and America in our desire to overturn the Syrian government.

Think about it. Ten years ago, in the wake of the destruction of the Twin Towers, we invaded Afghanistan to eliminate al-Qaeda. Now the world’s most notorious terror organisation wants to join a new “coalition of the willing” in Syria (not just al-Qaeda: yesterday the Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir staged a march through west London in support of their Syrian brothers and the establishment of the Khilafah state).

Groundhog Day war on Iran: here we go again by John Rees

The heart of Jonathan Freedland’s argument against the Stop the War Coalition in his recent Guardian article is that every case for military intervention must be taken on its own merits. It follows that it may be right to attack Iran and Syria when it was not right to attack Iraq.

Freedland argues the mistake of the anti-war movement is to think that ‘Because that's how it was with it will be true of Iran, Syria or any future conflict. And so the peace movement ends up fighting the last war – specifically, the Iraq war... We need to see again what we understood well before Iraq: that every case is different.’

Ever since I read this I’ve been envious of Freedland’s state of mind.

How wonderful it would be, I’m thinking, to wake up in the morning and confront the world as if it were born anew that very day. No event from the past impinges on our knowledge of the present. History is not our guide since it may all go differently today. It’s a kind of perpetually optimistic Groundhog Day.

But, as has long been recognised, those who forget history are doomed to repeat its errors. And Freedland himself, far from treating Iran and Syria as different from Iraq, exactly repeats the pro-war arguments from the Iraq era.

Freedland suggests that the anti-war movement is not, like him, ‘appalled at the sight of the world doing nothing as children and their parents are killed and maimed by Bashar al-Assad's troops’. Substitute ‘Saddam Hussein’ and the ‘Kurds of Iraq’ or ‘the Taliban’ and the ‘Women in Afghanistan’ and you have a precise reproduction of the moral blackmail that the neo-cons practiced in the run up to the Afghan and Iraq wars.

'In Homs we are all wading in blood' - Jonathan Littell, Tuesday 21 February 2012 20.29 GMT

'In Homs we are all wading in blood'
Clinics are overwhelmed with casualties as the regime's snipers target anyone who moves in the rebel neighbourhoods

Jonathan Littell, Tuesday 21 February 2012 20.29 GMT

A doctor treats a wounded man in Homs. Photograph: AP
The corpse, already waxy, wrapped in its shroud, a crown of plastic flowers around its head, lies in a corner of the mosque. Kneeling next to the coffin, a boy in tears, his brother, strokes his face with infinite tenderness. The dead boy was 13. The night before, around 11 o'clock, he was breaking wood in front of his doorstep. His father, eyes swollen, but upright and dignified among his friends and relatives, tells me what happened: "He probably shone his mobile phone to see what he was doing. And the sniper killed him."

It was neither an accident nor chance. Their street is constantly under fire from this sniper, who, based in the neighbourhood school, practises on cats when he has no other targets. "We don't even dare take out the rubbish any more," a neighbour adds. Another man shows me, on his mobile phone, the corpse of his brother, killed while he was protecting his 11-year-old son, before explaining to me that he had to break down the walls between his house and his neighbours' to get out without exposing himself to gunfire.

Western intervention in Syria will do more harm than good. Kevin Ovenden, The Guardian, 170212.

Western intervention in Syria will do more harm than good

After decades of selling arms to dictators in the Middle East, the west's talk of humanitarian intervention rings hollow

The orgy of hypocrisy over Syria is a stepping stone to more war says George Galloway - Morning Star 11 February 2012

The orgy of hypocrisy over Syria is a stepping stone to more war says George Galloway
12 February 2012     George Galloway     Middle East and North Africa

If you fear the possibility of the war with Iran, says George Galloway, then the time is now to stand against the propaganda, meddling and drive for intervention over Syria and across the Middle East.
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By George Galloway
Morning Star
11 February 2012
The orgy of hypocrisy in Western capitals over the UN vote on Syria this week was a fitting response from that quarter to the stomach-churning scenes from the incipient civil war in Syria.
How dare the Russians and Chinese vote No, they said,

seemingly oblivious to the scores of No votes, vetoes, cast by the US and its allies not only against attempts at progress in the Middle East and criticism of Israel but ranging from rejecting measures to bring food security to billions of people on the planet to ending the occupation of East Timor.

I can do no better than to point you to two pieces of journalism that cut through this hypocrisy and with razor-sharp intellect explain what stands behind it to make the clear case against the build-up for war in the Middle East - against Iran and, by proxy, through manifold intervention in Syria.

The Star's leader on Monday should go down as one of the most prescient and timely editorials this paper has ever published in its long history. And - if the editor will forgive the indiscretion of citing another publication - Seamus Milne in the Guardian on Wednesday forensically tore away the propaganda campaign of those who seek to exploit the suffering in Syria to advance a policy of, well, securing US "leadership" in the 21st century.

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