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“Doing something” about Syria

“Something has to be done!” goes up the cry every time an abominable war crime surges over the newswires, but the question has to be what and how. Throughout yesterday, following Donald Trump’s bombardment of the Syrian government airfield apparently used for the chemical attack on Idlib province, we saw implacable foes of the White House freak show rush to back up the US administration. “Today was the day Trump became the president” went one egregiously arse licking headline, and all of a sudden the investigation of the dodgy links to Russia, and the awful domestic programme are compartmentalised and held in abeyance. Colour me surprised? Not in the slightest.

Let’s get one thing out of the way with first. The attack on Khan Sheikhoun in which at least 80 people were killed did happen. It’s not some fakery cooked up by the bureau for dirty tricks at the State Department (which, under Trump, barely has budget enough for staples let alone elaborate ruses). Just because it might be convenient as it directs the media spotlight away from Trump and his troubles doesn’t mean it must be a US conspiracy. If you look at any Western government during the last seven years and the difficulties besetting them, the distraction of air and missile strikes has and always will appear to be convenient. Nor is it a hoax perpetuated on the ground by rebel factions, most of which are now little more than ragtag and bobtail outfits with Kalashnikovs. The mode of delivery and the multiple sources for the story point to its being true. So let’s knock the conspiracy theorising on the head now.

The key question in time like these is how to enforce “accountability”. We know that the White House and 10 Downing Street are compromised as enforcers of international law. That no one has been sacked, let alone charged for supplying weapons to Israel and Saudi Arabia as the former engages in chemical attacks of its own and the other presides over famine in Yemen is disgusting. How governments with great ugly question marks hanging over their repeat and unaccounted-for interventions in the Middle East are expected to apply the law always cruises under the radar of sundry Officially Concerned politicians and pundits. This matters because why it might not concern the people who matter here, hypocritical rhetoric and action certainly does matter to those who live there. Worried about winning hearts and minds? A dose of introspection would be most welcome.

Even if we put that out of our minds, we have to consider whether Trump’s missile strikes are the means for enforcing the chemical weapons “red line”. If he was genuinely moved by this outrage and wanted to help, then why not rescind his ridiculous attempts to enforce a travel ban? If this was about degrading the capacity of the Syrian air force, then why does the Shayrat airfield runway remain undamaged? And, while it might have been essential to notify Putin to get Russian personnel out of dodge (who after all wants a wider war?), it’s naive to assume that the courtesy call’s information wasn’t passed on to the regime, which was then able to quickly shift some of its assets. The regime says nine people were killed, but these were civilians hit by missiles that fell short of the target or went awry – though these claims come with the necessary caveats. What then was the purpose of this escapade? A punishment that has done nothing to curb the military capacity of the Assad air force, but put on a show of liberal interventionism that has won Trump new friends. It’s almost as if the response to Thursday’s outrage was contrived this way. And it’s reasonable to conclude that Assad and Putin are of like mind.

Meanwhile, the bloody grind and morass that Syria has become carries on. “Doing something”, which is how this is being justified, should not be an excuse for doing anything.

74 Comments

  1. Susan O'Neill says:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/05/un-sources-say-rebel-forces-not-assad-used-sarin-gas/315588/
    A member of the United Nations commission of inquiry announced on a Swiss-Italian television show that they believe the Syrian rebels have used chemical weapons on Assad’s troops.”
    PCB…”Nor is it a hoax perpetuated on the ground by rebel factions, most of which are now little more than ragtag and bobtail outfits with Kalashnikovs. The mode of delivery and the multiple sources for the story point to its being true. So let’s knock the conspiracy theorising on the head now.”
    So PCB, despite several investigators with sniffer devices, so far unable to find any trace of Sarin(presumably, you are far batter qualified than such sources in your assertions(and your own mind)) you can “know” what is not yet known?
    If you actually said something useful in this article, please point me to the section, otherwise this is yet more blather about nothing….again.

  2. Mike Phipps says:

    Also worth adding that US airstrikes in North-Eastern Syria and around Mosul in Iraq are inflicting scores of casualties on a daily basis. Except for one recent occasion when a single coalition airstrike on Mosul killed nearly 300 civilians, this relentless bombardment has scarcely been considered worth reporting by much of the media.

    Additionally The Independent reported recently that he British government granted export licenses to a UK manufacturer less than five years ago to allow export to Syria of the ingredients that constitute the chemical weapons most likely to have been used in the recent atrocity. Meanwhile, Trump, having demanded that the previous Administration do nothing to bring down the Assad regime when it was at its weakest, now intervenes when it appears to be winning the civil war. Perhaps his policy is simply one of prolonging the Syrian conflict to prevent the emergence of any power in the region that could destabilise US interests. The LRC statement on all this is very good:
    http://l-r-c.org.uk/news/story/lrc-statement-on-syria-april-2017/

  3. Susan O'Neill says:

    BTW. The “rag, tag & bobtail outfits” are well backed and have ample resources with regard their newly relocated AMC propaganda agency. It would appear they have confederates everywhere, here and not just abroad.
    Unilateral condemnation of Trumps illegal act of war is a given among all reasonably minded people and government officials who do not support the elitist agenda. An investigation of what and who was involved in the attack on Khan Sheikhoun has been requested by German, Italian and Russian government ministers, without which no-one can “know” anything much about it except those who reported the incident, which was, by the way, the relocated AMC.

  4. Makhno says:

    Before anyone starts with the “acksherly it’s most likely that the missile strike hit a rebel chemical weapons dump acksherly, although there’s no evidence for it, it’s scientific fact”.

    Just no:

    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2017/04/05/chemical-realities-russias-khan-sheikhoun-chemical-warehouse-attack-claims/

    1. CherryRedGuitar says:

      Bellingcat? The anti-Assad guy from Coventry?

      Didn’t members of some Japanese cult kill a dozen people in Tokyo using sarin delivered without using any planes at all?

    2. Tim Barlow says:

      When you invoke Bellingcat (FFS!) as a credible source, you forfeit the argument. There is way more to this story than meets the eye.
      For one there’s the question of motive. As has been mentioned elsewhere, Assad had no possible strategic reason to mount this attack when he’s winning the war and had so much Russian goodwill to lose.
      Two, the US army oversaw the rounding-up and destruction of Assad’s chemical stockpile (some 500 metric tons) in 2013, but for obvious reasons, were unable to do much about stocks that lay in rebel-controlled areas. This is a crucial point which has been glossed over in the media.

      Less than a generation since we were last hustled into a war on dodgy pretences, the same appears to be happening again, this time possibly against a nuclear super-power.
      As the saying goes, “Those who do not learn the lessons of the past are condemned to repeat them”, or something…

      1. James Martin says:

        Well said Tim. For those that don’t know Bellingcat is one of the many Atlantacist/NATO front propaganda groups. Founded by Elliot Higgins and funded by the (NATO linked) Washington based Atlantic Council (who not coincidentally Higgins is also employed by). This therefore shows that either ‘Makhno’ is a complete eejit (being as polite as I can be), or, more likely, he is a dangerous right wing troll.

        1. Makhno says:

          Yes, I’m the “dangerous” right wing troll, and yet here you are repeating the same bullshit tropes as the “alt-right” neo-nazis.

          It’s very simple, all you need to do is explain how “being bombed” can turn Sarin precursor chemicals into enough Sarin gas to kill scores of people.

          It’s not politics, it’s science.

          1. R.B.Stewart says:

            Me thinks one source is dangerous.
            Me thinks one source ain’t truth.
            “This cannot be independently verified.”
            Oh the children of Babe Ruth.

        2. Karl Stewart says:

          He’s not dangerous James, just a silly time-waster posting under a fake name.

          1. Makhno says:

            Yes dear, I should tell you my real name so you can get even odder.

            I’ve had friends harassed at work by making the mistake of giving out enough information to identify who they are to crazed Putin fans, so best not, eh?

          2. Tim Barlow says:

            Go on then, Makhno, do tell: where is it that you work, work that brings you and your friends into contact with crazed Putin fans?

            He’s awfully keen for a newcomer, this Makhno, innee!

          3. Makhno says:

            My friends didn’t come into contact with crazed Putin fans through work, as the harassment was as a result of interacting on social media and internet comments sections such as this, and the harassers finding out through these interactions and other data where these people worked.

            With that in mind, I try to keep the personal data I share with apologists for brutal regimes to a bare minimum. So I won’t be sharing my place of work here, no.

      2. Tim Pendry says:

        The existence of chemical weapons assets in rebel areas has indeed been glossed over as I outline below. Al-Nusra in particular had two opportunities in theory (if chemical weapons were on site) to acquire them in that Province when it seized one air base before the 2013 chemical weapons agreement and laid siege to another making decommissioning difficult (and later captured that same second base). This is not to say that there were chemical weapons at these bases or that Al-Nusra captured them but only that it would be wise to ask the relevant questions about the possibility, no more than that.

        1. Makhno says:

          OK Tim, explain how precursors for chemical weapons (as this is the only means they would have to store them, premixed do not have a long enough shelf life) with bombs would cause what appears to be a chemical weapons attack.

          1. R.B.Stewart says:

            Perhaps we need to consult experts like Sean ‘Cyclone B’ Spicer?

          2. Tim Pendry says:

            I have to explain nothing. I simply have to open up the discussion to possibilities, that is all. I am careful not to say that the ‘rebels did it’.

            What I do know is that the idea that because Islamic fundamentalists are religious obscurantists means that they are technologically inferior is provenly wrong.

            They have a very high proportion of trained technologists and fast learners in their ranks and we must not discount the role of rogue Baathist regime personnel (Iraqi) or of the intelligence services of external states with skin in the game.

            My point is always that we should continue to ask questions instead of making assertions and make policy on the probabilities after asking all questions and not before. There is no reason for precipitate action.

            The air strike had no effect of consequence on Syrian or Russian policy. It seems not to have halted air raids or continued Syrian Army advances. It destabilised relations between nations.

            It added to the complex of tensions that now includes Mosul, bunker-busting bombs in Afghanistan, the attempted re-militarisation of Europe and (now) the North Korean crisis which looks as if someone somewhere is going to get immolated.

            It was a mere gesture like the 1998 strikes against the Taliban and Sudan (the latter, of course, based on faulty intelligence which the US refused to admit for years based on the misreading of breakdown products of a common fertiliser and a failure to check records of asset transfers) that did nothing except meet internal and unrelated political objectives of an unstable regime in Washington.

            It strikes me that you are not interested in asking questions. You are only interested in asserting a position and are, therefore, in no better a position than the propagandist for Moscow or Damascus. Instead of the aggressive ‘explain to me’ why not simply point out that storage issues are a barrier to any theory that places responsibility with rebel forces and then accept that I accept that this an issue to be explained (which I do).

            And there is another factor. We are tending to confuse two things – the actuality of the event (which is one set of inquiries) and the presentation of the event (which is another). There are questions to ask about the first which will eventually be resolved by history (and I still marginally go for loss of control within the Syrian Army command structure) but there are another set of questions to be raised by the known propaganda and activist role of the white helmets, the known use of video for propaganda purposes by the rebels and examples of fakery as well as the massive funding of Western psychological operations (and no doubt Russian as well).

            The Kuwait hospital case in 2003 is well known but we have seen lying liars lie on all sides in this war and it is not a case of simple good and evil. Americans love to have a man in the black hat and immense efforts are expended on demonisation strategies and yet the issues are infinitely more complex than this primitive dualism permits.

            We, in the middle, get crap poured on us by all sides and it behoves us to retain our critical faculties at all times and not be seduced into the games of imperial states who, ultimately, are playing with our lives.

  5. Robin Edwards says:

    Obama and Europe appeased Assad and later Putin for six years as he slaughtered half a million. That has destroyed the political unity of Europe and of Europe and America which was already weakened by the end of the Cold War and the economic catastrophe of 2008. It has seen tyranny spread into Turkey who are now disastrously in Tsar Putin’s orbit and into Europe itself hot on the heels of the unfortunate refugees. Trump added to that appeasement when two weeks ago he said that his administration no longer sought the removal of Assad. This throwaway line induced the Sarin attack as Assad wanted to show that he could now act with impunity and unlimited violence. Of course the calculations by both sides were wrong. Too many variables and Trump could not allow the Sarin attack to go un-responded to if his threats against North Korea’s acquiring of WMD were not to lose all credibility. His puny strike was sufficient to let the Russians and Assad know that the use of chemical weapons is out of bounds and that the old Obama rules still applied. They continue to slaughter Syrians with their barrel bombs and phosphorous whilst Trump steams off to start a war with Korea having cowed the Chinese. The West’s betrayal of the Syrian people continues and in many ways their situation is now even worse. At the same time Trump’s links with Putin and the gangster state he runs are very real but no longer seem to be under investigation.

  6. Karl Stewart says:

    I’m sceptical about what the USA ‘intelligence services’ are saying about what has happened in Syria.

    The reason for my scepticism is not due to anything the Assad or the Russians have said about it, but solely because the USA ‘intelligence services’ have a long, long track record of lying in order to justify going to war.

    1. Makhno says:

      Well indeed, Karl, because you’ve never swallowed Russian propaganda hook, line and sinker in the past, have you?

      If you believe the Russian line about the “Jihadi chemical weapons dump” is a plausible explanation, perhaps you can explain the chemical process by which Sarin precursor chemicals become Sarin through the scientific method of “bombs dropping on them”.

      As far as “justify going to war”, bombing a temporarily deserted air base which is up, running and bombing again within 24 hours isn’t really “going to war” in the strictest sense. It was empty gesture-bombing to appease the liberal hawks and whip up a bit of jingoism, whilst saying “look over there!” to take people’s minds off the Trump administrations links to Russia.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        You’ve clearly swallowed the USA/CIA line haven’t you?

        You believe the people who lied to the world about Iraq WMD, who lied to the world about ‘protecting’ Libya, who lied to the world about ‘babies thrown out of incubators’ in Kuwait.

        You want to support the people who murdered the elected president of Chile, who threw millions of tons of napalm over Vietnam.

        You want to support the people who are the only nation on earth to ever actually use atomic weapons.

        You hear them tell you what has happened in Syria and you want to believe them, because, for you, despite all the lies, despite all their previous use of chemical weapons and atomic weapons, despite all of their interference in sovereign nations, you, for some reason, believe that this time, uniquely, that this time they are telling you the truth.

        Me? I’m sceptical about what they tell me. But then I’m just drawing on the past experience of actual things that actually happened.

        1. Makhno says:

          Hi Karl, thanks for this.

          You’ve helpfully explained how one bad government has done some terrible things, and how this means that no other governments can be bad or do terrible things, and that any terrible things they do are lies made up by the one bad government.

          This is interesting, but I’m assuming that the detailed explanation as to the chemical process by which Sarin gas precursors become Sarin gas through the scientific method of “being bombed” got missed off your post somehow when you pressed “Submit”?

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Just saying I’m sceptical about what your USA/CIA people are telling us all about what’s happened in Syria.

            And explaining the reasons for my scepticism.

          2. Makhno says:

            That’s nice, Little Karl.

            Now, explain how simple chemistry is part of some dastardly plot, and precisely how opposing brutal and reactionary regimes in Russia and Syria, whilst at the same time opposing pointless US bombing of those regimes airfields, makes one a “USA/CIA person”.

            If you could tell me more about how chemistry is a CIA plot first, I’d be most grateful.

    2. Robin Edwards says:

      Typical mealy mouthed crap from Karl Stewart.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Hi David, that’s an improvement on ‘Robert Green’

  7. James Martin says:

    It was an amazing thing to behold, a few million dollars worth of high explosives fired at the Syrian regime and all those liberals couldn’t wait to congratulate Trump, indeed the usual suspects in the PLP such as Bomber Benn and the rest of his Labour Friends of Israel/Henry Jackson Society gang were near to frothing at the mouth in their glee and rush to praise ‘The Donald’ for his statesman like behavior. Dropping bombs on brown people is always statesmanlike to the right wing of the PLP and the Guardian of course, although for the evangelical Christian Tim Farron when it is done by the RAF using very big bombs called ‘Brimstone’ that kill lots of Mosul residents the obvious joy on his face is hard to forget, or forgive.

    Did the Syrian government forces use chemical weapons the other week? I don’t know is the honest answer. Previous chemical incidents have not been proved to have been by them, whereas the jihadist headchoppers (aka ‘rebels’) themselves have been shown to have not been shy about making and using them. In any case, the Syrian Arab Army is now winning on all fronts, ISIS and the other Salafist jihadists who make up nearly all the ‘rebel’ factions are in retreat. It therefore made no sense for them to do what is alleged.

    But more than that, barely reported last month Russia reached an agreement with the YPG Kurdish forces in northern Iraq that involved supplying them with significant military training and equipment, and that reinforced the unity shown in Aleppo where Kurds and Palestinian militias in the city had worked closely with the SAA to finally liberate it from the jihadists. Since last year Russia had been pressing the Syrian government to make an accommodation with the Kurds on greater autonomy within a new Syrian constitution. Last year Assad had rejected that, this year there was no opposition. But who did that threaten? Turkey of course, but also the US whose forces are currently working with the YPG in the push on the ISIS center at Raqqa. It is clear that the US were desperate to remain a ‘player’ in the region having already been outplayed by Russia at every turn previously, so Trump’s actions with the cheers of the Saudi’s ringing in his ears (and with his eyes closed to their crimes in Yemen) fits in perfectly with that.

    1. Makhno says:

      It’s always amusing how the faux-left neo-Stalinists end up sounding exactly like far right loopers like Alex Jones and that Paul Joseph Watson chap who lives in his mum’s basement when they want to handwave away atrocities by the Assad regime. I’m surprised you haven’t described Putin as “playing 4D chess” like your alt-right fellow travellers.

      The fact that ISIS are “headchoppers” (another word favoured by the alt-right, I note) clearly justifies any reprisals by the Syrian regime on their civilian populations. Because “HEADCHOPPERS” means it’s OK to “drop bombs on brown people” if you’re Russian or if, like Assad, you somehow own them or something. Are those brown people “headchoppers”? The vast majority of them probably not, but if you say “headchoppers” it magically makes it OK to bomb them.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Always amusing how the faux-anarchist neo-CAI supporters always attack anyone who opposes the neo-con agenda by making up stuff…

        1. Makhno says:

          Hi Karl,

          Quick question. What is “neo-CIA”? Is it like “New Coke”, or do you just like putting “neo” in front of every other word because it makes you feel more “WOKE” and “RED PILLED”?

        2. Makhno says:

          Sorry, I missed the fact you said “neo-CAI”.

          My mistake. What is “CAI” please, and how does the neo-CAI difer from the old-CAI (or, indeed, the “proto-CAI”)?

  8. Makhno says:

    On a side note, I’m interested to see what our Putinite fellow-travellers here have to make of a constituent part of the Russian Federation placing gay people into concentration camps?

    James? Karl?

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      On a side note, I’m interested in what our CIA-supporting contributor with a fake name has to say about the various USA states who outlaw homosexuality?

      Or what he has to say about the murders of black people by the police?

      Or what he has to say about the millions of tons of napalm the USA threw over Vietnam?

      Makhno?

      1. Makhno says:

        I think all of those are very bad things, Little Karl.

        As an internationalist I oppose the reactionary right wherever it rears its head. I don’t selectively support it by engaging in whataboutery and adapting alt-right conspiracy theories out of some infantile “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” credo.

        Now, have the decency to address my original point, there’s a dear.

    2. James Martin says:

      Wow Makhno, you have made 5 contributions to this story so far, and to what end? To distort? To smear? You know, this sort of stuff:

      I’m interested to see what the neo-con Trump and NATO fellow-traveler Makhno thinks about the fact that US-sponsored regimes are responsible for tens of thousands of working class activists torture and deaths?

      You see I do get how your sort of dishonest nonsense works…

      1. Makhno says:

        OK Jimmy. I’m happy to say that I am as opposed to the the torture and deaths of tens of thousands of working class activists under US-sponsored regimes as I am opposed to the torture and death of tens of thousands of working class activists under any other regimes.

        I don’t give any regimes a free pass for the death or torture of working class people, just because those regimes are nominally opposed to other regimes I don’t like, nor do they have to be “activists” for me to sympathise with those who are tortured and killed.

        Nor do I share conspiracy theories with the actual Trump fellow-travellers in the alt-right.

        Now answer my original point, Little Jimmy.

  9. Karl Stewart says:

    Nestor Makhno, 1920, the real person, a brave fighting man who leads a group of guerilla fighters in the Ukraine and wins battles against armies twice, three times the size of his own.

    Fake Makhno, 2017, the coward who tells lies hiding behind a fake name, pretends to be an ‘anrchist’ while posting pro-CIA propaganda, then runs away in tears when he gets rumbled…what a joke..

    1. Makhno says:

      It’s not propaganda, it’s science, and it’s up to you to disprove it.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        It is a fake name

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          ,,,and fakers have zero credibility

          1. Makhno says:

            No dear, perfectly regular people use internet handles all the time. This prevents weirdos like your Putinite fellow-travellers in the alt-right and potential weirdos like yourself using their real names to dox or harrass them.

            Now, I have no idea whether you are the sort of person to do that sort of thing, but your general irrationality, nastiness and handwaving away of slaughter and human rights abuses so long as its by a reactionary regime you support would suggest that it’s better to be safe that sorry.

            That OK with you, me duck?

          2. john P Reid says:

            I see you bother to talk to the lefty fascists and stalinsits on Socialist disunity, if you want too ,that’s up to you,but those red Fascists will never vote labour of be democratic socialists

          3. Makhno says:

            John, I have as many disagreements with the likes of you as I do with them.

            I am thoroughly opposed to both Blairite hawks and neo-Stalinist Putin fans. Both sides are irrational and a disgrace to the left in their own way.

  10. Tim Pendry says:

    “Nor is it a hoax perpetuated on the ground by rebel factions, most of which are now little more than ragtag and bobtail outfits with Kalashnikovs.” No, it is almost certainly not a hoax but it is reasonable to question whether the Syrians were actually responsible and whether the rebel factions are best characterised in these terms.

    My own assumption was that there was a breakdown of command and control in the military so that a Syrian Air Force Commander was enabled to undertake an attack without reference to Damascus (since the logic of the situation was that it was never in Damascus’ interests – as was proved to be the case – to authorise such use).

    Given the nature of war and the independent and powerful role of the military within the Syrian Arab Republic, this was not a daft idea.

    However, although we may not trust the Russians any more than US intelligence, they insist they were on site and that no chemical bombs were loaded. It is possible they missed something … or are lying (though what their motivation would be in permitting such an act in the first place goes beyond all reasoning) … or are covering up a blunder (which is plausible).

    However, I did some research and discovered that, before the 2013 chemical weapons agreement, there were (and are) two Syrian air bases in Idlib Province. There is also the organisation known as Al-Nusra (a branch of Al-Qaeda) which the West has been working hard behind the scenes to moderate in tactics that have also been attempted in relation to Iranian ‘terror groups’ and Afghanistan.

    This process seems to have included a rebranding into a new name but the organisation remains the same. As recently as January, it was reported as being in conflict with other more moderate rebel groups. In other words, the situation is highly unstable even within rebel areas.

    These two sets of fact are brought together by the further facts that Al-Nusra captured one base before the chemical weapons agreement and placed the second under siege under conditions that would militate against decommissioning by professionals before seizing it in turn (losing control later).

    The al-Nusra successor has now been pushed back considerably (but sits on the very edge of the town attacked with chemical weapons) but the question genuinely arises whether it was possible that it had acquired chemical weapons by capture from one or both bases.

    There seems no clarity on this point – whether there were even weapons at these bases, let alone whether they fell into rebel hands. If there were not, al-Nusra can be taken off the suspect’s list unless some malign third party traded them to them from elsewhere. We simply do not know. It should be a simple matter to tell us.

    I am surprised that the Western intelligence community has not leapt to make it clear that Al-Nusra did not have these weapons and had no means of delivery as a matter of fact. Given some intermediary contact with them, that should have been possible. The story has been told as if Al-Nusra does not exist. If it was possible that they had the weapons and delivery system then they are back on the suspect list.

    I am not by any means saying that the Syrian Government did not perpetrate this act nor that Al-Nusra or any other party did.

    It is merely suggestive that Al-Nusra decided not to sign off on the 2013 chemical weapons agreement – it would have been easy if they had none!

    My point is very different from an accusation (far from it) – we simply do not know and the situation is not sufficiently clarified by two super powers both making diametrically opposite claims where neither of whom can be guaranteed to have all the facts or not to have ‘skin in the game’ of casting aspersions on the allies of the other. This is truly the ‘fog of war’.

    It is really quite dreadful that I can go to a number of public domain sources and come up with a plausible narrative that seems not even to have been discussed. It should be simple to dismiss that as foolish and me as an ill-informed idiot. I would welcome factual correction below from a passing CIA or MI6 analyst if they are watching. I sincerely want the facts.

    These are the two questions they cam answer which the media has ignored – are chemical weapons in the hands of others than the Syrian Government? If they are, can they be delivered by rocket?

    Whatever the truth, it is hard to see how it was automatically justifiable to go lobbing bombs into a volatile situation without further investigation and inquiry. I, for one, thus find it suspicious that we have had no publication of sufficient intelligence to hone down the theories to the possible and remove the impossible.

    It should be easy to argue that no rebel group in conflict with other groups had chemical weapons (although it is widely accepted that some do) or had the capability to deliver them (which is more likely) on that day and in that way. Simple!

    Even reports of the President’s torment over the decision seems to have him asking legitimate questions about rogue commanders but not asking questions about rebel groups (though I may have missed other accounts).

    The bottom line, once again, is that we do not know. No one (US or Russian) is giving us the data to come to a view. The Russians may be caught out as they were in MH17 (they are unreliable in this) but the Americans have often got intelligence wrong themselves.

    The Syrians assert their innocence – they would, wouldn’t they? – but they do have rationality on their side: why do it unless it was a chain of command blunder which remains the most likely theory (though only a theory).

    Assad continues to deny the event even took place, possibly on the grounds that there are some suspicious aspects to the handling of the publicity surrounding it. He looks increasingly like a fool in this respect and to be guilty by dint of his acceptance of full-blown conspiracy theory.

    The rebels portray themselves solely as victims in an event that was exceptionally convenient in building political support for their cause while there is no discussion of the complex conflicts on the ground or the motivation and capabilities of the players.

    The argument ‘they would not do that to their own people’ is naive given what some groups have done against rivals and what is at stake. Al-Nusra itself has been brutal in the past.

    Again, I do not want to be misunderstood. The crime does appear to be a fact on the ground (though white helmet propaganda can raise questions sometimes) and the best recent testimony is the visit of the Guardian journalist. Chemical weapons experts are apparently on their way to the site. So, somebody did it and this will probably be made crystal clear soon.

    BUt what is unclear is still who? And until one knows the answer to that question in a way that brooks no opposition, it really is daft to simply trust any side and beat the drums of war.

    The US and Russia should both lay their intelligence on the table before the international community so that independent experts can come to a view and not simply blame either side (Syrian or rebel), at least until we have a better idea of what happened.

    It may be that the US is absolutely right in its claims and analysis but it has got it wrong in the past – on the Al-Shifa bombing, on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and on the ease of victory in Afghanistan so there is no reason to be over-trusting.

    There is not yet just cause to say that the US has got it right on this one – it really should tell us what it knows rather than what it believes. And the liberal media are, as usual, an utter disgrace for failing to ask the right questions before acting as a claque for war.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      A well-considered and thoughtful piece Tim.

      Yes, Assad is a brutal and cruel dictator – as was Saddam Hussein.

      But the USA always lies to get its hands on other countries’ oil – so it’s absolutely right to be highly sceptical of whatever they tell us has happened.

      As we’ve seen with the rather pathetic ramblings of the CIA-supporting fake name contributor, the supporters of the USA’s oil grab will try to seize on every single expression of scepticism as ‘evidence’ that people are ‘Putin supporters’.

      But we all know this is a standard tactic of the oil-grabbing warmongers throughout the years.

      They called us ‘supporters of Saddam Hussein’ and they’re calling us ‘supporters of Assad’ today.

      It’s pathetic, but predictable.

      What’s important is to maintain our deep scepticism, to maintain our staunch opposition ot imperialist war, and to fight back hard against the various fakers like the laughably named ‘Makhno’.

      1. Tim Pendry says:

        I just try to accept the complexity of the situation. The strategy of dividing the world into white hats and black hats is a propaganda operation (on all sides) designed to roll us behind various imperial policies. I would be as distrustful of Russian psychological operations if I was Russian but it is the attempt to gull me as a British ‘subject’ to which I most object because it is a deliberate attempt to control the information on which I make own decisions within my own polity.

        The point is just to keep asking questions in three directions – to eliminate all impossibilities in order to come up with the most probable actuality, on the way information reaches us from all sides and the role of psychological operations in managing that flow and on what is the context and historical origins of the situation we are in at any one time. What do we actually know, how do we get to know what we know and how did we get here.

        Across the West, the so-called Left is now bifurcating into two camps and I think ‘epistemology’ and analysis are one of the markers of that division which actually partially cuts across traditional Left-Right divides within the Left.

        One camp is ‘deontological’. It starts with a moral ‘should’ and then simplifies reality into an analysis of good and evil. This is a liberal mind-set, ultimately Judaeo-Christian, and it has been re-imported into European Left from America whose transcendentalist approach has required a simplistic epistemological position that demonises the enemy (as in American Indians as savages, the Japanese as little yellow moneys or the Soviets as the Red Menace and now black hats like Ghaddafi, Saddam and Assad).

        The other camp is analytical and consequentialist and owes something to scientific materialism while not necessarily being Marxist. It asks the sorts of questions I am asking and it concentrates not on moral assertions now but on successful good ends later. Its weakness is that it can accept short term moral evils for long term betterment of society. Liberal ascendency has emerged because of Left blunders in not restraining that tendency in the first half of the twentieth century.

        Post-2008 and now Trump, those two tendencies are now in a state of civil war within the Left because, ironically, the two have switched places on accepting short term moral harms for long term benefits. It is the liberals who engage in disruptive war and destabilisation operations in order to bring forward their dream of global liberal democracy and it is the ‘real’ Left that advises caution and is horrified at the mounting cost of liberal internationalist adventurism.

        This viciousness of this war would be a matter of blood spilled if we did not live in the advanced societies that we live in. Observe the determined and repeated war on Corbyn of the liberal internationalists in the Party apparat and PLP and the media that supports them. Observe the attacks on radical Democrats like Tulsi Gabbard from standard issue liberal centrist Democrats like Howard Dean. Observe the fissuring of the French and Italian Left.

        Those who believe in questioning and analysis have been defensive for far too long – any criticism of liberal ideology and we are labelled as ‘fascists’ or ‘anti-semites’ or ‘racists’ and yet it is we who have had the most consistent record of opposition to these attitudes.

        We simply question the primacy of cultural politics (especially identity politics), the hold of the self-serving liberal middle classes on the Left through the communications and information system, the corporatist alliances with business and the State, perhaps the eco-conservatism of the Green element and, above all, liberal neo-imperialism and its destabilising and brutal effects on the populations of less developed countries.

        Underpinning this is a critique of liberal economic incompetence and fairness – which is why they are hitting back with such consummate viciousness. And these foreign policy events are important in that context.

        It is the classic case of misdirection, turning to deontological claims about far away places that demand social cohesion in order to undertake justified war (our vesion of jihad) in order to avoid looking inwards at the state of our own nation. Anything, anything rather than reflect on the staggering failures of 1997 to 2008.

        If we think I have a point in all this, then we can still be rolled over by the juggernaut of liberal metropolitan middle class fear which currently holds all the power cards. It really is a case of ‘resist or serve’ and resisting includes breaking down their narratives (on culture, on Brexit, on international relations) and exposing their thoroughly counter-Enlightenment modes of thinking.

  11. Bazza says:

    Perhaps drawing from Ralph Miliband’s ‘The State in a Capitalist Society’ could help?
    Perhaps Trump in the US really rules for the rich and powerful and Big Business Oligarchs and Putin does the same in Russia?
    But perhaps both must pretend to rule for working people and hence the need for Trump to publicly act in the face of international outrage (which many of us have felt from day one in Syria) and perhaps Putin too needs to publicly be seen standing up to him?
    Perhaps too as Assad and his clique own 30% of the economy in the richest part of Syria that they control this is what Assad & Co is really fighting for?
    But to attempt to illustrate my point just think back to Iraq etc. (oil) and Bosnia (no spoils of war)
    and in Iraq the West were straight in but in Bosnia it took what over a year or more?
    So perhaps for those of us who are genuinely for working people (in every country) and peace as socialists should be calling for an immediate ceasefire, an urgent UN sponsored Geneva Peace Conference on Syria and A POLITICAL SOLUTION and a Military No Fly Zone (but allow food drops and leaflets to warn the public re potential ground attacks).
    But what of those other interlopers so-called IS?
    I abhor violence and war but as a last resort (if all else fails) then it is legitimate in self-defence in the face of those who follow only the path of violence; perhaps they can and should only be beaten by Muslims on the ground.
    Yours as a left wing democratic socialist in peace.

  12. Karl Stewart says:

    Also, let’s remember that while we quite rightly express our deep scepticism about the USA’s version of events, there’s no requirement for us to come up with an ‘alternative theory’.

    It’s not our job to investigate matters, or indeed to provide a ‘solution’ to the Syrian civil war.

    Our job is to bring pressure to bear on our own government to keep out of this conflict.

    That’s it.

    1. Makhno says:

      If you think that accepting conspiracy theories cut wholecloth from the pronouncements of the Russian government and the far right does anything to to bring pressure on the government to keep out of a conflict, then you are a bigger mug than I thought.

      The reasons for keeping out of the conflict are simple and factual, not keeping to those reasons makes you look like an apologist for tyranny as well as a fantasist and fabulist, and it makes it easy for the government to discredit you. The fact that you do this, repeating the tropes of the far right and reactionary governments, whilst claiming to be on the left, discredits all those of us on the left who oppose military intervention through rational means.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        I see faker, so, you link approvingly to a NATO/CIA website and then you claim to be ‘on the left’…hmmm…

        1. Makhno says:

          Is it neo-CIA (CAI?) or just CIA, Little Karl? Inquiring minds want to know.

          As someone who is on record as saying he fully supports North Korea, perhaps they could share this intelligence with you?

          As I say, question Bellingcat’s funding model all you like, but does that mean chemistry suddenly becomes a CIA plot?

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Interesting that having been humiliatingly smashed over the Syria issue, that you now want to change the subject to Korea, which just happens to be the next target for tne USA…

  13. JohnP says:

    I’m not going to comment on the recent Sarin gas attack whilst so much is as yet unknown, and all the contending forces so renowned for lies, false flag attacks, and general misinformation.

    However I have watched the toxic nature of the “debate” on this topic with a sinking heart ! It is simply no good engaging in constant diversionary “whataboutery” and denouncing opposing debaters as “CIA creatures”, with no evidence whatsoever, without discrediting yourself. I’m not exactly an even-tempered debater myself at times, but the juvenile form of some of the “argument” put forward here is firmly from the “Stalin school of misdirection and personal slander”. We need to try harder comrades.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Bit wishy-washy for you JohnP?

      It isn’t a case of ‘both sides’ here, it’s one contributor jumping on an expression of scepticism about the USA’s line and jumping straight in with the ‘putinite, neo-stalinite’ crap.

      If contributors want to give out that kind of abuse, they’ll get it back, especially when they’re fakers.

      1. Makhno says:

        He’s clearly not talking about ‘both sides’, Little Karl.

        And as far as the “Putinite” allegations, you have plenty of previous in your uncritical support for the tiny Russian. Perhaps “neo” is unfair, as your Stalinist credentials go back a long way, if your support for “Best Korea” is anything to go by. Or perhaps I’m being doubly unfair and you just really like Juche.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          As I said earlier, fakers have zero credibility

          1. Makhno says:

            Yes, you did say that.

            However, coming from a “full supporter” of the North Korean prison state, who refuses to give his view on gay people being herded into camps within the Russian Federation, your statements don’t have a huge amount of moral authority.

  14. prianikoff says:

    Trump & Tillerson may be fans of technology that can destroy the human race, but they are anti-science.

    Here is an expert scientific response to the available photographic evidence from the Khan Shaykhun incident, by Professor Theodore Postol of MIT.

    https://www.scribd.com/document/344995943/Report-by-White-House-Alleging-Proof-of-Syria-as-the-Perpetrator-of-the-Nerve-Agent-Attack-in-Khan-Shaykhun-on-April-4-2017

    (Dr. Theodore Postol is professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT. His main expertise is in ballistic missiles.
    He has a substantial background in air dispersal, including how toxic plumes move in the air. Postol has taught courses on weapons of mass destruction – including chemical and biological threats – at MIT.
    Before joining MIT, Postol worked as an analyst at the Office of Technology Assessment, as a science and policy adviser to the chief of naval operations, and as a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory.
    He also helped build a program at Stanford University to train mid-career scientists to study weapons technology in relation to defense and arms control policy.
    Postol is a highly-decorated scientist, receiving the Leo Szilard Prize from the American Physical Society, the Hilliard Roderick Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Richard L. Garwin Award from the Federation of American Scientists).

    1. Tim Barlow says:

      Wow, thanks for that link, Prianikoff. Mind-blowing! Let’s hope that shuts Makhno up. Slam, and indeed, dunk!

      1. James Martin says:

        I suspect the annoying NATO-bot has been recalled for reprogramming.

        That is indeed a fascinating report. I had not studied the pictures of the gas crater before, but the one in the report is indeed the one shown by western media and governments, and yet the report appears correct, that does look very much like an artillery or grad rocket shell case in it (regularly used by all sides), and not something that a plane would drop. But then if that is the case, and this didn’t come from the air (and regardless of the other evidence around how the shell had been crushed), then the central plank of the US/UK government line that they have evidence this gas attack came from the Syrian airbase Trump bombed is a lie, and if that is a lie then what else is too?

        Yes, the Syrian regime could have fired a grad rocket, the site is a fair distance behind the military front line but would potentially still have been in range (incidentally that area is held by Tahrir al-Sham aka al Nusra aka al Qaeda – hence the White Helmets being there who operate exclusively in al Sham held territory and nowhere else), but equally it makes little sense politically or militarily for them to have done so.

        Therefore I have not changed my position in my first post on this thread, that is I honestly don’t know who carried out the attack. That said, an al Sham and/or western spook black flag incident looks increasingly likely, which in turn makes it even more important to back Corbyn’s caution against the war party in the plp.

        1. Tim Barlow says:

          Ha ha! “Black flag incident”. Very good!

          Clearly it’s the Deep State/Military-Industrial complex that would have the most to gain from this. You rightly ask, if this is a lie, what else is? Prof Postal suggests the Ghouta attack in Damascus in 2013 is. I’m inclined to wonder how many of the charges laid at Assad’s door since then need a serious re-evaluation.

          It’s spooky. One of the positives of Trump’s election win was the promise of no more military interventions. Now it looks like Hillary won after all! As the anarchists say, it doesn’t matter who you vote for, the govt always gets in.

      2. Makhno says:

        In addition, I wonder how the “headchoppers” or whatever managed to conduct this crazy tube attack in the middle of an airstrike? The Russians seem to have acknowledged that the airstrike happened (although they claimed they hit a chemical weapons “warehouse”), whereas Assad seems to have claimed that no one died from chemical weapons at all. So which of these three explanations are they sticking with?

        1. Makhno says:

          Hmm, my original post is awaiting moderation, possibly due to use of links.

          The gist of it was that Ted Postol’s main collaborator when it comes to his “analysis” of events in Syria is far-right conspiracy theorist Maram Susli, friend of David Duke and Alex Jones and all round pro-Assad and Trump troll.

    2. Shirley Knott says:

      I think Postol was also involved in proving the Ghouta gas attack wasn’t by the Syrian govt. My tablet plays up with Scribd stuff, so I’ve read Postol’s critique elsewhere, where he also adds the so-called evidence provided by the US govt:
      https://m.imgur.com/a/W4zQx#xC7yL6U

  15. JohnP says:

    I hope that all the “whataboutery” referencing the undoubted huge crimes of US and AngloFrench colonialism and imperialism, isn’t aimed at denying the collossal crimes of the fascist Baathist kleptocratic police state family dynasty , both of the son and that of the ghastly father .

    It was the Assad dictatorship which gunned down the “Arab Spring” protestors at the start of this civil war, and the regime that has murdered over 500,000 Syrian citizens to maintain its Alawite minority kleptocracy. The Russian Federation inherited both a vital naval base and the Assad client regime from the old Soviet Union. It is that narrow interest that drives Russian policy. There is no excuse for too many on the Left to also inherit the Daft “Axis of resistance” nonsense from the Soviet era too ! Iran, Libya, Iraq, were all obscene dictatorships totally hostile to socialism and minority rights. Opposing US imperialism must not require socialists to turn a blind eye to the crimes of these regimes.

    There are few “good guys” left in this epic regional conflict , all the bourgeois democrats are dead, and the Left irrelevant, and only the Kurds stand for progressive, national liberation, pro women, anti sectarian, values . And they have had to do deals with the US to survive against the clerico fascist death cult of DAESH !

    Less slippery “maybe Assad isn’t so bad ” guff needed here. He, and his murderous regime have nothing progressive to offer. However, away from the cameras, massive ethnic cleansing population movements are taking place by all sides, which will make a new reality on the ground in this region of historic significance, with consequences far more significant than the current Sarin Gas atrocity conundrum, which killed only an average day’s worth of barrel bombing by the Assad Regime.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Yes Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a brutal and cruel dictatorship – yes Syria under Assad is a brutal and cruel dictatorship.

      You don’t need to repeat that, we all agree.

      (I don’t agree with you about Libya under Gaddaffi, I admired him, but I think I’m in a minority on that one – certainly StWC opposed Gaddaffi and opposing him was the consensual view among those opposing the Libya intervention.)

      But the point is to oppose USA and UK intervention in these countries – those interventions are not for ‘liberty’ or ‘democracy’ they’re to steal oil.

      Therefore, to express scepticism about the USA’s version of events is a perfectly reasonable and logical view to take – the USA wants to steal these countries’ oil and the USA has always lied about events in countries where they’re planning to intervene.

      So it’s right to be sceptical now.

      1. Tim Barlow says:

        No, you’re not alone. I agree Gaddafi got a really bad rap. He was planning to introduce a gold-backed Pan-African currency, on the back of Libya’s sizeable gold reserves, in order to free Africa financially from Western Imperialism. This upset both France (Francophone Africa still used the Franc as a currency) and Wall St., for obvious reasons, and that is why the West acted to take him out.

    2. James Martin says:

      John, the issue here is what the UK and the US are doing and planning in Syria following the gas attack, which on the evidence emerging may not have been from the Syrian government at all. The role of Corbyn and the Labour Party is crucial here, as it has been in the recent past whenever the drums of war are beating.

      But underneath this domestic political task, of opposing our own government’s imperialism first, is the need to be honest. So that honesty must mean that your claims are questioned.

      First, Syria is not a fascist regime, although I understand the often student/liberal tendency to call anything they don’t like or any dictatorship ‘fascist’, but fascism has a very specific meaning traditionally to socialists and should not be devalued by turning that understanding into a mere label of dislike for any nasty regime. Instead there needs to be a proper understanding of Ba’athism in Syria, but also a recognition of how it developed in some ways very differently to the Ba’athist (progressive.socialist middle class pan-arab nationalism) in other countries like Iraq and Egypt. One of those differences includes the fact that although there was repression of many leftists over the decades this was never total, and in fact there are 3 or 4 openly socialist/communist parties represented in the Syrian parliament, while also significantly the most progressive left/socialist forces among the large Palestinian refugee camps in the region have been based in Syria. It is a depressing measure of the arrogance of much of the UK/British left that they never even think about the actual existing left and socialist activists on the ground in the region. Overwhelmingly (there are some exceptions) those people have not sided with the ‘opposition’ in the Syrian civil war but with the regime.

      You claim the regime has murdered half a million. Really? Where are those figures from John? From the bloke in the flat in Coventry who under the Syrian Observatory name deliberately records every death of an ISIS or other armed jihadists as a ‘civilian’ one perhaps? Yes, all sides have carried out war crimes, I don’t know of a civil war anywhere when that hasn’t happened, but to ascribe all the casualties of that civil war to one side only is not acceptable.

      You claim there is ethnic cleansing. Yes there is, but not in regime-held areas. In ‘rebel’ (i.e., jihadist) held territory that is the default situation, but not elsewhere. Look at Aleppo for a recent example of this. In the three quarters of the city that was held by the regime (and surrounded and under siege for years) a secular model was maintained with unity between the Sunni and Shia arabs, the Kurds, Christians and the large Palestinian population, all of who had been attacked by the rebels, and in fact there were no Christians, no Kurds, no Palestinians in ‘rebel’ held eastern Aleppo and the old city they controlled as they had ethnically cleansed their mini-caliphate from the start. After the liberation a few months ago large Christmas celebrations ion Aleppo were held once again, just as Easter celebrations are happening now. That is progressive and to argue otherwise is simply not credible.

      Besides, it is bizarre to accuse the SAA, which is the main force fighting both ISIS and the other jihadists in Syria, of being party to ethnic cleansing when 90% of the SAA are themselves Sunni Muslims. Of course there are political movements going on, such as the political movement of jihadists out of their Aleppo pocket to Idlib at the end of 2016, and the rescue of residents two loyalist areas in Idlib this weekend.

      It is the case that the Kurdish forces have been the most consistently progressive and I am happy to support them, although I find it highly amusing that those that wax lyrical about the Kurds but then also accuse people like me of being ‘stalinists’ obviously haven’t got a clue about what the politics and one-party dictatorship nature of the PKK/YPG actually is because if you want to find some actual living stalinism in the 21st century you would do well to start in the areas of Turkey and Syria that are loyal to Abdullah Öcalan.

      I also agree that Assad is not the solution, but right now the priority is to defeat the jihadists in the civil war, maintain the secular unity of Syria (by keeping the US/UK and Israel out) and only then will politics have a chance of reasserting itself. Whether we like it or not that means recognising the only force currently capable of this is the SAA.

      The initial demonstrations against the government initially began because Assad was deregulating the state owned economy on the orders of the IMF (the spark was the decision to lower bread subsidies) and move away from the socialist elements of the Syrian planned economy. Those economic issues have not gone away, and there remains a large and partly organised Syrian working class with both trade union and socialist traditions. That is the positive to keep hold of, but first the jihadist rebels have to be defeated.

      1. prianikoff says:

        James Martin:

        “ I find it highly amusing that those that wax lyrical about the Kurds but then also accuse people like me of being ‘stalinists’ obviously haven’t got a clue about what the politics and one-party dictatorship nature of the PKK/YPG actually is because if you want to find some actual living stalinism in the 21st century you would do well to start in the areas of Turkey and Syria that are loyal to Abdullah Öcalan.”

        First of all, it’s a serious political mistake for anyone to “wax lyrical about the Kurds”, since that would be crude nationalism.

        The Kurds, live in 4 countries and are represented by several different parties, which don’t share the same interests.

        The YPG is the militia of the Peoples Democratic Party (PYD), which only operates in Syria. It’s not synonymous with the PKK.

        In Iraqi Kurdistan, the KDP run as a Presidential dictatorship by Masoud Barzani and his family.

        The KDP has close economic and political relations with Turkey, (which is a major investor in the region), with the USA (which pays the salaries of the Peshmerga) and Britain (which supplies the Peshmerga with arms).

        The KDP is increasingly hostile to the PKK, which it’s trying to remove from the Shingal region and other areas of Iraq, at the behest of Turkey.

        The KDP also supports a political organisation called ENKs and the so-called “Rojava Peshmerga”, which is trying compete with the YPG in Rojava (North Syria).
        Under conditions of civil war, it’s quite correct for the PYD/YPG to keep these political hijackers out.

        You’re also stretching the definition of “Stalinism” to its limits by using the term to define the current politics of Abdullah Öcalan

        Öcalan’s politics (inasmuch as they can be freely expressed in prison) have evolved in recent years.
        His followers (the Apoists), are probably closer to the European Green Left than to any other political current.

        Where the Apoists are in control, they have created popular assemblies and set up cooperatives, stressing gender equality and equal representation for all ethnic and religious groups.

        It could be that their reliance on US military support and the pressure from the KDP will force them to the right. If so, they will halt at a “democratic revolution” which is acceptable to international capitalism.

        But does the agenda for this conference look “Stalinist” to you?

        https://anfenglish.com/news/Oecalan-s-ideas-discussed-in-conference-at-hamburg-university-19501

      2. JohnP says:

        The Syrian Baathist regime is indeed a fascist one , by any meaningful definition of the term. And Daesh are a clerico- fascist death cult. And The Assad regime is indeed carrying out major population transfers to create a majority Alawite statelet as a coastal strip. And the regime has indeed killed at least 500,000 of its own citizens , starting with the slaughter of peaceful demonstrators for democratic rights when the Syrian part of the Arab Spring started.

        And you James Martin are a disgraceful toy stalinoid hack, pathetically left behind by the collapse of the Soviet union tyranny, but now transferring your world view and loyalty to the inheritors of the Soviet Union’s fake Socialism , the mafioso Oligarch state of Putin and his criminal gang. You are a total disgrace, with no connection to the socialist tradition whatsoever.

      3. JohnP says:

        What an entirely dishonest twister of historical fact and apologist for Assad and the Russian foreign policy perspective you are. The Syrian Baathist regime is indeed a fascist one , by any meaningful definition of the term. And Daesh are a clerico- fascist death cult. And the murderous two generation Assad regime is indeed currently carrying out major population transfers to create a majority Alawite statelet as a coastal strip. And the regime has indeed killed at least 500,000 of its own citizens , on the UN’s figures and many other reputable sources, starting with the slaughter of peaceful demonstrators for democratic rights when the Syrian part of the Arab Spring started.

        And you James Martin are a disgraceful toy stalinoid hack, pathetically left behind by the collapse of the Soviet union tyranny, but now ,bizzarely, along with a few daft Stop tye War type Lefties , transferring your world view and loyalty to the inheritors of the utterly collaped Soviet Union’s fake Socialism , the capitalist mafioso Oligarch state of Putin and his criminal gang. You are a total disgrace, with no connection to the socialist tradition whatsoever.

        1. James Martin says:

          prianikoff, yes good points, but while I am more than happy to support the YPG/PYD (and do), there is no doubt in my view that it is a classic stalinist one-party communist movement. Not all stalinists are Envar Hoxha. So I also unconditionally support and defend Cuba against US imperialism too, but for all its positives and need of support that regime too is a stalinist one-party state that has opposed and oppressed non-stalinist socialists and it was no accident that it was the retirement home of Ramón Mercader until his death.

          JohnP, it might help if you didn’t try your best to sound like Rik from the Young Ones and scream ‘fascist’ and ‘stalinist’ all the time as you end up making me laugh too much to take you very seriously.

          But you may enjoy these quotes:

          “The achievement of socialism in our life is a fundamental condition for the survival of our nation and for the possibility of its progress. If we do not spread socialism and if we do not endeavour to realize social justice for all individuals, and if the Arab people are not turned of their march and protect it form retrogression and conspiracy.”

          “Marxism is a socialist theory .It is the first and most important scientific theory …and it is not good to view Marxism with fanaticism. We must be open to it objectively, and in our differences with it we have to argue by giving evidence against evidence and proof against proof not by being prejudiced. We must be able to see right and wrong wherever they are… Our stand today of Marxism and communism is no longer negative. In the past we were not imitators and we are still not imitators, but we must take what is of benefit to us in our socialist struggle.”

          They are by a one time British Labour Party member and founder of Ba’athism Michel Aflaq. Yes, quotes mean nothing, actions are more important, but to understand socialism in the region, the role of socialists and communists today in Syria, and the original basis of Ba’athism (which was in many ways a similar movement to progressive pan-africanism at the time CLR James was supporting it from the left) is to begin to understand the way forward once the jihadists are defeated.

          Incidentally JohnP. there have indeed been fascist movements in the region, notably the fascist Israeli supported Lebanese Phalangists (and for that matter the right-wing Arab nationalist Amal) who not accidentally concentrated their main attacks on the leftist/socialist forces in the Palestinian areas of Lebenon, the same leftist forces that were given protection in Syria and are now fighting alongside the SAA against the jihadists.

          Not that you are clearly interested in looking at the complexity of what is going on as again you use that figure of half a million deaths without realising (or caring) that they include all ISIS, al Nusra and all other jihadist fighters in their number (but you grieve for them anyway), along with huge numbers of SAA soldiers who died fighting the salafists. It is pitiful, as is your predictable ignoring of Trump and his Tory lapdogs and the very real threat yet more western/NATO intervention because for you jingoism is never very far away.

  16. Bazza says:

    AND THEN AFGHANISTAN & N KOREA.
    Yes and Donald is probably feeling good today.
    With his MOABs shock and awe.
    But wonder how many more recruits today (to put us all at risk)
    Then yesterday there were before?
    Worried the Trump the Barbarian may next bomb N Korea.
    NK has 1960’s technology, its missiles are probably fire crackers.
    It is a top down Stalinist Personality Cult built around the son of its founder (I am not sure if he can even read and write) and it is ruthless – it eliminates people who are a threats and has gulags full of political prisoners and it is frightened of the west but their ordinary working people are not our enemies.
    I would go as someone with an ounce of power and say stop the tests, release the political prisoners, reunite families, and reform – and try a left wing democratic socialism but we are in a World led by Barbarians when we we need all those with an ounce of power to peacefully and democratically rise up! X, Peace & International Solidarity!

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