Terror in Syria: Mainstream Australian Views vs Alternative Views

Image of a Salafi Jihadist leader at a Beirut rally early in 2012 calling for a jihad against the Syrian government. (Lebanese TV)

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A gallery of images, with a focus on Syrian women taken from Syrian satellite TV, 2012.  (Many of the women were being interviewed after a bombing in Syria.)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This page is being ‘constructed’ but it is considered critical that people can access different views to those expressed regularly in the mainstream media, so the page will be accessible while editing is in progress. (Note the much more extensive reference lists on http://australiansforsyria.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/april-2012-reference-lists/ )

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UPDATED 26 JUNE 2012

There are two articles to begin this update which are challenging reads, both by notable experts on security matters and politics.

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Wikipedia on Alastair Crooke

Alastair Crooke (born 1950) is a British diplomat, the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum, an organisation that advocates for engagement between political Islam and the West. Previously he was a ranking figure in both British intelligence (MI6) and European Union diplomacy.

 

Towards a new Arab cultural revolution

By Alastair Crooke

The “Awakening” is taking a turn, very different to the excitement and promise with which it was hailed at the outset. Sired from an initial, broad popular impulse, it is becoming increasingly understood, and feared, as a nascent counter-revolutionary “cultural revolution” – a re-culturation of the region in the direction of a prescriptive canon that is emptying out those early high expectations, and which makes a mockery of the West’s continuing characterization of it as somehow a project of reform and democracy. 

http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NF13Ak03.html

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NB:  The article referred to below by Seymour Hersh is dated 2007, but it remains very relevant for an understanding of events in Syria and the wider Middle East today.

Wikipedia: Seymour (Sy) Myron Hersh (born April 8, 1937) is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author based inWashington, D.C. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine on military and security matters. He has also won two National Magazine Awards and is a “five-time Polk winner and recipient of the 2004 George Orwell Award.”

THE NEW YORKER

THE REDIRECTION

Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?

by    March 5, 2007

A STRATEGIC SHIFT

In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/03/05/070305fa_fact_hersh?currentPage=all

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Most Australians are familiar with the common narrative on Syria in the mainstream media. Paul McGeough, a senior correspondent for the Fairfax press, has presented the simple, single narrative from the beginning of the crisis in Syria: “the president is a brutal dictator who is killing his own people; the international community must do something to stop the killings”.  For this narrative to remain consistent, the president and his ‘regime’ must be somehow held responsible for every massacre that takes place in Syria. As soon as news of a massacre in Syria reaches us, Paul McGeough somehow determines the regime is implicated.  (Would this allow for questioning of this narrative by less senior journalists or commentators?)

http://www.theage.com.au/world/syrias-lifeordeath-poser-for-the-world-20120601-1zncg.html  Paul McGeough

http://media.smh.com.au/news/world-news/syria-on-course-of-no-return-3331176.html  Paul McGeough on video

A mainstream challenge to Mr McGeough’s reports and analysis comes from John Rosenthal in THE NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE.

(NB: JUNE 12 Australian EST  UPDATE: John Rosenthal article could not be accessed for some time early this morning. It may have been CENSORED.  Another link to it is below.)

REPORT: REBELS RESPONSIBLE FOR HOULA MASSACRE 

9th June 2012

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/302261/report-rebels-responsible-houla-massacre-john-rosenthal

Links to John Rosenthal’s article:

http://newsclick.in/international/report-rebels-responsible-houla-massacre

More articles by John Rosenthal are listed on this National Review page (Note: this page could not be accessed 12 June Australian EST

http://www.nationalreview.com/author/270292

A further challenge is presented by a member of Australians for Syria, a group set up in May 2011. Its ‘mission statement’ can be found here: http://australiansforsyria.wordpress.com/about/

Robert Bekhazi, a spokesperson for Australians for Syria, was interviewed on 6/6/12 for this blog. He speaks here about the experience of the Christian communities in and around Homs, Syria. Tens of thousands of Christians have been forced to leave their homes and to become refugees in their own country or neighbouring Lebanon. Who has terrorised them to such an extent that they would flee their homes.  When will Australia feel the repercussions of this? A local minister of religion has met Australian Immigration officials to alert the government to the dire situation of Christians in Syria. How did it get to this point? What will the fabric of the ME be without its indigenous Christian population? Damascus without Christians?

Interview with Robert B.

In this follow up interview, Robert Bekhazi stresses that people from all religious groups – Sunnis, Shias (including Alawi), Christian, Druze etc – are potential targets of Salafi jihadists and other groups who are using terror tactics in Syria. He also remarks on the remarkable courage of the Syrian people as they make every effort to stay united against  terror and foreign interference in Syrian affairs.

Interview with Robert B. (2)

In the interview, Robert mentions a talk given by Hilary Clinton in which she refers to the US support for the jihadists in Afghanistan. She says, “be careful what we sow because we will harvest”.  She acknowledges that the US recruited fighters from Saudi Arabia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqn0bm4E9yw

Today, there are suicide bombers and fighters being sent from Saudi Arabia to secular Syria:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ha94Xz59dg

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This is a significant news item which should be presented to the Australian public in order for people to build a greater understanding of the tactics of some ‘rebels’. (Are they ‘rebels’ or terrorists or militia or mercenaries? Or all of the above?)

SET UP TO BE SHOT IN SYRIA’S NO-MANS LAND  by Alex Thomson, Channel 4 News

Friday 8th June 2012

I’m quite clear the rebels deliberately set us up to be shot by the Syrian Army. Dead journos are bad for Damascus.

Free Syrian Army “set monitor and journalist up to be killed”  Published Saturday, June 9, 2012

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Reverend Adib Awad on Syria

Revd Adib Awad is General Secretary of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon.  He was raised as a child with Bashar Al-Assad and knows him well. Adib insists Qatar and Saudi Arabia along with the US are funding mercenaries from Libya and Iraq to attack civilians in Syria and that the army are not responsible.

He is convinced the President enjoys the support of at least 75% of Syrians.

Reverend Awad examines the crisis from its beginning. He offers an interesting perspective as his brother has been a political prisoner in Syria.

http://vimeo.com/43187181

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French Bishop: Syrian Soldiers Face Foreign Fighters, Mercenaries, and Militants

“The enemies of Syria have enlisted some of the Muslim Brotherhood in order to destroy the brotherly relations that traditionally existed between Muslims and Christians.”
********************************************************************************************************** This interview is from earlier this year. It offers a Christian perspective of the President and the regime and challenges the usual claim that Christians support the president purely out of fear for their community’s future.

Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Archbishop of Aleppo, Syria

As violence continues in Syria, the Christian community has kept relatively silent. But the Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart tells France 24’s Annette Young that while he believes President Bashar al-Assad is a good man, he fears time is running out for the Syrian leader.

http://www.france24.com/en/20120113-interview-jean-clement-jeanbart-archbishop-aleppo-syria-bashar-al-assad-christian-community

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Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross

The media announces to us with a lot of bravura that in the ashes of the dying Arab world a son has been born whose name is Revolution. With America as his midwife, the United Nations and the Arab League his godmothers, presided by France and England, the newborn has been declared a legitimate child by the international community. His father is Arab anti-nationalism, and his mother is liberty. To be acknowledged as legitimate he had witnesses in his princely cousins in the Persian Gulf and Qatar. The kindhearted international community engages in protecting this newborn against all evil, even at the cost of an intervention or bombing which will always be strictly humanitarian.

http://www.maryakub.org/downloads/PDF/In%20the%20Flood%20of%20Disinformation%20-%20Mother%20Agnes%20Mariam.pdf

Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix
and the monastic community of the Unity of Antioch, Qara – Syria

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysKtld_VGbk

Mother Agnes Mariam’s voice is heard in this interview on an Irish radio station. It was recorded after the Houla massacre. Mother Mariam lives in a community near Homs, and she has been very active in mediating between the government and opposition. However, she presents a very bleak picture of the current chaos.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/liveline/

Friday 8th June:  unrest in Syria

the situation for Christians in Syria, from those who have been monitoring that community

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SYRIA/ Catholic Patriarch: Christians used as human shields by the rebels

 INTERVIEW
Gregorio III Laham       June Fri 01, 2012
Syrian Christians are being used as human shields by the rebels in clashes with Assad’s Army. This is the accusation of Patriarch Gregory III Laham, the highest Catholic authority of Damascus, the Patriarch of Antioch, all of the East, Alexandria and Melkite Jerusalem. The Patriarch tells about nighttime kidnappings of the faithful of his diocese, with ransom payments of up to 200 thousand U.S. dollars, homes confiscated or blown up, and continuous incursions of armed Sunni Muslims in Catholic neighborhoods.
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An analysis of the crisis in Syria which differs very much from Paul McGeough’s:
The Houla Massacre And The Subversion Of The Peace Plan By Dr. Chandra Muzaffar Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is President of the International Movement for a Just World  (JUST)  Malaysia.June 08, 2012 “Information Clearing House
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“FROM MISURATA WE CAME TO FREE SYRIA!”
Homs in the hell of armed groups

A direct testimony from the Syrian city of Homs collected by the Swiss journalist Silvia Cattori, who paints a very different picture than that spread by a majority of western media. Since 6 February Cattori has lost contact with her local informants, terrorized by armed groups “wildly shelling, killing to kill”, as reported in an interview with an inhabitant of Homs [*].

http://www.silviacattori.net/article2898.html

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One Response to Terror in Syria: Mainstream Australian Views vs Alternative Views

  1. Ronnie says:

    As an Australian, and somebody who has lived in Syria, in two separate spells, during the past 12 years, I honestly feel a deep fondness for the country, its pluralist, secular, dynamic culture, the people, and even its political stance, both regionally, and globally.

    I’ve followed events in Syria for a long time, and have intently followed, from the start, the ongoing 17-month old upheaval in the country. I soon became convinced that this armed insurgency was blatantly politically-motivated, and sponsored and abetted, by countries outside Syria—namely its regional enemies, and the ‘West’ with which it has had an inimical, adversarial relationship, for at least the past 40 years. I appreciate and endorse the genuine aspirations of many ordinary Syrians for greater political freedoms. But the so-called “uprising” is scarcely confined to merely a movement for greater political democratisation and liberties. It has been overwhelmingly superseded by an altogether subversive agenda (by foreign-sponsored “rebels”) toward totally destabilising Syria, sowing a savage sectarian strife, upending Syria’s secular identity and replacing with a foreign, extremist ideology. There’s also obviously the objective of finally “taming” Syria, and bring it into the existing U.S arch of domination in the M. East. And in doing so, also ultimately corner a lone Iran. This ‘game’ is blindingly apparent to the Assad government in Syria. The daily carnage of innocent civilians, the destruction of state and public property, and the myriad other acts of violence and mayhem and mainstream (both Arab and Western) media propaganda, are all a ‘set-up’–intended to vilify Assad and force the issue in Syria, i.e. regime change, and subsequent political reconfiguration suited to the ambitions of the instigators of the current crisis in Syria

    Bashar al-Assad has his faults and failures as Syria’s leader, but the crass demonisation of the man by his many predictable detractors abroad, is politically self-serving and patently iniquitous. I stridently oppose this craven crusade against the Syrian government, and more egregiously, against its people. Right now, a negotiated settlement seems like the least bad path to a resolution to this crisis—and an end to the violence and carnage. However, until Syria’s neighbours decide to cease their vile interference and incitement in Syria’s internal affairs, and armed insurgents, goaded and paid continue to wreak havoc in the country, I’d argue it’s only reasonable that the Assad government refuse to relinquish the futures of peace-loving, tolerant, enlightened Syrians to the country’s implacable foes. Nobody I know in Syria aspires to see their country become another Iraq or Libya. And it won’t, if they remain strong, united, defiant, and hopeful, despite the daunting odds, today.

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