Ron Paul, John Rosenthal, Mairead Maguire: truth & peace in Syria

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2012/06/20/ron-paul-speaks-in-opposition-to-intervention-in-syria-on-house-floor/

Foreign Policy Journal

Ron Paul Speaks in Opposition to Intervention in Syria on House Floor

by Editor

June 20, 2012

When Will We Attack Syria? Plans, rumors, and war propaganda for attacking Syria and deposing Assad have been around for many months. This past week however, it was reported that the Pentagon indeed has finalized plans to do just that. In my opinion, all the evidence to justify this attack is bogus. It is no more credible than the pretext given for the 2003 invasion of Iraq or the 2011 attack on Libya. The total waste of those wars should cause us to pause before this all-out effort at occupation and regime change is initiated against Syria. There are no national security concerns that require such a foolish escalation of violence in the Middle East. There should be no doubt that our security interests are best served by completely staying out of the internal strife now raging in Syria.

We are already too much involved in supporting the forces within Syria anxious to overthrow the current government. Without outside interference, the strife—now characterized as a civil war—would likely be non-existent. Whether or not we attack yet another country, occupying it and setting up a new regime that we hope we can control poses a serious Constitutional question: From where does a president get such authority? Since World War II the proper authority to go to war has been ignored. It has been replaced by international entities like the United Nations and NATO, or the President himself, while ignoring the Congress. And sadly, the people don’t object.

Our recent presidents explicitly maintain that the authority to go to war is not the U.S. Congress. This has been the case since 1950 when we were taken into war in Korea under UN Resolution and without Congressional approval. And once again, we are about to engage in military action against Syria and at the same time irresponsibly reactivating the Cold War with Russia. We’re now engaged in a game of “chicken” with Russia which presents a much greater threat to our security than does Syria. How would we tolerate Russia in Mexico demanding a humanitarian solution to the violence on the U.S.-Mexican border? We would consider that a legitimate concern for us. But, for us to be engaged in Syria, where the Russian have a legal naval base, is equivalent to the Russians being in our backyard in Mexico. We are hypocritical when we condemn Russian for protecting their neighborhood interests for exactly what we have been doing ourselves, thousands of miles away from our shores.

There’s no benefit for us to be picking sides, secretly providing assistance and encouraging civil strife in an effort to effect regime change in Syria. Falsely charging the Russians with supplying military helicopters to Assad is an unnecessary provocation. Falsely blaming the Assad government for a so-called massacre perpetrated by a violent warring rebel faction is nothing more than war propaganda. Most knowledgeable people now recognize that the planned war against Syria is merely the next step to take on the Iranian government, something the neo-cons openly admit. Controlling Iranian oil, just as we have done in Saudi Arabia and are attempting to do in Iraq, is the real goal of the neo-conservatives who have been in charge of our foreign policy for the past couple of decades.

War is inevitable without a significant change in our foreign policy, and soon. Disagreements between our two political parties are minor. Both agree the sequestration of any war funds must be canceled. Neither side wants to abandon our aggressive and growing presence in the Middle East and South Asia. This crisis building can easily get out of control and become a much bigger war than just another routine occupation and regime change that the American people have grown to accept or ignore. It’s time the United States tried a policy of diplomacy, seeking peace, trade, and friendship. We must abandon our military effort to promote and secure an American empire. Besides, we’re broke, we can’t afford it, and worst of all, we’re fulfilling the strategy laid out by Osama bin Laden whose goal had always been to bog us down in the Middle East and bring on our bankruptcy here at home. It’s time to bring our troops home and establish a non-interventionist foreign policy, which is the only road to peace and prosperity.

This week I am introducing legislation to prohibit the Administration, absent a declaration of war by Congress, from supporting — directly or indirectly — any military or paramilitary operations in Syria. I hope my colleagues will join me in this effort.

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

NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE

REBELS RESPONSIBLE FOR HOULA MASSACRE  by John Rosenthal  9 June 2012

It was, in the words of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, the “tipping point” in the Syria conflict: a savage massacre of over 90 people, predominantly women and children, for which the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was immediately blamed by virtually the entirety of the Western media. Within days of the first reports of the Houla massacre, the U.S., France, Great Britain, Germany, and several other Western countries announced that they were expelling Syria’s ambassadors in protest.

But according to a new report in Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims were member of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad. For its account of the massacre, the report cites opponents of Assad, who, however, declined to have their names appear in print out of fear of reprisals from armed opposition groups.

According to the article’s sources, the massacre occurred after rebel forces attacked three army-controlled roadblocks outside of Houla. The roadblocks had been set up to protect nearby Alawi majority villages from attacks by Sunni militias. The rebel attacks provoked a call for reinforcements by the besieged army units. Syrian army and rebel forces are reported to have engaged in battle for some 90 minutes, during which time “dozens of soldiers and rebels” were killed.

“According to eyewitness accounts,” the FAZ report continues,

the massacre occurred during this time. Those killed were almost exclusively from families belonging to Houla’s Alawi and Shia minorities. Over 90% of Houla’s population are Sunnis. Several dozen members of a family were slaughtered, which had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. Members of the Shomaliya, an Alawi family, were also killed, as was the family of a Sunni member of the Syrian parliament who is regarded as a collaborator. Immediately following the massacre, the perpetrators are supposed to have filmed their victims and then presented them as Sunni victims in videos posted on the internet.

The FAZ report echoes eyewitness accounts collected from refugees from the Houla region by members of the Monastery of St. James in Qara, Syria. According to monastery sources cited by the Dutch Middle East expert Martin Janssen, armed rebels murdered “entire Alawi families” in the village of Taldo in the Houla region.

Already at the beginning of April, Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix of the St. James Monastery warned of rebel atrocities’ being repackaged in both Arab and Western media accounts as regime atrocities. She cited the case of a massacre in the Khalidiya neighborhood in Homs. According to an account published in French on the monastery’s website, rebels gathered Christian and Alawi hostages in a building in Khalidiya and blew up the building with dynamite. They then attributed the crime to the regular Syrian army. “Even though this act has been attributed to regular army forces . . . , the evidence and testimony are irrefutable: It was an operation undertaken by armed groups affiliated with the opposition,” Mother Agnès-Mariam wrote.

— John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at www.trans-int.com or on Facebook.

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The Vatican’s Pontifical Mission’s News Service, with a quote from a press release of Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire. 27 June 2012

http://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=31816&lan=eng

“Peace in Syria”: the popular movement for reconciliation “Mussalaha” grows

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) – New meetings and new initiatives for the inter-religious popular movement “Mussalaha” (“Reconciliation”), which proposes a “reconciliation from below” starting from families, clans, the different communities of Syrian civil society, tired of the conflict.

While the country is torn by conflict, peace initiatives and meetings are multiplying, being born in an entirely spontaneous and independent manner: in past days a new meeting which involved civic leaders, religious leaders, moderates, Christians and Muslims, tribal leaders, Sunnis and Alawites citizens of the mosaic that makes up the Syrian society, was held in Deir Ezzor, in the province of Djazirah (eastern Syria), near the Euphrates.

The movement, note sources of Fides, intends to say “No” to Civil War and notes that “we cannot continue with a toll that totals between 40 and 100 victims a day. The nation is bled white, it loses youth and its best forces.”

For this reason a new initiative that comes from the “genius of the people” from people “who want a decent life, who reject sectarian violence and sectarian denominational strife, as preconceived ideological and political opposition are urgently required.”

In many Syrian cities, where on one side there are clashes and victims – refer sources of Fides – ” gestures of friendship and reconciliation grow, offered by civilian moderate leaders to community representatives considered hostile (this happens between Alawites and Sunnis), in the spirit to ensure security and peace through civil society.” The movement hopes to find an institutional reference in the Minister for Reconciliation, the Socialist Ali Haider, who was appointed the new Syrian Executive and from the opposition party “People’s Will Party.”
But meanwhile, it is finding support abroad: the Irish Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 with Betty Williams and leader of the movement “The Peace People”, in a statement sent to Fides said “No to war in Syria” , and says: “We must put ourselves in the shoes of the Syrian people and find peaceful ways to stop this mad rush toward a war that mothers, fathers and sons of Syria do not want and do not deserve.” The text adds: “We urgently need to support those working for peace in Syria and are looking for a way to help the 22 million Syrians to resolve their conflict, without promoting violence or chaos.” The Nobel Prize invites the UN to “be a forum where these Syrian voices are heard” voices of “people who have worked hard for Syria, to the idea of Syria as a secular, peaceful and modern country.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/6/2012)

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Interview with Mother Agnes Mariam, 2nd January 2015
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
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