Monthly Archives: January 2013

Syria crisis: al-Qaida fighters revealing their true colours, rebels say

Syria crisis: al-Qaida fighters revealing their true colours, rebels say


The young rebel stepped out from his battered sedan looking warily at the throng of passersby as he picked his way through festering rubbish bags piled in front of a school.

He pushed against a wrought iron gate and disappeared into the expanse of the empty schoolyard, invisible in the coal-dark of another power-less night in Aleppo.

“I have a problem with al-Qaida,” he said from the gloom. “Come with me, alone, and I’ll tell you.”

He gripped his short black beard anxiously and began to speak. “I am an engineer,” he said. “I trained abroad and I came back for this revolution. My skill is in making machinery parts and now al-Qaida want me to make their weapons. They run everything here. They are very powerful.”

The group he called al-Qaida is known locally as Jabhat al-Nusra. Before the siege of Aleppo started mid-July, the group was unknown in the city and had been only a fleeting presence in the rebellious countryside.

Now though, almost six months later, inspired by the Bin Laden world view of a global jihad to enforce a fundamental Islamic society, al-Nusra is very much competing for influence in the Syria that will take shape if and when the embattled regime falls.

Through a growing role on the battlefield and a rising reputation as an organisation that can get things done, al-Nusra has become a player in the power vacuum that has emerged from the civil war. It is also increasingly known as an enforcer, whose unbending demands are unsettling regular rebel units as well as the societies the group claims to protect.

The rebel, who gave his name as Hassan, worried that eavesdroppers might somehow pick up his whispered English even in this vast, deserted playground, decided the noisy street outside would be a better place to talk.

Algeria, Mali and why this week has looked like an obscene remake of Western interventions

Algeria, Mali and why this week has looked like an obscene remake of Western interventions


Odd, isn’t it, how our “collateral damage” is different from their “collateral damage”.

Speaking yesterday to an old Algerian friend in the aviation business, I asked him what he thought of his country’s raid on the In Amenas gas plant.

“Brilliant operation, Robert,” he shouted down the phone. “We destroyed the terrorists!” But the innocent hostages? What about their deaths, I asked?

“Poor guys,” he replied. “We had thousands of women and children killed in our war [in the 1990s] – terrible tragedy – but we are fighting terrorism.”

And there you have it. Our dead men didn’t matter in the slightest to him. And he had a point, didn’t he? For we are outraged today, not by the massacre of the innocents, but because the hostages killed by the Algerian army – along with some of their captors – were largely white, blue-eyed chaps rather than darker, brown-eyed chaps .

Had all the “Western” hostages – I am including the Japanese in this ridiculous, all-purpose definition – been rescued and had the innocent dead all been Algerian, there would have been no talk yesterday of a “botched raid”.

If all those slaughtered in the Algerian helicopter bombing had been Algerian, we would have mentioned the “tragic consequences” of the raid, but our headlines would have dwelt on the courage and efficiency of Algeria’s military rescuers, alongside interviews with grateful Western families.

The masscare in Huwaisa (106 people killed) – Locals says it was carried out by anti-Assad forces (‘rebels’)

Claim and counter-claim surrounds latest Syria ‘massacre’

When an opposition group alleges a massacre by regime forces in Syria, it is often very difficult to establish what really happened.

‘Who did what to whom’ is one of the riddles of the Syrian revolution.

But today when a British-based group alleged that 106 people had been killed on the outskirts of Homs by pro-regime forces, I was able to go to the scene and investigate.

The allegation is that Assad’s army and militia had perpetrated a gruesome mass killing, shooting and stabbing, burning the bodies of men, women and children.

In Homs, I first of all put these allegations to the Governor, Ahmad Moneir Mohammed, a regime man.

He stated that there had been killings. Civilians had died; four children and four women, he thought, as well as men who had been killed in fighting between the army and rebels.

He alleged that the rebels were from the Islamist group Jabhat al Nura, which is linked to Al Qaeda and which the United States has designated a terrorist group. He categorically denied that regime forces had perpetrated a massacre.

US expectations shattered over Syria: US historian

US expectations shattered over Syria: US historian

An American historian says the US calculations about the collapse of the Syrian government and their portrayal of situation on the ground in Syria are “out of touch with reality,” Press TV reports.

Dr. Webster Tarpley wrote in an article published on Press TV website that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s “defiant and self-confident” speech on January 6 shattered the optimism of US think tanks about the collapse of his government.

Referring to a remark by the US State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, that Assad was “out of touch with reality,” Tarpley quoted an expatriate Syrian journalist as saying that “many Syrians wonder whether it isn’t the United States and its allies who are out of touch….”

The American political critic says according to reports, areas under the control of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) are exhibiting characteristics of a “failed state.”

Tarpley said the US, as the main sponsor of foreign militants in Syria, has been taken aback by reports about the “rising wave of hatred in northern Syria” towards the FSA due to their “catastrophic misrule.”

“Ordinary Syrians of all backgrounds are increasingly disgusted by the corruption, incompetence, and oppression of the FSA regime. The rebel chaos is contributing to a significant increase in the popularity of Assad and his regime, which had guaranteed stability and freedom from the worst privations for decades,” Tarpley added.

British Maj General Jonathan Shaw says that the current crises in Algeria is a result in part of the ‘removal’ of Gaddafi in Libya.

British Maj General Jonathan Shaw says that the current crises in Algeria is a result in part of the ‘removal’ of Gaddafi in Libya.

Maj Gen Shaw says: As I had found in a previous trip to Sudan, the greatest threat in the region came from the changing manifestation of Islamic observance, from locally attuned or Sufi to Salafism/Wahhabism. The cause was the spread of madrasahs built, staffed and indoctrinated by Saudi money and theology, a spread evident across Muslim North Africa and down the Indian Ocean coast from Somalia through Kenya to Tanzania.

In doing business with these regimes, the UK held its human rights nose, as the methods these states employed owed more to local than Western standards. And no surprise, for the challenges are horrendous. Algeria is now (since the split of Sudan) the largest country in Africa.

‘Free Syrian Army’, sponsored by the UK, kill unarmed prsioners of war

FSA kill unarmed prsioners of  war




War Crimes by FSA : Evidence supressed by the BBC


France’s recent imperialist interventions in former African colonies

France’s recent imperialist interventions in former African colonies

Here is a look at some major military interventions in Africa by France in the last 20 years – mostly in former French colonies.

France’s military mounted a new operation this weekend to prevent Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda expanding their power base in Mali.

1991 – DJIBOUTI/ETHIOPIA – French troops based in Djibouti help check the Afar rebellion and disarm Ethiopian soldiers who cross the border after the overthrow of Ethiopian President Mengistu Haile Mariam.

1994 – RWANDA – French and Belgian soldiers evacuate Europeans from Rwanda as Hutu hardliners massacre hundreds of thousands, mainly Tutsis. Later in the year some 2,500 French troops, backed by contingents from African countries, launch “Operation Turquoise”, described as a humanitarian effort, from Zaire into eastern Rwanda.

1995 – COMOROS – French forces crush a repeat coup attempt led by French mercenary Bob Denard against President Said Mohamed Djohar. About 200 French soldiers forced Denard to leave the Comoros and restored order after president Ahmed Abdallah’s assassination by his guard in 1989.

1996/97 – CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC – French troops intervene to end army pay mutiny against President Ange-Felix Patasse.

1997 – CONGO REPUBLIC – Some 1,200 French troops rescue French and African nationals during fighting between Congo army and supporters of military leader Denis Sassou Nguesso, now president again.

2002 – IVORY COAST – French forces mount “Operation Licorne” to help westerners trapped by a military uprising which effectively cut Ivory Coast in two. In 2004 they destroyed Ivory Coast’s small air force after government forces bombed a French base.

2008 – CHAD – A new French intervention bolsters the regime of Chadian president Idriss Deby and evacuates foreigners during attacks by rebels who crossed from neighbouring Sudan.

2011 – LIBYA – French planes are the first to bomb Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in March after the United Nations voted to allow intervention in Libya to protect civilians caught up in a rebellion against Gaddafi’s four-decade rule. NATO took command of the overall mission on March 31 which allowed Libyan rebels to defeat government forces and effectively seize power.

2011 – IVORY COAST – French forces tip the balance alongside U.N. forces in the civil war which erupted after the refusal of Laurent Gbagbo to step down and accept the election victory of Alassane Ouattara as president.

2013 – French aircraft pound Islamist rebels in Mali after they tried to expand their power base and headed towards the Malian capital, Bamako. France had warned that the control of northern Mali by the rebels posed a security threat to Europe. At the same time France mounted an unsuccessful commando raid to try to rescue a French hostage held by al Shabaab militants in Somalia, also allied to al Qaeda. The hostage was killed.

Sources: Reuters/Council on Foreign Relations

(Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

France bombs Mali ‘rebels’ with support from the UK – by what authority? In whose name?


French fighter jets bombed Islamist rebels in Mali for a third day on Sunday as Paris poured more troops into the capital Bamako, awaiting the arrival of a West African force to dislodge al Qaeda-linked insurgents from the country’s north.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France‘s dramatic intervention on Friday to bomb a convoy of heavily armed Islamist fighters sweeping southwards had stopped them from seizing Mali’s capital Bamako within days.

Western countries fear Islamists could use Mali as a base for attacks on the West, forming a link with al Qaeda militants in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.

Le Drian said former colonial power France was carrying out continuous bombing raids against the alliance of rebel groups, which seized the country’s vast desert north in April.

“There are raids going on now: there were some last night, and there will be more tomorrow,” Le Drian told French television. “The president is totally determined that we must eradicate these terrorists who threaten the security of Mali, our own country and Europe.”

Residents said French aircraft bombed the northern town of Gao, and a Malian rebel spokesman said they bombed targets in the towns of Lere and Douentza.

Le Drian said France was deploying a further contingent of 80 soldiers to Mali on Sunday, bring the total to 550 soldiers , split between Bamako and the town of Mopti, some 500 km (300 miles) north. State-of-the-art Rafale fighter jets would be dispatched to reinforce the operation on Sunday, he said.

A Reuters cameraman reported seeing on Sunday more than 100 French troops disembarking from a military cargo plane at Bamako airport, just on the outskirts of the capital.

The Endgame in Syria: Strategic Stage in the Pentagon’s Covert War on Iran


The ultimate goal in Syria, this pundit argues, is not regime change per se, but to do whatever it takes that will result in Iran’s isolation in the region. Believing that they have succeeded in neutralizing Tehran’s allies in the Levant: Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas, the opponents of Iran will be concentrating now on subduing her supporters in Iraq. Revealing the endgame behind the plans for Syria, an Israeli intelligence report has signaled that Iran can now be attacked without coordinating a regional response. Meanwhile, there is a clock ticking in Washington which may be chiming a different tune.

Since the kindling of the conflict inside Syria in 2011, it was recognized, by friend and foe alike, that the events in that country were tied to a game plan that ultimately targets Iran, Syria’s number one ally. [1] De-linking Syria from Iran and unhinging the Resistance Bloc that Damascus and Tehran have formed has been one of the objectives of the foreign-supported anti-government militias inside Syria. Such a schism between Damascus and Tehran would change the Middle East’s strategic balance in favour of the US and Israel.

If not accomplishable, however, then crippling Syria to effectively prevent it from providing Iran any form of diplomatic, political, economic, and military support in the face of common threats has been a primary objective. Preventing any continued cooperation between the two republics has been a strategic goal. This includes preventing the Iran-Iraq-Syria energy terminal from being built and ending the military pact between the two partners.

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