Archive for the 'South-West Asia (“Middle East”)' Category

egypt in turmoil

Some links to information with photos and videos about the recent turmoil in Egypt. Please add your thoughts and analysis in comments.

Dec 17: They say Isis’ tears for Osiris give rise to the nile flood

Two iconic images among many: the Institut d’Egypt/Scientific Society building burning, taking with it priceless documents dating to the Napoleonic expedition, and a woman demonstrator being beaten and partly stripped to reveal her bra in the street by military police


Military Police beat protestors, strip woman to her bra and burn tents
(uploaded to You Tube Dec 17th)

December 20: secretary-clinton-denounces-systematic degradation of women in egypt
Secretary of State Clinton yesterday:

“This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonors the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform, and is not worthy of a great people.”

December 20: egypt-womens-march

Today, some 10,000 women of all ages and background marched in downtown Cairo to protest military violence directed at women, including the now famous woman beaten and stripped by the military police in what Secretary of State Clinton called the “systematic degradation of women.” The photos confirm the presence of young and old, clad in Western garb, hijab, or even niqab, many of them carrying the photo that went around the world.


Egyptian Women Send a Message to SCAF
(uploaded to You Tube Dec 20th)

Ending Baathism in Syria requires a major war

Ending Baathism in Syria requires a major war.

Syria has a population of 22million that is massively divided along religious and ethnic lines (10% Kurds). It has a Baathist tyranny better supported among that population than was Gadaffi who had considerable support and so a big war is in the very early stages of developing. The tyranny is very well armed and trained, and has ‘undegraded’ command and control, with massive numbers of police thugs, spies, and so forth. So, this will take some time and will involve Turkey for sure. Turkey is being quite open about being the regional power that will act if it must, and the Kurdish issue and PKK is clearly central to this.

Syria also has had a national conscription system that now leaves a great legacy of trained men who are now willing and partly able to take on the lawful tyranny in a civil war. Both sides have just observed what happened over 9mths in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt etc., in this year of continuous spring. So soldiers who are thinking about mutiny will be encouraged as the situation develops and the core forces of repression will be somewhat shaken by the visions they have just been witness to.

Fortunately for the masses of people in revolt, the Islamic cultural reality of Friday prayers and mass gatherings throughout the country to mobilize around, and the egged on or ‘shame’ factor of not being left behind when others have been brave and fought and grabbed their freedom ought not be underestimated. Confidence really ought to be up on the side of the revolution and down a bit at least among the tyranny despite its large support and vast quantities of military assets. Large scale mutiny is the most hopeful start to the next stage of ridding Syria of Baathists, but from at least the Turkish side, I can’t see how this fight can be left alone to develop as a ‘pure’ civil war for very much longer.

As I see this the Syrian army becomes muscle bound very quickly in most of the larger cities that have had the big demonstrations against Assad, and is quickly exhausted in the smaller towns especially near all the borders, and no doubt along the Euphrates river and Nth. East of that line. They are effectively an army of occupation and can obviously be spread too thin trying to hold everything so they currently are running around trying to appear to be everywhere. But spying and the in and out arresting duties of the secret police and so forth is the only way this regime can even continue to exist in huge parts of the country.

The young fighting men can and will be pissed off and fight back, as well as leave and cross the border into Turkey as we have seen in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. They will be greeted by the soldiers that have deserted and already there as a determined rebellious armed force planning for either a long war, or rapid growth if the situation changes. This force will in the face of almost weekly reports of mass slaughter start to mount reply attacks deliberately to gain greater recognition and further stimulate recruitment. They are not refugees but a fighting force already trained and intent on overthrowing the people that they have fled from and who are still systematically killing their friends and family members, so they will find ways to fight right now and that keeps some of this fighting near the Turkish border.

The Turks are already permitting the establishment of an insurgent force and the Syrian tyranny can’t hit across the border as the Turks would respond immediately and massively. Turkey will remain the most important country able to impose the military action (similar to the NATO effort in Libya) and no other country has the stomach for this IMV. Turkey’s leadership has a vital interest identified and seems determined to advance its democratic reform program within Turkey that requires dealing with Kurdish liberation issues, and simultaneously with the current PKK that has been and still are hosted in all the neighbours.

Turkey has no territorial ambitions but regularly has crossed its borders and beat up on the PKK and is still doing so right now so it looks like the perfect storm for a war to develop.

The Syrian tyranny is continuing to systematically murder the Syrian people and can’t stop this brutality. They can’t undo the way they rule with terror police as the core to their control across a vast part of the country. They can only now exist by holding guns over the people of very many towns and villages and cities of Syria. The Syrian army is now an army of occupation that fears intervention from the far larger Turkey. The army has too much to do and is rotting so it has no prospect of stopping the small fights and the constant flight that the activities of the secret police etc., ensure will continue. Eventually it will be unable to patrol near the border for fear of hit and run, then hit and advance attacks that will be mounted near population centres. They will not be able to use air power against the freedom fighters.

No doubt if war breaks out the western international community would turn a blind eye and hope for the end of the Assad regime as one aspect of the outcomes that in some cases would happen in days of a mass Turkish incursion. The Turkish armed forces would not have to liberate large Syrian population centers, all they have to do is prevent the Syrian forces from surrounding and suppressing the people they are currently intimidating near the Turkish border and then allowing the rebel force that they currently protect in Turkish territory to return and be protected in very much larger form in Syrian territory. They would then hand over all the arms required by the new Syrian regime that they recognize and try to continue to take steps back over time as the Syrian civil war is fought. Seems straight forward but wars don’t work to plan, let alone time-tables, and other sides usually have a bit to say. What we have here in abundance is other sides.

But though I feel sure that a large war is coming and how it gets going won’t matter much this is too complex for me to get a handle on. What follows from the current suppression of the Syrian masses by the Baathists is that a war of liberation must breakout if democracy is part of the demands that are thrown on the table. These demands are on the table and Turkey must comply with the international body that approves of the end of the war. The UN determines when the end is and the new government is given the UN seat. Given that 3,000 are already dead and lots more are disappeared the war is going in one sense already.

Once Turkey gets involved then the NFZ and or destruction of the Syrian air forces in a big war comes up and NATO naval forces would also get drawn in with blockade work and U.S. spy assets etc.. The Syrian army would be rapidly isolated in large areas of Syria and then systematically destroyed if it lacks air power. If this war were to eventuate Turkey is bound to follow through and cut up the army that is spread too thin trying to hold down large population centres. That will end the period of secret police activities and see heavy arms rapidly distributed to the population that is more than willing to put them to use. That is I suppose the ideal first stage for putting a stop to the way the Baathists run Syria.

The Baathists can now enter population centers unopposed, but provided the opposition run around and avoid much fighting they can’t stay and comfortably regain control everywhere at once. Neither can they do what the Russians have done in Grozny because that will bring on the required intervention. If they can’t use heavy weapons and can’t avoid continuous small arms skirmishing then they will over time be driven from the bigger cities that are in revolt. The soldiers cant stay in their tanks and can’t avoid snipers and so the insurgents will be able to organise and grow. IMV Turkey wants to intervene and will intervene if the Baathists use air power, or they start to use the heavy weapons.

Without air power the Syrian army eventually won’t be able to enter some of the larger cities without being defeated because the supply of anti-tank weapons etc., will flood in from Turkey with the blessing of the whole world. Then the civil war will unfold and finally ought to draw in the U.S. from the Mediterranean. NATO ought to be redeploying from the Libyan theatre now. There will be much work for the A10′s.

I can’t see a ‘cheaper’ way of ending the Syrian Baathist tyranny as they are far too strong at the moment, just like the Libyan tyranny was before they were seen to be about to defeat the rebels in Benghazi and the intervention was launched. That was when I hoped for Egyptian intervention. It would have sped the liberation that has now come to Libya even without that intervention and with all the costs to the libyan people.

Syrian people call for No Fly Zone – Solidarity with Syria!

The demand for an international No Fly Zone over Syria has been raised by protestors there. Yesterday, another 29 people were killed for taking to the streets to protest against the dictatorial Assad regime and for democracy. The toll in Syria stands at around 3,000 dead, since the people’s movement began its current phase in late January this year. Local coordinating committees exist in many parts of Syria and these grass-roots organisations organise the protests, which are invariably met with violent suppression by the state, including the use of snipers.

I don’t know enough about the circumstances to have an opinion about the No Fly Zone. My impression has been that the regime uses ground troops to suppress resistance. I’m not aware of any Gaddafi-style strafing from the air. But what I do like is the people’s call for international support of a practical military nature, not just ‘moral support’.

The protestors know how the NFZ was effective in helping to bring down Gaddafi’s regime, and they know it involved an invasion of Libyan sovereignty (air space) and an effective naval blockade on the part of the British Navy. I’d be surprised if they are not aware, too, that the NFZ over Libya involved much more than mere protecting the people from the Libyan Air Force, though that was its pretext. The US and NATO used the NFZ (read: more than a hundred Tomahawk missiles) to destroy the Gaddafi regime’s facilities and forces on the ground. And the French went further with direct hardware assistance to the rebels, including air-drops of assault rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades and launchers. A NFZ over Syria would make sense if used in that way: namely, to weaken the military capabilities of the regime on the ground (especially its tanks) and demoralize it. And, of course, military hardware should be supplied to the Free Syria Army, which consists at this stage of regular Army defectors. As in any democratic revolution, the people need to defeat the regime militarily.

The Syrian protestors’ call for a No Fly Zone is essentially a call for international support of a military interventionist nature on the part of foreign governments to weaken the Assad regime militarily and support the people’s democratic aspirations.

In Syria, as in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, etc., you do not see the protestors burning the US flag but rather seeking, and supporting, imperialist intervention when it serves their (the peoples) strategic objective.

Since the victory in Iraq, those who prefer to leave oppressed people to their own devices, even if it means massacre and the likelihood of regional conflagration, have been unable to mobilize anything resembling an “anti-war” mass movement. Some of the prominent activists who opposed the Iraq War even supported the No Fly Zone over Libya. (Yes, ‘the times they are a-changin’). And the anti-war mass movement against the Iraq War collapsed in a heap as soon as millions of Iraqis went to the polls to actually vote for a parliament and government of their choice – much to the anger, fear and chagrin of just about every dictator in the region.

Those sections – or sects – of what passes for the Left who advocated defence of Libya against US imperialism couldn’t mobilize anyone other than themselves. At this site, we called for a NFZ over Libya immediately after the first strafing took place there.

Now, with Syrians demanding a NFZ, does anyone have enough knowledge of the situation there to know whether that is the best way to go?

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/10/28/world/meast/syria-unrest/

UN adopts “the freedom agenda”!

The UN Security Council has voted for military intervention to facilitate regime change in Libya!

When Bush was president this was illegal

UN Resolution 1973 which authorizes “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people from being crushed by Gaddafi’s army is an historic event. It’s been put in terms of a humanitarian intervention aimed at preventing atrocities against civilians (which it is, on one level), but in reality it goes far further than that. It’s actually a resolution aimed at ensuring the success of the democratic revolution in Libya.

No way is it just a No Fly Zone, already the new COW has begun destroying Gaddafi’s military infrastructure, and the resolution has clearly been worded to allow attacks on ground troops, if required. And although it rules out occupation, it doesn’t specifically rule out on-the-ground operations.

About time!!

As I write this I’m listening to interviews with Egyptians who are at this very moment casting their votes in a referendum on constitutional reform. The euphoria is palpable. Democratic revolution really is sweeping the Middle East . The tyrants and autocrats of the region are all under threat now.

With the passing of UN resolution 1970, suddenly “regime change” is ok , is becoming legitimate. So far in all the interviews I’ve heard, the question “Is this really about regime change”? has been dodged. Instead the talk is all about Gaddafi “killing his own people” and the need to stop this. But it’s pretty easy to join the dots.

And it was France which spearheaded the push in the UN. What a change from 2003!

Alain Juppe’s speech prior to the resolution talked of “a wave of great revolutions that would change the course of history” .

But it was under the dreaded Bush regime that the “democracy agenda” was actually launched.

Continue reading ‘UN adopts “the freedom agenda”!’

Dictatorship on the way to becoming illegal

Today’s New York Times’ article: Libyan Rebels Said to Debate Seeking UN Airstrikes has this issue lurking in the background.

It seems to me that ever so slowly we’re on the way to a world in which outright, naked tyranny is unnaceptable. There’s a clear parallel here with the stages in the long struggle to outlaw chattel slavery.

Continue reading ‘Dictatorship on the way to becoming illegal’

WikiLeaks: Gadhafi and Chávez are Great Pals

This Huffington Post article about the warm relations between Gadhafi and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is a good read: WikiLeaks Drags Libya and Venezuela Through the Mud

Brotherly Leader on the Ropes

It’s hard to imagine this lovely guy massacring his own people. As Libya’s Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution, Gaddafi stands for everything warm and fuzzy and his regime is based on grass roots genuine democracy, not that phony stuff you find elsewhere. Anyone who opposes his regime is obviously a reactionary and agent of imperialism.

Come to think of it, there is an uncanny resemblance to Cuba, don’t you think?

No fly zone demand for Libya

Author: Arthur
Comment: (on Egyptian thread)

Former UK Foreign Secretary David Owen has come out with a clear demand for UN Security Council to immediately enforce a no fly zone over Libyan to prevent air force attacks on opposition.

All previous commentary has been hand-wringing. Al Jazeera interviewer uncomprehending asked inane question about whether regime would take any notice and was given clear explanation that the point was not to influence them but to shoot them down.

Immediately available forces mentioned were NATO UK, Cyprus, and Egypt.

Qatar also called for (unspecified) Security Council action.

Meanwhile US still dithering and editorialists blathering about “dilemma” in Bahrain.

And from D.C. Exile:

Former British Foreign Minister David Owen today called for a UN No-Fly Zone to be adopted and imposed on Libya. Owen’s call came in the wake of the defection of two senior Libyan air force pilots and reports of the state’s use of airstrikes against protesters in Tripoli. Along with the defection of the two pilots, several Libyan diplomats resigned in protest over the state’s use of force against protesters. At the same time, protesters in Benghazi have declared their city liberated from the regime.

Twitter feed #libya

Summary of the Egyptian protests

The Mother Jones website has a summary of the current Egyptian protests, with links to more info.

Also, ABC Journalist Rosanna Ryan has created a Twitter list of protest-related accounts; but their accuracy is anyone’s guess.

The Twitter hashtags #Jan25 and #25Jan also have information, but as always with Twitter, treat most of it as unverified.