Russian shot down; good or bad?

It’s now 2 years and 5 months down the killing tracks launched by Vlad the honest.  Arthur recently said; ‘I still expect a negotiated transition from the Assad regime, facilitated by Russia and Iran.’ and Barry pressed the like button.  David has remained mute while posting on safe ground.  None have attempted to complete the 1/2 theory.

If any of these three are still claiming that the Russian bombers are in Syria to bring the war to an end – with a plan of ending the Assad regime – bringing about elections and thus the democratic opposition to power in all of Syria, then there is no hope for any useful debate.   Naturally Arthur has not produced any MSM articles, trumpeting this now self evidently wrong insight. Instead there has been an ongoing refusal to debate and systematically concede any points to others who had worked on StrangeTimes as a collective blog.  The charge of wrecker is irrefutable.

No the Russians didn’t turn up to do what Arthur thought.  The 1/2 theory was only ever a half theory leading nowhere, a dead end. And, no, this is not just a matter of timing! Russians turning up has been an unmitigated disaster for the Syrian democratic revolution.

Arthur further said; ‘As far as I can make out the opposition does not view itself as defeated and reports that it has been are from the same media that goes on about “the Russia thing” in the US.’  The correct reply to this is so what?  That has nothing to do with the views expressed against the 1/2 theory on this site by me.  This site got very active trying to work out what was going on in September 2015 when the Russians turned up and Arthur took a position that was measurable and was disputed and then was systematically argued against.  I argued at the time that the Russians were there to kill the side that I was backing and they did turn up and are still there for that purpose.  I also said that Putin was not doing something brilliant but rather the opposite.  The democratic revolution has been set back but not defeated.

Arthur went on to say ‘…Certainly I was not expecting those gains and it confirms my complete inability to get a handle on timescales….’   and I say; the expedient of not having a meaningful time line for any events at all is simply a device to ensure he would be unable to be proven wrong over anything, so naturally, Arthur clutches for this life preserver.  But all were told years ago, that Assad will be moved along as required but not in the near future.

We were also told by Arthur that ‘Obama would be able to claim success’ well that is a time-line and Obama could not make the claim now could he?

Munich style documents were waved aloft in triumph and they had time-lines, and 1/2 theorists were told point blank and at the time, that the documents would be dishonoured, and they were.

Time lines are in the picture and they only emphasise how clear the dispute is.

100’s of thousands of refugees later, all the deaths, and rubble and apparently Putin still showed up to end the regime and consequentially bring democracy!  That is really what has been and still is argued! But now it is just waffle about how Iran and Russia can’t possibly believe… and ‘6.  The territorial gains by the regime could, if they are suicidally inclined, be preparation for an ongoing war in which they hope to remain in charge. … But I see no sign that they are inclined towards suicide and no sign that they are gaining forces rather than just territory that will cost them a continued depletion of forces if they choose to keep fighting.’

Who said they would win?  Not me!  What I said was that Russians would turn the tide and kill the revolutionaries.  They did that!  Arthur just scoffed that there were obviously not enough of them!  I showed where the troops would come from, and they did.   Arthur was wrong because there were enough of them!  I expected their bloody gains but Arthur didn’t.

We can already see that when a political solution does show up the half theory will be able to lay claim to it.  There you go I told you so will be the claim!  HIRI(S)E turned up to end the regime (S) and bring about a political solution and that will require elections.  But what you were told was that enclaves were going to be cut out and Syria not put back together (at least in any near future).

The current maps do reflect a great deal of reality.  They even show in great detail just how the process unfolds.

People are also still deluding themselves that the self obsessed wrecking conduct was acceptable behaviour in dealing with someone (me) who not only disagrees, but apparently, writes far too much about why they disagree. Perhaps people might tell the world why they had to (and ought to) smash a debate by first refusing to hold it; and then complain that others won’t shut up and just read their great insights; and, or play idiotic ‘collect links’ with them, till they get bored and move on because “nothing can be done” anyway!

What utter tosh!  Yet after all the brazen scoffing the bad mannered wreckers and cancel culture  practitioners have just had to resort to silence.  They have shamed themselves out of any credibility as fearless  speakers in the true ML tradition.

Naturally nothing can be done now about any MSM article that was threatened but never delivered. All quite predictable, and predicted.  Totally unacceptable behaviour in refusing to debate a perfectly disputable 1/2 theory is all justified because the other side was too verbose.  Nothing to back-down about at all.

What else could people expect from collectors of links who just knew – from that very first month – that the Russians had turned up to end the regime and end the war.

Let us not forget the ongoing distortions that are now essential in anything to do with the Syrian 1/2 theory and in justifying the recidivist, base behaviour of pathetic wrecking.

Well here is a problem for these comrades with a ML background.

The war is not ended, the maps have altered, and the FSA types have been killed in large numbers by the HIRISE, these are the material circumstances.

There is a functioning coalition of the wicked anti-democrats and they are not in Syria to bring democracy to Syrians.

I am in favour of Al Qaeda being defeated root and branch. Yet, I am in favour of, for example, the latest Russian plane being shot down.  The pilot was then involved in a shoot out on the ground and died.  This is good IMV because only the west in co-operation with Turkey can bring about a progressive occupation of Syria.

I think Erdogan is furthering the democratic struggle in uniting with the FSA, and I understand why the Turks will fight the PKK, in whatever form they appear in, until a return to a negotiated progress is under-way and that will not begin (sadly) until the Afrin issue is dealt with to the extent of the Kurds having to move east of the Euphrates. (I admit to being utterly conflicted over this issue, and instinctively wanting to side with the Kurds)

I have great sympathy for the Kurds, but I can’t deny that they have conducted themselves badly in this nth west region against the FSA etc., as they have collaborated with the Assadists.

With no expectation of reasonable conduct I repost the following as proof that a debate was reasonable at the time and that I was the one that conducted myself properly.


1. De l’audace, may well be a motto that Putin finally turns to when it’s time to settle on a plan. We have seen him and his sort operate plenty of times before; encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace. He is after all at the start of this bold new in your Western face action doing the audacious whatever else it is. For Marxists there are the five more ponderous constants of war in the strategic background; for supermen types there is blitzkrieg to smash democratic revolution; kill the democrats and terrorise the masses. Putin is an action man anti-democrat with a faltering economy no less. Putin is Assad’s big untrustworthy brother.

2. Obama once said “What I could not support was a dumb war, a rash war, a war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics”. So we can’t hope for audacity from this man. From him we got a self promotional book ‘The Audacity of Hope’ and for the next 470 days there is for the West, if not no hope, very little. But audacity? Well I don’t think we have to worry about any precipitate overreach from the affronted superpower for that period. “No, what’s troubling is the gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics–the ease with which we are distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our seeming inability to build a working consensus to tackle any big problem.” BO “Right…is that the time? Shit I have a Paris climate conference to get to.”

3. Anyway the Putin plan unfolds and while the think tanks scramble to offer leadership to the Western leaders which is fair enough when even the best of them started with; “To be frank, I still don’t see any clarity in Russia’s stance on Syria”; we Australian Communist commentators can at least formally mark off the parts that have unfolded.

4. The enemy works to a broad plan to fight a new phase of this old war with his new COW. In short, regardless of the now moot if not futile think-tank search for THE Putin plan – the actual fresh troops turn up every day and go to work on their part of it, so we can tick the boxes and people can propose corrections as events move further along. This anti-democrat’s plans may not work in the long run but as Keynes said…all dead by then.

5. The urgent systematic killing by Russians of FSA types is working to that set Russian plan that sooner or later will also incorporate the ‘transitioning’ of Assad but only as, if and when required and that is very far from urgent.

6. The urgent warning-off of Turkey, the regional power capable of intervening is a part of the plan. Turkey had no choice but to threaten to shoot down any other over-flying Russians, with the clear implication that you stay to your side and we will stay to ours and we Russians will use all of the Syrian air space because we are working for the lawful Assad government!

7. Urgently making NATO NFZ war, and the establishment of safe zones a no longer viable option, by declaring all those in armed revolt against the Syrian ‘government’ terrorists – and subjecting them from day one to barrel bombing is a big part of the full plan.

8. The elimination of any fatal US red line ‘veto’ was long ago achieved by noticing that one was feebly declared then pushing it to the utter limit before, and with the all important intervention of big brother, surrendering that WMD stockpile for the US to dispose of. No choice and so it was no longer a useful stockpile by that point anyway. Thus Obama was played then and this was just an earlier phase of this same war. Current planning of this ongoing war developed with this very important background. The Russians had gotten themselves involved and had supposedly delivered to Kerry and Obama a US ‘win’. Spare us all from such wins that ought to have been an instant hot war when the line was crossed and the Russians ought to have been shown the door and the US cruise missiles smashed Assad’s airports and his command and control etc., the NFZ declared there and then with the Russians dramatically warned off as they had failed and were not a Mediterranean power anyway. Not to be. So the conclusions were that the US were not serious about fighting and that is the vital background.

9. The inclusion of Hezbollah troops – now with a considerable footprint, Iraqi Shiites, and Iran is a big part of the plan and they are in and involved in what is a region wide power play. So cruise missiles are thrown across their air space no less!

10. A deal is dangled for the Kurds that gives them what the leaders of Turkey didn’t want to see them get.

11. Whatever the US and the Europeans thought last month, this month their concern is to warn Putin that they will fight to protect Turkey’s borders only.

12. Putin wants to now get zones in Syria’s fight against Daesh terrorism. They have told the US to get out of the way.

13. They have declared war on the Western supported forces and humiliated not just the US but all of NATO and the local Sunni states.

So with all those boxes ticked the clock ticks along as well.

14. People can add to that list as the days go on but just saying this can’t be happening because Russia is not a Mediterranean power capable of doing it – and if fought it could not- is no longer very relevant.

15. The other day I thought ‘The current lot [Western political leaders] will have to wait to get told what to do about this crisis. Western leaders have no intention of leading.’ and some people are leading their analysis with what appears to me as something, something, something, ‘and exclude both Bashir and the Takfiris without chaos and slaughter in Damascus?’

IMV it is clear that Putin has built a region wide coalition to fight the other region wide gang. There is a red line.

16. I have no problem engaging in ‘suppose’ questions unlike those who imagine they really will require a quality environment to produce work in! ‘10. Then why couldn’t a second stage follow an initial regime change with some sort of Geneva style negotiations for an orderly transition to a transitional regime that excludes…’

17. Because Iraq and Syria these last few years demonstrates to the locals that a massive war is required to rid this region of what even barely democratic types in it are up against. Bashir types and the Takfiri types are very good at killing, causing terror and consequent flows of refugees. So people who have fought them over all this time by now ought to think like the allied leaders of WW2 that no amount of power sharing will work in an environment where it is so easy to slaughter Shiite peoples’ and that only unconditional surrender is viable. That is not viable without the separation that the Kurds have long enjoyed. They have been the standout success. They have, in other words policies of population separation. In the WW2 case the killing went on all the way to the bunker.

18. I agree that;
1. World politics currently does not revolve around a clash between two superpowers; however this now up and running region wide conflict is between the 2 Islamic sides that are slipping into murderous sectarian war backed by the 2 regional powers Iran on the 1 side and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the other. So Putin has joined on the one side. He joins as more than just a CEO leading a former superpower. Russia and him personally has a massive history of dealing with Islamic issues and currently he has public support for his brand of De l’audace, so he will try to sustain that support by reminding people of Beslan school type of reasons to deal with the swamp. The Daesh side is providing plenty of Nazi like conduct to remind people of ‘why they fight’. Putin I think also believes in a swamp theory, but ultimately his solution is the same as the Egyptian ‘solution’ just a form of rotten ‘realism’. No solution at all really just gangsterism that might be self-talked by both these mere mortals into a case of best they be leading ‘benevolent’ dictatorships.

19. With all Putin’s problems, Russians no doubt have a dogged nature, so he can for now and for some time formulate this grand move as an unavoidable effort to deal with the worst of the worst. And on the other side…well let us just say a big COW are attacking Daesh from the air without follow up ground forces, while the revolting Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) strikes out in all directions (Yemen) and has a deep state structure where support for Daesh and all round Sunni supremacy is not able to be prevented. Thus Putin plays as a special player on the new team rather than throws Russian weight around as if this were one superpower v another. Obama plays on the other team thus ensuring Daesh can’t form heavy columns and the Russians are in sufficient strength to turn on any big Saudi effort that might get sent North in due course. Putin believes he has some time to establish the best solution map and that other players particularly Turkey are going to be distracted by their own problems while he does so. Also Israel keeps dividing the other team’s effectiveness and Putin has no such Albatross. Putin has a realistic goal with his team and it includes moving Assad along when and as that is required. I along with most of the world think it will be required but not right now. Keeping a client or vassal type state going, with the core being the Alawite people of the former Syria in as big a chunk as is realistic, is I believe seen to be viable. The breaking of eggs bit is dumping millions of refugees for resettlement. The region is renowned for this but actually it is a major issue from the history of Putin’s region as well.

20. Just because ‘Russia was not a Mediterranean Great Power at all and “Moscow simply cannot deploy the kind of forces to Syria that could meaningfully change the arithmetic of the war and save the regime.” He can ONLY come and play on the side that requires his special talents as a kind of defensive full back. High speed counter attacks are launched by the fullback, momentum and audacity could be his calculation.

21. I also think ‘Putin is not an imbecile and knows that.’ So, he has a team view and an assessment of the other team as in disarray with his conclusion being disunity is death for them. Now not surprisingly some people who don’t play in teams haven’t got a clue and constantly play the role of wrecker. This Putin fellow is nothing but an ‘Us and Them’ type captain blood.

22. As for Obama the clock is now 470 days and his policies having in fact made the whole situation catastrophically worse than it needed to be, he will thus not have a chance to undo this and ever look successful even to his supporters. Despite having avoided more US blood and treasure in Middle East wars. Clinton will try to clean up the mess. But IMV the American prestige will not return to any great extent and the only thing that can do prestige building is a return to the revolutionary path of America, and no bourgeois leadership has the vigor for that unavoidable people’s struggle for democracy. The US will remain on the side of the angels but the greatest gift they could manage was to STOP being the swamp making blockage. The unblocking of tyranny is hard work for the revolutionary masses in the region. They are faced with a vast war that is terrible to contemplate, yet obvious to the ME masses who are seething with hatred. The US superpower status is now gone and is not coming back. The revolution must go on without being led by US ground forces.

23. yes ‘There are people within the Assad regime who believe they cannot win and face death if they don’t end the war.’ and they have had their spirits lifted from the depths of this depression for now. How long their mood stays up will depend on progress on the ground as the reserves turn up and reverse the battlefield direction. But ultimately if not enough reserves turn up and not enough of their FSA type enemies are killed, and not enough of the demographic problem that they have are driven off as refugees then that mood will return. So I guess lots of killing and Shiite troops and refugees in all directions are proposed by captain blood.

24. I accept ‘The Russians, Iranians and Hezbollah and the US, not being imbeciles also think that the Assad regime cannot win.’ So, they are probably all impressed that he has slaughtered his way into this almost holding pattern that has perhaps with a little more big power help, could perhaps establish another monstrosity that would have the Netanyahu type feel about it. If the Israeli forces can do this type of thing… I think that is delusion, as the world has changed and this is second time as farce, but I am not them and there is this region wide split that is at war anyway so they might feel something can be done about a Shiite crescent better placed to fight the Sunnis till a regional solution is eventually found after this required test of strength.

25. Assad did not draw the correct lessons from Libya, nor the whole issue of the Arab spring and just retire for a peaceful good life. That choice was, at the time, available to him and is not now. Who knows what will become of him.

26. Putin and the Ayatollahs still want to come out being winners ‘despite having been responsible for supporting a totally failed catastrophic policy’

27. It is to me extraordinary that there are STILL people in the West who believe in allying with the Assad regime, but I guess they are now very few and the vast majority of people believe that he must go and therefore can accept anything that is presented as him going. The people that count in policy making circles all know he must go. Thus all the transitioning out talk. But the Iraqi leadership after long and painful experience, and Kurds in Syria, and most leaders in Iran and even Vlad the audacious wants new maps. So despite the contradictions and conflicting interests Baathist Assad ended up being semi supported by the Iraqi Shiites and hence the new deep state gangster elite that runs big chunks of that divided country where the Iranian’s back all manner of functioning militia.

28. “And it’s safe to assume that those in power would think longer and harder about launching a war if they envisioned their own sons and daughters in harm’s way.” BO I think a bit like Obama in that Putin struck because of his central insight that leadership was MIA and the liberals that he did face now had become complacent and bureaucratic with US Democratic policy makers more obsessed with not fighting wars and playing with drones and the killing of individuals like Bin Laden. Obama wrote “The conservative revolution that Reagan helped usher in gained traction because Reagan’s central insight – that the liberal welfare state had grown complacent and overly bureaucratic, with Democratic policy makers more obsessed with slicing the economic pie than with growing the pie – contained a good deal of truth.”

We are all cruise missile something or others now even just for the theater! But the important thing is those Russian helicopters are now at work as the ground assault is rolling against our ‘FSA’ types!



Ok I appreciate that you are now at least attempting to respond to points I have made so it could be productive to engage. Unfortunately I simply don’t have time due to other factors and will still just try to produce a coherent publishable article (which I also don’t have time to do) and still not engage other than indirectly through series of links, notes, and drafts working towards publishable articles not directly engaging with this stuff.


Well IMV, not engaging with “this stuff”, has proved to be not so good for Arthur and the half theory supporters!

35 Responses to “Russian shot down; good or bad?”

  1. 1 patrickm

    Well take a look at this…

    Novichok Nerve Gas Attempted Murder
    Posted on March 16, 2018 by Arthur

    This looks both very serious and very puzzling.

    It is very puzzling because the only possible motive for anyone to use this agent to murder somebody in the UK would be to provoke a crisis in relations between Russia and the West.

    The British Prime Minister said:

    “Either this was a direct action by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others“

    Both alternatives are possible and both have very serious implications.

    But also very serious and very puzzling is the fact that she announced that on Monday 19 March and demanded a response from Russia by midnight on the following day.

    Use of nerve gas in an attempt to murder a Russian traitor was suspected immediately following the attack a fortnight earlier, 4 March. There was plenty of time for both British and Russian governments to carefully consider how they would respond.

    The British deadline seems intended to provoke the Russian response of demanding that they first be provided with a sample for verification.

    Under the relevant international agreements for prohibition and destruction of chemical weapons there are clear procedures for verification by certified laboratories with care taken to preserve the chain of custody of samples for use as evidence of violations. See Section 4, chapter III of the OPCW Blue Book:

    It simply does not make sense that the British government would have set a deadline for response without first providing samples to other laboratories, including the Russians.

    France has now joined the US and Germany in a statement of solidarity with the UK that says there is no other plausible explanation than Russian responsibility. But the initial French reaction was to insist on evidence first:

    If, as is plausible, somebody with access to illegal Russian stockpiles did this without authority one would expect the Russian government to try to evade responsibility while being extremely cooperative and anxious to help establish the facts so as to ensure any culprits were found and stopped from seriously damaging Russian as well as other interests.

    Instead Russia is churning out the usual stuff from Sputnik and threatening retaliation.

    If that is the result of ineptitude on the part of both the British and Russian governments that is not terribly unusual.

    But there is the other alternative that the Russians were deliberately testing Western responses. So far those responses are completely inadequate if based on a firm conclusion that the Russian government is either complicit in testing Western responses or unable to control its security personnel who decide to do so without authority.


    ‘those responses are completely inadequate’ I wonder what would be adequate?

  2. 2 Steve Owens

    Patrick you were correct to support the Kurds why on earth you would abandon them now is beyond me as the leader of the free world recently said German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned Turkey: “For all Turkey’s legitimate security interests, what has happened in Afrin, where thousands and thousands of civilians are persecuted, killed or forced to flee, is unacceptable. This too we condemn in the strongest terms.”
    Afrin was a peaceful area part of the Syrian good news story if the Kurds accepted Assad support in resisting Turkish aggression well thats a matter for them.
    You have mistaken the Turkish President for a democrat please do not mistake aggression for anything other than what it is aggression.

  3. 3 patrickm

    Robin Yassin-Kassab recently wrote an article that is well worth the read. A key part of his otherwise very clear analysis however falls over on a closer inspection. Robin fails to note, as the vital starting point for what is to be done going forward that Turkey has been at war with Kurdish separatists for many decades and it is that war that we must focus on when considering the Turkish operations and ‘Olive Branch’ in particular. This war has cost many tens of thousands of lives and is a clear threat to the territorial integrity of the country called Turkey where millions of Syrian refugees have for the last few years correctly and desperately sought refuge and been given that protection from the terror bombing etc. As Robin points out, unfortunately they were sometimes made into refugees by the Kurds often in collaboration with the Assad anti democrats.

    The members of the coalition – Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, Iraq (mostly militias but the government as well) ‘Syria’ (Assad and any group prepared to work with his SAA) and Egypt (under the fellow tyrant el-Sisi who is without a doubt an Assad in the making) HIRISE – are the mass murdering anti democratic and imperialist aggressor forces in Syria.

    Turkey has in effect been dragged into this as has the US led COW. Both the western block and Turkey have behaved like utter fools because they were always going to have to step in and ought to have done so early as a tiny number of revolutionary leftists called on them to do. The failure of the west led by the US – but under Obama policies – is the critical failure. The western political leadership ALL did nothing till finally a completely reactionary Putin led Russia put together the vicious opportunist HIRISE coalition and continued the Assad ethnic cleansing rubble making terrorism. Both Assad and Putin are into terror poisoning!

    I must admit that being of Irish background my sympathies are instinctively with the Kurds yet there always was both right and wrongs on both sides. BUT the important point for democrats is that it is demonstrable that until recently – under the leadership of Erdogan – real progress towards a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish / Turkish issues was observable. Progress towards a modern democratic Turkey was underway. The Kurdish minorities national struggle for full human rights within the Turkish state was IMV able to take the peaceful road and just like the Irish example was doing so. Erdogan was not the one that turned this around but he was compelled to resume the conflict and that is why this very unfortunate resumption OUGHT to be called Olive Branch. Erdogan will IMV at some point offer a way out of this and that is only possible with greater democracy for not just Turkey but now the whole region. IMV the current bloody stage of Olive Branch is very, very sad and as I have said I am extremely conflicted over the whole issue and just want to understand what is the realistic way forward. For example I hope that the Kurds withdraw from the Manbij pocket and stay East of the Euphrates. The growing Turkish footprint in Syrian territory has not resulted from a Turkish imperialist invasion. The Turkish peoples are involved like it or not.

    Progress towards real Kurdish liberation were appropriately based on the steps towards further democracy in Turkey and it is a fact that democracy was expanding under Erdogan and then the counter revolutionary Syrian war changed everything. Now Assad’s counter revolutionary violence has morphed into a region wide war with global implication. But it was actually that from the very beginning IF correctly understood as part of the required swamp draining project that was designed to result from the democratisation and thus liberation of Iraq. The Arab spring followed the electoral events in Iraq. If the Iraqi people could have genuine politics and a free press and votes that actually counted then why not Tunisians and Libyans and Egyptians. Condi Rice had spelt it out to Mubarak’s face.

    The revolutionary transformation of the entire region that produced the mosquitoes of 9/11 became strategically evident as the correct response to the attack. Endless killing of mosquitoes called ISIS/ NUSRA / Al Qaeda etc who declared war ready or not with the attacks of 9/11 is no answer to that war. The rotten to the core policies of 60 years of realists had built the hatred and sustained the swamp. Revolutionary swamp draining was all that could work and that was always going to be complex given that it was directed at ‘friends’ and enemies alike. Mubarak knew that the US was indeed taking a new course. It is no wonder that Sisi is united with Assad and Putin in the HIRISE.

    From the perspective of 2018 the liberation of the Iraqi peoples stands out in sharp and obviously positive contrast to the utter disaster of the failure of the West to make revolutionary war for democracy in Syria. Assad is still there and democracy is not anywhere in sight except in the parts of Syria that are now protected by the US led cow and that area that will come to be protected by the Turks.

    The vicious devil take the hindmost failure of Obama/Merkel/Cameron led liberalism and the many decades of swamp making policies of the realists (like Kissinger) stand in sharp comparison to the revolution that freed the Iraqi people from the Saddam Hussein led Baathists and brought on genuine elections and basic but nevertheless real democracy. That is progress as clear as was the progress in South Africa. Obviously neither country is an advanced democracy by Western standards but both are better than they were before their respective blockages were removed and basic democratic rights like voting for political parties instituted. Neither country has western puppets running it. Both countries are dominated by their majority constituents. White privilege has disappeared from SA just as surely as Sunnie privilege has vanished in Iraq and it goes without saying that both had to go and both required an armed struggle. In South Africa the whites had the benefit of the collective wisdom that was absent in the case of the Iraqi tyranny. Those anti democrats decided to end their terrorist regime Saddam could not end his and Assad has not either.

    The failure of leftists to call out the reality of the pseudoleft opposition to liberation was almost total. But just as the genuine leftists made the errors reality gave them the comparison and they fell silent and finally turned. Leftists did not oppose the war against ISIS they demanded it. Pseudoleftists keep dodging this very issue.

    The struggle against the Assad tyranny was a struggle led by Islamist democrats in the same vein as Erdogan conservative islamists have led the struggle for real democracy in Turkey. They are – as we swamp draining theorists have extensively argued since 2001 – because of their actual numbers the only political forces that could lead this revolution across the Middle East. This is the democratic revolution and either we support the rights of this revolution and thus the right of islamists to come to power or we don’t. In Egypt it was and is led in the same way as Iraq by the Muslim Brotherhood.

    I have often written on the mind numbing complexity of the wars in and around the space that was once Syria and for my money it has been obvious for a couple of years now that at least for the foreseeable future Syria is no longer possible.

    The Turks ARE going to have a large footprint that they protect from all manner of bombers as will the US led Coalition and not just in the region east of the Euphrates but in the south on the Jordanian border and the desert control zone on the Iraq border; and there will still be the counter revolutionary HIRISE fascist grouping dominating what they have managed to with Russian leadership.

    The State terrorist regimes of the ME are turned away from the west and are supported by the Putin led gangster regimes of the east. As we see even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is now in play and the new leadership is running to make the changes rather than end up as another rubblestan. It may not hold it together. The Iranian tyrants are not going to stave off their people much longer either. Rouhani is playing the same role in that country as is Erdogan in Turkey.

    Nothing is clear in Syria but the Turks will insist that the Kurds give back to the FSA the towns they took and eventually negotiate a democratic way forward.

    I am still struggling with what to think about the Kurds who did sell out the FSA and worked with Assad etc as well as the Russians. But I was sure that Turkey would put the first footprint in place and that a punch up would eventuate unless the Kurds left Manbij. It is FSA territory. They did not leave and so the Turks started ‘Olive Branch’. The Kurds are wrong not to have stayed east of the Euphrates. They may have not lost Afrin as well, but they have now and the FSA towns north west of Aleppo.

  4. 4 Steve Owens

    The Kurds are fighting a war of national liberation which I support. The tactics they adopt are pretty much their business not mine I support their struggle for a nation.
    Operation Olive branch is naked aggression against a relatively peaceful well run Kurdish controlled area.
    Turkish bad faith can be seen at the siege of Kobane where Turkish tanks overlooked the town as Daesh was systematically killing the Kurdsish defenders.
    A small group of revolutionary leftists called for Western intervention, well it would have made no difference if a large group of leftists had made that call it was never in Western interests to do anymore than defeat Daesh. Call for what you like I call on Hitler not to ban opposition parties, I call on Hitler not to create concentration camps, I call on Hitler not to occupy the Rhineland, I call on Hitler not to invade Poland, I call on Hitler not to invade the USSR. Damn I call on him and he just ignored me and I just can’t work out why.
    Turkey currently imprisons more journalists than any other country even China imprisons less. Turkey is a pretty strange “democracy”

  5. 5 patrickm

    Steve that is an extremely poor response. Read the article by Robin for a list of some wrongs done by the Kurdish leadership.

    I am trying to understand the historical forces that are at play not call on the enemy to do this or that; you muddle that thought up when I mention what is in western interests because you believe the US and West are the enemy even as you united with them to fight Daesh. Unite and don’t split is the correct policy. Trots are always trying to get at the ‘real’ enemy and that is why they are so bad as they were in Egypt. Your post above is junk and you ought to back away and try again.

    For example there are Kurds that have had autonomy in Iraq who recently lost Kirkuk because of their unwise conduct and you said nothing when that occurred nor was it ‘wrong’ for the Iraqi government to take back control; it was just going to happen!

    You have been very critical of the Kurdish leadership in Iraq and you know little of what that leadership is like within Turkey where the majority of Kurdish peoples actually live and increasingly so as an almost fully integrated component of the huge cosmopolitan city of Istanbul. Kurds are divided across a spectrum as well as across all those countries but it is democratic rights that are what is really required and not just a naked Nationalist separatist fight for territory – let alone an opportunist grab for territory that is Arab. That is a central issue of what I was referring to and you are studiously ignoring.

    Ought the Kurds withdraw from Manbij? Don’t wimp this question, because it is a vital question for the FSA and the Turks. That area west of the Euphrates is Arab and you know that! The Turks are going to require a withdrawal or they will fight and if the US troops are in the way then they will attack the Kurds in places East of the river for example places like Kobane.

    You also know that with Russian bombing the Kurds drove out the FSA from towns and territory that the Turks are right now as I write restoring to the FSA. You are saying nothing about that fact. The Kurds were wrong to work with Assad and the Russians to do that opportunistic land grab.

    The Turks are deploying in great strength so the outcome is not in doubt and that is why I am so pissed off at the Kurdish leadership. They did not have to fight the way they have at all. These casualties are tragic IMV.

    Intervention in Syria WAS in western interests. I am staggered that you can’t see that. So is ending the war for greater Israel in Western interests and that has been obvious for decades. So political support for plucky little Israel continues to evaporate and that racist little enclave continues to mock the very word democracy. The left has not been wrong about these issues the pseudoleft is wrong as usual. Liberals like Obama are revolting and their policies of ‘let the ragheads kill each other what’s it to me?’ strategic madness.

    The way forward for the MENA is not to be found in proletarian revolution nor in the Anarchist twaddle sprouted by Robin but via conservatives leading conservative masses in overthrowing the tyrants. They are the forces that exist! They were winning in Syria till the imperialist HIRISE intervention got in the way of the progress.

    Democracy will come to Iran, Egypt and all the rest in the Erdogan style. The reactionaries tried to kill Erdogan and he had NO choice but to fight back. As we saw in Egypt the idiot Trot types were counter revolutionary wreckers and the conservative brotherhood the way forward.

    The FSA that I ‘support’ is rotten with god botherers. I have to accept that as a given. All I want to do is understand what is going on and where more real forces will come from. The US are involved now and they have already said they are not going home any time soon so…

  6. 6 Steve Owens

    The wrongs committed by the Kurdish leadership do not diminish my support for Kurdish autonomy/independence anymore than the wrongs committed by Irish nationalists diminished my support for an Independent Ireland.
    Afrin was populated by Kurds it during the Syrian civil war it was ruled by Kurds and operation ‘Olive Branch’ is naked aggression.

    The frontline situation near Afrîn as of June 2013 shows the district under Kurdish (YPG) control, with adjacent territory controlled by the Free Syrian Army (green), with a loyalist pocket at Nubl (Azaz District).
    During the Syrian Civil War, Syrian government forces withdrew from the city during the summer of 2012. The Popular Protection Units (commonly known as YPG) took control of the city soon afterward.[8][9][10]

    Afrin Canton as a de facto autonomous part was declared on 29 January 2014,[11][12] The administrative center of Afrîn Canton is the town of Afrîn.[13] The Prime minister of Afrin Canton is Hevi Ibrahim. The local government feels threatened by Nusra Front in the Syrian Civil War.[14] According to the Constitution of Rojava, the Afrîn Canton’s Legislative Assembly on its 29 January 2014 session declared autonomy. The assembly elected Hêvî Îbrahîm Mustefa prime minister, who appointed Remzi Şêxmus and Ebdil Hemid Mistefa her deputies.[15]

    On 20 January 2018, Turkish Air Force bombed more than 100 targets in Afrin.[16] On January 28, 2018 Syria’s antiquities department and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that Turkish shelling had seriously damaged the ancient temple of Ain Dara at Afrin. Syria called for international pressure on Turkey “to prevent the targeting of archaeological and cultural sites”.[17][18] On 20 February 2018, the Syrian army convoy consisting of 50 vehicles had arrived in the Afrin through the Ziyarat border crossing and were deployed to different areas. Five vehicles reached the center of the city of Afrin.[19].

    On 18 March 2018, on the 58th day of the Turkish military operation in Afrin, the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army and the Turkish Armed Forces captured Afrin from the YPG and the YPJ, with YPG/J putting up little resistance.[2] Shortly after its capture, TFSA fighters looted parts of the city and destroyed numerous Kurdish symbols, including a statue of Kāve, as Turkish Army troops solidified control by raising Turkish flags and banners over the city.[20]

  7. 7 Steve Owens

    I read the article you suggested my thoughts pretty well align with what ie
    But the opposition’s support for Turkey’s operation should go that far and no further. Specifically, it should not support Turkey’s occupation of the Kurdish-majority Afrin canton itself. Instead it should clearly recognise the right of Syrian Kurds to political self-determination, as part of the general struggle for self-determination for all Syrians. In practical terms, it should clearly accept the principle that people in Kurdish-majority areas have the right to autonomy should they wish to exert it.

  8. 8 Steve Owens

    When ever the US says “The US are involved now and they have already said they are not going home any time soon so…” I assume that the bags are already packed.

  9. 9 Steve Owens

    “Ought the Kurds withdraw from Manbij? Don’t wimp this question,…”
    Pat this is debate of a very low order you say to me that I should not wimp this question but Manbij has long had a large Kurdish population. Recently the Kurdish militia ousted Daesh from Manbij so are you suggesting that they hand over control to forces that were absent from the fighting? Anyhow I guess the short answer is NO! the long answer is that it should involve a lot of negotiating.
    On 12 March 2017, the Legislative Assembly of Manbij approved the elected co-presidents who then took office. During the meeting the departments of the committee members, co-presidents and committees were determined after speeches and evaluations. 13 committees where determined.[39] The 13 new committees include 71 Arabs, 43 Kurds, 10 Turkmen, 8 Circassians, and an Armenian and a Chechen.[40]

  10. 10 patrickm

    In Syria…
    ‘Syria: Convoy of 81 buses carrying 5,400+ people moved after midnight and drove northwest all night. More evacuations expected today – @AFP’
    ‘Negotiations ongoing between the Russian side and Jaish al-Islam to reach a settlement and evacuate militants from Douma city.’
    ‘US Led Coalition bombard Syrian government positions in Mo Hassan village eastern Deir Ezzor’
    They don’t seem to have got the big memo about not being welcome on the Eastern side of the Euphrates. Good thing the US led COW are still bombing them. A few more Russian dead would be a fine follow up to all the diplomatic expulsions.

    I wonder what the Russian deal with Turkey is supposed to be?

    ’10 hours ago – 41°0′N 39°43′E
    Over Trabzon: Russian Air Force 223rd Flight Unit Ilyushin Il-76MD plane is flying from Russian Air Force base in Mozdok Ossetia to Hmeimim Air Base in Latakia. Same equipment Same equipment transited Turkish airspace this morning 06:15Z-07:15Z reverse direction’
    and this is current
    ‘Russian and Turkey delegation reportedly made an agreement on Tall Rifa’t’
    BUT Turkey is backing the FSA and Russia is the Key player in HIRISE I can’t see how either will stop the next punch up that is coming after the Turks have put the Kurds back in some sort of control zone east of the Euphrates. What would even short term viable enclaves look like?
    and given the Russians are making the refugees…
    ‘Turkish president says he will discuss with EU leaders the bloc’s failure to keep its promises regarding Syrian refugees’
    is all well and good but more are currently on the way
    and though the Turkish focus may be on Kurds for now they have not forgotten that Assad is the root cause of this catastrophic war.
    They are walking and chewing…
    ‘Erdogan: Mr Trump does not have his own way to deal with Manbij’

    over at the UN the US is stating the bloody obvious
    ‘Amb @NikkiHaley: Beyond Russia’s destabilizing behavior across the world, such as its participation in the atrocities in Syria and its illegal actions in Ukraine, it has used a chemical weapon within the borders of one of our closest allies’

    So what is to be done about all of this naked aggression?

    Not what mother Merkel is doing Complexity heaped upon more of the same for a while yet…

  11. 11 Steve Owens
  12. 12 patrickm

    I was aware of that news but had not seen this discussion – thank you. I find myself in the same boat of doubt as I think were all of the interviewees. I agree Trump could do anything but it is not in US interests and they have 2,000 conceded troops on the ground + what is in Jordan and Iraq and even in Turkey plus their substantial Naval and air assets. They have been building bases all round and the issues have become more not less complex of late.

    The Europeans and the KSA are going to be required to contribute much more that is for sure and that is standard Trump. The Turkish footprint can’t be East of the Euphrates if the US are to retain any credibility, and neither can the Kurds stay in control west of it.

    IMV that dispute must be resolved in the FSA’s favour. The ultimate resumption of the battle against Assad style Tyranny given the reality of HIRISE involvement requires Turkey. The battle for more democracy in Turkey requires a genuine resumption of the olive branch that was evident a few years back. (I take it you don’t dispute that progress was being made till the Syrian revolution drew in the whole region).

    Turkey has been drawn in. What do you think is the broad plan that Erdogan is attempting to implement? That is the key question in my view because I do not believe they are wanting to preserve Assad in Syria nor retain refugees in Turkey nor de-nigh or remove democratic rights from Turkish Kurds.

    The Kurds ought not work with the enemy of all progress and build a buffer zone that would prevent the FSA taking on the Tyranny. That has been what has been going on and it is not justified in the interests of their national struggle. I am not saying they have no issues but Turkey is not comparable to the way Syria was run under the Assad regime that required a Arab spring/swamp draining revolution to overthrow compared to the political process that was available in Turkey and must be resumed as quick as is possible!! I am sad that when Erdogan was prepared to negotiate a way forward the Kurdish hardliners refused to work with his forces. (The history of the Turkish oppression no doubt gets carried forward into the new democratic era and that is very unfortunate). After all those that had Erdogan gaoled also had Kurds oppressed! Anyway understanding this stuff requires a serious effort and that is what I am attempting to do. I advise everyone else to reflect on what has been the big picture over the last 30 years of struggle that Erdogan has a record across not just this latest battle.

  13. 13 Steve Owens

    Theres always Trumps no dollar left behind programme

  14. 14 patrickm

    I may be a mug like the half theorists were/are over the Russian intervention but I think that Erdogan is a man that democrats can do business with and I think that he stands out against the others who are backed by our ruling elite

    A civil war that spills across borders as a consequence of what is now a regional war requires a good deal of thinking about. Is there a realistic way forward out of the conflict? Could deals be done that would work for both the FSA and the Turks as well as the Kurds? I can conceive of a democratic way forward but not any other. Ongoing war lies in the other direction. When Turkey was a tyranny and a terror state there was no alternative but to fight the oppressor state forces but I can’t look at the Erdogan forces in the same way. I just can’t see an alternative. If you can explain how this ongoing war is to be wound back to even the stage where the sides had a ceasefire and so it was making progress under Erdogan then I am all ears, but just saying I’m for the Kurds does not get us very far.

    So my thinking is that Kurds in Istanbul can be full participants in Turkey and that others can also have their national questions now resolved within this one countries borders. Erdogan has IMV set the progressive direction for Turkey for decades. Other forces exist and what they propose is not so clear to me.

  15. 15 Steve Owens

    “I am sad that when Erdogan was prepared to negotiate a way forward the Kurdish hardliners refused to work with his forces.”
    Pat Im not sure if you are correct here
    Yes Erdogan and the Kurdish leadership came very close to peace but the Kurds refused to support Erdogan’s push for increased powers. The Turkish response to this was to ban and arrest members of the large legal Kurdish political party. Once these more moderate people were in prison well the hard liners naturally became more prominent

  16. 16 Steve Owens

    “If you can explain how this ongoing war is to be wound back to even the stage where the sides had a ceasefire and so it was making progress under Erdogan then I am all ears,…”
    Just as South Africa could find resolution by releasing Mandella and India could find resolution by releasing Ghandi and Burma by releasing San Suu Kyi Turkey can be resolved by releasing Ocalan.
    That is the way forward Ocalan has the authority to cease fire (as he has done in the past from prison) Ocalan has the authority to negotiate a peace. His long imprisonment has diminished his stocks and some breakaways wont follow his lead but you ask for a way forward This is the way forward.

  17. 17 Steve Owens
  18. 18 Steve Owens
  19. 19 Steve Owens

    Patrick I think that one of these guys is your guy

  20. 20 patrickm

    He would be the one that is currently providing a no bomb zone for the FSA in Syria and as we know that would be the same FSA that was attacked by the policies of the Kurdish leadership that were at the time of the attacks assisted by Russian bombers and Iranian foot slogers! He is the one with the country that is hosting millions of Syrians and now re-establishing them under Turkish protection in their own country – Syria.

    This Iranian twaddle does not help us understand what is going on one little bit.

    But it is quite clear that the Turks must engage in talks with these 2 key members of the HIRISE. Genuine diplomacy is not conducted with friends! Surface appearance is all smiles.

    The key questions remain. Does Erdogan really believe that Assad must go? I think that is quite clear as is the clear statement from The Turks that nothing that they are connected with is being handed back to Assad. Do the Kurds have the right to displace the Arabs and grab territory west of the Euphrates? Or have the Kurdish people now paid a very dear price for their leaders previous policies. Those leaders were told to back down from them and given a long diplomatic period to come to their senses about what they were up to. They did not do so unfortunately and this very sad outcome has been the result. The Kurdish leadership had IMV alternative choices. I am not sure that the Turks have at this stage. They are in the middle of a long war with Kurds of one perspective! I hope that a return to the negotiations that were resulting in actual progress start soon. I believe there is a future in that direction under Erdogan’s leadership. I see nothing else that is going to make progress.

  21. 21 patrickm

    Road to Damascus: The Kurds nominate Syria for regime change.

    Christopher Hitchens Monday, March 22, 2004

    Over last weekend, I had the honor of being an invited speaker at the American Kurdish Congress, held in Arlington, Va. There was a good deal to celebrate, as against the same time last year. The three Kurdish-majority provinces of Iraq have consolidated their hard-won prosperity and autonomy, and Kurdish has been recognized as an official language of the new state. Kurdish security forces played a crucial role in isolating and capturing Saddam Hussein and in arresting the courier who was bearing the now-notorious Zarqawi manifesto, calling for Sunni-Shiite fratricide as the latest strategy of fundamentalism, across the Iranian border. There is some resentment and suspicion among Kurds at the seeming willingness of Americans to take them for granted. (Colin Powell, on his flying visit to the annual commemoration of the chemical weapons massacre at Halabja, had not seen fit to mention that the victims were Kurdish. If you want to know how to offend an Iraqi Kurd, by all means refer to him or her as one of those victimized when Saddam murdered “His own people”. “His own people” they decidedly were and are not.)

    Amid all the discussions and debates about the disputed role of Kurds in the new Iraqi constitution, one could feel and hear another hot topic as it rushed around the periphery of the meeting. Many of those present had relatives and friends in northern Syria and were in cell-phone contact with them hour by hour. In and around the city of Kamishli, in the past few days, several dozen Kurdish protesters have been shot down by Baathist police and militia for raising the Kurdish flag and for destroying pictures and statues of the weak-chinned hereditary ruler, Bashar al-Assad. In tussling with local party goons who shout slogans in favor of the ousted Saddam, it is clear, they are hoping for a rerun of regime change.

    It is early to pronounce, but this event seems certain to be remembered as the beginning of the end of the long-petrified Syrian status quo. The Kurdish population of Syria is not as large, in proportion, as its cousinly equivalent in Iraq. But there are many features of the Syrian Baath regime that make it more vulnerable than Saddam Hussein’s. Saddam based his terrifying rule on a minority of a minority—the Tikriti clan of the Sunni. Assad, like his father, is a member of the Alawite confessional minority, which in the wider Arab world is a very small group indeed. Syria has large populations of Sunni, Druze, and Armenians, and the Alawite elite has stayed in power by playing off minorities against minorities. It is in a weak position to rally the rest of society against any identifiable “enemy within,” lest by doing so it call attention to its own tenuous position.
    There are many Kurds in the major cities of Syria, and their prestige as a minority is quite high since they originally came to the country as the soldiers of their fellow Kurd Saladin (oddly enough, born in Tikrit) during his victorious war against the Crusaders. When he died and was buried in Damascus, they elected to stay. The most successful Communist leader in the Arab world, Khaled Baqdash, was a Syrian Kurd. As many reporters have been noting in the last few days, the nascent human and civil rights movement in Syria has been galvanized by the events in the Kurdish north, which illustrate in sharp relief the general bankruptcy of the regime Until recently, it was official Syrian policy to sponsor a Kurdish insurgency in neighboring Turkey, albeit an insurgency led by the Pol Pot of Kurdish politics, Abdullah Ocalan of the “Kurdish Workers Party” or PKK. That opportunist moment came to an end when the Turkish army threatened to invade Syria, causing the senior Assad to expel Ocalan from Syrian-occupied Lebanon (which also has its restless Kurdish underclass). But a steady official propaganda in favor of Kurdish militancy elsewhere has now partly come back to haunt its insincere authors.

    The Syrian regime never had the ruthless self-confidence of its Iraqi neighbor, though it did bloodily crush a rebellion by the Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Hama about a quarter-century ago. At present, it is in power mainly to be in power and doesn’t pretend to have any much grander aim. Its pan-Arab rhetoric is threadbare, its attitude to Islam necessarily compromised, its armed forces fifth-rate, its treasury a joke, and its occupation of Lebanon a thing of shreds and patches. It has made the huge mistake of promising “reforms” and then failing to produce them: always a sign of a moribund system. It has helped the CIA to identify and track down al-Qaida sympathizers, while continuing to flirt, somewhat unconvincingly, with the military wings of Hezbollah and Hamas. The last thing it needs is a rebellion by people who are sure that they are on the winning side. It can neither extirpate the Kurdish rebels nor satisfy them.

    This indecision is partially replicated in Washington, which is in no hurry to alarm its Turkish ally with too much talk of Kurdish self-determination in either Iraq or Syria. But “regime change,” as those of us who favor it have always maintained, is not something that can too easily be manipulated. Colin Powell, who has always detested the policy, may have spent the past few days trying to reassure the Saudis that nothing too revolutionary is intended by American pronouncements about democracy. As usual, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Syria, and tomorrow in Iran, there are forces at work who intend to take these pronouncements with absolute seriousness. It would be nice if American liberals came out more forcefully and demanded that the administration live up to its own rhetoric on the question.


    It happened, Mr Adams
    Christopher Hitchens
    The Australian 2004-07-30

    I FELT no more than the usual pang of boredom and exasperation when I read Phillip Adams, writing on this page last Tuesday, recycling the bogus accusation that Washington’s “spies” had given their “masters” – Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz – the “excuse” of WMD for a long-planned invasion of Iraq.
    I repressed a sigh – of annoyance and tedium – when he went on to repeat a long-exploded claim about Wolfowitz’s “confession” to Vanity Fair (a magazine which I ought to say that I serve as a contributing editor and columnist).

    But I shook off my torpor a bit when I read, from a man who I happen to know cares about human rights, that all this stuff about Saddam Hussein the butcher was a bit overdone. Where, Adams demands to know, are the bodies of the victims?

    So I’ll skip the stuff about the Senate under Bill Clinton unanimously passing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, and about Hans Blix’s belief – shared by Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder – that Iraq’s non-compliance on the UN’s WMD resolutions should be taken as evidence of yet another attempt to conceal weapons and cheat inspections. This is all on the record, as is Wolfowitz’s actual statement on the WMD consensus, and not even the fashion for Michael Moore-ism can prevent a literate reader from looking it up.

    But no serious person should even try to whitewash the record of Saddam when it comes to war crimes and crimes against humanity. So gross and horrific is this record that even Adams concedes more than perhaps he intends. Sure, he says breezily: “Saddam gassed the Kurds. Yes, an unknown number of Iraqi citizens were tortured and slaughtered.” But that – with its casually “unknown number” – apparently counts only against today’s regime-change because Iraq was then being backed by Washington. (I interrupt myself to ask whether or not one might approve of Washington’s change of policy here?)

    Willing to concede the truth of anything Saddam might have done when he committed the ultimate sin of being a temporary American ally, Adams becomes beady-eyed and parsimonious when we get to the present day. Only 55 out of 270 mass-grave sites, as he says, have yet been fully examined. And while some of these contain “hundreds”, others have yielded no more than a dozen corpses! So what’s the great sanctimonious fuss?

    Well, I am no friend of sanctimony. But when I stood on the mass grave at Hilla, near Babylon, about a year ago, I was upset not just by the huge number of cadavers, which by the way ran into the thousands. I was upset by the relatives who’d had to wait a decade to inspect the place, and who had found that the water table had washed a lot of the bodies away. A possible shred of clothing, or fragment of an identity card, is not much consolation in these circumstances. Indeed, many of the relatives had acted against their own interests, here as elsewhere, by rushing to the site as soon as the murderer had fallen, and by digging with their bare hands.

    As we have learned from grim experience – everywhere from Argentina to Ethiopia to Bosnia – the cold and determined forensic search for “the disappeared” is at odds with the urgent need of the survivors for information. Often, they also want to learn the most heart-shrivelling thing: not whether he or she is dead but how long it took them to die. Mercifully, this evidence is not always available either. I would have expected Adams to know that.

    But I would not have expected him to make light of the matter. You can go anywhere in Iraq, perhaps especially in Iraqi Kurdistan, and you can interview any Iraqi exile family, and you will have a hard time finding anyone who is not related to one of “the missing”.

    It is quite conceivable that this horrific fact has in itself led to some over-counting. Tony Blair, scorned by Adams, has mentioned a figure of 400,000. The late UN special representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, specified a figure of 290,000 Iraqis over three decades. (That was before the Saddamist-jihadist alliance put an end to de Mello’s life by blowing up the UN headquarters in Baghdad last year, thus adding to a toll that is by the way still rising.) Bear in mind that those are only statistics of Iraqis. But perhaps Adams doesn’t wish to take the word of the man who assisted East Timor to liberation, and who was sceptical of the intervention in the first place.

    Very well, he can consult the still-extant UN resolution that demanded in vain that Iraq provide an accounting of what happened to the many hundreds of Kuwaiti prisoners who vanished during the illegal obliteration of Kuwaiti statehood in 1990. Or he can inquire after the hundreds of thousands of young Iranians and Iraqis who perished as a consequence of Saddam’s lunatic invasion of Iran. If he wants to do Baathist body counts, I can keep him busy for the rest of his journalistic career.

    Saddam is now in the dock for his fantastic career of sadism and mayhem. Just one of the counts in the indictment – the whereabouts of the Kurdish inhabitants of the town of Barzan, trucked off and never seen again – could occupy humanitarian investigators for decades.

    Where is everybody? That’s what the survivors want to know. Adams – who uses the suggestive phrase “forced to confess” only when jeering at Blair, and who incidentally attributes all casualties in the anti-Saddam wars only to the Coalition – now offers the only defence that Saddam’s attorneys haven’t come up with. Why didn’t they think of pleading “No big deal”?
    Christopher Hitchens

  22. 22 patrickm

    The Kurds, Turkey’s metamorphosis to a European state

    Date: 13 November 2004 By Adil Al-Baghdadi

    Turkey’s bid and eagerness to join EU is a welcome sign that the country wants to change and shake off its not so glamorous 80 years past of either direct tyrannical military rule or intermittent military-controlled civilian governments.

    The heirs of Ataturk and the despotic Ottoman rule, which fought the Europeans for centuries and stopped the flow of renaissance to reach and change the regions within its domain – especially the Middle East – are now knocking at every European door and begging for an admission.

    However, it seems that Turkey’ military and civilian leaders do not realize, just like Ataturk didn’t, that being a European means more than wearing a suit and a tie.

    And acting like one is nothing to do with the fact that their country has a bit of a territory within the European continent, which in fact was an integral part of Greece.

    To be part of Europe and declare one is European is not also by joining the Eurovision contest and parade scantly clad and beautiful young Turkish women.

    There is more to it than that, in fact there are more than 600 years of it to be precise.

    As throughout many centuries of the despotic Ottoman rule Europe went through complete social, political and cultural transitions especially during the renaissance era, the likes of which have not yet being tried in Middle East let alone Turkey.

    This era has shaped Europe to what it has become now, a collection of countries which has strong adherence to democratic principles, unwavering conviction in human rights and above all tolerance towards anything that is different, be it ethnic and religious groups, equal rights for women, homosexuals and others.

    In contrast, the present Turkey, which is a by-product of Ataturk supremacist, Kurdish-hating and jingoistic mentality still has a very long way to go to convince even its ardent supporter in Europe that it has changed, but not on the cosmetic level.

    Many reports in Turkish dailies frequently caries news about the Turkey that everyone has come to know, that’s to say a Turkey that is intolerant towards the Kurdish population in northern Kurdistan and Kurdish gains in southern Kurdistan.

    The underlying tone of such articles and reports describe the inexplicable derision and mistrust towards people who contributed greatly to creating Turkey – which afterwards denied their existence for more than 80 years – and who will yet again will contribute to Turkey’s accession to European Union.

    In one such report the Turkish Human Right Organization head, Yusuf Alatas, describes the current situation in Turkey regarding the supposedly newly found rights for Kurds to broadcast and teach Kurdish.

    In it he says: “Has the problem of broadcasting in native language been solved with a half-hour broadcast, when in fact watching private TV channels in the same native language is not allowed? And will people attend Kurdish courses where they have to undergo interrogation?

    Are people asked personal questions when enrolling in English language courses? After all they pay money to attend these courses”. Turkey should not expect that by applying a trimmed down versions of EU adaptation packages it could qualify to the much-prized club membership.

    What’s more, it should not assume to be treated like a European state when it still relapses back to its tyrannical past in between now and then.

    To behave, act and think like a European takes centuries. It would be a tall order and implausible demand, however desirable and beneficial that maybe, to ask Turkey to enrol en-masse all of its military and civilian leaders in courses ranging from studies in European history, human rights, multi-ethnic societies in democracies and rights of nations for self-determination. They even may find it useful to enrol in courses in basic decorum such as tolerance and respect towards others.

    Also it would be a far-fetched request to ask Turkey’s establishment and its military leaders to take long sessions with European psychiatrists to rid themselves from the Kurdo-phobia, which has besotted them and has gripped Turkey for centuries and up until now.

    However, heaven to be hold, there is a short cut for Turkey to become a modern European entity that is by embracing and helping the Kurds in Northern Kurdistan to achieve political and cultural rights.

    And by owning up to the genocide of Armenians and by granting cultural and political rights to Turkey’s substantial Arab, Greek, Assyrians and Laz population and others.

    This would convince even its staunchest opponent in Europe and millions of Kurds that Turkey is on the right track to become a true European country.

    The travesty of justice for Turkey is that the very people whom she disowned, decimated, humiliated and culturally annihilated for more than 80 years are now the most critical factor in deciding whether Turkey can be part of Europe or not.

    Adil Al-Baghdadi
    12 November 2004

  23. 23 Steve Owens

    I am somewhat mystified by your response I thought that we were talking about the responsibility for the breakdown in peace talks between Turkey and the Kurds. My position is that the peace talks broke down on 2 occasions once when Erdogan opportunistically gave support to ISIS to defeat Kurds at Kobani and the time where Turkey arrested Kurdish parliamentarians when they refused to swap increased autonomy for increased Presidential powers.
    You seem to have reprinted 3 random pieces from 2004 each one a little bit more bizarre than the previous one. The last one is a piece about Turkey not being civilised enough to join the EU. Really is EU membership still a question?

  24. 24 patrickm

    There was no peace talks that broke down in the manner that you obfuscate with your 2 occasions. There is and was a long war that had resumed in Turkey and the enemies of all progress had a big interest in spreading that conflict. Complexity!

    Erdogan still had US air power flying out of his base – Incirlik – that enabled the Kurds to defeat Daesh. Complexity!

    The Turks sat on their duff watching the battle and that showed that they could have stepped in if the Kurds and the Turks had settled their issues it does not show that the Turks under Erdogan supported Daesh. IMV if the Kurds had lost that battle the Turks would have immediately stepped in. Siting on their duff did not show that the Turks that are led by Erdogan wanted Daesh to be victorious! He is an islamist not an islamofascist.

    This is the trouble with your thinking; you only seem to get it years after it is obvious, but then another issue dazzles you and you revert to the old rubbish thinking.

    Does Erdogan really believe that Assad must go? YES YES YES. Are the Turks also at war with some of the Kurds? Obviously! Can those Kurds get away with opportunistic unity with the HIRISE to defeat FSA formations and capture large swathes of Arab territory in order to get a total territorial control along Turkey’s Syrian border and conduct their ongoing separatist war without bringing on a Turkish defence of the FSA and the defeat of that plan? No they can’t. Have the Kurdish leadership not been given many months of opportunity to withdraw from west of the Euphrates and are they not still in Manbij? Yes they are. One way or another that territory is going back to Arab control under the FSA! It will not go back under Assad! I would like it to be without 1 death! The Kurds ought not bring this fight on. The Kurds ought to change course. I want Assad defeated and that wont happen without the FSA. The Kurds that lead this part of the Kurdish regions ought not to have played this rotten game.

    I fully grasp that I may have this ‘longer view’ thinking wrong, but at least I’m trying to get my head around this from that perspective. You are, it seems to me, just returning to your old views.

    The thinking from anti Saddam activists of 2002-3-4… is now so crystal clearly correct when set against the alternatives that claimed at that point a western left linage that it is now our only starting point for any progress and not just in this region. Thomas Jefferson was way ahead of any of you laggards.

    Syria has bankrupted more than just 1/2 theorists. It has utterly exposed the creeps like the Cobyns and Obama types and the gutter ‘Marxists’ and Greens that you took to the streets with.

    ‘In and around the city of Kamishli, in the past few days, several dozen Kurdish protesters have been shot down by Baathist police and militia for raising the Kurdish flag and for destroying pictures and statues of the weak-chinned hereditary ruler, Bashar al-Assad. In tussling with local party goons who shout slogans in favor of the ousted Saddam, it is clear, they are hoping for a rerun of regime change.’ Fuck wits in the pseudoleft still think this revolution started in the Arab Spring in 2011. They still don’t get the total integration of the swamp draining strategy that is required! It was launched against that mass murdering tyrant Saddam! That gave the revolution a chance. Doing almost nothing in Syria has given the HIRISE their chance.

    Despite the observation that ‘It is in a weak position to rally the rest of society against any identifiable “enemy within,” lest by doing so it call attention to its own tenuous position.’ the Syrian revolution has been at a terrible price precisely because of the hands off ‘anti war’ crowd and everything that they have got so catastrophically wrong! There is no end in sight and no defeat in sight and there is nothing but revolution to hope for against the enemies of all progress.

    ‘Colin Powell, who has always detested the policy, may have spent the past few days trying to reassure the Saudis that nothing too revolutionary is intended by American pronouncements about democracy. As usual, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Syria, and tomorrow in Iran, there are forces at work who intend to take these pronouncements with absolute seriousness. It would be nice if American liberals came out more forcefully and demanded that the administration live up to its own rhetoric on the question.’ Consider the rapid strides that are now being made in the KSA! The swamp is being drained and there are forces trying to stop the draining process. Erdogan is not trying to stop it but is part of it.

    Philip Adams still drones on as the dominant ABC ‘left’ type voice! Still! ‘I interrupt myself to ask whether or not one might approve of Washington’s change of policy here?’

    ‘If he wants to do Baathist body counts, I can keep him busy for the rest of his journalistic career.’ Do you get it yet? ‘Adams – who uses the suggestive phrase “forced to confess” only when jeering at Blair, and who incidentally attributes all casualties in the anti-Saddam wars only to the Coalition – now offers the only defence that Saddam’s attorneys haven’t come up with. Why didn’t they think of pleading “No big deal”?’

    Now we can all see what the big deal is! There is a HIRISE structure to pull down.

    ‘As throughout many centuries of the despotic Ottoman rule Europe went through complete social, political and cultural transitions especially during the renaissance era, the likes of which have not yet being tried in Middle East let alone Turkey.’ Erdogan has the task before him without the help that a revolutionary US led West ought to have carried but the liberals under Obama would not. Give me Erdogan against Obama, Corbyn, Shorten and Trudeau.

    What will the ABC types do next when Trump takes some action? He will take some form of action. Didn’t you just think that the US would now back away? What ought to be done?

    ‘To behave, act and think like a European takes centuries. It would be a tall order and implausible demand, however desirable and beneficial that maybe, to ask Turkey to enrol en-masse all of its military and civilian leaders in courses ranging from studies in European history, human rights, multi-ethnic societies in democracies and rights of nations for self-determination. They even may find it useful to enrol in courses in basic decorum such as tolerance and respect towards others.’ Erdogan was and will again drag Turkey in the democratic direction. But this can’t be done while the Syrian war turns the region into terror town. Complexity! A progressive peace is not possible while the HIRISE runs a counter revolution. It is up to the West to step up and make some demands of both the Kurds and the Turks in the full context of ending the HIRISE tyranny. The FSA will not be stopped from going back for another crack at Assad and thus his backers.

  25. 25 patrickm

    And one more to go on with.


    BY CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS Friday, April 2, 2004

    There must be a temptation, when confronted with the Dantesque scenes from Fallujah, to surrender to something like existential despair. The mob could have cooked and eaten its victims without making things very much worse. One especially appreciated the detail of the heroes who menaced the nurses, when they came to try and remove the charred trophies.

    But this “Heart of Darkness” element is part of the case for regime-change to begin with. A few more years of Saddam Hussein, or perhaps the succession of his charming sons Uday and Qusay, and whole swathes of Iraq would have looked like Fallujah. The Baathists, by playing off tribe against tribe, Arab against Kurd and Sunni against Shiite, were preparing the conditions for a Hobbesian state of affairs. Their looting and beggaring of the state and the society–something about which we now possess even more painfully exact information–was having the same effect. A broken and maimed and traumatized Iraq was in our future no matter what.

    Obviously, this prospect could never have been faced with equanimity. Iraq is a regional keystone state with vast resources and many common borders. Its implosion would have created a black hole, sucking in rival and neighboring powers, tempting them with opportunist interventions and encouraging them to find ethnic and confessional proxies. And who knows what the death-throes of the regime would have been like? We are entitled, on past experience, to guess. There could have been deliberate conflagrations started in the oilfields. There might have been suicidal lunges into adjacent countries. The place would certainly have become a playground for every kind of nihilist and fundamentalist. The intellectual and professional classes, already gravely attenuated, would have been liquidated entirely.

    All of this was, only just, averted. And it would be a Pangloss who said that the dangers have receded even now. But at least the international intervention came before the whole evil script of Saddam’s crime family had been allowed to play out. A subsequent international intervention would have been too little and too late, and we would now be holding an inquest into who let this happen–who in other words permitted in Iraq what Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright and Kofi Annan permitted in Rwanda, encouraged by the Elysée.

    Prescience, though, has now become almost punishable. Thanks in part to Richard Clarke’s showmanship (and to the crass ineptitude of the spokesmen for the Bush administration) it is widely considered laughable to have even thought about an Iraqi threat. Given Saddam’s record in both using and concealing weapons of mass destruction, and given his complicity–at least according to Mr. Clarke–with those who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 and with those running Osama bin Laden’s alleged poison factory in Sudan, any president who did not ask about a potential Baathist link to terrorism would be impeachably failing in his duty. It’s becoming more and more plain that the moral high ground is held by those who concluded, from the events of 1991, that it was a mistake to leave Saddam Hussein in power after his eviction from Kuwait. However tough that regime-change might have been, it would have spared the lives of countless Iraqis and begun the process of nation-rebuilding with 12 years’ advantage, and before most of the awful damage wrought by the sanctions-plus-Saddam “solution.” People like Paul Wolfowitz are even more sinister than their mocking foes believe. They were against Saddam Hussein not just in September 2001 but as far back as the 1980s. (James Mann’s excellent book “Rise of the Vulcans,” greatly superior to Richard Clarke’s, will I hope not be eclipsed by it. It contains an account that every serious person should ponder.)

    I debate with the opponents of the Iraq intervention almost every day. I always have the same questions for them, which never seem to get answered. Do you believe that a confrontation with Saddam Hussein’s regime was inevitable or not? Do you believe that a confrontation with an Uday/Qusay regime would have been better? Do you know that Saddam’s envoys were trying to buy a weapons production line off the shelf from North Korea (vide the Kay report) as late as last March? Why do you think Saddam offered “succor” (Mr. Clarke’s word) to the man most wanted in the 1993 bombings in New York? Would you have been in favor of lifting the “no fly zones” over northern and southern Iraq; a 10-year prolongation of the original “Gulf War”? Were you content to have Kurdish and Shiite resistance fighters do all the fighting for us? Do you think that the timing of a confrontation should have been left, as it was in the past, for Baghdad to choose?

    I hope I do not misrepresent my opponents, but their general view seems to be that Iraq was an elective target; a country that would not otherwise have been troubling our sleep. This ahistorical opinion makes it appear that Saddam Hussein was a new enemy, somehow chosen by shady elements within the Bush administration, instead of one of the longest-standing foes with which the United States, and indeed the international community, was faced. So, what about the “bad news” from Iraq? There was always going to be bad news from there. Credit belongs to those who accepted–can we really decently say pre-empted?–this long-term responsibility. Fallujah is a reminder, not just of what Saddamism looks like, or of what the future might look like if we fail, but of what the future held before the Coalition took a hand.

  26. 26 Steve Owens

    This is logic that cant be argued against. I do A and no matter how bad the results of doing A are its always better than if I didnt do A, so therefor doing A is always correct.
    I used to ask Barry how many people in Iraq would have to die before the “humanitarian” war that he supported was not worth the effort. He wisely never put a number on it.
    Arthur publicly stated that the death toll could be as low as hundreds and the results never shook his belief in his ability to understand international affairs but why have you diverted the discussion on Turk/Kurd peace talks into a rehash of 2004 arguments about Iraq?
    The argument is about the breakdown of peace talks I have given 2 precise times as to when this happened which you say are incorrect. So just for my edification can you tell me the date that the Kurds sabotaged the peace talks because obviously we are talking about different things.
    As to Kurd forces holding Arab land well they took this land from Daesh of course they should be involved in negotiations to return anything to its rightful owners but to anyone who wants to use force we need to ask where were you went force was needed to dispossess Daesh

  27. 27 patrickm

    And yet you do not dispute that;

    ‘In February 2016, in alliance with Russia, the PYD captured Tel Rifaat, Menagh, and surrounding areas close to Afrin. These Arab-majority towns were governed by civilian local councils and defended by non-jihadist rebels. Both people and rebels were driven out by Russian air power (Russian bombs destroyed all three of Tel Rifaat’s health centres during the assault) accompanied by the PYD’s troops on the ground. Next, in July 2016, the PYD captured the Castello Road leading into Aleppo, assisting the Assad regime’s siege on the city and eventually its fall (in December) to Assad’s Iranian-backed militias.’
    So you are not really trying to grasp the complexity of this at all. The west ought to have stepped in years ago! Saddam was self evidently removed from a revolutionary perspective and yet you dribble on about a humanitarian war. I have no interest in how many fascists get their murderous career cut short by their own death. My interest is in the left project to end their careers and that is why the obvious positive comparison can and should be made. As usual you can’t work out who ought to be shot at. Assad has to be defeated not tolerated. The Kurdish leadership have done worse than tolerate this regime they have collaborated with it and attacked the FSA. They have thus brought on the counter attack. They must withdraw to East of the Euphrates and they must stop all collaboration with the HIRISE or there will be more war waged against them. They must then resume a ceasefire in Turkey and in Syria against the Turks and the ‘FSA’ groups or they will be fought until they think better of the offer. They have a peaceful way forward to democracy but the FSA do not. There is no peaceful way past Saddam/Assad/HIRISE! Both of us now look forward to Trump taking action; you will just tell lies to yourself to pretend you haven’t woken up to your old self. How can you look back at the work of Hitchens and not see how Assad and Syria is exactly the cure to your former blindness. Not all Kurdish leadership is to be tolerated. The transformation of the region requires a perspective that accepts that the masses did not find refuge in Kurdish controlled territory in Syria they found their refuge in Turkey and those millions count! Turkey and the West must involve themselves in Syria. The HIRISE troops are the enemy and the Kurds were only ever 10% or so of the population of Syria. They must join the democratic revolution and commit to fighting against the tyranny and it’s “four-stage strategy of siege, starve, destroy and transfer” and resume the path that Erdogan had got them onto before this war resumed. That is the progressive future direction from this hell .

  28. 28 Steve Owens

    Oh the nasty nasty Kurds. Tel Rifaat was a city that at first fell to the FSA and then to ISIL who decided to leave the city in the control of the Islamic Front a pleasant group of people who wish to change Syria into an Islamic state and dispense with niceties like democracy. Yes the Kurds took Tel Rifaat with Russian help.
    I dont look forward to Trump taking action because like the last time he took action it was BS He like his predecessor wont do anything because they dont have any interests worth pursuing.
    The Syrian civil war is over except for some final jostling mainly around how much territory will Turkey allow the Kurds to keep and how much Israel will tolerate Irans newly won position. The Americans may throw some missiles in to make the hawks feel good but Im sure that you can attest that the feeling is fleeting.

  29. 29 Steve Owens
  30. 30 Steve Owens

    BTW are you going to admit that you got Tel Rifaat wrong?
    “These Arab-majority towns were governed by civilian local councils and defended by non-jihadist rebels.”
    Yep got it wrong but now gone quiet hmmmm.

  31. 31 patrickm

    Syrian Coalition: On Assad government and Allies’ Increasing Violations of Idlib Agreement and Their Targeting of Civilians

    I just noticed that the ‘UN’ has made a claim that 2.8mil Syrians are now permanently disabled to one extent or another. I for one do not doubt it given there are well over 500,000 dead.

    ‘Russia’s Syria campaign continues: Russian Navy Project 1171 Black Sea Fleet Tapir (NATO:Alligator) class LST Orsk 148 transits Bosphorus towards Mediterranean en route to Tartus for its 10th Syria campaign deployment in 2018. Currently the most deployed ship of the Black Sea Fleet’

    And to round out the year the North Korean FM is in Damascus having a bit of hand shake time with the man that is going to make it through yet another year Assad!

    Funny old world. Probably done with smoke and mirrors…

  32. 32 patrickm

    Reports from Syria today.

    ‘Jeffrey and DAS Rayburn visited the site of US and Turkish military rehearsals for joint patrols in fulfillment of the Manbij roadmap and discussed with US and Turkish military officials the importance of the unique military cooperation between US and Turkey in resolving the conflict in Syria. ‘

    .@SecPompeo’s Special Rep. for Syria Engagement Amb. Jeffrey and Special Envoy Rayburn visited Gaziantep on Dec. 8 to meet with U.S. and Turkish military officials, Syrian refugees, civil society actors, and political groups working on Syria.

    Manbij STILL drags on!!! But Turkey will not be duded and let the Kurds get away with this. The SDF/Kurds are going to have to pull back east and let the Free Syrian Army and the Turks control this Arab territory. The US have to deliver this area to the Free Syrians/Turks.

    I wonder if people can even remember when the Russians were poking their noses around in this area? Nothing good was going to come of that back ‘in the good old days’ when the Russians were being great mates with the Kurds who were cooperating with Assad at the time.

    Erdogan has a lot on his plate and that’s for sure! The Turks are definitely if slowly and without much noise digging in and cleaning Al Qaeda types up in the big Syrian enclave that they now are thankfully up to their necks in. All the while standing up to the KSA and Israel and Iran at the same time.

    HIRISE still looks pretty long term! But so do the Yanks and not just east of the Euphrates either. I hope people are sick of being humiliated by the likes of Putin and the Chinese fascists but then I turn on the ABC and just shake my head.

  33. 33 patrickm

    ‘But so do the Yanks and not just east of the Euphrates either.’ 2 weeks is a very long time in Trump world. My bet is that nothing good will come from the US pulling out! BUT it just might get the Kurds/SDF negotiating in better faith with the Arab/FSA/Turks. More like a Kurd turn to HIRISE.

  34. 34 patrickm

    It looks like people now quite openly think it’s a good thing to do. Even the Swiss! There are even Spanish civil war international brigade type notions openly under discussion! My my. Even the 1/2 theorists now think Vlad the individual is worth thinking about and may be a mite on the audacious side.

  35. 35 patrickm this is what ‘slow is smooth and smooth is fast’ looks like. We can now see that dismemberment of Ukraine is only the first step. It will result in massive destruction a huge refugee flows. A vast scope underpins this latest attack on democratic peoples.

    I think Putin after a year or 5 of snipers and roadside bombing style struggle will be in all sorts of bother! But not for now! Here is some ‘experts’ I think they all say they got it wrong! I can’t believe that communists like me are the only one’s who fear fascists and take them seriously.

    But then again ‘first they came for the communists’!

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