Syria - alternative reading list (part 2)

What the Syrian death tolls really tell us
THE GUARDIAN 15 Feb 2013 Sharmine Narwani

Reconciliation is the only way forward for Syria
THE CONVERSATION   4 December 2012, 6.41am AEST  by Dr Fiona Hill

Syrians care more about overdue policy reform than ousting their president.
The AGE, 18 August 2011, by Joseph Wakim

Syrians deserve a third way
Online Opinion by Joseph Wakim, 21 December 2012

Syrian Debate Full | SBS Insight

A cri de coeur from a student at Damascus University…
“Mr. Obama, Tear Down These sanctions!”
COUNTERPUNCH Jan 11- 13 2013, by Franklin Lamb (US reporter, peace activist writing from Syria)

Footage of rally in Syria at which people oppose foreign interference and support peaceful reform
"'s these millions of people who will decide the future of Syria.."

Intervention in Syria risks blowback and regional war
The Guardian, 19 December 2012, by Seumas Milne

U.S. Weighs Bolder Effort to Intervene in Syria’s Conflict
New York Times, 28 November 2012

Violent tide of Salafism threatens the Arab spring

Syria: The descent into Holy War
The Independent, 16 December 2012, by Patrick Cockburn

Syria's Threatened Christians
New York Times Opinion June 28 2012

Syria: Islamist Nusra Front gives BBC exclusive interview
BBC News, 17 January 2013  By Paul Wood

Syrian rebels sidetracked by scramble for spoils of war
The Guardian, 27 December 2012

UPDATE 4-Syrian opposition urges review of al-Nusra blacklisting
Reuters 12 December, 2012

Syria Is Not Tunisia or Libya
New York Times, Opinion Pages 7 February 2012, Sharmine Narwani

Mother Agnes Mariam’s interview by Ireland’s national broadcasting company - RTE
August 2012, After the interview in the studio, RTE journalists requested that Mother Agnes be interviewed on video

Christians a target for Syrian rebels we back
The Australian, 13 October 2012  Angela Shanahan

The Syrian opposition: who's doing the talking?
Guardian 12th July 2012, by Charlie Skelton

Syria and Iran: the great game
The Guardian, 4 November 2011, by Alastair Crooke

The dirty war on WikiLeaks
The Guardian, 9 March 2012, by John Pilger

Syria’s ‘Arab Spring’: failed or hijacked?
ABC The Drum, 14 February 2012,  by Dr Fiona Hill

Syria and the significance of Latakia
LATE NIGHT LIVE with Phillip Adams, 30 January 2013

What's what with Syria?  - 774 ABC Melbourne
21 February, 2012 2:41PM AEDT

Analysing the Syrian situation: Patrick Seale
Radio National Breakfast, 4 June 2012

Claim and counter-claim surrounds latest Syria ‘massacre
Bill Neely ITV 17 Jan 2013

Report: Rebels Responsible for Houla Massacre
The Nation, 9 June 2012, by John Rosenthal

Was there a massacre in the Syrian town of Aqrab
Channel 4, 14 December 2012  by Alex Thomson

Syrian rebels tried to get me killed, says Channel 4 correspondent
The Guardian, 8 June 2012
Alex Thomson says crew was led to 'free-fire zone' as deaths would discredit Bashar al-Assad's regime

Syrian rebels set to execute Ukrainian journalist
13 December 2012

The Arab spring has shaken Arab TV's credibility
Their biased coverage is undermining viewers' faith in the Middle Eastern satellite channels that sprang up in the 1990s and 2000s
The Guardian, 3 April 2012, by Ali Hashem

Robert Fisk: Syrian war of lies and hypocrisy
The Independent: Sunday 29 July 2012

(Robert Fisk refers to the dark ages in his article above.  Check a video of Sheik Adnan Arour, some claim is the godfather of the ‘revolution’ in Syria, to understand what he means: “Adnan Al-Arour says that they will chop the Alawaites who oppose…..”

Saudi says negotiated Syria settlement “inconceivable”
Reuters 1/22/13 RIYADH | Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:37am EST

Report: Saudis sent death-row inmates to fight Syria
USA Today, 21 January 2013, Michael Winter

Islam's Spiritual 'Dear Abby': The Voice of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood
Spiegel Online, By Alexander Smoltczyk
(Note: Qaradawi on Al-Jazeera justifying the killing of civilians in Syria who support the government, this would presumably include workers repairing pipelines or electricity lines damaged by the ‘rebels’:

David Cameron: UK arms sales to Gulf countries 'legitimate'
The Guardian, 6 November 2012, Ian Black

Saudi deals boosted US arms sales to record $66.3 bln in 2011
Reuters, Mon Aug 27, 2012 By Andrea Shalal-Esa

US Congress notified over $60bn arms sale to Saudi Arabia
Obama administration intends to make biggest ever US arms deal with Saudis
The Guardian, 21 October 2010

A permanent ceasefire is the only hope for Syria
The US needs to change policy. Its one-sided support for armed rebels may condemn Syrians to years of bloodshed
The Guardian, Jonathan Steele Sunday 28 October 2012 20.

Salafists Vow to Fight Until there Is 'Islamic State in Syria'
Al-Monitor 16 January 2013

Hard-line Islamist militias target Arab Spring countries
TRIPOLI, LIBYA — The Globe and Mail GEOFFREY YORK  Published Sunday, Feb. 10 2013,

Syrian atrocity: Bodies of postal workers thrown from roof (GRAPHIC VIDEO)
Russia Today 12 August 2012
A horrific amateur video appeared on YouTube, apparently showing an atrocity against public service workers in Syria. The footage displays a crowd of people callously throwing the bodies of slain postal workers from a post office rooftop.
The video, the source of which could not be independently verified, shows several dozen people having surrounded the staircase of the building, some of them chanting “Allahu Akbar!” They watch corpses being thrown out and rolled down the steps.
Also, several people have got to the roof and are throwing down the apparently dead bodies of post servants.
As they hit the ground, the crowd rushes in to catch the appalling images on their mobile phones.

The Killing of Sari Saoud - an investigation
Sari Saoud was a Syrian boy, aged 9/10, killed by an unknown sniper of disputed loyalty, in the city of Homs on November 26 2011. Opposition sources got their story out first, showing his dead body and claiming Sari was killed under fire from government security forces. However, the army reportedly had no presence in Homs at the time. Further, Sari's mother, Georgina Mtanious al-Jammal, contradicts their version, saying repeatedly that the un-checked regional terrorists pulled the trigger on her son. Further, she claims they briefly stole his body from her care, denying mother and son of aid or comfort in favor of making propaganda videos of his body.

Syrian TV

Syria: TV Host Kidnapped, Executed By Islamists
Syrian state TV host Mohammed al-Saeed has been executed, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. A militant Islamist group has claimed responsibility for the killing.
Al-Saeed was kidnapped on July 19 of this year. The Al-Nusra Front, a little-known Islamist militant group, posted a statement August 4 on an Al-Qaeda-affiliated internet forum.
“The heroes of western Ghouta (in Damascus province) imprisoned the shabih (pro-regime militia) presenter on July 19…He was then killed after he had been interrogated,” AFP reported.

The Syrian Diary
Documentary by Russian reporter in Syria

US Ambassador to Syria in charge of recruiting Arab/Muslim death squads
Opinion Maker,  September 12, 2011  By Wayne Madsen
WMR has been informed by reliable sources that the U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert S. Ford, is the key State Department official who has been responsible for recruiting Arab "death squads" from Al Qaeda-affiliated units in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Chechnya to fight against Syrian military and police forces in embattled Syria. Ford served as the Political Officer at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad from 2004 to 2006 under Ambassador John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. Negroponte was a key figure in the covert U.S. program to arm the Nicaraguan contras and his support for vicious paramilitary units in El Salvador and Honduras earned him the nickname of "Mr. Death Squad."

Magician’s Diversion: Bleeding Syria to Death
The Palestine Chronicle,  22 December 2012, Dr Jeremy Salt
According to various definitions, politicide can be used to describe the destruction of a government or a specific socio-political group, such as the Palestinians, when it overlaps with genocide. It can be extended to a state, a system and a country. Saddam Hussein attempted politicide by trying to wipe Kuwait off the map. In the 1930s the fascists committed politicide by destroying the Spanish government.  Territorially, the country stayed as it was. It was simply emptied of its ideological content and turned into something else.
The destruction of governments, leaders and values who stand in the way of the interests of powerful governments is common practice. Since the Second World War the assassins have often been self-styled liberal democratic governments. There is virtually no global arena which has escaped their attention. In the past eleven years alone, in the Middle East, Iraq and Libya have been the victims of politicide. Their governments, value systems and leaders might have badly needed change but when change came it was not at the hands of the people but outside governments. Now Syria is absorbing their attention. Like Iraq and Libya, the justification for the onslaught on Syria of the past 20 months is the ‘dictator’ or the ‘regime.’ More plausibly, the real target is the country itself. Like Saddam and Qadhafi, the ‘dictator’ is the magician’s diversion, flourished with one hand so the audience does not see what is being done with the other….

Syria: Straining credulity?
Online Asia Times, 9 March 2012,  By Alastair Crooke
The UN Secretary General was reported on March 3 saying that he had received "grisly reports" that Syrian government forces were arbitrarily executing, imprisoning and torturing people in Homs after retaking control of the Baba Amr district from insurgents. Did he really believe this; or was he just "saying it"?

"One of the defining bifurcations of the future will be the conflict between information masters and information victims" the US officer assigned to the Deputy Chief of Staff (Intelligence), charged with defining the future of warfare, wrote in the US Army War College Quarterly in 1997.

"But fear not", he writes later in the article, for "we are already masters of information warfare ... Hollywood is 'preparing the battlefield' ... Information destroys traditional jobs and traditional cultures; it seduces, betrays, yet remains invulnerable. How can you [possibly] counterattack the information [warfare] others have turned upon you? [1]

"Our sophistication in handling it will enable us to outlast and outperform all hierarchical cultures ... Societies that fear or otherwise cannot manage the flow of information simply will not be competitive. They might master the technological wherewithal to watch the videos, but we will be writing the scripts, producing them, and collecting the royalties. Our creativity is devastating."

This information warfare will not be couched in the rationale of geopolitics, the author suggests, but will be "spawned" - like any Hollywood drama - out of raw emotions. "Hatred, jealousy, and greed - emotions, rather than strategy - will set the terms of [information warfare] struggles".

Not only the US army, but it seems mainstream Western media insist that the struggle in Syria must be scripted in emotional image and moralistic statements that always - as the War College article rightly asserts - trump rational analysis…

Questioning the Syrian "Casualty List" MRZINE  28/2/2012 by Sharmine Narwani
"Perception is 100 percent of politics," the old adage goes.  Say something three, five, seven times, and you start to believe it in the same way you "know" aspirin is good for the heart.
Sometimes, though, perception is a dangerous thing.  In the dirty game of politics, it is the perception -- not the facts -- of an issue that invariably wins the day.
In the case of the raging conflict over Syria, the one fundamental issue that motors the entire international debate on the crisis is the death toll and its corollary: the Syrian casualty list.
The "list" has become widely recognized -- if not specifically, then certainly when the numbers are bandied about: 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 -- sometimes more.  These are not mere numbers; they represent dead Syrians.
But this is where the dangers of perception begin.  There are many competing Syrian casualty lists with different counts -- how does one, for instance gauge if X is an accurate number of deaths?  How have the deaths been verified?  Who verifies them and do they have a vested interest?  Are the dead all civilians?  Are they pro-regime or anti-regime civilians?  Do these lists include the approximately 2,000 dead Syrian security forces?  Do they include members of armed groups?  How does the list-aggregator tell the difference between a civilian and a plain-clothes militia member?
Even the logistics baffle.  How do they make accurate counts across Syria every single day?  A member of the Lebanese fact-finding team investigating the 15 May 2011 shooting deaths of Palestinian protesters by Israelis at the Lebanese border told me that it took them three weeks to discover there were only six fatalities, and not the 11 counted on the day of the incident.  And in that case, the entire confrontation lasted a mere few hours….

Amnesty International Silence about Killings by Militia
Socrates And Syria

Failing the Burden of Proof
Amnesty International’s Flawed Syrian Hospitals “Investigation”
… AI’s conclusion from its “research” in Syria, which consisted significantly of collecting Al Jazeera and Al Arabia type media accounts including the dubious reports on the same subject by CNN’s Arwa Damon, and sundry anonymous You-tube clips, is virtually identical to what it concluded from its investigation in Libya on the same subject.
However, there is a great distinction between Syria and Libya, their medical professions and their current challenges.
AI claims, without convincing material, probative or relevant evidence that Syrian authorities, including Hospital administrators and staff, have since March 2011 turned Syrian hospital into instruments of repression in order to crush protests and demonstrations.
AI’s report claims that Syrian citizens wounded in protests or incidents related to the current unrest “have been physically assaulted in state-run hospitals by medical staff, and in some cases denied medical care, while others taken to hospital have been detained or have simply disappeared.”
AI offers as its proof of these claims the weakest and seemingly most competition-driven support of any Amnesty International reports I have read….

“Syrian Girl” is a Syrian Australian who is very active on the alternative media:

Syria, an alternate reality. Interview with Russian journalist Anastasia Popova
Posted date: 11 January 2013
Syria: Golden Days of Disinformation - The Houla Massacre and the Battle of Taldou
Information Clearing House Feb 6 2013

Syria: The Druze Are Not Joining The Opposition
Moon of Alabama Feb 8 2013
"Druze are, for the most part, supportive of the Assad government because they view it as secular and tolerant. Druze had a history of persecution and nothing would rattle them more than the likelihood of a Sunni Jihadist coming to power in Syria. The "FSA" and even the Jihadists have tried to avoid dragging the Druze into this battle because they are renowned as ferocious fighters with a deep belief in reincarnation. Druze return to life as Druze, a conviction which makes them less likely to fear death - assuming of course they believe the words of their clergymen.

Yazan Abdallah. Attack on Aleppo University Syria. احداث حلب
 Russia Today   17 January 2013
Yazan:  "Whoever committed the act has a strong interest in striking civil life"  "Terrorists are all about building an Islamic state and Sharia law."  (NB: Yazan, a doctor from Syria, is given quite a lot of coverage on BBC Arabic, but very little on BBC English.)

Report_ Foreign Jihadis Infiltrate Syria and Fight in an Islamist-Infested Syrian CIA
23 January 2013

HRW: Syria rebels attacking Shia and Christian religious sites
al-akhbar English (Lebanese online newspaper),  23 Jan 2013

Promise of Mass Beheadings: Message from Abu Hafs, the Sword-Waving Jihadist