The Syria Conflict: West Wants War / Selected articles, August & September 2013

Below we have collated a number of articles from the last two weeks, some of which we added also to our news briefings, which cover the West’s march towards war in Syria and analyse the latest struggles for Rojava’s survival within these latest developments.

Al-Qaeda: A Force for “Good”
9 August 2013 / Rudaw
Trouble is ominously brewing in the once-quiet, northeastern Kurdish corner of Syria where violent terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusrah and Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have begun cold-bloodedly attacking the Kurds.  Bloodthirsty beheadings, reminiscent of Nick Berg, the American cruelly carved up in Iraq in 2004, horrifically bloat today’s Kurdish news.   Kurds are alarmed. Americans should be too. But America is closing its eyes—and closing its embassies around the world in the face of Al-Qaeda inspired terrorist threats. Puzzled Kurds have asked me why America is so indifferent to the Kurdish beheadings, especially when these same “disciples of enforced ignorance” attacked Americans only a decade ago.  I wonder too, and paraphrase Heraclitus who said, “Character is destiny,” and tell them: “Geography is destiny.”

The Kurds in a new Middle East
14 August 2013 / Foreign Policy
For the first time in their modern history, the Kurds can look beyond the mountains for friends. This was not the case just a short time ago. The failure to negotiate statehood, largely due to an inability to present a united front following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the post-World War I new regional order, isolated their communities into four separate states (Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran) and silenced their voice on the international stage for much of the 20th century. During this time, as minorities at the behest of Arab, Turkish, and Persian nationalisms, they were subjected to discrimination, segregation, and at times, genocide.

‘No friends but the mountains’: Washington seeks to ensnare Kurds
15 August 2013 / RT
The targeting of Kurdish civilians in Syria by US-supported armed thugs is part of a deliberate attempt to galvanize the Kurds and pit them in a resurgent struggle against the non-Kurd regions. The Kurdish Democratic Union Party and other sources are now reporting that Kurdish men, women, and children are systematically being tortured, raped, and executed. Fighting has broken out between Syrian Kurds and the insurgent forces supported by the US, UK, France, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

War Within A War: Kurds, Arabs Battle In Northern Syria
22 August 2013 / Radio Free Europe

Islamist and Kurdish militias are fighting a war within a war in Syria that is not just creating tens of thousands of new refugees. It’s also increasingly becoming an ethnic-based conflict between Arabs and Kurds that gives new reasons to worry Syria will break apart.  A glimpse of the increasingly ethnic dimension of the combat in northern Syria comes as tens of thousands of mostly Kurdish refugees have crossed into Iraq since fighting broke out in the middle of last month. One of the refugees told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq that Arab Islamist groups regarded killing Kurds as “halal,” or religiously condoned. “There is violence and killing and kidnapping in the Kurdish areas. They made Kurdish blood ‘halal,'” he said.

Only a peace conference, not air strikes, can stop further bloodshed
26 August 2013 / Independent
Patrick Cockburn: American, British and French air strikes by planes or missiles look probable in retaliation for the  alleged use of poison gas by the Syrian army against people in rebel-held areas of Damascus. Controversy rages about whether or not this is the right thing to do, an argument coloured by memories of official mendacity over Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction in 2003 and Nato’s destruction of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011 under the guise of a limited humanitarian operation.  What armed intervention by foreign powers in Syria will not do is bring an end to the present bloody stalemate in the two-and-a-half-year-old civil war. But governments in Washington, London and Paris should realise that in one respect the slaughter by chemical weapons of hundreds of people in Damascus on 21 August is an opportunity as well as a crime.

An attack on Syria will only spread the war and killing
27 August 2013 / Guardian
Seumas Milne: All the signs are they’re going to do it again. The attack on Syria now being planned by the US and its allies will be the ninth direct western military intervention in an Arab or Muslim country in 15 years. Depending how you cut the cake, the looming bombardment follows onslaughts on Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Mali, as well as a string of murderous drone assaults on Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. The two former colonial powers that carved up the Middle East between them, Britain and France, are as ever chafing for a slice of the action as the US assembles yet another “coalition of the willing”. And as in Iraq and Sudan (where President Clinton ordered an attack on a pharmaceuticals factory in retaliation for an al-Qaida bombing), intelligence about weapons of mass destruction is once again at the centre of the case being made for a western missile strike.

BDP opposes Turkey’s involvement of Syria intervention
28 August 2013 / World Bulletin
Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Pervin Buldan has stated that the party would never give the nod to Turkey’s involvement in a possible Syria intervention, the signals of which are already being given by the West. Turkish officials have shown their support to such an intervention into Syria to stop the bloodshed. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made it clear early this week that Turkey could join a possible international coalition to take action against the Syrian regime if the UN fails to implement sanctions against the government of Bashar al-Assad, which allegedly recently used chemical weapons against Syrians in south Damascus. Buldan also said that from the very beginning of the Syrian crisis, the party is against any foreign intervention into Syria.

Even if Assad used chemical weapons, the west has no mandate to act as a global policeman
28 August 2013 / Guardian
Hans Blix: It is true that the UN security council is not a reliable global policeman. It may be slow to take action, or paralysed because of disagreement between members. But do we want the US or Nato or “alliances of willing states” as global policemen either? Unlike George Bush in 2003, the Obama administration is not trigger-happy and contemptuous of the United Nations and the rules of its charter, which allow the use of armed force only in self-defence or with an authorisation from the security council. Yet Obama, like Bush and Blair, seems ready to ignore the council and order armed strikes on Syria with political support from only the UK, France and some others. Such action could not be “in self-defence” or “retaliation”, as the US, the UK and France have not been attacked. To punish the Assad government for using chemical weapons would be the action of self-appointed global policemen – action that, in my view, would be very unwise.

Syria Debate: Does U.S. Have the Evidence and Authority to Hit Assad for Alleged Chemical Attack?
29 August 2013 / Democracy Now
The Obama administration appears to be pressing ahead with military strikes on Syria despite new obstacles at home and abroad. On Wednesday, an informal meeting of the United Nations Security Council failed to reach an agreement after Russia and China opposed any authorization of force in response to last week’s alleged chemical attack by Assad forces in Ghouta. After domestic pressure, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he will seek parliamentary authorization for using force against Syria, and only after U.N. inspectors complete their current mission. And in Washington, the White House plans to brief lawmakers today following growing calls that President Obama seek congressional backing for any use of force. The administration is expected to make public soon some of its intelligence, but skeptics say there remains no smoking gun implicating the Assad regime. We host a debate on military intervention in Syria between Tariq Ali of the New Left Review and Steven Clemons of The Atlantic.

Syria: As Rebels Escalate Genocide Against Kurds, Obama Prepares Air Strikes to Bring Them to Power
31 August 2013 / Santa Cruz IMC
The Obama administration is preparing an imminent military attack on Syria.  British Prime Minister Cameron was to join the U.S. in the attack, but was rebuked by the British parliament, which voted 285 to 272 against a British military attack on Syria. After the vote, David Cameron acknowledged his defeat saying:  “It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will act accordingly.”  Barack Obama is also legally required to gain similar approval from the U.S. Congress according to the 1973 War Powers Act. Obama, however, is illegally moving ahead in preparations for war without seeking the approval of the U.S. Congress.  France, the former colonial masters of Syria, however, will still potentially join Obama in a military attack on Syria.

Syria on ‘verge of the abyss,’ UN refugee head says
1 September 2013 / Business Mirror
The head of the United Nations refugee agency warned last week that Syria could be on the “verge of the abyss” as aid workers brace for a likely increase in the nearly 2 million refugees who have already fled the country’s civil war. Antonio Guterres, the head of the Office for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, called on Syria’s neighbors to keep their borders open to accommodate additional Syrians seeking to escape the war. He made the comments during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad while on a visit to Iraq. The country’s northern Kurdish region has been flooded with tens of thousands of refugees since the middle of the month. Guterres stopped short of predicting the effect on the refugee crisis if the United States and its allies move ahead with a possible military intervention in the more than two-year-old civil war. But he said his agency is prepared for the conflict to “go on escalating” and called for further support from international donors.

VIDEO: Tariq Ali National Demonstration No Attack on Syria
1 September 2013 / Stop the War Coalition

“Why the US should not bomb Syria”, by Michael M. Gunter
3 September 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
On August 21, 2013 the Syrian regime apparently used chemical weapons against the opposition in Ghouta, an eastern suburb of Damascus, killing anywhere from 500-1,300 people, the numbers vary according to U.S. intelligence reports made public. While the Assad regime has long had a great deal of innocent blood on its hand and now may be guilty of using chemical weapons, this is not a sufficient reason for the United States and its Western allies to bomb Syria. Indeed, the United States has neither an intelligent entry or exit plan. In the first place, however, we are not yet even certain the Syrian regime actually used these weapons. U.S. intelligence on these matters has erred and lied to the world before.

Tamils Stand With Rojava Kurds And Condemn Ethnic Cleansing By Islamists
3 September 2013 / Countercurrents
We received the news of the horrible ethnic cleansing of Kurdish civilians in Rojava with great anguish. It is reported that Islamist thugs affiliated with the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra front carried out this brutal massacre in Rojava/Western Kurdistan, located in Northern Syria, over the last few days. It is also reported that civilians were butchered inside their homes, women and children were raped, and that there were also beheadings. In a revealing report on OpenDemocracy, a Kurdish activist says “The people attacked us Kurds just like that in Tal Abyad, because Arab Imams had announced fatwas declaring it is religiously ‘Halal (permissible)’ to kill Kurdish men, then take their property, women and children as slaves. It is really scary to hear it when the mosque is next door to your house in a small town like here, Tal Abyad.”

Breathtaking U.S. Hypocrisy on Chemical Weapons
4 September 2013 / Global Research
The U.S. encouraged Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against Iran … which was the largest use of chemical weapons in history.  While the number of people killed in the August 21st chemical weapons attack has been estimated at between 350 and 1,429, 20,000 Iranians and 5,000 Kurds were killed by Saddam’s chemical weapons attacks with full U.S. support and backing. The U.S. sprayed nearly 20,000,000 gallons of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants mixed with jet fuel in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia. Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects as a result of its use.   The Red Cross of Vietnam estimates that up to 1 million people are disabled or have health problems due to Agent Orange.

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