Sunday, June 23, 2013

Syria's Suffering Calls For Days Of Action

source: Oxfam blog: From Poverty to Power / Syria
The corporate press is enabling the U.S. Congress and Obama administration in clamoring for airstrikes on Syria to "help" the people there suffering badly under a protracted civil war. The UN estimate of deaths from this war to date: 94,000.
source: The Dish "A Syrian man reacts while standing on the ribble of his house while others look for survivors and bodies in the Tariq al-Bab district of Aleppo February 23, 2013." Pablo Tosco/AFP/Getty Images 

The United National Antiwar Committee, of which I am a member, is calling for national days of action in support of the people of Syria starting June 24 through July 15, 2013. UNAC has just issued this statement:
The White House’s June 13th announcement that it would begin directly supplying arms to the opposition in Syria is a dramatic escalation of the U.S./NATO war against that country.  Thousands of U.S. troops and intelligence personnel are training opposition forces and coordinating operations in Turkey and Jordan.  Israel, the recipient of more than $3 billion annually in U.S. military aid, has carried out heavy bombing raids against Syria. The Pentagon has developed plans for a “no-fly” zone over Syria, threatening a new U.S. air war.
Codepink co-founder Medea Benjamin, just back from a mission of citizen diplomacy to Yemen, reported meeting refugees from Syria during her travels who complained about the lack of condemnation of Syrian government violence from anti-war groups in the U.S. She believes a call for an immediate ceasefire is in order.
The fact that most in the U.S. would not be able to find Syria (or Yemen) on a map is no excuse. I, for one, confess my ongoing confusion about exactly what's happening in Syria, and the difficulty of following the crisis with so many bad sources of "information"  -- as well as reports from credible sources currently vying for my attention about mass uprisings (Turkey! Brazil!) and so many dispiriting ones (NSA surveillance and beyond, and investigative journalist Michael Hastings burned to a crisp).

The U.S. government tells us that Bashar Assad is the bad guy for using chemical weapons on his own people. No proof of who actually used the weapons, though -- and really none needed for the gullible public, routinely accepting of guilt by accusation. But a Syrian acquaintance tweets that, until the U.S. finds a suitable replacement for Assad, he is more useful in power than out.

Further complicating matters: The Golan heights are a key Syrian territory, one that Israel has occupied since 1967, and an important source of water supply to the region. Hezbollah operating from southern Lebanon is a key player -- receiving support from, among others, Iran.

I remembered reading somewhere that when soldiers entered Baghdad after shock and awe, they had maps and plans for Syria among their kit. I searched for that, but what I found was Gen. Wesley Clark claiming:
As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then SyriaLebanonLibyaIranSomalia, and Sudan.
Source: NPR "Syrian Rebel Leader: We Won't Share U.S. Arms With Extremists" May 4, 2013
What has been clear for a while now is that the U.S. has armed and funded rebels against the Assad regime even though the rebels contain among them Islamic fundamentalists and extremists we are supposedly fighting in the ever-expanding global war on "terror." Although this appears to contradict stated war on "terror" goals, it is consistent with ongoing practices like paying Taleban leaders protection money in Afghanistan to keep supply lines open so U.S./NATO forces can fight...the Taleban. And with funding mujahadeen fighters back in the days of the Soviet war on Afghanistan.

All in all, a perfect strategy for maintaining endless war for profit. If a soldier here and there commits suicide after participating, it's just one more death to add to the millions who already gave their lives so drone manufacturers and the like can live in luxury.

Yemeni writer Ibrahim Mothana in testimony to the U.S. Senate described how well the blunt instrument of air strikes is working to recruit terrorists in his country:
During my visits to Abyan, Shabwa and Radaa, three areas of central and southern Yemen where the US has carried out targeted killings, I was overwhelmed with sadness meeting families of drone victims suffering a miserable combination of personal loss and devastating economic burden. Many of the children of strike victims that I saw were severely malnourished and families who lost their main financial provider had little hope for the future. For many of the youngsters, death seemed an easier burden than life so, with this bleak outlook, they joined the fight against the government. 
Demonstrations outside the U.S. Embassy in London, reported by
I invite you to join me in finding your activist voice (great piece here on shy activism by Frida Berrigan). Get out on the streets and into the airwaves to support the people of Syria, whose right to self-determination will always trump U.S./NATO ambitions in their region.

Source: UN News Centre "A line of Syrian refugee women, some carrying children, cross into Jordan from southern Syria. Photo: UNHCR/N. Daoud"

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