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Even through all its pains, a poster from Syria: ‘Oh Egypt, Syria is with you until death’

The slogan was originally made famous as demonstrators from seperate Syrian cities used to chant for another city in its struggles (Oh Homs, Hama is with you until death ; Oh Daraa, Homs is with you until death, Oh Halab (Aleppo) Idlib is with you until death, etc.)





Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières | A letter of solidarity to the farmers of Syria: The struggle for freedom and food sovereignty

From “Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières” (http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article33639)
A letter of solidarity to the farmers of Syria – The struggle for freedom and food sovereignty

The loss of control over processing agricultural goods, such as turning grains into flour, have made it easier for the regime to punish large regions with starvation, and will in the future make it easier for foreign powers to grab hold of Syria through its dependent state.

Dear fellow farmers and peasants in Syria, dear people in Syria and those connected to its cause, – as food concerns us all, hunger and oppression feel the same to each and every person.

When we were approached to write a public letter for you, I felt rather humbled and not knowing where to start. As a farmer and as someone who has encountered the gratitude and witnessed the Sumoud of the Syrian people, I am ashamed of the hardships you are in and ashamed, knowing your strength, that you have been left to fight alone while the weakness of the world is just standing by. Who am I, or any of us out here, to write any lines to you other than those couched in deepest humility.

I am a simple farmer from the worldwide movement of the farmers and peasants, La Via Campesina, which in translation means the path of the farmer. The struggle for food sovereignty begins at our doorstep: when i work the fields on my farm i am actively engaged in the local movement against landgrabbing of agricultural lands in my region and the use of poisons and pesticides.This work is not separate to my direct solidarity with Syrians, and is as necessary. Policies of land grabbing, theft, destruction and displacement happen in a ’globalized’ setting, and such must be our resistance.

We know that in Syrian society, as in all societies, agriculture and food production play a crucial role. We know that a huge number of Syria’s poor, many of those who demanded justice, dignity and bread from the start of this brave revolution were actors from the rural areas and workers in the production of everybody’s needs: food production. We also know of the oppression that the regime embodies and the tactics of neoliberal destruction it had already launched against Syria’s agriculture long before the revolution was even dreamt of.

As many other powers do globally, so the Syrian regime also subdues Syrian society by keeping its food production under its control. It made sure to collect the seeds and distribute them in the next season for its own wellbeing: bad seed or none to those it wanted to punish politically and to the rest over the years it would give in return for the local inherited seeds those modern types that best served its own neoliberal interests.

Syria has long concentrated on centralizing its food production, collecting grains and keeping central control over the mills. These steps once achieved, it is a relatively easy task to subdue the people: whether for the sake of the profit for a few or as a political punishment and more generally a form of control.

We have also heard the stories of those who have risked their lives and hid seeds from the regime’s hands in the past. We have heard of the profit the regime has gained at the cost of Syrian farmers, Syria’s nature, earth and water when it years ago started to push, for example for cash crops such as cotton, implementing the whole path of western indoctrination against the agricultural industry and simply going along with the maximum exploitation of the deep water reserves, using mineral fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and all other kind of chemicals.

All these steps led to an agriculture and a food production deeply dependant on governments or international enterprises, in any moment of crisis leading to an immediate influx of hunger. This destruction of our livelihoods is something we as farmers witness globally and also globally we fight it. You have started down a path of full liberation from a draconian regime and thus face the most extreme violence from all sides. We must understand that your liberation is the liberation of us all: it shouldn’t matter merely to Syrians. We know, for example, that many of the weapons used against you in your present struggle for freedom and future are weapons potentially and really used against us all.

The importance of the agricultural heritage of this whole region is something we as a people globally must understand. It was in the ancient Mesopotamia where human kind first started to breed grains for food. The Iraq war was one of the clearest examples of how the situation of war is being used by the powers to gain control over local markets and over whole populations: first they bombed the seed bank in Abu Ghraib and thus forever buried the most extensive samples of human kind’s seed history. The genetic diversity that has been destroyed in this attack would be – if still in existence – the best weapon against hunger when the high tech seed bred out of the laboratories of the great powers cannot rise to the challenge of pests, difficult climates or different types of soil.

They have destroyed this treasure for their own benefit: the new set of laws implemented on Iraq by the US administration now forbids the growing of traditional Iraqi seeds and pushes for the seeds of some of the few seed companies in power worldwide to grab hold of Iraq’s seed market.

It should be mentioned that Monsanto, one of the biggest of these companies had the violent private military group ‘Blackwater’ working for them. Seeds are systematically stolen in wars and it should also be mentioned that from the seed companies only four already control up to 75% of the world markets. They are direct beneficiaries of wars and come through various paths: by the armies of nations and regimes, or sometimes hidden in the shadows of big humanitarian aid agencies, bringing the promising relief to local farming in the form of their seeds and chemicals.

It is the farming of our grandmothers and –fathers that is under attack and it is this farming of this sustainable and diverse character – not necessarily with the same traditional social implications endured by our ancestors – but an agriculture connected to its people and nature, that has fed the people over the past ten thousands of years and that is the key to self-determination and freedom.

The poverty and thus resulting migration of the people from Syria’s “cottonized” regions into cities’ poor neighborhoods the past years is just one example of the outcomes of the regime’s neoliberal agricultural policies. The loss of ground water and fertile soil will long be a challenge to these areas. The loss of control over seeds or means of further processing agricultural goods, such as turning grains into flour, have made it easier for the regime to punish large regions with starvation and will in the future make it altogether easier for foreign powers to grab hold of Syria through this dependant state that people are in. Hunger and food is an ugly tool used against us all. So the defense of our foods is and must be part of our daily resistance.

While we embrace you from afar, we are sharing these words with you as we fear for your power to stay steadfast when facing such dangers in addition to the terrible dangers you are already facing. As simple farmers we do not come with the money and forces of a big aid organization. We too have not much more in our hands than the tools with which to work the soil under our feet. We cannot and will not make big promises or meet you in five star hotels somewhere abroad.

What we want to offer is the work of solidarity as you face the challenges you face, as we increasingly understand them as a collective challenge. We want to offer you our knowledge about the powers that in some of our countries have already attacked us and our foodstuffs. We want to learn from your knowledge and skills on how you face these attacks. We want to invite you to join our global movement of peasants’ solidarity and we want to join your work and resistance for your local bases.

We, we represent a few of the global peasants movement, La Via Campesina and some of us started work in Syria with the first few of your fellows, on the movement called “The 15th Garden”. This name reiterates for us what we feel a farmer’s hands can do: join the call of the Syrian revolution which sprung to life on March 15 three years ago and build gardens throughout Syria as part of this resistance–full of the diversity of kinds and traditions that the Syrian soil is capable of.

Not all of us are farmers too. Some activists who have never had any contact with agriculture have nevertheless started to understand the need for food sovereignty, when the weapon of hunger is a tool used against people.

The regime has already chosen this form of repression, to fight our revolution by starving people in Syria. When this happens, it is only logical that activists must as a consequence becoming farmers: “The soil that you work is yours.” Thus the revolution means that people may have an opportunity to get closer of what belongs to them. As some friends from a community garden put it: “It might even be a step further than any thing you will find either in the opposition- or regime-controlled areas. The moment your hands touch the ground and the community joins as a collective feeding itself from there in solidarity, this ground is liberated and belongs –just and only- to the community.” This is what we have recognized in Syria and it is this insight that allows us to extend our solidarity.

The 15th Garden has started to grow from these seeds. It is the network of projects of food sovereignty –of a free food for a free people- in Syria. Here we meet as community gardeners and farmers from throughout the country and abroad. It is the farmers and the city gardeners, it is the refugees who have fled, but carry the soil and the spirit of Syria under their feet when they are determined to produce life even in the furthest camp town afar.

As such, we offer knowledge from the simplest questions on how gardening is actually done (for those who are new to it) to the bigger questions of how our communities organize better through their need to produce food, or which support can we offer for you from afar.

It is farmers and gardeners from abroad, who might not have known a single person from Syria were it not for this connection can build a mutual understanding on this civil basis.

Julia Z, 24 June 2014, a farmer of the international solidarity group The 15th Garden

The 15th Garden is a network of a growing number of urban and community gardens in liberated areas in Syria, and of urban gardens abroad standing in solidarity and in direct contact for skill sharing with them. It is a platform for gardeners and farmers alike in Syria to stand together, exchange skills and develop a sovereign food production for the people of Syria, connecting this goal with the demands of the revolution for a free and diverse Syria.

It involves meetings and workshops in Syria and and the neighbouring countries, and doing the actual work of food production together, across the areas and putting the struggle for a free Syria in the context of global peasants resistance. The 15th Garden works on sustainable seed exchange and building the knowledge to reproduce sustainable and free seeds and all other methods of farming that a free people need for gaining their self determination.

Feel free to contact us and join the network!

[FB thoughts) Re Mubarak’s acquittal

Re Mubarak’s acquittal: Although the military has trumped all of its other opponents and is in a more or less secure position, this might be a gamble too far for the military. In taking this move which is the final reversal of‪#‎Jan25‬ they are essentially hedging their bets that the masses have been made completely docile at this point in time and will not react (Mubarak being acquitted by contrast would have been an unimaginable scenario in 2012). Furthermore it removes any pretence – weak and ‘kidding yourself’ as it may be, but still nominally ‘claimable’ in many people’s minds – that the military is separate from Mubarak’s regime, or that Sisi represents a system that is distinct from Mubarak.

For by being not the Defence Minister – holding all the de facto power but hiding behind a nominally higher government and president in name (as Sisi was between 2013-2014); being able to claim that he is ‘merely a minister amongst many’ – but the President himself, Sisi has now associated himself directly with Mubarak, something the military has avoided doing (explicitly) for the last three years, even though it was clearly the case to the majority of people by 2012. Mubarak was not released during Tantawi’s time, he was not released duing Morsi’s time, he was not released duing Mansour’s time but he (will be) released during Sisi’s time.

Meanwhile it poses an opportunity to finally get the answer to the question a lot of us have torturously wondered about for the for the last year or so since the military came in to remove Morsi; whether the masses still have any revolutionary fervour dormant deep inside or whether they have even a small residue of belief still in #Jan25 (those who haven’t been killed or are in jail that is). This is actually the ultimate test as so far its been a game of psychological speculation (according to one’s analysis of the quite confusing, regularly contradictory and often surprising Egyptian psyche). However, that’s not to say that if a reaction comes it will necessarily be immediate; it might very well be in the later future (if it comes at all). It will all depend on the economy. If no reaction occurs even if the economy hasn’t improved; stayed the same or even slightly deteriorated then that means that the military was able to successfully achieve its aim of pacifying the masses by making the economic and security situation since Jan25 so bad that people won’t ever risk provoking that again in the foreseeable future.

Alternatively, it could also be the case that people’s expectations are higher than this and that if the economy continues to steadily deteriorate, or even stay the same, it is not unlikely for something to occur in the foreseeable future, as it’s very unlikely the economy recovers anytime soon but is likely to continue deteriorating. Of course, such a reaction might merely be the optimism in me but I have a feeling that it’s more than that.

The scenario however which I feel most confident to predict about is if if the economy slumps *significantly* more, I think in that case it’s very likely to expect something to happen and that the threshold to surpass any mental restraints of the fear of doing something due to the experience post #Jan25 will have been passed, as it will be seen that the country was already in decline, that it was better if still bad under the early years after the revolution (specifically under Morsi for example) meaning that perhaps it was going to turn around, and that the military, with all the insult, unpleasantries and blood that came with it, not only failed to reverse the decline or steady it but made it significantly worse. Meaning in other words that the revolution was not to blame, for the military came in but was not able to fix it and yet they were the antidote to the revolution. In this case you have nothing to lose. And this is why it was perhaps better for the military and Sisi to stay in the background, they took a gamble out of their increased confidence and put themselves at the forefront and into the firing line, when they might not have needed to do so.

والله اعلم

“George Galloway, Hypocrite Extraordinaire” – Absolutely brilliant – via Radio Free Syria

George Galloway, Hypocrite Extraordinaire – Posted from ‘Radio Free Syria’ (https://www.facebook.com/RadioFreeSyria/photos/a.382885705129976.91927.363889943696219/741624515922758)

27-11-2014: ‘George Galloway MP has excelled himself once again, using police shooting of teenagers in the USA, the Grand Jury verdict in Ferguson Missouri and the subsequent US-wide protests to make a witty quip on behalf of Bashar al Assad.

Galloway took to Facebook to ask, “Shouldn’t the UN establish a ” no fly zone” over Ferguson MO? The regime is gunning down its own people…” poking fun at calls for any no-fly zone to protect the remaining Syrian people. George, as we’re well aware, shares Washington’s disdain for this idea and indeed for the Syrian people other than Bashar al Assad.

While the families of the American children killed by US police and those of the 300,000 Syrians and Palestinians slaughtered to date in Assad’s Nakba may not yet have had a chance to access George’s Facebook page, we’re sure much hilarity will ensue at George’s customary rapier wit and now-standard show of support for genocidal dictatorship. The remaining Palestinian diaspora in Syria, who George once claimed to support oh-so-long ago (see 2010 photograph), will surely clutch their sides in merriment – and the laughter may take their minds of the hunger pangs under regime bombardment and siege.

Apart from confirming George Galloway’s status as an insightful contemporary commenter on a par with Alex Jones, Nick Griffin and David Icke, his latest drollery raises more than a few questions, of course. Such as…

Since George Galloway customarily defends those leaderships which shoot down, as well as bomb, starve and torture innocent citizens in their own nations, why has he claimed to object to police violence in the US’ case?

Why does the Auld Fraud support US protesters’ version of events rather than insisting that the government authorities must be the only credible source of truth, as in Syria?

Why is the Diddie of Dundee not smearing the victims of US police shootings as ‘terrorists’ and ‘cannibal savages’ in the same way as he does those children, women and men slaughtered by Assad’s warplanes, helicopter gunships, missiles, etc since he views the situations as identical?

Why is Gorgeous George not rallying to the support of the police department in Ferguson and the jury which pardoned Michael Brown’s and other US teenagers’ killers as he enthusiastically defends Assad’s authorities in the torture, maiming and slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Syrian children?

Why does Gasbag Galloway not call for US authorities to deploy warplanes, helicopter gunships, ballistic missiles, etc and impose siege and mass starvation, the government reaction he believes to be suitable and proportionate for suppressing any public dissent with the leadership in non-Western nations?

These are but trifling questions of the selectively anti-imperialist titan, and of course we wouldn’t dream of suggesting that George Galloway is a massively hypocritical, morally bankrupt old fraud and consummate politician, who slickly exploits the cause of Palestinian freedom (dependent on the Palestinians’ geographic location) for pseudo-radical political kudos and to make extremely large amounts of money. We’re sure that he remains deafeningly silent on the ongoing starvation, bombing and torture of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Syria and Iraq who he previously used when expedient simply because, well, he hasn’t heard the news. After all, he’s very busy what with his appearances on Press TV, Big Brother and anywhere else he can make money. And ramming one’s nose simultaneously up various dictators’ and totalitarian leaders’ backsides as and when they pay well is surely a time-consuming career, as George’s fellow Scots beacon of humanitarian compassion Tony Blair can also attest. .
We are also absolutely positive that remarkably quickly hushed-up reports from some of George’s former Palestinian associates alleging large-scale tax fraud and ‘missing funds’ from his selfless charity work for Gaza must be scurrilous rumour. Indeed, George is as true an anti-Zionist hero as Bashar al Assad and his father.

Photograph: Galloway pictured n 2010 with Sheikh Muhammad Abu Tohei, a Syrian-Palestinian born and raised in the Ramel al Ghanoubi refugee camp in Latakia, and the local representative of the Hamas movement for the Syrian coastal area.
Sheikh Abu Tohei was arrested in April 2012 by Assad’s forces and subsequently died under torture in a regime prison. Galloway said nothing, as usual, having remained silent about the Assad regme’s ongoing, torture, persecution, dispossession and slaughter of Palestinians as well as Syrians, except to condemn all opposition to the Assad regime as ‘terrorism,’ using identical terms to those deployed by Israel.’

[Raw FB thoughts] Comment on RollingStone piece | ‘A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA’

(Trigger Warning)

Article at: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119

This is just absolutely disgusting.. And this is why anyone who rapes should be hung upside down from the balls to deter anyone else who even thinks about it as an immediate targeted policy, while the lengthy process of ‘awareness’ is put in place and takes root. So rape is just an ‘initiation’ for these students, that just goes to show how much they think of women and how they literally only see them as objects. and the reaction of her friends telling her not to report it because ‘they will be banned from frat parties’ is just surreal..

And this is what literally shocks me here, for all the talk of women being so much more well-off in the West compared to other backwards societies it literally never ceases to amaze me how little value I find that they in essence often hold.

Even amongst those who call themselves ‘feminists’, you often find underlying attitudes that show a lack of so-called ‘extra’ feminist consideration in certain situations, for example where a woman complains of abuses against a ‘good’ man. This is a psychological phenomenon I must admit I cannot fully explain, although I can hypothesize why it appears to me to be the case.

It seems to me that to such minds, in a “more-or-less” gender-equal society (relative to others) – where for example there are generally no impediments to the sharing of spaces between men and women, or where men and women are able to mix freely and unimpeded in the vast majority of fora etc. – i.e. where women are able to engage in *certain spaces and practices* which are not restricted to men (yet whose aims often tilt towards men and/or are structured by them), creates a faux-impression of ‘equality being achieved’, and hence the woman having ‘full autonomy, and responsibility, for her actions’.

In other words it creates a semblance of equality because its seen as relative to other societies where such certain activities are off-limits to women – women are *deprived* of them; to use a simple example if a woman just feels like going out to party at night in whatever dress she likes she can and will not be ‘stopped’ by society (since it is as a matter of ‘initial action’ generally accepted in society – that is not however to say that society will treat her sympathetically if something happens to her, but that simply she is *able* to take that initial action) which is not the case in many other places (to be clear not placing a value judgement but trying to develop my understanding of the associated psychology). And so the fact that the woman can do such certain activities here and enjoys that ‘advantage’ over ‘there’ comes with the notion that women here enjoy (significant/threshold-achieving) ‘autonomy’, because of the fact that they can ‘do all these things men do’. They too are able to play the ‘game’. Sexism and such attitudes meanwhile are in general mostly remnants of a conservative/victorian past, rather than by-products contributed to potentially by the structures of the new arenas of the ‘more progressive’ present.

But these new arenas where women can now participate were not left simply unaltered for women to enjoy, but were in turn modified to deal with the participation of women and how such a participation can actually serve the interests of (a certain set of) men – not to the conducivity of women.

So the rules on which this ‘game’ is played are extremely skewed – in other words women are allowed to play the game and so they are judged by the fact that they are *allowed* to play the game, not by what the rules of the game entail or what their participation necessitates, *or* more importantly what compromises or concessions being ‘able’ to play this game requires them to give in return, knowingly or unknowingly. Its like giving the women the ‘right’ to go out and party’ instead of ‘stay at home’ comes with the trade-off of the dropping of any rights she may have. You want to enter our world? Fine. Now you entered our world, you play by our rules.

To use another example, in a situation of contrasting allegations of abuse between a male accused and a female accuser – lets say in a situation where both were involved in an ‘open relationship’, the fact that the woman has ‘autonomy’ here and has the ready option of being as ‘promiscuous’ for example as a man if she so wills means that she will have no ‘extra’ right of consideration even in a situation of her making (gendered) allegations of abuse; so for example if she alleges that at one point an incident occurred where the male physically abused the female – the allegations made by the female will be taken with a pinch of salt and suspicion even by self-identifying feminists – she had lost many of the protections afforded to her when she entered that arena – why? *Because in this particular arena they live in an equal world*. But of course it is not an equal world, and the foundations and underpinnings of those arenas even if now allowing female participation were not constructed in an ‘equal’ way. That is not to say that as an automatic reaction a woman should be believed in any case just because she is a woman, but to note the contradictions often which exist between the ideas of equality between the different arenas of the subject, and how they can have a very real effect even on those who think they are impregnable to it.


[Raw FB thoughts: On Western pro-Assadism]

The amount of fascist pro-Assad rhetoric on various Western fora (websites, news articles of regime abuses, videos etc.) since the rise of ISIS (and probably before but noticeably since then) by Western ‘commenters’ is just disgusting, and the Left which has not only failed to set the record straight on this (and *at best* not even tried to) and abandoned solidarity with Syria is absolutely complicit in this. They show a few trends:

– Ideological cowardice: In other words when the Arab revolutions faced difficulties and were inevitably transformed in nature due to the sheer depravity and brutality of the states’ response to it they all jumped ship after initially praising the shit out of ‘all those brave youth’ at the beginning, the cowardice in that when a regime’s been able to survive through sheer horror they look at the rise of extremists on the other side (which is completely predictable *and has been predicted for three years by Syria’s revolutionaries who these idiots now call ‘the same as ISIS’*) rather than the source of the problem.

– Orientalism, summarised in the following equation: Burn an entire country; shell, gas, barrel-bomb entire cities killing thousands of civilians and creating Gaza-like scenes; rape thousands of women, torture to death thousands more in your dungeons, snipe directly 5000+ civilians (with admission that civilians that remain in rebel areas are ‘the same as the rebels’), but do all this in a suit and clean-shaven (secular) = GOOD

Appear on the scene 2 years after this, kidnaps and kill revolution activists, kill thousands (overhwhelmingly *other Sunni rebels*), behead some people (attention starts when its Westerners, no attention to rebels crucified months before that), and have incomparable civilian casualties compared to above, but do all this with beards and ‘religious’ rhetoric = BAD.

– Western Narcissm: Its all about ‘us’ and getting ‘us’ involved, often with a ‘wiseass’ perceived understanding of Western duplicity (which is very basic in nature and which they probably only started to ‘figure out’ a few years into Iraq) usually with a sprinkling of foreign words which gave a sense of self-awareness, ‘Jihadi’ and ‘Sharia’ say.

– Identity Politics: If my country says something ‘interventionist’ with regards to foreign policy, I must oppose it – no no, I won’t examine the actual actions (beyond rhetoric), the actual policies (such as at various points stopping weapons going to supposed allies to maintain ‘balance’) or risk approaching any conclusion which might imply that the West does not really want regime change (but rather a continual war of attrition made possibly by very limited support, generally through proxies, to one side). Because it always does (um Iraq hello). If I try to imply that the West’s intervention is possibly ‘passive’ rather than active, then I am an imperialist stooge. I must always be against what my government is claiming, and when it comes to foreign policy, what its claiming at face surface.