White Helmets say ‘thank you’ to @TheSyriaCampaign

White Helmet representatives say ‘thank you’ to the UK-based ‘The Syria Campaign‘.

The White Helmets (who are Civil Defence Workers operating around Syria) have saved more than 10,000 lives in Syria.

We are the ones who should be thanking them for keeping the state of so-called ‘humanity’ alive, if only just.

Pledge your support at: https://www.whitehelmets.org/

Advertisements

[FB] | Quote re Jewish immigration in Early 20th Century Palestine

“There were two main obstacles to larger Jewish immigration. First, Palestine was not in any way a suitable site for large-scale colonization of the conventional kind. It was small. Much of the land was arid mountainous country or marshlands in the flatter regions towards the coast. Although the Arab population was relatively small at between 500,000 and 700,000, it was increasing before 1914 and there was growing pressure on land, much of it driven by large land-owners to increase production of the main grain crops. In no sense, therefore, was Palestine ‘vacant’ for colonization, though there was uncultivated land in the marshy regions.

It is critical that here, by contrast with virtually all modern colonization in the Americas and Africa, land could not be taken by conquest or by payment of minute compensation. It had to be bought: and until the war of 1948 all land acquired by the Zionists was bought, often at an inflated price. Land purchase was helped by the fact that some 75% of land was owned in large blocks by wealthy notables, but since much of it had been bought as a speculation under the revised [Ottoman] land regulations of 1858, they would not sell it cheaply.

This made colonization an expensive business, since the promoters had not only to buy land, much of it from notables in Syria and Lebanon, but also provide stock and equipment for immigrants, most of whom had no capital and little or no farming experience. In short, there were few countries in the world that were less obviously suited to large-scale European colonization than Palestine, a point much stressed by those Zionists who favoured a settlement somewhere else. It could certainly not solve the problems of east European Jewry” [Emphasis added]

– From Fieldhouse, D.K., ‘Western Imperialism in the Middle East: 1914-1958, p123

Reblogging (with note and summary): KingQajar’s Comprehensive Faction Guide for Syria’s 4-Sided War

To those who always wonder about ‘who are the people fighting in Syria’, I think this is as comprehensive a list as you would get in one page. The 4 sides defined are the Syrian government, Syrian rebels, Kurdish rebels and ISIS.

Linkhttp://notgeorgesabra.tumblr.com/post/105612474038/kingqajars-comprehensive-faction-guide-for

Main Points:

1) Mainstream rebels (FSA and ex-FSA, such as IF, JM, etc.) remain biggest fighting force in opposition to Assad – Exceed 100,000 in numbers (up to 130,000 -150,000; potentially 180,000) – Split mainly between FSA and Islamic Front:
– ‘Conservative mainstream’ (e.g. Conservative Islamists, Salafists) and more liberal mainstream (e.g. Liberal/democratic Islamists, religious nationalists/secularists, etc.) are fairly evenly matched.*
– Nusra Front (categorised as non-mainstream) estimated to have around 5,000 – 6,000 fighters. **

2) ISIS (categorised as a separate side in the civil war) estimated number of fighters vary wildly – estimates generally fall between 20,000-30,000 (CIA), 50,000 in Syria only / 50,000 overall, and 70,000 (Russian Intelligence) – although claims go up to 100,000 and a Kurdish official has stated 200,000 (although this has not been repeated elsewhere).

Note: Unless specified numbers refer to total number of fighters in both Syria and Iraq. Large foreign contingent

3) YPG (categorised as a seperate side) estimated to have 50,000 fighters.


Note: Ideological definitions are imprecise and difficult to convey in this context and often do not always fit simple boxes/labels.

* Thus for example, the use of the term ‘secularists’ in this context differs from ‘secularists’ in a Western setting, and does not necessarily connote being ‘irreligious’ or advocating a ‘complete separation of religion’ from the public sphere. As a shorthand term ‘secularists’ are referred to as such since they do not believe that Sharia should be a primary source/focus of governance, and/or that governance should by-and-large be based on religion. Thus ‘secularism’ in this context can still often in effect encompass a role for religion, albeit a restricted one (mixed with civil law, etc.).

Rather the use of the term ‘secularist’ is often used interchangeably – and perhaps conflatedly – to refer to what is generally meant as a tolerant attitude, or rather pluralism – translated in the Syrian context as an acceptance of multi-confessionalism and non-sectarianism. Thus in general media coverage the Free Syrian Army has often been referred to simplistically as ‘secular’ when this is an imprecise generalisation, since a brief look at its constituent groups shows a clear religious character. What is meant when the FSA is referred to as such is ‘pluralist’, holding a reconciliatory attitude towards religious minorities and non-hostility towards them. Indeed the FSA is not merely composed of nationalists (who might incidentally not refer to themselves as secularists or Islamists) or secularists, but also includes large segments of Islamists.

However for many ‘pluralists’ this does not therefore mean that they necessarily reject Islamic governance or Sharia (although they might disagree with other Islamists on the way of implementing it and the form it would take), for they would argue that there is no contradiction between Sharia and religious pluralism, that this is a misconception; arguing that Sharia allows for freedom of conscience in allowing non-Muslims to have their own sets of laws and excluding them from its own alien jurisdiction (they would note for example that the Sharia does not actually apply to non-Muslims, although that is clearly not the message of the majority of the mainstream press). Thus according to this reading of ‘secularism’, the theoretical principles of pluralism espoused within the founding charter and revolutionary covenant of the Islamic Front (a coalition of Islamist groups) would also theoretically be referred to as ‘secularist’ principles, although the Islamic Front is clearly non-secular.

* The term ‘Islamists’ too is a broad one, and is generally a term coined to label those who believe in an Islamic political (& by extension social, legal & economic) system (many ‘Islamists’ reject this term and prefer to be simply referred to as ‘Muslims’). While the common ground for Islamists is the centrality of the role of Sharia (or Islamic law), there are different trends and understandings of how implementation of Sharia should look like. Thus within Islamism exists a spectrum, this can entail disagreement over ethical code (for example social liberalism vs. social conservatism), disagreements over the mechanisms used to implement Sharia in the first place (e.g. viability of ballot box democracy vs non-viability), etc.. You can find a spectrum even within conservative strands of Islamism, such as ‘Salafism’ ((again this term is used as a shorthand since its actual meaning/use has changed over time, for its original/literal meaning is as followers of the early Muslims or successors of the Prophet, i.e. the ‘salaf’, and thus all Sunnis who revere these successors and seek to live by their example are in effect ‘salafis’. However the term has been evolved to refer to a particular conservative strand of Muslims)). You can find ‘Salafis’ who believe in Western-style electoral democracy and can reconcile it with Sharia, Salafis who don’t and believe in a system of ‘Shura‘ or consultation, as well as Salafis who believe in top-down authoritarian imposition. Likewise you can also find liberal Islamists who believe in electoral democracy and those who do not (although it is more likely that liberal strands will correlate with more pro-electoral democracy).

* The short-hand use of the term ‘democratic’ does not entail by necessity a belief in the lack of consent for those who do not subscribe to the label, and many Islamists who do not believe in ‘democracy’ (that is generally ‘electoral/ballot box representative democracy’) can believe in *consent of the ruled* (based on ‘Shura’ or consultation, and consent/consensus of the governed). Others can be more authoritarian. Thus care must be taken with terms.

** Although the Nusra Front is for purposes of simplicity defined as ‘non-mainstream’ in terms of ideological beliefs held, since Al-Qaeda ideology has generally been seen as extreme and alien to Syrian society (although the brutality of the situation has made it less and less so), it has a significant degree of popular support and does not operate as a ‘typical’ Qaeda affiliate/cell.

[FB] | Why Hezbollah, one of the few resistance movements out there?

To my brother: You might not have known me at the time but I used to support Hezbollah and thought of them as the best force in Arab politics, I actually even supported them in 2008 clashes with Hariri’s Future movement in Lebanon. In fact when they took over Beirut in those clashes in 2008 I read the (disapproving) newspaper with jubilation, for I actually supported them… In fact when I was at school during this time I remember supporting them whilst at the same time criticising Assad as a sell-out in a heated conversation with a Syrian friend in a Physics class. So I did not think they are the same and drew distinctions between them, the problem is that they didn’t…

Hezbollah’s fault, like Erdogan, like all those rare middle Eastern actors who managed to emerge from the rotten subordinate mould around them and be different (and were loved for it), is that they became arrogant, and this arrogance blinded them.

A few weeks ago during a Q&A of a pro-Palestine talk, a person raised his hand up and asked ‘how do you see Hezbollah’s role now in helping Palestine’. I smirked. They haven’t been helping them too well in Yarmouk, that place everybody loves to forget. That place where the government siege of the population is blamed on the ‘rebels taking over the camp’, immune to the irony of blaming a food blockade of a civilian population trapped in a small piece of territory on the ‘terrorists’ within. At a later time I approached this person, and told him that I was no fan of Hezbollah. But why? Because what they did and are doing in Syria. ‘Ok, you might disagree with them on Syria (as if this was simply a matter of fashion taste, or as if the issues were two completely separate mathematical realms) but look at their amazing record against Israel here and here etc. – why this harshness?’ As if I am supposed to divorce my dislike of them supporting an oppressor for their opposition to another oppressor. Why do you attack them? Is it perhaps an inherent sectarianism? (an inherent “anti-Semitism” so to speak?)

To my brother: You might not have known me at the time but I used to support Hezbollah and thought of them as the best force in Arab politics, I actually even supported them in 2008 clashes with Hariri’s Future movement in Lebanon. In fact when they took over Beirut in those clashes in 2008 I read the (disapproving) newspaper with jubilation, for I actually supported them and asked my dad why he wasn’t as enthusiastic as me (although he’s not sectarian I assume that like the majority of of our Sunni-dominated society we lived in he had more Sunni-Shia reservations, although that’s just an assumption since I didn’t ask him). In fact when I was at school during this time I remember supporting them whilst at the same time criticising Assad as a sell-out in a heated conversation with a Syrian friend in a Physics class. So I did not think they are the same and drew distinctions between them, the problem is that they didn’t.

Funnily enough, as far as being anti-Israel ‘resistance’ goes even now I still do think that they are ‘genuine’ (as in they believe in their cause against Israel and do not use it as rhetoric), even now – although it doesn’t really mean much when you oppose Israeli oppression and then support another oppressor, coincidentally one who is also oppressing and starving Palestinians like Israel. But while I do still think (to my admittedly not up-to-date knowledge) that they are still ‘resistance’ (unlike Assad, whose sovereignty routinely gets violated by Israel and who has been ‘reserving the right to respond’ for an odd 40 years – it went back in the family, or even Iran, who seem to be moving away from that direction), this state of affairs may very well not last for long, and they may very well be blunted in time. For the problem is that when you’re involved in dodgy business, you might deny it but you know it deep down in your heart that something’s not right, and this starts a process where you inevitably start to get tainted and lose your identity. Hezbollah’s purpose was not this. They blurred the lines between them and Assad, stupidly, even though they know better than anyone (due to their close proximity and knowledge of the real political shit that happens behind closed doors) that Assad was no anti-Israel hero as they had to later claim. (While they might have thanked Syria for acting as a transit from Iran in public, I am almost certain that behind closed doors they would probably have been ashamed of his record.)

So why else would they intervene on his behalf? I too thought they were beyond being sectarian, so you think I wasn’t surprised, horribly surprised when they started backing him? It was a betrayal. Loads of people could say ‘ha told you so’ and be justified in their ‘the Shia hate us and have grandoise plans to take us over and subjugate us’ (that fear that Arab governments liked to serve to their populaces so much to distract them from other issues), and for us being naive for liking them, for saying that sectarianism is a silly yet such an efficient tool to divide us and not something that is innate in our natures. This is on a tiny, low-level personal scale, so how do you think it is is actually on the ground? And this is how extremists rose in Syria, simple as.

So re accusations of sectarinaism, no, what pains me is that they lost their way completely and kill those who they should be on the same side with, and support an evil of such proportions that I even struggle to believe that they could knowingly do (i.e. the full extent of the regime’s crimes). But there’s no way that they don’t. Nothing would have made me happier than them supporting the Syrian rebellion for they could’ve truly set a new path for Sunni-Shia reconciliation, and proved the anti-Shia paranoia wrong. And although that perhaps was a big ask, that’s why it would’ve just been good (and realistic) for them to stay neutral. Hezbollah’s fault, like Erdogan, like all those rare middle Eastern actors who managed to emerge from the rotten subordinate mould around them and be different (and were loved for it), is that they became arrogant, and this arrogance blinded them.

Dissociate yourselves from these pigs, if you have any honour left..

Rami Essam – ‘Breaking News’ (Syrian Revolution)

Did you hear what the herald bears? Of breaking news just received
From a Levant – it has been revealed – the night passed and a full pardon was issued

Give us the grace of a few days, to institute a complete renovation
We will bring back the martyrs, and undo the restrictions and chains
And distribute bread and barley, and farm wheat and plantations
Did you see that we distributed heating oil, and it is free of charge!
And we granted lands to be built on, and we permitted house building!
Thereby if you have a question, we have what will satisfy the inquirer!

Halt! Halt!

You won’t trick us, we are not a naive ignorant people!
You call this reform? Woe to you (such a) deceptive scoundrel!
O son of Anisa we swore, we will not accept a spiteful murderer
Martyrs we will present in succession
We will not be terrorised by a spiteful traitor
We never asked amnesty from someone like you
What we want is the just penalty

What we desire is a people’s dignity
Free, brave and militant
What we desire are the seized rights
And a bold, just president
What we desire is a people’s dignity
Free, brave and militant
What we desire are the seized rights
And a bold, just president

So that the Golan can return with pride
And we can lead the Ummah (nation) to celebrations!

We vow! We will not calm down in the Levant
Until we get our retribution from the murderer
And he is trialled in the land of the protectors (Hama)
In Daraa, Homs and Da’al
So be silent, for we will not be dissuaded
By a pardon from a lying hypocrite
And your deposition will echo around the world
And it will comes as ‘breaking news’

Halt! Halt!

You won’t trick us, we are not a naive ignorant people
You call this reform? Woe to you (such a) deceptive scoundrel!
O son of Anisa we swore, we will not accept spiteful murderer
Martyrs we will present in succession
We will not be terrorised by a spiteful traitor

We never asked amnesty from someone like you
What we want is the just penalty (x5)

أسمعتم ما قالَ القائلْ .. أن لدينا خبرٌ عاجلْ
من شام قد ورد إلينا .. صدرَ الليلةَ فعفوٌ شاملْ
أعطونا مهلةَ أيام .. لنقومَ بإصلاح شاملْ
سنعيدُ الشهداءَ اليكم .. ونفك قيوداً وسلاسلْ
ونوزع خبزاً وشعيراً .. وسنزرعُ قمحاً ومشاتلْ
أرأيتم أنا وفرنا .. ( مازوتاً) وبدون مقابلْ
ومنحناكم أرضاً تُبْنى .. وأذنا ببناء منازل
فإذا كان لديكم سؤْلاً .. فلدينا ما يُرضي السائلْ

مهلاً.. مهلاً..

لن تخدعنا لسنا شعب غَرٌ جاهلْ !
أتسمي هذا إصلاحاً .. ويحك من ختال سافلْ !
يا إبنَ أنيسةَ أقسمنا .. لن نرضى بحقود قاتلْ
شهداءاً سنقدمُ تترى .. لن يرهبنا حقدٌ غائلْ
لم نطلب عفواً يا هذا .. ما نبغيه قصاصٌ عادلْ

مانبغيه كرامةَ شعب.. حراً مغواراً ومناضلْ
مانبغيهُ حقوقاً سُلبتْ .. ورئيساً مقداماً عادلْ

لتعودَ الجولانَ بعز .. ونقودُ الأمةَ بمحافلْ !

قسماً لن نهدأ بشآم .. حتى نقتصَ من القاتلْ
ويحاكمَ في أرض حماة .. وبدرعا وبحمصَ وداعلْ
فاخرس إنا لن يثنينا .. عفوٌ من أفاك جاهلْ
وسيدوي خلعك في الدنيا .. وسيأتي في خبر عاجلْ