Manbij siege by US-led International Coalition and SDF becoming a humanitarian catastrophe

Statement issued from the Political Committee in the City of Manbij
“No to the killing of civilians in Manbij”

With the continuation of battles between the sides of the conflict (Syrian Democratic Forces and the Daesh organisation) in the city of Manbij, and which started from 31-5-2016, the suffering of the civilian population increases day after day, whereby talking about the essential necessities for the population from food and medicine is no longer enough to balance against the ghost of death that has come to threaten the old and the women and the children who have been besieged and indeed taken by the Daesh organisation as human shields, and that as a consequence of the siege which has been imposed by the [International] Coalition forces cordoning off the city from its four directions. The Syrian Democratic Forces were able to enter to a number of the city’s neighbourhoods, the matter which has transformed the battle to street fighting which has made the civilians easy prey to all forms of death (Coalition planes – Predating snipers on roofs and inside houses – the mines that were planted by the Daesh organisation in the streets and the paths and the public places), and in the midst of this tragic reality most citizens have now become unable to find a safe haven that prevents from them [i.e. shields them from] the shells and missiles of death which they don’t know at which moment can fall above their heads, to add to that the city has [already] witnessed many cases where no one was able to recover and remove the bodies of the dead from the streets due to the fear of being abruptly killed.

The Political Committee in Manbij has already previously implored – and from the start of fighting – all sides and at their head the United States of America, and the rest of the Coalition countries, and affirmed to everyone that the strategy that has been taken up in fighting Daesh would have disastrous results on the civilian population, and at the time that the committee has affirmed its welcome in fighting Daesh and expelling it from the city except that it has pointed out repeatedly that the Coalition’s insistence on fighting in this way gives the world the impression that what approaches 200,000 individual inhabitants who are civilians are all from the Daesh organisation, and it is worth mentioning in this context that this is not the only time that heavily populated cities are liberated from the authorities of the Assad regime or Daesh but [this happens] without these disasters which do not indicate anything other than not caring about the lives of civilians and a clear indifference towards the lives of Syrians.

The political committee in the city of Manbij whilst expressing more of its sadness and concern regarding the cases of death which are reaping the civilian innocents, it at the same time calls vigorously on the international community in its entirety, and the coalition countries especially, affirming to them the duty of the entire international community to shoulder its moral and humanitarian responsibilities regarding a war imposed on isolated civilians [who are] powerless and defenceless, and almost have nothing in terms of life necessities, as well as them having no option which can enable them to eschew the death which is threatening their life. Noting that the insistence of the coalition states to ignore the humanitarian situation in the city of Manbij cannot be explained except as disregard for the totality of human values which have been guaranteed by all the canons and laws to preserve the sanctity of blood and protection of the human entity.

The Political Committee in the city of Manbij
13-7-2016


يان صادر عن الهيئة السياسية في مدينة منبج
(لا لقتل المدنيين في منبج)

مع استمرار المعارك بين طرفي النزاع ( قوات سورية الديمقراطية وتنظيم داعش)في مدينة منبج، والتي بدأت منذ 31 – 5 – 2016 ،تزداد معاناة السكان المدنيين يوما بعد يوم، إذ لم يعد الحديث عن الاحتياجات الضرورية للسكان من غذاء ودواء كافياً في موازاة شبح الموت الذي بات يهدد الشيوخ والنساء والأطفال الذين حوصروا بل اتخذهم تنظيم داعش دروعاً بشرياً وذلك نتيجة للحصار الذي فرضته قوات التحالف وطوّقت المدينة من جهاتها الأربع. لقد تمكّنت قوات سورية الديمقراطية من الدخول إلى عدد من أحياء المدينة، الأمر الذي حوّل المعركة إلى قتال شوارع مما جعل المدنيين عرضة سهلة لكافة أشكال الموت( طائرات التحالف – قناصات المتربصين على الأسطحة وداخل البيوت – الألغام التي زرعها تنظيم داعش في الشوارع والطرقات والاماكن العامة)،وفي ظل هذا الواقع المأسوي بات معظم المواطنين لا يجدون مأوى آمناً يقيهم قذائف الموت الذي لا يعرفون أية لحظة يمكن أن يحلّ فوق رؤوسهم،إضافة إلى أن المدينة شهدت حالات عديدة لم يتمكن فيها أحد من انتشال جثث الموتى من الشوارع بسبب الخوف من القتل المباغت. لقد سبق وناشدت الهيئة السياسية في منبج – ومنذ بدء القتال – كافة الأطراف وعلى رأسها الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية وباقي دول التحالف، وأكدت للجميع بأن الاستراتيجية التي تم اعتمادها في قتال داعش سوف تكون لها نتائج كارثية على السكان المدنيين،وفي الوقت الذي أكدت فيه الهيئة بترحيبها بقتال تنظيم داعش وطرده من المدينة إلا أنها نوّهت مراراً على أن إصرار قوات التحالف على القتال بهذه الطريقة يوحي للعالم بأن ما يقارب ( 200000 ) نسمة من المدنيين وكأنهم جميعا من تنظيم داعش،ومن الجدير ذكره في هذا السياق أنه ليست هذه هي المرة الوحيدة التي تتحرر فيها مدنٌ آهلة بالسكان من سلطات نظام الأسد أو داعش لكن بدون هذه الكوارث التي لا تدل سوى على عدم اكتراث بحياة المدنيين ولامبالاة واضحة تجاه حياة السوريين. إن الهيئة السياسية في مدينة منبج إذ تبدي مزيد حزنها وقلقها حيال حالات الموت التي تحصد المدنيين الأبرياء، فإنها في الوقت ذاته تطالب بشدّة المجتمع الدولي كافة ، ودول التحالف على وجه الخصوص، مؤكّدة على وجوب تحمّل المجتمع الدولي كافة مسؤولياته الأخلاقية والإنسانية حيال حرب مفروضة على مدنيين عُزّل لا حول لهم ولا قوة، وقد باتوا لا يملكون من مقوّمات الحياة شيئاً، فضلاً عن عدم امتلاكهم لأي خيار يمكّنهم من تحاشي الموت الذي يهدد حياتهم. علماً أن إصرار دول التحالف على تجاهل الحالة الإنسانية في مدينة منبج لا يمكن تفسيره إلا كونه تجاهلاً لمجمل القيم الإنسانية التي كفلتها كل الشرائع والقوانين للحفاظ على حرمة استباحة الدم وحماية الكائن البشري.

الهيئة السياسية في مدينة منبج
13
– 7 – 2016

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Two cents | On: The US policy in Syria is not novel; The reasons for the Iran deal (and a brief explanation for the rise of ISIS)

So I have a habit of writing oversized Facebook comments that aren’t quite articles, so I’m going to start a (lazy way out) series called ‘two cents’ when I find something that I would like to blog, but can’t quite be bothered to turn into a proper article.

(The below was a comment I wrote on a political journalist’s Facebook page post; my comment is responding to another Facebook commenter)

The commenter asked the following, in response to an earlier comment I wrote about the Iran deal: “Why is a Muslim the enemy of another Muslim?! Why is Iran the enemy of other Muslim countries? Do you think it is reasonable to accept/reasonable people would accept the brutal and frankly non-islamic daesh’s rule from “fear” of another Muslim country? What is the threat? USA has Sunni allies in the region and is now only on speaking terms with Shia Iran. I’m asking for your opinion, please

(First section of my response: re ISIS)

Firstly, I am one of the many Sunni Muslims who see sectarianism as the cancer of our Muslim world and the ultimate tool by imperialist powers to keep us weak and engaged in useless battles. I have long argued the irony of Muslims stating ‘the West wants to divide and conquer us’ and then repeating sectarian arguments. Today I point out the irony of Sunnis who angrily cite Iran’s hypocrisy on Syria and Yemen whilst refusing to support the Bahraini uprising and Shias who angrily cite the Sunni states hypocrisy on Bahrain whilst refusing to support the Syrian one.

Secondly: Daesh is a direct consequence of a few things: 1) US destruction of Iraq as a predmediated genocidal policy starting not in 2003 but in 1990, 2) the ending of that period by the installation of a sectarian regime in Baghdad backed by the US and Iran that alienated Sunnis, 3) Western procastination and eventual betrayal of promises of support for the Syrians fighting the government there leading to massive anti-Western feeling and attractiveness of extremist groups. The US has bombed not only ISIS, which unpaltable as the fact may be has a degree of popular support (because its seen as finally an organised response to Iranian-sponsored regimes and is also highly efficient in running a state), but also mainstream rebel factions in Syria, including the biggest one, the Islamic Front. If my tone wasn’t as yet clear, I despise Daesh, was trying to bring attention to them when no one cared when they were attacking rebels in Syria simultaneously with the regime; in short I attacked them (you can see my timeline) long before anyone else

Three: Daesh was a predicted consequence of the genocidal policies of the Syrian regime and its sectarian loyalist militias, which has wiped off cities from the map, a cowardly regime that would have liberated Palestine in its entirety if it turned 1% of the force it used against its population against Israel. It is a predicted consequence of the world abandoning the daily-bombarded Syria entirely, and only waking up when the men with beards showed up. As in Iraq, there was a popular uprising that occurred against the sectarian policies of Maliki in 2012, it was peaceful, it was cracked down upon by the US-Iranian armed Iraqi government, ISIS consequently hijacked that revolution. However, the fact remains that ISIS is tolerated because it is seen by many as preferable to being under control of the Iraqi government.

(Second section: US policy on Syria is not new, and why Iran has become ‘dealable’)

It surprises me that so many people find the US position so difficult to understand. Its called a trap. What the US has done in Syria it has done repeatedly before, it essentially gives ‘green light’ (although it would be a mistake to take people’s agency away nonetheless) to certain movements and then betrays/abandons support when chaos hits. Historical examples include supporting the Shia uprising in Iraq in 1991 and encouraging it (diplomatically) but never coming (militarily) to aid of the uprising, allowing it to be crushed by Saddam; another couple of examples is encouraging Saddam to attack Iran in 1980 before ending up the conflict by selling weapons to Iran (see Iran-contra affair), and also giving a green light to Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 (see famous ‘We have no opinion on internal Arab-Arab affairs’ quote, said by a US ambassador when an Iraqi official asked her of her government’s opinion on an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait). When dealing with areas under imperialist spheres I would advise people to a) study what the people on the ground are saying/doing, because they have agency and to act on an assumption otherwise is imperialist and orientalist in itself, and b) to study concrete imperialist policy, not the mirages put up by diplomatic statements.

Finally, I would like to note that Iran could have become one of the main beneficiaries of the 2011 Arab movements if it acted in a different way and indeed could have swept the carpet completely from under Saudi Arabia’s feet (as the representative of Muslims). It is forgotten but Saudi Arabia was at the beginning opposed to all the uprisings, including in Syria (where protesters used to chant against the silence of Arab states); if the Iranian regime had swept in at that point and supported the cause of the Muslim masses there, whom it theoretically had much more in common with than a secular vehemently anti-religious regime, it would’ve made its popularity concrete and essentially completely disarmed sectarianists on the Sunni side, for it would’ve shown that its loyalty was Islamic, not sectarian. Of course, what happened instead is that Iran backed up the most secular regime in the Arab world against, with a great deal of irony, an opposition which is very ‘Islamic republic’ in image (not to say that it would represent the same substance of the Iranian form).

The fact that it did this, unfortunately, proved that it is a sectarian and reactionary regime, and made a mockery of its theoretically ‘non-sectarian’ ‘Islamic republic’ credentials. Ultimately, it is that fact which in my opinion, that it proved itself to be a status-quo power with no “Islamic” potential to unite the Muslim world which has led to the rapproachment we are seeing today. The US will support any regime that does not threaten Muslim unification, be they secular or ostensibly Islamic in nature; Saudi has traditionally not threatened Muslim unification and this is why it has been an ally, Iran has just proved those credentials now, as well as fighting a popular, Islam-oriented (just Sunni) movement. It is inconceivable, regardless of one’s slant on Iran, that the US would otherwise choose to support -rather than curtail- Iran at the precise specific moment that its influence has expanded on an unprecedented scale across the region, a fact which no one, supporter or opponent, can deny. In the absence of a credible explanation (to my mind) that says that the US doing so because of humanitarian concerns for the Iranian people, and in the absence of a credible explanation (to my mind) that says that this is merely a coincidental event, this highly conspicuous fact would seem to back up my analysis.

[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.

‪#‎TheUNprogressiveWest‬.