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17 December 2016

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mike allen

Kooshy -

What are your thoughts about the Pahlavi flag being waved near 10 Downing Street during the "March for Aleppo" in London?

http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/1/590x/March-for-Aleppo-744640.jpg

And never fear about the peace prize, someone in either Moscow or Tehran will nominate the optometrist.

Chris Chuba

The Geneva Conventions would generally apply to any uniformed combatant. So as long as the military personnel were wearing some form of military identification then they should be considered POW's. Illegal combatants is a term reserved for spies or for people who hide their association with their country of origin. One of the more famous examples of that were the German commandos who actually dressed as American soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge, they were summarily executed. If these people really do exist, I hope that they are identified but I do not want to see them executed.

ambrit

Sir;
This is a quandry for a non military observer. The concept of "line of duty" is understandable but the "average" outsider would have a hard time reconciling viewing this as an expression of "esprit de corps" versus the Nuremberg Doctrine. Admitting freely the observation that "the victors write the history books" makes me scratch my head and admit to my inadequacies in judging.
Thanks for all you do for us.
Merry Christmas to all.

turcopolier

ambrit

The mentality of good combat soldiers is generally incomprehensible to civilians including people who just show up for a war from patriotic feeling. Try to think of us a guild in the medieval sense. That probably won't help but try it. The Nuremberg Doctrine? The guilt of the Nazis in their extermination of the Jews, etc. is easily understood as crime by such as me and my brethren. We do not do that, but the concept that "planning and waging aggressive war" is a crime is in my opinion merely vengeance wrought upon the defeated. For example the execution of Keitel and Jodl was, in my opinion simply judicial murder. Much the same could be said of Homma and Yamashita. It was never established that either of them were responsible directly for the treatment of PWs or the mass murder of civilians in Manila. My father used to refer occasionally to the "ancient and honorable profession of arms." We soldiers should, in my view, be judged by whether or not we lived and died by the standards of our profession. pl

Bandolero

All

It looks like the western media is currently heading for a train wreck. Quote:

Buses assigned to evacuate Syrians from villages burned, deal stalls

The buses were to take part in the evacuation of over 2,000 wounded and sick Syrians from two rebel-besieged villages.

A delicately timed evacuation deal involving trapped civilians and fighters in war-ravaged east Aleppo and two Syrian villages was thrown into doubt Sunday when assailants torched six buses assigned to the operation.

The buses were to take part in the evacuation of over 2,000 wounded and sick Syrians from Foua and Kfarya, two rebel-besieged villages that have remained loyal to the government in an area under opposition control in the northwest Idlib province, activists and government media reported.

The bus burnings could scuttle a wider deal to evacuate thousands of vulnerable civilians and fighters from the opposition’s last foothold in Aleppo and return the city entirely to government control. ...

Source:

https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/12/18/un-security-council-to-vote-on-humanitarian-aid-to-aleppo.html

The western media can't avoid but telling their audience that

- their beloved rebels besiege two villages loyal to the government
- their beloved rebels don't allow medical evacuations out of these villages
- their beloved rebels torched busses sent to mutually evacuate besieged people

That all sounds like a big train wreck for the western media to me. It shows the extremism of the beloved rebels centerstage and destroys much of the media narrative that their beloved rebels are acting in a human way or are worth of any support.

turcopolier

Bandolero

The "opposition" has no "last toehold" in Aleppo. It is ALL in government hands. The jihadis and their supporters there are just waiting at the bus stop. BTW the people defending Kafraya and al-Fu'ah are not just "Syrians." They are 12er Shia, not Alawis. They are and have been there living surrounded in a sea of Sunnis. These 12ers think the Alawis are polytheist infidels and the Sunni jihadis believe the 12ers to be heretics. There. Does that make your head hurt. Good. pl

ambrit

Sir;
Thank you for this. I'll be mulling it over today.
Merry Christmas

Bandolero

turcopolier

Sorry, these were not my words, but a quote. I hoped it was clear.

Apart from this, AFAIK, Fuah is mainly a 12er shia village while Kafraya was mainly Ismaili. Today, because of the war, the reality is a bit different, because now there are all kind of people from other villages nearby, like Sunni government employess, Alawis, Christians and so on, who fear to be persecuted by the takfiri jihadis and looked for shelter not far from home. And of course, there are large contingents of the Syrian army and Hezbollah there. Without the contribution of the Syrian army and Hezbollah these famous resistance villages were long gone. And yes, here you are true, the people of Fuah and Kafraya became famous. Heroic songs about Fuah and Kafraya are quite popular among 12er Shia, Hezbollah and Janubis.

https://youtu.be/dWVo9FgXD-4

Regarding the discussion of Alawites being muslim or not, I think these times are long gone on the Shia side. I don't know any Shia, and especially no marja, who doesn't regard Alawis as muslim. A couple of decades ago, when Musa Al Sadr and Imam Khomenei ruled the Alawis to be muslims and lost sons of the Shia, that may have been controversial, but on the shia side that discussion is settled. And the other thing is that the times when Hezbollah was a 12er Shia militia are also gone somewhat. Hezbollah nowadays defines itself not sectarian, but politically, ie as resistance (against Israel and Israeli partners in crime, eg Takfiris, American and European imperialists etc). There are nowadays for example quite some christians nowadays in Hezbollah - wearing chains with crosses around their necks in battles against Takfiris in Aleppo right next to pictures of Nasrallah. And believe me, in Fuah and Kafraya all kind of people are united, especially since it is essential to survive in what may well be the most difficult situation in the whole of Syria.

turcopolier

Bandolero

Thanks for the level of detail. Well, I DO NOT consider Alawis, Druze or Yazidis to be Muslims any more than I consider Mormons to be Christians except by their definition of the term. I was unaware that there are Christian members of Hizbullah. Tell me, how have these two villages supported themselves economically or been supported these four years? pl

The Twisted Genius

pl and Bandolero,

I've seen a video of an Iranian C-130 airdropping supplies into the besieged villages. There are supposedly around 4,000 defenders including National Defense Forces (locals?) and some Hizbullah.

charly

It has only been cut off since the fall of Idlib.

turcopolier

charly

You are right. It is only a year and a half. pl

Bandolero

turcopolier

Regarding Alawis being Muslim, that's a theological discussion with no clear answer, but politically it makes perfect sense. Alawi literally means "follower of Ali" - whom you may call the founder of the Shia sect, and many Alawis do adore Imam Ali, though in ways very atypical for muslims. So when Musa al-Sadr and Khomeini ruled that Alawis are "lost sons" of the Shia sect they indeed had a theological case. But it is also not illogical to see their rulings as a political move to get the backing and friendship of Alawi Syrian president Hafez Al Assad. For Alawis the 12er Shia rule of Alawis being a lost Shia muslim sect was a perfect way to counter the wahhabi narrative that the followers of Nusayr - as they call the Alawis up to this day - are infidels and therefore illegitimate and worthy of repression of all kinds and death.

Regarding the economic livelyhood of Fuah and Kafraya during the war they were until spring 2015 the extended northeastern front of Idlib city, which was under government rule and had a fragile lifeline via Ariha and Jisr Shughur to Hama. When Al Qaeda & friends cut that lifeline to Idlib city and conquered Idlib city many of the Syrian army soldiers stationed in Idlib city and also some locals of Idlib city fled to Fuah & Kafraya which was defended mostly by locals & Hezbollah. That is when the siege began.

To be able to get supplis into Fuah & Kafraya Hezbollah implemented a counter siege on jihadi villages Zabadani & Madaya west of Damascus, and then they established the rule: for each truck of UN aid Hezbollah allows into Zabadani & Madaya the jihadis have to allow one truck of UN aid into Fuah & Kafraya. So there were some UN aid convois to each of Zabadani & Madaya and Fuah & Kafraya.

Some aid is also dropped by air, surely weapons, ammo and money. Money is of use because there seem to be some locals in surrounding villages who help smuggle stuff (Diesel seems to be a hot topic here) into Fuah & Kafraya, though when caught the jihadis execute the smugglers. For food, Fuah & Kafraya have also some home grown production as the enclave is of considerable size, 50 sqm or more I would estimate.

For military survival there is also a truce deal with the jihadis of surrounding villages and in Idlib city in place, that basically says as long as the jihadis do not attack Fuah & Kafraya, the Syrian/Russian airforce will not bomb the jihadis in the surrounding villages and in Idlib city. However the jihadis are not very unified and some of them don't abide by that truce deal, so oftenly there is some fighting going on. The burning of the busses today seems to have been the work of the rogue jihadi group Jund Al Aqsa if I see things right.

For those not familiar with Jund Al Aqsa, the long war journal has some posts about them as this one:

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/05/an-al-qaeda-front-group-in-syria.php

Chris Chuba

Pinning down the number of civilians in Aleppo is frustrating and I believe that there is a really bad reason for it. The U.N. provides aid based on the number of civilians in any given territory and now that the Syrian govt controls it they have in interest in inflating the numbers again and are probably wrestling with the Russians in what to present. I can't prove this, it's just a gut feeling because both the Russians and the Syrian govt has to know the real number by now. When I was tracking this on "Al Masdar News" and Southfront on a daily basis, I was getting a figure between 40k-50k by adding up the number of civilians who fled. Then I saw some weird numbers being blurted out that suddenly disappeared when I tried to find them again, on the order of 100,000. The Russians love presenting statistics but probably do not want to contradict the Assad govt so they are biting their tongue for now.

I hope the Syrian govt decides to opt for more transparency because if they release an inflated number then people will start murmuring about disappearing people, etc. but who knows what they will do. This is something that I am looking out for.

Pundita

The UN vote was bumped from this morning to Mon 9am because they spent Sunday wrangling over the wording of competing FR and RU resolutions, which has been resolved.

AP (veteran reporter Philip Issa in Beirut) did live blogging of the negotiations, finishing at 12:15am local time (12/19) and filing the report at 5:18pm ET:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/latest-aleppo-evacuations-set-begin-44264764

But RT has the most extensive report/background on the negotiations:

https://www.rt.com/news/370691-russia-aleppo-resolution-monitors/

Reuters reported 5:15pm ET that the evacuations had restarted

BEGIN REPORT
The evacuation of the rebel-held enclave of east Aleppo resumed late on Sunday night after three days of delays, a U.N. official in Syria told Reuters.

"Evacuations are on. Buses and ambulances are leaving east Aleppo now," the U.N. official said in an email message, adding that the first people left east Aleppo at around 11 p.m. (4 p.m. ET).

The official had no immediate information about a planned simultaneous operation to evacuate people from two Shi'ite villages [Fua'a and Kafraya] near Idlib that are besieged by mostly Sunni rebel forces.
END REPORT

From Bandolero's description, obviously it's misleading to characterize those villages as Shiite.

FWIW FARS posted this at 4:20 local time:

BEGIN REPORT
Turkey to Reorganize Terrorists Expelled from Aleppo

TEHRAN (FNA)- Turkey has plans to reorganize thousands of terrorists who have been evacuated from Aleppo in Idlib under a new title, 'The Islamic Board of Syria'.
ARA News close to the Kurds quoted a dissident source in Gaziantep city as saying that the ringleaders of most militant groups who have left Eastern Aleppo are now in Idlib at the request of a high-ranking Turkish intelligence official.

"The high-ranking official from Turkey's intelligence ministry has demanded that the situation of these grouplets goes under study after their transfer to the bordering city of Idlib in the presence of the Syrian dissidents' coalition council," the source said.

Noting that Turkey seeks to reorganize the grouplets and prepare them for merger with the Euphrates Shield Operation forces, the source said that serious consultations have started among more than 15 militant groups to form a new front to be called The Islamic Board of Syria with its headquarters in Idlib and even the names of ringleaders for leading the board have been declared.

[...]

****
Rest of the report is about Aleppo evacuations.
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950928001132

kooshy

Mike who said this Pahlavi flag, this is the flag of iran for at least last 400 years, it was the flag of Iran for Iran' monarchy constitution of 1906 which was adopted during the Qajar dynasty. Interestingly after the revolution my own father and some other Iranian history scholars defended this flag as historic flag of Iran which has nothing to do with monarchy, but the revolutionary Iran did not accept their reasoning and voted for change of the Lion and sun symbol. As far as I remember based on the article my dad published back in 1980 and based on the study presentation they made for the revolutionary government the lion and sun symbol has been the symbol of Iran ever since the Buyid dynasty, but the color of flag had been changed every often.
Mike even more interesting, new American non- terrorist friends, the MKO, a few years after they escaped Iran in disgrace, adopted the lion and sun flag as their flag of Iran for their government in exile. those you see marching against Iran in London they are MKO not monarchist, monarchist now days can't
even fill a room. And what do I think of them?, I think they are murderers and pice of shit terrorist, as matter of fact they started their organized terror by terrorizing and murdering american servicemen back in 70s IMO they deserve the same American politicians who get paid and make speeches in their rallies.

I have a feeling, since you know so much about Kurds and other Iranian insurgencies you know who MKO are and who was at the London demo with the pre revolution flag, I don't mind the flag I mind the terrorist that US and EU supports. Mike, do you like Tim McVeigh, if you like McVeigh, Iranians will like like MKO.

Chris Chuba

Iranians at it again
Bandolero, your account of the govt loyalists villages besieged by the rebels was butchered by FOX on Sunday. After showing outrage over the plight of Aleppo and the loss of the U.N's doctrine of R2P (which they conflate with the U.S's unilateral use of it), the host and her guest took time to snarl at the Iranians. They got mad that the Iranians were demanding the evacuation of Shiites (their words) from these villages, apparently only we in the U.S. get to protect people and only the right kind of people, everyone else is trespassing. This shows the decline of U.S. influence. Do people in the U.S. ever pause to think how presumptuous this must sound to anyone else in the world? I think we have been trained well.

The White Hats
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/staged-videos-showing-russian-bombardments-syria-made-militants-russian-mod/
Col. here is a story mentioning 110,000 people in the Aleppo pocket.

The primary point of this article is a claim that govt forces found no NGO's in Eastern Aleppo, no White Helmets. This would call into question any of the videos said to have been produced there. How would we know the location of videos just showing a pile of rubble? I suppose that the White Helmets could claim that they slipped out in the refugee stream to avoid the evil govt forces for fear of retribution or that the govt is simply lying but this is an interesting assertion.

"60 Minutes" aired a story glorifying the White Helmets last night underlying the claim of 'double tapping'. An air attack followed by a second one to kill rescue workers so this has made it into the consciousness of western viewers. They also mentioned that the U.S. provides 25% of their funding, but we are trying to overthrow the Assad, isn't this potentially compromising. They did not mention any conflict of interest or any possibility that they were rebel sympathizers.

Massacres
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/russians-call-aleppo-massacre-allegations-blatant-lies/

General Rudskoi,

"Officers of Russia’s Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Sides in Syria and representatives of the International Red Cross Committee entered together with Syrian servicemen the Aleppo districts liberated from militants "but found no corpses there," Rudskoi said.

"Besides, unmanned aerial vehicles were broadcasting in real time to the entire world. Our people are working on the ground and we’re receiving first-hand information rather than information from social networks and militants’ websites," the general said."

Aristonicus

Sir,

Honestly, I would not have guessed that many, maybe half that based on this article:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/aleppo-syria-civil-war-bombing-latest-russia-bashar-al-assad-jabhat-al-nusra-isis-a7392011.html
"The general thought there were only 75,000 civilians left in eastern Aleppo, an intriguing figure since the number of trapped families in the enclave have moved between 70,000 and 300,000 according to various “experts”. The UN believes the higher figure, a Syrian army officer on the front line suggested 200,000, another far more senior Syrian intelligence officer thought 250,000, the Ba’ath party guessed between 112,000 to 115,000. All of which proves that no one – neither the UN, the Syrians or journalists – has the slightest idea of just how many souls are waiting to be saved or to die."

As to how many are left after the last green bus exits stage right - it could be thousands; a surprising number of civilians survived Stalingrad and this battle wasn't up to that level of intensity. We will see no doubt.

turcopolier

Aristonicus

We must also remember that something like 100,000 from east Aleppo have chosen NOT to leave Aleppo and are being sheltered in west Aleppo. pl

turcopolier

aristonicus

Mika B. today told the MJ audience that the two villages are "rebel held." She does not seem to know that the green buses belong to the government. Nor does she seem to have any grasp at all of geography in Syria. sad. pl

turcopolier

Bandolero

"that's a theological discussion with no clear answer, but politically it makes perfect sense." Yes. Yes. I know all about the political usefulness of declaring Alawis to be Muslims. But, to dismiss the argument from the religious sciences as merely "theology" is a badly flawed argument. Islam IS a religion. This religion has certain basic features that are determinative as to one's status as an orthodox believer. the most important of these is a belief in the oneness of God. The Alawis lack that commitment to true monotheism. pl

David Habakkuk

It is an interesting question about ‘Mika B’, whether she is simply a ‘runt of the litter’, making a successful career by trading on the name of a famous father, or whether the family are all stupid.

Some interesting evidence on this question was provided by an article published in the ‘Financial Times’ in December 2013, under the title ‘Russia, like Ukraine, will become a real democracy: A renewed sense of identity has combined with a yearning for prosperity, says Zbigniew Brzezinski.’

(Unfortunately, it is behind a subscription wall, but for purposes of record, the link is at https://www.ft.com/content/5ac2df1e-6103-11e3-b7f1-00144feabdc0 .)

As it happens, I have been to Ukraine precisely once. But, for complex reasons, both my own family and my wife’s have a great number of complex links with that part of the world.

And so I said to myself, when I read Brzezinski’s piece: have you ever sat drinking, with people who come from places near to where you were born, late into the night, and heard them say what they think and do not say in academic conferences?

You do not need to go to Ukraine to do this. It is very easily done in West London.

Babak Makkinejad

I agree, Islam is militantly monotheistic.

There is also the fact that Muslims do not recognize the legitimacy of any claim to prophet-hood ( a Nabi who has a "Book") proceeding the Prophet Mohammad.

Druze, Alevis, Sikhs, Babis, Baha'ai, Ahmadhis all are rejected as authentic religions of God based on that criterion.

If I am not mistaken, hypothetically, Islamic Tradition can accommodate a "rasul" - a messenger of God without his own "Book" - who could be emphasizing or elaborating the messages of previous Prophets - but I have never heard of such a person in Muslim history.

Babak Makkinejad

I was told that the Lion symblized Imam Ali.

The colors likely have the same symblism as they do among Catholic Christians:

Red is for Love
Green is for Hope
White is for Faith

I noticed that Italy, Hungary, Mexico, KRG, Bulgaria, Tadjikistan, and Oman also use the same 3 colors.

Philippe

Voltaire has zero credibility. It's something like Debka. Some apparently crazies, actually earning a living with pseudo intel insiders revelations, mixed with (very little) facts and a bunch of wild speculations.

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