Syria News Update (31 August 2013)
[This is a collection of news updates on Syria compiled from multiple sources by the editors.]
Consensus, Then About-Face From Obama on Syria The United States will seek congressional approval for his strike on Syria.
Analysis of Syria Gas Attack Could Take Weeks “The team, which included nine experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and three from the World Health Organisation, arrived at the OPCW`s Hague headquarters on Saturday evening after leaving Syria early in the morning.”
Vladimir Putin Challenges United States on Syria Claims The Russian line on the chemical weapons attack.
How Possible US Strike on Syria Could Unfold A sensationalistic article from the Associated Press newswire envisioning the imminent US strike, fueling the conversation about the intervention with many “ifs” and unknown variables.
F.B.I. Sharpens Scrutiny of Syrians in United States “F.B.I. agents are expected to interview hundreds of Syrians in the coming days. During the international campaign against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya two years ago, the agency interviewed nearly 1,000 Libyans, but it was unclear if it would cast as broad a net in this operation.”
Israel Rehabilitates Qalandia Airport With Eye on Syria Malik Samara writes about the tense atmosphere in Israel as a strike on Syria is looming.
Commentators Opposing Intervention
As the United States Prepares to Strike Syria: Jadaliyya Co-Editor Bassam Haddad on Democracy Now Bassam Haddad outlines some of the key issues with an American strike on Syria, including the legitimacy and legality of the move as well as the further regional entrenchment this may incur.
Syria: The Political Solution Elias Muhanna reminds us of a piece he wrote envisioning parameters necessary for a political resolution of the conflict, opening the floor to further suggestions on his blog, Qifa Nabki.
The Goal in Syria Should be Reconstruction, Not Revenge argues James Zogby.
Syria After Ghouta: The Urge to Act, and the Need to Act Wisely Philip Leech argues that “an attack that piles more destruction on top of an already profound tragedy cannot be the answer to anything.”
An Open Letter to President Obama: Syria is Not Our WarChristopher Dickey writes: “The kind of drumbeat now heard in Washington can lead to what the French call “la logique de guerre,” by which they mean a sort of pathology that takes over politics and the press and eventually a whole people, discouraging all debate and dissension.”
11 Reasons Why We Should Not Attack Syria Sarah van Gelder says 1) we do not actually know who is behind the chemical weapons attack; 2) a military strike would be illegal under the United States Constitution and the War Powers Resolution; 3) It would violate international law, too; 4) The American people oppose it...
Welcoming the Vote of the British Parliament While Supporting the Syrian Uprising Gilbert Achcar asks : “is killing up to fifteen hundred people with chemical weapons more serious a crime than killing over a hundred thousand with “conventional” weapons? Why then does Washington want to strike now suddenly after placidly watching the Syrian people being slaughtered, its country devastated, and survivors in the millions turned into refugees and displaced persons?”
Selective Morality and Syria Behzad Yaghmaian challenges binaries that distinguish between the “good” vs. the “bad” guys and chemical vs.conventional weapons.
Resistance is our Destiny Ibrahim al-Amin writes an emotional piece against intervention, representative of some segments of the resistance who center their discourse on ideological concerns first and foremost.
Delusions of a New Colonial Levant Jean Aziz writes “The only thing left is for the White House to ask permission from the Syrians. He might as well rent out the places suggested for the strike, even for a few hours, and carry out a rehearsal with blanks, in front of a Syrian audience.”
Legality of Strikes
The Legal Consequences of Illegal Wars David Kaye writes: “the United States is heading toward an intervention in Syria that administration officials clearly believe to be right, necessary, and humane. Their cause may be just. But it won’t be legal, and no creative amount of lawyering can make it so”
Syria: Treaty Obligations, War Crimes and Accountability Nima Shirazi points to the irony whereby the United States is justifying its strike claiming Syria’s non-compliance to international treaties about chemical weapons use, while the former has historically disrespected those (Vietnam, Iraq’s Fallujah etc,) and turned a blind eye to violations by allies (Israel’s use of white phosphorus in Gaza).
Against “Symbolic strikes,” for ‘Strategic’ Intervention
Non Aux Frappes Symboliques et de Bonne Conscience. Oui Aux Frappes Utiles en Syrie Ignace Leverrier says “no to symbolic strikes for good conscience. Yes to useful strikes in Syria.”
Regarding a Potential Military Intervention on Syria “A good strike is one that disarms the Syrian regime and deter its ability to kill Syrians and destroy their society, and the bad strike is one that saves the status of Western powers but does not impair the regime’s ability to kill and destroy.”
On the Front Lines of Syria’s Civil War Elizabeth O’Bagy, claims that “contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al Qaeda die-hards.” She pushes for “a larger, comprehensive strategy coordinated with our allies that has the ultimate goal of destroying Assad`s military capability while simultaneously empowering the moderate opposition with robust support”.
So You’ve Bombed Syria. What Next? In another piece, Elizabeth O’Bagy and Edward P. Joseph argue otherwise, writing: “If the Obama administration really wants to avoid getting embroiled in Syria, it will have to match its limited use of force with unlimited diplomacy, beginning with a serious and specific U.N.-backed peace plan. Now is the time to launch.”
Syria: Do Something Odai Alzoubi explores “different Syrian points of view. Western readers need to understand why some Syrians support, while others oppose, a military intervention in their country. In what follows, I will bypass the supporters of the regime, and talk only about the opposition, the rebels, and the normal Syrians who support them.”
Virtuous War no More Alexander French suggests a paradigm shift perceptible in the United States` handling of the strike in Syria whereby “the west has begun to reach a new stage in its own awareness, it has stopped believing in the power video games and is beginning to realise the harsh realities of intervention.”
West Divided Over Post-Attack Scenarios in Syria Al Akhbar’s Mohammed Ibrahim collects the comments from German Institute for Strategic Studies expert Josef Holtman, who explains why Obama is now having second thoughts about the operation he set out to conduct.
Syria Attempts to Gather Ranks Marah Mashi, reports the different angles and voices in Damascus, at a time where “Syrians are eagerly sharing CNN news items and translated Western articles from several websites and channels. It is like they had a direct subscription.”
Rumours and Fear Hit Damascus The Syrian Observer translates this piece from al-Modon: “sharp differences exist between Syrians about outside military intervention, regardless of their attitude towards the ruling regime. But while each provides its excuses, all share their fear.”
How Syrians Reacted to the Possible American Strike Against Assad Wael Sawah writes: “In brief, many Syrians, especially those who live under siege in areas such as the Damascus countryside and Homs support the possible American strike against Assad. But they are not very optimistic.”
Damas Frappe Par l’Angoisse Hala Kodmani provides a similar picture on the apprehension of Damascenes vis-à-vis the strike.
Raqqa Military Council Aims to Boost FSA Against Jihadist Elements Meanwhile, in Raqqa, the citizens are dealing with another set of issues, after al-Qaeda took control of the city.
Trop Peu, Trop Tard Jean-Pierre Filiu says the much debated intervention will be “too little too late” as Syrians’ “nightmare” with Bashar al-Assad will soon be a nightmare with jihadists.
Policy, Reports and Statements
We Stand Behind the Syrian People’s Revolution - No To Foreign Intervention A statement by: Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt) - Revolutionary Left Current (Syria) - Union of Communists (Iraq) - Al-Mounadil-a (Morocco) - Socialist Forum (Lebanon)
A partial victory, but a victory Lindsey German, an anti-war activist, welcomes the UK’s decision not to be involved in the strike on Syria, and says “without the movement over this past decade or more, there would not have been this opposition, or the confidence in anti-war arguments which so many people (including some MPs!) now have.”
Syria: The View From US Intelligence Brian Whitaker on “a declassified summary of its intelligence assessment relating to the use of chemical weapons in Syria on August 21.”
Dispatches: Syria - Protecting Civilians Should be Top Priority Human Rights Watch’s Kenneth Roth writes: “Reinforcing the “red line” against chemical attacks is certainly important. But if the effect is to retain a “green light” for Assad’s massive slaughter of civilians by other means, it will be a hollow victory. A military response may not be the answer, but what is the plan for these other victims?”
Ron Paul, Julian Assange Talk Syria “Assange cited a leaked December 2011 email from intelligence contractor Stratfor, a report back from a staffer who met with U.S. Air Force, French military and British military officials about a possible military intervention in Syria.”
A Beginners Guide to the Conflict in (and the Country of) Syria
23 Twitter Accounts you Must Follow to Understand Syria Max Fisher provides a useful list of people who have tweeted extensively about the Syria crisis.
Syrians on Syria A Facebook page managed by Rime Allaf, featuring “the creative and analytical writings and comments of Syrians on their country and on the Revolution.“