January 6, 2014

Updates On Syria [1.6]: Geneva II Presents An Opportunity For A Ceasefire Agreement, Syrians Keep Up Morale With Live Theater, Media Tries To Sell "Moderate Rebels" Storyline Once Again

1. An excerpt from, "The Saudi challenge to US Syria policy" Al-Monitor, January 5:
The priority for Geneva II, especially given the terrorism in Iraq and Lebanon, let alone the devastating humanitarian tragedy in Syria, should be a cease-fire and discussions of a transition to internationally supervised elections in Syria, as advocated by former US President Jimmy Carter, among others, including this column.

The US does not have an interest in supporting a continuation of the war until Assad is overthrown.  There is no strategic rationale or moral high ground in fighting Assad until the end, or in not dealing with Assad, when the real-life consequences of a military solution are more war, more death, more refugees, and more terrorism for Syria and the region. As former US diplomat Ryan Crocker wrote in The New York Times last month, “We need to come to terms with a future that includes Assad — and consider that as bad as he is, there is something worse.”  
2. An excerpt from, "Syria: Aleppo Defeats Death With Theater" by Suhaib Anjarini, Al Akhbar English, January 3:
While the warring parties were busy raining death down on Aleppo, the capital of northern Syria, many Aleppans came together to organize an eight-day theater festival to celebrate life in a time of war.

Organizing a theater festival is a worthwhile endeavor anytime, anywhere, but organizing an amateur theater festival in a city where death lurks around every corner means that you are in Aleppo, the city that has conquered death.

The afternoon scene on December 24 in the Jamilieh neighborhood was surreal in every sense of the word. Only a day before, armed groups had declared the neighborhood a “military zone” and designated it, along with other neighborhoods, a “legitimate target,” thus intensifying the rate at which it was targeted with mortar shells.

This, however, did not stop audiences who flocked to the Actors Guild Theater, which hosted the closing ceremony of Aleppo’s amateur theater festival. “I attended the festival from day one. The sounds of shells were blasting outside, but a strange sense of security hovered inside the theater hall,” said Ahmad. “It was a fantastic week. Long live the theater.”
Actress Abir Bitar, winner of the festival’s best actress award, said, “Organizing an amateur theater festival was a dream that did not materialize during the days of prosperity, but it was finally realized despite all that we are going through. Even death that has been lying in wait for us has not managed to stop us from unleashing our cry: ‘We love the theater, and we deserve life.’”
3. An excerpt from, "Relatively moderate Syrian rebels gain against Islamic extremists" by Nabih Bulos, The LA Times, January 5:
Infighting among Islamist antigovernment groups in northern Syria continued for a third day Sunday, as more moderate rebel factions engaged in a large-scale rout of an extremist group affiliated with Al Qaeda.

The Mujahedin Army, a new coalition of ostensibly moderate Islamist groups, as well as factions affiliated with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front, consolidated their gains against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, in what activists hailed as a "second revolution."

"The rebels have achieved tremendous progress against ISIS in all the points of conflict," said Abu Bakr, a pro-opposition journalist for the Shaam News Network in Raqqah, specifically referring to areas around the cities of Idlib and Aleppo.

Another activist, who goes by the name Mohandess Abu Hamzeh, added that many facilities used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria had been handed over to Al Nusra Front, another Al Qaeda-affiliated group that is nevertheless viewed as more moderate.
This is just PR bullshit. The world has been hearing talk of "more moderate rebel factions" for three years now. This is a talking point, not an actual military reality. Al-Qaeda terrorist groups are receiving the bulk of the money, training, military guidance, and arms from the US, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Turkey. That is why they are so effective.

The advance of the "moderate rebels" against these Jihadist terrorist groups is a clever storyline to justify the continuation of the war and the further destruction of Syria. It is also a convenient way to hide US and NATO support for Al-Qaeda.

The LA Times article above is filled with half-truths and lies. The fighters in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the fighters in Al Nusra Front are literally the same people. They are not rivals, but different divisions in the same army of death.