The violent intervention of the Bashar al-Asad’s army in the town of Jisr al Shugur has already caused the flight to neighboring Turkey of more than 2,500 Syrians, amid evidence that Iran is not only behind the Syrian repressive apparatus, but Basij militants are participating directly in the operations of punishment. We can add to that, the lack of agreement in the Security Council to bring forward a UN resolution of condemnation, because of opposition from Russia and China, with veto power, and Brazil.
The testimonies of several wounded admitted to the hospital in Antioch involve Iranian agents who shot to protesters trying to disperse them in the city of Idlib, May 20, as recorded by the France Press correspondent in this city in Turkey. “There were policemen in civilian clothes, but also Iranian soldiers, ” Mustafa told through her bed, a young seller of metal shot in the leg and arm. “I saw with my own eyes: we ask you not to attack us, but did not speak Arabic. ” “They had beards, and the Syrian army is prohibited, ” the trader added, evoking also a black uniform unknown in Syria. Akram, a 17-year-old also shot, has no doubts: “They were Basij [volunteer Iranian Islamic militants]. “
“There is no consensus”, stated the Brazilian foreign minister, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, speaking about the European proposal for the UN’s resolution to condemn the Syrian regime for the violent repression of demonstrations. The diplomat stated that “it is unclear whether Lebanon, the only Arab country on the Security Council, would support it or not. ”
European countries of the UN executive body (France, Britain, Germany and Portugal) supported by the United States have submitted a draft resolution to the 15-member Council to condemn the government of Bashar Assad. However, both China and Russia have veto power. Both of them and Brazil have expressed their misgivings.
The 15 countries were due to reconvene on Wednesday to address the issue, although the vote could take several days. At present the highest international security body is composed, in addition to the above countries, also by Bosnia-Herzegovina, Gabon, Nigeria, Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa.
Just in case there is precendent for them and friends, don’t you think?
First thing, a war is a war. It’s not a very loving and caring thing to do, specially when the other “team” is using children, women or elderly people, as spies or as suicide bombers. Or even persons whose intelligence level is disputable or who have psychiatric problems. In every war, since the beginning of mankind there have been episodes which any sane person would find disgusting if he had been told about them.
That said, and considering the insistence on Human Rights abuses on the Iraqi war (someone caring to see how many times Saudi Human Rights abuses in peaceful time are on newspapers and magazines’ main pages? Oh, no, please, these guys have oil!!), there are other things I would like to point out:
- Firstly, the immediate consequences for Iraqi PM could be devastating. “There has been no evidence found in the documents that Mr. Maliki was aware of the grisly acts of torture and beatings. However, the timing of the documents’ release comes just as his Shiite bloc, known as State of Law, has made gains in securing the majority of parliamentary seats needed to form a new government“. Now, his opponents, Mr. Allawi and Haider Mulla, both want an investigation on the leaked documents, specially about some illegal detentions. Well, accountability is natural in any democracy, although let’s hope Islamist terrorists don’t profit from this information. As they are brutal by nature, they don’t care about publicity or accusations. Something which obviously make themselves a little different from “peaceful” politicians.
- Secondly, the Iraqi WMD: there is an article in Wired (found) that speaks about how Wikileaks warlogs prove their existence: “WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins, and uncover weapons of mass destruction“. Of course, we have to wonder why these warlogs weren’t published to show their existence, something which would have ended a lot of speculations and ferocious critics on the subject.
- And thirdly, the participation of Iran and Syria in the Iraqi war, supporting the so-called “insurgence“, is clear considering the content of the documents. Most of the people are speaking about Iran, that “provided paramilitary training to Shiite Muslim insurgents“, something not specially striking if we consider the good relationship between Al-Sadr, the Iraqi cleric in “charge” of the Mahdi militia, and Iranian Govt, among other data. But there were smuggling operations from Iraq to Syria documented in those documents, with Syrian guards’ support. But not only smuggled things were passing through the Syrian-Iraqi borders: “The WikiLeaks documents describe hundreds of “foreign fighters”, including dozens of Syrian citizens, using the country’s remote eastern desert as a transit point into Iraq. In June 2005, Iraqi border police engaged a group of men who crossed the border illegally to recover a disabled vehicle – which was “believed to be used in smuggling [operations].” The police came under fire – not from the men recovering the vehicle, but from Syrian border guards“.
I mention that “smuggling operations” because there were satellite photos that allegedly proved that Iraqi WMD had been smuggled to Syria. Will Wikileaks’ released documents provide more evidence about that claim?
Syria has banned face-covering Islamic veils from the country’s universities.
The surprise move comes as similar moves in Europe – including controversial calls in Britain for a ban on burkas – have sparked cries of discrimination against Muslims.
The crackdown was ordered by the secular government in Damascus amid fears of increasing Islamic extremism among young Muslim students.
Syria is not a Muslim country. An official at the ministry says the ban affects public and private universities and aims to protect the country’s secular identity.
Are they also going to call Syria racist?
“We have a little bit of freedom,” said Khaled al-Ekhetyar, a 29-year-old journalist for a Web site whose business card shows a face with hands covering up the eyes and mouth. “We can say things that can’t be said in print.”
But that slim margin is threatened by an ever present fog of fear and intimidation, and some journalists fear that it could soon be snuffed out. A draft law regulating online media would clamp down on Syrian bloggers and other journalists, forcing them to register as syndicate members and submit their writing for review. Other Arab countries regularly jail journalists who express dissident views, but Syria may be the most restrictive of all.
Most of the Syrian media is still owned by the state. Privately owned media outlets became legal in 2001, as the socialist economy slowly began to liberalize following the accession of President Bashar al-Assad. But much of the sector is owned by members of the Syrian “oligarchy” — relatives of Mr. Assad and other top government officials. All of it is subject to intimidation and heavy-handed control.
“The first level is censorship,” said Ayman Abdel Nour, the founder of All4Syria.info, the independent Web site where Mr. Ekhetyar works. “The second level is when they send you statements and force you to publish them.” Like many other journalists and dissidents, Mr. Abdel Nour has left the country and now lives abroad.
“The Syrian government ordered the closure of numerous ‘house churches’ for meeting in places the government deems inappropriate for worship. Many congregations in Syria cannot afford to buy a plot of land and build a church, so instead they purchase an apartment and turn it into a place of worship. However, during the past few months, the government has enforced a law stating that congregations must only gather in buildings that resemble a church.
Many Syrian Christians, however, believe that the government’s ‘legal’ excuse for closing churches is merely a cover-up for a wider government crackdown against evangelical Christian activity in Syria. ‘Syrian Christians that are active in their faith know that they are watched very closely and the government is waiting for an excuse to crack down on them,’ a Syrian Christian told ICC. ‘The government is targeting all religious activities which are considered ‘extreme’ — from Muslim extremists all the way to Christians… It is generally believed that the government is getting reports from Orthodox and certain denominations as well as secret police and certain Islamic congregations.'”