Syria – scrambling to keep up

By Ken Hiebert

I am riveted by the news from Syria. From a great many sources. I also participate in heated on-line debates about what is happening there. I know that whatever I write will be out-of-date within days or even hours.

What in fact is happening? I’ll tell you what I see.
There is a mass movement in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime. Does this include everyone? No, Assad still has some pockets of support. Some in the religious minorities fear the rule of a Sunni Muslim majority. And some people (Alawite, Christian and Sunni) have prospered under the Assad regime. In response to this, important voices have been raised within the revolt pledging a Syria for all Syrians. But the fear is still there.  And the more that people are slaughtered by the government forces, the more that some people fear the anger that is bound to follow.
Is there outside influence in Syria? I am sure there is. Syrians desperate to defend themselves from government attack turn wherever they can to get assistance, including arms. Outside forces such as the US have urged the opposition to “unite.” What they really mean is that the grass roots organization should submit to the leadership of the most moderate, pro-western forces.
The U.S. has a great capacity to grant material aid and to withhold it. See this article in The Telegraph.
Will the U. S. and NATO get directly involved? It could certainly happen. One indication of this is that Henry Kissinger decided to write an op-ed piece about this. If he didn’t think it was possible, why would he bother?   He’s in a good position to know what is being debated within the American ruling class.
Also interesting is the stance taken by Daniel Pipes. He is not as close to the American ruling class as Kissinger, but he is in a position to know what the debates are. And he is one of the leading apologists in the U. S. for Israel. He would know what leading Israelis are thinking. And it is clear that whatever their dislike for Assad, they prefer him to what might come after him.
There is nothing new in this. They made it clear that they hoped that Mubarak would stay in power in Egypt.  They were sorry to see him go. (In Canada, that’s why Harper was so glum when Mubarak was defeated. All he could say was, “The toothpaste is out of the tube.”)
Sources of information
This is a long list but still only a part of what you can find.  The first four are the only ones I can recommend to you. You will decide which ones you have confidence in.
There is this website, New Socialist.  Search for Syria and you’ll come up with lots of useful information and analysis
IV is good, but there is nothing current there. You’ll have to search the site.
Scroll down to July 11th.
For those who can read French
This site is in Arabic and English.  Some for and some against Assad.
News feeds
From Cuba
See also
From Venezuela.  For those who can read Spanish.
And the there are what I call the Hear No Evil, See No Evil sites. In private conversation they might admit that there is mass opposition to Assad,but in public they pretend they cannot see the mass movement inside Syria.
In another category is the Canadian Peace Alliance. This is a serious cross-country peace coalition. In fact it’s the only such coalition. I took a blast at them on this site. (I failed to make my intentions clear and the item appeared under a pseudonym.)
To be fair, while they couldn’t bring themselves to criticize Assad in their statement they did provide a link to an article by Phyllis Bennis that was quite explicit in denouncing the crimes of the Assad regime.
It is also worth noting that if you go to the current home page of the CPA, you will not find any mention of this statement.
But there is something that the CPA has in common with the Hear No Evil sites. Neither the CPA or any of these other sites has asked me for money so they can send a fact finding commission to Syria.  Imagine the impact it could have if we had Canadians in Syria who could challenge the news accounts we are receiving.  What if CNN reported that a particular town was being shelled and we could say, “That’s not true.  We have someone in that town right now and they tell us there is no shelling.”
There is a good reason why none of these organizations is going to Syria. They know that the facts on the ground would not fit into their truth
There are some outright pro-Assad sites.  Here are two that I have found. (I thought this was from Syria, but I am told that she is in Dubai.)
And a couple of live feeds