Posts tagged ‘Aleppo’

January 4, 2017

How We Were Misled About Syria: the role of Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF)

by mkleit

Original is from Tim Hayward wordpress

Source

msf-blames

 

I have unbounded admiration for the doctors who volunteer for the invaluable and often dangerous work of Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF). The question concerns MSF’s policy of ‘bearing witness’. MSF will speak out – even against governments – when it thinks a humanitarian situation could and should be dealt with differently by those it holds responsible.[1] It has done so in Syria.

But if none of MSF’s international doctors have been on the ground in Syria’s war zones since 2015,[2] how can MSF claim to bear witness for what is happening there?

MSF has relayed reports from the rebel-held areas to which, exclusively, its supplies and support have been dispatched. The reports – including allegations of government attacks on hospitals and civilians – come from people working with the permission and protection of such groups as Al Nusra, Isis and other foreign jihadis and mercenaries. These anti-government forces are known to exercise a rule of terror and to be not overly concerned about ordinary citizens’ access to medical attention. That is precisely why the MSF doctors withdrew from the areas under their control.[3] So there is scope to ask who the medics on the ground were, and who they were treating.

 

My question, though, simply concerns the reliability of uncorroborated witness statements coming from potentially compromised sources. For while press statements have been issued from various MSF offices around the world, it appears MSF had no independent access to verifiable information from Syria.

In fact, the public unavailability of detailed or verified information is a matter of record: even John Kirby of the US State Department could only assert that ‘relief agencies that we find credible are levelling these accusations’.[4]

The most prominent relief agency, and visible in all video footage linked to the alleged bombings, is the White Helmets.

It is a matter of record that the White Helmets are funded by the NATO and Gulf states whose avowed aim is regime change in Syria; or-38096it is generally believed that they work closely with terrorist organisations (how else could the Netflix documentary have shown them roaming so freely in a zone where MSF and Western journalists dared not set foot?[5]). Their independence and integrity are widely questioned.[6]

So while MSF has often been cited as an independent source of support for White Helmet testimony, its press statements have in fact merely repeated White Helmet claims![7]

Whether intending it or not, MSF thereby became complicit in purveying a particular narrative that suffused the Western media during the period from 22 September to 22 December 2016.[8] Before September, the media had been perfectly clear that the citizens of eastern Aleppo were being held captive, effectively as human shields, by forces dominated by jihadist terrorists.[9] That changed following the uncompromising statement by Samantha Power to the UN Security Council, in which she invoked the White Helmets as victims and witnesses of Russian and Syrian aggression.[10]

Western governments and media re-designated the terrorist groups as ‘moderate rebels’.[11] Concurrently, anti-government activists like Lina Shamy started tweeting in English, the celebrated twitter account in the name of the child Bana was created, and there followed a flow of ‘famous last webcams’ from purported ordinary civilians voicing fears of impending massacre by the Syrian government.

Those of us in the West who were uncertain about the authenticity of all this social media activity in a zone lacking basic infrastructure, let alone wifi,[12] were coaxed to accept the mainstream narrative because a respected organisation like MSF apparently bore witness to it.[13] Few of us realised that MSF was merely repeating White Helmet testimony, not independently verifying it.

The consistent testimony now coming from the people who have been liberated in eastern Aleppo suggests a quite different story from the one that Netflix and our media have promoted.[14] The Helmets themselves appear to have melted away with the departure from Aleppo of the jihadists and mercenaries. If there were any genuinely independent doctors working with them in Aleppo, they too have yet to be heard from. But most telling, in view of White Helmet claims to have saved some 70,000 lives (or whatever exact number we are invited to believe), is that not a single person interviewed in liberated Aleppo has thanked them.

 

So, in seeking to bear witness against the Syrian government, MSF has made claims on a basis that is uncertain and contested.[15]  By so publicly associating itself with the White Helmets and their narrative it may have risked compromising the reputation it relies on to attract international doctors.

Those of us who deeply appreciate the service to humankind of MSF’s international doctors are left to hope the organisation coordinating their work can be more sure to avoid bearing false witness.[16]

The problem with the false narrative is no trivial one, for it perpetuates a fundamental misrecognition of the causes of the war – and thus of all the casualities the doctors have to deal with.  A false narrative not only gives impunity to the guilty but it supports them in moving ever onwards with their murderous designs. It distracts from the ethical truth, too, that the jihadis and the states supplying them with arms and opportunity are in fundamental breach of the law and morality of just warfare.

oberg-5

oberg-6

 

 

[1] The background for this founding principle – of témoignage (‘bearing witness’) – is cited on their website: ‘Hundreds of thousands of people died in the Biafran war because of a deliberate government policy. On their return from the region, a group of young French doctors were frustrated and outraged by the inability of the Red Cross to say publicly what had happened.’ https://www.msf.org.uk/advocacy-and-temoignage

[2] MSF Voice from the Field in Syria: Dr. Nathalie Roberts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61cmnPLk6uE

[3] Dr Nathalie Roberts has described how in the earlier days of the war in Syria, MSF had followed its usual working procedures in opposition-held areas but with the arrival of Islamic State group that became impossible: “they were not allowing all the patients to access the hospital”, they then started appropriating MSF supplies and even kidnapping MSF staff. They could not continue to work in a place where the occupying groups would not allow the doctors to do their medical job. (Dr Roberts interviewed on 13 March 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oQVUssxK-U

[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-spokesperson-loses-temper-with-rt-journalist-over-syria-bombing-questions-a7423146.html

[5] I personally first became curious about the White Helmets from viewing the Netflix documentary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wj4ncIEDxw), and the question I mention in the text here is the one I simply could not get past. I was therefore not surprised to find that others had already offered powerful critiques of the organisation.

I also had trouble imagining how people working in such desperate conditions would have the leisure to keep up with the latest Western craze of the Mannequin Challenge, and also the insensitivity to do a facsimile rescue for the purpose. The video of this PR own goal was quickly removed by the White Helmets’ promoters but remains available elsewhere at time of writing, e.g.:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zgl271A6LgQ

A discussion of it is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8bIupYSZeU

[6] The critical sources now on the internet are far too numerous to mention, but indicative examples include:
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/361957-syria-white-helmets-un/
http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/12/10/exclusive-president-raed-salehs-terrorist-connections-within-white-helmet-leadership/
https://janoberg.exposure.co/humans-in-liberated-aleppo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmFFvu5H4f4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_bObdZhqyE
http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/09/23/exclusive-the-real-syria-civil-defence-expose-natos-white-helmets-as-terrorist-linked-imposters/

[7] The spokespersons bearing MSF witness to the public are quite numerous and remote from Syria. They seldom make explicit the source of their information, but when they do we find it is the White Helmets.

Sam Taylor, for instance, who is Syria communications coordinator for MSF and is based in Jordan, uncritically reproduced White Helmets material: ‘The civil defense, also known as the White Helmets, said the hospital and adjacent buildings were struck in four consecutive airstrikes.’ ‘Video posted by the White Helmets showed lifeless bodies, including children, being pulled from a building and loaded into ambulances amid screams and wailing. Distraught rescue workers tried to keep away onlookers, apparently fearing more bombs.’ http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/airstikes-aleppo-hospital-1.3556632

Taylor does mention another authority: ‘Shortly after midday Thursday, new airstrikes in rebel-held areas killed at least 20 people in two neighbourhoods, the Syrian Civil Defense and the Observatory said.’ By ‘Observatory’, he presumably means the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Although this sounds like an independent organisation, it is in fact a single individual named Rami Abdulrahman (sometimes referred to as Rami Abdul Rahman) living in Coventry in the UK; and he is presumably as independent as one can expect from an opposition exile whose small network of informants in Syria consists largely of anti-government activists.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/world/middleeast/the-man-behind-the-casualty-figures-in-syria.html

Certainly, he is no more directly a witness than is MSF’s spokesperson. Needless to say, the Observatory’s credibility and independence is disputed: http://russia-insider.com/en/media-criticism/man-behind-vaunted-syrian-observatory-human-rights-shown-all-his-full-absurdity; http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/syrian-ngos-working-directly-with.html; http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/12/the-syrian-observatory-for-human-rights-is-a-tool-of-western-propaganda/

Despite this lack of verified independent evidence, Taylor was prepared to state on behalf of MSF that a hospital attack ‘was deliberate’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebrpj689Ib8. While the basis for the accusation is not given, the cumulative effect of this sort of public statement is evident.

Pablo Marco Blanco, MSF’s Operations Manager for the Middle East in Barcelona, effectively endorsed the accusation, while admitting that the basis of the information was unconfirmed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI5KMAvfYDU.

Similar communications came from Muskilda Zancada, ‘MSF head of mission in Syria’ in Barcelona. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4s9uEp6Ujs). Zancada also stated that ‘civilians are targeted’ http://www.msf.org/en/article/syria-update-airstrike-al-quds-hospital. Paul McPhun, Executive Director MSF Australia, speaking from Australia (10 October 2016) likewise makes categorial statements about targeted bombings in Aleppo, but without indicating the source of his knowledge.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHyPtcG5a6M

It is even possible that the accusations are true. Yet it is also possible that they are not. The fallibility of MSF sources has been illustrated by how Teresa Sancristoval, Head of MSF’s Emergency Unit for Aleppo, was clearly being fed her information in Barcelona from people with an oppositional stance towards the Syrian Government because they were ‘afraid of the retaliations they can suffer’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades (see note 7).

While I have no doubt that all MSF statements are made from a standpoint of agonised human sympathy, and in good faith, they take on a life of their own when picked up by the media and disseminated for further purposes.

In the end it is clear that what matters from the humanitarian point of view is that the bombing should stop. When MSF call for all sides to stop, they can claim to speak for humankind. When they complain of ‘targeted and indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian and Russian armed forces’ (http://www.msf.org/en/article/syria-crisis-update-28-november-2016) they create unnecessary controversy: if bombing both targeted and indiscriminate is to stop on the government side, that is as much as to say – from the government’s perspective – that it should simply allow the ISIS and Al Nusra terrorists free rein over the people and sovereign territory that it has a duty to defend. MSF do not want to say exactly this, I assume, but my point is that the organisation seems not to have a firm enough grip on its communications policy or a sufficiently coherent approach to defining its extra-medical mission.

[8] MSF statements from Syria condemning the Syrian and Russian governments have been demonstrably lacking in certainty or detail. For instance, in relaying reports of attacks on hospitals around Aleppo in May they note that ‘one was the MSF-supported al Sakhour hospital in Aleppo city, which was forced to suspend activities after being bombed at least twice on consecutive days.’ (https://www.msf.org.uk/country/syria) An inexact statement like this – being equivocal as to whether the number of bombings was two, three, or some other number – may or may not be true; it cannot claim to have been properly verified, since a verification would make clear whether or not a third or further bombings had occurred.

MSF uncritically accepted the veracity of the ‘famous last webcams’ coming out of besieged eastern Aleppo. As late as 14 December 2014 MSF wrote on their own website: ‘Whatever hope remained is rapidly dissipating. People are terrified, almost certain that their own deaths are near. Messages in which they say goodbye to their love ones are proliferating.’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades ]

MSF do not appear to have known as much as one might hope or expect about the doctors they supported in terrorist-held Aleppo and whose words they relay to the public. The doctors communicating from terrorist-held Aleppo whose testimony the MSF publicly cited just prior to the liberation of Aleppo were apparently not looking forward to the end of the siege, and MSF even believed that their forebodings were shared by the ordinary people of Aleppo: ‘Like the rest of the population, “doctors are terrified and losing hope,” says Teresa Sancristoval, Head of MSF’s Emergency Unit for Aleppo. “They are afraid of the retaliations they can suffer. For the last two days, our exchanges have been more about goodbye messages and requests for evacuation than anything else. They feel abandoned to their fate and with no way out.”’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/02/us-syria-policy-tatters-moderate-rebels-disband

[10] As Stephen Cohen has pointed out, the sea change came with the breakdown of negotiations between Obama and Putin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPp8eKBjcyA&t=974s

The view was then forcefully asserted against Obama by Samantha Power.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/22/syria-obama-us-president-putin-russia

In her speech to UN Security Council she singled out the White Helmets as victims and witnesses of Russian and Syrian attacks. She declared: ‘This is not the day, this is not the time to blame all sides, to draw false equivalencies. It is not the time to say that “airstrikes took place,” or “civilians were killed.” It is time to say who is carrying out those airstrikes, and who is killing civilians.’ https://usun.state.gov/remarks/7453
[11] Some insights into the unreliability of the mainstream narrative have occasionally been heard from within mainstream media outlets.

For instance:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-aleppo-iraq-mosul-isis-middle-east-conflict-assad-war-everything-youve-read-could-be-wrong-a7451656.html
http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/12/time-judge-assads-aleppo-campaign-standards-set-mosul/
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/aleppo-falls-to-syrian-regime-bashar-al-assad-rebels-uk-government-more-than-one-story-robert-fisk-a7471576.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1B2xFqfEgY (‘Tulsi Gabbard tells the truth about Syria’ on CNN)
Carla Ortiz Speaks about her Experience in Aleppo and The Little Syrian Girl
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAE3WawgOX0&feature=share

Criticisms have of course been extensive in the Russian media. Since promoters of the Western narrative do not regard the Russia Today (RT) channel as a reliable source, I mention just a couple of interviews that they might concede have some credibility – one from a Church of England clergyman and one from a former UK ambassador to Syria:
‘Consistent stories of brutality at the hands of the Syrian rebels’ – Rev. Andrew Ashdown
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8iM_eY2viQ

US effectively siding with Al-Qaeda in desire to get rid of Assad – former UK ambassador to Syria
https://www.rt.com/news/345636-us-siding-al-qaeda-ford/

[12] Common sense scepticism on this point is supported by the first hand testimony of Carla Ortiz about trying to get internet connections in Aleppo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il7I1FTRSwY.

[13] I have seen MSF cited as a source to discredit the account of Syria given to the UN by Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uap0GwBYdBA
In fact, I was first prompted to do the research that led to writing this blog because a respected and well-informed friend on Facebook invoked MSF as a refutation of Bartlett’s claims. I believe it has since become clear that events have entirely vindicated Bartlett.

[14] Some examples of interviews with newly liberated citizens in Aleppo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjPpREHEF1Y
https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.beeley/posts/10155907018683868
https://www.sott.net/article/337545-East-Aleppo-Diaries-Testimony-from-Hanano-Shatters-Corporate-Fake-News
https://janoberg.exposure.co/humans-in-liberated-aleppo
https://www.sott.net/article/338019-Bolivian-actress-Carla-Ortiz-exposes-what-went-wrong-with-Western-media-coverage-of-Syrian-conflict

[15] Stronger criticism of MSF than I am making is found in Miri Wood’s ‘Guide to Understanding How ‘Unhospitals’ Cannot Be Bombed’ http://www.syrianews.cc/guide-understanding-unhospitals-cannot-bombed/ ; MSF’s relationship with the Syrian Government is known to be an uneasy one: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/12161437/Medecins-Sans-Frontieres-run-by-French-intelligence-says-Assad-regime.html

[16] MSF takes a certain pride in fostering debate and allowing some plurality of political views to be aired within the organisation: it does not attempt, as ICRC does, to hold a single public line. (Rony Brauman, ‘Médecins Sans Frontières and the ICRC: matters of principle’, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 888, 31 December 2012: https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/article/review-2012/irrc-888-brauman.htm)

Yet the public hears MSF-branded messages and thinks they represent the honest and considered position of a respected organisation. They are encouraged to do so by the fact that press releases and comments are issued by the organisation and not as independent opinions of particular members.

While it is not my place to tell MSF how to conduct its affairs, I would say that their internal plurality of opinion is not necessarily a virtue: if they cannot agree on certain matters of principle about bearing witness, then the wise option might be simply to refrain, as ICRC do. At any rate, some of their internal philosophical debate strikes this reader as unhelpfully verbose and analytically unclear. More specifically relating to Syria, it is reasonable to believe that the geopolitics of the region and the machinations of its various protagonists are as complex and challenging, in their way, as are the medical emergencies in a war zone. Even the most judicious political analyst would not be much use in dealing with the latter. The people in MSF offices might reflect on whether the converse does not also apply.

We are not in a position to know if Syria or Russia should answer any charges in respect of the conduct of war.  We do know that their enemies must, and, more crucially, that they face the more fundamental charge of having attacked Syria and its people without just cause.

I find a rather bitter irony in the MSF position that they distinguish themselves from the ICRC in not being willing to patch up victims simply in order to make possible further harm to them; for that could be said to be what they are doing by wishing that a sovereign people should not use full lethal force against merciless invaders on its soil.

November 25, 2016

Analysis: Why Sweden is giving an award to White Helmets?

by mkleit

 

 

Sweden did not succeed in getting Bob Dylan to come to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Literature Prize. As a consolation Sweden got nevertheless the “White Helmets”; they were bestowed today the Right Livelihood Award.

 

This article examines a likely geopolitical rationale that the Swedish elites had for selecting that organization. Also, facts suggest a congruence between the stances of those elites on Syria and the declared political aims of the organization White Helmets. The reviewing of the institutions involved in the award-decision and process can also result relevant in pondering the reason for the event. Finally, to inquire into the role of Carl Bildt, as member of the board of directors in the institution ultimately deciding, is interesting against the backdrop of his opposition against the participation of  Julian Assange and Edward Snowden in previous international events organized by the same institutions –all of them under the umbrella of the Swedish Foreign Office.

 

However, Sweden’s awarding a prize to this organization –called the  “murky Withe Helmets’ by Professor Jan Osberg– it might reveal a semi-concealed intervention in support of Hillary Clinton’s doctrine in the dirty war against Syria. In concrete, another means used by Sweden’s elites in uttering their view, and gathering support, for the No-Fly Zone campaign in Syria.

 

A main purpose of what I have called the Hillary Clinton doctrine in the Middle East is the ending –by violent means– of the secular governments in the region, to be replaced by fundamentalist dictatorships. That happened in Egypt, Libya, etc. Now it was Assad’s turn. A valuable testimony of both the origin and purpose of this stance by Clinton was given by US Senator Richard Black, who declared in video:

 

“Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, put into place a series of actions to overthrow the secular governments in the Middle East and to replace them with radical Islamic regimes. Why she was doing this? I know she has great connections, financial and otherwise, with Saudi Arabia, with Qatar, with Kuwait, with tyrants of the Arab world”.

 

To these ends in Syria, the Swedish establishment has comprehensively supported the establishment of a No-Fly zone –precisely as advocated by Hillary Clinton. Beside illustrating Hillary Clinton’s stance on the No-Fly Zone issue, the video below shows also the risk of an all-out war against Russia and Syria, and what such measure would signify for the US Armed Forces (and others supporting the No-Fly Zone, such as the Swedish establishment).

 

 

 

 

 

It would be worth to mention in this context the participation of the “neutral and nonaligned” Swedish air Force in the No-Fly Zone operation masterminded by Hillary Clinton –the ultimate responsible for the bullets fired a close range against the head of the secular Libyan government, Omar Kaddafi, while he was held prisoner and immobilized. “We came, we saw, he died“, says Hillary Clinton on video, while she laughs.

 

Also, it should be reminded that the decision regarding the military participation of Sweden in Libya was taken at the Parliament after a proposition presented by Carl Bildt; a proposal that found uncontested support in ALL political parties of the Swedish political establishment, including the Left Party (the former ‘euro-communists’). Only the Sweden Democrats opposed.

 

For the Swedish rulers, as it was for Hillary Clinton, it is not about religion or ideology, or about an “idealistic” solidarity with refugees from the Syrian war (in fact most of those migrants are not ). It is only about money.

 

While those Sunni governments financially backed Clinton and the Clinton Foundation (mentioned in the above-quoted testimony by Senator Richard Black), the role of Sweden was to contribute either with direct public funds or with donations by important Swedish companies, such as Lundin Oil or Ericsson. In retribution, they got the kind of favours from Clinton’s State Department, which permitted further expansion of Swedish business in the area, such as  Ericsson. Meanwhile, the business of Sweden with Saudi Arabia, or Sweden’s arms export to the United Arab Emirates, continues unabated [See my recent articles in “The Indicter” and “Global Research”].

 

 

Another promoter for a No-Fly Zone in Syria is the organization “White Helmets”. Undoubtedly, there are in that organization, like in any of that kind,  true volunteer-individuals trying to do a humanitarian contribution. However, as organization at large, “White Helmets” is in fact another operation set up and financed by the same forces pressing for an escalation in the military conflict in Syria. In other words, the same factions that financed armed and trained the ‘moderate’ rebels –as the New York Times and the Washington Post call them (also called non-partisan media, also call them “moderate” terrorists, or “moderate jihadists”).

 

This organization has been boosted and financed by a number of State-donors, all of them implicated in the US-led (Clinton/Obama) political and/or military coalition aimed to depose the presidency of Assad in Syria. Most of these countries count with economic benefits in the planned oil-pipe construction designed to pass through Syria and that Assad opposed; the real cause of the war. For instance, Germany raised recently its financing to the “White Helmets” up to $7.85 million. Other examples of funding governments to this so-called “non-governmental organization”: The US government has contributed with $23 million; the UK government with $4.5 million.

 

 

One conclusion emerging in this analysis, considering also White Helmets own statements done previously in its home page, is that a main aim of its propaganda endeavour is bringing public opinion’s support to the ‘necessity of establishing a No-Fly Zone in Syria’. This is the geopolitical item that coincides with the one of Sweden’s political establishment pursuing a confrontation of “West” against Russia. And it is in this context where the Swedish award  to “White Helmets” should be understood.

 

The claims for a No-Fly Zone in Syria have been passed through standard psy-op  by the pro-Clinton corporate-owned press. This has been directed not only at American audiences, but also echoed among EU countries  viewed as potential proxies for the escalation of the Syria military conflict. Sweden is, historically considered, the primary government in Europe to react positively to such calls.

 

As Sweden now is giving its prestigious award to the White Helmets, the Swedish media has relentlessly reported in the most positive terms the deeds of the organization. None of the international reports denouncing a variety of manipulation techniques in constant use by the White Helmets has found space in the Swedish media. The image and video below shows how this is done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The appeals by “White Helmets” are done by fabricating or drastically exaggerating news on ‘war atrocities’. Hence, the suggestion of demolishing ‘air raids’ directed at civilian populations is a favourite number, for instance, in videos uploaded in YouTube. In the videos I have seen, however, such attacks never appear; what we see instead, solely, are rooms filled with smoke, dust, etc., where same “patients” move constantly in the scene with or without anti-dust protection masks.

 

In the Swedish version of “Swedish Institute of International Affairs” that I have access to, I found that the largest single entity financing this ‘independent’ institution is ultimately the Swedish State.

 

Right now, as I am typing these lines, the Swedish Institute of International Affairs has removed its web page in English. There is a growing focus on that institution right now because of the Right Livelihood Prize to the White Helmets. So, one reason might be that they are ‘cleaning up’ the page. And they should.

February 22, 2016

حلب: ما قبل وبعد

by mkleit

لا أقمنا في مكان وإن طاب ولا يمكن المكان الرحيل
كلما رحبت بنا الروض قلنا حلب قصدنا وأنت السبيل
فيك مرعى جيادنا والمطايا وإليها وجيفنا والذميل – أبو الطيب المتنبي

حلب للوارد جنة عدن وهي للغادرين نار سعير والعظيم العظيم يكبر في عينه منها قدر الصغير الصغير – أبو العلاء المعري

نفيت عنك العلة و الظرف و الأدبا”
و إن خلقت لها إن لم تزر حلبا
لو ألف المجد سفرا عن مفاخره
لراح يكتب في عنوانه حلبا” – الأخطل الصغير

 

Source: Reuters, Getty Images

August 21, 2014

خمسة أسباب علمية وراء وحشية «داعش»

by mkleit

وضع الأستاذ في علم النفس في كلية «ترينيتي» في دبلن، والمدير المؤسس لمعهد «ترينيتي» للعلوم العصبية، إيان روبرتسون، 5 تفسيرات علمية للوحشية التي يمارسها تنظيم «داعش»، موضحاً أنه بينما يري الكثيرون قطع الرؤوس والأعمال المتطرفة الأخرى أمور غير وارد القيام بها، فإن هناك عدة عوامل يمكن أن تجعل من أي شخص «شخصية متطرفة».

1.«الوحشية» تولد «الوحشية»

الجزء الأول من الجواب قد يكون بسيطاً، يتمثل في أن «الوحشية» تولد «الوحشية»، كما أن الثمة المشتركة بين الأشخاص الذين تعرضوا للمعاملة بالقسوة، هي القسوة والعدوان وعدم التعاطف.

في معسكرات الاعتقال النازي، على سبيل المثال، كان العديد من الحراس الأكثر قسوة سجناء في سجون «كابوس» سيئة السمعة، الأمر الذي يعني أن الضحايا غالباً ما يستجيبون للصدمة بأن يتحولوا هم أنفسهم إلى جناة.

2.الاندماج في «المجموعة»

تحول الضحية إلى جاني ليس السبب الوحيد الذي يؤدي إلى «الوحشية»، ففي حالة انهيار الدولة، ينهار معها النظام والقانون والمجتمع المدني، ويبقي الحل الوحيد للبقاء هو «المجموعة»، بصرف النظر عن الاعتبارات الدينية أو العنصرية أو السياسية أو القبلية أو العشائرية، ويظل البقاء معتمداً على الأمن المتبادل الذي تقدمه المجموعة.

الحرب غالباً ما تربط الأشخاص في مجموعات، هذه الروابط تخفف الشعور بالخوف والضيق الذي يشعر به الفرد حينما تنهار الدولة، كما أنها توفر أيضاً الثقة بالنفس للأشخاص الذين يشعرون بالإذلال من فقدانهم لمنازلهم ومكانتهم في المجتمع.

في هذه الحالة تندمج الهويات الفردية والجماعية نسبياً، وتصبح تصرفات الأشخاص تعبيراً عن المجموعة أكثر ما هي تعبر عن إرادة الشخص نفسه. وحينما يحدث ذلك، قد يقوم هؤلاء بأشياء مرعبة لم يتخيلوا يوماً القيام بها، ويصبح ضمير الفرد ضئيل نسبياً داخل المجموعة. ومن ثم تقع مسؤولية «الوحشية» علي المجموعة أكثر من الفرد.

ويظهر ذلك بوضوح هلى وجوه مقاتلو «داعش» الذين يتسابقون في الظهور علي عربات، يلوحون بالأعلام السوداء، بابتسامات عريضة على وجوههم بعد ذبح من لا يعتنق الإسلام.

ولأن الهوية الفردية تكون ذائبة إلى حد كبير في هوية المجموعة، يصبح الفرد أكثر استعدادًا للتضحية بنفسه في المعركة، أو القيام بالتفجيرات الانتحارية.

3.الكراهية

التفكير في المذابح التي تحدث بين السنة والشيعة في العراق وسوريا يعكس حقيقة مرعبة، تتمثل في أنه داخل المجموعة، يتم تعزيز فكرة القبلية، وكراهية كل من هم خارج مجموعتهم.

وحتى حينما يكون العنف ضد المجموعات الأخرى مدمر للذات مثلما هو واضح بشكل مأساوي في الشرق الأوسط، فإن المجموعات التي تقوم على أسس دينية تظهر عداءاً ضد معارضيها أكثر من المجموعات التي لا تقوم على أساس ديني.

4.الانتقام

يري روبرتسون أن الانتقام «يعد قيمة كبيرة في الثقافة العربية، ويلعب دوراً في استمرارية الوحشية». ويولد الانتقام المزيد من الوحشية في دوامة لا تنتهي، لكن الأكثر من ذلك، أن الانتقام قد يكون حافز قوي، لكنه مخادع أيضاً، لأن الانتقام من شخص ما يضخم المشكلة ويؤدي إلى استمرارها.

5.القادة

يرتكب الأشخاص الذين ينتمون إلى مجموعات بأفعال وحشية إذا سمح لهم قادتهم بالقيام بذلك، خاصة إذا كانوا هؤلاء الأشخاص يرغبون في التضحية بأنفسهم لصالح المجموعة. فمقاتلو «داعش» يذبحون المسيحيين واليزيديين العزل لأن قادتهم أخبروهم أن هذا هو الشيء الصحيح الذي ينبغي عمله. والقادة، على أي مستوي من القبيلة إلى الدولة، هي المسؤولة عن الوحشية، والمشكلة تكمن في أن القادة يستطيعون إنهاء الوحشية، أو تشجيع الوحشية، وعندها لن يستطيع أي شيء الوقوف ضدها.

 

المصدر: المصري اليوم

August 23, 2012

Robert Fisk: ‘Rebel army? They’re a gang of foreigners’

by mkleit

 

A victorious army? There were cartridge cases all over the ancient stone laneways, pocked windows, and bullet holes up the side of the Sharaf mosque, where a gunman had been firing from the minaret. A sniper still fired just 150 yards away – all that was left of more than a hundred rebels who had almost, but not quite, encircled the 4,000-year-old citadel of Aleppo.

“You won’t believe this,” Major Somar cried in excitement. “One of our prisoners told me: ‘I didn’t realise Palestine was as beautiful as this.’ He thought he was in Palestine to fight the Israelis!”

Do I believe this? Certainly, the fighters who bashed their way into the lovely old streets west of the great citadel were, from all accounts, a ragtag bunch. Their graffiti – “We are the Brigades of 1980”, the year when the first Muslim Brotherhood rising threatened the empire of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez – was still on the walls of the Syrian-Armenian hotels and silver shops. A 51-year-old general handed me one of the home-made grenades that littered the floor of the Sharaf mosque; a fluffy fuse poking from the top of a lump of shrapnel, coated in white plastic and covered in black adhesive tape.

Inside the mosque were bullets, empty tins of cheese, cigarette butts and piles of mosque carpets, which the rebels had used as bedding. The battle had so far lasted 24 hours. A live round had cut into the Bosnian-style tombstone of a Muslim imam’s grave, with a delicate stone turban carved on its top. The mosque’s records – lists of worshippers’ complaints, Korans and financial documents – were lying across one room in what had evidently marked the last stand of several men. There was little blood. Between 10 and 15 of the defenders – all Syrians – surrendered after being offered mercy if they laid down their arms. The quality of this mercy was not, of course, disclosed to us.

The Syrian soldiers were elated, but admitted that they shared immense sadness for the history of a city whose very fabric was being torn apart, a world heritage site being smashed by rockets and high-velocity rounds. The officers shook their heads when they led us into the ramparts of the immense citadel. “The terrorists tried to capture it 20 days ago from our soldiers who were defending it,” Major Somar said. “They filled gas cylinders full of explosives – 300 kilos of it – and set them off by the first entrance above the moat.”

Alas, they did. The huge medieval iron and wooden gate, its ornamented hinges and supports – a defence-work that had stood for 700 years – has been literally torn apart. I clambered over carbonized wood and hunks of stone bearing delicate Koranic inscriptions. Hundreds of bullet holes have pitted the stonework of the inner gate. Below, I found a T-72 tank whose barrel had been grazed by a sniper’s bullet which was still lodged in the sheath, its armour broken by a grenade. “I was inside at the time,” its driver said. “Bang! – but my tank still worked!”

So here is the official scorecard of the battle for the eastern side of the old city of Aleppo, the conflict amid narrow streets and pale, bleached stone walls that was still being fought out yesterday afternoon, the crack of every rebel bullet receiving a long burst of machine-gun fire from Major Somar’s soldiers. As the army closed in on the gunmen from two sides, 30 rebels – or “Free Syrian Army” or “foreign fighters” – were killed and an undisclosed number wounded. According to Major Somar’s general, an officer called Saber, Syrian government forces suffered only eight wounded. I came across three of them, one a 51-year-old officer who refused to be sent to hospital.

Many of the rebels’ weapons had been taken from the scene by the military “mukhbarat” intelligence men before we arrived: they were said to include three Nato-standard sniper rifles, one mortar, eight Austrian machine-pistols and a host of Kalashnikovs, which may well have been stolen by Syrian deserters. But it is the shock of finding these pitched battles amid this world heritage site which is more terrible than the armaments of each side. To crunch over broken stone and glass with Syrian troops for mile after mile around the old city, a place of museums and Mosques – the magnificently minareted Gemaya Omayyad stands beside yesterday’s battleground – is a matter of infinite sorrow.

Many of the soldiers, who were encouraged to speak to me even as they knelt at the ends of narrow streets with bullets spattering off the walls, spoke of their amazement that so many “foreign fighters” should have been in Aleppo. “Aleppo has five million people,” one said to me. “If the enemy are so sure that they are going to win the battle, then surely there’s no need to bring these foreigners to participate; they will lose.”

Major Somar, who spoke excellent English, understood the political dimension all too well. “Our borders with Turkey are a big problem,” he admitted. “The border needs to be closed. The closure of the frontier must be coordinated by the two governments. But the Turkish government is on the enemy side. Erdogan is against Syria.” Of course, I asked him his religion, a question that is all innocence and all poison in Syria these days. Somar, whose father was a general, his mother a teacher, and who practices his English with Dan Brown novels, was as quick as a cat. “It’s not where you are born or what is your religion,” he said. “It’s what’s in your mind. Islam comes from this land, Christians come from this land, Jews come from this land. That is why it is our duty to protect this land.”

Several soldiers believed the rebels were trying to convert the Christians of Aleppo – “a peaceful people”, they kept calling them – and there was a popular story doing the rounds yesterday of a Christian storekeeper who was forced to wear Muslim clothing and announce his own conversion in front of a video camera. But in wartime cities, you find talkative soldiers. One of the men who recaptured the entrance to the citadel was Abul Fidar, famous for walking between Aleppo, Palmyra and Damascus over 10 days at the start of the current conflict last year to publicise the need for peace. The president, needless to say, greeted him warmly at his final destination.

And then there was Sergeant Mahmoud Dawoud from Hama, who had been fighting in Hama itself, Homs, Jebel Zawi and Idlib. “I want to be interviewed by a reporter,” he announced, and of course, he got his way. “We are sad for the civilians of this land,” he said. “They were in peace before. We promise as soldiers that we will make sure a good life returns for them, even if we lose our lives.” He does not mention all those civilians killed by army shellfire or by the “shabiha”, or those thousands who have suffered torture in this land. Dawoud has a fiancée called Hannan who is studying French in Latakia, his father is a teacher; he says he wants “to serve his homeland”.

But the thought cannot escape us that the prime purpose of men like Sergeant Dawoud – and all his fellow soldiers here – was not, surely, to liberate Aleppo but to liberate the occupied Golan Heights, right next to the land which the “jihadis” apparently thought they were “liberating” yesterday – until they discovered that Aleppo was not Jerusalem.

 

The Independent

%d bloggers like this: