'She Was My Mandela' -- Famous Syrian Activist Gets Abducted | TIME - Dec. 2013 |
Her kidnapping, from a rebel-held area, came as a shock to Syrians who have long held her up as a symbol of peaceful defiance. "She was my Mandela," laments colleague and antiregime activist Assaad al-Achi, speaking to TIME by phone from the U.K. (although he goes in and out of Syria regularly). It is not yet clear who is behind the abduction, but many accuse Islamist rebels in control of Douma, who have threatened Zaitouneh in the past.
Yassin al-Haj Saleh, a prominent antigovernment intellectual married to one of Zaitouneh's kidnapped colleagues, openly accused the Army of Islam, writing in a Facebook post, "Based on my intimate knowledge of the situation in Douma, I see that `the Army of Islam' bears full political and moral responsibility for the abduction of Samira [his wife], Razan, Wael, and Nazem." Army of Islam commander Muhammad Alloush denied responsibility in a Facebook post, saying "Abducting people is not part of [our] approach."
[Read more in story below ...]
Canadian Government asked for support to help free Syrian human rights defender Razan Zaitouneh on 2-year anniversary of abduction | FIDH - Dec. 9, 2015 |
On the second anniversary of the abduction of Syrian human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouneh, the undersigned human rights organizations reiterate their call for her immediate release, as well as that of her missing colleagues Samira Khalil, Nazem Hamadi and Wa'el Hamada, her husband. The organizations join Zaitouneh's family in Canada in urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian government to bring attention to the abduction and disappearance of the four human rights defenders and to seek their immediate release.
On 9 December 2013, the four human rights defenders were abducted by a group of armed men who raided the offices of the Violations Documentation Centre (VDC) in Duma, near Damascus. There has been no news of their whereabouts in the past two years but the family is concerned for Zaitouneh's health and well-being given the absence of any information.
Exclusive: How Syria's hard-line rebels turned against a Syrian human rights activist Razan Zaitouneh
The disappearance of Razan Zaitouneh and her colleagues has been one of the greatest mysteries of the Syrian war -- until today. DW's investigative unit hunted clues across six countries to track down the perpetrators.
By the summer of 2013, documenting human rights abuses had become taboo even in rebel-held territories in Syria. But Razan Zaitouneh was steadfast.
The prominent human rights lawyer had just fled the capital, Damascus, due to the immense pressure placed on her work by the regime -- and she wasn't prepared to stop it at the behest of armed men in rebel-held Douma, a small town on the outskirts of the capital.
That tenacity, however, would prove fateful.
The number of possible witnesses has diminished in the eight years since. Some are threatened into silence, others have been killed, and even more are subject to routine intimidation. As a result, the abduction has remained one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the Syrian war -- until today.
A hostile welcome
Within weeks of arriving in Douma in the spring of 2013, Zaitouneh had requested access to various prisons run by armed opposition groups to investigate claims that detainees were subject to torture.
Her efforts unsettled many in the town. Some even voiced concerns about her loyalty to the Syrian revolution -- one of several uprisings against autocratic rule that swept across North Africa and the Middle East in 2011.
It was a critical moment for the human rights defender, who believed that the dignity of all humans was inviolable, and that all abuses demanded documentation and accountability.
One above all: Jaish al-Islam
Douma at the time was not only a battleground for rebels and the regime. It was a town hotly contested by the "Islamic State," al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front and other militant forces vying for power.
One group stood head and shoulders above the rest: the ultraconservative Jaish al-Islam, Arabic for Army of Islam. Although the group proved instrumental in smuggling Zaitouneh and her husband into Douma, they eventually took issue with how she was conducting herself there.
"I myself advised Mrs. Razan that writing about the regime is a great ethical matter," Mohammed Alloush, the former political leader of Jaish al-Islam, tells DW.
'Why don't you kidnap her?'
By September 2013, efforts to stop her human rights work in Douma had become belligerent. That month, she received a threat letter and had shots fired at her door.
DW obtained an audio recording of a man who was ordered by a Jaish al-Islam associate to threaten Zaitouneh's life. He can be heard describing the interaction.
"He told me that this girl is an agent, and that she documents information about the Free Syrian Army (rebel alliance), writing reports to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, which could have us brought to court on charges of war crimes," the man says in the recording.
"I told him if she was an agent and working against the country, why don't you do something? Why don't you kidnap her? Are you afraid of her? He said, 'No, we are not afraid of her, we will bring her down, but for now we want to threaten her.'"
Gone without a trace
Around 10 p.m. on December 9, 2013, the kidnappers entered the offices of the Violations Documentation Center, where Zaitouneh lived with her husband, Wael Hammadeh. Two other friends, political activist Samira Khalil and lawyer Nazem Hammadi, were also present.
Hammadi was on a Skype call with his brother when the intruders broke in. He cut the call short in order to deal with the commotion, but one phrase stuck out before the line went dead.
"Enemies of God."
Jaish al-Islam's leadership has consistently denied the group's involvement in Zaitouneh's disappearance. DW confronted the Islamist militia's spokesperson, but he accused the witnesses of providing false testimony.
"I officially deny, and we have previously denied, that Jaish al-Islam has held anyone from Razan's team, neither Razan nor her companions. Absolutely, never, definitively -- and I swear to that," spokesman Hamza Bayraqdar tells DW.
Security sources say it is unlikely that the group's late founder and military leader, Zahran Alloush, was aware of the abduction in advance. At the time, he was fighting a strategic battle against Assad's forces to open a supply corridor to Douma. He is believed to have found out only days after.
His deputy, Abu Qusai al-Dirani, oversaw the group's security branch in Douma. Evidence suggests that al-Dirani and the group's religious leader, Samir Kaakeh, conspired together and ordered the abduction without Alloush's knowledge.
However, Alloush's untimely assassination torpedoed the deal.
In the aftermath, his cousin and political successor, Mohammed Alloush, refused to adhere to the agreement. By 2016, he would go on to lead the opposition delegation to Syrian cease-fire talks in Astana and Geneva. Today, he owns a multimillion-dollar restaurant in the heart of Istanbul.
In addition to relatives and allies, other parties also attempted to secure Zaitouneh's release, including the US and Russia. In one case, at the behest of Washington, Qatar is believed to have offered Jaish al-Islam's leadership $5 million for the safe return of the four activists.
Qatar's billion-dollar ransom was ’last straw' that led to Gulf crisis - report
This is a BS article as the Muslim Brotherhood of Turkey and Qatar weren't on the same page for a diplomatic solution to the Syria crisis in Geneva. A big fail for Hillary Clinton who had cozied up to Erdoğan during her tenure as Secretary of State.
Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey connive with U.S. Obama White House to replace Assad in Syria
Obama authorizes secret support for Syrian rebels | Reuters - Aug. 2, 2012 |
President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, sources familiar with the matter said.
Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding," broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.
Precisely when Obama signed the secret intelligence authorization, an action not previously reported, could not be determined.
The full extent of clandestine support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear.
From my diary @BooMan ...
The West Lamenting Death of a Terrorist | Dec. 31, 2015 |
Just because this genocidal terrorist was in the pocket of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and some Gulf States? What an hypocrisy and utter political bs!
Analysis: Human Rights Watch and Western media lament death of self-proclaimed genocidal terrorist
This was soon quickly followed by Al-Nusra's major ally, Ahrar ash-Sham, giving their condolences.
"Alloush's martyrdom should be a turning point in the history of the revolution and rebel groups should realize they are facing a war of extermination and uprooting by Putin's regime," said Labib al Nahhas, a senior figure in the main Ahrar al-Sham group. However, this is understandable that fellow terrorist groups would give their condolences to a known sectarian terrorist with the same ideology, goals and extremism.
However, this is where things start to become strange and peculiar. The designated champions of the `revolution' against the Syrian government, the Free Syrian Army, are always heralded as moderate, secular and pro-democracy. However, as Al-Masdar News has continued to expose at large, this ethos is nothing but a mythological hope to the West. Why did the Free Syrian Army offer condolences to the death of a terrorist leader who was friendly with internationally designated terrorist groups like Al-Nusra and Ahrar ash-Sham?
On September 29, 2013, the largest rebel army was formed in Syria by combining around 50 Islamist groups under the umbrella of the "Army of Islam", led by Zahran Alloush, who was leading the Islam Battalion prior to his new position. This supposedly "moderate rebel" by US standards wants to re-establish an Omayyad-like Caliphate in Syria and to "crush the heads of the Magi", a term that Wahhabi extremists use in reference to Iranians/Persians and to Shiites. He also called for like-minded jihadists to flock from all over the world into Syria to help him achieve his objective.
Leader of Saudi Private Army 'Jaysh al-Islam' Killed by [Russian] Airstrike In Ghouta | Dec. 25, 2015 |
Many reasons why Russia and Putin decided to fight regime change in Syria after the drama of the Kiev uprising against an elected president in Ukraine. Russia needed to protect its interests by keeping a foothold on Southern Flank and restore ownership of Crimea and Sevastopol. In the Mediterranean Sea the Russians had a single naval port in Syria that was under threat from NATO.
In the clash of world powers, the individual has no chance and will be grinded to dust.
Obama 'Connived' with Neocons for a Bashar Replacement | June 16, 2014 |
I used this headline out of my anger with the Obama administration and the lies and forgeries about U.S. policy by following the neocon playbook to replace Bashar Assad. How close was the decision to bomb the Alawite regime in Damascus and giving the Sunni jihadists and ISIS terror groups a free reign to massacre Syrians.
I had bookmarked this front page story that was spot on with these prophetic words still actual today:
A demonstration of the US government's failure to appreciate how it is being railroaded by the administration into a confrontation with Syria ...
NSC Chief Hadley asked Italy for a Bashar Replacement
Sun Oct 23rd, 2005 at 09:25:38 AM PDT
National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley asked the Italians to help with regime change in Syria:
I have it on good authority that Steven Hadley, the director of the US National Security Council, called the President of the Italian senate to asked if he had a candidate to replace Bashar al-Asad as President of Syria. The Italians were horrified. Italy is one of Syria's biggest trading partners so it seemed a reasonable place to ask! This is what Washington has been up to. -- Joshua Landis
Let's take this in. Hadley is calling the Italians, asking for a name as a replacement figurehead? Stunning.
This Stephen Hadley? Whose ass is about to be indicted? Who was a member of the infamous WHIG group that sold the Iraq war? Who has his smudgy mitts all over the Niger forgery story and connived with Karl Rove to smear Joseph Wilson and his wife?
Yup, that Stephen Hadley. In BooMan's "Holy Crap: My Pre-Indictment Stress Syndrome is Acting Up" he quotes Larry Johnson: "My friend told me that Hadley fully expects he will be indicted." [As is well known, Larry Johnson became incredible by falsifying tapes accusing candidate Obama - Oui]
Turkish Press reports that "both Ankara and western capitals [are debating] by whom al-Assad can be replaced. This matter was also discussed during (U.S. President Bush's national security adviser) Hadley's visit to Ankara." [cached article, an excerpt below: - by Oui]
Syria's human rights abuse for blocking Sunni jihadists crossing the border into Iraq to fight the American occupiers ...
Syria's Preemptive War against Infiltrators into Iraq | Syria Comment - Sept. 14, 2005 |
Interview with Razan Zeitouneh
Razan Zeitouneh is a 29 year old Syrian human rights activist, lawyer, and journalist. She worked with the Human Rights Association of Syria until last September, when she left to work on several independent projects. She is the founder of the website, Syrian Human Rights Information Link, or SHRIL, an important clearing house for information on people who have been arrested or have disappeared. The site is written in both English and Arabic and constitutes an organized attempt to monitor human rights violations in Syria.
Razan explains that "the regime has started to arrest everyone associated with those who make it to Iraq" and is trying to "frighten people from even thinking about going to Iraq. " This raises the question: Why doesn't Syria trumpet these arrests? Why doesn't it use the fact that it has been terrorizing Islamists, Jihadists, and the families and friends of those who have infiltrated into Iraq to counter false American accusations that it is aiding and abetting Arab Jihadists to infiltrate into Iraq?
We can only guess at the answer to these questions.
- The Syrian government maintains that Arabs have the right to resist foreign occupation. It has opposed America's invasion of Iraq from the beginning as illegal. Thus it is embarrassed by its capitulation to American pressure and does not wish to broadcast it.
- The broad Syrian public agrees that the Iraqi resistance is legitimate, even as it condemns terrorists such as Zarqawi and the killing of innocent Iraqis. The government's measures to crack down of those who would help the resistance is unpopular.
TIME article continued from above ...
Razan Zaitouneh, an award-winning Syrian human-rights activist, was abducted this week by suspected Islamist militants
As armed opposition factions reshuffle their alliance and extremists rise in the ranks, the revolutionary fervor of the Arab Spring has been supplanted by a vicious and increasingly sectarian civil war in which every party's motives appear dubious. Anti-Assad extremists are subjecting Syrian citizens to abuses identical to those meted out by the Syrian government over the past four decades, leading many to wonder if the country is ever going to change for the better. As a result, Syria's civil rights movement has faltered.
Just two months ago, Saleh, the husband of Zaitouneh's colleague, was forced to leave the country after his hometown of Raqqa was seized by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. In a farewell letter posted on his Facebook page, Saleh complained of being forced to hide in his "liberated" city after 2½ years of the revolution. He spoke of the "strangers" who had taken over his town, "detaining human beings and disappearing them in their prisons," noting that they were "always political activists."
When the uprisings started she co-founded the Local Coordination Committees and the Violations Documentation Center, two Syria-based nongovernmental organizations that track deaths, disappearances and human-rights violations. Nor did she shy away from calling out opposition fighters on their mistakes. A year ago, she published an op-ed urging the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, a loose-knit rebel umbrella group, to work alongside civil activists in rebel-held towns. By doing so, she and her colleagues sought to establish a successful model of local governance that could strengthen the revolution's cause and serve as a bulwark against extremist groups that brought in their own system of Islamic law. Her commitment to human rights has earned her many international prizes, including Europe's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the Anna Politkovskaya Award by Reach All Women in War in 2011 and the International Women of Courage Award granted by the U.S. State Department in 2013.
Free Syrian Army Defeated, US Entices Saudi Led Terror Group | Dec. 2013 |
Out of the main media, I repeatedly read that Free Syrian Army general Idriss has withdrawn to the Syrian-Turkish border. Searching for more news, it appears the FSA has lost the civil war, not defeated by Assad's Army but by terror groups funded by Saudi Arabia under command of Zahran Alloush. According to several jihadist commanders, "Zahran Alloush receives his orders directly from the Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan" and Liwaa al-Islam is Saudi Arabia's private army in Syria.
Arming Syrian rebels: Where the US went wrong | BBC News - Oct. 10, 2015 |
When the Assad regime started to falter in 2012, Ambassador Robert Ford believed the US should get involved in the conflict by supporting the rebels. Otherwise Syria could slide into anarchy and become "another Somalia/Yemen", he said, using state department code for Failed State.
Obama and his national security team discussing Syria strategy in 2013. Many in the room were reluctant to arm rebels. (Photo: White House)
Virtually everyone in the US, including Obama, wanted to support the opposition in Syria. But the question was whether the US should send Stinger missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, or offer moral support and humanitarian aid and stay out of the conflict.
Ford told administration officials years ago they should arm the rebels. If the US doesn't help, he said at the time, extremists will give them money and lure them into their organisations.
Those who supported his approach, the Arms for Rebels group, included then-CIA Director David Petraeus, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and most of the foreign-policy establishment in Washington, both Democrat and Republican.
TERROR NEVER ENDS ... IT JUST CHANGES AFFILIATION ... REMEMBER SOVIET INVASION AFGHANISTAN
Dozens of casualties after latest row between Turkish-backed rebels | Syria Direct - June 2017 |
There are two existing narratives as to why fighting broke out in al-Bab, 40km northeast of Aleppo city.
The FSA faction Firqat al-Hamza accused members of a rival group, al-Fawj al-Awal, of "going around al-Bab, cheering for Abu Muhammad al-Julani," the leader of Jabhat Fatah a-Sham (JFS), Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate. When confronted, the masked gunmen of al-Fawj al-Awal allegedly turned their weapons on civilians, which precipitated a city-wide armed conflict.
Since 2012, JFS has applied al-Qaeda's strategy of restraint in developing alliances with other armed groups and local populations. It has two near-term goals: overthrowing Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and establishing the Salafi version of an Islamic state in Syria.
Al-Fawj al-Awal contends that they have no relationship with the masked gunmen, having "separated from the group several months ago," the group announced in a statement posted online on Sunday.
The Islamist faction Ahrar a-Sham, northern Aleppo's largest and arguably most powerful rebel group, sides with the al-Fawj al-Awal version of events. Ahrar claims that Firqat al-Hamza was the initial aggressor, attacking al-Fawj al-Awal due to longstanding differences and ultimately firing on Ahrar as well when the group attempted to intervene.
Inside opposition territory such as al-Bab, it is characteristic for a low-level inter-rebel confrontation--at times fueled by little more than rumor and hearsay--to escalate into a deadly, large-scale conflict due to a system of coalitional alliances. An attack on al-Fawj al-Awal constitutes an attack against their larger ally: Ahrar a-Sham. The two groups have been linked for more than a year, multiple sources tell Syria Direct.
When a major power such as Ahrar a-Sham joins the fray, heavy weaponry quickly replaces individual firearms. Gunfights do not stay that way for long.
"We have numbers and we have strength, and by the will of God we did not and we will not turn our weapons on anyone," Ahrar a-Sham announced in a statement. "But let any hand be raised against our people, or one of our members, and it will be cut off."
Pushing Back Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant: The Path to Conflict | Carnegie Middle East Center - Jan. 6, 2014 |
The reputation of the Obama/Biden administration shattered by multiple act of aggression in forced regime change in Libya, Syria and not in the least Ukraine in 2014. Blaming Russia and Putin as killer regimes.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED REDUX
Obama's quagmire - my earlier writings ...
Blair On Downfall Saddam, Iraq Compared Favorable to Quagmire In Libya and Syria
Scandal erupts over Dutch state's funding of Islamist terror group in Syria