Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hula Massacre

How can I comment on developments in Syria anymore? I simply disbelieve the Syrian regime and the exile Syrian opposition groups: both have a proven record of criminality and massacres and lies and fabrications.  There were people who asked me to write on the case of Zainab Al-Humsi, on whom long articles were written in the Western press and exile opposition propaganda outlets provided vivid accounts of her death, only for Zainab to appear (alive) on Syrian regime TV.  I learned my lesson: don't trust any news on Syria that comes from either the exile opposition media outlets or from the media outlets of the Syrian regime and its allies (Hizbullah or Iran or pro-Syrian regime groups in Lebanon).  Neither of the two sides want truth and both sides want to lie and fabricate to cover up their crimes and to stigmatize the other.  Of course, Western media with very few exceptions simply reproduce propaganda claims by the exile opposition groups.  One of the worst reporters on the Syria matter has been Neil MacFarquhar who even reproduces rumors from his exile opposition sources.  On Hula, MacFarquhar blamed the regime and then added:  "Activists said that much of the slaughter had been carried out by pro-government thugs, or “shabiha,” from the area. Houla is a Sunni Muslim town, while three villages around it are mostly Alawite, the religion of Mr. Assad and whose adherents are the core of his security forces. A fourth village is Shiite Muslim."  So by his account, `Alawites and the minuscule Shi`ite community are to blame.  But if the Army was responsible for the massacre, why would there be a need for the "armed thugs" of the `Alawite and Shi`ite community in the area.  MacFarquhar in his blame (derived from the sectarianism of the exile opposition groups) is now responsible for whatever will befall the innocent `Alawites and Shi`ites in the area.  If the paper carried such blanked condemnation of a minority Jewish community in any Arab country, he would have been fired and ethical committees would have been formed to investigate his professional violations.  His rumor article about the poisoning of Asaf Shawkat should be read in journalism school as example of shoddy journalism or as an example of National Inquirer's methods and style.   Yet, buried in long articles in the New York Times about Hula is this reference:  "Gen. Robert Mood, the head of the United Nations observer mission in Syria, said in a statement that “the killing of innocent children and civilians needs to stop,” but added that the circumstances behind all the deaths remained “unclear.”"  That was left uncommented on and MacFarquhar, in a method that has become familiar on Syria added:  "Saleem Kabani, an activist reached via Skype who said he was in the town, said that government forces had shelled Houla heavily all day Friday, also raking it with machine-gun fire and firing mortar shells."  Of course, the government given its bloody and war criminal record (under Hafidh and now under Bashshar), can easily be responsible for this massacre.  It has no moral scruples or ethical factors that would prevent it from perpetrating such a crime.  But as one friend (Amer), wrote to me about it:  "No version I heard makes sense, the amount of lies makes it impossible to know the truth: bombing? slaughter? army? villages raiding each other? these things cannot happen all at the same time."  So according to exile accounts, the Army shelled the area and then after killing the innocent civilians sent its armed thugs to kill them again?  War crimes are being committed in Syria and the regime remains more responsible because it is the official authority in the land and its mandate includes the promise of protecting the population.  The regime also controls the country although the Secretary-General of the UN now admits that Free Syrian Army gangs control major sections of cities and towns.  There are no independent sources on Syria: all accounts are based on this lying-criminal side or the other.  If the regime is not responsible for the massacre (as it claims), there is evidence that it has committed massacres elsewhere.  And if the Free Syrian Army is not responsible in this crime, it has committed crimes elsewhere.  The Syria conflict is one of the most intense regional-international war that the Middle East has seen in years if not decades, and the duty of all analysts is to provide commentary and analyses that are not tinged with the propaganda interests of this side or the other.  But the Syrian regime denial is made even less credible with the promise of an investigation commission.  When the Ba`thist regime announces the formation of such a commission, you know that it is lying and that it won't tell the truth.  But the Western media are clearly in their coverage, covering up for the Free Syrian Army and its crimes.  This is a group of gangs that are resorting to murder, extortion, and kidnapping.  The kidnapping of Lebanese pilgrims produced not one denunciatory article in the Western press.  Sectarian killing seems to be on the increase and Syrian conflict may increasingly look like the War of the Mountain in 1982-83.  In such wars, there are no clean hands and no innocent sides and no truthful parties.  The conflict in Syria may increasingly look like "war of all against all", and Saudi Arabia and Qatar (and their Western sponsors) have invested in such a scenario.  The Syrian people will continue to suffer and to be killed by both sides to this conflict that was not on their agenda when they launched their early popular and admirable uprising.