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War Chronicle 28 March 2016

1) Syrian army retakes Palmyra from ISIS

2) How narratives killed the Syrian people

3) SAS deployed in Libya since start of year, says leaked memo

4) Why was Brussels targeted? Beyond Brussels: 8 Other Cities Attacked by Terrorists in March

5) Living With ISIS – Documentary Published on Jan 26, 2016

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1A) RT VIDEO “Syrian army retakes Palmyra from ISIS” 28 March  2016

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1B) Why is David Cameron so silent on the recapture of Palmyra from the clutches of Isis?

In the end, it was the Syrian army – and its Hizballah chums from Lebanon, and the Iranians, and the Russians – who drove the Isis murderers out of Palmyra

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/why-is-david-cameron-so-silent-on-the-recapture-of-palmyra-from-the-clutches-of-isis-a6955406.html

By Robert Fisk, 28 March 2016

The biggest military defeat that isis has suffered in more than two years. The recapture of Palmyra, the Roman city of the Empress Zenobia. And we are silent. Yes, folks, the bad guys won, didn’t they? Otherwise, we would all be celebrating, wouldn’t we?

Less than a week after the lost souls of the ‘Islamic Caliphate’ destroyed the lives of more than 30 innocent human beings in Brussels, we should – should we not? – have been clapping our hands at the most crushing military reverse in the history of Isis. But no. As the black masters of execution fled Palmyra this weekend, Messers Obama and Cameron were as silent as the grave to which Isis have dispatched so many of their victims. He who lowered our national flag in honour of the head-chopping king of Arabia (I’m talking about Dave, of course) said not a word.

As my long-dead colleague on the Sunday Express, John Gordon, used to say, makes you sit up a bit, doesn’t it? Here are the Syrian army, backed, of course, by Vladimir Putin’s Russkies, chucking the clowns of Isis out of town, and we daren’t utter a single word to say well done.

When Palmyra fell last year, we predicted the fall of Bashar al-Assad. We ignored, were silent on, the Syrian army’s big question: why, if the Americans hated Isis so much, didn’t they bomb the suicide convoys that broke through the Syrian army’s front lines? Wushy didn’t they attack Isis?

If the Americans wanted to destroy Isis, why didn’t they bomb them when they saw them?” a Syrian army general asked me, after his soldiers’ defeat.  His son had been killed defending Homs. His men had been captured and head-chopped in the Roman ruins. The Syrian official in charge of the Roman ruins (of which we cared so much, remember?) was himself beheaded. Isis even put his spectacles back on top of his decapitated head, for fun. And we were silent then.

Putin noticed this, and talked about it, and accurately predicted the retaking of Palmyra. His aircraft attacked Isis – as US planes did not – in advance of the Syrian army’s conquest. I could not help but smile when I read that the US command claimed two air strikes against Isis around Palmyra in the days leading up to its recapture by the regime. That really did tell you all you needed to know about the American “war on terror”. They wanted to destroy Isis, but not that much.

So in the end, it was the Syrian army and its Hizballah chums from Lebanon and the Iranians and the Russians who drove the Isis murderers out of Palmyra, and who may – heavens preserve us from such a success – even storm the Isis Syrian ‘capital’ of Raqqa. I have written many times that the Syrian army will decide the future of Syria. If they grab back Raqqa – and Deir el-Zour, where the Nusrah front destroyed the church of the Armenian genocide and threw the bones of the long-dead 1915 Christian victims into the streets – I promise you we will be silent again.

Aren’t we supposed to be destroying Isis? Forget it. That’s Putin’s job. And Assad’s. Pray for peace, folks. That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? And Geneva. Where is that, exactly?

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1C) The Syrian army takes full control of Palmyra city

http://sana.sy/en/?p=72949 27 March 2016

Homs, SANA – A military source announced on Sunday that the army units, in cooperation with the popular defense groups, have established full control over Palmyra city-a UNESCO world heritage site- in the eastern countryside of Homs province.

Palmyra city is now fully cleared of ISIS terrorists after the army established complete control over all its parts, including the archeological site and the airport,” the source said in a statement to SANA.

The army’s engineering units have immediately embarked on combing the city, finding and dismantling hundreds of bombs and explosive devices planted by ISIS terrorists between the ancient relics, houses and orchards, the source mentioned.

It confirmed that hundreds of terrorists were killed in the course of the battles that started on March 7th, noting that the remaining terrorists fled eastward deep into al-Badiya (desert).

Sources on the ground estimated the number of ISIS terrorists killed in the battles at 450, pointing out that those included foreign mercenaries who had earlier infiltrated Palmyra city from the directions of Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and the Iraqi borders.

The military source went on saying that the army units and the popular defense groups have hunted down ISIS terrorists on the outskirts of Palmyra city and the surrounding orchards, inflicting heavy losses upon them.

The source added that the Syrian and Russian Air Forces carried out sorties targeting the remaining ISIS terrorists on the axes of Palmyra/al-Sukhneh, Palmyra/al-Mahatta al-Thaletha, Palmyra /Tweinan and al-Rasafa/al-Tabaqa.

Tens of vehicles, including armored ones, were destroyed in the airstrikes, which also left dozens of the fleeing terrorists dead or wounded, according to the source.

Later, Army units established control over points 850 and 849 in the direction of al- Hazem al-Thani and Point 876 in the direction of al-Rmeileh Mountain to the north west of al-Qariyatain in the south eastern countryside of Homs, according to a military source.

The source added that engineering units dismantled a number of explosive devices which ISIS terrorists planted earlier in the area.

Another army unit foiled an infiltration attempt by ISIS terrorists in the direction of Tolol Nizami in the area surrounding Shaer Field in the eastern countryside of Homs, killing many terrorists, injuring many others and destroying their weapons and ammunition.

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2) How narratives killed the Syrian people

Sharmine Narwani), 23 March 2016

Read this article in ArabicSpanishTurkishItalian and Albanian.

On March 23, 2011, at the very start of what we now call the ‘Syrian conflict,’ two young men – Sa’er Yahya Merhej and Habeel Anis Dayoub – were gunned down in the southern Syrian city of Daraa.

Merhej and Dayoub were neither civilians, nor were they in opposition to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They were two regular soldiers in the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

Shot by unknown gunmen, Merhej and Dayoub were the first of eighty-eight soldiers killed throughout Syria in the first month of this conflict– in Daraa, Latakia, Douma, Banyas, Homs, Moadamiyah, Idlib, Harasta, Suweida, Talkalakh and the suburbs of Damascus.

According to the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the combined death toll for Syrian government forces was 2,569 by March 2012, the first year of conflict. At that time, the UN’s total casualty count for all victims of political violence in Syria was 5,000.

These numbers paint an entirely different picture of events in Syria. This was decidedly not the conflict we were reading about in our headlines – if anything, the parity in deaths on both sides even suggests that the government used ‘proportionate’ force in thwarting the violence.

But Merhej and Dayoub’s deaths were ignored. Not a single western media headline told their story – or that of the other dead soldiers. These deaths simply didn’t line up with the western ‘narrative’ of the Arab uprisings and did not conform to the policy objectives of western governments.

For American policymakers, the “Arab Spring” provided a unique opportunity to unseat the governments of adversary states in the Middle East. Syria, the most important Arab member of the Iran-led ‘Resistance Axis,’ was target number one.

To create regime-change in Syria, the themes of the “Arab Spring” needed to be employed opportunistically – and so Syrians needed to die.

The “dictator” simply had to “kill his own people” – and the rest would follow.

How words kill

Four key narratives were spun ad nauseum in every mainstream western media outlet, beginning in March 2011 and gaining steam in the coming months.

The Dictator is killing his “own people.”

The protests are “peaceful.”

The opposition is “unarmed.”

This is a “popular revolution.”

Pro-western governments in Tunisia and Egypt had just been ousted in rapid succession in the previous two months – and so the ‘framework’ of Arab Spring-style, grass roots-powered regime-change existed in the regional psyche. These four carefully framed ‘narratives’ that had gained meaning in Tunisia and Egypt, were now prepped and loaded to delegitimize and undermine any government at which they were lobbed.

But to employ them to their full potential in Syria, Syrians had to take to the streets in significant numbers and civilians had to die at the hands of brutal security forces. The rest could be spun into a “revolution” via the vast array of foreign and regional media outlets committed to this “Arab Spring” discourse.

Protests, however, did not kick off in Syria the way they had in Tunisia and Egypt. In those first few months, we saw gatherings that mostly numbered in the hundreds – sometimes in the thousands – to express varied degrees of political discontent. Most of these gatherings followed a pattern of incitement from Wahhabi-influenced mosques during Fridays prayers, or after local killings that would move angry crowds to congregate at public funerals.

A member of a prominent Daraa family explained to me that there was some confusion over who was killing people in his city – the government or “hidden parties.” He explains that, at the time, Daraa’s citizens were of two minds: “One was that the regime is shooting more people to stop them and warn them to finish their protests and stop gathering. The other opinion was that hidden militias want this to continue, because if there are no funerals, there is no reason for people to gather.”

With the benefit of hindsight, let’s look at these Syria narratives five years into the conflict:

We know now that several thousand Syrian security forces were killed in the first year, beginning March 23, 2011. We therefore also know that the opposition was “armed” from the start of the conflict. We have visual evidence of gunmen crossing into Syria across the Lebanese border in April and May 2011. We know from the testimonies of impartial observers that gunmen were targeting civilians in acts of terrorism and that “protests” were not all “peaceful”:

The Arab League mission that conducted a month-long investigation inside Syria in late 2011 reported:

In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the observer mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children, and the bombing of a train carrying diesel oil. In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two police officers. A fuel pipeline and some small bridges were also bombed.”

Longtime Syrian resident and Dutch priest Father Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in Homs in April 2014, wrote in January 2012:

From the start the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”

A few months earlier, in September 2011, he had observed:

From the start there has been the problem of the armed groups, which are also part of the opposition…The opposition of the street is much stronger than any other opposition. And this opposition is armed and frequently employs brutality and violence, only in order then to blame the government.”

Furthermore, we also now know that whatever Syria was, it was no “popular revolution.” The Syrian army has remained intact, even after blanket media coverage of mass defections. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians continued to march in unreported demonstrations in support of the president. The state’s institutions and government and business elite have largely remained loyal to Assad. Minority groups – Alawites, Christians, Kurds, Druze, Shia, and the Baath Party, which is majority Sunni – did not join the opposition against the government. And the major urban areas and population centers remain under the state’s umbrella, with few exceptions.

A genuine “revolution,” after all, does not have operation rooms in Jordan and Turkey. Nor is a “popular” revolution financed, armed and assisted by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the US, UK and France.

Sowing “Narratives” for geopolitical gain

The 2010 US military’s Special Forces Unconventional Warfare manual states:

The intent of U.S. [Unconventional Warfare] UW efforts is to exploit a hostile power’s political, military, economic, and psychological vulnerabilities by developing and sustaining resistance forces to accomplish U.S. strategic objectives…For the foreseeable future, U.S. forces will predominantly engage in irregular warfare (IW) operations.”

A secret 2006 US State Department cable reveals that Assad’s government was in a stronger position domestically and regionally than in recent years, and suggests ways to weaken it: “The following provides our summary of potential vulnerabilities and possible means to exploit them…” This is followed by a list of “vulnerabilities” – political, economic, ethnic, sectarian, military, psychological – and recommended “actions” on how to “exploit” them.

This is important. US unconventional warfare doctrine posits that populations of adversary states usually have active minorities that respectively oppose and support their government, but for a “resistance movement” to succeed, it must sway the perceptions of the large “uncommitted middle population” to turn on their leaders. Says the manual (and I borrow liberally here from a previous article of mine):

To turn the “uncommitted middle population” into supporting insurgency, UW recommends the “creation of atmosphere of wider discontent through propaganda and political and psychological efforts to discredit the government.”

As conflict escalates, so should the “intensification of propaganda; psychological preparation of the population for rebellion.”

First, there should be local and national “agitation” – the organization of boycotts, strikes, and other efforts to suggest public discontent. Then, the “infiltration of foreign organizers and advisors and foreign propaganda, material, money, weapons and equipment.”

The next level of operations would be to establish “national front organizations [i.e. the Syrian National Council] and liberation movements [i.e. the Free Syrian Army]” that would move larger segments of the population toward accepting “increased political violence and sabotage” – and encourage the mentoring of “individuals or groups that conduct acts of sabotage in urban centers.”

I wrote about foreign-backed irregular warfare strategies being employed in Syria one year into the crisis – when the overwhelming media narratives were still all about the “dictator killing his own people,” protests being “peaceful,” the opposition mostly “unarmed,” the “revolution wildly “popular,” and thousands of “civilians” being targeted exclusively by state security forces.

Were these narratives all manufactured?  Were the images we saw allstaged?  Or was it only necessary to fabricate some things – because the “perception” of the vast middle population, once shaped, would create its own natural momentum toward regime-change?

And what do we, in the region, do with this startling new information about how wars are conducted against us – using our own populations as foot soldiers for foreign agendas?

Create our own “game”

Two can play at this narratives game.

The first lesson learned is that ideas and objectives can be crafted, framed, finessed and employed to great efficacy.

The second take-away is that we need to establish more independent media and information distribution channels to disseminate our own value propositions far and wide.

Western governments can rely on a ridiculously sycophantic army of western and regional journalists to blast us with their propaganda day and night. We don’t need to match them in numbers or outlets – we can also employ strategies to deter their disinformation campaigns. Western journalists who repeatedly publish false, inaccurate and harmful information that endanger lives must be barred from the region.

These are not journalists – I prefer to call them media combatants – and they do not deserve the liberties accorded to actual media professionals. If these western journalists had, in the first year of the Syrian conflict, questioned the premises of any of the four narratives listed above, would 250,000-plus Syrians be dead today? Would Syria be destroyed and 12 million Syrians made homeless? Would ISIS even exist?

Free speech? No thank you – not if we have to die for someone else’s national security objectives.

Syria changed the world. It brought the Russians and Chinese (BRICS) into the fray and changed the global order from a unipolar one to a multilateral one – overnight. And it created common cause between a group of key states in the region that now form the backbone of a rising Security Arc’ from the Levant to the Persian Gulf. We now have immense opportunities to re-craft the world and the Middle East in our own vision. New borders? We will draw them from inside the region. Terrorists? We will defeat them ourselves. NGOs? We will create our own, with our own nationals and our own agendas. Pipelines? We will decide where they are laid.

But let’s start building those new narratives before the ‘Other’ comes in to fill the void.

A word of caution. The worst thing we can do is to waste our time rejecting foreign narratives. That just makes us the ‘rejectionists’ in their game. And it gives their game life. What we need to do is create our own game – a rich vocabulary of homegrown narratives – one that defines ourselves, our history and aspirations, based on our own political, economic and social realities. Let the ‘Other’ reject our version, let them become the ‘rejectionists’ in our game… and give it life.

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3) SAS deployed in Libya since start of year, says leaked memo

King Abdullah of Jordan indicates US was briefed about plans for Jordanian special forces to operate alongside British

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/25/sas-deployed-libya-start-year-leaked-memo-king-abdullah

By Randeep Ramesh, 25 March 2016, AEDT

SAS forces have been deployed in Libya since the beginning of the year, according to a confidential briefing given to US congressional leaders by the king of Jordan.

A leaked memo indicates the US lawmakers were personally briefed by King Abdullah in January about plans for Jordan’s special forces to operate in the country alongside the British.

According to the notes of the meeting in the week of 11 January, seen by the Guardian, King Abdullah confirmed his country’s own special forces “will be imbedded [sic] with British SAS” in Libya.

According to the memo, the monarch met with US congressional leaders – including John McCain, the chairman of the Senate armed services committee, and Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. Also present was the House of Representatives speaker, Paul Ryan.

King Abdullah said UK special forces needed his soldiers’ assistance when operating on the ground in north Africa, explaining “Jordanian slang is similar to Libyan slang”.

The king also highlighted that British forces had helped in building up a mechanised battalion in southern Syria, headed by a local commander and made up of tribal fighters, to combat Bashar al-Assad’s army, and that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go “over the border” to attack al-Shabaab in Somalia.

When contacted, the Ministry of Defence said it did not comment on special forces’ operations. None of the high-ranking US senators contacted by the Guardian responded to a request for interview.

However, one senate source confirmed US lawmakers met with the king in a private meeting in early January but refused to confirm “what may or may not have been discussed”.

The full passage of the briefing notes says: “On Libya His Majesty said he expects a spike in a couple of weeks and Jordanians will be imbedded [sic] with British SAS, as Jordanian slang is similar to Libyan slang.”

The monarch’s apparent openness with the US lawmakers is an indication of just how important an ally Jordan is to the US in the region. Since the 1950s Washington has provided it with more than $15bn (£10.5bn) in economic and military aid.

However, the Jordanians had become frustrated over perceived US inaction over the Middle East in recent months. Five years of fighting in Syria have dramatically impacted on Jordan, which has absorbed more than 630,000 Syrian refugees, and the king has repeatedly called for decisive action to end the conflict.

He told those present: “The problem is bigger than Isil [Islamic State], this is a third world war, this is Christians, Jews working with Muslims against outlaws.”

The memo indicates that Abdullah also told US lawmakers:

• The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “believes in a radical Islamic solution to the problems in the region” and the “fact that terrorists are going to Europe is part of Turkish policy, and Turkey keeps getting a slap on the hand, but they get off the hook”.

• Intelligence agencies want to keep terrorist websites “open so they can use them to track extremists” and Google had told the Jordanian monarch “they have 500 people working on this”.

• Israel “looks the other way” at the al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra on its border with Syria because “they regard them as an opposition to Hezbollah”.

The king raised particular concerns over al-Shabaab, the Islamist militant group in Somalia that has links with both Isis and al-Qaida.

Jordan is looking at al-Shabaab because no one was really looking at the issue, and we cannot separate this issue, and the need to look at all the hotspots in the map,” he said, adding: “We have a rapid deployment force that will stand with the British and Kenya and is ready to go over the border [into Somalia].”

Abdullah said “we started with al-Shabaab, as they feed into Libya”, which has descended into chaos since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi by Nato forces.

In Britain, it is the Jordanian monarch’s confirmation of the SAS operating with his forces in north Africa that will raise eyebrows.

The issue of the oversight of the operations of British special forces has become a vexed matter in parliament. Earlier this week, David Cameron rejected a call from Angus Robertson, the Scottish National party’s Westminster leader, for the SAS to be subject to parliamentary oversight, saying they were already “subject to international law as everyone else is in our country but I do not propose to change the arrangements under which these incredibly brave men work”.

Crispin Blunt, the foreign affairs select committee chair, who has been concerned that parliament has been left in the dark about British involvement in Libya, told the Guardian he had known King Abdullah since they both served in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars.

King Abdullah gives a level of insight that we don’t get from our own governments,” said Blunt. “He has given presentations to parliamentarians behind closed doors in the past. We don’t get that from our own ministers. When [the foreign office minister] Tobias Ellwood told us about RAF flights over Libya these were plainly in support of special forces missions. But when we asked for details we were told the government doesn’t comment on special forces.

There is a tendency for the British establishment to work out everything very carefully and then present it to parliament as ‘a take it or leave it’ choice. And then ministers wonder why they have difficulties in parliament.”

In March, intelligence analysts at Stratfor said UK special forces were already in Libya and “escorting MI6 teams to meet with Libyan officials about supplying weapons and training to the Syrian army and to militias against the Islamic State. The British air force bases Sentinel aircraft in Cyprus for surveillance missions around [the Isis Libyan stronghold] Sirte as well.”

Accusations that Cameron’s lax attitude to Libya contributed to the country’s disastrous collapse resurfaced after Barack Obama suggested in an interview with Atlantic magazine this month that the chaos in north Africa was caused in part because the British prime minister was too distracted to oversee a smooth transformation to a new stable regime.

Obama ‘disappointed’ in Europe over Libya, says former aide – audio

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2016/mar/11/obama-disappointed-in-europe-over-libya-says-former-aide-audio

However, in recent weeks there has been a flurry of international activity to stabilise Libya, with British officials prominently pushing a peace process. Under a plan disclosed late last year, the UK will offer the new Libyan government 1,000 troops as part of an internationally coordinated effort.

Blunt says he has called on Cameron to give evidence to his committee, writing to Downing St to say that “given the prime minister’s key role in the development of international policy before, during and after the 2011 intervention – a role which is continuing now with the formation of the government of national accord – the committee believes it is only appropriate to extend this invitation to you in a spirit of courtesy, fairness and genuine inquiry”.

When contacted, Downing Street did not respond to questions about whether the prime minister would give evidence to MPs.

Jordanian embassies in London and Washington did not comment on the leaks.

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4A) Why was Brussels targeted?

1. Brussels want arms embargoes against Saudi Arabia to prevent further massacre in Yemen.
2. The Muslim communities in Belgium have created initiatives to expel the Saudi Wahhabi agents that have been infiltrating masjids. Muslims in Belgium were taking back control of their religion and rejecting extremism.
3. Brussels was calling for complete divestment from Saudi Arabia in protest against their genocidal policy in Yemen.
4. Brussels was calling for economic sanctions against Saudi Arabia.
5. Jan Fermon, Brussels based, Secretary General of International Association of Democratic Lawyers called Saudi Arabia a terrorist state and one of the worst human rights violators in the world…he criticised the UN for appointing KSA to chair of a key panel at UNHRC as this would enable terrorism to be carried out under the UN umbrella. He said all this at the UNHRC, 31st session…days before the Brussels bombing.
This is about Saudi Arabia being exposed for the perverted, base, totalitarian state it really is, producer of terrorism and “para judicial” executioners.

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4B) Beyond Brussels: 8 Other Cities Attacked by Terrorists in March

It’s important to remember that other places in Africa, Asia, and Europe have also been touched by violent extremism this month.

http://www.citylab.com/crime/2016/03/apart-from-brussels-here-are-8-other-cities-attacked-by-extremists-this-month/474855/

By TANVI MISRA 22 March 2016

Brussels saw a big win four days ago when the key suspect behind the 2015 Paris terror attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was caught after a four-month-long manhunt. But that victory has been eclipsed by the devastating explosions that hit the city’s airport and metro transit Tuesday. The Islamic State has claimed credit for these fresh attacks, which have killed at least 32 people and injured around 200.

Here’s Rita Katz, of the terrorist monitoring agency SITE Intelligence Group:

https://twitter.com/Rita_Katz/status/712298807279677440?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Brussels was by no means a surprising target, as my colleague Feargus O’Sullivan explains; and it’s also not the only one. Sites in Syria and Iraq, where ISIS is active, experience routine violence. But apart from these places, consider these eight other cities that have been touched by terrorism in the past month.

Here is a Google map of those locations, followed by a timeline of the attacks:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=zPGlEXY7_v1s.k1SDwcgGcRqY

March 21: Bamako, Mali

Unidentified gunmen opened fire at a hotel here, where a European Union mission of almost 600 people was headquartered, Reuters reports. The mission’s purpose was to train Malian forces to combat Islamist militant groups active in the region.

One attacker was killed and two others arrested, and E.U. officials came out of the incident unharmed:

https://twitter.com/eutmmali1/status/712007691317567488?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

http://twitter.com/OSACState/status/712097574446981120/photo/1

It’s not immediately clear which terrorist group the gunmen were affiliated with, although it’s likely linked to the Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa—the same group that took responsibility for a previous attack on a Bamako hotelback in November. Around 170 people were taken hostage in that attack, and 27 were killed, according to the BBC.

March 20: Istanbul, Turkey

A suicide bomber killed five people, including himself, and injured more than 30 others on the bustling Istiklal Street.

Turkey: CCTV footage captures moment of suicide bomb blast in Istanbul

Every time I passed through Istiklal in #Istanbul, it was buzzing with life. Street was just hit by a bomb. Terrible https://twitter.com/jenanmoussa/status/711137580868345857/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Turkey’s interior minister later linked the attack to the Islamic State; via Al Jazeera:

“We have determined that Mehmet Ozturk, born in 1992 in Gaziantep, has carried out the heinous attack on Saturday in Istanbul,” Ala said in a news conference broadcast live on television.

“It has been established that he is a member of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIL],” he added.

Here’s Molly Crabapple in The Guardian, on how this attack was a blow to the city’s “cosmopolitan glory”:

I often think of Istiklal as a body part: it is a heart, a backbone, a nerve. On Saturday Istilkal was an artery. Isis wanted it cut.

I read about the bombing and became sick. I texted my friends to see if they were safe, and reflected on how frequent this ritual of checking in after a bombing has become.

March 16: Maiduguri, Nigeria

Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up at a mosque in the outskirts of Maiduguri, a city in the Northeastern region of Nigeria, during morning prayers. The blasts killed 24 worshippers, according to The New York Times.

Boko Haram, an Islamist extremist group based in that region has often deployed female suicide bombers to target civilians in Maiduguri, and is likely behind this attack as well. Here’s a bit more context about the city, via The Guardian:

Maiduguri has a population of about a million, and currently hosts almost as many displaced people. About 2.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes during Boko Haram’s six-year uprising. About 20,000 people have been killed in Nigeria and hundreds more elsewhere as the insurgents have carried out attacks in Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

March 16: Peshawar, Pakistan

A blast killed at least 15 and injured around 30 people traveling by bus in Peshawar, a northwestern city of Pakistan that’s routinely targeted by Taliban militants, the BBC reports.

Moment of the explosion amid morning traffic in #Peshawar.At least 15 dead.Police say bomb was hidden under a seat https://twitter.com/Shaimaakhalil/status/710020138125414401?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

According to Reuters, Lashkar-e-Islam, an ally of the Pakistani Taliban, planted an improvised explosive device under the bus, which was transporting around 50 government officials to their offices in the city.

March 13: Ankara, Turkey

Militants from an insurgent group, Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, set off a car bomb in Kizilay Square at the heart of Turkey’s capital, killing at least 37. The attack was retribution for the government’s military operations in the southeastern region, the BBC reports; and tensions between the Kurdish militants and the Turkish government forces have only escalated since it occurred.

Turkey looks ‘like Syria’ — Ankara grapples with its own civil conflict http://politi.co/1U0llHA  https://twitter.com/POLITICOEurope/status/711797351871090688/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

“Turkey’s allies forgot about the multiple terror attacks against Ankara” http://ow.ly/ZMPUV  https://twitter.com/MiddleEastEye/status/712177021170950144/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

March 13: Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast

At a resort outside the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan, gunmen belonging to the North African affiliate of Al Qaeda opened fire at people enjoying a leisurely day at the beach, the New York Times reports:

The attack, on the first sunny Sunday in weeks, took place in Grand-Bassam, a popular palm tree-lined getaway for Ivorians and foreigners. Fourteen civilians and two members of the country’s special forces were killed, as well as six gunmen, according to a spokeswoman for the president.

The aftermath of the Ivory Coast beach hotel attacks: “Shooting, then boom, boom, boom”: A witness to the Ivory Coast attacks recalls her escape 

http://twitter.com/nytimesworld/status/709383341687050241/photo/1

Ivorians have  taken to social media to dispel fear and express support for the families affected by the attack. But worries about the lasting damage the attack will inflict on the country’s key tourism industry remain.

VIDEO Marche contre le terrorisme et pour la mémoire des victimes https://twitter.com/edithbrou/status/710152018770452480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

March 7: Shabqadar, Pakistan

Around 10 people were killed and 30 injured by a suicide bomb in the small town of Shabqadar, in a northwestern province where the ethnic Pashtun community resides. Via Dawn:

According to police, a policeman tried to stop and search the suicide bomber but he forced his way through the main entrance of the sub-district courts and detonated his vest when another constable pounced on him before he could proceed towards the more crowded family court.

The attack, carried out by the Taliban’s Jamaat-ur-Ahrar bloc, was revenge for the execution of the man convicted of killing a liberal governor of Punjab in 2011 who had wanted to change the country’s blasphemy laws.

In the wake of the attacks in Brussels, people have been recalling many of the above attacks on Twitter to highlight that terrorism is not just a Western issue,but a global one.

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5) Living With ISIS – Documentary Published on Jan 26, 2016

2 responses to “War Chronicle 28 March 2016

  1. Syd Walker ...

    On Monday evening (16th May), the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Media Watch covered the story about Syria which I’d mentioned on this blog a few days ago: ABC uses bogus video to attack image of Syrian government

    The MediaWatch transcript is here.

    Thanks to MW Presenter Johnathon Holmes’ reporting (assuming the accuracy of his report), we now know much more about this story than I did last week.

    It turns out the ‘misidentified’ video footage was initially sent out by Reuters. Presumably, therefore, the story went worldwide. Within Australia, in addition to the online news report that I’d seen, this phoney tale of atrocities by Syrian ‘security’ ran as a news report on both ABC and SBS television on 8th May.

    Mr Holmes also informed viewers that Reuters sent out a blunt, capitalized retraction on the same day that it issued the misleadingly captioned video footage:

    EDITORS PLEASE NOTE : REUTERS IS WITHDRAWING THIS VIDEO AS WE HAVE NOW ESTABLISHED THAT IT IS FILE FOOTAGE FROM LEBANON IN 2008, NOT SYRIA AS ORIGINALLY THOUGHT. PLEASE ACCEPT OUR APOLOGIES — Reuters, 8th May 2011.

    MediaWatch noted this retraction was ‘missed’ by ABC staff . Mr Homes made much of the fact that the ABC didn’t make early use of the services of its staffer Jess Hill, who also featured in my earlier article. But that seems to me rather beside the point. Jess did a fine job tweeting for an answer – that’s true. In other words, when someone at the ABC actually inquired “is this story bogus?”, the answer came back fast. Maybe she could have helped out earlier. But I think more significant issues arise:

    1. The first is for Reuters. Which staff member/s issued the bogus story that cast such an unpleasant light on the Syrian Government? Why do they do it? They should be disciplined; should they be fired? Mr Holmes waxed lyrical about how Reuters is a ‘trusted source’. Many of us don’t share his generous-hearted faith. It seems to me Reuters should be trusted as far as it’s seen to provide honest, balanced reporting – and follow due process when things go awry. No more, no less.
    2. Other than the Media Watch report itself, what steps have the ABC (and SBS) taken to inform their viewers that the shockingly biased story they ran on TV and the web was bogus?
    3. Why did the Reuters retraction go unnoticed in the ABC. Why wasn’t it relayed promptly to staff managing the ABC website?


    Mea culpa by Gaven Morris. So hard to know who to trust these days..

    It’s certainly a positive that MediaWatch covered this story.

    Congratulations to the observent anonymous tipster who initially spotted the suspicious footage – and to Johnathan Holmes for following up on the tip and ferreting around for the truth (it was presumably his inquiry that triggered the tweet by Jess Hill which I happened to stumble across via Twitter last week).

    On the other hand, quite predictably, the MediaWatch story didn’t countenance the possibility of systemic, deeply-entrenched bias within the ABC organization as a whole (along with similar bias throughout the rest of the western mainstream media). In my view, that remains the big story. It’s the story that, in effect, MediaWatch tries to bury a little deeper..

    In the case of Syria and Libya this year, this bias has led the western media to systematically misreport events in those countries, telling only one side of the story while ignoring or lampooning the other. The bias is egregious, blatant – and highly offensive to those of us seeking peaceful outcomes. Yet MediaWatch gives the impression this particular incident was just a rare anomaly – an unusual chapter of accidents.

    If ‘Accident Theory’ is to be believed, it strikes me as odd that that reports in the western mass media never ‘accidentally’ put a positive slant on the current governments of Syria and Libya. Media accidents all seem to come up heads, every single time. Funny that.

    The ABC is so biased it appears not to bother to talk with people who don’t share its pre-spun version of events.

    As far as I’m aware the ABC hasn’t interviewed a single pro-Gaddafi Libyan in all the time bombing has been underway (bombing that’s been carried out with Australian connivance, if not our direct involvement). I accept that such an interview may have occurred and gone to air.With luck, someone will dig an example out of the ABC archives. I hope so. But I haven’t noticed one – and I follow ABC news regularly. Nor did a quick Google search turn up an instance within the ABC website. By contrast, the same public news service has treated its audience to an incessant torrent of sound bites from Libyan ‘rebels’ and their spokespeople, always neatly packaged into one-sided stories that paint the ‘rebels’ as heroes’ and Gaddafi as the latest manifestation of Orwell’s Emanuel Goldstein.

    Johnathan Holmes suggested that operatives like Jess Hill are a solution to making ABC news more reliable. I find that rather laughable. As far as I can see, Jess is very much part of the problem of the ABC’s entrenched cultural and political bias.

    Because Jess Hill does at least some of her networking using the public social medium Twitter, it’s possible for outsiders like me to get an idea who she networks with and what they chat about. Reviewing several days of Jess Hill’ Twitter exchanges, I notice that when Syria is the topic of discussion, her networking seems to be almost exclusively with like-minded people in the media and anti-Government ‘tweeps’. It’s the same with Libya; Jess may do some networking with Gaddafi supporters – but I can see precious little evidence of it. Jess might respond that’s because there are no independent Gaddafi or Assad supporters – but I know that’s not the case.

    Stop Bombing Libya! (plenty of info western media can’t be bothered to cover)

    Independent tweeters from Libya and Syria who oppose external intervention and are broadly supportive of their current governments may not match the numbers and have the abrasive English-language ‘social media skills’ of western-backed ‘tweeps’. However, I suspect they’re actually more representative of their societies as a whole than the twitaholics who chat with Jess.

    The existence of that contrary opinion is the story the ABC prefers not to investigate – presumably because it doesn’t suit the war agenda it supports. Jess Hill, it seems to me, would be the last person to break that story. I doubt even the suave Mr Holmes would go near it. It’s not where the jam is.

    Along with Reuters, the BBC and all the rest of the Zionist-dominated media in the ‘western world’, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation prefers to exclude from consideration the possibility that there’s another, very plausible narrative about current events in Libya and Syria – another side to the story. Instead it paints these conflicts as black and white – human rights v repression, democracy v tyranny – despite copious evidence to the contrary.

    That’s not journalism. It’s propaganda.

    ________________________________

    Australia’s ABC’s relationship with the British BBC is often akin to a diminutive sibling’s hero worship of big brother. The technical term for this is ‘cultural cringe’. CC has long been part of the Australian psyche and as far as I can see, it’s alive and well in our public broadcaster to this day.

    Yet even where the BBC does shine an occasional light, the ABC seems reluctant to follow. In the case of Libya it would not go amiss if the ABC copied the BBC and actually interviewed a representative of the Libyan Government – at least once. I don’t mean quoting a few sentences – embedded in a report that’s generally hostile such as this Lateline story in late April. I mean a real interview.

    The BBC did interview Moussa Ibrahim recently. HardTalk’s Stephen Sackur followed his usual practice of shouting down his guest (Sackur seems particularly rude to African interviewees, treating them with the practiced contempt of a senior Eton schoolboy for his fag). Even so, the articulate and spirited Mr Ibrahim managed to get a few good points across.

    Watch the interview yourself and make up your own mind. It’s part of the story of what’s going on in the middle east and north Africa that ‘your’ ABC isn’t telling. Perhaps its management thinks the public is better off hearing only one side of the story – not only about 9-11, but also Libya and Syria?

    Yet many Australians do prefer to make up our own minds. A growing number of us are also weary of paying the wages of disinformationalists, who make it harder – not easier – for the rest of us to find out what’s really happening regarding matters as significant as war and peace.

    Moussa Ibrahim on HardTalk (Part 1)

    _____________________________

    Moussa Ibrahim on HardTalk (Part 2)

    On the subject of Syria, anyone wishing to broaden their view beyond the ABC’s blinkered horizons could do worse than read Professor Michel Chossudovsky’s recent article SYRIA: Who is Behind The Protest Movement? Fabricating a Pretext for a US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention

    Professor Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalization is an informed commentator on international affairs with very different views about the middle east than the standard fare served up by media-promoted neocons and ‘liberal interventionists’. By ‘accident’, he also never seems to appear on Australian TV screens.

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  2. Assad is not Lenin nor Putin, Stalin ...

    Thanks again to Ray B. for his excellent compilation of what is happening in Syria … accounts that we not here on the evening commercial news bulletins. Both our public broadcasters ABC and SBS seem blinded to what is going on. From what Bob Fisk says it is no different at the BBC.

    At first, the war in Syria with many foreign armies fighting on the ground reminds me of the Russian Civil War where eight foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the Allied Forces and the pro-German armies. The Red Army successfully defended the 1917 revolution against great odds forcing the White Armies to withdraw.

    But this parallel does not fit the Syrian crisis. Assad is no Lenin or Trotsky and Putin is not Stalin. The invasion of Syria has not come at the end of a World War at least not like World War I in Europe.

    Syria is more like the Spanish Civil War. The Franco’s nationalists were like the Saudi insurgents, they place women last and restrict their freedom with religion. On the other hand, Assad has a secular approach and his Kurdish support against ISIS in the north have women fighters often leading the struggle.

    Of course both wars resulted in Russian involvement when Western governments refused to defend the Spanish Republic leaving Franco with the support of Hitler and Mussolini.

    In Syria, Western governments have held back support from the Syrian army’s struggle against Daesh (ISIS) and actively armed opposition groups causing many casualties in the Syrian army.

    Russian intervention has changed this with the Syrian army taking Palmyra as reported in Ray B’s War Chronicles this week.

    But the struggle for the Syrian people is long and hard after five years war and let us hope it is not a precursor to another large war as occurred after Franco took Spain.

    Ian Curr
    March 2016

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