On the evening of Sept. 29, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel joined Rwandan President Paul Kagame on a panel sponsored by This World: The Jewish Values Network at New York's Cooper Union entitled "Genocide: Do the Strong Have an Obligation to Protect the Weak?"—with the obvious context being the crisis in Syria. But outside a small group of local Congolese protested, holding banners reading "KAGAME IS A CRIMINAL OF MASS MURDER" and "PROTECT THE WEAK FROM KAGAME." Said protester Kambale Musavuli of the group Friends of the Congo: "He should be on the terrorist list and instead he's being invited to speak about genocide. This is really sick."
Robin Wright, author of Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World (and a "distinguished scholar" at the United States Institute of Peace and the Wilson Center) has an op-ed in the New York Times Sept. 28, ingenuously entitled "Imagining a Remapped Middle East"—as if nobody ever has. Wright sees a portending breakdown of Syria into smaller entities—the oft-discussed Alawite mini-state on the coast and the inevitable Kurdish enclave in the north. But Wright predicts the separatist contagion spreading from Syria to the rest of the Middle East—using some of the most clichéd names imaginable, e.g. Iraq breaking into "Sunnistan" and "Shiitestan." (Note to "distinguished scholar" Wright: the "stan" suffix is of Persian origin, and very unlikely to be taken up by Arabs, of whatever sectarian affiliation.)
The idiotic sectors of the left that are openly shilling for Bashar Assad are in some very strange company. The Greek left-wing blog Glykosymoritis provides an English translation of the boasts in a far-right daily with the perverse name of Democratia that a "National Socialist" organization calling itself Black Lily has dispatched a brigade to Syria to fight for Assad's regime. Black Lily came to the public eye with their recent fizzy-drink attack on Greek government minister Evangelos Venizelos in Paris. But the group's spokesman Stavros Libovisis told Democratia (awkward English in original) that volunteers now "are fighting alongside our Syrian brothers in arms is to help them defend the soil of a friendly nations people, showing our solidarity in practise against an age-old foe."
President Obama's speech to the United Nations on Sept. 24 displayed refreshing honesty: "The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the [Middle East] region... We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends upon the region's energy supply, and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy." (American Forces Press Service, The Hill, Sept. 24) Although Syria was not the explicit context here, the speech also called the use of chemical weapons n Syria, "a threat to our own national security."
The Free Syrian Army has been at open war with the jihadists for months, but now fighting is reported between the two leading jihadist factions in the Syrian war, the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Clashes are reported between the two in Shaddadi, Hasakeh governorate—apparently over control of the Jibsa oil field. The two groups split earlier this year over whether to accept the Iraq-based leadership of the ISIS. (AINA, Sept. 23) The news comes just as the Syrian National Coalition, the official civilian leadership of the FSA, was publicly repudiated in an open letter by 13 rebel factions. These include both the newly formed 19th Division of the FSA, and jihadist groups including the Nusra Front and Liwa al-Tawhid. The statement called for the imposition of Islamic law throughout Syria. (The Telegraph, Sept. 26) In very ominous news, Al Jazeera reports Sept. 21 that the FSA's 11th Division has defected to the Nusra Front. A video purported to show hundreds of 11th Division defectors parading through Raqqah with Nusra fighters.
The UN said Sept. 27 that inspectors returned to Syria this week to investigate seven chemical weapon attacks, including three that occurred after the Aug. 21 incident in Damascus. The investigation is set to be finished by early next week, followed by a separate visit by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to inspect Syria's chemical weapon stockpile. The OPCW is also set to vote on a draft agreement which will be incorporated into a UN Security Council resolution, to which the US and Russia have agreed.
They've really outdone themselves this time. The last time we checked in on Cynthia McKinney, she was floating outlandish conspiracy theories about the Boston bombings. Now, Redress Information & Analysis is among the websites to take note of what she just posted to her Facebook page—that she is in Syria to sing the praises of the Assad regime and cheer on those serving as human shields. That is merely predictable. But a close reading reveals a truly special degree of either cynicism or dupery (we actually aren't sure which):
We've pointed out that some "anti-war" commentators are glibly calling for an International Criminal Court case as a "solution" for Syria—despite the fact that six years after the ICC issued a warrant for Sudan's Omar Bashir, he remains in power and carrying out mass murder (most recently against the Nuba people of South Kordofan, although the Darfur conflict continues even now). So while there may be much to recommend an ICC warrant for Syria's Bashar Assad, there is no reason to believe it will save a single Syrian life. And now Joshua Keating on Slate's The World blog succinctly explains why this pseudo-solution, in fact, isn't even possible...