viernes, 23 de marzo de 2012

El caso Merah, es un 11S francés?

A mi me suena desde el principio a un 11S cualquiera. Digo cualquiera porque ha habido tantos ataques de bandera falsa (false flag attacks) a lo largo de los recientes decenios que uno no deja de dudar.
Entre guerras preventivas justificadas con mentiras y otras en pos de la democracia yo ya dejo de fiarme de las notcias como son.
Hay que colocarlas en el contexto. Hay que ver a quienes afectan. Hay que ver a quienes y cómo les benefician.
Como siempre, el que sale beneficiado es el culpable.
Las víctimas si es posible, que sean las vítcimas por excelencia: primero judíos, y luego el resto de la humanidad. Si son niños, además que sean judíos. Si son mujeres lo mismo.
Jugando con la fibra sensible del personal se consiguen efectos insospechados. Es más, se consigue justo lo que se necesita, que es, manipular a la opinión pública para unos fines, y que apruebe las medidas que se adoptan.
Es todo tan novelesco en el caso de Toulouse con Mareh a la cabeza que desde el principio apestaba a manipulación.
Era de película.
Tanto, que conozco a gente que estaba enganchada a los medios para saber el desarrollo de todo, como si fuera la típica serie norteamericana de suspense y acción.
Mis serias dudas empezaron cuando inicialmente matan a dos paracaidistas y luego a unos judíos.
Con los recientes antecedentes de Sarko en Libia y Siria. Con unas elecciones que no están seguros de ganar. Con los escándalos de sus operaciones especiales, y cuando el tan temido y odiado enemigo como son los rusos y los chinos, les tienen bien pillados, no me extraña que de repente ocurran estas cosas.

Is it an Israeli False Flag Again?
Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 9:27PM Gilad Atzmon

By Gilad Atzmon

Israeli press reported this evening that French gunman Mohamed Merah had been on a trip to Israel in the past.

According to the report, Merah's passport had Israeli stamps in it. The purpose of his visit is unknown. Israeli analysts suspect he was either trying to visit the Palestinian territories or preparing for a terror attack.

However, I won’t rule out the possibility that Merah was actually trained by Israeli forces. Marah may have conducted a false flag operation. By way of deception is, after all, the Mossad’s motto.

Read the story of Naeim Giladi, an Israeli agent operating in Iraq in the late 1940’s.

“On May 10, at 3 a.m., a grenade was tossed in the direction of the display window of the Jewish-owned Beit-Lawi Automobile Company, destroying part of the building. No casualties were reported.

On June 3, 1950, another grenade was tossed from a speeding car in the El-Batawin area of Baghdad where most rich Jews and middle class Iraqis lived. No one was hurt, but following the explosion Zionist activists sent telegrams to Israel requesting that the quota for immigration from Iraq be increased.

On June 5, at 2:30 a.m., a bomb exploded next to the Jewish-owned Stanley Shashua building on El-Rashid street, resulting in property damage but no casualties.

On January 14, 1951, at 7 p.m., a grenade was thrown at a group of Jews outside the Masouda Shem-Tov Synagogue. The explosive struck a high-voltage cable, electrocuting three Jews, one a young boy, Itzhak Elmacher, and wounding over 30 others. Following the attack, the exodus of Jews jumped to between 600-700 per day.

Zionist propagandists still maintain that the bombs in Iraq were set off by anti-Jewish Iraqis who wanted Jews out of their country. The terrible truth is that the grenades that killed and maimed Iraqi Jews and damaged their property were thrown by Zionist Jews.”

Otro bloguero interesado y crítico

First the shooting suspect was supposed to be an ex-military with "neo-Nazi" conections then all of the sudden the media started calling him a Muslim with links to Al Qaeda.

Mohammed Merah, the suspect in the killing of seven people outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, fits the pattern of an al-Qaeda intelligence asset. According to the BBC, he was on the radar of French authorities because of visits he made to Afghanistan and the "militant stronghold" of Waziristan in Pakistan (edit and Jordan, India and Israel).

More specifically, Merah was handled by France's DCRI intelligence service "for years," according to Claude Gueant, the interior minister.

Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin, was arrested on December 19, 2007, and was sentenced to three years in jail for planting bombs in the southern province of Kandahar in Afghanistan.
In April of 2011, the United States admitted it has operated secret military prisons in Afghanistan where suspected terrorists are held and interrogated without charges.

The notorious Bagram airbase detention center is operated by the Joint Special Operations Command and the DIA's Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC).

The DCHC "will be responsible for developing an 'offensive counterintelligence operations'... capability for the Department of Defense, which may entail efforts to penetrate, deceive and disable foreign intelligence activities directed against U.S. forces," Secrecy News reported in 2008 after the government announced the creation of DCHC.

The Pentagon and the CIA specialize in creating terrorists as part of a so-called covert and unconventional war doctrine dating back to the end of the Second World War (see Michael McClintock's Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Counterterrorism, 1940-1990 for an in-depth examination).

Although virtually ignored by the corporate media, it is an established fact that the CIA and Pakistani intelligence created what is now known as al-Qaeda out of the remnants of the Afghan mujahideen following the CIA's covert three billion dollar war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

It was the so-called Safari Club - organized under the CIA and with the participation of intelligence agencies in France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and (under the Shah) Iran - that ramped up the largely contrived threat of international terrorism prior to and during the CIA's manufactured war in Afghanistan (see Peter Dale Scott, Launching the U.S. Terror War: the CIA, 9/11, Afghanistan, and Central Asia).

Intelligence agencies have specialized in the covert - and not so covert - creation of terrorists which are then used to provide a cynical raison d'être for launching military intervention around the world and also providing a pretext to build and expand a domestic surveillance police state.

A textbook example of this process is the Christmas Day, 2009, underwear bomber fiasco - subsequently exposed as a false flag event - that was exploited to push for installing dangerous radiation-emitting naked body porno scanners at U.S. airports.

Mohammed Merah, the suspect in the killing of seven people outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, fits the pattern of an al-Qaeda intelligence asset. According to the BBC, he was on the radar of French authorities because of visits he made to Afghanistan and the "militant stronghold" of Waziristan in Pakistan.
More specifically, Merah was handled by France's DCRI intelligence service "for years," according to Claude Gueant, the interior minister.

Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin, was arrested on December 19, 2007, and was sentenced to three years in jail for planting bombs in the southern province of Kandahar in Afghanistan.
In April of 2011, the United States admitted it has operated secret military prisons in Afghanistan where suspected terrorists are held and interrogated without charges.

The notorious Bagram airbase detention center is operated by the Joint Special Operations Command and the DIA's Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC).

The DCHC "will be responsible for developing an 'offensive counterintelligence operations'... capability for the Department of Defense, which may entail efforts to penetrate, deceive and disable foreign intelligence activities directed against U.S. forces," Secrecy News reported in 2008 after the government announced the creation of DCHC.

The Pentagon and the CIA specialize in creating terrorists as part of a so-called covert and unconventional war doctrine dating back to the end of the Second World War (see Michael McClintock's Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Counterterrorism, 1940-1990

Although virtually ignored by the corporate media, it is an established fact that the CIA and Pakistani intelligence created what is now known as al-Qaeda out of the remnants of the Afghan mujahideen following the CIA's covert three billion dollar war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

It was the so-called Safari Club - organized under the CIA and with the participation of intelligence agencies in France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and (under the Shah) Iran - that ramped up the largely contrived threat of international terrorism prior to and during the CIA's manufactured war in Afghanistan (see Peter Dale Scott, Launching the U.S. Terror War: the CIA, 9/11, Afghanistan, and Central Asia).

Intelligence agencies have specialized in the covert - and not so covert - creation of terrorists which are then used to provide a cynical raison d'être for launching military intervention around the world and also providing a pretext to build and expand a domestic surveillance police state.

A textbook example of this process is the Christmas Day, 2009, underwear bomber fiasco - subsequently exposed as a false flag event - that was exploited to push for installing dangerous radiation-emitting naked body porno scanners at U.S. airports.

The fact Mohammed Merah was in the custody of the Joint Special Operations Command in Afghanistan - and his supposed jail break at the Sarposa Prison was reportedly orchestrated by the Taliban (also cretaed by the CIA and Pakistan's ISI) - certainly raises questions about the attack in France, where a national election will soon be held.

The Telegraph
reports that the attacks of the supposedly al-Qaeda connected Merah will play into the election bid of National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, who is unlikely to ever become the president of France.
for an in-depth examination).

It has, however, provided Nicolas Sarkozy with a pretext to put the southern part of the nation on high alert and cancel the campaigns of presidential contenders. Sarkozy stands to benefit from the terror attacks and play the role of a strong leader during a national crisis.

In the short term it is likely that President Nicolas Sarkozy will benefit. Very quickly he took charge. He rushed to the scene. He suspended his campaign. He spoke as the president of the republic," writes Gavin Hewitt for the BBC.

Kurt Nimmo is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Kurt Nimmo

Recordatorio: Huelga general en España 29/3/2012

miércoles, 21 de marzo de 2012

La democracia americana según goldman sachs

U.S. Election Management, Brought to You by Goldman Sachs

Barbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

To vote or not to vote, that is the question. Whether it is better to try and overturn a corrupt system by using the tools of that system to effect change or to completely discard what we know to be a lie, is a choice that each American must make. To that end, please look at the following videos that provide proof that election results can be stolen quite easily, especially when the people behind the system have everything to gain by doing so.
The first video shows who is behind the election management system. This name should ring a bell – Goldman Sachs.

This next video shows exactly how the electronic voting system can be manipulated quite easily.

Whether or not you decide to participate in the upcoming elections, be aware that the system is rigged.

La única opción de Siria es la unidad

As warmongers plot to destroy Syria, Syrians face only one choice.
by Tony Cartalucci

Editor's Note: Before considering the US military options in Syria, it would be instructive to re-read this article from March 21, 2011 titled, "Libyan War: Globalists Bluffing their way to Victory," to understand the true purpose of these current military options and how they were used effectively to win the otherwise unwinnable military campaign in Libya. Through terror and fear, the West was able to fold superior fighting forces that could have held out for years had they stood united.

March 19, 2012 - Corporate-funded think-tank and purveyor of US foreign policy, the Brookings Institution, had in 2009 literally blueprinted the strategy with which the West would slowly strangle and topple the government of Iran. Throughout the pages of their report, "Which Path to Persia?" everything from sanctions, to purposefully provoking war with Iran, to stoking US-backed uprisings, to funding, training, and arming US State Department-listed terror organizations was plotted before being promptly executed.

Amongst those signing their names to this treasonous conspiracy to commit mass-murder against a sovereign nation was Michael O'Hanlon. Besides contributing extensively to the West's corporate-media, he has no operational experience to speak of militarily, economically, or even administratively. He has never once shouldered a rifle for his nation, nor truly jeopardized his life for any cause he seemingly has no problem having tens of thousands of others die for in his stead. He is the quintessential imperial scribe.

Which Path to Persia? .pdf - O'Hanlon's name is second from bottom.

Image: Also out of the Brookings Institution, Middle East Memo #21 "Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf)," makes no secret that "responsibility to protect" is but a pretext for long-planned regime change. Admissions that Syria's rebels are carrying out an increasing amount of sectarian violence (page 8), that Kofi Annan's mission to Syria is in fact to establish an occupied "safe haven" on Syrian territory to launch further attacks (page 4), as well as the involvement of Al Qaeda on the side of rebels are noteworthy points. The report would also state in reference to arming the rebels, "alternatively, the United States might calculate that it is still worthwhile to pin down the Asad regime and bleed it, keeping a regional adversary weak, while avoiding the costs of direct intervention," which contradicts the entire premise of the "humanitarian war" and the "responsibility to protect (R2P)" by purposefully prolonging violent conflict.


O'Hanlon's most recent work involves spelling out the "military options" the US has in regards to Syria in an op-ed aptly titled, "What Are Our Military Options in Syria?"

The West purposefully destabilized Syria, and is currently perpetuating extensive bloodshed through militant proxies funded, trained, and armed by the West and operating on Syria's borders as well as within Syria itself. As the bloodshed mounts, the West is now insidiously using the carnage to justify more overt intervention to execute long planned regime change.

Just as it was spelled out and promptly executed in O'Hanlon's "Which Path to Persia?," the operation in Syria involves almost identical elements altered only slightly to suit Syria's geopolitical predisposition. US-backed uprisings, armed militants, and sanctions have all already been set in motion with overt military options being all that is left on the table.

The military options O'Hanlon envisions to achieve the overthrow of Syria's government include:

1. A punitive naval or air operation to encourage a coup against Assad: An outright act of war designed to completely cut off Syria, including its millions of civilians, from importing or exporting anything. There are also planned airstrikes designed to psychologically shake Assad's allies and panic them into defecting and instead "share power" with the US-backed opposition.

Of course, O'Hanlon must perceive the Syrian government as supreme ignoramuses to have seen how "sharing" was carried out inanother Brookings project, Libya, and still count this as a viable alternative to holding fast against foreign-funded militants. It was during NATO's campaign against Libya that many defectors ended up dead the absolute first moment theirservices were no longer required -or sometimes even beforehand. Case in point, General Abdul Fattah Younis.

Image: General Abdul Fattah Younis' reward for accepting offers to "power share" with the Libyan rebels was his assassination.


2. A broader Balkans-like campaign to help depose Assad. And by this, O'Hanlon of course means, a "Libyan-like campaign," but would rather focus on the Balkans because it is further in hindsight and much more has been done to rewrite its historical outcome as "favorable." Evoking the NATO-led genocidal killing spree that just unfolded in Libya, complete with the destruction of several major cities, would again remind potential defectors in Syria the cost of allowing their nation to fall into NATO hands.

That cost would be the plunging of Syria into perpetual division, instability, violence, and an uncertain political future that could see any defector a hero one minute and at the wrong end of a rifle the next. There will be no power sharing, there will be no seats at the table for "defectors," and as Libya has proven, it is very unlikely there will even be a table for seats to be placed around in the first place.

3. Creation of a safe zone for Syrian civilians: O'Hanlon indirectly admits that this would only be done as a means to eventually include one or both of the above mentioned options. This was already stated in "Genocidal Turkish Government Eyes Syria," where it appears that NATO-member Turkey has been elected to create just such a zone from which increasing hostilities could be conducted.

What O'Hanlon is really saying...

What must be remembered is that O'Hanlon is not writing this for the consideration of the Pentagon. Instead, he is specifically writing this so that pundits and media outlets can repeat what is essentially extortion directed at Syria's establishment. The purpose of this exercise is to prey on the fear of Assad's political allies and those across Syria's business community who have so far stood behind their nation's government.

It is hoped that the West can bluff their way into folding opposition by presenting them with a difficult and costly military campaign verses the alternative of "power sharing." Unfortunately for O'Hanlon and his superiors, Syria has already seen the dead end "power sharing" led to in Libya, a dead end Libya will remain in well into the foreseeable future. The rationale of businessmen capitulating to see UN sanctions relieved is also absurd considering the inevitable fracturing and perpetual destabilization that will wreck both the country and its economy should the current government fall.

Syria's opposition is entirely dependent on foreign fighters, foreign arms, foreign funds, and an international consensus that allows such foreign resources to continue flowing to them unabated. Already cracks have begun to show and now the West's only chance is to psychologically break Assad's power base through threats and perhaps even a limited military incursion. The catch is, should Syria remain united, order can be restored and nothing short of total war waged by the West could prevent it.

Syria has only one option.

Imperialism's favorite trick throughout time has been to purposefully mire a targeted nation in internal strife to weaken it before preying on, and ruling over, both sides. This can be seen encapsulated in the following ancient Chinese stratagem:

When a country is beset by internal conflicts, when disease and famine ravage the population, when corruption and crime are rampant, then it will be unable to deal with an outside threat. This is the time to attack. -The 36 Strategies, #5 Loot a Burning House

While it would likewise suit Assad's opponents, it is particularly important for those who have made the decision to stand by Syria's ruling government to stay the course of restoring order and pursuing political solutions.

The West has gone too far, its credibility and operational capacity waning by the day, it has no choice but to continue pushing forward in hopes that all before it lack the fortitude to stand up and fight. The West will not stop until either Syria is divided and destroyed or the West itself crumbles in the midst of its untenable imperial conquest. Defection, capitulation, and failure are not options. Syria's fate will be that of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, or worse if it falls. Unity is Syria's only option.

sábado, 17 de marzo de 2012

Más propaganda: Kony2012

Kony 2012, hyped on the backs of celebrities and do-gooders, is revealed for what it is– a propaganda salvo for a continent wide invasion of Africa. Yes, the mantra War is Peace is once again drumming U.S. soldiers into further conflict.

Research makes clear that KONY is a sophisticated psy-op to muster popular support for what is, in reality, nothing more than a geostrategic positioning vis-a-vis China for oil and mineral resources, as well as an effort to legitimize the U.S. military’s AFRICOM unit in the region through newly-branded “humanitarian” interventions.

It is not only War in the name of “Peace,” but an attempt to empower the International Criminal Court under the influence of NGOs and other related globalist corporate interests.

Nobel Peace Prize “winner” Barack Obama has already deployed 100 special forces troops to the central African region back in October 2011, and a resolution in Congress– on the heels of KONY 2012′s viral views of at lest 80 million– seeks to send more forces there for an all out invasion on the pretext of hunting down a shadowy warlord with less blood on his hands than an average African despot.

Top celebrities vying for greater power including CFR member and UN goodwill ambassadorAngelina Jolie, actor George Clooney, media baroness Oprah Winfrey, as well as Africa-obsessed Bill Gates and Bono, have all come out in front of this issue.

But behind KONY’s apparent urgency are the usual suspects, the hidden hands behind uprisings and color revolutions including the Arab Spring and Libyan invasion. A key World Net Daily investigation makes clear that George Soros and his International Crisis Group, headed by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, and the likes of Samantha Power, a key member of Obama’s National Security Council advancing “humanitarian” causes, have significantly framed and shaped the manufactured crisis surrounding the now-famous head of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Like Libya, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine– created and advanced by Soros, Samantha Power and other power players– gives the impetus for intervention in the conflict. Groups like Invisible Children, who produced KONY 2012, are pawns in their game.

jueves, 15 de marzo de 2012

Australia se apunta a la partida

Australia por su naturaleza no debería meterse en fregados, pero la verdad es que no ha parado. En todos los conflictos donde o los EEUU o UK hayan querido meterse Australia ha participado de una u ootra forma.
El discurso de Obama en el que menciona que la zona surasiática es una priordad actualmente, y el despliegue de tropas americanas en ese país no son meras coincidencias.

Más manipulación para intervenir en Uganda? (Kony2012)

Kony2012, tiene nombre de operación militar.
Pero está amparado en una ONG que nunca antes se había oido hablar de ella: "los niños invisibles".
Suena como a esas organizaciones unipersonales de derechos humanos que han surgido en Siria, pero afincadas en Inglaterra u otros países, cuyos fines no dejan de sorprender ( por decirlo de forma suave), y cuyos métodos e informes son casi la única fuente de la que bebe el mundo occidental.

Desde hace bastante tiempo, se está usando a la infancia, como medio de presión al público. Quién va a ser insensible a que los niños sufran? No te puedes negar. Si te niegas es que eres un monstruo, por lo tanto, ahí está el hueco para sembrar propaganda para todos los públicos.
Alguien se acuerda de la famosas incubadoras de Kuwait, cuando entraron los irakíes?
Luego quedó muy claro cómo se manipuló y con qué fin.
Hace más de 40 años, una foto de una niña vietnamita desnuda huyendo de los bombardeos dio la vuelta al mundo y removió consciencias en todas partes.
Los americanos dicen que por eso perdieron la guerra: porque se informó de una forma independiente e impactante.
Antes existía gente independiente, y se publicaba. Ahora NO.

Kony 2012, no deja de ser propaganda barata, muy bien hecha eso sí, con todos los medios técnicos y audiovisuales para que el mensaje cale.
Tanto que ya es viral.
Que cada uno se componga la obra como quiera. Demasiados frentes se están abriendo. La cuestión es ¿porqué?



- Again lost in this frenzy is what the actual people of Uganda think about the video.
– Dr Beatrice Mpora, director of Kairos, a community health organisation in Gulu, a town that was once the centre of the rebels’ activities.

“What that video says is totally wrong, and it can cause us more problems than help us. There has not been a single soul from the LRA here since 2006. Now we have peace, people are back in their homes, they are planting their fields, they are starting their businesses. That is what people should help us with.”

- Javie Ssozi, an influential Ugandan blogger.

“Suggesting that the answer is more military action is just wrong. Have they thought of the consequences? Making Kony ‘famous’ could make him stronger. Arguing for more US troops could make him scared, and make him abduct more children, or go on the offensive.”

- Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan journalist specialising in peace and conflict reporting.

This paints a picture of Uganda six or seven years ago, that is totally not how it is today. It’s highly irresponsible”.

There’s a rather skeptical view from this BBC correspondent, which raises similar points to this thread.
Joseph Kony campaign under fire

The extraordinarily sudden success, if that is the right word, of the social media campaign by three American advocacy groups aimed at shining a big spotlight on the notorious Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony has prompted some scathing reactions from plenty of well-informed quarters. …

The Youtube link to the video in question “Kony 2012″ from the NGO “Invisible Children” (38 Million views in 2 days ):

Saw the story/video earlier in the Guardian. It is interesting that after Obama ordered 100 JSOC troops to go after Kony that 3 months later this video appears and goes viral instantly. Some more of this “Soft Power” approach to US objectives? Some quotes from one of the Guardian stories:

Foreign Affairs magazine has accused the organization of “manipulat[ing] facts for strategic purposes.” Charity Navigator has given Invisible Children a two-star rating in accountability out of a possible four.


Critics point out that the campaign calls on the public to pressure the US to continue working with the Ugandan military, an organisation that has its own record of abuses. “The Ugandan army continues to commit politically motivated abuses in Uganda,” Maria Burnett, senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, Africa Division, told the Guardian.

“We have documented numerous cases in which they’ve been involved in torture and arbitrary arrests, as well as a score of killings of unarmed protesters and bystanders during political demonstrations in the past three years.”

Of course this sudden interest in Kony (after 20 years of the LRA operating with impunity) has nothing to do with 2-6 Billion barrels of oil discovered in the Lake Albert basin in 2006. Production was set to begin in 2013 on the field but due to it being close to Kony’s stronghold it was pushed back to 2015. Did I mention that the Albert basin’s oil is owned through a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) by British oil company Tullow Oil and US firm ExxonMobil? Also if you have the time read some Wikileaks cables on Uganda corruption and ExxonMobil.

The Kony video is a fraud…we know it is simply because so many people have seen it or been made to. When real truth videos have troube racking up their first million, this one seems to have been gifted a superhighway into the hearts of the voting public

Not eveyone has been fooled though

lunes, 12 de marzo de 2012

Danny el sirio: más propaganda de la CNN

Putin enloquece a Washington

Pepe Escobar

Olvidad el pasado (Sadam, Osama, Gadafi) y el presente (Assad, Ahmadineyad). Se puede apostar una botella de Pétrus 1989 (el problema es la espera de seis años para recibirla) por el futuro previsible; el máximo espíritu diabólico de Washington –y de sus socios delincuentes de la OTAN y sus diversos socios de los medios de comunicación– no será otro que el presidente ruso Vladimir Putin, de regreso al futuro.

Y que no quepa la menor duda: a Vlad Putin le encantará. Ha vuelto exactamente adonde quiere estar: comandante en jefe de Rusia a cargo de las fuerzas armadas, la política exterior y todos los asuntos de seguridad nacional.

Las elites angloestadounidenses todavía se retuercen ante la mención de su legendario discurso de 2007 en Múnich cuando criticó al gobierno de George W Bush por su agenda imperial obsesivamente unipolar “mediante un sistema que no tiene nada que ver con la democracia” y su continua violación de las “fronteras nacionales en casi todas partes”.

Por lo tanto Washington y sus acólitos ya están avisados. Antes de la elección del pasado domingo, Putin incluso publicó su hoja de ruta. Lo esencial: no a la guerra en Siria; no a la guerra en Irán; no a los “bombardeos humanitarios” ni a las “revoluciones de color”, todo integrado en un nuevo concepto: “instrumentos ilegales de poder blando”. Para Putin el Nuevo Orden Mundial diseñado por Washington no tiene futuro. Lo que vale es “el principio consagrado de la soberanía de los Estados”.

No es sorprendente. Cuando Putin considera Libia ve las consecuencias gráficas, regresivas, de la “liberación” por parte de la OTAN mediante “bombardeos humanitarios”: un país fragmentado, controlado por milicias vinculadas a al Qaida; la atrasada Cirenaica separándose de la más desarrollada Tripolitania; y un pariente del último rey llevado para gobernar el nuevo “emirato”, para delicia de esos demócratas modélicos de la Casa de Saud.

Más elementos esenciales: no a las bases que rodean a Rusia; no a la defensa de misiles sin una admisión explícita y por escrito de que el sistema nunca tendrá a Rusia como objetivo; y una creciente cooperación con el grupo BRICS de las potencias emergentes.

En su mayor parte esto ya estaba implícito en la anterior hoja de ruta de Putin, su documento “Un nuevo proyecto de integración para Eurasia: el futuro en gestación”. Fue el ippon de Putin –adora el judo– contra la OTAN, el Fondo Monetario Internacional y el neoliberalismo de la línea dura. Ve una Unión Eurasiática como “unión económica y monetaria moderna” que se extienda por toda Asia Central.

Para Putin, Siria es un detalle importante (no solo por la base naval rusa en el puerto mediterráneo de Tartus que a la OTAN le encantaría eliminar). Pero el meollo del asunto es la integración de Eurasia. Los atlantistas enloquecerán en masa cuando invierta todos sus esfuerzos en la coordinación de “una poderosa unión supranacional que puede convertirse en uno de los polos del mundo actual y un eficiente vínculo entre Europa y la dinámica región Asia-Pacífico”.

La hoja de ruta opuesta será la doctrina Pacífico de Obama y Hillary. ¿Hasta qué punto es excitante el asunto?

Putin apuesta por el Ductistán

Putin encabezó casi en solitario la resurrección de Rusia como mega-superpotencia energética (el petróleo y el gas representan dos tercios de las exportaciones de Rusia, la mitad del presupuesto federal y un 20% del producto interno bruto). Por lo tanto hay que contar con que el Ductistán siga siendo clave.

Y estará centrado sobre todo en el gas; aunque Rusia representa al menos un 30% de los suministros globales de gas, su producción de gas natural líquido (GNL) es menos de un 5% del mercado global. Ni siquiera es uno de los diez productores principales.

Putin sabe que Rusia necesitaría mucha inversión extranjera en el Ártico –de Occidente y sobre todo de Asia– para mantener su producción de petróleo de más de 10 millones de barriles diarios. Y necesita llegar a un complejo y exhaustivo acuerdo de billones de dólares con China centrado en los yacimientos de gas de Siberia Oriental; el ángulo petrolero ya se ha cubierto mediante el oleoducto ESPO (siglas en inglés de Siberia Oriental-Océano Pacífico). Putin sabe que para China –en términos de asegurar la energía– este acuerdo es un contragolpe vital contra el tenebroso “pivoteo” de Washington hacia Asia.

Putin también hará todo por consolidar el oleoducto South Stream, que puede acabar costando 22.000 millones de dólares (el acuerdo de los accionistas ya se ha firmado entre Rusia, Alemania, Francia e Italia. South Stream es gas ruso entregado bajo el Mar Negro a la parte sur de la UE, a través de Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungría y Eslovaquia). Si South Stream tiene éxito, el oleoducto rival, Nabucco, estará jaque mate; una importante victoria rusa contra la presión de Washington y los burócratas de Bruselas.

Todavía está todo en juego en la intersección crucial de la geopolítica dura y el Ductistán. Una vez más Putin enfrentará otra hoja de ruta de Washington, la no exactamente exitosa Nueva Ruta de la Seda. (Vea US's post-2014 Afghan agenda falters, Asia Times Online, 4 de noviembre de 2011.)

Y luego tenemos la gran incógnita, la Organización de Cooperación de Shanghái (SCO). Putin querrá que Pakistán sea miembro pleno, tal como China está interesada en incorporar a Irán. Las repercusiones serían trascendentales, como si Rusia, China, Pakistán e Irán coordinaran no solo su integración económica sino también su seguridad mutua dentro de una SCO fortalecida, cuyo lema es “no-alineamiento, no-confrontación y no-interferencia en los asuntos de otros países”.

Putin ve que con el control por parte de Rusia, Asia Central e Irán de al menos el 50% de las reservas de gas del mundo, y con Irán y Pakistán como virtuales miembros de la SCO, el nombre del juego se convierte en integración de Asia, si no de Eurasia. La SCO se desarrolla como una fuerza motriz económica y de seguridad mientras, paralelamente, elDuctistán acelera la integración plena de la SCO como un contragolpe para la OTAN. Los propios protagonistas regionales decidirán qué tiene más sentido – esto o una Nueva Ruta de la Seda inventada en Washington.

Que no quepan dudas. Tras la interminable satanización de Putin y la miríada de intentos de deslegitimar las elecciones presidenciales de Rusia, se encuentran algunos sectores muy encolerizados y poderosos de las elites de Washington y angloestadounidenses.

Saben que Putin será un negociador ultra duro en todos los frentes. Saben que Moscú aplicará una coordinación cada vez más estrecha con China: en la frustración de bases permanentes de la OTAN en Afganistán; en el apoyo a la autonomía estratégica de Pakistán; en la oposición a la defensa de misiles; en garantizar que no se ataque a Irán.

Será el demonio predilecto porque no podría haber un oponente más formidable a los planes de Washington en el escenario mundial, se llamen Gran Medio Oriente, Nueva Ruta de la Seda, Dominación de Espectro Completo o Siglo Pacífico de EE.UU. Señoras y señores, preparémonos para el estruendo.

domingo, 11 de marzo de 2012

Engaño con alta tecnología

What was surely meant to be a clever display of media-friendly visuals to illustrate Syrian regime violence in Homs, has instead raised more questions than answers.

US State Department satellite images of the embattled city were posted on Facebook last Friday by US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who complains: “A terrible and tragic development in Syria is the use of heavy weaponry by the Assad regime against residential neighborhoods.”

The “satellite photos,” says Ford, “have captured both the carnage and those causing it – the artillery is clearly there, it is clearly bombing entire neighborhoods…We are intent on exposing the regime's brutal tactics for the world to see.”

But within 24 hours, the blog Moon of Alabama had taken a hammer to the ambassador’s claims. A detailed examination of satellite imagery by the bloggers revealed numerous discrepancies in Washington’s allegations. Mainly, their investigations point to the fact that Ford’s satellite images were “of guns training within military barracks or well known training areas and not in active deployment.”

Moon of Alabama posts its own satellite images, graphics and diagrams to bolster its argument – and these are well worth a look.

The US envoy’s questionable claims don’t stop at satellite images, however. In his Facebook post, Ford insists: “There is no evidence that the opposition – even those opposition members who have defected from the military – has access to or has employed such heavy weapons." By this, he means the “artillery” used “to pound civilian apartment buildings and homes from a distance.”

Then why is there satellite photo evidence of destruction in pro-regime Alawi areas?

Fast-forward to CNN’s very own Jonathan King, who broadcast satellite images of Homs on February 9, the day before the State Department loaded their photos on the web. King’s images of Homs are dated February 5, two days after violence erupted in the city, focusing heavily in the Baba Amr neighborhood where opposition gunmen are allegedly present:

King’s presentation of “shelling, fires and damage” to Homs shows destruction of property consistent with the use of heavy weapons: “It’s like a ghost town – with no cars at all, there’s damage in the roads and so much damage on the top of the buildings.”

Zooming in on three different sections of the same Homs neighborhood to show before-and-after images of the destruction, King says: “Now obviously, we’re not there, but this powerful satellite imagery tends to support the accounts from activists that there’s a lot of shelling and fighting going on in the city, and a lot of fires.”

There is only one problem with his account. Most of the alleged fighting, shelling, destruction and killing reported widely in the international media took place in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, southwest of the city, and an anti-regime stronghold.

But all three satellite images shown by King are in al-Zahraneighborhood, a pro-regime area consisting mainly of Alawis, who belong to the same Muslim minority sect as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

That is a stunning revelation. Pro-regime civilians in Homs and other Syrian areas have complained of attacks, kidnappings and killings by armed opposition groups for months now, with little attention received by foreign media.

And it completely undermines Ford’s contention that: “There is no evidence that the opposition…has access to or has employed such heavy weapons. “

Let’s look at some screenshots from CNN’s presentation and compare it to screenshots taken from Google Maps. The first visual is of King pointing to the three highlighted areas of destruction in Homs:

CNN’s satellite images have been turned 90 degrees clockwise in their own presentation of the photos, so in this next screenshot, we have shifted their visuals so that they are north facing – to help with comparison to our pictures in a normal north-south format. This will also make things easier for those readers compelled to rush out and conduct their own web search on the area.

Zooming into one highlighted area of destruction, you can see that the two photos – CNN’s and ours – are an exact match. To the north of the horizontal road is a lot marked by a large tree to its left. South of that same road, buildings are positioned at a distinct diagonal angle. This area is inside Homs’ al-Zahra neighborhood.

This next screenshot zooms out so that you can see the placement of CNN’s three areas of damage – all clearly within al-Zahra, which is marked by a red circle. In the bottom left hand corner of the shot is a circular area that we included as a marker to help readers distinguish al-Zahra’s location in proximity to other areas in Homs. This is where the Citadel of Homs is located.

The final screenshot is of Homs from a distance so that it is possible to view the distance between Baba Amr (circled in blue) to the left of the picture, and al-Zahra, to the right. The Citadel in the previous shot is between the two neighborhoods.

An image is no longer worth a thousand words

Photos and video footage showing scenes of violence have been streaming out of Homs since reports of heavy fighting first broke on February 3. It is hard to glean much from these because there is not enough information in the visuals to confirm the source of gunfire or shelling. The satellite images posted by the State Department on February 6 – according to the Moon of Alabama blog – do not actually show the Syrian army engaged in battle, as suggested by Ambassador Ford when he claims:

“Satellite photos have captured both the carnage and those causing it – the artillery is clearly there, it is clearly bombing entire neighborhoods.”

But his statement about armed opposition groups not having the weaponry to fight from afar is now questionable given the CNN shots of damaged buildings and “burn craters” in the road – yet even this is not conclusive.

If you don’t believe an image any longer, what do you do about this kind of allegation by Ford? One of the few videos I find credible – and that, only because in it we see the death of an actual “known” person that has not been contested – is this footage of Gilles Jacquier (warning: graphic images contained), the France 2 cameraman killed while participating in a government-sponsored tour of Homs. Jacquier was killed in the pro-regime neighborhood of Akrama, home mainly to a mix of Alawis and Christians who originally migrated from rural areas. Pro-opposition journalist Omar Idilbi had once dubbed this area “the castle of the regime.”

When allegations flew left and right about the source of the projectile that killed Jacquier and reportedly eight others that day, the Arab League monitors on the ground in Syria investigated and concluded: “mission reports from Homs indicate that the French journalist was killed by opposition mortar shells.”

Syria has destroyed for me all faith in the images I once trusted. People on both sides of this conflict are manipulating visual media to propagandize toward their political goals. The problem with this is that many genuine documented stories are now disregarded because of the skepticism of readers like myself.

Governments and media should be taken to task for their complicity in the dissemination of false information. There are lives at stake, after all – the very lives that fuel their pitiful “outrage.”

Many thanks to Adel Alsalman for the screenshots in this blog

Sharmine Narwani is a commentary writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. You can follow her on twitter @snarwani

sábado, 10 de marzo de 2012

Guerra o Paz

Cuestionando el listado de víctimas de Siria

“Perception is 100 percent of politics,” the old adage goes. Say something three, five, seven times, and you start to believe it in the same way you “know” aspirin is good for the heart.

Sometimes though, perception is a dangerous thing. In the dirty game of politics, it is the perception – not the facts of an issue – that invariably wins the day.

In the case of the raging conflict over Syria, the one fundamental issue that motors the entire international debate on the crisis is the death toll and its corollary: the Syrian casualty list.

The “list” has become widely recognized – if not specifically, then certainly when the numbers are bandied about: 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 – sometimes more. These are not mere numbers; they represent dead Syrians.

But this is where the dangers of perception begin. There are many competing Syrian casualty lists with different counts – how does one, for instance gauge if X is an accurate number of deaths? How have the deaths been verified? Who verifies them and do they have a vested interest? Are the dead all civilians? Are they pro-regime or anti-regime civilians? Do these lists include the approximately 2,000 dead Syrian security forces? Do they include members of armed groups? How does the list-aggregator tell the difference between a civilian and a plain-clothes militia member?

Even the logistics baffle. How do they make accurate counts across Syria every single day? A member of the Lebanese fact-finding team investigating the 15 May 2011 shooting deaths of Palestinian protesters by Israelis at the Lebanese border told me that it took them three weeks to discover there were only six fatalities, and not the 11 counted on the day of the incident. And in that case, the entire confrontation lasted a mere few hours.

How then does one count 20, 40, or 200 casualties in a few hours while conflict continues to rage around them?

My first port of call in trying to answer these questions about the casualty list was the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which seemed likely to be the most reliable source of information on the Syrian death toll – until it stopped keeping track last month.

The UN began its effort to provide a Syrian casualty count in September 2011, based primarily on lists provided by five different sources. Three of their sources were named: The Violations Documenting Center (VDC), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and the Syrian Shuhada website. At that time, the lists varied in number from around 2,400 to 3,800 victims.

The non-UN casualty list most frequently quoted in the general media is the one from the Syrian Observatory – or SOHR.

Last month, SOHR made some headlines of its own when news of a rift over political viewpoints and body counts erupted. Two competing SOHRs claimed authenticity, but the group headed by Rami Abdul Rahman is the one recognized by Amnesty International.

OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville stated during a phone interview that the UN evaluates its sources to check “whether they are reliable,” but appeared to create distance from SOHR later – during the group’s public spat – by saying: “The (UN) colleague most involved with the lists…had no direct contact with the Syrian Observatory, though we did look at their numbers. This was not a group we had any prior knowledge of, and it was not based in the region, so we were somewhat wary of it.”

Colville explains that the UN sought at all times “to make cautious estimates” and that “we have reasonable confidence that the rounded figures are not far off.”

While “also getting evidence from victims and defectors – some who corroborated specific names,” the UN, says Colville, “is not in a position to cross-check names and will never be in a position to do that.”

I spoke to him again after the UN decided to halt its casualty count in late January. “It was never easy to verify, but it was a little bit clearer before. The composition of the conflict has changed. It’s become much more complex, fragmented,” Colville says. “While we have no doubt there are civilian and military casualties…we can’t really quantify it.”

“The lists are clear – the question is whether we can fully endorse their accuracy,” he explains, citing the “higher numbers” as an obstacle to verification.

The Casualty Lists Up Close: Some Stories Behind the Numbers

Because the UN has stopped its casualty count, reporters have started reverting back to their original Syrian death toll sources. The SOHR is still the most prominent among them.

Abdul Rahman’s SOHR does not make its list available to the general public, but in early February I found a link to a list on the other SOHR website and decided to take a look. The database lists the victim’s name, age, gender, city, province, and date of death – when available. In December 2011, for instance, the list names around 77 registered casualties with no identifying information provided. In total, there are around 260 unknowns on the list.

Around that time, I had come across my first list of Syrians killed in the crisis, reportedly compiled in coordination with the SOHR, that contained the names of Palestinian refugees killed by Israeli fire on the Golan Heights on 15 May 2011 and 5 June 2011 when protesters congregated on Syria’s armistice line with Israel. So my first check was to see if that kind of glaring error appears in the SOHR list I investigate in this piece.

To my amazement, the entire list of victims from those two days were included in the SOHR casualty count – four from May 15 (#5160 to #5163) and 25 victims of Israeli fire from June 5 (#4629 to #4653). The list even identifies the deaths as taking place in Quneitra, which is in the Golan Heights.

It also didn’t take long to find the names of well-publicized pro-regime Syrians on the SOHR list and match them with YouTube footage of their funerals. The reason behind searching for funeral links is that pro-regime and anti-regime funerals differ quite starkly in the slogans they chant and the posters/signs/flags on display. Below, is a list of eight of these individuals, including their number, name, date and place of death on the casualty list – followed by our video link and further details if available:

#5939, Mohammad Abdo Khadour, 4/19/11, Hama, off-duty Colonel in Syrian army, shot in his car and died from multiple bullet wounds.Funeral link.

#5941, Iyad Harfoush, 4-18-11, Homs, off-duty Commander in Syrian army. In a video, his wife says someone started shooting in the mostly pro-regime al Zahra neighborhood of Homs – Harfoush went out to investigate the incident and was killed. Funeral link.

#5969, Abdo al Tallawi, 4/17/11, Homs, General in Syrian army killed alongside his two sons and a nephew. Funeral footage shows all four victims. The others are also on the list at #5948, Ahmad al Tallawi, #5958, Khader al Tallawi and #5972, Ali al Tallawi, all in Homs, Funeral link.

#6021, Nidal Janoud, 11/4/11, Tartous, an Alawite who was severely slashed by his assailants. The bearded gentleman to the right of the photo, and a second suspect, are now standing trial for the murder.Photo link.

#6022, Yasar Qash’ur, 11/4/11, Tartous, Lieutenant Colonel in the Syrian army, killed alongside 8 others in an ambush on a bus in Banyas,Funeral link.

#6129, Hassan al-Ma’ala, 4/5/11, policeman, suburbs of Damascus,Funeral link.

#6130, Hamid al Khateeb, 4/5/11, policeman, suburbs of Damascus,Funeral link.

#6044, Waeb Issa, 10/4/11, Tartous, Colonel in Syrian army, Funeral link.

Besides featuring on the SOHR list, Lt. Col. Yasar Qashur, Iyad Harfoush, Mohammad Abdo Khadour and General Abdo al Tallawi and his two sons and nephew also appear on two of the other casualty lists – the VDC and Syrian Shuhada – both used by the United Nations to compile their numbers.

Nir Rosen, an American journalist who spent several months insides Syria’s hot spots in 2011, with notable access to armed opposition groups, reported in a recent Al Jazeera interview:

“Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any explanation of the cause of the deaths. Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters, but the cause of their death is hidden and they are described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces, as if they were all merely protesting or sitting in their homes. Of course, those deaths still happen regularly as well.”

“And, every day, members of the Syrian army, security agencies and the vague paramilitary and militia phenomenon known as shabiha ["thugs"] are also killed by anti-regime fighters,” Rosen continues.

The report issued in January by Arab League Monitors after their month-long observer mission in Syria – widely ignored by the international media – also witnessed acts of violence by armed opposition groups against both civilians and security forces.

The Report states: “In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the observer mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against government forces and civilians…Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children…In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two police officers.” The observers also point out that “some of the armed groups were using flares and armour-piercing projectiles.“

Importantly, the report further confirms obfuscation of casualty information when it states: “the media exaggerated the nature of the incidents and the number of persons killed in incidents and protests in certain towns.”

On February 3, the eve of the UN Security Council vote on Syria, news broke out that a massacre was taking place in Homs, with the general media assuming it was true and that all violence was being committed by the Syrian government. The SOHR’s Rami Abdul Rahman was widely quoted in the media as claiming the death toll to be at 217. The Local Coordination Committees (LCCs), which provide information to the VDC, called it at “more than 200,” and the Syrian National Council (SNC), a self-styled government in absentia of mainly expats, claimed 260 victims.

The next day, the casualty count had been revised down to 55 by the LCCs. (link:

Even if the count is at 55 – that is still a large number of victims by any measure. But were these deaths caused by the Syrian government, by opposition gunmen or in the crossfire between the two groups? That is still the question that needs to break through the deafening narratives, lists, and body counts.

In International Law, Detail Counts

While the overwhelming perception of Syrian casualties thus far has been that they are primarily unarmed civilians deliberately targeted by government forces, it has become obvious these casualties are also likely to include: Civilians caught in the crossfire between government forces and opposition gunmen; victims of deliberate violence by armed groups; “dead opposition fighters” whose attire do not distinguish them from regular civilians; and members of the Syrian security forces, both on and off duty.

Even if we could verify the names and numbers on a Syrian casualty list, we still don’t know their stories, which if revealed, may pose an entirely different picture of what is going on in Syria today

These questions are vitally important to understand the burden of responsibility in this conflict. International law provides for different measures of conflict: the two most frequently used gauges for this are the Principle of Necessity, i.e., using force only when it is necessary, and the Principle of Proportionality, i.e., the use of force proportional to the threat posed.

In the case of Syria – like in Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt and Libya – it is widely believed that the government used unnecessary force in the first instance. Syrian President Bashar Assad, like many of these Arab rulers, has as much as admitted to “mistakes” in the first months of protests. These mistakes include some shooting deaths and detaining a much larger number of protesters than expected, some of whom were allegedly tortured.

Let us assume, without question, that the Syrian government was over zealous in its use of force initially, and therefore violated the Principle of Necessity. I tend to believe this version because it has been so-stated by the Arab League’s observer mission – the first and only boots-on-the-ground monitors investigating the crisis from within the country.

However – and this is where the casualty lists come in – there is not yet nearly enough evidence, not by any measure acceptable in a court of law, that the Syrian government has violated the Principle of Proportionality. Claims that the regime has used disproportionate force in dealing with the crisis are, today, difficult to ascertain, in large part because opponents have been using weapons against security forces and pro-regime civilians almost since the onset of protests.

Assuming that the number of casualties provided by the UN’s OHCHR is around the 5,000-mark -the last official figure provided by the group – the question is whether this is a highly disproportionate number of deaths when contrasted directly with the approximately 2,000 soldiers of the regular Syrian army and other security forces who have been reportedly killed since April 2011.

When you calculate the deaths of the government forces in the past 11 months, they amount to about six a day. Contrast that with frequent death toll totals of around 15+ each day disseminated by activists – many of whom are potentially neither civilian casualties nor victims of targeted violence – and there is close to enough parity to suggest a conflict where the acts of violence may be somewhat equal on both sides.

Last Sunday, as Syrians went to the polls to vote on a constitutional referendum, Reuters reports – quoting the SOHR – that 9 civilians and 4 soldiers were killed in Homs, and that elsewhere in Syria there were 8 civilian and 10 security forces casualties. That is 17 civilians and 14 regime forces – where are the opposition gunmen in that number? Were none killed? Or are they embedded in the “civilian” count?

Defectors or Regular Soldiers?

There have also been allegations that many, if not most, of the soldiers killed in clashes or attacks have been defectors shot by other members of the regular army. There is very little evidence to support this as anything more than a limited phenomenon. Logically, it would be near impossible for the Syrian army to stay intact if it was turning on its rank-and-file soldiers in this manner – and the armed forces have remained remarkably cohesive given the length and intensity of the conflict in Syria.

In addition, the names, rank and cities of each of the dead soldiers are widely publicized by state-owned media each day, often accompanied by televised funerals. It would be fairly simple for the organized opposition to single out by name the defectors they include on their casualty lists, which has not happened.

The very first incident of casualties from the Syrian regular army that I could verify dates to 10 April 2011, when gunmen shot up a bus of soldiers travelling through Banyas, in Tartous, killing nine. This incident took place a mere few weeks after the first peaceful protests broke out in Syria, and so traces violence against government forces back to the start of political upheaval in the country.

“Witnesses” quoted by the BBC, Al Jazeera and The Guardian insisted that the nine dead soldiers were “defectors” who had been shot by the Syrian army for refusing orders to shoot at demonstrators.

Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, debunked that version on his Syria Comment website. Another surviving soldier on the bus – a relation of Lt. Col. Yasar Qashur, #6022 on the SOHR list, whose funeral I link to above – denied that they were defectors too. But the narrative that dead soldiers are mostly defectors shot by their own troops has stuck throughout this conflict – though less so, as evidence of gunmen targeting Syrian forces and pro-regime civilians becomes belatedly apparent.

The VDC – another of the UN’s OHCHR sources for casualty counts – alleges that 6,399 civilians and 1,680 army defectors were killed in Syria during the period from 15 March 2011 to 15 February 2012. All security forces killed in Syria during the past 11 months were “defectors?” Not a single soldier, policeman or intelligence official was killed in Syria except those forces who opposed the regime? This is the kind of mindless narrative of this conflict that continues unchecked. Worse yet, this exact VDC statistic is included in the latest UN report on Syria issued last week.

Humanitarian Crisis or Just Plain Violence?

While few doubt the Syrian government’s violent suppression of this revolt, it is increasingly clear that in addition to the issue of disproportionally, there is the question of whether there is a “humanitarian crisis” as suggested by some western and Arab leaders since last year. I sought some answers during a trip to Damascus in early January 2012 where I spoke to a select few NGOs that enjoyed rare access to all parts of the country.

Given that words like “massacre” and “slaughter” and “humanitarian crisis” are being used in reference to Syria, I asked International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh how many calls for urgent medical assistance his organization had received in 2011. His response was shocking. “Only one that I recall,” said Dabbakeh. Where was that, I asked? “Quneitra National Hospital in the Golan,” he replied, “last June.” This was when Israeli troops fired on Syrian and Palestinian protesters marching to the 1973 armistice line with the Jewish state. Those same protesters that ended up on SOHR’s casualty list.

A Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) worker confirmed that, recalling that his organization treated hundreds of casualties from the highly-publicized incident.

As the level of violence has escalated, however, the situation has deteriorated, and the ICRC now has received more calls for medical assistance – mainly from private hospitals in Homs. The SARC today has nine different points in Homs where it provides such assistance. The only two places they do not currently serve are the neighborhoods of Baba Amr and Inshaat “because the security situation does not allow for it – for their own safety, there is fighting there.”

During a phone call last Thursday, one NGO officer, explained that the measure for a “humanitarian crisis” is in level of access to basic staples, services and medical care. He told me off the record that “There is a humanitarian crisis in (i.e.) Baba Amr today, but not in Syria. If the fighting finishes tomorrow, there will be enough food and medical supplies.”

“Syria has enough food to feed itself for a long time. The medical sector still functions very well. There isn’t enough pressure on the medical sector to create a crisis,” he elaborated. “A humanitarian crisis is when a large number of a given population does not have access to medical aid, food, water, electricity, etc – when the system cannot any longer respond to the needs of the population.”

But an international human rights worker also cautions: “the killing is happening on both sides – the other side is no better.”

People have to stop this knee-jerk, opportunistic, hysterical obsession with numbers of dead Syrians, and ask instead: “who are these people and who killed them?” That is the very least these victims deserve. Anything less would render their tragic deaths utterly meaningless. Lack of transparency along the supply-chain of information and its dissemination – on both sides – is tantamount to making the Syrian story all about perception, and not facts. It is a hollow achievement and people will die in ever greater numbers.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentary writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. You can follow Sharmine on twitter@snarwani.