Al-Qaeda’s bloody Berlin Christmas?


This video from Germany says about itself:

Witnesses React To Deadly Attack In Berlin Christmas Market

20 December 2016

A truck plowed into people at a busy Christmas market in central Berlin on December 19, killing at least 12, and injuring dozens more. Police said they are investigating the incident as a probable “terrorist attack.” Witnesses described the horrific scene.

First, I wish all the relatives and friends of the people who died in this terrible event, and all injured people and their relatives and friends, strength and recovery.

Much about this atrocity is still unclear, eg, what exactly happened around this Polish truck, its original driver, and the Polish second person in the truck, who died.

Originally, German Minister Thomas de Maizière, police and corporate media claimed this was a crime by a refugee from Pakistan; which led to racist abuse claiming that all refugees were supposedly criminals.

However, unexpectedly, of all media, Rupert Murdoch‘s Fox News corrected this today:

Berlin attacker still on loose, wrong man in custody, police sources tell German press

The hunt is on for the driver who rammed into a Berlin Christmas market on Monday, killing at least 12, as authorities now believe they have the wrong person in custody, German police sources told the country’s Die Welt newspaper.

The Pakistani asylum-seeker taken into custody Monday and suspected of the attack has denied involvement, officials have said.

“We have the wrong man and therefore a new situation,” a senior police chief told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper. “The true perpetrator is still armed, at large and can cause fresh damage.” …

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump blamed Islamist terrorists, though it was unclear what that assessment was based on.

So, Trump ‘knew’ ‘certainly’ before knowing what really happened.

Also CNN admitted that earlier refugee-blaming had been wrong.

UPDATE: police have freed the Pakistani refugee. They don’t know whether the real perpetrator was a Muslim or not. See also here.

However, there were warnings that either ISIS or al-Qaeda might use trucks to attack Christmas markets.

If Berlin is one of these cases, then which of these two suspects?

Another atrocity happened yesterday in Ankara, Turkey. There, an off duty Turkish policeman murdered the Russian ambassador who was opening a photo exhibition. The murderer used the war in Syria as a pretext.

Bill Van Auken writes about this:

According to some reports, the Islamic State (ISIS) denied any connection with the killing [of the ambassador], while web sites connected with the Al Nusra Front, the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate that has been the backbone of US-backed forces in Aleppo, hailed the killing.

So, there is a possibility, not certainty, that this Berlin bloodbath was the work of al-Qaeda.

There is a tragic irony in that. On 9/11, the day of commemoration of al-Qaeda’s bloody attacks in New York City and Washington in the USA, a German corporate media warmonger supported NATO waging war in Syria on al-Qaeda’s side, whitewashing al-Qaeda.

Just before the Berlin atrocity, Chris Floyd in the USA wrote:

An al Qaeda Christmas: The Touching Tale of How Hate Figures Became American Heroes

19 December 2016

You’re al Qaeda. You’re being supported by the United States in your jihad to impose extremist rule on Syria, but you still have a PR problem; too many people remember all that unpleasant business from so long ago when you blew up a few buildings in the US. What can you do?

Well, first you change the name of your Syrian branch two or three times. You make sure your spokesmen — who actually get respectfully quoted in the US media! — say moderate things in English but speak with genocidal sectarian fury in Arabic. So far, so good. But what if your new US media buddies actually got a peek at how you operate on the ground in Syria — cutting off heads, hoarding food aid, colluding with ISIS, slaughtering religious minorities, oppressing women, etc.? That’s easy: you simply make the zones you control so dangerous for reporters — killing them, kidnapping them, etc. — that they don’t go there anymore. Instead, they “report” on your activities from far away, relying on you to provide their information, telling the story you want told.

And presto chango, that’s how those who murdered Americans have become America’s newest heroes, the brave defenders of freedom in Syria. What’s more, anyone who dares point out the true nature of your organization, and how you operate, are now denounced as apologists for the loathsome Assad regime, or as Putin-lovers, even as traitors! Think of it; just a few years ago, you were the most reviled and hated group Americans had ever known — and now Americans across the media and political spectrum hail you as heroes and defend you from all attacks!

Sure, you’ve lost your foothold in Aleppo, where for years you systematically persecuted people and forcibly prevented them from leaving. But America’s still got your back, AQ! Even when you attack relief convoys in an attempt to scuttle a peace deal that would allow anyone who wants to leave East Aleppo to go free, the American media will fudge the headlines so no one will know that it was you who did the deed.

[And hey, let’s not forget what America’s been doing for you in Yemen! Remember how the Houthis had you on the ropes, nearly ridding the country of your presence — and then the Americans stepped in with their Saudi allies, bombing the holy hell out of the place, choking off food and medicine supplies, destroying the infrastructure for basic survival, killing thousands of civilians and putting millions of people at dire risk of starvation! And suddenly you were back, making great gains, stronger than ever! You simply couldn’t ask for a better friend, could you?]

So buck up, AQ! With the full weight of the American media and political establishment behind you, no doubt there are still great days ahead! In fact, the president has just made it easier for you guys to get even more American weapons so you can carry on your noble quest! It’s just our way of saying Merry Christmas!

Britain and war in Syria


This 8 December 2016 video from the United States Congress says about itself:

U.S. Congresswoman [Tulsi Gabbard] Introduces Bill to Stop Funding Syrian Extremists

While decrying “massacre” in Aleppo, US steps up bloodshed in Mosul: here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Friday 16th December 2016

TOWNS and cities across Britain and worldwide are staging vigils this week for the people of war-torn Aleppo in Syria.

The Stop the War Coalition in London called for an immediate ceasefire in Aleppo by all sides.

A vigil in Bradford in West Yorkshire on Wednesday night attracted hundreds of people from across the multi-cultural city’s ethnic groups, with young and old wielding home-made placards and posters calling for relief for the population of Aleppo.

Stop the War said in a statement: “There must be a ceasefire and immediate stop to bombing and shelling. Aid should be sent to those who need it.

“Unfortunately those MPs who have supported past interventions are bemoaning the fact that more British bombs weren’t directed at Syria in 2013.

“The truth is that our government has contributed to the wreckage seen in the Middle East today with interventions across the region including Iraq and Syria, and backing for Saudi bombing of Yemen.”

British satire about the war in Syria

Shoes thrown at anti-refugee Belgian minister


Iraqi shoes thrown at George W Bush, cartoon

After, in 2008, shoes were thrown at George W. Bush for his Iraq war with over a million dead, four million refugees, torture, etc., other people were inspired by this example.

In the Netherlands, according to NRC Handelsblad daily, children have invented a game which they call “Bushing”. Children jumping on a trampoline try to duck shoes thrown by their playmates.

In Belgium in 2009, angry small share owners threw shoes at banking fat cats.

And now, in Belgium, translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Belgian minister pelted with shoes

Today, 01:29

The Belgian Minister for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken was pelted by dozens of protesters with shoes and beverages outside a party meeting of government coalition partner MR.

Francken is under fire because he refused to issue a visa for a Syrian refugee family, even though a judge has decided on penalty of a fine that the Belgian government should do that. The family are friends of a Belgian family that wants to guarantee the Syrians, and wants to house them themselves.

The minister was in a hotel at Charleroi airport … as a guest speaker at a debate of MR on the government’s immigration policy. The demonstrators who pelted him outside were mainly trade unionists.

Talking about refugees. Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 12 December 2016, about elections in Macedonia:

[Prime Minister] Gruevski and opposition leader Zaev have both promised in the campaign that the [anti-refugee] fence at the border with Greece will remain closed. “The fence was a suggestion by the European Union. And we work precisely and completely in accordance with the instructions and suggestions from the EU,” said Zaev.

United States air force killing Syrian civilians, Amnesty reports


This video says about itself:

26 October 2016

Amnesty International says the US-led coalition fighting Daesh [ISIS] terrorists in Syria has underestimated the impact of its operations on civilians. The rights organization has urged Washington and its allies to take necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties.

Amnesty says some 300 civilians have been killed in the coalition airstrikes in Syria, since they began in September 2014. The rights group says those civilians lost their lives in eleven attacks which it has examined. The most recent incidents included three airstrikes in June and July this year on the Manbij area of Aleppo province where over 100 civilians were killed. Amnesty has also urged the US-led coalition to spare civilians in its airstrikes meant to provide support for Iraq’s ongoing offensive to retake the city of Mosul.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Amnesty exposes deadly US air attacks on Syria

AS IS well known, the Clinton-led Democratic Party has pledged that if and when she is elected as President of the USA, she will take action to impose a no-fly zone on Syria. This will lead to thousands of Syrian people losing their lives,

as Ms Clinton herself has admitted privately

and could well lead to a war with Russia – with all that such a war would entail for humanity not just the Syrian people.

Yesterday, Amnesty International confirmed that the US-led coalition that includes the UK has already killed hundreds of civilians during its air raids in Syria since 2014, and called for an investigation into potential violations of international criminal law during the so-called campaign against terror.

‘It’s high time the US authorities came clean about the full extent of the civilian damage caused by coalition attacks in Syria,’ said Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office, Lynn Maalouf.

Amnesty said as many as 300 civilians have been killed in 11 attacks conducted by the Washington-led alliance since September 2014. Maalouf added: ‘Analysis of available evidence suggests that in each of these cases, coalition forces failed to take adequate precautions to minimise harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects.’

The official further urged independent investigations into possible violations of international criminal law, calling on the coalition to take more precautions prior to their attacks. 2014 saw the rise of the Takfiri group of Daesh [ISIS] in the Arab country and neighbouring Iraq. Washington subsequently brought scores of its allies under the military umbrella to hit what it calls Daesh targets in Iraq and Syria.

In July 2016, a US airstrike reportedly killed at least 70 civilians, mostly women and children, near the city of Manbij in the Aleppo governorate. In September, a US-led airstrike hit a military base belonging to the Syrian army, leaving over 80 army troops dead and some 100 others wounded in the eastern part of the country. The raid helped Daesh terrorists make some gains in the area at the time.

The US Defence Department has not made any comment on the latest Amnesty report so far, but it has invariably insisted that the forces are taking enough precautions to avoid civilian fatalities. Research and documentation by leading human rights and monitoring organisations, including the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Airwars, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Violations Documentation Centre, indicate that the total number of civilians killed by coalition forces in Syria since operations began could be as high as 600 or more than 1,000.

Highlighted in the Amnesty memorandum are the three US-led coalition attacks in June and July 2016 on the Manbij area of Aleppo governorate, in northern Syria. Together the three attacks are suspected to have killed more than 100 civilians in the villages of al-Tukhar, al-Hadhadh and al-Ghandoura.

The attack on al-Tukhar on 19 July is believed to have caused the greatest loss of civilian life of any single US-led coalition attack. At least 73 civilians were killed, including 27 children, and some 30 were injured. A US-led coalition attack which struck two houses where civilians were sheltering in the village of Ayn al-Khan, near al-Hawl in al-Hasakah governorate in northern Syria in the early hours of 7th December 2015, killed 40 civilians, including 19 children, and injured at least 30 others according to local human rights organisations.

Amnesty International was able to speak to one survivor from the attack who described how he was awoken by a huge explosion and ran out to dig through the rubble for survivors. ‘The house shook and began to crumble. The windows shattered. I ran outside and saw my neighbour’s house completely destroyed. I could hear people calling out from beneath the rubble,’ he said. As he helped to dig out survivors a helicopter gunship launched a second attack.

The UK and US trade unions must take action to defend the Syrian people. They must organise mass demonstrations and mass political strikes and demand that all US and UK forces are withdrawn from the Middle East and that the Syrian and Iraqi people are left to decide their own future without the deadly interference of the imperialist powers.

US air strike kills 20 civilians in Syria: here.

Buried deep inside Saturday’s New York Times was a grudging acknowledgement that the U.S.-armed “moderate” rebels in Syria are using their U.S. firepower to back an Al Qaeda offensive: here.

Syrian war threatens to escalate as Turkey accuses Damascus of attacking its troops: here.

Assyrians in Syria, archaeological research


Tell Sabi Abyad in Syria

From Leiden University:

Assyrians were more ‘homely’ than we thought

20 October 2016

Archaeologist Victor Klinkenberg examined an old Assyrian settlement in Syria, near to the IS [ISIS] stronghold Raqqa. ‘Social life was more important than military life.’ PhD defence 27 October.

The Assyrian Empire (ca. 2000 to 609 BC) was highly successful. At its height, it stretched from Turkey to Egypt and the Persian Gulf. Historians have wondered for a long time how the Assyrians were able to maintain power over such a huge region.

Tell Sabi Abyad

Research by PhD candidate Victor Klinkenberg has now provided an answer to part of this question. He has shown that Assyrian dominance was by no means always secured by using violence and brute force. Klinkenberg drew this conclusion after studying the settlement at Tell Sabi Abyad in present-day northern Syria. ‘This village was inhabited around 1200 BC,’ Klinkenberg explained. ‘The Assyrians founded the settlement when they conquered the region, so you’d expect it to be mainly a military outpost, ruled from above. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.’

Positive stimuli

Kinkenberg found that the rooms and houses of Tell Sabi Abyad had many different functions, and that they changed frequently. At one time it was a café where visitors drank beer, and at another time it was a rubbish tip. Klinkenberg: ‘All this shows that social life played a much greater role than military life. Apparently, positive stimuli and local stability were important factors in the Assyrians’ imperial activities.’

Islamic State

Klinkenberg’s research is part of a larger project headed by lecturer Bleda Düring, financed with a subsidy from the European Research Council (ERC). In recent years, the work of the Leiden researchers has been severely hindered by the rise of the Islamic State [ISIS] terror movement. Tell Sabi Abyad is around 80 km from Raqqa, the capital of the IS [ISIS]caliphate.

Destroyed

It was impossible for Klinkenberg to travel to the settlement. ‘In the past five years, nobody from our team has visited the excavations,’ he explained. ‘We did hear recently that a lot of archaeological finds have been destroyed or stolen. That’s such a waste, particularly as most of the remnants have no financial value. They’re worth absolutely nothing on the black market, but their value to science is enormous.’

Documented

Fortunately, all the earlier excavations at Tell Sabi Abyad have been carefully documented. ‘The project has been running for 35 years. The ground area is photographed every season; the location of the finds is mapped and buildings and rooms are measured. These measures meant that I could do my research at a distance.’ Like every other archaeologist, Klinkenberg would have preferred to visit the site in person. ‘But that’s a minor inconvenience compared to the suffering of the Syrian people.’