Canada will stop bombing Syria and Iraq


This video says about itself:

21 April 2013

This video shows Syrians, Lebanese, Canadians, and others in the Canadian capital of Ottawa demonstrating and asking the [then Stephen Harper] Canadian government to stop supporting al-Qaeda in Syria.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Canada will stop airstrikes on ISIS in two weeks’ time

Today, 18:47

Canada will not participate in the air strikes on targets of IS in Syria and Iraq from February 22 on . In this way, Prime Minister Trudeau keeps his election promise of last year.

Since April 2015, when the country was still ruled by the Conservative Harper government, six Canadian warplanes have been participating in the bombing raids of the international coalition against ISIS.

The Canadian decision is opposed by the US government and the rest of the coalition.

Training mission

Two Canadian reconnaissance aircraft and a tanker aircraft will remain stationed in the area. Furthermore Trudeau will send another 130 troops to northern Iraq to train Kurdish militias. There are already 70 Canadian trainers in that region.

According to the Liberal prime minister, the region is more helped by strengthening its own military force then by military intervention from outside. He said this was the lesson that Canada had drawn after being active for ten years in Afghanistan.

The people who are terrorized by ISIS are not served by our revenge but by our support,” Trudeau declared to the Canadian press. The mission in Afghanistan has cost the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers.

Saudi invasion of Syria?


This 5 September 2015 video is called What Can You Be Publicly Executed For In Saudi Arabia?

As if Saudi governmental violence against their own pro-democracy people, in Bahrain and in Yemen is not already enough …

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Threat of wider war looms as Saudi monarchy proposes Syria intervention

6 February 2016

The Saudi Arabian monarchy Thursday declared that it is prepared to send ground troops into Syria under the pretext of prosecuting the US-declared war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The proposal from Riyadh follows the breakdown of Geneva III, the UN-mediated peace talks between the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and a Saudi-sponsored “rebel” negotiating committee consisting of Islamist militia leaders and exile politicians aligned with Western intelligence agencies.

The talks were suspended Wednesday after the opposition refused to negotiate under conditions in which Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air strikes, have registered major gains on the battlefield, threatening to reverse the territorial gains won by the Western-backed militias in recent years.

Syrian government forces, supported by pro-government militias, including elements of the Lebanese Hezbollah, have succeeded in breaking a siege of two predominantly Shia villages, Nubl and Zahra, which for nearly four years had held out against the threat of a sectarian massacre at the hands of Al Qaeda-linked forces backed by Washington and its regional allies.

The advance has succeeded in reversing the tide of battle around Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, breaking the siege of the government-held western part of the city at the hands of the opposition, while imposing a siege on the eastern part, which has been under its control. The victories in the northern countryside have effectively cut off the supply line that has brought arms and ammunition to the Western-backed militias from Turkey.

Syrian government forces have also registered significant advances in Latakia Province in the northwest as well as in Daraa in the south.

These developments have led to calls by Washington and its allies for an immediate halt to the Russian bombing campaign initiated at the end of last September, which US and allied officials have blamed for the breakdown of the talks in Geneva.

“We have seen that the intense Russian air strikes mainly targeting opposition groups in Syria are undermining the efforts to find a political solution to the conflict,” Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the US-led NATO military alliance said Friday. Like his counterparts in Washington, Stoltenberg fails to name the “opposition groups” about which he is concerned, because the leading one is the Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.

The fear of the “rebels” and their Western patrons is that the Russian-backed advances of Syrian government forces will make it impossible to achieve by means of negotiations what they are unable to procure on the battlefield: the toppling of Assad and the imposition of a more pliant US puppet regime.

The stepped-up military operations in and around Aleppo have sent a stream of refugees heading toward the Turkish border, less than 40 miles to the north. The Turkish government, however, has closed the border crossings. At the Oncupinar border crossing near the Turkish city of Kilis, one Syrian woman was reportedly shot and killed by Turkish security forces.

Ankara’s evident aim is to create a humanitarian crisis on the border, providing a pretext for military intervention.

Moscow has charged that Turkey is engaged in active preparations for an invasion of Syria. “We have serious grounds to suspect Turkey is in intensive preparations for an armed invasion of the territory of a sovereign state—the Syrian Arab Republic,” the Russian defense ministry said in a statement, Thursday.

The defense ministry reported that Turkey had denied permission for a Russian reconnaissance plane to fly over the Turkish-Syrian border, but that it had already detected “more and more signs of covert preparations by the Turkish armed forces for active action on Syrian territory.” These included the deployment of troops and military equipment and the paving of parking lots on both sides of the border for heavy trucks and equipment.

The Saudi offer to send ground troops into Syria has undoubtedly been made in conjunction with the Turkish buildup. The Saudi monarchy and Turkey’s government recently set up a military coordination body.

“The kingdom is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition [against ISIS] may agree to carry out in Syria,” Saudi military spokesman brigadier general Ahmed al-Asiri said on Thursday, touting the Saudi army’s “experience in Yemen,” which has consisted largely of the slaughter of Yemeni civilians in airstrikes.

For its part, the Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is determined to prevent the consolidation of an autonomous Syrian Kurdish zone on its border.

The inseparable connection between military aggression abroad and police state repression at home found expression in Turkey Friday with the presentation of a criminal indictment against two journalists, Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, on charges of “espionage,” “attempting to topple the government” and support for terrorism. The two are being prosecuted for the publication by their newspaper, Cumhuriyet, of an article exposing the use of trucks of the National Intelligence Agency to ship arms across the border to ISIS. Turkish police officers who intercepted some of the trucks have been similarly charged. The defendants could face life sentences.

“That kind of news is very welcome,” US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in response to the Saudi offer, adding that he intended to discuss it with his Saudi counterpart in Brussels next week.

An intervention by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, two of the principal patrons of the Islamist militias in Syria, would signal a major escalation of the crisis and a desperate bid by US imperialism itself to salvage the nearly five-year-old war for regime change in Syria.

It would dramatically increase the dangers of the Syrian conflict spiraling out of control into a full-scale regional war, pitting Saudi Arabia and Turkey against Iran. Any such intervention would be carried out in collaboration with Washington, which is Turkey’s NATO ally, posing the threat of a direct confrontation between the US and Russia, the world’s two major nuclear powers.

Syrian refugee elected carnival prince in the Netherlands


Prince Ali making carnival clothes, NOS photo

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands, 5 February 2016:

Carnival Prince Ali from Aleppo

Ali came eighteen months ago to the Netherlands as a refugee from Aleppo, now he is one of the princes of Maastricht. The 21-year-old Syrian will from tomorrow on be carnival prince Ali the First in Maastricht during Vastelaovend – as they call carnival in Limburg province.

We walked along for a day with him, while the final preparations for the carnival were done.

Ali is the prince of the temporary carnival society Common Carnival, an initiative of Limburg art students to create integration by means of carnival. Maastricht people and asylum seekers together make a carnaval float and costumes. Besides students also other inhabitants of Maastricht are welcome to participate.

It is not the first time that he celebrates carnival. Last year he was in Eindhoven, but before that he celebrated it in Syria. “We celebrate it as well with wagons in many different colours. People then drink on the street,” says Ali. “The difference between carnival here and in my country is that it only lasts one day there and here it continues for three days.”

That excessively alcohol will be drunk is no problem according to Ali. “The image that many people have is that we are all strict Muslims. There are eighteen religions in Syria, but few people here know that. We are very open-minded people.”

Ali himself says he will drink some beer, but not too much. “With the music we will keep ourselves under control. We are going to make something beautiful!”

Syrian refugee teachers’ training in the Netherlands


This video from the Turkish-Syrian border says about itself:

Syrian Refugees Demolish Barbed-wire Border Fence to Escape ISIS Fighting

15 June 2015

Thousands of refugees poured across the Syrian border into Turkey over the weekend after fighting intensified in the northern Syrian city of Tal Abyad. According to state-run TRT television, around 3,000 refugees arrived at the Akcakale border crossing on Monday.

Journalists at the scene said relatives waited behind fences on the Turkish side of the border for family members to cross on Monday.

More than 16,000 people are believed to have fled from Tal Abyad and surrounding areas into Turkey over the past two weeks.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Training for Syrian refugee teachers

21 January 2016

ICLON and Dutch Academic Services initiate a training for Syrian teachers in the Netherlands about the use of mobile teaching.

Taking into account recent developments in Syria and the Middle East it can be expected that there will be a huge need for education among Syrian refugees. That need can only be addressed by ‘out of the box’ methods: that is using flexible online (or blended) learning programmes.

While understanding this situation ICLON and Dutch Academic Services initiate a training course for professionals with an educational background: The Mobile Educator.

The training is offered free of charge. The trainers work on a voluntary basis and funds are being raised for additional costs for transport and lunch.

The training starts on 16 February.

More information and application: website Mobile Educator

The European Union Wants to Criminalize Volunteers Who Help Refugees on Greek Islands: here.

Will Turkish army invade Syria?


This video says about itself:

Clashes, arrests as activists protest Turkish airstrikes in Syria & Iraq

25 July 2015

Clashes erupted after police confronted approximately 1,000 protesters who had been rallying in the centre of Ankara, Turkey, against Turkish military airstrikes in Syria and northern Iraq. Several dozen protesters were reportedly arrested.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Syrian civil war: Could Turkey be gambling on an invasion?

Kurdish forces, close to sealing the border, must beware – President Erdogan is unpredictable

Patrick Cockburn

A month before Turkey shot down a Russian bomber which it accused of entering its airspace, Russian military intelligence had warned President Vladimir Putin that this was the Turkish plan. Diplomats familiar with the events say that Putin dismissed the warning, probably because he did not believe that Turkey would risk provoking Russia into deeper military engagement in the Syrian war.

In the event, on 24 November last year a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian bomber, killing one of the pilots, in an attack that had every sign of being a well-prepared ambush. Turkey claimed that it was responding to the Russian plane entering its airspace for 17 seconds, but the Turkish fighters made every effort to conceal themselves by flying at low altitude, and they appear to have been on a special mission to destroy the Russian aircraft.

The shooting-down – the first of a Russian plane by a Nato power since the Korean War – is important because it shows how far Turkey will go to maintain its position in the war raging on the southern side of its 550-mile border with Syria. It is a highly relevant event today because, two months further on, Turkey now faces military developments in northern Syria that pose a much more serious threat to its interests than that brief incursion into its airspace, even though Ankara made fresh claims yesterday over a new Russian violation on Friday.

The Syrian war is at a crucial stage. Over the past year the Syrian Kurds and their highly effective army, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), have taken over half of Syria’s frontier with Turkey. The main supply line for Islamic State (Isis), through the border crossing of Tal Abyad north of Raqqa, was captured by the YPG last June. … the Kurds have been advancing in all directions, sealing off northern Syria from Turkey in the swath of territory between the Tigris and Euphrates.

The YPG only has another 60 miles to go, west of Jarabulus on the Euphrates, to close off Isis’s supply lines and those of the non-IS armed opposition, through Azzaz to Aleppo. Turkey had said that its “red line” is that there should be no YPG crossing west of the Euphrates river, though it did not react when the YPG’s Arab proxy, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), seized the dam at Tishrin on the Euphrates and threatened the IS stronghold of Manbij. Syrian Kurds are now weighing whether they dare take the strategic territory north of Aleppo and link up with a Kurdish enclave at Afrin.

Developments in the next few months may determine who are the long-term winners and losers in the region for decades. President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are advancing on several fronts under a Russian air umbrella. The five-year campaign by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to overthrow Assad in Damascus, by backing the armed opposition, looks to be close to defeat.

Turkey could respond to this by accepting a fait accompli, conceding that it would be difficult for it to send its army into northern Syria in the face of strong objections from the US and Russia. But, if the alternative is failure and humiliation, then it may do just that. Gerard Challiand, the French expert on irregular warfare and the politics of the Middle East, speaking in Erbil last week, said that “without Erdogan as leader, I would say the Turks would not intervene militarily [in northern Syria], but, since he is, I think they will do so”.

Erdogan has a reputation for raising the stakes as he did last year when he failed to win a parliamentary majority in the first of two elections. He took advantage of a fresh confrontation with the Turkish Kurds and the fragmentation of his opponents to win a second election in November. Direct military intervention in Syria would be risky, but Mr Challiand believes that Turkey “is capable of doing this militarily and will not be deterred by Russia”. Of course, it would not be easy. Moscow has planes in the air and anti-aircraft missiles on the ground, but Putin probably has a clear idea of the limitations on Russia’s military engagement in Syria.

Omar Sheikhmous, a veteran Syrian Kurdish leader living in Europe, says that the Syrian Kurds “should realise that the Russians and the Syrian government are not going to go to war with the Turkish army for them”. He warns that the ruling Kurdish political party, the PYD, should not exaggerate its own strength, because President Erdogan’s reaction is unpredictable.

Other Kurdish leaders believe that Turkish intervention is unlikely and that, if it was going to come, it would have happened before the Russian jet was shot down. That led to Russia reinforcing its air power in Syria and taking a much more hostile attitude towards Turkey, giving full support for Syrian Army advances in northern Latakia and around Aleppo.

For the moment, the Syrian Kurds are still deciding what they should do. They know that their quasi-state, known as Rojava, has been able to expand at explosive speed because the US needed a ground force to act in collaboration with its air campaign against Isis. Russian and American bombers have, at different times, supported the advance of the SDF towards Manbij. On the chaotic chess board of the Syrian crisis, the Kurds at this time have the same enemies as the Syrian Army, but they know that their strong position will last only as long as the war.

If there is no Turkish intervention on a significant scale then Assad and his allies are winning, because the enhanced Russian, Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah intervention has tipped the balance in their favour. The troika of regional Sunni states – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – have failed, so far, to overthrow Assad through backing the Syrian armed opposition.

Their enthusiasm for doing so is under strain. Saudi Arabia has a mercurial leadership, is enmeshed in a war in Yemen, and the price of oil may stay at $30 a barrel. Qatar’s actions in Syria are even more incalculable. “We can never figure out Qatar’s policies,” said one Gulf observer in frustration. A more caustic commentator, in Washington, adds that “Qatari foreign policy is a vanity project”, comparing it to Qatar’s desire to buy landmark buildings abroad or host the football World Cup at home.

In Syrian and Iraqi politics almost everybody ends up by overplaying their hand, mistaking transitory advantage for irreversible success. This was true of a great power like the US in Iraq in 2003, a monstrous power like Isis in 2014, and a small power like the Syrian Kurds in 2016. One of the reasons that Iran has, thus far, come out ahead in the struggle for this part of the Middle East is that the Iranians have moved cautiously and step by step.

Turkey is the last regional power that could reverse the trend of events in Syria by open military intervention, a development that cannot be discounted as the Syrian-Turkish border is progressively sealed off. But, barring this, the conflict has become so internationalised that only the US and Russia are capable of bringing it to an end.

British David Cameron insults Syrian war refugees


This video from the USA says about itself:

Over 20 Governors Reject Syrian Refugees Fleeing ISIS

16 November 2015

Here in the United States our reactions to terrorism are oftentimes unfortunate. Several states are closing themselves to Syrian refugees out of fear of ISIS. The sad thing is that ISIS is the very group the refugees are fleeing.

By Luke James in Britain:

PM brands Syrian exiles bunch of migrants

Thursday 28th January 2016

Holocaust Memorial Day insult ‘dehumanises refugees to score political point’

CRASS David Cameron came under fire yesterday for branding families fleeing Syria’s civil war a “bunch of migrants.”

The Prime Minister was accused of “dehumanising” people caught up in a humanitarian crisis in order to score political points.

Campaigners and MPs said the fact that the comments came on Holocaust Memorial Day made them even more inappropriate.

It was the second time the Tory leader’s rhetoric on refugees has attracted condemnation — he described them as a “swarm” at the height of the crisis last summer.

His latest outburst came as he struggled to answer questions from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn about Google’s tax avoidance.

In a cynical deflection technique, the Prime Minister sneered that Mr Corbyn has “met a bunch of migrants in Calais” at the weekend and “said they could all come to Britain.”

A Labour source, who had accompanied Mr Corbyn on the visit to Calais, said the comments “demonstrate an attitude that is wholly unnacceptable towards a humanitarian crisis on our doorstep.”

Yvette Cooper, who heads Labour’s refugee taskforce, called a point of order following Prime Minister’s questions.

She said: “The house will have heard many tributes made to Holocaust Memorial Day today and the Holocaust Educational Trust campaign doesn’t stand by.

“In that light and in that spirit, don’t you think that it was inappropriate for the Prime Minister to use language referring to the refugee crisis in Europe and talk about ‘a bunch of migrants’?”

But Refugee Council head of advocacy Dr Lisa Doyle said: “When we are facing the greatest refugee crisis of our time, it is disappointing the Prime Minister is using flippant remarks to score political points.

“The Prime Minister should be showing political leadership and work with other European countries to ensure that people can live in safety and dignity.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s attack on refugees in Calais and Dunkirk, France as a “bunch of migrants” during Prime Minister’s Question Time in parliament Wednesday was deliberately inflammatory: here.

Charlie Hebdo cartoonist against Islamophobia, bombing Syria


This video from the USA says about itself:

Peaceful Mosques Terrorized By Right Wing Extremists

16 November 2015

After the shootings and terrorism in Paris there’s been an outpouring of support in the US for our friends in France. However, there have also been some not so pleasant responses that have led to terroristic threats on mosques.

Dutch cartoonist Willem Holtrop lives in France. He draws for Charlie Hebdo weekly, and is one of the survivors of the bloody attack on its office.

Translated from an interview with him, today by Dutch NOS TV:

He doubts strongly that it [the violence] has to do with religion. He has firsthand experience of how ordinary Muslims suffer from the radicalism of a minority. … “Normal Muslims say those guys have not understood anything about Islam. They are in trouble, they are continually asked to justify themselves. ‘This is not us’. Of course it is not them. They feel increasingly like being suspected. I feel very sorry for those people.”

“Among us on the island [in Brittany where Holtrop lives] lives a builder who has the same name as one of those killers,” he continues. “He has had enough of seeing his name constantly on television. They can believe whatever they want, but they should not kill us. The ordinary Arab grocer around the corner is a friend.” …

He had his doubts when French President Hollande immediately uttered the word war and the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte followed him in that. “I think that’s a strong word. And then immediately bombing Syria, I do not really like that. Half of the victims are usually innocent people. It just makes more evil people in the world. You cannot bomb the inspiration for terrorism away.”

Were French intelligence forces complicit in the Charlie Hebdo attacks? Here.