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Follow clayclai on Twitter
Lately a number of Kossacks have complained that I have led too many of my diaries on Syria with BREAKING, like the one this morning, BREAKING: Syrian prime minister defects. One has even suggested that I hold BREAKING for the defection of Assad or the like.

So I won't call BREAKING on this. I mean what's another massacre in Syria? Another family slaughtered by Assad's goons? Get over it! This sort of thing happens everyday now. Not only is it not BREAKING, its not even news. If you don't believe me, check the evening newscasts for word of what I am reporting here. Clearly, the world has learned to live with it. If the Syrians can't, that's their problem.

I remember when the people of the Earth came together to form the United Nations and cried out as if in one voice "Never Again!" So mark well this year, 2012, and the place, Syria, where "Never Again" became "whenever."

Today's massacre, or one of them, took place in Saqha, Damascus | 6 August 2012 |  VERY GRAPHIC

Another massacre today in Ariha, Idlib. Some already dead, some breathing their last | 6 August 2012

     Twelve civilians slaughtered by warplane shelling in Sakhour district of Aleppo. | 6 August 2012

7 executed by regime thugs & found dumped in Mua'admeyat Al Sham, Damascus | 6 August 2012

13 corpses found tortured & executed near Air Force Intel branch in Khadeye, Aleppo | 6 August 2012

       What was done to a man today in Moaddamiya, Syria | Hiroshima Day 2012 | VERY GRAPHIC

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I added this to my diary on the PM's defection about three hours after I published it so I don't think many people saw it. As I had put those hours into composing it and many more into thinking it through, I am repeating it here:

This defection shows for the thousandth time that the civil war in Syria is being fought between those still being held captive by a tyrant and his tiny clique of supporters, and those Syrians that have broken free of that captivity.

That drive to freedom started as part of the popular Arab uprising that began in January 2011 and now 17 months later we can see that of all the countries of MENA where the people decided to topple a long standing dictator, it is the Syrians that have had the hardest row to hoe. No other people have had to face this level of regime violence without meaningful international intervention. Everyday we hear of new massacres and atrocities as this regime pounds resistive communities all across Syrian with long range artillery and tank fire, helicopter gunships and jet planes dropping cluster bombs. The "community" of nations has let him know firmly that using chemical weapons would be crossing a red line, anything else apparently is fair game. I fear the people of the world will long rue the day that it became acceptable to suppress ones own population the way the Assad regime is being allowed to.

Kofi Annan's Peace Plan was a bad joke on the Syrian people from the beginning. By making such nebulous questions as the cessation of arms smuggling a precondition for a ceasefire, he assured that Assad would always have an out. Now he can add Syrians to those poor souls in Bosnian, Rwanda and Darfur that were massacred as he led the UN's efforts to avert exactly that.    

We now find that even Bashar al-Assad's new prime minister, chosen only two months ago, was forced to take the job under threat of death. Even at the highest levels of his regime, Assad cannot depend on loyalty or genuine support to keep his people in line. This defection and the news that has come out with Riad Farid Hijab, show definitively that this is a regime ruled by terror. From defectors as high as the PM down to the working class grunts that make up the backbone of the Free Syrian Army, we hear the same stories over and over again. They were kept at their post under threat of death. Defection is extremely difficult because if families are left behind, the regime will take its revenge on them. Many more would defect if only they could get themselves and their families out.

Beyond terror, Assad has been able to maintain his rule through strict control of the information that reaches Syrians. So many Syrian soldiers have said that they actually believed that they were going off to fight "foreign-backed armed terrorist gangs" because that's all they had heard over and over again. They defected when they found out the truth as they were ordered to open fire on unarmed protesters. That's how the Free Syrian Army was founded. A colonel defected with hundreds of his men on 29 July 2011 and founded the FSA in Deir ez-Zor after they had been ordered to open fire on unarmed protesters there. A week ago three families were massacred by regime thugs in Deir ez-Zor.

One of the major factors propelling the Arab Spring revolts forward has been a revolutionary transformation that has taken place among the Arabs that has brought democratic nationalism to the fore and pushed the tribal and sectarian identifications, division that the old regimes and the imperialists alike have relied on, much more into the background. This is any extremely important fact that is missed by many analysts of both the right and the left.

The popular opposition to the Assad regime has from the very beginning been non-sectarian, and while it has been majority Sunni, as is Syria, it has had wide support among Christians, Shiite and Alawite from the beginning. The Assad regime and its supporters have always sought to portray it otherwise. The Assad family has always ruled by pitting tribe against tribe and in this rebellion they have tried to keep the tribes closest to them under their thumb with a campaign of mis-information and outright fabrication designed to create fear among these minorities as to what might happen to them if the regime is overthrown.

To this end, and for international consumption, the Assad regime and its supporters have tried to portray the struggle as one of a legitimate government, abet in need of reform, but legit nonetheless, besieged by foreign backed Islamic terrorists bent of overthrowing a secular government and imposing Shari law on Muslims and non-Muslims alike. While they may admit to some discontent among the Syrian people, the real forces behind this attempt at regime change are Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and behind them, the CIA and the Zionist state. This is the lie that they consistently put out to their own people and the world through SANA and other state controlled media outlets.    

Of course, like all good lies, there is a grain of truth that makes them work. A small number of foreign jihadists have come to Syria to make mischief. The opposition has received some support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Not as much as those countries would like to take credit for, or the Assad regime would like to blame them for, but they have provided some walkie-talkies, maybe even some weapons and most importantly, money to buy weapons from corrupt Syrian officials. For all the talk about outside weapons coming into the conflict, it is clear that the FSA is fighting Assad with his own weapons and those weapons are being supplied, and no doubt resupplied, by Russia and other counties still in his corner. The CIA has also been trying to insinuate itself into this conflict and has been positioning agents in Turkey in the past few months, but that is a long ways from running things.

How can anyone seriously talk about popular support for this regime under these conditions of terror and media control? The same voices that tell us that the Assad regime has a real base of popular support that must be taken into account are precisely the voices that told us that Qaddafi had genuine supporters in Libya. Once his terror apparatus disappeared, so did his supporters. Even when a new law banning praise of the Qaddafi regime was found unconstitutional by the Libyan courts, no one wanted to take advantage of that freedom.

The supporters of the Assad regime know there is no way to convince people that the regime has not committed horrendous crimes against humanity. So they have sought to exaggerate every abuse by the Free Syrian Army and fabricate other crimes against them so they can discredit the fighters opposing the Assad regime. Their constant refrain is "Both sides commit war crimes", "Both sides commit human rights abuses" as though that was not true in every war that has ever been fought.

They seek to obliterate any distinction as to the magnitude of the war crimes or the reason for which they are fighting so that they can reduce the issue to this basic question. Their defense of the Assad regime has reduced itself to portraying the Syrian Revolution as a struggle between two armed groups, both equally bad, with the innocent Syrian civilians caught in the middle. This is a lie.

The truth is that the Syrian people have revolted against the dictatorship. After many months they have been forced to go over to armed struggle by the regime's violence. The Free Syrian Army is truly a people's army made up of defectors from the state apparatus of repression and protesters that have taken up arms after being fired upon. And they will win, with  or without our help but the deficit in lives will be on our account.

The oldest living city in the world, Damascus, and others almost as old, are being destroyed by bombardment because the Assad regime doesn't dare send in ground forces they know will only swell the ranks of the FSA. Along with thousand of lives destroyed, some of the oldest structures built by humanity on this planet are being reduced to rubble.

Henceforth, they should stand as monuments that remind the world what it allowed a tyrant to do to a people and a city.    


Here are my related diaries on Syria:
UPDATED: Syrian prime minister defects
BREAKING: UN votes to condemn Assad Regime as Reuters posts false story on Syria
BREAKING: Kofi Annan resigns as envoy to Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian diplomat to Armenia defects
BREAKING: Big Explosion hits #Damascus #Syria
UPDATED: Syria's Charge D'Affaires Quits London Post
BREAKING: Ground assault on Aleppo begins!
BREAKING: Protests across Syria in spite of Assad regime violence
ALEPPO: Step outside the Matrix and witness the Horror
UPDATED: US fears massacre in #Aleppo, #Syria
BREAKING: Reports of clashes between Jordan Army & Assad's Syrian army
BRAKING: Obama stops Putin from re-arming Assad in Syria
Syria: Foreign meddling increases as crisis builds
BREAKING: Aleppo, Syria bombed with fighter jets
BREAKING: Syria issues a correction, it has no WMD to use
BREAKING: Arab League asks Assad to step down!
Bashar al-Assad: New images released as slaughter continues in Syria
no blood for oil
BREAKING: Activists report toxic gas attack in Deir ez-Zor, Syria
Glenn Greenwald sees Islamist Terrorism as main issue in Syria
Will Syria's Assad make a chemical attack in Damascus on Saturday?
BREAKING: I know where Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is!
BREAKING: Massive Fire near #Assad's Presidential Palace in #Damascus, #Syria
BREAKING: Is Syria's Bashar al-Assad dead or dying?
BREAKING: Damascus explosion kills Defense Minister, other key figures
The battle for Damascus is coming
BREAKING: General Strike in Damascus
BREAKING: Intense fighting reported in Damascus now!
BREAKING: Syrian defector spills beans as important new defection reported.
Does Syria's Assad have something on Kofi Annan?
Tremseh Massacre in Syria: What we know
BREAKING: ~227 reported massacred by Assad's forces in Tremseh, Syria today!
Syria: Is Assad regime on the verge of collapse?
BREAKING: Russian Warships reported in Syria
BREAKING: #Russia changing on #Assad but not as fast as conditions in #Syria
UN Observers say violence in Syria is ‘Unprecedented’
BREAKING: Defection of major Assad insider reported in Syria
BREAKING: WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million #Syria emails
When did "Never Again" become "Whenever?" | #Douma
BREAKING: Incredible mass rally in Aleppo, Syria today!
BREAKING: HRW releases torture report on Syria
BREAKING: Syrian General defects with 293 to Turkey
BREAKING: Items not in the MSM on Syria
My response to Phyllis Bennis: Where is the non-violent opposition in Syria?
BREAKING: Syrian Air Force attacks Douma, 10m from Damascus, thousands flee
BREAKING: As Syria Burns, UN Blows More Smoke
BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov't sans Assad!
BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared
BREAKING: Another mass defection from Syrian army
BREAKING: #NATO says No War in #Syria shoot down of #Turkey jet
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout

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