Monday, July 23, 2012

23-Jul-12: Dr Jihad: "No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used by Syria, and I repeat, will never be used, during the crisis" except...

Syrian despot al-Assad and family: Don't ignore the photo above, but know that the story it illustrates
is about as far from heart-warming as stories get. [Image Source] And Dr Jihad actually exists.
The Foreign Ministry of the disintegrating Syrian Arab Republic found time today to hold a press conference. 

The country is in the midst of a bloodbath that speaks more eloquently than any press conference ever could about the reality of getting in the path of one of the last remaining, old-style murderous despots. We only know about this via non-traditional channels. Syria's ongoing street killings, the daily massacres, get media coverage because of the easy access that embattled participants themselves have to YouTube, Twitter and similar channels that barely existed a decade ago. Conventional media reporting in which foreign correspondents are accredited to Syria and get access to government representatives and public events? Forget it. In its 2011 annual table, Reporters Without Borders described Syrian "freedom of the press" thus: 
"Total censorship, widespread surveillance, indiscriminate violence and government manipulation made it impossible for journalists to work" in Syria last year, which fell to 176th position in the index.
But today they held a media conference at the Foreign Ministry in Damascus. We know that Al Jazeera sent a representative because they photographed and reported it. They had some revealing things to say which, it's far to assume, the Syrians wanted us to know:
At the foreign ministry media conference, the Syrian government acknowledged for the first time that it possessed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and said it will only use them in case of a foreign attack and never internally against its own citizens. "No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used, and I repeat, will never be used, during the crisis in Syria no matter what the developments inside Syria," spokesman Makdissi said. "All of these types of weapons are in storage and under security and the direct supervision of the Syrian armed forces and will never be used unless Syria is exposed to external aggression." [Source]
Dr Jihad addresses the media conference in Damascus today. 
Screen shot of the official Syrian site [Image Source]
We will write again, separately, about those last words. They seem to be crafted to specifically address Israel. Meanwhile, back to Syria.

The uniquely well-named spokesperson for the collapsing House of al-Assad today was JihadMakdissi PhD. It was Dr. Jihad who took the stage to explain just how very interested the Syrians are in hearing their Arab League colleagues suggest that Bashar al-Assad should give up power:
"We are sorry that the Arab League has descended to this level concerning a member state of this institution... This decision [presumably, whether or not al-Assad goes] only concerns the Syrian people, who are the sole masters of fate of their governments. If the Arab nations who met in Doha were honest about wanting to stop the bloodshed they would have stopped supplying arms... they would stop their instigation and propaganda... All their statements are hypocritical."
In the official Syrian government version of the media event [here], Dr. Jihad offered some creative observations about what it euphemistically termed "recent events taking place in some of Damascus neighborhoods".
"It is clear that the Syrian army is defending the Syrians and that we are in state of self-defense. There might be clashes in certain areas but the security situation is much more better."
Could it be getting "much more better" because the al-Assad regime's men are now finally openly flaunting those weapons of proven mass destruction? Syria's chemical strategy worked wonderfully well for them in 1982. The notorious chemical massacre at Hama cost tens of thousands of Syrian lives, but in Wikipedia's words, it "ended the campaign begun in 1976 by Sunni Islamic groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, against Assad's regime". 

"Much more better" than that, the junior al-Assad could hardly hope to achieve.

Dr. Jihad went on today to explain why the world should trust the Syrians on this chemical/biological weapons issue.
...We are defending ourselves. If there are such weapons, they are for defending Syria against external aggression. Any military person knows that such weapons can't be used in a guerilla warfare." On the possibility of a comprehensive war taking place in the region in case Israel decided to bombard the sites of the chemical weapons in Syria, Makdissi said "Don't ask a diplomat about a war option, I don't talk about a war and, God's willing, there will not be a war."
Good point: Syria is not at war. Right.

[Image Source]
As to how Syrian insiders look after the best interests of their own people, the matter is open to - how to say this? - considerable differences of viewpoint. Under the headline "Photographs have emerged showing intimate details of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's family life", the UK's Telegraph newspaper yesterday published some visual reminders of the unbridgeable gap between the reality of the self-indulgent al-Assads and the grim facts of daily Syrian massacres. 

Accompanying the extraordinary pictures, the Telegraph's Nick Meo ["Family photo album reveals Assad private life"] offers some of the most devastating understated commentary on the Syrian situation to have emerged in recent months:
Most parents would want to safeguard a young family - and many other Syrians, of all political hues, have already done exactly that by fleeing the country, or making plans to leave. It is one of the more contradictory facts about the couple who have presided over 18 months of bloody repression of their people - with Mr Assad ordering the arrest, detention and torture of thousands of his own compatriots, or sending tanks to shell rebel villages indiscriminately - that they have tried to preserve the nearest thing possible to a normal family life. They were never an ordinary family, with their palaces, private jets and billion dollar fortune. But now photographs have emerged - apparently taken for propaganda reasons - showing in intimate detail how they led an apparently warm family life, one to which it may never now be possible to return... The photographs, from Mrs Assad's private collection, were handed to a foreign friend in Damascus before the uprising started in the spring of last year. They are believed to have been taken between five and seven years ago in Syria, probably by a professional photographer, and appear intended to portray the family as happy, normal and modern. Their cosy intimacy looks too natural to be have been staged. Unseen by the photographer, and by most visitors to Syria, were the torture chambers, tanks and chemical weapons that the family relied on to maintain their brutal rule. Also unseen among the photographs of Hafez, now aged 10, with his sister, eight-year-old Zein, and their brother Karim, now seven, are images of those less fortunate Syrian children who have died in the course of the uprising: some blown apart in artillery barrages against rebellious suburbs, others slaughtered in their villages by loyalist Shabiha militia who cut their throats in vengeful rampages.

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