Monday, 1 September 2014

Monday, 25 August 2014

War situation

As we approach the first anniversary of the House of Commons vote following the Ghouta chemical massacre, here’s something from an earlier House of Commons debate:

I hope, indeed, that some of our ardent critics out of doors—I have nothing to complain of here—will reflect a little on their own records in the past, and by searching their hearts and memories will realise the fate which awaits nations and individuals who take an easy and popular course or who are guided in defence matters by the shifting winds of well-meaning public opinion. Nothing is more dangerous in war-time than to live in the temperamental atmosphere of a Gallup Poll, always feeling one’s pulse and taking one’s temperature. I see that a speaker at the week-end said that this was a time when leaders should keep their ears to the ground. All I can say is that the British nation will find it very hard to look up to leaders who are detected in that somewhat ungainly posture. If today I am very kindly treated by the mass of the people of this country, it is certainly not because I have followed public opinion in recent years. There is only one duty, only one safe course, and that is to try to be right and not to fear to do or say what you believe to be right. That is the only way to deserve and to win the confidence of our great people in these days of trouble.

From Hansard, HC Deb 30 September 1941 vol 374 cc509-51: The Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill.

Letter from a castaway

A stamp for GT Thomas, just a taste of what’s to come I hope.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Events marking the first anniversary of the Ghouta Sarin massacre

Below is a partial list – see here for more.

Cross-posted from


Brussels: Thursday 21 August, 6 pm at Gare Centrale.
Facebook event page.


Montreal: Thursday 21 August, 6:30-7:30 pm at Phillips Square.
Facebook event page via Ghouta – We Will Never Forget You.

Toronto: Saturday 23 August, 6 pm at Yonge-Dundas Square.
Facebook event page via Syria Solidarity Collective Toronto.


Paris: Thursday 21 August, 6 pm at Fontaine Saint-Michel, Place St Michel.
Facebook event page.


Berlin: Saturday 23 August, 4-7 pm at Alexanderplatz.
Facebook event page.

Frankfurt: Saturday 23 August, 2-5:30 pm, Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof.
Facebook event page.

Hamburg: Saturday 23 August, 5-8 pm at Ida-Ehre-Platz.
Facebook event page.


Dublin: Thursday 21 August, 6-8 pm at the Spire.
Via Irish Syria Solidarity Movement.


Milan: Saturday 23 August, 5 pm at Duomo Di Milano, Via Pattari.
Facebook event page.


Beirut: Thursday 21 August, 6:30 at Martyrs Square, Al Shouhada.
More at
Via Global Campaign of Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution.


Oslo: Saturday 23 August, 2-3 pm at Youngstorget.
Facebook event page.

Bergen: Saturday 23 August, 2 pm at Musikkpaviljongen.
Facebook event page.

Events are also planned in Stavanger and Larvik.


Granada: Saturday 23 August, 7 pm at Plaza Nueva.
Facebook event page.


Stockholm: Thursday 21 August, 6:30-8:30 at Mynttorget.
Facebook event page.


London: Saturday 23 August, 2-4 pm at Trafalgar Square, followed by a walk to Downing Street to leave flowers.
Via Syria Solidarity Movement.


Boston – there are two events, one on Thursday evening, and one on Sunday.

Boston: Thursday 21 August, 7 pm, candle vigil at the Montserrat Aspirers Community Center, Dorchester, Boston.
Facebook event page.

Boston: Sunday 23 August, 12-2 pm, Boston Common.
Facebook event page.

New York: Friday 22 August, 5-8 pm at Times Square, 44th Street and 7th Avenue.
Facebook event page.

Washington DC: Thursday 21 August, 12 pm at The White House.
Facebook event page. Organised by

See also events in Houston and St Paul on Saturday 23 August.

Friday, 1 August 2014

1 August 1944

BBC Timewatch: Battle for Warsaw

Friday, 11 July 2014

Israel plays Assad and Khamenei’s game in Gaza

This link will serve, a news story from The Globe and Mail yesterday, on how Hamas is armed by Iran with Syrian and Iranian-made rockets, particularly the Syrian-made M-302 Khaibar and Iranian Fajr-5 missiles. It cites Colonel Richard Kemp an analyst with London’s Royal United Services Institute, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“Iran is … sending deadly weapons to terrorist organizations – via an elaborate network of secret operations around that world that aim to funnel rockets, missiles and other deadly weapons to be used to harm innocent civilians,” Mr. Netanyahu said, adding: “Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing toward Israeli citizens.”
In other words, Mr. Netanyahu makes clear that Gazans are pawns of Khamenei and Assad, but despite knowing this his retaliation will be limited to the pawns, with all the killing of civilians that comes with carrying out such an operation in Gaza.

This is a repeat of the stubborn stupidity of Israel’s conduct of war in Lebanon in 2006, where it targeted civilian infrastructure and held a fragile Lebanese government responsible for the actions of Hezbollah, rather than attacking Hezbollah’s actual backers, the tyrant rulers of Syria and Iran.

The foolishness of this was highlighted at the time by the strategically smartest American president of the 21st Century (not a big claim) GW Bush:
You see the irony is what they need to do is get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s all over…
When Israel’s government declares the Iranian and Syrian regimes responsible for arming Hamas, and when it accuses Hamas of deliberately putting civilians in harm’s way, they make it clear that when they then go on to hit only targets in Gaza, and continue to contain Gaza’s population together with a Hamas regime that by the Israel government’s own account is happy to see them bleed, then Israel is playing Assad and Khamenei’s game in Gaza.

Assad and Khamenei are blessed to have an enemy like Israel, an enemy who will draw the world’s outrage while Assad’s helicopters and Khamenei’s militias get on with slaughtering Syrians across the border. And though Israel has repeatedly demonstrated that they have the ability to hit inside Syria, they’ll let Assad’s helicopters and Khamenei’s supply planes carry on flying.

Syria still needs a No-Fly Zone. It would serve the Israelis’ interests too, but they don’t seem to have the wit to see it.

At +972, Nobody should be a number: Names of those killed in Gaza, via Peter Beaumont.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Comfort For Kids, with illustrations by Lina Safar

Cross-posted from Alternative Syria.

Art by Lina Safar

Comfort For Kids is a project by Mercy Corps to help children recover from psychological trauma following major disasters. The methodology has previously been used by them following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, wars in Gaza and Libya, and earthquakes in Peru, China, Haiti, Chile and Japan. Now that Mercy Corps are working with Syrian refugee children in Jordan and Lebanon, they’ve worked with illustrator Lina Safar to produce tailor-made children’s workbooks, as well as illustrated manuals for adults working with the children.

Read what Lina Safar has to say about the project on her website. There’s also a version on the Mercy Corps site.

AP has a story on the project, Syrian-born artist now helps child war refugees, by Tamara Lush. Below is a video to go with the story.

Mercy Corps was recently forced to close its aid operation in Damascus when the Assad regime demanded it stop cross-border aid shipments to areas outside regime control.

From The Guardian: Aid group Mercy Corps forced to close Damascus operations, by Martin Chulov and Emma Beals.

Mercy Corps statement: Closure of Mercy Corps’ humanitarian aid operations in Damascus.

See also this story at Syria Deeply: Underfunded Aid Organizations Battle Donor Fatigue, Revise Delivery Plans.
Katarina Montgomery and Karen Leigh talk to Cassandra Nelson, a director at Mercy Corps; Andy Baker, regional program manager, Syria Crisis at Oxfam; and Juliette Touma, regional spokeswoman at Unicef.

More at Mercy Corps, and Mercy Corps UK.
Mercy Corps Facebook page.
Mercy Corps on Twitter: @mercycorps and @mercycorps_uk.