The atrocities in Syria are sickening, especially those against children, but both sides are committing them, including torture, killing civilians by targeting them and killing them as 'collateral damage' in indiscriminate artillery and suicide car bombing attacks (1).
The US and its allies keep arming the rebels and Russia keeps arming Assad's regime. If both sides continue to do this, rather than pushing for negotiations, then Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are likely to collapse into a long, bloody, civil war like that in Lebanon in the 1980s. Past military interventions in the Middle East have led to more civilians being killed instead of less.
The only military intervention in the Middle East that saved lives was the Iraqi Kurdistan no-fly zone established at the end of the 1991 Gulf War (which also involved an estimated 10,000 to 25,000 civilians killed by US bombing and US forces ordered not to intervene while Saddam's forces massacred Shia rebels and their families in Southern Iraq) (2) - (6)
After NATO went far beyond their Security Council mandate by using the Libyan no-fly zone for regime change, Russia and China won't approve another - and with Russia showing it's backing for Assad not only with arms but with a Russian fleet in a Syrian port, intervening without Russian approval could also mean World War Three (7).
The US and its allies are arming the rebels in Syria - and almost certainly extreme sectarian Sunni ones
The Saudi and Qatari monarchies are funding the Free Syrian Army with "wages" which are also being used by rebels to buy arms on the black market; as well as arming the 'Free Syrian Army' with the Obama administration providing co-ordination and intelligence. It is not clear how far US involvement goes, but it could be similar to that in Libya, where the Obama administration got the Saudis and Qataris to arm the Libyan rebels to keep the US profile low and allow it to be presented as an Arab solution to an Arab problem (despite the Arabs in question all being dictators or military rulers, most of whom also kill democracy protesters in their own countries). (8) - (11).
Former CIA officer Phillip Giraldi also says NATO is flying its own special forces trainers as well as arms and fighters from Libya to the Free Syrian Army's base in Turkey on the border with Syria, with plans for Turkish forces to invade and create a 'safe haven' in Northern Syria, supposedly to protect civilians, but probably also a base for rebel forces to carry out regime change from, as in Libya (12).
When the US and the Saudis co-operated to arm Libyan rebels, many of them were, like the Saudi monarchy, hardline Sunni extremists, some, like the former Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, allied to Al Qa'ida (13).
This resulted in the US and its allies - including the British government - aiding rebels who included people they had kidnapped and sent to Gaddafi for torture as suspected al Qa'ida sympathisers a few years previously (14).
This, like Saudi and CIA co-operation to arm, train and fund the most extreme Sunni fundamentalist factions among the Mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the Taliban in the 1990s, was to ensure they would exclude Russian and Iranian influence by targeting Russian backed Uzbeks and Iranian supported Hazara, who are Shia (15) - (16) (for full details and sources on Saudi and Clinton administration co-operation to support the Taliban in the early and mid 1990s see this page and sources 57 - 68 on it)
Assad and his regime are mostly Alawites, a minority Shia sect; and allied to Shia ruled Iran and the Shia Lebanese Hezbollah. So it's likely that the Sunni rebels the US and Saudi are arming in Syria will include those sectarian extremists who can be guaranteed not to make peace with Assad too (17).
Evidence of this can be seen in the many suicide car bombings against government targets in Syria, similar to those carried out by Al Qa'ida elsewhere, including some targeting Shia shrines, similar to sectarian attacks mostly targeting Shia in Iraq from 2004 on (which also included bombings of Shia shrines and mosques). Hundreds of civilians have died in the Syrian bombings along with the Syrian army and intelligence targets (18) - (20).
Some Syrian rebels complain they have not had any supplies of heavy or advanced weapons - that isn't unusual either. In Afghanistan in the 1980s Pakistan's ISI were the conduit for US arms for the mujahedin - with CIA approval they armed Hekmatyar and other hardline Islamists, while less Islamists factions like Massoud's recieved only a handful of stinger missiles - and only at the end of the war (21) - (22).
Past actions of the US and it's allies show they that if they arm rebels or intervene they'll kill more civilians , not save them
As for western arms or intervention preventing a collapse into civil war, you can judge how likely that is from US occupied Iraq, where the US played divide and conquer by first backing Shia dominated paramilitaries like the Wolf Brigade to target Sunnis, then switching to paying the same Sunni militias they'd been fighting to target the Shia Madhi army and Sadrists. Sectarian bombings targeting Shia are still taking place regularly in Iraq (and despite American attempts to shrug this off as 'Iraq was always a mess' they only began after the 2003 invasion) (23) - (28).
As for saving civilians, Coalition forces - especially US military - often targeted them on orders, as in the April 2004 assault on Fallujah when eye-witnesses reported US snipers targeting civilians and ambulances, killing around 600 civilians, half of them women and children (29) - (30). The same happened in other Coalition offensives on entire towns and cities - including Samarra in October 2004 and Falluja again in November 2004 (31) - (32).
Coalition forces in Iraq - like NATO and the rebels it backed in Libya - also used heavy artillery, tanks, and air-strikes in assaults on entire towns and cities - something they call a war crime in Syria and called war crimes when Gadaffi's forces did it (33) - (34).
Or look at what happened when forces from NATO countries including the US, France, Italy and the UK intervened in Lebanon in 1982, with UN approval, when US forces immediately took sides in the war, carrying out air strikes and battleship shelling of Syrian positions in Lebanese villages, killing civilians and intensifying the war, before withdrawing two years later, with the civil war continuing with everyone involved committing atrocities till 1990 (35).
A month after the UN contingent arrived Israeli forces in Lebanon allowed fascist Christian Phalangist militias into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps to massacre thousands of Palestinian civilians (35).
The fact that the UN forces didn't prevent this is not surprising since Bashir Gemayal, the head of the Phalangists and Lebanese Prime Minister, was also backed by the CIA (36).
After the UN force withdrew from Lebanon, the CIA carried out a car bombing attempt to assassinate a Shia cleric which killed more than 80 civilians (37) - (38). (The CIA also funded car bombings in Iraq in the 1990s by a group led by US protege and former assassin for Saddam Ayad Allawi.) Could the CIA today be up to old tricks in Syria?
Their current arming and support for other dictatorships that torture and kill unarmed protesters also show protecting civilians can't be the aim of the US and its allies in Syria
If the motive for intervention or arming rebels in Syria today was to save civilians NATO governments wouldn't still be arming and supporting the Bahraini, Saudi, Yemeni and Egyptian dictatorships and military regimes, who continue to jail, torture and kill democracy protesters.
At the height of the killing, which in Bahrain (with Saudi involvement) included police and snipers shooting unarmed protesters , ambulances and medics - and raiding hospitals to drag away the wounded, doctors and nurses for torture, some to death, a few arms licences were suspended by the British government, but soon sales went back to normal and continue (39) - (40).The Bahraini , Saudi, Yemeni and Egyptian delegations were all invited to arms fairs in London as usual (41).
Tear gas and other arms sales to Bahrain also continue to be approved by the Obama administration despite constant deaths from it's use in high concentrations in Bahrain. Obama has also sneakily decided not to report any arms sales valued at under $1 million , allowing the US to approve any amount of arms sales to murdering dictatorships without telling the media or congress so long as they're split up into small shipments (42) - (44).
US military aid to Egypt of $1.3 bn a year has been continued (with the decision having been explained as avoiding any loss of sales by US arms companies) despite Amnesty International reporting that torture and killings of civilians under the military regime not only continue but are even worse than under Mubarak (45) - (46).
In Yemen US and British military aid funding also continues along with arms sales, despite the US and British trained units loyal to the government there using sniper rifles, mortars, tanks and artillery to kill unarmed protesters over and over and over again. The value of US arms sales to Yemen has increased by 6 times during this, while British arms sales to Yemen doubled for 2011 compared to 2010 (47) - (55).(for more details on Yemen see the blog post on this link, scrolling down to sub-heading 'Yemen' and sources for it)
All this leaves the US government and its allies with no moral high ground from which to condemn Russia and China for arming Assad's dictatorship as it kills protesters and civilians.
The real motive of the US and its allies in Syria - Isolating Iran to prepare for a war of regime change there
Israeli academic, Gabriel Ben-Dor, the head of Security Studies at the University of Haifa says the real motive is "to isolate Iran even more by depriving it of its only major ally in the Middle East” and weaken the "to dismantle the axis of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, and to somehow weaken this entire coalition " (56).
The war in Syria is between proxies of a US led alliance including Saudi Arabia on one side and a looser Russian and Chinese backed one that includes Iran, Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah. As with Iraq, Russia and China only back the latter to try to ensure they continue to get Iranian oil contracts which the US and its allies want to get for their own companies by carrying out "regime change" (57).
Syrian rebels are committing sectarian atrocities and killing civilians too
While the majority of civilian deaths in Syria are currently likely to be due to indiscriminate artillery fire by the Syrian army and killings by pro-government militias, the rebels are also killing civilians in atrocities including suicide car bombings, which have killed hundreds (58) - (59).
Human Rights Watch also report that rebel "Abuses include kidnapping, detention, and torture of security force members, government supporters, and people identified as members of pro-government militias, called shabeeha." as well as "executions by armed opposition groups of security force members and civilians." (60).
The German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reports Syrian opposition sources saying the Houla massacre was committed by Sunni rebels, with the victims being Alawites and Sunnis who had converted to become Shia, as well as a Sunni MP. (Many jihadist groups consider taking part in elections to by unIslamic and to be collaboration with the enemy.) The newspaper also says the opposition sources wish to remain anonymous because armed rebel groups have already killed opposition members who spoke out against an armed uprising (61).
Of course it's impossible to know whether this is the truth, or whether the first reports we heard of Sunnis massacred by Alawite government militias at Houla are ; killing civilians and children, whether with guns or knives, is still a sickening crime; and it doesn't mean Assad's forces haven't committed crimes ; but we know from past wars that we should not assume all claims by the rebels are true, or that they have committed no atrocities themselves.
It took Amnesty International several months to discover the story about Kuwaiti babies thrown from incubators by Iraqi troops in 1991 was false ; and similarly months to find out that some (though not all) of the Libyan rebels' claims about atrocities by Gadaffi's forces were false (e.g orders to rape all women, handing out condoms, using anti-aircraft weapons on civilians) - and that some rebel militias were (and are) committing atrocities themselves (62) - (63).
The fact that the BBC have now reported that, contrary to previous reports, none of those killed at Houla had their throats cut, is more evidence that we should treat the claims of some of the Syrian opposition with as much scepticism as we treat the Assad regime's claims (credit to Media Lens for noticing this first) (64).
The UN has also found that the Free Syrian Army rebels are recruiting children as soldiers (65).
Channel 4 journalist Alex Thomson also says Syrian rebels, asked to lead them home, instead tried to lead him and his crew into the middle of a fire-fight to try to get them killed to provide another atrocity by Assad story. (66)
Negotiations are the only way to avoid a Lebanese style civil war spreading across the Middle East
Negotiations are the only way to avoid a long, bloody civil war, with atrocities by all sides, like Lebanon's in the 1980s. If governments outside Syria instead continue to arm their own proxies or intervene militarily themselves then Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are likely to all collapse into civil war.
This might suit the US government and it's allies as even if it doesn't get it's own client regime in Syria but only chaos, this would still weaken the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah alliance, making it harder for Iran to get arms to Hezbollah and so easier for the US or Israel to attack Iran without Hezbollah counter-attacks on Israel being as strong. It would also mean a huge number of deaths, a Sunni-Shia war spreading across the Middle East and chaos that would allow Al Qa'ida and other terrorist groups to operate with ease.
There have already been at least 10 people killed in fighting between Sunnis demonstrating against Assad and Shia who support him in Lebanon (67).
Many Alawites, Christians and other religious minorities in Syria also fear being targeted by Sunni extremists if Assad is overthrown (68) - (69). A look at Iraq today or Lebanon any time in the past 30 years shows their fears may be well founded, with almost all surviving Assyrian Christians in Iraq having fled to Syria for instance, after Islamic extremists told them to convert to Islam or be killed (70). Those refugees are now under threat in Syria too.
The Killers aren't protecting their communities - they're putting their own families lives at risk
Of course those Syrians on both sides who have murdered civilians or shelled entire towns or villages with artillery also bear responsibility. They may try to tell themselves they are protecting their own communities, but in fact with every person they kill they are putting their families, their friends and their neighbours in more and more danger of revenge killings by the other side.
(1) = Human Rights Watch 11 Jun 2012 'Syria: Stop Grave Abuses of Children',
(2) = Bennis , Phyllis & Moushabeck , Michael (Editors) (1992) ‘Beyond the Storm’ ; Canongate Press , London , 1992, p326 – 355
(3) = Lee , Ian (1991) ‘Continuing Health Costs of the Gulf War’, Medical Educational Trust , London , 1991
(4) = BBC News 21 Aug 2007 ‘Flashback: the 1991 Iraqi revolt’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2888989.stm
(5) = Aburish , Said K (2000) ‘Saddam Hussein - The Politics of Revenge’ Bloomsbury , London , 2000 - 2001 paperback edition, Ch11,p308 and footnote 60 p379
(6) = Galbraith, Peter W. (2006) ‘The End of Iraq’, Pocket Books paperback, 2007, Ch4, page 46
(7) = Reuters 28 Nov 2011 ''Russia sending warships to its base in Syria', http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/28/us-russia-syria-warships-idUSTRE7AR0S820111128
Sources for : The US and its allies are arming the rebels in Syria - and almost certainly extreme sectarian Sunni ones
(8) = BBC 04 Apr 2012 'Russian warns against arming Syrian opposition', http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17607547 ; 'Mr Lavrov's comments come three days after Gulf Arab states agreed to pay the "salaries" of Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters. The money will be distributed through the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC). '
(9) = Washington Post 16 May 2012 'Syrian rebels get influx of arms with gulf neighbors’ money, U.S. coordination', http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/syrian-rebels-get-influx-of-arms-with-gulf-neighbors-money-us-coordination/2012/05/15/gIQAds2TSU_story.html
(10) = Independent 13 Jun 2012 'Exclusive: Arab states arm rebels as UN talks of Syrian civil war', http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/exclusive-arab-states-arm-rebels-as-un-talks-of-syrian-civil-war-7845026.html
(11) = Independent 07 Mar 2011 ‘America's secret plan to arm Libya's rebels - Obama asks Saudis to airlift weapons into Benghazi ’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/americas-secret-plan-to-arm-libyas-rebels-2234227.html
(12) = The American Conservative 19 Jan 2012 'Giraldi: 'NATO and CIA secretly arming Syrian rebels with Libyan weapons' , http://deepjournal.com/p/43/a/en/3049.html
(13) = BBC News 31 Aug 2011 'Fears over Islamists within Libyan rebel ranks', http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14728565
(14) = guardian.co.uk 18 Apr 2012 'Jack Straw faces legal action over Libya rendition claims', http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/apr/18/jack-straw-libya-rendition
(15) = Steve Coll (2004) , 'Ghost Wars : The secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden' , Penguin , London , Chapters 16 to 18
(16) = Ahmed Rashid (2000) 'Taliban', Pan MacMillan, London, 2011, Chapters 10 to 12
(17) = Foreign Policy 14 Jun 2012 'Islamism and the Syrian uprising', http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/03/08/islamism_and_the_syrian_uprising
(18) = Reuters 23 Dec 2011 'Analysis: Syria bombings signal deadlier phase of revolt', http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/23/us-syria-bombings-idUSTRE7BM18T20111223 , 'Beirut-based commentator Rami Khouri said he doubted the government would have hit its own security targets, suggesting that the bombings could have been the work of armed rebels, who he said include hardline Salafi Islamists in their ranks....Hilal Khashan, political science professor at the American University of Beirut, also said he did not believe that the Syrian government was behind the bombings.'
(19) = New York Times 10 May 2012 'Dozens Killed in Large Explosions in Syrian Capital', http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/world/middleeast/damascus-syria-explosions-intelligence-headquarters.html?pagewanted=all ; 'Twin suicide car bombs that targeted a notorious military intelligence compound shook the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Thursday, killing and wounding hundreds of people ...It was the largest such terrorist attack since the uprising began 14 months ago, with the Health Ministry putting the toll at 55 dead and nearly 400 wounded — civilians and soldiers. '
(20) = USA Today /AP 14 Jun 2012 'Car bomb damages major Shiite shrine in Syria'
(21) = Reuters 14 Jun 2012 'Syrian rebels in Turkey doubtful over new Arab arms supplies', http://news.yahoo.com/syrian-rebels-turkey-doubtful-over-arab-arms-supplies-145503668.html
(22) = Steve Coll (2004) , 'Ghost Wars : The secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden' , Penguin , London, Chapters 9 - 10 and Prologue (page 12 of paperback edition),
Sources for : Past actions of the US and it's allies show they that if they arm rebels or intervene they'll kill more civilians , not save them
(23) = BBC News 11 Jun 2005 ‘Profile: Iraq's Wolf Brigade’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4083326.stm
(24) = Guardian.co.uk 28 Oct 2010 ‘Iraq war logs: 'The US was part of the Wolf Brigade operation against us'’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/28/iraq-war-logs-iraq
(25) = The New Yorker 05 Mar 2007 ‘Annals of National Security - The Redirection’, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/03/05/070305fa_fact_hersh
(26) = NPR 17 July 2008, 'U.S. Trains Ex-Sunni Militias as Iraqi Police', http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11240000
(27) = Sunday Times 25 Nov 2007, ‘American-backed killer militias strut across Iraq’, http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=102x3076670
(28) = Guardian.co.uk 13 Jun 2012 'Iraq bombs kill scores of Shia pilgrims and police', http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/13/iraq-bombs-kill-shia-police?newsfeed=true
(29) = BBC News 23 Apr 2004 'Picture Emerges of Falluja Siege', http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3653223.stm
(30) = Iraq Body Count 26 Oct 2004 'No Longer Unknowable: Falluja's April Civilian Toll is 600', http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/reference/press-releases/9/
(31) = Independent 04 Oct 2004 'Civilians Bear Brunt as Samarra 'Pacified' ',http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1004-02.htm (i've given this web address as the article no longer seems to be available in the Independent newspaper's archive)
(32) = Independent 24 Nov 2004 'Witnesses say US forces killed unarmed civilians', http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/witnesses-say-us-forces-killed-unarmed-civilians-534372.html
(33) = CNN 02 Jan 2004 'U.S. soldier killed as copter shot down in Iraq', http://articles.cnn.com/2004-01-02/world/sprj.nirq.main_1_baghdad-mosque-military-helicopter-coalition-forces?_s=PM:WORLD ; 'Meanwhile, several explosions were heard late Friday just southwest of Baghdad, where officials at the Coalition Provisional Authority said there was an ongoing offensive operation in progress. The officials said the offensive is utilizing attacks from the air, artillery fired from the ground and coordinated raids.'
(34) = guardian.co.uk 07 Oct 2011 'Battle for Sirte: Libyan forces launch largest assault yet', http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/07/battle-sirte-libyan-forces-assault 'Forces of Libya's new government have launched their largest assault so far on the coastal city of Sirte in the hope of taking the last major Gaddafi stronghold by the end of the week. After a massive dawn barrage of artillery and rockets, hundreds of fighters attempted to enter the city in columns of vehicles...Earlier in the week, fighting focused on a collection of buildings near the Ibn Sana hospital which became the target of the tanks, rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns of Libya's revolutionaries lined up on the low sandy ridge that overlooks Sirte. On Thursday a pall of white smoke hung across this district as shells exploded every few minutes'
(35) = James Bovard (2003) 'Terrorism and Tyranny' , Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, NY & Houndsmill, Chapter 2, pages 14-15 and 23 of the paperback edition
(36) = Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade magazine, Issue 51 , May 2003, '1976- 1983 : Lebanon - Another CIA President in Lebanon' , by Bob Woodward,
http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/issue51/articles/51_28-29.pdf ; 'excerpted from Bob Woodward (1987) 'Veil : Secret wars of the CIA 1981-1987'
(37) = James Bovard (2003) 'Terrorism and Tyranny' , Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, NY & Houndsmill, Chapter 2, page 23 of paperback edition
(38) = BBC News On This Day 8th of March '1985: Beirut car bomb kills dozens ', http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/8/newsid_2516000/2516407.stm
Their current arming and support for other dictatorships that torture and kill unarmed protesters also show protecting civilians can't be the aim of the US and its allies in Syria
(39) = Independent 15 Jan 2012 'Britain accused of hypocrisy over Arab arms sales ', http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britain-accused-of-hypocrisy-over-arab-arms-sales-6289847.html , 'Government figures posted on the web last week show that between July and September last year, when Bahrain's riot police were clashing with protesters and security services were routinely raiding homes, licenses were granted for £2.2m-worth of UK weapons to be exported, more than £1.3m of which were for military use. In the same period, £1.5m of arms exports to Egypt were licensed by the UK, of which more than £1m were specifically for military use. ...Last March, a month after President Mubarak was ousted, the Government revoked 44 arms licences for Egypt, but by the third quarter of last year they were allowing the passage of millions of pounds of military equipment. '
(40) = guardian.co.uk 14 Feb 2012 'Bahrain receives military equipment from UK despite violent crackdown', http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/14/bahrain-military-equipment-uk
(41) = Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) 09 Sep 2011 ‘Government tries to hide embarrassing truth about arms fair invitees’, http://www.caat.org.uk/press/archive.php?url=20110909prs‘On Thursday, 8 September, the government supported events promoting arms sales to countries including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.’
(42) = Amnesty International USA 30 Jan 2012 'U.S. Arms Sales to Bahrain: 4 Questions for the Obama Administration', http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/u-s-arms-sales-to-bahrain-4-questions-for-the-obama-administration/
(43) = Physicians for Human Rights 'Tear-Gas Related Deaths in Bahrain : March 2011 - March 2012', http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/issues/persecution-of-health-workers/bahrain/bahrain-tear-gas-deaths.html
(44) = Physicians for Human Rights 16 Mar 2012 'Tear Gas or Lethal Gas? Bahrain’s Death Toll Mounts to 34', http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/blog/tear-gas-or-lethal-gas.html
(45) = New York Times 23 Mar 2012 'Once Imperiled, U.S. Aid to Egypt Is Restored', http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/world/middleeast/once-imperiled-united-states-aid-to-egypt-is-restored.html
(46) = Amnesty International 22 Nov 2011 'Egypt: Military rulers have 'crushed' hopes of 25 January protesters', http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/egypt-military-rulers-have-crushed-hopes-25-january-protesters-2011-11-22
(47) = BBC 26 Mar 2011 ‘Saleh departure in Yemen: A matter of 'when', not 'if'’,http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12868544 , ‘second last sentence reads ‘While some other military units have joined the opposition, the elite US- and British-trained troops, headed by Mr Saleh's son and nephew, remain loyal to the president.’
(48) = Amnesty International 19 Sep 2011 ‘Yemen violence surges as protesters are killed’,http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/yemen-violence-surges-protesters-are-killed-2011-09-19 , ‘The Yemeni authorities must immediately stop the killing of peaceful protesters by security forces, Amnesty International said today following reports that dozens of people have been shot dead in the capital Sana'a since Sunday….Hundreds more are said to have been injured after security forces used snipers and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) against protesters marching to demand the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.,,Around 26 people were killed on Sunday. The continuing violence has seen more killed in Sana'a today
(49) = AP 22 Oct 2011 ‘Clashes in Yemeni capital kill 20’, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45000453/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/clashes-yemeni-capital-kill/#.TsvornKKyuI , ‘Clashes between Yemeni government troops and a renegade army unit killed at least 20 people, including three civilians, in the capital Sanaa on Saturday, officials said.’
(50) = Al Arabiya 11 Nov 2011 ‘At least 15 Yemenis killed as Saleh’s loyalist forces shell southern city of Taez’, http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/11/11/176529.html
(51) = AFP 25 Oct 2011‘15 dead as Yemen truce fails, Saleh says ready to go’, http://news.yahoo.com/five-civilians-killed-yemen-protests-110515565.html , ‘In Sanaa and in Yemen's second largest city Taez at least 15 people were killed, according to medical officials and tribal sources… A seven-year-old child and a woman were among seven people killed in Taez, after what residents said was random shelling by government forces of neighbourhoods.The interior ministry said four policemen also died.’
(52) = Voice of America news 11 Nov 2011 ‘Yemeni Government Forces Kill 6 Civilians’, http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2011/11/11/yemeni-government-forces-kill-6-civilians/
(53) = AFP 05 Apr 2011 ‘No plans to suspend military aid to Yemen: US’, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/05/no-plans-to-suspend-military-aid-to-yemen-us/
(54) = Reuters 05 Apr 2011 ‘U.S. urges Yemen transition, no aid cut-off-Pentagon’, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/05/us-yemen-usa-pentagon-idUSTRE7346V720110405
(55) = CAAT Country Data Yemen, http://www.caat.org.uk/resources/countrydata/?country_selected=Yemen ,(shows £800,000 worth of arms export licences approved in 2011 – more than twice the value of approved arms exports in 2010)
Sources For :The real motive of the US and its allies in Syria - Isolating Iran to prepare for a war of regime change there
(56) = Jerusalem Post / Reuters 14 Nov 2011 'Syria urges Arab League to reconsider suspension',http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=245466
(57) = Washington Post 15 Sep 2002, 'In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue : U.S. Drillers Eye Huge Petroleum Pool', http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A18841-2002Sep14 ; 'A U.S.-led ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could open a bonanza for American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals between Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries, and reshuffling world petroleum markets, according to industry officials and leaders of the Iraqi opposition...."It's pretty straightforward," said former CIA director R. James Woolsey, who has been one of the leading advocates of forcing Hussein from power. "France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them." But he added: "If they throw in their lot with Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them.'
Sources for : Syrian rebels are committing sectarian atrocities and killing civilians too
(58) = Reuters 23 Dec 2011 'Analysis: Syria bombings signal deadlier phase of revolt', http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/23/us-syria-bombings-idUSTRE7BM18T20111223 , 'Beirut-based commentator Rami Khouri said he doubted the government would have hit its own security targets, suggesting that the bombings could have been the work of armed rebels, who he said include hardline Salafi Islamists in their ranks....Hilal Khashan, political science professor at the American University of Beirut, also said he did not believe that the Syrian government was behind the bombings.'
(59) = New York Times 10 May 2012 'Dozens Killed in Large Explosions in Syrian Capital', http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/world/middleeast/damascus-syria-explosions-intelligence-headquarters.html?pagewanted=all ; 'Twin suicide car bombs that targeted a notorious military intelligence compound shook the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Thursday, killing and wounding hundreds of people ...It was the largest such terrorist attack since the uprising began 14 months ago, with the Health Ministry putting the toll at 55 dead and nearly 400 wounded — civilians and soldiers. '
(60) = Human Rights Watch 20 Mar 2012 'Syria: Armed Opposition Groups Committing Abuses', http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/20/syria-armed-opposition-groups-committing-abuses
(61) = Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany) 07 Jun 2012 'Abermals Massaker in Syrien', http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/neue-erkenntnisse-zu-getoeteten-von-hula-abermals-massaker-in-syrien-11776496.html ; for English translation see http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.faz.net%2Faktuell%2Fpolitik%2Fneue-erkenntnisse-zu-getoeteten-von-hula-abermals-massaker-in-syrien-11776496.html
(62) = Christian Science Monitor 06 Sep 2002 ‘When contemplating war, beware of babies in incubators’, http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0906/p25s02-cogn.html
(63) = Independent 24 Jun 2011 'Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war', http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/amnesty-questions-claim-that-gaddafi-ordered-rape-as-weapon-of-war-2302037.html
(64) = BBC World News 07 Jun 2012 'Reporting conflict in Syria', http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2012/06/reporting_conflict_in_syria.html ; 'In the aftermath of the massacre at Houla last month, initial reports said some of the 49 children and 34 women killed had their throats cut. In Damascus, Western officials told me the subsequent investigation revealed none of those found dead had been killed in such a brutal manner. Moreover, while Syrian forces had shelled the area shortly before the massacre, the details of exactly who carried out the attacks, how and why were still unclear. Whatever the cause, officials fear the attack marks the beginning of the sectarian aspect of the conflict. '
(65) = Human Rights Watch 11 Jun 2012 'Syria: Stop Grave Abuses of Children', http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/06/11/syria-stop-grave-abuses-children
(66) = Channel 4 News 08 Jun 2012 'Set up to be shot in Syria's no man's land', http://blogs.channel4.com/alex-thomsons-view/hostile-territory/1863
Sources For : Negotiations are the only way to avoid a Lebanese style civil war spreading across the Middle East
(67) = Los Angeles Times 03 Jun 2012 'Lebanon clashes raise fear of 'spillover' in Syria violence',http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/03/world/la-fg-syria-violence-20120603 ; 'Gunfights raged Saturday in the Lebanese coastal city of Tripoli, where supporters and opponents of Syria's President Bashar Assad exchanged machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenade volleys across a densely populated urban cityscape...By early evening, Lebanon's official National News Agency reported at least 10 people had been killed and more than two dozen wounded .'
(68) = Los Angeles Times 07 Mar 2012 'Syria Christians fear life after Assad', http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/07/world/la-fg-syria-christians-20120307
(69) = Independent 18 Feb 2012 'Syrians flee their homes amid fears of ethnic cleansing',http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syrians-flee-their-homes-amid-fears-of-ethnic-cleansing-7079802.html ; 'Members of Syria's minority Alawite community are fleeing their homes and going into hiding, terrified that avenging rebels will hunt them down as more areas of the country come under the control of fighters trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad. '
(70) = New York Times 08 May 2007 'The assault on Assyrian Christians', http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/08/opinion/08iht-edisaac.1.5618504.html