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Mahmoud al-Aboud, commander of the eastern front for the Free Syrian Army, told The Daily Beast on Sunday in a Skype interview that the fighting began Saturday with a car bomb. Killed in the attack, said Aboud, was the brother of Saddam al-Gamal, a local commander of Allahu Akbar Brigades, a group aligned with the FSA in al-Bukamal. After the bombing, Gamal’s men launched a counterattack with small arms fire that killed four fighters in the opposing rebel group.

Al Qaeda Clash With Free Syrian Army a New Stage of Opposition Split – The Daily Beast 9/17/2013 (Eli Lake)

Lake goes on to note, “The FSA, which has received some nonlethal aid from the United States as well as weapons from such American allies as Saudi Arabia, has never collaborated with al Qaeda–linked forces in Syria against the Assad regime, Abboud said.”

So there!

Kudos to Eli Lake for the quote-by-Skype, would that there were more breaking coverage of the fighting in Syria by equally vetted professional journalists, the kind who get around some, miraculously.  Instead, what’s going on in there has to filter or sift, if anything, through military intelligence services, and then with those what does the public get that isn’t shaped to suit one national interest or another?


He left Israel about three weeks ago, probably via Jordan, and reached Syrian rebels, with whom he began fighting, the family said. Muid left with two other companions, who have not been heard from either, the family said.

Report: Israeli Arab Killed in Syria Fighting – Middle East – News – Israel National News 9/17/2013

If Somalia’s Al Shabaab may serve for reference, volunteers to the fight may be treated as cannon fodder.

So goes the politics of small bands and newcomers to them.


State-approved reporting, informally so, more or less:

“Across northern Syria, there has been an upsurge in crimes and abuses committed by extremist anti-government armed groups along with an influx of rebel foreign fighters,” Pinheiro said. His team was still investigating accounts of killings of captured government soldiers in Khan Al-Asal, he added.

State less-approved reportage, same UN study involved:

An incendiary bomb dropped from a government warplane on a school in the Aleppo countryside on August 26 killed at least eight students, and 50 more suffered horrific burns over up to 80 percent of their bodies, he said, citing survivor accounts.

Rebels, foreign fighters step up crimes in Syria: U.N. | Reuters 9/16/2013.


Currently, China is Syria’s third largest importer and Russia’s largest at 15.5 percent of Russia’s total imports. As Russia continues to increase arms sales to a desperate Bashar al-Assad government, It has become increasingly clear that what’s good for Bashar al-Assad’s government is also good for Russia and, by extension, China too.

China’s Syria Strategy | Daniel Pena 9/16/2013 (Huffington Post, The Blog)

Verily, The Money has a life all its own.

And these guys at the Too Real Monopoly Table are not playing for Park Place.

As a matter of fact — move over, Mr. Bill — Leonid Bershidsky writing for Bloomberg has just announced “Vladimir Putin, the Richest Man on Earth” (not really, or not necessarily — Bershidsky reviews the sources of the claim).

What’s China’s position on Syria?  Sometimes, the drag-and-drop URL headers just fall into place: China says military strike against Syria would hurt global economy – latimes.com 9/5/2013

One cannot help but feel that for either China and Russia, the suffering beneath the brutal Assad dictatorship, the appearance of chemical WMD in the battlespace, which in the news may be traveling slowly but certainly from loosely “alleged” use by the Syrian military toward toward more firm confirmation (e.g., “Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said that the facts of the report underscore that only the Assad regime could have carried out the sarin attack” – UN report confirms chemical weapons use in Syria – World News 9/17/2013), the bereavement associated with more than 100,000 dead, the trials of millions of displaced and refugee souls, and the destruction of entire cities simply don’t matter, at least not compared to The Money.

Perhaps if people mattered to dictators as other than resources for their own glorification and validation — sources of “narcissistic supply” — the same would not be dictators at all but resemble something closer to decent human beings.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for that epiphany to come to the major powers enjoying the good fight — from the perch of their own privilege — associated with Assad’s Syria.


Moreover, we know the Assad regime was responsible. In the days leading up to Aug. 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area they where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.

Text of President Obama’s speech on Syria – Las Vegas Sun News 9/17/2013


Now let’s do China.

Frankly, anyone who spends much time in China knows about the oligarchic nature of the Chinese elite, but the extent and distribution of the Wen family wealth is eye-opening.

Wen Jiabao’s Riches and Political Reform in China | China Power | The Diplomat Elizabeth C. Economy, 10/30/2012.

As eye opening as an espresso double-shot, I’d say.

Gold may be God for some, for the concept of any ethical or moral view of social reality is a thing suspended in the cultural invention of language.  Why not Pharaoh?  Why not virgin sacrifice?  Why not the Sun King?  Or death cults?  With the right poetry, anything may be rendered beautiful, desirable, sublime.

Now the Chinese wanted to set their own boundaries. They refused to discuss allegations they had looked the other way when Sudan’s army forced southerners from their homes in the oil regions, Odwar recalled. And when the delegation brought up new pollution laws, they told them not to set their sights so high. “I thought that was very offensive,” Odwar said.

Special Report: South Sudan’s Chinese oil puzzle | Reuters 11/14/2012

The farmers have moved away. Most of the small brick houses in Xinguang Sancun, huddling close to one another, are going to rack and ruin. In just 10 years the population has dropped from 2,000 to 300 people.

Rare-earth mining in China comes at a heavy cost for local villages | Environment | Guardian Weekly 8/7/2012

I wouldn’t dig up the dirt, pun not intended, just to produce a negative attitude toward China on this blog, but that these stories are available from recent years tells about the attitudes taken by authorities toward other humans and the earth.

During the course of the genocide in Sudan, China seems to have made its trade arrangements with Omar al-Bashir and otherwise kept its mouth shut.  Again, relevant article URL headers just seem to fall into place: Oil interests tie China to Sudan leader Bashir, even as he faces genocide charges – Washington Post:

Oil has for years been the bedrock of China’s warm relations with Bashir, who was first indicted by the ICC in 2008, accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to murder, rape, torture, ethnic cleansing and other actions in Darfur.

What may be at stake for China in relation to Syria is that this dismal retreat from concern for the humanity of others and the cause that is their own hideous glorification continues without challenge or question.

Additional Reference

BBC News – China’s stake in the Syria stand-off 2/24/2012

Islamists dominate Syrian insurgency – Threat Matrix 9/16/2013

Syria’s al-Nusra Front – ruthless, organised and taking control | World news | The Guardian 7/10/2013