Syrian citizens trying to identify dead bodies, after the latest poisonous gas attack
* Extremist Member of the British Parliament tells Iranian TV: Israel gave Al Qaeda chemical weapons to use in Syria
* Syrian child refugees now number over one million
* In other under-reported news, the Associated Press reports that Islamist extremists slit the throats of at least 44 Christian villagers in northeast Nigeria and gouged out the eyes of some victims who survived
* You can comment on this dispatch here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. Please also press “Like” on that page.
There is another dispatch on the Syrian use of chemical weapons here: “Like figures unearthed in Pompeii”.
1. The West’s record of appeasement in dealing with evil
2. Israel: Chemical weapons were fired by Assad’s brother’s unit
3. Syrian child refugees now number over one million, with 2 m. more inside Syria
4. A map of the 23 places the U.S. may bomb if there’s a Syria no-fly zone
5. Report: 31 Palestinians killed in Syrian chemical strike
6. Extremists slit throats of 44 in Northeast Nigeria
7. Washington Post staff trapped as Egyptian-Americans denounce them
8. The Middle East explained in a letter to The Financial Times
9. British MP on Iranian TV blames Israel for Assad’s chemical attack
10. Letters to God cleared from Western Wall as Jewish New Year approaches
[Notes below by Tom Gross]
THE WEST’S RECORD OF APPEASEMENT IN DEALING WITH EVIL
“Despite graphic media coverage, American policymakers, journalists, and citizens are extremely slow to muster the imagination needed to reckon with evil. Ahead of the killings, they assume rational actors will not inflict seemingly gratuitous violence. They trust in good-faith negotiations and traditional diplomacy. Once the killings start, they assume that civilians who keep their heads down will be left alone. They urge ceasefires and donate humanitarian aid.”
-- Samantha Power, in her book “A problem from Hell: America and the age of genocide.”
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Tom Gross writes:
This was, of course, written long before Samantha Power became the U.S. Ambassador to the UN. She wasn’t even present on Wednesday during the emergency UN Security Council meeting on the chemical attack in Syria. (She was on a trip to Ireland.)
By doing nothing, the West has simply made the situation much worse. If they had acted decisively in 2011, Assad could have been forced to the negotiating table relatively easily.
Now at least 150,000 civilians have died and millions more turned into refugees, with violence spilling over into Lebanon and Iraq. Obama has allowed Iran and Russia to gain the upper hand, and forced secular Syrians to start supporting Islamist extremists. There are also now at least 10,000 Hizbullah and Iranian fighters inside Syria helping Assad’s death squads.
Some, such as John McCain (and myself), have consistently argued since 2011 that the West ought to act, both for humanitarian and for strategic reasons.
Now it will be much harder. But waiting any longer will only make the situation far worse (One million dead? Two million dead? The use of WMDs becoming the norm both in Syria and beyond? The complete disintegration of Iraq and Lebanon?), and make it harder to act when the West will eventually be forced to act.
And if the West wants to bring pressure to bear on the murderous Assad regime, they need to act in a serious way against the government that is really controlling Assad and encouraging his use of chemical weapons – Iran.
ISRAEL: CHEMICAL WEAPONS WERE FIRED BY ASSAD’S BROTHER’S UNIT
The chemical weapons used by the regime of President Bashar Assad last Wednesday to kill many hundreds of Syrian civilians were fired by the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian Army, which is under the command of the president’s brother, Maher Assad, according to Israeli intelligence.
The nerve gas shells were fired from a military base in a mountain range to the west of Damascus, Israel TV reported, citing Israeli officials.
The embattled regime has concentrated its vast stocks of chemical weaponry in just two or three locations, the report said, under the control of Syrian Air Force Intelligence, itself reporting to the president.
Israel is increasingly concerned about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the possibility of these weapons falling into still more dangerous hands than those of Assad.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Iran was closely watching how the world would deal with the attack.
“Syria has become Iran’s testing ground, and Iran is closely watching whether and how the world responds to the atrocities committed there by its client state Syria and its proxy Hizbullah against innocent civilians in Syria,” he said.
The use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians on Wednesday “proves yet again that we cannot permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to acquire the world’s most dangerous weapons,” Netanyahu added.
SYRIAN CHILD REFUGEES NOW NUMBER OVER ONE MILLION, WITH 2 M. MORE INSIDE SYRIA
The UN announced last week that the number of children forced to flee Syria has reached one million, with a further two million children displaced within the country.
The rich gulf Sunni Arab states who have more money than they know what to do with, are letting their fellow Sunnis (including tens of thousands of children) sleep rough on city streets in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and elsewhere.
Instead of buying yet another European football team and spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new players, they might want to help build housing for some of the children sleeping on the streets, wastegrounds, and sides of roads all over Lebanon.
HERE’S A MAP OF THE 23 PLACES THE U.S. MAY BOMB IF THERE’S A SYRIA NO-FLY ZONE
REPORT: 31 PALESTINIANS KILLED IN SYRIAN CHEMICAL STRIKE
The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports that at least 31 Palestinians died in the chemical weapons attack that is said to have killed up to 1,300 civilians in the suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus on Wednesday.
Eleven members of a family from the West Bank city of Jenin were among the victims, according to a relative of the al-Hurani family.
Ma’an cited another relative as saying 20 members of a Palestinian family from Nazareth in northern Israel had also been killed in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on Wednesday.
EXTREMISTS SLIT THROATS OF 44 IN NORTHEAST NIGERIA
In other under-reported news, the Associated Press reports that Islamist extremists killed at least 44 Christian villagers in continuing attacks in an Islamic uprising in northeast Nigeria.
The attackers raided Dumba village in Borno state before dawn and slit their victims’ throats -- a new strategy since gunfire attracts security forces.
The Associated Press reports that the attackers gouged out the eyes of some victims who survived.
WASHINGTON POST STAFF TRAPPED AS EGYPTIAN-AMERICANS DENOUNCE THEM
Washington Post staff were trapped in the main lobby of their Washington, D.C. headquarters last Thursday as hundreds of Egyptian-American protesters blocked the entrance to the building, while chanting “The Washington Post is lying” and “The Washington Post: Stop Supporting Terrorists and the Muslim Brotherhood!”
“A large group of Egyptian protesters rallied in front of The Washington Post offices on Thursday afternoon, registering their support for military leader Gen. Abdel Fatah el-Sisi and their opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood,” reported the Post. The Post reported that its main lobby “was shut down and no one was allowed in or out” during the demonstration.
Many of the Egyptian-Americans were Copts criticizing the failure of The Washington Post to accurately cover events in Egypt, and to properly report the attacks on Christian churches by the Muslim Brotherhood.
You can watch a video of the incident here:
There was also a sizeable and noisy demonstration outside the White House, where protestors chanted “Obama Stop Supporting The Muslim Brotherhood.”
They carried signs with Al Jazeera’s logo with a black mark through it. As I reported previously in these dispatches, Al Jazeera is under investigation in Egypt and may be permanently banned in the country, for what many say is its support of Islamists.
THE MIDDLE EAST EXPLAINED IN A LETTER TO THE FINANCIAL TIMES (LAST FRIDAY)
BRITISH MP ON IRANIAN TV BLAMES ISRAEL FOR ASSAD’S CHEMICAL ATTACK
The soon-to-be-reelected Member of the British Parliament for the heavily Muslim constituency of Bradford West, says Israel gave Al Qaeda chemical weapons to use in Syria.
George Galloway was speaking on the Iranian government propaganda television station Press TV, that answers to that “moderate” President Rouhnai:
Galloway, also known as “Assad’s Man in London” (and before that as “Saddam’s Man in London”) has long been accused of making vile anti-Semitic remarks.
LETTERS TO GOD CLEARED FROM WESTERN WALL AS JEWISH NEW YEAR APPROACHES
Jerusalem’s Western Wall was yesterday cleared of notes “to God” left there by worshippers.
Shmuel Rabinowitz, Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, says it is important to make sure there’s always room for new notes.
Millions of people a year (Jews and non-Jews alike) visit the Western Wall and leave written prayers and notes on small pieces of paper which they wedge into the cracks of the wall in the ancient Jewish temple stones.
To protect the privacy of these notes, they are never read or fully counted by those who collect them, but every few months they are taken by rabbis to be buried underground in Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.
[Notes above by Tom Gross]