Subtle Shift or Head Fake? CNN Actually Airs Statements Which Support Officer Darren Wilson

As usual the treehouse is right on the latest developments in this case. I suggest taking the time to read the various comments. Will there be a sudden shift away from the now discredited narrative? The release of information stating that there are more than a dozen witnesses supporting Wilson’s story is very interesting in my view…. how long before the DoJ stops intervening… and how long before finally someone arrests the black panthers?

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The Trayvon Martin Case, Update 28: Audio Evidence and Deadly Force

Stately McDaniel Manor

One of the most venerable lawyer’s aphorisms goes something like this:

If the facts and the law are against you, attack the police.

This is almost exclusively the province of defense lawyers as it is assumed—and virtually always the case—that the prosecution has the very great advantage of having the facts and the law on its side. There should be no arrests and prosecutions otherwise.  But this is not at all the case in the George Zimmerman prosecution.  Not only are the law and the facts aligned against the prosecution, so are the police.

It is always the defense seeking to establish reasonable doubt about the prosecution’s case.  In the Trayvon Martin case, it is the prosecution seeking to establish reasonable doubt about the case of the investigating police!  It is difficult to explain precisely how unusual and downright strange this is.  The prosecution is  in the position of arguing…

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Syria: Libya to the rescue?

Confusion continues to reign in the Middle East and North Africa. The latest from Egypt in my view is very unwelcome news. However, what about the war that is raging in Syria? Judging from the latest of the defections, the Prime Minister of Syria has defected, one should be able to come to the conclusion that the Assad regime is crumbling. However, Assad is getting assistance from Iran, Russia, China and Hezbollah in order to keep his control over the country going strong (or so it seems). Without accurate reporting because journalists are forbidden in Syria, it is impossible to get a finger on the pulse of this nation at war. The war itself has rapidly become Sunni vs Shia.

What is new in Syria is the involvement of Libyan former rebels who have gone there, not to participate so much as to give aid via training the Syrians who are fighting their government. It is difficult to approve of a regime who has treated people as badly as the Sunni of Syria have been treated since the Assads seized control of the country. Even if we did not like the eventual outcome of this war, I still believe that a people who have been oppressed by their dictator leader have the right to fight for their own freedom. They have the right to self-determination.

Reuters is reporting that former Libyan rebels, especially those who were a part of the successful unit from the mountains who stormed Tripoli and overran the Gaddhafi compound are now in Syria. Their role has been to train the Syrian rebels in methods of urban warfare, as well as helping them to source weapons.

I will let an Irish-Libyan explain the situation:

The Libyans aiding the Syrian rebels include specialists in communications, logistics, humanitarian issues and heavy weapons, he said. They operate training bases, teaching fitness and battlefield tactics.

Najjar said he was surprised to find how poorly armed and disorganized the Syrian rebels were, describing Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority as far more repressed and downtrodden under Assad than Libyans were under Gaddafi.

“I was shocked. There is nothing you are told that can prepare you for what you see. The state of the Sunni Muslims there – their state of mind, their fate – all of those things have been slowly corroded over time by the regime.”

“I nearly cried for them when I saw the weapons. The guns are absolutely useless. We are being sold leftovers from the Iraqi war, leftovers from this and that,” he said. “Luckily these are things that we can do for them: we know how to fix weapons, how to maintain them, find problems and fix them.”

Disorganization is a serious problem. Unlike the Libyan fighters, who enjoyed the protection of a NATO-imposed no-fly zone and were able to set up full-scale training camps, the rebels in Syria are never out of reach of Assad’s air power.

“In Libya, with the no-fly zone, we were able to build up say 1,400 to 1,500 men in one place and have platoons and brigades. Here we have men scattered here, there and everywhere.”

There is more to this article which I think might be pivotal as to the probably outcome of the conflict. At the present time the Syrian rebels remain disorganized. Although Libyan rebels were better organized it must be emphasized that some of that was illusory and we saw the outcome of their own disorganization after the fall of the Gaddhafi regime. However, in Syria there is a lot of disorganization which is holding up the final desired outcome for those involved – there are too many groups with their own self-interest. There is the Syrian Free Army and there are a pile of smaller Islamist outfits. Where Libyans were united against Gaddhafi, such that moderate Muslims who do not believe in Jihad were willing to lay down their lives to get rid of the hated dictator, Syria is divided by their own sectarian rivalries. Yet, Syria is a civil war that is Sunni vs. Shia. The difference in Syria from that of Iraq is that it has been the Shia who have been doing the oppressing of the Sunni majority.

Another interesting point in the article is that there are foreign Muslims who are willing to join in the fight. This is the opposite of the situation in Libya where the people in charge were adamant that there were to be no foreign boots on the ground. In Libya they managed to keep the presence of Al Qaeda Islamists to an absolute minimum, but so long as the Syrian civil war is festering there will be a desire for other Sunni Muslims to join in to defeat Assad. Such an outcome remains undesirable. Again, I will use the words of this Libyan to tell of his own fears:

Najjar said militancy would spread across the region as long as the West does not do more to hasten the downfall of Assad.

“The Western governments are bringing this upon themselves. The longer they leave this door open for this torture and this massacre to carry on, the more young men will drop what they have in this life and search for the afterlife,” Najjar said.

“If the West and other countries do not move fast it will no longer be just guys like me – normal everyday guys that might do anything from have a cigarette to go out on the town – it will be the real extreme guys who will take it to another level.”

The Syrian situation remains a powder keg waiting to blow up in the faces of the Western powers. With such a weak leader as Obama in charge the Middle East has become a real powder keg, and should he be returned for another 4 years then there will be no peace in the world. The fuse in the Middle East is ready to blow. Whilst there is focus on Syria we must not forget that war continues in Yemen, and we cannot ignore the latest developments in Egypt, which make the region extremely dangerous – a situation that has not been as apparent after Anwar Sadat signed the agreement with Menachim Begin.

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The good news and the bad news

It is so very difficult trying to fathom Syria because there are so many players. If and when the opposition wins the battle against Bashar al-Assad it is unlikely that Syria will be under the control of the Iranians, especially after the Syrians captured something like 40 Iranians believed to be a part of the Republican Guard who have been in Syria helping Assad put down the rebellion. I imagine that when this phase is over, it will be payback time. I do not know whether or not the Syrians will maintain ties with either Russia or China after Assad is removed from power. This could be good news for the rest of the world if Syria is neutralized (just like Libya appears to be neutralized).

However, there is no reason to get one’s hopes up about what might happen when Assad is inevitably forced from holding power. From what I understand of the situation, there is likely to be a civil war in the future of Syria. This is because there are many disparate forces who have joined together for the short term so that their goal of defeating Assad becomes a reality. It is also because there are Islamists and Islamists. This is where the tribes come into play.

Assad belongs to the Alawite tribe, which is an offshoot of Shia Islam. Under the Assad regime Syria has been a puppet of Iran, and a sponsor of both Hezbollah and Hamas as well as being a middle-man for Iran in the West Bank as well as in Lebanon. A majority of the Syrians are Sunni and as such they are either members of the Ba’ath Party or they are associated with Al Qaeda. This is the bad news for Syria.

However, let’s look a little more closely at what some of those leaders who are fighting are actually stating and maybe we can take a little bit of comfort from the words of such a person (I just do not know whether these are just weasel words or not). Reuters has an article from one of the leaders who is fighting in Syria, and perhaps what he has to say will give us a little bit of comfort (but I remain wary about him anyway).

The part of the story that I want to highlight is the comment from the Syrian commander stating that he is an Islamist and that he wants a conservative style of Islam that is similar to what is found in Turkey. It seems that at the present time they are prepared to tolerate the jihadi extremists, but they also seem to not want them involved. They want to establish an Islamic state in the future, complete with Sharia law, but they want to bring people on board before it is established. It sounds very much like they are trying to follow the Libyan example.

However, there is not enough known about these people to be able to draw any kind of conclusions. It seems to me that they really do not want the extremism, and they do not want an Iranian style theocracy. On the other hand they are fighting not just against Assad but also the Iranians. Maybe that will shape their way of thinking in the future. There are simply too many unknowns to draw any safe conclusions at this point in time. Obviously they are allowing the foreign jihadis because they bring some expertise as well as necessary equipment, but they do not seem to want to work with these same people. It is a very odd situation.

This is why there is good news and bad news, but mostly it is bad news.

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More Red Flags where Syria is concerned

In expressing my doubts about the Syrian civil war that is now raging, I have consistently expressed a lack of knowledge about those who started the protests in the first place as well as doubts about the Syrian opposition to Bashar al-Assad. The latest available information has done nothing to allay my doubts and fears about these people. If anything, the latest entrant into the mess, the Muslim Brotherhood, only makes the situation extremely murky.

The Telegraph reports that the Muslim Brotherhood have been busy establishing their own militia in such places as Homs and a number of other small towns. This is not good news, especially when it becomes clear that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood are probably further to the right than the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (they are still fascists).

I continue to have no clear understanding about the Syrian opposition. They seem to be a lot more shadowy than those who had opposed Moammar Gadhafi. There are obviously more groups than there were in Libya and I see this as an indication that the Syrian opposition lacks the kind of leadership that had set Libya apart from the rest. The length of time that it is taking to get a resolution also means that I have a foreboding about an eventual outcome that would see Assad being deposed.

To date there are at least 3 distinct groups: the Syrian Free Army, Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda. The latter group is a genuine problem because they are the most militant, and on top of that they consist of foreigners from such countries as Iraq, the U.K. and Pakistan. They are the most extreme of the three distinctive groups. The SFA consists mostly of army personnel who have deserted or defected from the Syrian army. As a group they are not easily defined, BUT if they were to be the winners of the conflict then it is likely that Syria would end up with a military dictatorship…. it is a long shot.

The Syrian opposition is not well armed, and as a consequence this has left the way open for the more militant types such as Al Qaeda to get involved and to inject funds as well as equipment so that the opposition can push back against Assad. There is talk of Turkey secretly training the opposition fighters. There is also talk of Turkey providing weapons. In some respects this is fair enough because Iran, Russia and China have been providing weapons to Assad.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is not quite the same as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, yet at the heart of the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood there is the desire to bring on jihad. This is a most unwelcome development. The man behind this establishment of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has been raising money to supply arms to the opposition in Homs, but it has to be noted that they are not affiliated with the Syrian Free Army.

In the short term, I have to agree that Assad needs to be removed because he has used his military against the civilian population with a massive loss of life over the past 17 months. It is by no means inevitable that he will be overthrown in the way that Gadhafi was overthrown, but Assad has chosen this path, so he must accept the consequences of his own actions. In the longer term, with all of these disparate groups, I forsee a prolonged civil war because each group will want to be in the ascendancy. I think that this is where the Ba’ath Party comes into play, or at least trying to fit the Ba’ath Party into the pieces of this particular jigsaw puzzle.

They Syrians are not coming across to me as being people who want freedom in the sense that they are pro-Western like the opposition in Libya. It could very well be that any group that takes over will continue the same hostility to the west that already exists… in fact if Muslim Brotherhood or Al Qaeda gained control then there will be added danger in the Middle East.

What I see is that the Syrian situation has just entered a new and more dangerous phase, thanks to Russia and China refusing to allow the U.N. to perform its role in the region.

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Assad Regime uses the Gadhafi form of propaganda

Whilst it is in fact true that there are foreigners in Syria, (I do think that this could have been avoided), the allegations within a letter sent to the UN is patently false. Assad is now using the same kind of propaganda that was used by the Gadhafi regime when that regime began its attempt to shell Benghazi. The claim is set out in a letter to the UN where Syria is stating that the rebels are being funded by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, and that it is the rebels who are holding the people hostage, and using them as human shields.

The report that I have just read points to another truth (not about the funding, because it is more than likely that Turkey at least is supplying arms to the Syrian Free Army), that it is government troops who are shelling districts where there are rebel strongholds. If these people were being held as human shields by the rebels, then they would not be able to get into any kind of vehicle and flee into surrounding villages, or across the border into Turkey. The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is lying about the reality of the situation.

In the meantime, there is further evidence that the Syrian regime might be on the verge of collapse as more diplomats are defecting. The latest is a minor diplomat in the Syrian embassy in London. The pattern for defections is now set… and I expect that in the coming months there will be further defections as many of these Syrians will not be able to stomach the actions of the regime.

Innocent women and children have been killed at the hands of the Assad regime. One man lost his wife and son in an attack upon their home, and his daughter has lost the use of her eye.  Syrians are fleeing and crossing over, not just into Turkey, but also Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

The diplomat defections have just begun, but already more than 20 generals have crossed the border into Turkey and have joined the SFA.

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Syria – the key to understanding the Middle East

The crisis in Syria has been raging for more than 16 months, and it is still a toss up about how this will end. The problem that I have with the Syrian situation is that I have not fully understood the motivations of all of the players. Once again, I need to start looking at the history of the country before I can fully comprehend what is taking place, and why Syria is virtually a satellite of Russia, China and Iran.

I have been writing about the Syrian situation on one of my other blogs, and in doing so, I have been questioning the origins of those who are in opposition to Bashar al-Assad. However, my questioning is based upon my own ignorance of the socio-political situation in Syria. Once again, I point out that Libya has always been the different case, because prior to Gadhafi Libya had stronger ties to the West than did Egypt and Syria. I am also pleading ignorance about the socio-political history of Tunisia.

Amazingly, the one thing that I have missed in my own analysis is influence of the Ba’ath Party. This is an angle that I have failed to explore in my own analysis regarding Syria in particular. As such I need to do a lot more in the way of research on the founding of the Ba’ath Party in Egypt, Syria, Iran and Iraq in particular. At the same time I need to do further research into the ideology of the Ba’ath Party, because I do fear that many people who think that someone like Bashar al-Assad is somehow ok, are in fact like me, and ignorant about the origins of that particular party.

The news article that got my interest in the subject going concerns the defection of the first politician from the Syrian Parliament, a woman – mother of 6 children – who crossed into Turkey announcing that she was upset by what is taking place. It is as a result of that article, that I suddenly realized that I had been overlooking something quite important – the Ba’ath Party and its origins. Did you know that the founders of the Ba’ath Party were admirers of Adolf Hitler? I did not know that until now, but it is true. This is something that I will explore in greater detail, but for now it is just an interesting fact.

The origins of the Ba’ath Party go back to at least the 1950s. There is a link between Egypt and Syria in the 1950s, when Nasser was leader in Egypt. It is significant to note that Nasser was pro-Communist and that he was backed by Russia. However, the leaders of the Ba’ath Party in Syria did a split from Egypt because of Nasser’s dictatorial ways.

There is a common thread in these countries that have been run by the Ba’ath Party. One of the most significant points about the Ba’ath Party is that it seems to be the party of the Sunni Muslims. On the other hand the Muslim Brotherhood tend to be Shia. The hardliners tend to be Salafist and of Sunni origin. What we find with the Ba’ath Party is that they tend to be secular, hence the opposition to the Ba’athists tend to be those who are Salafist or religiously minded. The problem in Syria though, is that Bashar al-Assad is not a Sunni but an Alawite which is an offshoot of the Shia sect within Islam.

At the very heart of the conflict in Syria is the Sunni vs. Shia. This is the same kind of conflict that we saw when Iran and Iraq went to war with each other. It is also the same conflict that has caused destabilization in Iraq. We need to keep in mind that in Iraq the Sunni tribes are the minority and that they had held power over the majority Shia through Saddam Hussein after he had seized control of the Parliament in the 1960s.

Even though there is a religious element in this conflict, I think that it is simplistic to only consider the religious aspects of such conflicts. I think that it is essential to discover the ideology of the various players, and how that ideology leads back to the Soviet Union.  Also, I think that it is necessary to learn more about the period of the 1950s when the Middle East was undergoing turmoil which had been the seed for the so-called Arab Spring. In reality the Arab Spring probably happened in the 1950s, and what we have been witnessing has been more like an Arab winter.  The key to the conflicts within the Middle East seems to be the fascination with the socialist ideology.

One cannot possibly understand the politics in the Middle East without at least understanding the role of socialism in these countries, as well as the desire of the population to overthrow that same kind of ideology.

The overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya has been the tentative first step of a Middle-Eastern country to try and shrug off the imposed socialism of a dictator. Few people outside of Libya seem to understand that one reason that there was resentment towards Saddam Hussein was due to his attempt to create a Socialist Republic. Libyans are a deeply religious people and they did not like the socialism, yet that is just one reason why Libyans managed to join together to overthrow a most hated dictator. Libya is only now beginning to form a new government. It will take time for this new government to form. There is no guarantee what it will be like, but the people who were in charge of the NTC during the conflict were individuals who were pro-West and who understand democracy.  At some point I will visit this subject in greater detail. For the moment it is only necessary to mention Libya in the context of Moammar Gadhafi’s Socialism and the impact that had on why Libyans were willing to take up arms against their government. Always keep in mind that Gadhafi seized power in a bloodless coup.

When considering that the Ba’ath Party has been quite strong in Syria, it should not be surprising that many Syrians crossed the border into Iraq and were taking up arms against the military occupiers. We have been expressing this in terms of “Al Qaeda” and it would appear that “Al Qaeda” has been active, especially amongst the Sunni Salafists. However, I now think that we have to look beyond “Al Qaeda” to learn more about those behind the various conflicts. In other words, these are people that border hop in the name of jihad. As Syrians they have returned to fight for freedom from Assad, but what happens once he is defeated?

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