Editor’s Note: We never expected to find something with which we strongly agree on National Review Online, the web version of Bill Buckley’s provocative conservative magazine, but then again these are desperate times and the truth is welcome wherever you find it. It so happens that NRO just ran a superb piece on the Syria situation which neither the nation’s leading papers, nor American television, a major dispenser of glossy news manure, are willing to touch. The article (reproduced below), by the formidable John Rosenthal, denounces authoritatively the Big Lie being marketed by the mainstream Western media, namely that Syria’s government is behind the ghoulish massacres in Houla and other parts of that convulsed nation. While all sides in Middle Eastern conflicts can be deceitful and brutal, it simply makes no sense for the Baathist regime to go “massacre-hopping”, as the editor of Arabia Deserta put it, “moving from one scandalous horrible massacre to another, with photos and headlines all over the media.” What needs deflating here, however, is the cynical pretense that America and her bloodied Western and local allies are interested in regime change in Syria for reasons of humanitarian relief. Puncturing such a repugnant lie is therefore the duty of all antiwar activists and true journalists. These are urgent tasks. Rosenthal’s vital dispatch was used by our colleague Stephen Lendman in a recent article on the same topic. We commend National Review for running this enormously important piece at a time when, as our readers are well aware, the drumbeat for war is reaching deafening levels. Thank you, National Review.
The one and only.
Report: Rebels Responsible for Houla Massacre
By John Rosenthal
June 9, 2012
It was, in the words of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, the “tipping point” in the Syria conflict: a savage massacre of over 90 people, predominantly women and children, for which the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was immediately blamed by virtually the entirety of the Western media. Within days of the first reports of the Houla massacre, the U.S., France, Great Britain, Germany, and several other Western countries announced that they were expelling Syria’s ambassadors in protest.
But according to a new report in Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims were member of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad. For its account of the massacre, the report cites opponents of Assad, who, however, declined to have their names appear in print out of fear of reprisals from armed opposition groups.
According to the article’s sources, the massacre occurred after rebel forces attacked three army-controlled roadblocks outside of Houla. The roadblocks had been set up to protect nearby Alawi majority villages from attacks by Sunni militias. The rebel attacks provoked a call for reinforcements by the besieged army units. Syrian army and rebel forces are reported to have engaged in battle for some 90 minutes, during which time “dozens of soldiers and rebels” were killed.
“According to eyewitness accounts,” the FAZ report continues,
the massacre occurred during this time. Those killed were almost exclusively from families belonging to Houla’s Alawi and Shia minorities. Over 90% of Houla’s population are Sunnis. Several dozen members of a family were slaughtered, which had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. Members of the Shomaliya, an Alawi family, were also killed, as was the family of a Sunni member of the Syrian parliament who is regarded as a collaborator. Immediately following the massacre, the perpetrators are supposed to have filmed their victims and then presented them as Sunni victims in videos posted on the internet.
The FAZ report echoes eyewitness accounts collected from refugees from the Houla region by members of the Monastery of St. James in Qara, Syria. According to monastery sources cited by the Dutch Middle East expert Martin Janssen, armed rebels murdered “entire Alawi families” in the village of Taldo in the Houla region.
Already at the beginning of April, Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix of the St. James Monastery warned of rebel atrocities’ being repackaged in both Arab and Western media accounts as regime atrocities. She cited the case of a massacre in the Khalidiya neighborhood in Homs. According to an account published in French on the monastery’s website, rebels gathered Christian and Alawi hostages in a building in Khalidiya and blew up the building with dynamite. They then attributed the crime to the regular Syrian army. “Even though this act has been attributed to regular army forces . . . , the evidence and testimony are irrefutable: It was an operation undertaken by armed groups affiliated with the opposition,” Mother Agnès-Mariam* wrote.
— John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at www.trans-int.com or on Facebook.
* A note on Mother Agnés-Mariam
Mother Agnès Mariam has a Palestinian father and a Lebanese mother. During her adolescence, seeking truth and God, she rebelled against society to join the hippie-movement. She travelled around the world with them. After having lived the Flower Power life she received the calling from God to join the Carmel monastery in Beirut, she was 19 at the time. Today she lives in the monastery of St James the mutilated in Syria, motherhouse of the order that she founded, the order of the Unity of Antioch.
ACHTUNG! ACHTUNG! (Hmm…that got your attention, uh?)
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