To: Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice mailing list
April 4, 2017
RE: Another horrendous gas attack in Syria

  1. The gas attack in Khan Sheikhun
  2. Demonstrate this Thursday in Seattle!
  3. Seattle Workers' Voice supports the demonstration
  4. New York emergency demonstration
  5. A letter to Noam Chomsky from Idrees Ahmad
  6. How Assad's apologists lie to the anti-war movement
  7. Clarification about percentage of Muslims in Russia

1. The gas attack in Khan Sheikhun

A few days ago it was announced that over five million people had fled Syria; this is over a fifth of the population prior to the uprising against the Assad dictatorship. The only way this dictatorship can stay in power is by destroying the country as it once existed.

In line with this, today the town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province was attacked with poison gas, possibly the outlawed nerve agent sarin, killing over 100 people and injuring hundreds more. This town is not occupied by ISIS, but contains people opposed to both Assad and ISIS. The attack was yet another mass atrocity by the regime and its defenders. They carried out a similar attack on east Hama in December with similar casualties. This is the way Assad, Putin, and Trump seek to make Syria safe for their interests. Assad, the Russians, and the US are bombing Syria. They talk of fighting ISIS, but they are killing civilians and any opponents of Assad, as in Khan Sheikhun.

The majority of the people of Syria want an end to the Assad dictatorship. He is being propped up by outside bombs, gas attacks, and other mass atrocities. And these atrocities are being encouraged by the failure of most of the anti-war movement to oppose them. So it's doubly important to demonstrate in support of freedom for the Syrian people and against the mass atrocities being used against them. - Joseph Green

2. Demonstrate this Thursday in Seattle!

Stop Russia, Iran & their dog Assad in Syria:
Protest at the Russian Consulate 
Demonstration hosted by Free Syria Seattle

.From the organizers of the demo:

No words can describe the videos and pictures shown today. For six years, we have live-streamed a genocide.

A big part of the reason the US "ended" its invasion in Vietnam and Iraq was due to mass protest. Where is the fury, anger in American society over what we see now? Come stand in solidarity with the Syrian people, who have endured barrel bombing, chemical weapons, torture, rape, mutilation, and mass execution in response to a call for freedom. The masses have much more power than the elite would like for us to know. Unifying the masses here is the first step to stand with the oppressed masses in Syria.

And to those who say there are two sides to the war in Syria, [we say that] there are "two sides" in Syria, one of them has chemical weapons and is backed by superpowers.

The Syrian Regime and allies are responsible for over 94% of the deaths in Syria (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights).

The Syrian Regime and allies are at this moment bombing Idlib, Rural Idlib, Rural Aleppo, Rural Damascus, and Rural Hama.

The Syrian Regime and allies use internationally banned weaponry against civilian populations, weapons including but not limited to barrel bombs, sarin gas, bunker buster bombs, ricin weaponry, cluster bombs, white phosphorus, chlorine gas, and vaccum bombs.

The Syrian Regime and allies are responsible for 90% of the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Syria. They have bombed schools, hospitals, playgrounds, neighborhoods, aid delivery trucks, and mosques

Up to 1 million people are currently living under siege in Syria, and over 90% of those sieges are held by the Syrian Regime.

670,000 people are detained in government-run torture facilities in Syria.

 3. Seattle Workers' Voice supports the demonstration

Today, horrendous pictures and videos of the aftermath of the butcher Assad's latest gas attack in Syria are all over the internet. Latest news is that 100 have been killed, including a disturbingly large number of children. Furthermore, like his big brothers in the U.S. and Russia, Assad has perfected "double-tap" airstrikes, in this case bombing a hospital where gasping and convulsing victims were being taken for treatment. Our only answer is to step up the fight against imperialism, a system that the Assad dictatorship has always been part and parcel of.

I think the butcher Assad's latest big gas attack is a reflection of the regime's real weaknesses. For example: with the Syrian army a shell of its former self, in March the rebels were able to open an offensive in northeastern Damascus. and now there have been reports of refugees returning to Idlib to join the many people "transferred" there. Thus, knowing that none of the big imperialist powers will seriously do anything, Assad resorts to more mass terror.

I support [the Thursday demonstration in Seattle] 100%, and I think we all should. The struggle of the Syrian people against the Assad tyranny and its many foreign backers is our struggle too. It is merely against different representatives of the same capitalist-imperialist system.

Furthermore, the Syrian, Palestinian and other activists organizing the protest are helping us build up the revolutionary movement in this country by, among other things, their examples of personal courage. What is more, the Syrian uprising they support has immeasurably helped us by further laying bare the ideological weaknesses in the left here, as well as the utter corruption and rot [in the leadership of the main anti-war movement].

Long live the democratic uprising of the Syrian people!

- Frank Arango, Seattle Workers' Voice

4. New York emergency demonstration

Protest the gas attack on Khan Sheikhun at an emergency protest in New York, Wednesday, April 5, 5 pm, at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

 5. A letter to Noam Chomsky from Idrees Ahmad

Dear Mr. Chomsky,

Yesterday the Syrian regime launched a suspected chemical attack on Idlib. Today it bombed the hospital treating the victims. The last time you broke your silence on Syria was to condemn students for denying a platform to a speaker who had justified the regime's crimes and slandered its victims. Do you believe that a westerner's right to deny genocide is more sacrosanct than a Syrian's right to life? Do you have any regrets?

Best wishes,

Idrees Ahmad

6. How Assad's apologists lie to the anti-war movement

When the news about the gas attack on Khan Sheikhun came out, the apologists of Assad went into action. Some of these apologists were in the past involved in struggle against the powers-that-be, and so won the respect of many people. But today they have reconciled with certain dictators, and then deny, deny, deny all the crimes committed by these dictators.  They have no respect for the heroism and sacrifice of the mass of Syrian people who are risking their lives today, and losing their lives in large numbers, in order to either fight dictatorship or simply to rescue people from the rubble of bombed-out towns and cities (the Syrian White Helmets). Indeed, they especially hate the White Helmets.

These apologists claim that they are opposing Trump and US policy. But they have not organized any protests against the US bombing of Syria, or US imperialist tacit cooperation with the Assad regime.

What about the mass opposition to both Assad and ISIS? Well, it's all fiction and lies, according to the apologists. You might as well talk to a climate denialist, who claims that global warming is a hoax put forward by Al Gore or the Chinese or corrupt scientists, as argue with these apologists. Their explanation for one atrocity after another is that they are "false flag" operations -- they are literally claiming that the opponents of Assad are wiping out their own towns and cities and hospitals and children in order to blame this on Assad.

Gerry Condon, a member of the board of Veterans for Peace, is one of these apologists. Frank Arango, of Seattle Workers' Voice, wrote about what Condon posted on FB about the gas attack on Khan Sheikhun as follows:

[Arango:] This guy, Gerry Condon, once had credibility in Seattle because he stood against the U.S. imperialist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We even helped organize demonstrations with him, but those days are ancient history. He's subsequently been on a 'peace' delegation to Syria, where he and cohorts sipped tea with the mass murderer Assad. And today he writes this:

"[Condon:] Observe the anatomy of a 'False Flag' operation, a fraudulent atrocity designed to justify and build support for military intervention. You can watch a False Flag operation unfold in real time. Right now and in the coming days.

"[Condon:] The widespread media reports of a Syrian military attack with sarin gas are not credible to anyone with actual knowledge of the war in Syria. Yet before any investigation can be undertaken, the Syrian government is being condemned by the White House, by the Congress, by the European Union, Israel and Amnesty International.

"[Condon:] Virtually all the major media are reporting this story as fact, when it is almost certainly a diabolical fabrication involving mass murder by western-backed terrorist organizations and the fictional 'White Helmets.'

"[Condon:] Watch closely as this story unfolds and you will learn a lot about propaganda as a tool of war and militarism. Stay tuned: more lies to come. And maybe a little truth."

[Arango:] Thus Gerry Condon calls the gas attack a "fraudulent atrocity," a "diabolical fabrication involving mass murder by western-backed terrorist organizations and the fictional 'white helmets.' " Sick rhetoric, but also desperate.

 7. Clarification about percentage of Muslims in Russia

The D/SWV list item for March 25 contained a translation from the original Russian of the anti-war appeal against the Russian bombing of Syria by the religious group "Ecumene". It included the figure that a "quarter" of Russians were Muslim. The translation might have been at fault, because different sources give figures of from 4 to 15% of Russians being Muslim, depending in part on what one means by being Muslim. <>

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Posted on April 12, 2017