Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Three Years After Houla: Lessons Remembered, Forgotten, and Never Known

May 26, 2015
(edits 5-29, last edits May 20, 2017)

It's now been three years since the once-pivotal "Houla Massacre" of about 110 civilians in the last government-held part of the al-Houla region, on May 25, 2012. To this day, our work (the research by A Closer Look On Syria (ACLOS - overview post), the two reports from that in 2013 and 2014, this site, and related articles) is still the best reading of the evidence anyone has ever assembled towards understanding the event. With my improvements, the Wikipedia page is not quite as horribly misleading as it was (still planning on other revisions). And nearly a year after I published the challenge space, still no errors called out even where I sought it out. Many can still claim they've just never seen this but no one can claim it's been addressed or debunked.
To mark the date, I will finally upload to the CIWCL site Houla Massacre Victims, 2014 Morgue Photos (graphic), 30-page PDF document collecting victim photos from a short-lived opposition site on Facebook (PDF direct download link). The family-grouped names, with name-linked photos, was a bit of a treasure-trove of (alleged) information I cited in the 2014 report and in later findings on this site. I finished this PDF, and meant to publish it, back in January. But now, about a year after they were published on Facebook and some months after they were pulled back down, I've made sure these images and attached notes can still be seen and used to help understand the crime.

2017 note: after two years and few views, I've taken down the previous images of one victim.

For newbies, I could re-cap what we've been able to establish. But that's summarized somewhat in the long comment below, and explained in more detail all over this site. I guess a link to Houla Massacre Primer could help for anyone really behind.

And I'll check around to see if any liars or sadly mistaken folks are exploiting the anniversary to push further punishment of Syria's people and the government they rely on. Upon looking, I see Gareth Bayley, UK Special Representative for Syria, is doing that. He penned an Orwellian little piece called "Remembering Houla - Why Sectarianism Cannot Be Part of Syria's Future" May 25, 2015 - at Al-Arabiya and/or Huffington Post - and also on the FCO blog
Three years ago today, a massacre took place in the Syrian village of Taldou in Houla, in northern Syria. According to the UN, 108 civilians were brutally murdered, including 34 women and 49 children. More even than the death toll, the clear sectarian nature of the killings sparked an international outcry. The UN and twelve other countries, including the UK, expelled Syrian diplomats. Three years on, as we look to Syria's future, we mustn't forget the shock and horror of that day, 25 May, 2012.
... (highly slanted and inaccurate political boilerplate to support his upside-down point)...
Final point. Let's keep firmly focused on the need to bring perpetrators of massacres like Houla to justice....
Of course, continuing on the Islamist rebels' fictitious script like this jackass and so many other propose, is putting the perpetrators in power over more and more of Syria's people. They're still in charge of Houla, the first prize the "world community" handed them in thanks for the massacre.

Knife allegedly left behind by Shia (Shi'ite) killers at one of the Houla Massacre sites. Inscription may say "we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Hussein" - the UN's investigators mention this being brought to their attention by rebels who happen to be, or work with, Sunni extremist propagandists.
So I'll also mark the anniversary with a hefty comment there (at the Huffington posting), and also here in case it disappears.
In the months after the massacre, Mr. Bayley's government along with others was encouraging the rise of a Sunni extremist "prinicipality" in the desert between Baghdad and Damascus, to "Isolate" the "Assad regime." Now he goes on about that terrorism-beleaguered government as the purveyor of the sectarianism leading to ISIS in just that area. Considering what we've heard about the Houla massacre and the like, it makes some sense. However, we hear total nonsense and Orwellian inversions of the truth all the time, whether we recognize it or not ... 

Saad st. RPG incident
I for one am all for remembering the heck out of the Houla Massacre. What we're supposed to forget is that we never did really figure out what happened - we just decided. Gen. Mood's missing report with conflicting stories just went quiet, as everyone heard the other story anyway and blithely dismissed it. Rebel "terrorists?" "What lies!" Not everyone knows this yet, and lucky for people like Mr. Bayley, the Houla Massacre was done immediately after a rebel victory taking out 4 of Taldou's 5 security posts, as careful video analysis all but proves (please see my report The Battle for the Houla Massacre and the associated challenge space that sits empty). The UN's probe (CoI, led by a Washington policy think-tank director) managed to fudge the rebel victory down to two bases, but did so with inadequate reason. These overrun posts were in some cases across the street from massacre sites. 

In that context, government loyalist claims - that rebel "terrorists" had murdered government-supporting Sunnis, relatives of the parliament's news secretary, and former Sunnis who converted to Shi'ism - make more sense than most would like. In fact, in lining up with the video evidence of a rebel victory, it becomes the leading theory. It carries far more weight than do the illogical and inconsistent stories from rebel-supplied "witnesses" and "survivors." Consider: everyone cites the UN and the rebel witnesses, but they disagree; the CoI mentions half of the Battle for the Houla Massacre while the "survivors" deny it altogether. It seems the CoI was fudging between the truth and the rebel lie, carefully coming out closer to the lie side.

It's an un-realized scandal, the whitewash of the rebels' Houla Massacre. And we don't know who drew the blades here. Jabhat al-Nusra - the first beneficiary of the West's pro-Islamist strategy in Syria and Iraq - in an early form is quite likely. This al Qaeda group now runs much of the north of Syria, getting regular help from the "White Helmets" Mr Bayley lauds. He presumes since they're a Western PR stunt they must be pro-freedom and equality like they say, but the "White Helmets" often wave the black flag behind which JaN (aka not-ISIS) executes government loyalists and Alawites at will. And so in all corners of Syria, Sunni extremist sectarianism is increasingly a part of Syria's future as British/Western/allied policy works like intended - that is, the more and more Syria as a sovereign nation ceases to exist.

Thanks for allowing this contrary view to be aired.
(shorter version also at al-Arabiya in 2 parts - but these don't appear and bizarrely, links to the article always say 404 not found error - you have to search it and click the link from Bayley's page to see it - at least I do. Can anyone else try? Click the link http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2015/05/25/ or paste into a new window and you get 404? Same exact url you see once you do find it) (a couple day later: still did not appear - only one comment, also critical. I left a third saying "I submitted a comment in two parts, the second one ending with a thanks for allowing a contrary view. They weren't approved." Headed "thanks for nothing?"
I also have some thoughts coming (not ready yet) about the recently classified DIA documents showing conscious plans to foster an Islamist menace between Syria and Iraq - what eventually spawned ISIS/Daesh and before that and some hope after that, spawned al Qaeda's Jabhat al-Nusra - and how this strategy sits in the timeline: after the Houla Massacre but before the emergence of JaN and its captured chlorine and "kitchen sarin" - and before the escalating string of chemical massacres leading up to the Ghouta alleged Sarin attack of August 2013 that supposedly killed over 1,000 civilians and nearly got the rebels a direct foreign military intervention.

Also we could say it's to mark Houla that I'll re-mention a recently revived investigation of some finer points of the Ghouta Chemical Massacre(s) (the hub for that) and a recent re-publication of al-Bayda massacre findings - for a powerful Houla-Ghouta-Bayda triumverate. These three primate massacres are arguably the three most called on in support of eliminating the "Assad regime." And to varying degrees (high to extreme) we have reclaimed all three - besides many others of less influence - from slavery to rebel lies, and set them on a better path towards truth and maybe even justice. That hasn't been widely noticed yet, but it's true.

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