Amid concerns over thousands of protestors descending on Chicago, Illinois for the G-8 Summit this spring, the event have been moved to the presidential compound at Camp David, Maryland, around an hour outside of Washington.
Leaders from the United States, Russia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and European Union were expected to arrive in Chicago this May for the annual meeting of the world’s largest economies. Protesters also had plans for the Windy City, however, and demonstration groups including Occupy Wall Street offshoots had begun orchestrating events to coincide with the meeting. Now barely two months before the event is slated to occur, the G-8 Summit is being moved outside of Chicago to Camp David, a suburban city outside of the US capital that serves as a historic retreat locale for America’s commander-in-chief.
“In May, the United States looks forward to hosting the G-8 and NATO Summits. To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners, the president is inviting his fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G-8 Summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues,” reads a statement released Monday by the White House.
After the G-8 Summit, the NATO meeting is expected to continue as planned in Chicago on May 20 through 21.
In the past, these high-profile meetings of the minds have attracted massive demonstrations, with the 2010 G-20 Summit in Toronto resulting in the largest mass arrest in the history of the entire country of Canada. In recent weeks, the Apartment Building Owners and Managers’ Association of Chicago began a series of presentations in which it explained how building managers could effectively handle riots, protests, tear gas and bomb threats.
Camp David has served as a retreat for every president since Franklin Roosevelt went into office in the 1940s and has hosted foreign dignitaries such as Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Anwar al-Sadat. Come this spring, however, it will serve as a meeting place for more than just a few heads of state. Obama, Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy are just a few of the names that are expected on this year’s guest list — and don’t expect there to be many more. Camp David is normally subjected to heightened security standards, and this spring’s G8 Summit won’t come as any exception. For protesters hoping to picket outside the grounds — a mass demonstration would be unlikely.
Coincidently, a new bill drafted by Congress, HR 347,will make it a federal offense to trespass on the grounds of any place granted Secret Service. If approved, the NATO Summit in Chicago will fall into this jurisdiction, as will the presidential retreat at Camp David. What does that mean for protesters? Even if you’re in the proximity of the premises, you could be considered a criminal for engaging in any activity that disrupts a governmental event.
NABLUS – Sewage from Israeli settlements near Salfit in the northern West Bank is flowing into nearby Palestinian communities and causing serious disease, a health ministry official said Tuesday.
Speaking at an environmental conference in Salfit, the head of Salfit’s ministry of health office said the situation had become “intolerable” for communities affected by disease from the sewage, including cases of cholera.
Waste from factories in an industrial zone inside an Israeli settlement is threatening Salfit’s agriculture, the Salfit governor said.
Barqan settlement, near Salfit’s Qana Valley, has the largest industrial complex of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Gov. Isam Abu Bakr said.
He warned that the dumping of waste in 11 sites surrounding Salfit had become a major cause of cancer in the area.
All Israeli settlements built in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.
- Israel to Take Over Land near Salfit (altahrir.wordpress.com)
Is the nuclear drought over?
When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently approved two new nuclear reactors near Augusta, Georgia, the first such decision in 32 years, there was plenty of hoopla.
It marked a “clarion call to the world,” declared Marvin S. Fertel, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute. “Nuclear energy is a critical part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy,” declared Energy Secretary Chu, who traveled in February to the Vogtle site where Westinghouse plans to build two new reactors.
But it’s too soon for nuclear boosters to pop their champagne corks. Japan’s Fukushima disaster continues to unfold nearly a year after the deadly earthquake and tsunami unleashed what’s shaping up to be the worst nuclear disaster ever. Meanwhile, a raft of worldwide reactor closures, cancellations, and postponements is still playing out. The global investment bank UBS estimates that some 30 reactors in several countries are at risk of closure, including at least two in highly pro-nuclear France.
And Siemens AG, one of the world’s largest builders of nuclear power plants, has already dumped its nuclear business.
Recently, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) credit rating agency announced that without blanket financing from consumers and taxpayers, the prospects of an American nuclear renaissance are “faint.” It doesn’t help that the nuclear price tag has nearly doubled in the past five years. Currently reactors are estimated to cost about $6 to $10 billion to build. The glut of cheap natural gas makes it even less attractive for us to nuke out.
How expensive is the bill that S&P thinks private lenders will shun?
Replacing the nation’s existing fleet of 104 reactors, which are all slated for closure by 2056, could cost about $1.4 trillion. Oh, and add another $500 billion to boost the generating capacity by 50 percent to make a meaningful impact on reducing carbon emissions. (Nuclear power advocates are touting it as a means of slowing climate change.) We’d need to fire up at least one new reactor every month, or even more often, for the next several decades.
Meanwhile, Japan — which has the world’s third-largest nuclear reactor fleet — has cancelled all new nuclear reactor projects. All but two of its 54 plants are shut down. Plus the risk of yet another highly destructive earthquake occurring even closer to the Fukushima reactors has increased, according to the European Geosciences Union.
This is particularly worrisome for Daiichi’s structurally damaged spent fuel pool at Reactor No. 4, which sits 100 feet above ground, exposed to the elements. Drainage of water from this pool resulting from another quake could trigger a catastrophic radiological fire involving about eight times more radioactive cesium than was released at Chernobyl.
Ironically, the NRC’s decision to license those two reactors has thrown a lifeline to Japan’s flagging nuclear power industry (along with an $8.3-billion U.S. taxpayer loan guarantee). Toshiba Corp. owns 87 percent of Westinghouse, which is slated to build the new reactors. Since U.S.-based nuclear power vendors disappeared years ago, all of the proposed reactors in this country are to be made by Japanese firms — Toshiba, Mitsubishi, and Hitachi — or Areva, which is mostly owned by the French government. According to the Energy Department, “major equipment would not be manufactured by U.S. facilities.”
For Southern Co., which would operate the Vogtle reactors, the NRC’s approval is just the beginning of a financial and political gauntlet it must run through. Over the strenuous objections of consumers and businesses, energy customers will shoulder the costs of financing and constructing this $17-billion project, even if the reactors are abandoned before completion. If things don’t turn out, U.S. taxpayers will also be on the hook for an $8.3-billion loan guarantee that the Energy Department has approved.
The Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office estimate that nuclear loan guarantees have a 50/50 chance of default.
Nearly four decades after the Three Mile Island accident, nuclear power remains expensive, dangerous, and too radioactive for Wall Street. The industry won’t grow unless the U.S. government props it up and the public bears the risks.
ROBERT ALVAREZ, an Institute for Policy Studies senior scholar, served as senior policy adviser to the Energy Department’s secretary from 1993 to 1999. www.ips-dc.org
There are several things missing from the march to war that we are seeing playing out at AIPAC this week. First is the complete absence of any casus belli. Media and political rhetoric aside, Iran has threatened neither Israel nor the United States and the intelligence agencies of both countries agree that Tehran has not made the decision to construct a nuclear weapon (if it indeed has the ability and resources to do so). Second is the “security threat” to the United States coming from Iran, cited by President Obama. What exactly is it and how does Iran, a backward country with an ailing economy and a military unable to project its power beyond its own borders threaten the US? How can it possibly endanger the United States to such an extent that a war which can have catastrophic economic and political consequences might be justified?
Obama, to give him his due, is holding out against immense pressure on many fronts from Israel and its friends to draw a “nuclear capability” red line that will mean war in fairly short order. He is supported by the Pentagon and the intelligence community in his resistance. But he has nevertheless turned over US foreign policy in a key part of the world to Israel, saying unconditionally that he has “Israel’s back” and that he guarantees its security. That means that no matter what Israel does, justified or not, the US will get involved, something that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands very well. It would be war with no concern for what the consequences might be for the American people because, after all, Netanyahu could care less about the US except insofar as it is a source of material and political support.
Obama has also opened the door to a replay of Iraq. He has pledged to use military force against Iran to “prevent” Tehran’s development of a nuclear weapon. Prevent is the key word as it means preemption. Preemption will be based on evidence that Iran is building a weapon. As with Iraq, evidence can be fabricated or planted to suit. There have already been instances of fabricated intelligence being generated to create the impression that Iran is not only seeking a weapon but is also advancing a project to be able to mount it on a ballistic missile. It is not hard for a sophisticated intelligence agency like Mossad to fake the necessary evidence, that will then be picked up by the usual suspects in the US media and in congress, to make the case for war.
We are seeing something awful unfolding before our very eyes – an essentially phony case for going to war being driven by a foreign country and its domestic lobby with the political class too terrified to say no and a complicit media beating the drum.
New York City appears to be going all out to win a world award for racism and bigotry. On February 24 the New York Post published a cartoon (1) depicting three men with long noses, long beards, turbans, and dishdashas assembling bombs in a locked upstairs tenement room. One of the men has a bomb strapped to his waist. He is looking out a window at a New York Police Department car in the street. The cartoon shows him speaking into the phone: “Hello, AP Press? . . . I’d like to register a complaint against the N.Y.P.D. for spying on us.”
This racist cartoon is an attempt at satire of an Associated Press story of February 20 exposing a blanket campaign of surveillance of Arabs and Muslims in New Jersey and upstate New York by the New York City Police Department. The surveillance was not only well outside New York City’s jurisdiction but also had no basis in any kind of criminal investigation. It was what the police would call an intelligence gathering operation, and what everyone else would call profiling and spying. It targeted Arabs and Muslims for being Arabs and Muslims, doing such things as attending mosques and meeting in campus student groups. The operation has been funded by the White House and advised by the CIA through both the Bush and Obama administrations. With this funding, the NYPD invented a new role for itself as a regional secret police force. Others have commented that had this cartoon depicted any other religious or ethnic group it would have been immediately condemned for its bigotry. Indeed, so would the entire NYPD spying program. But the “war on terror” has made it open season on Arabs and Muslims, so that instead of apologies from New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly and mayor Bloomberg, we got a back-in-your-face defense that the police are only trying to keep New York safe, and you’re lucky they are. The billionaire mayor used the mind-boggling reactionary argument that without the police doing what they do (destroying constitutional rights, among them freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly), we could not enjoy our freedoms and constitutional rights.
Not reported by any of the media so far was an outrageous attempt by an NYPD undercover agent to ensnare a young man as far away as Boston in a plot to undergird the war on terror by actually creating a “terrorist.” The young man was Tarek Mehanna, an Egyptian American and Muslim from Sudbury, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. Tarek wrote a statement (2) about this experience, which was read aloud to a rally on Boston Common on February 25. The statement says:
“In late 2005, I was approached by an individual whom I’d never met. Over the course of two years, he attempted to befriend me, and gradually began shifting otherwise mundane conversations to suggesting the need to “do something.” Eventually, this “something” that he was hounding me to “do” emerged as a plan of his to find American soldiers returning from Iraq (whose addresses he supposedly had) and kill them. He would show up at my house uninvited, and always try to steer the conversation in this directions, and I would steer it away and bury it, but he would never give up. Finally, I told this individual to never contact me again. “
Perhaps because of the fact that once the police have made someone a victim, they never let that person go, Tarek went on to being targeted by the FBI, who wanted him to become an informant at his mosque. When Tarek refused, the FBI simply made up stories about him, saying that he was planning to shoot up a shopping mall. This story was splashed all over the press, and Tarek then entered into a special hell prepared for him by the federal judicial system in the shape of the notorious Michael Sullivan, then US Attorney in Boston, and his corrupt prosecutor, Jeffrey Auerhahn, who brought him up on charges of terrorism (3).
Tarek’s statement goes on to say:
“Two years later, I found myself here in a Plymouth jail awaiting trial on terrorism charges. From day one, I related this to my lawyers, and that I was 100% sure this had been an attempt by the FBI to entrap me in one of their artificial “plots” so that they could have additional firepower in this case. But my lawyers explained that without some acknowledgement from the government, it would be impossible to prove. So we filed numerous motions over the course of the two years before trial requesting exculpatory evidence (i.e., evidence that would be in my favor) from the government regarding this, but they feigned ignorance, and said that they had nothing.”
From the time of his arrest by the FBI in October 2009 to the time of his trial in November 2011, the shopping mall shoot-up charge was forgotten and an equally bogus new charge of “material support for terrorism” was created. But a few months before that trial began Tarek’s lawyer got a call:
“Finally, in the early summer of 2011, my lawyer, Jay Carney, got a call from an Associated Press reporter who said that two sources within the NYPD had contacted her and confirmed to her that the NYPD had sent an undercover agent up to Boston to “befriend” me, and try to prod me into carrying out a “terrorist attack,” and that I had refused to go along (bingo!). Furthermore, these sources in the NYPD told this journalist that when the prosecutors in my case found out about this – the same prosecutors at my trial, Aloke Chakravarty and Jeffrey Auerhahn – they became frantic and called the NYPD to come up to Boston for a meeting, where they admonished them for “interfering” in my case. With this information, my lawyers filed an additional motion asking the judge to compel the government to disclose these details so that they could be mentioned at trial – the logic being that this is a “terrorism” trial, and here was an attempt by the government to actually push me to carry out an act of “terrorism,” and I had refused, and they were trying to cover this up. The motion was filed on July 15th, 2011.”
Now comes federal judge George O’Toole, an apparently affable man in black robes who appeared in court to have no prejudice one way or the other against the defendant, but who acted behind the scenes, in all rulings, from the beginning, to aid the prosecution and hobble the defense of now 29 year old Tarek Mehanna. At a hearing in August 2011, when the subject of airing NYPD’s role in court, before a jury, was brought up, Judge O’Toole made a cheating, underhanded agreement with the prosecutors behind closed doors. Tarek reports that his lawyer . . .
“ . . . mentioned to the judge that we were seeking exculpatory evidence from the government, as they had thus far given us none. And then he mentioned that from the items we sought were details of an attempt by the NYPD to prod me to engage in a domestic attack, which I refused, etc. This was apparently the first the prosecutors knew that we were privy to this, and the surprise was evident on their faces. The judge asked them if they knew anything about this, and Mr. Chakravarty’s response was an ambiguous “we have no information from our office on this, and it is the defendant who should know,” to which Jay stood up again, faced Mr. Chakravarty, and asked: “So you’re willing to say, on record, before the court, that no members of the NYPD came up to Boston at anytime to meet with you to discuss an attempt to prod Tarek Mehanna to engage in an act of terrorism that he refused to go along with?” The prosecutor’s response, verbatim, was: “Well, I didn’t say that either…”
O’Toole said he would wait to rule on the motion, and immediately, the prosecutors requested a private meeting with him in the judge’s chambers. He granted their request. My lawyers stood outside the judge’s door as the prosecutors walked in and protested: “Well, that’s not fair. How are you going to meet with the judge privately about this motion, and we have no idea what is being said?” But the judge met with them for almost 20 minutes. We will never know what was said in that meeting, but the next morning, O’Toole denied our motion, and that was the last anyone had ever heard of it: nothing about this topic was allowed to be mentioned to the jury at trial. Not a single word.”
This is just one story about one individual who was a part of NYPD’s attack on Arabs and Muslims. If the cartoon in the New York Post were accurate, it would show three white men in coats and ties, representing the CIA, the FBI, and New York City undercover police, bringing all the weight of the state against a young man (pictured on a torture rack) to present him to the public as someone about to commit a crime which they – the police – had not only thought up and provided the materials for, but miraculously “prevented.” The FBI agent would be calling the press to say, “Hey, we have another phony terrorism story for you – let’s keep the war going strong.” Outside the window would be an ignorant US public, eyes wide, ready to believe anything they were told.
The games of the police have consequences, as those in prison well know. Tarek Mehanna has now been in jail, in solitary confinement, for 866 days. He is real. His family is real. This racist scapegoating affects their lives. The NYPD, Mayor Bloomberg, and the Obama administration are not protecting anybody. They’re attacking innocent people in order to prop up a war that keeps them in power. This is the height of dishonesty and cowardice.
1 Cartoon republished at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/nypd-surveillance
2 See statement at Free Tarek website: http://www.freetarek.com/my-arrest-a-continued-explanation/
3 Richard Hugus, “FBI Repression in Boston”, February 2011, http://www.onepalestine.org/resources/articles/FBI_Repression_In_Boston.html
From the Alawite Fantasy to the Surrealism of the UN
More than a year after civil unrest broke out and plunged part of Syria into the chaos of the ‘Arab Spring’, the Baath government remains firmly in control and the majority of the country is calm; almost untouched by an opposition which is scattered and confined to the cities of Homs and Hama, as well as a few towns on the Turkish and Lebanese border. The main reported cases of unrest are linked to regular attacks from Salafist bands which are of an extremely violent nature and more importantly, the Free Syrian Army. The latter counts amid its ranks numerous Qataris and Libyans, all whom have been trained in the art of urban guerilla warfare by the French army in refugee camps, which provide perfect bases from which to operate and orchestrate attacks.
How can one explain the resilience of this regime? A regime which is more or less in complete control despite facing what is usually described as a “revolutionary populist uprising”? One which is determined to overthrow the “Alawite dictatorship” from the political and economic realms of Syrian society, the so-called privilege of the Alawi, a community which accounts for no more than about 10% of the population?
Perhaps it is because the reality does not correspond to this over simplified equation.
Indeed, the communitarian and religious Syrian patchwork is far from closing ranks on the Alawi population. Moreover, this group, do not in fact monopolize the political landscape.
Therefore, even back in the 1980s, when Hafez Al-Assad, father of the incumbent president, Bashir, and author of the “Alawi coup d’état”, succumbed to serious health issues, he had designed a directorate of six members to run the Syrian government – All six were Sunnis.
Furthermore, all the prime ministers who have served in Bashir Al-Assad’s government have been Sunnis. Similarly key positions including the Ministers of Defence, Finance and Oil and the heads of the numerous police corps and the secret service do not depend on the Alawi community. The Druze, Christian, Shiite and Kurd minorities also benefit from governmental representation.
This would explain why the opposition is a fractious minority whose support base lies outside Syria’s borders rather than at the heart of the population.
In these circumstances it is understandable that Russia (and China), treading carefully in order to preserve her last card in the Middle East, resolutely opposes the pressure to sign up to the latest United Nations Security Council resolution. This would undoubtedly lead Syria into a scenario similar to Libya, where tens of thousands of civilians would perish as during the destruction of Sirte (and Russia has asked for there to be a UN commission to investigate these Atlantic war crimes).
The most striking element in this whole situation is that the UN has neither the right nor the objective, to decide the nature of a sovereign government, less still the identity of its head of state; meaning that the text proposed to the Security Council by the Arab league, calling for the departure of President Bashir Al-Assad, a text supported by Qatar with substantial French backing, is directly opposed to the basic principles of international law and completely surreal.
Furthermore, if the Baath regime is dictatorial and brutal, so are numerous factions of the opposition: an opposition which is seriously divided and made up of groups with conflicting objectives, none of which necessarily represent the Syrian population; for on the one hand there are the radical Islamic factions, who massacre their opponents and commit atrocities against the military (kidnappings, mutilations, decapitations…) but also civilians who refuse to support their objectives. This is why Russia has demanded that any UN resolution must be applied not only to the government forces but to all factions resorting to violence, including those supported by foreign states, specifically France and Qatar.
It would therefore seem that from an Alawite fantasy to the surrealism of the United Nations, Syria as depicted by the mass media certainly bears very little resemblance to the reality of the actual situation.
Pierre Piccinin is a professor of political science at the Ecole Européen de Bruxelles I.
- Israel’s No.1 asset in the Senate calls for airstrikes against Syria (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Is the BBC really aligned with warmongers? Will it continue to play the same role it played in months leading to the invasion of Iraq? Many of the BBC’s reports and programmes containing a reference to Iran alarmingly support this assumption.
While the BBC claims impartiality since the end of World War II, it is trotting a very delicate line of deliberate bias in many different and usually complex ways. This bias becomes more visible in matters of international affairs compared to domestic politics.
Many believe that the difference between the BBC and other corporate media is that the BBC’s manipulation of the public’s mind is more sophisticated in that it is more subtle and implicit and therefore more effective.
While there are countless examples of biased reporting and analyses in the history of the BBC, probably the most bitter and lasting for Iranians is its key role in bringing down the popular democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh in the joint coup d’etat by the British and American intelligence services which reinstated the US client Monarchy for another 25 years in Iran.
The role of corporate media in illegal war against Iraq is unquestionable and has been verified by many investigators including Paul Long and Tim Wall. The false statements used to justify the invasion of Iraq not only were not questioned but also were reinforced by the media. The documentary, The War You Don’t See, directed by the veteran investigative journalist, John Pilger, shows shocking evidence of how corporate media including the BBC paved the way for military intervention in Iraq. In the current western manufactured hype over Iran’s nuclear program, which has led to the imposition of draconian sanctions and the threat of military strikes, the BBC plays its role very well, as an instrument of war, by its biased programs and reporting.
One such report written by Jonathan Markus, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent was broadcast on 27 February. Without explicitly saying, in his article “How Israel might strike at Iran”, Jonathan Markus assumes and tries to inculcate also into the reader’s subconscious the idea that there is no question about the legitimacy of such a war; the war is justified and the only question to be discussed is how and what it might look like.
Although the programme starts with the “potential nuclear-armed Iran threat” but gives the impression that this potential threat is very likely to become a reality, and then moves on to address Israel’s worries. This and similar programmes by the BBC by discussing procedural details of possible military operations without questioning the legitimacy and the legality of such operations, serve to normalise the idea of war and prepare the public’s mind for a military confrontation with Iran. Now there is still time for all peace loving people, for all those concerned with emancipation and justice, to oppose another catastrophic illegal war before it becomes too late. Given the crucial role that corporate media played in manipulating the public opinion in preparation for the invasion of Iraq, the campaign against war should start with a relentless opposition against biased pro-war media programs and reports.
- Once Again, War Is Prime Time and Journalism’s Role Is Taboo (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel warns time short to stop Iranian nuclear plans – BBC News (bbc.co.uk)
The United States will ensure Israel retains “military superiority” over its adversaries as the country faces the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday.
“This is an ironclad pledge which says that the United States will provide whatever support is necessary for Israel to maintain military superiority over any state or coalition of states, as well as non-state actors,” Panetta told the top pro-Israel lobby in Washington, AIPAC.
He touted President Barack Obama’s record of security assistance to Israel, saying the administration has “dramatically” increased military aid since Obama entered the White House in 2009, despite the superpower’s ongoing economic woes.
“This year, the president’s budget requests US$3.1 billion in security assistance to Israel, compared to US$2.5 billion in 2009,” said Panetta, according to a prepared text of the speech delivered to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Panetta cited advanced missile and rocket defenses and plans to deliver the new F-35 fighter jet to Israel, which he said would provide the country with “unquestioned” air superiority.
But amid growing speculation that Israel may conduct a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, Panetta made no mention of more powerful “bunker buster” bombs that Israel would need to reach some deeply buried targets.
It remains unclear if the Pentagon has provided Israel with the most powerful conventional bomb in the US arsenal, the massive ordnance penetrator (MOP), which the Air Force says could strike facilities 200 feet underground.
The Pentagon chief echoed comments by Obama on Sunday, saying the United States would not tolerate Iran obtaining nuclear weapons and was ready to take military action if necessary.
“Let me be clear: We do not have a policy of containment – we have a policy of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” he said to applause from members of AIPAC.
Senator John McCain, who appears to be more concerned about Arab civilians allegedly killed by their own governments than he is about American servicemen deliberately killed by Israel, is doing his best to get the U.S. into another disastrous war for Israel:
“What opposition groups in Syria need most urgently is relief from Assad’s tank and artillery sieges in the many cities that are still contested. Homs is lost for now, but Idlib, and Hama, and Qusayr, and Deraa, and other cities in Syria could still be saved. But time is running out. Assad’s forces are on the march. Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is necessary, but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to stop the slaughter and save innocent lives. The only realistic way to do so is with foreign airpower.
“Therefore, at the request of the Syrian National Council, the Free Syrian Army, and Local Coordinating Committees inside the country, the United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces. To be clear: This will require the United States to suppress enemy air defenses in at least part of the country.
“The ultimate goal of airstrikes should be to establish and defend safe havens in Syria, especially in the north, in which opposition forces can organize and plan their political and military activities against Assad. These safe havens could serve as platforms for the delivery of humanitarian and military assistance – including weapons and ammunition, body armor and other personal protective equipment, tactical intelligence, secure communications equipment, food and water, and medical supplies. These safe havens could also help the Free Syrian Army and other armed groups in Syria to train and organize themselves into more cohesive and effective military forces, likely with the assistance of foreign partners.