Tag Archives: Assad

War and Pieces

This world seems to become less and less of a good place. I feel that I could be able to stick my head in the sand were it not from my law assignment, which is making decently progress. I feel that focussing on this as much as I can drains me, but the fact that things are lining up feels like a rush. The feeling that definite defeat is leaving me as the feeling of stalemate and even the tiniest partial feeling of a small victory is just too good a feeling. After this 2 more weeks and a final exam. That feeling is one we do not experience too often. We tend to be slightly ahead of the curve, go with the flow (and the masses) and in some cases be a little ahead of the pack. So in that regard making it from lets academically state ‘a state of depression’ into ‘the sunny feeling of victory’ might be my only reference to what drug users chase. I got there all by myself.

Yet, this is not about me. Not completely. You see, in the back of my mind is something that John Oliver stated regarding Toyota and how it is the car of choice for ISIS. Global Research (at http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-mystery-of-isis-toyota-army-solved/5480921) claims: “So far the UK has sent around £8m of “non-lethal” aid, according to official papers seen by The Independent, comprising five 4×4 vehicles with ballistic protection; 20 sets of body armour; four trucks (three 25 tonne, one 20 tonne); six 4×4 SUVs; five non-armoured pick-ups; one recovery vehicle; four fork-lifts; three advanced “resilience kits” for region hubs, designed to rescue people in emergencies; 130 solar powered batteries; around 400 radios; water purification and rubbish collection kits; laptops; VSATs (small satellite systems for data communications) and printers“, in addition we see “It’s fair to say that whatever pipeline the US State Department and the British government used to supply terrorists in Syria with these trucks was likely used to send additional vehicles before and after these reports were made public“. This is an implied action, not a real action. In this two parts get to me.

  1. Why are the origin of these trucks so hard to find? The sketchiness of the information implies that certain parties have less satellite oversight than they would like to.
  2. If the implications are true, why were these cars not seeded?

In the first there are of course all kinds of issues. SIGINT will never reveal what they actually have and those assigning SIGINT duties will remain silent too, yet in all this another cog is operating. This is seen when we consider the CNN title ‘U.S. Treasury inquires about ISIS use of Toyota vehicles‘, can anyone explain to me how the US treasury got involved in matters regarding a Japanese brand? That the State Department and the alphabet groups are all over it makes perfect sense, the US treasury does not, not even the Secret Service (who is stretched thin these days), would explain that push, because the people involved are unlikely to be on their front page. You see, this gives a clear feeling that someone in the US Treasury got a phone call (or they want to focus away from governmental bankruptcy papers).

Did no one wonder about the starting paragraph: “The U.S. Treasury is seeking information from Toyota about how ISIS has gotten hold of the automaker’s trucks, which have been shown in the terror group’s propaganda videos“? The second paragraph is even more puzzling: “Toyota said it is part of a broader U.S. Treasury inquiry looking more closely at how international supply chains and capital flow into the Middle East“. This means either they followed the money towards the end of the line, which means that there is a direct American link (which is another issue), or someone is demanding answers. John Oliver gave a funny nudge towards GM (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BRTEXomD6s), yet consider the GM earnings release: “Jul 23, 2015 – Net revenue in the second quarter of 2015 was $38.2 billion, compared to $39.6 billion in the second quarter of 2014“, so are we awake now?

In addition the second issue on seeding. Did no one consider seeding those exported cars with passive id chips? Those puppies can be placed nearly everywhere. You see, you can do more than just keep a DVD in the store, you can also tag a part of the car you never see, after which you can keep track of those puppies. It is a low tech level of low jacking. Try to find a one by one inch sticker on a metal frame. Good luck I say!

So as I am winning the war with myself, there is now an implied war being lost by allied forces. We can state that intentionally or not supplying ISIS is not a win. Even if that was not the case, even if the rebels had been provided with equipment, the fact that it goes to ISIS in mint condition is another worry, it implies that rebels have no clue (and no James Dean acting skills either), whilst in addition the lines of the rebels are getting more and more blurry. This now reflects on ‘U.S. Weaponry Is Turning Syria into Proxy War with Russia‘ (at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/13/world/middleeast/syria-russia-airstrikes.html). The quote “With the enhanced insurgent firepower and with Russia steadily raising the number of airstrikes against the government’s opponents, the Syrian conflict is edging closer to an all-out proxy war between the United States and Russia” is also alarming. Not the US/Russia escalation, but the danger in light of earlier revelations that there is the danger that ISIS gets a hand on some of this stuff and hits Israel. Consider the speculative event that an Iron Dome within the Birya, Safed and Rosh Pina Airport triangle gets hit by a confiscated US TOW? That puppy needs to get within 2.5 miles, but still, if it gets done the moral push, the danger of all-out war and the escalation that ISIS gets to take control Gaza are all options that are not completely impossible, even as the current leadership of Hamas is downplaying ISIS in their region. Hamas has been playing a dangerously stupid game in Gaza and their power is not as good as they claim it to be. The fact that more and more extreme claims are met with lack of determined discipline in their own following gives rise to that claim. In equal measure, there is still a danger that some of the Russian materials will also make it to ISIS hands, which just amplifies the dangers over there. Like Hamas, Hezbollah talks up a storm, yet in all this the ‘thousands’ of missiles they claim to have would have been fired already if they were at least 3% dependable, the Russian hardware could change that. Is it enough? That is hard to say as there are several tiers of data missing. Hezbollah has been playing certain facts closer to the chest, which does not mean that they have what they need, but in all this, several sides have claimed that the Iranian – Hezbollah supply line of missiles is a fact. That part was conveniently kept out of those ‘reliable’ papers for a long time as they commented on a nuclear Iran. It is one side Israel protested against for a very long time. So as an organised war falls to pieces, we see that there is a fractural war going on, each with their own agenda and many pieces having a hatred of Israel. We can consider that part when we look at the quote “the failed $500 million Pentagon program that was cancelled last week after it trained only a handful of fighters. That was unsuccessful largely because few recruits would agree to its goal of fighting only the militant Islamic State and not Mr. Assad“, which was also in the NY Times. The quote should in my mind have ended with “and not Mr. Assad or Israel“, two words that make all the difference. Two words kept out of papers, quotes and off the record, but in the minds and hearts that some of these people who received the training. Many of them with family ties to Hezbollah, even though not directly.

As I see it, we are watching pieces of a kinetic puzzle. They are moving and the watchers that should be watching every piece are lacking resources on both the hardware and software side, which means that events pass by unnoticed, giving the involved parties less warning and more losses, not just now, but down the track too. When this escalates beyond control the providers of current hardware will only have themselves to blame in the end, but as those involved parties will never end up being in the firing line, they might not care. That could start a phase where ‘it was not my responsibility‘ and ‘I did not care‘ end up being one and the same, which could end up being the most dangerous of escalations.

 

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Patrons of Al-Qaeda

Many people have some form of religion, which is fine. To have a personal believe in something that is bigger than yourself or bigger then that what you see is not a bad thing. Many Christians have their father, their son and their holy ghost. Some go the other way and give credence to Satan, the anti-Christ and the false prophet. I cannot vouch for any of that. I agree that there is more than this in the universe, but what?

No matter how that part falls, it is likely that Al-Qaeda believes in their personal ‘information’ trinity.

They would be Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. These three people have done more to support Al-Qaeda then Osama Bin Laden ever could.

Assange, who is still hiding in an embassy, is the lowest transgressor of the three. First of all, as an Australian he did not really break any laws (although some debate should be had over hindering the actions of an ally under war time conditions). The public view is that on one side he should be nailed to a cross and on the other side he should be heralded. Information is often a lot more complex than many consider. If you want an example, you only need to look at this week’s situation where Assad is now blocking peace talks. Should there be any surprise?

I still am not completely convinced he was directly involved with the Sarin attacks; the issue here is that too much intelligence is questionable. If the USA had shown ALL OF IT publicly, the doubt might not have been there. Yet, the reality is whether they actually had hard evidence on who did it. Let us not forget that the evidence collected in the investigation was all about whether it had happened, not who did it. And guess what, Al-Qaeda was an element in Syria too, so what exactly did happen? Watching Secretary of State John Kerry go on a plane with his briefcase, shown on the news like he is some kind of rock star is not helping anyone either. It seemed as empty to me as a PowerPoint on some concept that no one wants to spend money on.

It shows two possible sides, either they have actual evidence that needs to remain a secret (which no one seemed to be accepting), or they actually didn’t have any and we were watching some version of the Punch and Judy show!

The other side is one that Assange was not into, the acts of terrorism by Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were not shown, we saw through WikiLeaks just one side of it and it changed the overall balance.

Then WikiLeaks released thousands of diplomatic cables, which I consider to be an act of utter stupidity, the information was one-sided, so the US opposition (all of them) get several free punches into play and as such, US recovery is still being hindered. This is the ‘bad’ side of Julian Assange. Their one sided act destabilised many events. Yes, there is a case to be made, but by not exposing the other side, we get a one-sided situation. In the end, the damage is done and even as there might not be any criminal activity by Julian Assange, we should ask questions.

In case the reader thinks that ‘actions’ against Julian Assange should be made, then consider that many in the financial industry did nothing ‘criminals’ either, even though thousands became homeless because of their ‘non-criminal’ actions.

By the way, remember the quote by CNBC (and many others), somewhere in 2010: “WikiLeaks honcho Julian Assange told Andy Greenberg at Forbes that he was in possession of a trove of documents that ‘could take down a bank or two.’ The documents wouldn’t necessarily show illegality but they would reveal an ‘ecosystem of corruption’ at one of the biggest banks in the United States. WikiLeaks would release it ‘early next year.’

They never came! So was this about intelligence, or about positioning banks in an even stronger place? Is it not interesting that Al-Qaeda’s patron number three and number one patron are all about neutering governments, whilst the banks stay out of play? Is it such a far fetching thought that these two idealists get played by those who believe greed is all?

In the middle we see Bradley Manning. This is not some ‘foreigner’; this was a member of the US military. In my view, he is a traitor plain and simple. A private, without any in depth education thought he had it all figured out, decides on US military policy. Which is interesting as many military members above the rank of Colonel are still trying to figure out what the best course of action is, even those with Ivy League degrees. The only positive thing from all this is that the military needs to seriously start to address its mental health issues, but beyond that small sparkle of recognition, this person was more than a small danger.

That part is not addressed even as the news still discusses the winner of this unholy threesome. Three days ago USA today published information on the fact that anti-leak software had still not been installed. I think it is even worse than many think it is. Some of these applications have (as any good application would) powerful log files. Even when we look at non-military solutions we see the following:

“The client’s log file is located at <user_directory>/Palantir/<version>/logs/client.log”

We can see at Palantir’s wiki what it logs, and depending on the settings it can give a lot (at https://wiki.palantir.com/pgkb/does-the-palantir-product-do-any-logging.html)

By the way, one needed only to change three settings to really log a lot:

# log4j.logger.com.palantir.services=error # package level
# log4j.logger.com.palantir.serveres.Nexus=warn # class level
# log4j.logger.MyLabeledLogger=info # specific logger

Removing ‘# ‘ on each line was all it would take.

This one warning gives a final view “Note that we do NOT recommend enabling logging below the warn level for production scenarios.” which means that all logging is possible mapping out the active military network in real time as the user muddles along.

This is not about Palantir, or even anti-Palantir. It is a software solution that part of the Intelligence community is currently using. IBM Modeler and SAS Miner are both data mining tools with similar abilities (and there are more). They all have these options as it is needed to make their products go smoothly. So when Bradley Manning gave it all away, he really gave it all away! The consequence might have (or could be resulting) in deep targeted attacks against a military server system. The question becomes how good is the anti-leak software? As many logging is set at higher levels (read administrator), many of them would be able to log events unhindered by many prying eyes (it is not realistic to monitor all logs on even 1 server). Even if it is all covered, who else has access to just read these log files? It is not uncommon to negate log files, as their users are usually vetted for use of the application. LOG files can however show more than many bargain for.

Unless the server architecture has been re-arranged, there is plenty of worry whether these servers are safe at this time, because log files are inherently their and needed, they are not linked to a password change and often, they do not get reconfigured away from their standard configuration as the case has been with plenty of application that it would hinder smooth operations.

Last on the list of the Patron Threesome is Edward Snowden. I have mentioned him often enough, so I will not go through it all again. He is in my view a traitor and not some ‘holier than thou’ protector. He is not some idealist, too much pointed to him making a getaway with the eye on some quick bucks (and many of them), I might be wrong, but that is how I see him. As he showed us how ‘naughty’ the NSA was, did he show us how unscrupulous Microsoft seems to be?

That view can be seen through an article in Techbeat just 4 days ago. The first quote is “Microsoft is developing a new technology to replace cookies. This work is similar to projects being undertaken by Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Tracking cookies have come under scrutiny recently from regulators by many concerned about privacy; certain types of cookies (Third party tracking cookies) are now easily blocked through built-in functions and extensions/add-ons within main web browsers.

The second one from the same article is “This technology should also include Microsoft services including their search engine Bing. Tracking in mobile devices remains a key point. The big advantage of Microsoft’s emerging technology is that it could track a user across a platform.

So basically, this reads like: ‘we the consumer used to have a little privacy, but soon, thanks to Microsoft, that privacy might be gone forever, allowing for non-stop online harassment wherever we are‘ So, That Snowden fellow never gave us anything on that, did he? Even though the NSA should have been aware of such plans long before Techbeat had a clue. Does the reader still think he is such an idealist?

Yet, on the other side, he has shown one important weakness. The US intelligence branch is on that same low level as the organisation that in the 50’s used to be laughingly referred to as ‘British Intelligence’. The question is not just how weak is the NSA seems to be; it links to questions regarding the weakness that GCHQ and its current Commonwealth peers might have. There are in addition issues with the personal digital safety of people on a global scale. Not because the NSA is scanning to identify terrorist networks, but if one person (Snowden) could get away, is there anyone else who just wanted money and gave their data download to cyber criminals? There is absolute 0% guarantee that this did not happen, so in how much danger are our details?

So, why this blog today? Many do this at the start, but in certain light this had to be done at the very end. It is not just about their acts, but also about the acts you and I undertake. We willingly give out our details to Facebook (including a beheading, but excluding exposed breasts), LinkedIn and Google+, yet many scream about ‘some government‘ seeing what we are doing and who we are doing it with (or without).

The twisted world we allowed to be created is likely to throw us at least two more curve balls before Christmas. Enjoy!

 

 

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Tactical choices of inactivity

I reckon that many are awaiting the events as they are unfolding currently in Syria. Will we be investing in Boeing Defence stock, should these missiles be used? (At $1.2M a pop that would mean a nice increase of revenue for Boeing). Will we change our investments in oil and gas as the Syrian situation continues?

These are the questions that matter. The hundreds of deaths because of a chemical attack do not seem to matter.

Are you wondering why I have that opinion?

Then read the BBC quote in regards to these attacks. “The United Nations Security Council said it was necessary to clarify what happened in the alleged attack, but stopped short of demanding an investigation by a UN team currently in Damascus, following an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening.” This was published on August 21st.  So there was a chemical attack and the UNSC did NOT demand the immediate investigation in regards to chemical attack deaths. The worse matter was that the bulk of the casualties were all civilians.

But where is the case of what matters?

If we look at the UNSC charter we see the following “The UN Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council. It gives primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the Security Council, which may meet whenever peace is threatened.

So clinically we see that they are not an issue. Peace was not an issue in Syria at all. It stopped existing well over two years earlier. The UNSC is set in a charter. They are called the “Provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council” (at http://www.un.org/en/sc/inc/pages/pdf/rules.pdf). They actually do not help that much, only to illustrate certain steps. Yet, this is about the procedures of the UNSC, this will not help at all. So where is their decision making tree? For that we need to take a look at the charter of the United Nations. I took a specific look at Chapter VII: Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace and Acts of Aggression.

The premeditated crux is set in Article 45 which states: “In order to enable the United Nations to take urgent military measures, Members shall hold immediately available national air-force contingents for combined international enforcement action. The strength and degree of readiness of these contingents and plans for their combined action shall be determined within the limits laid down in the special agreement or agreements referred to in Article 43, by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.

So we need to look at Article 43, which actually does not help us that much. That part is about making available troops “in order to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security“. I think we can agree that that part is at least two years late, and nothing here gives us a pass to start anything AFTER chemical attacks.

 

Yet we see in that same chapter that Article 51 (partially shown) states: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations” This is all very nice, but Syria is not a member state, which makes this all a little moot. In addition, this is a civil (local) war, so other member states are not in question.

So let’s take a look at ‘Customary International Humanitarian Law Volume I: Rules‘ (at http://www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/other/customary-international-humanitarian-law-i-icrc-eng.pdf).

Rule 11 states “Rule 11. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited.” Ah! Now we are getting somewhere. Even the rules of war have some level of distinction, yet for the most; this is all based on the previous Article 51, as is quoted “The prohibition of indiscriminate attacks is set forth in Article 51(4) of Additional Protocol I.” Darn! I am caught in some sort of looped program. It reminds me of my very first program I wrote on the Commodore VIC-20 in 1983.

10 PRINT “You are crazy!”
20 GOTO 10
RUN

Ah! The simple old days, how I miss them at times.

The same book lists an interesting part on page 38. “several States invoked the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks in their assessment of whether an attack with nuclear weapons would violate international humanitarian law.9 When the ICRC appealed to the parties to the conflict in the Middle East in October 1973, i.e., before the adoption of Additional Protocol I, to respect the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks, the States concerned (Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Syria) replied favourably.10

9 See. e.g., the pleadings of Australia (ibid., § 65), India (ibid., § 77), Mexico (ibid., § 85), New Zealand (ibid., § 86) and United States (ibid., § 99).
10 See ICRC, The International Committee’s Action in the Middle East (ibid., § 139).

Yes, I agree that a chemical attack is not a nuclear attack, yet when I was taught the elements of NBC (in army days long ago), we tended to count the Nuclear and the Chemical similar to some extent. The Biological element is one that might be considered to be one worse than that as it can continue its damage and even transcend borders.

So we can now add a look at additional protocol I, especially as Syria was one of the parties who replied favourably. As such, we could see Syria as a party that accepted these rules (to some extent).

You see, these parts underline the part as set in Rule 13 (from the IHL), which states “Rule 13. Attacks by bombardment by any method or means which treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village or other area containing a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects are prohibited.

This my dear readers includes ANY level of chemical attack, as that form of attack that is utterly indiscriminate as well as encompassing the area as one military objective.

Taking into account these elements, why did at that point did the UNSC, as stated by the BBC in the first mentioned article “but stopped short of demanding“. The stopped short in these elements were utterly unwarranted, in my humble opinion.

Now we all watch a political runaway train disaster where politicians stop short of acting in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and France await ‘evidence’ which they can deal on. The one cowboy state (the United States) would be at present the only hope the Syrian population has for now. Are these nations correct in holding of? Well, they do have a case there. However, the evidence as UN investigators were delayed, the possible evidence on how the chemical spread started. If we take the elements we have, then we need to consider the firing mechanism. That part had been made near impossible with 5 days of bombings. Yet, in all honesty, did Assad do this? The question is important for two reasons.

1. If he did not do this, was it an intentional act?
2. What other intelligence has Assad silenced?

The two are related, because the earlier fear the US had is now truly coming to fruition. If these missiles were inadvertently fired by the opposition forces, the theory I have is that as they lack military expertise, they might have known and partially learned how to fire a SCUD, but did they know about the payload? Let us not forget that many fighters are anything but military trained. Even those who had training, it is possible that they had too limited knowledge on how to work and identify these types of equipment.

The danger is that they might have found chemical payloads, so here is the danger. Al-Qaeda is currently helping the opposition forces. We now have a trained AQ with support from people lacking knowledge, and they gave AQ access to a chemical storage area. Here is where it becomes dicey! Assad knows the assets lost, he is playing high stakes poker by keeping these locations a secret. For him it is a win-win. If the opposition figures it out they have a time-bomb they cannot use. AQ will use it no matter what and preferably on Israel. Whichever of those steps happened (when they do), the world would have no option but to remove his enemy for him.

Proving that Assad did the actual firing is almost non-provable. The evidence is scattered and at best we can see that NBC components were used, but by whom is less of an option which will leave doubt.

Time is on the side of Assad and elements stopping activities to attack, whether justified or not will only strengthen Assad’s position. I can side with the politicians when they claim that they do not want another Iraq, yet when we look at the initial quote from the BBC “but stopped short of demanding an investigation by a UN team” we must more actively wonder what it would take for them to get anything done. It should be seen as tactical inactivity of the very worst kind!

 

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Fighters to Syria

The Dutch have started a trial against an Iraqi citizen who has been living in the Netherlands for 13 years. Now he is joining the rebels to fight in Syria. In this case the trial seems to be focussing on the mental health status of the individual.

It is an interesting view. In this case it is about people who will become militant, more extreme and the fear is that these people might return to the Netherlands in a more militant and extreme state with additional fear that these events might start a wave of extreme actions.

There is a case that seems to hold water, yet will it hold water in a legal way?

1. The person has not yet left the Netherlands and as such the issues are not proven (at present).
2. If we look back to WW2, Americans moved to the UK to fight against Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Is this a similar view?

In the second case there are additional issues. These people are joining the fight against Assad. This is an internal civil war. In the WW2 case England was under direct attack by Germany. So there were other issues in play. In addition, these people all joined military fighting units that were part of a sovereign state. That is not the case with the Syrian rebels.

The issue that does not seem to be (overly) illustrated by the news at present, is that in this specific case (in case of Syria) that no matter how good the goal, these people are joining a non-aligned, combatant army. It could be seen as a group of people that are joining a terrorist organisation (from the viewpoint of Syrian government). There is supporting evidence in this case to some extent.

If we consider Humanitarian Law, then we must also accept the laws of war, which limits attacks to “military objectives.” Military objectives are personnel and objects that are making an effective contribution to military action and whose destruction, capture, or neutralization offers a definite military advantage. There is ample evidence that civilian targets have been fired upon. When we take that into consideration, then a government has a clear directive to stop this. It could send its own army to police and structure the events, yet, they cannot engage in war on targets that are prohibited by Humanitarian law. From that point, not only must these recruitment drives be stopped, they also have some level of evidence that recruiting for these tasks should be seen as criminal.

I must keep a little space for the chance that my information is not complete, or even worse, is to some degree incorrect (newscasts from all over the world tend to lower reliability a little). The spreader of the information that we see on the news might not be completely correct, or from a reliable source (not claiming that this is the case, but I must allow for this fact to be the case).

If we consider that then the statements of both David Cameron and William Hague are more than just dangerous. I am referring to a batch of statements that these two honourable gentlemen have made over the last 2-3 months. In that light, it is the statement by the Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson that seems to be the correct one. (He stated “Britain could not end the conflict by ‘pressing weapons into the hands of maniacs.’“) Even though Humanitarian Law does not speak on the delivery of weapons, the fact that it is known that their weapons are used in transgression of Humanitarian law, even before these weapons had been delivered could bite any nation that delivers these weapons down the road.

The transgressions that are currently allegedly occurring are not from some obscure part of the Customary International Humanitarian Law. No, we are only at rule 1 when we find the collision with the occurring transgressions. So by allowing and not outspoken opposition of these transgressions, we are not giving support to regime of Assad, we are actually flushing our own standards down the drain. If the convoy that was attacked last week by the rebels contained goods as well as people then there is also the transgression of rule 55 of humanitarian law. Furthermore, there is every chance that these foreign supporters, as not being a national from Syria, could be seen, if arrested, as a spy, a mercenary or a terrorist by Syria’s sovereign ruling party. That would complicate matters in several ways and its unlikely that the end solution that the Syrian courts would offer is one that the supporter will be able to live with (like the firing squad).

Whatever choices the UK makes, they should be clear and outspoken on the transgressions of humanitarian law. The Dutch face a similar act to follow. In regard to the court case, it seems to me that in the British Nationality Act 1981 in section 40 it states:

The Secretary of State –
(a) shall not deprive a person of British citizenship under this section unless he is satisfied that it is not conducive to the public good that that person should continue to be a British citizen

This means that, even though it is decently bad Humanitarian law, that if the Secretary of state can place the fact that militants returning to the UK are not in the interest of Public good, they would lose their UK passport before they even make it past UK customs at the airport. The Dutch are less lenient here. In their case you would only lose your nationality is you are convicted for a crime against the Dutch state. It would be very conceivable that the transgressions of Humanitarian law would constitute enough transgression at this point. That part is not yet a given as the current case in the Netherlands is the first one of its kind ever in Europe.

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Ideology?

It was tempting to continue on my blog to have another go at those ‘Masters’ of finance, but a newscast by the NOS (Dutch News Broadcasting Service) opened my eyes to another issue that is playing at this precise moment. It also plays in other nations, even though most might not have given it much visibility and we might not be aware, but many people have met this situation whether they are aware of it or not.

For me this started in 1983/1984. I knew a man, just a loose acquaintance who I met in our days in the army. After his tour with UNIFIL, where he was placed in Lebanon for 6 months he was swayed and decided to join the PLO (after he returned home). At that time, I thought he was an utter idiot and I had only barely celebrated the point of no longer being a teenager. Those lovely days, everything was clear in black and white! Grey was for pussies!

Listening to the voice of Yassin El Forkani in regards to stopping Dutch citizens joining in their Jihad against Assad I find myself in a very different place. Ideology, how can we condemn it? This is not a group of people joining as terrorists (or perhaps they are). No, these people belief in what they think is right, and they are willing to put their lives in danger to fight for what they belief. They feel that they are fighting to depose a murdering tyrant. Who is correct? Who is right?

Yassin argues a valid and good point: “The youth does not see grey, they cannot relate to nuance“. How right he is. He is pleading. He wants these ‘kids’ to stay at home, to support their family, to finish their studies and to build a future. From my view now, he is correct. Yet, does that make the stance of those people who went to fight against Assad wrong?

Looking back to 1983 perhaps my Dutch comrade was not wrong, yet I would not have joined him. If I aligned with that train of thought I would have joined the IDF. We might have ended up facing one another. He was swayed by the charisma of Arafat. There is no doubt that Arafat had Charisma, only fools ignore that part. So how does this relate to Syria? It is clear that the people fighting Assad are in need of troops, materials, weapons and ammunition. For me to judge one side, or the other seems hollow and empty. Not because I care/not care, I believe that a sovereign nations must manage their own issues. This is not because of my level of care, but because these pivotal moments of a nation are written by the victors. The Netherlands took care of the Spanish, The Americans took care of the British and the list goes on and on and on.

Should we oppose any stance, by any reason, we must understand that for most of us, our nation, whichever it is came into existence one way or another, and belief me, most of those histories are a bloody mosaic of deaths and executions, the ones who fight fair usually die.

A view that was also shown in that newscast was a jihadist speaking out for going to the war, but he was not going, because he is a father and he is not strong (His words). Does anyone remember ‘the Patriot’ with Mel Gibson? He got a nice script ‘A parent does not have the luxury of choice’. Remembering my past, when I decided not to go either. I was not a parent, was I weak? I do not think so! I had a life to return to. I had some level of roots and it seemed to me, I had something to look forward to. Is that the threshold factor we are missing? It seems to me in these nations where unemployment levels are rising, any clarion call of ideology will be considered by those who listen.

So, how to see the situation in Syria? More important, will it end with Syria? This is the other side of social networking. Interests can grow, people can be swayed and troops could be gathered this way. This is what was feared the strongest by FBI, MI-5 and a few others. Not that these people went to fight for their beliefs. No, the fears are that they come back with a full arsenal of military trainings. This would be a massive win for Lone wolf recruiters and it would be a real concern to those having to deal with the returning people.

The fact that these groups are growing large in size, willing to go there at a moment’s notice and indeed take up arms is a new charter in war management we have not seen before to this size and extent. It is certain that it will go on, and many will start to ponder two issues. Where will they be swayed to next and what are the international ramifications? Today Damascus, tomorrow Doha, then what? Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Christian, when a citizen takes up arms against another nation it will become a diplomatic issue, non-combatant or not.

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