World View: Western Leaders Sickened by Assad's 'Industrial Strength' Torture in Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Suicide bombing in Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon kills four
  • Putin's anti-gay campaign a high-risk appeal to Russia's 'traditional values'
  • Western leaders sickened by Assad's 'industrial strength' torture in Syria
  • Syria report shows Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin guilty of war crimes

Suicide bombing in Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon kills four

The aftermath of Tuesday's bombing in Beirut, Lebanon (AP)
The aftermath of Tuesday's bombing in Beirut, Lebanon (AP)

A suspected suicide bombing on Tuesday killed at least four people and wounded dozens of others in a Hezbollah stronghold south of Beirut, Lebanon's capital city. The auto was a Kia Sportage that had apparently been stolen for just this purpose. The Lebanon branch of the Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), a Syria-based Sunni terrorist group fighting Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime, claimed responsibility for the bombing. According to one eye-witness, 

"We saw a car that was speeding. The driver was honking like a mad man. Seconds later, we saw the explosion which sent the vehicle flying up in the air."

A year ago, it would have been unthinkable that a terrorist bombing could occur in the heart of Hezbollah's stronghold in Beirut. The Hezbollah terrorist militia was too powerful, and their headquarters region was too well guarded and protected. 

But that was before April 30, when Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah gave a televised speech saying that Hezbollah would militarily enter the fight in Syria on the side of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Nasrallah reluctantly agreed to enter the Syrian war after being commanded to do so by his Iranian masters. ( "27-Sep-13 World View -- How Hezbollah's reluctant foray into Syria changed the Mideast") Al-Assad is a Shia/Alawite, conducting sectarian violence against Sunnis, while Hezbollah is a Shia organization under the control of a Shia country, Iran. 

Since then, there have been half a dozen car bombings in the Hezbollah-controlled region of Beirut, starting with a July 9 car bombing. Tuesday's bombing is the second one to occur in this month alone. Daily Star (Beirut) and Foreign Policy

Putin's anti-gay campaign a high-risk appeal to Russia's 'traditional values'

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has made international news recently for his bizarre statements in response to questions about gay people attending the Sochi Olympics. On the one hand, he smiles warmly and says that they're all welcome and there will be no discrimination against them. But then he adds, "But stay away from the kids!" 

The strategy behind this campaign is to overcome the problems with a more standard appeal to Russian nationalism, which could lead to violence and threaten his power, as illustrated by the recent and repeated extremely xenophobic violence between ethnic Russians and Russian citizens from the North Caucasus (Russia's southern provinces). 

Putin, who has been losing popularity, is appealing instead to something a little different: the defense of "traditional values," a loosely defined mixture of ideas, including opposition to secularism, homosexuality, and gender equality; support for hierarchical power relations; deference to authority; and social discipline. More interesting is the fact that he feels that people abroad who share his distaste for the extension of rights to formerly excluded groups like gays will look to Moscow as a defender of their values and thus help the Russian government bring pressure on their countries. 

As a result, he's received expressions of support from some of the more well-known far-right politicians in Europe, including Marie le Pen of France, anti-immigrant activist Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, British National Party leader (and Holocaust denier) Nick Griffin, and Mateusz Piskorski, an openly anti-Semitic leader of Poland’s populist agrarian and nationalist Samoobrona (Self-Defense) party. 

However, this approach to "traditional values" could harm his reputation as a modernizer and may cause many Russian nationalists inside Russia to view Putin’s cooperation with such radicals in the West as a signal that they are free to push similar ideas, a step that could trigger more violence there. Jamestown/Paul Goble

Western leaders sickened by Assad's 'industrial strength' torture in Syria

Emaciated man showing wounds from repeated beatings by rod-like object.  There are 55,000 photos like this, showing 11,000 corpses
Emaciated man showing wounds from repeated beatings by rod-like object. There are 55,000 photos like this, showing 11,000 corpses

Western officials are reacting with "horror" at a new report that details how officials in the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad used electrocution, eye-gouging, strangulation, starvation, and beating on prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale. 

The report is backed up by 55,000 photos showing about 11,000 men exhibiting these signs of torture. They were similar to the images found in Nazi death camps after World War II and show that al-Assad is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

The report was prepared by three top war crimes prosecutors. The prosecutors spent several days with a defector who had been a military photographer in the al-Assad regime for 12 years and whose job had been to photograph these corpses after they had been tortured and killed. Al-Assad had demanded photographs of the dead corpses out of distrust of his own officials so that he would have proof that the killings had actually taken place. 

And this was only the tip of the iceberg, as these 55,000 photos came from just one location out of many where such torture took place. This one photographer photographed almost 20 bodies every day, suggesting that there was "torture for pleasure" on a massive scale. 

A Syrian spokesman asked to respond didn't actually deny that the torture had taken place, but he questioned the source of the photos and claimed that Qatar, which had provided the funding for the report, was also guilty of war crimes. 

A Russian spokesman asked to respond didn't actually deny that the torture had taken place, but he said that things like that always happen in a civil war and suggested that the entire matter be turned over to the United Nations Security Council, presumably so that the Russians could use their veto power to bury it. 

As I've said in the past, Bashar al-Assad is the greatest genocidal monster in today's world, comparable to Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin. Al-Assad is literally killing thousands of Syrian civilians every week with complete impunity, using Russian-supplied barrel bombs on civilian neighborhoods. And he's used sarin chemical weapons on civilians. There is no weapon of mass destruction, nor any gruesome form of torture, to satisfy his psychopathy. This shows that al-Assad uses the most gruesome forms of torture on a personal, individual scale, as well as on a mass scale. And the Obama administration is indirectly supporting al-Assad through Russia. BBC and CNN and Full Report (PDF)

Syria report shows Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin guilty of war crimes

The Syria report shows that Bashar al-Assad is guilty of war crimes. But the same report also shows that Russia's president Vladimir Putin is also guilty of war crimes. 

This is because in 2012 a United Nations war crimes tribunal convicted Liberia's former president Charles Taylor of war crimes conducted in the war in neighboring Sierra Leone. The prosecutor was unable to prove that Taylor himself had ordered the war crimes--genocide, rape, torture, etc. But the prosecutor did prove that Taylor had sold weapons to rebels who committed the war crimes, thus making Taylor guilty of war crimes himself. 

Based on that 2012 decision, the new Syria report clearly implicates Vladimir Putin as a war criminal. He didn't order the genocide and torture conducted by the Bashar al-Assad regime, but he's provided unlimited supplies of weapons to carry out that genocide and torture, and he's very well aware of how those weapons are being used. Reuters (2012)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Lebanon, Beirut, Hezbollah, Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Iran, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Charles Taylor 

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