Posts Tagged ‘Aleppo’
By Jan Oberg
A moment of world history missed by quite a few
I was in Aleppo December 10-14, 2016 and the Eastern part was finally liberated on the 12th.
Beyond any doubt, this was a world historic moment: because of Aleppo’s importance as city in Syria and the Middle East, its status as UNESCO World Heritage site, as turning point in the soon 6 year long war in and on Syria. And because of the almost 100.000 people who came out of 4,5 years of hell-like occupation and because of the sheer proportions of the destruction.
Remarkably, there were no leading Western media present, also not those who were in Damascus and thus had a media visa. Most reported from very far away or from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon, Istanbul or Berlin.
I happened to be the only one from Scandinavia and among the first dozen of people – mostly media people – to get into the East of the city and see the devastation and talk with the exhausted but immensely happy people.
I had the opportunity to visit the Hanano district, the old town, Ramouseh, Sheikh Saeed, the huge industrial zone Shaykh Najjar and the Jinin reception zone to which the people in need of humanitarian assistance arrived.
Old media reactions
From a normal professional media perspective, my presence there as well as my photos should, given the importance of Aleppo and its human dimensions – have attracted some interest, perhaps even been seen as a scoop. Particularly by those who had no reporter on the ground.
Well, not exactly so.
TFF’s media list counts some 4000 adresses worldwide – individuals as well as editorial offices – of which about 700 in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. All received a couple of messages that I would be in Syria and how to reach me.
One Danish newspaper, left-wing Arbejderen made an interview upon my return.
No other media did.
Here some examples of how the old media in Scandinavia tried to perform their little tricks. They are all respected, professional media with a record of decency – not sensational yellow press. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
Lund, Sweden, January 9, 2017
TFF Photo Story # 3
Unique photos with text from Aleppo’s Jibrin reception center for people finally liberated in Eastern Aleppo December 11-12, 2016.
Documentation of the fact that it was the Syrian authorities, the Syrian Army, Russian doctors, the Syrian Red Crescent and volunteering Syrian youth who took care of these destitute internally displaced people.
In short, the evil guys – the only ones at that – according to most Western media.
No Western humanitarian organisations were seen, neither any leading Western media.
The media have also conveniently stopped writing about Aleppo – beyond doubt a world historic event – and ignored the suffering of the innocent, non-armed victims in this crisis: the largest humanitarian crisis in the world since 1945.
The last article about Aleppo in New York Times is from December 19, about 7-year old Twitter-girl Bana and written by a marketing expert. The level can hardly get lower.
The story of Aleppo cannot be silenced.
TFF’s first two photo reports have already been seen by close to 50.000 people. There are many other eyewitness reports – all on social media, de facto barred from the mainstream media.
The attempt to ignore the historical turning point that Aleppo is and to silence on-the-ground reports will fail.
A larger truth is emerging. The moral and political failure of Western and allies’ policy since 2012 makes the story of Aleppo just too embarrassing, something neither politicians nor governments nor media want to be reminded of.
But 13 million Syrians who are in need of humanitarian help – thanks to non-UN sanctions since 1979 and the war – need a more truthful story.
And they need the world’s attention and help – to all of them and not to the politically chosen few.
By Jan Oberg
Unique photos with text from Eastern Aleppo’s liberation, December 11-12, 2016.
Of some of the roughly 100,000 who were finally liberated, of the real humanitarians, the transport between East and Western Aleppo – and of the military, the children, street scenes, a bread queue and the devastation of this once so beautiful, bustling city.
Photos of heart-breaking suffering and sorrow in children’s eyes but also of smiles and hope.
Photos of the fellow human beings who did not fit the general Western political and media narrative since 2011 and therefore got no attention:
- the civilians who suffered for four years from the brutal occupation under Western- and allies-backed terror groups and from the Syrian-Russian military’s defence and liberation of the city.
This is my story.
The photos are genuine, not constructed by a marketing corporation.
This story is about our handling of Syria and its people – yes the lives of 23 million people should be central.
What you see here is the consequences of arms trade, sanctions and ignorant divisions of terribly complex societies into two groups – the good and the evil.
And it is a story about Western de facto support to terrorism since the US started history’s most counterproductive war: the war on terror that has only increased the problem 80 times.
We hate terrorists when they hit us in Europe – understandably.
But we support terrorists when they fight those “we” just don’t like.
Here are some of those – innocent fellow human beings – who pay the price of that cruel way of thinking.
I’m afraid the West has lost it. Are you?
By Jan Oberg
This is one of several stories I just have to tell.
You can see the original in large format here.
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Here a little more as background to the coming series:
TFF Photo Story
Lund, Sweden, December 27, 2016
Of course you have seen media images of the destruction in Syria. But not these taken in mid-December when Eastern Aleppo was liberated.
We live in a time when images – real and fake – influence perceptions more than ever.
My photos are real. Documentary. They reflect my role as witness on the spot at a time when only a handful of Westerners were present.
At a time, too, when all the mainstream media were conspicuously absent – as were the dual-purpose White Helmets who have delivered quite a few of the theatrical images from this war.
As a conflict and peace researcher and photographer I take pride in using not only analytical texts but also the medium of photography.
I am anyhow unable to describe just in words what I have seen.
Thanks to modern technology the small, smart, independent and truthful of this world can compete, to some extent, with the multi-billion dollar marketing and propaganda machines.
This is the first of a series to appear in weeks to come that will give you an impression of both life in Damascus, Eastern Aleppo’s destruction, the destruction in Aleppo’s old town, the human victims of this horrific war on Syria, the celebrations at the liberation of Aleppo etc.
I do not believe that pictures of wars and victims will, in and of themselves, lead people to think of peace. Hiroshima films have done little to eliminate nuclear weapons.
But in this particular case I do believe it is necessary to document just how big, systematic and unjustified the destruction of Aleppo has been – not only for those who built it and lived there over 7000 years but also to humanity, to all of us.
With what right did all the parties contribute to this utterly heartless and meaningless destruction?
How did it come to this surreal level of violence wrought upon a historic cultural and industrial city and its vast majority of innocent fellow human beings?
Will we ever learn – not only that war is stupid but also that this type of destruction cannot conveniently for some be blamed on one single side?
All parties who used violence have blood on their hands.
This is the first of a series of stories that I must tell as a witness to an event that more intelligent and civilised generations in the future will have nothing but contempt for.
And if you ask me which side I am on, the answer is simple:
I’m on No government’s. No military’s. No leader’s.
I’m on the side of the tens of thousands of innocent, suffering Syrian citizens. Nobody deserves this!
I am on the side of the underlying, perfectly legitimate conflicts and not on the side of anybody’s violence.
And I do admit to have a particular problem with those – many – who interfered violently in the internal affairs of Syria and did only harm and no good.
Syria’s future is for the Syrians – all of them – to decide.
TFF Conflict and Peace Report Syria # 3
By Jan Oberg
In spring 2011 I was invited by then Danish foreign minister, Villy Søvndal, to be a keynote speaker at a conference in Copenhagen arranged by the ministry and the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) with experts, then UN mediator Kofi Annan’s adviser, scholars, diplomats and, most importantly, a number of Syrian (opposition) politicians and civil society representatives.
The minister left the conference when he had opened it and, like most politicians today, obviously did not give priority to listen to the input of this high-level group present in the conference room.
I made these major points, trying to be as educative as I possibly could:
1) Look at conflicts as if they are problems to be solved – adhere to the peace research concept of the ABC conflict triangle and study A for Attitudes, B for Behaviour and C for the Contradiction/conflict that stands between people. (Cf. Johan Galtung). It’s a classical model that can be applied by virtually anyone.
2) Remember that there are always more than two parties to international conflicts – this is a kind of civil war but also part of the international wars – or aggressions – conducted since the assault on Afghanistan October 7, 2001.
3) Apply this model to another simple methods, namely that of Diagnosis, Prognosis and Treatment (DTP) – try to be conflict doctors instead of Realpoliticians. That is the only – only – way in which you can approach peace in the future and prevent a huge war with thousands of dead and much destruction.
So ABC and DPT – extremely simple for anyone who wants to understand conflict and help conflict-stricken peoples and countries to solve them and not just use conflicts as opportunities to promote one’s own more or less noble interests.
But he spoke of his next trip, I think to Paris, where the “Friends of Syria” – a group initiated by then-French President Sarkozy who was responsible for much of Libya’s destruction – were planning to meet. Intuitively I felt things were already going wrong there and then.
I then added Read the rest of this entry »
By Gareth Porter
The Russian-Syrian bombing campaign in eastern Aleppo, which has ended at least for the time being, has been described in press reports and op-eds as though it were unique in modern military history in its indiscriminateness.
In an usual move for a senior US official, Secretary of State John Kerry called for an investigation of war crimes in Aleppo.
As terrible as that toll of civilian lives is, the United States should drop the stance of moral superiority.
The discussion has been lacking in historical context, however. Certainly the civilian death toll from the bombing and shelling in Aleppo has been high, but many of the strikes may not be all that dissimilar from the major US bombing campaign in Iraq in 2003, nor as indiscriminate as Israel’s recent campaigns in densely populated cities.
The impression that the bombing in Aleppo was uniquely indiscriminate was a result of news reporting and commentary suggesting, by implication, that there are no real military targets in east Aleppo.