Posts Tagged ‘Aleppo’
By Jan Oberg
Lund, Sweden – March 24, 2017
Can the almost total destruction of Eastern Aleppo be used constructively?
Only if we are willing to ask and dialogue about this:
Why does the world go on investing US$ 2000 billion annually in warfare and US$ 30 in all the UN does – only to create destruction of people, places, past and future?
How absurd, how meaningless – indeed how far must it go to destroy the West itself – before we learn to conflict intelligently?
The Meaninglessness Of War by Jan Oberg on Exposure
I’ve see much destruction during my work in conflict zones the last 25 years. But nothing compares with Aleppo and the destruction of Syria and its people.
Nothing – absolutely nothing – can justify this barbarian process, not even an alleged dictatorship and ruthless regime policies.
We must learn from Aleppo and all the other places:
- to hate violence and war, not each other; - to stop siding with some presumed good violence that shall combat evil violence because there is no (good) violence that is better than dialogue;
- to criminalize arms trade to conflict zones and never let a private arms trader or goverment at large when they profit and make peace impossible;
- to learn the tools of conflict-resolution and do what we have all promised to do: struggle first for peace by peaceful means as stated in the UN Charter.
My photo series “The Meaninglessness of War: Aleppo” aim to encourage you to think deeply – much deeper than siding with one or the other side.
We need a tectonic shift in the theories and practises of international politics and conflict management. ASAP.
Otherwise the rest will one day be just that: Silence.
A global Aleppo.
Side instead with peace, decency, truth and humanity. And learn your Gandhi and other wise thinkers. Get out of the box! The group think!
And the future of the world will be so much more promising. Even bright.
Videoinspelning av Jan Öbergs föredrag i Stockholm februari 2017
Inspelningen är uppdelad i två delar:
Del 1: Vittnesrapport från Aleppo
Del 2: Debatt och vägar till fred i Syrien
10-14:e december 2016 vistades Jan Öberg i Aleppo. Med sin unika erfarenhet från staden ifrågasätter han den gängse massmediarapporteringen, argumenterar för ett nytt sätt att se på konflikter på och ger förslag till den nödvändiga fredsprocessen.
Anders Björnsson, författare
Lördag 25 februari kl. 14-16, Bagarmossens Folkets Hus, Stockholm
Föreningen Syriensolidaritet, Folket i Bild Kulturfront – Stockholmsavdelningen, FiB-juristerna m.fl.
Jan Öberg rapporterar
– Jag kunde fritt tala med vem jag ville, och fotografera som jag ville. Jag gick omkring utan säkerhet, polis eller annat skydd. Många tackade mig för att jag var i Aleppo vid befrielsen.
– Förstörelsen av Aleppo är värre än jag någonsin trott – efter att ha sett Sarajevo, Mostar och Vukovar. Den stora förstörelsen är från gatustriderna – en mindre del ifrån luften.
– Ingen av dem många jag pratade med hade sett de Vita Hjälmarna. Däremot träffade jag frivilliga från Syriens Röda Halvmåne som var mycket professionella.
– De jag pratade med uttryckte sin glädje över frihet efter fyra års belägring och uttryckte tacksamhet över regeringens och ryssarnas insatser.
Se också Jan Öbergs fotoserier med bakgrunds- och förklarande text här.
TFF PressInfo och andra artiklar – av vilka många handlar om Syrien – finns på TFF:s blogg här.
By Jan Oberg
Three perspectives on the Syrian conflict formation
The Syrian conflict formation is hugely more complicated than we’ve been told by Western politicians (all mainstream in spite of democratic features) and mainstream/dependent media.
To some there are only internal aspects and it’s called a civil war only. That’s a necessary but not sufficient aspect.
The same goes for the only regional perspective focusing on e.g. the Israel-Palestine conflict, Iran’s, Saudi-Arabia’s, Turkey’s roles and policies.
To others, everything can be explained from the point of view of Western interventionism/imperialism. That’s also a necessary but not sufficient aspect.
To understand anything of the Syrian conflict formation – and there are very many layers, dimensions and participants over the last 100 years – we need all three basic approaches.
But given that Westerners are likely to have been informed by Western media and politicians they are likely to grossly underestimate the third, the Western-global dimension.
And that narrative is likely to be politically correct, to underestimate the nasty sides of the West the last good 100 years in the region and present the West as basically good guys interested in peace, democracy and freedom.
This bias has been reinforced by what is probably the most massive marketing/public relation effort in any modern war – in the style of the fake news story about Saddam’s soldiers throwing out babies from their incubators in Kuwait City. In order words, pure invention/lies/planted stories/rumours and PSYOPs – psychological operations selling unverifiable stories to influence our hearts and mind in a single policy-promoting direction.
The US/CIA involvement in Syria over the last 68 years is well-documented and easy to access – but never pointed out by the intellectually lazy who think it is enough to just point out that everything is the fault of the “dictator” and his “regime”.
The US worked on deliberately de-stabilising Syria years before 2011 (as documented by WikiLeaks and others) when the peaceful demonstrations took place. The Western military support to RIOTs (Rebels, Insurgents, Opposition and Terrorists – most of the latter) was stepped up and while many point out that the US under Obama didn’t “do anything”, it can be argued that NATO countries acted in a variety of ways, too many and wrong-headed ways – none of them serving a politically negotiated solution, peace or democracy in Syria.
The agenda was foreign interference, promoted military foreign presence (aggression) in international law terms and regime change. One more regimes change, that is, after the earlier completely failed ones in Iraq and Libya.
A series of Western NGOs – no longer Non but NEAR-Governmental Organisations – were part and parcel of the policy, increasingly involved and funded by the Western/NATO/Turkish-Saudi-Gulf-Israeli strategy of de-stabilization – such as US-based Avaaz and French foreign ministry manufactured media outfits such as the Syrian Media Incubator Aleppo Media Centre, the SMART News Agency, the media work of the White Helmets which did humanitarian work only among RIOT fighters and relatives (and stole the name of Syrian Civilian Defence from Syria’s own organisation with that name from 1953).
They came in on the civilian media narrative-creating side. And there are others. Since the days of Yugoslavia, think tanks, human rights and humanitarian organisations have been drawn in – and accepted – to serve specific political interventionist agendas in spite of calling themselves independent, not-for-profit etc. This co-optations spells, potentially, the end of civil society as well as of the open and critical debate about governments’ policies.
All of this continued and was stepped up also after it had become clear that the legitimate, peaceful, democratic, anti-govenment opposition in Syria had been completely sidelined and/or overtaken by Syrian militants and foreigners with guns in their hands.
The West did not get cold feet, it stepped up it regime-change policies in all kinds of ways, regrettably also by massive NGO-investments in proxi- and other pro-war campaigns.
No one thought of the consequences for the huge majority of the innocent Syrian people who had never touched a gun, or thought of doing so.
And two more perspectives: Don’t focus on the violence and the evil guy only – it’s war-promoting
No one seems to even have asked the question Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
I shot this simple video out of the window on December 13, 2016. I wonder about Aleppo and say #keepfocusonaleppo
© Jan Oberg 2016
Here in the Sheikh Najjar Industrial City outside Aleppo lived and worked 40,000 people. It had 50% of Syria’s industrial capacity.
Today – after the occupation by Western-backed militants and terrorist groups, this is what is left.
I wonder why the Syrian government did not destroy this industrial city between 2000 and 2012. We are told that all this destruction is caused only by that side and the dictator kills his own.
I wonder where the terrorists used the weapons and spent the money they got from NATO countries – Turkey in particular – Saudi and Qatar since they did not do any of this here – according to Western media and the White Helmet reporters and a series of humanitarian organisations.
I also wonder where the Western left is? Solidarity with the workers who lived here?
No many among them defend this and want to arm this or that group even more.
The more I study, the more I wonder.
And something doesn’t seem right.
By Jan Oberg
January 25, 2017
Unique photos from Eastern Aleppo in Syria when it was finally liberated on December 11-12, 2016.
The people you see here have just come out to freedom from 4,5 years of the occupation by what can be called RIOTs – Rebels-Insurgents-Opposition-Terrorists – mostly the latter.
And most of them with some kind of support by NATO countries.
Western media, politics and humanitarian organisations focus on the victims from Eastern Aleppo who left to RIOT territories elsewhere, such as Idlib, after the liberation – family members and supporters of the occupiers.
That’s not the whole truth about Aleppo.
They conveniently ignore the thousands of other Aleppians: Those who were happy beyond words to see all of Aleppo back under the control of the Syrian government.
These are the people in this photo story. They are among the 13 million Syrians who, according to the UN in Syria, are in need of humanitarian assistance – thanks to U.S. - non-UN – sanctions since 1979 and thanks to the war since 2011.
They too need and deserve the world’s attention and help.All of them and not just the politically chosen few.
Faces Of Aleppo by Jan Oberg on Exposure
Until the immense historical significance of the liberation of Aleppo is understood much better by many more and the biased Western media coverage has changed we will continue to highlight important but hidden dimensions of the conflicts in Syria.
Because peace will be impossible within the present dominant Western narrative and discourse.
And given the incomprehensible suffering of the Syrian people and the destruction of their society since 2011 possibilities for peace - rather than war – should occupy anyone with a human heart.
If you agree, please use the hashtag: #keepfocusonaleppo
* * *
If we do not care about the single individual, can we care about humanity?
My other stories have had quite a lot of texts. You may check them out to get the background and situation.
Here I just want you to see and reflect on how the Allepians I met expressed happiness, despair, hope, kindness but also anger at one and the same time. Pictures can say much more than words, particularly when we contemplate mindfully on what there is to see in every and each face of these victims of what is often called high politics – which often implies low morality.
So, please don’t rush. See and empathize.
© Jan Oberg 2017. Under no circumstance may the photos in this series be reprinted, reproduced or otherwise used without my prior consent.
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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Grateful too if you share with others or on social media. We need help to spread a broader truth about the conflict in and around Syria.
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 »