Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 12th, 2013

French mandated troops burned and destroyed Damascus in October 1925…

For three days and nights, between Oct. 18-21 of 1925, the French mandated troops over Syria bombarded by heavy canons and airstrikes the center of Damascus. The French burned and destroyed entire blocks and streets in the ancient souks.  Such as Souk Hamideyeeh, Souk el Saninieh, Sanjakdar Street, Bzourieh

Within a couple of days, 15,000 people were displaced and 1,500 civilians were killed.

What happened?

In the winter of 1924, the Druzes in the Houran province (see note 3) were preparing for a French onslaught as the Spring approached: They had launched an uprising and many French troops were killed and train loads were dispatching the injured to Beirut.

The Syrian Druzes dug tunnels and underground habitats to sustain the winter and waited.

In early October of 1925, the Druze insurgents were infiltrating the towns and villages surrounding Damascus.  They were hiding in the caves of Zefteh and were roaming around the large village of Medina. The inhabitants knew about the presence of the insurgents.

At 10 am, a Sunday of October 18, one Druze harangued the people to take on arms and demanded that the Christians vacate the city. This person was beaten by the inhabitants and his rifle confiscated.

At 5 pm, the insurgent leader Hassan Kharrat entered Midan at the head of 50 fighters and settled in Merjeh. No French soldiers were at the entrance of the city.

Armed Moslems secured and guarded the Christian quarters from any spontaneous over zealot insurgents. The French troops on purpose refrained from posting guards on Christian quarters: They badly needed a reason to justify their destruction of Damascus and brutal behaviors.  The Syrians denied France any of sectarian causes throughout the uprising.

Monday morning. A military French plane overflew the gardens in Bab Es Salam, the largest quarter of the Druze.

Someone took a shot at the plane and the aviator dropped a few bombs and demolished two houses.

The air raids resumed at noon and all afternoon, targeting any gathering of people who were actually fleeing.

The canon bombing began at 10 pm. The Shrine of Fatima on Bab es Saghir was targeted.  

General Gamelin, on the order of the governor Gen. Sarrail, went overboard.

In Kadem, the Druze gathered an army and the brothers Akkache were considered heroes by the kids

Emir Zeid Atrache was sending proclamations as if the general in command of the revolutionary army.

The French Foreign Legion was composed of foreign citizens who fled their home countries and were promised citizenship after serving 5 years in the legion. This Legion was constituted of Cherkessk, Armenians, Senegal, Madagascar, Russians, Germans… 

The villages of Chaghour  and Ghouta…in the south-east of Damascus, and stretching from the Big Minoterie to the Beramkeh train station, were burned and ransacked by the French troops and the refugees walked to Al Mouhajiroon quarter in Damascus.

The inhabitants who lost homes and everything were summoned to collect 100,000 gold pound in retribution. Otherwise, the shelling will resume within two weeks.

The insurgents managed to infiltrate Damascus and attacked the grand Palace Azem at 6 pm. The governor Serrail was living in that Palace, but failed to be there during the attack. The Palace was entirely burned and ransacked.

The Moslems guarded the Christian quarter of Bab Touma since no French soldiers were there to fake protection of the Christians… 

For two months, in January and February, the French troops bombed Damascus and its surrounding villages, Bab Cheghri, Assa, Zebadani… The bombing was programmed on the clock, starting at 4 am and throughout the day and night. These programmed shelling were meant to deny the citizens any peace and tranquility.

Funny: The mandated troops ordered the Syrians to gather 3,000 rifles in addition to 100,000 gold pounds. Those who could afford it, had to buy a rifle to come up with the number, most probably from the French armies.

The insurgents kept the pressure and expanded their operations north and into Lebanon and severed the train lines going to Aleppo and toward Beirut…

The Insurgents Head Quarter was in Menine. Governor Jouvenel replaced the ill-fated Serrail…

Note 1: Extracts from the diaries of Alice Poulleau who lived in Damascus between 1924 and 1926. Eye witness accounts and field observation of the brutality of the French mandated power.

Note 2: Nazi Germany will apply the French and British tactics in their colonies when they invaded Russia in 1942, as well as in Poland… 

Note 3: The French troops had to deal with tribes in Jabal Druze or Houran. The tribes were and still are:

1. Halabi in the main towns of  sakhana Kebireh, Sakhana Seghireh

2. Amer located in the towns of Hokof, Mteuneh, Chahba

3. Chalguine in Smeid

4. Kontar in Dama

5. Azzam in Ahireh

6. Abou Faker in Rime Fokoun

7. Huneidi in Medjel

8. Attrach in Soueida (capital), Aereh, Salkhad, Dibine, Melah, Imtan, Anat…

9. Kiwan in Mayamas

10. Derwich in Harisseh, Houaya

11. Kassar in Saana, Saleh

12. Sallam in Tarba

13. Kalahni in Nemreh

14. Sahnawi in Douma

108,000 Private Contractors Are in Afghanistan and We Have No Idea What They’re Doing

Two recently released reports, one by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and one by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), show that the number of private contractors in Afghanistan increasing, and that the Pentagon is also unable to tell what they are even doing there.

Citing the reports, David Francis of the Fiscal Times points out that there are now 108,000 private contractors in Afghanistan,  (over 30,000 of whom are Americans) and about 18,000 private security contractors. Far more than the 65,700 U.S. troops still there, and the number was counted at 110,404 last month. That amounts to 1.6 contractors for every American soldier.

Aubrey Bloomfield published in World on June 4, 2013:

Although the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is ostensibly winding down towards an eventual handover to Afghan security forces, as Francis argues, “the increase in the contractors to troop ratio is yet another indication that a private army will remain in the country for years.”

108,000, private, contractors, are, in, afghanistan, and, we, have, no, idea, what, theyre, doing,

108000 Private Contractors Are in Afghanistan and We Have No Idea What Theyre Doing

According to the CRS, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show the increasing reliance of the military on private contractors. But replacing the military with private contractors is not necessarily a good thing.

Highlighting the abuses committed by private military contractors, Angela Snell of the University of Illinois College of Law has called this trend a “convenient way for the U.S. government to evade its legal obligations, including the responsibility to protect the human rights of civilians in war and peace, by allowing private individuals, rather than official state actors, to perform services on behalf of the U.S. military.”

The growing use of private contractors give lie to the idea of a withdrawal from the country, and they are also very costly. Although still dwarfed by the ever-mounting total costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, CRS reports that “over the last six fiscal years, DOD [Department of Defense] obligations for contracts performed in the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation were approximately $160 billion and exceeded total contract obligations of any other U.S. federal agency.”

Francis points out that the CRS and GAO did not just measure the number of contractors and the cost, but the reports also assessed the Pentagon’s ability to monitor the work of contractors. And the results are damning. According to Francis, taken together the reports:

“Amount to yet another indictment of how the Pentagon deals with private workers. CRS found that the Pentagon lacked the ability to document the work each contractor is performing. It also found even when the government has information on contractors, it’s often inaccurate and doesn’t reflect the actual work being done. This leaves the Pentagon unable to determine if the hundreds of billions it’s spending are leading to effective results.”

So despite the increasing number of private contractors being used and the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on them, the Pentagon is not even able to determine what they are doing or whether it is effective.

As CRS reports, the information the Pentagon has on private contractors is probably not reliable enough to be used to make decisions “at the strategic level,” thus hindering its ability to tell whether the work of contractors is contributing to “achieving the mission.”

The U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been massive, and destructive, wastes of lives and money.

Although the U.S. and its allies say that they plan to remove combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014, this will in no way be the end of the West’s presence in the country.

Francis reports that much of the work currently done by the military will be done by the private contractors after the military leaves. So while the attention paid to Afghanistan is likely to continue to dwindle even further, as has been the case in Iraq, as the military withdrawal picks up, the foreign occupation, by what one analyst has called “a de facto army,” looks set to continue on.

Picture Credit: U.S. Air Force




June 2013

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