GUEST BLOG: Pat O’Dea – Anyone who supports the Assad regime in Syria cannot be a friend of the Palestinian people


Palestinian refugees in Lebanon burn aid donated by Hezbollah the Lebanese armed sectarian group allied to the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad.

“We do not want aid soaked in the Syrian people’s blood”
(Inscription on Palestinian refugees banner)


In reply to Chris Trotter and other New Zealand Leftists and Liberals rushing to excuse, or explain away, the Syrian Regime’s aerial gas attack on the liberated Syrian province of Idlib.

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I was in Syria for during September/October 2010 as a member of the Kia Ora Gaza team attached to the Viva Palestina mission to break the siege of Gaza.

We were hosted by Palestinian refugees in the Northern coastal city of Latakia refugee camp of

It may not have been a long time, but I can tell you it was long enough to recognise that we were in an oppressive police state.

We had entered Syria from the Southern Turkish University city of Asana, following a route through the Turkish cities of Kay Saree, Ankara, and Istanbul.

All the way we were hosted by Palestinian refugees, residents in the cities we passed through. Following not long after the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marama massacre, our overland convoy had got a lot of media attention, enough to attract the attention of then Dictator of Egypt Hosni Mubarak. While we were in Turkey Mubarak issued a press statement that the overland convoy would not be allowed to enter Gaza through the Rafah Gate.

At an information rally in the main square in Istanbul, during an impromptu TV interview, I was asked to comment on Mubarak’s statement that our convoy would not be allowed to enter Gaza by the Egyptian State. I knew that a smaller previous overland convoy made up of Westerners had embarrassed the regime of Mubarak into opening the crossing against Israel’s wishes. So I made a statement to the Turkish media that We will be entering Gaza, and we will accept nothing less”. My defiant reply to Mubarak was translated into Arabic and played across the Arab World, even in Egypt.

To prevent a repeat of his experience with the last overland convoy, Mubarak then announced that we would be banned from entering Egypt completely. (This was an unprecedented move by Mubarak, as the Egyptian tourist business which makes up a large of the Eygptian economy is heavily reliant on Western visitors which have a special status not accorded the locals.

That is how we became stranded in the Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia.

During this period it became clear that we were also an embarrassment to the Syrian authorities.
Almost very night during our stay in the refugee camp, political rallies over Mubarak’s ban attracted large gatherings of Palestinians, and Syrians from the nearby city.

Meanwhile we were not going anywhere. And the political rallies were growing bigger and bigger.

Eventually a deal was struck between the Egyptian and Syrian Governments that we would be allowed to leave Syria for Egypt. On the understanding that we would be escorted under close military guard all the way to Rafah and through the crossing into Gaza.

The agreement was that we were not to stop or interact with the Egyptian populace in any way.
And so it was, the surreal event unfolded where under the muzzle of Egyptian guns we were escorted into Gaza, and after delivering our medical aid to the besieged city, and after a short 3 night stay in the city, we were again escorted out through Egypt under armed Egyptian guard in the middle of the night and immediately deported.

It was while we were in Gaza that we saw the first stirrings of the Arab Spring. In the lobby of the Palestinian Hotel where we stayed in Gaza, there was a flat screen TV that was always tuned to Al Jazeera Arabic. The screen showed massive demonstrations breaking out in Egypt in the universities. Many of the student protesters among the massive crowds were flying the Palestinian flags. I asked the Palestinian concierge behind the desk to change the channel to Al Jazeera English, which he did. But the feed was completely different, game shows and trivia. No mention of the huge student protests in Egypt. (I asked the concierge to change the channel back to Al Jazeera Arabic, (getting him to translate the commentary for me) in the end Mubarak ordered the army to violently occupy and close down all the universities, with some deaths and many arrests.

Being Westerners we seemed to be in safe place in the eye of the storm. But all around us we witnessed the seething resentment of the totalitarian regimes that were keeping the Arab people down, both in Syria and Egypt. In fact of the three societies I witnessed, Gaza, (apart from the murderous Israeli terrorist invasions and attacks) was the most liberated and relaxed and free of the societies, where we could go where ever we liked and talk to whoever we met. But even while we were there, there was a small Israeli air raid on the tunnel complex in the South of the Gaza strip and Israeli jets buzzed the city at night waking us up.

The point of all this, is that during my stay in Latakia Syria I got to meet many people both Syrian and Palestinian and the their hatred and distain for the dictatorship was palatable. The refugees explained to me that far from being a liberator and protector of the Palestinians, the Assad regime had made their peace with the Zionists.

If I had time I could write at length of the many personal interactions I experienced. Many of the refugees were intrigued and fascinated that I as a secular Westerner were interested in their cause, whereas the authorities of the Arab country of Syria treated them with suspicion and antipathy.

Some of the refugees I met had fled Zionist violence in Israel and had remained traumatised by it, they told me that they and others suffered flashbacks and panic attacks whenever the Syrian military regime made a show of force in the camp.

On returning to New Zealand I followed events in Middle East and in Syria very closely. The Arab Spring which is the biggest protest movement in history, involving the mobilisation of tens of millions, overthrew the Western backed dictatorships of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt. As well as giving some serious frights to the reactionary emirate autocracies.

I knew from my experience that the Arab Spring would have a harder time in Syria, and that the regime would have no hesitation on turning to massive violence to put down any popular movement opposed to the dictatorship.

I remember being shocked and appalled watching You Tube video of feeds of the regime bombing and shelling the refugee camp in Latakia where I had stayed. The refugee camp in Latakia was one of, if not the very first, community attacked with full military force by the regime.

Having met the people and walked its streets I can vouch that the people would have been completely helpless in face the massive military violence unleashed against them. Some of the refugees I had met had fled Zionist violence in Israel and still remained traumatised by it, and told me that they and others suffered flashbacks whenever the Syrian military authorities made a show of force in the camp. I watched helplessly as live feeds showed Syrian warships shelling the refugee camp from the sea and army tanks rolling into the camp, as fighter planes straffed the camp from the air.

And what was the refugees of Latakia’s crime?

Joining with the Syrian people protesting the regime in the City centre.

At the beginning of the repression Palestinian refugee camps, particularly the biggest refugee camp in Syria on the outskirts of Damascus offered a haven to Syrian civilians fleeing the violence. Only to attract the regime’s wrath to themselves, with starvation siege and aerial bombardment.

In the end in Latakia, in a scene reminiscent of the Pinochet Junta in Chile, the majority of the population of Latakia refugee camp were herded into the Latakia football stadium, from where many were sent into detention never to be seen again and the rest were scattered to join the 13 million refugees and internally displaced.


  1. Great report Pat! The revolutions in Syria, Palestine, Egypt and the other Arab states from Morocco to Yemen are one struggle, one revolution! F**k the RT socialists who think that this is all been engineered by some all powerful CIA and the ordinary people are dupes without agency.

  2. Very interesting trip you had Pat. And that proves that Assad maniacally gassed his people in Idlib how exactly?
    D J S

    • Has no one ever heard of, ‘Occam’s Razor’?

      Or how about it’s opposite counterpart; ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof’?

      All sides agree that a gas attack happened, all sides deny responsibility.

      The rebels say that the gas was dropped on them from government aircraft.

      Chris Trotter says the rebels committed the gas attack on their own people to discredit the regime.

      The Russians claim that a regime bombing raid, accidently released the nerve gas when it struck a rebel arms store, where the nerve gas was being stockpiled to use against the regime.

      Bashar Assad has (all but), said that the gas attack on the rebels was committed by the US.

      If all sides agree that a gas attack happened, but no side claims responsibility, then we have no choice but to use logic to conclude that the most likely perpetrator was the one with the most resources and means to deliver a gas weapon, and with a history of keeping (and using) such weapons.

  3. Chris Trotter is questioning the reliability of information originating in the US, based on past experiences. see the report by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
    Trump has made it clear that he considers himself above international law. Anyone who thinks some countries, particularly the US and Israel, are so exceptional that international law does not apply to them, cannot be a friend of the Palestinian people.
    All the Palestinians have going for them is global grassroots demands that Israel obey international law. That is what BDS is all about.

  4. Well funnily enough, Pat, there are Palestinian militia fighting on the side of Assad
    And it was one of your precious revolutionaries, a so called “moderate” who decapitated a helpless young Palestinian boy on the deck of a ute, and gloatingly videoed the whole thing

    • And it was one of your precious revolutionaries, a so called “moderate” who decapitated a helpless young Palestinian boy on the deck of a ute, and gloatingly videoed the whole thing

      Details please, Francesca? Do you have a link to any reference?

      • You must have seen the video of Nour al Din al Zenki, US backed and supplied “moderates” beheading the Palestinian boy.
        Google Al Jazeera 21 July 2016″Rebels behead 12 year old boy”
        The US state dept was embarrassed in to saying they would review their support, and the group swiftly distanced themselves from the fighters involved. One of the men was also the photographer for the “boy in the ambulance” As far as I know the US is still backing this “rebel” group
        Liwa Al Quds is just one of the pro Assad Palestinian militias, you will find them mentioned in the same article

    • This is crazy stuff Francesca, Chris Trotter is claiming that the Rebels are dropping gas bombs on themselves, and you are claiming that Palestinians are killing their own children.

      A strange way to fight the Assad regime, for the rebels and the Palestinians to attack their own wouldn’t you agree?

      Maybe there have been no attacks on the Syrian people by the regime at all?

      Maybe all the reported attacks on rebel held areas, were committed by themselves?

      • You are seriously off the track here
        I am saying it was some of your revolutionaries or “rebels” as they are more often named, who beheaded the young Palestinian boy.
        Sorry If my writing was not clear
        Can you name the true democracy, freedom loving groups you refer to?

          • I’ve already given you the provenance of my info.Surely its not too much for you to do a quick google search . Its pretty specific
            Alternatively you could teach me how to add links on this mac computer, I haven’t yet mastered it.

          • ditto to you Frank.Either guide me through how you add links to comments on a mac, or take the trouble to search for the Al Jazeera article. I’ve even supplied the date and the headline.
            Suggest it will be quicker for you to do that
            Sorry, if I’m going to comment I really need to learn how to do this linking stuff

            • Ok… I haven’t used a mac computer since the late 1990s (and they’d be museum relics by now). So I’ve pretty much forgotten how OS systems operate. Does Copy & Paste work the same on macs as on PCs? No idea.

              I’ll do a google search on the info you’ve provided.

      • So you utterly reject the Seymour Hersh investigation of the 2013 Ghouta attack, the Carla del Ponti UN report, the testimony of the jailed Turkish politicians who whistle blew that the sarin for the Ghouta attack was supplied by Turkey to the rebels?
        And the UK analysis that found the sarin used in the Ghouta attack was not of the sort that the Syrian govt was in possession of
        James Clappers advice as revealed in an interview with Obama, that it wasn’t “a slam dunk “that Assad had done it, which caused Obama to retreat from his red line
        Seymour Hersh’s piece is “the Red Line and The Rat line, published in the London Review of Books”
        I don’t think any one has found Hersh to be a flakey investigator
        Theodore Postol of the MIT has challenged this latest allegation of Sarin attack, as he did the Ghouta attack.
        All well worth reading, as is your own article.
        I like to look at all stances before coming out guns blazing

    • That’s why it’s called, “Civil War” piting families against one another, just like the American Civil War etc. Patrick didn’t say anywhere that it was stright out one country against another, as it’s more complicated than that. Mistrust throughout the areas, country against country, people of the same country fighting each other, but Asad has denied that the gassing ever happened, then in the next breath said, it was done by locals, not his troops, then said that his country doesnt have chemical weapons, so what is true??

  5. Respect for having done so, Pat, but maybe ‘demanding’ from the Egyptian military was not…..the best strategy ?
    Anyway. Easy for me to say.
    Now, it is 7 years later. And the ‘people’s revolution’ you write of ‘against the tyrant Assad,’ has devolved, by design, into a foreign mercenary war of attrition. By all other reports, not civil AT ALL.
    Instead, a vicious and cruel enemy actually cutting the heads off ten year old boys and even younger girls dressed in their Sunday best; eating the innards of murdered soldiers, throwing gay men from rooftops, deploying false flag gas attacks against the hostaged people of Syria and Iraq with regularity, with impunity..including just reported in Khan Sheikhoun and Mosul a day ago.

    Whatever ground swell you saw in 2010, Pat, is done for now.
    The ‘people’s Color revolution’ was either a start up by NGO deepstate cut-outs, or a genuine uprising very quickly taken over by the dark forces of western covert power. The terrorist entities have TAKEN the revolution OVER. And are not at all interested in liberal democratic reforms.
    CIA MI6, MOSSAD NATO have put their hand in that glove, and are now beating the crap out of the people of Syria. As intended. As projected by the ‘PNAC NEOCON’s. Using thousands of FOREIGN mercenary fighters to do so. Not Syrian. Foreign mercenary terrorists. Attacking cultural heritage sites and key infrastructure, using the people of Syria as fodder.

    The SAA sound much more like a people’s army. Not ‘Assads” but ‘Syrias’. Fighting for their country which is under attack from without. Not within.

    ‘Leftist RT apologist’ reporters on the ground in Syria, among them Patrick Henningson and Vanessa Beeley at 21stcenturywire, inform us against the best propaganda auntie BEEB and CrapNewsNetworks can buy, that these terrorist imports are not progressive democracy loving FSA at all, but mass murdering fuck-heads: proxies of ‘the regime change wars of the new Amercian [sic] century.’
    The western media fake news is so FAKE , so corrupt, it can’t even spell its own name’ and you buy what they Sell you, at peril.

    Please READ:
    Children Murdered for Propaganda Videos
    “Swedish Doctors For Human Rights ( analysed videos, the rescue after an alleged attack by Syrian government forces. The doctors found that the videos were counterfeit, where even Arabic stage directions were overheard, and that the alleged “Rescue” in actuality is a murder. On first analysis, it looked as though the doctors working on the child assumed he was already dead.”

    • I point out the Veteranstoday statement alleging specific ‘at-that-moment’ murder of the child being injected is contested by SWEDHR who, while accepting the overall counterfeit nature of the WH presentation, maintain a degree of separation between the probable, becoming the certain.
      The ‘ultimate’ death of the child is affirmed. The timing and cause not.

      “Swedish Doctors for Human Rights has never accused the White Helmets of “murdering children”. Neither we have accused of such atrocity the personnel showed in the video published by White Helmets. We took special care of formulating our conclusion as to exclude any accusation of intentional killing. This is instead the conclusion reached by the author of the SWEDHR article, Prof Marcello Ferrada de Noli, after doctors at SWEDHR examined videos published by White Helmets in YouTube:


      ‘Lifesaving’ procedures on the children showed in the White Helmets videos were found to be fake, and ultimately performed on dead children. The syringe used in the ‘intracardial injection’ performed on the male infant was empty, or its fluid was never injected into the child. This same child showed, briefly, discrete life-signs (uncertain in my judgement) in the first segment of WH Vid-1. If so, this child might have died during the lapse in which the ‘lifesaving’ manoeuvres showed in the White Helmets movie went on. (Which is not the same than affirming that the personnel seen in the videos caused the dead of the infant. In forensic terms, the actual cause of death, as well as the mode and the issue of intent, refer to different items than those treated in our analysis).”

      Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli, chairman
      Professor Anders Romelsjö, vice-chairman
      Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, SWEDHR

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