Posted by Joshua on Thursday, October 27th, 2011
DAMASCUS, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) — Tens of thousands of Syrians rallied Wednesday in support for President Bashar al-Assad hours before the arrival of an Arab League (AL) ministerial delegation that aimed at finding ways to end the months-long crisis in the country.
The Umayyad Square in the capital of Damascus and nearby streets were packed with supporters of Assad, who is up against blistering international criticism over his alleged bloody crackdown on protest movement.
Press conference after the Arab League meeting with President Assad. He said that the questions that they talked about were secret, but that they were serious and touched on all the important topics. He asked for the halt to violence from both sides and the end of armed demonstrations. They will be meeting again soon either in Damascus or Doha.
AMMAN, (Reuters) – People in the city of Homs and nearby areas of northwest Syria staged a general strike on Wednesday over President Bashar al-Assad’s intensifying military crackdown on protesters, and two were killed in one town, activists and residents said.
They said most employees stayed home and most shops closed in the city of one million, and the strike was observed in wide swathes of the countryside around Homs and cities and towns in the northwestern province of Idlib near Turkey.
“Public employees participated for the first time. A few food shops have remained open,’ said a resident of Homs, who gave his name as Omar. Youtube footage showed shuttered shops on both sides of a main street in the nearby rural region of Houla.
Defectors Claim Attack That Killed Syria Soldiers
By NADA BAKRI
Published: October 26, 2011
BEIRUT, Lebanon — A force of Syrian Army defectors claimed responsibility for a Wednesday attack that killed a military officer and eight soldiers in central Syria, another signal that disaffected troops are taking a larger role in the antigovernment uprising and pushing it into more violence after months of a brutal government crackdown…..
Robert Fisk: Syria slips towards sectarian war
Stories of killings in Homs are reinforcing support for Assad in Damascus
…..We shall see if this gets on air on Saturday (readers will be kept informed) but outside in the street another pro-Assad demonstration was starting, 10,000 then 50,000 – it might have reached 200,000 by midday – and there was no Saddam-style trucking of the people to the Omayad Square, no mukhabarat intelligence presence and the only soldiers were standing with their families. How does one report a pro-government demo during the Arab Awakening? There were veiled women, old men, thousands of children with “Syria” written on their faces. Most held Syrian flags, some held the flags of Russia and China.
Were they coerced? I don’t think so – not by the Assad government, at least. ….
Turkey has no intention of permitting any chaos or oppression in Syria, Turkey’s foreign minister has said, adding that Ankara would do everything to ensure that the Syrian people realize their rightful demands.
We will not allow any chaos or oppression in Syria, this is our responsibility toward the Syrian people,” Davutoğlu told a joint press conference with his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh, in Amman….
Turkey Is Sheltering Antigovernment Syrian Militia
2011-10-27 By LIAM STACK
(New York Times) — ANTAKYA, Turkey — Once one of Syria’s closest allies, Turkey is hosting an armed opposition group waging an insurgency against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, providing shelter to the commander and dozens of members of the group, the Free Syrian Army, and allowing them to orchestrate attacks across the border from inside a camp guarded by the Turkish military. The support for the insurgents comes amid a broader Turkish campaign to undermine Mr. Assad’s government. Turkey is expected to impose sanctions soon on Syria, and it has deepened its support for an umbrella political opposition group known as the Syrian National Council, which announced its formation in Istanbul. But its harboring of leaders in the Free Syrian Army, a militia composed of defectors from the Syrian armed forces, may be its most striking challenge so far to Damascus….
“We will fight the regime until it falls and build a new period of stability and safety in Syria,” Colonel As’aad said in an interview arranged by the Turkish Foreign Ministry and conducted in the presence of a foreign ministry official. “We are the leaders of the Syrian people and we stand with the Syrian people.”
The interview was held in the office of a local government official, and Colonel As’aad arrived protected by a contingent of 10 heavily armed Turkish soldiers, including one sniper. The colonel wore a business suit purchased that morning by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and at the end of the meeting, citing security concerns, the colonel and a Foreign Ministry official advised that all further contact with his group be channeled through the Turkish Foreign Ministry….
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey was personally offended by Mr. Assad’s repeated failure to abide by his assurances that he would undertake sweeping reform. Turkish officials predict that the Assad government may collapse within the next two years….
It seems to me that islamists are being held to a much higher standards than other religions. Barry Rubin is afraid of islamists but he is ok with israel as a religious state. I think that none of us can have our cake and eat it. That the majority of the people of this region are more religious than i would like is a fact. That after so many years of failures of their leaders they have turned to religion and GOD under the banner of “islam is the solution” is not surprising. When you have to live on $300 a month with 3 kids only GOD can get you going. Whether we like it or not, this region wants to throw away the exisiting order. Do they have an alternative that we like? most likely not. They clearly want to try islam. I think that this transition period is inevitable. The period may well be longer and uglier than we would like but unless we can offer a brilliant alternative, it is hard to see how this trend can be reversed. Iran started on this track back in 1979. The ayatollahs took over and promised the moon. In my opinion they have failed just like the current crop of “islam is the solution” crowd will most likely fail. But, try they will and may be try they must before the region’s next phase sees the light of day. In the meantime, the best we may hope for is that Turkish style rather than salafi style end up rising to the top should a change of the exisiting order actually materialize.
The government of Syrian President Bashar Assad will almost certainly fall under the pressure of protests and sanctions, but it will take time due to the complexity of internal and regional politics, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on …
The U.S. Treasury Department said Monday that its top sanctions official will head to Europe this week to discuss global efforts to impose sanctions against Iran. David S. Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will meet …
Region: Middle East Topics: Emerging Threats, National Preparedness The European Union has threatened more sanctions against Syria if the government crackdown on dissent continues. EU leaders warned Damascus Sunday they “will impose further and …
Syria, Iraq to establish Joint Free Trade Zones – 23/10/2011
DAMASCUS- Director-General of the General Establishment for Free Zones Abdul-Hakim Qaddah on Sunday discussed with Chairman of the Iraqi Free Zones Commission Saleh al-Qaisi and the accompanying delegation the possibility of establishing two joint Syrian-Iraqi free trade zones in al-Ya’arubyia and al-Bukamal in Syria and in Rabia and al-Qaem in Iraq.
The two sides also discussed the means of facilitating the work at the joint free trade zones to increase the volume of trade exchange between the two countries and to introduce the businessmen and the investors on the available economic and investments capabilities and to develop them.
Clarifying the economic and investment regulations in force at the free trade zones, and highlighting the facilitations provided to the Arab and foreign investors through holding conferences, scientific and economic symposiums and benefiting from the experiences in this domain were also on the table.
He added that establishing joint free trade zones would contribute to increasing the flow of goods between the two countries and would enhance the operational capacity of the Syrian and Iraqi ports, in addition to decreasing the costs of goods.
Haynes Mahoney, the embassy’s deputy chief of mission, confirmed that Ford has left Syria but said Washington hadn’t not formally recalled him — a symbolically significant diplomatic step.
Nikolaos van Dam in the Montreal Review on Syria
The Montreal Review?
There is popular anger at the regime but the various political organizations that represent the ethnic minority seem to be in the way Syria’s Kurds: Are They About to Join the Uprising Against Assad?
Journalist witnesses Syrian authorities torturing activists, Channel 4 News
From the Comment Section
(1) France has a fundamental and firm policy that the UN Security Council is the only authority that can authorize a military attack against a sovereign country. That policy is self-serving for France; see France’s status on the Security Council. But France also has the influence to keep Germany and other European countries going along with the same policy.
(2) As reported by Today’s Zaman newspaper in Turkey, the foreign ministry of Turkey is advising the Syrian National Council in Turkey to “to work in a peaceful manner for democratic transformation in Syria”. Turkey’s foreign ministry is also saying that it will not recognize the Syrian National Council as representative of anything, at least not any time soon.
(3) The USA position was summarized as follows by USA Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford in an interview with “Time Magazine” published on 28 Sep 2011: “One of the things we’ve told the opposition is that they should not think we are going to treat Syria the same way we treated Libya. The main thing for the opposition to do is figure out how to win away support from the regime, and not look to outsiders to try and solve the problem. This is a Syrian problem and it needs Syrian solutions….” Ford is strongly advising the opposition against a turn to arms. “It would be a mistake,” he says, not least because “you want to be sure that if you’re even contemplating this, you have a way to know that whatever you’re going to do militarily is going to be effective … I very frankly say to people, you don’t have enough force to fight the Syrian army, you’re not even close. We have to be realistic.” Other USA officials have said much the same thing during the past few weeks. (US foreign!
ministry spokesman Jeffrey Feltman said on Al-Arabiya TV yesterday “We are looking for better ways to protect Syrian civilians, but we do not look here to apply the Libyan model in Syria” — http://www.facebook.com/News.About.Syria?sk=wall
(4) The Arab League has said repeatedly recently that it is opposed to foreign intervention in Syria. At the Arab League meeting in Cairo on 16 Oct, as reported later by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, three measures against Syria were considered and rejected: foreign military intervention, the imposition of trade sanctions, and freezing Syria’s membership in the Arab League. Arab League countries who rejected those measures included Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Oman, Lebanon, Yemen, Sudan, and Syria.
(5) Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah in interview on Al-Manar (#156) said the Syrian people support President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, but if the people start opposing the regime, we [Hezbollah] will support the people. Think about that.
IF THE WHOLE OF SYRIA IS ALSO GROWING AT 3.46%, THEN THE CURRENT 23 MILLION WILL BE 100 MILLION BY 2055 – Tuesday, October 25, 2011 3:06 PM
وما يمكن قوله في هذا المجال إن التزايد السكاني الكبير الذي ما زالت تشهده المحافظة والذي وصل إلى 3.46% كوسطي معدل نمو سنوي وذلك في ظل غياب تطبيق سياسات التربية السكانية يشكل جوهر المشكلة سواء فيما يتعلق بالدوام النصفي وغيره، فهناك عشرات الآلاف من التلاميذ المطلوب تسجيلهم سنوياً في مدارس التعليم الأساسي وبما يفوق أحياناً التوسع في إنشاء الأبنية المدرسية وبما بات يثير الشكوك حول إمكانية القضاء على الدوام النصفي المخطط في عام 2013!!
Iran’s Supreme Leader Floats Proposal to Abolish Presidency
2011-10-25, By Thomas Erdbrink
Oct. 25 (Washington Post) — TEHRAN — A proposal by Iran’s supreme leader to radically alter the country’s constitution and abolish the presidency is drawing praise from his supporters but criticism from influential politicians. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was appointed supreme leader for life in 1989 by Shiite Muslim clerics, said in a speech last week that, if deemed appropriate, Iran could do without a president. The post is currently held by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose 2009 reelection was disputed by opponents and led to months of street protests. Former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said publicly Tuesday that the proposal strongly undermines the ideal of an Islamic republic, in which the people elect their leaders. Ahmadinejad, for his part, said in a speech Tuesday in the eastern city of Birjand, “We will not respond but know that the
nation is awake.” He was vague on whether he was specifically addressing the proposal to eliminate his position.
Ahmadinejad stressed that no one should have problems with “the people” and said that “if the time comes that anyone wants to block them from progressing, they will remove him in two seconds,” the Fararu Web site wrote. Under the proposal, Iran would be ruled by Khamenei working in tandem with parliament, which would continue to be directly elected and would appoint one of its members to serve as prime minister.
Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the US, said Tuesday it will take more time to know how the democratic uprisings in Arab nations will affect relations with Israel. But ‘possible ouster’ of President Assad in Syria would afford ‘an opportunity to us,’ he said.
Fresh Plaza (NL): Libya’s economy to shrink more than 50% after conflict
2011-10-26 14:22:36.602 GMT
Libya’s economy to shrink more than 50% after conflict Libya’s economy will contract more than 50 percent in 2011 as eight months of fighting paralyzed its oil industry, the International Monetary Fund said. “The conflict has had a severe …
DJ US Ambassador Hopes To Be Back In Syria Next Month
2011-10-26 20:17:51.187 GMT
WASHINGTON (AFP)–U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who was abruptly withdrawn this week because of security threats, hopes to return to Damascus before the end of November, the State Department said Wednesday.
“Let me just say he has bought his Thanksgiving turkey for his embassy staff, and he wants very much to have Thanksgiving dinner for his folks there. So that’s our expectation, it will be sometime before Thanksgiving,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 24 this year.