Stay Out of Syria

The US, Europe and the Gulf states want regime change in Syria so they are starving the regime and feeding the opposition. They have sanctioned Syria to a fare-thee-well and are busy shoveling money and arms to the rebels. This will change the balance of power in favor of the revolution. Crudely put, the US is pursuing regime-change by civil-war. This is the most it can and should do.

President Obama does not want to intervene directly in Syria for obvious reasons. The US has failed at nation-building twice before in the Middle East. Some suggest that the “third time is a charm,” but Americans should not risk it. Voodoo policy analysis is not what the US needs today. Arguing that if only the US had done things differently in Iraq, Iraqis would not have radicalized or fallen into emulous factionalism is hokum. We must not allow ourselves to be talked into direct intervention in Syria today. Every student of the Middle East knows that Iraq had little sense of national political community to hold it together. The fact that it fell apart when the US Roto-Rootered Saddam’s regime should have been expected. The same thing is likely in Syria. Civil war and radicalization may not be avoidable. Syrians have many hard choices to make about their future. The chances that they will make them peacefully are small.

With America’s economy in the dumps, its military badly bruised, its reputation among Muslims in tatters, and its people fatigued by nation-building gone awry, this is no time to launch an intervention in Syria.

Military intervention would undoubtedly be expensive and dangerous. In all likelihood it would back-fire, leaving the US in possession of a broken Syria in desperate need of rebuilding. Syria is a nation the size of Iraq with insufficient sources of revenue. It produces little the world wants to buy. It hardly produces enough electricity for three hours of coverage a day. The school system is in a shambles. Government institutions will fall apart once the revolution wins. They are staffed by Baathists, recruited for loyalty to the regime and the Assad family. No revolutionary government will rehire them. They will purge them from top to bottom and employ the hundreds of thousands of jobless Syrians who have sacrificed for the revolution, lost family and struggled in the face of tyranny. Anyone who believes that Syria will avoid the excesses of Iraq, where the military, government ministries, and Baath Party were dissolved and criminalized is dreaming.  If the US becomes militarily involved by destroying the presidential palace and military installations, it will own Syria.There will be no military to keep order and stop potential looting. If disorder and civil strife breaks out when the regime is destroyed, will the US feel obliged to step in? Will it discipline the 60 militias that now claim to represent the revolutionary forces? If the death toll rises after the regime falls, will the US surge its forces to stop the killing?

Already the Syrian opposition has asked for 12 billion dollars in start up money for the first six months when they come to power. This is chicken feed. Anyone who knows anything about Syria’s 24 million inhabitants, knows that they will need a lot more than 12 billion to stabilize and help rebuild Syria. The US spends 12 billion dollars every three months in Afghanistan. In 2010, the US was spending $6.7 billion in Afghanistan every month compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq.  Few Americans believe this money was well spent. To believe that Syria would cost less is rash.

The US has been down the road of nation-building in the Middle East before. It is not good at it. The US wants regime-change without the responsibilities. Many pundits argue that the US must dive into Syria directly rather than build up the opposition slowly, but that would be a fool’s errand. If the US has learned anything, it is that it cannot sort out issues of power-sharing and national identity for Middle Eastern countries. The road to national unity cannot be paved in Washington. In the end, Syrians must find their own way and choose their own national leaders. Ahmad Chalabi and Hamid Karzai seemed like good choices when they were first held up. They had many winning qualities and looked better than the alternatives. But they turned out not to be the right leaders for Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no indication that the US could do a better job of picking winners in Syria. Burhan Ghalioun, the leader of the Syrian National Council, seemed to have all the qualities of a future Syrian president: he is Sunni, French educated, and has a long history of espousing liberalism, moderation, and democracy.  But it only took months before leaders in his own party attacked him for treason, dictatorship and dishonesty and forced him to resign. Today, the Syrian opposition is leaderless. Over sixty militias are competing on the ground for cash and Kalashnikovs.

Already, we are being told that if we had only intervened earlier with our military, Syrians would have been unified, liberal and moderate. Only because we have delayed, they are becoming radical and and Islamized.  This is not a convincing argument. Syrians are divided because they have no tradition of unity and the Baath has destroyed politics for 50 years. Nothing America can do will erase that legacy of political underdevelopment.

It seems heartless to stand by and do so little as massacres such as that carried out at Houla continue. More than 13 thousand Syrians have been killed in the last 14 months of revolution. All the same US intervention is not the solution. American troops killed over 10 thousand Iraqis in the first month of invasion in 2003. They killed a further 120,000 Iraqis in anger by the time the country was stabilized and safe to leave – and even then Iraq remains in turmoil and a new dictatorship seems to be taking shape. Car bombs are a daily occurrence in Baghdad.

In all likelihood, the Syrian revolution will be less bloody if Syrians carry it out for themselves. A new generation of national leaders will emerge from the struggle. They will not emerge with any legitimacy if America hands them Syria as a gift. How will they claim that they won the struggle for dignity, freedom and democracy? America cannot give these things. Syrians must take them. America can play a role with aid, arms and intelligence, but it cannot and should not try to decide Syria’s future, determine winners, and take charge of Syria. If Syrians want to own Syria in the future, they must own the revolution and find their own way to winning it. It is better for Syria and it is better for America.


News Round Up follows

The Assads – What keeps them together?

Syria’s Bashar Assad Hangs Onto Power Despite Turmoil
Despite the rising death toll in Syria, inlcuding the reported massacre this week of more than 100 civilians in

The problem with the Annan plan, as I see it, is that it is viewed as a Russian plan. If both sides stop fighting today, Assad wins because he owns the country. The rebels have little to negotiate with and no leverage save the threat of their growing power, numbers, and foreign backing. They need time – and the Annan plan can, in theory, buy them some time. [Josh L.]

Rami G. Khouri on how to save the Annan Plan

If Russia, the United States, China and Iran can agree on a minimum level of steps to bring Syria back from the brink of an all-out civil war, then it might be possible to contemplate establishing some sort of contact group-like mechanism of concerned states that also includes players like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq and the European Union.

It is impossible now to get the Syrian government and opposition groups to meet and talk, due to a lack of trust and lack of clarity on whether they each want to negotiate at all. So the most feasible strategy in this case is to focus on getting regional and international parties that play a direct role in Syria to do four things: agree on their common interests, prevent all-out war in Syria, pressure both sides in the conflict to implement the Annan Plan, and ultimately create transitional mechanisms that protect the interests of all groups and perhaps point the way forward to a stable and peaceful Syria.

Serious talks are underway to explore if regional and global actors might be able to agree on such a mechanism. Annan is said to be encouraged by private conversations he has had with key players, and is not deterred by the fact that these same countries’ public pronouncements can differ. For progress to be achieved I am told, the Annan team feels that “harmony and logic” must be achieved among the three rings of this conflict — domestically, regionally, and internationally.

Syria Says Houla Massacre Victims Wouldn’t Cooperate With Rebels
By Henry Meyer and Stepan Kravchenko on June 02, 2012

Syria’s ambassador to Russia said terrorists targeted families that refused to follow their orders during the massacre of more than 100 people, including dozens of children, in Houla last week.

“These families were killed because they refused to cooperate with these terrorist groups,” Riad Haddad said in an interview at the Syrian embassy in Moscow yesterday. “When the parliamentary elections were held in Syria, these terrorist groups went to villages and towns and stopped people from voting and demanded candidates withdraw.”

The killings in Houla led to new calls for Russia to stop supplying arms to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he doesn’t support either side in the Syrian conflict. The United Nations Human Rights Council called for a probe into the massacre, which it said was carried out by “pro-regime elements” and government forces.

Among the dead in Houla was the family of a lawmaker who refused to withdraw his name from the parliamentary vote, Haddad said. Several hundred militants carried out the killings in Houla, General Qassem Jamal Suleiman, who heads the Syrian investigation into the killings, said May 31.

The rebel attack on Houla came after they fired two anti- tank missiles at Syrian security forces gathering outside the city, killing 31 troops, Haddad said. Among the civilian casualties in Houla were three families from nearby Shomaliya, whom the rebels killed there, he said, citing his government’s preliminary investigation.
Povoking Interference

Syria has found evidence that fighters from Libya and Tunisia with ties to al-Qaeda are “already among the rebels,” Haddad said, adding that some of the massacre was filmed. “The main aim is to cause failure of the Annan plan and to provoke foreign military interference.”

Putin, speaking at a press conference in Paris yesterday, said additional pressure on Assad’s government risks radicalizing the country. He called for more time to allow UN envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan to work.

“We want to achieve the situation where the violence ends and there won’t be large-scale civil war,” Putin said.

Guardian (GB): The Houla massacre: reconstructing the events of 25 May

Martin Chulov in Beirut and Mona Mahmood, Friday 1 June 2012 12.09 EDT A photo taken by Syrian activists is said to show Houla residents fleeing shelling. Photograph: AP Friday 25 May began like any other Friday in the Syrian …

U.S. publishes satellite images of Syria
Sat, Jun 02 02:25
By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. government website on Friday published what it said was photographic evidence of mass graves and attacks on civilian areas by Syrian government forces.

The website, operated by a bureau of the State Department, published a series of overhead photos, said to be taken earlier this week by commercial satellite, showing what it said were mass graves dug following a massacre near the town of Houla.

They also showed apparent artillery impact craters near civilian areas of a town called Atarib.

Included on the web page, which can be viewed at, are pictures which apparently show artillery deployed as of May 31 – Thursday – near three Syrian towns and attack helicopters allegedly deployed near the towns of Shayrat and Homs….

CNN: Is Syria unsolvable?

Aaron David Miller is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and served as a Middle East negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Can …

Independent: ‘Mr Obama, it’s time to keep your word and end this slaughter’

Exclusive interview: The leader of Syria’s rebel forces tells Loveday Morris why the West must watch no longer

Speaking to The Independent from an undisclosed location in the Homs Governorate, Colonel Qassim Saadeddine – who this week laid bare the rifts in the rebel forces as he denounced the leadership of the exiled Colonel Riad al-Asaad – declared the Annan peace plan “dead and buried”.

In a message to the US President, Barack Obama, and the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, he said: “You said that [President] Assad must go, you said his days are numbered. Words should be matched by deeds. You cannot wait until after the American elections for action. The regime hasn’t stopped the killing, hasn’t stopped the shelling – you cannot stand still.”….

U.S. Team and Israel Developed Iran Worm

WASHINGTON—The U.S. is pursuing a wide-ranging, high-tech campaign against Iran’s nuclear program that includes the cybersabotage project known as Stuxnet, which was developed by the Central Intelligence Agency in conjunction with Idaho National Laboratory, the Israeli government, and other U.S. agencies, according to people familiar with the efforts.

The covert CIA effort also includes persistent drone surveillance and cyberspying on Iranian scientists, they said. The U.S. strategy to use technologically advanced measures against Iran illustrates how the Internet and other remote-access capabilities are facilitating spy operations deep inside denied territories.

“It’s part of a larger campaign,” said a former U.S. official familiar with the efforts. “It’s a preferable alternative to airstrikes.”

Nick Heras & Carole A. O’Leary, “Syrian Tribal Networks and Their Implications for the Syrian Uprising.” – Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Monitor

…The Syrian Ba’ath Party has traditionally sought to undermine the independence of the country’s tribes through intimidation, infiltration, and dependence. These aggressive policies continued under the Assad government and were exacerbated by decades of economic stagnation and the near total collapse of the rural economy of regions in southern and eastern Syria due to drought, corrupt use of water resources and mismanagement of croplands where many tribesmen resided (Jadaliyya, February 16). In spite of these severe difficulties, tribal networks in Syria are, ironically, better equipped at present to influence the opposition against the Assad government than at any other point in Syria’s modern history.

Over the last several decades, relationships between different tribes have been strengthened by the mutual difficulties that all Syrian tribesmen face, and by a shared bond of kinship and a common Arab-Bedouin heritage that differentiates tribesmen from the ruling Assad family that usurped the power of the Syrian Ba’ath Party. [1] The economic disaster facing tribal youth, combined with the political pressure that is constantly applied by the Assad government, caused Syrian tribes to look to each other for mutual help and support. The traditional vertical authority of the shaykhs over the rest of their tribesmen weakened over time, causing decision-making authority to extend beyond one person (or family) in a specific tribal lineage to mutually supporting individuals in a wider network of tribes. [2] Under coercion from the state, many tribal shaykhs were forced to leave their traditional areas to live quietly in Damascus or Aleppo, or left Syria entirely, becoming remote figures from the perspective of their tribesmen. Without revenues, they became unable to provide for the essential needs of their tribes, particularly during the most recent drought that began in 2003 and lasted through the rest of the decade.

The result is a series of horizontal, activist networks of mainly young and economically displaced tribesmen residing in Syria’s most restive cities who have adopted an inter-tribal identity that champions the importance of their shared tribal cultural background and dissatisfaction with their economic and political marginalization in what they view as a corrupt, repressive state. …

the first “Day of Rage” demonstration against the Syrian government in the ethnically mixed, heavily tribal eastern city of Hasakah on February 5, 2011, was conducted by networks of tribesmen from the Jabbour, Ta’i, and the Ounaiza tribal confederations. [4] The “Union of Arab Syrian Clans and Tribes,” an Aleppo-based opposition group claiming to represent more than 50 percent of Syria’s tribal population, announced its existence via YouTube on March 11, 2011. [5] One of the first nationwide Friday demonstrations organized by opposition groups inside of Syria, held on June 10, 2011, was called the “Friday of the Tribes” in recognition of the role that tribesmen played in leading resistance to the Syrian government (al-Jazeera, June 10, 2011). Many Syrian tribal leaders, such as Shaykh Nawwaf al-Bashir, an important leader of the large Baggara tribe and a former member of the Syrian Parliament, are active members of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) (al-Jazeera, January 16). Recently, a group of Syrian tribesmen and shaykhs in exile in Istanbul created the “Assembly of Tribes,” claiming to represent 40 percent of Syrian tribesmen (al-Arabiyya, April 16).

In addition to their political role in the Syrian opposition, Syrian tribesmen also participate in the armed groups that fight the Assad government, particularly the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and its affiliates. These tribesmen predominately fight the Syrian military on the local level, in the areas where they reside, relying on young tribesmen who defected from the Syrian military for materiel and tactical advice. [6] Further, the tribes of northeastern and eastern Syria, such as the Shammar, Baggara, Jabbour, Dulaim, and Ougaidat, have close and enduring relationships with their tribal kin in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Anti-Assad regime states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar are reported to be using tribal networks to move materiel and weapons into Syria, though this is officially denied (al-Arabiya, March 4). There is also strong evidence that Iraqi tribesmen in particular are moving arms and material as well as fighting alongside their tribal kinsmen against the Assad government in small but growing numbers.[7] The shared cross-border kinship ties possessed by Syrian tribes and networks of tribal youth in Gulf Arab countries present a regional geopolitical complication to the uprising.

Syrian Tribalism and the Assad Government

Although Syrian tribes are well represented in the internal opposition, some tribal shaykhs and tribesmen continue to cooperate with the government. Like the opposition, the government has been aggressive in attempting to secure the support of the tribes. Since the beginning of the uprising, the government has sponsored a series of conferences called the “Syrian and Arab Tribes and Clans Forum,” which emphasize the role of Syrian tribesmen in resisting foreign intervention and ensuring Syria’s sovereignty (Syrian Arab News Agency, May 5). Under regime pressure, Syrian tribal shaykhs were forced to meet the Russian Ambassador to Syria and present him with gifts after Russia’s veto of a February UN Security Council resolution that would have demanded political transition in the country (Syrian Arab News Agency, February 22).

Since the start of the uprising, many Syrian tribesmen have supported the state’s security apparatus, controlled by the Assad family. This is not a new practice, and Syrian tribes have been used as enforcers for the Syrian government for decades. In many restive regions of Syria, tribesmen are deployed by the Syrian military as paramilitary forces called shabiha (literally “ghosts” with the connotation of “thugs”), although interviewees referred to them as jahaaz, which means “apparatus,” as in a security apparatus, but has the connotation of “political tools.” [8] There is evidence that affiliation with the Syrian government or the armed opposition in these areas is splitting the loyalty of tribesmen and fraying relationships between tribal shaykhs asked to choose a side. In Deir al-Zor, tribal loyalties are reportedly being put to the test even within families, as youth join the opposition against the wishes of their more cautious parents, family elders, and shaykhs (The National [Abu Dhabi], January 16). These reports correspond with the authors’ field research on developments in the Jazirah region, indicating that members of the Jabbour tribe in and around al-Hasakah, and the Ta’i tribe in and around Qamishli have been organized and deployed by the regime against restive Kurds and tribal opposition members in these cities. [9] Both of these tribes, in a precarious position in their respective cities, were susceptible to the coercion and manipulation of the Syrian government, which desires to keep its “Kurdish problem” cost effectively managed through the arming of tribal militias and cash “gifts.” Divided loyalties and conflicting networks of mobilization both for and against the opposition add another element of potentially severe instability to the current uprising.

Implications for Regime Change and Stability in a Post-Assad Syria

Interview data collected since the uprisings began in 2011 indicates that without clear guarantees from the United States, leading shaykhs across Syria will not put their tribesmen and women at risk by openly siding with the opposition. At the same time, shaykhs of large tribes located along Syria’s strategic border areas are pursuing quiet but active dialogue with U.S., Turkish, Saudi, and Qatari officials about how they can support the opposition without putting their tribes in danger….

…Syrians will need time to organize new political parties capable of competing with Islamic parties and groups linked to mosque networks in the critical first cycle of post-Assad regime national elections. Syria’s Arab tribes represent an alternative bloc of millions of votes across the country that can rapidly organize and turn out for elections and thus become strong political powerbrokers in a post-Assad Syria.

Comments (231)

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201. Alan said:

Flame virus infects Middle East computer networks
The Flame virus, an unusually powerful malware, has afflicted computer networks in Iran and the Middle East. The virus is comparable to Stuxnet, however the Flame virus is thought to be even more dangerous../../,..

Syria’s opposition rejects Assad’s proposal
The Syrian web is getting more tangled. Damascus is now accusing the West of attempts to colonize the country while the opposition has rejected Bashar Assad’s dialogue proposals. The UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, in his turn, stated that Syria is on the verge of a “civil war”.
On June 3, Kofi Annan talked Syria with Russia’s Foreign Minster Sergey Lavrov. The latter said that Kofi Annan’s peace strategy is the only possible way to solve the conflict and pledged support from Russia. Moscow also wants to coordinate global efforts to boost the process../../…

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June 4th, 2012, 9:20 am


202. Alan said:

for peace on the earth ! Glory for Syria !

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June 4th, 2012, 10:08 am


203. irritated said:

Irritated Please tone down the rhetoric with MajedKhaldoun.

SC Moderator

#202 Majed

Thanks, but you beat us all by also supplying false information.

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June 4th, 2012, 10:09 am


204. zoo said:

The war in now engaged.

80 Syrian soldiers killed over weekend: activists

BEIRUT – Reuters

A handout picture released by official the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows the funeral procession of soldiers reportedly killed in ongoing fighting across the country outside the Tishreen military hospital in Damascus on May 22, 2012. AFP photo
Syrian rebels killed at least 80 government soldiers over the weekend in intensified attacks on army checkpoints and clashes with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, a pro-opposition rights group said today.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels had told it that units from the capital Damascus to the opposition stronghold province of Idlib had destroyed tanks and killed more than 100 soldiers. It was able to confirm the names of 80 through local doctors.


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June 4th, 2012, 10:11 am


205. zoo said:

Or the other way around?

EU to pressure Russia on Syria at summit

SAINT PETERSBURG – Agence France-Presse

EU leaders on Monday were set to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to harden his line against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime despite little sign of flexibility from Moscow.


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June 4th, 2012, 10:14 am


206. AIG said:

About 100 soldiers killed in one day. That is all Hezbollah could manage over the entire war of several weeks with Israel.

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June 4th, 2012, 10:16 am


207. zoo said:

UN mission in Syria, far from being useless, is essential

Hassan Hassan
Jun 5, 2012

Rising voices from within the Syrian opposition are calling for an end to the peace mission led by former UN chief Kofi Annan, and are declaring the failure of diplomacy.

On Thursday Colonel Riad Al Asaad, the chief of the Free Syrian Army, invited Mr Annan to declare that the UN-Arab League mission is a failure. Some military leaders on the ground threatened to end their ceasefire if the regime would not stop using violence.

These calls have been matched by similar comments from many activists and leaders in the political opposition. There is also a prevailing media narrative that diplomacy has failed and that it is time for Mr Annan to get out of the way.

These calls are misguided, perhaps cynical. They threaten to disrupt a process that, while not deterring the regime from killing people, is essential in building an international consensus to exert more pressure on Damascus.

The mission is also important to document the regime’s violations, for the purposes of any future legal action or a truth and reconciliation process.

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June 4th, 2012, 10:29 am


208. majedkhaldoun said:

MajedKhaldoun Please tone down the rhetoric with Irritated.

SC Moderator

The Christians are supporting Ahmad Shafiq in Egypt, and some Christians are supporting Bashar in Syria, This reminds me of Shoshet Al Nasara in 1860, when yo don’t side on the right side, you end up losing.

Mr. Nonsense Irritated,
FSA is more than 25000, and HA army was 11000, HA was about to lose the war as over 4500 of them died during the war with Israel, the Israeli army is much more powerful than Assad army.stop closing your eyes and putting fingers in your ear,deaf and blind always say Nonsense.

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June 4th, 2012, 10:29 am


209. SALAH ADDIN said:

“Israel used tanks in the war against HA, HA did not have tanks,…”

HA did not have tanks but had short to medium range guided missiles with the advanced and lethal armor piercing munition. While having this type of weapons is crucial for HA to neutralize Israel’s tanks, they could only be effective to the degree demonstrated by HA, when they are integrated in an array of weapons and tactics, developed by HA, that took Israel by surprise.
If the FSA can develop the structure of command and control, the training and discipline, and the continuously evolving tactics that HA is known for, then they could become a real threat to the Syrian Army. But then we are back to who is going to supply them the guided missiles, when they show no cohesion and control of these weapons, like HA does.
Now as to your point that other countries can become directly involved, the above argument becomes redundant, and a whole new set of circumstances would apply, that is only if and when other countries take that step.

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June 4th, 2012, 10:58 am


211. Tara said:

# 211

Please note that Butchers IQ is around 100 as opposed to Doctors IQ around 130.  So called doctors who passed the baccalaureate and earned their MD degree via Wasta and by virtue of having papa Hafiz as a dad are not really doctors.  Tara thinks that Filmmakers also average 130. 

iQs and jobs

Top civil servants, Professors and Scientists – 140
Surgeons, Lawyers and Architects/ Engineers – 130
School teachers, Pharmacists, Accountants, Nurses, and Managers – 120.
Foremen, Clerks, Salesmen, Policemen and Electricians – 110
Machine operators, Welders, and Butchers – 100
Laborers, Gardeners, Miners, Sorters and Factory packers – 90

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June 4th, 2012, 11:27 am


212. Alan said:

212. JNA
On SC I there are informations on it nearly one year ago!other readers badly understood the comment then!
Juergen told that doesn’t know precisely a detail of confidential military contracts between Israel and Germany and avoided to make comments!

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June 4th, 2012, 12:34 pm


213. Alan said:

212. JNA

“Our armed forces are not the thirteenth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third…We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force…We have the capability to take the world down with us, and I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.”

–—Martin Van Creveld, a professor of military history at Israel’s Hebrew University.

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June 4th, 2012, 12:37 pm


214. SALAH ADDIN said:

“I can assure you from my family members that they never got any training on the weapons that they were supposed to be using in their units in the two years of military service. One of them in the air defense unit studied the ZIS-24 in a book and never used it or sat in the tank or understood how it operates.”

If your relative was assigned to an anti-aircraft tank unit, then it was probably a ZSU-23-4 Shilka and not a ZIS-24 self propelled field artillery tank.
I am not surprised that your relative never went on a training deployment mission, where he will have to actually shoot the weapons and operate the tank carrier, and will have to live in a tent, during the whole period of the war games.
Your relative is probably a college graduate, and hence was assigned a certain rank and therefore studied the book to pass the exam with a minimum effort. He is probably a member of the middle class with connections, that would allow him to skip the hardship of serving in a combat unit, and spent most of his compulsory service time away from his unit. The volunteers and career Army soldiers and officers, would be the ones who would operate that Shilka in time of war, and your relative will probably never be recalled for reserve duty.
That is why you can not, based on your relative’s military service experience, judge the performance of the professional members of the Army in the field.
There must a compelling reason why many countries think that Syria and its Army is not Libya.

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June 4th, 2012, 12:47 pm


215. Antoine said:


The Free Syrian Army has declared “Total War” on the Syrian Arab Army, and the Local Opposition totally supports it.

The Free Syrian Army asks all conscripts in the Syrian Arab Army to join the FSA , otherwise they are legitimate targets of lethal force.

Now SNP chew on this, FSA isn’ about to ceasefire ever nor about to lose, they have declared total war on Syrian Army , gameplan is in 3 to 4 years assemble about 200,000 strong force throughout length and breadth of the country, composed primarily of Syrian Army conscripts and officers and also large numbers of Volunteers, and start TOTAL WAR against whatever is left of the Syrian Arab Army.

It is very difficult decision to split the Syrian Arab Army, but SNP should step in and give the “flick of the finger” which they have been claiming for some time, if they want to avert this unfortunate consequence. Otherwise how are they different from Emir and King ? And by the way, this thing has passed beyond the scope of the Emir and King or anybody in the World, to control.

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June 4th, 2012, 12:49 pm


216. Antoine said:


Close to 50 % of the Syrian population is against the Syrian Arab Army and totally supportive if the Free Syrian Army,

Now calculate, what percentage of Syrian military personell belong to this 50 % social group.

And then think of the ZSU-23/24, on which by the way, the scruffy kid from Al-Atareb, Aleppo, already has his RPG sights locked on.

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June 4th, 2012, 12:54 pm


217. Antoine said:

We ask His Hashemite Majesty, King Abdullah II of Jordan, to give us at least 100 peices of anti-tank Guided missile Luanchers and 5000 missiles. We will pay for it with profit, what FSA will pay for it will be enough to pay salaries of 12,000 Jordanian Civil Servants in 1 month.

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June 4th, 2012, 12:57 pm


218. Antoine said:

The strategy of the FSA for defeating the regime is not by entering into a direct confrontation, but by weakening and eroding the regime by defections from all its institutions. The basic line ios that Sunnis and Christians should not serve a regime which does not represent them , in fact does not represent Syrians, but Iran.

The basic idea is to create a psychological hatred in the minds of many Syrians against the regime, mainly based on social identity.

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June 4th, 2012, 1:05 pm


219. Osama said:

206. AIG

Can you please clarify what you mean when you say:

“About 100 soldiers killed in one day. That is all Hezbollah could manage over the entire war of several weeks with Israel”

Because it’s sounds like your cheering the death of 100 Syrians, or at least very impressed the FSA ability to cause carnage…

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June 4th, 2012, 2:39 pm


220. AIG said:


There was some discussion about the abilities of the FSA relative to Hezbollah. I just made a factual statement.

But if you ask, it is quite impressive that the FSA could cause so many casualties in one day. In the Second Lebanon war Israel lost 121 soldiers in 4 weeks fighting Hezbollah.

In the Gaza operation, Cast Lead (about 3 weeks) Israel lost 10 soldiers, 4 which were from friendly fire.

So at first blush, the FSA looks much better than Hezbollah and Hamas.

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June 4th, 2012, 3:11 pm


221. irritated said:

#219 Antoine

You’re right.
“The strategy of the FSA for defeating the regime is not by entering into a direct confrontation, but” .. by using civilians as human shields, putting booby trap car bombs to kill civilians and perpetrate as many massacres as possible using their gangs so as to trigger the ‘outraged’ international community to intervene militarily.

And keep sending emails to King Abdallah of Jordan about your bright ideas:
” create a psychological hatred in the minds of many Syrians”

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June 4th, 2012, 3:27 pm


222. irritated said:


“the FSA looks much better than Hezbollah and Hamas.”

and bloodier, because they kill as many civilians as soldiers.

In any case Syrian soldiers and civilians dead make less enemies to Israel.

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June 4th, 2012, 3:29 pm


223. AIG said:


“and bloodier, because they kill as many civilians as soldiers.”

It is not clear you are right. Hezbollah and Hamas regularly shelled citizens in Israel. Just in the Lebanon war they killed 44 civilians. Hamas killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in suicide bombings and they killed very few Israeli soldiers. They are much bloodier than the FSA for certain.

“In any case Syrian soldiers and civilians dead make less enemies to Israel.”

What are you talking about? The Assads did not use their army against Israel since 1973, almost 40 years. In fact they went out of their way to keep the Golan border quiet. The army was kept to use against the Syrian population, not Israel.

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June 4th, 2012, 3:45 pm


224. SALAH ADDIN said:

The total war was announced from the first days of the revolution by the peaceful protesters, by the local coordinating committees, by the expat dissident activists, by the so-called tribal council representatives, by the Facebook warriors, and later on by the SNC and FSA when they were born on the revolution’s stage right in front of our eyes. Add to that the different religious affiliated and motivated groups, such as MB, Salafists, Takferees, Al-Qaeda, Jabhet Al-Nusrah, Jund Al-Sham, Fath Al-Islam, Huzb Al-Tawheed, Huzb Al-Tahrir. Add to them the many local militias such as Al-Farouq Batalion in Hims and Al-Qaaqaa Brigade in Deir Al-Zor.
So your declaration of total war now is kind of either misleading, or an attempt to jump on the bandwagon.
Now you go on and tell us that, your message to the Sunni, the Christian (and I assume all other communities), is that the regime does not represent them, whereas the above rebels and revolutionaries and their leaders are the true representatives of these communities.
That is why the revolution is bogged down. The Syrian communities would have rallied, in a heart beat, around a truly representative and semi competent opposition.
What the current opposition is offering Syrians, is to jump from the frying pan into the fire.
And you come along and tell us that your strategy is to create a psychological hatred in the minds of Syrians against the regime. Well I have news for you, except for the diehard supporters, which are a minority, there is no love lost between the majority of Syrians and the regime, regardless of their sect or ethnic background and makeup.
This revolution has managed to turn off the majority of Syrians and has not been able to gain their trust or support, therefore trying to summon foreign support.
The only option left for the rebels is a military victory, in order to gain control and take over the country, regardless of how the majority may feel.
Now regarding military strategy, the rebels have not been able to impress anyone either, not that the regime’s performance have been brilliant either.
You say that it will take a few years to achieve your plan. I say the jury is out, and good luck with your plans.
And that scruffy kid from Al-Atareb, Aleppo, better have a good aim, for his own sake, as that Shilka can prove to be deadly.
I guess it is a fight to the end, and the price will be paid by all of Syria, regardless of the result.

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June 4th, 2012, 4:12 pm


225. SALAH ADDIN said:


Hizbillah’s mission in 2006, was to capture Israeli soldiers, in order to negotiate the release of Lebanese POWs.
That mission was achieved in the first few hours, of what became a war of a few weeks in 2006.
Hizbillah’s mission was never a daily body count. AIG’s use of one day’s body count, in the 2006 war, has no correlation in comparing the FSA’s performance, mission and objective to Hizbillah’s in 2006.
Even after the second day, when it was clear to Hizballah that Israel’s mission, after it failed to free the POWs, was changed to a mission to destroy Hizbillah and erode its support with its base, it never had a body count as a goal, a mission or a strategy.
After several weeks of arduous fighting and attacks, Israel failed in all of its objectives.
So for AIG to use a body count of one day is meaningless, when at the end Hizbillah succeeded in realizing its objectives, where Israel failed dismally, by not being able to free the POWs, not being able to destroy Hizbillah, not being able to capture and hold any Lebanese territory, having to agree on a ceasefire, and to trade live POWS and remains of Lebanese and Arab fighters for the remains of the two Israeli soldiers.

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June 4th, 2012, 5:10 pm


226. AIG said:

Do you really want us to believe that Hezbollah was not trying to kill as many Israeli soldiers as they can? Of course they were. And they succeeded over three weeks in killing 121 while the FSA killed 100 Syrian soldiers in only ONE day. The FSA, look much better.

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June 4th, 2012, 6:39 pm


227. omen said:

why does the professor keep pointing to iraq as an object lesson when the better lesson is libya?

libya too had sanctions but they were short lived. the price of gas too shot up but only for a little while. no boots on the ground, nato took out military or command and control targets (where, contrary to critics’ hyperbole, they took great care and civilian casualties that resulted were very low) while rebels took up the bulk of the fighting. what’s wrong with that?

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June 4th, 2012, 6:58 pm


228. SALAH ADDIN said:

“Do you really want us to believe…”

No, I really do not want you to believe anything, or care what you believe.
I am just stating the facts, that Hizbillah had a clear mission, which they accomplished, the first few hours of the first day, and then after the second day, that mission changed in accordance with their enemy’s mission, which they managed to scuttle.
Israeli infantry incursions unto Lebanese territory held and defended by Hizbillah, was limited to a few attempts, and soldiers of those units were either killed, wounded or were forced to withdraw.
The tanks that crossed unto Lebanese territory, were trapped into kill zones and were forced to withdraw, after failing to achieve their objectives and mission.
If Hizbillah were to loose their focus from their mission and objectives, and instead get distracted by focusing on body count, the outcome would have been different, and maybe not in Hizbillah’s favor.
Now you go ahead and believe whatever you want to believe, including that the FSA can kill more Syrian Army soldiers than Hizbillah killed Israeli soldiers, with a body count of over 3000 compared to 121. I see how you came to the conclusion that the FSA is better. Who are you fooling, but yourself?
Does comparing apples to oranges mean anything to you?
Can you think in terms of achieving a mission in a few hours, compared with a mission that at best might be achieved in a few years?

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June 4th, 2012, 8:40 pm


229. omen said:

113. MICHEL said:
I am going to syria (damascus) in 1 month with my simple point and shoot camera to participate in the uprising for freedom and dignity in any way I can. Anyone who can provide some guidance to me is welcome to do so.
12:07 pm


don’t go?

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June 4th, 2012, 11:49 pm


230. Osama said:

220. AIG

I take exception to your way of measuring the performance of the FSA or any other fighting force. The Syrian Army is a conscript force, and not very well trained, they only have a few formations with the necessary skill to carry out complex operations, but as you pointed out they have not been truly tested since 1973 (actually 1982 in Lebanon).

I take exception to your contention that 100 dead Syrian can in any way be a good thing to show anything. The conscripts were victims, ill equiped and badly trained, I am surprised they fought at all – historically, conscript forces are little more than canon fodder.

I take exception to the way you are cherry picking the examples you want to use and then taking those items out of context.

The the technological show-case that is the IDF did not hold back in either Lebanon or Gaza, they bomb the infrastructure, destroyed hundreds of homes, fired on cars and ambulances or anything that moved, and ended up killing thousands of civilians during the month long onslaught, all from a safe distance. Once they did cross the border, they did it in tanks and when they did engage they had massive air and artillery support, not to mention western political support (“birth of a new middle east”).

By the same token, if we wanted to “measure” the Syrian army’s performance by your exacting standard, the world should look away for a few weeks and let the Syrian Army use all its force and then we can “measure” the FSA.

but we both know that’s not gonna happen…

The FSA is nothing more than a proxy force, bought and paid for by Nato/GCC, it is a mixture of criminals looking to make quick buck smuggling the weapons and “fighters”, wahabi/salafi nut jobs and frustrated young men who don’t know any better, they are hardly up to the standard of Hizballah in either organization or tactics, but any short comings are more than made-up for by the slick PR campaign organized and directed by NATO/GCC.

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June 5th, 2012, 3:26 am


231. AIG said:


The Israeli army is also a conscript army, so I don’t see how this point is relevant in any way.

And of course Israel held back both in Lebanon and Gaza. That was not one tenth of the fire power of the IDF.

If the Syrian army is as useless as you say, why does the regime fund it? Again it strengthens my point that it is only to be used against Syria’s citizens. If the conscripts are useless, why are they there? Isn’t the regime that sent them irresponsible?

As much as you may want to sweep the objective data under the rug, the numbers speak for themselves. The FSA’s accomplishment is impressive. It has nothing to do with NATO/GCC PR. 100 dead soldiers in one day is 100 dead soldiers in one day. It is more than Hezbollah was ever able to accomplish and certainly much more than Hamas was ever able to accomplish.

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June 5th, 2012, 12:05 pm


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