The Weapons Supply – Who is Deciding Who Gets What?

Several high-ranking Syrian military officers have reportedly defected to Turkey. China is urging calm after Syria’s downing  downs Turkish jet, and China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, says he hopes parties will “adhere to diplomacy” as Turkey takes the issue to NATO, insisting that the jet was in international airspace, while Syria claims that the aircraft entered its airspace. During the first days after the Friday downing, Turkey seemed to be soft peddling the downing, but has ratcheted up the pressure. The European Union, which has announced new sanctions against Syria, is unlikely to do more, although the US may have urged Turkey to make a greater issue of the Jet downing.

More journalists are trying to get the story about who is feeding arms to the Syrian opposition, who is paying for them, what conditions are being set for their dispersal, and which militia leaders are being chosen as the “winners” of the opposition beauty contest.

Both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have run stories suggesting that the CIA is getting to decide who the winners are. But this is not supported by Rania Abouzeid in today’s Time story. She tries to get a clearer picture from some of the main arms suppliers. The Saudis seem to be contracting through a Lebanese middle man: does that mean they are trying to link their Syria interests to their Lebanon interests? Are weapons slow to get through to Syria because the US, Turkey and Saudi are arguing over which militias should be the winners? Or are they still busy trying to determine who is who? All questions that are yet un-answered.

Syria formed a new government on June 23 with the appointment of twenty new ministers and the establishment of five new ministries, including one for national reconciliation. No one is really paying attention sa the key posts are unchanged. Riad Farid Hijab, a former agriculture minister and a loyalist member of the ruling Baath Party, has been returned as Prime Minister. He is considered honest by many. But the inclusion of a few leftist opposition members to what is normally a rubber stamp institution will not bring change most insist.

Syria’s Gross Domestic Product will fall by 6.4 percent this year according to the World Bank after having declined by 3.1 percent in 2011.

Jordan seems to have closed the border with Syria – a friend writes: “Someone in Syria just told me that Jordan has closed its border with Syria to avoid taking more refugees. This means Syrians can’t travel to Jordan at all.”

Unemployment in the governorate of Hassakeh, in the northeast of the country, is at 40 percent of the labor force, while more than 42 percent of households have a member of the family outside the country, according to a recent government survey. (Read Syria Report by Jihad Yazigi for more)


General among 33 Syrian soldiers defecting to Turkey
2012-06-25- AFP

TIME FOR A REALITY CHECK: Bashar al-Assad is Not about to Fall
by John Vedat Kaya (aka Vedat The Turk)
For Syria Comment by a long-time commentator on SC

It is astonishing how so many people on this site and the broader media are predicting a quick end to the Baathist regime in Damascus. It’s as if every news report about the present Syrian conflict strongly hints that days of Bashar al-Assad are coming to an end shortly. What rubbish!

As long time readers of this blog are aware, I have been a vocal critic of the Assad regime and have predicted its inevitably downfall one day. However this does not mean that it will occur anytime soon. Indeed the present Syrian conflict is eerily similar to two previous Middle East wars and both of these past events can tell us a great deal of what Syrians should expect in the future and the time lines involved.

The first is the rule of Saddam Hussein after his defeat in the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Like the present Syrian situation, everyone at the time predicted that Saddam would be quickly deposed of by his people. It was also reported that moral among his officer corp was poor so a coup was inevitable. Worse yet, the pundits proclaimed, how long could he last while his own Sunni tribes suffered under crushing international sanctions? The answer was 13 more years! And even then, he was only defeated after an international coalition of 100,000 troops was sent him to topple him! Something that is highly unlikely in today’s Syrian war.

The second conflict that gives an indication of where the present Syrian war is headed is the Algerian Civil War that began in 1990. In that war a corrupt military regime found itself matched against a highly popular Islamic uprising. Like the present day Syrian uprising, the Algerian Islamists insurgents were initially poorly trained but had outside support and quickly became a militarized force.

Unlike the present day Syrian conflict however, the Algerian Islamist opposition was well organized. Again in this conflict the Islamists were considered to be the inevitable victors because of their broad based support. The military junta was repeatedly pressured by the international community to make concessions and allow the Islamist to take power in one way or another. They never did. Instead they created death squads and horrible atrocities were committed (by both sides). The insurgency was eventually defeated (though they are still active to this day but in a limited capacity).

The point I wish to convey with the above examples is that when it comes to over-throwing a militarized regime whose sole purpose is to insure its survival, the odds are in the favor of the rulers and not the revolutionaries. More importantly the timelines involved are in the multiple years if not decades!

Yes, Assad is a ruthless leader who deserves to be held to account for his actions at the World Court in The Hague. However to somehow assume that his downfall will come quickly or without years of bloodshed is being naive. A better solution would be for those on both sides would be to begin to try and look for some kind of possible negotiated settlement. I realize this is not easy for some Syrians to accept with the current carnage underway. However this conflict, like all other civil wars before it, will only come to an end with a negotiated settlement. It’s time that people on this blog accept this and begin to formulate ideas on how we can achieve this end.

John Vedat Kaya (Aka Vedat The Turk on Syria Comment)

Kofi Annan Can Save Syria, But he needs our help.
By Christopher Hill|Posted Sunday, June 24, 2012 – Slate

Opening the Weapons Tap: Syria’s Rebels Await Fresh and Free Ammo
By: Rania Abouzeid | Time

Allegations of large weapons consignments abound, and TIME tracks down two men believed to be main distributors to gauge the extent of the infusions — and the plight of the ragtag rebel bands desperate for help…

The first large consignment was handed over more than two months ago and was distributed to select groups operating in and around Idlib, Hama, Homs and the outskirts of Damascus. Each area received several hundred rocket-propelled grenade launchers (with 10 grenades per launcher), Kalashnikov rifles, BKC machine guns and ammunition, according to several sources. There have also been two smaller deliveries since the initial consignment. “We weren’t asked what we needed,” says one rebel commander responsible for an area of northern Syria who had been promised supplies, “but we will take whatever we can get.”

In recent weeks, there have been reports, mainly citing Western diplomatic sources, that rebels were receiving weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Almost as many stories — largely based on the testimony of some rebels — have denied this. Meanwhile, both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have reported that CIA officers are on the ground in southern Turkey, helping decide which Syrian opposition fighters receive the arms.

Many of the new weapons are being funneled through a Lebanese intermediary, rebel groups say. The Lebanese politician, who opposes the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has set up an office in Istanbul, declined to be interviewed. He is the main tap, so to speak, while a handful of Syrians are the distributors. TIME tracked down a man believed to be the main distributor, a 31-year-old who says he commands some 1,500 rebels along the Syrian coast but is not part of the Free Syrian Army — the loosely organized network of military defectors and armed civilians — or any other group like the Muslim Brotherhood. He spoke on condition of complete anonymity and insisted that even his geographical area of operation be withheld from publication.

He was extremely reluctant to speak. He denied that the support was sponsored by foreign governments but admitted that “the weapons that entered recently all went through me.” He said he “distributed weapons to almost all of the provinces” but that “everything that went in was not more than 5,000 rifles, although there were a lot of bullets, 700,000 bullets.” He brushed off questions about new RPGs and denied receiving antitank missiles. “When the sun rises, everybody will see it,” he said.

TIME also found another alleged distributor, one of the four purported representatives of the rebellion in the capital, Damascus, and its outskirts. This man too said the distributors are neither FSA or Muslim Brotherhood. He did say the weapons are from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. “It’s not what you think,” he said from Istanbul, where he has recently based himself after leaving Syria. “It was just small amounts. Bullets, rifles, RPGs, and not in huge numbers. We were promised weapons that could take on a tank, but we haven’t got them yet.”…

the 31-year-old Syrian arms distributor said Turkey’s “red light” on the border had recently turned green, a view shared by his Damascene counterpart. “The Turkish government is closing its eyes,” he said. The goods are ferried across the border on donkeys, as well as physically carried in by the rebels, he and others said. The recent large consignments of weapons are not only new, they are free…

But the new consignment hasn’t yet arrived. … That may be because, says the Damascene distributor, the main batches from the Gulf came with preconditions. “They are saying that there are weapons in depots here (in Turkey) but they won’t release them to us because we are not pledging allegiance to them. They want us to follow Saudi Arabia or a big organization like the Brotherhood. We are refusing this. That’s why the next batch of weapons has been delayed. Either we follow them, and get lots of weapons, or we don’t and die.”…

As’aad still appears to be Turkey’s go-to guy in the FSA, and physical access to the colonel comes only with Turkish permission. It is a political conundrum: the rebels claim that the recent weapons shipments crossed the border with Turkey’s blessing even as Ankara denies it while denouncing the Damascus regime. To admit otherwise may be casus belli..

While As’aad may be cut out of the new weapons transfers, that doesn’t mean other senior FSA defectors aren’t in on the deals. As’aad has often come under friendly fire from members of the opposition who have questioned his effectiveness and his contributions to the struggle against Assad. He has been publicly sidelined by the FSA’s military council in the embattled city of Homs. “Nobody has the right to issue press releases, take decisions or speak about operations in the Free Syrian Army’s name, except for the FSA command inside Syria,” the group’s spokesman, Colonel Qassem Saadeddine, said in a videotaped statement uploaded to YouTube last month. “From now on, all decisions will be taken from inside Syria … Anyone wishing to represent the Syrian people, the free army, or speak in its name, is invited to make their way to the battlefield, to Syria, and wait for the Syrian people to confer legitimacy upon them.”

Syria: Nearly 170 Killed on June 20 in Bloodiest Day Since UN Ceasefire Announced

June 21 (Telegraph) — Clashes in Syria on Thursday killed nearly 170 people, mainly civilians, on the deadliest day since a ceasefire came into force, according to a human rights group.

Ron Paul introduces legislation to prevent the president from supporting the Syrian opposition without congressional approval:

Saudi Arabia plans to fund Syria rebel army
Guardian, Martin Chulov in Beirut, Ewen MacAskill in Washington, John Densky in Idlib province, Friday 22 June

Saudi officials are preparing to pay the salaries of the Free Syria Army as a means of encouraging mass defections from the military and increasing pressure on the Assad regime, the Guardian has learned.

The move, which has been discussed between Riyadh and senior officials in the US and Arab world, is believed to be gaining momentum as a recent flush of weapons sent to rebel forces by Saudi Arabia and Qatar starts to make an impact on battlefields in Syria.

Officials in the Saudi capital embraced the idea when it was put to them by Arab officials in May, according to sources in three Arab states, around the same time that weapons started to flow across the southern Turkish border into the hands of Free Syria Army leaders.

Turkey has also allowed the establishment of a command centre in Istanbul which is co-ordinating supply lines in consultation with FSA leaders inside Syria. The centre is believed to be staffed by up to 22 people, most of them Syrian nationals.

The Guardian witnessed the transfer of weapons in early June near the Turkish frontier. Five men dressed in the style of Gulf Arabs arrived in a police station in the border village of Altima in Syria and finalised a transfer from the Turkish town of Reyhanli of around 50 boxes of rifles and ammunition, as well as a large shipment of medicines.

The men were treated with deference by local FSA leaders and were carrying large bundles of cash. They also received two prisoners held by rebels, who were allegedly members of the pro-regime militia, the Shabiha.

The influx of weapons has reinvigorated the insurrection in northern Syria, which less than six weeks ago was on the verge of being crushed.

The move to pay the guerrilla forces’ salaries is seen as a chance to capitalise on the sense of renewed confidence, as well as provide a strong incentive for soldiers and officers to defect. The value of the Syrian pound has fallen sharply in value since the anti-regime revolt started 16 months ago, leading to a dramatic fall in purchasing power.

The plan centres on paying the FSA in either US dollars or euros, meaning their salaries would be restored to their pre-revolution levels, or possibly increased.

The US senator Joe Lieberman, who is actively supporting the Syrian opposition, discussed the issue of FSA salaries during a recent trip to Lebanon and Saudi Arabia

His spokesman, Whitney Phillips, said: “Senator Lieberman has called for the US to provide robust and comprehensive support to the armed Syrian opposition, in co-ordination with our partners in the Middle East and Europe. He has specifically called for the US to work with our partners to provide the armed Syrian opposition with weapons, training, tactical intelligence, secure communications and other forms of support to change the military balance of power inside Syria.

“Senator Lieberman also supports the idea of ensuring that the armed opposition fighters receive regular and sufficient pay, although he does not believe it is necessary for the United States to provide this funding itself directly.”

US defence secretary Leon Panetta said this week Washington was not playing a direct role in gun-running into northern Syria. “We made a decision not to provide lethal assistance at this point. I know others have made their own decisions.”

Earlier this week the New York Times reported the CIA was operating in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which opposition fighters would get weapons.

Diplomatic sources have told the Guardian two US intelligence officers were in Syria’s third city of Homs between December and early February, trying to establish command and control within rebel ranks.

Interviews with officials in three states reveal the influx of weapons – which includes kalashnikovs, rocket propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles – started in mid-May, when Saudi Arabia and Qatar finally moved on pledges they had made in February and March to arm rebel forces…..

Why the CIA Won’t Relish Its Syria Mission
The agency is being forced to play catch-up in a complex situation of which it has limited knowledge. Turkey’s cooperation may be vital
By Robert B. Baer | June 22, 2012 – Time Magazine

According to the New York Times, the CIA now has people deployed in Turkey trying to sort out which Syrian rebels should be armed, and which shouldn’t. That comes as no real surprise, in light of Syria spinning into worse chaos and violence, and the Obama Administration running out of good options. Isn’t the CIA always called in when nothing else works?

I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that, right now, the last situation the CIA wants to get into is Syria. Like the rest of the world, it knows next to nothing about the Syrian opposition, which is a mare’s nest of secular and religious groups. There is no one predominant figure, which leaves the CIA to sort out competing claims to political leadership and support. And, as these things usually go, it will take a lot of time to sort out the swindlers and the frauds from the real thing. A large number of Syrian exiles are in it for the money, rather than supporting, much less representing the fighters dying on Syria’s battlefields.

It should also be remembered that the CIA has had a long, unhappy history playing Syrian politics. In the 1960s, one of its operatives was accused of trying to foment a coup, and was hanged in Damascus’s central square. After Syria put down the Hama rebellion in February 1982, it found U.S.-made radio equipment in the rubble, and wrongly accused the CIA of having supported the uprising. Both State Department and the CIA came to an informal understanding that the CIA would keep away from the Syrian opposition — and it, in fact, did just that for the following three decades. So right now, the CIA is playing catch-up.

Turning the CIA on Syria is a sign that the Administration has been put in a corner not of its own making. That’s because there are no easy or obvious solutions to the Syrian conflict. When the Arab Spring first reached Syria in March 2011, the Washington’s hope was that Syrian President Bashar Assad would open up Syria to some sort of democracy and defuse dissent. Then, when the power struggle turned violent, the Administration latched on to the hope that a Syrian general would overthrow Bashar.

But what Washington missed was that the minority-led Alawite regime from the beginning was blinded by a siege mentality that didn’t allow for any dissent. Either you’re with us or you’re against us was the mentality. Sacrificing Bashar — no matter how badly he’d botched it — would be tantamount to surrender.

As the military confrontation escalated, the regime decided to hand out weapons to the so-called shabihah — irregular militas made up of Alawites and Christians, set loose on Sunni communities supporting the uprising. The regime never had any illusions it could control such groups, or restrain them from waging pogroms against civilians. But the arithmetic was compelling: There simply weren’t enough loyal units in the army to hold all the territory being contested by the rebels….

Syria rebels divided, at times violent
By BEN HUBBARD | Associated Press

SARJEH, Syria (AP) — Rebel commander Ahmed Eissa al-Sheikh keeps a paper on his desk bearing the names of the dead from his brigade. The first 16 are neatly typed below a Quranic verse extolling martyrdom. The next 14 are handwritten and crammed into the margin, because the paper is full.

Al-Sheikh, an Islamist with a long black beard and gray fatigues, runs the Falcons of Damascus group from the mayor’s office in his village, which his fighters have taken over. The list is a constant reminder of al-Sheikh’s personal score with the Syrian regime: 20 of the dead are his relatives, including three brothers and his 16-year-old son, all killed fighting Syrian forces in the last year.

One of northern Syria’s most powerful and best-armed commanders, Al-Sheikh boasts more than 1,000 fighters, and they don’t shy away from rougher tactics themselves. They have released prisoners in bomb-laden cars and then detonated them at army checkpoints — turning the drivers into unwitting suicide bombers.

His fighters say the cash comes from Syrian expatriates and other Arabs. He was heard on the phone thanking a group in Bahrain.

“God willing, Syria will not bow to anyone but Allah after the regime falls,” he said.

Jerusalem Post: Downing of Turkish jet reveals Syria’s lethality

When Syria shot down an Israeli-upgraded Turkish fighter jet it was delivering a message that the air force, despite the defection of a senior pilot a day earlier, was still in control and a force to be reckoned with. The incident has also made air …

Syrians Now Willing To Talk, But No Names, Please
by Deborah Amos

In Damascus, Syrians now openly speak their minds, but often won’t offer a name for the record.

The “wall of fear” is crumbling even in the capital, where the security police have the heaviest presence. Syrians have lived under surveillance and emergency law for years, but after 15 months of anti-government protest and a brutal response by the regime, the killings have changed people.

“Now, I believe that most of the Syrians feel in their bones that the regime is over and it’s only a matter of time,” said one veteran activist, “There are wide areas that aren’t under the control of the regime, and Syrians are learning to speak for themselves.”

The capital is still under heavy control, however, with military checkpoints on the highway into the city and patrols in the heart of Damascus after dark. The sound of shooting and explosions in the suburbs, the poor neighborhoods of Douma and Qudsaya, now reach the wealthy neighborhoods of the city.

“Now, things are too graphic. You can hear the bombs here in Damascus,” says a musician turned activist. “I had a friend who said, ‘It’s not happening,’ but they can go to their balconies and look east. It’s not a secret any more.”

A Desire To Talk

The impulse to speak out is getting stronger, especially among the young.

Shortly after I interviewed two 18-year-old high school seniors on the street, they called the number on the business card I gave them.

“Meet us at the Hamedeyah market tomorrow at 11 a.m.,” one says quickly, referring to a Damascus landmark. He says he’s on a pay phone that can’t be traced.

The two could be arrested for talking to an American reporter, but they are excited to share the details of the fighting in their neighborhood. They say the Free Syrian Army, the rebels opposing the government, is getting stronger. It tastes like, but we want it,” says one of the teens, who says he learned about democracy from American television shows on YouTube…..

A Syrian soldier looks on as shooting takes place in the Damascus suburb of Douma last month. Sporadic fighting has been breaking out in and around the capital Damascus in recent weeks.

A Syrian soldier looks on as shooting takes place in the Damascus suburb of Douma last month. Sporadic fighting has been breaking out in and around the capital Damascus in recent weeks.

….Lately, he says, some of them are speaking out against the regime, too.

“It is enough, they should go.” It is a sentiment he says he hears more often now. “They say, ‘If you can’t control it, so you should go.'”

Annan and major powers launch last bid for Syria peace on 30 june

International envoy Kofi Annan and the major powers have launched a final drive to find a diplomatic solution to the Syria crisis while preparing sanctions and emergency plans for UN observers in the conflict-stricken state.

Annan wants to get Russia, President Bashar al-Assad’s last major ally, and the United States, which has called for the Syrian leader to step down, and other key nations behind an effort to bring Assad into talks, diplomats and officials said.

The UN-Arab League envoy hopes to unveil his new plan at a meeting in Geneva on June 30, according to UN diplomats.

Annan held talks with Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague in London on Thursday and Hague said it was “urgent” to hold a Syria meeting soon.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon discussed Syria on the sidelines of a UN summit in Brazil with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose country also has influence on Assad, and China’s Premier Wen Jiabao, a UN spokesman said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who spoke with Annan on Wednesday, said the envoy is working on a “political transition roadmap” for Syria, where activists say 15 months of conflict have left more than 15,000 people dead.

Annan would be making a proposal to Russia, Turkey and other interested groups “to try to get them to agree on this roadmap” and to put pressure on Assad and the Syrian opposition, Clinton told reporters.

Syria shot Turkish plane without warning, Ankara says
by News Sources 06.23.2012 – thanks to War in Context

Hürriyet Daily News reports: The Turkish government has refuted a statement from the Syrian Foreign Ministry that said Damascus acted in self-defense in shooting down a Turkish warplane on June 22, Turkish sources told the Hürriyet Daily News today. “We have necessary information showing that the Turkish plane was shot at without any warning,” an […]

Most Turks Oppose Taking Sides in Syrian Conflict – June 21, 2012

…An opinion poll by the Ankara Social Research Center published this month has found that more than two-thirds of those polled opposed any intervention by Turkey in Syria. The poll also revealed that a majority, even those who support the Turkish prime minister’s party, believed Ankara should not take sides in the conflict. In a shopping plaza in central Istanbul, those poll numbers are echoed:…

Lavrov Says Assad’s Fate Must Be Decided in Vote, Interfax Says
2012-06-22, By Paul Abelsky

June 22 (Bloomberg) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the fate of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad should be determined in “absolutely free and fair” elections, Interfax reported.

Lavrov, who held two-hour talks today with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Muallem, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, urged the country’s leadership to comply with the terms of a peace plan brokered by envoy Kofi Annan, the news service said, citing an interview broadcast on state-run Rossiya 24 television. Russia won’t make excuses to the U.S. for selling weapons to Syria, Lavrov was cited as saying.

Some rebels wonder if Syrian troops’ poor use of tanks, helicopters is intentional
By Austin Tice | McClatchy Newspapers, Friday, June 22, 2012

NEAR HOMS, Syria — The Syrian military, whose advantage in heavy equipment has been emphasized repeatedly by critics of the government of President Bashar Assad, rarely uses its tanks and helicopters effectively in combat against rebel forces, a shortcoming so consistent that it raises the question of whether some pilots and troops may be intentionally missing when they target rebel positions.

Weeks of observation of Syrian military operations while traveling with rebel forces leave the impression that the Syrian army is unfamiliar with modern military tactics. It rarely engages rebel forces directly and appears instead to rely on poorly aimed and random fire to intimidate its opponents. Helicopters observed in northern and central portions of the country fly at an altitude that prevents their effective tactical employment.

Newly Revealed Emir Of ‘Abdallah ‘Azzam Brigades Expresses Opposition To Bombings In Syria’s Cities – MEMRI
Majid bin Muhammad Al-Majid

On June 20, 2012, the Al-Qaeda media company Al-Fajr released a new audio message by the ‘Abdallah ‘Azzam Brigades (AAB), an Al-Qaeda affiliate in the Syria-Lebanon region that was recently designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. In the message, the group reveals for the first time that its emir is Majid bin Muhammad Al-Majid, a Saudi national who is on the Saudi Interior Ministry’s list of the 85 most wanted terrorists. It is important to note two things about this message: First, it was posted on the Al-Fida’ jihadi forum, which is run by Al-Fajr, but was not posted on the Shumoukh Al-Islam jihadi forum, which has posted previous AAB communiqués. Second, in it, Al-Majid expresses his opposition to the bombings in Syrian cities. This stance is interesting since it is at odds with the operations by the other jihadi group, Jabhat Al-Nusra, which has taken responsibility for a series of highly visible and highly publicized bombings in major Syrian cities, and which has demonstrated rather unusual advances in its military and propaganda-related capabilities since it first emerged on the Syrian jihadi scene in January 2012. By the same token, it is also interesting that Jabhat Al-Nusra’s communiqués have been posted only on the Shumoukh Al-Islam forum, not on Al-Fida’.

Room For Debate: Would Russia Help Oust Assad?
By: Several Writers | International Herald Tribune

Putin’s Mission in Israel
By: Andrei Kozhinov | The Moscow Times

Daily Mail (GB): ‘Syria’s stonehenge’: Mysterious ruins in desert could be as much as 10,000 years old – but scientists don’t

A mysterious ancient building in Syria, described as a ‘landscape for the dead’ could be as old as 10,000 years ago – far older than the Great Pyramid. But scientists have been unable to explore the ruins, unearthed in 2009, because of the conflict …

 Syria: The International Travesty, by Alon Ben-Meir

It is time to stop engaging in illusions and shameful hypocrisy and adopt a realistic framework to end the Syrian killing machine. The Alawaite-dominated regime has, for decades, subjugated its people to subhuman conditions, denying them basic human rights while letting them be consumed by poverty. The international community must rise up to its moral obligations to halt the bloodshed. The failure to do so will precipitate the loss of credibility of Western powers in the region while submitting to the whims of Russia and Iran and plunge Syria into a full-fledged civil war.

Comments (241)

Pages: « 1 2 3 4 [5] Show All

201. SANDRO LOEWE said:

195. ANN said:

¨Syria in state of war, says president Bashar al-Assad – 26 June 2012¨

It seems Mr. Dictator is the last one in receiving inputs from reality. Or even worse he is the last borderline to process information and facts around him.

Congratulations Mr. Dictator for taking Syria to The State of War. The State of Repression has become The State of War. Can you see now Mr. Dictator what happens when you bullet unarmed demonstrations? Silly and ignorant, that is what God Assad is.

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June 26th, 2012, 5:54 pm


202. SANDRO LOEWE said:

203. ANN

It is nice to check all press reports and different views and interpretations from reality. I appreciate reading democratic countries news and even some private views from undemocratic countries. But when it comes to the state-owned press system garbage of China, Iran and Russia then I say that is enough.

Don´t you really have something better to throw in this forum?

I it really amazing how you can feed yourself with this info-garbage excrements from dictatorship owned press groups and hope that we can swallow it.

Stop Xinhuanet please. I beg you.

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June 26th, 2012, 6:00 pm


203. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Very interesting and deep article at XINHUANET

Assad is not a dictator. Assad is a democrat. Assad fights terrorists. Assad is our friend. Assad is not killing inocent people. Assad never attacks demonstrators. Assad never tortures.
Assad is not a dictator. Assad is a democrat. Assad fights terrorists. Assad is our friend. Assad is not killing inocent people. Assad never attacks demonstrators. Assad never tortures.
Assad is not a dictator. Assad is a democrat. Assad fights terrorists. Assad is our friend. Assad is not killing inocent people. Assad never attacks demonstrators. Assad never tortures.
Assad is not a dictator. Assad is a democrat. Assad fights terrorists. Assad is our friend. Assad is not killing inocent people. Assad never attacks demonstrators. Assad never tortures.
Assad is not a dictator. Assad is a democrat. Assad fights terrorists. Assad is our friend. Assad is not killing inocent people. Assad never attacks demonstrators. Assad never tortures.

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June 26th, 2012, 6:09 pm


204. ann said:

Syrian army stable despite defections – Jun 26, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Syria’s military remains loyal despite recent high-profile defections, while the opposition remains fragmented and unable to attack as a unified force, indicating a long, protracted conflict ahead.

The Syrian regime is maintaining troop loyalty by keeping paychecks coming even as food and fuel run out for the rest of the country, according to U.S. intelligence officials who briefed reporters on the Syrian conflict. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide the sensitive information.

Some higher ranked military officers have defected in recent days, including at least one general – among the thousands of troops who have deserted. But none of them is considered a key member of the military or key to the regime’s survival, the officials said.

There are more people angry with the regime, but also a core group fighting harder for its survival, leaving rebels and the Syrian regime locked in a “seesaw battle,” unable to knock each other out, setting the stage for a long fight that could slide slowly into civil war, the officials said.


The opposition remains determined, even attacking the outskirts of the capital Damascus on Monday. But it is fragmented geographically, “just a lot of groups operating in their own areas,” and still unable or as yet unwilling to work together to attack the army as a unified force, the officials said.

When the rebels gained territory during a cease-fire last year, the Syrian army picked up the pace and drove them out of their strongholds in the northwest, combining helicopter strafing runs and with ground assaults, the better to hit the lightly armed, mostly urban guerrilla force.

In turn, opposition fighters have learned to stage hit-and-run attacks on targets like checkpoints, harassing the regime’s troops at the edges, instead of taking on the Syrian army’s full might.


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June 26th, 2012, 6:13 pm


205. ss said:

The opposition here makes me vomit.

Did the NATO attack Syria? Answer No

We told you the NATO will never ever attack Syria, did not we?. Answer Yes

The flight was downed and Erdogan image was downed.

I am so impressed by the level of professionalism that the exterior ministry of Syria has. These guys are freakin smart. They are consistent, calm, and they always deliver. On the contraray, Turkish bullies were stupid, inconsistent, and they have a different story every day?? Erdogan had 5 stories for the incidence, Gul has his own, Oglou has another. Its like watching cartoons.

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June 26th, 2012, 6:17 pm


206. Uzair8 said:

207 Ann

You’ve donned them cool and expensive looking sunglasses frequently in recent days. How did you get around the sanctions?
This is a blatant breach!

I’m a clairvoyant.

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June 26th, 2012, 6:27 pm


207. ann said:

Our OTTOMAN PAPER TIGER erdogan lost all his leadership power and needs to step down now 🙂

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June 26th, 2012, 6:29 pm


208. ss said:

Erdogan commited a political assassination by siding with FSA radical elements. He brought Turkey down to mess. Do you believe that Turkish people are happy with the camps spreading at their southern borders? Is he going to give them Assylum?? just wondering.

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June 26th, 2012, 6:29 pm


209. habib said:

199. AIG

Lol, the Turks are afraid. That’s why they go and cry to NATO. It was fully deserved, they’re actively fighting Syria by helping the insurgents.

And really disgusting how this incident will apparently have consequences, unlike the Flotilla massacre. Erdogan is still cuddling the Zionists.

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June 26th, 2012, 6:32 pm


210. Uzair8 said:

Any truth to the report of battles between Syrian and Jordanian troops near the border?

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June 26th, 2012, 6:34 pm


211. AIG said:

“The flight was downed and Erdogan image was downed.”
“Erdogan commited a political assassination by siding with FSA radical elements. He brought Turkey down to mess.”

Assad has made Syria into a hell hole. There is fighting in Damascus. Homs looks like a post apocalypse landscape. There is no Syrian economy. But all those things that make Erdogan’s image “go down”, makes Assad’s image go up! The more he wrecks Syria, the more the regime supporters like him! Perhaps the Turks are the same? The worse Erdogan does, the more they like him? Or is this just a special property of Assad?

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June 26th, 2012, 6:37 pm


212. Syrialover said:

#202 Sandro Loewe

We know the poster “Ann” does not read the stuff she dumps here.

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June 26th, 2012, 6:38 pm


213. AIG said:


If anyone is afraid it is Assad. He is afraid of letting the people protest peacefully. Cry to Nato? Assad is crying to Iran and Syria.

Erdogan is smart. Why does he have to waste Turkish lives on fighting Assad? Assad is dumb enough to end his own rule.

How stupid can Assad be? Syria needs the Turks after this awful mess is over. Assad is making sure even if a miracle happens and he stays in power, he will be economically isolated in the region. Real smart.

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June 26th, 2012, 6:42 pm


214. ann said:

Turkey debt costs jump, lira drops after downing of aircraft – Wednesday 27/6/2012

Turkish bonds broke their longest stretch of gains since February, the lira sank and the cost of insuring the nation’s debt rose after Syria’s downing of a Turkish military aircraft heightened concerns over Turkey’s ties in the Middle East.
“We are all aware of where Turkey lies geographically and we all know that getting a larger role means bigger involvement in all the regional conflicts,” Viktor Szabo, who helps oversee $8bn in emerging-market debt at Aberdeen Asset Management in London, said in an e-mail on Monday.

The yield on benchmark two-year lira bonds jumped 10 basis points, or 0.10 percentage point, on Monday to 8.92%, the most in seven weeks, widening the spread over Russia to 139 basis points, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The lira weakened to its lowest against the dollar in almost two weeks, while Turkey’s credit-default swaps jumped the most in a month.


While Turkey’s trade with the Middle East and North Africa increased 34% this year, compared with a 6.3% decline from the European Union, the biggest source of revenue in April came from Iran, where international sanctions threaten to curtail transactions.

The lira weakened 0.5% to 1.8233 per dollar at 5.45pm in Istanbul, the lowest since June 12 on a closing basis.

Credit-default swaps on Turkey, rated Ba1, one level below investment grade by Moody’s, rose nine basis points to 250 on Monday, paring their decline this year to 28 basis points. The cost was 247 for Russia, 227 for Poland and 175 for South Africa. The contracts would pay the buyer face value in exchange for the underlying securities or the cash equivalent should a government or company fail to adhere to its debt agreements.

The extra yield investors demand to hold Turkey’s dollar- denominated sovereign bonds rather than US Treasuries rose eight basis points to 315, higher than the 306 for Russia and 224 for Poland, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s EMBI Global index shows. The average for emerging markets globally is 387 basis points and for European emerging markets 365.


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June 26th, 2012, 6:50 pm


215. Syrialover said:

SS #205 wrote:” I am so impressed by the level of professionalism that the exterior ministry of Syria has. These guys are freakin smart. They are consistent, calm, and they always deliver.”

Deliver, yes, yes, for sure that’s what they do. All day long and through the night. Deliver.

But you don’t tell us what, though.

SS, you wouldn’t by any chance be related to them would you?

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June 26th, 2012, 6:52 pm


216. ann said:

When accusations that imply commentators are under the employment of foreign or even local lobbies/Moukhabarat/… I trash them as soon as I see them. There is nothing in the rules regarding the use of the term excrement, however levying unfounded accusation do go against the rules.

SC Moderator

My-my, our venerable tolerant moderator is enjoying personal attack posts with SC acceptable terms like “excrements”! But God forbid you use the term “israel lobby” will get your post deleted immediately!

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June 26th, 2012, 7:25 pm


217. Uzair8 said:

Assad’s comments to his cabinet?

The Cabinet and Parliament are going to be useless and a rubber stamp. Assad is just getting in the excuses first.

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June 26th, 2012, 7:26 pm


218. Uzair8 said:

204. Ann

Yes. Syria is in a:

– critical but stable condition.
– serious but stable condition.

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June 26th, 2012, 7:30 pm


219. jna said:

216. majedkhaldoun…dogs will eat his body and the bodies of his supporters, Qurdaha will be flat…


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June 26th, 2012, 8:02 pm


220. Uzair8 said:

It’s time for a new poll on the SC frontpage.(?)
[I predict PM Erdogan]

Who will be the first foreign leader to visit Free Syria?

– Erdogan

– Emir of Qatar

Sarkozy Hollande

– Cameron

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June 26th, 2012, 8:17 pm


221. Observer said:

The only cartoon that I follow are Steve Bell and Ali Farzat.

The dictatorial criminal corrupt regime with Fredo the Buffoon Corleone at the helm and surrounded by adoring drunken fans especially on this blog is a cartoon in very bad taste.

Fredo declares that Syria is living a real war in every sense of the word.

Well well, my dear Commander In Chief Marshal Doctor Fredo why don’t you
1. Re instate the state of emergency ( as if it was ever suspended )

2. Call for mass mobilization of the reserves ( and risk losing whole battalions to defection )

3. Activate the mutual defense treaty with Russia and Iran and bring in their troops to help.

I challenge the regime to follow through on this and declare a state of war on its enemies starting with invading Turkey where rebels are being protected and armed. Then on to North Lebanon to secure the flow of arms and then to Western Anbar province to stop the tribes from helping each other. The best defense is a good offense after all Marshal Fredo.

Just as some delusional people on this blog claim that now the regime’s army is going to be “free” to respond to Turkey in kind. Well well, I am holding my breath waiting to see Republican Guards duke it out with the Turkish army.

Germs are invading the body, there is a state of septic shock with vasodilation and decrease in central pressure and third spacing into the tissues. Vasopressin to the rescue as the antibiotics do not work any longer. The germs are resistant to the antibiotic of fear and repression and brutality and humiliation.

Do you get it.

Syrian Hamster for President of Syria

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June 26th, 2012, 8:17 pm


222. ann said:

It’s time for a BOLD new poll on the SC frontpage

The question should be:

Is the so called “free syrian army” a terrorist organization or not?

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June 26th, 2012, 8:22 pm


223. ann said:

We want JOBS here at HOME NOT Syria Madam Secretary!

Syria high on agenda as US Secretary of State Clinton opens European tour in Finland

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June 26th, 2012, 8:35 pm


224. jna said:

“Syrian Hamster for President of Syria”

Alice in wonderland comes to Syria, off with their heads.

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June 26th, 2012, 8:42 pm


225. Observer said:

Well some on this blog do have JOBS, [Edited by Moderator]

In the meantime, here is a sampling of the important news.

Russia cancels the contract to deliver s 300 anti aircraft missiles

Erdogan is threatening

The fighting is near the center of the regime

The most important news however is the fact that Syria bought two Antonov airplanes, just two and they are medium sized.

I guess they bought the planes for the flight of the key figures of the regime to
let me guess Tehran? Moscow? No way to Pyong Yang, I am certain.

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June 26th, 2012, 8:42 pm


226. ann said:

At UN on Syria, Will Pillay Brief on Zintan, of Assad’s Big 6 & Kosovo

By Matthew Russell Lee, Partial exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 26 — When the Syria consultations of the UN Security Council ended midday Tuesday, Ambassadors Gerard Araud of France and Vitaly Churkin of Russia jousted about whether High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay should brief only about Syria, or about Libya as well as Russia is requesting.

Inner City Press asked Churkin about Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari’s statement late Monday, reported by Inner City Press, that there are training camps in Zintan, Libya which are funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Churkin replied:

“you may recall that I raised that even in the official meeting of the Security Council while the Prime Minister of Libya was here. We believe that if this is true, this is wrong. We have heard also of training camps in Kosovo, in other places.

“This is something that is directly contrary to Kofi Annan’s plan. From the outset of his activity, he said to us that further militarization of the Syrian conflict would be a mistake, and would not be in line with his actions. So that of course is very deplorable if this is the case. And of course, Libya has so many domestic issues that for them to return to the old Qaddafi pattern of exporting revolution would be a tragic irony, if you will, of history.”


Afterward, the Syrian side exclusively told Inner City Press they are counting on at least six votes in the Council, those who are committed to a June 30 meeting without preconditions: Russia and China, India and Pakistan, Azerbaijan and South Africa.


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June 26th, 2012, 8:44 pm


227. ann said:

ANN emphasis on “as soon as I see them”. If you have an issue with a post be kind enough and email me, and keep the comment section for comments.

SC Moderator

216. Moderator said:

When accusations that imply commentators are under the employment of foreign or even local lobbies/Moukhabarat/… I trash them as soon as I see them.

225. Observer said:

Well some on this blog do have JOBS, that of defending the regime.

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June 26th, 2012, 8:51 pm


228. Uzair8 said:

Bearing in mind the suspected fuel shortage to fuel it’s tanks and military machine, for how long would the regime be able to maintain a war against Turkey?

Halfway through a massive tank battle it’s tanks would probably come to a halt.

Of course Venezuela, Iran etc may resupply fuel but it may take time to reach Syria.

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June 26th, 2012, 9:09 pm


229. bronco said:

214. ann

Erdogan’s success has been built on the economy. If the econony starts to shake, Erdogan will too.
Turkey going to war with Syria will wipe out many of their economical gains. Already border cities are going bankrupt and in case of war, the tourists will prefer to go to safer places.

Bashar, who does not have much to loose economically or touristically, knows that.
I think Erdogan will end up getting a cancer relapse, he is under extreme stress.

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June 26th, 2012, 9:58 pm


230. zoo said:

Moslems and Jewish male babies: Welcome to Germany

Circumcision for religious reasons banned in Germany
QMI Agency
First posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 06:34 PM EDT

Doctors in Germany will no longer be able to legally perform circumcisions for religious purposes.

In a decision Tuesday, the District Court of Cologne ruled doctors can be charged with assault for performing a circumcision if it’s not medically necessary.

Until now, doctors had performed circumcisions for religious purposes because it was considered a grey area, and there was no law against it.


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June 26th, 2012, 10:16 pm


231. zoo said:

The backlash of sending weapons and training suspicious ‘fighters’

Arab Spring has produced new generation of British terrorists, warns MI5 chief
June 27, 2012

The head of Britain’s MI5 intelligence Agency, Jonathan Evans.

LONDON: The Arab Spring has spawned a new generation of British-born terrorists after al-Qaeda moved into unstable countries and began training potential bombers for possible attacks on Britain, the head of MI5 has warned.

Jonathan Evans said the terrorist network had taken advantage of the revolutions that began last year to spread its influence and create new bases for planning attacks.

British jihadis were known to be receiving training in countries such as Libya and Egypt, mirroring what has happened in the Yemen and Somalia, he claimed.

They could return to attack Britain in what was a ”new and worrying development”, he said.

Read more:

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June 26th, 2012, 10:21 pm


232. zoo said:

US intelligence: Syrian government still strong and cohesive

U.S. intelligence sees few cracks in Assad’s inner circle
By Tabassum Zakaria | Reuters – 3 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Despite some military defections, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle remains cohesive and the 16-month conflict with rebels is likely to be a drawn-out struggle, senior U.S. intelligence officials said on Tuesday.

That assessment appears to dash any U.S. hopes that Assad, whose ouster Washington has called for, will fall soon of his own accord. The Obama administration has declined to intervene militarily in Syria, citing the lack of international backing and the country’s sectarian divisions.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday that Assad “has been slowly, too slowly, losing his grip over his country. The process, because of his refusal to step aside, has been horrific and has exacted a terrible toll on the Syrian people.”

But U.S. intelligence agencies, watching closely for cracks in Assad’s inner circle, do not see them so far.

“The regime inner circle and those at the next level still seem to be holding fairly firm in support of the regime and Assad,” one intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.

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June 26th, 2012, 10:28 pm


233. Observer said:

One day after Putin pays his tribute to Bibi my dear Zoo the Russians cancel the sale of S 300 anti aircraft missile system.

Well well, your idol Putin has gotten his orders from Bibi

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June 26th, 2012, 11:01 pm


234. jna said:

The usual obstruction of a path to stop Syrian civil war.

Kofi Annan, international mediator, aims to arrange a meeting to discuss the Syrian conflict. U.S. officials say, “there are still hurdles to be overcome.”

Diplomats said it was not entirely clear that the meeting of the five permanent Security Council members and key regional players scheduled for Saturday will take place. Annan has said that Iran should attend, but diplomats say the United States, Saudi Arabia and others dislike that idea.

Several Western diplomats said there was no agreement on what the value of the meeting would be. But Churkin made clear that Moscow expected the Saturday meeting to go ahead.

“I hope other planned participants are going to be there as well,” Churkin said. “We hope it can provide powerful impetus for political efforts to put an end to the conflict.” …

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June 26th, 2012, 11:23 pm


235. VISITOR said:

Erdogan emerged the clear winner out of the stupid blunder of downing an outdated Turkish plane by the bandit regime occupying Syria.

Erdogan in effect used the incident, and without firing a single bullet, to establish the long sought after safe haven by declaring the Northern Syrian border region off limit to the military of the junta bandit at the risk of military confrontation with the Turkish military.

The Free Syrians can now establish their bases in the northern region of Syria in order to launch the war of liberation knowing full well that the Turkish military is watching the enemy of the people of Syria.

No matter how the propaganda machine of this bandit regime spins the events, the clear winners and losers are obvious to the naked eye. Add to that the obvious shift of power in favor of the Free Syrians as displayed by their recent successes and lethality of their operations, and you can rest assured that the rising tide will soon sweep the regime to its unmistakeable end.

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June 26th, 2012, 11:39 pm


236. majedkhaldoun said:

It is new to me that stress will cause the cancer to return,do you have a reference ?

Russia agreed to attend the meeting about Syria on june 30, Iran is not invited so far. probably will not get invited.

FSA took over Assad military base, which has anti aircraft capabilities,Assad finally realized he is in a state of war with the Syrian people, he is losing ground,and his control is shrinking, less that 40% of Syria.

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June 27th, 2012, 12:20 am


237. Juergen said:


You would be surprised how much is not allowed, but there are exceptions for religious purposes. F.e. Hitler banned Jews from killing animals in the kosher way, it was part of the Nurnberg legislation. Soon after the war the new german government allowed Jews to kill in the kosher way, even though since the 70s its not allowed to kill an animal with full conci,, The muslims btw do not enjoy this legal right, the government does not persecute them, in some rare cases only. Thats why the Muslims are in the process to get full acklowledgement like the jewish community and the christians. If you would ask the US supreme court tomorrow about circumsicion, you may find the same arguments against it. To be frank, its an cruel tradition, no question about that. The court decision is mainly important to those parents who do this without any medical reason behind it. And this is not the highest court, i know that some people in the Muslim community want to bring that issue to the highest court.

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June 27th, 2012, 1:02 am


238. Roland said:

Vedat badly mischaracterizes the Algerian civil war.

Most of the FIS was not ready for a civil war. The moderate elements in the FIS lacked the infrastructure for clandestine action, and were soon suppressed. The militants never received any significant outside support. Most of their arms were obtained from mutineers. The FIS never had safe havens. Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco, irrespective of their often chilly relations with the Algerian regime, were nevertheless openly hostile to the Islamists, since the rulers of those countries all feared the success of any democratic experiment in Algeria.

The Algerian regime was never subjected to any trade or financial sanctions. In fact, the FLN gov’t received considerable foreign aid from the West, in the form of expedited arms sales, guaranteed loans, and advisors (in a sickening irony, some of the counter-insurgency experts came from France.)

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June 27th, 2012, 2:07 am


239. Roland said:

But I must add that Vedat’s point about Saddam is well taken.

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June 27th, 2012, 2:09 am


240. omen said:

bbc radio…something about a state media broadcast office stormed.

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June 27th, 2012, 3:03 am


241. Luke said:

Assad is the wrong man in the wrong position at the wrong time. I don’t think he’s a bad leader nor a dictator. The guy is an optician who was forced to be in a leading position. Now he is trying to chew more than what he can swallow.

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July 5th, 2012, 9:12 pm


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