Announcement of Islamic State in Aleppo Met with Widespread Denials. Opposition Gains Ground and Recognition in Europe

Obama offers new Syria coalition praise but not weapons – LA Times

“We have seen extremist elements insinuate themselves into the opposition, and one of the things that we have to be on guard about — particularly when we start talking about arming opposition figures — is that we’re not indirectly putting arms in the hands of folks who would do Americans harm, or do Israelis harm, or otherwise engage in actions that are detrimental to our national security.

So we’re constantly probing and working on that issue. The more engaged we are, the more we’ll be in a position to make sure that we are encouraging the most moderate, thoughtful elements of the opposition that are committed to inclusion, observance of human rights, and working cooperatively with us over the long term.”

AP Exclusive: Syrian rebels seize base, arms trove
By BEN HUBBARD | Associated Press –

Syrian army soldier prisoners stand near ammunition after Syrian fighters took over the military base in Aleppo, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)
Here is video of the arms

BASE OF THE 46TH REGIMENT, Syria (AP) — After a nearly two-month siege, Syrian rebels overwhelmed a large military base in the north of the country and made off with tanks, armored vehicles and truckloads of munitions that rebel leaders say will give them a boost in the fight against President Bashar Assad’s army.

The rebel capture of the base of the Syrian army’s 46th Regiment is a sharp blow to the government’s efforts to roll back rebels gains and shows a rising level of organization among opposition forces.

More important than the base’s fall, however, are the weapons the rebels found inside.

At a rebel base where the much of the haul was taken after the weekend victory, rebel fighters unloaded half a dozen large trucks piled high with green boxes full of mortars, artillery shells, rockets and rifles taken from the base. Parked nearby were five tanks, two armored vehicles, two rocket launchers and two heavy-caliber artillery cannons.

Around 20 Syrian soldiers captured in the battle were put to work carrying munitions boxes, barefoot and stripped to the waist. Rebels refused to let reporters talk to them or see where they were being held.

The World’s Next Genocide
By SIMON ADAMS – Op-Ed Contributor
New York Times November 15, 2012

AT a recent meeting hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Peter W. Galbraith, a former American ambassador who witnessed ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, made a chilling prediction. “The next genocide in the world,” he said, “will likely be against the Alawites in Syria.”

A few months ago, talk of possible massacres of Alawites, who dominate Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, seemed like pro-regime propaganda. Now, it is a real possibility.

For more than a year, Mr. Assad’s government has been committing crimes against humanity in Syria. As it fights for survival on the streets of Aleppo and Damascus, the risk of unrestrained reprisals against Mr. Assad’s Alawite sect and Syria’s other religious minorities is growing every day. …..

As the civil war intensifies, Mr. Assad is increasingly outsourcing the dirty work. In Damascus, militia groups within Druse, Christian and Shiite areas are being armed by the government. While the justifications for these militias are “neighborhood self-defense” and the protection of religious sites, the shabiha emerged in a similar way before becoming killing squads for Mr. Assad. And by drawing Christians, Druse, Shiites and Alawites into the civil war on an explicitly sectarian basis, the Syrian government has all but guaranteed that there will be reprisals against these communities if Mr. Assad falls…..

Governments that have publicly committed themselves to helping end Syria’s misery, including the United States, must immediately do two things to help prevent a violent backlash against Alawites and other minorities. First, they must impress upon the newly united Syrian opposition that support depends on strict adherence to international humanitarian law. Armed groups who advocate fracturing Syria along sectarian or regional lines should be denied funds; there should be absolutely no aid for rebel groups who target Alawites and other minorities for reprisals or who commit war crimes….

Der Spiegel: Thirst for Revenge Syrian Rebels Have Lost Their Innocence
2012-11-20

By Christoph Reuter The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has perpetrated brutal attacks on both rebel fighters and civilians alike. Lately, though, the spotlight of world attention has been on alleged atrocities committed by those attempting …

In the new video, 13 Islamic radical factions denounced the coalition as a foreign creation.

Most important among them were the al-Tawheed Brigade, which is one of the largest rebel groups operating in Aleppo, and Jabhat al-Nusra – Arabic for “the Support Front” – which is mainly made up of foreign jihadi fighters. Jabhat al-Nusra has become notorious for suicide bombings targeting regime and military facilities and is at the forefront of fighting in Aleppo.

“We are the representatives of the fighting formations in Aleppo and we declare our rejection of the conspiratorial project, the so-called national alliance,” an unidentified speaker said in the video. “We have unanimously agreed to urgently establish an Islamic state.”

Islamist rebels challenge National Coalition
November 20, 2012
By Marlin Dick, The Daily Star

BEIRUT: A group of Islamist rebel factions in Aleppo has emphatically denounced the Syrian National Coalition and vowed to establish an Islamic state in Syria, highlighting the newly formed body’s struggle to shore up the ranks of the armed opposition.

But while the Islamist declaration generated vocal outrage by opposition activists and was at odds with rebels fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, the National Coalition has at best a short honeymoon period in which to score tangible achievements.

A video posted on YouTube late Sunday showed representatives from more than a dozen Islamist rebel factions gathered in Aleppo to express their rejection of “the so-called conspiratorial ‘National Coalition,’” which was established in Doha, Qatar on Nov. 11 by leading opposition groups and figures.

The National Coalition was formed after pressure from Washington, which was disappointed with the performance over the last year by the principal opposition-in-exile bloc, the Syrian National Council.

The fighter who reads the announcement adds that the Islamist rebel factions are “unanimously agreed on establishing a just Islamic state,” as they reject any type of “foreign [-sponsored] coalitions and councils that are imposed on us.”

After the speaker concludes his short statement, one of the fighters standing around a long table adds an impromptu appeal to make the Quran the Constitution of a new Syrian state.

The Aleppo statement is made in the name of the Nusra Front, Tawhid Brigade and a host of other hard-line Islamist groups.

The mainstream FSA, according to Col. Malek al-Kurdi, its Turkey-based deputy commander, rejected the announcement and speculated that it had been made without the knowledge of the groups supposedly represented.

“We are trying, along with many battalions, to achieve the unity of arms against the regime of Bashar Assad,” Kurdi told The Daily Star.

“We do not support any talk of formation of [Islamic] emirates … the people will decide the type of regime” that should be established if the Assad government falls, he continued.

Kurdi dismissed the criticism by the Aleppo Islamists that the National Coalition was a foreign-dominated organization. “We support the National Coalition, which remains incomplete” in terms of its membership, he said, referring to the fact that the FSA had yet to be named to the group’s executive committee because it was involved in its own re-organization drive.

Kurdi said that foreign countries were supporting the attempts to unify the armed opposition into a single command structure, but “this doesn’t mean that the National Coalition is subject to a foreign agenda.”

The Aleppo announcement provoked objections and outrage by wide swathes of pro-uprising Syrians – they might not be enamored of the FSA, but view the brazen declaration of an Islamic state as contradicting the goals of the uprising.

The authenticity of the statement is also in doubt, as spokesmen from at least two of the main Islamist groups, the Tawhid Brigade and the Ahrar al-Sham Battalions, disassociated themselves from the development, in comments to Al-Jazeera television.

The head of the National Coalition, Ahmad Moaz Khatib, told Al-Jazeera he had doubts about how representative the statement was, and said “the street,” and not individual rebel groups, would decide Syria’s political future. ….

UK recognises Syria opposition coalition: London says National Coalition is the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

4th Friends of Syria conference to be held in Marrakech, Morocco
2012-11-20

Nov. 20, 2012 (Xinhua) — The 4th Friends of Syria conference will be held in Marrakech in central Morocco on Dec. 12, in an attempt to increase pressure on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to a statement released by Moroccan ministry of foreign affairs on Tuesday.

Syrian rebels’ unnoticed gains

With events in Gaza dominating the news from the Middle East, the long-running conflict in Syria has slid down in the headlines. To the extent that Syria is being reported at all, the main story for several days has been of political wrangling over leadership of the opposition.

This is unfortunate, because important things are happening on the ground – largely unnoticed. Rebel fighters have made significant gains while the regime, despite its continuing ability to flatten whole streets with bombs and shellfire, appears to be making an unsteady retreat.

At the weekend, after a siege of more than a month, rebels overran the 46th Division’s base at Atarib, west of Aleppo city. The base, spread over 12 sq km and said to be the largest in northern Syria, had played a key role in the Assad regime’s defence of Aleppo.

Here is a report from Andrew Simmons of al-Jazeera English:….

This doesn’t mean that the fall of the regime is imminent. But it does mean the regime is now well beyond any point from which it can seriously hope to recover. And, as the rebels capture more and more of its own weapons, its decline is likely to quicken.

Comments (268)


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251. Albo said:

236. VISITOR

It’s always funny to see Visitor’s reaction when he’s proved full of sh*t and has nothing to say.
“You Shia: لكم اللطم ولنا الحكم الى ابد الآبدين شئتم ام ابيتم”
Really? Be careful, the following reflects US strategic thinking, the author at Stratfor always have had contacts with defense and intelligence circles. I know your head will hurt, but read these arguments, they belong to the old US rationale about the opportunity to strike a deal with Iran. America isn’t wedded to your Sunni monarchs, very far from it:


This is a historic opportunity for Iran. It is the first moment in which no outside power is in a direct position to block Iran militarily or politically. Whatever the pain of sanctions, trading that moment for lifting the sanctions would not be rational. The threat of Iranian influence is the problem, and Iran would not trade that influence for an end to sanctions. So assuming the nuclear issue was to go away, what exactly is the United States prepared to offer?

The United States has assured access to oil from the Persian Gulf — not only for itself, but also for the global industrial world — since World War II. It does not want to face a potential interruption of oil for any reason, like the one that occurred in 1973. Certainly, as Iran expands its influence, the possibility of conflict increases, along with the possibility that the United States would intervene to protect its allies in Arabia from Iranian-sponsored subversion or even direct attack. The United States does not want to intervene in the region. It does not want an interruption of oil. It also does not want an extension of Iranian power. It is not clear that Washington can have all three.

Iran wants three things, too.

First, it wants the United States to reduce its presence in the Persian Gulf dramatically. Having seen two U.S. interventions against Iraq and one against Afghanistan, Iran is aware of U.S. power and the way American political sentiment can shift. It experienced the shift from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan, so it knows how fast things can change. Tehran sees the United States in the Persian Gulf coupled with U.S. and Israeli covert operations and destabilization campaigns as an unpredictable danger to Iranian national security.

Second, the Iranians want to be recognized as the leading power in the region. This does not mean they intend to occupy any nation directly. It does mean that Iran doesn’t want Saudi Arabia, for example, to pose a military threat against it.

Third, Iran wants a restructuring of oil revenue in the region. How this is formally achieved — whether by allowing Iranian investment in Arabian oil companies (possibly financed by the host country) or some other means — is unimportant. What does matter is that the Iranians want a bigger share of the region’s vast financial resources.

The United States doesn’t want a conflict with Iran. Iran doesn’t want one with the United States. Neither can be sure how such a conflict would play out. The Iranians want to sell oil. The Americans want the West to be able to buy oil. The issue really comes down to whether the United States wants to guarantee the flow of oil militarily or via a political accommodation with the country that could disrupt the flow of oil — namely, Iran. That in turn raises two questions. First, could the United States trust Iran? And second, could it live with withdrawing the American protectorate on the Arabian Peninsula, casting old allies adrift?

When we listen to the rhetoric of American and Iranian politicians, it is difficult to imagine trust between them. But when we recall the U.S. alliance with Stalin and Mao or the Islamic republic’s collaboration with the Soviet Union, we find rhetoric is a very poor guide. Nations pursue their national interest, and while those interests are never eternal, they can be substantial. From a purely rhetorical point of view it is not always easy to tell which sides’ politicians are more colorful. It will be difficult to sell an alliance between the Great Satan and a founding member of the Axis of Evil to the respective public of each country, but harder things have been managed.

Iran’s ultimate interest is security against the United States and the ability to sell oil at a more substantial profit. (This would entail an easing of sanctions and a redefinition of how oil revenues in the region are distributed.) The United States’ ultimate interest is access to oil and manageable prices that do not require American military intervention. On that basis, Iranian and American interests are not that far apart.

The Arabian Factor and a Possible Accommodation

The key point in this scenario is the future of U.S. relations with the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. Any deal between Iran and the United States affects them two ways. First, the reduction of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf requires them to reach an accommodation with the Iranians, something difficult and potentially destabilizing for them. Second, the shift in the financial flow will hurt them and probably will not be the final deal. Over time, the Iranians will use their strengthened position in the region to continue pushing for additional concessions from them.

There is always danger in abandoning allies. Other allies might be made uncomfortable, for example. But these things have happened before. Abandoning old allies for the national interest is not something the United States invented. The idea that the United States should find money flowing to the Saudis inherently more attractive than money flowing to the Iranians is not obvious.

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November 22nd, 2012, 1:44 pm

 

252. Johannes de Silentio said:

Happy Turkey Day, Syria.

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November 22nd, 2012, 1:49 pm

 

253. Syrialover said:

WARREN said in #237,

“Arabs can’t distinguish fact from fiction, propaganda from reality, never engage in debate but rather self-aggrandizing monologues.”

This is getting hilarious. The self-loathing shame-filled WARREN has just delivered what he thinks is a knockout punch insult to whatever he imagines as “Arabs” by accusing them of being exactly like himself!

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November 22nd, 2012, 1:50 pm

 

254. Visitor said:

Again birbrain @ 246,

Nothing new or even to worry about!!

When the GCC rolled out its military into Bahrain last time, it did so despite US objections. The Iranians just cowered down and did zilch.

Since Persia was conquered by Omar in the 7th century, the Persians up till today did nothing but empty posturing. And you are doing exactly the same here on this forum. They will continue to do so for the next millenium long after you’re gone.

GCC does not need the USA for anything. It is the other way around.

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November 22nd, 2012, 1:59 pm

 

255. Citizen said:

Russia Opposes NATO Missile Deployment on Turkey-Syria Border
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/russia-opposes-nato-missile-deployment-on-turkey-syria-border/471832.html#.UK52Ed5GqN4.twitter
The Moscow Times

“The militarization of the Syrian-Turkish border is an alarming signal,” Lukashevich said at a weekly briefing. “Our advice to our Turkish colleagues consists of something else entirely: to use Turkey’s potential influence on the Syrian opposition to seek the start of an inter-Syrian dialogue as swiftly as possible and not to flex their muscles and move the situation in such a dangerous direction.”

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November 22nd, 2012, 2:07 pm

 

256. Citizen said:

As Israel-Gaza Charade Concludes, West Pivots Back to Syria
http://www.infowars.com/as-israel-gaza-charade-concludes-west-pivots-back-to-syria/
Reuters reported in their article, “Jubilant Palestinians mob Gaza streets,” regarding the ceasefire agreement “brokered” by Egypt that, “the agreement calls on Hamas and Israel to cease all forms of military activity, including Israel’s targeted killings of militants, and for an easing of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza.”
The article featured a photograph of cheering Palestinians in Gaza waving the Egyptian flag, reflecting both the true purpose and success of the Israeli-Gaza charade. Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s conveniently-timed visit to Gaza just days before hostilities erupted was designed to give the despotic Persian Gulf monarchy a boost in both legitimacy and credibility after the conclusion of this staged spectacle – as was highly publicized rhetoric made by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan against Israel.
Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey, all in fact partners with Israel and its Western sponsors in the subversion and overthrow of Syria, now have a renewed popular mandate across the Arab World, as a direct result of Israel’s premeditated, predictable failure in Gaza.
Already, Western pundits and policy makers are gloating over one additional result of the ceasefire, one already being spun into a narrative regarding the “new Middle East.” The Brookings Institution’s Doha Center director, Salman Shaikh, boasted in Tweets that the ceasefire deal handed in particular, Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar credit for both the support of Gaza and the cessation of hostilities. He would state specifically:
../../..
It should be noted that Shaikh, of the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center, has been heavily involved in the enumerating and documentation of Western designs against Syria – and is in fact based in the allegedly anti-Israeli nation of Qatar. He was the co-author of the Brookings Saban Center, Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf), which articulated plans involving the carving out of “safe havens” within Syrian territory along the Turkish border and a coordinated campaign by both Turkey and Israel to pressure Syria’s borders to exact defections within Syria’s military ranks. The report was written in March 2012, and since then, both Turkey and Israel have demonstrably coordinated efforts to apply pressure on Syria’s borders.
With a strategic defeat of Israel by what the Washington Post calls “a changed Middle East,” the Saudi-Qatari-Egyptian-Turkey axis, a united front of sectarian-hardliners long-sought by Wall Street and London to fight its regional enemies, will be better prepared to confront Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon – to accomplish what the US and Israel have themselves already tried but failed to achieve.
../../..
Canada’s Globe and Mail also featured an editorial citing the Israeli-Gaza conflict as a sign of waning Iranian-Syrian influence over Palestine, and the emergence of a “new Middle East.” Titled, “Gaza is testing the limits of Iran’s Mideast ambitions,”
Now, the focus is shifting away from Iran and to the “winners” of the Arab spring. Now, their commitment to a new foreign policy for a New Middle East will be tested. Will Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood pursue a more assertive policy vis-a-vis Israel compared to that of former president Hosni Mubarak? If there is more continuity than change in Egypt’s Israel policy, how will that affect Mr. Morsi’s apparent bid for regional leadership – or his hold on power at home?
Will Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s new role as the champion of the Sunni Arabs following his aggressive opposition to Mr. Assad survive if he fails to re-adopt his pre-Syria assertiveness against Israel’s Gaza policy? If he fails, will it prove that Mr. Erdogan’s Syria policy has weakened the “arc of resistance” and strengthened Israel regionally? Tehran certainly seems to hope that this will be the conclusion many in the region will reach.
Additional op-eds across the Western press are sure to be rolled out over the next week, hailing the “new Middle East’s” triumph during the Israeli-Gaza conflict. US President Barack Obama has already praised the Western-installed and backed regime in Cairo, Egypt, for its role in “mediating” the cease fire. Following the afterglow of this manufactured US-Israeli PR coup for its regional Arab and Turkish partners, a renewed push against Syria will ensue.

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November 22nd, 2012, 2:56 pm

 

257. Citizen said:

Happy Thanksgiving ….
funny break : calling all Turkeys

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November 22nd, 2012, 3:04 pm

 

258. MarigoldRan said:

“Is it worth it to destroy the country to get rid of Assad?”

YES.

At this point most of the FSA are not fighting for themselves anymore. They’re fighting either for jihad, or for their children, and both are more important than the country. They know that if they do not finish off the regime this generation, their children will have to fight another war in the next. Best to do the job now, painful though it may be.

At this point only the Alawites, and perhaps some Christians and Sunni collaborators, want the power structure to survive. They say, “we want to protect the country,” but what they’re really saying is “we want to protect OUR country.” The country that they live in, and the country that most Sunnis live in, are two totally different countries. If they had really wanted to protect their country, they would have protested when Assad began attacking the protesters.

It’s time for the regime and its supporters to eat their medicine.

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November 22nd, 2012, 3:13 pm

 

259. MarigoldRan said:

Citizen 251,

Yes. It goes to show how much the regime is hated.

EVERYONE in the Sunni Middle East and almost EVERYONE in the West wants it finished.

The fact that the West is technically on the same side as Al Qaeda goes to show how doomed the regime is.

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November 22nd, 2012, 3:18 pm

 

260. Syrialover said:

New post up and new thread started

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November 22nd, 2012, 3:39 pm

 

261. Syrialover said:

There’s a new post up and new thread started

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November 22nd, 2012, 3:40 pm

 

262. Citizen said:

254. MARIGOLDRAN
Where the term can be found (EVERYONE in the Sunny Middle East )
The Middle East is a mosaic of civilization in its most beautiful form.Why do you want the polarization for it ?
Are you a student in the College of religious and ethnic’s Engineering divide and conquer?

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November 22nd, 2012, 3:40 pm

 

263. Albo said:

“When the GCC rolled out its military into Bahrain last time, it did so despite US objections. The Iranians just cowered down and did zilch.

GCC does not need the USA for anything. It is the other way around.”

They notified the US in advance and Americans didn’t object when it happened. The US imports only 13% of its oil from GCC countries, they are more interested in controlling the spigot for the rest of the world.
It’s obvious that Gulf countries don’t need them when the Americans concentrate all these forces, fleets and bases in their waters and on their soil. When they sell them all this military equipment, when their companies invest so heavily in their hydrocarbons resources. Makes total sense.

______________

253
““Is it worth it to destroy the country to get rid of Assad?”
YES.

At this point most of the FSA are not fighting for themselves anymore. They’re fighting either for jihad, or for their children, and both are more important than the country. ”

Crazy talk. There weren’t 2 countries, Sunnis hate to admit it but their higher classes collaborated to a great extent and had it good. As for yourself, you’re clearly an islamist, but it’s unclear if you are even Syrian.

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November 22nd, 2012, 3:44 pm

 

264. MarigoldRan said:

The Middle East is polarized already. Look at Iraq and Lebanon. And now Syria. It has Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, all of whom hate each other. It has Bahrain and Yemen, polarized countries too.

Yes, it would be nice if Muslims could work together, but reality is reality. No use denying it.

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November 22nd, 2012, 3:53 pm

 

265. MarigoldRan said:

Albo:

Half-true, half-false. Many rich Sunnis collaborated with the regime. That’s truth. But even before the civil war, the country WAS divided in two: between the rich and the well-connected, and the poor. So your statement about “one country” was false.

On your statement about myself, also half-true and half-false.

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November 22nd, 2012, 3:57 pm

 

266. Albo said:

Your division was one of sect. You just admitted that it isn’t accurate, contrary to the narrative of many Sunnis.

“the country WAS divided in two: between the rich and the well-connected, and the poor.”

I deny this division, why? Because while so many countries have high level of income inequality, they are not usually presented as “two countries”, inequality is more the norm in this world than equality anyway.

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November 22nd, 2012, 4:08 pm

 

267. MarigoldRan said:

Albo,

Syria was divided before the war by both SECT and ECONOMICS. However, the vast majority of the poor were Sunnis. And the vast majority of Sunnis were poor. It was complicated. But without a doubt, the country WAS divided in two.

In the West, it is possible for poor people to rise to positions of affluence and power. Just look at Obama! He came from a lower-middle class/poor family. Now he is president of the US!

In Syria, there was no opportunities if you were Sunni and poor. You would ALWAYS remain Sunni and poor. And so would your children. The government treated you like dirt, and if you protested, they would arrest and beat you.

A government like that will never survive long. The civil war is justice.

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November 22nd, 2012, 4:23 pm

 

268. ann said:

Turkey warned against ‘Patriots’ – Friday, November 23, 2012

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-1-144613-Turkey-warned-against-Patriots

MOSCOW: Russia on Thursday warned Turkey against deploying surface-to-air Patriot missiles to protect its troubled border with Syria, saying it should instead use its influence to help broker peace in the war-torn country.

“The militarisation of the Syrian-Turkish border is of course a worrying sign,” foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a briefing. Turkey, he said, should use its influence with the Syrian opposition to help the two sides in the civil war start a dialogue as soon as possible instead of “flexing muscles and placing the situation on a dangerous course.”

“Such steps clearly do not add optimism from the point of view of a political settlement,” he told reporters regarding the possible missile placement.

[...]

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-1-144613-Turkey-warned-against-Patriots

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November 22nd, 2012, 10:15 pm

 

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