Aleppo Fighting Spreads; Iraq Arms Kurds

Syria rebels’ gains in Damascus surprise even them – LA Times
Violence in the Midan neighborhood of Damascus, Syria: Syrian soldiers stand next to burned cars during a government-organized tour Friday after the army regained control of the Midan neighborhood of Damascus, the Syrian capital. The rebels later returned and clashed with soldiers again. (Bassem Tellawi, Associated Press / July 22, 2012)

The uprising enters a crucial phase as the rebels face the challenge of trying to seize the capital despite a shortage of weapons and lack of unity among themselves.

Kurds and Iraq: A friend writes:

You know I’m in Iraqi Kurdistan… I had to cancel a trip to the Sinjar region because of a lot of irregular activity in the area; major Iraqi troop deployments are taking place along the border because of a lack of Syrian troop presence and hence a lack of security.

Today a Kurdish paper published an article saying that in the past 6 months, many Syrian Kurds have been smuggled here and have been given weapons training in the Kurdistan Region by one of the Syrian Kurdish parties operating here. The article says that today 1,000 young Syrian Kurdish men from among this group have re-entered the Syrian Kurdish region to contribute in attempting to control it. Some people here feel that breaking this story will create a political crisis between the KRG and Damascus. There’s also a sense that the 1,000 may be an exaggeration.

Next to Sinjar, Syrian rebels or FSA (whoever) took over a border outpost and Iraqi soldiers report witnessing them massacreing between 21-26 (different reports) Syrian soldiers.

Iraq is sending flights to Damascus to evacuate Iraqis. It is not allowing Syrian refugees into Iraqi–only Iraqi passport holders, and apparently issued a statement of regret saying that despite Syria’s hosting of 45,000 refugees during all these past years, it simply cannot accept Syrian refugees at this time.


Syrian rebels say fight for Aleppo has begun, Businessweek, By Bassem Mroue

Col. Abdul-Jabbar Mohammed Aqidi, the commander of rebel forces in Aleppo province, said “we gave the orders for the march into Aleppo with the aim of liberating it.”

“We urge the residents of Aleppo to stay in their homes until the city is liberated,” he said in a video posted by activists on YouTube. He added that rebels were fighting inside the city while others were moving in from the outskirts.

Aqidi called on government troops to defect and join the opposition, and said rebels will protect members of President Bashar Assad’s Alawite minority sect, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam, saying “our war is not with you but with the Assad family.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Aleppo-based activist Mohammed Saeed said the fighting is concentrated in several neighborhood.

Saeed said rebels are in full control of the central Salaheddine district and the nearby Sakhour area. He added that thousands of residents have fled tense quarters of the city for safer neighborhoods and the suburbs.

“Aleppo is witnessing serious street battles” and many shops are closed, Saeed said.

He said there were fierce clashes on the road leading to the city’s international airport, known as Nairab, as rebels tried to surround the airfield to prevent the regime from sending reinforcements.

Like Damascus, the country’s capital, Aleppo had long been seen as a bastion of government support. That the revolt is now spreading there represents another blow to the regime in a week that has seen its veneer of control in the country’s two biggest cities shattered by the assassinations of four of its top security officials in a bombing.

Syrians who crossed the border into Lebanon on Saturday gave harrowing accounts of intense street fighting and attacks by government helicopters and tanks in residential areas of Damascus as basic supplies such as bread and water dwindled. As many as 30,000 Syrians may have crossed into Lebanon in recent days, a spokeswoman for the United Nations said Friday. …

Domou said that she and her family walked several miles to escape the shelling and helicopter attacks in her neighborhood, Sayida Zeinab, before they found a driver. As they drove through the capital, Domou said she witnessed nightmarish scenes. In one neighborhood, she saw a group of boys and teenagers kicking a corpse while chanting “shabiha,” the name of a militia group fighting alongside government forces. In another neighborhood, she saw an ambulance filled with bodies careening through garbage-filled streets.

“I believe the situation is going to get worse,” she said. “I don’t know when we can go back.”

…Many people at the border Saturday were critical of the Syrian government, but most appeared deeply uneasy talking about it even on Lebanese territory, with some looking over their shoulder and whispering “shabiha” if strangers got too close.

U.S. changes course on Syria
By Eric Schmitt and Helene CooperZeina Karam
The New York TimesThe Associated Press

A gunman who said he is a member of a jihadist group called Shura Taliban Islam writes, “Our leader is forever Mohammed” near the Bab al-Hawa border gate between Turkey and Syria on Saturday. (Bulent Kilic, AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has for now abandoned efforts for a diplomatic settlement to the conflict in Syria, and instead it is increasing aid to the rebels and redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down the government of President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say.

Administration officials have been in talks with officials in Turkey and Israel over how to manage a Syrian government collapse. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is headed to Israel in the next several days to meet with Israeli defense counterparts, following up on a visit last week by national security adviser Thomas Donilon, to discuss, in part, the Syrian crisis.

The administration has been holding regular talks with the Israelis about how Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities, administration officials said. The administration is not advocating such an attack, the officials said, because of the risk that it would give Assad an opportunity to rally support against Israeli interference.

Still options for under-pressure Assad: experts
By Deborah Pasmantier | AFP

A fight to the death to keep Damascus, a fall back to his Alawite strongholds or even exile abroad — experts say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be considering a range of choices in the face of an armed rebellion.

And each, they say, is fraught with risks.

For now the embattled leader’s focus is on retaining control of the capital, where Syrian forces launched an all-out assault on opposition strongholds on Friday two days after a bomb attack killed four senior members of the regime.

“As long as Assad controls the capital, he controls the government and has legitimate power,” said Fabrice Balanche, an analyst with the Mediterranean and Middle East Studies and Research Group in Paris.

“The redeployment of troops from the Golan and the Iraqi border to the capital, at the risk of stripping other fronts, shows that he is going to stay,” Balanche said.

Un coup d’Etat à l’origine de la chute de l’appareil sécuritaire de Bachar el-Assad” by Wassim Nasr

Comments (439)

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401. Aldendeshe said:


I will reply after dinner.

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July 24th, 2012, 8:58 pm


402. Aldendeshe said:

i don’t follow your logic. if she was bad for supporting the mafia, how is her defecting (yet another crack in the wall, hastening the collapse of the regime) also bad?
what’s you solution?
346. ALDENDESHE said:
Syrian envoy to Cyprus defects

A peasant Baathi chik who earned her way up from sofa to sofa is now one of the pillars of the Baathist regime, she can cause a crack? Did Baathist Mafia bosses Tlass and his daddy, or V.P. Khaddam, or the “BOMBING” caused a crack in the regime? Nonsense, only thought of by foreign arm chair generals who have absolutely no experience, or knowledge, about anything outside own delusional ideas, and watching way too many Hollywood movies. I don’t follow your logic. Are you Syrian, you don’t have feelings inside you as one. This pattern of thinking coming on from strangers as westerners ways of thought. If you were Syrian, it would be natural to you to understand the resentment we have against people like that, you will intuitively comprehend the danger of not only having no association with such INTIHAZI’s, but even the failure not to prosecute these despised Baathi criminal can taint a real Syrian Revolutionary. When Assad Brother, Maher, defect, then I will be concerned. When 150,000 of Syria’s army defect with half the tanks, bombers, copters, missiles, WMD stockpile, I will pay attention. Any thing short of this news, to me and SNP members, it is just a Zionist game plot ala 9/11 all fakes.

You see, this plot in Libya and Syria is very old, thousands of years old, been tried by that sinister entity before, we human, some of us, understand clearly, what is really going on. For the majority, it is confusing and perplexing, they can not decipher the deception, because they lack the knowledge.

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July 24th, 2012, 9:00 pm


403. Syrialover said:

OBSERVER (#392),

Here’s the thing. If this new Alawite state is ruled by Assad regime remnants, the answers to most of your questions are predetermined.

Forget any consitution, for a start.

And the economy would be underpinned by a drug empire (long-established in Assad’s senior security circles) and the liquor trade currently flourishing next to the extravagant mosque in Qurdaha, in the shadow of Bashar’s home town palace.

(For the mosque and palace, see my entry #155)

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July 24th, 2012, 9:00 pm


404. ann said:

Syrian president rebuilds administration pillars – 2012-07-25

DAMASCUS, July 24 (Xinhua) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rebuilt the pillars of his administration on Tuesday by appointing five security officials to sensitive positions in a bid to control the months-long crisis a week after a bomb rocked a high-profile meeting attended by his inner circle.

A source told Xinhua Tuesday that Maj-Gen Mohammad Deib Zaitoon has been appointed as the chief of the Syrian Intelligence, while Maj-Gen Ali Yunus is appointed as the chief of the military intelligence.

Maj-Gen Ali Mamlouk is appointed as the head of the National Security, replacing Hisham Ikhtiar, who was killed in last week’s bombing.

Maj-Gen Abdulfattah Qudsieh is appointed as deputy National Security chief.

Meanwhile, Rustom Ghazaleh, former head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, is appointed as the head of the Syrian Political Security.

The appointment came after last Wednesday’s bombing that ripped through a high-level meeting and killed four security officials from the inner circle of President Assad. The bombing hit the Syrian administration to the core.

Syrian Defense Minister Dawood Rajha, his Deputy Assef Shawkat, National Security chief Hisham Ikhtiar and crisis management head Hassan Turkmani were killed by the explosion, and Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Sha’ar was injured in the blast. Shawkat was also the president’s brother-in-law.

Shortly after the incident, Assad appointed Fahad al-Freij as the minister of defense and Gen. Ali Abdullah Dayyoub as chief of staff.

The appointment of security officials on Tuesday came against the backdrop of the escalating violence and clashes between government troops and armed rebels in the capital Damascus and northern Aleppo province, the commercial hub of the country.

The clashes started about 10 days ago in several neighborhoods of Damascus and recently moved to Aleppo as part of the rebels’ resolve to bring down both of the two cities of vital importance, which are the strongholds of the current leadership and the source of its coherence.

On Monday, state-run SANA news agency said the authorities repelled some armed groups that were trying to infiltrate across the Lebanese borders into Syria at different sites in Talkalakh area in the countryside of Homs province, adding that hefty toll was inflicted upon the infiltrators.

SANA also said the Syrian army on Tuesday pursued the defeated armed terrorist groups at Nahr Isha neighborhood in Damascus after theyterrified the citizens, devastated and spread chaos in the area.

Also in Damascus’ countryside, the authorities are hunting the “terrorists” in al-Sayida Zainab, Hajera and al-Diybia neighborhoods, causing big losses among them while many of them surrendered themselves to the authorities, according to SANA.

In Aleppo, the troops clashed with some armed groups in al- Sukari and Salah al-Din neighborhoods, said SANA, adding that many of them were rounded up and others surrendered along with their weapons.

The state news agency also reported similar incidents in northern Idlib, central Homs and coastal Latakia provinces.


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July 24th, 2012, 9:04 pm


405. Tara said:

You guys are so funny!

True-I’m just quoting what elBatta likes to be nicknamed by Asma. I’m sure elBatta would have asked Asma to stop if he did not like it…., so please don’t step between a husband and wife.

Omen- Bashar who?

Syrialover-Rescue them from their stunned and tearful confusion.

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July 24th, 2012, 9:07 pm


406. omen said:


why did you shorten your response? the longer version was more interesting.

did you let something slip out of the bag? you would be more concerned if maher defected? why would you be concerned? i thought you didn’t support the mafia.

What is the solution you ask? and why should I help you in that if I have nothing to gain from it, even think, you are not even Syrian, rather, someone out to destroy the country.

in other words, you don’t have an answer.

when you damn someone for staying and damn them the same for not staying – you’ve boxed them into a corner from which they cannot move. i just wondered if there was a third alternative i hadn’t considered.

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July 24th, 2012, 9:07 pm


407. omen said:

392. OBSERVER said: 2. What will it be called

syria no duckistan!

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July 24th, 2012, 9:21 pm


408. Ghufran said:

Minority rights, he told me, was a concept invented by the CIA in order to destabilise countries that stood in America’s way, and by raising this issue in Syria I was proving myself to be nothing more than a CIA agent sent as an agent provocateur.
“There are no minorities in Syria,” he said.
I laughed. He got flustered.
Khawla intervened to suggest that the issue could not be ignored. He relaxed a little. I explained that if he and his in-laws were truly reformers, they would see it as their mission to decouple the Alawite community from political authority and chart a process towards democratic rule.
If they really championed reforms, I said, they could still retain power through the democratic process: championing reforms would give them legitimacy and credibility and people would vote for them irrespective of their confessional background. They could become a legitimate political dynasty, I said, instead of one fearing for its survival from the mere mention of the word “minority”.
Asef Shawkat-Ammar abdulhamid “meeting” in 2005 according to the latter who is not exactly known as Mr Honest ,however, the last part ,whether it was said or not,is true.

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July 24th, 2012, 9:24 pm


409. William Scott Scherk said:

If an Alawi state could be the real wonderland of post-conflict Syria (with free-er, more Western social mores, a ‘secularism’ in civic matters) would this be accompanied by a social compact among its constituents, or would it be imposed by the remnant of the present militarized and hyper-loyal security state? Do the Alawis get to choose, greater Syria or Assadistan? Is it probable that the totality of Alawis will have forever hitched their wagons to the Baath and all that it means?

If a brute-force military occupation of Lattakia and Tartus did not pay off, I wonder if the future breakaway might share the fate of lands such as Abkhazia, about as free as a Russian vassal state can be, un-reconstructed from war, and rather peacefully moribund as an economy and a national enterprise, exhausted and poor, under tutelage from a large subsidizing ‘protector.’

If a overwhelming majority of Alawi feel they must build their state, a Belarus-on-the-Mediterranean, and do not purge post-war ‘enemy’ communities, and if they can deconstruct the deep state that kept all of Syria as its clients, if it can obviate persistent corruption, if it can peel the fingers of the Clan from all economic levers, if it can rediscover their lovely idiosyncratic traditions of worship and celebration, if it can open its Stalinesque economy to the real world, if it can find a use for the returning unemployed Shabiha and other militia, if it can reconcile itself to and reconcile over its own history, if it can disengage from the death embrace of its chemical and biological weapons, then I will wholeheartedly wish the new nation the best as it navigates the post-Assad seas, just as I wished the post-Soviet European states the best after their great referendum votes, as I would wish to Scotland or Quebec were they to return great thumping majorities in favour of independence.

Sadly, the prime places for Syrian regimist escape fantasies are likely European or North American, definitely ‘western.’ The ball-capped minions of the rallies for Assad, the gelled and Lexus-ed young creme de la creme, I don’t think they dream of their allies’ capitals, of Teheran or Minsk or Beijing or Moscow or Caracas or Pyongyang. They dream of Paris, London, Berlin, Montreal, Toronto, New York City, Vancouver, Stockholm, Los Angeles. As Asma, pariah queen of Syria, chose European luxuries for her palaces, so too do regimists on down the pecking order enjoy the Western things in life.

Oh, if only those damned Western conspirators who deny us their luxuries and who arm our opponents could understand the special promise that Assadist/Baath autocracy brings! If only they understood we have the best of the West (ball-caps, babes, booze, beaches, capuccino, skiing, malls and cell-phones) without its bullshit Zionism and its pickiness over human rights, plus the best of the Levant (Family Mafia Security State)!

I think, sadly, that the Belarus/DPRK/DDR-ish regime currently pounding the salafist evul out of many of its population centres is not the best friend of any dreamy statelet in the short or long long term.

Why would its manifold cruelties and paranoia end if it retreated to the coast? Would it allow an opposition to rise that petitioned for confederation or re-unification? Would the post-war project even get started under such a bizarre dictatorship at complete odds with the moneybags of the world?

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July 24th, 2012, 9:26 pm


410. Tara said:

Defecting general calls for Syrians to start preparing for post-Assad government
12:14AM BST 25 Jul 2012

Reading a prepared statement on Saudi-based pan-Arab television channel Al-Arabiya, Gen Tlass called on Syrians to “unite… to serve a Syria after Assad… and do the impossible, to ensure the unity of Syria, and to be sure to start building a new Syria.”
Gen Tlass, who defected on July 6, said he was “reaching out to (Syrians) in these difficult times for the country, as the blood of its innocents is being shed, and whose only crime has been to call for freedom.”
The defector said the “new Syria … should not be built on revenge, exclusion or monopoly” in decision-making.

He said he was speaking as “one of the sons of the Syrian Arab Army, who has rejected this regime’s criminal and corrupt ways … and who cannot accept its crimes to our country.”
The defector said he did not blame those troops who have not defected, adding that “whatever mistakes made by some members of the Syrian Arab Army … those honourable troops who have not partaken in the killing … are the extension of the Free Syrian Army.”
It is “the duty of Syrians to unite, to build a free, democratic Syria,” said Gen Tlass.

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July 24th, 2012, 9:26 pm


411. ann said:

For the youtube lovers on this blog 🙂

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July 24th, 2012, 9:26 pm


412. Ghufran said:

The FSA rehearsal attack on Damascus is now out of Damascus proper ( I do not want to say I told you so), Aleppo is now witnessing a similar scenario: irresponsible and random attacks by the FSA, a harsh response from the army,scores of dead Syrians, a “tactical withdrawal by the FSA,then a new cycle of senseless violence.
Starting today I will refer to the FSA as the IAT: Islamist Armed Thugs, this put them in the same class as Assad Shabiha,like it or not.

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July 24th, 2012, 9:36 pm


413. zoo said:

After the failure of the FSA in taking Damscus, a greater confusion among the SNC pressed by the AL and France to create a transitional government immediately.

Sabra says yes, Valero says great, Qodmani says no

PARIS – The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) will not accept a unity government led by a member of the regime, spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani said Tuesday, contradicting a statement by another SNC member.
Before the SNC’s denial, French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero had welcomed Sabra’s statement.

“Anything that can help bring about an end to the violence as quickly as possible… and the formation of a provisional government is a move in the right direction,” Valero told a press conference.

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July 24th, 2012, 9:42 pm


414. irritated said:

#408 Tara

And the Syrian government is reorganizing for the ‘post opposition’ Syria

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July 24th, 2012, 9:45 pm


416. Tara said:

His reasons for taking a special interest in my case were not entirely connected with politics. I am, after all, the son of Muna Wassef, Syria’s most celebrated actress, and Shawkat claimed to be “her biggest fan”.

In fact, he had met my mother a few days before our encounter to ask her permission to interrogate me. Such was his subtlety. She gave him her permission while reminding him that I was her only son, and should anything happen …

Her warnings notwithstanding, a lot of untoward things could have happened during that first encounter, had a second guardian angel – my wife, Khawla – not insisted on accompanying me. Khawla’s presence softened his attitude at certain critical moments, and allowed for some rational discussion between accusations and threats, albeit that his threats at the time were less direct than they might have been: he was trying to appear benevolent while exercising his authority.
The day I met Syria’s Mr Big
One of the most feared men in Syria before his assassination, Assef Shawkat told me minority rights were a CIA invention
Ammar Abdulhamid
Tuesday 24 July 2012 07.58 EDT


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July 24th, 2012, 9:59 pm


417. ann said:

In Russia, Even Putin’s Critics Are OK With His Syria Policy – July 23, 2012

“The essence of the conflict is portrayed differently here than in the West,” explains Lukyanov. “Here, it is not a picture of peace-loving freedom fighters against a secretive, repressive regime. The Western picture is highly ideological and primitive. They have a template that’s used for all countries, even though, when it comes to these revolutions in the Arab world, each country is more complex than the previous one. The situation in Syria is much more tangled.” And though you can find a great variety of views on Syria in Russia—anything from the conspirological view that America is arming the rebels and ginned up the uprising to begin with, to the pro-Western, liberal chagrin that Russia is once again backing the bad guys—you would be hard-pressed to find a news outlet that uses the term “Arab Spring.”

In large part, this is because the Russian point of view starts with the naiveté of the Western point of view, and its corollary: That Russians alone can glimpse the ugly truths that run the world. “The Russian press is more accurate than the Western press, because the West, in painting [the Free Syrian Army] as freedom fighters, doesn’t understand that these guys, are blood-sucking vampires and if they come to power there will be hell to pay, and for the Americans, too,” says Maxim Yusin, the deputy editor of the foreign affairs section of the daily newspaper Kommersant, Russia’s largest and among its more liberal. (I should note that, in my three years reporting on Russia and befriending local colleagues, I’ve only ever previously heard the opposite: a refrain about the superiority of American journalism to the unprofessionalism of the still young Russian press.)

“The Americans came to terms with the Arab Spring because they think that this is something they can understand, that democracy works the same way in America as it does in the Arab world,” Yusin goes on. “But it’s not how democracy works in the Arab world,” he says, pointing out that, in Gaza, a democratic election brought Hamas to power. “Russians understand it better,” Yusin explains. “They understand that this is a conflict between the civilized world and the suicide bombers who cry ‘Allahu akbar!’”


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July 24th, 2012, 10:00 pm


418. irritated said:

413. Tara

Not this kind…

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July 24th, 2012, 10:16 pm


419. irritated said:


I’m just quoting what elBatta likes to be nicknamed by Asma.

How is your wife calling you: Mickey Mouse or Cookie Monster?

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July 24th, 2012, 10:24 pm


420. omen said:

would a cookie make you less grumpy, irritated?

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July 24th, 2012, 10:40 pm


421. zoo said:

Smart move that angers already close to hysteria Erdogan. SNC’s Sayda tried to calm him down.

Ankara: Assad leaves Turkish border to Kurds
Tuesday,July 24 2012

Ankara has furiously accused Syria’s embattled government of turning over the area along their mutual border to affiliates of the PKK

The Syrian administration has deliberately left the three districts on the Turkish border in northern Syria to the control of the Democratic Union of Kurdistan (PYD), known as an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), reliable Turkish sources have claimed. Ankara is concerned that the potential expansion of the Syrian Kurdish-controlled area in northern Syria could establish another front for the PKK in its attacks against Turkey.

Ankara’s concerns about the Kurdish mobilization were addressed during the July 23 meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Abdulbasid Seyda, head of the Syrian National Council (SNC).
Seyda, himself a Kurd, said the Kurdish groups were on the side of the revolution. “The Syrian regime has handed over the region to the PKK or the PYD. The Kurdish people are not on the side of these two groups, but on the side of the revolution,” he said in a statement after his talks with Davutoğlu.

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July 24th, 2012, 10:54 pm


422. Syrialover said:


That article you linked on a meeting with Asef Shawkat in 2005 missed a punchline:

“The country is not ready for revolutions and civil disobedience,” he told me.

“This country is ours,” he said, “and we will burn it down rather than give it up.”

Comment: How about that!


The day I met Syria’s Mr Big

Assef Shawkat told me minority rights were a CIA invention

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July 24th, 2012, 10:54 pm


423. omen said:

414. TARA said: The day I met Syria’s Mr Big

this piece reminded me to look up ammar’s newsletter:

But the move by Bashar Al-Assad may not have come soon enough, if we are to believe these sensational claims made by Captain Maher Al-Nouaimai, the official spokesman of the Free Syrian Army. For in an interview with the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, Al-Nouaimi says that the Damascus rebels have recently captured missiles from a base on Mount Qasayoun that are actually loaded with WMDs. He also said that the rebels now have 15 helicopter gunships under their disposal after their original pilots defected and joined the rebels.

It’s difficult to dismiss these reports offhand, since they are made by the official spokesman for the FSA, but it’s reasonable to demand and expect proof, perhaps in the form of a video.

Meanwhile, irrespective of whether these reports are true or false, the regime can now use WMDs and blame it on the rebels.

if accurate, wonder if general sillu, recently defected, in charge of chemical weapons, helped engineer this capture.

in an english translation of jihad makdissi’s press conference, he also floated this scenario of blaming the rebels.

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July 24th, 2012, 10:57 pm


424. zoo said:

Growing anxiety in Turkey about the Syrian kurds

The PKK in Syria
While we were busy talking about northern Iraq, if a “Western Kurdistan Autonomous Region” is formed in northern Syria, it is obvious what kind of a nuisance Turkey will be facing. The developments are only adding to this anxiety.

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July 24th, 2012, 10:59 pm


425. Ghufran said:

Ron Norland-NYT:
While leaders of the Syrian political and military opposition continue to deny any role for the extremists, Al Qaeda has helped to change the nature of the conflict, injecting the weapon they perfected in Iraq — suicide bombings — into the battle against President Bashar al-Assad with growing frequency. The evidence is mounting that Syria has become a magnet for Sunni extremists, including those operating under the banner of Al Qaeda. An important border crossing with Turkey that fell into Syrian rebels’ hands last week, Bab al-Hawa, has quickly become a jihadist congregating point.

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July 24th, 2012, 11:00 pm


426. KB said:

Ghufran, you can call the FSA what ever you decide. You have always strike me as closeted regime supporter. The FSA or anyone else other the Assad mafia did not start this mayhem. The Syrian people started this peacefully, but the regime decided to shoot them. The regime is responsible for massacres, shelling civilians, yet no beep from you about the regime’s behavior, only the FSA did this or that.

The FSA’s new strategy is brilliant. They are dictating when and where the fighting takes place. They don’t need to be sitting ducks by trying to hold neighborhoods. The regime mafia will collapse under exhaustion.

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July 24th, 2012, 11:01 pm


427. zoo said:

Aleppo as seen by an eyewitness
Jul 24, 2012

Fatima Banaui, a citizen of Aleppo who works at a local university, told VOR correspondent Nawaf Ibrahim about the situation in the city.

We try not to go out into the streets, because it’s unsafe there right now. Some kind of rallies are held all the time, organized by the so-called Free Syrian Army. But there are no locals at those rallies.

Who comes to the rallies then?

Some from Idlib, some from Hama.

Have you seen them yourself?

Yes, they are young, around 15-16. They look very strange, walk with weapons, curse and shoot in the air. Seems like they’re not themselves, either drunk or drugged.

And what’s the life of ordinary citizens like right now?

Well, the prices have grown. The rebels attack cars with food provisions and other products, but they don’t use them. They either throw everything out or burn it. Why do they do that? It makes no sense. Maybe to make the local population protest against the government, I don’t know.

Today in the morning they were threatening the owners of some bakeries. They put huge gas tanks in front of the shops and said “If you open the shop today, we’ll blow it up!” Then they blame the authorities for us sitting here without bread.

But all in all, we manage. It’s Ramadan right now, so we still go visit each other, celebrate together, try to support each other. We believe that everything will get settled and the army will take care of the bandits. They can’t frighten us!

And what does the local TV show?

We don’t know which channel to trust. The “Halab-Today” channel that supports the opposition gives reports of every explosion and shoot out right from the hot spots. And sometimes they even show news before they happen! I’m not kidding, it’s true.

And how do the Syrian defense units operate in the city?

The soldiers probably try to make it so that the local residents don’t get hurt. But the militants shoot wherever, they don’t care who to kill. They even kill children! And then they put horrible pictures of those killed children on the internet and write that they are victims of the regime.

In other cities, including Damascus, the rebels forced citizens out of their homes and occupied their houses…

We’re not leaving our homes! The militants would ransack them. Those people have no education, no faith, they’re savages!

I’m sorry, seems like there’s some kind of noise. Is that the TV or the sound is coming from outside?

Don’t worry, that’s the street vendors. They use megaphones to advertise their products (laughs).

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July 24th, 2012, 11:08 pm


429. mjabali said:


I know that the name “Alawi state” is wrong when you have people from different sects and religions in that “state.” I use it to denote to the area where the Alawis are a majority and which was called an “Alawi State” by the French and not me. They should call it Syria No Kandahar if you ask me.

Again, if al-Assad and his cronies rule this possibility state this is a nightmare. But, for the Alawis who had put down thousands of kids dead for the adventures of al-Assad, they should ask for a part of the rule and would not settle for a dictator to rule them no matter how brainwashed they are. Most Alawis want democracy and not an absolute rule. I refer to you the writings of Fu’ad Humayra regarding this (فؤاد حميرة)

Believe me mr. Halabi that the Alawis are wising up to the games of al-Assad and if he is going to dupe them again to defend him or be soldiers in his army, they are going to stand up and ask for this to change. Remember many Alawis had went to prison under the Assads for asking for democracy. Many of them died defending him for no real gains. He brainwashed the Alawis without making any real progress for them. There are way too many Alawis that know this fact.

If you are an Alawi who has your son dead defending this fiasco of a rule, you are allowed to ask not to be ruled by this failed apparatus again.

As for Allies for the new emerging state: they come in dime a dozen. Don’t worry about that. There are enough people who hate al-3Ara3eer.

As for our friends al-3ara3eer: they are a reality. al-3ara3eer are going to take Syria to hell. al-Assad has been taking advantage of the existence of those 3Araseer. Syria is in a bad shape because of the absence of an alternatives. Do you have an alternative?

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July 24th, 2012, 11:52 pm


430. Bruno said:


Looks like Gaddafi was right about the Drugs part in your post.

(Yes, they are young, around 15-16. They look very strange, walk with weapons, curse and shoot in the air. Seems like they’re not themselves, either drunk or drugged.)

Yeah i agree with that with the supposed defection videos + Dell laptoop they really do seem they aren’t like themselves.

I have heard stories from my friends who were soldiers once that the American government wanted to test out an new drug which control soldiers sanity.

I guess this one of those drugs that are untested. Interesting link Zoo thanks for that.

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July 24th, 2012, 11:57 pm


431. Juergen said:


The mausoleum is a dull place, nothing fancy about it, overall Quardaha will be an empty place with more swimmingpools than inhabitants once this regime has parted. It could be a good place to build an recreation area for all of those victims of this regime. The place where the east german regime resided was turned into an sanatorium for heart diseases.

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July 25th, 2012, 1:43 am


432. mjabali said:


I know, again, that the name “Alawi state” is not correct if you have Christians, Sunnis and Alawis in one “state.” I used it to refer to the area that was called “Alawi State” by the French.

When the French called it an “Alawi state” and nominated some people to run it, they was a mixture of Sunnis, Christians and Alawis. There was few Alawis in that council, as I remember. Still it was called the “Alawi State.” It included Christians, Alawis and Sunnis. It was there, and it was a reality.

The monkey analysis is not viable or realistic, we are talking here about humans who do not want to live with each other any more. It is not about losing preferential status, it is about the reality of what is going on today on the ground where violence is dividing the country. Your talk is a moral lecture that does not make sense in the realities of today’s hatred in Syria. It is too late to lament the past, you need to look at what is taking place today. It is not about me or you, it is about the thousands dead so far, and how to stop thousands more from being killed. People do not want to live with each other as these days are proving.

There will be no ethnic cleansing in the coast, I hope. People there are more open that what you think. but, if that happened it is not in my hands to control. People there may chose to fight instead of living together. The near future will carry the answer to this question.

As for your many questions: replying to them is a task, because many of them are hard to answer. There is no real answer to some of them because the realities on the ground are changing everyday. Who knows how the border would be for example!

But I will try to answer for the sake of argument. Remember, I am in no position to be the one answering them.

Now to answer your questions:

1- The constitution should be secular that equals all living in that “state.”

2- The name should be :Syria no Kandahar.

3- Citizenship should be: Citizen of this state, protected by this state, equal to other citizens under the law of the state.

4- The borders are yet to be determined to see who is in this state and who is out of it.

5- The Alevis of Turkey have their own agenda most likely.

6- The Alevis of Turkey have their own agenda most likely, you have to ask them if they want to join or not. But, if you mean the Syrian Alawis and Christians of Iskandarun, why not? This land and people are the same as Lattakis and a part of the coast.

7- About Christians: you also have to ask them. The ones on the coast will be in the state of course. How many Christians of the interior are going to emigrate to the coat: that has to be known from the level of the violence and intimidation against the Christians.

8- Kurds constitute a huge percentage of the Sunnis of the coast, so if they want to be in that state, you also have to ask them.

9- How many Sunnis allowed: As many as you want as long as they respect the law that equals all and put religion at home.

10- Anyone can emigrate to the Alawi state as long as they respect its laws regarding religion, citizenship and justice.

11- As for applying for citizenship: it should be based on: those who deserve to be citizens could apply and get it.

12- The economic basis is: Agriculture, and tourism.

13- Of course it will have the total coast.

14- Yes it will have a border with Turkey and Lebanon.

15- It should have its own currency.

16- United States, Russia, France, and many other countries should recognize this state and help it emerge.

17- yes it should recognize Israel and should have no ill intentions against anyone to that effect.

18- As for the Palestinian/Israeli conflict: The Alawi state has nothing to do with it and wishes to stay out of it. Let the concerned parties solve that problem.

19- For sure it is not an Arab country and should not go after any ethnic look.

There is vengeance taking place and more is going to happen in the near future. Syria had witnessed a bath of blood that is going to reshape the look of that country forever.

As for the Alawis of Aleppo, Damscus and Homs: remember that Aleppo had thousands of Alawis before the Turks massacred them. Damascus and its surroundings had Alawis too at some points in history, those were massacred also. Homs and its surroundings is the home of many Alawis and it is a very sad case because of the blood that was spilled there. I see no future healing in Homs. It is too sad to see this. But, things took place and now we need to be ready to deal with the consequences.

To answer your question: Yes I will ask the Alawis of Allepo and Damascus to start heading to the coast. Why should they live among those who do not want them and consider them the children of a lesser god? Maybe you can exchange them with Sunnis from the coast who want to live in Alleppo and Damascus. This may be a real good idea.

Here are my questions for you:

1- Do you think the Alawis have the right, and should be able to live freely in Damascus and Aleppo?

2- Do you think the Sunnis would ever recognize the Alawis’ right to claim Aleppo as one of their historical places and allow them to visit the tomb of al-Khasibi for example?

3- Do you think Syrian Sunnis would ever live again with the Syrian Alawis after what had happened?

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July 25th, 2012, 2:53 am


433. Mina said:

“And what does the local TV show?

We don’t know which channel to trust. The “Halab-Today” channel that supports the opposition gives reports of every explosion and shoot out right from the hot spots. And sometimes they even show news before they happen! I’m not kidding, it’s true.”

Just like al Jazeera on Egypt and Libya last year. I hope some journalits will watch the hundreds of hours of material available and write something one day.

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July 25th, 2012, 4:11 am


434. Juergen said:

Turkey closes all border crossings with Syria

The last crossings which remained open which were Cilvegözü, Öncüpinar und Karkamis will close today. With a car it will be impossible to cross into Turkey. Exceptions are made only for those who travel in transit.

The impact on the refugees will be small, most of the refuggees use irregular routes into Turkey.

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July 25th, 2012, 4:18 am


435. Observer said:

Your answer is totally unrealistic.

The state is clearly a sectarian based state hiding behind the so called secular facade.

It is clear that the sectarian elephant in the room is the prime mover of most of the Alawi population.

Humans share 99% of the genes with monkeys. The mentality of fear can lead to foolish actions and the folly of dreaming of being on top of all Syrians forever is only equaled by the folly of having an Alawi state along the entire coast of Syria.

It is clear that you have in mind an Israel like Alawi state where it is nothing more than another apartheid state in disguise behind a facade of democracy.

I am wasting my time.

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July 25th, 2012, 7:18 am


436. mjabali said:


I am for one Syria undivided. But, if I play the devil’s advocate and calculate for the dark days to come, what is the problem?

Everyone in Syria is sectarian, so why hide behind the facade of living together? The non-sectarian Syrians are a small amount that they barely exist these days.

Of course fear brings out “foolish” actions, can you deny the fear we always lived in?

The entire coast of Syria is where the Alawis live, and if they succeed from Syria, the coast would go with them, but also they would lose the rest of Syria. What is a state for them without Allepo and Damascus? The Alawis will lose a lot if they go with the coast, but this does not mean it may not happen especially with the planning and greed of the Assads?

The state is not like any other. It will guarantee equal rights for everyone. No religion allowed.

Sorry to waste your time.

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July 25th, 2012, 7:40 am


437. ann said:

Russia says US tries to justify terrorism in Syria – Jul 25, 2012

Moscow: Russia accused the United States on Wednesday of trying to justify terrorism against the Syrian government and berated Western nations it said had failed to condemn a bomb attack that killed senior security officials.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, referring to what he said were comments by US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland indicating such attacks were not surprising, said: “This is a direct justification of terrorism.”

“To put it mildly, we don’t understand the refusal of our partners to condemn the terrorist attack in Damascus,” he said.

He suggested Washington was using the threat of further attacks to push the UN Security Council to place international mediator Kofi Annan’s peace plan under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

Chapter 7 allows the council to authorize actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention, although US officials have said they would prefer the former course of action.

Lavrov said the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, had cited the July 18 bomb attack in Damascus as evidence that the Security Council should not delay further in adopting a Chapter 7 resolution.

“In other words this means ‘We will continue to support such terrorist attacks until the Security Council does what we want,'” Lavrov told a news conference after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis.

“This is a terrible position.”


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July 25th, 2012, 12:05 pm


438. ann said:

Tel Aviv residents vulnerable to ballistic missile strike: report – 2012-07-25

JERUSALEM, July 25 (Xinhua) — Some 400,000 residents of Israel ‘s Tel Aviv will not be sufficiently protected in case of a missile strike, local media reported Wednesday.


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July 25th, 2012, 12:25 pm


439. jna said:

Don’t try to talk about torture by Americans forces.

““Oral argument from the media and ACLU will emphasize the critical public interest in open proceedings at Guantánamo,” said James Connell, attorney for Mohammed’s nephew, Ammar al Baluchi, an alleged logistical co-conspirator, who is also known as Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.

At issue is the war court system that employs a 40-second delay of the proceedings, time enough to let an intelligence official hit a white noise button if any of the men describe what CIA agents did to them after their capture in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003 and before their arrival at Guantánamo in September 2006.”

Read more here:

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August 2nd, 2012, 9:59 pm


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