Arab League Peace Plan? Syrian Opposition Shoots Back. Turkey Hardens Stand on Syria

Syria agrees to an Arab League peace plan set to be disclosed today, Foreign Policy writes:

In reports released by Syrian state television, President Bashar al-Assad’s government has accepted a roadmap presented by the Arab League on Sunday to end violence. However, the Arab League has yet to receive an official response to the proposal, saying Syrian officials have claimed they are waiting for a document on the situation in Syria. The Arab League has a meeting scheduled for today, and expects to receive a reply from Syria, which it said it would announce at the headquarters in Cairo. A Lebanese official with ties to Assad’s regime said Syria presented its own proposal to the Arab League calling for “the opposition to drop weapons, the Arab states to end their funding for the weapons and the opposition, and an end to the media campaign against Syria.” Syrian opposition groups remain skeptical, however, insisting to see the agreement that they are concerned “helps the Syrian regime to remain in power while the demands of the people are clear in terms of toppling the regime.”

Accepting Arab League mediation is a smart move by Assad, if true. It will buy time and placed the ball for dialogue in the opposition court. If the opposition refuse to engage in political dialogue – as they have stated they will do – Assad will be able to shift blame for the lack of compromise toward the opposition. The international community must play along because both NATO and the US have stated that they will not intervene in Syria militarily. Even if Assad is using the Arab League mediation effort to win time for his effort to suppress the opposition, the Arab League will take a more forward role. If dialogue fails, as everyone seems to expect, the Arab League will have to take concrete steps to isolate and condemn Syria. The Syria opposition and Western leaders will hope that at the end of the day this will place greater pressure on China, and perhaps even Russia, to condemn Syria in the UN. The West and possibly Turkey will be positioned then to tighten sanctions further and contemplate the military involvement that all disavow today.

It has been a bloody week in Syria.

This Tuesday – A prominent Sunni businessman, Muhammad Awais (أقدم مسلحون مجهولون يوم الثلاثاء على قتل الصناعي محمد الويس بالقرب من مدينة سراقب )was assassinated outside of his factory on the outskirts of Aleppo (processed food). His brother and three others were also shot with him.

This micro-bus full of Alawi civilians were killed today in Homs. A friend in Homs said that 11 were killed with axes. There were protests in Al-Zahara afterwards, an Alawi neighborhood in Homs.

Opposition activists said at least 21 people were killed by government troops over the weekend, including at least 11 who died when Syrian forces pounded the western city of Homs with tanks, sustaining fire with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Four people were killed in Hama and one each in Hasaka, Daraa, Idlib, Keseh, Zabadany and Deir Ezzor, according to the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) of Syria, an opposition group that organizes and documents protests in Syria. Government forces killed six people they described as terrorists Saturday, and arrested 20, the SANA reported Sunday. SANA said four members of the security forces had been killed in the clashes.

Andrew Gilligan, of the Telegraph reports that the Opposition is beginning to kill as many Syrians as the Army.

“the death toll among the security forces is now starting to surpass that of the protesters. … Last weekend, across the country, at least 35 members of the army and police died. As the regime reaps what it has sown, what’s happening in this part of Syria looks increasingly like armed conflict.”

The Tunisian Annahda Leadership kicked out the Syrian ambassador and recognized the SNC.

Coordinating Committees in Syria – Who are the real leaders of the revolution and how Islamist are they? According to one friend who has spent time with a number of tansiqiyat leaders:

The tansiqiyat are nor one group of people. They are probably more than 500 groups who do not share many things other than hating the regime. Some of them are not Muslims, many are not religious at all, some drink alcohol and didn’t fast in Ramadan.

The tansiqiyat in villages and suburbs are mostly conservative and some are islamist. those in the city are more politically aware and secular. I met some in the cities who are young engineers, doctors, bankers etc. all are very tech-savvy.

The thing is that the tech-savvy well-prepared Ikhwan and FB revolution page ( and later SNC members ) are well connected with the tansiqiyat since day one. They are the central command for many isolated, lost and clueless tansiqiyat. So they fell under their charm as the only saviors!

This is unfortunate as the internal opposition is only in control of smaller number of tansiqiyat as it is more dangerous and easier to get caught than communicating with people through skype under the safety of TOR. So the poor tansiqyat were thrown to the lap of the islamists and the SNC. it’s not who they are it’s who they were pushed to be.

Turkey is hardening it line toward Syria. It has signaled possible support for a buffer zone to protect Syrian civilians if Damascus continues its crackdown on democracy protests, as tensions rise between the two former strategic partners. The financial Times reports that  Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, told the FT that Ankara was preparing targeted sanctions against Damascus and left the door open for more drastic steps at a later date, such as a buffer zone or a no fly-zone on Syrian territory.

Syrian Colonel Says He Leads Armed Rebellion: L.A. Times, 2011-11-02

In the interview, Col. Assad declined to say whether his forces were conducting cross-border operations from Turkey. He appealed to the international community to impose a “no fly” zone similar to what the North Atlantic Treaty Organization enforced over Libya. He also called for a “buffer zone” in Syria that would provide protection for fleeing civilians — and create a haven for his forces.

Reporting from Antakya, Turkey, and Beirut— From his heavily guarded enclave in Turkey, a leading Syrian defector says he is heading an armed rebellion against the regime of President Bashar Assad. The brutality of the regime in Damascus left him …

Erdogan Says Syrian Political Structures ‘Totalitarian’:

Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Syria is suffering from “totalitarian” political structures. Erdogan, speaking today in Berlin at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said he cannot accept what’s happening in Syria…. Noting that Syria and Turkey share a 910-kilometer border and have a common destiny, he underlined the importance of unity and order in Syria, saying Turkey would be hurt if Syria’s national unity and territorial integrity were harmed.

Assad’s interview on Russian TV Sunday Oct 30, 2011

According to Al-Qabas daily, the Arab League ministerial delegation to Damascus warned Assad that failure to resolve the crisis within an Arab fold would mean “internationalizing” the issue…. “This would mean Syria should expect a foreign intervention and a painful international blockade on the economy and other aspects,” it added.

Gulf State Ministers make Demand that Syria Introduce Radical Reforms and Democracy in exchange for Lifting Sanctions and an End to Demonization Campaign against Syria – Monday, October 31, 2011: Elections

أنباء شبه مؤكدة من مصادرنا في الدوحة مقربة من الوفد السوري بقيادة رئيس الدبلوماسية السورية الأستاذ وليد المعلم, افادت هذه الأنباء عن رفض القيادة السورية لورقة العمل التي طرحت في اللقاء مع اللجنة الوزارية العربية, وهنالك كلام حول أن الوفد السوري تقدم بورقة بديلة تحتوي على جملة من النقاط في مقدمتها, إيقاف الحرب الإعلامية ضد سورية, ومنع تمويل وتهريب السلاح عبر الحدود, ورفع العقوبات الظالمة على الدولة السورية. مقابل جملة من الإصلاحات الجذرية والسريعة وأولها إجراء انتخابات لتشكيل جمعية وطنية سورية لوضع دستور جديد للبلاد وإقامة انتخابات رئاسية تعددية. وهذا بانتظار تأكيد ذلك من مصادرنا الأخرى في الدوحة.

Russia Opposes Isolating Syria, Interfax Reports, Cites Lavrov, 2011-11-01, by Paul Abelsky

Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) — Russia is opposed to isolating Syria, Interfax reported, citing Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

NATO Chief Rules Out No-fly Zone For Syria, 2011-10-31

TRIPOLI (AFP)–NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen ruled out the possibility of a no-fly zone for Syria, in remarks to an AFP correspondent as he travelled Monday to Tripoli to mark the end of the alliance’s air war in Libya. “It’s totally ruled out. We have no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria,” Rasmussen said when asked if there was a possibility NATO would now spearhead a no-fly zone in Syria….

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told reporters after the meeting that Assad risks forcing an international intervention if he allows the violence to continue.

Syria’s Assad on media offensive to defy critics By Nehal El-Sherif, DPA

….US-led consultations are secretly taking place, in renewed international efforts to bring back the Syrian file to the United Nations Security Council. China and Russia vetoed a UN resolution this month critical of al-Assad’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, which would have targeted his government with further sanctions. Syrian opposition figure Fawaz Zakri said that the impetus to taking the Syria file back to the Security Council came after comments by China’s special envoy to the Middle East. Wu Sike, who had visited Damascus last week, said that the “dangerous situation in Syria cannot continue,” adding that “Syria must show some flexibility to help the Arab League implement its proposal.” “These statements have encouraged the world again to make a decision because it means a change in the Chinese position,” said Zakri, who is based in Turkey…..

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Calls Syrian Protests ’Glorious’

Sen. Toomey Co-Sponsors Syria Sanctions Act Of 2011, 2011-11-01. Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-PA) News Release

October 31, 2011 (Federal Information & News Dispatch) — WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) co-sponsored the bipartisan Syria Sanctions Act (S. 1472), directing the president to implement stronger sanctions on Syria. The increased pressure on Syrian President Bashar al- Assad will send an important message that his tyrannical and violent actions

Monkey Cage: How Important is Turkey’s Support of the Free Syrian Army?

This week, the New York Times reported that Turkey has begun to actively support the Free Syrian Army by providing shelter in a camp guarded by the Turkish military. From the Times: Turkey is hosting an armed opposition group waging an insurgency …

Dan Byman, Peter Chalk, et al also identified sanctuary as the most important type of support an insurgent group can receive, as it allows rebels to move and organize freely, to import weapons, and to train for operations. However, they write:

Foreign assistance in the form of international sanctuaries, while often extremely useful to guerrillas, can also have a negative impact. In moving abroad, insurgents risk cutting themselves off from their base of popular support. Resting and recuperating across a border, while providing obvious benefits, also carries the danger of operational isolation from potentially lucrative political and military targets.

Michel Kilo’s view of Assad in an interview:

” يجب أن نرى الأمر ضمن سياق كلي .. علينا أن نسعى إلى حل سياسي يأخذنا جميع إلى تسوية تاريخية و إلى الديمقراطية .. فإذا كان بشار الأسد يؤيد هذا الحل فنحن سنحتفظ ببشار الاسد إن كان ذلك بايدينا .. و اذا كان لا يريد ذلك فاعتقد أنه عليه ان يذهب

See this very useful website:

Hundreds of students clashed today in Kalamoon university (loyalists vs. Opposition) after a day of similar debate which took place in the university. These are the sons and daughters of the richest people in syria, studying at an expensive university (by SYRian standards). If this is the case among the “elite” then no wonder people are killing each other in the villages. The university is closed for the rest of the week. Can someone check with Sami Mubayed on what really happened?

Assad: challenge Syria at your peril,
By Andrew Gilligan, in Damascus, 29 Oct 2011, Telegraph

Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has warned that Western action against his country would cause an “earthquake” that would “burn the whole region”. President Assad admitted that ‘many mistakes’ had been made by his forces in the early part of the uprising, but insisted that only terrorists’ were now being targeted

In his first interview with a Western journalist since Syria’s seven-month uprising began, President Assad told The Sunday Telegraph that intervention against his regime could cause “another Afghanistan”.

Western countries “are going to ratchet up the pressure, definitely,” he said. “But Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen. The history is different. The politics is different.

“Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake … Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?

“Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region.”

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators took to the streets in two Syrian cities on Friday to demand the imposition of a Libyan-style no-fly zone over the country. According to the United Nations, at least 3,000 civilians, including 187 children, have been killed during protests against the regime. Thousands more have been imprisoned. The government says 1,200 members of the security forces have also died.

President Assad admitted that “many mistakes” had been made by his forces in the early part of the uprising, but insisted that only “terrorists” were now being targeted.

“We have very few police, only the army, who are trained to take on al-Qaeda,” he said. “If you sent in your army to the streets, the same thing would happen. Now, we are only fighting terrorists. That’s why the fighting is becoming much less.”

On Friday alone, however, opposition groups claimed that 40 people were killed by the regime, and government troops shelled a district of Homs, a centre of opposition.

Seventeen soldiers also died in overnight clashes with suspected army deserters in the city, which foreign journalists are forbidden to enter.

Syria was condemned yesterday by Arab League foreign ministers for its “continued killings of civilians”.

The number of protesters appeared to fall earlier this month, but has increased again after the death of Col Gaddafi gave opposition groups new heart. A general strike affected much of the southern part of the country.

President Assad insisted that he had responded differently to the Arab Spring than other, deposed Arab leaders. “We didn’t go down the road of stubborn government,” he said. “Six days after [the protests began] I commenced reform. People were sceptical that the reforms were an opiate for the people, but when we started announcing the reforms, the problems started decreasing e_SLps This is when the tide started to turn. This is when people started supporting the government.”

Some Damascus-based opposition leaders say the reforms, which include laws ostensibly allowing demonstrations and political parties, are a start, but not enough. However, the leaders of the main protests say they are meaningless and President Assad must go.

“The problem with the government is that their dialogue is shallow and just a tool to gain time,” said Kadri Jamil, of Kassioun, a Damascus-based opposition group. “They have to act to begin real dialogue because the security solution has failed. We have one to two months before we pass the point of no return.”

One Homs-based opposition activist said: “Killing people is not an act of reform. We aren’t calling for economic or even political reform under Assad, but for the departure of this bloodstained president and free elections.”

President Assad said: “The pace of reform is not too slow. The vision needs to be mature. It would take only 15 seconds to sign a law, but if it doesn’t fit your society, you’ll have division … It’s a very complicated society.”

He described the uprising as a “struggle between Islamism and pan-Arabism [secularism], adding: “We’ve been fighting the Muslim Brotherhood since the 1950s and we are still fighting with them.”

In interviews in Damascus, some without government minders, secular Syrians and members of the country’s substantial Christian and Alawite minorities said they supported the Assad regime for fear of their positions under a new government. Those attending a large demonstration in support of the regime last Wednesday did not appear to be coerced, according to independent observers.

However, interviews, even some with minders present, revealed widespread and vocal discontent over corruption and living standards.

CNN: Syria sets out to draft new constitution, 2011-10-30

Syrians aiming to write a new constitution for the strife-torn country will meet for the first time on Monday, the state news agency reported Sunday, after a weekend of intense violence. Syria sets out to draft new constitution Sun, 30 Oct 2011 08 …

Guardian (GB): Is Syria next for Nato?, 2011-11-02, Robert Dreyfuss

Now that Nato is closing up shop in Libya, will it turn to Syria? Right now, the answer is no. But if the fragmented Syrian opposition – bolstered by Turkey, a member of Nato, which is turning increasingly against the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad – manages to set up a Benghazi-like enclave either inside Syria or across the border in Turkey, anything goes. To be sure, there are lots of differences between Libya and Syria.

Syria Mining Lebanon Border,  2011-11-01, By BASSEM MROUE

Serhaniyeh, Lebanon (AP) — Syria is planting landmines along parts of the country’s border with Lebanon as refugees stream out of the country …. A Syrian official familiar with government strategy claimed the mines are meant to prevent arms smuggling into Syria.

AP Exclusive: New Signs of Syria-Pakistan Nuke Tie, 2011-11-01, By DESMOND BUTLER and GEORGE JAHN

Washington (AP) — U.N. investigators have identified a previously unknown complex in Syria that bolsters suspicions that the Syrian government worked with A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, to acquire technology that could make nuclear arms. The buildings in northwest Syria closely match the design of a uranium enrichment plant provided to Libya when Moammar Gadhafi was trying to build nuclear weapons under Khan’s guidance, officials told The Associated Press. The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency also has obtained correspondence between Khan and a Syrian government official, Muhidin Issa, who proposed scientific cooperation and a visit to Khan’s laboratories following Pakistan’s successful nuclear test in 1998.

The complex, in the city of Al-Hasakah, now appears to be a cotton-spinning plant, and investigators have found no sign that it was ever used for nuclear production. But given that Israeli warplanes destroyed a suspected plutonium production reactor in Syria in 2007, the unlikely coincidence in design suggests Syria may have been pursuing two routes to an atomic bomb: uranium as well as plutonium. Details of the Syria-Khan connection were provided to the AP by a senior diplomat with knowledge of IAEA investigations and a former U.N. investigator.

Syria’s government confident, but country polarized, By Liz Sly, in Wash Post: October 28

DAMASCUS, SYRIA — President Bashar al-Assad’s government is confident that it has weathered the worst of the turmoil sweeping Syria and will soon be able to overcome any remaining challenges to its survival.

Whether that confidence is justified — and how broadly it is shared — is in question. Even as the government boasts that it is prevailing over the eight-month-old uprising, the economy is imploding, protests persist in many parts of the country and an armed rebellion is stirring…..

The failure of the Syrian opposition to present a united front and articulate a clear vision of what a post-Assad future would look like is also keeping silent the majority of Syrians, who have neither joined the protests nor support the government, Western diplomats say….

LA Times [Reg]: Syrian Americans in Syria feel unfairly targeted by sanctions, 2011-10-27

Ahmad is not one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s cronies. But since August, when the U.S. imposed its most recent sanctions on Syria — which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said targeted “Assad and dozens of his cronies” in the wake … Under the order signed by President Obama, an American working in Syria is deemed an exported service and in violation of the sanctions. The livelihoods of some have been devastated….. He said one Syrian American doctor he knows had left Syria rather than risk getting into trouble for treating patients. Others, faced with having to end their business interests and radically alter their lives in Syria, have decided to stay anyway. Still others are holding out hope that the sanctions won’t be enforced on American citizens not connected to the regime.

Austrian Airlines will cancel all of its flights from and to Syria as of 1 December.

Goldman Sachs Rips Off Libya, Donald Trump Admits Screwing Gaddafi –

Bouthaina Shaaban top adviser to the president, admits that corruption remains a serious problem in Syria. “Rami Makhlouf isn’t the only one who made money in the past period,” she says in an interview at the presidential palace. “There are many people, big capitalists, who made a lot of money.” But, she argues, the government has taken steps to reform. “This crisis has made us 1,000 more times more aware,” Ms. Shaaban says….

Syrian opposition struggles to unite By Zeina Karam
Associated Press / October 28, 2011

The council’s leadership — currently headed by Burhan Ghalioun, a professor at the Sorbonne in Paris — will rotate every three months, reflecting the absence of a single popular leader who stands out among the country’s disparate groups.

The council’s formation is a remarkable achievement given Syria’s complex sectarian and ethnic makeup.

But the group has yet to gain the recognition of any countries other than Libya and faces criticism from opposition groups that declined to join, accusing it of trying to monopolize the movement.

Haitham al-Maleh, an 80-year-old lawyer who was imprisoned for years for his political activism, also accused the SNC of sidelining major figures and said the group never consulted him.

“We have a 50-year history of struggle against this regime, while nobody had heard of these people before,” he said of the SNC leaders.

Bassma Kodmani, another Paris-based academic and a spokeswoman for the council, rejected the accusations and said the SNC was open for all Syrians. “We did not exclude anybody,” she said, insisting the council represented the majority of Syrian society.

An attempt in July to hold a dual meeting in Damascus and Istanbul was canceled when security forces besieged the conference location in Damascus a day before it was scheduled to begin and shot dead 14 protesters in the area.

Foreign leaders have welcomed the formation of the SNC, but say the opposition needs more work to become an effective political force.

“The opposition must still improve its organizational and outreach efforts,” said U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who returned to Washington this week over security concerns.

He said developing consensus around a specific political and economic plan would help persuade Sunni business elites and other Syrians still on the fence to defect from the regime.

“There is a huge need for the council to explain what exactly they will bring to Syria,” Ford said during an address this month to The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

A key sticking point is whether to ask for foreign intervention like the NATO airstrikes that helped oust former Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

The SNC’s founding statement rejects foreign intervention, but its members are calling for “international protection for civilians,” an ambiguous statement that leaves the door open for interpretation. The NATO action in Libya was carried out under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians but ultimately proved key to the rebel victory that led to Gadhafi’s death.

Haytham Manna, a Paris-based dissident who heads the external branch of a smaller rival group called the National Committee for Democratic Change, objects to any possibility of military intervention.

“The Libyan experience is a painful one,” he said. “There has been so much destruction and I don’t wish for my country anything like that.”

Manna, whose brother was killed by Syrian security forces in the southern town of Daraa during a funeral in August, says the SNC had no right to say they represented Syria.

“Having one representative is dangerous and reminds us of the one-party rule which we have been fighting for decades,” he said.

Another key point of contention is whether to negotiate with the regime. Some dissidents point to dialogue as one of the only ways out, but others reject the idea as long as the government keeps up its deadly military assault on protesters.

Extract from an interview with Burhan Gallioun, leader of the Syrian National Council, sent out by a Kurdish group:

In answer to a question about the fear of the Kurds and Arabisation in Syria, and institutional racial discrimination suffered by the Kurds since 1958 when the name of the county changed to the United Arab Republic:

The interviewer asked:How can you make a Kurd feel assured about his future in Syria,when you are hoisting a state emblem of the new Syrian state which is Arabised, I mean, from the beginning he is excluded, therefore the conflict between the poles of the opposition is not just about the goal of toppling of the regime, but there are fundamental significant differences between the poles of the opposition?

Gallioun: No, no, there was exaggeration by some of the Kurdish brothers who raised the idea that it should be the Syrian Republic rather than the Syrian Arab Republic, but … of course, Syria is an Arab state .. there is no discussion about this .. there is no debate that Syria is an Arab country because the majority of the population are Arabs … because participation in the history, culture and geography does not mean denying the existence of groups and clusters of other nations, and speaking other languages, just as we say France is France, but of course there are Muslims and immigrants from Asian countries. The discussion is not about the identity for Syria. Kurds … you cannot tell the Syrian Arabs that you are not Arabs … is that OK? Here is the wall.

Interviewer: Is this not a condition of the civil state?

Gallioun: No, no there are no conditions ……….. the media created this story that there is deep disagreement about the identity of Syria, the identity of Syria is clear …………

The Kurdish people are very upset about the comments made above. They are indigenous to the area, not immigrants, and they are a separate nation from the Arabs. The SNC leader has the same view of Kurds as the current regime in Syria.

Unreported World this time from Syria – Channel 4 documentary film – 21.10.2011

Facebook and the Arab Spring: A medium or a tool?

Austria Money-Printers Expensed Viagra, Bribed Syria: Standard, 2011-10-28 , By Boris Groendahl

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) — Managers of Austrian money-printer Oesterreichische Banknoten- und Sicherheitsdruck GmbH may havepaid bribes to get orders from Syria and and may have expensed items including Viagra, newspaper Der Standard reported, citing an internal review of the Austrian central bank, OeBS’s owner. The auditors found “unusual” expenses of as much as 600,000 euros, which included charges claimed for furniture in a Romanian apartment as well as for Pfizer Inc.’s impotence drug, the Vienna-based daily said. They also found payments of as much as 14 million euros ($20 million) made to win contracts to print Syrian bank notes, the paper reported.

14 million euro is a large bribe for a “printing” contract. Adeeb Mayale confirms that the printing contract was worth 29 million euro but he does not say whether this 29 million euro was yearly payment or one off. The Austrian prosecutors will have more to say on this perhaps حاكم مصرف سورية المركزي ينفي تهم دفع رشاوى لدار طباعة العملة النمساوية

POMES’s From Washington covers State Department statements and WINEP views

Ambassador Pulled from Syria: Robert Ford was brought back to Washington due to credible threats against his safety in Syria, though he has not formally been recalled. A report released by Amnesty International alleged that hospitals have become “instruments of repression.” David Schenker argued that the administration should “focus on expediting the end of the regime,” and Elliott Abrams noted that the goal of “U.S. policy should be to end the violence and lay the bases for a stable democratic system.” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe announced that Assad’s regime “will almost certainly fall under the pressure of protests and sanctions.” Jeffrey White said the risks of not intervening in Syria are great.  Jim Brann asserted that the West has been reticent to intervene because ”Syria is seen as being much more problematic [than Libya].” Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford met with Hillary Clinton to update her on the situation in Syria; Victoria Nuland said, “the violence needs to end…that the arrest and the torture and the brutality needs to come to an end.”

Juan Cole writes of Tunisia

Tunisia’s election outcome gives 41% to the Muslim fundamentalist party Al-Nahda. One of the other two winners is the Rally for the Republic– of long-time political exile Moncef al-Marzouqi. Then the third major party is al-Takattul or the Democratic Forum for Labor and Freedoms, headed by Mustapha Ben Jaafar.
The latter two mentioned are secular, and al-Nahda needs these secular allies to run the government, not to mention achieve a majority. The al-Nahda fundamentalist party, moreover, told me last June that they want a pluralist system that makes a place for believing Muslims, but that they will not dictatorially impose policies on one another. I asked about liquor and they admitted that they would try to discourage drinking. But they said they would do so by increasing taxes on alcohol, just as governments have done with smoking.
If the al-Nahda semi-victory (they did not get the majority and so did not ‘win’ in the American sense) contributes to an opening up of Tunisia to a variety of styles of life, if it makes Tunisia more multi-cultural, then that would be all to the good. There is an admitted danger that al-Nahda will try to limit freedom of speech. Tunisia is now the only Arab country without print censorship, and you wonder if that will last. Marzouqi and al-Takattul bear a special responsibility for keeping Tunisia free.

The murder brigades of Misrata

Gadhafi’s demise was just a part of a vast revenge killing spree

By Daniel Wlliams


Misrata steadfastness

Libyan rebels secure prisoners in the back of a pick-up truck. The graffiti on the truck, in Arabic, reads, “Misrata steadfastness.” (Credit: AP)

MISRATA, Libya — If anyone is surprised by the apparent killing of Moammar Gadhafi while in the custody of militia members from the town of Misrata, they shouldn’t be.

More than 100 militia brigades from Misrata have been operating outside of any official military and civilian command since Tripoli fell in August. Members of these militias have engaged in torture, pursued suspected enemies far and wide, detained them and shot them in detention, Human Rights Watch has found. Members of these brigades have stated that the entire displaced population of one town, Tawergha, which they believe largely supported Gadhafi avidly, cannot return home.

As the war in Libya comes to an end, the pressing need for accountability and reconciliation is clear. The actions of the Misrata brigades are a gauge of how difficult that will be, and Misrata is not alone in its call for vengeance. In the far west, anti-Gadhafi militias from the Nafusa Mountains have looted and burned homes and schools of tribes that supported the deposed dictator. Anti-Gadhafi militias from Zuwara have looted property as they demanded compensation for damage they suffered during the war.

The apparent execution of 53 pro-Gadhafi supporters in a hotel in Sirte apparently under control of Misrata fighters is a bad omen. ….

Robert Worth in the NYTImes – “the-arab-intellectuals-who-didnt-roar

“Everything in Colonel Qaddafi’s Libya was styled “revolutionary.” When the rebels overthrew his government this year, they found it difficult to separate the names of their own revolutionary councils from the ones they were overthrowing.”

Portraits of a People, by Amal Hanano at Jadiliyya -Portrait of a Leader: Burhan Ghalioun

One late summer day in 2001, Burhan Ghalioun was sitting in Damascus with Riad Seif, discussing the political climate in Syria and the heavy cloud of repression and despair that once again hovered over the country just over one year into Bashar al-Assad’s presidency. Ghalioun asked his friend, “Why did you close the forums?” referring to the political and cultural “salons” that had thrived in Damascus and across Syria that spring, representing a new era of civility under the insecure, and in many people’s eyes, illegitimate leader. Seif replied that the regime had threatened the participants with plans to issue a law making the forums illegal. Ghalioun chided, “You made a mistake. You should have let them come and close the forums themselves.” Seif told his friend he was willing to reopen his Forum for National Dialogue if Ghalioun would give the first lecture. Ghalioun agreed. The Sorbonne professor of political sociology returned to France, prepared the lecture, and within a few weeks he came back to Syria. He remembers, “It was the first ticket I bought out of my own pocket to give a lecture. On September 5th, I gave my lecture and stayed a week. Because of that lecture, ten people who attended were arrested, Riad included.” They were all sentenced between two and ten years in prison; the forum was shut down. And that was the end of the Damascus Spring. Read more


Comments (634)

Pages: « 13 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 [13] Show All

601. jad said:

Syria today according to a friend there, sounds like a different Syria than the one I’m reading about in the news, very strange:

“I didn’t see a single tank in all the usual places they are situated in in Idleb villages, rastan, Khan shaikhoon, etc. Not a single one. A friend drove 2 days ago saw them. They were there since earlier this summer. Seems tanks and army were pulled out from most places. Just arrived in Aleppo and watching aljazeera. They are giving the stage for “witness” after witness saying that the regime is putting more tanks and army units in some places! It is clear the SNC, aljazeera, the west decided to create a perception and take it to the next level.
Was in Homs today. Families in eid mood walking around, having lunch and sitting in cafes around the city while you can hear shooting coming from baba amr neighborhood.
Even the checkpoints while entering Homs and Hama were extremely nice this time! They were waving people cheerfully while throwing eid greeting left and right!”

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November 6th, 2011, 8:27 pm


602. Norman said:

AP ,

can you post an English article proving that they are not ?.

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November 6th, 2011, 8:29 pm


603. Darryl said:

590. HANS said:

Hans, why you and Norman care so much about a hollow concept of Arab Nationalism?

The language is less than 50% Arabic and English words usage is on the increase, the food is 100% Syrian, the culture is 100% Syrian, the dress code is less than 10% Arabic and decreasing, the gene pool is probably less than 20%. And lastly, Arabs do not give a Gnats ass about Arabism.

Most Syrian Christians now live outside of Syria, the only big ticket item which is left is Islam being synonymous with Arabism and that does not seem to impress you that much. What else is left?

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November 6th, 2011, 8:32 pm


604. bronco said:


Sorry, but your reference to history is completely wrong:

The dictators Pinochet, Peron, Castro, Idi Amin, Tito, Franco, Shah of Iran, Batista and others all died of illness or old age.

While some non-dictators died violently: Lincoln, Kennedy, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Indira Ghandi, Rajif Ghandi, Bhutto, Benazir Buttho etc…

Whatever your family’s opinion was, Asma’s made her choice and it seems he has been happy until now. I congratulate her for standing by her husband, that is courageous. I have more respect for her now than when she was interviewed in Vogue.

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November 6th, 2011, 8:36 pm


605. Tara said:


Let me then stand corrected and say: most other ME dictators end horribly.

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November 6th, 2011, 8:44 pm


606. Bronco said:

#582 Sandro Loewe

“will the syrians feel proud of having a leader who had to kill 3000 to 9000 people to keep himself in power and had to repress tens of thousands? ”

That is your view of history. For most Syrians, if he survives, he would have saved the country from a US-zionist plan like the 2006 war and the Hariri killing to protect Israel. They’ll be proud of him, for sure.

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November 6th, 2011, 8:45 pm


607. Norman said:


Look at the web site i put for you on 599,

I care about Arab nationalism because i feel as an Arab Christian from Syria more than a christian Syrian, the Muslims have the Islamic nation the Christian Arabs have their Arab nationalism to be proud of, our Arab nation should be proud of the Christian Islamic values as the West is proud of their Judea Christian ones,

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November 6th, 2011, 8:50 pm


608. Hans said:

it is very easy to show where are the tanks now!!!
Russian vs Americans satellite images presented at the UN council then the world will know who is the liar here. will know by then the pigs grunt and the dogs barks how far it can get them.

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November 6th, 2011, 8:50 pm


609. bronco said:


“most other ME dictators end horribly.”
That’s is also wrong.

In the ME, many leaders were murdered. It is not a privilege of the dictators: Sadat was murdered, King Farouk died of all age, Ghaddafi was murdered, King Faisal II was murdered, Saddam was judged and executed etc..

There is no rule of a ‘horrible’ death for dictators, unless you can prove it.

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November 6th, 2011, 9:02 pm


610. bronco said:


#606 Very well said, thanks.

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November 6th, 2011, 9:04 pm


611. Darryl said:

606. NORMAN said:


Look at the web site i put for you on 599,

Dear Norman, many thanks for the link and good information. Syrians of all religious beliefs and ethnic make-up are better served by being who they are first; being Syrians. The GCC nations hate the idea of Arabism, the Egyptians feel more Egyptians than Arabs, North African nations feel more Islamic and berber than Arabic. So Syria continues to carry extra baggage for nothing.

Syria is still carrying the ladder sideways and trying to crash into the door as we say my region of Syria. We should start by unifying Syria nation first and then worry about the rest.

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November 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm


612. jad said:

حمص-باب عمرو | 7-11-2011 |منذ قليل |

انشقاق كبير بين الارهابيين كما يبــدو في اكثر من مــوقع
يدخله الجيش لاول مرة يتفاجـــئ جنودنا البواســل بـعــدد
من الارهابيين تم تصفيتهـــــم بطلـق نـــــاري في الـــرأس
والايدي مربوطة بشماغات… ربما يفعلون ذلك للاسـتفادة
من فترة العفــــو التي منحتها الدولة لهم و بعد ان تيقنـــوا
أن طريقهم هذا لا يصل بهم سوى للهلاك لهم و للأبرياء…

نعود و نكرر بالحذر ثم الحذر في جميع أحياء حمص لأن
الإرهابيين الآن في حالة جنون تامة و قد يفتعلون جرائم
و ليس ذلك عليهم بجديد … و نخص الأحياء الشرقية من
المدينة بالإضافة للطرقات الريفية القريبة من المدينة…

و لفهم ما يجري نرجو قراءة منشورنا السابق باسم …
العملية الامنية “تحطيم الاوهام”.:

HNN| شـبكة أخـبار حمص
العملية الامنية “تحطيم الاوهام”…. اسرار المرحلة الاولى لتطهير حمص

مع بداية العمليات الامنية في جبل الزاوية ونتيجة للتنصت الالكتروني ،كانت تظهر اشارات لاسلكية من نوع متطور تم تحديد جهتها من الجنوب، تابعت الوحدات الالكترونية عملها فتأكدت ان المصدر هو المنطقة الوسطى،وكانت البداية.


مع انتهاء العمليات في جبل الزاوية تمت بعض العمليات الامنية السريعة في الاماكن التالية…الرستن …الحولة…تلكلخ …القصير…

كل عملية كانت تعطي دلائل جديدة عن نوع الاتصالات وعن مركز الارسال، ولكنها تشير الى قاسم مشترك وحيد وهو ان مركز الاوامر هو من ثلاث مواقع رئيسية، وان كل مركز يدير جانب من المعركة.

تم نشر مجموعات سطع في المناطق لتدقيق المعلومات وتبين التالي:

-مركز البث للاعلام والاشراف على التنسيقيات هو منطقة الحولة بجانب مريمين.

ـ مركز العمليات المالية وتأمين السلاح هو منطقة الرستن وتلبيسة

ـ مركز القيادة العسكرية وتأمين الارهابيين هو باب عمر والقصير

في المراحل الاولى للتصدي للارهابيين كانت تلتقط اجهزة السطع العبارات التالية …اصمدوا لاسبوع واحيانا يتم الطلب بالصبر لمدة شهر واحيانا لأيام .

كانت الاراء التفسيرية تتجه الى ان هذه الرسائل هي لتقوية المعنويات أوربما يقصد بالرهان على الشارع ..لقد كان مستبعدا فكرة تأمين ارهابيين من الخارج، ولكن مع استمرار الرسائل ومع الطلب الى ضرورة المتابعة في الانشطة مهما تكن النتائج ,جعل القيادة تفكر بأن هناك مخطط يجعل البعض يصر على متابعة نشاطه العسكري حتى ولو كان افقه مسدود.

وجهت القيادة بالتدقيق أكثر في المناطق الحدودية ، وتبين ان غرفة القيادة العسكرية هي في لبنان بمحاذاة القصير وهناك كانت تتم كل عمليات التجهيز والاعداد لصراع وقتال طويل..

تم استقدام اجهزة تنصت متطورة وكانت المفاجأة الموأمرة.

امريكا واذنابها تجهز لعمليات عسكرية قاسية وقد وضعت 7000 ارهابي تدربوا جيدا في شركات امنية كان قد استقدمها سعدون الحريري لقتال حزب الله وعندما فشل تم تعزيز هؤلاء لزجهم في معركة مع سوريا.

بدأت الامور تتجه باتجاه خطير فهؤلاء مقدمة لتدخل غربي يكون ذريعة لتدخل أكبر.

انقسمت الاراء في القيادة بين من رأى امكانية منعهم من دخول سوريا وفضحهم اعلاميا وبين من رأى ضرورة استقدامهم الى سوريا واجتثاث وجودهم وبذلك ننهي امكانية تكرار لاعمالهم….. استقر الرأي على خوض المعركة واجتثاث هؤلاء من جذورهم وتلقين الاعداء درسا مهما في القتال.

وضعت الخطة التالية.

عدم زج اي قوات على الحدود وبدأ تطهير الرستن والحولة والقيام بعمليات تطهير بطيئة ماأمكن .

بدأ الامريكيون بترتيب تنقل وحداتهم المقاتلة واعين الجيش السوري تراقب

تم ادخال حوالي 2000 مجرم مرتزقة من اقرى الحدودية ز، وتم تأمين اقامة لهم في مزارع باب عمر وتل الشور.

بعد الانتهاء من تنظيف الرستن وتلبيسة وبعد هروب قسم من المجرمين باتجاه باب عمر .بدأت القوات المسلحة بعملية تطهير في الحولة ” تلدو ،كفر لاها، تلذهب، طيبة” ..وكان الطريق الى باب عمر مفتوحا وتم فرار بعض المسلحين اليها .

انتقلت عمليات التطهير من جديد الى تلكلخ وايضا بدأت عمليات التطهير في احياء حمص ..البياضة…ديربعلبة…باب السباع ..النازحين …المريجة..

التقطت القيادة اوامر جديدة للمسلحين …تأمرهم بالاتجاه الى باب عمر لآن المعركة الحاسمة اقتربت

اتخذت القيادة عدة تدابيرمنها

منع دخول اي عناصر جديدة من لبنان وبدأ الجيش اللبناني بعمليات الملاحقة في الداخل اللبناني

التعاون مع اللجان الشعبية بالقرى الحدودية والتقاط كل العناصر التي تأتي من لبنان وقد حقق هذا الاتفاق انجازا رائعا.

بدأت القوات تدفع بالمخربين والارهابيين من حدود التماس مع لبنان الى الداخل وبدأ الجيش انتشاره على الحدود اللبنانية

تم التأكد من عدم انتشار المسلحين خارج حدود باب عمر وخاصة ان اوامر قيادة الارهابيين تواصل تأكيدها على تجمع المسلحين بباب عمر .

في الجانب السياسي

قررت امريكا ان تنفذ مخططها مع تجييش من الجامعة العربية بحيث يصبح تطور القتال بمثابة ادانة للحكومة السورية وانها تريد متابعة العنف فاجتمعت الجامعة بايعاز امريكي وقررت ماهو معروف .

وفي تفس اليوم ادعى غراب قطر بأن العنف في سوريا غير مقبول


بعد الاطلاع على كامل التفصيلات وتداعياتها تم وضع الخطة التالية:

نشر القوات في كامل المنطقة ابتداء من القصور …سوق الهال…المزارع الغربية وصولا الى المصفاة وباتجاه كامل المحيط المجانب للمتحلق الدولي حمص دمشق.

بدأت العمليات على وقع النشاط السياسي الذي دارته القيادة ببراعة وهي تعلم مايخطط لها.

قررت القيادة حسم المعركة خلال عشرة ايام.

بدأت عمليات التطهير وفي اليوم الاول خسر الجيش حوالي 20 شهيدا وأكثر من 100 جريح وقد تبين ان هنالك اكثر من 200 رامي ار بي جي بالاضافة الى حوالي 300 قناص واكثر من 6000 مجرم مسلح.

اتخذت القيادة قرارا حاسما بأن حياة الجندي أغلى من كل هؤلاء وممنوع المخاطرة فكل مقاومة تدمر تدميرا تاما.

وبدأ سير العمليات العسكرية يحقق النجاحات الكبيرة فلاخسائر في الجنود بعد اليوم الاول وبدأت تظهر هشاشة الارهابيين امام القرار الحاسم لجنودنا

وتصديهم الباسل وبدأ السقوط المريع للمخطط فسوريا نجحت سياسيا وهاهي تقطف الانتصار العسكري.

مئات من اللبنانيين والمرتزقة المدربين على القتل يحملون هوية مزورة للاسلام

ومئات من المجرمين السوريين القتلة الذين باعو ضمائرهم للشيطان يسقطون بين قتيل وجريح ومقبوض عليهم يوميا وماهي الا ساعات وتعلن القيادة انتهاء المجموعات الامريكية الامنية من الوجود. وتعود باب عمر أكثر نظافة مما كانت

وايضا ستعود حمص قلعة للصمود فهي اولا من قتل المؤامرة وهي أولا من ضحى بدماء ابنائه الذكية التي وقفت سد في وجه من اراد تدمير سوريا

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November 6th, 2011, 9:17 pm


613. Tara said:

Norman# 606


Yes. Very well said. And Bronco, I am glad you agree!

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November 6th, 2011, 9:31 pm


614. ann said:

I’m looking for English subtitle version. Anyone?

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November 6th, 2011, 9:55 pm


615. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

#584. newfolder said:

a very clear video showing security forces firing on protesters in Qaboon Damascus today, first day of Eid. you can easily make out the faces of these dogs:

This high resolution video was uploaded at youtube today and has so far attracted 78 comments at youtube. I’d like to hear any anyone comment who’s seen bogus videos before. I say the first eight seconds were filmed at a quite different time than the rest of the video(even though I see the yellow taxi with license plate 3P13 appears before and after). The crowd you see before time 0:08 clearly exhibits unawareness of the large crowd you see after time 0:08. And the crowd you see after time 0:08 clearly exhibits unawareness of the crowd you see before time 0:08.

Once you accept I’m right about that, the video as a whole is an attempted fraud.

Next, to evaluate what’s to be seen after time 0:08 we’d need to know from a reliable source when and where it was recorded, and we can’t assume it was in Damascus, nor today, just because that’s what the youtube uploader says.

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November 6th, 2011, 10:03 pm


616. Akbar Palace said:


You should know better, as a medical doctor, no less. When someone makes a claim, the onus is on the claimant to prove his claim.

Until such time, your claim that the Jordanians and Saudis “are behind the chaos in Syria”, is just another of the many silly and ridiculous conspiracy theories SC is known for.

Anyone with 2 eyes can see the demonstrations are large and local.

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November 6th, 2011, 10:24 pm


617. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

@JAD #611
You forget to add this at the end:

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November 6th, 2011, 10:35 pm


618. Norman said:


You seem to need eye glasses and i know a good ophthalmologist for you LOL,LOL

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November 6th, 2011, 10:36 pm


619. ann said:

615. Akbar Palace said: “Anyone with 2 eyes can see the demonstrations are large and local”

you mean anyone with 2 israeli blind propaganda eyes


what are you doing here? don’t you have a Palestinian child to kill today?!

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November 6th, 2011, 10:37 pm


620. Syrian Nationalist Party said:


Unless you are born in that unholy filth land of Arabia, you should be proud of your pure Syro-Christian or Aramaic heritage, read up on the races that Syria is made up of. If you insist on adding another race to your heritage I suggest not going that low and picking up a line of Madagascar Orangutan as ancestor, a helllllllolot better for ya.

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November 6th, 2011, 10:47 pm


621. Norman said:


They might be Arabs but they are Bedouin Arabs, they are the hicks of the Arabs, the uneducated backward of the Arabs, they do not represent the Arabs as i see ,

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November 6th, 2011, 11:02 pm


623. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

What Arab do you see Norman? Persian, Iraqi, Egyptian, Syrian?

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November 6th, 2011, 11:07 pm


624. Syrian Nationalist Party said:


Can you name me one Arab king (don’t mix others with Arabs), just ONE King or Great ruler you admire who was responsible for that Arab Civilization that you are desperately trying to associate with? Can you name me one Arab Civilization in the past 400,000 years? Can you show me evidence of past Archeological discovery of such great, not even great, any, just any other than rag tag Bedouins with intelligence less than a monkey? I can present you with enough evidence about Syrian nation and its Civilization enough to fill 10 times New York City area in archives and records. I just want you to name me here, on this blog One Arab King that you are proud of his accomplishment.

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November 6th, 2011, 11:16 pm


625. ann said:

Syria and Iran: the great game – Friday 4 November 2011

Regime change in Syria is a strategic prize that outstrips Libya – which is why Saudi Arabia and the west are playing their part

This summer a senior Saudi official told John Hannah, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, that from the outset of the upheaval in Syria, the king has believed that regime change would be highly beneficial to Saudi interests: “The king knows that other than the collapse of the Islamic Republic itself, nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria.”

This is today’s “great game” – losing Syria. And this is how it is played: set up a hurried transitional council as sole representative of the Syrian people, irrespective of whether it has any real legs inside Syria; feed in armed insurgents from neighbouring states; impose sanctions that will hurt the middle classes; mount a media campaign to denigrate any Syrian efforts at reform; try to instigate divisions within the army and the elite; and ultimately President Assad will fall – so its initiators insist.

Europeans, Americans and certain Gulf states may see the Syria “game” as the logical successor to the supposedly successful Libya game in moulding the Arab awakening towards a western cultural paradigm. In terms of regional politics however, Syria is strategically more valuable, and Iran knows this. Iran has said that it will respond to any external intervention in Syria.

It is already no “game”, as the many killed by both sides attests to. The radical armed elements being used in Syria as auxiliaries to depose Assad run counter to the prospect of any outcome emerging within the western paradigm. These groups may well have a bloody and very undemocratic agenda of their own. I warned of this danger in connection to Afghanistan in the 80s: some of the Afghan mujahideen had real roots in the community, I suggested, but others posed a severe danger to people. A kindly American politician at the time placed his arm around my shoulder and told me not to worry: these were the people “kicking Soviet ass”. We chose to look the other way because kicking the Soviets played well to US domestic needs. Today Europe looks the other way, refusing to consider who Syria’s combat-experienced insurgents taking such a toll of Syrian security forces truly are, because losing Assad and confronting Iran plays so well, particularly at a time of domestic difficulty.

Fortunately, the tactics in Syria, in spite of heavy investment, seem to be failing. Most people in the region believe that if Syria is pushed further into civil conflict the result will be sectarian violence in Lebanon, Iraq and more widely too. The notion that such conflict will throw up a stable, let alone western-style, democracy, is fanciful at best, an act of supreme callousness at worst.

The origins of the “lose Assad” operation preceded the Arab awakening: they reach back to Israel’s failure in its 2006 war to seriously damage Hezbollah, and the post-conflict US assessment that it was Syria that represented Hezbollah’s achilles heel – as the vulnerable conduit linking Hezbollah to Iran. US officials speculated as to what might be done to block this vital corridor, but it was Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia who surprised them by saying that the solution was to harness Islamic forces. The Americans were intrigued, but could not deal with such people. Leave that to me, Bandar retorted. Hannah noted that “Bandar working without reference to US interests is clearly cause for concern. But Bandar working as a partner … against a common Iranian enemy is a major strategic asset.” Bandar got the job.

Hypothetical planning, however, only became concrete action this year, with the overthrow of Egypt’s President Mubarak. Suddenly Israel seemed vulnerable, and a weakened Syria, mired in troubles, had heightened strategic allure. In parallel, Qatar had stepped to the fore. Azmi Bishara, a pan-Arabist who resigned from the Israeli Knesset and self-exiled to Doha, was according to some local reports involved in a scheme in which al-Jazeera would not just report revolution, but instantiate it for the region – or at least this is what was believed in Doha in the wake of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings. Qatar, however, was not merely trying to leverage human suffering into an international intervention, but was also – as in Libya – directly involved as a key operational patron of the opposition.

The next stages were to draw France’s President Sarkozy – the arch-promoter of the Benghazi transitional council model that had turned Nato into an instrument of regime change – into the team. Barack Obama followed by helping to persuade Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan – already piqued at Assad – to play the transitional council part on Syria’s border, and lend his legitimacy to the “resistance”. Both of the latter components, however, are not without challenges from their own security arms, who are sceptical of the efficacy of the transitional council model, and opposed to military intervention. Even Bandar is not without challenges: he has no political umbrella from the king, and others in the family are playing other Islamist cards to different ends. Iran, Iraq and Algeria – and occasionally Egypt – co-operate to frustrate Gulf manoeuvres against Syria at the Arab League. The transitional council model, which in Libya has displayed the weakness of leveraging just one faction as the government-in-waiting, is more starkly defective in Syria. Syria’s opposition council, put together by Turkey, France and Qatar, is caught out by the fact that the Syrian security structures have remained near rock solid through seven months – defections have been negligible – and Assad’s popular support base are intact. Only external intervention could change that equation, but for the opposition to call for it would be political suicide, and they know it.

The internal opposition gathering in Istanbul demanded a statement refusing external intervention and armed action, but the Syrian national council was announced even before the intra-opposition talks had reached any agreement – such was the hurry on the part of external parties.

The external opposition continues to fudge its stance on external intervention, and with good reason: the internal opposition rejects it. This is the flaw to the model – for the majority in Syria deeply oppose external intervention, fearing civil conflict. Hence Syrians face a long period of externally mounted insurgency, siege and international attrition. Both sides will pay in blood.

But the real danger, as Hannah himself noted, is that the Saudis might “once again fire up the old Sunni jihadist network and point it in the general direction of Shiite Iran”, which puts Syria first in line. In fact, that is exactly what is happening, but the west, as before in Afghanistan, prefers not to notice – so long as the drama plays well to western audiences.

As Foreign Affairs reported last month, Saudi and its Gulf allies are firing up the radical Salafists (fundamentalist Sunnis), not only to weaken Iran, but to do what they see is necessary to survive – to disrupt and emasculate the awakenings that threaten absolute monarchism. This is happening in Syria, Libya, Egypt Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.

This Islamically assertive, literalist orientation of Islam may be generally viewed as nonpolitical and pliable, but history is far from comforting. If you tell people often enough that they can be king-makers and throw buckets of money at them, do not be surprised if they metamorphose – yet again – into something very political. It may take some months, but the fruits of this new attempt to use radical forces for western ends will yet again backfire. Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit, recently warned that the Hillary Clinton-devised response to the Arab awakening, of implanting western paradigms, by force if necessary, into the void of fallen regimes, will be seen as a “cultural war on Islam”, and will sow the seeds of a further round of radicalisation.

One of the sad paradoxes is the undercutting of moderate Sunnis, who now find themselves caught between the rock of being seen as a western tool, and the hard place of radical Sunni Salafists waiting for the opportunity to displace them and to dismantle the state. What a strange world: Europe and the US think it is OK to “use” precisely those Islamists (including al-Qaida) who absolutely do not believe in western-style democracy in order to bring it about. But then, why not just look the other way and gain the benefit of the public enjoying Assad’s kicking?

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November 6th, 2011, 11:19 pm


626. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

Arabs and Muslims appeared on the world scene in 630 A.D., when the armies of Muhammad began their conquest of the Middle East. We should be very clear that this was a military conquest, not a missionary enterprise, and through the use of force, authorized by a declaration of a Jihad against infidels, Arabs/Muslims were able to forcibly convert and assimilate non-Arabs and non-Muslims into their fold. Very few indigenous communities of the Middle East survived this — primarily Assyrians, Jews, Armenians and Coptics (of Egypt).

Having conquered the Middle East, Arabs placed these communities under a Dhimmi (see the book DHIMMI, by Bat Ye’Or) system of governance, where the communities were allowed to rule themselves as religious minorities (Christians, Jews and Zoroastrian). These communities had to pay a tax (called a Jizzya in Arabic) that was, in effect, a penalty for being non-Muslim, and that was typically 80% in times of tolerance and up to 150% in times of oppression. This tax forced many of these communities to convert to Islam, as it was designed to do.

You state, “its architects designed buildings that defied gravity.” I am not sure what you are referring to, but if you are referring to domes and arches, the fundamental architectural breakthrough of using a parabolic shape instead of a spherical shape for these structures was made by the Assyrians more than 1300 years earlier, as evidenced by their archaeological record.

You state, “its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption.” The fundamental basis of modern mathematics had been laid down not hundreds but thousands of years before by Assyrians and Babylonians, who already knew of the concept of zero, of the Pythagorean Theorem, and of many, many other developments expropriated by Arabs/Muslims (see HISTORY OF BABYLONIAN MATHEMATICS by Otto E. Neugebauer).

You state, “its doctors examined the human body, and found new cures for disease.” The overwhelming majority of these doctors (99%) were Assyrians. In the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries Assyrians began a systematic translation of the Greek body of knowledge into Assyrian. At first, they concentrated on the religious works but then quickly moved to science, philosophy and medicine. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Galen, and many others were translated into Assyrian, and from Assyrian into Arabic. It is these Arabic translations which the Moors brought with them into Spain, and which the Spaniards translated into Latin and spread throughout Europe, thus igniting the European Renaissance.

By the sixth century A.D., Assyrians had begun exporting back to Byzantia their own works on science, philosophy and medicine. In the field of medicine, the Bakhteesho Assyrian family produced nine generations of physicians, and founded the great medical school at Gundeshapur (Iran). Also in the area of medicine, (the Assyrian) Hunayn ibn-Ishaq’s textbook on ophthalmology, written in 950 A.D., remained the authoritative source on the subject until 1800 A.D.

In the area of philosophy, the Assyrian philosopher Job of Edessa developed a physical theory of the universe, in the Assyrian language, that rivaled Aristotle’s theory, and that sought to replace matter with forces (a theory that anticipated some ideas in quantum mechanics, such as the spontaneous creation and destruction of matter that occurs in the quantum vacuum).

One of the greatest Assyrian achievements of the fourth century was the founding of the first university in the world, the School of Nisibis, which had three departments, theology, philosophy and medicine, and which became a magnet and center of intellectual development in the Middle East. The statutes of the School of Nisibis, which have been preserved, later became the model upon which the first Italian university was based (see THE STATUTES OF THE SCHOOL OF NISIBIS by Arthur Voobus).

When Arabs and Islam swept through the Middle East in 630 A.D., they encountered 600 years of Assyrian Christian civilization, with a rich heritage, a highly developed culture, and advanced learning institutions. It is this civilization that became the foundation of the Arab civilization.

You state, “Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars, and paved the way for space travel and exploration.” This is a bit melodramatic. In fact, the astronomers you refer to were not Arabs but Chaldeans and Babylonians (of present day south-Iraq), who for millennia were known as astronomers and astrologers, and who were forcibly Arabized and Islamized — so rapidly that by 750 A.D. they had disappeared completely.

You state, “its writers created thousands of stories. Stories of courage, romance and magic. Its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too steeped in fear to think of such things.” There is very little literature in the Arabic language that comes from this period you are referring to (the Koran is the only significant piece of literature), whereas the literary output of the Assyrians and Jews was vast. The third largest corpus of Christian writing, after Latin and Greek, is by the Assyrians in the Assyrian language (also called Syriac).

You state, “when other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on them, and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the knowledge alive, and passed it on to others.” This is a very important issue you raise, and it goes to the heart of the matter of what Arab/Islamic civilization represents. I reviewed a book titled HOW GREEK SCIENCE PASSED TO THE ARABS, in which author De Lacy O’Leary lists the significant translators and interpreters of Greek science. Of the 22 scholars listed, 20 were Assyrians, one was Persian and one an Arab. I state at the end of my review: “The salient conclusion which can be drawn from O’Leary’s book is that Assyrians played a significant role in the shaping of the Islamic world via the Greek corpus of knowledge. If this is so, one must then ask the question, what happened to the Christian communities which made them lose this great intellectual enterprise they had established? One can ask this same question of the Arabs. Sadly, O’Leary’s book does not answer this question, and we must look elsewhere for the answer.” I did not answer this question I posed in the review because it was not the place to answer it, but the answer is very clear, the Christian Assyrian community was drained of its population through forced conversion to Islam (by the Jizzya), and once the community had dwindled below a critical threshold, it ceased producing the scholars that were the intellectual driving force of the Islamic civilization, and that is when the so called “Golden Age of Islam” came to an end (about 850 A.D.).

Islam the religion itself was significantly molded by Assyrians and Jews (see NESTORIAN INFLUENCE ON ISLAM and HAGARISM: THE MAKING OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD).

Arab/Islamic civilization is not a progressive force, it is a regressive force; it does not give impetus, it retards. The great civilization you describe was not an Arab/Muslim accomplishment, it was an Assyrian accomplishment that Arabs expropriated and subsequently lost when they drained, through the forced conversion of Assyrians to Islam, the source of the intellectual vitality that propelled it. What other Arab/Muslim civilization has risen since? What other Arab/Muslim successes can we cite?

You state, “and perhaps we can learn a lesson from his [Suleiman] example: It was leadership based on meritocracy, not inheritance. It was leadership that harnessed the full capabilities of a very diverse population that included Christianity, Islamic, and Jewish traditions.” In fact, the Ottomans were extremely oppressive to non-Muslims. For example, young Christian boys were forcefully taken from their families, usually at the age of 8-10, and inducted into the Janissaries, (yeniceri in Turkish) where they were Islamized and made to fight for the Ottoman state. What literary, artistic or scientific achievements of the Ottomans can we point to? We can, on the other hand, point to the genocide of 750,000 Assyrians, 1.5 million Armenians and 400,000 Greeks in World War One by the Kemalist “Young Turk” government. This is the true face of Islam.

Arabs/Muslims are engaged in an explicit campaign of destruction and expropriation of cultures and communities, identities and ideas. Wherever Arab/Muslim civilization encounters a non-Arab/Muslim one, it attempts to destroy it (as the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan were destroyed, as Persepolis was destroyed by the Ayotollah Khomeini). This is a pattern that has been recurring since the advent of Islam, 1400 years ago, and is amply substantiated by the historical record. If the “foreign” culture cannot be destroyed, then it is expropriated, and revisionist historians claim that it is and was Arab, as is the case of most of the Arab “accomplishments” you cited in your speech. For example, Arab history texts in the Middle East teach that Assyrians were Arabs, a fact that no reputable scholar would assert, and that no living Assyrian would accept. Assyrians first settled Nineveh, one of the major Assyrian cities, in 5000 B.C., which is 5630 years before Arabs came into that area. Even the word ‘Arab’ is an Assyrian word, meaning “Westerner” (the first written reference to Arabs was by the Assyrian King Sennacherib, 800 B.C., in which he tells of conquering the “ma’rabayeh” — Westerners. See THE MIGHT THAT WAS ASSYRIA by H. W. F. Saggs).

Even in America this Arabization policy continues. On October 27th a coalition of seven Assyrian and Maronite organizations sent an official letter to the Arab American Institute asking it to stop identifying Assyrians and Maronites as Arabs, which it had been deliberately doing.

There are minorities and nations struggling for survival in the Arab/Muslim ocean of the Middle East and Africa (Assyrians, Armenians, Coptics, Jews, southern Sudanese, Ethiopians, Nigerians…), and we must be very sensitive not to unwittingly and inadvertently support Islamic fascism and Arab Imperialism, with their attempts to wipe out all other cultures, religions and civilizations. It is incumbent upon each one of us to do our homework and research when making statements and speeches about these sensitive matters.

I hope you found this information enlightening. You may contact me at for further questions.

Thank you for your consideration.

Peter BetBasoo

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November 6th, 2011, 11:25 pm


627. Dale Andersen said:


RE: “…if he survives, Bashar would have saved the country from a US-Zionist plan like the 2006 war and the Hariri killing to protect Israel. They’ll be proud of him, for sure…”

Oh sure, Billy. You’re obviously drinking from the same puddle as Normy and Spammy Annie. Besho murdered Hariri because Hariri had the balls to stand up to him and tell him to get his colonialist-imperialist ass out of Lebanon. If you think Hariri was part of a CIA-Mossad plot, then you’re dumb as a stump.

Someone should turn you upside down and shake the Besho Bribe money out of your pants, you pathetic Assadist slave.

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November 6th, 2011, 11:25 pm


628. Revlon said:

541. Dear Ya Mara Ghalba,
You said: “@ Revlon #512 reported:
Thug one [meaning: Bashar Assad] left Annour Mosque [in Raqqa today] from Toilets exit; He was humiliated, having to endure listening to the demonstrators chanting in support of Homs and other revolting Syrian cities.

Revlon, that is vile utter falsehood. See the photos at

I say:
Thank you for providing the link to the colurful photos portraying Asad and entourage in Riqqa Governorate building, waving to a crowd of Shhabbeeha mobsters!

My news clip that you quoted cited his non-glamourous exit from the mosque. You have provided neither photos nor videos of HIS EXIT MOMENTS.

Being in the midst of the fiercest crowd of Shabbeeha, ie Thug One’s elite thugs, I do not expect the demonstrators to feel safe enough to provide such evidence.
However, I do expect the Shabbeha media to have had the means to capture a video proving the contrary.

“I will post the video later”
You may hold your breath!

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November 7th, 2011, 12:55 am


629. Revlon said:

507. 508 Dears Mina and OFF THE WALL
I would like to make a couple points on the issue of “Jugulating the votes of the poor because they are more religious and have more children”

Religion is an ideology, much like atheism, or any other **ism.
Any ideology may disadvantage its believer if it fails to stay relevant; In time, ideologies need to be updated or altogether dropped.

Poverty and relationship to being more religious and having more children:
In our society and from own experience, the number of children a family may have, have been mostly related to the net result of personal wishes and the physical and emotional burden entailed in raising them.
Families, including parents and kids, prosper best in the presence of a closely placed network of supportive extended families and permissive and safe neighbourhoods. My brothers and sisters who enjoyed such favourable family conditions have been able to raise more and better adapted children than those who did not, including me, notwithstanding our similar religious beliefs and their Syrian average income!

Jugulating the vote of the poor!
I regard your statement as a “thinking-aloud”, rather than a proclaimed conviction.
Voting has two manifestations:
-The physical; the expression of the free will. This part can not be abridged without sacrificing the individual’s responsibility for the outcome of the vote.

-The mental; the making of a choice. Making choices is a complex process that includes innate abilities to analyse and judge; personal cost vs benefit. People’s influence over other’s choices varies with the rewards they are bestowing on the society; the net effect of the vote of an influential person is not necessarily one man-one vote, but it could be 1 man -100, 1000, 10000, or millions of votes.
People’s choices are the other’s opportunities.

You should not and need not jugulate other people’s votes; Respect their free will, and earn their approval to switch to better choices!

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November 7th, 2011, 2:42 am


630. Mina said:


I have nothing to exchange with someone who is posting bunch of lies everyday. You don’t even believe in what you are posting but you consider “you’re right to do it because it is for a just cause”. Nothing good can be built on lies, that’s true too for Ghalyun and his statement about raped women. I wish for him to visit Congo where his computer and cell phone batteries come from and where women in the areas of the precious minerals get raped and displaced by hundreds.

When you’ll be older, I suggest you visit, once in your life, the Arab world. Your comments on your family being religious says nothing about the poorer segments of a society. I was not talking only about the Arab world, but for that also, you’ll need to grow up and travel to realize what I was talking about. Take a chance to meet some poors once in your life, and tell me if we can really have hopes in one person one vote (and I say that to point at the difficulties faced by governements, and you know I am a feminist, so I see how big is the problem, integrating everybody or finding ways to give everybody a voice, WHILE not letting the uneducated rule the educated, or the fundamentalist minority, well organized and internationally supported, like the religious Israelis, rule the rest of the society while actually being a minority).

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November 7th, 2011, 3:17 am


631. Uzair8 said:

Articles of interest:

Why did the Syrian regime back down?
By Elias Harfoush
Monday, 07 November 2011

By Tariq Alhomayed
Monday, 07 November 2011

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November 7th, 2011, 4:00 am


632. Akbar Palace said:

Educating Rita

what are you doing here? don’t you have a Palestinian child to kill today?!


I am here to remind you that your beloved and self-appointed leader, Bashar Assad has killed more Syrian children than Israel has killed Palestinian children.

Because this website is chock full of the most of ridiculous and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, I feel as though someone needs to educate the ignorant. It’s not an easy job. Some participants here are mentally challenged.

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November 7th, 2011, 7:43 am


633. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

@ Revlon: Post #540 JAD, which was earlier numbered as post #524 JAD, provided the video of the exit. Observe at time 0:00 at bottom left.

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November 7th, 2011, 10:16 am


634. Taha said:

the picture of the landcruiser is in Misurata, Libya… not in Syria!

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March 5th, 2015, 6:53 pm


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