Assad Determined to Fight On; SNC Issues Plan; Reasons for Energy Shortages

MSNBC: Syria’s Assad vows to continue crackdown despite Arab League pressure
2011-11-20 01:19:11.139 GMT

Arab League Peace Effort in Syria Appears at Impasse
BY: Patrick J. McDonnell | Los Angeles Times

An Arab initiative to end violence in Syria appeared at an impasse Sunday, as Damascus and Arab foreign ministers failed to agree on a formula that would allow monitors into the country.

Syrian Rebel Group Claims Attack on Ruling Party Office in Damascu
BY: Hannah Allam | McClatchy Newspapers

Rocket-propelled grenades reportedly struck a Damascus office of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Baath Party before dawn Sunday, the first attack of its kind in the capital since an anti-government uprising began last spring.

The SNC has finally issued it’s proposed “plan”. This comes three months after the Tayyar proposal. The SNC agenda claims it is committed to eliminating Syria’s present discrimination of non-Muslims and women. To stay true to this declaration it will have to eliminate article 3 of the constitution:

Article 3 [Islam]

(1) The religion of the President of the Republic has to be Islam.

(2) Islamic jurisprudence is a main source of legislation.

The SNC platform insists that it is committed to “Criminalizing all forms of oppression, exclusionary policies, and discrimination on the basis of ethnic or religious background, or gender.” The Muslim Brotherhood seems not to have had much to do with writing this document. Article 3 was inserted into the constitution after widespread demonstrations in 1973 protesting the Baathist attempt to eliminate special reference to Islam and religion as a basis for selecting the president and informing legislation.

The constitution guarantees national rights for the Kurdish people and a resolution to the Kurdish question in a democratic and fair manner within the framework of the unity of Syrian territory and people, as well as the exercise of rights and responsibilities of equal citizenship among all citizens.

The SNC is now working on a transitional government.

U.S.-based social science professor Amr al-Azm told Reuters: “The Council’s program has good points but the Council is acting like a political party rather than a broad opposition movement.”

The 260-member Syrian National Council, which is leading the opposition against the Assads’ 41-year rule, said a conference will take place in Egypt under the auspices of the Arab League, to bring together political factions and independent figures to plan the transition and set rules for a democratic system. “The opposition is more mature now. It is ready to agree on a common vision,” said SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani.

Fawaz Gerges

“The Syrian regime is not isolated internally as many would like to believe. It retains a strong social base of support in major centers like Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia where 60% of the population live,” Gerges said. “There is a real danger that Syria has already descended into a prolonged conflict no one knows its outcome internally and regionally. I don’t see a way out for the Assad regime. Assad has no exit strategy. This is a fight to the bitter end for the family, the clan, with the mentality: either I am going to be killed or I kill my enemy,” Gerges said.

The Syrian government committee to rewrite the constitution claims it will eliminate Article 8, which proclaims the Baath Party the leader of politics and society in Syria.

Syp at 54.80: The Central Bank of Syria sold through an auction some USD 15 million in foreign currencies last week as it attempts to counter pressures on the Syrian Pound.

Feodor Saveliev writes “The Russian nuclear naval strike group was introduced in Syria”

Syrian opposition  leaders belonging to the SNC will hold talks in Montreal on teh 27th of november. Here is the announcement:ا
لأحد الواقع فيه 27 تشرين الثاني بلقاء ينظمه المجلس الوطني في مدينة مونتريال. يتحدث فيه : عبد الباسط سيدا، عفراء الجلبي، عماد الدين رشيد ، هيثم المالح، جودت سعيد ، مرهف جويجاتي، محمّد العبد الله، نبيل شبيب، أسامة القاضي ، توفيق دنيا.
المواضيع المطروحة للنقاش و التحاورهي :
= الأسباب القديمة و الحديثة التي أدّت الى قيام الثورة السوريّة من وجهة النظر القانونية
= مستقبل المنطقة العربية بعد الربيع العربي
= موقع الثورة الشعبية في سورية في الربيع العربي
= جيل الشبيبة: المستقبل و دوره في صناعة حقبة ما بعد الثورة
= العلاقة بين الثورات العربية و الجاليات المغتربة – سوريّة كنموذج
= الاسلاميون و العلمانيون… تاريخ صراع في حقبة استبدادية و مستقبل تنافس في دولة دستورية
= مستقبل العلاقات العربية \ الغربية بعد الثورات العربية بمنظور غربي

Syrian TV had the ministers of electricity and oil on Saturday afternoon.

The most important points expressed by the oil minister were that the tankers going from Homs to Damascus and Aleppo have been attacked several times by terrorists. This supports the report of Syria Comment in my last post. The gas trucks are being stolen or attacked in Homs. Also the pipeline from the refinery in Homs going to Aleppo have been sabotaged or attacked. The pipeline was attacked over a 100 times in Hama province and 280+ times in Idlib province.

He claimed that the amount of mazoot sent to each mohafaza has increased this year from 40-100 percent according to the request of each governor (exept for Homs which witnessed reduced consumption). The other reason is the distribution policies. So their could be corruption there too.

To summarize the reasons for the mazoot crisis:
1-Early cold weather
2-Sabotage and criminal acts
3-Poor distribution policies
4-Increased smuggling
5-monopolistic acts by private sector distributors.

Video of the long lines waiting for gas in Homs.

Here are a few comments by friends who watched the Oil minister on Syrian TV.

  • Syrian subsidizes mazoot by 500 billion syp or $10 billion dollars. This is 20% of gdp. It is the equivalent to the US Subsidizing oil by $2.8 trillion (20% of gdp)
  • The Syrian government has been unable to build refineries or upgrade this in over 10 years of planning, which leaves Syria at the mercy of the international community and the EU today. Syria cannot afford to build even one refinery today, which is estimated to cost some $5-7 billion.
  • Mazoot in Syria costs only syp = 15. In Lebanon it is Syria syp = 50. In Turkey the cost is syp = 105 Why would a Syria sell it for 15 when he can sell it at 30 to a group of guys who can get it into lebanon and sell it for 40 there or take it to Turkey and sell it for 60 or 70 there? By the way, you cannot find Mazoot at 22-25 as people are now claiming. In Aleppo one now has to pay 30 SYP for a liter of mazoot. People are in line for 3 hours to get 20 liters of mazout. Unbelievable.

What started as peaceful protests in Egypt’s Tahrir Square on Friday have escalated to clashes with security forces spreading to at least seven other cities over the past three days. The protesters are calling for the end of military rule by Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who have been in power since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. They are criticized for seeking “supra-constitutional” powers in the drafting of a new constitution and for their proposed timetable keeping them in power until 2013. In battles between the army attempting to clear the square of protesters and rock-throwing demonstrators, an estimated 24people have been killed and over 1,700 wounded,

Revolutionary road: Among the Syrian opposition
By Emile Hokayem, Senior Fellow for Regional Security, IISS-Middle East 15/11/2011 11:34:15

After meeting with Assad loyalists and opponents in Lebanon last week, it is clear that the Syrian uprising’s third phase will be not only more violent but could be a decisive one. Free Syrian Army (FSA) commanders told me that they are gearing up for direct confrontation in coming months with the forces loyal to President Assad, regardless of whether they have the support of a foreign intervention.

They say defections are increasing, and a FSA officer boasted to me that men at arms number 17,000 across the country (most go north to the Turkish border, while an estimated 500 are coalescing at the border with Lebanon). Until regional conditions improve to their benefit, FSA commanders told me they are advising sympathisers to delay their defection.

Asked about his level of confidence in the Syrian National Council (SNC), the opposition’s umbrella group, a senior FSA officer said there were contacts but also disagreements because SNC members didn’t understand security matters. He also said that the FSA had to force the SNC to harden its position by threatening to form and announce an independent Syrian Military Council…

The business elites and Sunni urban class of Damascus and Aleppo have not yet deserted the regime. And, arguably thanks to regime manipulation, the uprising is increasingly acquiring a sectarian colouring. ….

The members of the FSA I met or talked to make another case: while they certainly care about the protection of civilians, they argue that only when Assad’s air dominance is eroded can major units defect with all their gear and heavy weaponry and confront the regime’s hardcore loyalists. They say it makes no sense for these would-be defectors to flee with mechanised assets, transport vehicles and command-and-control equipment if this makes them more visible and more vulnerable from the air. They add that a no-fly zone would help them capture and occupy barracks, government buildings, roads and other infrastructure, which they have refrained from doing so until now. To be sure, this military rationale does not align with the logic of humanitarian intervention under the responsibility to protect doctrine that was invoked in Libya…

Guardian (GB): After Syria’s year of revolution, the end of Assad is in sight
By Rana Kabani, 2011-11-21

….I, for one, can remember a Syria…. where religion was still safely lodged in the house where it belonged, along with the wine-coloured prayer rug, the amber rosary and the manuscript Qur’an on its mussadaf stand. A Syria before Jamil Assad – Bashar’s uncle – allowed Iranian officials to enter our borders gleefully with their sackfuls of cash to recompense conversions….

The consequences of 40 years of the policies of Hafez al-Assad and then his son Bashar – which turned our national army into a sectarian mafia family’s private militia, and our state’s coffers into that family’s piggy bank to be raided at whim – have been the tit-for-tat sectarian crime that has so revolted the vast majority of Syrians, who have seen post-occupation Iraq martyred by sectarian killing fields, and the government of Lebanon become hostage to an armed state within a state…. we see the end in sight for the “banality of evil”. It’s been a long and painful time coming.

Abdullah Ghadawi interviews Tayyib Tazini

Maher Arar on the Syrian Conflict video interview by TRNN.

Under pressure to act on syria, Turkey rules out intervention Zaman

As voices from within Syria’s opposition movement increasingly call for a Turkish “civilian protection” mission in Syria’s eight-month-old conflict, Turkish officials have denied speculation that Turkey is discussing a no-fly zone with opposition groups and say that peaceful methods must first be exhausted in the Syrian conflict.

“There exist no military plans between Turkey and Syrian opposition, and no plans for a Turkish move have even been discussed,” a Turkish official told Sunday’s Zaman. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the fragile nature of a possible military move against Syria, insisted that a possible Turkish mission to intervene in conflict between president Bashar al-Assad and anti-regime protesters was a “one-sided” plan. The official’s words come as opposition forces increasingly called for some form of outside intervention in a conflict that the UN estimates has claimed over 3,500 lives.

Saudi Arabia expands its power as U.S. influence diminishes
By David Ignatius, November 18, Wash Post

Over this year of Arab Spring revolt, Saudi Arabia has increasingly replaced the United States as the key status-quo power in the Middle East — a role that seems likely to expand even more in coming years as the Saudis boost their military and economic spending….

The more-assertive Saudi role has been clear in its open support for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is Iran’s crucial Arab ally. The Saudis were decisive backers of last weekend’s Arab League decision to suspend Syria’s membership (though they also supported the organization’s waffling decision Wednesday to send another mediation team to Damascus). Money is always the Saudis’ biggest resource, and they are planning to spend it more aggressively as a regional power broker — by roughly doubling their armed forces over the next 10 years and spending at least $15 billion annually to support countries weakened economically by this year’s turmoil. …

The Saudi shopping list is a bonanza for U.S. and European arms merchants. That’s especially true of the air force procurement, with the Saudis planning to buy 72 “Eurofighters” from EADS and 84 new F-15s from Boeing. The rationale is containing Iran, whose nuclear ambitions the Saudis strongly oppose. But Riyadh has an instant deterrent ready, too, in the form of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal that the Saudis are widely believed to have helped finance.

Big weapons purchases have been a Saudi penchant for decades. More interesting, in some ways, is their quiet effort to provide support to friendly regimes to keep the region from blowing itself up in this period of instability. The Saudis have budgeted $4 billion this year to help Egypt, $1.4 billion for Jordan, and $500 million annually over the next decade for Bahrain and Oman. They will doubtless pump money, as well, to Syria, Yemen and Lebanon once the smoke clears in those volatile countries.

“In outlays, we’ve budgeted $15 billion a year just to keep the peace,” says one Saudi source, adding up the economic assistance to Arab neighbors. But that’s hardly a stretch for a country that, by year-end, will have about $650 billion in foreign reserves.

The Saudis speak more charitably of the United States than they did a few months ago, after reassuring visits by Vice President Biden and national security adviser Tom Donilon, and close military and intelligence cooperation continues. But President Obama is seen as a relatively weak leader who abandoned his own call for a Palestinian state under Israeli pressure. The United States isn’t exactly the god that failed, but its divine powers are certainly suspect in Riyadh.

Opposition figure warns that Syria could be ‘drifting towards civil war’
The Irish Times – Saturday, November 19, 2011

Writer and former political prisoner Louay Hussein talks to MICHAEL JANSEN in Damascus

SYRIAN OPPOSITION leader Louay Hussein regards the crisis in his country as “most dangerous” and believes “all indications say the situation is drifting towards civil war”, although a “majority of Syrians are against war”.

Speaking to The Irish Times in the modest office of the Building the Syrian State movement he founded, Hussein, a writer and political prisoner from 1984 to 1991, explains why he takes such a dark view.

“People who took part in the protests during the first three months were different from the people now,” he says.

The original protesters “had political ideas and values and called for liberty and equality. They were for positive action . . . During this stage, I was part of the movement in the street, as an organiser. But we lost contact because of arrests and loss of communications.”

Then, he says, “others joined the protests in reaction” to killings and detentions.

“They regard this regime as murderers rather than a tyranny or dictatorship and raise harmful slogans” by calling for external intervention or executing Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Hussein, a slim professorial figure with grey curls and a bristle of moustache beneath an eagle nose, adds: “Now protests are diminishing because of the violence and the occupation of protest zones by the security forces.”

He estimates that 15,000 people have been detained since protests began in mid-March, and says there has been a turnover in the prisons, with some people arrested while others are released. “I know the situation from experience. I multiply how many people can stand in a cell by the number of prisons,” he jokes.

Hussein does not think the Syrian National Council, an umbrella grouping of mainly exiled opposition groups favoured by the West, could gain international recognition and sideline Syria-based factions with popular followings. “I do not think the US is ready to recognise this council.”

In his view, the EU will follow Washington’s lead but perhaps not Turkey, which brokered the formation of the council. He expresses concern that Ankara might try to use its strong ties to the council to advance Turkey’s agenda on the international scene. However, he observes that the “council has a lot of financial and diplomatic support. Many EU states give visas to its members but not to us.”

He adds that “council members say what outsiders want to hear”, without elaborating.

Hussein warns that it is “dangerous” for outside powers to rely exclusively on opposition groups “because they do not represent the will of all the people . . . some support the regime”. He says it would be a mistake to equate the Syrian National Council with the rebel movement that took power in Libya.

In spite of escalating clashes between the army and armed opposition elements, Hussein insists that the uprising must be peaceful and hopes the Free Syrian Army formed by deserters will be marginalised.

“I don’t know anything about the origin of the Free Syrian Army. It has no political arm . . . Its members want to fight tyranny to bring tyranny. I’m afraid they will be freedom fighters like the Taliban of Afghanistan.”

Commenting on the opposition, he says: “Historically, the opposition has always been in a bad situation, it is not organised.”

He does not believe veteran leaders who have fought the regime in the past and served terms in prison can lead at this juncture. “We need new leaders to emerge from the street.”

His movement urges dialogue while the Syrian National Council rejects contact with the regime. He was the first to organise a meeting of opposition groups in Damascus. This took place at the end of June.

“There is always a possibility for dialogue,” he says, but dialogue can take place only “when the regime is ready for dialogue”. Unfortunately, he says, the regime “thinks dialogue is an exchange of points of view . . . not a means of reaching accommodation”.

“We tried many times to speak with the government. At first the regime did not acknowledge us, now it recognises us. Now that the time is ripe for dialogue, conditions do not give us a chance.”

He pauses, adding: “We don’t trust the government.”

Free Syria Army gathers on Lebanese border
Rebels say conflict is now inevitable – and government forces are hedging their bets
Martin Chulov, The Guardian, Fri 18 Nov 2011

Somewhere along the emerald green ridge ahead Syrian troops guard the restive border with Lebanon. Behind them lie piles of upturned orange earth where land mines have been freshly buried. Ahead of them, across a deep, rain-soaked valley which spills into Lebanon, the rebels who were once their comrades in arms are preparing for war.
The rebels of the Free Syria Army who have found refuge on this volatile strip of borderland move freely around on motorbikes that are well within range of Syrian loyalist snipers. But they say they no longer fear their former army colleagues in the hills nearby. Instead, they are looking to them for help.

“There are 100 of them in the valley,” said a former member of an intelligence unit who fled the embattled city of Hama in August and is now based in the Lebanese village of Nsoub. “But the day before yesterday I personally brought 30 people here.” Of the troops still serving with the Syrian army, he said: “They helped.”

Senior commanders have ordered their men to seal the border, but the sharp rise in defectors to have crossed into northern Lebanon in the past week suggests that many soldiers are already hedging their bets.

And Syria’s growing isolation also seems to be invigorating the exiled defectors, who this week received about 70 men who were all sent on to safety within a day of crossing the border.
“We have been talking with them [the nearby troops] for many months,” says a second man, a Lebanese national who lived in Syria for 25 years, but fled when the uprising started in March. “There are many who are waiting to see what happens before making their move.”

This rag-tag group does not pretend to have a leader calling the shots. Like the rest of the nascent Free Syria Army, the rebels of north Lebanon appear to be a loosely formed force with no direction from any central command.

But someone in northern Lebanon is helping them co-ordinate an exodus, and plan for an escalation that they all say is now inevitable.

“Most of the [defecting] soldiers are not deployed in the places where they live,” said the newly returned Lebanese man. “So when they get [into Lebanon] they are being sent on to cross the border [back into Syria] in the nearest area to their home.”

Some of the group of 30 who arrived on Wednesday are thought to have been sent to Turkey, where they will then be redeployed to areas along the border near their home villages.
Once inside Syria the men will join the growing band of rebels, who have launched a string of attacks on regime forces, culminating this week in their most audacious operation so far: an assault on naval intelligence bases on the outskirts of Damascus.

The men say they don’t know who paid for their journeys. “All I know is that I call members of the co-ordinating committee,” said the defected soldier. “They come and get them and then I don’t see them. There are definitely more [defectors] than there used to be.”

Those who have fled say the situation inside Syria has now passed the point of no return.

Globe Mail [Reg]: ‘Untouchable’ Assad ruled by duty to family

Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s President for 11 years, speaks the lines of Western liberalism but plays the part of ruthless dictator. He’s the leader who allowed Syrians to have cellphones and access to the Internet; who ushered in economic and …

CIA forced to curb spying in Lebanon

The agency’s crucial post in Beirut is affected after the arrest of several informants this year, sources say.

By Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times, November 21, 2011

The CIA was forced to curtail its spying in Lebanon, where U.S. operatives and their agents collect crucial intelligence on Syria, terrorist groups and other targets, after the arrests of several CIA informants in Beirut this year, according to U.S. officials and other sources.

“Beirut station is out of business,” a source said, using the CIA term for its post there. The same source, who declined to be identified while speaking about a classified matter, alleged that up to a dozen CIA informants have been compromised, but U.S. officials disputed that figure.

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251. ann said:

International criticism of Egypt’s rulers mounts – 23 mins ago

CAIRO (AP) — International criticism of Egypt’s military rulers mounted Wednesday as police clashed for a fifth day with protesters demanding the generals relinquish power immediately. A rights group raised the death toll for the wave of violence to at least 38.

The United Nations strongly condemned authorities for what it deemed an excessive use of force. Germany, one of Egypt’s top trading partners, called for a quick transfer of power to a civilian government. The United States and the U.N. secretary general have already expressed their concern over the use of violence against mostly peaceful protesters.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, deplored the role of Egypt’s security forces in attempting to suppress protesters.

“Some of the images coming out of Tahrir, including the brutal beating of already subdued protesters, are deeply shocking, as are the reports of unarmed protesters being shot in the head,” Pillay said. “There should be a prompt, impartial and independent investigation, and accountability for those found responsible for the abuses that have taken place should be ensured.”

She said the actions of the military and police are enflaming the situation, prompting more people to join the protests.

“The more they see fellow protesters being carted away in ambulances, the more determined and energized they become.”

Clashes resumed for a fifth day despite a promise by the head of the ruling military council on Tuesday to speed up a presidential election to the first half of next year, a concession swiftly rejected by tens of thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square. The military previously floated late next year or early 2013 as the likely date for the vote, the last step in the process of transferring power to a civilian government.

The clashes are the longest spate of uninterrupted violence since the 18-day uprising that toppled the former regime in February.

The standoff at Tahrir and in other major cities such as Alexandria and Assiut has deepened the country’s economic and security crisis less than a week before the first parliamentary elections since the ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi tried to defuse tensions with his address late Tuesday, but he did not set a date for handing authority to a civilian government.

The Tahrir crowd, along with protesters in a string of other cities, want Tantawi to step down immediately in favor of an interim civilian administration to run the nation’s affairs until a new parliament and president are elected.

The government offered more concessions on Wednesday, ordering the release of 312 protesters detained over the past days and instructing civilian prosecutors to take over a probe the military started into the death of 27 people, mostly Christians, in a protest on Oct. 9. The army is accused of involvement in the killings.

The military also denied that its troops around Tahrir Square used tear gas or fired at protesters, an assertion that runs against numerous witness accounts that say troops deployed outside the Interior Ministry were firing tear gas at protesters.

Street battles have been heaviest around the heavily fortified Interior Ministry, located on a side street that leads to the iconic square that was the epicenter of the uprising earlier this year. Police are using tear gas and rubber bullets to keep the protesters from storming the ministry, a sprawling complex that has for long been associated with the hated police and Mubarak’s former regime.

The protesters, who have withstood tear gas and beatings, say they do not want to storm the ministry but are trying to keep the police and army from moving on nearby Tahrir Square.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene said a truce negotiated by Muslim clerics briefly held in the late afternoon, after both the protesters and the police pulled back from the front line street, scene of most of the fighting. State television, meanwhile, broadcast footage from the scene of the clashes showing army soldiers forming a human chain between the protesters and the police in a bid to stop the violence.

The truce was soon breached when police fired a barrage of tear gas and rubber bullets and the protesters responded with rocks. It was not clear who resumed the fighting.

A short while earlier, tension was high in the area on the side streets leading to the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the police, with many young protesters vomiting and coughing incessantly from the tear gas fired by the police. Others wounded by rubber bullets were hurriedly ferried by motorcycle to field hospitals.

Elnadeem Center, an Egyptian rights group known for its careful research of victims of police violence, said late Tuesday that the number of protesters killed in clashes nationwide since Saturday is 38, three more than the Health Ministry’s death toll, which went up to 35 on Wednesday. All but four of the deaths were in Cairo.

The clashes also have left at least 2,000 protesters wounded, mostly from gas inhalation or injuries caused by rubber bullets fired by the army and the police. The police deny using live ammunition.

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday cited morgue officials as saying at least 20 people have been killed by live ammunition.

Shady el-Nagar, a doctor in one of Tahrir’s field hospitals, said three bodies arrived in the facility on Wednesday. All three had bullet wounds.

“We don’t know if these were caused by live ammunition or pellets because pellets can be deadly when fired from a short distance,” he said.

The turmoil broke out just days before the start of staggered parliamentary elections on Nov. 28. The votes will take place over months and conclude in March.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s strongest and best organized group, is not taking part in the ongoing protests in a move that is widely interpreted to be a reflection of its desire not to do anything that could derail the election, which it hopes win along with its allies.

Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters, however, have defied the leadership and joined the crowds in the square. Their participation is not likely to influence the Brotherhood’s leadership or narrow the rift between the Islamist group and the secular organizations behind the uprising that toppled Mubarak and which are behind the latest spate of protests.

Sixty years after it was banned, the Brotherhood found itself empowered in the wake of the Feb. 11 ouster of Mubarak. It moved swiftly after the overthrow of Mubarak to form its own party, Freedom and Justice, to contest the parliamentary election.

Notorious for its political opportunism, the Brotherhood and its allies are hoping to win enough seats in the next legislature to push through a new constitution with an Islamic slant and bring this mainly Muslim nation of some 85 million people closer to being an Islamic state.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, was said by a spokesman to be following events in Egypt “with great concern.”

“In the new Egypt, which wants to be free and democratic, repression and the use of force against peaceful demonstrators can have no place,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said in Berlin. “The demonstrators’ demands … for a quick transition to a civilian government are understandable from the German government’s point of view,” he added.

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November 23rd, 2011, 11:45 am


252. majedkhaldoun said:

France want to recognize SNC as the opposition representative.

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November 23rd, 2011, 12:09 pm


253. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

“……FYI.. Bashar and Mkhalouf bought houses in Dubai .. Bashar paid $60M for his…”

Great, there is nothing wrong in an orderly transition of power in Syria. The concern if he to relocate to that 60 mil mansion is how much of worthless fiat currency will be left at the Central Bank, for sure there will be no gold or hard currency, NIL, Iran will be paid first, before handing of power and there not available reserve to pay that debt. Another concern is who will run Syria afterward, are there going to be a cohesive body ready to take over or will, in revenge, get left to the Allahu-Akbar throat slitters to finish the job. Finish Syria and Syrians off. The best plan is to deny the Baathists that luxury vacation for life and help them fix the mess they made in Syria first.

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November 23rd, 2011, 12:19 pm


254. Mina said:

From the Angry Arab (As’ad Abu Khalil) today:

Anti-`Alawite bigotry in Al-Quds Al-`Arabi
Al-Quds Al-Arabi (Qatari-funded) published an apology in its issue. It said in its translation of Anthony Shadid’s piece about Homs it “mistakenly” translated `Alawite in the article as “shabbihah” (armed goons). I kid you not. (Check the PDF version of the paper in the Arab affairs section).

Trial in Saudi Arabia: not a word in the New York Times
“A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced 17 men to prison sentences of up to 30 years on Tuesday for sedition and other offences, a lawyer for some of the defendants said. “Myself, their families and judges whom we know on the bench are all shocked,” defence lawyer Bassim Alim told Reuters. He added that the judge had promised a written verdict in two to three weeks, at which time a 30-day window for lodging appeals would be open to the accused – who have been described by Amnesty International as proponents of peaceful reform. Justice Ministry spokesmen were not available for comment. Most of the group of activists, academics and lawyers were detained in 2007 after they met in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah to discuss potential political change in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy governed by a strict form of Islamic law. Amnesty International described the men in its 2011 annual report as “advocates of peaceful political reform”. They were charged, among other crimes, with attempting to seize power, incitement against the king, financing terrorism, electronic crimes, money laundering and trying to set up a political party, Alim said before the sentencing.” But I recommend that you read the Arabic text. They list a whole range of accusations and offenses and just in case this does not stick in Western capitals–it will of course–they throw in links with Al-Qa`idah.

He is not a Muslim, after all
“He did have a slight worry at one point during the chemotherapy process when he discovered that one of the surgeon’s name was “Dr. Abdallah.”
“I said to his physician assistant, I said, ‘That sounds foreign — not that I had anything against foreign doctors — but it sounded too foreign,” Cain tells the audience. “She said, ‘He’s from Lebanon.’ Oh, Lebanon! My mind immediately started thinking, wait a minute, maybe his religious persuasion is different than mine! She could see the look on my face and she said, ‘Don’t worry, Mr. Cain, he’s a Christian from Lebanon.'”
“Hallelujah!” Cain says. “Thank God!”
The crowd laughs uneasily.”

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November 23rd, 2011, 12:25 pm


255. Mina said:

Contrary to what we have read here and there there have been no clashes on Tahrir yesterday and today, just in Muhammad Mahmud street, an adjacent street which hosts the ministry of interior. The attacks on police buildings seems to have been concerted.
Citizens form popular committees to defend police stations
Arabic Edition
Wed, 23/11/2011 – 15:50
Beheira residents formed popular committees to defend police stations following reports of attacks.

“Several rioters are abusing the current events to attempt to break into police stations to help prisoners escape and spread chaos,” the Ministry of Interior said in a statement Wednesday.

Attempts were carried out in several governorates to seize weapons and assault policemen, the ministry statement said.

The statement said the attacks targeted the ministry and the security directorates of Cairo, Alexandria, Daqahlia, Gharbiya, Sharqiya, Suez, Ismailia, Port Said, Damietta, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut and Qena.

Police forces, aided by large numbers of citizens, stopped the attacks in accordance with the law, the statement added.

The clashes led to the injury of 187 policemen.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

What people on Tahrir want in priority is: that the figures associated to the Mubarak regime and corruption get tried (Suzanne Mubarak is giving weekly lectures at Nadi Heliopolis!!); that the people who have been injured since january get free treatment and compensations; that the inequality between the salaries of the old guard (still in control in most institutions, governement newspapers etc) disappear and that these people as well as the policemen and officers convicted of crimes be judged. I went to Tahrir today and there was no tear gas to be smelled except when you approach Muhammad Mahmud street where you could also here the sounds of ambulances. By comparison, after the heavy use of teargas on Saturday, the irritation could still be felt in the metro on Sunday and Monday.

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November 23rd, 2011, 12:35 pm


256. Uzair8 said:

Bashar’s Western water carriers

Hussein Ibish, November 23, 2011

The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, while the brutality of the regime, which has killed over 3,500 people and tortured even children, has escalated. Meanwhile, a motley crew of Western commentators continues to carry water for President Bashar al-Assad.

These commentators cannot be immune from responsibility for their words. Their defense of a brutal dictatorship cannot go unchallenged or unexamined. While they have every right to their opinions, the rest of us have not only a right but a responsibility to draw the conclusion that these individuals, in fact, oppose freedom for the Syrian people by supporting a regime denying Syrians their freedom.

The essentially pro-regime stance of Professor Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma is well-established. To mention one small example, last April he praised what he called “the stability that the Assad family has enforced in Syria and… the vision of tolerance and secularism they have promoted.”

Read more:

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November 23rd, 2011, 12:40 pm


257. irritated said:


“and if the Assad truly enjoyed the support of 80% of Syrians,this uprising will be dying off.”

I disagree. It needs less than 2% to create enough trouble on the 80% who are peaceful and passive and don’t know how to counteract acts of provocation and violence. These 80% rely on the state to protect them not on arming themselves. This is why they can’t cope with the 2%.

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November 23rd, 2011, 1:20 pm


258. Mina said:

Here is a live update of the events of today in Cairo. It confirms all the fighting is taking place in Muhammad Mahmud street.

7:30 pm: A Tahrir doctor is reported to have died from teargas used against demonstrators.

Eyewitnesses say the police shot teargas directly at the field hospital on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, causing the doctor, Rania Fouad, to faint and enter a coma. They also say the police forbade her colleagues from moving her away from the scene.
7:15 pm: On Mohamed Mahmoud Street, military sets up barbed wire in front of central security forces.

7:10 pm: The Popular Socialist Alliance Party issued a statement in which it blasted Field Marshal Tantawi’s speech Tuesday night, and demanded the ruling military council give up power to a powerful and trusted national salvation government headed by presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei.

The party denounces what it calls lies of the military council, which claims it hasn’t shot protesters with live ammunition or spread false accusations.

The party asserts that it firmly supports the popular uprising and rejects negotiations or dialogue with the military. It also says that it has continued to suspend all electoral campaigning until the bloodshed ends and those responsible for it are held accountable.

5:50 pm: Clashes renew at Mohamed Mahmoud Street.

4:30 pm: The military’s hands are tainted with protesters’ blood, according to a press release issued Tuesday by the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch.

The report urged Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to immediately order riot police to stop the use of “excessive force” against protesters and to reduce their troops around Tahrir Square “to a level that allows for the maintenance of security while permitting free assembly.”

The organization accused both riot police and military personnel of shooting live ammunition and rubber bullets at demonstrators and beating them up.

The press release quoted Sarah Leah Whitson, the organization’s Middle East director, as saying: “With parliamentary elections a week away, the military rulers are facing a serious crisis of confidence because of their management of the transition… It has not yet learned the most basic lesson of the January uprising: that Egyptians have and know they have a right to peaceful protest, which repressing a demonstration with brute force cannot take away.”

The organization demanded that the office of the public prosecutor conduct “a transparent investigation” into the use of “lethal force” and the involvement of military personnel in the brutalities.

4:20 pm: The official death toll of the clashes around Egypt has risen to 35, the Health Ministry said. There have been 31 deaths in Cairo, two in Alexandria, one in Ismailia and one in Marsa Matruh.

4:15 pm: Five Egyptian human rights groups have issued a statement declaring their intention to prosecute General Hamdy Badeen, head of the military police; General Hassan al-Roweiny, commander of the central military district; and Interior Minister Mansour al-Essawy, among other senior security officials, for the killing and injuring of protesters in clashes that started Saturday in many governorates around Egypt.

The signatories said that the actions of the police and military forces in the last four days constitute “criminal offenses,” which they said have led to 40 deaths and 2000 injuries. They warn that if the Egyptian judicial system fails to bring those responsible to justice, its members will be prosecuted in international courts.

To counter what they call false claims by the military that it hasn’t engaged with protesters, the organizations started gathering evidence of the use of excessive force by military forces with intent to cause death or serious injury since the beginning of the clashes.

The statement is signed by the Egyptian Initiative for Human Rights, the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence.

4:10 pm: Clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street stopped after police forces retreated. The army is now securing the area around the Interior Ministry.

4:00 pm: Protesters have built three levels of barricades from the debris along Mohamed Mahmoud Street to protect the square from any potential attack that might happen, as well as to prevent people from advancing and to stay inside the confines of the square. People are chanting, “The people demand the revolution inside the square.”

Army officers are still present along the streets leading to the Interior Ministry.

3:15 pm: An Al-Azhar imam from the group that went to negotiate with the army, Ismail Mohamady, has said the two sides agreed they will stay in the square and no side will attack the other.

Fekry Mohamed, a 29-year-old protester, said that one Central Security Forces officer waved the victory sign, took off his helmet and threw down his weapon. He and some other protesters raised him up on their shoulders and started chanting “peaceful,” and the security forces withdrew.

“This is a victory for us, we are peaceful protesters and we will now stay inside the square until we topple SCAF,” Mohamed said.

Protester Amal Hamada, 43, said: “We will not leave Tahrir until our demands are met: stopping military trials for civilians, the handover of power to a civilian authority, and trying all the criminals from police who murdered protesters. We put the blame on Tantawi for every drop of blood that was shed.”

2:55 pm: Police forces have retreated from Mohamed Mahmoud Street.

2:30 pm: A number of Al-Azhar imams have organized a group of people to negotiate a truce with the army forces, which have recently appeared on the side streets around Tahrir Square.

2:15 pm: A fire has broken out at the American University in Cairo (AUC) main campus in downtown Cairo, an Al-Masry Al-Youm correspondent says. The building is on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, where most of the heaviest fighting is.

2:20 pm: The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issues a new statement on its official Facebook page, denying using any tear gas canisters against protesters in Tahrir Square or anywhere else. The statement stressed that the armed forces won’t use weapons of any kind against the Egyptian people. The SCAF demanded youth not to follow rumors.

1:50 pm: Harassment of journalists appears to be on the rise. Al-Masry Al-Youm journalist Nadine Marroushi was detained by police officers, who questioned her about her purpose in the square. They released her but kept her cell phone and press ID card. Earlier in the day, Ola Galal, a reporter for Bloomberg, was arrested while taking pictures behind the police lines. An officer cursed at her and threatened to delete her photos. She was then released.

11:00 pm: Fighting continues between protesters and police on Mohamed Mahmoud Street.

Earlier in the day

Increasing numbers of protesters began swarming into Tahrir early Wednesday morning after continuing clashes between security authorities and protesters near the Interior Ministry in downtown Cairo.

Eyewitnesses said security forces continue to fire tear gas. They said field hospitals in Tahrir are receiving dozens of injured people, most of whom suffer from convulsions, apparently from tear gas, and varying cuts from stone-throwing.

Meanwhile, more than 150 school students organized a march from Haram, in southern Cairo to Tahrir to express support for the protesters.

The students, marching from Giza square to Tahrir, chanted “The people want to bring down the regime” and “Down with military rule” in rejection of the use of violence against protesters.

The Ahmed Maher Front of the April 6 Youth Movement announced in a statement on Tuesday that it will continue its sit-in in Tahrir and other governorates until its four demands are achieved.

The movement called for setting a date for the presidential election so that it is held before the end of April, transferring power to a civilian presidential council, forming a national salvation government with full powers independent from the SCAF, and launching immediate investigations into the clashes in Tahrir.

The movement criticized Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi’s speech, in which he pledged to conduct presidential elections before the end of June.

Meanwhile, field doctors in Tahrir called on citizens to supply them with medications, saying their supplies are quickly running out.

On Twitter, doctors sent out cries for help to urge other doctors to head to Tahrir immediately, saying several protesters are dying from gunfire.

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November 23rd, 2011, 1:28 pm


259. bronco said:

236. Juergen said:

“I agree Iran is definatly an bad example, but seriously i do not see that history is repeating itself here. I mean Tunesia will have a new constitution, and I dont think they will adopt the iranian way by sending a copy of the Quran as the Mullahs did to the UN. ”

Juergen, in Iran, in the first year after the revolution, they had a secular president and there was no restrictions on clothes etc.. It came in gradually when the Mullahs took roots in the system.
Iran is still a moderate country compared to Saudi Arabia because Shia are more moderate that Wahhabis, but still the religion is deeply embedded in the law.
Tunisia’s economy is based on tourism. No tourist will show up if they can’t drink and undress. This is why Tunisia’s government is trapped. If they implement strict Sharia laws then, either there will be two systems, one for tourists, one for Tunisians: The tourists will be allowed to drink and wear bikinis and the Tunisians won’t, or they adopt one system whereby everybody will be allowed to drink and undress. This later one will create waves of violent attacks from religious people who will not tolerate it.
In both cases it is artificial.
Turkey has excluded the Sharia law from its constitution and have left it only to deal with personal issues. Tunisia has rejected this ‘secular’ model. I am curious to see how thy will deal with their conflicting needs.
For now, we are hearing promises, but in time, this is going to be complex problem to deal with.

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November 23rd, 2011, 1:43 pm


260. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

#254 Uzair quotes Joshua Landis speaking of “…the stability that the Assad family has enforced in Syria…”. Joshua’s language is false and wrong because no family or cabal can enforce or create stability in Syria. My language is “…the stability that the Establishment has created in Syria…”. The Syrian Establishment is a sociologically broad group that covers all geographic parts of the country, nearly all religious groups, all age groups, all professional occupations, all big private enterprises, and all components of the State. Syrian society also contains a smallish anti-Establishment, most of it alienated poor people with Wahabi or Wahabi-like political ideas, which today is “riding the wave of popular and justified demands” to try to overthrow the Establishment. The Establishment is big and broad enough to weather the storm.

#241 Uzair quotes Rami G. Khouri saying: “The regime’s political support systems are thin…. The regime’s four pillars of its incumbency are: military, business class, non-Sunnis, Aleppo-Damascus silent middle classes….” Taken together, those four pillars of support are strong, not thin. And you must take the four together; they are not independent of each other; they mutually support each other as a single nationwide societal Establishment, unified in its opposition to the anti-Establishment. An anti-Establishment of size 2% can create a lot of Events if they put their hearts into it (as IRRITATED said above). But they can’t seriously challenge the Establishment. That’s how I see the situation.

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November 23rd, 2011, 1:48 pm


261. Mina said:

More details about the 3 American students caught in Cairo

3 American Students Held in Protests, Egyptians Say
Published: November 22, 2011

Three students at the American University in Cairo were arrested and accused of participating in violent protests in the Egyptian capital, the university said Tuesday, after images of the men were broadcast on satellite and cable television channels around the world.

The Egyptian state broadcaster, Nile TV, showed police video of the men standing against a wall in front of a table displaying bottles filled with colored liquid — identified as firebombs — along with several identification cards and at least one Indiana driver’s license said to belong to one of the men.

A spokesman for the Justice Ministry, Adel Saeed, said the men had been arrested by the police on Monday “for throwing Molotov cocktails from atop the A.U.C. building” near Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egyptian protest. The university has a campus near the square with several low buildings; the main campus building had been used by government forces during the revolutionary battles in the square in February.

As of Tuesday afternoon local time, the men remained in police custody, the ministry spokesman said. “We are waiting for them to be transferred to the prosecutors office,” he added. “A lawyer from the embassy is with them now.”

The United States Embassy in Cairo said that it was “unable to confirm reports of detention of any specific American citizen” but that it was investigating “all reports.”

The arrests of the three Americans came as deadly street clashes between security forces and protesters stretched into a fourth day, with hundreds of thousands of people converging on Tahrir Square to voice their opposition to the military-led government.

The men were studying abroad for the semester and were scheduled to return to the United States at the end of this term, said a spokeswoman for the American University in Cairo, Morgan Roth.

After contacting their families, the university identified the students as Gregory Porter, 19, of Glenside, Pa.; Luke Gates, 21, of Bloomington, Ind.; and Derrik Sweeney, 20, of Jefferson City, Mo.

Messages posted over the weekend to a Twitter account under the name of Luke Gates and with references to the American University in Cairo and a picture resembling one of the arrested men included several messages related to the protest. One message read: “yes live bullets we have the shells, i was here!!” and included a link to a news report on deadly street clashes. Another message was: “we were throwing rocks and one guy accidentally threw his phone.”

Mr. Gates, a junior at Indiana University, is pursuing a double major in political science and near Eastern languages and culture, said Ryan Piurek, a university spokesman.

Mr. Porter is a sophomore and an international area studies major at Drexel University in Philadelphia. In a statement, the university said it was in contact with his parents, as well as the American University in Cairo and the American Embassy, in order “to have Porter released and returned home safely.”

A spokeswoman for Georgetown University, where Mr. Sweeney is a junior, said in a statement that the university was also working with American officials on his case.

“He looks absolutely terrified,” said Nicole Sweeney, Mr. Sweeney’s sister, in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.

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November 23rd, 2011, 1:53 pm


262. Tara said:

Bronco @ 257

You are giving me no hope. Then what is the solution for ME countries? Either a brutal dictator to enforce secularism or democratic ascendency of strict interpretation of Shariaa law?

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November 23rd, 2011, 1:57 pm


263. bronco said:

@jad 244

Thanks, it does confirm to me that these issues are linked to each other and it is a race against time as many events are unfolding together and may play against or for the statu quo of the Syrian regime.

The key question is how would the majority of Syrians react to the sanctions that may be imposed by the AL directed by the goat-hawks.
Would they regroup around Bashar Al Assad and vent their frustrations on the treason of the Arabs and the victimization by the western countries, or they would turn against the government?
As long as the SNC is getting pampered by France, hosted by Turkey, ignored by Russia, and tolerated by the UK without offering any acceptable and peaceful alternative, I think that despite the painful sanctions the majority of Syrians will stick with Bashar.

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November 23rd, 2011, 1:57 pm


264. jad said:

Democracy for sure!
From the Crusaders ‘safe’ passage wars of the 12th century to the French mandate in the 20th century to today’s ‘Safe Humanitarian Passage’ plans nothing changed but the number of the century, the same westerner colonization war driven mentality, nothing changed!

جوبيه: طلبنا من الاتحاد الاوروبي بحث انشاء ممرات انسانية في سوريا
أعلن وزير الخارجية الفرنسي آلان جوبيه أن المجلس الوطني السوري هو المحاور الشرعي باسم سوريا، لافتا الى ان فرنسا طلبت من الاتحاد الاوروبي بحث انشاء ممرات انسانية في سوريا.

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November 23rd, 2011, 1:59 pm


265. Humanist said:

I find it very hypocritical the way all Assad-loyalists/worshipers/fans on this blog are posting articles about and are cheering for the “revolutions” in all arab countries… EXCEPT SYRIA…

I also noticed very negative posts about Turkey recently.

When will they post articles about the massacres by Russians against Chechens?*

*–> Expect that to start happen ONCE Russia finally decides “to give up” Syria…

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November 23rd, 2011, 2:02 pm


266. Tara said:


” I think that despite the painful sanctions the majority of Syrians will stick with Bashar.”

Hay..NOT FAIR! Can you practice what you preach? I thought we agreed that neither me NOR YOU have a proof of what the majority of Syrian want. Remember?

You keep coming back with the assumption that ” the majority of Syrians want this and want that…” remember?

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November 23rd, 2011, 2:10 pm


267. Mina said:

Ban Ki Moon opens his eyes on Lybia.

The report says that “while political prisoners held by the Gaddafi regime have been released, an estimated 7,000 detainees are currently held in prisons and makeshift detention centres, most of which are under the control of revolutionary brigades, with no access to due process in the absence of a functioning police and judiciary.”

Of particular worry was the fate of women being held for alleged links with the regime, often due to family connections, sometimes with their children locked up alongside them.

“There have also been reports of women held in detention in the absence of female guards and under male supervision, and of children detained alongside adults,” says the report.

A number of black Africans were lynched following the revolution following claims, often false, that they were hired guns for the Gaddafi regime.
The UN findings chart the vicious abuse carried out by the regime until the final days of the civil war. In a personal note in the document, Ban Ki-Moon said: “I was deeply shocked by my visit to an agricultural warehouse in the Khallital-Ferjan neighbourhood of Tripoli where elements of the Gaddafi regime had detained civilians in inhuman conditions, had subjected some to torture and had massacred as many as they could and burned their bodies.

You are welcome to share the news you have on Syria. But apart from unverified rumours of buying properties in Dubai and killing more peaceful protesters (without giving any evidence), we haven’t heard much these days. I am sure the Arab League observers will do a wonderful job when they go there (if only they can organize themselves and meet somewhere else than at the Arab League quarters on Tahrir… after all it is the 21th century, they can use phones and video conference, no? Even a hotel would fit, no?)

There is a bunch of journalists currently in Syria, so you can probably look for their reports, no? The last “political” news I have read were that William Hague was asking the many currents of Syrian opposition to find a common platform and stop violence. Could you enlighten us if you have more?

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November 23rd, 2011, 2:14 pm


268. bronco said:

Tara @260

If you believe the West reassuring new song that the Sharia law included in the constitution can only be moderate and compatible with democracy, then you have hopes that countries like Tunisia will give an example to follow to other countries.
If in the contrary you believe, like I do, that any religious law imbedded in a constitution that is vague enough to be subject to ‘human’ interpretation, present a danger as the system can be abused and can become oppressive, then you have doubts about the future of human rights (freedom of speech and women rights in particular) in these newborn Islamic republics, claiming that the Sharia law is the basis of the country laws.

I am not for a dictatorship but for a strong leader who is “hardwired” secular and who has enough power to control the ‘human’ interpretations of the laws that could lead to extremism, and also counter the pressures that could come from Moslem hardliners, either local or funded by rich known extremists countries.

The problem is to find that person, preferably an orphan, so his family and relatives would not abuse of his power for their own interests, right?

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November 23rd, 2011, 2:19 pm


269. bronco said:

#264 Tara

Agree. I should have said the ” the pro-regime and the majority of undecided syrians”

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November 23rd, 2011, 2:26 pm


270. irritated said:


“I also noticed very negative posts about Turkey recently.”

I wonder why you are suprised about that. Turkey is playing a dirty game in Syria it has been appointed by Western countries as the ‘Terminator’ of Bashar al Assad.

Do you expect the pro Assad to write niceties such as the 10 inches boots Mrs Gul was wearing when she met Queen Elizabeth?

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November 23rd, 2011, 2:32 pm


271. Tara said:

Dear Bronco

You made me laugh (for a change).  An orphan is an excellent idea as long as he/she was not abused.  Abused children tend to abuse others when they grow up as a general rule.     

I agree with you that any religious law imbedded in the constitution is subject to interpretation and can be certainly abused.  The problem with a “powerful leader” is that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  So if you give anyone vast power, it is a human nature to abuse it, then you are running a risk of turning him into a dictator especially when people around the strong leader start to fear him and only tell him what he/ she wants to hear.

To solve our problem, I think we need to work on our education system where concepts of separation of state and religion, democracy and election get introduced and practiced in elementary school.  I also think we should borrow from the Turks experience of handling religion.  Why don’t they have terrorist Turks even though the vast majorities of them are Sunnis?  Doesn’t that negate the assumption of associating terrorism with sects?  

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November 23rd, 2011, 2:38 pm


272. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Tunisia will be the Light Unto the Arab Nations. I have very good feeling about it’s political future. Even if it’s constitution will have reference to Sharia. Tunisia will prove that Islam cannot be imposed on the people, the same way that secularism can’t be imposed. See Syria.

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November 23rd, 2011, 2:44 pm


273. zoo said:

University moves to stop mingling (of men and women)
Melanie Swan
Nov 24, 2011

ABU DHABI //A strict set of rules has been introduced at Zayed University’s new Dh3.7 billion campus after parents expressed fears of interaction between male and female students.

The university, which opened as a women’s school in 1998, admitted its first male students four years ago.

The campus features separate sides for men and women, with a 2.4-metre wall separating the two and a swipe-card system to ensure tight security.

But an email sent to all staff last Monday describes areas of the university that will be completely out of bounds to staff and students, and outlines strict rules for common areas such as the library.

Only 700 of the 4,000 students are men, but the issue of segregation has been of concern to parents since the campus opened in September.

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November 23rd, 2011, 2:52 pm


274. Tara said:


Does Israel has a problem with ultra-right Jews wanting to enforce their interpretation on others?

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November 23rd, 2011, 3:00 pm


275. bronco said:

Tara 269

Yes, total power corrupts, this is why power should be given only temporary to people.
Turkey had secularism forced through their throat by Ataturk who was a dictator, let’s not forget. He succeeded in Turkey thanks to the steel hand of the army who ensured the ‘secularism’ of all the different Constitutions created since 1922. Yet, nothing is sure. A resurgence of islamism may come back again in Turkey in case of economical hardships or moral decadence.

Actually in Turkey the army played the role of the “hardwired’ secular strong force garanteing secularism.

Iran went through similar forced ‘secularization’ by Reza Pahlavi and we see the result 2 generations after.
In Turkey religion is by law a private matter, not a public one and it took 40 years for Turkey to become a real ‘secular’ democracy.
Syria with enough time and a better regime could have become a real secular country on the way to democracy, but now all the cards may be changed and we just don’t know what it could become

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November 23rd, 2011, 3:14 pm


276. irritated said:


I expect all the anti-regime afficionados to contribute in financing the ‘angels’, the FSA heroic soldiers

“The Facebook page attributed to the Free Syrian Army even uses its site to ask for contributions, routinely posting the details of a Turkish bank account.

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November 23rd, 2011, 3:37 pm


277. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

#272 Tara,

There is a constant struggle between all parts of society (secularists, mild-religious, nationalistic-religious and Orthodox- religious). Eventually, and somehow, we manage to live together and resolve the differences in a peaceful manner, and by the idea that nothing should be imposed.

It’s important to notice though, that none of Israel’s leaders (political, military and judicial) is religious. Israel is a secular state. Despite what some who have no understanding about Israel, say.

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November 23rd, 2011, 3:38 pm


278. Akbar Palace said:

It’s important to notice though, that none of Israel’s leaders (political, military and judicial) is religious.


What are you talking about? There are plenty of religious “leaders” who are MKs and members of religiously-affiliated political parties. There are also secular parties and Arab parties. Right, Left, you name it…

They all pull and tug to their own direction and create coalitions. This is how they gain their voice and power. In the end, the voting population determines the size of each party and whether or not they get into power. This is democracy.

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November 23rd, 2011, 4:00 pm


279. Juergen said:


I share that optimism for Tunesia. I was quite critical about the politics which Bourguiba enforced in Tunesia, he seemed afterall more like a philosopher than an brutal dictator, which by the way he was. Nonevertheless almost every Tunesian says nowadays that thanks to him Tunesians know better and have at least one of the best educational systems in the arab world, even though that did not help them having an high unemployment rate. What makes Tunesia strong is the ability of its people to unite and feel they are one country, that was never certain, Ben Ali has always created more jobs for the western coast, leaving the center almost to its rual hardships, no wonder the revolution started there.

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November 23rd, 2011, 4:30 pm


280. Amir in Tel Aviv said:


Yes. There are plenty of religious people holding important functions in politics, judicial, army etc.

But if you look at the highest positions: PM, Opposition leader, house speaker. Defense, foreign-affairs, financial ministers. Head of the supreme court. IDF’s Chief of stuff and the top army command. Heads of Mossad, police and Shabak. All of them aren’t religious.

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November 23rd, 2011, 4:32 pm


281. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

#277 Juergen,

And what is your optimistic/pessimistic barometer telling you about the rest?

I’m quite pessimistic about Egypt, Yemen, Jordan. And about Syria, 55% optimistic, 45% pessimistic.

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November 23rd, 2011, 4:47 pm




It does not have to as drastic as dropping betho off, these fanatic sycophants do not tolerate even the tiniest of words besmirching their pencil neck god. The first criticism from Putin or his sideshow at betho, Putin will no longer be squeeeeeecky clean, but a murderer (but not in Chechnya), it will be Georgia.

Funny thing was that an irritable persona around here was happy using Israel’s logic and a well known neocon site to badmouth the UN and the GA’s Human Right Committee. I was laughing my little tail off imagining Akbar’s grin, but at the same time I was sad that irritation robbed a Syrian of the capacity for straight thinking.

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November 23rd, 2011, 5:07 pm


283. jad said:

“23 11 2011 Homs أوغاريت حمص إلقاء القبض على سيارة الاسعاف وبداخلها اسلحة الشبيحة والجيش”

Your terrorist friends are not as smart as you:

HNN| شـبكة أخـبار حمص
قام مجرمو الإخوان المسلمين و عملاء الناتو على أرض حمص الطاهرة اليوم بتاريخ 23.11.2011 باختطاف سيارة اسعاف فيها أحد المتوفين إلى حي الخالدية و قد قاموا بإحراقها و محاولة استثمار جريمتهم إعلامياً ليبرهنوا مرة أخرى كيف يكون العهر الأخلاقي و كيف يكون الإجرام و العمالة
مرة أخرى تلتقط رادرات شبكة شام عهرهم و يساعدنا في ذلك غباءهم الذي قادهم إليه مسح عقولهم المريضة و قلوبهم السوداء
الجريمة صورت و استثمرت مرتين و بطريقتين متناقضتين و كلتاهما روايتان فيهما من الغباء و التفاهة أكثر من أن نستطيع شرحه
في الاستخدام الأول الذي اتهموا فيه الأمن السوري كما قالوا يظهر مقطعان من زاويتين مختلفتين-شكراً لغبائهم- و يظهر أحدهم محاولاً التخفي و هو حامل مسدساً بيده بينما سيارة الإسعاف تحترق
أما الاستخدام الآخر و المضحك المبكي على غبائهم فهو ليس فقط مناقض لروايتهم الأولى بل هو من ينسفها و يبرهن على إجرامهم و عمالتهم و انحطاطهم الديني و الأخلاقي..ألا شاهت وجوهكم و شلت أياديكم يا عملاء الناتو
و حق تراب بلادنا لنكسنكم من شوارعنا و ذاكرتنا كما تكنس الزبالة

البياضة فضيحة سيارة الإسعاف و كذبة اعتقال مقاومين

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November 23rd, 2011, 6:45 pm


284. Darryl said:

The Samaritans

Hey Tara, have you done the reading on the Samaritans yet? You know the Samaritans are a mix of Syrians (Assyrians) and Israelites. The Samaritans are also mentioned in the Qur’an and there is a “spicey” story when the Israelite tribes were coming out of Egypt and built a golden Ox to worship from all the stolen gold.

Anyway, the Torah tells the story of how the Israelites ganged up on Aaron (brother of Moses) to built them an Oxen god to worship as Moses failed to return from the mountain where he was receiving the Law from God. This story took place about 600 years before the city of Samaria was founded by king Omri of Israel.

In the Qur’an, we find Allah is given 99 good names (like Al-RaHman etc etc) but Allah has other titles like He can be the best deceiver, He can be the worst torturer etc etc. In the Qur’anic story, we find that Allah can also be a good Chef as He decided to add some spice to the original story and it goes like this:

According to the Qur’an, the Oxen god was built by “the Samari” and not Aaron by taking horse manure from the Angel Gabriels’ horse manure and mixing it with gold and off course the Oxen would make the “Mew” sound that cows make (the sound effects did not exist in the Torah story).

Trouble is that the Samari who did this job was non other than Simon the Samari who was a famous magician who lived around 100 AD or so and his story is part of the Myth that Jewish tribes recount. Simon the Samari was reputed by Jewish myths to make things come alive including making stone oxens with sound effects.

So Allah decided to spice up the story over the Jewish version by transporting Simon the Samari from about 100AD past the date when Samaria was founded to the day the Israelites were lead out of Egypt by Moses. Off course we now have a major problem as we do not know which version is correct, the Torah version which agrees with historical facts or the Qur’anic version of the story.

I hope this story enlightened you Tara about Samaria and break up all these boring post about Syria.

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November 23rd, 2011, 6:48 pm


285. Akbar Palace said:


I understand what you’re saying” “highest positions”…OK. BTW – was Menachem Begin “religious”?

Anyway from the list below, here are the number of seats of policial parties with fairly strong religious/jewish platforms:

Shas – 11
Jewish Home – 3
United Torah Judaism – 5
National Union – 4

That’s about 20% of all seats.

I was laughing my little tail off imagining Akbar’s grin, but at the same time I was sad that irritation robbed a Syrian of the capacity for straight thinking.

Syrian Hamster,

Stop bad-mouthing Neo-Cons or I’ll report you to the Zionist Elders that control the world and all the protesters in Syria.;)


More on Samaritans. This website shows a population of 350 people. Would be nice to interview them…

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November 23rd, 2011, 7:08 pm


286. Juergen said:

@Amir 279

Well i tend to be more pessimistic for all the rest.

I was in Cairo 4 weeks ago, and i was shocked after talking to coptic christs and Muslims alike for their vison of Egypt.
The copts were terrified and two i met were sitting basically on packed suitcaes. I did not know that between the two is a big gap of misunderstandings and horrible rumors. The lack of suitable education could be a blame, Mubaraks regime the other to be blamed. I met Coptic who never have set a foot into a mosque, and Muslims who believed that coptic service in church means regular homocide of children. The military regime there seems to play the sectarian card here.

Concerning Syria, i am quite pessimistic but not for the overall outcome, its clear to me that this regime will go and frankly i feel that Syria will have a better future without this regime.
I am just not convinced that we will see a regimechange with those sanctions already in progress, those business sanctions never really bring the result one is wishing.
Seeing some of the loyal supporters in Syria itself or here in Germany makes me wonder, for some Assad seems more or less a Goddess, there is almost no insight why people would be on the streets against this regime, and i am afraid that those beton like supporters will act as the regime wants them, the sectarian card could once more played.

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November 24th, 2011, 10:07 am


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