Brotherhood Figures Block Yaqoubi’s Appointment, Post-Confirmation

Appointment of New Members Reversed

 

The opposition talks in Turkey have ended in disappointment for many. A Reuters article reports:

A crisis in Syria’s opposition deepened on Monday when liberals were offered only token representation, undermining international efforts to lend the Islamist-dominated alliance greater support.

To the dismay of envoys of Western and Arab nations monitoring four days of opposition talks in Istanbul, the 60-member Syrian National Coalition thwarted a deal to admit a liberal bloc headed by opposition campaigner Michel Kilo.

Liberals were not the only ones disappointed. In the last post, I revealed Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi’s appointment to the National Council as its first major Sufi figure. This appointment was a fact over a month ago, confirmed by the NC’s Membership Committee, and this was reaffirmed to Sheikh Ya’qoubi personally in April by both Mu’az al-Khatib and Riad Seif, but it was not announced publicly. The announcement was to be made officially at a meeting of the General Assembly. Later, the Coalition’s Political Council met in early May and confirmed a total of 31 new members. Some new members traveled to Turkey at that time for a meeting of the General Assembly, but the meeting was postponed due to political arguments. For the current talks that have just been held, the 31 members traveled again to Istanbul, had rooms booked for them and were officially hosted in anticipation of the announcement of their membership. Ostensibly for the preparation ahead of the Geneva 2 conference (in which the regime and opposition could actually sit at the same table, if both would agree to such), the talks descended into significant intrigue regarding the expansion of the Coalition. Scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, the quarreling didn’t end until early Monday morning. In a major reversal of earlier decisions, the membership of many new members was denied (or revoked). Pending confirmation, it seems that only 8 of the original 31 have been publicly designated as new members, despite previous affirmations of membership. Though it seems unsurprising that the Coalition would go back on its word, it is nevertheless striking that it would occur to this degree. Such a sweeping, last-minute reversal was unexpected by many.

At least one new Muslim Brotherhood figure has been appointed, and consistent with the previous pattern, there is no representation of the Sufi, Sunni ‘ulema who would represent far greater numbers of Syrians.

Syrian opposition shake-up falters ahead of peace conference – Reuters

The failure to broaden the coalition, in which Qatar and a bloc largely influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood has been playing the driving role, could undermine Saudi Arabian support for the revolt and raise the specter of a rivalry among Gulf powers that could further weaken the opposition.

Its Western backers have pressured the Coalition to resolve its divisions and expand to include more liberals to counter domination by Islamists. The plan also had support from Saudi Arabia, which had been preparing to assume a bigger role in coalition politics and has been uneasy about the rise of Qatar’s influence, coalition insiders said.

Its apparent failure to do so came hours before the European Union was scheduled at a meeting in Brussels to discuss lifting an arms embargo that could allow weapons to reach rebel fighters in Syria seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

… Kilo’s group received an offer of only five seats – instead of the more than 20 it had been looking for – after a session in Turkey that stretched nearly to dawn, coalition sources said.

The move left the Coalition controlled by a faction loyal to Qatari-backed Secretary-General Mustafa al-Sabbagh, and a bloc largely influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood. That group led resistance to the rule of Assad’s late father in the 1980s, when thousands of its members were tortured and executed.

“We were talking about 25 names as the basis for our negotiations, then there was agreement on 22 and then the number dropped to 20, then to 18, then to 15, then to five,” Kilo said, addressing the Coalition. “I do not think you have a desire to cooperate and hold our extended hand. … We wish you all the best.”

A member of the Kilo camp said his bloc would meet later to decide whether to withdraw from the opposition meeting, although he said the coalition may still make a better offer.

Please see this good article by Hassan Hassan: Inside Syrian opposition’s talks in Turkey:

The Syrian opposition is holding talks in Turkey to restructure and expand the National Coalition (NC). As I reported earlier this month, the talks follow a visit by 12 members of the NC to Riyadh this month. It’s important to remember here that the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy leader, Mohammed Tayfour, met the Saudi foreign minister in one-to-one talks and agreed to the expansion plans – the members even suggested that Ahmed Touma becomes the NC but of course after “election”.

On Thursday the NC members, including Tayfour and the NC’s secretary general Mustafa Al Sabbagh, agreed to include some 32 new members into the coalition as part of the expansion. The new members would represent individuals and forces from outside the coalition, mainly Michel Kilo and allies.

But on Friday, Al Sabbagh came back and said that he and others refused the plan. They offered an alternative plan: 21 new seats will be added; seven for Michel Kilo and his allies, seven for representatives of “local councils”, and seven for the Muslim Brotherhood. That means the Muslim Brotherhood will effectively get two thirds of the new expansion plan. Not only does the MB want to reduce the number of new seats but it also wants to use the occasion to expand its influence further. How is that?

“Local councils” are already represented in the NC by Al Sabbagh, a Syrian businessman and Islamist backed by Qatar and MB. He was appointed as the Coalition’s Secretary General in November after he claimed that he and a group of men represented various areas in Syria. I wrote this before: “The appointment of Mustafa Sabbagh as the National Coalition’s secretary general came after he showed up in Doha, before the formation of the coalition in November, with 16 people he falsely claimed represented provincial councils across Syria. In fact many of them were his employees in Saudi Arabia, or his relatives.”

It gets better. Qatar, Turkey and MB are insisting that Al Sabbagh heads the NC. Syrians know who Al Sabbagh is and, if that happens, the move will be self-defeating – the point is to make the coalition more representative to help it to build credibility as the world consider options for solving the Syrian conflict. American, French and Gulf representatives are still trying to push the coalition to let go of Al Sabbagh and accept the expansion plan. The MB, Qatar and Turkey are digging in their heels.

The MB can insist on saving its influence within the coalition but one thing is clear: support for the Syrian opposition is on hold until the coalition is expanded. The core group of the Friends of Syria insists that the coalition must be expanded and representative if any help is to be provided or steps are to be taken.

This is not the first time that Qatar’s allies within the National Coalition go back on their words shortly after they agree on something. During talks in Cairo to restructure the Syrian National Council in July last year, Tayfour sat with US ambassador Robert Ford for two hours. He finally agreed to the plan but went back on his word shortly after – apparently after he spoke to Qatar.

The Brotherhood has consistently opposed any plan to reform the political bodies, for a rundown of how it has done so, read my article here. The dominance of the Brotherhood over the political and military bodies was made possible by interferences from countries like Qatar and Turkey. The Brotherhood has not dominated these entities because of its popular base or because Syrians chose them.

It seems that pressure from outside powers to reverse that dominance will not work unless the Brotherhood has no choice, in the same way that any political solution will not work unless Assad has no choice.

Addendum

Saturday: The talks are expected to be finalised tonight  (Saturday) or probably tomorrow morning.  Still, the talks can drag on, even be shelved for now. No progress has been made. But two important developments are worth mentioning.

The first one is that 12 prominent members of the non-Brotherhood groups signed a document/ultimatum yesterday vowing to withdraw from the Coalition if the Brotherhood and its allies do not agree to the expansion plan.

The second one is that the Brotherhood presented a new idea (like amazing idea): George Sabra becomes the lead of the National Coalition, Ghassan Hitto remains the prime minister of the interim government and Mustafa Al Sabbagh as the NC’s general secretary for another six months. So basically, if more members are to be added, these three must lead the coalition and the interim government.

Six months, an interesting period. The pressure from Geneva 2 organisers might be the reason for insisting on this for now. They probably think that by that time things would be clearer. Both the Qataris and the Brotherhood promised recently (first week of this month) that they would not stand against any expansion plan. It’s unclear what has changed since.

But there is still pressure on the Brotherhood and its allies to accept the expansion plan. Although far-fetched, they might agree on some plan tonight or tomorrow. Because all sides disagree deeply on all issues, the talks may drag on. But because many members threatened to withdraw, the talks might be delayed as a way to avoid such an outcome. We will see what happens over the coming days.

Sunday: (see tweets from @the_47th on this too) Al Sabbagh is now the one digging in his heels and blocking the expansion of the National Coalition. He insists on representing one third of the new seats. He wants to remain the  Coalition’s secretary general AND gets one third for any expansion according to this quota he set:  one seat for any two new seats.

His insistence upset most of the attendants. When he was asked in front of the foreign ambassadors: “What is your priority? Especially that we are facing the challenges of Geneva 2. These demands will lead to the failure of the plan or even the fracture of the coalition which might consequently lead to Bashar Al Assad staying in power”. He answered with this (literally): “My conditions are more important and urgent”.

There is also this update from @The_47th: “I heard that no decision will be made (or letting go from MB) until they see if EU really lifts ban on arming”. That could mean that Al Sabbagh, and the Qataris and Brotherhood behind him, want to postpone the talks to avoid the expansion. As I mentioned above, they are under so much pressure to include more forces and some 12 prominent members threatened to withdraw which will potentially lead to the collapse of the coalition; so one way to avoid this and avoid a campaign against them, they probably came up with that populist demand: we won’t accept any expansion until the EU lifts the embargo on arms to the opposition. What does that have to do with making the coalition more representative?

One final note for now: why are members insisting on “votes” to pass any plan. Isn’t the point that the current people who can vote represent a specific group and its allies? Just absurd.

The Shadow War Behind Syria’s Rebellion: Foreign Backers Jockey for Influence in Turkey – Rania Abouzeid

While the diplomatic grouping known as the Friends of Syria met in the Jordanian capital Amman on Wednesday to discuss a U.S.-Russian plan for peace talks, a low-key yet perhaps equally important gathering was being quietly held in Istanbul between Saudi officials and half of the 30 members of the Free Syrian Army’s Higher Military Command, which claims to represent most of the rebels fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The informal talks, which were held at a seaside hotel, marked the first gathering of the rebel group’s Military Command and Saudi officials since, according to senior members of the Military Command, Saudi Arabia stepped up earlier this month to become the main source of arms to the rebels. In so doing they nudged aside the smaller Persian Gulf state of Qatar, which had been the main supplier of weapons to the opposition since early 2012. Saudi officials have simply been meeting with the rebels on their own, without involving the Qataris.

The change is significant because Qatar and Saudi Arabia each favor different rebel factions. The Qataris have backed more Islamist rebel groups, while the Saudis—despite Saudi Arabia’s ultraconservative form of government—have opted to support more moderate groups that may have an Islamist hue but are not considered conservative. The strong conservative Islamist current within rebel ranks may be weakened if support is increased to more moderate factions.

… All of the commanders TIME spoke to were optimistic that the Saudis would ferry more help to more moderate groups, but few thought the Qataris would stop supplying their favored battalions. “The difference is that the battalions who are against Jabhat al-Nusra will be strengthened,” said one young commander. “A fight with Jabhat al-Nusra is coming, we can no longer delay it.” That’s an unattractive prospect to many in the opposition, which was formed to fight the regime, not fellow rebels.

Both the regime and the opposition have suggested that they could participate in the Geneva 2 talks:

Syria confirms role in peace process – BBC

Syria’s foreign minister says President Bashar al-Assad’s government has agreed “in principle” to take part in peace talks in Geneva planned for June. Walid Muallem told reporters in Baghdad that the conference was “a good opportunity for a political solution to the crisis in Syria”. Russia and the US hope the talks will bring a negotiated end to the violence.

Syria’s main opposition coalition has said it is willing to take part if President Bashar al-Assad steps down.

Syria, opposition agree ‘in principle’ to attend peace conference – CNN

Both the Syrian government and the opposition Syrian National Coalition indicated Sunday they are interested in a peace conference next month in Geneva, Switzerland, though both sides tempered any optimism about the summit with caveats.

“We have in principle agreed to participate in Geneva, pending hearing more clarity about the purpose and the intentions of the Syrian regime — the Assad regime. So far, the signals have been not positive,” coalition spokesman Louay Safi said from Istanbul, where opposition leaders have been meeting to discuss the pending summit and to determine new leadership for the coalition.

“The Assad regime has to make it clear that they are there to engage in talks about transition to democracy, and as part of Geneva, understanding that would mean that all the powers that resides today with Bashar al-Assad will be given to the transitional government. Until this point, this is not clear,” he said.

Abdul Basit Seida, a senior member of the group meeting in Istanbul, said in a statement Sunday: “Talks are still ongoing with no final resolution. There is also no final decision yet on attending the conference in Geneva.”

The Syrian government has tentatively agreed to the June peace conference, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said earlier Sunday.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, he said, “I informed the Iraqi prime minister of Syria’s decision that the government agreed in principle to send an official delegation to the Geneva peace conference that will take place in June.”

SYRIA’S most powerful ally Russia says the Damascus regime has agreed “in principle” to attend an international peace conference on the crisis that world powers hope will take place in Geneva in June.But on Friday Moscow also criticised Syria’s various opposition groups for presenting tough demands that in some cases included the exclusion of President Bashar al-Assad’s representatives from the negotiations.

… But Lukashevich said reports of a specific date for the conference “cannot be taken seriously” because the ranks of Assad’s foes remained so split. “Demands to immediately name a specific date for the conference without having clarity about who – and with what authority – will speak in the name of the opposition, cannot be taken seriously,” Lukashevich said.

Syria’s main opposition group entered a second day of talks in Istanbul on Friday aimed at finding a joint approach to what has already been been dubbed as the “Geneva 2” conference. The first Geneva meeting in June last year ended in a broad agreement aimed at forming a transition government in Syria and introducing a long-lasting truce. But the deal was never implemented because of disagreements over Assad’s role in the new government and neither side’s decision to lay down their arms.

Lukashevich on Friday condemned some opposition leaders for declaring that no talks were possible with Assad still in power. Moscow has insisted that the talks be held without preconditions – a demand that appears to clash with the Damascus regime’s own insistence that Assad’s future not be addressed at the conference.

Lukashevich scorned attempts by the opposition to find a common voice, saying the reports he has seen thus far coming out of Istanbul “have not been encouraging”. “We are again hearing about the precondition that Bashar al-Assad leaves power, and that a government be formed under the auspices of the United Nations.”

Syria opposition demands ‘goodwill gestures’ from Assad

Syria’s opposition called Friday on President Bashar al-Assad to prove it is working for a transition of power in the war-torn country, as they gathered in Istanbul to discuss a US-Russian initiative for peace.

“We want to stop the bloodshed. It’s very important for us to have goodwill gestures, and from both sides,” Khaled al-Saleh, spokesman for the Western-backed National Coalition — the main opposition group — told reporters in Istanbul.

“We want to make sure that when we enter those negotiations the bloodshed in Syria will stop,” he added. The call comes hours after key Assad backer Moscow said the Syrian regime is “in principle” willing to join the peace conference proposed by the United States and Russia dubbed “Geneva 2”.

Syria opposition’s Khatib proposes Assad ‘safe exit’

Syria’s outgoing opposition chief published an initiative for his war-torn country on Thursday that would grant President Bashar al-Assad a safe exit, and urged dissident factions to adopt his plan.

Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib published his initiative on Facebook, as the main National Coalition he headed until March gathered in Istanbul to choose a new leader and discuss a US-Russian peace initiative dubbed Geneva 2.

Under Khatib’s initiative, Assad would have 20 days from Thursday to give “his acceptance of a peaceful transition of authority”.

After accepting, Assad would have one month to hand over power to either Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi or Vice President Faruq al-Sharaa, who would then govern Syria for a transitional period of 100 days.

As part of the transition Khatib envisages, Assad would “leave the country along with five hundred people whom he will select, along with their families and children, to any other country that may choose to host them”.

This is the first time one of Syria’s opposition chiefs has made an offer of political immunity to Assad and key members of his regime.

Syria opposition struggles to forge transition plan – Reuters

Syria’s divided opposition leaders have failed to back a plan by their outgoing leader for President Bashar Al Assad to cede power gradually to end the country’s civil war, highlighting the obstacles to international peace talks expected next month.

The 16-point plan proposed by Muath Al Khatib, who resigned as head of the Western-backed opposition National Coalition in March, urges Al Assad to hand power to his deputy or prime minister and then go abroad with 500 members of his entourage.

Al Khatib’s proposal appeared to win little support from other Syrian opposition figures at a three-day meeting in Istanbul to decide how to respond to a US-Russian proposal to convene peace talks involving Al Assad’s government next month.

The coalition is under international pressure to resolve internal divisions ahead of a conference Washington and Moscow see as crucial to hopes of ending two years of civil war which has allowed Al Qaida linked militants a growing role in Syria.

Syria’s fractious opposition scrambled to agree a new leadership on Friday in a bid to present a coherent front at peace talks which the United States and Russia are convening to seek an end to more than two years of civil war.

A major assault by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces on a rebel held town over the past week is shaping into a pivotal battle. It has drawn in fighters from Assad’s Lebanese allies Hezbollah, justifying fears that a war that has killed 80,000 people would cross borders at the heart of the Middle East.

Washington and Moscow have been compelled to revive diplomacy by developments in recent months, which include new reports of atrocities, accusations chemical weapons were used and the rise of al Qaeda-linked fighters among rebels.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet privately in Paris on Monday to discuss their efforts to bring Syria’s warring parties together, U.S. and Russian officials said.

Russia said the Syrian government had agreed in principle to attend the planned peace conference, which could take part in Geneva in the coming weeks, and had “expressed readiness” to find a political solution.

Under intense international pressure to resolve internal divisions so it can play a meaningful role in the talks, Syria’s Western-backed opposition National Coalition met in Istanbul to elect new leaders and broaden its membership.

Senior opposition figures said the coalition was likely to attend the conference, but doubted it would produce any immediate deal for Assad to leave power – their central demand.

“We are faced with a situation where everyone thinks there will be a marriage when the bride is refusing. The regime has to show a minimum of will that it is ready to stop the bloodshed,” said Haitham al-Maleh, an elder statesman of the coalition. …

COALITION STRUGGLES TO AGREE

Much to the frustration of its backers, the coalition has struggled to agree on a leader since the resignation in March of respected cleric Moaz Alkhatib, who had floated two initiatives for Assad to leave power peacefully.

Alkhatib’s latest proposal – a 16-point plan which foresees Assad handing power to his deputy or prime minister then going abroad with 500 members of his entourage – won little support in Istanbul, highlighting the obstacles to wider negotiations.

 

Israel

Israel’s air force chief warned Wednesday that tensions with Syria could escalate into a “surprise war” and that Israel needs to be ready. The remarks by Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel Wednesday echoed statements by Israel’s military chief of staff a day earlier.“A surprise war could take shape today in many configurations,” Eshel said at a strategy conference in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. “Isolated incidents can escalate very quickly and require us to be prepared in a matter of hours to operate throughout the entire spectrum … to utilize all the capabilities of the air force,” he said.He said Russian S-300 air defense systems are “on their way” to Syria, though Israel asked Russia not to supply the advanced air defense system to Syria.

Syria, Israel Exchange Fire Over Border – AP

Syria said Tuesday it destroyed an Israeli vehicle that crossed the ceasefire line in the Golan Heights overnight, while the Israeli military said gunfire from Syria had hit an Israeli patrol, damaging a vehicle and prompting its troops to fire back. The two sides appeared to be referring to the same incident.

Syria: Attacked Israeli Vehicle Was Heading to Rebel Village

The Tuesday exchange of fire between Israeli and Syrian troops along the 1973 ceasefire line  centered on the shooting of an Israeli military jeep. Syria has provided a letter to the UN Security Council detailing their side of the story.

According to those familiar with its contents, Syria says the jeep they attacked crossed the ceasefire line a 1:10 AM on Tuesday morning and headed in the direction of B’ir Ajam, a village in Syria that is currently held by the rebels.

Syrian officials said that the attempt to reach the village was part of ongoing Israeli support for the rebels along their frontier, and that the attack on the jeep was “self-defense.” They urged the UN Security Council to stop Israel from future cross-border operations, and complained about Israel firing missiles into southern Syria after the jeep was “destroyed.”

Israel told a completely different story on Tuesday, claiming the jeep was on the Israeli side of the ceasefire line, that it suffered only minor damage, and that they retaliated with missiles that scored “direct hits” on the Syrian military.

Miscellaneous

 

Decadence and death inside Damascus city walls – Telegraph

Damascus is a schizophrenic place, writes Ruth Sherlock. It is a city hunkered down in war, blighted by shellfire, blitzed by warplanes – and a thriving capital where business continues and the parties go on.

The party at the Damas Rose hotel in Damascus was in full swing. The ladies had coiffed their hair, applied blusher to their cheeks, and wore corsets and tight, silky, dresses with stiletto heels. At the edges of the grand parlour, groups of friends sat in booths upholstered with red velvet. Lovers wandered out to the poolside and rested on loungers below the starlit sky.

A few streets away Red Crescent volunteers washed the blood from a stretcher and hosed down an ambulance. A sniper’s bullet had smashed the taillight. They had just returned to base after delivering the lifeless body of a young man, shrapnel in his brain, back to his parents.

Scowcroft Argues for Diplomacy in Syria – WSJ

Former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft said the top U.S. priority in Syria should be to work with Russia to arrange a cease-fire rather than to arm Syrian rebels or establish a no-fly zone in the country, as some in Washington are advocating.

Americans think “instinctively” they ought help put an end to the civil war, Mr. Scowcroft said in a video interview on WSJ.com. But, he added, “I don’t see how we can help. If we actively participate, as many say, in Syria, then we’re going to own Syria. And we don’t know how to solve the Syrian problem.”

Asked whether he is advocating arming rebels or setting up a no-fly zone, Mr. Scowcroft replied, “No, I’m not. This is a very difficult situation. If (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) left tomorrow, it would not be all peace and quiet.”

Instead, he endorsed an effort by Secretary of State John Kerry to work with Moscow, an ally of and arms supplier to the Syrian government, to work out an end to the violence.

Turkey builds wall at Syria border crossing – Reuters

Turkey is constructing 2.5-km-long (1.5 mile) twin walls at a border crossing with Syria to increase security at the frontier following three deadly bombings this year.

Jordanian authorities turn away Syrian refugees – McClatchy

The flow of refugees crossing from Syria into Jordan has all but stopped in the last six days amid heavy fighting in the area and claims by Syrians that Jordanian border guards are preventing them from entering.

The Jordanian foreign minister has denied that his government had closed the border, but Syrians said Jordanian soldiers had turned them back.

A decision by the Jordanian government to block the flow of people across the border not only would exacerbate the humanitarian crisis that’s unfolding in Syria – thousands had been fleeing into Jordan every day, seeking refuge from the civil war there – but also would complicate efforts to supply the rebel groups that are fighting to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad.

“When we asked the border guards why they won’t let us in, they gave no reason,” said Abu Mohammed, a Syrian rebel who used a nom de guerre that means “Father of Mohammed” in Arabic. He makes regular trips to Jordan in order to ferry weapons and other supplies into Syria and take refugees and the wounded out.

As has happened on Syria’s northern border with Turkey, the Jordanian government has been allowing fighters, supplies and refugees to pass in and out of Syria through unofficial crossings into rebel-held areas. These unofficial crossing points are crucial to the rebellion.

Saudis overtaking Qatar in sponsoring Syrian rebels – The National

Last week, a 12-member delegation from the Syrian opposition visited Saudi Arabia, for an unprecedented two-day official meeting.

Saudi authorities had consistently declined to meet the opposition, despite repeated requests. This was partly because the kingdom has opposed Muslim Brotherhood dominance in the Syrian National Council and then the National Coalition, owing to the Brotherhood’s alliance with Qatar and Turkey and opposition to inclusivity.

But last week, surprisingly, the Saudi foreign minister, Saud Al Faisal, met Syrian Brotherhood deputy leader Mahmoud Farouq Tayfour, in one-to-one talks.

The Brotherhood had previously been confident in its alliance with Qatar and Turkey, and saw no need to offer concessions to engage other countries, including Saudi Arabia. So this meeting, which came after an “eager appeal” from the Brotherhood, suggests a shift in regional dynamics.

Two separate sources close to the opposition say Mr Tayfour assured the Saudi minister that “Syria’s Brotherhood will definitely not be like Egypt’s Brotherhood”.

He also “harshly” criticised Qatar’s role, even though Qatar had helped revive the Brotherhood in Syria after the Baathists massacred it out of existence in 1982.

Regime Demolishes Illegal Slums in Hama, Displacing Thousands – Syria Deeply

Twenty thousand residents of Wadi al-Jouz, a destitute neighborhood of the hard-hit city of Hama, have lost their homes. This was not the result of bombings or gun battles, but an unlikely culprit in a time of war: urban planning.

Activists said the Syrian army spearheaded the demolition of Wadi al-Jouz’s slums, shelling homes indiscriminately, before sending in bulldozers to raze structures as people fled. More than one-quarter of all Syrians have been displaced by violence over the past two years.

Opposition activists view the demolition as a form of collective punishment, aimed to crush the revolting neighborhoods in Hama, a city that defied the Baath Party for 50 years.

Comments (159)


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51. Tara said:

And one more news.

Defection is taking place in HA in protest to Dajjal al Mouqaweh”

Praise Jesus.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:05 pm

 

52. Ziad said:

Critics round on William Hague over arming of Syria’s rebels

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article3776106.ece

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May 27th, 2013, 6:12 pm

 

53. revenire said:

Hague is claiming the EU lifted the embargo. Let’s see the actual statement.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:12 pm

 

54. Majoos said:

It s going to be 34 degrees tomorrow in Mumbai!

Praise Manitu

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May 27th, 2013, 6:13 pm

 

55. revenire said:

Majoos ever had one of your relatives butchered by these “freedom fighters”? People are free to feel as they like about it.

You can send them roses and chocolates. I am sending something else.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:14 pm

 

56. Majoos said:

@revenire
Why did you never mention the leaked documents by RedHack in Turkey whick exposed that Turkish secruites knew two weeks in advance of planed bomb attacks in Reyhanli by Nusra?

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May 27th, 2013, 6:18 pm

 

57. majoos said:

@revenire

I had family members being butchered by so called pro-secular Turks in the 30´s.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:20 pm

 

58. Tara said:

Now that the arms embargo is lifted, Asma must use a wetting pad in Batta’s bed tonight. Sad they don’t sell disposable pads in Syria nowadays.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:20 pm

 

59. revenire said:

1.) Tara you should have known the British lie about everything:

“Mary Fitzgerald ‏@MaryFitzger
EU did not decide to ‘lift’ Syria arms embargo tonight. It failed to agree to extend embargo beyond June 1 expiry date. Important difference”

Hague is a liar and anyone who believes him is a fool.

2.) Majoos let me look at them but the reason I don’t mention is is because this was a foregone conclusion and frankly, truth matters little in this war. Truth is the first casualty of war.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:23 pm

 

60. Tara said:

*YOUR COMMENT IS AWAITING MODERATION.*

Now that the arms embargo is lifted, Asma must use a wetting pad in Batta’s bed tonight. Sad they don’t sell disposable pads in Syria nowadays.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:24 pm

 

61. Ziad said:

Real reporting on Hizbullah’s intervention in Syria: not based on “inside sources” or “sources close to Hizbullah” or to “fighters skyping from Qusayr”

This is real reporting. As-Safir reports about the families of Hizbullah fighters who died in Syria and it reports about casualties of Hizbullah, without relying on the lies and exaggeration of Saudi and Hariri media, which are then recycled in Western media. And what is interesting is that the families don’t consider the fight to be in defense of Bashshar Al-Asad (and even Nasrallah did not portray the fight in those terms). The views of the families are of course inconsistent with the “impressions” of the handful of Sh`ities that Hariri press office rolls out for Western reporters in Jumayzah.

http://networkedblogs.com/LC9Lm

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May 27th, 2013, 6:24 pm

 
 

63. Tara said:

The endpoint is no sanctions is in effect whatever the mechanism was. Lifting the embargo or failing to extend the sanctions is all semantic. Our good Arab brothers can now have private deals with arms dealer LEAGALLY!

Praise Jesus!

Hallelujah!

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May 27th, 2013, 6:34 pm

 

64. SANDRO LOEWE said:

REVENIRE,

I am very sorry for you and for Assad supporters. Do not take it personally, the lift of embargo is very good news for the future of syrian population.

One day, even Assad supporters, and clients will appreciate the UE for lifting the embargo and help ending the Assad Nightmare.

Congratulations to all, congratulations Syria.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:34 pm

 

65. revenire said:

Tara let me explain how the EU arms embargo worked: in order to lift it they would have needed unanimous consent of all members.

That didn’t happen.

What did happen is it is expiring at the end of the month (on June 1).

If you don’t believe me ask around.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:35 pm

 

66. ann said:

We’ve got enough problems at home without charging into yet another foreign bloodbath – 2 minutes ago

What infuses British governments with a mania for thrusting their sticky hands into other people’s messes that are absolutely no responsibility of ours?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2331824/MAX-HASTINGS-Weve-got-problems-home-charging-foreign-bloodbath.html

Foreign Secretary William Hague spent the Bank Holiday at an EU meeting in Brussels, striving to persuade his European colleagues not to renew their arms embargo against Syria, and instead ship weapons to the anti-Assad rebels.

Hague, like the Prime Minister, is panting to do a good deed in a wicked world. Enthusiastically backed by the Old Etonian boy scout troop that passes for Downing Street policy advisers, they are eager to follow their 2011 ‘success’ in Libya by helping to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

One of the most senior of David Cameron’s staffers speaks messianically of a ‘moral imperative’ to tilt the balance in Syria. The Prime Minister himself spent much of his recent visit to Washington urging President Barack Obama to overcome his gut reluctance to intervene.

Why, why, why? It seems extraordinary that a British national leader striving to preserve his premiership from the threat of abject failure, amid grave difficulties with the economy and Europe, should be eager to involve Britain in a huge gamble abroad.

The only other EU nation which shares Mr Cameron’s enthusiasm for arming the Syrians is France, where President Francois Hollande is in even deeper trouble than himself, and eager for foreign adventures to distract attention from his follies at home.

David Cameron might say: ‘But don’t you watch TV? Every day, commentators report new carnage in Syria and castigate Western politicians for failing to act. The Economist, The Financial Times and The Times are all demanding aid for the rebels. Surely we have a duty not to stand idly by.’

Yet one of the media’s chronic vices is to describe horrors in faraway places, sounding that baleful cry ‘Something Must Be Done’, without having the smallest credible idea about what this should be.

Again and again, Western involvements, even in famine relief, have proved lamentably ill-judged, creating the very opposite impact to that which they intended.

I was among those who opposed the Cameron-led operation in Libya two years ago, which the Government now considers a triumph. But that story is by no means over.

I have promised to apologise in print to the Prime Minister if, a few years hence, the new Libya which he sponsored proves democratic, unified and friendly towards the West.

Students of the Libyan story say I am in little early peril of having to dine off my hat.

The Syrian civil war has created almost unprecedented unanimity among professional military, intelligence and diplomatic opinion, that Western intervention would be madness.

One planner told me earlier this month: ‘We can work out 20 scenarios for getting stuck into Syria. But we can’t see one for getting out again afterwards.’

President Assad is a loathsome tyrant, backed by some of the nastiest governments in the world — Chinese, Russian and Iranian.

Beijing and Moscow have repeatedly vetoed UN action against the Syrian government. This is partly because they see diplomacy as a zero-sum game: they oppose whatever the West wants.

Assad is a long-standing client of the Russians and provides them with a strategically important Mediterranean naval base.

But rebel forces are dominated by Islamists. They are divided among themselves into scores of factions and are widely acknowledged to be responsible for atrocities almost as loathsome as those being committed by government forces.

It is still uncertain whether they have contrived to manufacture evidence of alleged chemical-weapon use by the regime for their own propaganda purposes. Their principal foreign supporters are Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the least democratic states in the Middle East.

General Colin Powell used an immortal phrase to warn President George W. Bush against going into Iraq in 2003. ‘It’ll be pottery barn rules,’ said the former U.S. Secretary of State. ‘You break it, you own it.’

This proved horribly true in Iraq, and would be equally so in Syria.

The moment the West arms rebel factions, it assumes implicit responsibility for the future of the country and institutionalises the civil war.

The Syrian government’s forces are nowhere near as weak and vulnerable as were those of President Gaddafi two years ago. And, unlike the Libyan insurgents, those operating in Syria control no big tract of territory.

The Hezbollah militias now fighting actively on the side of Assad are formidable warriors: their involvement threatens to extend the struggle into Lebanon, where they are based.

If Syria breaks up, as many experts fear, its collapse will have implications for the stability of Turkey, Iran and Iraq, as well as Jordan.

This is why the Americans are so reluctant to take a hand. They recognise — as our government will not — that the consequences of intervention are many and various, and completely unpredictable.

William Hague says if Britain gets its way and the rebels receive guns from us, these will be supplied under ‘carefully controlled conditions’.

That is a notably silly statement from an intelligent man. We would have no means of monitoring the ultimate fate of arms shipments to the region unless we put troops on the ground, which even Hague and Cameron do not propose.

Nonetheless, it is impossible simply to offload crates of anti-aircraft and anti-armour weapons at the Syrian border and invite rebels to read the instructions carefully. Somebody would have to train the users, which, of course, means British personnel.

It is almost impossible to do a little bit of intervention. Once one undertakes sponsorship of one side or the other, one is stuck with the client.

Western aircraft could impose a no-fly zone on government forces, but as the very smart ex-CIA officer and White House adviser Bruce Riedel says: ‘Once you set up a military no-fly zone or safe zone, you’re on a slippery slope, mission creep, and before you know it, you have boots on the ground.’

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said he still cannot see a U.S. armed initiative which promises ‘an understandable outcome. There’s a lot of analysis to be done before reaching any major decisions that would push U.S. policy in the direction of military options’.

Opinion polls on both sides of the Atlantic show overwhelming majorities opposing Western military intervention.

I doubt that David Cameron will gain a single vote at the next general election by leading a charge into Syria; and if such a mission goes sour, he could lose plenty.

There is scope for Britain and the rest of the EU to step up humanitarian aid to the region, especially through Jordan.

There are slender hopes that the proposed peace conference in Geneva will force the Syrian warring parties to negotiate seriously.

But even if diplomatic efforts fail and the bloody struggle goes on in Syria, I can think of absolutely no reason for Britain to lead a crusade to save the country, apart from the ill-judged idealism of a few space cadets that are around the Prime Minister.

[…]

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2331824/MAX-HASTINGS-Weve-got-problems-home-charging-foreign-bloodbath.html

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May 27th, 2013, 6:36 pm

 

67. SANDRO LOEWE said:

REVENIRE,

It does not work this way. The embargo will not be renewed. So every country in the EU will be free to provide arms to the Revolution and get money from Saudi Arabia or Qatar or from any friend of Syria.

Will now Assad dare crossing the red lines ?

That´s the end for that nightmare.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:40 pm

 

68. revenire said:

Tara as I said – this was just filed at Reuters and is honest – unlike British war criminal Hague:

EU fails to agree on easing Syria arms ban: Austria

(Reuters) – European Union countries failed on Monday to agree on easing an arms embargo on Syria, Austria’s foreign minister said, a deadlock that might enable some EU states to go it alone in sending weapons to rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

If no deal can be salvaged in late-night talks between EU foreign ministers, all EU sanctions on Syria, including those on the Assad government, will expire on Saturday, leaving individual member states to decide whether to keep the restrictions in place.

That could free up Britain and France – which have been pushing the EU for action – to go it alone in arming the rebels if they decided to do so.

Some EU diplomats at the meeting in Brussels disputed the Austrian version of events, saying talks would resume later in the evening and there was still a chance of salvaging a common EU position.

“Nothing has failed. Germany and the Netherlands will push very hard to find an acceptable compromise for everybody,” a Dutch diplomat said.

However, another EU diplomat said the ministers were simply drawing up a political declaration that member states were committed to keeping other sanctions in place against Syria, apart from the arms embargo on the rebels.

Britain and France have pushed for months to allow European governments to deliver arms, although they say they have taken no decision to actually supply weapons. Austria and other EU capitals oppose such moves.

“I regret that after long talks it was not possible to find a compromise with the UK and France,” Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger told reporters. “We have no consensus, which means the sanctions regime will not be continued.”

The EU’s diplomatic service produced several proposals aimed at finding middle ground between the two camps but none had won the required unanimous support by the time ministers took a break from talks for dinner on Monday evening.

EU sanctions on Syria, including asset freezes and travel bans on Assad and senior Syrian officials as well as the arms embargo, expire on Saturday.

PEACE TALKS

Britain and France have argued that easing the embargo would strengthen the opposition before a peace conference co-sponsored by Russia and the United States expected to be held next month.

Austria and several other states believe it would send the wrong signal before the proposed peace talks on ending a two-year-old civil war that has cost at least 80,000 lives.

Spindelegger said on Monday the Austrian government would now discuss what to do about its 380 soldiers patrolling the U.N. ceasefire line on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria. Vienna has said in the past it might have to pull them out if the arms embargo was eased.

Many EU governments, including France, said during Monday’s talks that they would back a compromise to maintain EU unity.

The debate has gained urgency because of military gains by Assad’s troops and allegations of chemical weapons use.

While the rebels are receiving arms from Arab states through Jordan and Turkey, Western powers are concerned that Islamist militants fighting Assad could also use such weapons against them. The United States has also held back from supplying arms.

(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft, Claire Davenport, Rex Merrifield in Brussels, Yesim Dikmen in Istanbul; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/27/us-syria-crisis-eu-idUSBRE94Q09320130527

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May 27th, 2013, 6:41 pm

 

69. revenire said:

Sandro yes, it does – read the EU rules. Unanimous consent was needed. Just read the news reports. It is simple 1-2-3 stuff.

Weapons have flowed from Britain for two years now. It is meaningless Sandro.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:43 pm

 

70. zoo said:

EU arms embargo theoretically lifted with a “if” and within a “strict framework”. UK and France want probably to use that half ‘success’ to morally boost the opposition’s failing morale and as a stick to pressure Bashar al Assad.. who couldn’t care less.
France and UK have avoided to be humiliated by Europe

http://www.itv.com/news/update/2013-05-27/syria-decision-gives-eu-flexibility-if-crisis-worsens/

Syria decision gives EU ‘flexibility’ if crisis worsens
Last updated Mon 27 May 2013
….
Foreign Secretary William Hague said the decision to lift the Syrian arms embargo gives the European Union “flexibility to respond” if the crisis deteriorates further in the future.

EU nations also agreed a common framework for those member states who, in the future, may decide to supply military equipment to the Syrian National Coalition.

“These agreed safeguards would ensure that any such equipment would only be supplied to the National Coalition, for the protection of civilians.

“This does not mean that we have made any decision as the United Kingdom to send arms to the National Coalition, but we now have the flexibility to respond in the future if the situation continues to deteriorate and if the Assad regime refuses to negotiate.

“Thousands of lives are at stake in Syria. Our focus remains on efforts to secure a successful outcome at the forthcoming Geneva conference, and a political transition that ends the conflict, allows refugees to return to their homes, and prevents further radicalisation in Syria.”.
….
EU governments will refrain from any arms deliveries to Syria for now, the diplomats said.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:47 pm

 

71. Tara said:

HA HA HA

Did not wait long for regime supporters to claim victory in regard to the sanctions. And when Batta wets his bed tonight, more victory they shall claim.

Looking forward to a future saturated with similar victories.

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May 27th, 2013, 6:49 pm

 

72. revenire said:

LOL

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May 27th, 2013, 6:52 pm

 

73. Dawoud said:

Key paragraph in an excellent analysis in Reuters:

http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2013/05/23/changing-assads-calculus/

Changing Assad’s calculus
By David Rohde MAY 23, 2013

[…]
Given the extent of support Assad is receiving from his allies, that appears unlikely. Hezbollah fighters are playing a crucial role in the battle to take the strategic town of Qusayr. Iranians are now advising Syrian government units in Qusayr and around Damascus. Members of Iraqi Shia militias are fighting alongside Assad’s forces in several battles.

Assad and the Iranians are winning. If the Obama administration and its European and Arab allies want to defeat Assad, they must increase military aid to the rebels now.
[…]

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May 27th, 2013, 7:05 pm

 

74. revenire said:

Leaked Video: French Diplomat Argues with Syria Opposition

In an apparent vindication of the latest interview with Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad, the notorious opposition Syrian National Coalition appears hopelessly divided ahead of the Geneva 2 conference in June.

Recently, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has said that the government had agreed ”in principle to participate in the international conference which is supposed to be convened in Geneva” in June: “We think…that the international conference represents a good opportunity for a political solution to the crisis in Syria.”

As different blocs and competing personalities emerge, a deadlock ensues preventing the much reported opposition, marred by resignations and splits, from establishing any semblance of unity.

The following video shows a French diplomat arguing with opponents at the latest Coalition conference in Istanbul.

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May 27th, 2013, 7:05 pm

 

75. Dawoud said:

History will write that the Syrian Revolution and al-Assad’s fate were decided by three events:

1) the torture/murder of Hamza al-Khateeb and the excessive force against Der’ah’s peaceful demonstrators, which turned the Syrian demonstrators’ demands from reform to REGIME CHANGE and MILITARIZED the resistance.

2) The allegiance of one terrorist leader of al-Nusra Front to al-Qa’ida’s terrorist network raised negative alarm in the West and Saudi Arabia/Qatar. This alarm has dramatically slowed plans to provide effective arms to the armed opposition, which in turn has led to the military gains of the regime and its sectarian Iranina/Hizbass/Iraqi allies.

3)The latest speech by Hasan the Devil of the Lebanese Shia terrorist party, Hizbass. This speech, which made it clear that the Lebanese terrorist Hasan the Devil tied his fate to Bashar’s, has raised real alarm in the majority Sunni Arab world and the West. It is now unsurprising that both Saudi Arabia (whose Crown Prince was in Turkey a few days ago) and Qatar are providing more arms to Idris’ Free Syrian Army (FSA)-which is viewd as “moderate.” John McCain, who supports providing arms to the Syrian resistance, met today in Syria with Idris. As TARA posted earlier in her comment, the European Union is now lifting the arms embargo on the Syrian armed opposition. Free Syria may have one day Hasan the Devil to thank because his terrorist intervention in Syria ONLY motivated the West and Arabs to provide game-changing weapons to the anti-dictator Syrian opposition.

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May 27th, 2013, 7:17 pm

 

76. revenire said:

When that book becomes available on Amazon Dave let me know.

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May 27th, 2013, 7:22 pm

 

77. Tara said:

Matt Barber,

Thank you.

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May 27th, 2013, 7:25 pm

 

78. GEORGES said:

I watched the video at #73, I couldn’t help but feel bad, it’s such a sad state of affairs that syrians are reduced to beg weapons from the west to fight their supposed government. يلعن روحك يا بشار شو سويت فينا

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May 27th, 2013, 7:32 pm

 

79. Dawoud said:

77. GEORGES
I could not have agreed with you more, and I also agree with you that: “God curse Bashar’s [and Hasan the Devil’s]filthy soul!”

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May 27th, 2013, 7:34 pm

 

80. Dawoud said:

McCain in Syria:

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May 27th, 2013, 7:45 pm

 

81. Dawoud said:

Picture of Senator McCain in Syria with FSA General Idris:

http://syriantaskforce.org/index.php/about-us/setf-blog/86-setf-mccain-trip

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May 27th, 2013, 7:50 pm

 

82. Tara said:

McCain in Syria, Another regime victory?,,,

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May 27th, 2013, 7:50 pm

 

83. revenire said:

McCain in Syria certainly isn’t a regime loss.

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May 27th, 2013, 7:54 pm

 

84. Ghufran said:

I doubt that the failure to extend the arms embargo will change things much on the ground but it may increase the loss of lives and prolong the war, the NC was waiting for this move before they officially reject going to Geneve because their conditions were not met.
Rebels and their supporters are afraid that if they do not score another victory or two they will be forced to accept a settlement that is more favorable to the regime, I see this move by the EU as an attempt to pressure Assad to make more concessions, however it remains to be seen whether this new game will succeed, I am for any measure to convince Assad to give up his presidential ambitions because I believe it is best for Syria that he steps aside then steps out but I think the focus should be ending the war not giving more arms to the rebels who are not interested in a political settlement but are determined to wipe out their opponents, overall this move by the EU is probably too little too late.

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May 27th, 2013, 7:58 pm

 

85. ann said:

AL-HAM-DOOLI-LA!

“Rebels” kidnap hundreds of Syrian Kurds in Aleppo: activists – 2013-05-28

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2013-05/28/c_132412286.htm

DAMASCUS, May 27 (Xinhua) — “Syrian rebels” have kidnapped hundreds of Syrian Kurds in the northern province of Aleppo, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday.

The kidnappers are holding the hostages in a town north of Aleppo, the Observatory said, giving no further details about the circumstances of the kidnapping.

An earlier report said some Kurdish militants were battling “rebels” in northern Syria near the border with Turkey on Monday, one day after deadly clashes between the two sides killed 11 “rebels.”

[…]

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2013-05/28/c_132412286.htm

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May 27th, 2013, 8:06 pm

 

86. Dawoud said:

81. TARA

I disagree with you sister Tara. I am not a McCain supporter, and I voted against him in 2008 because of his neocon views. However, Syria is different and his visit is a win for the opposition. Why? McCain has shown that NOT everybody in the Syrian opposition is an “extremist,” and weapons-which the armed opposition badly needs, can still be sent to the FSA group that he met with (General Idris). If Idris’ FSA gets advanced weapons, wouldn’t they use them against the regime and its Shia Lebanese terrorist allies? The Syrian resistance-which is now being exterminated (look at what’s happening now in al-Qasir)-needs weapons from Arabs, the EU, the USA, and from anywhere it can get them. When you are dying from thirst, you don’t ask about the source of the life-saving water!

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May 27th, 2013, 8:10 pm

 

87. ann said:

Aleppo – A mass grave of government troops was discovered Monday near the Koerse military airport in the countryside, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday, spelling no further details.

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May 27th, 2013, 8:12 pm

 

88. revenire said:

American Dave they’re already sending weapons. Have been for over two years. They send them, we capture them. I hope they send some of those new high-powered sniper rifles. They’re really cool.

You guys get excited over nothing and never read the fine print.

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May 27th, 2013, 8:18 pm

 

89. Tara said:

Dawoud

Yes Dawoud. Totally agree. I was being sarcastic. I was trying to say that regime supporters are so blinded that they claim victory even when they are on their knees. I bet when Divine justice is seved to Batta, they will claim a victory too. Yes, his visit is very important in showing the world that not everyone who carries arms against Batta is an Islamist.

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May 27th, 2013, 8:31 pm

 

90. Dawoud said:

Tara
🙂

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May 27th, 2013, 8:44 pm

 

91. Tara said:

Zoo,

Having been the first of the class in the past, any confirmation in regard to the defections within HA? ,,,

Do you think that eould upset the Persian? Does this herald a Shiaa divide? Isn”t timer for Shiaa Arab to stay Arab? Do they need to have a Persian wali Faqih? I heard that wali Faqih thingy is something relatively new as opposed since the inception of Shiiite sect.

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May 27th, 2013, 8:55 pm

 

92. ann said:

Undercover FBI agent ‘lured’ Tunisian student, allegedly linked to foiled terror plot, to U.S., supporters say – May 27, 2013

Ahmed Abassi, a 26-year-old Laval University student, was allegedly in regular contact with the agent, who secretly recorded them discussing a plot to attack a Via Rail passenger train

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/05/27/undercover_fbi_agent_lured_tunisian_student_allegedly_linked_to_foiled_terror_plot_to_us_supporters_say.html

MONTREAL—Supporters of Ahmed Abassi, a Tunisian man allegedly linked to a foiled Canadian terror plot, say an undercover FBI agent posing as an Egyptian businessman provided money, advice and the promise of a job if Abassi would come to the United States.

U.S. court documents have already revealed that an undercover agent played a crucial role in the arrest of Abassi, a 26-year-old student at Quebec’s Laval University.

Abassi was allegedly in regular contact with the agent, who secretly recorded them discussing a plot to attack a Via Rail passenger train; to cause the death of “up to 100,000 people” by contaminating the air or water; to provide financial support and weapons to anti-government fighters in Syria, and how to recruit other terrorists in North America.

[…]

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/05/27/undercover_fbi_agent_lured_tunisian_student_allegedly_linked_to_foiled_terror_plot_to_us_supporters_say.html

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May 27th, 2013, 9:05 pm

 

93. ann said:

As EU Lets Syria Arms Embargo Expire, UN Silent On Austria’s Troop Threat

By Matthew Russell Lee

http://www.innercitypress.com/syria1euun052713.html

UNITED NATIONS, May 27 — Before European Union foreign ministers met on May 27 and did not extend the EU arms embargo on Syria, Austrian officials repeatedly said if the embargo was lifted they would pull their over 300 troops out of the UN mission in the Golan.

So what was the UN Secretariat’s position, both as the (recently mis) manager of the UNDOF observer mission and as an organization ostensibly against arming and the arms trade?

Typical of its increasing invisibility or cautious opportunism, the UN was nowhere to be seen on this. Not the head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, whose interest should be the peacekeepers in the UNDOF mission but who has allowed them to be repeatedly kidnapped without even properly announcing it.

Ladsous confined the most recent kidnapping to a “conversation” with friendly scribes. And where was Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on this?

On May 23, Inner City Press asked Ban’s deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey:

Inner City Press: About the Golan and UNDOF [United Nations Disengagement Observer Force]. There has been renewed statements by Austria that they would… would withdraw their 300-some peacekeepers if an arms embargo is modified to Syria and the rebels, and I wonder, does the UN, given its need for peacekeepers, does it have any view on that?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, number one, we have no information from the Austrians at all on any decision they may or may not have taken, so we are not going to comment any further on that.

The Austrians’ position had been publicly stated, and Ladsous as head of UN peacekeeping, the fourth Frenchman in a row to hold the post, is supposed to be in touch with the troop contributing countries. So how can it be, “no information from the Austrians at all”?

And so on May 24, Inner City Press asked the UN’s Del Buey:

Inner City Press: Austria, now not just the Defense Minister, now the Foreign Minister has said today that if the EU Foreign Ministers who meet on Monday in Brussels remove the arms embargo on Syria, there are ‘serious problems with Austria remaining in the Golan Heights and UNDOF.’ So, again, are you saying you haven’t gotten any letter from them? Since the UN is running the peacekeeping mission of UNDOF, is there anyone in the UN system that is trying to make any UN view known to the EU foreign ministers who will vote on this?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Matthew, we are constantly monitoring the situation in all of our missions around the world, but we do not address speculation; it is [speculative]. We are not going to speculate on what the Austrians may or may not do. To the moment, we have not received any indication from the Austrians; we have not received any communication from them on this, and that is where we stand.

So the UN said nothing, and now the meeting has ended and the arms embargo was not extended. It will expire on June 1. If the Austrians leave, should the UN have spoken?

Was the UN Secretariat of Ban Ki-moon reluctant to anger France and the UK, who wanted the embargo off?

[…]

http://www.innercitypress.com/syria1euun052713.html

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May 27th, 2013, 9:36 pm

 

94. revenire said:

Defections in Hezbollah? LOL

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May 27th, 2013, 9:44 pm

 

95. Ghufran said:

The west wants one rebel force not 400, they want the FSA to unify and fight Nusra which is now paying the highest price in terms of casualties:
عادت صراعات “جبهة النصرة” الإسلامية وكتائب الفاروق في “الجيش الحر” إلى الواجهة من جديد، في المناطق الحدودية، عقب تجدد الاشتباكات بين الطرفين يوم الأحد، ومقتل حوالي خمسة مقاتلين في “النصرة” وجرح عشرات المقاتلين من “الفاروق” حتى لحظة إعداد هذا التقرير، بحسب مصادر عسكرية في “الجيش الحر” .
كما أشارت المصادر الموجودة في منطقة الشركراك القريبة من مدينة تل أبيض السورية، والمحاذية للحدود مع تركيا، أن المنطقة تشهد مواجهات عنيفة مستمرة منذ يوم الأحد، في ظل تسجيل حالات خطف خلال الساعات الأخيرة، تقوم بها “جبهة النصرة” بحق مقاتلي كتائب الفاروق. 
أما أهالي المنطقة، فقد خرجوا في تظاهرة الأحد تطالب في مدينة تل أبيض مطالبين بطرد كل الكتائب الغريبة عن المدينة وريفها ومن ضمنها “جبهة النصرة”، كما طالبوا بذلك مسبقاً بشكل مستمر. 
كتائب “الجيش السوري الحر” استجابت لمطالب الأهالي وقامت ، بتوحيد كافة “كتائب الحر” في مدينة تل أبيض تحت راية لواء المصطفى وأقامت حواجز على مداخلها، منعاً لانفلات الوضع الأمني الذي تسببت به سيطرة “جبهة النصرة” على المنطقة، حيث سجل الكثير من حالات الخطف لأعضاء المجالس المحلية في الثورة من المدينة، كما قتل أحد المحامين مؤخراً على يد مقاتلي “النصرة”، الأمر الذي تطلب اجراءات سريعة وحاسمة من قبل “الجيش الحر”.
ويؤكد المصدر في “الجيش الحر”، أنه “من غير المنطقي أن يضطر مقاتلو الجيش الحر إلى قتال النظام الذي يستخدم الترسانة العسكرية السورية كاملة، لإبادة معارضيه، فيما يتلقى الجيش الحر بالوقت ذاته، يطعنات داخلية من قبل حلفاء من المفترض أنهم يقاتلون للغاية ذاتها. يجب وضع حد لهذه المهزلة”. 

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May 27th, 2013, 9:46 pm

 

96. Dawoud said:

Tara

I agree with you Tara that the problem of the Arab Shia is their loyalty to the non-Arab Persian Shia theology of Wilayet al-Faqih! For example, please see this video for Lebanon’s Shia terrorist حسن نصر الشيطان and what he is saying:

حسن نصر الله يعلن وبدون تقية أن ولاءه المطلق لإيران وليس للبنان

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May 27th, 2013, 9:56 pm

 

97. zoo said:

83. Ghufran

I think the lift of the embargo was mainly intended to oblige the opposition to accept to participate to the Conference. This media ‘success’ will allow it to swallow the humiliation of having to drop the long standing pre-conditions that Bashar al Assad should go before the conference. In addition, they haven’t got any guarantee that Basshar Al Assad will not be a candidate for election in 2014. They got vague promises.

They have no more excuses not to participate. Yet, they will try all they can to undermine the conference so they can put the blame on the Syrian government and then ask the UK and France for weapons.
The game is far from over, and Bashar al Assad will certainly not trust the opposition’s fake interest in a peace deal. He will continue the military campaign of regaining areas as well as re-arming the army for more fights to come.

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May 27th, 2013, 10:05 pm

 

98. revenire said:

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May 27th, 2013, 10:09 pm

 

99. Dawoud said:

Who cares about the UN force in Southern Lebanon. The force was meant to be an advance notice unit if Hizbass decides to attack Israel. Now, we know that the Lebanese Shia terrorist party is busy killing Syrians and has no intentions to attack Israel. Austria should pull the force, and the EU should give arms to the Syrian resistance!

If you don’t believe me about Hizbass true intentions and its hypocrisy, again read what Robert Fisk (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/hezbollahs-war-in-syria-threatens-to-engulf-lebanon-8632689.html) once heard the Lebanese Shia terrorist say:

“The Hezbollah chairman who said exactly 13 years ago that his resistance movement would not cross the Israeli frontier – that it was for the Palestinians to ‘liberate’ Jerusalem – has declared that Hezbollah has crossed the Syrian frontier. Not only that, but Nasrallah said at the weekend he would fight “to the end” to protect President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Hezbollah, he said, was entering “a completely new phase.” He can say that again.”

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May 27th, 2013, 10:13 pm

 

100. zoo said:

Bashar al Assad has until 1 Aug to make a military or political breathrough before France and the UK would be allowed to provide it with heavy weapons. Not that it is unclear which neighboring country will allow such weapons to cross their borders.

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1247975/eu-failure-will-allow-britain-france-arm-syrian-rebels-against-assad

Britain and France have made a commitment not to deliver arms to the Syrian opposition “at this stage”, an EU declaration said. But EU officials said the commitment effectively expires on August 1.

“While we have no immediate plans to send arms to Syria, it gives us the flexibility to respond in the future if the situation continues to deteriorate,” Hague told reporters.

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May 27th, 2013, 10:15 pm

 

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