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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101. revenire said:

The actual EU declaration not war criminal Hague’s ravings:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/137315.pdf

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May 27th, 2013, 10:18 pm

 

102. ann said:

Huge Reinforcements Of Tanks Towards the Mezze Military Airport In Damascus – May 27, 2013

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May 27th, 2013, 10:19 pm

 

103. 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.”

P.S., Israel has already declared that Bashar the murderous dictator is its “man in Damascus!”

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May 27th, 2013, 10:20 pm

 

104. ann said:

AL-HAM-DOOLI-LA!

Al-Qaeda Allahu Akbar Terrorist Brigades Wants To wage war on The Kurdish PKK!!

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=5ff_1369692806

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May 27th, 2013, 10:23 pm

 

105. The Hunchbacked Mufti of Homs said:

103. DAWOUD said:

“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.”

Nasrallah is a stupid man. Stupid for taking orders from Iran. And stupid for becoming directly involved in the Syrian Civil War. Obviously, he learned NOTHING from the US involvement in Vietnam and Iraq. He will find out soon enough when the body bags start coming back and the mothers and widows start cursing him.

He is also a weak man. If he had any cojones, he would have told the Mullahs to stuff it. Now he will have a lot of dead shi’ite boys whose deaths he will have to explain.

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May 27th, 2013, 10:29 pm

 

106. revenire said:

Nothing will defeat Hezbollah.

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May 27th, 2013, 10:32 pm

 

107. The Hunchbacked Mufti of Homs said:

106. MONSIEUR REVERSO said:

“Nothing will defeat Hezbollah”

Don’t be so sure, ratboy. Bigmouths like you were saying that about Hitler in 1940…

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May 27th, 2013, 10:50 pm

 

108. Dawoud said:

Bashar al-Assad, the murderous dictator, has again used chemical weapons!

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May 27th, 2013, 10:57 pm

 

109. ghufran said:

SOHR:
محافظة الرقة – المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان ::ابلغ ناشط من مدينة حمص المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان ان اثنان من الذين اعدمتهم “الدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشام ” في الـ14 من الشهر الجاري باحد ساحات مدينة الرقة هما طبيب الاسنان مصطفى الجاني وابن شيقيقته المدرس اياد نوفل من قرية الاشرفية بريف حمص الشمالي من الطائفة العلوية وليسا ضابطين في الجيش النظامي السوري

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May 27th, 2013, 11:00 pm

 

110. Dawoud said:

105. The Hunchbacked Mufti of Homs

The quote that you mentioned is from Robert Fisk’s latest article: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/hezbollahs-war-in-syria-threatens-to-engulf-lebanon-8632689.html

In the same article Fisk also mentioned that “[h]e [حسن نصر الشيطان] said he receives letters from families begging him to let their sons fight in Syria. Coffin vision, perhaps?”

I agree with Fisk about this “coffin vision,” and I believe that these Lebanese Shia families-if they are truly sending him letters-will stop doing so once their dead terrorist relatives’ coffins begin to arrive!

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May 27th, 2013, 11:10 pm

 

111. Ziad said:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains committed to Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s approach: “Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”

Settlers are a law unto themselves in the West Bank, locked in a symbiotic embrace with the IDF. The Israeli army is cowed by settlers’ political power when it is not sympathetic with their unceasing efforts to “redeem the land.” When olive trees are cut, fences breached, access roads built, or the occasional mosque or car torched, Palestinian security forces are nowhere to be found. When villagers have a complaint against settlers to register, the Palestinian police direct them to contact the IDF, in whose bosom the settlers and their depredations grow.

In the lawless environment sanctioned by occupation, settlers are not the only ones taking the law into their own hands. On April 30, for the first time since September 2011, a settler was killed by a Palestinian attacker — stabbed at a major road junction in the northern West Bank transited by settlers and Palestinians alike. The killing sparked “price tag” reprisals against Palestinians and their property, primarily in the Nablus governorate, and it has fueled settler demands that open-fire restrictions placed on the IDF and settlers be loosened.

Those looking for signs of the next uprising need look no further than these parts of the West Bank, where every day private and communal interests clash — not in the cities of the West Bank but along the roads and near small villages on the periphery of settlements, who numbers have exploded since Ariel Sharon, upon his return from the Wye Plantation talks in late 1998, urged settlers to “grab and settle.”

“Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours,” Sharon, then a minister in the first Netanyahu government, exhorted in a meeting with settlement supporters. “Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/05/wef-economic-development-buying-peace.html

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May 27th, 2013, 11:28 pm

 

112. Ilya said:

Here is an interesting read about fsa/al nusra activities in Aleppo
By a young Syrian man
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=20b_1361194067

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May 27th, 2013, 11:33 pm

 

113. ghufran said:

أعلن مصدر روسي لقناة “العربية” أن الحكومة الروسية متفائلة حول مؤتمر “جنيف 2″، بناء على تفاهم جرى بين وزير الخارجية الأميركي جون كيري، ونظيره الروسي سيرغي لافروف، حول الأزمة السورية.
وقال المصدر، اليوم الاثنين 27 مايو/أيار، إنه تم الاتفاق على أن يستثنى من النقاش وزارات الأمن والقوات المسلحة والمخابرات والبنك المركزي في “جنيف 2″.
وأضاف المصدر أن اتفاق كيري – لافروف سمح للطرفين الاعتراض على الطرف الآخر، وهذا يعني إعطاء وفد الحكومة السورية حق الاعتراض على مشاركة أي عضو في وفد المعارضة.
وتابع المصدر أن اتفاق كيري – لافروف وسع دائرة المعارضة التي لا تشمل فقط وفد الائتلاف الوطني، بل تضم أيضاً أطراف المعارضة الأخرى، بما فيها المحسوبة على النظام السوري.
The US is still silent about this, it may be a test baloon, nobody on the opposition side, and most Syrians I believe, is ready to keep things the same at the army and security services.
This report by the way was taken from opposition site, this is also from a similar source:
أعلنت فرح الأتاسي على صفحتها في فيسبوك انسحابها من الائتلاف السوري المعارض بعد ساعات فقط على قبول عضويتها فيه.
وكتبت فرح : ” رغبة مني في توحيد الصف السوري ولم شمل المعارضة والتوفيق في وجهات النظر، قبلت القدوم الى إسطنبول امس فقط كي اودي واجبي وضميري وحمل رسائل الداخل و اذكر المجتمعين ان الشعب السوري والتاريخ لن يرحمهم اذا لم يتفقوا على الوحدة والاتحاد في وجه أحقر نظام مر على سوريا وحلفاءه شرقاً وغرباً”.

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May 27th, 2013, 11:41 pm

 

114. revenire said:

Syria will never be defeated. The history books will record the victory of the heroic SAA and its allies: Hezbollah and Iran. This is a great moment. Be happy you’re alive to witness the destruction of Syria’s enemies.

Maybe after the war we can name Qusayr “Nasrallah City” or something like that.

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May 27th, 2013, 11:55 pm

 

115. Ziad said:

هذي هي يارا

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May 27th, 2013, 11:56 pm

 

116. revenire said:

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May 27th, 2013, 11:57 pm

 

117. revenire said:

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May 27th, 2013, 11:59 pm

 

118. revenire said:

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May 27th, 2013, 11:59 pm

 

119. Dawoud said:

115. Ziad

I don’t believe that she should have been killed, and my condolences to her family. However, calling her a “journalist” is inaccurate. The Semantics she uses “the hired terrorists,” “the brave Syrian army,” etc. are not objective and journalistic. She wasn’t a journalist, but a propagandist employee at Bashar’s ministry of [mis]information! I saw several of her “news” reports, and they were staged and full of propaganda. No wonder Bashar once said that he “owned” land, while the rebels owned the “skies.” Surely, he was overlooking the “skies” of the propaganda wilyat al-fagih satellite stations of Hizbass al-Manar, Iran’s Press TV, Iran’s al-Alam, Ghasan Ben Joudou’s al-Mayadeen, etc…..

Surely, none of these filthy Wilayat al-Faqih stations have 5% of Aljazeera’s reach and influence. Thank God!

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May 28th, 2013, 12:06 am

 

120. Ziad said:

Report on Syria – Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire: “The Syrian State is Under a Proxy War Led by Foreign Countries”

Report and Appeal to the International community to support a process of dialogue and reconciliation in Syria between its people and Syrian government and reject outside intervention and war.

After a 10 days visit to Lebanon and Syria, leading a 16 person delegation from 8 countries, invited by Mussalaha Reconciliation Movement, I have returned hopeful that peace is possible in Syria, if all outside interference is stopped and the Syrians are allowed to solve their own problems upholding their right to self-determination.

An appeal to end all violence and for Syrians to be left alone from outside interference was made by all those we met during our visit to Syria. We have tried to forward it to the International community in our Concluding Declaration(l).

http://www.globalresearch.ca/report-on-syria-nobel-peace-laureate-mairead-maguire-the-syrian-state-is-under-a-proxy-war-led-by-foreign-countries/5336569

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May 28th, 2013, 12:21 am

 

121. Juergen said:

Dawoud

In Syria you can witness that not your talent will bring you to such positions as head journalist but rather your wasta. Syria is filled with folks like her who have not the singlest clue of Journalism, nor did they ever visit a journalism school worth the name.

When I was in Damascus I heard that many have wasta jobs where they pay the boss a monthly part of their salary, and then they don’t even have to show up at work, some are legally employed in 2 government jobs but spend their days in the coffeehouses of central Damascus.

Reve

The unisono rule in the EU is only needed for resolutions. Each state can do their own policies, and apparently Britain and France thinks its time to give weapons to the opposition forces “officially”, but be assured they wait for Geneva II to see if Assad will participate or not,if not then Assad better start packing.

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May 28th, 2013, 12:25 am

 

122. ann said:

Dead and Surrendering Terrorists in Qusayr Syria – May-27-2013

Mostly foreigners, one is a Lebanese.

WARNING: contains footage of dead Al-Qaeda Islamist Terrorists

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=dd9_1369685370

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May 28th, 2013, 12:44 am

 

123. ghufran said:

Anna Macdonald, head of arms control at Oxfam, warned that supplying weapons would mean “adding fuel to the fire” in Syria.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are concerned that supplying arms to the opposition won’t level the playing field, in fact it will fuel a deadly arms race that will have even worse consequences for civilians.
“The millions of people suffering in Syria right now don’t need more arms, they need aid.”
She added: “Providing more arms in times of conflict is simply adding fuel to the fire, it’s fanning the flames of conflict and making the situation much worse.”
The peace process must be “exhausted” before any other solutions were considered, she added.
(suuporters of arming rebels are 3 types:
people consumed with the desire for revenge (I understand but disagree with those), people who genuinely want to destroy Syria to feel better(like GB FM), and people who are just stupid)

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May 28th, 2013, 12:55 am

 

124. revenire said:

Juergen you’re wrong regarding the weapons. The embargo expired is what happened. No one agreed to lift the arms embargo. That would have required a unanimous vote. It didn’t happen. The ban will expire at the end of the month.

France and the UK have already been giving them weapons.

On another subject, if you have some money to lose I will gladly take it. My bet is Assad is there in a year’s time. Care to make that wager?

Geneva 2 isn’t about Assad leaving Juergen. It is about peace. If it were about Assad leaving there would be no Geneva 2.

NATO can send us all the weapons they want. The result will be the same.

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May 28th, 2013, 1:08 am

 

125. ann said:

ARAB SPRING – AL-HAM-DOOLI-LA!

Insurgents Declare War on Syria’s Kurds – 27 May 2013

http://syriareport.net/insurgents-declare-war-on-syrias-kurds/

Recent ongoing clashes between insurgents and Kurdish fighters have culminated in a declaration of war in the region of Ifreen, rural Aleppo, in northern Syria. The intensification of clashes in northern Syria comes amid increasing division among Syria’s muddle of armed groups, with one “Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalion” reported to have defected in light of attacks on Kurdish areas. With insurgent groups in Aleppo and elsewhere in the country under increasing pressure from a confident Syrian army, an absence of a political platform and unrelenting in-fighting, a declaration against Kurdish groups comes as no surprise. The number of militant organisations operation in Syria is estimated at between a few hundred to over a thousand.

On 4th May, Syria Report detailed clashes between the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel) and militants (including Jabhat al-Nusra) in Al-Hasakah province. Uploaded video footage was later confirmed to show a number of Kurdish armed groups (such as the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons) amalgamate under the banner of the YPG, in a coordinated counterattack against militants who are intent on subverting Kurdish autonomy during the crisis gripping the country.

Reports suggest that at the beginning of the month, Arab clans in Til Temir were armed and encouraged by various “Free Syrian Army (FSA)” groups to confront Kurdish groups. Til Temir is a small town of Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians situated on the road between Serê Kaniyê and Al-Hasakeh. Seemingly, hit and run attacks have resulted in the deaths of YPG members as well as civilians living in Til Temir, with a population of approximately 7000. Despite repeated skirmishes, the YPG managed to hold off the disparate armed groups.

Yesterday, a statement signed by no less than twenty-one armed groups declared ”Kurdish defense units, YPG, are traitors because they are against our Jihad.”

The goal, according to the statement, is a “pending the completion of comprehensive cleansing process”,
liberation from “PKK and Shabiha”.

The statement was published by the “Syrian Islamic Liberation Front“, a coalition of radical Islamist groups, commonly misreported as being under the umbrella of the “Free Syrian Army” despite being at odds with it’s absent leadership, who are mostly based outside of the country.

The statement, titled “Echo of Qussayr“, published against the backdrop of a crushing defeat in the city

[…]

http://syriareport.net/insurgents-declare-war-on-syrias-kurds/

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May 28th, 2013, 1:12 am

 

126. revenire said:

Juergen is that a NO to my kind offer?

You had better beg Israel for some help. It is going to be a HOT summer.

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May 28th, 2013, 1:26 am

 

127. revenire said:


Yara’s last report in Qusair before she was killed by terrorists on her way back to Homs.

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May 28th, 2013, 1:33 am

 

128. Juergen said:

Reve

I dont gamble, especially over such an issue.

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May 28th, 2013, 1:59 am

 

129. Ziad said:

Amb. Ford is fluent in Arabic he said the following:

بسام جعارة عم يعترف : السفير الامريكي ” فورد ” قال للمجتمعين من المعارضة بالدوحة (( مافي تدخل عسكري ومافي دعم عسكري ويلي بيحكي ” بياكل خرا ” ))

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=456214367799105

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May 28th, 2013, 2:11 am

 
 

131. Hopeful said:

In my opinion, the opposition leaders made a fatal mistake vis-a-vis the United States when they did not speak out more forcefully against Al-Qaeda in Syria. For the US, the question of Al-Qaeda is a national security issue, but the question of Assad staying or leaving is NOT a national security issue. The US will support the Syrians aspirations and demands for freedom and democracy, but not in a way that is conflicting (or even have the perception of conflicting) with its national security.

The US seems to have decided to delegate the Syria issue to Russia to deal with. I think Russia promised to ease Assad out and control the Syrian army and security forces. The US is more than happy to hand over this mess to Russia.

Frankly, one cannot blame Obama for that decision. His job is to do what’s right for the American people, not to police and protect the world.

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May 28th, 2013, 7:23 am

 

132. Dawoud said:

Lebanon’s al-Nahar Newspaper identifies the three Lebanese soldiers, who were killed while allowing Hizballah terrorists to freely cross the Syria-Lebanon border checkpoint to go to al-Qasir/Syria to kill innocent Syrian. Now, the names of the three soldiers are clearly of Lebanese Shia or Shiite. I have no doubt that the three soldiers are also members of the Shia terrorist party Hizbass. Yes, they are both members of Hizbass AND the Lebanese army. No wonder terrorists from the terrorist shia party freely enter Syria with their arms and heavy rockets/missiles!

http://www.annahar.com/article/36770-نبذة-عن-شهداء-واجب-ذين-قضوا-في-وادي-حميد

نبذة عن شهداء الواجب الذين قضوا في وادي حميد

ايار 2013 الساعة 12:26

نعت قيادة الجيش – مديرية التوجيه كلا من الشهداء: الجندي محمد رضوان شرف الدين، والمجندين خالد الحايك، وعلي عدنان منذر، الذين استشهدوا فجر اليوم في منطقة وادي حميد، عرسال خلال تعرض مركزهم لاعتداء من مسلحين.
وفي ما يلي نبذة عن حياتهم:

الجندي محمد رضوان شرف الدين :
– من مواليد 1/3/1987 برقايل – قضاء عكار.
– تطوع في الجيش بتاريخ 3/11/2008.
– حائز تنويه العماد قائد الجيش وتهنئته عدة مرات.
– الوضع العائلي: متأهل من دون اولاد.

المجند مصطفى خالد الحايك:
– من مواليد 11/6/ 1990 بيت الفقس – قضاء المنية الضنية.
– التحق بالجيش بتاريخ 24/1/2012.
– الوضع العائلي: عازب

المجند علي عدنان منذر:
– من مواليد 4/7/1992 حوش حالا – البقاع.
– التحق بالجيش بتاريخ 24/1/2012.
– الوضع العائلي: عازب

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May 28th, 2013, 8:35 am

 

133. Matthew Barber said:

The Hunchbacked Mufti is banned for vulgarity and for insults to other users (having already been warned on the latter). After the moderation in the last two threads, as well as direct warnings, why do people push forward with more of the same? It’s lost on me.

Thanks to the users who complained by email and directed my attention to those messages.

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May 28th, 2013, 9:08 am

 

134. zoo said:

Reve

According to the EU deal, from June to end July, the UK and France will not deliver ‘officially’ weapons. Russia now annoyed by the EU decision, will rush to re-renforce as much as possible the Syrian army with new weapons , ready to counter the eventual European weapons delivery.
The new ‘heavy’ weapons will be supposedly delivered only to the FSA under strict restrictions. It is certain that if Al Nusra is excluded from access to these new weapons, it will fight hard against the FSA to get them. Therefore the FSA equipped with new weapons will be exposed to attacks from both the SAA and Al Nusra. In these circumstances, the probability of its survival is low.

In summary the EU decisions may end up more lethal to the FSA than to the SAA. Therefore despite the promises, I doubt the UK and France will take the chance to see the FSA destroyed and the weapons in Al Qaeda’s hands.

That last minute EU deal seems to be a political trick to show a fake EU unity and to break the opposition’s resistance in attending the conference.

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May 28th, 2013, 9:13 am

 

135. zoo said:

The opposition is becoming aware that the EU deal is just a trick to force them to join the conference. If they refuse, the EU will tell them that they won’t send any weapons. They are trapped and have no choice than to join without any pre-conditions. Good job Hague!

BEIRUT — The commander of the main umbrella group of Syrian rebels says he is “very disappointed” that the lifting of Europe’s arms embargo won’t lead to immediate weapons shipments to his outgunned fighters.

Gen. Salim Idris also told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian regime, has thousands of fighters in Syria and is the main threat to his Free Syrian Army, a coalition of rebel units.

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May 28th, 2013, 9:19 am

 

136. zoo said:

After 6 days of wild bickering, begging and panicking the opposition is moved to a cheap hotel: Results yok! .

Syrian opposition disarray threatens international support

http://www.courant.com/news/nation-world/sns-rt-us-syria-crisis-oppositionbre94r0hc-20130528,0,6387728.story

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Diplomatic efforts intensified on Tuesday to solve a crisis in Syria’s opposition which threatens to derail a planned peace conference and rob the Islamist-dominated alliance of international support.

After six days of talks in Istanbul, the 60-member Syrian National Coalition has failed to agree on the wider involvement of a liberal opposition bloc, to the dismay of Western and some Arab backers keen to reduce the influence of Islamists.
..
“Effectively, without an opposition overhaul there will not be a Geneva,” one senior regional official said.

In a sign of the disarray, the opposition delegates were forced to decamp from the hotel where they were meeting, originally booked for three days, to another venue even further out on the fringes of Istanbul.

Senior coalition officials are painfully aware that their failure to agree after days of late-night bartering risk undermining their credibility and giving ammunition to Assad at a critical juncture.

“In Geneva, we are going to face a disciplined team that is going to be sent by Assad with experience in negotiating with Israel for decades. We can’t afford but to send our top people if we decide to go,” one senior opposition source said.

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May 28th, 2013, 9:25 am

 

137. zoo said:

Hague tries to reassure the disappointed opposition that it is not bound to the 1 August date for delivering weapons, but that it is committed to the Geneva conference, implying again that the opposition has no choice then participate without making fuss

‘No decision yet’ on arming rebels
http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/national/news/10447346._/

It was thought that no shipments could take place before August 1 when the EU Foreign Affairs Council was due to review its position on the basis of a report by EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton, following consultation with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, on developments in the US-Russia peace initiative and on the engagement of the Syrian parties.

“That is not the case, there will be a discussion in the EU by August 1 but from now on… we have said we have made our own commitments that at this stage as we work for the Geneva conference we are not taking any decision to send any arms to anyone.

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May 28th, 2013, 9:42 am

 

138. zoo said:

Russia Says S-300 Missile Sale to Syria Will Stabilize Region
By Stepan Kravchenko & Henry Meyer – May 28, 2013 9:24 AM ET

Delivery of Russian S-300 missile-defense systems to Syria “is a stabilizing factor” that can prevent a wider conflict in the region, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

“We won’t cancel this contract,” Ryabkov told reporters today in Moscow. “We understand the concerns and the signals that are being sent to us from different capitals. We see that many of our partners are worried about this, but we have no reasons to reconsider our position.” Ryabkov said he can’t say at what stage the deliveries are now.

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May 28th, 2013, 9:44 am

 

139. revenire said:

Dedicated to Tara, and others, who didn’t read the fine print yesterday. Idriss not happy with the EU.

BEIRUT (AP) — The commander of the main umbrella group of Syrian rebels says he is “very disappointed” that the lifting of Europe’s arms embargo won’t lead to immediate weapons shipments to his outgunned fighters.

Gen. Salim Idris also told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian regime, has thousands of fighters in Syria and is the main threat to his Free Syrian Army, a coalition of rebel units.

The general spoke by phone from Turkey after the European Union decided to let its arms embargo against Syria expire, freeing member countries to provide weapons. However none of the block’s 27 members have any immediate plans to send arms to the rebels.

Idris says he’s run out of patience with the international community.

http://www.chron.com/news/world/article/AP-Interview-Rebels-want-arms-post-EU-embargo-4553008.php

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May 28th, 2013, 10:00 am

 

140. revenire said:

This can’t be repeated enough:

Russia Says S-300 Missile Sale to Syria Will Stabilize Region
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-28/russia-says-s-300-missile-sale-to-syria-will-stabilize-region.html

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May 28th, 2013, 10:01 am

 

141. Tara said:

The wholly Grail of weapons, the heat seekers, will not be neutralized by the Russian missiles. The Russian missiles will not have any impact on the rebels.

Idriss not happy? He wants immediate gratification? I don’t blame him but I think we can wait for August. In the interim, I think our Arab brethren, the beloved Qataris will manage some private deals with arm dealers. It is now legal!

I propose to rename Qurdaha after HBJ and Tartous after Mr Hague.

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May 28th, 2013, 10:09 am

 

142. revenire said:

Juergen I rather think you are one of those poor unfortunates who thought McCain and Lieberman would come riding to the rescue in a white horse.

That CNN report is funny. McCain went to the border?

You find encouragement in that?

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May 28th, 2013, 10:14 am

 

143. revenire said:

Even the report I posted is incorrect. The EU didn’t let the ban expire. They could not agree so it expired.

Idriss dyes his hair black.

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May 28th, 2013, 10:18 am

 

144. ann said:

AL-HAM-DOOLI-LA!

Russia says it will help Syria deter “hot heads” – May 28, 2013

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57586368/russia-says-it-will-help-syria-deter-hot-heads/

MOSCOW Russia reserves the right to provide Syria with state-of-the art air defense missiles, seeing it as a key deterrent against foreign intervention in the country, a top Russian official said Tuesday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov wouldn’t say whether Russia has shipped any of the long-range S-300 air defense missile systems, but added that Moscow isn’t going to abandon the deal despite strong Western and Israeli criticism. He claimed the air defense weapons can’t be used in the civil war against the opposition, which doesn’t have aircraft.

“We understand the concerns and signals sent to us from different capitals, we realize that many of our partners are concerned about the issue,” Ryabkov said, adding that “we have no reason to revise our stance.”

“We believe that such steps to a large extent help restrain some ‘hot heads’ considering a scenario to give an international dimension to this conflict,” he said.

Ryabkov also accused the European Union of “throwing fuel on the fire” by letting its own arms embargo on Syria’s rebels expire, Reuters reports.

Providing Damascus with the S-300s, a powerful weapon that has a range of up to 125 miles and the capability to track down and strike multiple targets simultaneously. The weapon would mean a quantum leap in Syria’s air defense capability, including against neighboring countries that oppose Assad’s regime.

[…]

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57586368/russia-says-it-will-help-syria-deter-hot-heads/

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May 28th, 2013, 10:48 am

 

145. Ziad said:

What the Syrian Constitution says about Assad and the Rebels

Still, the rebels’ spin doctors aren’t yielding entirely. They insist that while the rebellion may be dominated by religious fanatics with a penchant for terrorism, that it wasn’t always so. Instead, they say, it began as a peaceful plea for democracy that was eventually hijacked by jihadists only after the government used brute force to crush a protest movement. At that point, protesters were forced to take up arms in self-defense.

This view is dishonest. To start, it sweeps aside the reality that the rebellion is dominated by Islamists who care not one whit for democracy and indeed are actively hostile to it. What’s more, it conceals the fact that the Assad government made substantial concessions in the direction of creating the kind of pluralist, democratic society the rebels are said to thirst for. The rebels rejected the concessions, and that they did, underscores the fact that the rebellion’s origins are to be found in Islamist, not democratic, ambitions.

In response to protestors’ demands, Damascus made a number of concessions that were neither superficial nor partial.

First, it cancelled the long-standing abridgment of civil liberties that had been authorized by the emergency law. The law, invoked because Syria is technically in a state of war with Israel, gave Damascus powers it needed to safeguard the security of the state in wartime, a measure states at war routinely take. Many Syrians, however, chaffed under the law, and regarded it as unduly restrictive. Bowing to popular pressure, the government lifted the security measures.

Second, the government proposed a new constitution to accommodate protestors’ demands to strip the Ba’ath Party of its special status, which had reserved for it a lead role in Syrian society. Additionally, the presidency would be open to anyone meeting basic residency, age and citizenship requirements. Presidential elections would be held by secret vote every seven years under a system of universal suffrage.

http://gowans.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/what-the-syrian-constitution-says-about-assad-and-the-rebels/

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May 28th, 2013, 10:48 am

 

146. Ziad said:

AlAkhabaria journalist Ignatius Issa was martyred with Yara Abbas,by FSA Terrorists on the Homs-Al-Qaseir Road. RIP

https://twitter.com/ProudSyrian10/status/339252130286284800/photo/1

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May 28th, 2013, 10:57 am

 

147. Ziad said:

Send John McCain to Guantanamo Bay

Senator meets with America-hating, Al-Qaeda terrorists

http://www.infowars.com/send-john-mccain-to-guantanamo-bay/

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May 28th, 2013, 11:40 am

 

148. Ziad said:

كن حيث شئت أنت..
لكننا لن نكون عبيدا لأمريكا وإسرائيل..

ما أنتم فهنيئا لكم المتصهينين

https://twitter.com/qademon110/status/33924885

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May 28th, 2013, 11:45 am

 

149. revenire said:

Did I mention Idris dyes his hair black? Maybe he offered McCain some grooming tips at the border? McCain was there for about an hour but they couldn’t go in deeper due to the presence of Syrian troops. It would have been awfully embarrassing to be arrested for illegally entering Syria given McCain makes such a big deal out of Mexicans illegally entering Arizona.

Tsk tsk.

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May 28th, 2013, 12:14 pm

 

150. Dawoud said:

The Lebanese Shia TERRORIST party’s big gamble in Syria: Losing both Syria AND Lebanon to save a brutal murderous dictator!!!!!

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/28/world/middleeast/by-inserting-itself-into-syrian-war-hezbollah-makes-historic-gamble.html?hp

Hezbollah Makes Dramatic Gamblear-hezbollah-makes-historic-gamble.html?hp

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Fighting a pre-emptive war against foreign jihadists is not the usual mission for Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group best known for confronting Israel. So when its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, explained why he was sending fighters into Syria, he took care to remind his followers that they were not “living in Djibouti” but on the border of a country whose two-year uprising Hezbollah sees as a threat to its existence.
[…]

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May 28th, 2013, 12:18 pm

 

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