Ceasefire Efforts Unlikely to Work; Government Pursues Rebels; Muslim Brotherhood’s New Convenant

A mass grave for the dozens killed in today’s regime raid and bombardment on Taftnaz, Idlib. Over 2000 refugees walked to Turkey Thursday.

The Assad government on Sunday April 8 set new conditions for the April 10 cease-fire. It won’t withdraw troops from civilian areas unless all rebel groups provide written guarantees they will lay down their weapons, a further blow to efforts to arrange a cease-fire and implement a peace plan backed by the United Nations.

A reporter asked me these questions the other day:

(1) Do you really think Assad is in the “mopping-up stage” or do you think he is being overconfident?

Landis: I believe that Syria is in the midst of a broad based revolution and Assad will not be able to destroy it. The revolutionary forces have suffered a grave defeat in facing the full force of the Assad army, but I also suspect that they will regroup and devise new tactics. Much of the international community has dedicated itself to their success, the Gulf states have promised to finance and arm them. The US and Europe have place crushing sanctions on Syria and are promising non-lethal aid with the promise that they are considering new methods of aid. This makes any efforts by the Assad regime to put Syria back together again impossible. Syria is likely to become a North Korea of sorts – cut off from the world, with lots of hungry people and repression.

(2) What do you think Assad envisions as the “end game”? In other words, when will he stop military operations? Once all dissent is quelled, nearly every last protester shot?

Landis: Assad, I suspect, understands what is going on in Syria even if he paints the opposition as an externally driven conspiracy. I doubt he and his commanders are stupid; although, they are probably lying to themselves about the extent of Salafist influence and the army’s ability to quell descent. I imagine he understands that he is facing a real revolt that will require the Syrian security forces to carry out counter-insurgency operations for a long time. Isn’t the common wisdom of “coin” that it takes 10 years or so to defeat an insurgency? Someone in Syria must be reading the handbooks and wisdom published by the US during its efforts to quell insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Do I personally think he can succeed? No. I don’t. I doubt he will have a lot more success than the US has had in Iraq or Afghanistan, although, his army probably understands Syrians a lot better than US troops and commanders did Iraqis. But they will likely be provoked into over-reacting to terrorism, road-side bombs and demonstrations as they have already been. They can only lose the battle for hearts and minds. The Alawites cannot regain the battle for hearts and minds. They can only instill fear and play on Syrian anxieties about turning into a failed state, such as exists in Iraq. That is what worked in the past for the Assad regime. The regime has no new tricks up its sleeve. Syrian State TV is now trying to demonize the Saudi monarchy for being descended from Jews and backwards.  That says a lot about the regime’s tactics.

Hafiz al-Assad was able to isolate the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s because they were extremist and violent. Most Sunnis remained on the sidelines, if they didn’t actually support the suppression of the MB. Today, Bashar faces a much broader movement. His effort to depict the activists as terrorists motivated by a foreign hand has not succeeded. The Saudi remarks that they would pay opposition militants salaries did not help the propaganda war very much and the growing violence on both sides is turning the battle much uglier, which may help the regime in the short run. Economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation make the task of returning Syria to normalcy impossible. As the economic situation grows more desperate so will increasing numbers of Syrians.

All the same, for the opposition to win will be very difficult and require much more unity than it can muster today. This will be a long and bloody contest.

The Muslim Brotherhood

When the Muslim Brotherhood published their latest covenant a week ago, I suggested that it was new. Two friends wrote to correct me and point out that in fact the new covenant does not say much that is new. Here is what they wrote:

The first friend wished to remain anonymous.

Hi Josh,

Thank you for your post today.  I appreciate your posts, as always.  I wanted to check with you to see where you got the “and not from  God” part of this sentence: “They say that the Muslim Brotherhood has now embraced the notion that political authority emanates from the people and not from God.”  Based on the Arabic, they don’t so much eliminate God from the equation in this statement; in fact, they make the point in the first paragraph of their statement to say that freedom, justice, tolerance, and openness stem from the principles of Islam ( منطلقين من مبادئ ديننا الإسلامي الحنيف، القائمة على الحرية والعدل والتسامح والانفتاح  http://goo.gl/Jn8OV), although Google translate translates mintalqiin as “departing from” which is incorrect in this context, it’s more like “stemming from” or “emanating from”).  They do make room for pluralism and governing by the will of the people and they affirm political rights for everyone irrespective of religion.  These values can coexist with Islam and other religions as opposed to these values supplanting them and likewise, the religions would co-exist with the will of the people.  Otherwise I don’t think they would have made the point of linking the values to Islam in the first paragraph.
As I’ve heard several say before, the MB is very practical in Syria and open to dialogue.  This statement supports that view. There was also coverage here as well: “Muslim Brotherhood says it will not monopolize power”: http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=380002

The second friend is Thomas Pierret, who has written intelligently about Islam in Syria for some time.

Pierret has a new interview posted, here in La revue Politique étrangère intitulé L’islam dans la révolution syrienne : 3 questions à Thomas Pierret.

This is what he says about the MB covenant:

“The MB covenant formally states a position that was first formulated by Mustafa al-Siba’i in 1950. It’s been reiterated by MB officials since the 1990s.

On the issue of equality between citizens. This is not new since it was actually part of the draft constitution proposed by the MB in 1950, but it is stated more clearly here than in their last political platforms.

However, when I read the Arabic text, it is not clear to me that the MB endorses the principle of human law vs. divine law. It says that the constitution emanates from the will of the people (which is obvious since it has to be written by an elected constituent assembly), but it seems to me that the covenant does not say anything about law as such. I should re-read the text after sleeping, but I think there isn’t anything new by comparison with their 2004 platform. Do you know the attached article of mine on that text? It shows that the MB acknowledge the fact that political authority emanates from the people, but it is part of a hierarchy of sovereignties:  (God/Law/the Umma):

  • الحاكمية فيها الله
  • السيادة للقانون
  • السلطان للأمة
Concerning the MB’s covenant, I don’t think they’re being dishonest. They’re simply formulating a set of basic principles on which everybody can agree. As a party, they would still have the right to promote sharia-inspired legislation through democratic means.
MEMRI has recently published a translation of the new Covenant.

Syrian Muslim Brotherhood: We Will Establish a Democratic, Civil, Egalitarian State once Assad Is Ousted
Special Dispatch No. 4631. Memri

On March 25, 2012, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) published a document titled “A Pledge and Charter by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood,” which details the movement’s views regarding the character of post-Assad Syria. In the document, the movement committed to strive for a modern civil state with a civil constitution and a parliamentary republican regime, chosen in free elections; a state that practices civil, religious, denominational, and gender equality and in which every citizen has the right to reach the highest positions; and a state based on dialogue, partnership, commitment to human rights, and combating terrorism, which will become a source of regional stability.

Following is a translation of the document:

“For the sake of a free homeland and a free and dignified life for every citizen, and at this crucial moment in Syrian history, in which dawn is delivered from the womb of suffering and pain by the heroic people of Syria – men and women, young and old – in a national revolution that encompasses all sectors of our nation; for the sake of all Syrians, we, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, based on the tenets of our faith, Islam, which are anchored [in the principles of] freedom, justice, tolerance, and openness, present to all of our people this pledge and charter, and commit to it, in letter and spirit. This pledge [aims to] protect rights, to allay concerns, and to [guarantee] security and satisfaction.

“This pledge and charter represents a national view and the common denominators espoused by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, and is submitted as the basis for a new social contract that will lay the foundations for a stable, modern, national bond between the elements of Syrian society, including all religious and ethnic [groups], and all [Islamic] schools and streams of thought and political [orientations].”….

News Round Up

Syria: As his adversaries scramble for a strategy, Assad sets his terms,  03 Apr 2012

Tony Karon writes: That which has not been achieved on the battlefield can rarely be achieved at the negotiation table, and the harsh reality facing Syria’s opposition is that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has not been defeated, nor is it in danger of imminent collapse. Assad has promised, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi […]

It is worth keeping your eye on the 50 or so militias that have taken shape in response to the Syrian revolt. This website of the Free Syrian Army of Maarat al-Numaan and its countryside is representative of the fundraising efforts of the militias:  http://almaara.com/

This is a broad based social uprising that the Assad regime will not be able to destroy, particularly if Gulf Arabs and wealthy Sunnis will provide large amounts of financial aid, or as the Saudis explained at the Friends of the Syria meeting, pay the salaries of the rebel fighters.

The New Mastermind of Jihad – Wall Street Journal by David Samuels

A recently freed Islamist thinker has long advocated small-scale, independent acts of anti-Western terror….

What is perhaps more disturbing, Mr. al-Suri was recently set free from prison in Damascus, Syria, and his current whereabouts are unknown. Turned over to Syria after his capture by the CIA in late 2005, Mr. al-Suri was released sometime in December (according to intelligence sources and jihadist websites) by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad—a move apparently intended to warn the West of the consequences for opposing his rule.

Barely noticed in the midst of Mr. Assad’s own brutal assaults on civilians, Mr. al-Suri’s release may well contribute to the emergence of more attackers like Mr. Merah in the West. “His videos are already being reuploaded. His audios, reposted,” wrote Jarret Brachman, a former CIA analyst and the former director of West Point’s Center for Combating Terrorism,….

 A few recent Landis appearances

Current Events in Syria, Illinois Public Radio – NPR
Thursday March 29, 2012,  Host: David Inge w. Joshua Landis

Why Religion is Fueling the Conflict in Syria: President Assad’s Religion Problem – Listen – NPR Interfaith Voices with Joshua Landis – Date: 29 March 2012

In Syria, Alawite Muslims are kind of like the Mormons of Christianity: they’re a branch Islam, but many Muslims, especially the Sunni majority, don’t consider them legitimate. That’s always been a problem for Alawite president Bashar al-Assad. Now that more than 9,000 are dead in a revolt against the Assad regime, we explore why theological differences are playing a huge role.

Syria’s sole fuel supplier halts deliveries over sanctions
PanARMENIAN: , 2012-04-02

Syria’s sole supplier of heating fuel has halted deliveries due to European Union sanctions, making it difficult for Syrians to cook and hear their homes and potentially widening opposition to the government of President Bashar al …

Syria Dismisses Notions of Foreign Intervention

ISTANBUL — The United States and dozens of other countries moved closer on Sunday to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military, according to participants gathered here….

The moves reflected a growing consensus, at least among the officials who met here this weekend under the rubric “Friends of Syria,” that mediation efforts by the United Nations peace envoy, Kofi Annan, were failing to halt the violence that is heading into its second year in Syria and that more forceful action was needed…..

“We would like to see a stronger Free Syrian Army,” Burhan Ghalioun, the leader of the Syrian National Council, a loose affiliation of exiled opposition leaders, told hundreds of world leaders and other officials gathered here. “All of these responsibilities should be borne by the international community.”

Mr. Ghalioun did not directly address the financial assistance from the Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, but he added, “This is high noon for action.”

But for some inside Syria, the absence of promises of arms far overshadowed the financial and communications aid. Mohamed Moaz, an activist in the Damascus suburbs who coordinates with rebel fighters, held Mr. Ghalioun responsible for failing to unify the gathered nations on sending arms, calling him “a partner with the regime in these crimes.”

“I’m the only one who watched this conference in our neighborhood, because there was no electricity and people don’t care,” he said. “I only watched it because Al Jazeera wanted my comment.”

At the conference, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that Mr. Assad had defied Mr. Annan’s efforts to broker an end to the fighting and begin a political transition. She said that new assaults had begun in Idlib and Aleppo Provinces in the week since Mr. Assad publicly accepted the plan. It does not call for him to step down, but rather for an immediate cease-fire followed by negotiations with the opposition.

“The world must judge Assad by what he does, not by what he says,” Mrs. Clinton said …

Molham al-Drobi, a member of the Syrian National Council, said that the opposition had pledges of $176 million in humanitarian assistance and $100 million in salaries over three months for the fighters inside Syria. Some money was already flowing to the fighters, he said, including $500,000 last week through “a mechanism that I cannot disclose now.”

He expressed dismay on the lack of more material help in halting the onslaught by Syrian security forces. “Our people are killed in the streets,” he said on the sidelines of the conference. “If the international community prefers not to do it themselves, they should at least help us doing it by giving us the green light, by providing us the arms, or anything else that needs to be done.”

Mrs. Clinton announced an additional $12 million in humanitarian assistance for international organizations aiding the Syrians, bringing the American total so far to $25 million, according to the State Department. She also confirmed for the first time that the United States was providing satellite communications equipment to help those inside Syria “organize, evade attacks by the regime,” and stay in contact with the outside world. And according to the Syrian National Council, the American assistance will include night-vision goggles.

“We are discussing with our international partners how best to expand this support,” Mrs. Clinton said.

The countries providing most of the money for salaries — Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — have long been the fiercest opponents of Mr. Assad’s rule, reflecting the sectarian split ….

Mr. Erdogan emphasized that Turkey, once Syria’s close ally, had no intention of interfering there, but that the world could not stand idle as the opposition withered in a lopsided confrontation with the government’s modern weaponry. “They are not alone,” he thundered. “They will never be alone.”

A final statement from Sunday’s meeting called on Mr. Annan to “determine a timeline” for the next steps in Syria. What those steps might be remains as uncertain as it has been since Mr. Assad’s government began its crackdown on popular dissent early last year.

Violence continued on Sunday, with shelling of the Khalidiyeh neighborhood in Homs and other areas of the city for what activists said was the 21st consecutive day. Clashes were reported in many areas of the Damascus suburbs, and activists reported government troops firing with heavy machine guns on several areas of the southern province of Dara’a. …

The United States and other nations agreed Sunday to set up a “working group” within the nations gathered here to monitor countries that continue to arm or otherwise support Mr. Assad’s government — “to basically name and shame those entities, individuals, countries, who are evading the sanctions,” as a senior American official put it. They also agreed to support efforts to document acts of violence by Syrian forces that could later be used as evidence in prosecutions if Mr. Assad’s government ultimately falls.

Syria Agrees to Troop Withdrawal, Annan Says

Syria’s government has promised that its armed forces would withdraw from population centers by April 10 and stop shooting within 48 hours after that date if rebels also stop, the special emissary attempting to end the violent year-old uprising in Syria told the United Nations Security Council on Monday….

Hassan Abdul Azim, the leader of the group, did not comment directly on the Istanbul meeting but warned that foreign countries should not accept the Syrian National Council as the lone representative of the opposition. He also said the Free Syrian Army should not be armed by foreign countries because such a step risked “militarizing the Syrian revolution and changing it into armed violence.”..

A new doctrine of intervention?
By Henry A. Kissinger, Published: March 30

Not the least significant aspect of the Arab Spring is the redefinition of heretofore prevalent principles of foreign policy. As the United States is withdrawing from military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan undertaken on the basis (however disputed) of American national security, it is reengaging in several other states in the region (albeit uncertainly) in the name of humanitarian intervention. Will democratic reconstruction replace national interest as the lodestar of Middle East policy? Is democratic reconstruction what the Arab Spring in fact represents?

The evolving consensus is that the United States is morally obliged to align with revolutionary movements in the Middle East as a kind of compensation for Cold War policies — invariably described as “misguided” — in which it cooperated with non-democratic governments in the region for security objectives. Then, it is alleged, supporting fragile governments in the name of international stability generated long-term instability. Even granting that some of those policies were continued beyond their utility, the Cold War structure lasted 30 years and induced decisive strategic transformations, such as Egypt’s abandonment of its alliance with the Soviet Union and the signing of the Camp David accords. The pattern now emerging, if it fails to establish an appropriate relationship to its proclaimed goals, risks being inherently unstable from inception, which could submerge the values it proclaimed.

The Arab Spring is widely presented as a regional, youth-led revolution on behalf of liberal democratic principles. Yet Libya is not ruled by such forces; it hardly continues as a state. Neither is Egypt, whose electoral majority (possibly permanent) is overwhelmingly Islamist. Nor do democrats seem to predominate in the Syrian opposition. The Arab League consensus on Syria is not shaped by countries previously distinguished by the practice or advocacy of democracy. Rather, it largely reflects the millennium-old conflict between Shiite and Sunni and an attempt to reclaim Sunni dominance from a Shiite minority. It is also precisely why so many minority groups, such as Druzes, Kurds and Christians, are uneasy about regime change in Syria.

The confluence of many disparate grievances avowing general slogans is not yet a democratic outcome. With victory comes the need to distill a democratic evolution and establish a new locus of authority. The more sweeping the destruction of the existing order, the more difficult establishment of domestic authority is likely to prove and the more likely is the resort to force or the imposition of a universal ideology. The more fragmented a society grows, the greater the temptation to foster unity by appeals to a vision of a merged nationalism and Islamism targeting Western values.

We must take care lest, in an era of shortened attention spans, revolutions turn, for the outside world, into a transitory Internet experience — watched intently for a few key moments, then tuned out once the main event is deemed over. The revolution will have to be judged by its destination, not its origin; its outcome, not its proclamations.

For the United States, a doctrine of general humanitarian intervention in Middle East revolutions will prove unsustainable unless linked to a concept of American national security. Intervention needs to consider the strategic significance and social cohesion of a country (including the possibility of fracturing its complex sectarian makeup) and evaluate what can plausibly be constructed in place of the old regime. At this writing, traditional fundamentalist political forces, reinforced by alliance with radical revolutionaries, threaten to dominate the process while the social-network elements that shaped the beginning are being marginalized.

U.S. public opinion has already recoiled from the scope of the efforts required to transform Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Do we believe that a less explicitly strategic involvement disclaiming a U.S. national interest will make nation-buildingless complex? Do we have a preference as to which groups come to power? Or are we agnostic so long as the mechanisms are electoral? If the latter, how do we avoid fostering a new absolutism legitimized by managed plebiscites and sect-based permanent majorities? What outcomes are compatible with America’s core strategic interests in the region? Will it be possible to combine strategic withdrawal from key countries and reduced military expenditures with doctrines of universal humanitarian intervention? Discussion of these issues has been largely absent from the debate over U.S. foreign policy regarding the Arab Spring.

For more than half a century, U.S. policy in the Middle East has been guided by several core security objectives: preventing any power in the region from emerging as a hegemon; ensuring the free flow of energy resources, still vital to the operation of the world economy; and attempting to broker a durable peace between Israel and its neighbors, including a settlement with the Palestinian Arabs. In the past decade, Iran has emerged as the principal challenge to all three. A process that ends with regional governments either too weak or too anti-Western in their orientation to lend support to these outcomes, and in which U.S. partnerships are no longer welcomed, must evoke U.S. strategic concerns — regardless of the electoral mechanisms by which these governments come to power. Within the framework of these general limits, U.S. policy has significant scope for creativity in promoting humanitarian and democratic values.

The United States should be prepared to deal with democratically elected Islamist governments. But it is also free to pursue a standard principle of traditional foreign policy — to condition its stance on the alignment of its interests with the actions of the government in question.

U.S. conduct during the Arab upheavals has so far avoided making America an obstacle to the revolutionary transformations. This is not a minor achievement. But it is one component of a successful approach. U.S. policy will, in the end, also be judged by whether what emerges from the Arab Spring improves the reformed states’ responsibility toward the international order and humane institutions.

Charlie Rose Show with Former U.S Secretary of State James Baker

3/ Re the future of Syria

“Jim Baker: I think whatever we do, they’re now talking about provisioning nonlethal aid to the opposition. But I think we ought to think about several things, number one, don’t —

Charlie Rose: This is the recommendation of —

Jim Baker: Yes.

Charlie Rose: Even the Chinese may be involved in —

Jim Baker: Might. They might.

Charlie Rose: Might, yes.

Jim Baker: But my view is we ought to have a broad based multilateral coalition to do it. Don’t do it unilaterally or with just one or two. We ought to know a little more about who we’re going to give it to.

Charlie Rose: Right.

Jim Baker: We don’t know these people. Look what — you know, I’ve got to tell you, I’m not a big fan of what we did in Libya even though I’m glad to see Qaddafi gone. What do we got there? What — these — the people we helped are now fighting each other. We have a civil war. We don’t know who these people are, the free Syrian army and these other people. We don’t really know who they are. And Syria is a hell of a lot different case than Libya. Syria is at the crossroads there of Turkey, Iran, Israel… I think we just need to proceed very cautiously. We don’t — look, we’re broke. We don’t need another major engagement. We really don’t need that, that we can’t fund right now and can’t pay for. They’re not talking about military aid, and I think that’s good. But provisioning nonlethal assistance, humanitarian assistance is something that might. But we ought not to do it alone. And we ought to think too. You know, Assad has lost legitimacy. He’s — you can’t — you can’t murder your own people and expect to survive for very long. And when he goes, in my view, ultimately, he will go. That’s not all bad for us from the standpoint of the situation with Iran.”

Dawn (PK): As Syria’s currency devalues, locals shed some pounds

With heavy steps, 45-year-old Ghada walks to her kitchen to prepare breakfast before her children wake up. She has nothing interesting to offer though. For weeks, she has been presenting olives, cheese and bread. Along with her husband Wael (49), …

Arab Spring Turns to Economic Winter as Unemployment Grows
Mariam Fam and Alaa Shahine, ©2012 Bloomberg News
Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 28 (Bloomberg) — Amir Mohammed has been sleeping outside the Libyan Embassy in Cairo awaiting a visa for a week, his bed a layer of cardboard on the sidewalk. He has given up on finding a job in Egypt and is looking for a way out.

“I’m trying to just eke out an existence in my own country, but I can’t,” the 30-year-old hairdresser said. “There’s no work. Why did we have a revolution? We wanted better living standards, social justice and freedom. Instead, we’re suffering.”

The world’s highest youth jobless rate left the Middle East vulnerable to the uprisings that ousted Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and three other leaders in the past year. It has got worse since then. About 1 million Egyptians lost their jobs in 2011 as the economy shrank for the first time in decades. Unemployment in Tunisia, where the revolts began, climbed above 18 percent, the central bank said in January. It was 13 percent in 2010, International Monetary Fund data show.

Finding work for people like Mohammed will be the biggest challenge for newly elected governments, highlighting the rift between soaring expectations unleashed by the revolts and the reality of economies struggling to escape recession. Failure risks another wave of unrest in a region that holds more than half the world’s oil.

‘High Hopes’

“The advent of democracy brought with it high, high hopes,” said Raza Agha, London-based senior economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. “Expectations are that new governments will bring prosperity, but when you look at the fundamentals, this does not appear to be the case.”

Tunisia’s gross domestic product shrank 1.8 percent last year, and the government this month lowered its growth forecast for 2012 by one percentage point to 3.5 percent. Tunisia’s economy hasn’t contracted since 1986, according to IMF data.

Egypt’s economy shrank 0.8 percent in 2011. The government pays almost 16 percent for one-year borrowing in pounds, up from less than 11 percent at the end of 2010, after four ratings cuts by Moody’s Investors Service effectively shut the country out of international debt markets. While the benchmark stock index has rebounded this year, it’s still almost a third below pre-revolt levels. The EGX 30 Index declined 6.6 percent this month.

The Egyptian Co. for Mobile Services, or Mobinil, the country’s second-largest and oldest mobile phone operator, posted its first loss for more than a decade last year, according to data copiled by Bloomberg, as customers cut spending. Profit at Talaat Moustafa Group Holding, Egypt’s biggest publicly traded real-estate developer, dropped 39 percent.

‘Extremely Difficult’

“Egypt needs growth, needs jobs, needs tourists and needs investment,” said Simon Williams, chief economist at HSBC Middle East. “This is an extremely difficult set of economic challenges for anyone to manage, let alone a newly-elected post- revolutionary government facing high expectations.”

Labor unions, which helped precipitate the overthrow of Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, are pushing successor governments to improve conditions and wages. The result in both countries has been a surge in strikes as tourism and investment decline.

Egyptians and Tunisians expecting more jobs a year from now outnumber those predicting a decline by almost four to one, according to a Middle East survey released this month by YouGov Plc and Bayt.com, a Dubai-based employment website. The only places with comparable levels of confidence were Qatar and Saudi Arabia, respectively the world’s richest country and its biggest oil exporter.

No Quick Fix

Public expectations pose “a communication challenge more than anything else,” said Ann Wyman, managing director at Tunis-based investment bank Maxula Bourse. “We know in economic terms you can’t solve unemployment that quickly.”

BY JAY SOLOMON – WASHINGTON—The Obama administration sanctioned an Iranian airline for allegedly ferrying machine guns and munitions into Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad put down a rebellion against his rule.

The shipments, according to U.S. officials, are part of an operation headed by Iran’s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, to help bolster the Syrian regime.

Iranian and Syrian officials have repeatedly denied that Tehran is supplying arms to the Assad regime. They have also accused the U.S. and its Arab allies of fomenting the revolution against the Syrian government.

The Treasury on Tuesday also sanctioned three commanders from the …

Farid Ghadry on the Free Syrian Army:

The FSA does not have any Islamist elements amongst its ranks because it would have never reached this leadership position under any Assad army.
How did the FSA respond to this pressure? In a very astute way.

First, a new three-star General named Adnan al-Ahmad defected few days ago to join the FSA (Video); but unlike the one-star General Mustapha al-Sheikh, al-Ahmad is asking for military intervention. This move by the FSA turns the tables on Erdogan because this is the highest ranking officer yet to oppose the Erdogan plans and because it keeps the FSA’s popularity intact inside Syria.

The other astute move the Free Syrian Army achieved was to create Military Councils inside Syria in every major city or town that has been hit hard by the Assad army (Video). These councils were announced just two days ago and their intended purpose is to free the FSA from any outside pressures or other councils the SNC may have planned.

The FSA is the legitimate defender of Syria’s interests. It has developed organically as a result of difficult circumstances rather than being manufactured by outside foreign governments. Although it is a paramilitary organization fighting a guerilla warfare, a new civilian leadership is forming inside Syria to be supported by the FSA as the legitimate new government. These civilians happen also to be doctors, lawyers, smugglers, and bureaucrats who have supported the Revolution by providing the FSA with services and intelligence information to better fight the Assad regime.

Follow Reuters

Fragmented Syria opposition emboldens Assad
* Opposition quarrelling ahead of vital talks
* Assad profiting from opposition disunity
* Dissidents criticise Muslim Brotherhood role
By Samia Nakhoul – Reuters

“We are doing everything to try to unite the opposition around the Syrian National Council and to convince them to be more inclusive, to welcome Alawites, Christians,” he said. “They are not doing well enough.

Amid this jostling, most Western and Arab nations fear the bloody stalemate in Syria is opening up space for jihadis such as al-Qaeda, sidelined by the last 15 months of Arab revolution but now presented with an opportunity to re-enter the fray.

U.S. intelligence officials have linked al-Qaeda to recent bombings against regime targets in Damascus and Aleppo.

“The main worry in the west is the infiltration of Islamist jihadis, including possibly al-Qaeda coming over the border from Iraq”, said Syrian expert Patrick Seale, biographer of Bashar’s father, the late President Hafez al-Assad. “The people carrying out these suicide attacks … are almost certainly al-Qaeda”, he said.

“The United States, Britain and France are having doubts about the opposition because they don’t want to be allied with al-Qaeda,” Seale said.

Ultimately, Seale argues, even though the Assad regime is under siege it is in a better position than it should be because the opposition is in such disarray, and the West and most Arab countries are reluctant to help it with arms.

“The Brotherhood have penetrated the SNC and the Free Syrian Army” made up largely of army defectors, he said. “They have taken Islam as their rallying cry and that is why the minorities are frightened.”

While the opposition may have fatally destabilised the Assad government, it seems unable to overthrow it.

“The economy is collapsing. The image of Bashar has been destroyed. He is seen as a brutal dictator and his legitimacy has gone down the drain”, said Seale. But he added: “In the opposition it is chaotic and they are squabbling. The problem is everyone wants to be Number One”.




Iranian suspicion grows over Turkey’s regional role
Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi addresses the main U.N. Disarmament conference at the end of his two-day visit at the United Nations in Geneva, February 28, 2012. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud
By Marcus George,  DUBAI | Tue Apr 3, 2012

(Reuters) – A senior Iranian political figure has spoken out against Turkey hosting Iran’s next talks with world powers on its disputed nuclear program, in the latest anti-Turkish broadside from politicians in Tehran, Fars news agency reported late on Monday.

Illinois Public Radio – NPR

Thursday March 29, 2012, 10:06 AM

Current Events in Syria

Joshua M. Landis, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Oklahoma

Host: David Inge


The ‘sheik’ of Syria’s rebellion ponders its obstacles

Yassin Haj Saleh sees outdated thinking and a lack of unity among the opposition factions as hindering the overthrow of President Bashar Assad


Slate: A Secret Plot in Syria, 2012-04-04

Syrian violence: Was the CIA involved in the 1949 coup that plunged the country into decades of turmoil?

The UK And Syria – An Absence Of Statesmanship?
Paul Smyth, http://www.r3iconsulting.com/

…There are two strategic imperatives which should drive and constrain UK foreign policy on Syria.  First, nothing must be done that would create a greater catastrophe in which many more people would suffer and regional states would be effected; second, Syria must not become a state ruled by an extreme Islamic regime, sympathetic to Al Qaeda and actively hostile to it’s neighbours and the West; and, if they exist, Syria’s Chemical and Biological weapon arsenals must remain secure and unused.  That these imperatives rarely feature in official statements on the crisis should set alarms ringing.

Many of the calls for foreign military intervention in Syria or arming of the rebels seem oblivious to the potential disaster that could erupt there.  It is unpalatable, but the government’s primary concern should not be to deal with the current violence in Syria but to prevent a more terrible calamity from taking place…..

Allah permitted the purchase and sale of slaves
Dr. Saud Al-Fanisan –

“Allah permitted the purchase and sale of slaves. Slaves are the property of their owners. This is slavery in the shari’a, yet a slave enjoys a great deal of freedom. The only thing he is deprived of is the right to own [himself].”…

The real Bashar Al-Assad
Monday, April 2nd, 2012 | A post by Camille Otrakji

…The real Bashar Al Assad is the central figure that will likely influence the outcome of the crisis more than anyone else. You really need to try to form a new, calm and impartial, assessment of the Syrian President…..

Hala Jaber who won this year’s best foreign journalist award again in the UK, likes the article:

The Stalled Revolution: Ten days with Syria’s besieged protesters.
James Harkin, March 29, 2012

….Three out of five Syrians are under 25, and, beyond the lazy clichés about a new “Facebook generation,” there’s little understanding in the West of who they are and what they might want. And so I came back to Syria for ten days, not as an officially sanctioned journalist but as a civilian—living in ordinary Damascus hotels and meeting as many Syrian activists as I could….

The men said they only took orders from the officers who’d defected with them, but, when communications permitted, they were in touch with similar groups around the country. As their numbers increased, the FSA grew bolder—they’d lay ambushes and booby traps to meet the army when it showed up to quash demonstrations. The regular Syrian army retreated, and for a brief time the FSA was able to move freely around the towns and countryside surrounding Damascus. I asked if they’d killed shabiha, and both said they had.

But, at the end of January, the Arab League monitoring mission was suspended because of the increasing violence, and the regime made its move. The Syrian army shelled Kafr Batna and then followed up with a ground assault. Both men had been on the run for a month, moving between safe houses to avoid detection. If apprehended, they faced execution. The economic sanctions against the Syrian government, they believed, were worse than useless—they took a long time to work and only hurt ordinary people. The soldiers claimed that the FSA was 20,000 strong in the countryside around Damascus—but was badly in need of heavier weaponry than Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).

Right now, the men admitted, they weren’t capable of taking and holding territory from the regular Syrian army. As things stood, they weren’t even sure they should be going on the offensive: After all, they’d defected to defend their families and communities from injustice, not to launch a civil war. “We have many chances to attack,” said one, “but we won’t do it: The reaction would be harsh and terrible.” If anything, it was now the people who were protecting the soldiers, rather than the other way around. “People have been arrested just for making us a cup of tea,” one told me. One of the soldiers said 13 members of his family had been arrested because of his activities; anyone with his surname, he added, would automatically be arrested at a checkpoint. At least for the time being, these soldiers were emissaries of a temporarily defeated guerrilla force…..

For the last few years, Mohammed had been working for most of the week in Damascus for the government. The pay was lousy, but he counted himself lucky to have work at all. His friends and family are scattered over both sides of the conflict. His girlfriend is a government supporter, he said, from an area where almost everyone is pro-government. I asked if he told her about his opposition activities. “Most of them,” he said with his laid-back smile. Things were easiest in Dara’a, where everybody knows everyone. In Damascus and Aleppo, the population is more transient and thus more paranoid: No one trusts anyone. His mother was a staunch supporter of the Assad regime; Mohammed warned her that she’d only change her mind when the trouble arrived in her own house.

I told Mohammed about a trip I’d recently taken to Douma, a populous commuter town outside Damascus. Douma had effectively been taken over by its residents late last year, but, in January, the Syrian army stormed in, and, when I visited, the area was clearly back under government control. The mobile phone network was still cut off, and, on a balmy Saturday afternoon, in a town with over 100,000 people, there were more soldiers than civilians on the main thoroughfares. The only visible sign of the uprising was the graffiti: “GET OUT, WE DON’T WANT YOU HERE BASHAR” and “BASHAR IS A BABY KILLER.” To my surprise, however, Mohammed chuckled at my bleak description. “Bashar treats us like a chicken farmer, you know. He thinks he can pen us in, turn the electricity back on, and we’ll keep laying eggs.” Even though the opposition was suffering, the regime was losing its power to cow people, he said. Once, he and his fellow activists would lower their voices as they walked past government informants. Now they talk louder, to show they are no longer afraid.

Mohammed could be critical of his own side, too. “This movement likes to talk big,” he said. Referring to the funeral procession we’d attended earlier, he observed: “There are three people being buried today, but, by the time the news reaches Al Jazeera and YouTube, it will be hundreds. In Dara’a the government switched the electricity off for a week and everyone was saying it lasted thirty days. It doesn’t help.” Nor did he have a very high opinion of the FSA. “Look at the pictures of the demonstrations,” he said. “It’s the people who usually are in the first line, with the Free Syrian Army behind them. When the army attacks, they have to run away and leave the people behind. It’s dangerous.”

As we chatted, Nadia texted to make sure that I was safe. I invited her to come and meet my new friend. “Be careful,” she replied. “Spies are everywhere. Don’t trust anyone.” When she arrived, she and Mohammed began an animated but friendly discussion on the state of the revolution, occasionally breaking off to translate the highlights into English. Nadia favored arming the rebellion by any means necessary. “Who cares about the agenda of the Saudis or the Qataris?” she demanded. “We just need the weapons.” Mohammed, however, was suspicious of armies of any kind and of outside intervention: He didn’t want to see one armed gang replaced by another. He seemed more like an old-fashioned community activist: His goal was to help build up an indigenous opposition large enough to sustain a revolution. For now, neither had thought much about what a post-Baathist Syria might look like…..

THE SYRIAN REGIME is winning every battle it picks with the armed opposition. Two days after my trip to Homs, the FSA in Baba Amr announced it would “strategically withdraw” from the neighborhood: It was running low on weapons, it said, and wanted to spare what remained of the civilian population. The army is now trying to clear Homs of what it calls “armed gangs,” just as it did in Douma, Kafr Batna, and Harasta. After that, it will likely turn its attention to other pockets of resistance farther afield. According to the United Nations, about 9,000 people have been killed so far, and, according to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, 230,000 have been displaced from their homes; 18,000 are thought to be detained in government prisons.

Like Nadia, an increasing proportion of Syrians feel that the only way to overcome the government is to meet force with military force. But many others, like Mohammed, fear Syria might degenerate into another Iraq—a virulent hotbed of sectarian fiefdoms and armed gangs. Some older activists I met, rendered powerless by the daily catalogue of death and suffering, have become depressed and fatalistic.

And yet, despite the increasingly grim situation, I was struck by the optimism of Syria’s new opposition. …

WSJ [Reg]: Iran’s Spymaster Counters U.S. Moves in the Mideast

BY JAY SOLOMON AND SIOBHAN GORMAN In the smoldering geopolitical feud between the U.S. and Iran, spymaster Major-General Qasem Soleimani is emerging as director of the Islamic Republic’s effort to spread its influence abroad and bedevil the West. In …


The Free Syrian Army vs. the Syrian National Council — Which Should We Support?

By David Schenker

New Republic, March 31, 2012


A year into the Syrian uprising against Bashar Al-Assad, the dysfunctional nature of Syrian opposition politics isn’t exactly news. But the resignation last month of Syrian dissident Kamal Labwani from the Syrian National Council (SNC) — which he accused not only of being “undemocratic” and incompetent, but intent on undermining the secular basis of the revolution — is an especially troubling indictment of the opposition’s hapless government in exile. The Obama administration should heed Labwani’s testimony, and reassess its diplomacy accordingly. Indeed, taking a cue from Labwani’s experience, Washington should refocus its attention away from the SNC, in favor of providing more active support for the less centralized, but potentially more effective Free Syrian Army (FSA). ….


t would be so much easier for Washington if the Syrian opposition was disciplined and united like the Libyan Transitional National Council was, at least before they took power. Alas, a truly cohesive Syrian political and military opposition is not on the horizon. Instead of spending months trying to integrate these disparate groups, Washington would be better advised to lower the bar and err on the side of action.


As it is, when it comes to the Free Syrian Army, the administration is letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. The FSA is not perfect — it may not even be good. But the alternative — a diminished and increasingly Islamist opposition facing a resurgent Assad regime — is much worse.


Loyalty to Syrian President Could Isolate Hezbollah
By ANNE BARNARD, April 5, 2012 NYTimes

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Mazen, a carpenter who organizes protests against President Bashar al-Assad in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, has torn down the posters of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, that once decorated his car and shop.

Like many Syrians, Mazen, 35, revered Mr. Nasrallah for his confrontational stance with Israel. He considered Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party, as an Arab champion of the dispossessed, not just for its Shiite Muslim base but for Sunnis like himself. But now that Hezbollah has stood by Mr. Assad during his deadly yearlong crackdown on the uprising against his rule, Mazen sees Hezbollah as a sectarian party that supports Mr. Assad because his opponents are mainly Sunnis.

“Now, I hate Hezbollah,” he said. “Nasrallah should stand with the people’s revolution if he believes in God.”

Mr. Nasrallah’s decision to maintain his critical alliance with Syria has risked Hezbollah’s standing and its attempts to build pan-Islamic ties in Lebanon and the wider Arab world.

Though Hezbollah’s base in Lebanon remains strong, it runs an increasing risk of finding itself isolated, possibly caught up in a sectarian war between its patron, Iran, the region’s Shiite power, and Saudi Arabia, a protector of Sunni interests in the Middle East. Its longtime ally, Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, has distanced itself from the Assad government, moving its headquarters out of Damascus, and Sunni revolutionaries in Syria have explicitly denounced Hezbollah as an enemy. At home, its Lebanese rivals sense a rare opportunity to erode its power.

In a delicate adjustment in the face of these new realities — and the resilience of the uprising — Hezbollah has shifted its tone. In carefully calibrated speeches last month, Mr. Nasrallah gently but firmly signaled that Mr. Assad could not crush the uprising by force and must lay down arms and seek a political settlement. He implicitly acknowledged the growing moral outrage in the wider Muslim world at the mounting death toll, obliquely noted that the Syrian government was accused of “targeting civilians” and urged Mr. Assad to “present the facts to the people.” ….

Interview with Col As`ad, the leader of the Free Syrian Army, a Sunni from the village of Abdita, Jabal al-Zawiyah (January 1, 2012)

(الجزيرة) التقت قياداته.. يزيد عدده على 25000 ويدير عملياته من الحدود السورية التركية عبر كتائب منتشرة في أنحاء البلاد

الجزيرة – خاص – الحدود السورية التركية

للمرة الأولى لوسيلة إعلامية أدلت قيادة الجيش السوري الحر مجتمعة بحوار موسع لصحيفة( الجزيرة) حول عدد من القضايا والمحاور المتعلقة بالثورة السورية وعدد من الموضوعات ذات الصلة بالجيش السوري الحر. وهم العقيد رياض موسى الأسعد قائد الجيش السوري الحر، والرائد مظلي ماهر الرحمون النعيمي الناطق الرسمي باسم المجلس العسكري للجيش السوري الحر وقائد كتيبة معاوية بن أبي سفيان، والنقيب مظلي عمار عبدالله الواوي أمين سر المجلس العسكري للجيش السوري الحر وقائد كتيبة أبابيل. وأول محاور هذا الحديث كان مع العقيد رياض الأسعد قائد الجيش السوري الحر:

العقيد رياض موسى الأسعد من مواليد 1961م في قرية ابديتا بجبل الزاوية من محافظة إدلب. ….

 He denies that any Libyans or foreign fighters are on Syrian ground. The Syrian people reject foreign fighters, he argues. But there are fighters from Hizbullah and Iran helping the Syrian forces and sharpshooters from both of these Shiite lands helping the Syrian Army kill innocent Syrians.


An appeal to the international community – The legitimate rights of Kurds in Syria must not be ignored
By Kurdish Centre for Legal Studies & Consultancy

The recent events in the Syrian National Council are concerning, where the majority of the Kurd members have withdrew from the Council as their demands were ignored. The Kurdish demands in Syria after the fall of Assad’s regime are the following:

1-Reforms to ensure equality between all the national and religious components of the Syrian people.

2- Permitting political pluralism.

3- Formation of a national assembly and a commission for all the Syrian components to participate in drafting a new constitution for the country on a democratic basis, to guarantee the recognition of the multi-nationality and multi-religion; and ensuring public freedoms, particularly freedom of opinion, expression and media. Moreover, ensuring the practice of the political pluralism, separation of powers, and the development of a modern law for elections and political parties…..

French diplomat: “we underestimated the regime … because we wanted to underestimate it. We should never be surprised at its capacity to resist.”   “La diplomatie française a sous estimé le régime syrien parce qu’on a bien voulu le sous estimer. On ne devait pas être surpris par sa capacité de résistance.”

New al-Qaeda Strategist al-Suri Emerges With Plan: WSJ Link, 2012-04-07

Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old Islamist gunman who hunted down three Jewish children and a rabbi after murdering three French paratroopers in Toulouse last month, didn’t act alone. In his journey from the slums of Toulouse, to the local mosques, to …

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1. ann said:

Russia-China victory in Syria a sign of declining US power – 9 April 2012


It sets an important precedent in international relations, and is perhaps the clearest sign of declining US power in the Middle East.

For the first time since the end of the Cold War, Russia and China have effectively thwarted the United States and its allies from pursuing its interests in a fiery Middle Eastern flashpoint, Syria.

The Russian-Chinese double veto at the UN Security Council – the last in February – signalled to the West that the two powers were drawing a red line on Syria. Notably, China’s second veto on Syria was only its eighth in history, highlighting the importance of the matter to Beijing. The message was clear: UN-sponsored regime change, military intervention, or arming of Syrian rebels – as seen in Libya – would never pass.

Understanding the regional and global battle over Syria is to recognise that no external power in the world has Syrian democracy or human rights as the fundamental drive behind its policies on the crisis. Despite the fluff coming from Western capitals, no leader among them is truly concerned for the welfare of the Syrian people, as noted by the West’s double standard silence to Bahrain’s ongoing revolution. Likewise, calls for Syrian democracy emanating from the most repressive regime in the world in Saudi Arabia are laughable to say the least. And as we are so regularly told, Russia, China and Iran are the antithesis to the liberal democratic values the West espouses to represent.

What the West and its Gulf Arab proxies saw in Syria was an opportunity to either snatch the Arab world’s influential outpost for Iran and Russia, or destroy its regional power altogether by way of a destructive civil war. The former seemed almost completely out of reach short of US military intervention. After spending his entire first term disengaging from wars in the Middle East, the last move president Barack Obama would make in an election year is committing a broke United States to yet another Middle East war.

Delegating intervention to its NATO allies was always going to be an unlikely option. Despite French and British eagerness to strike Moamar Gaddafi’s forces in Libya last year, the US once again eventually assumed the bulk of the workload.

The threat of a civil war still beckons, as oil-rich Gulf states ponder arming rebels, but decisive military victories by the Syrian army in recent months have made it increasingly unlikely that president Bashar al-Assad will be dislodged by force, either from within or beyond.

The international wrangling does not delegitimise the legitimate demands of the Syrian people for democracy and an open society ruled by fairness and equal treatment. Rather, it highlights that for the majority of the Syrian revolution thus far, the battle for Syria has been mostly waged beyond its borders.

The Syrian revolution became no longer a question of the inalienable rights of the Syrian people, but – as so often in the Middle East – a pretence for an intense struggle for regional supremacy. The Saudis and Qataris threw all gloves off when Saudi King Abdullah openly declared his support for the revolt in August 2011. The king’s call was not one of solidarity with the Syrian people, but a declaration of proxy war against its regional nemesis, Iran. Riyadh and Doha saw an opportunity to gain a strategic Arab ally on the simple calculation that the majority of Syrians are Sunni Muslims, and thus Assad – member of the minority Alawi sect – would meet the same fate of the fallen Arab dictators before him.

Turkey also hedged its bets on a quick Assad downfall, a strategic blunder that is now under sharp criticism from leading Turkish commentators and opposition leaders as the Syrian dictator appears to have held sway. Although it still hosts Syrian opposition groups and armed rebels, Turkey has notably toned down its harsh rhetoric of Assad in recent weeks. The US and Europe have also moved away from explicit calls for regime change, to endorsing – alongside Russia and China – UN envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan for a political solution.

Annan’s plan is a clear victory for Russia and China, as it reinforces their position on what it considers to be the sensible approach to resolving the Syrian crisis. Annan’s peace plan suggests a “Syrian-led political process” echoing Moscow and Beijing’s repeated calls for dialogue among Syrian parties and without external interference. It also calls for a cessation of violence “by all parties” without apportioning blame to either the regime or the opposition. Russia had previously drafted a UN Security Council resolution blaming both sides for the crisis, a move rejected at the time by France as “unacceptable” as it could not equate the crimes of rebels to the regime. And the only hint of foreign intervention in Annan’s plan is a UN monitoring team to oversee a ceasefire.

This contrasts sharply with the two previous Western-backed UN resolutions that suggested a regime change via transition, and opened the door for further action without compliance, or as Russia and China interpreted, military action. Moscow and Beijing got the Annan plan they wanted, denying the West its traditional position of decision-maker in the Middle East.

Last week’s “Friends of Syria” summit in Turkey, a gathering of Western and Arab states alongside a number of Syrian opposition groups, revealed only the lack of options available. The summit’s pledge to aid the opposition was as hollow as the rhetorical statements issued in support of the revolution. The US promised communications equipment – certain to defeat a heavily-equipped and trained Syrian army – while Saudi Arabia and Qatar would use its oil-wealth to entice Syrian generals to defect – a strategy it has deployed largely unsuccessfully since mid-2011.


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April 9th, 2012, 12:12 am


2. ann said:

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s deputy appears in first video since Iraq’s – 2012-04-08


BAGHDAD, April 8 (Xinhua) — Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s top aide Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri appeared in a video posted on internet, for the first time since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and called on Iraqis to resist the country’s Shi’ ite-dominated government.

“Our Baath Party in Iraq, on its 65th anniversary, is leading a major and a historic war. Baath is struggling and will continue resistance to change the current regime,” Douri, the former vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council under Saddam’s regime, said in his speech posted on internet late on Saturday.

As for the Syrian crisis, Douri criticized the stance of Arab states against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We are with the Syrian people and their legitimate rights, and with their peaceful uprising,” said Douri, who was showed in the video taking Saddam’s positions of the secretary general of Iraq’s Baath Party and wearing his military rank Staff Field Marshal.

He also criticized the Arab states which demanded foreign intervention in Syria “what’s wrong with you? You reached the point that you call for (foreign) armies to invade Syria and erase its people, like what happened in Iraq and Libya.”

The authenticity and the date of Douri’s video could not be immediately verified.

Douri, who believed to be one of the major funders for Sunni Arab insurgency against the U.S.-led coalition force after 2003, threatened to continue resistance against the Shi’ite-led government which he said “turned Iraq into an easy prey for Safavids,” referring to the Iranian dynasty (1499-1736) that established Shi’ite Islam in Iran as an official state religion and frequently fought the Islamic Sunni world.

Iraqi and U.S. officials believe that Douri played a key role in organizing resistance that erupted in 2003 against the U.S.-led coalition and was instrumental in forging links between remnants of the ousted regime and Sunni Islamic militant groups.

As the Sunni insurgency spread following 2003 invasion, the United States and its allies offered a 10 million U.S. dollars reward for information leading to Douri’s capture.


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April 9th, 2012, 12:19 am


3. ann said:

Syria threatens pullout from ceasefire deal unless given ‘written guarantees’ – 08 April, 2012


“To say that Syria will pull back its forces from towns on April 10 is inaccurate, Kofi Annan having not yet presented written guarantees on the acceptance by armed terrorist groups of a halt to all violence,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdessi said Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army has rejected the government’s request for guarantees on the ceasefire and demanded that government withdraw its forces back to military bases and remove checkpoints from streets.

The FSA does not recognize the regime “and for that reason we will not give guarantees,” the commander of the FSA, Riad al-Asaad, told the Associated Press.

Also on Sunday there were controversial reports saying that one of the representatives of the Syrian opposition, Kassem Saad al Dine, has stated that the Syrian Free Army is ready to cease fire on April 10 even though government troops will remain in populated areas.

He added, however, that in the event of further conflict, opposition forces would retain their weapons and continue their resistance.

Syria has learnt a “very hard lesson from the Arab League observer saga” and does not want the same thing to happen again, a former Syrian ambassador to Turkey, Dr. Nidal Kabalan, told RT.

“[Rebels] fostered in Syrian cities and towns, and it has cost extra hundreds of innocent lives of civilians and army soldiers to get rid of some of those armed gangs,” Kabalan said.

At least two large militant bases have been found and secured on Saturday, Syrian authorities reported. One was located in the city of Douma, just 12 kilometers north of Damascus, and the other in Yabrud, 80 kilometers north of the capital. Government news agency Sana said loyalist troops discovered large caches of weapons and arrested a number of people suspected of kidnappings and murders. Smaller scale operations are taking place in other parts of the country.

Also on Saturday, armed rebels attacked a government-controlled checkpoint in the town of Jusiyeh near the border with Lebanon. A bus carrying Lebanese nationals was fired upon in the shootout, with dozens of passengers wounded and at least one killed. The passengers are reportedly pilgrims, who were traveling from Lebanon to holy sites in Iraq.


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April 9th, 2012, 12:26 am


4. Uzair8 said:

The revolutionaries have the best slogans

In an article posted earlier we came across an impressive slogan from the Latakian Allawite Assad supporters, directing their frustration at the elite, over the loss of family members in the army.

“For them the palaces, for us the coffins.”

The opposition response:

“For them the palaces, for you the coffins, for us the mass graves.”

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April 9th, 2012, 12:32 am


5. ann said:

Israeli Report: Russia Taking Preemptive Steps to Block Possible Strike on Iran

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Israeli media said Russia has made a series of rather preemptive moves to block a possible US-Israeli strike on Iran from the North.


Israel’s debkafile said in a report that after blocking the way to direct Western and Arab military intervention in Syria through the Mediterranean, Russia sent its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week on a round trip to the capitals of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan – an expedition designed to secure Iran against a potential US/Israeli attack via its Northern and Eastern neighbors.

On his return to Moscow, April 6, the Russian army let it be known that highly-advanced mobile S-400 surface-to-air missiles had been moved into Kaliningrad, the Baltic enclave bordered by Poland and Lithuania, its response to US plans for an anti-Iran missile shield system in Europe and the Middle East.
In Yerevan, the Russian minister finalized a deal for the establishment of an advanced Russian radar station in the Armenian mountains to counter the US radar set up at the Turkish Kurecik air base, the Israeli website said quoting military sources.

Just as the Turkish station (notwithstanding Ankara’s denials) will trade data on incoming Iranian missiles with the US station in the Israeli Negev, the Russian station in Armenia will share input with Tehran, it said.


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April 9th, 2012, 12:35 am


6. b said:

Landis writes:

The Assad government on Sunday April 8 set new conditions for the April 10 cease-fire. It won’t withdraw troops from civilian areas unless all rebel groups provide written guarantees they will lay down their weapons, a further blow to efforts to arrange a cease-fire and implement a peace plan backed by the United Nations.

This is factually wrong or rather propaganda.

These conditions are NOT NEW. They were in the letter sent on March 25 to Kofi Annan in which the Syrian government accepted his mission.

The Syrian ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja’afari explained these guarantees and why they are needed in a UN press conference several days ago.


see at 0:33, again at 0:44 again at 1:00 min

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April 9th, 2012, 1:10 am


7. Uzair8 said:


About the video of Sheikh Nazim in #1201 in previous post (see above) I should have watched it before posting. It was close to midnight and I hadn’t eaten etc.

I would have saved people a lot of time by suggesting they skip to 32 minutes, to the meat of the subject. I was hoping for some ‘spiritual revelations’, perhaps revealing some insight into Assad’s thinking or other information.

As it happens the talk was more about King Abdullah of Jordan and him being ‘identified’ as a Caliph to ‘whom belongs the throne of Syria’. That is an intriguing topic for elsewhere and not as relevant on SC unless the issue develops further as it may well do.

Why is it intriguing? Well Sheikh Nazim is highly regarded by many and believed to be capable of recieving inspiration. However it is possible such ‘inspiration’ can be misinterpreted (by the Sheikh).

On the other hand there are also those, from a certain sect, that identify King Abdullah as the possible end time tyrant (sufyani).

This fatwa from Sheikh Nazim is really gonna put the cat amongst the pigeons.

If anyone is interested in following this issue:


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April 9th, 2012, 1:13 am


8. ann said:

Associated Press (AP) is putting words in the Pope Benedict’s mouth!!

AP opens it’s article saying:

“Pope Benedict XVI implored the Syrian regime Sunday to heed international demands to end the bloodshed”

Pope Benedict said:

“Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community,”


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April 9th, 2012, 1:20 am


9. jad said:

The killing of Amjad Al7ameed is growing:

Here is a you tube clip I liked earlier about the issue:
السلفية الجهادية تغتال ضابط منشق كشف اغتصابها للنساء

And here is a full report about the matter, it seems that the different armed militias are starting to attack each-others:

مصدر في الجيش الحر لـ عربي برس : حرب تصفيات بين مجاهدي الثورة السورية

هل بدأت حروب التصفيات بين وهابيي ومدنيي الثورة السورية ؟
العرعور أم الزعبي قتل النقيب أمجد الحميد ؟
حمص خاص عربي برس – ماهر العظمة

“يد النظام لا بد و أنها موجودة في مقتل الشهيد أمجد الحميد لبث الفتنة بين المجاهدين وتشتيت جهودهم ” جملة تصيب الرقيب الفار ” م ” بنوبة هياج عصبي فيقول رداً على قائلها وهو ابن عمه سلفي النهج ” انتم كما وصفكم الشهيد امجد الحميد عالة وعار على الثورة ، أنتم فئة متطرفة تنفذون مخطط وهابي سعودي عرعوري لتدمير سورية، نحن لم ننشق عن الجيش لنقتل في سبيل ثورة فاشلة أصبحت سمعتها في الحضيض ، قتل وخطف واغتصاب للنساء وسلب ونهب باسم الثورة” ويضيف الشاب العشريني الذي يقضي نقاهة لإصابته برصاصة في الساق قبل فراره من حمص إلى الرستن” سنطهر الثورة منكم قبل تطهير سورية من النظام الأسدي،ولن نكون أداة بيد آل سعود في حربهم ضد إيران والشيعة”.
هذا ما قاله الرقيب المنشق ” م ” في حديثه لعربي برس.، وهو شاب من الرستن الفوقاني يمت بصلة قرابة للنقيب أمجد الحميد .

من قتل أمجد الحميد

قتل النقيب المنشق أمجد الحميد وهو زعيم جماعة ” لواء رجال الله ” في الرستن يوم 18 آذار الماضي ، وعلى الفور أذيع نبا مقتله على يد الأمن والشبيحة ولكن بعد أيام فوجئت أوساط المسلحين في حمص والرستن باتهام صريح من قبل جماعة تطلق على نفسها اسم ” لواء رجال الله ” لرجل الدين السلفي الجهادي لؤي الزعبي زعيم جماعة ” المؤمنون يشاركون ” باغتيال النقيب المنشق أمجد الحميد قائد جماعة رجال الله الذي قتل برصاص مسلحين يوم 18 آذار الماضي في الرستن .

بيان ” رجال الله ” وجه اتهاماً صريحاً لجماعة الشيخ لؤي الزعبي الذي يتنقل بين السعودية القاهرة واستنبول وقصور نواب المستقبل في بيروت بقتل زعيمهم .
لماذا قتل أمجد الحميد
قبل أيام من مقتله خطب الحميد في حشد من أنصاره رداً على انتقادات حادة وجهتها إمرأة من الرستن حول قيام مسلحين من الرستن بعمليات إغارة وسلب ونهب وخطف و اغتصاب نساء منطقة سلمية ( تقطنها الطائفة الشيعية الإسماعيلية ) .
أشاد الحميد بكلام المرأة وقال “كلامها مزبوط مليون بالمية ” و شن هجوماً على الشيخ عدنان العرعور وقال ” نحن لا ننتظر لا العرعور ، ولا غيره لإعلان الجهاد لكن فيه عندنا مدنيين شايلين ( حاملين ) السلاح هم عبء على الثورة وهم لصوص ” منتقداً أعمال ” التشليح التي تحدث بمناطق السلمية ( شمال شرق الرستن) واعتقال النساء ”

و أوضح أنه يجب على الثوار أن” يوجهوا سلاحهم للداخل وليسس للخارج ” ويقصد بذلك من تحول عبئاً على الثورة وليس الآمنين في منطقة السلمية التي قدم أهلها الطعام والشراب للرستن كما ذكر الحميد في كلمته .
من هو لؤي الزعبي
الشيخ لؤي الزعبي ذو الباع الطويل في الحروب الجهادية التي تديرها وكالة المخابرات الأمريكية، أوقف مؤخراً في القاهرة التي يتنقل فيها بجواز سفر مزور عندما كان يعتزم السفر من مطار القاهرة إلى استنبول لحضور مؤتمر للمعارضة السورية .
الثورة تأكل أبناءها
مقتل الحميد أحدث دوياً هائلاً في الرستن يقول الرقيب المنشق ” م ” ويتابع ” لم نكن نتوقع رحيله بهذا الشكل وهو الذي كان يتوعد العصابات التي استغلت الثورة للتشليح والسلب والنهب أو لخوض معارك طائفية تخدم محاور إقليمي بعينه ، حكامه أعداء حرية ، وخائفون من الحرية ومن إيران “.
وحول نوايا الجماعة تجاه السلفيين الوهابيين من أتباع الشيخ لؤي الزعبي قال ” نحن مصرون على تسلم القتلة لانزال العقاب الشرعي فيهم أي القصاص الشرعي العادل ، ونعرف أن الأوامر جاءت من لؤي الزعبي شخصياً ويجب أن يحاسب ليكون عبرة لمن يعتبر ، ولا نستبعد ضلوع الشيخ عدنان العرعور الذي ” كبر رأسه ” ويريد أن يحكم سورية بدلاً من بشار الأسد ” .

و يتابع حديثه ” نحن لم نقم بثورة على الطغيان ، و لم نقدم الدماء من اجل شيخ جاهل و أحمق ومهبول كعدنان العرعور ، أو متطرف خادم لآل سعود كلؤي الزعبي ، يتمول منهم باسم الثورة ولا يرس لنا شيئاً، شعبنا ينتظر منا نصراً ودولة للجميع وليس لفئة ، وما فعلوه مع أهل منطقة السلمية من إخوتنا الشيعة الاسماعيلية هو فعل غدر وخسة و فتنة ثورتنا براء منها “..

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April 9th, 2012, 1:46 am


10. ann said:

Happy Easter JAD 🙂

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April 9th, 2012, 1:53 am


11. jad said:

fsa kidnapped and threaten to kill 17 workers in Aleppo suburbs:

مجموعة من شبيحة الأسد بيد كتيبة نور الشهداء

إستياء عارم في ريف حلب من الوهابيين: خطفوا عمالا مسالمين وهددوا بذبحهم مع أنهم من انصار الثورة!!

عصابة مسلحة تخطف مواطنين من نبّل وتهدد بذبحهم خلال 5 ساعات
عربي برس – خاص حلب

أقدمت مجوعة مسلحة تطلق على نفسها اسم كتيبة نور الشهداء على خطف 17 من العمال العائدين إلى منازلهم في بلدة نبل بريف حلب و اقتادتهم إلى مدينة تلرفعت ، وهددت بذبحهم خلال خمس ساعات ما لن تنسحب القوات التي تلاحق المسلحين شمال حلب .

و نشر ناشطو ما يسمى اتحاد تنسيقيات الثورة السورية في حلب فيديو يصور أحد الناشطين برفقة مسلحين ،وهو يتلو تهديداً للسلطات بذبح 1 7شخصاً معصبي الأعين و اجبروا على الاعتراف بأنهم ” شبيحة ” الأسد و السيد حسن نصر الله الذي وصفه الناشط بألفظ مقذعة .

و” الشبيحة ” وهي كلمة يطلقها المعارضون على مؤيدي النظام الذين يقمعون المظاهرات المنادية بالتدخل الدولي و عملية عسكرية لاسقاط النظام في سورية .

وقال أحد أقارب المخطوفين لعربي برس طالباً عدم نشر اسمه خشية انتقام العصابات ” كل من ظهر في الفيديو هم عمال وموظفون في حلب كانوا في طريق عودتهم إلى منازلهم عندما تم خطفهم من قبل المسلحين وهم ، كادحون على باب الله وبعضهم يعمل قوت يومه فقط “.

و أضاف الشخص في اتصال هاتفي ” نناشد كل الشرفاء في تلرفعت أن يوقفوا هؤلاء المجرمين الذين يريدون إيقاع الفتنة بين المسلمين خدمة لمشاريع أمريكا، و أن يمنعوا قتل العمال الأبرياء “.
ولم يصدر أي بيان عن السلطات السورية التي تواصل حملة لضبط الأمن في منطقة شمال حلب، تلاحق فيها الجماعات المسلحة المدعومة من حلف الناتو والتي تقوم بقطع الطرقات وخطف المواطنين” .
ويسود توتر شديد في البلدة على خلفية الحادثة فيما يسعى الوجهاء لضبط انفعالات الشباب فيها و السعي للحوار مع وجهاء تلرفعت لضمان سلامة المخطوفين و إطلاق سراحهم .


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April 9th, 2012, 2:02 am


12. omen said:

I imagine he understands that he is facing a real revolt that will require the Syrian security forces to carry out counter-insurgency operations for a long time. Isn’t the common wisdom of “coin” that it takes 10 years or so to defeat an insurgency?

10 years of sectarian cleansing…but no matter how high the bodies pile up, the u.s. mustn’t intervene?

assad doesn’t have 10 years.

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April 9th, 2012, 2:08 am


13. jad said:

Happy Easter to you too Ann and to all who celebrate it today.

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April 9th, 2012, 2:09 am


14. ann said:

Looks like the Turkey is cruising for a bruising 8)

Turkey Crisis Planning Includes Soldiers in Syria, Milliyet Says – Apr 9, 2012


Turkish soldiers may establish buffer zones in Syria by the end of the month to protect civilians, Milliyet newspaper reported, citing interviews with unidentified officials.

U.S. senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman are expected to meet President Abdullah Gul today in Istanbul, and may also travel to refugee camps near Turkey’s border with Syria, Milliyet said.


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April 9th, 2012, 2:56 am


15. Mohamed Kanj said:

For all those wanting to watch SYRIA TV live stream on iPhone here is the link.it is a clear crisp live feed.Thanx to the Syrian government for putting up this site.


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April 9th, 2012, 3:06 am


16. Alan said:


Syrian FM arrives in Moscow for talks

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem is due to arrive in Moscow later today for talks on implementing by Damascus the peace plan by the UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan.
April 10th is the deadline by which the Syrian government is due to withdraw troops and heavy armaments from built-up areas. Under the Annan “road map” settlement plan, all parties to the conflict are due to stop violence within the next two days, that’s by April 12th.

The Command of the military wing of the opposition, also known as the Free Syrian Army, has also said that it is prepared to stop hostilities by April 10th.

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April 9th, 2012, 3:22 am


17. Alan said:

Turkish Defense Minister adopts provocative stance on Syria


Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz has adopted a provocative position regarding Syria, saying that Ankara is prepared for any development on the Syrian situation, including war.

Yilmaz, however, noted that Ankara is “not calling for war,” but that it will be prepared just in case.

The Turkish defense minister made the remarks in a statement issued on Sunday, when the Syrian Foreign Ministry said UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has not provided “written guarantees” that the armed opposition groups will also abide by a peace plan to halt all violence in the country.

On April 5, Annan’s spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi said, “What we expect on April 10 is that the Syrian government will have completed its withdrawal from populated centers.”

The withdrawal was part of a six-point plan proposed by Annan to Damascus in March.

The Syrian statement added that Annan “has not submitted written guarantees from the governments of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey on stopping their funding to terrorist groups.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Ankara will “patiently follow the process (in Syria) until April 10,” but “we will implement steps” if the turmoil in Syria does not stop after the date.

The Turkish premier, however, did not exactly specify the possible measures Ankara would take.

[ … ]

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April 9th, 2012, 3:35 am


18. Khalid Tlass said:

PLease stop spreading disinformation, JAD. Capt. Amjad al Hameed is alive and well, I ask you to show proof that he is dead, show us any video or photo of the dead body.

THe regime spread similar disinformation regarding the death of Abdel Razzaq Tlass in Baba Amr, turns out he is alive and kicking, without a single scratch.

And all the revolution is united, and Islamists are the heart of the revolution, the FSA and the people are one hand, and the people are all Islamists or Salafists, Sheikh Louay Zou3bi is a marginal figure in the revolution, but I can assure you the FSA field commanders, ordinary fighters, civilan sympathizers, and religious clerics are all one and united in perfect love and brotherhood.

This Army and society is like the Sahaba, and everyone knows that Sheikh Adnan al Ar’our is highly popular and respected by all Syrians, especially anti-regime Syrians, and he is very popular in the FSA and he loves the FSA very much.

And another thing : civilan volunteers and defectors in the FSA always work together, the biggest thing about the revolution is the great internal unity and cohesion among the activists and fighters on the ground, and the degree of their support among the population.

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April 9th, 2012, 3:44 am


19. Alan said:


Institute of the Middle East

Strengthening of activity of the Navy of Germany in the Middle East


The first. German politicians are excited with the fact of participation in investigation of a vessel which officially isn’t declared in unique Near-Eastern mission of Germany in Mediterranean sea UNIFIL near the Lebanese coast on purpose to stop contraband by the weapon to extremist groupings in Lebanon for decrease in risk of blows across Israel. Similar participation provokes as mistrust of representatives of the Bundestag to federal defensive department, and suspiciousness of military men of the various countries in east part of Mediterranean sea to not declared German actions.

The second. Command of the Navy of Germany explains privacy of mission by importance of that the event «in flashpoints should be completely presented the federal government how it is actually; about a situation on the big water area in Mediterranean sea it should be known in particulars that will allow to make important political decisions concerning the countries of” the Arabian spring ». The given representation provide ALSTER and other vessels which are, as a matter of fact, perfect technical complexes, allowing in details to trace Near-Eastern conditions on a land, on the sea and in air.

Data of sites of the federal Minister of Defence, the Bundestag, Center for Security Studies (Zurich), SHZ.de, Stern are used.

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April 9th, 2012, 3:56 am


20. Mina said:

Interview of King Saud’s daughter (she’s a great woman!)

Am I wrong or what she says could be counted as apostasy in KSA and she would be condemned to death, if she was not who she is?

“In particular, the constitution should protect every citizen’s basic human rights regardless of their sex, status or sect. Everyone should be equal before the law.”

“The way women today are treated in Saudi Arabia is a direct result of the education our children, boys and girls, receive at school.

The content of the syllabus is extremely dangerous. For one, our young are taught that a woman’s position in society is inferior. Her role is strictly limited to serving her family and raising children. They are actually taught that if a woman has to worship anyone other than God it should be her husband”

“The attitude is that “learning itself, anything other than religion won’t get you into heaven so don’t waste your time”. I would like to see religious teaching limited to the Koran and the Sunna (the way the prophet lived), where the true ethics of Islam lie. The rest is blind rote learning of the most dangerous kind.”

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April 9th, 2012, 4:19 am


21. Mawal95 said:

Joshua put up a photo above which he claims is “a mass grave for the dozens killed in today’s regime raid and bombardment on Taftnaz, Idlib.” ^

Youtube shows that Joshua is misinformed.

First, here’s a video of the dead rebels being buried in the masss grave in Taftnaz. In most cases in this video the dead men are wrapped in cloths that cover the face, and so you can’t assess how long they’re dead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3HekrhUxsc .

Next, here’s video of the dead men wrapped in the cloths, but with the faces exposed, and with close-ups of some of the faces. We see that many bodies have been dead for a long time and many show signs of having been refrigerated, i.e. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freezer_burn , while other bodies have had a much more recent death: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=2kqNF3brW-0#t=83s.

More footage showing the same dead men arrayed in a large room with their faces observable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q7PkksxzrM , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJMmoRgTPdQ .

Next, notice from time 0:05 to 0:10 that six different live observers in this room are holding their noses to suppress the smell, a good sign that some of the dead bodies are not recently dead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FJlOxBu1mo

In short, the bodies were collected over time with the intent of doing a mass burial.

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April 9th, 2012, 7:33 am


22. Mawal95 said:

Joshua mentioned above that Colonel Riad Al-Asaad of the FSA is a native of Jabal al-Zawiyah. At the risk of oversimplifying, that hillbilly social background of his can explain a lot.

Riad Al-Asaad says that he takes seriously the reports that soldiers from Hizbullah and Iran are in Syria helping the Syrian Army kill demonstrators.

That goes to show me that he’s still to this day a real hillbilly. http://www.al-jazirah.com.sa/20120101/jo1.htm

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April 9th, 2012, 7:39 am


23. Observer said:

Observation about the 20 or so comments. Not a single idea just cut and paste of various news that are totally immaterial to the post. It is the work of trolls to drown the message.

If Landis thinks that the regime is doomed then this is a turn around indeed.

Observation about the wiggle room of the regime: running out of options and continued use of a single method to survive.

The key word here is survival. It does not matter what form or shape or condition Syria is in or will be as long as the 20 or so power centers remain in place. These are about 20 key figures that are making all the decisions. The troops are cannon fodder and the people are to be crushed without pity or consideration.

I would think that North Korea is one example of world wide isolation, and on the inside I think Somalia is more likely to be the outcome as the institutions of governance have been gutted a long time ago.

Even JAD does not have anything to say, he just cuts and pastes as I imagine he cannot put forth an argument for dialogue and resolution of the crisis in peaceful ways any longer.

Would Dr. Landis enlighten us about the blinders that the pro regime have put just as in my opinion the opposition has thought to wear the bear’s skin before killing it?

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April 9th, 2012, 7:46 am


24. Mawal95 said:

News article at guardian.co.uk, 5 Apr 2012 :

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been saying they want to supply the Syrian rebels with weapons. “The decision to arm the rebels has been taken in principle, but it has not yet been implemented”, said Mustafa Alani of the Saudi-funded Gulf Institute of Strategic Studies in Dubai. British officials have informed the Guardian they see no evidence that large-scale government weapons transfers to Syrian rebels have taken place.

Arab sources say a bigger effort may be imminent. Last week the Gulf states agreed to fund the SNC to pay wages to FSA rebels. This is seen as providing cover for arms purchases


The situation is complicated by the fact that neither Jordan nor Turkey, which have land borders with Syria, are likely to allow transfers of significant armaments. The logistical difficulties in smuggling any supplies into Syria. …


Syria’s immediate neighbors Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon have laws and policies that prohibit arms and armed men to pass into Syria from their jurisdiction. Those prohibitions are being enforced by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon (without 100% success of course). I confess less info about Israel but I believe the same is true on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights.

The Syrian navy patrols the sea along Syria’s Mediterranean coast. So, looking all around Syria’s borders, there is no gap were it is legal on the other side of the border to bring weapons and ammunition into Syria. Thus anyone wishing to arm the rebels in Syria has got a difficult implementation problem.

If Saudi Arabia and Qatar follow through on their wish to give cash handouts to the rebels, it will increase the price of weapons but it can’t increase the supply of weapons in a major way because of the logisitical difficulties in smuggling weapons into Syria. For smuggling to be scaled up, you’d need at least one of the bordering countries to remove its prohibition, but the great preponderance of indications are that’s NOT going to happen.

Joshua Landis says above “This is a broad based social uprising that the Assad regime will not be able to destroy, particularly if Gulf Arabs and wealthy Sunnis will provide large amounts of financial aid, or as the Saudis explained at the Friends of the Syria meeting, pay the salaries of the rebel fighters.”

I strongly disagree on the important point that the uprising is broad based. (I’ve given three or four dozen items of evidence that the uprising’s support is not broad based, while the regime’s support is broad based, a couple of dozen of which were collected at http://www.moonofalabama.org/2012/03/open-thread-2012-07.html#c6a00d8341c640e53ef0168e90185c0970c ).

But anyway, large cash handouts are not going to make the rebel fighters a stronger fighting force in the field of fighting. The cash can enable rebels to keep up a fight after repeated losses on the field, but in that scenario they don’t have a means to grow their social support base, and their support base will erorde (as it has done in all other countries with losing violent rebels).

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April 9th, 2012, 7:51 am


25. Mina said:


Alternatively, the cash will help the poors among these people to stay at home and start again a normal life instead of looking for paid hours as a “silhouette” in a FSA video, or from money from unknown terrorist group with changing targets and policies…


Why aren’t you then commenting the bright ideas of some pro-revo in yesterday’s trail, which reached 1000+ comments? They didn’t have any ideas but cut-and-pastes?

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April 9th, 2012, 8:20 am


26. Juergen said:

Brave souls !!! A group of young ladies and gentlemen had a sit-in in front of the Parliament building in DAMSASCUS! On Sunday April 8th,2012.

The young lady lifted a banner that said: “Stop the killing, we want to build a country for all Syrians” She painted her face white and dressed in red. Afterwards some of the protestors were detained by security forces and while using violence in front of the public and obscene language

Let’s pray for their safety, they are bravest of brave to stand in the middle of the capital and protest! We gain our strenght from you guys … please stay safe!

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April 9th, 2012, 10:35 am


27. jad said:

Syrian Peace Deal: UN’s Cloak to NATO’s Dagger
Turkey begins fabricating “cross border” incidents to justify Brookings prescribed “safe havens” inside Syria.
by Tony Cartalucci

April 9, 2012 – From the very beginning, US policy makers admitted that Kofi Annan’s “peace mission” to Syria was nothing more than a rouse to preserve NATO’s proxy forces from total destruction and create “safe havens” from which to prolong the bloodshed. It was hoped that with established “safe havens” in Syria, protected by Turkish military forces (Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952) violence and pressure verses the Syrian government could be perpetually increased until it finally collapsed and the carving up of Syria could commence.

This has been confirmed by Fortune 500-funded, US foreign-policy think-tank, Brookings Institution which has blueprinted designs for regime change in Libya as well as both Syria and Iran. In their latest report, “Assessing Options for Regime Change” it is stated (emphasis added):

“An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.” -page 4, Assessing Options for Regime Change, Brookings Institution.
Now, Turkey is fabricating stories involving Syrian troops “firing across” the Turkish-Syrian border. The New York Times published these bold accusations before admitting further down that “it was unclear what kind of weapons caused the injuries on Sunday around six miles inside Turkish territory,” and that “there were conflicting accounts about the incident.” As are all the accusations used by NATO, the UN, and individual member states to justify meddling in Syria’s affairs, these tales involve hear-say from the rebels themselves.
The UN “peace deal” was a rouse from the beginning. The West has no intention of leaving Syria intact and will seek all means by which to prevail in toppling the government, carving up the country along sectarian lines, plunging it into perpetual violence as it has Libya, and moving next toward Iran. While it is essential to expose the truth behind Syria’s unrest, is also important to identify the corporate-financier interests driving this nefarious agenda and boycott them entirely while seeking out viable local solutions to support instead. If none exist, it is our duty to use our time, money, attention, and resources to create such alternatives instead of perpetuating the self-serving agenda unfolding before us.

Ultimately it is “we the people” paying into this current paradigm that allows it to continue moving forward, therefore it by necessity must be “we the people” who undermine and ultimately replace it.

That article may explain the statement of the Belgian who host NATO headquarters about the plan to attack and occupy Syria :

بلجيكا تشير الى احتمال تدخل انساني بحماية عسكرية في سوريا

اشار وزير الخارجية البلجيكي ديدييه ريندرز الى ان تدخلا انسانيا ميدانيا بحماية عسكرية سيكون ضروريا في سوريا اذا استمرت “الممارسات الوحشية لنظام بشار الاسد”.

وقال ريندرز خلال برنامج “دوليات” على شبكة “تي في 5″ التلفزيونية ان “النظام سلك طريق الوحشية وثقتي في نظام الاسد تتراجع”. واشار “هناك خطة مطروحة مع مهلة تنتهي في 10 نيسان”، مضيفاً “اذا لم يتم الالتزام بالخطة فعلينا الانتقال الى المرحلة التالية”.

وشدد ريندرز على ان “تدخلا انسانيا سيصبح ضروريا وسيفترض تواجدا عسكريا مسلحا”. واوضح انه “سيتم التباحث في هذه النقطة خلال الاجتماع المقبل لاصدقاء سوريا المقرر في فرنسا”.

وتابع ريندرز ان “الجميع يقولون انهم يدعمون خطة (موفد الامم المتحدة والجامعة العربية) كوفي انان لكن علينا وضع روسيا والصين امام الامر الواقع”.
(ا ف ب)


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April 9th, 2012, 10:40 am


28. jna said:

23. Observersaid: (…)
If Landis thinks that the regime is doomed then this is a turn around indeed.

Are we reading the same blog? In my memory this has been a Joshua Landis mantra for the last year.

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April 9th, 2012, 10:44 am


29. Uzair8 said:

Heard on the radio earlier Assad’s army fired at and wounded refugees across the Turkish border.

Is Turkey going to tolerate this provocation? Isn’t it time to say enough is enough?

What did the Assad General say to his men recently in Homs? :

“…the issue is that we should get over with Baba Amro and then head to other…(he named some neighborhoods in Homs)…and then towards the refugees,”


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April 9th, 2012, 10:45 am


30. Afram said:

“Allah permitted the purchase and sale of slaves
Dr. Saud Al-Fanisan – MEMRI TV

“Allah permitted the purchase and sale of slaves. Slaves are the property of their owners. This is slavery in the shari’a, yet a slave enjoys a great deal of freedom. The only thing he is deprived of is the right to own [himself].”…
Thanks Dr. Landis for posting – MEMRI TV clip.

With the Stroke of a Pen …..allah orderd banning> Riba (Interest, usury)
but mercyful allah!! kept slavery thriving in islam until the UN forced muslims to quit, thanks UN

Why were Arab Muslim nations the world’s last ones to abolish slavery?

This is a timeline of abolition of slavery, we can see that the Arab Muslim nations, the first ones to convert to Islam, were also the last ones to abolish slavery:

They did it decades after the Un had declared slavery against Human Rights.

1948 UN Article 4 of the Declaration of Human Rights bans slavery globally
1952 Qatar abolishes slavery
1962 Saudi Arabia abolishes slavery
1962 Yemen abolishes slavery
1963 United Arab Emirates abolishes slavery
1970 Oman abolishes slavery
1981 Mauritania abolishes slavery

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April 9th, 2012, 11:07 am


31. jad said:


“I strongly disagree on the important point that the uprising is broad based.”

I agree with your objection on introducing this as a ‘broad based’ uprising, it’s not, especially in the last months, it becomes a military battle between the government and the armed militias funded, supported and trained by khalijis, turks and the EU, while the US is behind the curtain so it wont ‘affect’ the ‘pure’ image of the uprising.

Ref. my earlier comment about the military intervention plan:

McCain meets with ‘istanbul’ council, how ‘patriotic’ of them, this ‘council’ keep going from low to lower every day pass and we shouldn’t call any of them ‘traitor’ they are very ‘patriotic’…Sure!


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April 9th, 2012, 11:08 am


32. jad said:

Didn’t the US had enough of the radicals of Taliban and Alqaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, why the US tolerate Pakistan and Afghanistan radicalism that much, isn’t it time for the US to deal with more decisive power to solve the radical problem of that region?

I think they should.

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April 9th, 2012, 11:15 am


33. jad said:

استشهاد النقيب امجد محمد الحميد قائد لواء رجال الله


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April 9th, 2012, 11:26 am


34. Hopeful said:

Ignoring the comments on this blog, do people here believe that the posts on SC do in general contain accurate information and facts about what is going on inside Syria?

Thumbs up if you do
Thumbs down if you do not

Do you know of any other web site/news source that reports news/information which, in general, are accepted as facts from both sides of the conflict?

In other words, with so much lies and misinformation on both sides, where would one go to learn the truth?

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April 9th, 2012, 12:18 pm


35. Uzair8 said:


I shared the (see link above) slogans in #4 elsewhere and was told:

“…and there are nearly 6000 alawites killed as shabbiha not yet handed back to their families.”

I wouldn’t be surprised at this. Regime trying to avoid restlessness or backlash from the Allawite base. (?)

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April 9th, 2012, 12:21 pm


36. Akbar Palace said:

Unbelievable But True: Don’t Humiliate the Syrian President NewZ

Professor Josh’s side kick, co-owner and one-time co-editor of this website, Alex (aka Camille Otrakji) is still pining for the self-appointed Syrian dictator (whose wife is buying European furniture and jewelry while his cities burn).

R U Surprised?

From Professor Josh’s link:

Attempts to find solutions to the crisis in Syria failed in many cases because they implied a humiliation to the President, tried to force him to accept a major role for Islamists in Syrian politics, or relied on pressure with imposed deadlines from outside powers that attempted to treat Syria as a stage and not as a leading actor.

The most constructive, and the only approach today is to forget the past and to cooperate to try to shorten the difficult path to the return of stability to Syria.

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April 9th, 2012, 12:28 pm


37. Hopeful said:

I think the parallel that Josh is drawing between the US approach in Iraq post invasion, and the Syrian’s regime approach against the rebels, is fairly accurate.

In both cases, strong armies are facing popular insurgencies. In both cases, the armies do have support from a segment of the local population. In both cases the insurgencies are supported by a segment of the local population and many regional countries and organizations.

It is true that the Syrian army knows the local population and environment better, but I do not believe this is a factor that can tip the balance. Bottom line is, the US learned the hard fact that a military solution alone cannot solve the problem – in fact, it has caused a civil war in the country.

The Syrian regime is facing similar challenges today. What I observe from comments on SC is the following: the more the violence escalates, the more polarized and extreme the comments become. Violence will only lead to further polarization of the society.

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April 9th, 2012, 12:33 pm


38. bronco said:

27. jad said:

“Syrian Peace Deal: UN’s Cloak to NATO’s Dagger
Turkey begins fabricating “cross border” incidents to justify Brookings prescribed “safe havens” inside Syria.”

There are 2 possibilities:

– Erdogan is preparing the Turkish public opinion (and NATO) to accept the military invasion North Syria under the pretext of ‘protecting civilians’.

– Syria is provoking an escalation with Turkey to oblige it to retaliate with the hopes that this would create an internal political crisis within Turkey. It is also a message of defiance to Turkey and to the armed mutineers conveniently settled near the border. Why are the camps so close to the borders?

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April 9th, 2012, 12:44 pm


39. norman said:


or the FSA is shooting from Syria at the camps to push Turkey to do something.

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April 9th, 2012, 1:05 pm


40. jad said:


I think option one is more realistic than option 2 because of the history of the turkish vocal escalation every couple days for a year now.

If we cross reference what the Belgian announce and of the news of the Syrian-Turkish border clashes this morning, and Erdogan’s last statement that a major ‘steps’ will be taken after the 10th of April, it give option 1 more weight than option 2.

On the other hand, the tragedy death of New TV cameraman 3li Sha3ban in a fire exchange near the Syrian-Lebanese border is now being used by the Lebanese ‘politicians’ for scoring points:

تفاصيل اطلاق النار على فريق قناة الجديد 9-4-2012

Lebanon TV cameraman killed ‘by Syrian army’ on border


مصدر إعلامي: فريق قناة الجديد أصيب أثناء تعرض نقطة لحرس الحدود السورية لإطلاق نار كثيف من قبل مجموعات إرهابية مسلحة


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April 9th, 2012, 1:08 pm


41. bronco said:

#24 Mawal95

I agree with you. The uprising is very narrow based, contrary to what Joshua Landis asserts. In 12 months, many who were for the revolution’ have changed their minds as the alternative to the secular independent ‘dictatorship’ of Bashar Al Assad is a ‘hardline western supported islamocracy’ like Egypt, Libya or Tunisia.

We have seen no evidence that Syrians are accusing Bashar al Assad or the government for the fall of the Syrian pound or the cost of living increase. The fingers are pointed to the Arab League puppets and to KSA and Qatar that all Syrians despise, long before the uprising. Syrians are proud and would rather die of hunger than to beg for any help from these countries. The ones who are begging are desperate, as they have taken the road to exile while it is clear that KSA or Qatar will not accept a single Syrian refugee.

The more the ‘enemies of Syria’ are trying to isolate the Syrian government, the more people are switching to the side of Bashar al Assad. The more aggressive Turkey becomes the more resentment against it is growing.

Many pro-regime Syrians were opposed to Annan Plan because it was calling for the legitimate army to withdraw without the armed mutineers officially agreeing to the plan.

The opposition thought they could fool Annan and Bashar al Assad by vaguely agreeing on the plan, now they must deliver or bear the responsibility of the continuation of the violence.

By forcing the opposition to sign guarantees, Syria is now throwing the ball to Annan. If Annan wants to save his plan, he will have to put pressure on the ‘enemies of Syria’ to commit to the plan.

Turkey is trapped as it will be forced to agree and implement the Annan Plan that keeps Bashar Al Assad in power. So it creates diversions. That may explain the accusations of aggressions on the refugees camps.

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April 9th, 2012, 1:13 pm


42. Juergen said:

DER SPIEGEL quoted turkish officals who call this peace plan “obsolete” after the attacks on turkish grounds and on fleeing syrian refugees.

1 lebanese cameramen was killed while he worked in an neighboring lebanese village, the gunshoots came out of Syria.

Lets see what Annan will say tomorrow, he is scheduled to visit the border from Turkey to Syria.

here is the translated article…


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April 9th, 2012, 1:22 pm


43. Mina said:

It seems the media is just about putting pressure: already thanks to their campaign in the last days, Iran has now accepted to have the talks in Istanbul and even to reduce the quantity of enriched uranium.

It would not make sense that the Syrians decided to shoot on some people just when Annan was touring the refugee camps this afternoon. Or they do shoot at armed people fleeing through the border everyday but the Turks decided to complain only today to embarass Annan.

While in Tunis, demos are forbidden


And in Iraq, universities are anything but “democratic”


And Bahrein..


But that’s the best:

Bahrain rejects Danish request for prisoner transfer (they mention the fact he has Danish citizenship only at the end of the article)

The GOVERNMENT is badly split on what to do, sources in Bahrain have told the BBC’s Bill Law. They say the Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khaled bin AHMAD al-Khalifa, is keen to see a resolution.

However, Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin SALMAN al-Khalifa insists he should not be released, the sources told our correspondent.

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April 9th, 2012, 1:23 pm


44. zoo said:

Turkey’s uneasy friendships

It is thought that portraying the al-Assad regime and the PKK as an “axis of evil” is a very good propaganda piece.
But it would be a nightmare for Turkey if the Kurds get some sort of autonomy in the new Syria. Turkey is overeager to organize “the Syrian opposition” so as to ensure that it avoids such an outcome.
Turkey’s eagerness to support the Syrian opposition has been in tune with Western perspectives so far, but I think that the difference of priorities may lead to unexpected disagreements among the friends of the “Friends of Syria.”

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April 9th, 2012, 1:26 pm


45. Juergen said:


Yes but support looks different, nowadays too. I have watched state tv broadcast on the easter celebrations, which JAD posted. No one of the christians were supporting the president ambitiously, at least no one said his name or the obvious expected phrases praising the President. All said basically Syria will be good inshallah and the government must act blabla

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April 9th, 2012, 1:27 pm


46. zoo said:

Number of refugees in Turkey slightly drops

Annan to visit Syrian refugee camps in Turkey

ANKARA, April 9 (Xinhua) — UN-Arab League joint envoy to Syria Kofi Annan is set to visit the camps sheltering Syrian refugees in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay on Tuesday, local media quoted diplomatic sources as saying on Monday.

Hatay, with 7,934 Syrian refugees, is the forefront of Turkish southern provinces in providing shelter for Syrians who were fleeing domestic violence.

In addition, there are 5,504 Syrian refugees staying in Turkey’ s Gaziantep, 9,159 in Kilis and 1,594 in Sanliurfa.

Annan will proceed to Iran after his visit in Turkey, according to the report.

The number of Syrians in Turkey on Monday dropped to 24,246 from a record high number of 24,324 registered on Saturday, marking an end of the ever-expanding trend of refugee influx in the past two months, according to official figures.

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April 9th, 2012, 1:32 pm


47. jad said:

Almoualem in Moscow:

المعلم يزور موسكو لبحث تنفيذ خطة عنان
وصل وليد المعلم، وزير الخارجية السوري يوم 9 ابريل/نيسان إلى موسكو في زيارة رسمية ليطلع الجانب الروسي على تنفيذ دمشق للبنود الستة من خطة كوفي عنان المبعوث العربي والأممي لتسوية الوضع في سورية.

ومن المقرر ان يلتقي المعلم نظيره الروسي سيرغي لافروف يوم 10 ابريل/نيسان، وهو اليوم الذي يتزامن مع انتهاء المدة المحددة للسلطات السورية لسحب قواتها من المدن. وبحسب خطة عنان، فان جميع أطراف النزاع يجب ان توقف اعمال العنف بشكل كامل عقب 48 ساعة بعد ذلك اي بتاريخ 12 ابريل/نيسان.

إلا أن بعض الاطراف المهتمة بحل الأزمة السورية، خاصة واشنطن وباريس، تتجاهل وجوب ان يشمل نداء عنان لوقف العنف المعارضة السورية أيضا. فقد اعلنت كل من واشنطن وباريس عن شكوكهما في أن تقدم دمشق على تنفيذ خطة عنان.

من جانبها قالت وكالة الأنباء السورية (سانا) أن المعلم سيزور روسيا الاتحادية برفقة وفد رسمي، وسيجري مباحثات مع نظيره الروسي سيرغي لافروف حول تعزيز العلاقات الثنائية بين البلدين والتطورات المتعلقة بمهمة كوفي عنان مبعوث الأمم المتحدة والجامعة العربية إلى سورية .

معارض سوري: زيارة المعلم تهدف الى رسم خطة قابلة للتنفيذ

رأى القيادي في الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي طارق الأحمد في اتصال مع قناة “روسيا اليوم” أن الحكومة السورية تنتظر من زيارة وليد المعلم الى موسكو الدخول في تفاصيل لرسم خطة قابلة للتنفيذ. وأوضح أنه في حال لم يرض عنان بالذهات الى مبادرة قابلة للتنفيذ ومبادرة يمكن ان تحمل الطرف الذي لا ينفذ المسؤولية فيجب على دول (بريكس) ايجاد شخصية مرموقة بديلة وذات مصداقية لانهاء العنف في سورية.

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April 9th, 2012, 1:32 pm


48. Hopeful said:

Re: Akbar Palace # 36

I, for one, actually enjoyed reading Camille’s post and found it to be very well-written and well-researched (http://creativesyria.com/syriapage/?p=150).

It takes hard work and dedication to write such a post, and Camille should be commended for making a contribution to help Syria in its current crisis, even if you disagree with him.

I think many of his findings are reasonably accurate, although one may disagree with his conclusions and proposals to solve the crisis (for example, I do not believe that Assad is the “only leader” who can lead Syria to free elections, but the guy is entitled to his opinion!).

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April 9th, 2012, 1:34 pm


49. Juergen said:

“Khaled” a 27 year old resident of Kherbet al Jouz. He reports on two killings which government forces have commmitted in his village.


A message from the World to Syria

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April 9th, 2012, 1:36 pm


50. jad said:

هرموزلو: اذا تكرر تصعيد سوريا على حدود تركيا ستكون هناك عواقب وخيمة

أكد مستشار الرئيس التركي ارشاد هرموزلو في حديث لقناة “أخبار المستقبل” أن “التصعيد السوري على الحدود التركية السورية غير مبرر واذا تكررت الاحداث ستكون العواقب وخيمة، ويجب ان تعرف الادارة السورية ما هي الافعال الوخيمة واذا تكررت الافعال ستكون هناك ردود فعل كبيرة”.

Google TranslateTRANS Advisor confirmed Turkish President Ershad Hermozlo in an interview to the channel “Future News” that “the escalation of the Syrian Turkish-Syrian border is unjustified and if repeated events, the consequences will be dire, and must know that the administration Syrian What are the acts of severe and if repeated acts there will be a great feedback.”

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April 9th, 2012, 1:38 pm


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