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 …

Comments (170)

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101. zoo said:

The Kilis killing explanation: opposition groups provoked the deadly incident. The dead syrians were opposition fighters.


“Kilis Gov. Yusuf Odabaş said the injuries were caused by bullets from clashes on the other side of the border, which erupted when opposition groups attempted to seize control of the border crossing from regime forces.
Turkish security forces in no way intervened or used arms, he said. Twenty-one Syrians wounded in the clashes managed to cross into Turkey through a mine-ridden stretch of land. Three died in hospital and another two in critical condition have been transferred to a hospital in the adjacent province of Gaziantep, Odabaş said, adding that crossings from Turkey to Syria had been suspended as a security measure.

In the neighboring province of Hatay, police stopped about 300 Syrians when they attempted to march to the border and stage an anti-al-Assad protest.

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April 9th, 2012, 9:09 pm


102. zoo said:

Tariq al-Hashemi continues his tour to Sunni countries to get their support against the Iraq government accusations that he is a criminal.
After KSA, Qatar, Turkey, where is the next stop? Morroco, Libya, Malaysia?

Iraq’s fugitive Sunni VP arrives in Istanbul

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

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April 9th, 2012, 9:19 pm


103. mjabali said:

The battle for Syria is going to continue strong for a while unless something out of the ordinary happens to change the outcomes and force a settlement. The result is going to be the division of Syria as could be taken out of what everyone is saying and doing. The attitude is very hostile and no way logic could show up.

The death toll is rising from both sides, with the rebels getting frustrated from the results so far. al-Assad is intent to use the strength of his troops and gear.

The outside pressure is mounting, but, what is going to stop the violence? We know that al-Assad is stubborn and the opposition are stubborn too, so who is going to solve this for us?

Turkey want to do something but the consequences are unknown, but for sure it is going to be involving violence. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are going to put in money plus the media support they are offering. Iran and Hizballah support al-Assad but to what extent, I for sure do not believe the lunacy the rebels been saying all along about Iran and Hizballah. To me the opposition discourse regarding Iran and Hizballah borders lunacy and hallucination too. But it is no secret that Iran supports al-Assad. So what is the solution?

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April 9th, 2012, 9:25 pm


104. Norman said:

It is becoming more and more a Shia/ Sunni war,

We complain about people in power getting away with murder and ask that everybody faces the law, then when somebody in power is wanted by the Iraqi judiciary we try to have a way for him not to be prosecuted, Arabs are not ready for an important part of democracy, Independent Judiciary, We will always have nepetism and bribery.

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April 9th, 2012, 9:32 pm


105. Norman said:


If we want to solve the crises in Syria we have to define the objective, if the goal is political reform, the guarantee reform by the Syrian government under international monitoring and a cut off all support for the opposition , on the other hand ,if the goal is to destroy the secular nature of Syria and the Syrian army and Baath party, so they can move and overturn the Iraqi government and then Hezbollah, then we are in for a long war and probably the divission of Syria,

By the way i heard that kidnapping for money reached the Christian areas of wadi al Nasara.

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April 9th, 2012, 9:50 pm


106. Tara said:

Turkey issues stern warning to Syria
Published: April 9, 2012 at 7:51 PM


DAMASCUS, Syria, April 9 (UPI) — Turkey demanded Monday Syria halt shooting at the border after two Turks and four Syrians in a Turkey refugee camp were injured by bullets fired from Syria.

The camp in the town of Kilis is occupied by thousands of people who fled to escape the continuing violence in Syria.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement Syrians who seek shelter in Turkey would receive the country’s “full protection” and said “the necessary measures will be implemented if such incidents [cross-border shootings] are repeated,” the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The statement called the gunfire a “grave” development.
Security agreements over the past decade allow Turkey to intervene in Syria if the security situation in that country threatens Turkey’s national security. Today’s Zaman said Turkey could invoke the NATO charter, which says an attack on any member would be considered an attack on all members.

The Assad regime allows the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and its affiliates to carry out attacks on Turkish soil and about 1,500-2,000 PKK militants are in Syria near the Turkey border. Thus, Turkey could intervene based on the NATO charter as a “last resort,” Today’s Zaman said.

Annan misread Syria’s pledge to remove troops Tuesday, a regime spokesman declared, saying rebels and their backers must halt first.

“To say that Syria will pull back its forces from towns on April 10 is inaccurate,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday.
Some Syrian activists blamed the former U.N. secretary-general for being gullible enough to believe President Bashar Assad had any intention of compromising.
Video posted on YouTube Sunday purported to show MiG-29 jet fighters flying over Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, as well as military helicopters firing rockets and alleged members of the notorious civilian-clothed shabiha paramilitary gangs in the southwestern city of Daraa, near Jordan, cursing and manhandling the bodies of dead rebels.

None of the information and video about the fighting could be independently confirmed because the Assad regime has severely restricted access to international media.

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April 9th, 2012, 9:57 pm


107. Observer said:

So there are pro regime loyalists that see only a conspiracy against Syria.

It reminds of the declaration by Noureddine Atassi in 1967 when he declared that Israel lost as it failed to topple the regime of the great Baath party.
Therefore, there is this interesting phenomenon where by Syria is defined only in terms of its adherence to the ideology of the Baath; to its so called resistance stance (resistance my foot); and to a Machinean world view of dark against light and a dichotomy of truth and falsehood. This cannot be defended any longer. For people on this blog to quote SANA as source of information is mind boggling. It is as if they have never lived in Syria before where the statistics were manufactured to fit the regime’s declarations. Are they from Mars or from the ex Soviet Union who do not believe that it disappeared forever? Do they think Stalin still lives?

I also notice something quite interesting in the declaration of Maliki that is in support of the regime staying in power in Syria. In this he clearly is showing that he is essentially sectarian in nature. He does not mind the sect to rule Syria hiding behind the pan Arab slogans and mantra of the Baath party while his D’awa party worked feverishly and relentlessly to try to topple the pan Arab Baath regime in Iraq. It so happens that in Iraq the Sunnis and more importantly just like in Syria the Takritis have used the facade of pan Arabism to seize and hold on to power and suppress the others. So when it comes to sectarian power, the Baath is OK by Maliki for it is held by an offshoot of his sectarian world view. In Iraq it is now banned and its members have been persecuted relentlessly.

Therefore this mantra of a conspiracy is exactly the same talk that we have heard by the Saddams and Ghadafis with each bunching together the Salafists with the Zionists and the Imperialists and the MB and the communists. So the regime in Syria paints a picture of a world wide conspiracy in which the invisible hand of the US and others has been able to put together the enemies to the death on the same page and directed them to destroy the regime in Syria.
At the same time we hear the regime supporters make fun of the opposition as people who cannot keep their ranks in order and seem to be disunited and to have already started infighting about the spoils to be had.

You cannot have the cake and eat it too.

Either the opposition is fragmented and disorganized or the US in its great superpower ability has been able to accomplish something far more important than winning WWII, the cold war, coming back after Vietnam, invading Iraq, and even bombing Hiroshima. Being able to put a coalition of Salafist Zionist Imperialist Communist Mercenary rag tag together is the best thing Americans have done since sliced bread and apple pie. Or even perhaps the invention of the wheel or domesticating crops and animals. Wow Obama must be a demi god to have created such a wonderful conspiracy and all of this to topple Fredo.

The US does not give a damn about Syria or who rules it or what position it takes and how many arson fires it starts and whether HA has missiles or not.
So far the 2006 war resulted in Israel losing the battle and winning the war and doubly so for the northern border is quiet and the HA is now another power hungry entity that is willing to sacrifice its principles and its gains for the sake of a slice of the Lebanon that is worth nothing except that it is a way for the few in power to enrich themselves at the expense of the many. So now Israel is basking in the sun watching HA become just another corrupt political movement and its northern border is quiet.
As for Syria, it does not matter anymore. The regime has gutted the garbage dump it calls Syria for more than 40 years and now is in the process of transforming it into a pre eminent failed state.

I am sorry to say that the latest moves by the regime are leaving even those that want to have something to hold on to defending it breathless and speechless at the brutality and ineptitude and mediocrity.

The coming 25 years will see the dismantling of the artificial borders created by the colonials just as Mali is breaking apart and the Sudan has split and Iraq is on its way to three entities with the Kurds asking for more autonomy we will see the end of Jordan and the break up of Saudi Arabia and wars of water and other resources start here and there just as Ethiopia is diverting the Nile Egypt will respond with an invasion and so on and so forth.

This is because the people have not been allowed to have a say in their lives. Autocratic rule is obsolete and dinosaurs are extinct and so will these stupid inconsequential artificial humpty dumpty countries.

Syria Alassad my foot. It is a joke in bad taste, a bloody bad taste.

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April 9th, 2012, 9:57 pm


108. mjabali said:


Yes that man from the FSA sounds like some on this blog. But, the interesting thing is how al-Jazeera aired that sectarian rant. Probably he was live. For al-Jazeera to air something like this without clarifying their position on that sectarian issue is notable.

As for the objectives of any dialogue: the word political reforms are not on the table. No one is buying what the other party is saying. Each insists on their own version and objectives. In my humble opinion, no one is ready to give any concessions. The language is escalating to full on sectarian. al-Assad media talks about Salafis and 3ara3eer, and the other party talks about Iran and al-majus. We have a catastrophic situation here.

About the kidnapping of Christians in Wadi al-Nasara I have no first hand information. But, for sure I can tell you that large parts of rural Syria is very dangerous, where people are getting killed, or kidnapped. The situation is getting really beyond any repair with each sect locked in their area scared from the violence that may come knocking on their door.

The situation is really bad as I can tell from what I read and the videos I see.

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April 9th, 2012, 10:07 pm


109. omen said:

70. Son of Damascus said:

160 people were butchered by this regime on the eve of the of the cease fire.

if you ever wondered why the death toll consistently hovers between a little over or under a 100?

By keeping daily death tolls on average below a few dozen a day, Assad has yet to trip alarms that would garner international intervention.

it’s a slow motion sectarian cleansing.

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April 10th, 2012, 12:51 am


110. Ghufran said:

The attack near the Lebanese borders and the one inside Turkey are not similar even if it turns out that the Syrian army did the shooting in both. In Lebanon, the camera man was probably caught in the cross fire, his tv station is sympathetic to the regime and he died in an area that has been a theatre of frequent gun fire battles, nothing will come out of his tragic death. The incident in Turkey is different, it shows the impatience of Syrian generals and a new level of risk-taking that may not be helpful to both the Syrian and Turkish sides.

If the reports that the Syrian army acted without orders from high commands are true, it indicates a new level of frustration and lack of discipline, but if you believe some Turkish sources, the attack was planned and it aims at sending a message to the Turkish leadership that harboring armed rebels on Turkish territories can not continue forever, the Turks may finally have to back their threats with actions, and please many in the opposition, or back off and risk looking like a paper tiger again, a lot of people believe that Turkey can not afford to back off but the options if Turkey decides to respond are still limited by regional and international obstacles.

Russia seems to be sending mixed messages about the regime’s new tactic of supporting Annan on paper but doing what they want in reality, it looks like Russia is not too upset about the regime’s campaign in north Syria, I personally still believe that the army will not stop until the north becomes unusable militarily for the purpose of establishing a safe zone.

More violence according to a number of observers but the question is for how long and what is the end game?

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April 10th, 2012, 12:54 am


111. omen said:

78. Mawal95 said: The government’s position is that disputes must be decided at the ballot box

live free or dieBOLD!

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April 10th, 2012, 12:57 am


112. omen said:

94. mjabali said: Yesterday you quoted Ibn Taymiyah, one of the most violent people in humanity, and today you quote Ghandi how come?

got to know when to pick the right tool for the right job. there is an array to chose from in the revolutionary’s toolbox.

but just to be clear, i used a non-violent quote yesterday.

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April 10th, 2012, 1:10 am


113. Halabi said:

Here’s an eyewitness account of Ali Shaaban’s death in Lebanon yesterday. http://youtu.be/VQ9mCgQkvlg

The story is different according to the unnamed media source cited by SANA. Who to believe… RIP Ali.

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April 10th, 2012, 1:30 am


114. Shami said:

Halabi ,since the begining of the uprising, New tv used to use the jadian, shahadian, addounia nusayri mukhabarat lies.

The hypocrit tahsin khayat (the owner of new tv) has just discovered yesterday that the syrian regime is killing innocent civilians under false pretexts that his channel used to repercute for months (the cameraman that they killed was their tool).

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April 10th, 2012, 1:41 am


115. Juergen said:

“To say a picture paints a thousand words bears plenty of truth here.

If you were to know that the painting featured in this article depicts a siege in an ancient Syrian city, then reverberating implications would not be lost if one were to make the connection with the ongoing blood battles in present-day Syria.”


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April 10th, 2012, 2:27 am


116. Tara said:

What happen to your conscience?  You were born with one.  What did you do to it?  What kind of hatred you have grown in your heart to not feel the pain?  We are eventually people just like you.  Yes, we are labeled different but we eat, sleep, and feel just like you.  Do you not see the killing?  Do you not see the burning alive?  Do you not see the torture?  Have we fabricated the death of 500 children?  The beating of the elderly?  Do you not see the humiliation?  Do you skip all this and just read about resisting the evil west?  Where are you?   And why (the hell) do I still care?  Am I losing my conscience too?

As Syria killings rise, a plea for world conscience  


Listen carefully to world leaders talk about the violence in Syria and one word keeps coming up: conscience. How many killings of protesters will it take, these leaders ask, to rouse the world’s conscience into action?

Conscience, of course, is individual, not collective. That’s what makes it so inviolable and powerful. But with Syria’s regime defiant toward a UN cease-fire effort and the massacres continuing, something like a mass conscience may now be developing.

A global appeal to conscience was certainly evoked a year ago in the case of Libya. President Obama justified the air attacks on Muammar Qaddafi’s regime as necessary to prevent a massacre that would have “stained the conscience of the world.” The UN Security Council had adopted a unanimous resolution against Mr. Qaddafi in response to cries for safety from Libyans.

This year, the council was also unanimous in backing a cease-fire effort in Syria led by former UN chief Kofi Annan. Achieving that consensus was made possible after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that Syria’s “horrific campaign of violence” had “shocked the conscience of the world.” France’s foreign minister, Alain Juppé, was even more direct by appealing to Russia and China to note the “world conscience” and not veto the resolution.

Nations ruled by authoritarian leaders often don’t seem to have much of a conscience. They pursue hard interests, such as Russia’s desire to retain access to a naval port in Syria. China, which claims it has no self-interests in Syria, has at least given $2 million to the International Committee for the Red Cross for humanitarian aid in Syria.

Syria’s neighbor Turkey, for example, has turned sharply against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Last month, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for “moral intervention” in Syria. “We must ensure our consciences prevail. No other concerns, no other interests must interfere,” he told a Friends of the Syria conference last month.

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April 10th, 2012, 7:32 am


117. Uzair8 said:

92. mjabali

Ajwa Dates

That was initially intended to be for ‘The Walls’ blog in response to a user who mentioned shortage of food and water in Jabal Alzawieh.

I thought it was a good suggestion. When Bab Amr was under siege we heard about food shortages and how some brave people risked their lives to smuggle in bread. Ajwa dates would be easier to move around and store.



It was a decent joke and summed up the Shabeeha well.


Foreign fighters

Syria Truth? Isn’t that a propagandist source? It would be easier for arab volunteers from neighbouring countries to help out against Assad than to need for Pakistani fighters from England.(?)

Anyway what’s that got to do with me? Lol. I’m against extremists.
Anyway I hope you support us when the revolution comes to Pakistan.


Lord of the Rings (LOTR)

Came across a LOTR reference yesterday and nearly shared it here. Glad I didn’t. It would’ve given more ammunition to MJABALI, adding to his list of objections.



Nothing wrong with a brief mention of this breaking story to bring to people’s attention. It isn’t entirely irrelevant either.

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April 10th, 2012, 8:05 am


118. Uzair8 said:

Early on in the uprising we saw people singing and dancing at pro-regime rally concerts while in other parts of Syria, syrians were being slaughtered by regime forces.

I hope that these same people, in a shift in tactic, haven’t been accusing others of being indifferent to the prospect of spilling of more Syrian blood.

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April 10th, 2012, 8:13 am


119. Tara said:


You don’t need permission or approval to say anything you want.

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April 10th, 2012, 8:17 am


120. Uzair8 said:

118 Tara.


You’re right. It’s a sensitive situation so one doesn’t want to be misunderstood or mis-interpreted.

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April 10th, 2012, 8:24 am


121. zoo said:

Syria calls for deployment of int’l monitors
Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — Syria’s foreign minister said Tuesday the government has already withdrawn some forces from some Syrian cities and that the U.N.-brokered cease-fire must start simultaneously with the deployment of the international observer mission.

“We have already withdrawn forces and army units from several Syrian provinces,” Walid Muallem said, following talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it saw no signs of large-scale troop pullback Tuesday and that most areas of Syria appeared calm. This is a sharp contrast to heavy attacks by Syrian forces on restive towns in recent days.

Russia on Tuesday called on the opposition as well as countries that “influence them” to use their powers to bring about the cease-fire.

“We would like to call on all opposition leaders and all countries that have influence on the political and military opposition to use their influence to bring about an immediate cease-fire as is provided by Kofi Annan’s plan,” said Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Lavrov also said after the meeting with Muallem that Syria’s government “could have been more active and decisive” in implementing the peace plan.

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April 10th, 2012, 8:42 am


122. zoo said:

That’s maybe why Turkey does not want the UNHCR to get involved with refugees camps and no journalist is allowed in the camps.

Syrian rebels ‘using Turkish refugee camps as base’
Published: 10 April, 2012, 14:59

The Syrian army’s pursuit of rebels across the Turkish border has shed light on claims of rebel groups using refugee camps as safe havens. Reports suggest the Free Syrian Army could be treating them as springboards to launch incursions into Syria.

RT correspondent Sara Firth interviewed an anonymous source on the Syrian-Turkish border following the incident, who said that members of the Free Syrian Army were operating in the border region.

“They [Syrian rebels] cross the border, then they walk back again. Maybe the Turkish army finds some and takes them back to the camp, others just come by themselves. A lot of these people work with the Free Syrian Army,” he said.

He added that the Turkish government turns a blind eye to their movements and “lets them go back to fight.”

RT also spoke to a member of the Free Syrian Army operating in the area, who told her the opposition wanted to pressure the Turkish government into providing “arms and equipment from NATO.”

According to media reports, Syrian regime troops who were pursuing insurgents after they attacked a military checkpoint opened fire across the border, killing one and injuring several people.

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April 10th, 2012, 8:49 am


123. Uzair8 said:

Just seen an Al Arabiya opinion piece by a familiar face from the UK anti-war movement alongside people like with George Galloway. Anas Altikriti.

History in the making; as written by the youth
By Anas Altikriti

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

[Selected quote]

Among the factors that led to the world-wide audience being captivated by the performance of the Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, Yemenis, Syrians and others is that this revolution was a 100% non-political movement in terms of the real actors on the ground. It was purely political of course in its remit, mandate and objectives, but no political party or political grouping could claim ownership or directorship of the movement on the streets. What this presented was a unique opportunity for everyone concerned. Those who had long given up on corrupt, malfunctioning, sub-standard political entities, all of a sudden were presented with an opportunity to induce change themselves. Further, the regimes who once felt that matters had gone out of control and began making unprecedented concessions, found that there wasn’t a particular party or body with whom they could negotiate, offer political gains or even bribe, into stopping the popular movement. If the regimes wanted to talk, they had to talk with the people on the street, and they often had to do so ‘on the street;’ literally.

Most importantly, the youth decided that with this movement, they wouldn’t just topple the corrupt dictatorships, but they would also topple aged myths and counter many lies dispersed for political opportunism. Therefore, despite the streets of many Arab cities and towns being virtually inundated with protestors and out of the establishments’ control, there was no anarchy, no violence, no sectarian clashes, no attacks on churches, synagogues or mosques and no destruction of public property. The youth proved that change and revolution does not have to mean misery, pain and suffering.

Read more:


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April 10th, 2012, 9:06 am


124. Mawal95 said:

@ Khalid Tlass: This is for specially you because I know you’re a strong Sunni in your politics and religion. It’s a political speech today Tuesday to a large gathering of Syrian muftis in Damascus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=i6o52gRm3hw#t=62s

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April 10th, 2012, 10:29 am


125. zoo said:

In a news conference in Hatay, Turkey, Annan insisted that his plan has not failed and that Syria still had time to comply.

“We still have time between now and the 12th (Thursday) to stop violence,” he said. “I appeal to all, the government in the first place …” to halt fighting. He also said that violence must stop without conditions.

Annan said the U.N. Security Council would take up the issue later Tuesday.

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April 10th, 2012, 10:47 am


126. zoo said:

Syria accuses Turkey of arming militants, helping rebels cross border

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Tuesday accused Turkey of undermining the peace plan of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan by arming Syria’s rebels and helping them cross the border.

“Turkey… supports illegal Syrian militant groups, supplies them with weapons… and lets them illegally cross into Syria,” Muallem said in a press conference with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. “How can we (fulfill the plan) if there are still illegal arm deliveries and moving of militants from Turkey?”


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April 10th, 2012, 10:51 am


127. jad said:

We can add this to the list of the ‘revo’ achievements:

تاريخ سوريا يندثر.. التدمير والنهب يأتيان على الآثار المتبقية

المتاحف ومواقع الحفريات في المناطق الساخنة تتعرض لـ’نهب منظم’، وخبراء الاثار يقرعون جرس الانذار.

ميدل ايست أونلاين

الآثار آخر ‘ضحايا’ الثورة السورية..

بيروت – يحذر خبراء الاثار من مخاطر التدمير والنهب المحدقة بالكنوز الاثرية في سوريا، بما فيها اثار مدينة تدمر والاثار اليونانية والرومانية في افاميا، بسبب الاضطرابات التي تشهدها البلاد منذ اندلاع الحركة الاحتجاجية فيها قبل اكثر من عام.

واكثر الاثار تعرضا للخطر، هي تلك الواقعة في مناطق ساخنة خرجت من سيطرة القوات النظامية، ونشطت فيها حركة سرقة القطع الاثرية من المتاحف ومواقع الحفريات.

وتقول مديرة المتاحف في سوريا هبة الساخل “في الاشهر الثلاثة او الاربعة المنصرمة، سجلت الكثير من عمليات النهب”.
(وتختم هبة الساخل “هذا التراث ليس ملكا لا لحكومة ولا لرئيس، انه ملك لكل السوريين، وملك ايضا للبشرية جمعاء، فلا يجب ان يتعرض للتدمير حتى وان كان البعض يطالب بالحرية”)


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April 10th, 2012, 11:20 am


128. jad said:

المعلّم: بدء سحب القوات من بعض المحافظات

بالتزامن مع زيارة المبعوث الخاص للأمم المتحدة والجامعة العربية إلى سوريا، كوفي أنان، لتركيا اليوم لتفقد اللاجئين السوريين، أكد وزير الخارجية السوري، وليد المعلم، أن سلطات بلاده سحبت قواتها من بعض المحافظات السورية، فيما رأى وزير الخارجية الروسي، سيرغي لافروف، أن بإمكان دمشق بذل المزيد من أجل تطبيق خطة أنان.

أكد وزير الخارجية السوري، وليد المعلم، أن سلطات بلاده سحبت قواتها من بعض المحافظات السورية، مشدداً على أن سوريا ستواصل خطوات حسن النية تجاه مبعوث الأمم المتحدة وجامعة الدول العربية، كوفي أنان، فيما رأى وزير الخارجية الروسية سيرغي لافروف أن بإمكان دمشق بذل المزيد من أجل تطبيق خطة أنان.

ونقلت وسائل إعلام روسية عن المعلّم قوله في مؤتمر صحافي مشترك مع لافروف في موسكو، اليوم، أن دمشق «ستواصل خطوات حسن النية تجاه أنان، وستبذل كل جهد لإنجاح محادثات مع وفده الفني للوصول إلى بروتوكول»، معرباً عن أمل بلاده «في التمكّن من تشكيل فريق للمراقبين توافق سوريا على الدول الممثلة به»، ومشيراً إلى ترحيب دمشق «سلفاً بالمراقبين الروس».

بدوره، قال وزير الخارجية الروسي، سيرغي لافروف، إن السلطات السورية أعلمت الجانب الروسي بشأن شروعها في تنفيذ خطة أنان في ما يخص وقف إطلاق النار، مضيفاً إنه «تباحثنا مع الوزير المعلم بشأن تنفيذ هذه الخطة. ونشير إلى أن القيادة السورية أكدت لنا تمسكها بجميع التزاماتها، وأوردت معلومات عن بدء تنفيذ بنود الخطة الخاصة في ما يتعلق بوجود الجيش والعتاد العسكري الثقيل في المدن».

وعن تقويمه لعمل السلطات السورية على تنفيذ خطة أنان لإيجاد حل سلمي للأزمة السورية، أوضح لافروف أنه «أعربنا للزملاء السوريين عن تقويمنا للوضع. ونرى أن من الممكن أن تكون أعمالهم أكثر فعالية وأكثر حزماً لتنفيذ البنود المناسبة للخطة».

Syrian govt: ‘We have begun troop withdrawal’

The Syrian foreign minister says the Assad regime has withdrawn troops from several provinces. The president has until the end of Tuesday to pull out all forces ahead of a planned ceasefire between the conflicting sides.
“We have already withdrawn some military forces from several Syrian provinces,” declared Walid al-Moualem, following a meeting with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

He also says some of the government’s forces has pulled out from Homs, as the Russian Foreign Ministry cites him.
The Syrian FM demanded a guarantee from UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan that opposition forces would stand down and that a deployment of international monitors would coincide with the ceasefire.

Lavrov for his part said that he was convinced of the Syrian leadership’s commitment to the UN-brokered peace plan. He also called on Kofi Annan and the global powers to try bring the Syrian opposition to their senses:

“The US and other countries which have influence over the Syrian opposition had better stop pointing the finger at China and Russia all the time, but rather use their leverage to convince everyone to stop shooting,” he said.
President Assad has until midnight Syrian time (21:00 GMT) to implement a full troop withdrawal. This will pave the way for Thursday’s planned ceasefire.

Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition leadership has voiced their commitment to the ceasefire, reports Al-Arabiya. But if the government’s forces fail to withdraw by Thursday, the rebels will resume fighting and will want Kofi Annan to take the crisis to the UN Security Council, the activists said on Tuesday.

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April 10th, 2012, 11:27 am


129. Juergen said:

CNN’s Becky Anderson talks to British Ambassador to Syria Simon Collis about the policy goal in Syria.


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April 10th, 2012, 11:32 am


130. jad said:

Stealing weapons from the Lebanese army and selling them to the armed militias in Syria:

سرقة أسلحة من الجيش اللبناني لبيعها إلــى المعارضة السورية

حسن عليق

في النشرة التوجيهية التي أصدرتها قيادة الجيش للعسكريين في التاسع من آذار الماضي، حذّرت القيادة بلهجة غير معهودة من اختراق المؤسسة العسكرية. ما هي إلا أيام قليلة، حتى بان سبب هذه اللهجة: شبكة وصِفَت بالسلفية، وبأنها تابعة لكتائب عبد الله عزام، كانت تسعى لتجنيد عسكريين في الجيش، بهدف تفجير بعض ثُكَنه. وبعيداً عن الدور الذي أداه العسكريان اللذان استهدفتهما الكتائب بالتجنيد، وبغض النظر عمّا إذا كانا فعلاً قد تورّطا مع من كان يتصل بهما، فإنه لا أحد من الأمنيين الجديين ينكر وجود حالة كانت تسعى لاختراق الجيش. وبعد إماطة اللثام عن «الشبكة التكفيرية»، اكتشفت المؤسسة العسكرية اختراقاً من نوع آخر كان كامناً في داخلها: عسكريون يسرقون أسلحة أميرية، ويبيعونها إلى تجّار سلاح ينقلونها بدورهم إلى مناطق في بيروت، وفي الشمال، ومنها إلى سوريا. وهناك، يستفيد منها رجال الجيش السوري الحر. حتى يوم أمس، كان المعنيون في المؤسسة العسكرية يتكتّمون على ما يجري، لكن البحث يؤدي إلى تأكيد عدد من الوقائع، أبرزها الآتي:

أوقفت مديرية استخبارات الجيش رتيباً يعمل أمين مستودع في واحدة من كتائب اللواء الثامن. والعسكري الموقوف يُدعى خ. ح، من بلدة عرسال البقاعية. وجرى توقيفه بعد الاشتباه في سرقته عدداً كبيراً من الأسلحة والذخائر من مستودع الكتيبة، ثم بيعها. كذلك أوقفت الاستخبارات رتيباً آخر من الكتيبة ذاتها، للاشتباه في كونه تستّر على زميله في العملية ذاتها.

ويتداول أمنيون على نطاق واسع في أن تحقيقات الجيش أفضت إلى الاشتباه في عسكري آخر في اللواء اللوجستي. لكن المسروق من «اللوجستي» ليس من العتاد الأميري، بل من الأسلحة والذخائر التي تصادرها القطعات العسكرية من المطلوبين والمطاردين ومن مطلقي النار، أو ممن يحملون أسلحة من دون ترخيص.

وبيّنت التحقيقات أن البنادق الرشاشة المسروقة من مستودع الجيش يفوق عددها تسعين بندقية، إضافة إلى كمية كبيرة من الذخائر. وبناءً على التحقيقات التي أجريت، أوقفت استخبارات الجيش أكثر من عشرة أشخاص، في البقاع وفي منطقة الطريق الجديدة، إذ تبيّن أن مجموعة كبيرة من الأشخاص يشترون الأسلحة الأميرية، وتلك التي في عهدة الجيش، ثم ينقلونها إلى منطقة البقاع، حيث يجري تهريبها إلى الداخل السوري لتصبح في حوزة مسلّحي المعارضة السورية.

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April 10th, 2012, 11:44 am


131. NASA said:

107. Observer said:
“So there are pro regime loyalists that see only a conspiracy against Syria.”

It is an opinion worth to read, but:

* Why we keep comparing w/past & other countries/ leaders? similarities could touch base to some elements but not all.

* Majority of Syrian disagree on the comparison between Saddam or Qadhafi with President Bashar.

* If you can’t see conspiracy; you must be blind or you prefer Syria as follower to the best interest of others; similar to most Arabic leaders .. in the name of freedom.

* Syrian people only can cook their own cake as on what could suite them. They can eat it too …. Not others poison cooking!!!

* It doesn’t have to be an Autocratic rule … yes Syria needs to change, has to change, but not thru this ugly, western, Ethnic, killing and chaotic way.

* Whom do you expect to role? or in which way the country is heading if you think the oppositions and/ or SC are heading the right direction since one year till date?

* It is not accurate to say that US Gov. don’t care on who is ruling Syria and in which way… as long as the M.E. is full of oil and Israel has not accomplished all submissions from neighboring countries in addition to world economic cake share struggle with the east, diffidently US Gov. cares and it is on top priority of its’ foreign affairs.


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April 10th, 2012, 11:55 am


132. Jad said:

The first attack of the armed militias of fsa in this area, slaughtering 18 policemen while sleeping.
The Syrian Kurds are furious that the armed gangs are ‘working’ in their region, that will affect the non-violent movement they’ve been conducting from the start and the agreement they had with fsa not to come to their areas.

عصابات “الجيش الحر” تقترف مجزرة بحق عناصر مخفر شرطة “مركدة” في الحسكة وتذبح 18 شرطيا وهم نيام

الحسكة ، الحقيقة ( خاص) : اقترفت عصابات “الجيش السوري الحر” الأصولية مجزرة مروعة الليلة الماضية في مخفر شرطة بلدة “مركدة” بمحافظة الحسكة (شمال شرق سوريا) أسفرت عن استشهاد 18 شرطيا وجرح شرطي واحد. وعلمت “الحقيقة” من نشطاء محليين في ” تنسيقية الحسكة” أن بضع عشرات من مسلحي العصابات المذكورة هاجموا مخفر البلدة ، وهو مخفر للشرطة المدنية، وقتلت 18 من عناصر الشرطة بينما كان معظمهم نياما في المفرزة ، قبل أن يمثلوا وينكلوا بجثثهم بطريقة وحشية ويسرقوا الأسلحة الفردية في المخفر ويفروا من المنطقة . وقالت هذه المصادر إن جميع الشرطة الشهداء هم من مدينة ديرالزور باستثناء واحد من محافظة اللاذقية.

يشار إلى أن بلدة”مركدة” تقع في منتصف الطريق تقريبا بين الحسكة ودير الزور ، لكنها تتبع إداريا لمحافظة الحسكة. وهذه أول عملية إجرامية من نوعها في المنطقة منذ بداية الأحداث في سوريا قبل أكثر من عام من اليوم.


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April 10th, 2012, 12:14 pm


133. zoo said:

Was Turkey rebuffed by the Chinese and now sulking, or over-reacting to Syria’s tit-for-tat border violations?

Turkey’s Davutoğlu cuts short China trip over Syria crisis

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will cut short an official trip to China and fly home today after Syrian forces fired shots into a refugee camp across the border, a report said.

Davutoğlu, who was accompanying Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will not join the Shanghai leg of the trip and instead return to Turkey later in the day, reported the Anatolia news agency.

Erdogan said he did not agree with those who said Turkey was being singled out, with China, Russia and Iran refusing to act against the Syrian regime.

“The world does not consist of those three countries alone,” Erdoğan said, adding that China’s perception of the incidents in Syria had changed since violence erupted in the country, and Russia was becoming more inclined to cooperate to end civilian deaths.

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April 10th, 2012, 12:15 pm


134. zoo said:

Is Turkey trying to rally its public opinion to the possibility of an invasion of Syria?

Adana agreement paves legal path for Turkish intervention in Syria


Using the provisions of the Adana agreement, signed between Turkey and Syria on Oct. 20, 1998, Turkey has the ability to classify the violent crackdown on the opposition by the Bashar al-Assad government and the ensuing refugee crisis as a threat to the “security and stability of Turkey.”

Article 1 of the Adana agreement states that “Syria, on the basis of the principle of reciprocity, will not permit any activity that emanates from its territory aimed at jeopardizing the security and stability of Turkey.” The bloody crackdown on the opposition that has entered its second year has destabilized the country, with over 1 million Syrians internally displaced and nearly 25,000 Syrian refugees having fled to Turkey.

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April 10th, 2012, 12:23 pm


135. bronco said:

#131 Jad

The prospect of Turkey invading Syria is already disturbing greatly the Kurds. I will not be surprised that, after these abuses by the FSA, the major Kurds political organizations will make a clear statement of support to the Syrian government and a clear opposition to any Turkish military intervention.

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April 10th, 2012, 12:28 pm


136. zoo said:

Post-revolution Yemen

More than 120 killed in 2 days of clashes in southern Yemen

Clashes overnight between Al-Qaeda-linked militants and the Yemeni military in the south have killed 63 people, army officials said on Tuesday. This brings the two-day death toll to 127. The fighting broke out in the town of Lawder in Abyan province early Monday and spilled over into Tuesday. The military say 56 militants, four soldiers and three tribal fighters were killed overnight and early on Tuesday, AP reports.

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April 10th, 2012, 12:35 pm


137. Hopeful said:

Re: NASA # 130

I have lived in the US for almost 25 years now and I find its behavior to be very predictable:

The Gulf countries, Israel, and Turkey are friends of the US, so if you cross them, you are subject to the US’s wrath; UNLESS it is election year, in which case the administration does not give a damn about foreign affairs and will not help its friends unless the circumstances are truly dire. This is more true this year than it has ever been as the US economy continues to struggle, unemployment is at record high, and the US politics is more partisan than ever.

This means that unless 1) the regime and the opposition figure out a way out of this mess; 2) the regime figures out a way to crush the rebels; or 3) Turkey finds the guts to intervene strongly against the regime, the current situation may continue until after the US elections in November.

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April 10th, 2012, 12:59 pm


138. zoo said:

Iran Exploits American Paralysis in the Mideast
By George Friedman, April 10, 2012
Syria’s Importance to Iran

As we have written, if the Syrian regime survives, this in part would be due to Iranian support. Isolated from the rest of the world, Syria would become dependent on Iran. If that were to happen, an Iranian sphere of influence would stretch from western Afghanistan to Beirut. This in turn would fundamentally shift the balance of power in the Middle East, fulfilling Iran’s dream of becoming a dominant regional power in the Persian Gulf and beyond. This was the shah’s and the ayatollah’s dream. And this is why the United States is currently obsessing over Syria.

What would such a sphere of influence give the Iranians? Three things. First, it would force the global power, the United States, to abandon ideas of destroying Iran, as the breadth of its influence would produce dangerously unpredictable results. Second, it would legitimize the regime inside Iran and in the region beyond any legitimacy it currently has. Third, with proxies along Saudi Arabia’s northern border in Iraq and Shia along the western coast of the Persian Gulf, Iran could force shifts in the financial distribution of revenues from oil. Faced with regime preservation, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states would have to be flexible on Iranian demands, to say the least. Diverting that money to Iran would strengthen it greatly.

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April 10th, 2012, 1:00 pm


139. Observer said:

Let me clarify

Have a cake and eat it too as aphorism about someone wanting to have both sides of the argument on his side.

The leadership in Syria used the Baath party with its original lofty ideals to create a single party rule. In contrast to the father who understood the various components of Syrian society and the need for a minimum of plurality the current regime gutted the Baath and used it only as a facade to rule with about 20 core personalities in charge.

Likewise the Baath party hegemony over life in Syria enshrined in the constitution permitted for loyalists to fill in the posts and allowed only for certain sects and clans to advance their lot at the expense of the many. It is the same tactic used by the Takritis in Iraq to consolidate power and to deny any venue for an alternative political discourse.

Since this is a sectarian based political system and everyone is ignoring this elephant in the room we see sectarian lines being drawn across the region with Maliki in Iraq supporting Syria’s Baath party its archenemy simply because in Syria it is the vehicle for one sect to rule over the others.

The uprising in Syria was genuine and local and peaceful and legitimate and asked for redress of major issues and problems. It asked for an end to the one way extractive type of economic reforms that resulted in the immense wealth in the few who were busy essentially acquiring state institutions such as the phone service and soon the electricity to continue to suck the blood of the majority of the people WITHOUT putting any investment back into the country.
This led after the drought in the NE to mass migration to all places in Deraa and that is why the situation exploded there.

It is good to remind people that the recruits to the Baath party in the 70’s were from Deraa as the VP is one; from Deir, the villages around Damascus; the villages around Hama that never helped when they were crushed in 82; Idlib province and so on and so forth. This revolt started from the very base of the old regime and that is why the regime does not seem to understand the extent and dimensions of this revolt. The people have nothing to lose and everything to gain from this revolt.

The opposition made up of intellectuals in exile was just like the Egyptian MB caught napping with the Arab revolt. They are and still are behind the events on the ground and these are now taking a life of their own.

The regime also just as it used the Baath party to shield its naked grab of power has also taken a few minorities hostage as the prospect of its defeat seems to spell disaster for them; not least of whom are the Alawi who are being used unfortunately as cannon fodder. Some are truly still angry at the oppression they received in the 19th century and the memory of bad times outlasts by far the memory of good times. They see that it is that it is only fair that they are in power to compensate for the losses they suffered. This is the same psyche as that of the Israelis who show no mercy towards the Palestinians even though it was the Nazis that massacred them. It is a state of mind of such deep wounds that one is blinded to the suffering of others.

Now there is no conspiracy that was hatched somewhere and ignited by Hamza Alkhatib the 13 year old tortured to death to try to topple the regime. It was kids writing on the wall slogans that they saw on TV. I am not even sure that it was a political movement.

But the regime in its complete ineptitude and brutality created the revolution by using violence from the outset. Atif Najib humiliated and degraded the elders of Deraa who asked for the release of their sons. Likewise it refused to work with any of the outside powers that were friendly to it and wanted it to lead the reforms and bring a solution to the crisis; however, like the teenager that would like to cut his nose to spite his face the regime opted to “screw” the others. Now Russia is trying to bring the clock back and save the teenager from his reckless behavior.

If it is a foreign conspiracy it is monumental on the part of the US to have been able to get Syrians to agree on it. If it is a conspiracy then the regime has taken more than a year and continues to have it grow rather than decrease. If it is a bunch of inept coffee drinkers in Europe then there is no threat to the regime from that side and the internal opposition is real and genuine.

It is the stupidity and brutality of the regime that is fueling the cisis. It is neither Salafi MB lunatics who are out to impose Sharia nor Western backed mercenaries nor Zionists aiming to destroy the resistance. Wake up and smell the roses, the resistance has been emptied of its meaning with a 6 year period of complete quiet on the Northern Border of Israel.

Heck even Russia is finding it difficult to support such stupidity.

Did the CIA create the 13 century old Shia Sunni divide? Did MI6 cause the exodus of Armenians from Turkey? Did Mossad cause the gasing of Halabja by Saddam? Did Skull and Bones create the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq? Did Carter cause Khomeini to topple the Shah? Did Bryzinski revive the Muslim awakening to destroy and surround the Soviet Union and Russia? Did they do all of that with troops and people from Mars or Venus?

Anything that is happening to us is because of us. There may be regional influences and back door deals and under the table understandings but in the end we are responsible for the type of governing institutions we have. If they are strong and responsive and inclusive and prosperous we will be independent and cooperative and prosperous and innovative and if not we will be ruled by Fredo, Mugabe, Kim Jong, Stalin, Ghadafi, Saddam, Abdallah, etc…….

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April 10th, 2012, 1:53 pm


140. Observer said:

By the way I have checked daily Sana for the following information

Syrian Air flights: only 5 per day outside of the country and a total of only 9 with the other four to local internal cities.

Also the price of the dollar to the pound has stayed the same for more than 2 weeks around 60.

Draw your own conclusions.

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April 10th, 2012, 2:12 pm


141. Mawal95 said:

Here’s how I understand yesterday’s incident at the Syrian-Turkish border in Turkey’s Kilis province, based on the Turkish sources at



A camp for refugees from Syria is located right on the border in Kilis. It is close to a border transit post named Öncüpınar in Turkish. The Kilis security authorities say that Syrian opposition fighters attacked the Syrian side of the Öncüpınar border transit post at 3:00 a.m. on Monday 9 Apr 2012 and that some people from the refugee camp crossed the border to the Syrian side to help the fighters. More clashes took place at this border post later the same day. The Governor of Kilis province, Yusuf Odabaş, said twenty-one Syrian opposition fighters who were wounded in the clashes managed to cross into Turkey. Their injuries were from bullets received when they were in clashes on the Syrian side of the border. Three died in hospital and another two are in critical condition, governor Odabaş said.

As part of the fighting, Syrian troops continued to fire as they pursued the fleeing opposition fighters who were escaping to the Kilis camp across the border. This sent bullets whizzing across the border line at the Kilis camp. Four or five Syrians may have been wounded on Turkish soil. In the Kilis camp, Turkish police officer Ali Kaplan and translator Sevgi Topal were slightly injured — but were not shot, I gather. Turkish security forces in no way intervened or used arms, he said.

Crossings from Turkey to Syria were suspended as a security measure on Monday but the border post was reopened for business today Tuesday.

In a written statement of concern about the incident, the Turkish foreign ministry said all Syrians who take refuge in Turkey were under Turkey’s “full protection” and warned that “the necessary measures will be implemented if such incidents are repeated.” The statement condemned the incident as a “grave” development. “The Syrian administration must stop violence against civilians as soon as possible and the international community should take immediate action to secure that,” the Turkish foreign ministry statement said.

According to a Syrian rebel source, six Syrian soliders were killed in the attack.

It is illegal under Turkish law for arms or armed men to pass from Turkey into Syria.

PS:A commenter somewhere on the Internet said: “The Syrian rebels are too committed to regime change to give up now. If you have a cease-fire where they say “we’re no longer going to engage in violence against the regime”, then what was the point of starting the rebellion in the first place?” The only realistic thing that can subdue the rebellion is the “iron fist” of the Syrian army.

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April 10th, 2012, 2:28 pm


142. jad said:

If anyone of you Syrians is looking for a very well paid business, JOIN the oppositions…10000 Euro for the average member and 15000 Euro for the ‘chosen’ ones and of course much more for the ‘leaders’, no words of where the money is coming from or how much the same leaders will get if they become employers of the Democratic Syrian Government….

I think it’s time for me to resign and work for the opposition:

“عضو المكتب التنفيذي يستلم شهريا مبلغا وقدره خمسة عشرة يورو عدا ونقدا
وبزيادة عما يستلمه الاعضاء الحاليين وهو عشرة آلاف يورو بخمسة آلاف ولكن طبعا الزيادة ستعم الجميع فالعشرين سوف يتسلمون من المجلس المعطوب وباشراف مدير الكتب السيد نذير الحكيم خمسة عشر ألف يورو…يورو ينطح يورو…..!!!!!! طبعا هذا بالإضافة الى اي مصروف للسفر أو للفنادق…الخ…الخ…الخ”

فضيحة مجلجلة: الصفقة التي وافقت عليها لجنة الحوارمع المجلس الوطني السوري
by Ashraf Almoukdad

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April 10th, 2012, 2:40 pm


143. Mawal95 said:

In the last two days 58 Syrian soliders and policemen were buried. That is the second-highest two-day total since the rebellion began. (The highest was on 11 + 12 February). 24 of the martyrs were conscripts. http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2012/04/9/411527.htm , http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2012/04/10/411741.htm

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April 10th, 2012, 2:43 pm


144. jad said:

Here is a clip of the incident from inside the camp, the refugee captured the Turkish police reaction…they did hide in the corner while Syrians are walking around

انظروا ماذا حل بالدجاج التركي بعد سماعه رصاص الاسود

Bronco, Zoo,

I think Turkey is planning for an aggression act against Syria in the coming days.

“بدو أنقرة على سباق مع الوقت من أجل التدخل عسكرياً في الشأن السوري، فقد نشرت صحيفة “ميللييت” التركية أمس معلومات، نقلاً عن مصادر مطلعة مدنية وعسكرية، تفيد أن تركيا تخلت عن اشتراطها قراراً من مجلس الأمن الدولي للتدخل العسكري في سوريا.”

“ميللييت”: تدخل تركيا في سوريا ممكن من دون تفويض دولي


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April 10th, 2012, 2:56 pm


145. jad said:


For some, the Syrian Soldiers casualties doesn’t count, they were killed by ‘flowers’ since rebels are pure, heroes and angels they are unable to hurt anything……besides, Sana is also not worth reading, it’s all lies and propaganda, nothing is real but khalyjeh and the rest of the ‘honest’, ‘brave’ and ‘professional’ western media outlet.

Syria – Daraa Revolution was Armed

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April 10th, 2012, 3:02 pm


146. Mawal95 said:

The British ambassador to Damascus is in an alternate universe that is spherically parallel to Joshua Landis’s. He says: “This is a regime that has become quite fragile. Its support has eroded from the inside.” His offered evidence is one solitary traitor who worked for the Oil Ministry. (Linked to at #129 Juergen)

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April 10th, 2012, 3:17 pm


147. omen said:

i beg to differ, mawal. if this regime had any confidence, it wouldn’t be so desperately demolishing syria.

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April 10th, 2012, 3:25 pm


148. omen said:

remember riverbend? last she was heard from, she had arrived in syria.

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April 10th, 2012, 3:53 pm


149. omen said:

from aje:

Fighting back against Assad’s forces

The day before I arrived, activists told me several tanks had been blown up by the FSA using anti-tank missiles. Such weapons are their only hope for survival at the minute…

i hadn’t heard of this before, but then i remembered seeing video, a few weeks ago, of a tank that the rebels had captured and destroyed.

The area can survive the onslaught of tank shells from afar, but if Assad decides on an aerial bombardment, the resistance will be destroyed, he told me.

Such stories across the country are common. Both sides of this conflict know that if one wins, the other will not survive.

what is the “other”? the regime or innocent alawites?

i’m not naive. i know there will be inevitable incidents of counter reprisal. but to what extent?

i had wondered at the time if rebels blowing up the tank was a big mistake. imagine how it could be used to target security/police offices.

but then i wondered…the rebels blowing up tank when it’s such a valuable piece of equipment as a means of survival…were they sending a message that’s saying they aren’t going to be as hellbent in being as bloodthirsty as the regime when it comes to collective punishment?

p.s. the regime deserves to get whatever is coming to them.

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April 10th, 2012, 4:13 pm


150. Tara said:

The US isn’t in a mood for anything except weak rhetoric here and there.  Is Turkey going to do anything alone?  The Turkish public opinion seems to be half way through.  It may take a massacre or two to get them there.  

Turkey warns Syria over border
Tuesday 10 April 2012 

Violence in Syria threatened to escalate into a regional war on Tuesday as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the country of violating its border.

Mr Erdogan told reporters in Beijing, where he is visiting Chinese leaders, that Turkey was considering how to respond, including “measures we don’t want to think about.”

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay added that the UN security council should “intervene” if the violence continued.

This has increased fears of a Western-led Libya-style campaign which could dismember the country.

US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said she still hoped for a negotiated solution to the bloodshed but was “not particularly optimistic.”

Russia and China reiterated pleas for all sides to stop fighting.

Syrian troops are believed to have fired on a Turkish refugee camp for Syrians who have fled the escalating violence in the country, killing two, after armed rebels apparently retreated to it on Monday.

On the same day the Syrian army fired across the Lebanese border, killing a journalist. The motivation for that attack is unclear.

Lebanese security officials said that television cameraman Ali Shaaban was “shot through the chest as he sat in a car.”

Mr Shaaban is the ninth journalist to have been killed whilst covering the armed uprising in Syria.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said on Tuesday that the country is now the most dangerous in the world to be a journalist.

The self-styled Syrian National Council – an assembly of exiles which hopes to install itself as a government to replace President Bashar al-Assad despite its weak links to rebels on the ground – said on Tuesday that despite promises of a ceasefire “1,000 people have been killed by government forces in the last eight days.”

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April 10th, 2012, 5:01 pm


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