Creating a Syrian Swamp: Assad’s ‘Plan B’

Creating a Syrian Swamp: Assad’s ‘Plan B’
By Joshua Landis
August 10, 2012

Is the regime’s “end game” coming soon? I fear not. Assad is likely to treat Syria as he did Iraq and Lebanon: he will work to break them apart. In 2005, a friend who was close to the regime told me that Assad and those around him were convinced that they could defeat President Bush’s attempts to change the regime in Syria. They said:

Bush thinks he can use Iraq against us. But Iraq is not a nation. We will help turn its factions against the US. It will turn into a swamp and suck the US in. This is what we did to Israel and the US in Lebanon in the 1980s.

Today, Assad will treat Syria as he did Lebanon and Iraq earlier. He will gamble that it is not a nation and will work to tear it apart. Already he has withdrawn from the Kurdish parts of Syria. Friends in Aleppo tell me that Assad is arming the Kurds there. He will arm the Arab tribes in the hope that they will resist central control. I am told that a number of the tribes of Aleppo gathered to condemn the Free Syrian Army following the killing of a leader of the al-Berri tribe, Ali Zeineddin al-Berri, also known as Zeno, who was accused of leading a pro-regime shabiha militia group. Assad will arm those that fear the Free Syrian Army, such as the Aleppo tribes, which he has used to police Aleppo. As Damascus and Aleppo slip out of his control, he may well try to destroy them sooner than allow them to fall intact to the Free Syrian Army. Anyone who has ruled Syria knows that Damascus is its linchpin. By reducing it to ruins, Syria may become ungovernable. He will build up the rural groups that have chafed under Damascus’ control.

In order to survive, Assad and his Alawite generals will struggle to turn Syria into Lebanon – a fractured nation, where no one community can rule. He may lose Syria, but could still remain a player, and his Alawite minority will not be destroyed. Today, Junblatt, Geagea, Gemayyal, Franjia and other warlords are respected members of parliament and society. All might have been taken to the international court and charged with crimes against humanity two decades ago. After all, somewhere between 100,000 to 150,000 Lebanese were killed out of a population of three million during the civil war. When the Lebanese came to terms with the fact that no one camp could impose its rule over the others, they had no choice but to bury the hatchet and move forward.

If Assad surrenders, hundreds of regime leaders will be executed or tried for crimes against their fellow countrymen. The broader Alawite community fears the possibility of aimless retribution. To avoid this, Assad is likely to pursue the Lebanon option: turn Syria into a swamp and create chaos out of Syria’s sects and factions. It is a strategy of playing upon divisions to sow chaos. Already the Syrian Army has largely been transformed into an Alawite militia. If Assad must withdraw from Damascus, he will have nowhere to fall back on but Latakia and the coastal mountains. I have argued that the Alawite region cannot be turned into an independent state, but it does provide Assad and the remnants of the Syrian Army a social base. Just as Lebanon’s Maronites did not create an independent state in the Lebanon Mountains, they did use it to deny Muslim forces undivided supremacy over Lebanon. The Syrian opposition will have difficulty defeating Assad’s army. This is certainly true if opposition forces remain as fragmented as they are today. Assad is gambling on his enemies being unable to unite. He is working assiduously to turn Syria into a swamp in order to save what he can of his power and the lives of those around him.

If Assad is successful in this ambition, there will be no clear endgame to the fighting in Syria. Syria’s Baathist regime cannot survive. It is already collapsing. Most state institutions are no longer functioning. Order has broken down in many parts of the country. New authorities are springing up as the old disappear. But Assad’s army in its transformed state is likely to remain a powerful force. It is difficult to see how a clear winner will emerge in Syria. A new national pact will have to be hammered out between the forces on the ground. But those forces are only just beginning to take shape in their new forms today.

Syria Comment News (No moderation of comments)

I will try abandoning moderation of the comment section for several weeks as an experiment. I have been receiving numerous complaints. I have had great trouble keeping good moderators because people are angry. Every moderator is attacked for being partisan and unfair. Their job becomes unsatisfying if not impossible. Consequently, I will try not to moderate the comment section for several weeks and pray that all commentators remain civil and resist attacks on other commentators. Attacking ideas is fine. Attacking people is not. I want to keep the comment section useful and friendly to all. Ideally comments will add valuable information for our readers. This blog is a group effort. Best to you all. Joshua

News Round Up

Will Syria’s Kurds benefit from the crisis?
By Jonathan Marcus BBC Diplomatic Correspondent

Sowing chaos?

…. Noted Syria expert Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma says that while Syria’s Kurds are a compact minority they are not a majority even in the north eastern border area with Turkey – where they constitute some 30-40% of the population.

They have sometimes tense relations with local Sunni Arab tribes who see this as an integral part of Syrian territory, reinforced by the fact that this is an area rich in oil resources vital to the Syrian economy.

Prof Landis argues that what is going on in the Kurdish north-east offers a useful pointer to President Assad’s “Plan B” should his control over key cities like Damascus and Aleppo crumble

He says that the “embattled president withdrew government forces from the north-east because he couldn’t control it and wanted to focus on the most important battles in Aleppo and Damascus”.

“But in the back of the president’s mind, there may be the thought that empowering the Kurds is a way of weakening the Sunni Arab majority and underlining the risks of fragmentation should his government fall. It’s a strategy of playing upon divisions to sow chaos,” he said.

This way, says Prof Landis, “the Syrian Army – which is rapidly becoming an Alawite militia, whilst still the strongest military force – may lose control over large swathes of the country, but will remain a vital factor in determining the political outcome in Syria”.

It is a bleak prospect.

Prof Landis asserts that President Assad “may lose Syria, but could still remain a player, and his Alawite minority will not be destroyed”.

“That’s the future of Syria,” he says, with little enthusiasm. “It’s what Lebanon was and what Iraq became.”

Insight: Syria rebels see future fight with foreign radicals
By Erika Solomon, ALEPPO, Syria | Tue Aug 7, 2012

A Free Syrian Army fighter screams in pain after he was injured in a leg by shrapnel from a shell fired from a Syrian Army tank in the Salaheddine neighbourhood of central Aleppo August 7, 2012.
REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

(Reuters) – Abu Bakr, a Syrian rebel commander on the outskirts of Aleppo, is a devoted Islamist determined to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. But the radical allies that have joined the rebels in recent months alarm even him.

“Let me be clear. I am an Islamist, my fighters are Islamists. But there is more than one type of Islamist,” he told Reuters. “These men coming fought in insurgencies like Iraq. They are too extreme, they want to blow up any symbol of the state, even schools.”

Seventeen months into the uprising against Assad, Syria’s rebels are grateful for the support of Islamist fighters from around the region. They bring weapons, money, expertise and determination to the fight.

But some worry that when the battle against Assad is over they may discover their allies – including fighters from the Gulf, Libya, Eastern Europe or as far as the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area – have different aims than most Syrians.

“Our goal is to make a new future, not destroy everything,” Abu Bakr said, sighing as he rattled his prayer beads. “As bloody as it is now, this stage is simple. We all have the same cause: topple the regime. When Bashar falls, we may find a new battlefront against our former allies.”

Abu Bakr and his comrades say they envision Syria as a conservative version of Turkey’s moderate Islamist rule, not an autocratic theocracy. They are unnerved by a recent kidnapping of foreign journalists and attacks on state infrastructure….

One of the most effective and elusive groups in Aleppo now sending reinforcements into Damascus is called Ahrar al-Sham, “The Free Men of Syria.” Its fighters accept the bulk of jihadist foreign fighters in Idlib and Aleppo, rebels say.

“They’re extremely effective and secretive. They coordinate with us to attack the regime but they don’t take orders from anyone. They get weapons and explosives smuggled from abroad that are much better,” said a rebel in Aleppo called Anwar.

Other groups are amateurs working alone, and it shows…


But most rebels don’t have clear answers for what they mean when they say they are Islamist or want an Islamic state.

“We want to build a state where our citizens are equal, Muslims and minorities,” said the young rebel Anwar, as he watched an Islamic TV station from a safe house in Aleppo.

“We want to be able to choose our own future, not have it be determined by poverty or our religion.”

The fighters from Syria are mostly poor, uneducated young men from rural areas. Decades of repressed anger have helped shape their ideas. Most say that as members of the country’s Sunni Muslim majority, their families were harassed and discriminated against by security forces.

….Commander Abu Bakr says that while he objects to the severe radical approach, he too hopes for an Islamic state.

“Let’s first get rid of the regime, re-establish stability, have national dialogue, and then gradually try to create the Islamic state and give people time to get used to it,” he said.

“I don’t want to immediately impose Sharia law and start cutting off people’s hands for stealing. I believe in Sharia. But if we force it on people, we will create fear. We have to assure minorities we will treat them well.”

Rebel fighters are exhausted and can’t afford to take on new opponents, said fighters from northern Idlib, in a convoy heading to the battle in neighboring Aleppo. Amr, a 20-year-old rebel, said his comrades had their hands full trying to topple the government and maintain order in areas they control.

“We already are fighting the regime and now we’re fighting crime. We just don’t have time to deal with these extremists,” he sighed. “But don’t worry, their day will come.”

On Damascus Streets, Front Lines Multiply
Neighborhood Patrols in Syrian Capital Take Up Arms for the Regime; In Some Areas, Rebels Are Manning the Checkpoints.

Syrian army fighters in Damascus in July. Regime backers have asserted control over much of the capital.

DAMASCUS—Syria’s capital, once a haven from the violence tearing through much of the country, now has multiple front lines and bears battle scars of its own.

A maze of checkpoints and neighborhood patrols run by the most hardened supporters of President Bashar al-Assad has allowed the government to reassert control in most areas—after rebel fighters stunned soldiers and residents last month.

Local councils of regime supporters, called Popular Committees, were months ago given the task by municipalities to guard their respective neighborhoods. Now, their members—mostly men in their 20s and 30s—have been armed with rifles and handguns, issued ID cards and given monthly salaries.

New license plates that read “protection of order” are displayed on a growing number of cars around the capital. The word for “order” in Arabic, locals point out, can also mean “regime,” a pun not lost on Syrians on both sides of the conflict.

But the weeklong government bombardment of crowded neighborhoods last month also gained rebel fighters some sympathy in other corners of the capital, making regime opponents out of displaced civilians and turning rebellious southern districts into nearly lawless enclaves. Still, many regime opponents say it was premature or reckless of rebels to bring the fight to the capital…..

Assad appears on TV with Iranian security chief
Washington Post

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a rare appearance with the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council on Tuesday in video footage broadcast on state television. Assad has made one appearance since the assassination of four top security officials on July 18. In video footage broadcast the following day, he was shown swearing in a new defense minister.

Saeed Jalili, a top security official in Iran and the country’s lead nuclear negotiator, visited Damascus on Tuesday to discuss the fate of 48 Iranians captured by rebels just outside the capital on Saturday, as well as the ongoing crisis in Syria.

“Kidnapping innocent people is not acceptable anywhere in the world,” Jalili said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. He said Iran would do what it could to “secure release of the 48 innocent pilgrims kidnapped in Syria.”

He also said the only way to resolve the unrest in the country would be to find a “Syrian solution.”

LBC: Samaha confesses involvement in bombing plans
August 9, 2012

LBC television reported Thursday that detained ex-Information Minister Michel Samaha confessed under interrogation that he had transferred “explosives from Syria to Lebanon in order to carry out bombings in North Lebanon, particularly in the area of Akkar, with Syria’s knowledge.”

Guardian (GB): The Muslim Brotherhood wants a future for all Syrians2012-08-06

The future of democracy in Syria is the subject of many concerns: people are worried about the treatment of minorities and women, possible acts of revenge, and the likelihood of transitional justice. Some ask about universal human rights. Others …

State Department and Pentagon Plan for Post-Assad Syria By STEVEN LEE MYERS and THOM SHANKER, August 4, 2012

WASHINGTON — Even with fighting raging in Syria and President Bashar al-Assad digging in, the State Department and Pentagon are quietly sharpening plans to cope with a flood of refugees, help maintain basic health and municipal services, restart a shattered economy and avoid a security vacuum in the wake of Mr. Assad’s fall, administration officials…

State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell said at a daily press briefing Monday:

“What we’re focused on and our concern is that as the opposition comes together with the remaining elements of the regime that don’t have blood on their hands, that they create an inclusive Syria where the rights of all Syrians are respected. And so that’s our focus and that’s what we’re directly communicating to the opposition, and that’s certainly where our feelings are.”..

 Daily Caller: Behind the White House’s secret Syria plan 2012-08-07

 The White House won’t keep its own secrets, never mind those of the SEALs, Pentagon, or Israel — especially if leaking secrets helps President Obama look like a tough guy in his uphill re-election campaign. The latest leak is a gusher, and …

Divisions may hinder Muslim Brotherhood in Syria
© Oxford Analytica 2012 – Thursday, August 9 2012
At the start of the uprising in March 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood was not well placed to claim the leadership of post-Assad Syria: it had no organised presence inside the country and was beset by long-standing rivalries. However, the uprising has enabled it to bolster its credibility and re-establish a foothold among the domestic opposition. It is now on course to play a prominent role in the conflict — and the political system that follows the Assad family’s 40-year rule.
•The fall of the Assad regime will remove obstacles to increased Turkish, Qatari, and possibly Egyptian support.
•Both Iran and Saudi Arabia will resent the Brotherhood’s rise, with Riyadh trying to curtail its influence by supporting rival forces.
•The movement’s moderate positions are likely to make it appear as a ‘reasonable’ alternative to more radical Islamic forces.
What next
As soon as security conditions allow, the Muslim Brotherhood will return to Syria to claim a place within the new political order. This will not be an easy task. Although it will benefit from its connections with armed groups and foreign governments, it will face strong opposition from both Islamist and secular rivals. The movement will also need to address internal divisions, and rebuild its Damascus branch.
For decades, the Brotherhood has dominated the exiled opposition. This is a result of the mass exodus of its members that occurred between the 1963 Ba’athist coup that brought the Assads to power, and the regime’s final eradication of the movement’s presence inside Syria following the 1979-1982 Islamic uprising.
The Brotherhood played a leading role in the conferences held by exiled opponents in Turkey in the first half of 2011. It rapidly became the leading force within the main exiled opposition body, the Syrian National Council (SNC) that was created in Istanbul last August. It took about one-quarter of the seats and established alliances with many other members, including secular figures such as the SNC’s first president, Burhan Ghalioun. In addition to its size and experience, the Brotherhood has been able to influence the SNC’s decisions thanks to its close relations with the latter’s two main supporters, Turkey and Qatar (see QATAR: Foreign policy activism meets constraints – February 3, 2012).
Factionalism issues
However, the movement remains handicapped by factionalism based on long-running regional divisions. In the early 1970s, the Damascus branch seceded from the organisation and gradually ceased to play any significant role, even in exile. During the following decades, endemic rivalry persisted between the Aleppo and Hama branches. In 2010, the Brotherhood’s secretary-general, Aleppo branch member Ali Sadr al-Din al-Bayanuni, was replaced with a new leadership entirely composed of members of the Hama branch. This followed a number of leadership failures by Bayanuni, including his unfruitful alliance in 2006 with former Vice-President Abd al-Halim Khaddam, who by then was in exile.
The new leadership is headed by Riyad Shaqfa and his deputy Faruq Tayfur, the most senior Brotherhood representative within the SNC. Although the two branches have recently reconciled, the Aleppo branch has continued to act autonomously, to the extent that it runs its own coalition within the SNC, the National Action Group led by Ahmad Ramadan.
Rebuilding grass-root networks
The creation of a ‘liberated zone’ in the north could facilitate the Brotherhood’s return this year
After establishing its hegemony over the exiled opposition, the Brotherhood’s top priority has been to rebuild bridges with Syrian society. It has attempted to do this by channeling funds into the country, first for humanitarian purposes, then from late 2011 onwards, in support of armed groups. The reconstruction of the movement’s base inside Syria has thus been carried out on a clientelist basis rather than through the recruitment of genuine followers.
Its attempt to re-enter the Syrian political scene has relied on the movement’s own structures such as the Committee for the Protection of Civilians. The latter is an umbrella organisation that was created in December 2011 and subsequently secured the allegiance of several insurgent groups, the most powerful of which is the Khalid Bin al-Walid Brigade in Homs province.
Islamist competition
The Brotherhood’s rise may exacerbate Syria’s regional and ideological divisions
However, the Brotherhood has also been accused of using the SNC’s resources for its own purposes, in particular through its control of the Relief and Development Office. This issue has been a source of tensions not only with secular opponents, but also with other Islamist groups such as the Syrian National Movement. The latter constitutes a serious potential rival for the Brotherhood given that its leaders left Syria only after March 2011 and thus command a much fresher network of supporters on the ground.
Inside Syria, pro-Brotherhood brigades also compete with Saudi-backed military coalitions such as the Front of the Revolutionaries of Syria, and at least some branches of the Free Syrian Army that have reportedly distanced themselves from the Brotherhood-SNC-Qatar nexus (see SYRIA: Opposition splits cloud transition prospects – May 14, 2012).
Despite past tactical alliances with the Muslim Brothers, the Saudi monarchy is worried about the fact that their recent electoral victories in the region might encourage its own citizens to demand political reforms. In Syria, therefore, Riyadh has tended to support the Brotherhood’s rivals, particularly politically conservative forces such as Bedouin tribes and defected officers.
Policy agenda
Pragmatism would likely determine the movement’s actions once in power
In ideological terms, the Syrian Brotherhood espouses moderate positions in line with the regional movement. It has always advocated a form of ‘Islamic democracy’ that combines the institutions of a liberal democratic state (free multi-party elections, a powerful parliament, separation of power) with the ‘gradual Islamisation of law’. Over the last decade the organisation has clarified its position on religious minorities by rejecting any form of discrimination against them.
The Brotherhood’s economic policies advocate a radical break with the incumbent regime state-centred approach in favour of a liberal system characterised by minimal state intervention and maximum private initiative (see NORTH AFRICA: Islamists to be pragmatic on economy – April 10, 2012).
In the realm of foreign policy, the Brotherhood will have to walk a fine line between the advocacy of a nationalist agenda, which will be key to the movement’s legitimacy, and the need to follow a realistic course of action in order to preserve its relations with pro-Western states in the region
Nicholas D. Kristof: Obama AWOL in Syria
….As I see it, there are three main reasons for action in Syria.
First, the longer the fighting goes on, the more it destabilizes the region. Syria is now in a civil war linked to the Sunni-Shiite divide in the region. The more deaths, the more refugees, the more revenge killing, the tougher it will be to put Humpty Dumpty together. The longer the war persists, the more risk of spillover into Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan.
Second, Assad is believed to have many tons of sarin and VX nerve agents. Those chemical weapons could end up in the hands of jihadis or on the global black market, and we should work with Syrian rebels to help secure them if necessary.
Third, there’s a humanitarian imperative. It appears that several times more people have been killed in Syria than in Libya when that intervention began, and the toll is rising steeply.
Syrian rebels driven by religion, but on their own terms,” Wash Post
By Roula Khalaf and Abigail Fielding-Smith, Published: August 9

….Abu Berri says he became a committed member of the Salafists, the ultraconservative Sunni sect, after spending nine years in Saudi Arabia.

Many of his peers, he says, are also becoming Salafists, even those who have little understanding of this brand of puritanical Islam. Abdelr Razzaq Tlass, the charismatic leader of a brigade in the city of Homs, traded his mustache for a beard, he notes. “They grow beards to defy the regime,” he says. “In fact, we’re even willing to say we’re al-Qaeda to annoy the regime.”

Syrian activists often play down the religious aspect of the country’s revolution, insisting that in a conservative society it is only natural that people who are suffering should seek refuge in religion. But as the regime’s brutality has intensified, the rebel movement has become more radicalized. In this overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim struggle against a minority Alawite regime, Salafists and other Islamists say they are fighting a jihad against the Assads.

Crime Wave Engulfs Syria as Its Cities Reel From War
By an employee of THE NEW YORK TIMES and DAMIEN CAVE
Published: August 9, 2012

….Kidnapping, rare before, is now rampant, as a man named Hur discovered here last month. He simply wanted to drive home. The man shoving a pistol into his back had other plans. “Keep walking,” the gunman told Hur, 40, a successful businessman, as they approached his car. “Get in.”

Hur said he initially thought he was being arrested by government agents. But then, after blindfolding him, his three captors made a phone call that revealed baser motives.

“They asked my family to ransom me with 15 million Syrian pounds,” Hur said of the abductors’ demand for about $200,000. “They were criminals, not a political group. They told me they knew me and they knew my family could pay.”….

It was Iraq, circa 2003, in miniature: in areas where decades of suppressive government have suddenly been lifted, looting, violence and sectarianism have begun to thrive.

But the lawlessness may be more systemic. For years, the Assad government relied for control on private militias called shabiha that were paid by the government or by its wealthy supporters. With the government stretched financially and many businessmen fleeing or switching sides, those payments appear to have stopped, Ms. Hanano and others said, leading many militia members to pay themselves however they can, often with violence as a byproduct….

“In the Shadow of Assad’s Bombs
by Samar Yazbek, a novelist and journalist, who is als the authorof “A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution.” Powerful personal account from an embattled village, written by an Alawi woman who has renounced the regime.
New York Times op-ed

….I was the only woman among them, and the young F.S.A. men treated me like part of the group. During that meeting it became clear that it’s a mistake to consider the F.S.A. as a single bloc. It is a hodgepodge of battalions, including secularists, moderate Islamists and all-too-ordinary people who joined up to defend their lives and their families.

At the end of our journey back to Saraqib, the commander told me, “We are one people, we and the Alawites are brothers. We had never thought about the sort of things that the regime is trying to stir up.”

I was silent for a moment, until I realized what he was telling me, the daughter of a well-known Alawite family that supports President Bashar al-Assad unconditionally. Some of my relatives have publicly disowned me for turning my back on the regime as many others have, announcing on Facebook that I am no longer considered one of them.

I squeezed the commander’s hand. ….

“There was an apple seller who came to Saraqib today. He was killed by that sniper up on the radio building. An army patrol passed by, took the apple cart and they all started eating the apples even as the merchant’s corpse was sprawled out on the ground,” she recounted. “The apple seller’s son was shouting and crying for someone to help him move his father so that he could give him a decent burial. One of them motioned at the son to go and ask the neighbors for help.”

Before the sound of a fighter jet flying overhead boomed, the woman said, “Poor guy. He was just a stranger who wanted to sell his apples.”

Comments (219)

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51. Aldendeshe said:

Thanks Joshua, We appreciate your blog, it has been one of the best forum for Syrians and those Jews pretending to be ones. Last night I browsed posts back in 2004 before we came on board. One of the very first comment someone left is this in 04′:

Anonymous said…
It is very surprising that no comments are mentioned to the massive confiscations of lands by the Syrian governments over the past 40 years which has passed without any sort of compensation under the pretext of socialism which we see nothing of it today.
12/30/2004 04:46:00 AM

Then we came on and this is how you treated our first few comments:

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8/17/2005 12:41:00 AM
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6/01/2005 08:17:00 PM
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6/01/2005 08:18:00 PM
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6/01/2005 08:18:00 PM

The blog was really civilized back then, commenters used own real full name etc. It was way to academia, can call it(un-effective)in term of a communication tool, boring and cold, sort of like Cole’s today. Top Ten…LOL…

But after going through the old pages and reading comments posted here and there, it dawned on me that someone, if has the time and interests can write a dozen good books about Syria just by reading the posts and comments on this blog.

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August 10th, 2012, 7:17 pm


52. ann said:

Jerusalem Patriarch Makes Visit to Refugee Camp in Jordan – August 10, 2012

On Monday, August 6, 2012, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, and President of the Middle East Council of Churches, made a visit, presumably of a pastoral nature to the Syrian families who have sought sanctuary in the Al-Zaitari Refugee Camp, located a few miles north of the Jordanian city of Mafraq.

The well-known Greek patriarch, of a majority Arab church, heading a Middle Eastern ecumenical organization, visiting Syrian refugees in the Hashemite Kingdom (or dictatorship) of Jordan is an interesting event.

Obviously, on one situation in Syria, wherein government forces continue to battle Western supported Al-Quaeda ‘freedom’ fighter, has caused a great deal of instability in the region. Was Patriarch Theophilos’ visit purely a ‘moral duty’ as he claims?


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August 10th, 2012, 7:18 pm


53. Warren said:

Jihadists Vie for Supremacy in Syria

But, as the Guardian reports, hundreds of foreign jihadists have infiltrated into Syria over the last few months in order to fight Assad’s forces in the name of Allah. Many have attached themselves to units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Others have sought out domestic Syrian jihadist groups, independent of the FSA, who are just now starting to organize themselves into a fighting force. If they are successful, the Islamist fighters could challenge the FSA for supremacy and replace them as the main group of fighters battling the Syrian army.

Already there are signs that the jihadists are receiving plenty of money with which to purchase arms and equipment from wealthy donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. And while the US, the West, the Gulf States, and Turkey are all refusing to supply the FSA with tanks, artillery, and other heavy weapons out of fear that they would eventually fall into the hands of extremists, the FSA is in danger of eventually being absorbed into an Islamist army that would be in an excellent position to dominate a post-Assad Syria.

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August 10th, 2012, 7:20 pm


54. Tara said:

Firepower: Syrian regime v Free Syrian army
A graphic breakdown of the fighters and weaponry at hand for the Syrian government and opposition rebels
Friday 10 August 2012 06.29 EDT

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August 10th, 2012, 7:22 pm


55. Warren said:

Analyis: Israel fears new generation of jihadists on its borders

“I think we’re finally starting to wake up and understand that the instability, in Syria even more than in Egypt, is allowing jihadi groups to come in,” said David Bukay, a professor of Middle East studies at Israel’s Haifa University. “People have to understand that the alternative to Bashar al-Assad is al-Qaeda,” he said.

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August 10th, 2012, 7:28 pm


56. Warren said:

Far-flung foreign jihadists enter Syrian fray

When a Dutch journalist was kidnapped in Syria last month, he discovered his captors hailed from countries as far-flung as Britain. An increasing number of foreign jihadists are setting up operations in Syria.

Comedies about British lads with working class Birmingham accents playing jihadists in some exotic Muslim land have been made in the past. Except this time, it was real, not remotely funny, and it happened in Syria — just as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad predicted.

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August 10th, 2012, 7:36 pm


57. bronco said:

47. Observer said:


Then forget about South Africa model…

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August 10th, 2012, 7:48 pm


58. Tara said:

  Fear follows the ‘martyrs’ on the roads to Damascus
A hospital in Syria’s capital sees the number of military casualties mount, as ambushes take their toll

Friday 10 August 2012 17.21 BST
..”martyrs”, the standard term used by all sides in Syria’s civil war for military and civilian dead. 

The lethal encounter was typical of a conflict in which a growing number of government troops and police are dying. Hundreds of police and soldiers are losing their lives in ambushes and other attacks along Syria’s roads as they try to contain the opposition and bring reinforcements to areas of fighting.
Compared with the scene in February when I last visited Damascus, the mood is clearly tenser. At that time it was sometimes hard to believe that war was raging elsewhere in Syria. The capital itself, with its tree-lined streets in the city centre, looked completely normal, with children playing in parks and women walking unescorted even after dark. The streets are emptier now and fewer shops stay open in the late evening, even though after a day of blistering 100-degree temperatures, it is the best time to be outside. “Normally in Ramadan after iftar, the streets are full of people enjoying the cool air. Look at it now. This is the reaction to what’s going on,” said a government official.

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August 10th, 2012, 8:00 pm


59. zoo said:

Can Assad Regime, Kurds Create Safe Havens in Syria?
By David Arnold, VOA

As the civil war intensifies in Syria, officials and experts in the region are increasingly concerned the fighting could lead to redefining the nation’s political boundaries, possibly including autonomous regions or safe havens for Alawite and Kurdish factions.

​​Origins of the Alawi and Kurds of Syria

Those concerns have increased in recent days as the Sunni-dominated Free Syrian Army on an urban corridor in the west and Kurdish rebels in the north have scored one success after another against President Bashar al-Assad’s army and his Alawite followers.

​​Neighboring Turkey is paying especially close attention, worried that the success of Syria’s Kurds might further enflame separatist sentiments among its own Kurdish minority.

Aram Nerguizian, a Syria expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, says the concerns are not ill-founded. He says if the safety and the interests of Syria’s Alawi and Kurds are not addressed, “they will opt at least for the effort to produce some kind of autonomy and if not, a territorially contiguous space where they feel they have command and control.”

Restless Kurds unite on the Jazirah Plain

Syria’s Kurdish militias have been especially successful, taking advantage of the Assad government’s military emphasis on battling the Free Syrian Army fighters in Damascus and Aleppo. In recent weeks, the Kurds have taken control of at least five towns on the Jazirah Plain in the north – Efrin, Kobani, Amuda, Sari Kana and Derek – though Syria government forces continue to hold Qamlishi, the largest Kurdish city.

But Ercan Citioglu of Turkey’s Bahcesehir University told VOA’s Kurdish Service that the government in Ankara is worried that if Syria’s Kurds establish an autonomous region in the area, it could be used to stage attacks on Turkish targets just across the northern border. That, he warns, would trigger a swift reaction from Turkey’s military.

The fate of Syria’s Alawite religious/ethnic minority could be even more problematical.

Security for Damascus Alawi elite in question

For centuries, the Alawites were a poor and largely uneducated minority living in the al-Alawiyin Mountains near the Mediterranean coast. That began to change when the Ottoman Empire collapsed during World War I. Under a post-war colonial mandate, the French recruited Alawites into the military, passing over many urban Sunni.

And when Hafez Assad rose to power 42 years ago, his Ba’ath Party put many Alawites on a fast track to scholarships, college educations and government jobs.

And though Alawites now make up less than 13 percent or so of Syria’s 22 million people, under the Assad family’s ruthless rule, they have dominated the government, the military and Syrian culture.

Now, President Assad and his Alawite followers fear that if they lose control, they will be overrun by Sunnis, who make up more than 70 percent of the population.

“The fate of our people and our nation, past, present and future, depends on this battle,” Assad said in a statement released as government forces began their attack on Aleppo last week.

Could Bashar al-Assad retreat to al-Alawiyin Mountains?

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August 10th, 2012, 8:03 pm


60. Tara said:

Robert Fisk: Syria welcomed them – now it has spat them out

The story of Palestinian refugee named Syria. 

Syria – the country – was a welcome place when Syria the refugee arrived there with her young husband as a refugee from the Lebanese civil war. The early Hafez el-Assad years – how quickly the West and Syria’s Arab enemies forget this today – assured homes, equal rights as citizens, employment and free hospital services to the half million Palestinians who lived under the Baathist regime: better conditions than any other Arab nation offered. “The government was ‘strict’ but treated us the same as Syrians,” Syria says. “We were neutral in Syria.

“Things started to go wrong 18 months ago. We were treated well, but the shooting started in Deraa and we sympathised with the Syrian people. We tried to bring them medical supplies and to help the wounded. Then the armed rebels came to our camp last month and the word went round that the Syrians wanted us Palestinians to leave our homes.

“Some left, some stayed. Then helicopters came and started to bombard the houses. I ran away with my family, so quickly I even left the key in the house and the door unlocked. When I returned briefly, I found the house destroyed and all our furniture and property looted – stolen by the rebels, by the regime, even by our own neighbours.”

Syria has sat through Um Hassan’s account in silence. “The government thought some Palestinians were with the protesters and some were arrested. They took one of my sons to the prison and tortured him for two or three weeks. Then he died from the torture.” There is silence in the room.
Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, says that his country will accept no refugees from Syria. The Palestinians of Syria – there are more than half a million of them – believe that Mr Barak’s comment was directed at them. The homeland of the Palestinians will remain forbidden territory.

um Khaled:
“I suppose we were sympathetic to the protesters in the streets and we were probably upset that unarmed people were being killed. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command were with the regime, but some of their officers were not. Even some of the Palestine Liberation Army (part of the Syrian armed forces) are not with the regime. Violence began in Yarmouk two weeks ago. PLA men came to protect the camp. Shells landed on the camp – we don’t know who fired them.

“Then Syrian helicopters flew over us and dropped leaflets. They showed a picture of a boy smiling, and the caption said: ‘If you want to keep your son smiling, evacuate the area’.”


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August 10th, 2012, 8:16 pm


61. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Irritated said 40:

“..We heard not days but months ago”…

Not from me. Dig SC’s archive. Wait and see.

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August 10th, 2012, 8:23 pm


62. bronco said:

#49 Tara

I think it is early to say if Michel Samaha is a criminal working for Bashar Al Assad or he had his own agenda or he was setup. The investigation is going on and rumors will fly as they always do in our part of the world.
In any case, while this could be a blow to the regime, it seems to have stood very well to worse blows recently and until now, in view of the circumstances and the geopolitics of the region, I don’t see any viable alternative to this regime, reformed but not toppled.

The ‘Let’s get rid of Bashar then we’ll see” does not convince me, neither the vague ‘post-bashar’ plans that the pathetic SNC is building up with the USA, neither the military transition government with the Islamists extremist waiting for their prey.

I see nothing that will guarantee the unity, security and freedom of the Syrians in these plans, unless there are negotiations, ceasefire and popular reconciliation between the pro-regime and the anti-regime.
That’s what the UN wants with the continuation of its mission and that’s what I also want.
The responsible of the perpetuation of the crisis are on both sides. With the absence of a political breakthrough, they both have their own reasons to continue the fights.
The price of this messy revolution is paid mostly by the civilians, displaced, fearful and dispossessed, who lost the freedom, security and dignity they had for vague unfulfilled promises.

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August 10th, 2012, 8:24 pm


63. Tara said:

And the Gold Medal goes to….. Hillary for the most frequent flyer of US secretaries of state yet achieving nothing.
US planning new sanctions on Syria and Assad as Clinton travels to Turkey
Like those currently in place, new sanctions are expected to target Assad’s cabinet members and Iranians who support them
Friday 10 August 2012 12.04 EDT

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton heads to Turkey for weekend talks with top Turkish officials and Syrian opposition activists, and senior officials travelling with her said fresh sanctions aimed at hastening the downfall of the Assad regime were imminent.

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August 10th, 2012, 8:36 pm


64. Tara said:

Nasrallah has personally overseen the assistance:

The United States accused the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on Friday of a deep involvement in the Syria government’s violent campaign to crush the uprising there, asserting that Hezbollah has trained and advised government forces inside Syria and helped to expel opposition fighters from areas of the country.

The American accusations, which were contained in coordinated announcements by the Treasury and State Departments announcing new sanctions on Syria, also accused Hezbollah of helping operatives of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force in training Syrian forces inside Syria. A Treasury statement said Hezbollah’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, had overseen these activities, which it called part of the Syria government’s “increasingly ruthless efforts to fight against the opposition.”
 American officials would not provide evidence for the new accusations against Hezbollah, and they avoided specifying whether its operatives were engaged in combat inside Syria, as some anti-Assad fighters have asserted. But the accusations appeared to open a new avenue of American pressure on Syria’s government and to try to embarrass Mr. Nasrallah, a powerful figure whose unwavering public support for Mr. Assad has created resentments and political strains in his home base of Lebanon.

Despite repeated questioning, however, neither official would provide details to support the accusations, or  specific evidence of how they had reached their conclusions. “This is not a matter of idle speculation or press reports,” Mr. Benjamin said. “This is based on a great deal of information gathering that we have done and we’ve synthesized and we’ve put it together in an authoritative document, and we believe that it will be taken seriously by many around the world.”
“The sanction effect of this is minimal,” he said. “This is a name and shame expose type of an action.”


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August 10th, 2012, 8:56 pm


65. Dale Andersen said:

Thank you, Joshua

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August 10th, 2012, 9:16 pm



Thank you, Joshua

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August 10th, 2012, 9:17 pm



Thank you, Joshua, for releasing the inmates from the asylum….

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August 10th, 2012, 9:19 pm


68. VISITOR said:

A journey through Liberated North Syrian cities and towns shows happy people without regime thugs around,


Dr. Landis,

The moderation-free blog could be a good experiment. But what will happen to the comments that so often get stuck in the filter? Plus, we do have one or two commentators who insist on using very vulgar language. Something needs to be done about that.

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August 10th, 2012, 9:28 pm


69. Syrialover said:

#6 Observer.

And here is my thanks again. Those are thoughtful comments worth sharing.

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August 10th, 2012, 10:46 pm


70. Observer said:

The regime is CRIMINAL TO THE nTH degree. You do not understand or you deliberately refuse to recognize that
1. The regime is incapable of reform
2. Reform means the END of the regime

The regime has to step down first before any initiative to take hold.

Now there are reports that at the military hospital the detainees are having their corneas removed for use in transplants.
If this is true and I doubt it until truly verified then the regime is digging the graves of the Alawi community with its own hands.

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August 10th, 2012, 10:59 pm


71. Syrialover said:

Dear Joshua,

It’s a shame about the loss of a moderator.

I am concerned to hear that moderators were made to feel uncomfortable by those who threw a tantrun at being moderated.

Those who complained were very often big babies or unbalanced people. If they were moderated, they had every chance to come back and say it again in a less hotheaded and more rational fashion.

The fact that a moderator checked them should be a big wake up call. The moderator is a chance for them to sober up and see how others saw them.

The moderators have done a first-rate job. They have (in my mind generously) cleaned up after people who had not been able to control themselves and said inappropriate things in a tantrum that they would probably not want to stay there after they had cooled down.

Or they have correctly excised things put by troubled people who were ranting ugly, obscene or hate-filled things and were vandalising this forum.

I’m very afraid the forum will suffer from a free for all from the last category.

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August 10th, 2012, 11:04 pm


72. Ghufran said:

The Guardian in Aleppo:

“Maybe our victory will come after Eid [the three-day festival to mark the end of Ramadan]”, said Abu Nour, an Aleppo rebel whose unit was forced to flee Salahedin. “I don’t want to have to think too much about what will happen next. All I know is that what we are doing is right.”
As she helped neighbours pick through the ruins of the house bombed by jets, one woman didn’t seem so sure. “What have they done to Aleppo?” she said. “What are they doing to Syria. How will it end?”

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August 10th, 2012, 11:12 pm


73. bronco said:

#67 Observer

If this is what the opposition is insisting on, then I don’t see any solution that the one you have been promoted from day one: the dismembering of Syria according to religion and ethnicity.

Welcome not to the South African model but to the ex-Yougoslavia model that will rejoice you and all the regional neighbors
Pleas save us from the black rumors.. we have enough of the real news.

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August 10th, 2012, 11:48 pm


74. ann said:

On Syria, ICPPuts Ban’s Letter Online, No Answer on Brahimi & Feltman

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, August 10 — More than a week after the Syria report of top UN Peacekeeper Herve Ladsous, who seems to have gone missing, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on August 10 turned in a bilingual update to the UN Security Council. Inner City Press is putting it online before 10 pm, here.

Meanwhile amid reports that long time UN official Lakhdar Brahimi is to be named to replace Kofi Annan as envoy to Syria, Inner City Press at 11 am Friday witnessed the entry of Syrian Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar Ja’afari to meet with UN political chief Jeffrey Feltman. A well placed source exclusive told Inner City Press: Brahimi will be discussed.

And so at Friday UN noon briefing Inner City Press asked Ban’s deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey

Inner City Press; I was just in the North Lawn and I was told that Mr. Jeffrey Feltman of DPA [Department of Political Affairs] is meeting…I saw Bashar Ja’afari go in. I’m told that the topic is Mr. Brahimi. So my question to you is: because Martin Nesirky was willing to say that there are consultations with the permanent members of the Security Council about such an appointment, is Syria and its permanent representative, will they be conferred with prior to an announcement, whoever the name is?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: I will have to check on that. I don’t know exactly who the consultation list is comprised of.

Nine hours later, no response. But a well place Gulf source tells Inner City Press Brahimi is the Arab League’s nominee, and will a more anti-Assad mandate than Kofi Annan had or acted under.

It is still time to speed through some of Brahimi’s positions. The US, Hillary Clinton in particular, opposed General Douglas Lute favoring Brahimi over Holbrooke on Afghanistan in 2010.


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August 11th, 2012, 12:01 am


75. Citizen said:

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August 11th, 2012, 12:06 am


76. Ghufran said:

أصدر رجلا الدين الشيعيان اللبنانيان البارزان العلامة هاني فحص والسيد محمد حسن الأمين بيانا أكدا فيه وقوفهما مع ثورة الشعب السوري.
وقال رجلا الدين في بيان مشترك “إننا نناصر هذه الثورة كما ناصرنا الثورة الفلسطينية والإيرانية والليبية وباقي الثورات والحركات المطالبة بالإصلاح في كل الدول العربية”.

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August 11th, 2012, 12:10 am


77. Johannes de Silentio said:

Thank you for freeing the slaves, Joshua….

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August 11th, 2012, 12:36 am


78. zoo said:

Survey shows majority of Turks are devout believers

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
According to the survey, 67 percent of Muslim Turkish people say religion is very important to them, while 84 percent say they abstain from eating or drinking in the daytime during Ramadan. Some 40 percent say they visit a mosque every week. AA photo

According to the survey, 67 percent of Muslim Turkish people say religion is very important to them, while 84 percent say they abstain from eating or drinking in the daytime during Ramadan. Some 40 percent say they visit a mosque every week. AA photo
Some 84 percent of Muslims in Turkey say they abstain from eating or drinking in the daytime during Ramadan
Just over four in 10 Turkish Muslims, 44 percent, say they visit their local mosque once a week or more, according to the report.

Turkey is the only country surveyed in which a majority, 72 percent, believes the devotional dancing of the “whirling dervishes,” falls within the bounds of Islam.

The report also revealed that 96 percent of Turkish Muslims believe in angels. They were also asked about the existence of heaven and hell. Some 92 percent of responders believe in heaven while 87 percent believe in hell, the results showed.

The study said the Middle East and North Africa was the most religious region in the Islamic world. The percentage of believers in God and the Prophet Muhammad in these regions ranked at 100 percent, according to the survey results.

Alevis ‘not Muslim’: Report
The report also indicated that Turkish Muslims are 91 percent Sunnis. Meanwhile, 17 percent of the participants do not acknowledge Alevis as Muslims, the report said.

“Alevis fall within the Shiite tradition, and they are most numerous in Turkey. A 69-percent majority of Turkish Muslims accept Alevis as fellow members of the Islamic faith; only 17 percent disagree, while 14 percent said they were unsure,” the report said.

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August 11th, 2012, 12:38 am


79. Johannes de Silentio said:

Re: #73

I thought the moderation was over…

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August 11th, 2012, 12:42 am


80. Juergen said:

“One can probably cut all the flowers. But one can not prevent spring.”

Pablo Neruda

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August 11th, 2012, 12:49 am


82. omen said:

Bush thinks he can use Iraq against us. But Iraq is not a nation. We will help turn its factions against the US.

in other words, assad regime coordinated with alqaeda or armed insurgents.

was the regime’s sponsorship of terrorists responsible for killing nick berg?

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August 11th, 2012, 1:00 am


83. omen said:

according to this, assad is harboring a terrorist responsible for killing israeli athletes during ’72 olympics.

includes only interview with Jamal Al-Gashey, who’s believed to be in Syria

he is the main person that Israel wants inside Syria

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August 11th, 2012, 1:05 am


84. omen said:

according to this, regime is harboring a terrorist responsible for killing israeli athletes during ’72 olympics.

includes only interview with Jamal Al-Gashey, who’s believed to be in Syria

he is the main person that Israel wants inside Syria

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August 11th, 2012, 1:09 am


85. Juergen said:

All this talking abour foreign terrorists, AQ in Syria ect, this regime knows very well how to terrorize not only their own country.

I like this cartoon

it says: Bye,we are with the rebels now!

Shabiha doing shopping

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August 11th, 2012, 1:16 am


86. omen said:

934. GHUFRAN said:
أعلنت مصادر دبلوماسية في الأمم المتحدة أن ممثل روسيا في مجلس الامن اقترح إدراج أزمة البحرين على جدول أعمال مجلس الامن الدولي

are you bahraini?

you support freedom for bahrain but not for fellow syrians?

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August 11th, 2012, 1:23 am


87. omen said:

is bashar harboring a terrorist responsible for killing israeli athletes during ’72 olympics?

includes only interview with Jamal Al-Gashey, who’s believed to be in Syria

he is the main person that Israel wants inside Syria

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August 11th, 2012, 1:31 am


88. richard said:

Re Creating a Syrian Swamp

It strikes me as grossly inaccurate to suggest that the Asad government bears responsibility for “sucking in” the US to Iraq and breaking up that country.

In 2004, with the US invasion under attack by all factions within Iraq, they came up with what Newsweek (in early 2005) called the “Salvador option”: death squads which would help break up the opposition. It is well documented here:

The US was not “sucked in” … they invaded a sovereign country and the whole world knew it was coming in advance.

How many Iraqi refugees found refuge of some sort in Syria?

And this is the “evidence” of the Syrian regime motives that you are suggesting? Outrageous.

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August 11th, 2012, 1:49 am


89. Syrialover said:

I hope removal of a moderator does not mean removal of an administrator to check the spam folder and other problem patches.

I have just had another comment disappear into a black hole.

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August 11th, 2012, 2:02 am


90. omen said:

western & arab governments only offering token aid but refusing to arm rebels with proper weapons necessary that would prove decisive in conflict – should tell you that the “international community” isn’t invested in regime change.

the longer the fighting goes on, the more it destabilizes the region.

who stands to benefit from allowing the conflict to descend into regional chaos?

exxon, bp, ksa, russia, iran.

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August 11th, 2012, 2:30 am


91. mjabali said:

Thank you Prof. Landis for getting rid of this last dirty moderator.

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August 11th, 2012, 2:33 am


92. mjabali said:

“The study said the Middle East and North Africa was the most religious region in the Islamic world.”

وراء در

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August 11th, 2012, 2:35 am


93. Katamon said:

Yep, Assad’s swamp strategy looks completely doable assuming he can continue to receive financing (read: Iran) and weapons (read: Russia) from abroad. He has sufficient territory and support in Syria to be a powerful warlord. Along with existing advantages in officers, intelligence, infrastructure and hardware he is likely to remain the most powerful warlord in Syria. It doesn’t seem like there is much the rebels can do to change this scenario. However, Assad is completely reliant on both Iran and Russia. If he loses either he ends up either without ammo for his soldiers or the money to pay them. In either case he ends his life in an unnaturally short time frame.

So, the real question that I have yet to see answered on this forum is what would cause Iran or Russia to stop providing support to Assad? Because it is this question that will determine whether Syria will go through very long years of swamp life or not.

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August 11th, 2012, 3:07 am


94. Juergen said:

Just got off the phone with a friend who lives in Dw’ella. They had a rough week. The FSA entered and killed an army officer who lived next to him. He said hell broke out after that, helicopters were shooting and the army came in. For two days he could not leave his house, nor anyone from his street. But he said, its still better than other areas, like Midan.

An other story i heard from an christian family who lives in Jaramana that their son who works for an cola company got arrested by FSA fighters while he was on a tour with his car to take the orders by shopowners. They arrested him and looked through his mobile if he had any pictures of Bashar with him. They told him, we wont kill you, if we kill you they say we kill Christians for being christians. They put him in the trunk of his car, and through the help of bypassers he got out after a while.

hmm dirty moderator, looks like the mice will make a party when the cat is out as we say.

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August 11th, 2012, 3:21 am


95. Syrialover said:


I hope the negative scenario you paint in the lead to this section proves to be way off the mark.

And I suspect you hope so, too.

First, I find it implausible that Bashar Assad would be able to strategize and carry off anything that his short-circuit brain imagines. His switch is cemented to the setting of self-inflicted damage, default and delusion.

(Besides, you’ll see the in latest photos that his head is actually shrinking further.)

Second, human beings everywhere in recent history have shown enormous faith and hunger for the ballot box.

We’ve witnessed extraordinary determination to participate in post-conflict elections by populations in some of the world’s most brutalized, underdeveloped, devastated and fiercely tribalized trouble spots.

And Syrians have much more to build on than many other places. A stronger human resources and skills base. Plus impressive communal and individual pride, dignity and values.

Millions of Syrians have felt and seen in this revolution something they want to keep and never relinquish. A refusal to be afraid and have their lives constricted by corruption and cruelty. Most will not have any trouble grasping the importance to survival of having trust and a shared vision, of somehow climbing beyond the hurt and loss.

People know and see things differently in this global cyber age. The Assad regimes’ actions have been much more shocking and seen in starker relief by Syrians than they would have been even a decade ago.

I believe Syrians have what it takes to regroup, rebuild and restore a functioning state. And the world will be cheering them on.

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August 11th, 2012, 3:25 am


96. Syrialover said:

The Libyans had a slogan during their conflict which I hope the FSA has picked up and is spreading with emphasis:

“Don’t dirty the revolution”

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August 11th, 2012, 3:35 am


97. Syrialover said:


Let’s watch for some sanity and leadership emerging from younger educated Alawis (from story posted by Joshua Landis above):

“….I was the only woman among them, and the young F.S.A. men treated me like part of the group. During that meeting it became clear that it’s a mistake to consider the F.S.A. as a single bloc. It is a hodgepodge of battalions, including secularists, moderate Islamists and all-too-ordinary people who joined up to defend their lives and their families.

” At the end of our journey back to Saraqib, the commander told me, “We are one people, we and the Alawites are brothers. We had never thought about the sort of things that the regime is trying to stir up.”

I was silent for a moment, until I realized what he was telling me, the daughter of a well-known Alawite family that supports President Bashar al-Assad unconditionally. Some of my relatives have publicly disowned me for turning my back on the regime as many others have, announcing on Facebook that I am no longer considered one of them…”

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August 11th, 2012, 3:45 am


98. Juergen said:

President of the Federal Intelligence Service(Germany) , Gerhard Schindler on Syria:

“There are many indications that for the regime the final phase has begun,” said the BND chief. Assad’s army had lost 50,000 of its former 320 000 soldiers. “Among many wounded, 2000-3000 defectors went to the militant opposition.” The erosion of the military is ongoing.

According to the findings of the BND, there are some 20,000 resistance fighters in Syria – and they make Assad’s troops to fight hard. “The resistance groups are small, have a regional base and are extremely agile. They can strike quickly and ambush the army,” said Schindler. “Because of their small size, they are not a good target for Assad’s army.”

After analysis of his intelligence service about the opposition, they are not dominated by Islamists. “They are in the minority,” said Schindler. However, there are radical groups like al-Nusrah-front, which apparently had links to al-Qaeda terrorist network. Al Nusrah recruits itself from Syrian Sunnis, some of them had withdrawn from foreign countries, such as Iraq.”

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August 11th, 2012, 3:55 am


99. Badr said:

Professor Landis wrote: “Every moderator is attacked for being partisan and unfair. Their job becomes unsatisfying if not impossible. Attacking ideas is fine. Attacking people is not.”

Why wouldn’t applying this attack rule meticulously make a moderator’s job possible, and his/her ruling objective?

“I will try not to moderate the comment section for several weeks and pray that all commentators remain civil and resist attacks on other commentators.”

Good luck with that!

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August 11th, 2012, 3:55 am


100. VISITOR said:


If you felt that the current (previous) Moderator was fair and contributed positively to the success of this blog, please make your voice heard by Dr, Landis.

I begin by myself and say yes, even though he edited one of my comments and I objected to that, he was fair and his moderation was instrumental in keeping every one in check on this blog. There was a tendency to derail the discussion by frequently uttering personal attacks by two commentators (well known and were quick to applaud Dr. Landis). The Moderator dealt with these persons effectively and without bias.

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August 11th, 2012, 5:35 am


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