I received many responses to my post on Sunday evening recommending that the US play a larger role by insisting that Assad carry out talks with the opposition. The threat would be to supply anti-aircraft missiles to the opposition. Here are a few replies.

Nir Rosen writes

Lets leave aside issues of right and wrong, right to intervene, all that moral and political stuff for now and focus on the practical issue. Your proposal does not make much of a difference, removing the ability of the air-force to operate in one part of the country alone does not solve the problem. It only creates more space for the groups in the north, it would do nothing to stop regime infantry, tanks and artillery in the north let alone in the rest of the country.

The security forces are not all Alawite, nor are their leaders, and they are not all fighting as alawites (though some are), many are fighting as the army, or as the state (in their view), they have a strong esprit de corps now since they feel like they have had some victories, their brothers in arms have been killed, and also the regime media has been embedding journalists with them and focusing on the war instead of denying it like it used to the problem is western journalists are only operating in northern Syria, parts of Aleppo and idlib, where the regime is using its airforce because it cant use its ground elements as easily, so it creates the impression that the airforce is more important to the regime than it actually is. Only a fraction of civilians killed by the regime have been killed by its airforce anyway your proposal does not force assad into the alawite mountains, that would take ethnic cleansing, sunni militias would have to decide to attack alawite neighborhoods in Damascus and homs, which they have not yet decided to do and which they might not even have the strength to do. Regardless, they would need a lot more than anti aircraft missiles, they would even need more manpower and of course a lot of anti armor rockets.

The regime has those areas under pretty tight control these days and while you are correct that in the short term the regime lacks the troops to retake much of the country, the opposition also lacks the troops to hold much of the places where it operates, hence the stalemate. It would take a lot more than anti aircraft rockets to change the balance one way or the other (incidentally, the media being mostly limited to Aleppo and some villages in idlib is a problem in many other ways because its difficult to extrapolate lessons from one part of the country and apply them to the Syrian conflict as a whole, or even to Aleppo as a whole. for example most journalists have access only to rural Aleppo, the most conservative poor salafi part of the country, so the groups there might not resemble the groups in daraa or hama or elsewhere.

Few conflicts in recent years have taken place in a greater media blackout and with so much rumor and so little fact as Syria’s uprising. With almost no independent journalists on the ground, no NGOs and with little freedom of movement for foreign diplomats, policy makers have little information about what is actually happening inside Syria. On the other hand there is a flood of “information” coming out of Syria. Knowledge is being produced but it explains nothing and only obfuscates. This is because journalists reporting from Syria often rely on local activists who have an agenda that is not accurate reporting but the overthrow of the regime with international assistance. Those journalists who do go in stay for very little time and see very little (its not their fault of course) or they have to embed with the regime and provide an even more skewed and silly version of events (one particular british journalist comes to mind here). They either receive a one week visa from the regime, in which case their movement is limited, or they go in for a similarly short time with the opposition armed groups in a remote town either in Idlib, Halab or in the Homs countryside close to the Turkish or Lebanese border (thats where they all go). As a result all we see is villagers fighting an invisible an enemy and we dont really know whats going on

A Syrian friend writes to my wife

Do you think this is the best way to have a better Syria? We all supported Josh during the past few years, and we believed in him and his thoughts. It hurts me and […..] and many people to Syria. Josh is spreading hatred and he is tolerant towards terrorists and Jihadists. I feel ashamed to have known him wallahi. I am sorry to say that, but he should have uncovered his face looooong time ago. Did Prof. Landis think for a second how many jihadists and salafists are NOW slaughtering and raping our Alawite and christian daughters? or he supports this too? I lost 14 relatives during this nasty war, while Prof. Landis is agitating for more killings and hatred. Shame!
M Kamal Haykal writes on Facebook
The man is the biggest two-faced hypocrite I know. Clearly the man doesn’t want to be on the losing side. Clearly he doesn’t [want] him and his wife to be banned from entering Syria for being a proponent of Bashar through out the revolution…..
Congrats Landis if you’re trying to establish a reputation as a chameleon that shape shifts based on the winning side you’ve done that or at best a professor with a high level of cognitive dissonance.

Don’t be happy if a few disconnected individuals praise you for your article. The majority have already seen through what you stand for and where your support lies. So you can go back to whitewashing for the Assads and go back to glamorizing they’re so called “resistance to Israel.

No true Syrian revolutionary wants your counsel, and if they do don’t expect theirs to be wanted by democratic citizens in Syria. No Syrian that has read your comments and seeks democracy is going to be ok with your justification of continuing the status qou due to the lack of sophistication and maturity of the Syrian people. “You’re unsophisticated, sectarian, and too young therefore Bashar is good for you” was your dogma/identity. Or did you forget?

You think intelligent people are going to buy that new garbage???
Written to a friend and passed to me
Joshua’s criticizers’ logic is warped.  Who sent the tanks immediately to crush peaceful demonstrators chanting silmiyyeh silmiyyeh? Was it not the regime who drove the demonstrators to bear arms, small arms at that?
Then, the Qaeda and other thugs infiltrated. Even if terrorists hide in a building, is it right to demolish buildings over the heads of their inhabitants? The country is ruined mainly because of the pig pigheadedness of the Assad mafia.

From an expat Aleppine

I still think Aleppo is a stalemate. I conclude from reading various reports that the Free Syrian Army does not control more than one third of the neighborhoods. I read that one third of Aleppo is contested with changes here and there. And, there is little support for the FSA among the population even in the areas they have “liberated”. Aleppo neighborhoods have few barricades and stops and thus small armed bands
can still infiltrate everywhere giving the impression of control. Control is a different matter. Aleppo is critical for the Syrian State and the Syrian Regime. Losing Aleppo is not fatal to the Syrian regime. To the Syrian Regime and the Free Syrian Army, the fight for Aleppo is the fight for the support of or control of the 25 percent moderate Sunni block, a huge block needed for any one wanting to control Syria. Also, Aleppo is too close for comfort to the mountains along the Syrian coast.

The Syrian Army can still control parts of Hasakeh, Raqqa, and Deir Azzor using the direct road between Damascus and Deir Azzor. The Syrian regime is fighting intensely to control Deir Azzor and will fight hard for Raqqa. The fight for Jezzera is for agriculture and oil revenues. Deir Azzor is closer to Iraq (60 percent Shiite) and the Kurds and farther away from Turkey and thus I think the Syrian Army have a fair chance of holding up there. The nearby Sunni of Iraq are pre-occupied by their own enemies to the east, north, and south and thus have not been able to assist the FSA.

I think that Damascus will not be taken from the Syrian Regime due to its special ethnic mix, its proximity to Lebanon where half the population supports it, and its backing to Israel. Damascus is critical
for the Syrian State and the Syrian Regime. Losing Damascus is fatal to the Syrian Regime for prestige and also due to the stretch between Damascus and Homs is where the north-south Sunni line (the old hajj road to Mecca) intersects the east-west Shiite line (the road to Kharasan). These are the two major land routes of Islam. The Syrian Army is firmly in control of the road between Damascus and Homs.
Backing to Israel and Lebanon compared to backing to Turkey makes all the difference in the world for the Syrian Army and also for the Free Syrian Army.

News Round Up

Massacre at Syrian Bakery Dims Hopes for a Holiday Truce

Syrian artillery gunners shelled a bread bakery full of workers and customers on Tuesday in an insurgent-held neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 30 in what activists and videographers described as a sudden and devastating attack.

The shelling at Al Zura Bakery was among the more graphic episodes of violence to hit Aleppo and the capital, Damascus, on Tuesday, casting further doubts on the already dim prospects of a nationwide cease-fire for the coming Id al-Adha holiday, which the newly appointed peace envoy from the United Nations and Arab League, Lakhdar Brahimi, has been trying to negotiate for the past week.

Disturbing video uploaded to the Internet, which appeared genuine but could not be corroborated independently, showed what was described as the aftermath of the bakery shelling in Aleppo’s Hanano district, with mangled bodies interspersed with upended loaves of freshly baked pita on the bakery’s bloodied floor, as screaming rescue workers hauled the dead and wounded to waiting pickup trucks and taxicabs. Some of the victims were children, including a girl who was decapitated.

Abu al-Hasan, an activist from the Aleppo suburb of Maree, said in a Skype interview that most of the dead were bakery workers. He said it was unclear whether the attackers had been aiming for the bakery, located in a large warehouse. “The problem is those kinds of missiles are not guided to their intended targets,” he said. “They’re not precise. They fall on random buildings.”

He said the shelling came as residents of the neighborhood, who had been too afraid to venture outside for the past few days, finally took the risk in order to buy food for Id al-Adha, a widely celebrated Muslim holiday that starts on Friday.

Aleppo, near Syria’s northern border with Turkey, has been under siege for three months and has become a focal point of the insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad. Rebels have frustrated attempts by Syrian forces to retake the entire city and have threatened to cut off the military’s supply lines there.

At the same time, bakeries in rebel-held areas of Aleppo have emerged as vitally important resources that are clearly potential targets for Syrian forces seeking to starve insurgents and their sympathizers into submission. Many of the bakeries are run by the insurgents, who have learned how to bake bread as part of the war effort…..

Insight: Village cafe shootout spells trouble for Assad
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
AMMAN | Tue Oct 23, 2012


Recent events around Qardaha, however, suggest to some observers, including Western diplomats, that clan rivalries, thousands of deaths among Alawite fighters and economic crisis could break the loyalty of leading Alawite commanders, even as the community finds itself increasingly a target of rebel anger.

With the government severely restricting media access, there is a lack of independent information within Syria but several residents of Latakia region gave similar accounts of events.

One Alawite who has joined the opposition to Assad, Majd Arafat, said there was growing resentment at the suffering of the local population while elite families remained aloof: “The talk all over the mountains is that Alawites are being killed in droves, but none of them are called Assad, Makhlouf or Shalish.”

The latter two families are closely related to the Assads.

A Western diplomat, noting the failure of defections by Sunni generals to sap the strength of Assad’s forces, speculated that were even a less senior Alawite to break ranks, it might raise expectations of a more damaging split: “The defection of one, even a colonel, would be significant,” he said.

Estimates of casualties are hard to establish in Syria. One activist group which compiles reports has said some 7,300 Assad loyalists have been killed, out of a total of 30,000 war dead.

But many believe the overall toll is higher. One who thinks so is a Syrian businessman, not himself an Alawite, who says he funds units of the mostly Alawite “shabbiha” militia, partly to protect his businesses in the area. Speaking to Reuters anonymously, he reckoned the Alawite community in the coastal mountains alone might have lost 15,000 fighters since last year.

In the immediate area of Qardaha, residents estimated that as many as 300 men may have died in the past year, either in battles with rebels or in sectarian ambushes and assassinations.


But the burden, as the riches of the past 40 years, has not been shared equally among the Alawite clans.

The likes of the Makhlouf and Shalish families are cousins of the Assads, and rose from humble beginnings to make fortunes by virtue of winning government tenders – much to the chagrin of more established Alawites sidelined by Assad and his father.

Now those divisions seem to be resurfacing in an environment where the wealth some Alawite mountain leaders have built up through officially sanctioned smuggling and other illicit trades is being threatened by the anti-Assad uprising – and now that many Alawites fear collective retribution from Assad’s enemies.

“Qardaha and its mountains used to be an incubator for regime support. But Assad’s relatives may now have to think twice before walking in the streets,” said the Alawite opposition activist Arafat. “The Alawites are starting to ask themselves ‘why we should back the Assads?’.”

The non-Alawite businessman who funds some loyalist militia said abuses in the clandestine economy run by shabbiha chiefs was turning other Alawites against their rulers: “The regime has been turning a blind eye to the criminality of the shabbiha,” the businessman said. “And it is beginning to hurt it.”

Nonetheless, many Alawites, whose religion is an offshoot of the Shi’ite Islam practiced in Assad’s ally Iran, still support the armed forces and the militia units blamed for sectarian atrocities. Many see them as a bulwark for self-preservation:

“They are afraid of the other side, which has also proved capable of massacres,” Arafat said. “They still see the Assad regime as providing them with a sort of immunity.”

Details of the cafe shootout at Qardaha on September 29, show internal strains are surfacing as the community suffers losses.

The man killed in the gunfight was Sakher Othman. Among prominent members of his family was Isper Othman, a cleric killed in a crackdown by the elder Assad in the 1970s. At Sakher Othman’s funeral, a mourner shouted a demand that Assad quit, prompting loyalist gunmen to open fire, killing four people.

Alawite opposition activists said several pro-Assad fighters were also killed and wounded as fighting spread.

Since then thousands of shabbiha loyal to the president and commanded by Assad relatives have imposed their order on Qardaha and surrounding villages, but anger and disputes have continued.

Activists list members of a number of prominent families which now oppose Assad, including from the Othman, Qouzi, Muhalla, Iskandar, Issa, Khayyer and al-Jadid clans. Homes have been ransacked and several shops owned by anti-Assad Alawites in Qardaha were torched this month, local residents said.

Among notable clan hostilities is that opposing the Khayyers to the Assads. Abdelaziz al-Khayyer, a doctor from Qardaha, spent 12 years as a political prisoner under Hafez al-Assad. He was detained again in September and has not been heard of since.

A delegation arrived from Damascus to try calm passions. It was headed by another prominent Alawite, Walid Othman, father-in-law of Assad’s cousin and Syria’s richest man Rami Makhlouf.

Yet within days there was further trouble, with local people saying youths from rival Alawite families clashed in Qardaha.


These tensions may spell problems ahead for the unity of the Alawite officer corps. And Assad’s forces may also be finding difficulties recruiting in their Alawite heartland – opposition activists say more young Alawites are evading conscription.

“They are seeing that the rebels are getting stronger and that their friends are getting killed,” said activist Lubna Merei, from the coastal town of Jableh, south of Latakia.

However, for all that Alawite communal cohesion may face problems, some believe that the way the civil war has taken on such a bitter sectarian dimension – helped in part by the way Assad himself treated his opponents – may mean the moment has passed when many Alawites might side with the rebels.

Munther Bakhos, a veteran Alawite member of the exile Syrian opposition in France, said the rebels lost an opportunity to make allies in the Alawite heartlands in the early stages of the conflict and he believed that it would now be harder for the mainly Sunni opposition to benefit from the in-fighting there.

“It is naive to think the regime is protecting the Alawites. They are hostage. The regime is using them to defend itself,” Bakhos said. But the sectarian bitterness of the war had made it harder to persuade Alawites to ditch Assad:

“There was an opportunity to pull the rug from under its feet in the first few months of the revolution,” he said. “But now the picture has gotten complicated.”

Losing Syria (And How to Avoid It)

In light of the Syrian regime’s continued campaign of violence on its own people and the opposition’s inability to unify its ranks, is the collapse of Syrian society approaching a point of no return? Is there a way to hold Syria and its people together and, in doing so, prevent the spread of sectarianism across the Middle East?

In a new paper from the Brookings Doha Center, Losing Syria (And How to Avoid It), Salman Shaikh proposes a path forward for addressing Syria’s spiraling crisis.

Based on months of first-hand interviews with opposition leaders, activists, and rebel commanders, Shaikh provides new insights into the current state of fragmentation within Syria’s opposition. He offers a set of five policy principles for the international community – with the leadership of the United States – to help unify the political opposition, reassure minority communities, and coordinate the flow of arms. Shaikh argues that the actions – or inaction – of Syria’s international partners will have critical consequences for the viability of the post-Assad order, and urges immediate planning for the “day after.”

Download » (PDF)

“This Is Not a Revolution,” by Agha and Robert Malley’s in the New York Review of Books.

Darkness descends upon the Arab world. Waste, death, and destruction attend a fight for a better life. Outsiders compete for influence and settle accounts. The peaceful demonstrations with which this began, the lofty values that inspired them, become distant memories. Elections are festive occasions where political visions are an afterthought. The only consistent program is religious and is stirred by the past. A scramble for power is unleashed, without clear rules, values, or endpoint. It will not stop with regime change or survival. History does not move forward. It slips sideways.

By Andrew J. Tabler and Jeffrey White – WINEP
Determining the suitability of armed opposition elements as potential recipients of military assistance is complex and challenging. In Syria, such groups are numerous, rapidly evolving, and highly varied in ideology. Nevertheless, they do not pose an impenetrable mystery. Some are longstanding actors in the rebellion and currently hold or are contesting important areas of the country; a number of Free Syrian Army commanders are public personalities and can be contacted with relative ease. Vetting such actors is a critical prerequisite to providing military assistance, based on the recognition that not all armed elements should receive aid, and that some units are more worthy of aid than others.
Moreover, vetting must not be done just in terms of outcomes on the battlefield — equal consideration must be given to the roles that armed units will play after the regime falls. Given the fragmented nature of the Syrian opposition to date, and the lack of Western intervention to support the protest movement, those who are taking literal shots at Bashar al-Assad now are almost certain to be calling the shots as the regime gives way.

Comments (187)

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151. zoo said:


My innocent reply was held by the filter.

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October 24th, 2012, 7:47 pm


152. Citizen said:

There’s a whole slew of foreign policy F*ckery afoot…!

Isn’t it interesting how another Security Chief was assassinated in a car bombing…?

As the Angry Arab noted…

…It has been confirmed that Hariri security chief (and coordinator of Saudi intelligence work in Lebanon), Wisam Al-Hasan has been targeted in Beirut explosion. A reporter on the scene reports that Hasan has been seriously injured. Al-Hasan has been tasked with Saudi intelligence of facilitating arming and funding of Free Syrian Army from Lebanon. His name has been linked with the ship, Lutfallah II, which was intercepted as it carried arms to Syrian rebels in Lebanon. This former bodyguard of Rafiq Hariri quickly rose in rank and became the head of a predominantly Sunni security apparatus (Shu`bat Al-Ma`lumat, or Intelligence Branch) which has received tens of millions in US covert funding. Hasan was first suspected in the Hariri assassination because he was absent that day and because he had long-standing ties with Syrian intelligence. He told the Hariri investigators that he was studying for an exam that day.

PS Western media will NOT report another angle to the story: that Hasan’s Intelligence branch has been responsible for catching scores of Israeli spies and terrorists in Lebanon.

PPS This is the third assassination (or attempt) to target chiefs of the Intelligence Branch.

Now, I was stunned at how quickly War Inc. had rolled out the Political PR heavy artillery… Anti-Syria Bloc Calls for ‘Day of Rage’ in Lebanon Over Bombing…

…The unrest has prompted concern that Syria’s civil war may spill over the border. March 14 politicians including former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Rafiq’s son, were quick to accuse Syria of carrying out the killing.

Hariri urged supporters yesterday to join the rally to honor al-Hassan as a man “who protected Lebanon from dangers and exposed himself to an explosion so that you won’t explode and so Lebanon won’t explode.”

Al-Hassan’s investigations included the Hariri assassination. The security official also was instrumental in the probe that led to the August arrest of former Information Minister Michel Samaha, an Assad ally who has been charged with plotting to assassinate religious and political figures. More than 20 bombs found with Samaha were prepared by Syrian security agents, NNA said at the time.
Resignation Offer

Mikati said yesterday that al-Hassan’s assassination was linked to his exposure of the Samaha plot. He said that he had offered to resign so that a national unity government could be formed in the aftermath of the bombing. President Michel Suleiman urged him to stay on while he consults the country’s top officials about the attack and so the country won’t slip into political vacuum, Mikati said.

As the WaPoo ramped up their War rhetoric…U.S. steps up support of Turkey amid Syrian conflict…

The U.S. government is intensifying its intelligence sharing and military consultations with Turkey behind the scenes as both countries confront the possibility that Syria’s civil conflict could escalate into a regional war, according to U.S. and NATO officials. {…}

…In recent weeks, military officials from both countries have met to make contingency plans to impose no-fly zones over Syrian territory or seize Syria’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. officials said…

Behind the scenes, however, the border clashes have changed the strategic calculus and led U.S. military and intelligence officials in particular to collaborate more closely with Turkey.

“I can certainly assure you that our militaries, our military officers, are in contact,” Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. , the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, told journalists in Ankara on Tuesday. “This week I know there is a special focus of our military experts talking about Syria. And what militaries do well is plan for every contingency and every eventuality.”

Ricciardone said “no political decision has been made” regarding whether to support or impose a no-fly zone in Syrian territory to protect civilians or opponents of the government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, but he acknowledged that U.S., Turkish and NATO officials were discussing options.

“Will we consider it?” he said. “We consider everything.” {…}

“NATO is the new U.N. for Ankara when it comes to Syria,” he said.

…But he said one alternative would be for select NATO members — such as the United States, France and Britain — to assist Turkey with a military intervention, while other allies remain on the sidelines.

“It could be a ‘coalition of the fighting’ within NATO,” Cagaptay said. That was the approach NATO took last year when it ousted Libya’s former ruler, Moammar Gaddafi…

Now, I’m not sure what to make of this bombshell, but, here ya go…

How US Ambassador Chris Stevens May Have Been Linked To Jihadist Rebels In Syria

The official position is that the US has refused to allow heavy weapons into Syria.

But there’s growing evidence that U.S. agents—particularly murdered ambassador Chris Stevens—were at least aware of heavy weapons moving from Libya to jihadist Syrian rebels.

In March 2011 Stevens became the official U.S. liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan opposition, working directly with Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group—a group that has now disbanded, with some fighters reportedly participating in the attack that took Stevens’ life…

…Last month The Times of London reported that a Libyan ship “carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria … has docked in Turkey.” The shipment reportedly weighed 400 tons and included SA-7 surface-to-air anti-craft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Those heavy weapons are most likely from Muammar Gaddafi’s stock of about 20,000 portable heat-seeking missiles—the bulk of them SA-7s—that the Libyan leader obtained from the former Eastern bloc. Reuters reports that Syrian rebels have been using those heavy weapons to shoot down Syrian helicopters and fighter jets.

The ship’s captain was “a Libyan from Benghazi and the head of an organization called the Libyan National Council for Relief and Support,” which was presumably established by the new government.

That means that Ambassador Stevens had only one person—Belhadj—between himself and the Benghazi man who brought heavy weapons to Syria.

Last week The Telegraph reported that a FSA commander called them “Libyans” when he explained that the FSA doesn’t “want these extremist people here.”

And if the new Libyan government was sending seasoned Islamic fighters and 400 tons of heavy weapons to Syria through a port in southern Turkey—a deal brokered by Stevens’ primary Libyan contact during the Libyan revolution—then the governments of Turkey and the U.S. surely knew about it.

Furthermore there was a CIA post in Benghazi, located 1.2 miles from the U.S. consulate, used as “a base for, among other things, collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles” … and that its security features “were more advanced than those at rented villa where Stevens died.”

And we know that the CIA has been funneling weapons to the rebels in southern Turkey. The question is whether the CIA has been involved in handing out the heavy weapons from Libya.

In any case, the connection between Benghazi and the rise of jihadists in Syria is stronger than has been officially acknowledged.

Interestingly, Emptywheel notes that there were probably 25 CIA agents in Benghazi at the time of Amb. Steven’s demise…!

Now, I did derive a chuckle or two, today, over the Grey Lady’s ostrich-sized egg on their face… NYT: Iran agrees to one-on-one nuclear talks, US sources say…

Psych…! White House Denies Report That U.S. Has Agreed to Iran Talks…! One would suppose that AIPAC and the Boca Raton Yacht Club, would’ve been most displeased with the Oily Bomber, on Monday night, eh…?


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October 24th, 2012, 7:58 pm


153. Syrian Natonalist Party said:

Mikati said yesterday that al-Hassan’s assassination was linked to his exposure of the Samaha plot..

Has nothing to do with it, SNP suspect Lebanese Forces behind it, proxy for outside interests.

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October 24th, 2012, 8:09 pm


154. Tara said:


Held in the filter?

Were you returning the favor with another “glamorous” picture?

Are they an album now? 😉

I used to have a relative who would send my mom all those glossy glamorous pictures of Athma and hubby. They all went to my kitchen garbage..

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October 24th, 2012, 8:11 pm


155. Tara said:

Hama has cursed al Assad family for generations to come.  The docile generation of our parents was to blame.  They were domesticated slaves that could not say one.

Syria activists record all they can for history’s sake,0,282686.story?page=2

The detailed chronicling is more than just a manifestation of revolutions in a time of social media saturation. In a country still living in the shadow of a brutal government crackdown 30 years ago that left tens of thousands of civilians dead, but that is not spoken of publicly, it is a response to a hole in Syria’s history books, and a means of ensuring that it will not happen again.

For decades the Muslim Brotherhood uprising that began in the late 1970s was referred to simply as “the events.” Even in vague terms, it was rarely discussed, and children grew up without knowing the history that plunged their country into such scared silence.

“The regime … bulldozed over the buildings and covered the mass graves, then said we don’t ever talk about this,” said Amr Azm, a professor of Middle East history and onetime member of the Syrian National Council. “There was also the sense of this as an unspoken horror, this thing that everyone knew about and no one talked about.”
“Moaz used to say we are traitors, because we didn’t speak up in the ’80s,” Shami’s mother said recently, sitting in the garden of her childhood home. “I told him we couldn’t. It was different back then. We didn’t have the technology, the Facebook and the YouTube that they have now.”

“They are traitors,” the 28-year-old Shami said. “They didn’t say anything.”

“What did you want us to do?” his mother said. “They took your uncles away.”

Shami bit his lip as he thought about his mother’s words. He didn’t seem convinced.

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October 24th, 2012, 8:13 pm


156. Visitor said:

Citizen 102,

So, that’s what you meant? Thanks for the clarification.

Truly, however, Lavrov has been barking for quite sometime. We, will hear him and Markov barking more often from now on.

Nothing to worry about. Missiles will come and Russian tanks, fighter jets and helicopters will be destroyed in droves, and that’s too bad for the Russia arms industry. Who will buy from them after the Syrian Revolution triumphs?

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October 24th, 2012, 8:13 pm


157. habib said:

80. Michal

Al-Akhbar is quoting an Egyptian report, so your criticism is irrelevant.

As for more freedoms in Egypt, which exactly? It has become harder for women to go outside unveiled, just to mention one thing.

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October 24th, 2012, 8:22 pm


158. Syrialover said:


“Angry Arab” has his own bile-fuelled blog. No justification for you reproducing 40 paragraph slabs of his content here, even if you are worried about lack of visitors to AA’s blog.

In fact it’s rude and ridiculous to do that on another forum. Very “Ann”-like, in fact.

Unless of course you’re also posting Joshua Landis’ statements on Angry Arab’s blog?

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October 24th, 2012, 8:22 pm


159. Citizen said:

I expected from you better answers! Unfortunately you write nonsense!

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October 24th, 2012, 8:29 pm


160. Syrialover said:


It’s no good, you can’t distract us from Bouthaina Shaaban’s mounting problems. You know that endless stuff your’re blizzarding this forum with doesn’t work.

I was just reading this interesting tidbit about the wicked witch:

“Her rise within the Syrian regime is due to her close friendship with Bushra Al-Assad. Sometime in the late 1980s, Shaaban also introduced Bushra to her future husband Assef Shawkat.”

COMMENT: Poor old mashed-faced Dr B.S, she sure is having her wig knocked off by events!

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October 24th, 2012, 8:41 pm


161. Syrialover said:


You will not get anyone responding to a 40-paragraph cut-paste data dump (most of it nothing new, and worse, quoting Angry Arab).

Exception: unless it’s a court transcript of Bouthaina Shaaban’s phone tapped conversations with Samaha!

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October 24th, 2012, 8:51 pm


162. Tara said:

Gold travels to Iran via Dubai in hand luggage
Passenger planes form Istanbul to Dubai are reportedly carrying large amounts of gold bound for Iran, a country hit by sanction. Gold means value without identity, says a trader close to the matter
The sanctions, imposed over Iran’s disputed nuclear program, have largely frozen it out of the global banking system, making it hard for it to conduct international money transfers.

“Every currency in the world has an identity, but gold means value without identity. The value is absolute wherever you go,” said a trader in Dubai with knowledge of the gold trade between Turkey and Iran.

The identity of the ultimate destination of the gold in Iran is not known. But the scale of the operation through Dubai and its sudden growth suggest the Iranian government plays a role.

Iran sells oil and gas to Turkey, with payments made to state Iranian institutions. U.S. and European banking sanctions ban payments in U.S. dollars or euros so Iran gets paid in Turkish lira. Lira is of limited value for buying goods on international markets but ideal for a gold buying spree in Turkey.

The Dubai-based trader said that from August, direct shipments to Iran were largely replaced by indirect ones through Dubai, apparently because Tehran wanted to avoid publicity.
“The trade from Turkey directly to Iran has stopped because there was just too much publicity around it,” said the trader.

Dealers, jewelers and analysts in Dubai said they had not noticed any large, sudden increase of supply in the local gold market during August. They said that suggested the increased shipments to the UAE were sent straight on to Iran.

A trader in Turkey said Tehran had shifted to indirect imports because the direct shipments were widely reported in Turkish and international media earlier this year. “Now on paper it looks like the gold is going to Dubai, not to Iran,” he said.

Iranian gold buyers may want to conceal their Turkish gold deliveries for fear of attracting attention from the United States, which is pressing countries around the world to shrink their economic ties with Iran.

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October 24th, 2012, 9:47 pm


163. Norman said:

The case in Syria is the same as it was in Iraq with it’s war with Iran, and as in that war, the West goal as stated on TV was for both to lose, in Syria is for both to lose, for the regime to lose, the country to be destroyed and to kill the jihadists and the potential jihadists, it is just for Syria , Islamic radicals and Arab Nationalism to lose and kill each other,

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October 24th, 2012, 9:48 pm


164. Syrialover said:


Stop it – you’re sounding like MINA.

I don’t know where in the west you’ve come across official policy statements wanting all the Syrian people to lose and the country to be destroyed.

Let us know who has cooked up such policies so we can expose and disgrace them to all the western world’s governments and citizens whose wishes and standards they are contradicting.

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October 24th, 2012, 11:13 pm


165. Johannes de Silentio said:


“The West’s goal is for Syria, Islamic radicals and Arab Nationalists to lose and kill each other”

Norm, the so-called West has no stated goal, other than (1) to stay out of Syria and (2) for the killing to stop.

It’s too bad that in-country Syrians are killing and brutalizing each other. It’s a shame that overseas Syrians are choosing sides and egging the combatants on.

But none of this would be happening if Syrians had not been such cowards 40 years ago. If one brave soul back then had taken a machine gun and slaughtered the entire al-Assad clan, the tragedy today would not be happening.

The Assads are not the fault of the West. We can only blame Syrians for this. But most Syrians haven’t the honesty or integrity to admit it. So they blame the West, the Jews, the Turks, the weather, God, the Devil, anybody but themselves.

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October 24th, 2012, 11:17 pm


166. Aldendeshe said:

The Assads are not the fault of the West. We can only blame Syrians for this.

Sure, that is why several U.S. Presidents** kissed the Assad’s hands after Hama massacre and sheltered Riffat and his cronies. The U.N. action the day after is also noted NOT.

( ** Just to mention few, will leave the Sunni Moslem Leaders out. )

I know people back in my early 20’s who were knocking on CIA door for help and got a solid “BEHAVE or ELSE” back. Even SNP members who were barely freshman in college got upset at the lack of support and gave Ronald Regan a run for his money for that failure. At any rate, Syrian, especially Sunni Majority was the ones that brought the Baathist Garbage in and supported them for 5 decades, so I and many in my generation really have no sympathy to their misery whatsoever, rather total apathy, this is the expected end of a Baathist regime. The only concern now is where to get the cash when it is all over and time to rebuild. The obvious answer is not borrowing and placing Syrians in National debt (will assassinate anyone for that). Money will have to be coughed up by the genocidal perpetrators gratis, grants and compensations, or they and the world will starve. Right now the standing balance is at $400 billion and we are adding $10 billion monthly to that, so we are estimating about 500-600 billions in the end.

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October 25th, 2012, 12:38 am


167. zoo said:


I was just saying the this photo would have been better without the hypocritical smily s.u.ltan and his laughing hanum.

The people who emptied your kitchen garbage have now collection items.

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October 25th, 2012, 12:42 am


168. zoo said:

#157. Habib

These were the good old days, just a year ago. They have been all closed now.

Belly Dancing Television Takes Off in Egypt
Published Monday, November 14, 2011

Cairo – In one week the number of Arab channels broadcasting uninterrupted belly dancing performances shot up to ten, indicating a new trend in the Egypt’s TV landscape.

These channels include Sharqiyat, Farah, Moulad, Shaabiyat, and Darbaka.

These channels are viewed by Egyptians and Arabs through the Nilesat media service and hence are not registered with the Egyptian Ministry of Information. Egypt’s information minister Osama Heikal is thus spared the blame placed on him by critics of this new trend.

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October 25th, 2012, 12:49 am


169. ann said:

As UNSC Speaks on Ceasefire But Not Terrorism, Al Qaeda OK in Some Places?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 24 — After envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told the UN Security Council by video to await an official Eid ceasefire response from the Syrian government tomorrow, the Council agreed on a press statement directed particularly at the government, as the stronger party.

After the statement was read out, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was asked of the reported rejection in advance of the ceasefire by the Al Nusra Front, which claimed credit for deadly bombings in, among other places, Aleppo in an attack the Council condemned in a statement.

Churkin said those with influence should speak with such groups. Inner City Press asked Churkin about his other draft Council statement on “Terrorism in Damascus,” which the Council did not agree to.

Churkin said there is a trend of not denouncing some acts of terrorism. He said some find attacks by Al Qaeda OK in some places but not in others: there is, “say that Al Qaeda cannot do certain things in one place but is welcome to do them in another place.” Transcript below.

Minutes later, Syria’s Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari told the press, “There will be an official statement tomorrow” – that is, the day before the Eid holiday begins. Watch this site.

Footnote: Inner City Press exclusively reported on and put online a list Syrian Mission filed with the Security Council of 108 “foreign nationals” arrested in Syria. Click here for that.

Wednesday the Mission said nothing had been done on the list; it filed a letter about the killing of some 25 civilians in Douma, in an area it says there is no government army presence. Don’t expect a press statement any time soon.

A friend on Inner City Press prepared this transcript:

Inner City Press: What about [the rejection of] your other press statement on terrorist attacks in Damascus, there was one I think had been pending, and I know that Syria’s put in a letter on Douma, where 25 civilians were killed. Do you still have hope of passing those? Were they shot down?

Ambassador Churkin: We have some objections, and in fact, we need to have, I think, discussion in the Security Council about that, because lately, we have seen a certain erosion of what used to be the rock bottom and sort of principal and fundamental position of the Security Council rejecting all forms of violence, whatever the pretext or the motives and whatever the reasons which may be given for such acts of terrorism. Laterly we have a had a situation where some of our colleagues in the Security Council were saying: “Well, we have all this violence, so maybe it’s not proper to make statement condemning a certain terrorist attack.”

We do not accept that logic. Their idea is that, well, the government has sort of a predominant forces, asymmetrical situation, so under those circumstances, maybe we should not condemn certain terrorist attacks. We believe that this is wrong, because there are other situations after all, where we have nice symmetrical conflict, and where one of the sides has predominant military force, but that does not prevent us from condemning acts of terrorism. I mean, you cannot say that Al Qaeda cannot do certain things in one place but is welcome to do them in another place.


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October 25th, 2012, 12:51 am


170. Syrian Natonalist Party said:

That compensation amount covers the Civilian and infrastructure damages only, does not include damages to Syria’s military, which also must be paid by the criminals, estimated at 40 billion Dollar.

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October 25th, 2012, 1:07 am


171. zoo said:

Charlie Rose’s guests discussion on on Syria

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) — A discussion on the future of foreign policy with former U.S. National Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and General Jim Jones, David Ignatius of The Washington Post, and Michael Mazarr of the US National War College

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October 25th, 2012, 1:16 am


172. admir said:

#14 @Visitor

‘…implicitly endorsing an Alawistan with undefined borders on the coast where the majority of the population of the cities is Sunni.’

sorry to inform you but the claim of the cities being majority sunni is based on census data from the 40s and 60s (when alawites lived mostly in the rural areas). These days most of those cities are alawite majority towns. the exception would be latakia which has a slight sunni majority because of the large palestinian refugee camp (if we only consider syrians it would be equal numbers on both sides or even alawites being largest group in the city although not majority).

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October 25th, 2012, 3:12 am


173. Mina said:

Why Mali is relevant?
“Intellectuals and writers have lashed out at Islamic preacher Youssef al-Badry’s call to destroy statues because he considers them idols.”

Why Libya is relevant?
“Suspect in Libya US consulate attack killed in Cairo”

Now that there is a free press (free to bully, attack without proofs and call for more discrimination) but not an inch of difference for the poors/the workers/the women in villages,
the fundamentalists are FREE to do their slow job. Just as the Wahhabis have done theirs for 30 years on the Muslim communities abroad (“translation of the Coran is forbidden”, etc.). No doubt: Ataturk would be in jail.

DIscussion on Syria and Darfur at AUC (5 parts)

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October 25th, 2012, 4:48 am


174. Citizen said:

Damascus car blast kills six despite proposed ceasefire (PHOTOS)

Armed Forces Eliminate Scores of Terrorists in Several Provinces

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October 25th, 2012, 6:43 am


175. Hanzala said:

Nir Rosen articles have always leaned more in the governments favor. He says that the “Sunni” militias might not have attacked Alawite neighborhoods because they lack the strength to do so. The FSA has shown they are capable of setting off explosions in the general headquarters of the Syrian military in Damascus, in one of the most guarded areas of the city. If attacking Alawites was truly what they had in mind you would have seen attacks targeting Alawite civilians by now.

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October 25th, 2012, 7:12 am


176. Tara said:


Asma and hubby’s photos collectible items?

Our garbage man is not a mnhebak.

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October 25th, 2012, 8:09 am


177. zoo said:

#175 Tara

Collectible items are items of historical values. They could be sold at Christies’s in a few decades. It has nothing to do with love or hate.
You may have made the garbage man’s children rich, that was a generous act of you.

By the way..

Turkey: Another emerging Islamist autocracy
10/24/2012 22:45
Candidly Speaking: Bernard Lewis predicted that Turkey would evolve into an aggressive Islamist dictatorship and could become the greatest threat to Israel. Alas, his prediction about Turkey is being realized.

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October 25th, 2012, 8:25 am


178. zoo said:

Iran, Syria gave Hezbollah order to kill Hasan: Geagea

October 25, 2012

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea launched a vehement attack on the country’s security authorities, accusing them of following Syrian-Iranian schemes being implemented by Hezbollah.

“Lebanese security services and security officials are going along with Syrian-Iranian plots that are being implemented by Hezbollah,” Geagea said in remarks published Thursday by the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan

Read more:

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October 25th, 2012, 8:30 am


179. zoo said:

A rare report on the National Syrian Army in Homs by a foreign journalist.

Bleary-Eyed Syrian Troops Fight a Building at a Time

Published: October 24, 2012 2

HOMS, Syria — For more than 24 hours, President Bashar al-Assad’s soldiers fought their way through this city, bleary-eyed men, worn down by months of combat. Afraid to go into the streets, where snipers pick their targets, the government men snaked their way through “mouse holes” punched in walls of blown-out buildings. Their goal was to retake one building, just one, a former school controlled by the rebel Free Syrian Army.

The Syrian government has grown frustrated with its inability to crush the opposition forces, so it has adopted an unforgiving strategy of using tanks, artillery and aircraft to bomb and blast them into submission. That has worked in smaller places, like the village of Maarat al-Noaman, obliterated last week just after the opposition declared it “liberated.”

“We will eventually get this school,” said Rifaf, part of a small group of soldiers on the mission. “But it’s a matter of time.”

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October 25th, 2012, 8:36 am


180. Tara said:


Aren’t you inflating their importance a bit? Christie’s ?!

Their historical value will sell as much as Quaddafi’s robes will sell for…

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October 25th, 2012, 8:46 am


181. zoo said:

That’s the biggest mistake the armed opposition did. By selling their souls to Al Qaeeda to get the help the West refused them, it gave them just the illusion of a possible “victory”.
The reality is that it has irreversibly discredited them in the mind of Syrians and the West.
The consequences will be tragic:
It will never be possible to buy they souls back except with more blood where they would become the target of their one time allies.

Syrian rebels warily accept foreign fighters’ help

By HAMZA HENDAWI | Associated Press – 11 hrs ago

ALEPPO, Syria (AP) — The presence of foreign Islamic militants battling Syria’s regime is raising concerns over the possible injection of al-Qaida’s influence into the country’s civil war.

Syria’s rebels share some of those misgivings. But they also see in the foreign extremists a welcome boost: experienced, disciplined fighters whose battlefield valor against the better-armed troops of President Bashar Assad is legendary.

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October 25th, 2012, 8:51 am


182. zoo said:

#179 Tara

Ok, not at Christies’, at Souk al Harami’s.

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October 25th, 2012, 8:53 am


183. Tara said:


What is Souk al Harami’s?

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October 25th, 2012, 8:57 am


184. Syrialover said:

New thread started – dramatic news on Aleppo

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October 25th, 2012, 9:09 am


185. zoo said:


Oh, you don’t know it. Well in view of what you said about your knowledge of Damascus limited to fancy areas, I am not surprised.

It’s Damascus low income flea market…

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October 25th, 2012, 9:14 am


186. Tara said:


Does it make you feel good to portray me in a certain light? Not knowing what souk al Harami’s is does not mount to a conspiracy. I have not misrepresented myself in the past. There are lots of area in Damascus I never been to before such as Zaynab shrine, etc. sorry but that doesn’t make me a sinister or even unaware.

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October 25th, 2012, 9:49 am


187. zoo said:


I know that, I am just teasing you. You’re certainly not sinister and it could be a good opportunity for you to discover the real popular life of Damascus.

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October 25th, 2012, 10:57 am


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