Posted by Joshua on Monday, July 11th, 2011
“Bashar al-Assad is not indispensable and the United States has no interest in his regime staying in power,” US Secretary of State Hillary stated on Monday after Syrian crowds pelted the Damascus Embassy with stones, calling Ambassador Ford a “dog.”
While Clinton turned up the rhetorical head a notch, President Assad must taken satisfaction in the dust up with the great conspirator. From the outset of the uprising four months ago, the Syrian regime has been accusing Washington of orchestrating its troubles. According to reports from Syria, the pro-regime public has been galvanized by Ambassador Fords actions in Hama. They see it a proof that the US is acting as the puppeteer and takes an active role in the uprising. His trip to Hama to demonstrate US support for the demonstrations was the sort of provocation, Damascus authorities had been waiting for. Now it is a US-Syrian confrontation. World news programs have ramped up their coverage that had been flagging. I cannot tell you how many calls I received today compared to the last week of comparative quiet.
What is unclear is whether the Syrian opposition will gain from this controversy. Will the increased international news coverage and augmented US role in this Syrian drama prove to be a boon for the opposition? Will it make up for any damage the opposition suffers from local accusations that it is but a spearhead of a vast imperialist-Zionist conspiracy?
Certainly, Ford’s credibility is restored in Washington. Even Republicans will have to laud him as a local hero. Only yesterday they branded him an Assad propaganda tool. The State Department will also look good. But are these antics helping the Syrian opposition or Assad? Answer the poll in the upper left hand corner of this page.
Pro-Assad demonstrators in front of the US embassy in Damascus
DAMASCUS, Syria — Supporters of the Syrian government pelted the U.S. embassy with rocks, smashed windows and raised their national flag in place of the American one on Monday, a day after the U.S. ambassador here delivered an extraordinary rebuke to the Syrian government on Facebook….
A U.S. embassy official said about 10 of the protesters broke into the embassy compound and destroyed the main entrance. Three of them climbed onto the roof. No embassy staffers were hurt. Syrian government supporters smashed windows at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, raised a Syrian flag and scrawled graffiti calling the American ambassador a “dog” in anger over the envoy’s visit to an opposition stronghold, witnesses said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, accused the Syrian government of facilitating the attack and of being slow to respond after the embassy appealed for help….
News Round Up
…Owning a foreign maid is perceived to be as prestigious as owning a Hummer or a fancy home. …. What is disturbing about the revival of this discrimination is its association with the growth of the economical disparity between the rich and the poor. Moreover, this renewed discrimination is growing in spite of the improvement in education level and unprecedented communication with the rest of the free world. What is interesting is that people who were victims of discrimination in the past became victimizers. The Alawites moved up in the ranks and joined the elite class. The wealthy upper class in Damascus and Aleppo solidified their first class status with the help of Bashar Assad. He was appreciated compared with his father who didn’t have the best relations with merchants at the beginning of his presidency. Now it is the people of Houran and the rural areas who constitute the new second class……
FIVE QUESTIONS For David Lesch: How The Stalemate In Syria Will Finally Break Down – Business Insider [This is smart]
Syria expert talks U.S. strategy, reform, and regime schizophrenia.
Meir Javedanfar The competition between Iran and Turkey over influence in Syria.
Despite close relations, both Ankara and Tehran have found themselves pulling in different directions in Damascus.
Damascus Vibrations: How Iraqis view the Syrian Uprising, Jul 02, 2011
By Sami Moubayed
For a variety of overlapping reasons, the situation in Syria is very alarming to Iraqis from every end of the political spectrum.
For starters, approximately 1 million Iraqis currently live in Syria, all of whom fled the mayhem in their country in 2003. They are worried that if security breaks down in Syria, or if the state can no longer accommodate them, they would have to unwillingly return home – where a very uncertain future awaits them.
A country that now has refugees on the border with Turkey will have a hard time absorbing refugees on its own territories – and certainly not Iraqi refugees.
Iraqi Christians living in Syria are particularly afraid of the sectarian rhetoric emerging from radical groups inside Syria. They fled their country precisely because they were targeted by radical Islamic groups and are worried that a similar scenario could be repeated in Syria.
Iraqi Ba’athists are also worried about the status of the Ba’ath Party in Syria. Demonstrators have been on the streets throughout rural Syria and in many towns within its interior, demanding an end to one-party rule and cancelation of Article 8 of the Syrian constitution, which designates the Ba’ath as “leader of state and society”.
These Iraqi Ba’athists are still very much committed to Ba’ath Party rule and they are horrified by the fact that perhaps soon, Ba’ath Party supremacy will end in a country that gave birth to their doctrine back in 1947. Ba’athist Syria welcomed them with open arms in 2003, but that wouldn’t necessarily apply to a country in which the Ba’ath no longer has the upper hand.
Hardline Iraqi Shi’ites are also alarmed, seeing the demonstrations on the Syrian street as part of a Western-engineered “conspiracy” aimed at punishing Syria for its alliance with Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. They are very worried that if the regime collapses in Syria, or is reformed beyond recognition, then this would spell out a slow breakdown in the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah trio that has dominated the Arab world for more than 10 years.
That alliance was a source of inspiration to radical Iraqi groups like the Mehdi Army, whose leader Muqtada al-Sadr often looked towards Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah for leadership and guidance, enjoying excellent relations with the Syrians. They fear the rise of radical Sunni groups within Syria, like the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, would certainly work to obstruct what its leaders have often described as a “Shi’ite crescent” linking Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
As far as they are concerned, the Brotherhood, through an alliance with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is now coordinating with the West over how to end to Iranian influence in the Arab world. The believe this is why Erdogan began dialogue with Hamas in Palestine back in 2004 – to counterbalance the influence of Hezbollah in the eyes of Muslim Sunnis around the world.
If the Brotherhood is empowered by whatever scenario unfolds in Syria, then this would have immediate vibrations in Iraq among groups allied to Sunni Islamic groups, like the Iraqi Accordance Front and the Iraqi Islamic Party, being the Iraqi branch of the Brotherhood.
TRIPOLI (Reuters) – France’s defense minister said it was time for Libya’s rebels to negotiate with Muammar Gaddafi’s government, signaling growing impatience with progress in the conflict.
In Iran, sanctions aim at shipping lifeline (Washington Post)
TEHRAN — On June 30, the Danish shipping giant Maersk startled Iran’s trade officials by abruptly pulling out of the country’s three largest ports. Company officials said little about the decision, but the timing was striking: A week earlier, the Obama administration had declared the ports’ operator to be an arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a group linked to terrorism and weapons trafficking. Other shipping companies followed suit, and soon Iran was scrambling to find alternative ways to import food and other critical supplies. Now Iranian officials are warning of economic pain in the months ahead — precisely the effect that U.S. officials were hoping for.