Drones, A New Alawite Opposition, Obama in Israel

Posted by Matthew Barber

Drones & Intervention


We included a report in a previous post that the CIA is eyeing Syria for the use of drones. Now a report by Chuck Hagel and David Boren suggests that the drone program is aberrant and problematic for the CIA:

U.S. intelligence too focused on killing suspected terrorists – Secret report raises alarms on intelligence blind spots because of Al Qaida focus – Washington Post

A panel of White House advisers warned President Obama in a secret report that U.S. spy agencies were paying inadequate attention to China, the Middle East and other national security flash points because they had become too focused on military operations and drone strikes, U.S. officials said.

Led by influential figures including new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former senator David L. Boren (D-Okla.), the panel concluded in a report last year that the roles of the CIA, the National Security Agency and other spy services had been distorted by more than a decade of conflict.

The classified document called for the first significant shift in intelligence resources since they began flowing heavily toward counterterrorism programs and war zones after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

… John O. Brennan, Obama’s former top counterterrorism adviser, who was sworn in as CIA director this month, told Congress in February that he planned to evaluate the “allocation of mission” at the agency. He described the scope of CIA involvement in lethal operations as an “aberration from its traditional role.”

Following this comes the possibility that the program may be moved from the CIA to the military. From FP’s AFPAK Daily:

U.S. officials said this week that the White House is working to move its lethal drone program from the CIA to the Department of Defense, which would make the targeted killing campaign dependent on the consent of host countries and subject to international laws of war. But it remains unclear to what extent the move will bring greater transparency and accountability to the program, as the current proposal leaves Pakistan, where the vast majority of U.S. drone strikes have taken place, under the jurisdiction of the CIA. And the program could be transferred to the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, a sector of the military that is just as (if not more) secretive than the CIA.

syria-rebels-1-Reut-670CIA provides intelligence to Syrian rebels: report – |

Fighters from the Free Syrian Army run during heavy fighting in Mleha suburb of Damascus, January 25, 2013. — Photo by Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: The US Central Intelligence Agency has been feeding information to select rebel fighters in Syria to try to make them more effective against government troops, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

Citing unnamed current and former US officials, the newspaper said the new CIA effort reflected a change in the administration’s approach that aims to strengthen secular rebel fighters. The CIA has sent officers to Turkey to help vet rebels who receive arms shipments from Gulf allies, the report said. But administration officials cited concerns about some weapons going to Islamists, the paper noted.

In Iraq, the CIA has been directed by the White House to work with elite counterterrorism units to help the Iraqis counter the flow of Al Qaeda-linked fighters across the border with Syria, The Journal said. According to the report, the West favours fighters aligned with the Free Syrian Army, which supports the Syrian Opposition Coalition political group.

Syrian opposition commanders said the CIA had been working with British, French and Jordanian intelligence services to train rebels in the use of various kinds of weapons, the paper said.

The move comes as the al Nusra Front, the main Al Qaeda-linked group operating in Syria, is deepening its ties to the terrorist organisation’s central leadership in Pakistan, The Journal said. The new aid to rebels doesn’t change the US decision against taking direct military action, the paper noted.

Here’s more on drones: Daily Beast – Exclusive: No More Drones for CIA

At a time when controversy over the Obama administration’s drone program seems to be cresting, the CIA is close to taking a major step toward getting out of the targeted killing business. Three senior U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast that the White House is poised to sign off on a plan to shift the CIA’s lethal targeting program to the Defense Department.

The move could potentially toughen the criteria for drone strikes, strengthen the program’s accountability, and increase transparency. Currently, the government maintains parallel drone programs, one housed in the CIA and the other run by the Department of Defense. The proposed plan would unify the command and control structure of targeted killings and create a uniform set of rules and procedures. The CIA would maintain a role, but the military would have operational control over targeting. Lethal missions would take place under Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which governs military operations, rather than Title 50, which sets out the legal authorities for intelligence activities and covert operations. “This is a big deal,” says one senior administration official who has been briefed on the plan. “It would be a pretty strong statement.”

… Lately, Obama has signaled his own desire to place the drone program on a firmer legal footing, as well as to make it more transparent. He obliquely alluded to the classified program during his State of the Union address in January. “In the months ahead,” he declared, “I will continue to work with Congress to ensure that not only our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remain consistent with our laws and systems of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.”

Shortly after taking office, Obama dramatically ramped up the drone program, in part because the government’s targeting intelligence on the ground had vastly improved and because the precision technology was very much in line with the new commander in chief’s “light footprint” approach to dealing with terrorism. As the al Qaeda threat has metastasized, U.S. drone operations have spread to more remote, unconventional battlefields in places like Yemen and Somalia. With more strikes, there have been more alleged civilian casualties. Adding to the mounting pressure for the administration to provide a legal and ethical rationale for its targeting polices was the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior commander of al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate, who also happened to be a U.S. citizen. (Two weeks later, his 16-year-old son was killed in a drone strike, which U.S. officials have called an accident.) The recent nomination of Brennan to head the CIA became a kind of proxy battle over targeted killings and the administration’s reluctance to be more forthcoming about the covert program. At issue were a series of secret Justice Department legal opinions on targeted killing that the administration had refused to make public or turn over to Congress.

… Losing its drone program will, at some level, be a blow to the CIA’s identity. The program has given the agency a prominent and—ironically—highly visible role in the terror wars. And the spies can take credit for severely degrading, if not decimating, al Qaeda’s core organization in Pakistan. At the same time, according to multiple officials, there has been relatively little pushback from the CIA’s top leadership. One reason might be a sense of relief that the CIA would no longer own such a controversial program. The more likely reason? The man who engineered the idea—John Brennan—is now in charge.

Beyond drones, intervention seems to be back in the conversation, and for some voices (oddly reminiscent of Iraq) “chemical weapons” are being cited as the scale-tipping threat.

Top Democrat endorses Syria no-fly zone – FP – by Josh Rogin

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) endorsed Tuesday the idea of establishing a no-fly zone inside Syria and attacking the air defenses and air power of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Levin chaired a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday morning during which he asked Adm. James Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, if NATO was discussing attacking Assad’s air defenses. Stavridis acknowledged the idea was under discussion but said there was no unified NATO position on the issue.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) then asked Stavridis if NATO is doing contingency planning for military operations inside Syria. “We are looking at a wide range of operations, and we are prepared, if called upon, to be engaged as we were in Libya,” Stavridis replied.

Stavridis said that the NATO Patriot missile batteries currently deployed in Turkey have the capability to shoot down Syrian military aircraft in a radius of 20 miles. McCain pressed Stavridis to give his personal opinion as to whether or not establishing a Patriot battery-enforced no-fly zone in northern Syria would speed the end of the conflict. “My personal opinion is that would be helpful in breaking the deadlock and bringing down the Assad regime,” Stavridis said.

After the hearing, Levin directly endorsed the idea of attacking Syrian air defenses and using the Patriot missile batteries in Turkey to establish a no-fly zone inside Syria in an interview with The Cable. “I believe there should be the next ratcheting up of military effort and that would include going after some of Syria’s air defenses,” Levin said.

… Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Tuesday called for the United States to put boots on the ground in Syria to secure chemical weapons sites, in light of new allegations that chemical weapons were used in Aleppo province.

The intervention discussion seems to be making a comeback as other voices are urging greater U.S. participation. A report from the Baker Institute says it’s time for the U.S. to “prepare a more focused strategy that strengthens the moderate political forces in Syria and engages Syria’s regional and international stakeholders…” but stops short of recommending the kind of intervention being discussed above.

Rice University: United States should execute new strategy toward Syria, Baker Institute special report says

The special report recommends that the U.S. should consider supplying military assistance to vetted leaders of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in an effort to support the moderate opposition, protect Syrian civilians and abate extremists. In addition, the U.S., in conjunction with NATO, should form a joint special operations command in Turkey to monitor the distribution of this assistance and provide logistical support, communications and training to vetted commanders. “What is needed is to combine military assistance with a coordinated strategy of capacity building within the opposition, which can then have measurable results and importantly, not lead the U.S. into any overextended commitment,” Bowen said.

Coming after Tony Blair’s Iraq War-anniversary remarks that if the war had not taken place Iraq “would be worse than Syria” is this article claiming that “Syria is already more violent than Iraq:”

Syria Is Already More Violent Than Iraq And its destruction will define the Middle East for years to come. BY DAVID KENNER | MARCH 20, 2013

The year 2006 was pure horror for Iraq. It was hard to imagine the war going any worse: Sunni groups, spearheaded by al Qaeda’s powerful local affiliate, launched a series of bloody suicide bombings against
Shiite holy sites and civilian areas. On Feb. 22, 2006, a bomb ripped through the golden dome of the al-Askari mosque, one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam — though no one was killed in the attack, more than 1,000 people were killed in just the first day of sectarian bloodletting. Meanwhile, Iran-funded Shiite militias were making a mockery of the Iraqi government’s claims of authority, controlling huge swathes of territory and attacking U.S. forces that tried to stop them.

According to the Brooking Institution’s Iraq Index, a total of 36,591 Iraqi civilians and security forces died violently that year. Another 3,902 insurgents were killed in the fighting, according to figures released by the international military coalition. That means an average of 3,374 Iraqis were killed each month, or roughly 111 Iraqis died per day.

The destruction wrought by the Syrian conflict has already surpassed that horrible level of violence. The United Nations estimates that 70,000 people have lost their lives in Syria since the beginning of the conflict, and the death toll has only escalated in recent months. According to the pro-opposition Violations Documentation Center, 4,472 Syrians have been killed on average each month since December. That means over this span of time, an average of 149 Syrians have lost their lives daily.

Syria’s population is roughly two-thirds that of Iraq — it is home to roughly 22 million people, while Iraq’s population totals around 31 million. Syria’s victims, in other words, are coming from a considerably smaller population pool.

Blair’s notion that the Iraq war prevented chaos in the Middle East seems even more ridiculous considered against the article’s following paragraph:

Ten years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, it is hard to escape the war’s effects on the Middle East: It shaped rising Sunni-Shiite tensions throughout the Arab world, served as the frontline in the U.S. struggle with Iran, and altered the political landscape in Damascus and Beirut.

In other words, the sectarian fallout from the Iraq war help set the stage for the sectarian character of the conflict in Syria.

Contra the intervention position is this piece maintaining that a political solution is thwarted by demands that Assad leave before negotiations take place:

Opinion: ‘Assad Must Go’ Is the Wrong Solution – By Susanne Koelbl – Spiegel

…World powers are also fighting over who is to have influence in the region. It’s the West and its allies against the old allies of the regime…

The West insists that for any negotiations on an end to the Syrian civil war to happen, President Bashar Assad must first step down. The demand is fatal and only prolongs the bloodletting, allowing Syria to slip into anarchy while radical Islamists slowly hijack the revolution.

Preconditions Prevent an End to War

…..Analysts in Ankara and Washington are underestimating the tenacity of the Syrian government. They’re also overlooking the fact that many of the Assad loyalists and the nearly 3 million Alawites, of which President Bashar Assad is one, have no choice but to fight to the last round. If they’re defeated, they’ll have to face the worst. “If the rebels come to this city, they’ll eat us alive,” said one wealthy businessman in Damascus. Thousands of others share his fear. The opposition is already kidnapping Alawites, Christians, secular Sunnis and simply the affluent, in addition to staging targeted killings of representatives of the government.

Through the one-sided demonization of the Assad government and the precondition set by the US that nothing can proceed until the despot steps down, the West has essentially blocked any solution through negotiations. It has also destroyed hope for an armistice, a possible orderly division of the country or the establishment of safe zones for refugees.

The war just goes on, also because Iran cannot allow the Syrian government to be replaced by Sunnis with close ties to Riyadh and Washington. And Russia is also not about to give up its influence in the region without a fight. All this translates to the destruction of an entire country, the home to 21 million people and a unique cultural heritage. Syria could soon fall into anarchy, fractured into war zones and Islamist enclaves.

The country has a way to go before the atrocities of its civil war reach their peak. That’s true not just for Assad, but also for the various revolutionary groups, of which not a small number have already been radicalized or overtaken by radical Islamists. And the West has so far mostly sympathized with them without criticism.

This past summer, political scientist Robert Pape (University of Chicago), published his new “Pragmatic Standard of Humanitarian Intervention.” (Just to be clear: “Humanitarian intervention” = military intervention.) Pape believes that powerful nations have a responsibility to intervene in instances of “mass homicide” on the part of tyrannical regimes, in order to save lives, though measures to prevent the imperialistic abuse of intervention must be followed. He also has a criteria for when intervention can take place. Before foreign powers can intervene, there must be:

(1) an ongoing campaign of mass homicide sponsored by the local government in which thousands have died and thousands more are likely to die; (2) a viable plan for intervention with reasonable estimates of casualties not significantly higher than in peacetime operations and near zero for the intervening forces during the main phase of the operation; and (3) a workable strategy for creating lasting local security, so that saving lives in the short term does not lead to open-ended chaos in which many more are killed in the long term.

Pape’s examples of successful models for intervention are:

…four cases of reasonably successful humanitarian intervention demonstrate when and how the new standard could be effectively applied: the Kurds in northern Iraq, as well as Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, and Libya today. All of these interventions occurred in response to a government-sponsored mass homicide campaign, and each saved thousands of lives at little cost to the interveners and provided lasting security to the target populations.

Aside from the ongoing question of success in Libya, the obvious point is that intervention should not take place unless the strong likelihood that it will lead to security can be demonstrated. (Pape also includes a philosophical framework as to why intervention should be conducted only at low risk to the intervening forces. See his full article in International Security, link above.) Though the mass homicide in Syria is obvious, the second two items in Pape’s criteria are what lead him to state:

At present, Syria is a case of a state-sponsored mass homicide campaign that almost surely would not meet the new standard’s requirements of a viable, low-cost intervention plan and an enduring security strategy for the threatened population. … In Syria, there is no viable plan for military action with low risks for the interveners…

This perspective seems similar to that held by Obama who, along with Jordan’s King Abdullah, yesterday articulated a clearer position on the U.S.’s lack of involvement with Syria:

Obama, King Abdullah II warn of dangers from widening Syrian conflict (Scott Wilson) Post

AMMAN, JORDAN — President Obama and King Abdullah II of Jordan warned Friday of the mounting danger Syria’s widening civil war poses to this neighboring kingdom but offered only fresh demands that the Assad government step down immediately. ….Obama pledged an additional $200 million in aid to Jordan this year to help address the growing needs of almost half a million Syrian refugees, equal to roughly 10 percent of the kingdom’s population.

But Obama, speaking inside a cavernous dark-wood hall alongside the king, also raised the question he said preoccupies his administration regarding Syria. His concern is how the fighting, which has killed an estimated 70,000 people, will shape the religious and cultural makeup of a long-repressed nation.

He warned that Syria could become a beachhead for Islamist extremism, adding “that is why the United States has a stake” in the war’s outcome. Abdullah, too, warned that the increasing sectarian cast to the war threatens to pull the country apart.

Asked by a Jordanian journalist why “the leading superpower” does not intervene in Syria, Obama suggested that the unpredictable nature of the civil conflict has left him no policy option that would guarantee more good than harm, either through a direct military strike or by arming Syrian rebels.

“The sight of children and women being slaughtered that we’ve seen so much I think has to compel all of us to say, what more can we do?” Obama said. “And that’s a question that I’m asking as president every single day.”

But, he added, “ultimately what the people of Syria are looking for is not replacing oppression with a new form of oppression.”….

Tony Blair’s idea that the war in Iraq somehow saved it from becoming “like Syria” is amusing; most saw the U.S. “intervention” in Iraq as the catalyst for its ensuing violence and instability. If the above article is correct, Syria’s violence has already surpassed Iraq’s, without any foreign intervention or support (without Western support, at least). If intervention looks like the invasion of Iraq (boots on the ground), it would obviously only exacerbate the conflict; if intervention looks like airstrikes, there’s still the problem that the real battles in Syria are in urban centers (as Pape mentions). If we abandon intervention and focus on arms, the question remains: will arming the underdog in this conflict speed the end of the violence, or merely establish a parity between two segments of the population who will not give up fighting the other? Regardless of the answer, Europe is leaning toward military support:

E.U. moves closer to arming Syria rebels (Michael Birnbaum)

BERLIN — The European Union edged closer Friday to lifting an embargo against shipping arms to Syria’s opposition, but differences remained about the feasibility of giving a boost to moderates there while bypassing militant jihadist groups….

Germany has been one of the major opponents and any shift may bring other countries along.

“We must prevent heavy weaponry from falling into the wrong hands,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters in Dublin on Friday. But in a separate interview published Friday in Sueddeutsche Zeitung, he said that “at the same time we know that we must be ready to change our policy if there is a change in the situation.”…..The Syria embargo will expire at the end of May if the E.U. takes no action before then, and Britain and France have urged that sanctions continue on Assad’s government but that exceptions be added to allow antiaircraft and antitank missiles to be sent to rebel groups….

But Europeans are split on whether there is anyone to arm within Syria’s fragmented opposition. Weapons such as shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles would be useful in the fight against Assad, but they would also be useful in taking down a Western airliner. Some European countries, including Germany, believe that the only rebel group in Syria with the organization to effectively use heavy weaponry against Assad is the Jabhat al-Nusra, or al-Nusra Front, an Islamist group that has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States for its suspected ties to al-Qaeda.

“What makes us very nervous is that al-Nusra is stronger than people believe it is,” said a senior European official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal intelligence assessments.

That official said that lifting the weapons embargo may be largely symbolic, because Britain and France may not have significant stockpiles of weaponry to send to rebel groups. But lifting it would give Europeans greater leeway to channel arms from Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar to rebels training in Jordan and Turkey….

Another voice reluctant to see intervention take place is Noam Chomsky:

The Guardian

What does Chomsky, who has infuriated some with his dismissal of the “new military humanism“, think should be done in Syria, if anything? Should the west arm the opposition? Should it intervene? “I tend to think that providing arms is going to escalate the conflict. I think there has to be some kind of negotiated settlement. The question is which kind. But it’s going to have to be primarily among Syrians. Outsiders can try to help set up the conditions, and there’s no doubt that the government is carrying out plenty of atrocities, and the opposition some, but not as many. There’s a threat that the country is on a suicidal course. Nobody wants that.”

How does the Western public feel about intervening? The Iranians seem happy to report that they’re against it:

Americans, Britons against Syria regime change by war: Survey
Sat Mar 23, 2013 – Press TV

The poll was conducted in mid-March on 3,646 British and 1,022 American adults aged 18 and over.

A new survey indicates that the American and British public are against any foreign military intervention in Syria aimed at overthrowing the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

According to the binational YouGov-Cambridge poll, Britons, by a 59-point margin (68%-9%), reject the idea of military intervention in Syria with the aim of toppling Assad’s government.

In the US, the Americans are against the idea of regime change in Syria through foreign military intervention by a 26-point margin (42%-16%), the survey says. The poll also showed a deep public skepticism about arming the militants in Syria.

The study shows that, with a 29-point margin, 45 percent of Americans, versus 16 percent of them, are against any Western plan to supply lethal support to the militants in the Arab country.

In Britain, the poll indicates that 57 percent of the Britons oppose arming the militants, while only 16 percent of the British public are in favor of that idea. The poll was conducted in mid-March on 3,646 British and 1,022 American adults aged 18 and over.

The news comes as European foreign ministers have failed to reach an agreement on whether to lift an arms embargo on Syria to pave the way for sending weapons to militants. The European Union should decide on the thorny issue on June 1 when Syria sanctions are largely expected to be renewed.

Whether or not intervention or arms support would worsen the casualty levels of the conflict, not intervening likewise means a continuing spiral of violence and the growing exodus of people from a destroyed country. One current example amidst the worsening violence are Armenians fleeing in greater numbers, awakening recollections of their history:

BBC – Armenians flee Syria for their ancestral homeland

A century after their ancestors fled mass killings in Ottoman Turkey, Armenian communities are again on the move – amid fears they could become victims of violence in Syria.

…”The good thing here in Armenia is that you know the language, the alphabet, the religion,” says Mr Atamian, as he sips aniseed-flavoured tea in one of the new Syrian-Armenian restaurants, which have been opened in Armenia’s capital Yerevan by people fleeing the war. “When I came here, I thought: ‘the people look like you. The faces, physically, they’re like you!'” he added.

… Increasing numbers of ethnic Armenians from Syria are now joining him. More than 10,000 have fled here since the fighting started two years ago – and 7,000 have applied for residency. Aleppo, which is home to most of Syria’s 100,000 Armenians, has seen some of the heaviest fighting. People fleeing the city say the street battles and the bombings have become too dangerous. Armenians, who are traditionally middle-class merchants, say their businesses are being ruined by the chaos of war.

But when you ask Armenians which side they want to win the war in Syria, they avoid expressing support for either the rebels or the government – and tell you they only want peace. The official line of the Armenian government is neutrality. Many Armenians are terrified that relatives back in Syria will be targeted by the rebels, if the Armenian community is portrayed as pro-Assad. Others, who want to return one day, fear reprisals from the Syrian authorities if they are seen as supporting the uprising.

Click for Video: Dr. Landis and Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, discuss intervention and other options on the Charlie Rose Show




The emergence of a visible Alawite opposition?

Fearing stark future, Syrian Alawites meet in Cairo
Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Reuters, March 22, 2013

Opposition campaigners from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect will meet this weekend to support a democratic alternative to his rule and try to distance the community from wholesale association with the government’s attempts to crush a two-year uprising.

The two-day meeting in Cairo, the first by Alawites supportive of the revolt, will draft a declaration committing to a united Syria and inviting the mainstream opposition to cooperate on preventing sectarian bloodletting if Assad falls and agree on a transitional justice framework, organizers said.

A statement by the organizing committee of the Alawite conference said: “The regime, which is becoming more isolated and weak, is working on turning sectarian zealotry into bloodshed. There are anti-regime forces also pushing toward sectarian warfare.”

“Depriving the regime of the sectarian card is crucial for its ouster and for negotiating a Syrian national covenant on the basis of a modern statehood and equal citizenship and justice,” the statement said.

About 150 Alawite figures, including activists and religious leaders, who were mostly forced to flee Syria for supporting the revolt, will attend the conference in Cairo, which will start on Saturday.

Alawites were prominent in a leftist Syrian political movement that was crushed by Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, in the 1970s and 1980s, along with Islamist opposition.


Among prominent Alawites currently in jail is free-speech advocate Mazen Darwish, who worked on documenting the victims of the crackdown against the revolt, and Abdelaziz al-Khayyer, a centrist politician who advocated peaceful transition to democratic rule.

Issam Ibrahim, a lawyer who is helping organize the conference, said the uprising had given the Alawites a chance to show the sect was not monolithic, and that it aspired like the rest of the population to live under a multi-party democracy, while fearing the rise of Islamist extremism.

Ibrahim recalled taking part in a pro-democracy demonstration at the beginning of the uprising in the Sunni district of al-Khalidiya in the central city of Homs when the protesters came under attack by a pro-Assad militia.

“A group of us took refuge in a house, and the house owner, who did not know I was Alawite, began cursing Alawites. When my comrades told him I was one, he came to me and gave me the keys to his house.”

“We are in a sectarian crisis and the political forces of the opposition are falling into a serious error by not discussing it,” Ibrahim, whose father was jailed for years under the rule of the elder Assad, told Reuters.

He said the document that would emerge from the conference “will affirm Alawite commitment to national unity and inter-communal existence and civic peace,” mirroring a stance the sect’s leaders took during French colonial rule in the 1920s in opposition to proposals for partition of the country.

“There is an Islamist current that is expanding at the expense of the democratic civic current, which needs to unite,” Ibrahim said. “We as Alawites are Syrians first. We are trying to be part of a real change.”

There seems to be more than one version of the same article, with different info:

Fearing stark future, Syrian Alawites meet in Cairo – Orlando Sentinel

Followers of the religion of Bashar al-Assad who oppose the Syrian president met in Cairo on Saturday to support a democratic alternative to his rule, seeking to untangle his fate from their own.

In the first meeting of its kind by Alawites who support the revolt, delegates aimed to draft a declaration supporting a united Syria and to invite other opposition groups to cooperate on preventing sectarian bloodletting if Assad falls.

“We are inviting all of the opposition to confront the sectarian problem being ignited by the regime. The last card the regime can now play is civil war and the partition of Syria,” said veteran opposition campaigner Bassam al-Youssef, an Alawite who spent more than a decade in jail under the iron rule of Assad’s father, the late President Hafez al-Assad…


Muslim Brotherhood Holds Sway Over Syrian Opposition By: Hassan Hassan for Al-Monitor. Posted on March 21.

…The appointment has been a significant victory for the Brotherhood and its allies, restoring its control over the opposition after a period in which talks of dialogue threatened the group’s vision for regime change in Syria. The Brotherhood, along with Qatar and Turkey, hopes for a complete downfall of the regime to steer the transitional period and ensure its enduring control over the state. As US academic and Syria expert Joshua Landis pointed out, the move was partly aimed to kill Khatib’s initiative of dialogue with the regime.

“To this end, Hitto’s first words were that he would not negotiate with the Assad regime,” Landis wrote on his website, Syria Comment. This argument is further bolstered by the fact that neither Saudi Arabia, Jordan nor other key (Western) players were informed of Hitto’s appointment, according to a senior diplomat familiar with the process…..

Robert Ford says that Ghassan al-Hitto, the new Syrian opposition PM, is ‘more Texan than Muslim Brotherhood’

Dismissing concerns at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ford insisted that Hitto, narrowly elected this week by the Syrian National Coalition as interim premier, was “not a religious extremist — far from it.”

A militant Islamist/jihadi nexus is emerging in northern & eastern Syria. Some thoughts on an increasingly cooperative militant alliance
by Charles Lister, 22nd March 2013

….Led by Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya and Jabhat al-Nusra, this nexus is having a significant strategic impact on the northern Syrian insurgency. Recent examples of this jihadi operational alliance include the seizure of Al-Raqqah city on 4 March (Operation al-Jabaar); the seizure of Brigade 113 air-defence base in Deir ez Zour on 10 March; and the 15 March Khan Touman operation….

Tunisian architect turned jihadist talks of holy war in Syria

Abou Ayman is a young Tunisian architect who left everything behind to wage holy war thousands of kilometers from his home. He is one of several thousand foreign jihadists currently fighting against the Syrian regime….

Key dissidents leave Syria opposition
Last updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ISTANBUL — At least 12 key members of Syria’s National Coalition said on Wednesday they had suspended their membership in the main opposition body, a day after the election of the first rebel prime minister. The group of 12 included the Coalition’s deputy Soheir Atassi and spokesman Walid Al-Bunni.

Their decision came amid bitter disagreement over the election of Ghassan al-Hitto as the first opposition premier. Other members who said they had “frozen” their membership in the Coalition included Kamal Labwani, Marwan Hajj Rifai, Yehia Al-Kurdi and Ahmad Al-Assi Jarba, with sources saying more such announcements were expected.

Though the dissenting members said they had different reasons for their decisions, some expressed their opposition to Hitto’s election, and the process by which he was chosen. “The Coalition is a non-elected body, and as such it does not have a right to choose a prime minister on a majority vote. There should have been consensus,” Labwani told AFP.

Hitto was elected Tuesday by 35 of approximately 50 Coalition members present in Istanbul, after some 14 hours of consultation. Some members who opposed his election walked out before the vote.

“We Coalition members weren’t elected to represent the Syrians. So the only person Hitto represents is the 35 Coalition members who voted for him. This government is a gift to (President) Bashar Al-Assad’s regime,” Labwani said. “The key issue is the timing and way in which the voting took place. The Coalition pushed for a majority in a group that was not elected,” Bunni told AFP.

“Each of us had different reasons for freezing our membership. We will release a statement that represents us all in the coming days,” Bunni added.
Atassi announced her decision on her Facebook page: “Because I am a Syrian citizen, I refuse to blindly follow and to be an accessory. I announce I am freezing my membership in the National Coalition.”

Atassi could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. Atassi, a secular female activist, was praised for her key role in the Coalition when the group was formed in Doha in November, amid concerns the opposition was dominated by men and Islamists.

Hitto, a former IT executive who has lived in the United States for decades, is expected to name a technocratic government that will move inside Syria, attempting to bring rule of law and basic services to large swathes of rebel-held territory. — AFP

The Damascene take on the resistance:

… Another Sunni family tells The Daily Star that they left fractious Harasta – one of the first Damascus neighborhoods where demonstrations broke out – out of fear.

Now running a still profitable business in the mixed neighborhood of Jaramana, Abu Ahmad says he is grateful to the army for maintaining order.

“There was not one person who demonstrated in Harasta who could read. They were illiterate and angry. They would rather see the country destroyed,” he says.

In central Abbasiyyin Square, where rebels made their most concerted push into the center from neighboring rebel-held Jobar early last month, the army is now in full control. Entry to Jobar via the square is impossible, with sandbagged checkpoints stationed at 50-meter intervals. Adjoining the square, the Hafez sports stadium has been transformed into a military compound, some say even housing tanks.

… The mukhabarat, secret police, are still omnipresent and residents talk in hushed tones about the fear of informants. Stories abound of arrests and detention merely for holding an ID card from the “wrong neighborhood” or being accused of watching “opposition channels” like Al-Jazeera…

… Weary-looking army officers and civilian militia members, or what residents call “local guardians,” are stationed at every corner, sipping tea, crouched on crates, with guns slung across their laps, in the hollowed entrances to burned-out shops and houses. All have been on duty for over a year.Some have recently returned from the front line, where they say rebel snipers are stationed, making entrance impossible. The army has positioned tanks all around, they say, but, according to one officer, they are under orders not to attack, for now.

“We have been told not to fire on them unless they attack us first. If it were up to me, we would go in and kill the lot of them,” one officer, no more than 18 years old, says.

In nearby besieged Bab Amr, taken by the rebels a year ago before being overrun by the army, fighting has resumed…




Syria’s refugee brides: ‘My daughter is willing to sacrifice herself for her family’ – Woman takes a cut to help Syrian refugee girls in Jordan find Arab grooms from all over Middle East

Um Majed, a 28-year-old Syrian refugee, procures young brides for Arab men all over the Middle East.

By: Hamida Ghafour Foreign Affairs reporter, Published on Fri Mar 22 2013

AMMAN, JORDAN—Nezar’s face is tight with expectation as she arrives for the meeting. She is a heavy-set mother of 12 and as she arranges herself on the small sofa in Um Majed’s living room she removes her black veil and the pious black gloves that allow her to shake hands with men who are not her relatives.

Um Majed sets down small cups of hot Turkish coffee to ease the tension. Nezar is a Syrian refugee and looking for a husband for her daughter. She lists the girl’s qualities.

“She is tall and pretty,” she tells Um Majed. “She finished the seventh grade.”

“There is one available. He is Saudi,” Um Majed answers.

Um Majed, 28. is a Syrian refugee, who doesn’t want her real name published because of her shame about what she does for a living: procuring young brides, zoom

This is what Nezar wants to hear. Saudis, flush with petrodollars, will pay well. She has high hopes for this Saudi. So does Um Majed who will earn a $287 fee if the two sides agree to the match….

Red Crescent volunteers accused by both sides of helping the other side: Fed up with partisanship, Homs volunteers strike – by Lauren Williams

HOMS, Syria: From her schoolroom office at the Asma High School – now a makeshift refugee camp in the central Inshaat district of Homs – a young Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer is in tears.
… Despite the desperate and growing need, the woman – who manages the distribution of food, blankets, tents and medical supplies in coordination with U.N. agencies, such as UNHCR, and the World Food Program, at the school – is packing her things to abandon the families to their fate.

She and other volunteers in the Homs governorate – one of the most needy governorates in Syria – are striking, complaining of what they say is danger, deliberate targeting and partisanship that has made their job impossible.

“We have been stopped from going to places to provide health and emergency services, we have been threatened, we have been arrested, we have been killed for doing our job,” the woman says, holding her head in her hands with frustration. “We had an agreement with the government that the Red Crescent should not be questioned or harassed for helping people. We are volunteers and we are nonpartisan. We should be allowed to do our job.”
… At least 30 SARC volunteers have been killed in the course of the Syrian conflict, but the organization has resisted divulging the parties responsible for each death, in line with its charter.

“They accuse us of helping the terrorists and even giving them weapons. In some opposition areas, we have not been able to give food. … They either won’t let us in or they took the supplies themselves,” the woman says.

“They think these people are terrorists who do not deserve help.” The woman was speaking in the presence of government representatives. Asked whether she is worried about making the claims, she says she is certain of what she was saying. “I don’t care,” she adds. “This is what is happening.”

Government officials assured The Daily Star no harm would come to the woman following her claims, insisting she was free to express her opinion.


Obama in Israel


Haaretz – Obama’s wake-up speech to Israelis: Don’t let your freedom drown in the swamp of occupation – by Ari Shavit

A few months ago Amnon Dankner published a sharp, amusing article in the new newspaper Sof Hashavua. He described how Shimon Peres’ innovative technological project causes Israel to detach from the Middle East and sail westward through the Mediterranean Sea, like a sort of floating island.

Laughter aside, Dankner nailed the spirit of the time. In recent years Israel has been feeling, thinking and behaving as though it is no longer located in West Asia and can exist as an island that has broken off from it. As if there was no Arab world, no Palestine, no Iran. No Arabs, no settlers, no occupation.

The Israeli aircraft carrier − covering a mere 20,000 square kilometers − feels that thanks to its economic and technological might it can live like an autarky with no relation to the environment.

No man is an island, the English poet John Donne wrote in the 17th century. In the 21st century it’s clear to all that no nation is an island either. Certainly not a nation of eight million Israelis surrounded by 350 million Arabs. Certainly not a nation in which six million Jews share the land with more than five million Palestinians. Certainly not a nation that insists, even in the second decade of the third millennium, on occupying another nation.

… This afternoon President Obama will say his piece to the islanders. Obama will hug us in his own way. Obama will tell us we have a glorious, humanistic, inspiring heritage. Obama will say our national enterprise is a justified enterprise of liberation. He will acknowledge our affiliation to the land and our right to it and the great things we have done here.

His words will be spiced with warm sentences that will melt hearts. But after giving us that love we thirst so much for, Obama will ask us a few difficult questions. Do we see where we’re floating to? Do we understand where we live? Are we prepared to mortgage everything we have built within the Green Line in order to subjugate the nation living beyond the Green Line?

Obama is an American president, so he will speak in a reserved manner. Barack Obama is a civilized man, so he will be polite. But the message concealed in President Obama’s speech in the International Convention Center in Jerusalem ‏(Binyanei Hauma‏) will be clear − Israelis, wake up. Don’t let the freedom state you’ve established with so much labor drown in the swamp of the occupation.

Don’t let your Jewish Athens become a Sparta of eternal war. Don’t delude yourselves that you’re an island. You’re not. You must find a reasonable way to coexist with the Arabs surrounding you and with the Palestinians you still rule.

Obama’s speech will be a wake-up speech. He will give us an almost last chance to wake up from the stupefying coma we’ve sunk into in recent years. He will suggest we change course and begin to grapple with our real survival problems.

After Obama, John Kerry will come to do the dirty work. But only if the president touches the hearts and opens the heads here today, will his secretary of state have a chance to succeed.

On Passover eve, the man who was once likened to Pharaoh has come to set us free. Let their people go, he will say. Free yourselves and save yourselves by freeing their people.

While the section above mentions a “new” Alawi opposition that opposes partition, some seem to prefer a separate Alawi state:

Haaretz – Time to put an Alawite state on the map – by Ely Karmon

Obama’s visit is an important opportunity for Israel to lobby for a grand agreement between the U.S. and Russia to protect and disarm the Alawite minority in Syria after the fall of Bashar Assad’s regime.

Over 80,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, tens or hundreds of thousands have been wounded and more than a million Syrians have become refugees, most of them Sunnis. The implosion of the Syrian state and the formation of a separate Alawite mini-state, a possibility entertained by very few observers when the civil war began two years ago, is now, in the eyes of the majority of analysts, the most plausible outcome of the conflict.

The almost inevitable collapse of the Assad regime is likely to provoke tremendous acts of revenge by Sunnis against their former rulers, the Alawites, with massacres that will put the comprehensive violence that has already happened in the shade. The open and growing threats by Sunni Islamist opposition leaders are a prelude to the coming catastrophe.

The Alawite leadership is aware of this impending threat, and has prepared for a retreat to an “Alawite Fortress” in the Mediterranean coast region and the Alawite Mountains; to create a neutral “buffer zone,” the regime has already ethnically cleansed the Sunni rural areas near the big cities bordering their enclave.

Lebanese observers have mentioned a plan to build a territorial corridor between the Alawite statelet and the Shia regions in Lebanon that are controlled by Hezbollah and by sympathetic Christians, who fear a radicalization of the Lebanese Sunnis more than all else. It is possible to see the battles that some 1500 Hezbollah fighters are waging in Syria, near the north-eastern border with Lebanon, as contributing to this plan.

It appears that Iran, too, is becoming involved in the Alawite Fortress project. Iran’s active involvement in Syria is intended not only to defend the Assad regime but also aimed at bringing this future Alawite mini-state under Iran’s protection. The Assad government could transfer its huge non-conventional weapons arsenal to this territory to serve as an ultimate insurance policy against a massacre of the Alawites.

A radical Alawite state with non-conventional capabilities, with the presence of an Iranian expeditionary force, a territorial link to Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon, plus a Russian strategic military umbrella in Tartous is a recipe for a permanent threat to the rest of Syria, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey and for continuing instability in the region and beyond.

Many pundits, including American officials, are aware that a solution to the Syrian quagmire implies close cooperation with Russia. The two powers are already discussing the best approach to avoid chaos in Syria, emphasizing possible loss of control over the Syrian chemical arsenal.

To hamper the formation of such a clearly dangerous Alawite entity, the United States and Russia need to agree a “grand bargain”. Such an agreement would need to include the following:

The U.S. and Russia guarantee the security of an Alawite statelet as well as the safety of the Alawites elsewhere in Syria;

The two powers guarantee Lebanese territorial integrity;

No Iranian/Hezbollah military or para-military presence would be allowed within this statelet;

All Syrian non-conventional weapons (chemical, nuclear and biological) that may have been transferred to this statelet will be removed and destroyed under international supervision (in the same manner as the Gadhafi regime’s chemical weapons were destroyed after the regime’s fall);

The United States and NATO will recognize the legitimacy of the Russian military presence within the future Alawite territory;

As a quid pro quo, Russia will recognize the independence of Kosovo, already recognized by most Western powers.

What are the clear advantages of this agreement for both the U.S. and Russia as well as other countries in the region? Such an agreement will strategically weaken Iran and Hezbollah. The agreement could go some way toward improving the atmosphere of cooperation between Russia and the United States concerning the Iranian nuclear project and could help coordinate the necessary political and operational measures to hamper the formation of jihadist enclaves in Syrian territory.

Turkey is likely to strongly oppose the formation of an independent Alawite state, because of the possibility that the Syrian Kurds will form an additional autonomous entity, thus influencing the Kurds in Turkey and threatening Turkey’s internal stability. But Turkey must take in consideration that – in any case – it will probably not be able to prevent the formation of this Alawite entity. Moreover, Ankara has to consider that the Alawites in Turkey (some 500,000 people) and the Alevis (more than 15 percent of the population), who even now are opposed to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policy on Syria, would blame him for grievous inaction if he blocked the formation of enclaves now and stood by while their Alawite brethren were massacred.

Israel also has an interest in opposing the formation of a radical Alawite mini-state under Iranian protection, but Jerusalem would still benefit from the neutralization of the non-conventional weapons that threatened it under the Assad regime.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit is an important opportunity for Israel to lobby for a grand agreement that would save many lives in the region, while advancing critical multilateral cooperation.

Ely Karmon is the Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya. He is also the Senior Research Fellow at The Institute for Policy and Strategy at IDC.

Obama ends Israel visit by brokering end to dispute with Turkey (Joel Greenberg, Scott Wilson)

JERUSALEM — Prodded by President Obama, Israel and Turkey agreed Friday to end a three-year rift caused by a deadly Israeli commando raid on a Turkish ship bound for Gaza, a rapprochement urgently sought by the United States to help contain spillover from the worsening fighting in Syria.

…Bowing to a long-standing Turkish demand, Netanyahu apologized for the deaths of nine activists aboard the Turkish ship and promised to reach an agreement on compensation to their families, according to a statement from his spokesman….A senior Israeli official said that while Israel and Turkey had come close in the past to an understanding to restore ties, Friday’s agreement was spurred by the Syrian conflict….

Soli Ozel, an international relations professor at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University, said normalized relations between Israel and Turkey would free them to cooperate on intelligence sharing and containing a possible spillover of the fighting in Syria.

“Syria is very much at the center of this,” he said….




How Brown Moses exposed Syrian arms trafficking from his front room Leicester-based blogger’s monitoring of weapons used in conflict has been taken up by media and human rights groups Matthew Weaver, guardian, Thursday 21 March 2013


Egypt Update


Egyptians Clash at Muslim Brotherhood Offices

Thousands of Egyptian protesters clashed with riot police and backers of the president’s Muslim Brotherhood on Friday, ransacking several offices nationwide as anger over allegations of beatings and power-grabbing boiled over into the largest and most violent demonstrations yet on the doorstep of the powerful group.

As night fell, streets surrounding the Brotherhood headquarters were littered with shattered glass, charred vehicles, stones and gloves stained with blood. The number of injured reached nearly 100 from the two sides.

“We came to the stronghold of the Brotherhood. No more protests in front of the presidential palace because those ruling Egypt are here,” said 50-year-old Hamat Awat, a female protester while running away from volleys of tear gas fired by black-clad riot police guarding the headquarters.

… Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Yasser Mehres blamed opposition parties for calling Friday’s protest outside the group’s headquarters. He said it gave way for “thugs” to infiltrate and attack Brotherhood offices.

A frightened and angry Egyptian friend writes: “We couldn’t get to our home in Mokatam. All the neighborhood is under fire. We could not even approach. It seems under siege. 164 injured so far. We are gonna to spend that night at my sister’s. Clashes remained here till dawn. Main street here is like after-battle and everything is quiet now. Hope it’s not just a break. Thanks for your prayers. Please tell your people that Obama, in a different way, is supporting another “FREE” Iraq here (coming very soon)!!!”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s treatment of women reveals its agenda for Egypt – by Nervana Mahmoud

On Saturday in Cairo, a young Egyptian female activist, Mervat Moussa, was slapped to the ground by a member of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. Her only crime was demonstrating in front of the Brotherhood’s main headquarters. Rather than apologizing for the appalling behavior of one of its members, some officials from the Brotherhood went on the offensive, claiming that their headquarters was attacked by “a number of demonstrators who devoted their efforts to insulting and cursing the Muslim Brotherhood and its leadership using the dirtiest swear-words, provoking our young people in front of their headquarters.”

The incident occurred only a few days after the Brotherhood released a strong statement condemning a draft United Nations declaration calling for an end to all forms of violence against women, claiming that it would lead to “complete disintegration of society.”

…The appalling assault on Ms. Moussa, a conservative Muslim who wears the Islamic headscarf, has finally exposed the myth that the battle for women’s rights in Egypt is between liberals and Islamists. In reality, it is a battle between one camp that uses religion as a tool and another one, equally pious, that wants to detach religion from the political equation.




Syria as an Arena of Strategic Competition – RAND
by Jeffrey Martini, Erin York, William Young

When Duty Calls: A Pragmatic Standard of Humanitarian Intervention,” by Robert Pape – International Security, volume 37, issue 1, pages 41-80


Big Trouble in Little Greater-Syria

A Bailout for Cyprus – BBC


The coming hours will decide Cyprus’ fate as it struggles to meet the terms of an international financial bailout, the government spokesman says.

Parliament will debate plans to raise the 5.8bn euros (£4.9bn; $7.5bn) needed to qualify for the 10bn-euro bailout, having rejected an earlier deal.

Without it, the cash supply to the euro member’s struggling banks may be cut.

… German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that Cyprus’ Eurozone partners are running out of patience with its efforts to secure the bailout.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades held talks on Friday with representatives of the bailout “troika”, which is made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Comments (175)

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1. Uzair8 said:

I was interested in hearing the answer to the question about Ghiyath Matar.


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March 23rd, 2013, 9:25 pm


2. Juergen said:

Habib Saleh stated that this Alawite opposition meeting was organized by Rifaat AlAssad.


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March 23rd, 2013, 9:28 pm


3. Juergen said:

Richard Engels account on his hostage/ Vanity Fair

It’s every war correspondent’s nightmare: dragged from the car by men with AK-47s; bound, gagged, and blindfolded; fearing torture or execution at any moment. Last December, a quick trip into Syria turned deadly, NBC News’s Richard Engel recalls, when his team of six was kidnapped by the vicious, pro-government shabiha militia and toyed with by a sadistic captor as they fought against their panic—and for their lives.

“At least I’ll die with my friends.”


In Syria’s Civil War, Doctors Find Themselves in Cross Hairs


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March 23rd, 2013, 9:31 pm


4. mjabali said:

Syria is in Chaos as we could tell from the articles posted above. From drones to the sad state of women I did not see anything worth commenting on but the Alawites meeting and the talk about the Alawite state.

The Alawite state could be a reality very soon.

The Alawites been active recently on three fronts mainly: fighting for al-Assad, arming to defend themselves and land, plus standing up against al-Assad. The anti Assad group are now more visible. Waiting to see what they are going to say in Cairo. The Alawites in general are for one Syria.

I read the Egyptians did not know what Alawites are.

Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 24 Thumb down 27

March 23rd, 2013, 9:34 pm


5. mjabali said:


Waiting to see if you could contribute anything of interest about Syria or the articles Professor Landis posted above…

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March 23rd, 2013, 9:36 pm


6. Johannes de Silentio said:

The Alawite Opposition:

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March 23rd, 2013, 9:58 pm


7. ghufran said:

رأى رئيس «هيئة التنسيق الوطنية لقوى التغيير الديموقراطي السورية» في المهجر هيثم مناع أن «اغتيال الشيخ محمد رمضان البوطي لم يجرِ بسبب آرائه الدينية وإنما من أجل موقفه السياسي»، متسائلاً: «هل الموقف السياسي يمكن أن يكون تبريراً للقتل»، مشيراً الى أنه «لا يمكن اعتبار الاغتيال في حال من الأحوال وسيلة مشروعة للنضال خصوصاً في ثورة تقول إنها ثورة الحرية والكرامة والحقوق».
واستنكر مناع هذا العمل، معتبراً أنه «جزء من الثورة المضادة التي تغتال قيم الثورة»، موضحاً أن «الثورة المضادة التي يحملها لنا التكفيريون لا علاقة للمجتمع السوري بها»، مشدداً على أن «الاغتيال السياسي في الشرعة الدولية لحقوق الانسان جريمة، وكان سبباً في محكمة خاصة للمرة الأولى في التاريخ في قضية رفيق الحريري (رئيس الحكومة اللبنانية السابق)»، مضيفاً «كل من يعمل في قطاع حقوق الانسان يعلم أن هناك ثلاثة أمور محرمة دولياً، أولها القتل خارج القضاء، ثانيها القتل بسب الاختلاف في وجهة النظر، ثالثها التعذيب».
وقال مناع في اتصال مع «الراي» الكويتية: «منذ أن بدأت العمليات الانتحارية ضد الامكنة الدينية في العراق قلت ان من ينفذ هذه الأعمال ليس له أي علاقة بالتقاليد السنية ولا التقاليد الشيعية ووصفتهم بالخوارج الجدد الذين يحملون أخلاق الاغتيال السياسي للخوارج ويتبنون القتل في المساجد»، لافتاً الى أن «تسمية الخوارج الجدد تنطبق على كل التكفيريين اليوم»، مشدداً على أن «التكفيريين الذين دخلوا سورية يتلقون الدعم من بعض الدول الاقليمية فهناك من يدفع وهناك من يمول وهناك من يدرب»، مشيراً الى أنه «يمكن الحديث اليوم عن مصادر المال التكفيري»، مضيفاً: «أظن أن البعض لا يدرك بأن الحريق السوري لن يبقى داخل الحدود بعد اليوم وأن الخطر ليس فقط على 23 مليون انسان، وإنما الخطر سيطول اللبناني والعراقي والأردني والتركي ودول مجلس التعاون الخليجي التي أحبطت محاولات التكفيريين في الجزيرة العربية».
The buttom line is, the west does not like Assad and his regime but has concerns about the day after. The new NC hardline position and Assad’s refusal to appoint a team that will represent the regime (Halaqi was never part of the inner circle, nobody in the army will listen to him) leaves one option: a long and bloody war. Obama will try to help rebels score bigger wins in an attempt to make Assad change his mind, I am sure Russia and Iran will try to stop the regime from collapsing. The absence of a plan-B if the regime collapses is a sign of how Syria’s near and long term future is uncertain to say the least, khaliji dirt bags do not want elections or democracy, they want a puppet islamist state in Syria, Hitto is their latest Ghulaam, millions of Syrians are not ready for that regardless of what Nusra supporters and their Ghilmaans say.
from now on, the term Gilmaan Al-Nusra is the only term that I will use to describe those filthy killing machines.

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March 23rd, 2013, 10:09 pm


8. ann said:

Hey ZOO, why is brave, powerful and superior `israel kissing `erdogan’s feet?!

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March 23rd, 2013, 10:25 pm


9. ghufran said:

This is significant if true (source: aksalser):

أكد الناطق الرسمي باسم القيادة العليا للجيش السوري الحر، العقيد الطيار قاسم سعد الدين للحياة أن “الجيش الحر يدعم أي رئيس حكومة انتقالية يكون توافقياً من المعارضة السياسية السورية “، موضحاً أن ذلك يعني أيضا “الشخصيات المعارضة التي لا يضمها الائتلاف الوطني”.
وأكد سعد الدين أن “السيد غسان هيتو لا يمثل إجماع المعارضة السياسية ولم تتم المشورة مع كل الأطياف بشأن انتخابه”، موضحاً أن “الجيش الحر لن يدعم الحكومة إلا إذا كانت بالتوافق مع المعارضة السياسية”.
وشدد على أنه “في حين أن الجيش الحر لن يتدخل في العملية السياسية”، إلا أنه على “أي رئيس حكومة انتقتالية أن “يمثل الجزء الأكبر من المعارضة السياسية على أقل تقدير”.
وذكّر سعد الدين بأن “من مهام المجلس العسكري الأعلى ترشيح أسماء 5 شخصيات لمنصب وزير الدفاع، وأسماء 5 شخصيات لمنصب وزير الداخلية وتقديمها لرئيس الحكومة وهو يختار منها”.

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March 23rd, 2013, 10:26 pm


10. Visitor said:

Dear MajedK from previous post,

Thanks for the invitation. I will definitely consider Colorado when time allows.

If you are interested in skiing and natural beauty, then we have the best of the best to offer in all categories! You’re welcome to spend sometime in Jasper one of the most famous ski resorts in the world. From there, we can tour the Okanagan where you will witness natural sceneries that will create permanent imprints on your heart and mind that will remain unforgettable. You cannot help but glorify the Creator for the magnificence of Beautiful British Columbia. You have the opportunity to play golf in magnificent and well-groomed golf courses. Driving down to the coast on those mountains will simply put you on a different plane of existence altogether for further contemplation. There is nothing comparable to it anywhere in the world, and I have seen much of it. Close to the coast we can divert to world famous Whistler for more skiing and other activities. Horse Shoe Bay, Vancouver, on the coast is simply something else altogether. The scenery is just awe inspiring. The only thing you can do is just look and appreciate unparalleled beauty. Then we can continue to Victoria in Vancouver island by taking the ferry from there. The Botanical Gardens nearby are world famous and a treat to the heart and the soul.

Welcome anytime!

Edit: I forgot the part about the proposed government. In order for it to work JAN and other similar groups must be brought into it. They should probably bring in Sheikh Jolani and other similar personalities. Otherwise, it is futile. More on this in further discussions.

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March 23rd, 2013, 10:29 pm


11. Dominique said:

“Blair’s notion that the Iraq war prevented chaos in the Middle East seems even more ridiculous considered against the article’s following paragraph . . . ”

Of course, Blair’s comments are ridiculous; he’s a wonderful example of a sociopath. The question, then, becomes: is this abomination of a human being the result of a bad gene pool, or did he suffer a serious childhood trauma? Then, of all religions, he converts to Catholicism. Why? So he can launder money through the Vatican bank?

There is something wrong with this guy’s smile, too. Ever notice that? It’s a smile of a ‘touched’ man. I’ve seen it before from Charles Manson followers. It’s weird.


Thanks, Matt. Good update.

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March 23rd, 2013, 10:37 pm


12. Johannes de Silentio said:

11. Dominique said:

“Tony Blair’s a wonderful example of a sociopath. Is this abomination of a human being the result of a bad gene pool?”

You’re a bitter, hateful little piece of work, nickie. Don’t forget, unlike politicians from your part of the world, Tony Blair was elected. Voters in the UK are not stupid. If Blair had serious personality flaws, they would have picked up on it.

I look at it this way. The Iraqis, like the Syrians, were (and are) cowards, too cowardly to get rid of their dictators. These dictators are sociopaths and abominations of human beings. Blair decided to help out and get rid of Saddam for them. The fact that civil war broke out in Iraq after Saddam was removed says more about the Iraqis than it does about Mister Blair…

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March 23rd, 2013, 11:40 pm


13. Observer said:

For those from the Israeli side; I would say that Zionism remains an exclusive ideology meant for the Jewish people and notwithstanding economic success with US taxpayer’s help and the diaspora as well it remains an injustice to have deprived the Palestinians and Syrians and Lebanese and Jordanian and until recently Egyptians of their right.

Asking the Palestinians to recognize Israel and to recognize it as a jewish state is asking the victim not only to legitimate the theft but also to never ever agree to its rights as a human being.

True leadership and vision would entail that the leaders of Israel declare a secular binational state with the Palestinians as the creation of an independent state for them is now an oxymoron. If this does not happen, the level of violence and turmoil that Israel will suffer will be eternal.

Another point that I would make is that Israel has NEVER set its borders as final and Israel has NEVER defined who is a Jew in black and white and Israel does NOT have a constitution.

A binational state would force those issues to the fore. This is going to happen whether the Israelis like it or not for the balance of power will shift and the US will not be always there to help out. The US withdrawal from the region will accelerate for there is new oil and there is an Iraq syndrome now. The EU is barely able to keep itself together.

I don’t know, but the choice of Palestine by the Israelis means that at the end of the day, when the world moves to a multipolar one, Israel is going to have to live with its neighbors and stop being an aberration and a colonialist enterprise.

Back to Syria, insisting on the departure of Assad is due to the fact that the regime wants to be in control of any transition in a simple attempt to put lipstick on a pig. A pig it still is and the pig has to go.

I do appreciate Majbali recognizing that the regime has now reverted to a pure sectarian militia driven by fear but I would say that the previous thinking of the regime was one of arrogance and overconfidence in its ability to set the tone, to picture the opposition in certain light, and to crush it while making the conflict a regional one. It failed on all counts.

Now we have a discourse of some looking for a separate state, despite the fact that is non viable, and others who are looking for a way to secure their welfare of the community in a future Syria. Well I can tell you no Alawite will ever be employed in the armed services in the future nor in any security post and this is a pity for some of them are good professionals and not necessarily sectarian. The regime wants to trap them into sectarianism to use them as canon fodder for its survival.

This is clearly a major shift in the community about the prospect of a victory with Assad at the helm.

Another point I would like to make is the utter stupidity of the exiled opposition. Some members objected to electing a new prime minister wanting him//her to be elected by the people as if the people have the means to elect anybody but their local baker to supply them with bread.

In this stupidity they are only matched by Haytham Mana’a who says that Bouti was killed for his political views and that a revolution should not kill for such political views. Another detached from reality where if the revolution killed him it has moved beyond principles and into pure revenge and if it is the regime as I believe it is only doing so to discredit the new government in exile.

I wonder how many late night cafe meetings in Paris and elsewhere has this stupid opposition in exile done to come up with such stupid declarations and objections.

Wake up and smell the roses, the Nusra and Islam front and Sharia wielding courts and militants are going to take care of you and the regime together.

There will be a Sunni fundamentalist recruiting haven from Falluja to Maan in Jordan and passing by Beirut and Saida and Tripoli and Akkar and Majdal and even Ras Beirut.

There is a rumor that Nasrallah is going to study in Najaf. Is this true? It must mean that his leadership of the crisis is in question internally.

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March 23rd, 2013, 11:40 pm


14. Juergen said:

Chaos and Killing in Syria: Photos of a Slow-Motion Civil War


If Nasrallah is due to some more training, then he follows strictly to the masters plan, same happend to Sadr in Iraq when they wanted to take him out of the international focus for some time.

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March 24th, 2013, 12:02 am


15. Visitor said:

The feedback I am getting about the so-called Alawite opposition meeting in Cairo from quite few people I spoke to was quoted verses from the Holy Qur’an,

حَتَّى إِذَا أَدْرَكَهُ الْغَرَقُ قَالَ آمَنتُ أَنَّهُ لا إِلَهَ إِلاَّ الَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَنَاْ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ آلآنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنتَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ

This would be the most appropriate response, particularly if it turns out that Rifaat is, in fact, behind such stunt!

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March 24th, 2013, 12:23 am


16. Juergen said:

The lionking of Damascus should learn when is the right time to step down…

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March 24th, 2013, 12:35 am


17. ann said:

Syria dismisses UN report of army violations – 2013-03-24


DAMASCUS, March 23 (Xinhua) — The Syrian government on Saturday slammed as “unilateral and politicized” a recent UN report accusing government troops of violations, as the rebels stepped up attacks against military sites in southern Syria.

In a statement carried by Syria’s state media, the foreign ministry said the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has been dragged once again behind “a widespread misleading campaign led by countries supporting terrorism in Syria to provide a political coverage for the crimes committed by armed terrorist groups.”

The UNHRC has taken “unilateral and politicized stands seeking to hold the Syrian government responsible for current events based on fallacies,” the statement said, adding that the council has ignored the crimes of “armed terrorist groups,” about which the Syrian government has provided dozens of evidence to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In its remarks on Saturday, the foreign ministry said the resolution aims to prolong violence in Syria and bring in foreign military intervention, as well as to “disrupt efforts to find a political settlement for the crisis via national dialogue.”

Meanwhile, the state-run SANA news agency said that the Syrian army on Saturday repelled an attack by an armed group against the army’s al-Nairab camp in the outskirts of the northern city of Idlib and inflicted heavy losses on its members.

It added that the army demolished the assailants’ weapons and killed many of them in Ariha, Sarja, Majdelya, Maaret al-Numan, Wadi al-Dhayf, al-Hamidiya and Heish in Idlib.

According to SANA, the army also repulsed an attack by armed rebels at one of the military sites in Khrbet al-Zubaidah village in the southern province of al-Quneitra and killed and wounded many of them.



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March 24th, 2013, 12:42 am


18. ann said:

Syria mourns prominent cleric killed in Damascus mosque blast – 2013-03-23

He was known for his anti-terrorism stances and criticism of the radical rebels. In his latest prominent lectures, the 84-year- old called on the country’s grand mufti to declare general mobilization to back the Syrian troops in its battles against mercenaries


DAMASCUS — Hundreds of Syrians on Saturday took part in the funeral of a prominent cleric who was killed in a suicide bombing targeting a mosque in central the capital Damascus two days ago.

On Thursday evening, Muslim scholar Mohammad Saed Ramadan al- Bouti, his grandson and another 49 were killed when a suicide bomber detonated himself inside al-Eman Mosque in central al- Mazraa neighborhood in Damascus while al-Bouti was lecturing. The blast also left over 80 others injured.

On religious hymns, the coffins of al-Bouti and his grandson, carried on shoulders and draped in white shrouds, were brought into the time-honored Umayyad Mosque in Damascus Saturday for funeral prayers before being buried in nearby cemetery of Salahuddien.

Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr Addien Hasoun, Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi and some other officials flanked al-Bouti’ s son while entering the mosque.

The Syrian government has pledged that the incident would not pass without punishment and accused al-Qaida of orchestrating it. President Bashar al-Assad also condemned the attack, saying that the blood of al-Bouti and his fellow martyrs would not go in vain.

After al-Bouti’s death, the rebels’ Free Syrian Army denied responsibility for the attack, saying they “don’t target the houses of God.” However, pro-opposition tweets on Twitter have shown great deal of gloating over his death.

Al-Bouti, a professor in Islamic sciences, is one of the major Muslim scholars in the Islamic world.

He was known for his anti-terrorism stances and criticism of the radical rebels. In his latest prominent lectures, the 84-year- old called on the country’s grand mufti to declare general mobilization to back the Syrian troops in its battles against mercenaries.



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March 24th, 2013, 12:51 am


19. ann said:

CIA trains and spies for Syrian rebels [Al-Qaeda] – report – March 23, 2013

“I am very concerned about Syria becoming an enclave for extremism because extremists thrive in chaos, they thrive in failed states, they thrive in power vacuums,” Obama said after meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah II



The CIA’s increased involvement in Syria is part America’s greater engagement in the war-torn country, according to The Wall Street Journal. The spy agency has selected some small rebel units from the Free Syrian Army to receive combat training and fresh intel they can act upon, the newspaper says, citing unnamed US officials and rebel commanders.

The training is provided by the CIA, working together with British, French and Jordanian intelligence agencies. The rebels are taught to use various kinds of arms, including anti-tank weapons. They are also schooled in urban combat tactics and counterintelligence tactics.

The experience will supposedly help them stand against the professional Syrian army, which scores victories against the armed opposition thanks to both more advanced weapons and better organization.

The rebels are also receiving fresh intelligence collected by the CIA, which they can act upon at short notice. The extent of the info provided remains in secret, but the US can potentially provide what they gather trough satellite and signal surveillance as well as intelligence coming through exchanges with Israeli and Jordanian agencies.



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March 24th, 2013, 1:05 am


20. ann said:

Let’s put another UN crook in charge of another Syria commission 😀

UN’s Syria Prober “Angela Kane” Was Under Investigation for UMOJA, Until The Investigation was Quashed

By Matthew Russell Lee


UNITED NATIONS, March 23 — A top UN official now central to the Syria chemical weapons investigation, Angela Kane, was the subject of a corruption probe that got quashed for political reasons, according to a leaked formal complaint exclusively obtained and published by Inner City Press.

It involved the UN’s delayed and over-budget technology upgrade called UMOJA, which Kane oversaw for a time while she was Under Secretary General for Management.

Now, in a charade of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s “mobility” policy, Kane has stayed in New York but moved laterally to become Under Secretary General in charge of Disarmament.

Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky this week said that it will not be envoy Lakhdar Brahimi who will negotiate the chemical weapons investigation, but UN Disarmament, headed by Kane.

So while some chose not to cover internal complaints and corruption in the UN in favor of canned quotes about the hot topic of the day — once Sudan, now forgotten, then Libya and now Syria — the two beats come together.

The UN’s Syria investigator was herself under investigation — until it was quashed.

The memo, which we’ve putting online here, recounts that the head of the Office of Internal Oversight Services Carman Lapointe at a meeting of Senior Management let it be known that she viewed the UMOJA case, 0303/11, as a “witch hunt” which should be closed.

On September 17, 2012, according to the memo, Angela Kane was told she was an “implicated staff member” and would be afforded due process — ironic, since as Inner City Press has found and reported, journalists are afforded no due process by the UN when stealth complaints like those of Voice of America and Reuters are filed against them, and are processed by the UN.

But two days after notice to Angela Kane, the memo to Ban states, OIOS’ director Michael Stefanovic closed the investigation. Then OIOS Assistant Secretary General David Kanja upheld this after a mere two day review of a detailed complaint.

The head of the UN’s “Ethics Office” Joan Dubinsky was informed, according to the memo, which was also cc-ed to Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson and Ban’s chief of staff (and personal envoy on the Eastern Congo) Susana Malcorra.



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March 24th, 2013, 1:18 am


21. ann said:

Syria chemical weapons: finger pointed at “jihadists” [Al-Qaeda] – Sunday 24 March 2013

The source said that the town of Khan al-Assal has been in government control since March 13 but – like so much of the area – has been much fought over and parts of the area change hands with relative frequency. Rebel Sunni groups with al-Qaeda sympathies have been attacking the town, where the population is predominantly SHIA


The military’s version of events is that the home-made rocket was fired at a military checkpoint situated at the entrance to the town. The immediate effects were to induce vomiting, fainting , suffocation and seizures among those in the immediate area.

A second source – a medic at the local civilian hospital – said that he personally witnessed Syrian army helping those wounded and dealing with fatalities at the scene. That Syrian soldiers were among the reported 26 deaths has not been disputed by either side.

The military source who spoke to Channel 4 News confirmed that artillery reports from the Syrian Army suggest a small rocket was fired from the vicinity of Al-Bab, a district close to Aleppo that is controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra – a jihadist group said to be linked with al-Qaeda and deemed a “terrorist organisation” by the US.



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March 24th, 2013, 1:39 am


22. ALI said:

My great father said

“At the end of this crisis we all will break bread together”

The wisdom at its most

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March 24th, 2013, 1:58 am


23. Syria no Kandahar said:

The terrorist supporter Dr Makeed is inviting his Co-terrorist wahabi visitor to Colorado.The terrorists supporter MD is calling for jihad against
Non-Moslems while he resides in non-Moslems land ,eating their food and enjoying koffars freedom.Terrorists supporters and Cyber jihadists
Are timed bombs in free societies .I heartily invite them to come for a vacation in the new liberated
Syria for few vacation hot spots:
-Bannash,Edlib:the terrorists supporters will have great terrorists tourism.Doctor Majeed the jihadist
Can treat some wounded Chechen,Afghan,Saudi
And Tunisian brothers..On his time off he will be offered some hot مجاهدات المناكحه as a bonus.
Almiadeen,DerAlzoor:Doctor Jihadist and visitor the terroris wahabist will have great time in the free liberated Syria ,They can go for hunting in the
Desert ….no worry as long as their beared are red
And mostach are shaved they will never be kidnapped or any thing.They will also have the honor of getting blessed by meating the emara
Amir from Jordan who is a cousin of Alzarkawi
And who is hot and gay and would love brothers
From Colorado .
-Brother Makeed the jihadist and brother Visitor the wahabist are strongly incouraged to bring any
مجاهدات مناكحه with them during their trip.

طز فيكن وبثورة بعير الوهابيه

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March 24th, 2013, 2:30 am


24. Badr said:

Mjabali wrote:

“The Alawite state could be a reality very soon.”

A reminder: Five Reasons Why There Will Not Be an Alawite State, posted last year by Landis.

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March 24th, 2013, 2:35 am


25. Jasmine said:

Dominique @ 11
Great link,thanks.
Yes, Blair is 45 million pounds richer now,the Catholic church should reject him and should be tried as a war criminal.
Evil has different shapes indeed.

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March 24th, 2013, 5:02 am


26. Juergen said:

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March 24th, 2013, 5:12 am


27. Uzair8 said:


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March 24th, 2013, 6:14 am


28. Uzair8 said:

Can somebody kindly clear up what is being reported in the following as the google translation could be gobbledegook:

Basma Atassi, reporter for Al Jazeera, tweets about a story (link):

Basma Atassi | بسمة @Basma_ 2h
هذا الخبر عار عن الصحة تمااما!! البوطي لديه ابنة واحدة. هي لم تقل هذا الكلام و ليست حتى في تركيا !! #سوريا http://www.sawtbeirut.com/breaking/164132

[Google translation]:

This news is a shame for Health Tmaama!! Bouti has one daughter. She did not say this speech and not even in Turkey

The link to the radio station results in the following:

إبنة البوطي: الأسد قتل والدي

أعلنت ابنة البوطي من تركيا وفق” قناة صفا” الفضائية ان من قتل والدها هو النظام السوري وان والدها كان مهددا بهتك عرض ابنائه اذا لم يفتِ كما يريد النظام الاسدي

[Google translation]:

Son Bouti: Assad killed my father

Daughter announced Bouti of Turkey according to” channel description” television that killed her father is Syrian regime and that her father was threatened بهتك sons if not too late as he wants Asadi system.

Thanks in advance.

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March 24th, 2013, 6:23 am


29. apple_mini said:

According to Xinhua news, Israel fires rocket at Syria’s military post near Golan. A night earlier, stray bullets fired from the Syrian side hit a military convoy of the Israeli army in Golan, leaving no casualties, said the TV, adding that the bullets could have been fired from the rebels Free Syrian Army which has a thick presence in that area, “but the Israeli army has a protocol to fire at the Syrian army even if it wasn’t the perpetrator.”

So is there any more secret Israel and the rebels need to hide? I am 100% sure the rebels and the opposition are dying to get Israel involved. Meanwhile, the rest of people in Syria watching rampant aggression from Israel bursts into flame.

10 times will be repaid! Syrians will never forget or forgive.

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March 24th, 2013, 6:43 am


30. mjabali said:


Again your input to the conversation about Syria is ZERO. What you write is nothing but he said/she said after the fact, which means: Zero again.

The google translation you put is an insult to the Arabic text you tried to translate.

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March 24th, 2013, 6:56 am


31. mjabali said:

Visitor the Last Word ski bunny aka the thumbs up clow

Dude…your dirty smell trying to fix the thumbs up and down is filling the space..

As for the Quran and the verse you brought I have two things to say about it:

1- There is no historical or scientific evidence that the Pharaoh said or did what al-Quran claimed. It is a fabrication.

2- If the Pharaoh followed what Moses believed in he would became a Jew and not a Muslim. Your Qur’an better get things right dude.

3- Doesn’t the verse you quoted apply better on your beloved the Ummayds who became Muslims when the Muslims invaded Mecca and became victorious.

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March 24th, 2013, 7:16 am


32. Juergen said:

I flew secret missions carrying cash and weapons into Syria for Assad, pilot reveals
A former Syrian army cargo pilot has revealed how he flew secret missions for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to carry cash and weapons into the country in the face of international sanctions.


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March 24th, 2013, 7:18 am


33. mjabali said:

The Alawite state is going to become a reality sooner or later. Whatever Professor Landis wrote before may have some merit but he missed on the biggest issue of them all: SECURITY.

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March 24th, 2013, 7:30 am


34. Citizen said:

The president of the Syrian National Coalition Moaz Khatib has announced his resignation from the office just four months after being elected.

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March 24th, 2013, 7:59 am


35. Visitor said:

MJabali @7:16AM,

It looks to me that you and your dog haven’t yet completed you ‘much anticipated’ revision of our so-called ‘distorted history’. What a disappointment? But it seems obvious that your dog has been busy trying to improve your popularity here. The dog succeeded in giving you 18 thumbs up for two comments that look soooooo mediocre compared to many other comments. That beats almost 90% of the other comments that received any thumbs up.

Perhaps you should sit downand figure out with dog why you are getting more thumbs down than up. I believe that is your immediate problem at the moment. If you and ‘him’ keep working you might get a crack at it. Even though that also explains why you have been so sloppy and late in addressing the ‘history issue’. You want to win the ‘popularity’ contest first. I guess we’ll just have to wait for that to happen, before we can have a glimpse at the ‘Caninical Edition.’

I have another suggestion for you. Buy another dog, and let the existing dog train him on how to improve your score. Two are better than one. Or may be there are already two dpgs collaborating. I forgot counting you. I did not mean to offend you by such unintended oversight.

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March 24th, 2013, 8:10 am


36. revenire said:

LOL we were hearing how great this idiot Moaz was from all the monkeys here for the last few months.

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March 24th, 2013, 8:12 am


37. apple_mini said:

#34 That is a huge shock to the opposition. It rifts open the opposition and exposes its faction nature to everyone. Some MSM and the West will put a spin on it. But important thing is what the members of the opposition and moderate rebels think and feel about this event. I wonder how many more failures the opposition can sustain politically?

First, GCC messed up Syria. Now they messed up the opposition.

The rebels and the opposition are competing each other to show who is more impotent. Meanwhile, the regime is gaining more ground even on the political and PR fronts.

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March 24th, 2013, 8:13 am


38. majedkhaldoun said:

The innocent Alawis are entitled for security,but there are many questions you did not address
1 What are the borders? Alawi state can not include Damascus Homs or coastal cities,if it includes any of the above there will be constant fight.
2 who will lead the state?would Assad will be the head of such state?is it going to be democratic or dictatorship?
3 what will be the economy of such state?
4 who would recognize such state as independent one?
5 the population would be Alawis,christians sunni ,or Alawis alone?

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March 24th, 2013, 8:20 am


39. Jasmine said:

Juergen @ 26
Extremely silly of you to post this clip!

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March 24th, 2013, 8:22 am


40. Citizen said:

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urges John Kerry to stop arms flow to Syria from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon ! 🙂 LOL 🙂

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March 24th, 2013, 8:23 am


41. Observer said:

I agree with Majbali that the state for Alawis may come about with one element and one element only: security.

It will need international forces to come and secure it otherwise there will be ongoing fighting and fueling of the fight by proxy.

Having admitted that security is the main issue; it is clear then that the Syrian state is finished. It has reverted into a sectarian militia and that the only strategy is now a survival one.

Daily flights of weapons and men from Iran is not going to turn the tide it is going to slow the turning.

Iraq also is finished as a state as it is becoming another sectarian militia.

I always advocated breaking up the stupid Sykes Picot agreement. It was always meant to be inherently unstable and therefore break it up as we cannot live together at this time.

Khatib resignation is actually a slap in the face of Athad at least he can admit that he did not achieve his goals and is not interested in the Kursi of Power like the retard Duck that could not fire a Scud

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March 24th, 2013, 8:35 am


42. revenire said:

The army is cleaning Syria of the rats night and day. I want to thank all the martyrs and their families for serving Syria against the foreign conspiracy. We will settle scores after victory. Our enemies will be humiliated just as the Zionists were humiliated in 2006 in Lebanon.

If the border with Turkey was closed by Erdogan this entire Western project would be over in a matter of weeks.

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March 24th, 2013, 8:36 am


43. revenire said:

Juergen some of us were wondering if you wept as you post?

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March 24th, 2013, 8:39 am


44. majedkhaldoun said:

The news are not clear whether Moaz resigned from the Coalition or just from being the head of it,
mr. Khatib is not a strong leader is not a fighter,his relations with FSA was not close relations.
Did he resign because he agreed to become the foreign minister in the new goverment?

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March 24th, 2013, 8:43 am


45. zoo said:

A fourth blow to the opposition in one week. The “coalition” is clearly amputated from the moderate factions and splitting as expected. Hitto and the MB Cowboys are headless. Will Khatib join the NCC?

Syria opposition chief Khatib resigns

BEIRUT – Agence France-Presse

Syria’s opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib has resigned from the National Coalition, a dissident group recognised by dozens of states and organisations as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

“I announce my resignation from the National Coalition, so that I can work with a freedom that cannot possibly be had in an official institution,” Khatib said in a statement published on Sunday on his Facebook page

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March 24th, 2013, 8:46 am


47. Visitor said:

Uzair8 @ 6:23AM,

The google translation to the first link is incorrect. First sentence of the translation should read ‘this piece of news is false’.

I looked up the comments under the tweet and found that the best most reasonable comment came from someone calling himself Mulham. He made the same comment under both links. He says that this is a fabrication by the Buti family on purpose in order to make the deceased look favorable to the many Syrians who do not like him. It is the same popularity psycological complex that MJabali and others of the Assad and his supporters suffer from. This complex is endemic to the whole regime establishment and followers. They have to win the contest using any means regardless of the truth behind it. In other words propaganda, distortion, intimidation, fabrication… Anything can be used and is permitted for the ultimate objective of ‘sanctifying’ the idol.

Apparently, the Buti family is aware that their deceased suffers from lack of popularity among Syrians. They have most definitely heard and read about all the negative popular displeasure with the deceased. So they are scrambling to do something about it.

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March 24th, 2013, 8:49 am


48. Ghat Al Bird said:

A small reminder especially for those who are hell bent on killing each other while they are in air conditioned offices or homes thousands of miles from Syria.

These are some of the results from the war in Iraq which was intended to bring about ” regime change “.


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March 24th, 2013, 8:52 am


49. zoo said:

When last week, the FSA rejected officially Hitto because he was not consensually elected, Al Khatib realized he was on the loosing side and he preferred to get out before the whole SNC crumbles.

Without the support of the FSA, the Hitto and the MB cowboys will never be able to put their foot in Syria, therefore they could never hope to fulfill their role as a government of the ‘liberated areas’

Al Khatib should form another group and join the NCC that are already in Syria and who are more concerned about saving Syrians lives that Hitto and his Qaturkey mafia. He could also bring in the Alawite group forming in Cairo
I hope he can then create a viable opposition group that can enter into negotiations with the regime to save Syria from the GCC, USA and islamist wolves.

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March 24th, 2013, 9:00 am


50. Citizen said:

كفى ثرثرة !
كل من يظن أن سورية تقبل القسمة فهو واهم !!! بدء من لانديس و مرورا بكل مؤسسات التخطيط الغربية و التركية و الاسرائيلية و الخليجية ! لن يفلح فالحكم برنارد في سوريا ! و لا عرابكم كيري و لا رئيسكم أوباما ! سير الأمور لن يكون على هواكم ! ستهزمون !!!

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March 24th, 2013, 9:02 am


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