Former Secretary James Baker Commenting On Syria – The Charlie Rose Show

James Baker, Former Secretary of State appeared on the Charlie Rose Show last night. His comments on Syria start on the 16-minute mark. Mr. Baker is always worth listening to. Set below are some quotes from the interview:

“I am not a big fan of what we did in Libya even though I am glad to see Gaddafi gone.  We don’t know who these people are, the Free Syrian Army and all those people.  Syria is a whole lot of a different case than Libya. We need to proceed very cautiously. We are broke. We don’t need another major engagement that we cannot fund. Assad has lost legitimacy. You can’t murder your own people and expect to survive for very long and when he goes, and my view ultimately he will go. That is not all that bad for us from the standpoint of the situation with Iran. “

 

Ousting Syria’s Assad through a ‘soft landing  – By David Ignatius

“Maybe it’s time for Syrian revolutionaries to take “yes” for an answer from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and back a U.N.-sponsored “managed transition” of power there, rather than rolling on toward a civil war that will bring more death and destruction for the region.

We should learn from recent Middle East history and seek a non-military solution in Syria — even with the inevitable fuzziness and need for compromise with unpleasant people.

The alternative to a diplomatic soft landing is a war that shatters the ethnic mosaic in Syria. It’s easy to imagine Sunni militias gaining control of central cities such as Homs, Hama and Idlib, while Alawites retreat to parts of Damascus and Latakia province in the north. Assad might still claim to be president in this scenario, but he would be little more than a warlord (albeit one with access to chemical weapons). It’s a grim scenario in which Western air power would have limited effect.”

Arab Spring Turns to Economic Winter on More Joblessness  – Bloomberg

To create jobs for their young populations, Arab economies need to integrate, according to an Oxford University study published in December by Adeel Malik and Bassem Awadallah, a former Jordanian finance minister. It highlights restrictions on the movement of investment, goods and people across borders.

The result, in an Arab world with a population of 350 million, is “insignificant” levels of internal trade and regional markets that are “cut off from each other and from the rest of the world,” they wrote. It can be cheaper for a Jordanian company to import from the U.K. than from nearby Lebanon, while “visa requirements for traveling within the region can sometimes be as cumbersome as the journey itself.

Whoever takes office will have to win back people like Mohammed, Ahmed and the others camped outside the Libyan Embassy trying to flee Egypt. Poverty and unemployment have clouded their view of the revolution they supported.

“There is no change,” said Mohammed. “We want to feel that we have rights in our own country. Who feels that way?” he asked, looking at the men gathered around him. Most replied: “No one!”

Threat to Assad remains despite claims of victory – Financial Times

Bashar al-Assad is acting victorious, marching under the gaze of state television crews into the ruins of the Baba Amr district of Homs, the city bombarded by his forces for nearly a month. In TV footage this week, the Syrian leader is seen surrounded by loyalists described as residents, though most of the inhabitants have fled. He blames his enemies for the devastation and promises to rebuild Baba Amr.

Mr Assad’s tour was another grotesque show of force aimed at humiliating the rebellious people of the district, who faced collective punishment for allowing Free Syrian Army fighters to protect them. It was also a manifestation of a renewed self-confidence following the regime’s seizure of a series of strongholds that had fallen under rebel control and brought the armed opposition dangerously close to the gates of Damascus.

The problem for Mr Assad, however, is that the Annan plan gives no relief from the most dangerous threat he faces. That threat has never been from the armed rebels but from the peaceful demonstrators who continue to stage protests more than a year after the eruption of the revolt. “As soon as a ceasefire takes hold, Bashar falls because the people will be on the streets in millions, even in Damascus,” says Samir Seifan, a Syrian economist who has joined the opposition. “There will be no need for the FSA whose members know that demonstrations are what will bring down the regime.” Mr Assad, insists Mr Seifan, can score military gains but he cannot win the war against the popular uprising.

 

Comments (598)


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1. Ghufran said:

James Baker is always worth listening to, I agree , and his assessment is right on target : Bashar needs to go but we need to know who will in control of Syria’s government after his departure .

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March 28th, 2012, 9:01 pm

 

2. Naseer Ahmad said:

Patrick Cockburn of The Independent just wrote about the failure of the West to overthrow Assad.

I wonder when the bloggers will take note, the ‘revolution’s’ over

Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 40 Thumb down 16

March 28th, 2012, 9:07 pm

 

3. ann said:

Diplomatic snubs exchanged at Baghdad summit on Syria – 29 March, 2012

http://rt.com/news/arab-league-baghdad-summit-711/

Top Arab League officials are meeting in Baghdad to try and reach consensus on the crisis in Syria. However, the meeting has been marred by a diplomatic row between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, who disagree on the issue.

­On Wednesday, attendees produced a draft resolution supporting the six-point plan proposed by UN-Arab League Syrian envoy Kofi Annan, and called for a ceasefire in the country. While it voiced support for the Syrian people’s “legitimate aspirations to freedom and democracy,” it also rejected foreign intervention.

But cobbling up the resolution did prove to be somewhat difficult as the participants disagreed on a course of action in Syria. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council have been pushing for military intervention and arming the opposition. Host country Iraq, on the other hand, has been opposed to intervention and has been more in favor of a peaceful resolution.

In the meantime, a behind-the-scenes diplomatic row between Iraq and Saudi Arabia has complicated matters even further. An Arab League source reported that Saudi Arabia and Qatar wanted Iraq to invite representatives of the Syrian opposition. When Iraq did not do so, Saudi Arabia responded by sending its Arab League ambassador instead of its foreign minister to the summit – an in-your-face snub in diplomatic terms, as the ambassador ranks significantly lower than the foreign minister. Qatar and Egypt also refrained from sending top ranking diplomatic officials to the summit.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari admitted that the summit will offer “nothing new,” but will complement international efforts to help bring about a solution to the crisis. While he did say that the summit will not call on President Bashar al-Assad to step down, he also remarked that Iraq “could no longer remain neutral.” He went on to say that the conflict was heading towards “internationalization,” and that the Arab League has already done all it could to resolve the conflict.

[...]

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March 28th, 2012, 9:07 pm

 

4. ann said:

Mainstream media self-censorship – 29 March, 2012

http://rt.com/usa/news/mainstream-media-self-censorship-viewers-708/

Plummeting ratings for mainstream media news networks mean one thing – American viewers have had enough and are switching off. RT takes a look at why TV viewers seem to be turning elsewhere for real information.

Cherry picked facts – check. Unwelcome points of view discarded – check. Cookie cutter narrative no matter how a story develops – check.

America’s mainstream media rarely questions the need for military intervention.

“At the height of the war with Iraq, there was a study that showed that out of 317 people interviewed on American television, only 3 opposed the war”, said media critic and blogger Danny Schechter.

To Iran, to Libya, to Syria – the Western mainstream media seems to have lost the desire to critically assess information. Copy-pasting official press releases instead, and self-imposing censorship.

“If you are extremely driven by a particular point of view, you tend to select facts that support your point of view. That makes you an advocate, it doesn’t make you a journalist”, said Schechter.

Take Syria – the current foreign policy story making headlines.

Author and journalist Sharmine Narwani – contributor to the Huffington Post – says her Syria articles questioning the official story – were rejected.

To Narwani, Western media coverage is a theatre of the absurd.

“These people are flown in first class, they have staff, they have support staff for those staff members, they move in large groups. They have vans, and drives and translators. You’re not going in quietly. You’re coming in lights, camera, action”, she explained.

Viewers are given little, if any, background to the issues causing the crisis. What’s also missing is balance.

“They’ll go straight to opposition leaders in X place. They’ll go straight for the things that validate their perspective, or the perspective of their Governments, frankly. Instead of seeking out alternative information, information that may be challenges the dominant narrative”, said Narwani.

In Syria that narrative is clear – it’s a government crackdown on civilian protesters.In reality, armed groups, and reportedly even Al Qaeda, are part of the uprising.This is left out of mainstream reports – whether knowingly, or due to ignorance.

“Nobody that I know who is a so-called serious commentator on Syria is able to define exactly who the Syrian opposition is, what their goals are, or really knows much about the history of Syria or its geography, or its demographics – they really don’t know much at all”, said editorial columnist and author Ted Rall.

This has created an information black-out – with a major chunk of the story unavailable to viewers, what is shown being of questionable value.

“A shaky cell phone footage taken of something that doesn’t even address the basic journalism questions of who, what, when, how? But they’re happy to put their on the screens”, said Sharmine Narwani.

[...]

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March 28th, 2012, 9:12 pm

 

5. ann said:

1. Naseer Ahmad said:

Patrick Cockburn of The Independent just wrote about the failure of the West to overthrow Assad.

I wonder when the bloggers will take note, the ‘revolution’s’ over
.
.
The tide is turning ;)
.

Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 35 Thumb down 16

March 28th, 2012, 9:15 pm

 

6. ann said:

Rand Paul alone stops harsher sanctions on Iran – 29 March, 2012

http://rt.com/usa/news/paul-iran-war-us-704/

“My amendment is one sentence long; it states that nothing in this act is to be construed as a declaration of war or as an authorization of the use of military force in Iran or Syria,” Paul told his colleagues.

“Before sending our young men and women into combat we should have a mature and thoughtful debate over the ramifications of war, over the advisability of war and over the objectives of the war,” Paul added.

“Many in this body cannot get boots on the ground fast enough in a variety of places, from Syria to Libya, to Iran,” criticized Senator Paul.

“James Madison wrote that the constitution supposes what history demonstrates, that the Executive is a Branch most interested in war and most prone to it,” he added.

“Our founding fathers were quite concerned about giving the power to declare war to the Executive. They were quite concerned that the Executive could become like a King,” Paul added on Tuesday.

Although Reid wasn’t to please with Paul’s objection, Paul felt that “without a vote and without careful consideration of the ramifications of third or even a fourth war in this past decade” there is no legitimate need to send young soldiers into war.

“I urge that we not begin a new war without a full debate.”

In response to Paul’s amendment Reid stated he was “terribly disappointed.”

“There’s nothing in the resolution that talks about war. In fact, it’s quite to the contrary. … I read the Constitution a few times. My friend says he wants to restate the Constitution. That’s a strange version he just stated,” Reid added.

The Republican Senator was “amazed at the majority party objections to an amendment that simply restates the US Constitution.”

[...]

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March 28th, 2012, 9:37 pm

 

7. ann said:

BRICS: Not bound by ‘unilateral’ sanctions on Iran and Syria – 28 March, 2012

http://rt.com/news/brics-iran-us-sanctions-684/

“I think that we all broadly agree with the proposal, the terminology that was made, that if there are UN Security Council sanctions then we are all bound by that, but if there are sanctions that are imposed by other countries unilaterally, they shouldn’t have to apply to us,” South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies is cited by Reuters as saying.

The BRICS group of five is meeting in New Delhi to hold its fourth two-day summit. Though the creation of an alternative to the IMF and the World Bank are said to be the key issues on the agenda, leaders will touch upon Iran and Syria as well.

[...]

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March 28th, 2012, 9:42 pm

 

8. majedkhaldoun said:

Sheila
There are different types of media shabbiha,among those who live outside Syria,
1- benefit financially
2- they have or their relative have blood in supperssion this revolution.
3- Drug addiction.and those who drinks alcohol heavily.You can tell who they are.

However there are descent people who are misguided and frustrated.they are bound to change their mind,and we will know later why they support the regime.

Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 55

March 28th, 2012, 9:44 pm

 

9. Mawal95 said:

Instead of quoting ill-informed rubbish from the likes of James Baker and David Ignatius, I wonder when Joshua Landis is going to present a commentary on Syria’s parliamentary contest. The election is on 7 May 2012.

Local Council or Municipal elections were held on 12 Dec 2011. Here’s the entirety of Joshua’s comments on those, which he gave after the elections were over: “Municipal elections, by all accounts, were a bust. It is hard to see how they can change much so long as article 8 of the constitution – the article guaranteeing the supremacy of the Baath in society and politics – remains in force. Syrian opposition forces asked their followers to boycott them. The notion of reform is dead. The opposition is determined to bring down the regime, not reform it.” The official turnout was 41% in the local council elections on 12 Dec 2011. That’s a pretty healthy turnout in comparative international terms for local council elections. On 12 Dec 2011 there were 42,889 candidates competing for 17,629 seats (including a sizeable number of uncontested seats where no one had launched a contest against a returning incumbent), spread across 1,355 local councils and other local administrative entities. And afterwards all the local councils nationwide were under the control of nice and sensible pro-regime people.

Article 8 of the old Constitution didn’t affect the Local Councils. That has been true since the year 2005 Local Administration Law. Under the law for the 12 Dec 2011 elections the members of the Municipal Councils are elected in fully competitive fully free elections (except that sectarian and tribal parties are banned). After the elections, the executive officers of the Municipal Councils were elected by the elected council members without any restrictions at all. Under the law, the opposition forces had the legal power to win the majority of the seats in Homs City Council and elect an oppositionist councillor as the chairman of the council. Under the political reality they would’ve gotten trounced in the elections which is the true reason why they sulked.

I sincerely expect Joshua’s comments on the upcoming parliamentary elections to be equally as brief and rubbishy as his comments on the Local Council elections were. Joshua’s real good at rehashing what mainstream media in USA is saying. But the view in the USA is inconsequential and impotent in Syria, thanks be to God.

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March 28th, 2012, 9:45 pm

 

10. ann said:

One civilian, two officers gunned down by gunmen across Syria – 2012-03-29

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-03/29/c_122901691.htm

DAMASCUS, March 28 (Xinhua) — One civilian and two army officers were killed Wednesday in Syria by “armed terrorist groups, ” the state-run SANA news agency reported.

Armed groups assassinated a brigadier in northern Aleppo province Wednesday as another group shot dead a colonel at Joubar countryside of the capital Damascus, according to SANA.

Wednesday’s attack came as part of other assassinations targeting senior army and security personnel. Rebel forces are believed to be behind the assassinations. The Syrian crisis has grown more militarized with civilians and army defectors taking up arms to face the government’s alleged bloody crackdown.

In central Hama province, a 30-year-old civilian was found killed Wednesday after being kidnapped by unidentified gunmen for three months, said SANA, adding that marks of torture was seen on the man’s body.

[...]

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March 28th, 2012, 9:46 pm

 

11. ann said:

Arab foreign ministers agree on draft final statement for Baghdad summit – 2012-03-29

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-03/29/c_122901675.htm

Zebari expressed his country’s “keenness on supporting the aspirations of the people of Syria in drawing its future and choosing its leaders through peacefully power circulation.”

“Iraq condemns violence in Syria and insists to follow a political solution and national dialogue and rejects foreign intervention in Syria’s crisis,” Zebari noted. He also said Iraq backs the AL efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis and praises the efforts by the UN envoy Kofi Annan in this respect.

Meanwhile, he said “there is no new initiative (by the summit) over Syria’s issue, but there is a draft resolution that would mesh together between the Arab and the international attitudes,” referring to that the Arab initiative would back the international efforts of UN envoy Annan.

“The situation in Syria has become international. We tried an Arab solution for the crisis, but it is now in the hands of the UN and its Security Council,” Zebari concluded.

Zebari said that the Syrian government approved the international plan to solve the crisis, but there is difference among the Syrian opposition parties which they have to unify their stances towards such a peace plan.

[...]

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March 28th, 2012, 9:56 pm

 

12. ann said:

Syria not to accept AL initiative – 2012-03-28

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-03/28/c_131494856.htm

“Some talks have emerged that the conferees in Baghdad today are discussing an initiative for Syria, and in response we say that since Syria’s membership has been suspended, we are not going to deal with any initiative from the Arab League,” Jihad Makdissi said in a statement sent to Xinhua Wednesday.

[...]

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March 28th, 2012, 10:21 pm

 

13. ann said:

Annan’s Syria Technical Team Led By Executive Who Quit Group CHD Amid Embezzlement Scandal

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 28 — The technical team sent to Syria by Kofi Annan was led by a former UN official who was forced to resign from a Geneva-based non-governmental organization amid an embezzlement scandal, Inner City Press has learned and confirmed.

For two weeks at the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesmen refused to answer Press questions about who was on the team of Annan, Ban’s predecessor as Secretary General whom Ban had name as his and the Arab League’s Joint Special Envoy to Syria.

Several Annan team members visible in television footage from Cairo and Damascus were former UN officials who left the UN under a cloud of scandal. There was Alan Doss, who while the UN’s top envoy to the Congo was found to have urged UNDP to break its rules and give his daughter a job.

There was Nicolas Michel, who left as the UN’s top legal officer after admitting taking $12,000 a month from the Swiss government to pay for a Park Avenue apartment while employed by the UN.

After the two weeks the UN in New York announced that Alan Doss was no longer on Annan’s Syria team, and Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi, himself another former UN communications official, told Inner City Press that Nicolas Michel was just a consultant, paid only when used.

But despite Annan’s spokesman Fawzi being less opaque than Ban’s, Inner City Press continues to receive complaints about members of Annan’s team, for example Martin Griffiths who’s described as in charge of the “technical team” Annan sent to Damascus.

Griffith worked for the UN then as the executive director of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) based in Geneva, as is the Kofi Annan Foundation. Griffith was forced to resign from CHD after a CHF 3.8 million fraud was exposed in June 2010, and confirmed by KPMG.

Based on this, a well placed diplomat told Inner City Press on Wednesday, “Griffiths could never have been hired for this by the UN. But Kofi has forced him onto the team, and like the rest of them he’s been given a UN contract and pay for at least six months, no matter what happens with the Syria work.”

Before publication, Inner City Press sought comment from Annan’s spokesman Fawzi, who to his credit responded with a not only a no-comment but also a confirmation, which still stops short of disclosing who else is on the team.

[...]

http://www.innercitypress.com/annan1griffiths032812.html

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March 28th, 2012, 10:35 pm

 

14. Observer said:

So there was a decree to stop all males 18-42 from traveling without a proper permit from the conscription office.

Then it was rescinded in 24 hours.

Let us dissect this

1. There is no clear institutional chain of command that went through this decision and counter decision. It just came and went just like that. Therefore there are no real institutions or mechanisms of understanding how the system works and there are no checks and balances and there no independent media to verify or investigate anything about this decision. The Animal Farm decided and rescinded.

2. The decision would have sent thousands of young men to bribe, hide, disappear, to avoid having to do this. The offices would have been flooded with people trying to get this piece of paper. They would have collected small amounts of money in bribes that they cannot follow through with.

3. I bet there will be a permission for people to pay the exchange so as not to do the military service also called Badal. This way they can have another mechanism to fleece the population. And this one they can collect the money to fuel the repression in contrast to the lowly clerk getting the daily bribe.

4. Once again this leads to the conclusion that there is a mafia at the helm.
All of this tells me that they are running out of money and running out of men to subdue the entire country and the more they destroy the more they will have resistance against them.
It seems that the number of defectors has grown to 100 000 not all of whom are fighting but they are also not working the army.

Can anyone from the pro regime explain to me how this decision came about, rescinded in 24 hours, and how in a so called reformed and modern state this could happen without accountability and explanation?

Finally, a proof that the veneer of modernity is extremely thin in the barbarian pro regime supporters is the news of four young Canadian Syrians assaulted by the pro regime demonstrators in Montreal for brandishing the revolution flag of Syria in public.

They were assaulted in public apparently and this proves that these thugs are intrinsically thugs and they are driven by a hatred that is blinding.

It is clear that the various stupid retarded sects cannot live together with the majority in the ME hence let them have their state and let them get out of our hair and stop forcing us into an oppressive farce called Somaria Alassad.

What a barbaric regime and what a despicable regime thugs and supporters.

The germs have multiplied and the rats are eternal. The resistance to antimicrobials is now legendary and devastating.

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March 28th, 2012, 11:08 pm

 

15. omen said:

2. Naseer Ahmad said:

Patrick Cockburn of The Independent just wrote about the failure of the West to overthrow Assad. I wonder when the bloggers will take note, the ‘revolution’s’ over

you are right in one aspect. it isn’t the west who is going to overthrow assad. it will be syrians who will unseat him.

similar articles were written braying about the west’s failure to unseat gaddafi back when the rebels were temporarily stuck at an impasse.

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March 28th, 2012, 11:09 pm

 

16. omen said:

4. ann 9:12 pm

“Nobody that I know who is a so-called serious commentator on Syria is able to define exactly who the Syrian opposition is, what their goals are, or really knows much about the history of Syria or its geography, or its demographics – they really don’t know much at all”, said editorial columnist and author Ted Rall.

ted rall is a cartoonist. since when did he become a mena expert?

This has created an information black-out – with a major chunk of the story unavailable to viewers, what is shown being of questionable value.

a blackout facilitated by assad banning foreign reporters.

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March 28th, 2012, 11:54 pm

 

17. omen said:

observer, are you really blaming an entire sect for the actions of the few? average alawites who aren’t even involved in government shouldn’t be denigrated in this fashion.

calling people rats is code for the need to exterminate them.

prosecute the regime but leave the innocent alone.

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March 29th, 2012, 12:06 am

 

18. jad said:

Another ‘gem’ from the devil’s den, Katibet Alansar, showing that Alqaeda terrorists are targeting and destroying buildings in Homs, this is just couple of many clips of the attacks that the mainstream media is not showing at all and trying to cover the terrorists’ reality as nothing but Alqaeda local fighters.

رد كتيبة الأنصار على قصف جامع أبو ذر الغفاري
http://youtu.be/PcSKRiOJyfQ

عملية قصف قوات النظام بصاروخ أنيرغا كتيبة الأنصار سرية الأخيار | سورية – أموي

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March 29th, 2012, 12:07 am

 

19. jad said:

Katibet Alansar is the first official Syrian Alqaeda terrorist gang, Abou Mosa2ab Alzarqawi is back under a new name Abou 7amza Alansari:
لماذا الأنصار.mp4

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March 29th, 2012, 12:14 am

 

20. Ghufran said:

This is an appropriate follow up on Baker’s interview:
http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=today%5C28qpt999.htm&arc=data%5C2012%5C03%5C03-28%5C28qpt999.htm

To me, the biggest challenge facing Syria is changing the regime without becoming another Libya, the writings are on the wall for those who can read.

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March 29th, 2012, 12:15 am

 

21. omen said:

if alqaeda really were in homs, assad would have never ventured there. lol

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March 29th, 2012, 12:16 am

 

22. Equus said:

16. omen said: a blackout facilitated by assad banning foreign reporters.

So what do you call CNN? State TV or FSA broadcasting news?

———
Love in the air for US everywhere

Japanese want U.S. military bases gone
The U.S. military presence in Japan acquires special relevance recently due to proposals by Washington to reinstall a base on the island of Okinawa and indecision about Tokyo.

According to various data, not even the recent visit to this island by prime minister Yoshihiko Noda has achieved consensus between the two parties, despite a bilateral pact that was in effect, signed in 2006.

COMPLAINTS ABOUT U.S. military Presence

http://piazzadcara.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/japanese-want-u-s-military-bases-gone/

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March 29th, 2012, 12:29 am

 

23. Ghufran said:

There is a sense of pathological euphoria among hard core regime supporters after the regime seems to have the upper hand for now, let me remind all that those who died and are still dying are mostly Syrians and the vast majority have died unnecessarily.

The regime will not be able to resist the winds of change and should not interpret the animosity against armed thugs as support for the regime which is still unpopular, unfit to lead and unable to unite Syrians.

The window of opportunity will close soon and if the Annan plan, or a modified version, does not materialize, more unrest and blood shed is likely. Nothing in Annan plan and the moderate opposition demands is extreme or unfair, I see it as the last chance to rectify an odd situation that was caused by the regime and made worse by violence from all sides.

I believe the regime is genuinely unable and unprepared to face the power of popular political demands, and it is too early to announce that this crisis is coming to an end, those who were wrongfully killed deserve more from all of us.

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March 29th, 2012, 12:32 am

 

24. omen said:

equus, what do u.s. military bases in japan have to do with syria? what does assad banning foreign reporters have to do with japan?

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March 29th, 2012, 12:40 am

 

25. omen said:

going over an old column, andrew tabler really pins down the regime’s pattern of deceit:

Assad rules through ambiguity and duplicity, and his speech on March 30, in which he blamed unrest sweeping his country on foreign “conspiracies” and refused to announce any specific reforms, indicates that he is not about to change his ways — at least not without a push from the outside. Assad has spent the last 11 years promising political “reform,” but has never got around to delivering it. This is a well-established pattern. He talks about peace with Israel while at the same time delivering Scud missiles to Hezbollah. He promises to keep his hands off Lebanon, but recently worked with Hezbollah to bring down the government in Beirut. He says, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that he wants a nuclear-free Middle East, but stonewalls International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors investigating the rubble of his North Korean-designed nuclear program.

11 years of promised reforms. eleven years! do loyalists really expect this year will be different?

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March 29th, 2012, 12:48 am

 

26. Equus said:

Bush created the orphans of Iraq, Henry-Bernard Levy got jealous over the title and created the orphans of Libya. There is nothing, zilch over Libya in North America media. Lovely democracy

Reality : more people are perishing.

Libye/tribus: 70 morts dans des combats
Les combats qui ont opposé depuis lundi des Toubous à des tribus arabes dans la ville libyenne de Sebha (sud) ont fait 70 morts et 150 blessés, a annoncé ce soir le porte-parole du gouvernement, Nasser al-Manaa

http://plus.lefigaro.fr/article/libyetribus-70-morts-dans-des-combats-20120328-856460/commentaires?page=1

Libye : le chef des Toubous dénonce un “nettoyage ethnique” au sud du pays et accuse les autorités libyennes de complicité.

http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAWEB20120328150456/libye-mouammar-kaddafi-affrontements-front-toubou-pour-le-salut-de-la-libyelibye-le-chef-des-toubous-denonce-un-nettoyage-ethnique-au-sud-du-pays.html

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March 29th, 2012, 1:02 am

 

27. omen said:

observer, i also questioned that rescinded travel ban. i asked if this was a sign the regime beginning to lose its footing.

the answer i got:

no not really, the Syrian regime is notorious for making ill thought out decisions then quickly cancelling them, nothing new

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March 29th, 2012, 1:03 am

 

28. omen said:

equus, did you see juan cole’s notes on libya?

ironically enough, he recalled a bit of french history. :)

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March 29th, 2012, 1:11 am

 

29. Equus said:

25. omen said:

equus, what do u.s. military bases in japan have to do with syria? what does assad banning foreign reporters have to do with japan?

Dahhhaa, First I separated the two paragraphs meaning new idea (English 101). If you mixed both…it explains how you are mixing facts about Syria two.

Second, if you fell to see the geopolitical control of the US in the world, who is now actually negotiating with Kazakhstan to keep a military base-check the CIA website for historical and background info- it indicates to the reader how far you are from reality and knowledge and for that I excuse you. However, you still haven’t answered my initial simple question.

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March 29th, 2012, 1:26 am

 

30. jad said:

The warmongers again:

McCain resolution calls for safe zones and arming the Syrian opposition

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and five like-minded lawmakers unveiled a new resolution on Syria Wednesday that calls for establishing safe zones inside Syria for civilians and support for arming the opposition against the regime of Bashar al Assad.

The non-binding resolution stops short of calling for direct U.S. military intervention in Syria, which McCain supports, and is meant to create a consensus on increasing U.S. support for the Syrian opposition that the greatest number of lawmakers can rally around. As of now, the resolution has six sponsors, mostly Republicans. In addition to McCain, they are Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and John Hoeven (R-ND).

The resolution expresses that the Senate “recognizes that the people of Syria have an inherent right to defend themselves against the campaign of violence being conducted by the Assad regime” and “supports calls by Arab leaders to provide the people of Syria with the means to defend themselves against Bashar al-Assad and his forces, including through the provision of weapons and other material support, and calls on the President to work closely with regional partners to implement these efforts effectively.”

The resolution also urges President Barack Obama to work with Middle East countries to develop plans for creating safe havens in Syria, which the senators feel “would be an important step to save Syrian lives and to help bring an end to Mr. Assad’s killing of civilians in Syria,” urges the president to hold Syrian officials accountable for atrocities, and supports the “Friends of the Syrian People” contact group, which will hold its second meeting Sunday in Turkey.
{…}

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March 29th, 2012, 1:30 am

 

31. Syrialover said:

#2. Naseer Ahmad said: “Patrick Cockburn of The Independent just wrote about the failure of the West to overthrow Assad.”

LOL Patrick Cockburn! A man who is obsessed with looking for and predicting “failure of the west”. It’s been his trademark specialistation for many years. He grabs that drum and beats it ritually every chance he gets, even though he’s been waiting decades for evidence to support his views.

It’s hilarious to see the block voters” here give him 20 thumbs up right away. That exceeds Cockburn’s normal number of fans by far anywhere, so it’s very suspicious to see that unnatural rush of votes supporting his marginal views on this small forum.

As I’ve frequently pointed out, the distraction faction/block voters of Assad apologists on SC are not very smart.

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March 29th, 2012, 1:42 am

 

32. Equus said:

28. omen said:

equus, did you see juan cole’s notes on libya?
ironically enough, he recalled a bit of french history.

Everyone can state his opinion but history facts cannot be changed or rewritten.

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March 29th, 2012, 1:45 am

 

33. Dale Andersen said:

“…the distraction faction, the Assad apologists on SC, are not very smart…”

So true…

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March 29th, 2012, 1:47 am

 

34. omen said:

equus, i too have faulted u.s. corporate media. especially in their drumbeat over non-existent wmd in iraq. that doesn’t excuse assad from throwing reporters out of syria in attempt to cover up his war crimes.

i don’t defend u.s imperialism. however, syrians themselves are calling for intervention. mostly in the form of military arms shipment. thus far, the u.s. seems reluctant to offer them. when an oppressed people call for help, that isn’t an expression of u.s. imperialism!

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March 29th, 2012, 1:48 am

 

35. jad said:

The joke of the day, Aljazzera didn’t broadcast the terrorist attack of France out of ‘its’ ‘ethical standards’.
HUH! “ETHICAL” and “STANDARDS”?!…WOW…as if it has any!

الجزيرة وعلاقتها المشبوهة بتنظيم القاعدة … تحرص على مشاعر الفرنسيين ولا تحرص على مشاعر السوريين

March 28 2012 12:47

تذرّعت قناة الجزيرة القطرية بـ”المعايير الأخلاقية” لتفادي الإحراج الذي يمكن أن يلحق بها من بث مقاطع فيديو خصها بها مرتكب هجومي مدينة تولوز الفرنسية القاتلين محمد مراح وذلك وفقا لتقرير كتبه لجريدة العرب اللندنية زهير دراجيوقالت القناة إنها قررت بعد مراجعة مقاطع الفيديو التي أرسلت لمكتبها في باريس ان تلك المقاطع لا تضيف أي معلومات جديدة كما أنها لا تتماشى مع المعايير الأخلاقية لقناة الجزيرة.وفور الإعلان عن حصول القناة على المقاطع المذكورة تتالت التساؤلات على مواقع إلكترونية وفي وسائل إعلام فرنسية عن دواعي اختيار عضو تنظيم القاعدة مراح للجزيرة لمدها بالشريط

ولم يتردد أحد المعلقين في اعتبار ذلك “عربون ثقة من التنظيم في القناة التي تبدو في معالجتها لبعض الأخبار والمواد المتعلقة بأنشطة القاعدة، غير مُدينة لجرائمها مهما خلفت من ضحايا”.واستشهد بحيازة الجزيرة قصب السبق في الحصول على أشرطة مسجلة للكثير من التنظيمات المسلحة التي تتبنى فيها عمليات بعينها أو تعلق من خلالها على أحداث سياسية كبرى أو توجه بيانات ونداءات لأتباعها.وكثيرا ما مرت تسجيلات زعيم تنظيم القاعدة أسامة بن لادن وخليفته أيمن الظواهري عبر قناة الجزيرة
{…}
وفي قضية فيديو محمد مراح، دعا ساركوزي وعائلات ضحايا هجمات تولوز ومونتوبان وسائل الاعلام الى الامتناع عن بث الشريط عن اعمال القتل التي ارتكبها الاسلامي المتشدد في فرنسا.وأعلنت الجزيرة أنها “طبقا للسلوك الاخلاقي ونظرا لحقيقة ان شرائط الفيديو لا تضيف اي معلومات، فإنها لن تبث محتوياتها”.واضافت ان الشرائط وهي بعنوان “القاعدة تهاجم فرنسا” ارسلت الى مكتبها في باريس، تم تسليمها الى الشرطة الفرنسيةوتصور اللقطات قتل مراح لسبعة اشخاص بين 11 و 19 الشهر من الحالي في تولوز ومنتوبان، جنوب غرب فرنسا.ولا تبدو “المعايير الأخلاقية” التي أوردتها الجزيرة لتبرير عدم نشر شريط جرائم محمد مراح مقنعة، ذلك أن القناة ذاتها تبث يوميا مشاهد مقززة للقتل في سوريا وأحيانا لأطفال منكّل بهم
http://www.arabtimes.com/portal/news_display.cfm?Action=&Preview=No&nid=10894

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March 29th, 2012, 1:48 am

 

36. Syrialover said:

Wow, these al qaeda operating in Syria really are confused small timers.

So far they have shown very few hallmarks of their usual modus operandi, motives and targets. And yet they have a whole army running around and calling for help to deal with them from Russia and Iran!

They must be a poor mans al quaeda, needing freelance help fronm Hezbollah and fake-beard-wearing agent provocateurs. But even with that, their alleged mass presence in Syria is still not credible.

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March 29th, 2012, 1:58 am

 

37. jad said:

Oh how cute, some poor american citizens on here and the beloved peace loving ex-president G.W.Bush, both want the ‘best’ possible military intervention in Syria with all the killing and destruction it will bring, Iraq is their witness, how sweet of ya!
فلاش رسالة الرئيس الأمريكي جورج بوش إلى الشعب السوري
http://youtu.be/ETgA8oU7c-U

P.S. SNK and Sheila you can add the devil, sorry, Bush to the list of supporters.

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March 29th, 2012, 2:10 am

 

38. jad said:

Annan’s plan for Syria and transnational terrorism
{…}
According to media reports, it is clear that the basic structure of the forces opposing the Syrian government now is the so-called Free Syrian Army (which announced its merger with the so-called Free Officers Movement). Apparently, its composition is patchy. It includes deserters and foreign fighters. The size of the group is estimated by experts at about 15-16,000.

The Free Syrian Army is trying to distance itself from terrorist activities against civilians, saying that they fight only against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and his punitive apparatus (the army and Mukhabarat). But it is not doing a very good job. Even the Western media has reported on its terrorist attacks against civilians and practice of killing and torturing supporters of al-Assad. It is hard to say what the cause of such terrorist activities is, whether it is the “free army’s” weak hold on their subordinates or the parallel activities of armed groups. But the fact remains. Free Syrian Army is increasingly resorting to terrorist activities.

Here we should talk a bit about terrorists in Syria. In February, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri accused President Assad of anti-Islamic activities and called for him to be ousted. At the same time, the media reports report on Al Qaeda activities in Syria began to pour in. This situation made Washington suspicious, and the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, expressed concern, saying that terrorist attacks in Damascus and Aleppo resembled the work of Al Qaeda.

In general, one can say there is no doubt that Al Qaeda is operating in Syria. This, along with arms supplies to the Syrian opposition from abroad, cannot but cause serious concern. In particular, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has pointed it out. Syrian officials with whom I was able to talk during a trip to Damascus in February said that the main suppliers of arms are France and Qatar. And major supply routes pass through Lebanon and Turkey.

Evidence of the effectiveness of this activity is the recent fierce battle for Homs. As it turned out, the armed opposition had Spigot and Milan anti-tank wire-guided missile systems, the latest sniper weapons and various means of communication. If large quantities of such weapons get into the hands of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, terrorist activity in the Middle East and beyond could increase.

In addition to Al Qaeda and its offshoots, the so-called Arab brigades are active in Syria. These are mostly Libyan militants who were “liberated” after the war in Libya. However, according to the Syrian security forces, there are also Afghans, Saudis, Qataris, fighters from Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan and other countries. In other words, a large number of small terrorist groups that report to no one and pursue their own goals operate on Syrian territory.

The current situation poses a serious obstacle to the normalization of the situation in Syria and, in particular, the implementation of the Annan’s Plan. Even with the active assistance of all members of the UN Security Council, it is simply impossible to force Syria’s opposition to stop the violence because it is decentralized and does not obey the leaders that formally rule it.
{…}
http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_03_28/69887935/

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March 29th, 2012, 2:23 am

 

39. NASA said:

Following James Baker comment; Let us assume President Bashar resigns today or the whole regime leaves power at this stage; would there be “soft handling” or “smooth transaction”? and to whom? radicals? confused and separated Istanbul SC? opposition with dirty blooded hands whom sold the country cheaply?

What would be the road map for Syria? short & long term? who will decide Syria future? Qatar? USA? …?

Would clean handed and brain oppositions such as Mr. Haytham Manna3 or Michael Kilo and others will take part on Syria future? or they will stay in Europe fighting the new situation again?
Has any of SC members talked future plans? or just looking for revenge? what is after revenge …? Revenge from all “Alawais”? Risking the current ethnic harmony between all religions and ethnic groups for civil war ‘God forbid’?

I am not trying to give an excuse supporting the current regime here, but those Q.s & this discussion is going-on in Syria between University students cuz non of the oppositions gave answers for security to their future. All has the right to think for the best to their kids and families. They are living in Syria … not out-side talking of history & pass their hate cus they faced problems or faced injustice in the past and it is right time for a revenge!
Syrian people has the right to look forward to better future … not revenge!! not moving from ‘Bad’ to ‘worse’ … at least ‘bad’ can turn to better!

I thank JAD and strongly support his comment in a previous article that how this type of ‘revolution’ full of blood and dirty loyal money made many Syrian people turn back to support President Bashar the current ‘regime’…

Thx

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March 29th, 2012, 2:26 am

 

40. ss said:

20. Ghufransaid:

“To me, the biggest challenge facing Syria is changing the regime without becoming another Libya”

I thought the Libyan experience was the goal. The regime has the upper hand, the army is in full control, and Assad is walking the streets of Baba Amro. The majority fo Syrian people are against the level of violence Syria encoutered lateley. Many of them miss the days where security and peace was the norm.

I think people should wake up and realize that Libya, Iraqi, Tunisia, and Egypt examples are not going to apply to Syria. Some are threatening a civil war may happen, if it was going to happen we should have seen it by now. I am not seeing the regime would be able to provide a a fix for a Jihadist who wakes up and decides to meet his God, so he go and explode himself. We have to realize that this is going to be the norm for long times to come. But these Jihadist attacks will only make the Syrian people more united against Radical Islamists. I am sorry to use this word but it seems to me that radical islamists is the root of evil

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March 29th, 2012, 2:29 am

 
 

42. abbas said:

Jad
In one of the photo’s ( the one with the i.ed one of the guys seems to me to be not Syrian, may a foreign expert ? )
https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/537057_257234907702476_180800465345921_560598_1636280096_n.jpg

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March 29th, 2012, 3:09 am

 

43. Mina said:

Jad 38
“Free officers movement”, a copycat of the Yemeni Ahrar, except that those had no Islamic revendication. When are they going to have one single motto or idea that is not a redux of something we have heard before?

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March 29th, 2012, 3:12 am

 

44. Mina said:

I meant to add Nasser’s Free officers, but my deletion of the preceding comment was not taken into account by the machine.

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March 29th, 2012, 6:13 am

 

45. Observer said:

Clarification to omen

First my point is that the sense of a Syrian identity is so weak that people identify themselves through their clan sects family tribe etc… in Syria. Therefore we are not capable of living together.

Second the minorities rightly demand a secular state but with a caveat that is that they remain sect based minority while the majority remains purely secular.

Third my reference to germs and rats is that the rebels in Syria were described by the President as an infection that needs eradication and the former dictator of Libya referred to the rebels as rats.

Fourth it is the Western based regime supporters that are the very essence of contradiction for despite enjoying the great free West they have remained and brought with them their prejudices that unfortunately are still medieval sect and clan based.

So the popular uprising is one of germs and rats and we both know that the germs can multiply and acquire resistance and rats are extremely prolific and resilient.

Cheers.

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March 29th, 2012, 6:55 am

 

46. Mina said:

It is good to realize that the AL and Anna have now an efficient model, EU-validated.
From the Angry Arab:
Yemeni presidential election: 100% voted yes
Tarek from Yemen sent me this comment (I cite with his permission): “PS, your comments on Yemen also spot on, but let me add more fuel to your fire, not only was the Presidential election a one man affair but there was also no choice of voting no. There was no “No box” and an X or anything like that was registered as a Yes vote… It was only at the last minute when a EU official decided that a 100% win might be a bit much they decided to count 15,000 or so damaged ballots as No; hence the 99.xx% win… You couldn’t make it up if you tried…”
http://angryarab.blogspot.de/

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March 29th, 2012, 7:46 am

 

47. DAWOUD said:

Some people, the pro-regime folks, see the glass 1/2 empty! I see it 1/2 full! This is the key sentences in James Baker’s above quotation, which is not as favorable to Bashar as the pro-regime folks here think:

“[...]Assad has lost legitimacy. You can’t murder your own people and expect to survive for very long and when he goes, and my view ultimately he will go.[...]”

Yes, Bashar has lost legitimacy and he will ultimately go to hell or somewhere!

Yes, Free Syria will abandon Iran and Hizb@@@, which stood with the dictator and against the Syrian people. However, a free Syria will NOT abandon the Golan and recognize Israeli occupation/colonization!

If the editor who posted this James Baker quotation was excited that Baker might have disfavorable views about the Free Syrian Army, I say to him that the devil is better than Bashar’s army, which tortures and kills children!!!!!!!

cherry-picking the news media only to find quotations and views, which are disadvantageous to the courageous Syrian Revolution, is a biased and slanted editorial policy!

Free Syria, Free Palestine!

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March 29th, 2012, 8:08 am

 

48. Juergen said:

Observer

I understand that in this context the language gets tougher and both sides abuse the language for their goal. I think Omen was right to point out to you that this dehumanization which is the obvious reason one is called dog, germ or rat. That will at least in my eyes always lead to aggression, and for most its ok to kill animals than humans. All massacres follow this pattern, first an entity is declared criminal,or foreign then the dehumnization sets the last stage: the killing. We all should be very careful, those who adore Assad are human beings as well, we should not do the same mistake to rejoice in hate.

Some Alawites are taking part in the revolution, some prominent ones fear for their lives, others work secretly and many others know at least deep inside their heart that the Assads have committed horrible despicable crimes.

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March 29th, 2012, 8:30 am

 

49. Dawoud said:

Sectarian-cleansing against the 80-85% Syrian Sunni majority! Below is a quote that will NOT be cherry-picked by the editors! That’s why Prof. Landis should ask a Sunni Syrian to join SC editorial board! No, I am not interested in this editorial task because-unlike others-I admit being very biased against Bashar’s murderous regime and I don’t have time! I am NOT neutral! No self-interest here!

https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/world/middleeast/refugees-say-neighbor-shoots-neighbor-in-syrian-crackdown.html?_r=1&hp

Refugees Say Neighbor Shoots Neighbor in Syrian Crackdown

AL QAA, Lebanon — Sunni Muslims who have fled Syria described a government crackdown that is more pervasive and more sectarian than previously understood, with civilians affiliated with President Bashar al-Assad’s minority religious sect shooting at their onetime neighbors as the military presses what many Sunnis see as a campaign to force them to flee their homes and villages in some sections of the country.
[...]

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March 29th, 2012, 8:45 am

 

50. Observer said:

Jurgen my point exactly. It is the Ghaddafi and Fredos of this world and the Cauecescus that called their people dehumanizing quotes such as germs and rats and insects and worms.
Well these human beings are now in revolt and rightly so.

There are sectarians in every sect including (and we have seen this repeatedly) from fundamentalists of all stripes from atheist fundamentalists to salafis to mormons to you name it.

Some on this blog that are pro regime have only a veneer of modernity and call for dialogue when the gun is pointed to our heads and the secret security services are running amock in the country.

Some have called all opposition as traitors or fanatics of this or that denomination.

No doubt there are many in every sect that are for change and for freedom; the problem is that the discourse and the actions of the regime are actually doubly criminal for they are now forcing the Alawi sect to do its dirty work and have essentially cornered them into a horrible Sophie’s choice, either you join in killing and ethnic cleansing ( as reported by the NYT today by the way ) or you are going to be massacred by the majority and your daughters are going back to being servants and all of this garbage.

This is the point I am trying to make, perhaps the wording and syntax were not clear.

We are all victims of oppression, and as the stories from East Germany came about after the break up of the Soviet Union, the Stazy used family members and neighbors to spy and report on each other and even spouses were recruited to that effect.

This is how degrading and dehumanizing the system is to the point that it is now accepable to torture and kill children and to have Fredo declare that we will rebuild BA. Well like the US in Vietnam destroying a village to save it is not going to solve your problems.

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March 29th, 2012, 9:51 am

 

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