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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51. son of Damascus said:

Abandoning Syria
by Elliott Abrams
March 29, 2012

With 9,000 Syrians dead and the Assad regime increasingly isolated and under political, moral, military assault, it appears that the Obama Administration has made its choice: it is abandoning efforts to force the end of that regime.

The plan developed by Kofi Annan is a life-saving development for Assad, as it guarantees months of diplomatic wrangling while Assad methodically murders his way to victory. Town after town, neighborhood after neighborhood may be bombed and reduced to rubble, the death toll may double or triple, but there will be endless meetings in nice hotels in Europe and the Middle East. We can see that future right now, in stories like this: “Syria accepted a cease-fire drawn up by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan on Tuesday, but the diplomatic breakthrough was swiftly overshadowed by intense clashes between government soldiers and rebels that sent bullets flying into Lebanon.” A few more months of this is all that Assad needs.


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March 29th, 2012, 10:37 am


52. Jad said:

Mainstream media self-censorship

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March 29th, 2012, 10:58 am


53. Jerusalem said:

Beautiful poem for Syria by Hassan Al-Makdisi, I didn’t paste all it’s very long. الشام اغلى من شواربكم

هــذا العـِـراق ُ أمـامـَـنا سَــيْـل ٌ مـِـن
الأيتـام ِ والأقـْــزام ِ والغـِــلـْمان ِ

أوَلــيس َ يــكفينا العـــراق ُ وبـؤسـُــه
لـِـنـُـسـَــلـِّم َ الفـــيحاء َ* للزُّعــْـران ِ ؟؟

مـَـن ْ بـاع َ للـشيطان ِ نخـْـل َ عــراقنا
هـُــوَ مـَـن ْ يبيـع ُ الـشـام َ للجـُــرذان ِ
لـولا الخـِـيانة ُ مـِـنْ قبــائِـل ِ يـَعــرُب ٍ
مـا كانــت الغـِــربان ُ فـي بــغـْدان ِ
ولـو الـزعامة ُ بالـدراهم ِ تـُــشـتـَرَى
لـَتـَـسَيـَّـدت ْ قــَـطـَر ٌ علــى الأكــوان
حـَــسِـبوا الـزعامـَـة َ بالـدراهم ِ تـُـشتـَرَى
بالـجَهـْل ِ .. والتـّـعْـريص ِ .. والـهـَـذيان ِ
لـو كـان َ قــَـلب ُ الـشـام ِ صـُهيوني ْ الهوى
ما حاصـَــرَتـْها طـُـغـْمة ُ العـُـربان ِ

لـو ْ قاسـَـيون ُ الـشام ِ عـِبـْري ُّ الهوى
واللـه ِ مـا اعـــتـَرَضوا بـِبـِنـْـت ِ لـِـسـان ِ

ولـَـصار َ ذبـْــح ُ ” الــثائـِرينَ ” فـَـريضـَة ً
ولأشـْـعلوا النــيْران َ .. بالـنيران
يا صاحِـبي ، هــذا مـَـزاد ٌ مـُــقـْـرِف ٌ مـِــن ْ بـاعـَة ِ الإفـْــتاء ِ والقــرآن ِ
باعــوا العـمائم َ والمـصاحِـف َ واللــِّـحى وتـَــفرَّغوا لـِعــبادة ِ الأوْثـان ِ
فالقــدس ُ ما عـادت ْ قــضـِـيـَّتـَّهم ولا عـادت ْ بـقايا الـقدس ِ فـي الحـُـسْـبان ِ
لـن تـَــسْقـُطي يا شـام ُ رغـم َ أنــوفـِهم
فالـفجْر ُ آت ٍ .. والـتـآمُـر ُ فـان ِ

سـيَطير ُ عـَــرْعــور ٌ .. وفــرفور ٌ ..
وممعـوط ٌ.. وغـَـليون ٌ كـَــقـَبـْض ِ دخـان ِ

ســتـَظل ُّ سـوريَّا بـرغم ِ جــِــراحها
بـُــستان َ أحـلام ٍ .. وأفـْق َ أمـان ِ

فالشام ُ أكـبـَر ُ مـِـن ْ تـآمـرهم ، وهـل
تخـشى اللــُّـيوث ُ مــواكـِــب َ الفـِــئران ِ ؟؟
لـن ينحني ســيْف ُ الـشآم ِ أمام َ لـَــحْـد ٍ*
قـادِم ٍ فـي جـَــزمَـة ِ العـُــثماني

فالـشام ُ قـَـلـْعَة ُ أمـَّـة ٍ ، وقلـيل ُ
عـَـقــْل ٍ مـَــن ْ يُناطِح ُ قــَـلعـَة َ الـصُّـوان

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March 29th, 2012, 10:58 am


54. Jad said:

Son of Damascus,
Eliot Abrams? Really 🙁

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March 29th, 2012, 11:08 am


55. Son of Damascus said:

Assad forces show their respect to the dead.
(Warning Graphic)

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March 29th, 2012, 11:08 am


56. Afram said:

A message for the losers Bozos

beating a dead horse would do you no good, NADA, Zilch

to waste time doing something that has already been attempted is mind boggling. ya gotta say is there a shrink in the house?!

The boat that is commanded by Captain Assad and his crew is tightly made that water cannot enter or escape.

but the SNC Titanic is leaking profusely when it is not supposed to leak at all, so many jumped ship, Kurds, Haytham Malah…plus and plus. So cry me a river folks, YES syria is wounded, so keep your nasty salt bags away, syria can do without.

stop the furious tirade against syria it’s time to keep the guns at bay.

the old man said: You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em

round table dialogue is a yes…khaligi rogues is a NO

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March 29th, 2012, 11:13 am


57. Son of Damascus said:


I posted it as a rebuttal to the David Ignatius article that Ehsani posted, and I do agree with this articles sentiments.

This particular part caught my eye:

“If realpolitik means watching Assad kill more protesters and level more apartment houses, I suppose that’s right. The usual criticism of realpolitik is that it lacks a moral dimension, and that is certainly true here”

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March 29th, 2012, 11:13 am


58. Jad said:

Delhi summit: BRICS says dialogue only answer for Syria, Iran
The unfolding crisis in Syria took some serious brainstorming to reach a common BRICS position.

China and Russia, the two veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council, had voted against the US and Arab League-backed UN resolution on grounds that it amounted to a regime change. India had supported the resolution.

The BRICS declaration, however, saw the leaders voicing “deep concern at the current situation in Syria” as they called for “an immediate end to all violence and violations of human rights in that country”.

“Global interests would best be served by dealing with the crisis through peaceful means that encourage broad national dialogues that reflect the legitimate aspirations of all sections of Syrian society and respect Syrian independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty,” it said.

The declaration supported “a Syrian-led inclusive political process”, an explanation India had used to justify its vote on the UN’s Syria resolution, and welcomed the joint efforts of the UN and the Arab League.

The BRICS leaders also welcomed the appointment of Kofi Annan, a former UN secretary general, as the joint special envoy on the Syrian crisis and supported him in his efforts play a role in spurring a political resolution of the crisis.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned against external interference, saying that it has the potential to destroy the dialogue process. Medvedev added that he has proposed a collective humanitarian aid by the BRICS countries to the Syrian people.

The BRICS’ stand on Syria and Iran will be viewed with unease by the West which has tended to see the five-nation grouping as an attempt at an alternate world order.

In this respect, the fourth BRICS summit in Delhi marked the evolution of a group focused on global economic governance issues to one which is trying to achieve greater political coherence.

This was reflected in the BRICS’ formulation on the festering crisis in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We agree that the period of transformation taking place in the Middle East and North Africa should not be used as a pretext to delay resolution of lasting conflicts but rather it should serve as an incentive to settle them, in particular the Arab-Israeli conflict,” said the declaration.

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March 29th, 2012, 11:21 am


59. zoo said:

The Appeal of a Soft Landing
By David Ignatius

WASHINGTON — 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.

Syria announced Tuesday that it was ready to accept a peace plan proposed by U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan. The Syrian announcement in Beijing followed endorsement of the plan by China and Russia. The proposal has many weaknesses, but it could open the way toward a “soft landing” in Syria that would remove Assad without shattering the stability of the country.

Yes, I recognize that moderate diplomatic solutions like these are for wimps. The gung-ho gang has been advocating supplying arms to the Syrian opposition, setting up no-fly zones and other versions of a military solution. Morally, it’s hard to dispute the justice of the opposition’s cause; the problem is that these military solutions will get a lot more innocent civilians killed, and destroy the delicate balance of the Syrian state.

We should learn from recent history in the Middle East and seek a non-military solution in Syria — even with the inevitable fuzziness and need for compromise with unpleasant people. A Syria peace deal will also give a starring role to Russia and China, two countries that don’t deserve the good press. That’s OK with me: Vladimir Putin gets a ticker-tape parade if he can help broker a relatively peaceful departure for Assad.

The case for this cautious, managed transition can be summarized with a four-letter word: Iraq.

Looking back at the Iraq War, one of the most damaging mistakes was that after toppling Saddam Hussein, the U.S. went on to destroy Iraq’s state structure and its army. Without these institutions, the country had no stability and Iraqis retreated for self-protection to the most basic loyalties of sect and tribe. In this sense, the U.S. invasion unintentionally and tragically sent Iraq hurtling backward in time. Iraq gained a measure of “democracy,” but lost social cohesion.

The U.S. shouldn’t make the same mistake in Syria, no matter how appealing the opposition’s pleas for weapons. We’ve seen this movie before. We know that it leads to a kind of lawlessness that’s very hard to reverse. And we know, too, that for all the perversions of Assad and his Baathist goons, the Syrian state and army are national institutions that transcend the ruling family, his Alawite sect or the corrupt Baathists who hijacked the nation in the 1960s.

I credit the Obama administration for resisting the growing chorus of calls to arm the Syrian rebels — and for continuing to seek Moscow’s help even after the Russians’ foot-dragging that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (imprudently but accurately) described last month as “despicable.”

It’s a moment for realpolitik: The West needs Russia’s help in removing Assad without a civil war, and Russia needs to broker a transition to bolster its future influence in the Arab world. That’s the pragmatic logic that’s driving Annan’s peace effort.

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March 29th, 2012, 11:28 am


60. zoo said:

Maybe some were too afraid to come to Baghdad. They are not known for their courage.

Fewer than half Arab leaders attend Iraq summit

HAMZA HENDAWI and LARA JAKES | Associated Press – 1 hr 52 mins ago

BAGHDAD (AP) — Fewer than half the leaders of the Arab world showed up at an Arab summit in Baghdad on Thursday, a snub to the Iraqi government that reflects how trenchantly the sectarian division between Sunnis and Shiites and the rivalry with neighboring Iran define the Middle East’s politics today.

The Gulf nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been pushing behind the scenes for more assertive action to end the conflict. Privately, they see little benefit in the Arab League’s efforts to reach a peaceful settlement and prefer instead to see a small core of nations banding together to act on their own.

Among the options they are considering are arming the Syrian rebels and creating a safe haven for the opposition along the Turkish-Syrian border to serve as a humanitarian refuge or staging ground for anti-regime forces. Such a step would require help from Turkey — the country best positioned to defend such a safe haven — but so far Ankara has seemed reluctant.

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March 29th, 2012, 11:33 am


61. son of Damascus said:

The tragedy of religious freedom in Syria
By Elizabeth Shakman Hurd
March 29, 2012

Religious freedom is the common sense of our era. It is easy to be swept up in the hype. We are told that the guarantee of religious freedom is what stands between us and pre-modern political orders based on tyrannical forms of religious authority that leave women and minorities in the dust. If religious freedom is what you need to be for if you are against the oppression of women and minorities, then who could oppose it? Who could even question it? Religious freedom stands in for the good and the right in many complex, difficult and often violent situations.

Or does it?

Take the crisis in Syria. There is fear in some quarters that should the Assad regime fall, non-Muslim (and possibly non-Sunni Muslim) Syrians will suffer from a lack of religious freedom. USA Today reports that “Christians in Syria, where Muslims have risen up against President Bashar Assad, have been subjected to murder, rape and kidnappings in Damascus and rebellious towns, according to Christian rights groups.” The momentum builds, as persecution of Christians takes on a life of its own and may, in some cases, come to define the conflict on the ground. The logic of this story is clear: The result of overthrowing Assad will be Christian persecution. What we need, in this view, is religious freedom.


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March 29th, 2012, 11:35 am


62. Alan said:

Launching military actions in Syria – shortest, most dangerous way – Medvedev

NEW DELHI, March 29 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev says for settlement of the situation in Syria it is necessary to support a dialogue between the government and the opposition, and not to start military actions.

“Detailed principles of normalisation of the situation in that country have been offered lately. We believe it important not to let interference from outside into Syria’s affairs, it is important to let the government, on one hand, and the opposition, on the other hand, start at last a dialogue, not to ruin it, not to say the dialogue is bound to fail and only military actions may bring order to the country. This is the shortest and most dangerous way,” he told reporters on Thursday following the BRICS /Brazil, Russia, India, China, SAR/ summit.

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March 29th, 2012, 11:46 am


63. zoo said:

Refugees Say Neighbor Shoots Neighbor in Syrian Crackdown
Ed Ou for The New York Times

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.

The refugees here seemed ambivalent about describing what they saw as sectarian cleansing. Opposition supporters said they feared playing into the government narrative, and wanted the international community to view them as nonsectarian in their quest for outside military assistance.

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March 29th, 2012, 11:47 am


64. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

I don’t have something important to say, so:
Viva la revolucion!

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March 29th, 2012, 11:47 am


65. Alan said:
Blasts rock Baghdad as Arab Summit touches upon Syria

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March 29th, 2012, 11:48 am


66. Mina said:

Iraq’s Maliki warns of Syria ‘proxy war’

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has warned that arming either side in Syria will lead to a “proxy war”.

He was speaking at the opening of an Arab League summit which is discussing a joint plan with the UN to end a year of violence in Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to the plan and will spare no effort to make it succeed, Syrian state news agency Sana reported.

The Swedes try to export ideas of democracy in the Middle East or something else?

Swedish Defence Minister Tolgfors quits over Saudi deal

Sweden’s defence minister has resigned after facing criticism over plans to build a weapons plant in Saudi Arabia.

Sten Tolgfors “resigned at his own request”, a spokesperson said.

Swedish public radio revealed the confidential plans for the country’s Defence Research Agency to help Riyadh build weapons, including missiles and torpedoes, in early March.

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March 29th, 2012, 11:52 am


67. Alan said:

glory to forces of resistance against occupation! glory to sovereign independent full Palestine! glory for Syria.

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March 29th, 2012, 11:58 am


68. zoo said:

Syria extended the Period of Accepting Compensation Claims for Damages by Terrorist Groups
(Dp-news – Sana)
DAMASCUS- Syria`s Local Administration Ministry extended the period of accepting compensation claims by citizens whose private properties were damaged by armed terrorist groups another 15 days in all the provinces.

In a circular issued on Wednesday, the Ministry announced the formation of a central committee chaired by the Local Administration Minister and comprised of the ministers of Finance, the Interior and the Justice and the governors in a measure to compensate the affected citizens for the damages caused to their uninsured properties by the sabotage acts of terrorist groups.

The circular indicated that sub-committees were also formed in the provinces for these purposes that are chaired by the governor of each province

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March 29th, 2012, 12:00 pm


69. Syria no Kandahar said:

Amir,Alaaroor and Alzoahri all singing:
La viva revolution .

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March 29th, 2012, 12:03 pm


71. Mina said:

And here we go again with Aavaz and the systematically negative attitude of the “expat opposition” and the couch surfers.

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March 29th, 2012, 12:11 pm


72. Alan said:

BRICS to change world economy

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March 29th, 2012, 12:15 pm


73. Alan said:

BRIC Nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) signed Local Currency agreement at Summit. They will not trade in U.S. dollars anymore. Agreements around the world between Countries to Drop U.S. dollar for trade (including Australia)

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March 29th, 2012, 12:18 pm


74. Alan said:

15-Mar-2012 Special Interview – Gilad Atzmon

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March 29th, 2012, 12:22 pm


75. Equus said:

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!

Dear Omen,

This is a common human being error, it’s very known in social psychology that we tend to generalize, it’s wrong to state Syrians themselves are calling for intervention. It’s not ALL Syrians, in fact, only segment of Syrians with AVAAZ posters exhibited on Cnn with forefront Danny boy or Galioun asking for Israeli,US intervention. The tea party in the US does not represent ALL Americans. Professors who worked with Galioun and former students at La Sorbonne are flabbergasted by his stance. They cannot believe this is the same person who was among them. Something must have happened and we ignore??

Even Mrs Tara who harbors ill feeling toward the regime at certain point on this blog said: Galioun must go. It makes many people wonder why Mrs Clinton communicating solely with Galioun’s group? If, the benefit of Syrians is genuinely at heart, she’ll accept communicating with other opposition groups. Even better, if she is really concerned about human lives, she’d call Assad directly and reason with him. If she’s really concerned, she’ll send containers of first aid kits and food and not weapon. People are collecting money in shopping malls for Syria and first thing they tell you, we are the opposition but not with Galioun. US officials cannot take one segment of the population and pretend it speaks in name of ALL Syrians. This is the essence of democracy. The US must stop ignoring other Syrian opposition groups and pro-groups. As Mr. Obama keeps saying all options are on the table, ALL voices must be on the table too.

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March 29th, 2012, 1:00 pm


76. Alan said:

African Child March 29, 2012, 19:58

The Muslim Arab leaders will have choice alcoholic wines from Europe in their menu at this summit but will behead commoners for doing same back at home.

The communique from this summit will have to be first approved by the US State department before it is made public by these Arab leaders. Sometimes I wonder how the US is able to control and herd these Arab leaders at their will to any place they wish under the guise of ‘Friends of Iraq, Friends of Libya, Friends of Syria; the average Arab would suicide bomb their people on US behalf after the CIA pays Islamic Mullahs to indoctrinate their followers of the abundance of virgins in paradise to become would-be suicide bombers while the Mullahs fly first class to deliver extremist sermon across the Arab world and Muslim nations and ride choice cars, horses and camels and even building Formula One circuits and go for regular medical checkups in US so that they would know how many useful years is left in their bodies.

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March 29th, 2012, 1:00 pm


77. Mina said:


“Including Australia” : how is that possible?? The Brics signed a hoax or what?

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March 29th, 2012, 1:14 pm


78. zoo said:

Libya to Europe: Remember us?

Former Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril traveled to Brussels to warn European leaders about the dangers of abandoning their work in Libya before the country is stabilized.

By Robert Marquand, Staff writer / March 29, 2012

Former Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said at a European conference that his struggling nation feels practically “abandoned” by Europe – where attention is focused on Syria – and that the youth who brought the 2011 revolution are “being completely left out of the picture” ahead of elections in June.
It is a “tragic mistake … a fatal mistake” to abandon Libya at this time, said the former leader of the Transitional National Council. “Libya is in a political and security vacuum, and vacuums do not remain vacuums. Extremism might spread at any moment,” Mr. Jibril warned. “I am afraid that early indicators are there right now.”|+All+Stories%29&utm_content=Google+International

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March 29th, 2012, 1:21 pm


79. Alan said:

77. MINA

What prevents with Australia to have the economic relations on the basis of money unit of the countries BRICS?

China-Australia, India-Australia, the Republic of South Africa-Australia etc. is a question of the economic relations!

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March 29th, 2012, 1:29 pm


80. jna said:


UK To Send Aid To Opposition Groups Inside Syria

Britain allocated 500,000 pounds (US$795,000) Thursday to supply non-lethal aid to Syria’s opposition, pledging assistance to groups inside the country for the first time ahead of international talks this weekend on how best to support the nation’s rebels.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the offer of new funds includes an “agreement in principle” to provide support to opposition members inside Syria.

Until now, Britain has supplied assistance to exiles in the West and opponents of President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria’s neighboring countries, amid concern over the practicalities of delivering items into Syria and fears that equipment could end up in the hands of extremists.

Precise details of what type of support and equipment will be offered are still being determined, though the package is likely to include secure telephones.

“It will help hard-pressed opposition groups and brave civil society organizations inside and outside the country to document the regime’s violations and gain the skills and resources they need to help build a democratic future for Syria,” Hague planned to say in a speech later Thursday, according to excerpts released in advance.

The United States and several European and Arab nations will discuss providing aid to Syrian rebels at a meeting in Istanbul on April 1.


It is hoped that providing secure telephones will help opposition figures improve their communication with those trying to deliver humanitarian assistance inside Syria and allow them to better coordinate efforts to keep residents safe.

The U.K. already has spent about 450,000 pounds to support Syria’s opposition outside the country over the last eight months, offering training in strategic communications and support to those documenting abuses by Assad’s regime in a conflict which the U.N. says has left more than 9,000 people dead.

Last month, Britain sent a team of officials and legal experts to Syria’s neighboring nations to document the Assad regime’s violence. The mission was intended to gather viable evidence for use in any future prosecutions.


Major Islamic Charity Chiefs’ Convictions of Hamas Support Upheld

Five leaders of an Islamic charity convicted of using the organization as a means of funneling money and supplies to Hamas were denied an appeal by a US federal appeals court on Wednesday.

Hamas is designated as a terror organization by the United States. The Hamas charter states “by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, [Israel] defies Islam and the Muslims,” and vilifies “those who revolve in the Zionist orbit, aiming at obstructing the road before the Jihad fighters” such as ”the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, B’nai B’rith”. “For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield,” according the the charter, “until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails.”

The Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, once the largest Islamic charity in the United States, was shuttered by former President George W. Bush following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York.

Ghassan Elashi, Holy Land’s former chairman, and Shukri Abu Baker, Holy Land’s CEO, were convicted of supporting a specially designated terror organization, money laundering and tax fraud and each sentenced to 65 years in prison. Mufid Abdulgader and Aabdulrahman Odeh were each convicted of three counts of conspiracy, and received 20 and 15 years respectively. Mohammed El-Mezain was convicted of one count of conspiracy to support a terrorist organization and received a 15 year sentence. The Holy Land Foundation was convicted of all 32 counts.

The convicted men claimed they were denied a fair trial when US District Judge Jorge Solis, who presided over their 2008 retrial in a Dallas federal court, allowed the testimony of two Israeli witnesses whose identities were protected.

It is illegal by federal law to provide material aid and support to a designated terrorist organization. “…the defendants facilitated Hamas’ activity by furthering its popularity among Palestinians and by providing a funding resource. This, in turn, allowed Hamas to concentrate its efforts on violent activity,” Judge Carolyn King wrote on behalf of the appellate court.

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March 29th, 2012, 1:39 pm


81. Alan said:

78. ZOO said:

Libya to Europe: Remember us?
استجداء مسلوبين الارادة

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March 29th, 2012, 1:41 pm


82. Mina said:

Well Alan, if the Australians sign it, it will be to torpedo it. I can’t believe they are going to drop their great UK-US alliance.

Warning for “free officers” wandering in Turkey:
Turkish prosecutors demanded 15–20 year jail sentences for 364 serving and retired military officers at a coup plot trial on Thursday, marking a dark day for a military that until recently held the power to make or break governments. (…)

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March 29th, 2012, 2:08 pm


83. jad said:

The Burial Brigade of Homs
An Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story

Human Rights Watch has condemned abuses committed by Syrian rebels in their stronghold of Homs. But one member of a rebel “burial brigade” who has executed four men by slitting their throats defended his work in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. “If we don’t do it, nobody will hold these perpetrators to account,” he said.
Hussein can barely remember the first time he executed someone. It was probably in a cemetery in the evening, or at night; he can’t recall exactly. It was definitely mid-October of last year, and the man was Shiite, for sure. He had confessed to killing women — decent women, whose husbands and sons had protested against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. So the rebels had decided that the man, a soldier in the Syrian army, deserved to die, too.

Hussein didn’t care if the man had been beaten into a confession, or that he was terrified of death and had begun to stammer prayers. It was his tough luck that the rebels had caught him. Hussein took out his army knife and sliced the kneeling man’s neck. His comrades from the so-called “burial brigade” quickly interred the blood-stained corpse in the sand of the graveyard west of the Baba Amr area of the rebel stronghold of Homs. At the time, the neighborhood was in the hands of the insurgents.
That first execution was a rite of passage for Hussein. He now became a member of the Homs burial brigade. The men, of which there are only a handful, kill in the name of the Syrian revolution. They leave torture to others; that’s what the so-called interrogation brigade is for. “They do the ugly work,” says Hussein, who is currently being treated in a hospital in the Lebanese city of Tripoli. He was injured when a piece of shrapnel became lodged in his back during the army’s ground invasion of Baba Amr in early March.
‘Sometimes We Acquit People’

The rebels in Homs began carrying out regular executions in August of last year, shortly after the conflict in the country began to escalate, says Hussein’s comrade Abu Rami. In his Adidas tracksuit, he looks like any other convalescent in the hospital. But Abu Rami is a senior member of the Homs militia. The other Syrians in the ward greet him respectfully and pay close attention to his words.

“Since last summer, we have executed slightly fewer than 150 men, which represents about 20 percent of our prisoners,” says Abu Rami. Those prisoners who are not convicted and sentenced to death are exchanged for rebel prisoners or detained protesters, he says. But the executioners of Homs have been busier with traitors within their own ranks than with prisoners of war. “If we catch a Sunni spying, or if a citizen betrays the revolution, we make it quick,” says the fighter. According to Abu Rami, Hussein’s burial brigade has put between 200 and 250 traitors to death since the beginning of the uprising.
He dismisses any doubts about whether these people were really all guilty and whether they received a fair trial. “We make great efforts to investigate thoroughly,” Abu Rami says. “Sometimes we acquit people, too.”

Apart from anything else, it is simply the nature of every revolution to be bloody, Abu Rami explains. “Syria is not a country for the sensitive.”,1518,824603,00.html

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March 29th, 2012, 2:41 pm


84. son of Damascus said:

Syrians survive on bread as prices skyrocket
March 29, 2012

Every day, Umm Jihad and her husband must patiently wait in a line for bread at a Damascus bakery as skyrocketing prices mean they can no longer afford other essential foods.

“Bread is the main element of our meals because the cost of everything else has increased so much,” Umm Jihad told AFP, adding: “We are using bread to replace rice,” a staple of the Arab diet.

Ordinary citizens of Damascus said they cannot afford to buy fruit and vegetables as they feel the pinch of soaring inflation fueled by international sanctions on Syria over its regime’s crackdown on dissent.

Outraged by its failure to halt the year-long violence, which the United Nations says has killed more than 9,000 people, Western and Arab states have slapped a wide range of punitive measures on Syria.

Rounds of sanctions targeting Syria’s banking system and oil exports have dealt a heavy blow to foreign exchange earnings and stoked the inflation rate, which official data says reached 15 percent between June and December.


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March 29th, 2012, 2:47 pm


85. Alan said:

What can Australia do if the trade with camps of BRICS shall be impossible on US dollars and it will be possible only on other competitive currency?

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March 29th, 2012, 3:01 pm


86. William Scott Scherk said:

Up thread commenter Alan quoted the headline of an article at

BRIC Nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) signed Local Currency agreement at Summit. They will not trade in U.S. dollars anymore. Agreements around the world between Countries to Drop U.S. dollar for trade (including Australia)

Mina then asks:

“Including Australia” : how is that possible?? The Brics signed a hoax or what?

The blog posting Alan headlined included excerpts from sources including the Indian Financial Express:

Do not forget even Australia (a stanch U.S. ally) has made an agreement with China on March 23 2012, to trade in the Chinese Yuan and not the U.S. dollars for $30 billion over 3 years time.

Mar. 23 – The central banks of China and Australia signed a currency swap agreement yesterday that will allow RMB200 billion (A$30 billion) worth of local currencies to be exchanged between the two countries over three years.

[ … ]

“The agreement reflects the increasing opportunities available to settle trade between the two countries in Chinese renminbi and to make RMB-denominated investments,” the Reserve Bank of Australia said in a press release.

See also:

Mina, I would agree that it is difficult to sort political/economic news into piles like good, bad, black, white, fake, true, 100% terror . . . or similar.

You seem to be doing okay with the sorting into piles. I thought it was interesting that long-term economic restructuring of world markets away from sole dominance of the US dollar reaches to Australia. Although China’s currency is not fully convertible, and not yet an instrument of global reserves as is the US dollar or euro, it is increasingly global.

Moreover, if you look at Chinese trade the world over, and in particular Australia/China exchanges (China is Australia’s largest source of imports and largest export destination) of some 80 billion dollars a year of exchange, it makes sense to structure their financial instruments to offer Australian dollars for investment in Australia, and renminbi for back-investment in China.

Many nations engage in mutual currency arrangements (as with Syria/China) without reference to dollars. This seems like a good thing in this multi-polar world of multiple relationships.

Mina, I have explained my interest in and relationship with Syria (Canadian leftist do-gooder with no family ties), but beyond your note that you were an old Maoist, will we ever find out what your special ties to Syria are? I note you go after Juergen or Tara or whoever for things they have willingly shared here — their native land, cultural affiliations, and present citizenship at least.

I know that it is unpleasant to be harried about one’s (presumed) allegiances — whether with the Terrorists or the Regimists, to Western Plots or Local Mafia — yet I wonder what prevents some folks from coming clean with their own allegiances and possible biases.

I wish you would be less reactive and snide, and enter into conversations rather than asides and tirades. Your eye for hypocrisy, double-dealing, sleaze and murky political motives is sharp. I think it would be way more effective if you outline a role for yourself in the Syrian dialogue, or dialogue-to-come.

I do not get a seat at any table in regards to Syria. Someone like Tara or Jad or OTW or SOD or SNK or Norman and many many others can rightfully ask for a seat at that discussion. They are Syrians at home or abroad with various strong family connections, and in any restructured Syria to come, whether under Assad and the Baath or under a future horror, they need to be involved in the changes as interlocutors and interested parties. The repatriation of exiles and expatriates and their skills and money will be essential. 100% agreement across the board of all the opinion stripes and colours here with the notion that Syrians themselves will solve the issues ahead. I can but witness from afar, ask questions, observe events and wonder.

The very first real live Syrian I met in Vancouver was housed in the downtown refugee reception centre. He was in a wheelchair, a result of state torture. More than any other event in the year I have read at Syria Comment, this evidence of a terrible crime done to Syria was made apparent. It seared into my heart what basics were denied Syrian citizens (or part-citizens like Kurds). What hope had he for his land and his family and his future? Was a new land his only hope? Could he ever go home to Hasaka?

I will visit Syria as an outsider, a visitor and a friend (I hope). I can imagine many many thousands more who would return as patriots in a true reconciliation. I have no right to hector or sneer at any Syrian whatsoever. They live great horrors in their hearts.

Will you be asking for a seat at the table of dialogue, or just visit Syria as a friend, Mina?

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March 29th, 2012, 3:03 pm


87. Syrialover said:


What fun! You’ve exposed how big the “pro-regime dream team” is (or rather, how many computer connections they have).

There’s record vote of 40 red thumbs down for your comment starting: “There are different types of media shabbiha,among those who live outside Syria”

You really hit the target – right where it stings most.

They block voted in bigger numbers against your comment than even their 30+ green thumbs up for anything anti-western.

C’mon guys, let’s see if I can get more red thumbs than Majedkhaldoun did for his reasonable and insightful comments.

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March 29th, 2012, 3:35 pm


88. Jad said:

العصابات المسلحة تتخذ من منازل المدنين اوكاراً لها

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March 29th, 2012, 3:39 pm


89. omen said:

question: why does the angry arab call this spokesperson for the snc “cicero”?

Second expert–wait, this guy is familiar. Is he not the famous Cicero of the Syrian opposition? “Radwan Ziadeh, a member of the Syrian National Council and the executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Washington

is as’ad merely describing him as an orator? is this a descriptive radwan ziadeh is commonly known as?

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March 29th, 2012, 3:40 pm


90. Jad said:

40 thumbs down LOLOL that is a record!

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March 29th, 2012, 3:42 pm


91. omen said:


thank you kindly for your clarification and pointing to the irony of your usage. phew. anybody calling people rats makes me nervous.

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March 29th, 2012, 3:48 pm


92. Jad said:

Zibaleh is busy with the latest ‘revolution’ star

And if you wonder why he didn’t attend the meetings in Istanbul, he is busy with his masters begging for military intervention in DC, he gave his statement with Ford, but strange enough he was kept hidden.

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March 29th, 2012, 3:51 pm


93. Antoine said:

Expect things to cool down for a bit. Maybe 1 month. Do not forget that between early August and mid-October, it was similarly, all very quiet and Assad seemed to have the upper hand. While actually the opposition was regrouping and doing some major internal assessments.

Also expect the death toll to be relatively low (around 30) in the coming weeks [ compared with an average of 100 dead per day a few weeks ago].

However, expect the size and frequency of protests and demonstrations to rise, especially in Hama, Latakia, Halab, Raqqa ( i.e areas with less FSA activity).

However, those who think Assad has been able to re-establish control over Idleb is mistaken. He attacked sarmin and sarqeb and managed to drive out the FSA, but his forces did not occupy the towns and the residents and activists have returned already. the maximum he can do is to do sudden massive attacks on Idleb townsd, he cannot ( at this moment) occupy every town and vilage in Idleb with his troops.

Particularly damaging for the regime has been the loss of a large number of low-level informers and collaborators in Halab and Reef Halab. This has greatly reduced the security forces’ capabilities to make arrests.

However the middle classes of Halab are still strong and vocal in their opposition to the FSA.

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March 29th, 2012, 3:57 pm


94. omen said:

Your eye for hypocrisy, double-dealing, sleaze and murky political motives is sharp.

except for when it comes to the regime. assad is a sainted angel, without fault or sin.

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March 29th, 2012, 3:58 pm


95. omen said:

one scenario offered:

First expert: ““You can imagine a deal in which the Iranians say, ‘We’re not going to support Assad,’ in exchange for a deal on nukes,” said Bruce W. Jentleson, a professor of public policy and political science at Duke University and a former adviser at the State Department.”

my fear is the reverse: the west agrees to allow assad to remain in power in exchange for iran agreeing to halt weapons program. the betrayal in such a “deal” would be staggering.

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March 29th, 2012, 4:06 pm


96. Alan said:

brilliant !

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March 29th, 2012, 4:24 pm


97. Alan said:

Mina !
in continuation
Brave New Bank? BRICS moot dropping dollar, IMF
The BRICS summit has wrapped up in India. Creating an alternative global lender and stepping away from the dollar as a reserve currency were among their main objectives. RT’s Priya Sridhar is in New Delhi.
Earlier RT spoke to Dr Sreeram Chaulia, who is a Vice Dean at the Jindal School of International Affairs. He believes institutions like the IMF and the World Bank have outlived their uselfulness.

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March 29th, 2012, 4:30 pm


98. Alan said:

‘Want gas? Stop wars! UK fuel panic orchestrated by NWO’
There is panic at the petrol pumps in Britain, ahead of a possible tanker driver strike. Some stations have already run dry after a government minister suggested people should fill their tanks and stock up with fuel cans. RT discusses the topic with political analyst Peter Eyre who’s in Birmingham in the UK.

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March 29th, 2012, 4:33 pm


99. Dale Andersen said:

“…there is panic at the petrol pumps in Britain…”

What does this have to do with Syria, Alan? Oh, I get it! When your own country is imploding in front of you alert r goofy face, you look elsewhere for the comforting notion that other people are having problems, too.

BTW, wouldn’t it be nice if the only problem Syria had was an impending truckers’ strike. But then again, that wouldn’t happen. Besho would send the Shabeeha to crush it….

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March 29th, 2012, 4:42 pm


100. Juergen said:

Before Jad or Mina will post it, I´ll do my duty…

UAE asked German government to shut down the office of the Konrad Adenauer foundation ( named after the first german chancellor after the 2nd world war). This foundation is unlike the famous Goethe foundation not an official government funded foundation, its funded by the Christian democratic party which is the ruling coalitian party of Angela Merkel. Most big parties have such foundations, and in my opinion they do a great job acting as an vivid bridge between the countries. The move came after the office in Cairo got shut down recently.

Hans-Gert Pöttering the head of the foundation sees in its closure of this office in Abu Dhabi an “warning sign for the democratic development in Arab countries”.

Foundation chief Poettering sees parallels between the office closures in Cairo and Abu Dhabi. Apparently the political foundations in the Arab world “is seen increasingly unwelcome.”

In a statement Merkel said: “We are sorry, of course, that the foundation needs to be closed.” Nevertheless, the federal government would try to” continue working closely “with the UAE. At
the same time, Berlin will work towards a speedy re-opening.
According to the CDU-politician, the decision was not justified by the UAE with the work of the Adenauer Foundation on its own. The issue is a “total closure of all the foreign foundations in the UAE.

The office was the only of that kind which was opened after an formal invitation by the UAE in 2009.,1518,824586,00.html

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March 29th, 2012, 4:48 pm


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