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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101. ann said:

Turkey said no intention to threaten Syria with military intervention – 2012-03-30

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-03/30/c_122906902.htm

ISTANBUL, March 29 (Xinhua) — Turkey’s Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said Thursday that Turkey has no intention of threatening Syria with military action, though it is considering the establishment of a buffer zone inside Syria.

The Turkish official downplayed a recent visit by Land Forces Commander General Hayri Kivrikoglu to the Syrian border as “a routine inspection”.

Yilmaz made the statement during a visit to Sakarya province for a series of meetings with local officials.

“We have no thoughts or intentions of threatening Syria in any way. But we do want the democratic demands of the Syrian people to be met,” Yilmaz was quoted by local daily Today’s Zaman as saying.

Yilmaz also said the Turkish government was against any external intervention in Syria. “We want the Arab League to consider the demands of the Syrian people and make a decision for the countries of the region accordingly.”

[...]

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March 29th, 2012, 4:56 pm

 

102. ann said:

Congressional report: attack on Iran would be a failure – 29 March, 2012

http://rt.com/usa/news/iran-report-nuclear-israel-785/

A new Congressional report affirms that a potential US or Israeli strike on Iran would be useless since the Islamic Republic could recuperate from it within a six month time frame.

The report sparked by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s remarks claiming he “believes” Israel is “likely” to attack in Iran in either April, May or June, says although US and Israel aren’t certain of the precise location of the nuclear sites, the facilities may be spread out in a way that an attack would result in failure.

Bloomberg described the report stating it is “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be on the likelihood of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.”

According to the Bloomberg report, last month a former US government official stated to researchers that “Iran’s centrifuge production is widely distributed and the number of workshops has probably multiplied ‘many times’ since 2005 because of an increase in Iranian contractors and subcontractors working on the program.”

This echoes Netanyahu’s and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s concern that sanctions against Iran are futile and an attack should be implemented before it’s too late.

The report states “an attack could have considerable regional and global security, political and economic repercussion, not least for the United States, Israel, and their bilateral relationship.”

In the 52 page document, it states that although President Obama and leaders of Congress have expressed their concerns about a nuclear armed Iran, the American people must have trust in the US intelligence assessments that “Iran has not made a decision to build nuclear weapons.”

The report also acknowledges that the aspects of detailed text are subject to “vigorous debate and remain fully or partially outside public knowledge.”

In page five of the report it states that “this uncertainty and ambiguity is a major feature of the environment in which international actors decided their policies and actions vis-à-vis Iran.”

Leaders like Netanyahu have taken advantage of these grey areas.

[...]

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March 29th, 2012, 5:02 pm

 

103. omen said:

what we need is leaked emails demonstrating how much loot the regime has stolen from the people.

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March 29th, 2012, 5:13 pm

 

104. omen said:

what is strange, alan, is making excuses for a modern day hitler.

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March 29th, 2012, 5:14 pm

 

105. Alan said:

104. OMEN
what we need is leaked emails demonstrating how much loot the regime has stolen from the people.
Tell! to whom you in the address? who should provide your need?

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March 29th, 2012, 5:21 pm

 

106. Humanist said:

Re. Irritated (whatever comment),

Yeah, shia islamists don’t do terrorism.

They only rape , kill and enslave whole countries…

I say to the “secular” pro-Hezbollah/Khameini/Assad hypocrites on SC:
Ask any atheist, secular or even moderately religious Iranian about the so called shia “liberalism”!

The (arab shia-alawite/western leftist) apologists for Khameini and co. always like to compare Iran with the worst Sunni country (i.e. Saudi Arabia). But Iranians themselves would never do that, since the cultures (i.e. Iranian Persian/Azeri vs. Arab Beduin) are so totally different!

- How many (if any) exile Saudis do you see in the West?
- And how many Iranians?

*I guess the first (=Saudi Arabs) are brainwashed and may really like their barbaric regime (like many Syrians seem to like theirs),

…but I can tell you for sure the other (=Iranians) ARE NOT!

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March 29th, 2012, 5:23 pm

 

107. omen said:

ty syrialover 3:35 for pointing it out.
in case people missed it:

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.

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March 29th, 2012, 5:39 pm

 

108. Mawal95 said:

The town of Saraqeb in Idlib province has had serious armed violence by rebels. In the past few days the Syrian army has clashed with the rebels in Saraqeb and killed a number of rebels, and driven the armed men away from the town. As reported by SHAM FM today 80 men in Saraqeb surrendered to the authorities and professed themselves to be not directly responsible for any of the killings done by rebels, and therefore the authorities released them under the amnesty rules. http://www.facebook.com/lists/247693938657345
@ ANTOINE #93: I’m unaware of any basis for your forecasts. What’s your basis?

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March 29th, 2012, 5:40 pm

 

109. Mawal95 said:

29 mar 2012. Bashar Assad today visited Al-Qanawat village in Suweida to convey his condolences for the leading Druze cleric Sheikh Ahmad al-Hijri, whose funeral was a couple of days ago. The funeral on 27 Mar 2012 in a soccer stadium in Suweida city was attended by the grand mufti Ahmad Hassoun. SANA.SY is not reporting today’s visit by Bashar today. But here are some photos from it:
الشعب يريد بشار العظيم
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=353979304637893&set=a.353978941304596.74069.273855009316990&type=3&theater
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=194569560658412&set=a.110127495769286.13480.110113882437314&type=1&ref=nf , http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=246529325442774&set=a.136911699737871.28398.136822269746814&type=1

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March 29th, 2012, 5:45 pm

 

110. 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 Saraqeb 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. He is still unable to attack Binnish or Jabal Zawiya. And even in Homs City, the old city and northern suburbs 9 Khaldiya, Bayada, Qoussour, Deir baalbeh) is firmly under FSA control, in the Province, Rastan, Talbiseh, Houla and Qusayr are 100 % under FSA control.

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, 5:47 pm

 

111. Syria no Kandahar said:

The grand mufti in SA called for destruction of all churches in the Arabian peninsula !! What was the
White house response?what was the Vatican response?
The world will never be a better place as long as
Oil is coming befor principles.US and Europe will
Never be real democracies as long as the are doing Israeli -proxy policies .
What would the Moslem world response if the poppe calls for destructions of all the mosques
In Italy?how many Italian and Vatican embassies
Will be burned by Allah Akbarists:

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March 29th, 2012, 5:48 pm

 

112. jad said:

Good to know that the British gov. is using the Brits money to support terrorism in Syria, funny how the article is trying to glorify the move while the comments under trashing the move as terrorists supporting.

Hague pledges £500,000 to Syria opposition

Britain will provide a further £500,000 to support Syria’s political
opposition in the face of president Bashar Assad’s regime, the Foreign
Secretary said.

William Hague is expected to announce the extra funding tonight during his annual speech at the Lord Mayor’s Easter Banquet.

Mr Hague said the money would help “hard-pressed” opposition groups to document the regime’s violations.

In his speech, he will set out that he has “agreed to provide a further half a million pounds of British support to Syria’s political opposition”.

“It includes agreement in principle for practical non-lethal support to them inside Syria,” Mr Hague said.

“It will help hard-pressed opposition groups and brave civil society organisations 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.”

The Government has, over the last eight months, given £450,000 of practical support to the Syrian opposition, including media skills training to internal activists and advice to Syrian human rights defenders.

The support is intended to aid Syria’s political opposition groups to develop themselves as a credible alternative to Assad’s regime and develop the necessary capability to realise an orderly transition to a more democratic Syria.
{…}
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/hague-pledges-500000-to-syria-opposition-7600717.html

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March 29th, 2012, 5:48 pm

 

113. omen said:

this was posted late so i’m afraid ppl missed it. bears repeating:

262. Juergen said:

Sheila

I am afraid that some of those who support Assad may position themselves to a point of no return. My grandmother told me once the story that after Hitler committed suicide the river near my hometown was filled with dead women and men who killed themselves. They thought a Germany without Hitler is unthinkable and the propaganda of the Third Reich did its most damage. But as a famous writer wrote after coming back to Germany in 1945, he wrote that he was not able to find one single nazi, all had been in opposition to this brutal regime.

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March 29th, 2012, 5:52 pm

 

114. Mawal95 said:

Today was a relatively slow day in Syrian news, as can be see in the content of all the above comments today.

In what follows I repeat three points I’ve made before.

The government makes it its business to try to be in touch with the pulse of Syrian popular sentiment. It succeeds at that effort when the popular sentiment is pretty obvious. In policymaking the government is non-doctrinaire and is responsive to popular sentiment. Needless to say, this helps it politically and it’s one of the reasons why the government is popular after so many years of rule.

In Spring 2011 a political awakening happened to the Syrian Street that nobody saw coming. Nobody either inside or outside the government saw it coming. But once the government saw it, the government responded with a slew of serious political reforms. The reforms were subsequently accepted by mainstream Syrian society without any serious controversy or dispute over any of the particulars.

The absence of controversy over the particulars of the reforms is a good indicator to you of the government’s ability to sense what’s popularly wanted and what’s acceptable. To repeat, this government is politically astute. The government is very serious about being politically popular.

At the same time, however, it is correct to say that the government represents and acts on behalf of the Syrian society’s Establishment. The regime has partly created this Establishment and the Establishment has partly created the regime. The country is dominated by a sociologically broad Establishment that covers all geographic parts of the country, nearly all religious groups, all age groups, all professional occupations, all big private enterprises, and all components of the State.

It controls the trade unions, the mass media, the legal system, the education sector, the university departments, the religious endowments establishment, the private-sector civic organizations, and the municipal councils of every city, town and county in the country. Bashar Assad and the Assad government is the Establishment’s leadership. There is no sign or prospect of emergence of an alternative leadership within the Establishment.

For decades the Establishment has had essentially only one political party. Today it shows no inclination towards internal divisiveness such as would create two or more parties within the framework of one ruling Establishment (such as the Western countries have).

The Establishment is firmly unified against the rebellion; and no divisiveness within the Establishment could get political traction while the fight against the rebellion is still ongoing. Because the Establishment remains well unified and supports the Assad party, the upcoming parliamentary election campaign will consist of sundry semi-anonymous dissident parties and independent individuals campaigning against the Establishment’s party.

Accepting this perspective on the political landscape, one must expect the Establishment’s party to win by a very comfortable margin. I do not see how the overall society can vote in significant numbers for any anti-Establishment agenda. And in fact there isn’t any visible anti-Establshment agenda: the dissident agenda is the overthrow of the Establishment’s governing party, but without putting forth any agenda for what to replace it with.

In fact, most of the Syrian rebels are poorly-educated working-class people who have no ideas and no substantive agenda other than to howl at the Establishment. They draw some moral and political ideas from Islamic teachings, which they’ve gotten some education on, and they have some Islamist values like the poorly-educated working-classes who voted for Islamist parties in recent elections in Egypt and Tunisia.

But the Syrian rebels and dissidents on the whole are not putting forth an Islamist agenda, nor any other alternative policy agenda or substantive forward vision that throws the regime on the defensive in the upcoming election.

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March 29th, 2012, 5:58 pm

 

115. omen said:

jad 5:48 how much money and support has iran given assad?

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March 29th, 2012, 5:59 pm

 

116. irritated said:

#113 Jad

Jad

We will see in which pockets these pounds will end up. The SNC, the FSA and all the armed gangs are as corruptible as anybody else having been brought up in corruption.

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March 29th, 2012, 6:00 pm

 

117. irritated said:

#117 Omen

Iran has been Syria’s ally for the last 40 years and has investments in Syria while the UK has been imposing sanctions because of Syria supporting the resistance against Israel and has no investments whatsoever in Syria.
The UK pledges but will probably not send anything, until they know in which hands it will fall, and that is far from clear.

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March 29th, 2012, 6:06 pm

 

118. bronco said:

Mawal95

Sorry, but could please insert blank lines in your posts between some paragraphs, it will make it much more readable.

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March 29th, 2012, 6:08 pm

 

119. zoo said:

EU’s Ashton may boycott the FOS while Turkey has resigned itself to save face about the SNC, by trying to make it accepted as the “Principal representative of the Opposition” instead of the ‘Sole’

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/eus-ashton-skips-syria-meet-in-turkey-over-cyprus.aspx?pageID=238&nID=17239&NewsCatID=338

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is mulling whether to boycott the Friends of Syria meeting on April 1 in Istanbul due to Turkey’s refusal to invite Greek Cyprus to the key meeting.

Syrian National Council may be ‘a principal representative’

Meanwhile, Turkey aims to raise the status of the Syrian National Council at the Friends of Syria meeting as “a principal representative” of the Syrian people, a Turkish official said, adding that efforts were still under way to reconcile the council and Kurdish groups.

“As the Syrian opposition agreed on a national pact in Istanbul, an important step has been taken in order to recognize the [council] as the principal representative of the people,” a Turkish official told the Daily News yesterday.

Participants at the Friends of Syria group’s meeting will discuss the issue on April 1, while Turkey will work on an agreement toward that goal, the official said.
(..)

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March 29th, 2012, 6:16 pm

 

120. majedkhaldoun said:

Ann
Comment #101

Can you please explain how would Turkey establish a buffer zone, and not interfere militarily?

I would consider this comment is just like you other comments, contradiction,that does not make sense.

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March 29th, 2012, 6:24 pm

 

121. zoo said:

Iran, Turkey sharply differ on Syria
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI | Associated Press – 1 hr 38 mins ago
http://news.yahoo.com/iran-turkey-sharply-differ-syria-193901321.html

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian and Turkish leaders exchanged sharply opposing views Thursday as they discussed how to deal with the crisis in Syria.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran strongly supports reforms in Syria under President Bashar Assad, but visiting Turkish prime minister said Assad can’t be trusted and must step down.

The unusual public acknowledgment of sharp differences between the two neighbors came on the second day of a state visit to Iran by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan arrived in Tehran from South Korea, where he attended a nuclear security summit and had talks with President Barack Obama.

Iran is Syria’s closest ally, and Tehran has staunchly backed Assad during Syria’s year-long uprising.

“Iran will defend Syria because of (its) support of the resistance front against the Zionist regime and is strongly opposed to any interference by foreign forces in Syria’s internal affairs,” Khamenei told Erdogan. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is categorically opposed to any plan initiated by the U.S. regarding Syria.”

Khamenei rejected Turkey’s position that Assad must step down.

“We support reforms in Syria. The reforms that began in Syria need to continue,” state TV quoted Khamenei as saying.

It was not clear how Erdogan responded to Khamenei, but hours later he told Iran’s state TV that Assad’s regime can’t be trusted.

“If Assad doesn’t fear (an election), he should give a ballot box to the people and let parties take shape. (Assad’s) Baath should not form a party and must be regarded as a thing of the past,” Erdogan said. “We can’t put the previous years in front of us.”(..)

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March 29th, 2012, 6:26 pm

 

122. Tara said:

The Syrian opposition will refuse to deal with their killer; those who do so will be marginalized. As many Syrians observe the international community endorsing the Russian and Chinese position; as they realise that Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy are patent hypocrites; and as they witness outsiders, including Syrian exiles hostile to the Assad regime, manoeuvring without consulting them, they will become more frustrated and angry, and they will purchase weapons. There will be war, all because no one dares show Bashar Assad the exit.

The Annan plan will bring more violence
March 29, 2012 01:43 AM
By Michael Young
The Daily Star

Russia and China consider the Annan plan a formula for saving Bashar Assad, not getting rid of him. The most ridiculous claim in the past two weeks is that Moscow and Beijing have softened on Syria, and proved this by moving closer to the Americans and the Europeans in the Security Council, where they signed on to a presidential statement backing Annan’s mission.

The truth is that it’s the Obama administration and its European partners that have adopted the Russian and Chinese perspective. When President Barack Obama says that Assad will fall, that’s empty oratory destined to keep Syria at arm’s length during an election year, and avoid accusations that the US president is soft on mass murder …

The Russian calculation is that if Assad can begin negotiations with the opposition, he will prevail. The different opposition groups will be divided, with some endorsing talks and others rejecting them, permitting the Syrian regime to select its interlocutors. Those who say no to Annan’s offer, Moscow believes, will lose international legitimacy.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Columnist/2012/Mar-29/168302-the-annan-plan-will-bring-more-violence.ashx#ixzz1qUo0l3ML

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March 29th, 2012, 6:26 pm

 

123. Son of Damascus said:

Irritated,

“UK has been imposing sanctions because of Syria supporting the resistance against Israel and has no investments whatsoever in Syria.”

What resistance exactly, please remind me the last time this administration or the one before it shot a single bullet to free the Golan?

Last I checked the Assads have done NOTHING to get back our land, so when I see them willing to liberate our land rather than kill its own people with the very weapons it is supposed to liberate it I will believe this whole resistance argument.

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March 29th, 2012, 6:28 pm

 

124. Tara said:

Observer#239 from a previous thread

“This is fake country with a fake president and with a fake government and with a fake ideology and with a fake present and a dim and dark future destroyed by a pure mafiosi family”

That was pretty good.  I will add this is a fake country with fake past too.  One of the commenter said “Syria is one of a few MID EAST countries where majority and minority live in peace. ” referring to the past.  Wrong! Very very wrong!

The fact of the matter is that majority and minority did not live in peace.  0r perhaps lived in a fake peace.  For the last 40 some years, the majority was brutally oppressed by the minority that enforced a fake peace by building a seemingly un-destroyable steel wall of fear.    

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March 29th, 2012, 6:30 pm

 

125. omen said:

irritated 6:06, allow me to rephrase then:
how much money, weapons and material support has iran extended to the regime with the aim to slaughter and quell the rebel opposition?

Iranians believe that anti-government protests will renew in full force after Syria’s Bashar Assad will be toppled. “Once Assad falls, the ground here will start to shake here as well,” says Razi.

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March 29th, 2012, 6:31 pm

 

126. zoo said:

In line with the media new tendency: More criticism of the rebels

Islamists find foothold in Syria revolt
By Erika Solomon | Reuters – 9 hrs ago

http://news.yahoo.com/islamists-foothold-syria-revolt-130631460.html
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Sheikh Abu Abdullah Zahed, a Lebanese Muslim cleric with influence amongst radical youth, is part of a growing effort to push the uprising in Syria towards militant Islam.

Hardline Sunni Muslims in Lebanon are maneuvering for influence over Syrians across the border who have spent the last year fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

“At first Syrians called on the West and NATO. Now they are calling on God,” said Zahed, sitting in his library, where black Islamic flags hang on the walls.

As opposition groups abroad squabble over politics and Assad’s army pounds rebellious cities, Muslim hardliners want to make religion the unifying basis of the revolt.

Radical Islamist elements are still on the fringe, but that’s enough to make a headache for opposition activists who are struggling to convince Syrian minorities to support a revolt led mostly by the country’s Sunni majority.

Foreign powers joining exile opposition leaders at a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul this week will also want proof of whom exactly they are making friends with, if they are ever to consider arming rebel forces.

“We don’t want to accidentally wind up supporting extremist groups,” said Joseph Holliday, of the Institute for the Study of War, in Washington. “The fundamental question is: What happens in the future? And does our involvement make this turn better or worse?”

Some activists are already uneasy about a series of car bombs that hit Syria’s two main cities. An unknown group called Al-Nusra Front claimed the attacks on a website that posts messages from many al Qaeda branches.

“There is a growing radical presence inside Syria and I think they were behind the bombings. I’m afraid controlling them could be a losing battle,” said an activist. He asked not to be named for fear of angering fellow opposition members, who are reluctant to discuss potential radical infiltration.

STEREOTYPED BY BEARDS

Zahed, a Lebanese sheikh with a long beard and a leather jacket over his blue robe, sits in front of shelves of gold embossed religious books. He offers the Islamic flags that hang behind him to people who join anti-Assad protests in his hometown of Tripoli.

“At first no one raised anything other than the Syrian flag. Now some are raising the Islamic flag,” Zahed said.

Assad has long raised the specter of Islamic extremism and says “terrorists” are behind Syria’s bloody uprising.
(..)

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March 29th, 2012, 6:35 pm

 

127. Humanist said:

Yeah the Great “RESISTANCE” – paid by the blood of 100 000s of Arabs, Iranians and Kurds, ruled by Great Anti Zionist-Imperialist Moslem Leaders such as Assad I, Assad II, Saddam, Khomeini and Khameini – has indeed been very succesfull:

Gaza is Free, Golan is Free, West Bank is Free
–> All Palestine is free! Israel in the Sea!

HURRAY! (as the “professional” Mawal95/Ya Mara Ghalba likes to say)
.
.
.
.
.
.
(not)

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March 29th, 2012, 6:36 pm

 

128. jad said:

Mawal,

As usual, a very good summary and analysis of what’s going on inside Syria and the Establishments away from the media endless ‘propaganda’.

In your last paragraph you point out a worth thinking about point: “But the Syrian rebels and dissidents on the whole are not putting forth an Islamist agenda, nor any other alternative policy agenda or substantive forward vision that throws the regime on the defensive in the upcoming election.”

I think we didn’t see the religious agenda so obvious in the political sphere because after a year of bloody struggle there is no unifying AGENDA whatsoever, unless you call ‘isqa6 alnizam’ an agenda.

While in Tunisia, Egypt and even Yemen the political Islam is already established way before the revolution, unlike Syria and for the Syrian opposition to start a proper political agenda they need to be mature enough each in their own parties and not as we are seeing the failed tries to box them in one ‘council’ and one ‘opposition’ group, that will never build any of them an agenda or to make them mature enough to understand the average Syrian needs and move forward, all this mish mash coalitions and meeting are waste of time, unless each of those opposition groups form somekind of political party with a clear rules and agenda things will stay in the hands of the Syrian state.

This flaw and weakness of the dissidents is what driving many toward begging with the most humiliating was for a military intervention since they know that they actually have nothing at all to offer to any Syrian living in the country.

On the other hand, at the ground and away from politics, the terrorist radicals have nothing else but religion and sectarianism similar to Alqaeda to attract the uneducated soldiers they need for their terrorist mission, this is why you see the radical religious message is dominating the armed militia groups.

What you think?

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March 29th, 2012, 6:37 pm

 

129. irritated said:

125. Son of Damascus

Just hosting and supporting Hamas that no “courageous” Arab country wants to host and giving the Palestinians refugees in Syria a status that no other Arab country gave them are enough to have all Palestinians leaders hailing Bashar Al Assad for his support to the Resistance. These leaders are better placed than you to know who supports them and who just talk.

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March 29th, 2012, 6:41 pm

 

130. irritated said:

#127 Omen

Keep rephrasing…

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March 29th, 2012, 6:43 pm

 

131. jad said:

Against the will of crazy neo-con Young, It seems that SNC and the opposition groups are giving signs that they will accept to negotiate on only ONE condition, not with Bashar, which is a very good step forward in my opinion, at least they start to see some reality:

غليون: نقبل بالتفاوض شرط ان يقوم الاسد بتفويض صلاحياته لشخص اخر

كد رئيس المجلس الوطني السوري برهان غليون ان المجلس الوطني السوري يقبل بالتفاوض مع النظام السوري بشرط ان يقوم الرئيس السوري بشار الاسد بتفويض صلاحياته لنائبه، ورأى انه” من المهم ان يعيد العالم العربي التاكيد على ان الوضع في سوريا لا يمكن ان يستمر كما هو”.

واضاف في حديث لمحطة “العربية”، “العالم كله يعرف انه ليس لهذا النظام الموجود في سوريا اي مصداقية وان كان له مصداقية فلماذا لم يوقف العنف الى اليوم”،وتابع ” نحن ننظر الى موافقة النظام على مبادرة انان كما الموافقات السابقة التي قام بها، فهو كان يدعي انه يعمل لتحقيق المبادرات وبالوقت نفسه يعمل على رفع وتيرة العنف”، معتبرا ان “النظام يراوغ ويريد ان يربح الوقت ولكننا سنقبل ان كان هناك اي امكانية لوقف العنف”.

واكد غليون ان المجلس الوطني السوري رحب بمبادرة انان كما رحب بالمبادرة العربية،واضاف “نحن نقبل بالتفاوض عندما يبدأ النظام بالتطبيق الفعلي لبنود المبادرات وعندها سيكون هناك جو جيد لبدء المفاوضات”، كاشفا عن شروط تضمن مصداقية التفاوض وهي تفويض الرئيس صلاحياته لشخص اخر “لانه لم يعد يملك الصلاحية ولا يقبل به الشعب السوري للتفاوض”،واضاف ” نحن مع التفويض الكامل الذي يعني فعليا تنحي الرئيس عن منصبه”.

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March 29th, 2012, 6:44 pm

 

132. omen said:

zoo 6:35, every terrorist dictator since tunis has claimed the protests were al qaeda.

state sponsored terrorism is wider scaled than al qaeda! how many 9/11s has bashar bin laden wrought upon his country?

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March 29th, 2012, 6:45 pm

 

133. jad said:

It’s interesting that the failures of every creepy Arab state and leadership in doing anything to Palestine, Lebanon and Jolan Syria, is now blamed on Bashar and Syria and the resistance is the bad thing while non of those attacking Syria resistance policies and stands with Palestinians and Lebanese didn’t even bother to mention Palestine Land Day and they are preaching all of us about ‘resistance’….how sad!

To Palestine and to every Palestinian we are still with you
https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/535254_299616390109554_100001835857138_727794_15272814_n.jpg

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March 29th, 2012, 6:58 pm

 

134. Mawal95 said:

I agree with JAD #130. I agree the dissidents have no unifying agenda, and I agree that “weakness of the dissidents is what driving many toward begging with the most humiliating way for a military intervention since they know that they actually have nothing at all to offer to any Syrian living in the country.” I agree that Isqat Al-Nizam is not an agenda for the people living in the country.

On the other hand, I believe JAD is overstating the reality when he says “the radical religious message is dominating the armed militia groups.” Based on what I see (and my main source is Youtube), I believe instead that the dominant sentiment among the armed militia groups is just anger and uncouth frustration and “howling at the Establishment”, without a lot of Islamist values driving it. I think Nir Rosen gets this mostly right in his long article entitled “Islamism in the Syrian Uprising” at http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/03/08/islamism_and_the_syrian_uprising . The following is from a shorter article by Nir Rosen which I believe is about right:

“The Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood ideologies are not important in Syria and do not play a significant role in the revolution. But most Syrian Sunnis taking part in the uprising are themselves devout. They do not read religious literature or listen to sermons. Their views on Islam are consistent with the general attitudes of Syrian Sunni society, which is conservative and religious. All the fighters I met – in the provinces of Homs, Idlib, Hama, Deraa and the Damascus suburbs – were Sunni Muslims, and most were pious. Many fighters were not religious before the uprising, but now pray and are inspired by Islam, which gives them a creed and a discourse. They are not fighting for Islam but they are inspired by it. Some drink alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam, and do not pray. And their brothers in arms do not force them to pray. Some fighters are also influenced by a general sense of Sunni identity, but others do not care about this. I encountered one armed Salafi group in Idlib. Some fighters are the sons or nephews of people who were jailed during the 1980s for alleged membership of the Muslim Brotherhood.” http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/02/201221315020166516.html

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March 29th, 2012, 7:12 pm

 

135. Son of Damascus said:

Tara,

“The fact of the matter is that majority and minority did not live in peace.”

I beg to differ on this,

Both Damascus and Aleppo boast a rich history of tolerance (with rather dark periods) but in large both these cities have always had multi religious groups that coexisted peacefully.

Take for example Damascus with Haret El Yahood and Bab Tuma, or the fact that a relic of John the Baptist is buried in Ummayad mosque. These cultures existed in Damascus before the muslim culture came to being, and the fact that you still see evidence that these cultures can survive (no matter how small) and continue to live in Damascus is a testament of Syrian coexistence.

I met a Syrian Jewish family in Damascus awhile back, they told me that during Hanukkah Syrian Jews light an extra candle as a gratitude to the acceptance they received from their city folk. I asked if this was a new or old tradition the grand mother told me it was older than her, and that her family in Aleppo did the same.

We have many dark parts to our history that we should learn from, but we should not forget the good parts along the way.

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March 29th, 2012, 7:13 pm

 

136. Son of Damascus said:

Irritated,

Supporting a resistance by proxy does not equal to getting the job done. And last I checked neither Hamas nor Hizballah have fought to free the Golan Heights, so this proxy resistance is doing NOTHING to free the Golan.

The only thing Assad and his father ever resisted is their peoples free will, for that is the only thing that scares them, and they will do everything in their power to quell it. As evident in Havez’s levelling of Hama and Besho’s mobile killing machine.

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March 29th, 2012, 7:18 pm

 

137. Son of Damascus said:

Jad,

Last I checked it was the pro regime side preaching the resistance line, it is the perfect excuse that justifies Bashar and Havez killing Syrians for them.

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March 29th, 2012, 7:25 pm

 

138. Tara said:

SOD

I am not discussing the issue at a personals level. I am discussing it at the masses level. If you venture to say that Iraqi Sunni and Iraqi Shia lived in peace and harmony during Saddam or now the Bahraini Shiaa living in peace and harmony under the rule of the Sunni minority in Bahrain, I would retract.

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March 29th, 2012, 7:29 pm

 

139. omen said:

jad, you can’t claim to stand with palestinians when you mock their religion.

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March 29th, 2012, 7:31 pm

 

140. jad said:

Where did I ever mocked any religion?

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March 29th, 2012, 7:34 pm

 

141. Tara said:

Kofi Annan snubs Iran?  Is it because he shares bush bush’s distaste of the Burqa?  Don’t Mrs.  Ahmadinejad and Mrs. Mulla Khamenei wear them?  What do Iranian women wear in their weddings?  Red or white Burqas?  With or without heels? What about the men? Do they wear suits without the tie? Do men buy women lots of jewelry like what we do in the Arab ME? I really want to know.   

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jdThLPN4F6iK2GYaD_GoRBTc81bg?docId=CNG.0bd36df6ab57c7f3f39750504c09e57e.5f1

GENEVA — UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan will not visit Tehran next week, his spokesman said Wednesday, after Iran’s foreign minister said the ex-UN chief was expected in the Iranian capital.

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March 29th, 2012, 7:47 pm

 

142. Tara said:

Rebels announce internal Syria command structure

29 Mar 2012 19:52
Source: Reuters 

By Oliver Holmes

BEIRUT, March 29 (Reuters) – Syria’s armed opposition announced on Thursday a local command structure that aims to bring together disparate rebel groups inside the country under the command of defected officers exiled in neighbouring Turkey.

“We declare the formation of the joint command of the Free Syrian Army in Syria to be coordinated with the leadership of the Free Syrian Army outside (the country),” a Paris-based spokesman for the Supreme Rebel Military Council, Fahad al-Masri, said in a statement.

The move, which names five colonels in the flashpoint provinces of Homs, Hama, Idlib, Deir al-Zor and Damascus, was the latest in a string of attempts to unify armed opposition groups who have been fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The head of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), Riad al-Asaad, said on Saturday a military council grouping exiled rebel chiefs, including Syria’s most senior army deserter, General Mustafa al-Sheikh, had been formed.

Sheikh is the chairman of the council and Asaad is in charge of military operations.

Free Syrian Army officer Major Maher Ismail al-Naimi told Reuters that the new structure would be implemented immediately. “The Free Syrian Army is involved,” he said by telephone.

The list includes a colonel named Qasim Saad al-Din from Homs, a focus of the armed revolt, who defected in February, and Colonel Khaled al-Haboush, who would direct military operations in the capital.
(,,,,)

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/rebels-announce-internal-syria-command-structure

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March 29th, 2012, 7:53 pm

 

143. jad said:

Son of Damascus,

Your comments are really strange, first you quote Abrams who is known for being the Iraq war promoter, are you going to be happy if Syria got occupied? Seriously, there is a big difference of being anti-regime and anti-Syria.

Then you are discrediting the resistance as if this idea is the ownership of Assad, or as if part of our homelands are not occupied you and others should know that hating the regime doesn’t mean letting our real enemies to take over our land and because of our disagreement with the regime we should side with them against our brothers and sisters, that is completely wrong and nobody is preaching about the resistance so we need not to react in the wrong way jakara bial6uara…

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March 29th, 2012, 7:55 pm

 

144. Son of Damascus said:

Jad,

I quoted Abrams as a rebuttal to Ignatius, and told you that in that ARTICLE I agree with him, that does not mean I agree with all of his writing.

Realpolitik is a Machiavellian way of doing politics, and history has shown us that it does not work, it just further empowers the dictators. Just look at the appeasement and realpolitik that Chamberlain tried with Hitler, did it ever stop Hitler for murdering 11 million people, and invading half of Europe?

I am discrediting the resistance when it comes to the Assad family, for they have never done anything remotely close to bringing back our occupied lands.

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March 29th, 2012, 8:02 pm

 

145. jad said:

Mawal,

I would agree with you 6 months ago, which the time Nir was inside Syria, today every clip/image we watch/see is showing some armed men with long beard and shaved head as the ‘leaders’ of any attack recorded and they are using religious in their messages.

Did you check the clip I post about Katibet Alansar? This is the first local born ‘alqaeda-like’ brigade i come across since the beginning of the uprising, which is a very alarming sign that instead of importing alqaeda the armed militia are making their own version of it.

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March 29th, 2012, 8:06 pm

 

146. Ghufran said:

Turkey’s trade with Iraq reached $12 billion in 2011. This number is projected to double in 2012. Do you think is interested in war? Think again.

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March 29th, 2012, 8:24 pm

 

147. Hans said:

When the USA invaded Iraq they dissolved the Iraqi Army.

That’s cost the Americans large number of casualities, if mistake repeated with Syria this time will cost the Syrians large number of innocents.

obviously, this time the USA doesn’t care, let the Syrians kill each others.

it is clear that Syria is/was a game, play, victim of superpower imbalance. it is clear that none of the crying wolves care about Syria or the Syrian people it is a joke to believe that democracy is the goal here.

Kilo interview with Assafir, explains exactly what is going on with Syria now.
here it is

http://www.assafir.com/MulhakArticle.aspx?EditionId=2113&MulhakArticleId=326798&MulhakId=3176

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March 29th, 2012, 9:32 pm

 

148. Son of Damascus said:

Tara,

I never meant what I wrote to be interpreted as an excuse for a minority to rule a majority, that was not my sentiment at all.

I am just trying to point out when it comes to Syria and its rich and deep history which supersedes any borders that have been drawn up recently does enjoy a level of tolerance that other parts of the ME region did not enjoy.

What I wrote about Damascus and Aleppo might be an anomaly compared to other cities that have a long history of sectarian strife (As in Latakia between the Sunni and Alawis for instance), that does not mean that tolerance and coexistence never flourished in our cities.

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March 29th, 2012, 9:44 pm

 
 

150. majedkhaldoun said:

[greenlight Majedkhaldoun, I was alerted to the phrase immediately and deleted it. The commentator requested its deletion himself.]

Moderator

Please look at comment # 142
is this allowed , To call someone the brother of prostitute

Joshua
your permission to jad to say such thing is wrong, this comment must be deleted

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March 29th, 2012, 10:10 pm

 

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