“Forming a Syrian Opposition Government: The Time is Now” by Fred Hof; Ziadeh

Forming a Syrian Opposition Government: The Time is Now
Frederic C. Hof| January 08, 2013 – At

The Syrian Opposition Council (SOC) formed in November 2012 faces no shortage of dire challenges as it tries to organize itself and give desperately needed political leadership to a heterogeneous hodgepodge of armed and unarmed opponents of the dying yet lethally venomous regime of Bashar al-Assad.  How to uphold the primacy of citizenship in an increasingly sectarian struggle?  How to maintain credibility with those who are fighting and dying?  How to reach out to minorities and other fence sitters inside Syria?  How to prepare for the practicalities of transition and governance?  How to shape and influence international support for Syria’s revolution rather than being shaped and influenced by outsiders?  How to eclipse internal rivalries and policy differences with selflessness and a unifying sense of mission encompassing a broadly acceptable vision of what the new Syria will be and how it will function?

In a just world, Syrians emerging from an induced political coma of some 50 years would not be faced with such daunting tasks.  Starting with the 1958-1961 Egyptian-run United Arab Republic, Syrians have become accustomed to the heavy hand of intelligence services on political discourse.  Over the years, frank political discussions even within families became guarded and circumscribed, a condition not significantly altered by the “Damascus Spring” experiment over a decade ago.  Now it is all out there for discussion and decision.  Syrians who, not long ago, could only choose among silence, torture, and departure are now being asked to practice teamwork, transparency, and compromise.  There is nothing fair or just about this situation.

Yet fair or not, ready or not, Syria requires a government.  For more than 40 years the Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) was the transmission belt for the desires of a narrow, family-based clique.  That government is now neutered—the geographical scope of its assigned writ having shrunken dramatically over the past 21 months.  Yet a functioning bureaucracy will be central to any transition plan due to the need for continuity of government.  Ministries, departments, and agencies—including the security services—employ people and provide services, albeit often ineffectively and corruptly.  The preservation of these organs, as imperfect as they are, can facilitate the rapid dispersal of international assistance post-Assad and reassure millions of Syrians who fear the chaos of revolutionary rule.  Reform will come in time.  It is important to distinguish government and its associated bureaucracy from the ruling clique, which has become a militia, willing and even eager to risk destroying Syria to try to save itself.

As I have written previously the old expression, you can’t beat something with nothing, applies in spades to Syria.  No one—not even Bashar al-Assad himself—doubts the corruption, incompetence, and brutality of what remains of the old system.  Yet millions of Syrians grudgingly adhere to “the Doctor.” They do so partly because they fear his jailers and torturers, but largely because they know not what comes next.  This is the obstacle that a provisional government formed by the SOC can address and overcome

A provisional government led by the SOC would be a key step on the way to a national unity transition government that could and should include serving, non-criminal officials of the current and previous SARGs.  Provided it consists of respectable individuals whose revolutionary credentials neither alienate nor frighten the cowed and undecided, a provisional government would in large measure answer the “what’s next?” question that immobilizes millions of Syrians.  Provided it can establish itself in liberated parts of Syria and facilitate effective local governance while expediting external humanitarian assistance and the restoration of essential services and infrastructure, it can reflect credibility.  Indeed, to the extent that such a government would attract recognition from abroad as the government of Syria it could be the legitimate recipient of security assistance.  If and when the time comes to negotiate with the SARG on the formation of a transitional national unity government to take full executive powers from the regime, the provisional government would be the SARG’s sole legitimate interlocutor.

Would the formation of a provisional government be a panacea?  No.  One has to assume that the regime will fight hard to hold onto Damascus and that Iran and Hezbollah will assist in that effort.  Would the formation of such a government be easy?  On the contrary—battles for privilege and position could be discouraging and even debilitating.  Yet here a hard question must be posed: if the very process of establishing a clear alternative to the regime fatally wounds the unity of the Syrian Opposition Council or splinters the opposition more generally, then what is the opposition really?  And, as a practical matter, if there are to be fights over who gets to be minister of finance, defense and so forth, is it not better to have these fights now, before the regime vaporizes and before someone actually has to try to govern Syria?

No doubt the endeavor to form a provisional government would be fraught with difficulties and could indeed end badly.  Yet as the Assad poison pill of sectarianism slowly paralyzes and kills the idea and the reality of a united Syria, time is of the essence.  The United States correctly opposed calls for a provisional government in mid-2012; the Syrian National Council would have been a disastrously weak and narrow foundation for such an effort.  Reservations on the part of the US administration are understandable even now.  Yet Syria is dying, and Syria’s death would have dire implications not only for its 23 million citizens but for the entire region.

The way forward will be replete with risks.  Yet the riskiest of approaches in Syria’s hour of peril could be for the United States and others to hold the Syrian Opposition Council at arms-length and ask it to jump through bureaucratic hoops rather than asking it to offer the Syrian people a visible, credible alternative to the Assad regime.  Time is the enemy. You can’t beat something with nothing.  If there is to be something, the time to create that something is now.

Frederic C. Hof is a senior fellow of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council and the former Special Advisor for Transition in Syria at the US Department of State.

Saving Syria from Assad” (Julian Lindley-French, Atlantic Council)

“an enduring Syrian peace will also only be possible if the conflict is detached from a wider regional Realpolitik. Iran has been supporting the regime with both expertise and munitions, with substantial evidence of direct involvement by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, whilst Russia and China have blocked any direct outside intervention. Indeed, the regional strategic ambitions of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah-led conflict with Israel have critically exacerbated the war. Equally, whilst an arms embargo has been formally imposed evidence abounds that it exists in name only. The Coalition has been receiving directly or indirectly both small arms and man-held anti-aircraft missiles from the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia to counter the regime’s use of air power.

What would a ‘credible’ international presence on the ground look like and under what mandate? Arab League, UN, NATO, EU or a beefed up Contact Group? Experience of political transition in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya (hardly encouraging) suggests that early political reconciliation would be critical but only possible if reprisal killings are prevented and the humanitarian suffering of all alleviated. A new seat of government in Damascus would also need to be rapidly established and protected, committed to a political timetable for transition underpinned by the early disarmament and rehabilitation of combatants. The armed forces would need to be re-oriented and essential services and the judicial system preserved to provide stability. Critically, senior members of the Assad regime charged under law would need to get a fair trial and justice seen to work. National elections woven into a new constitution would also be vital with extreme elements in the opposition forced to face a choice; reconciliation or exclusion. Would Russia and China agree? Maybe this is the moment for a Tony Blair-type Sextet for Syria – America, Arab League, China, EU and Russia?”

What if Assad Wins?” (Seth Mandel, Commentary Magazine)

“All throughout the Syrian civil war, analysts and human rights groups were at pains to point out the rising death toll and falling share of media and public attention. But underlying the legitimate frustration was a perhaps forced belief-straining under the weight of reality-in the conventional wisdom: the house of Assad will fall; the victims’ deaths will not be in vain.

But the standard rule of conventional wisdom-that it may be the former but is rarely the latter-applies here as well. As Emile Hokayem writes in the wake of Bashar al-Assad’s recent defiant speech:

More importantly, Western states should get off the sidelines. The illusion of a negotiated settlement is a consequence of Western indecision, not the cause for it. The United States in particular has squandered precious time and opportunities: The risks of greater involvement in Syria are certainly great, but the conflict has already overtaken the Iraq war in terms of regional and strategic impact, and Washington is at best marginal to its dynamics. U.S. Sen. John McCain only slightly exaggerated when he said last month: “In Syria, everything we said would happen if we didn’t intervene is happening because we didn’t intervene.” Judging by Assad’s speech, Syria’s civil war is indeed about to become even more tragic as the world stands idly by.

That “illusion” is a Western creation, and more importantly it is not widely-and certainly not universally-shared. The “rebels” do not emit an air of encroaching victory, and to speak of patience and inevitability seems nothing less than vulgar. Can anyone explain why time is on the side of the rebels? It certainly doesn’t feel that way anymore, does it?”

Time for a Syrian transitional government – By Radwan Ziadeh Tuesday, January 8, 2013

….Many Syrian opposition political forces still refuse to form an interim government on the ground, claiming that to do so would be premature. This may once have been true, but no longer. The preconditions which certain opposition members have demanded before forming the transitional government will never come to fruition. Therefore, the transitional government or government-in-exile should be formed immediately.The transitional government should aim to achieve a number of key objectives. First, it should support the creation of a central authority for the liberated areas to maintain control and to prevent chaos. Neither the Syrian National Council (SNC) nor the Syrian Coalition is currently capable of establishing such an authority. However, the longer the forming of the transitional government takes, the more chaotic the situation will be, the more difficult it will be to establish a central authority, and the more difficult it will be to provide the liberated areas with social services, judicial institutions, health services, and humanitarian assistance.

Second: on a legal level, the legitimacy of the Assad regime can be undermined by granting control to the transitional authority over Syrian embassies, which can only be taken by government representatives and not by political entities. Syrian government positions in international institutions such as the United Nations and the Human Rights Council should be handed to a transitional government as well. Third, this in turn would pave the road toward international recognition, which would allow the new government to ratify the Rome Statute, allowing the Assad regime to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) with much greater ease….

Terrorist group fills power vacuum among Syria rebels
By Nada Bakos, Special to CNN, January 9, 2013

….An important differentiator between al Qaeda in Iraq and al-Nusra is one of its tactics: Zarqawi made a practice of indiscriminately killing Iraqi civilians, effectively terrorizing the Iraqi population, especially the Shiite minority. Zarqawi, despite identifying with al Qaeda, had a much thinner theological basis than al Qaeda central.

Key figures at al Qaeda central such as bin Laden and Zawahiri argued with Zarqawi over his tactics, complaining that alienating mainstream Muslims would not help achieve the over-arching goal of instilling Sharia law.

Al-Nusra is using some of the same tactics as al Qaeda in Iraq (e.g., suicide bombings, kidnappings and car bombs), but it appears to be trying to strike a balance Zarqawi was unwilling to make: Not only does it seem to be avoiding alienating—if not antagonizing—the larger population, but it also is providing the people of Syria with a range of goods and services such as food, water and medical care—basic necessities that people need to survive in the best of times, let alone when their country is in the throes of a civil war.

If this becomes a trend, it might signal that al-Nusra aspires to be more like Hezbollah or Hamas, organizations that defy neat categorization based on the range of social, political and military activities they engage in and the resultant legitimacy they have in the eyes of their constituencies.

In the Syrian uprising, the opportunity for meaningful U.S. intervention might have passed: Exhaustion from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken their toll on the U.S. military, have taxed the national treasury, and sapped political will, especially as the state of the economy remains at the center of the debate in Washington.

Our absence from the fight is going to cost us if the al-Assad regime fails, leaving rebel groups like al-Nusra dictating the direction, pace and scope of a new Syria.

Given that managing affairs in the Middle East has never been one of our strong suits, the question at this point should be how can the United States, particularly the Department of State, best engage groups that might be inimical to U.S. values but necessary to our interests in the Middle East? For that, I am not sure there is a clear or simple answer.

One opportunity would be if the United States uses its designation of al-Nusra as both a stick and carrot, cajoling and encouraging it to enter into mainstream politics when (or if) the Assad regime falls.

My read of al-Nusra, however, is that, like Zarqawi, it does not aspire to be a political player and is unlikely to settle for a political role in the new government. Instead, it may aim to play the spoiler for any transitional government and use its resources and political violence to empower and encourage other like-minded extremists. With time and opportunity, al-Nusra could not only add to regional instability in the Middle East, but also rekindle global jihad.

Comments (738)

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701. zoo said:

wizi the zombie

“From that I draw a lot of pleasure and also getting my money’s worth.”

In blood?

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January 13th, 2013, 2:07 pm


702. Visitor said:

Hamster @685,

For me it is enough to bring the shabihs to justice. As for the mothers, we may discover that we may have to bring many of them to justice if we want to go your way. The problem seems to be more rampant than we would like to believe.

Silence speaks volumes. You know what I mean?

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January 13th, 2013, 2:10 pm


703. zoo said:


Jumblatt calls on Syria’s Druze to join uprising
November 29, 2012 02:34 PM
The Daily Star

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2012/Nov-29/196544-jumblatt-calls-on-syrias-druze-to-join-uprising.ashx#ixzz2HstFbY3N
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

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January 13th, 2013, 2:10 pm


704. majedkhaldoun said:

684 is spreading his bad odor even that he was not poked,he is used to the stinky life filthy family.

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January 13th, 2013, 2:10 pm


705. omen said:

however righteous you think your argument, when multiple people pile on one person, that’s called bullying.

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January 13th, 2013, 2:23 pm


706. Citizen said:

Juergen/Uzair !
Bismark is not the same …

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January 13th, 2013, 2:24 pm


707. Visitor said:

Z Idiot @693,

You’re losing balance, anomalous blot.

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January 13th, 2013, 2:27 pm



OMEN @ 697
Noted, even by the pseudo intellectual cute-rat.

Never meant that every shabeeh’s mother should be brought to justice, what for?. But in that specific case you cited, one could argue that she could have stopped the murder by telling her son to stop. Having given him the approval to proceed with the murder, she became a shabeeha and a murderer herself. Must be her spoiled brat.

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January 13th, 2013, 2:50 pm


709. revenire said:

The Lebanese Daily Star? March 14?

Syria calls peace envoy’s mission ‘useless’
January 13, 2013 12:23 PM

DAMASCUS: Official media in Syria renewed attacks on UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Sunday, calling him biased and saying his peace mission aimed at solving the country’s crisis was “useless.”

On Wednesday, Brahimi criticised as “one-sided” a proposal by President Bashar al-Assad to end the crisis, and two days later he met top US and Russian officials and urged “a speedy end to the bloodshed” in the strife-torn country.

“It is clear that Mr Brahimi is now out of the loop for the solution for Syria. He has taken sides, he is not a mediator,” wrote the pro-regime daily Al-Watan on Sunday’s front page.

“Brahimi is incapable of finding a solution to the Syrian crisis.

“He acknowledged in his last meeting with President Assad (on December 24) that Turkey and Qatar will not stop supporting terrorist groups and that he cannot prevent them from doing so,” it wrote.

“Brahimi’s mission is useless, just like (his predecessor) Kofi Annan, who resigned when he realised that he had no role to play in a war waged against Syria by several Western capitals,” said Al-Watan.

Brahimi was appointed to replace Annan in September 2012, after the former UN secretary general resigned when his own peace plan failed to prevent further fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Assad.

Since the start of the uprising in March 2011, Damascus has labelled those calling for Assad’s fall as foreign-backed “terrorists.”

Brahimi, who last week criticised a three-step solution announced in a rare speech by Assad, “represents the Turkish, US and Gulf states’ position, and is not an objective mediator,” said Al-Watan.

After Brahimi told the BBC on Wednesday that Assad’s proposal was “more sectarian, more one-sided” than similar initiatives he had made in the past official media in Syria accused him of “flagrant bias.”

Assad’s plan called for dialogue, but only with groups deemed by the regime to be legitimate.

The proposal was rejected outright by the Syrian opposition — including groups tolerated by the regime — and the West.

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January 13th, 2013, 2:58 pm


710. revenire said:

Could one of the keyboard warriors tell me what cities the FSA controls? I would love to move my family there to escape al-Nusra’s attacks on us.

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January 13th, 2013, 3:03 pm


711. ghufran said:

Hundred of millions of dollars were allocated for refugees with no real progress seen in their living standards, the regime is acting like this is somebody’s else problem, some expats are busy sending money to buy weapons,and government thugs in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are stealing refugees food and supplies and selling them in the black market, that does not include the well documented theft committed by rebels inside and outside Syria.
Here is one little example:
أفاد ناشطون معارضون أن مالك أحد المخابز في مدينة الرقة اشترى السبت 50 طناً من الطحين بسعر 2300 ليرة سورية للكيس الواحد مخصصة للاجئين .
وبين الناشطون أن أكياس الطحين التي اشتراها مخبز الأندلس في شارع تل أبيض بوسط مدينة الرقة كانت مكتوبة عليها عبارة ” مخصص للاجئين السوريين”.

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January 13th, 2013, 3:06 pm


712. majedkhaldoun said:

Russia should tell Assad to engage in dialogue with the true opposition, they have influence on Assad, they have no influence of the Coalition.

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January 13th, 2013, 3:11 pm


713. majedkhaldoun said:

مخيمات أطمة والزعتري تلقى العاهل الأردني عبد الله الثاني اتصالات هاتفية من عدد من الزعماء والحكام العرب وبعد مشاورات استمرت 24 ساعة قرروا أن يستقبلوا اللاجئين في عواصمهم وأن يسكنوهم بشقق مفروشة مزودة بوسائل تدفئة حديثة مع تخصيص رواتب شهرية بقيمة 200 دو…لار للعائلة الواحدة والاحتفاظ بألف عائلة سيتم نقلهم الى العاصمة الأردنية عمان واسكانهم بشقق مهيئة لهذا الأمر وقد بدأت الطائرات بالفعل بنقل اللاجئين للعواصم العربية وهذا وقد السوريون بتسمية جمعتهم القادمة “شكرا اخواننا العرب …ماخاب ظننا بكم”

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January 13th, 2013, 3:31 pm


714. revenire said:

Deal with it:

MOSCOW, (SANA)-Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “President Bashar al-Assad’s stepping aside as a precondition to launch the political process in Syria is impossible.”

“Our partners call for the necessity of excluding President al-Assad from the political process as a precondition, but this was not mentioned in Geneva Statement, and it is impossible,” Lavrov added in a statement on Sunday.

He called on the Syrian opposition to follow President al-Assad’s move and offer its suggestions on launching the dialogue.

“President al-Assad has presented initiatives which aim at inviting all opposition sides for dialogue.. these initiatives seem to be not long- distance, others may see it as not serious.. but they are actual proposals.. and if I were in the position of the Syrian opposition, I had offered my opinions on launching the dialogue,” Lavrov added.

He stressed that the government and Syrian opposition have to reach a consensus on the dimensions and durations of the transitional period during which preparations for new general elections are to be held.

“This would be fair and just if all were interested in saving the biggest possible number of Syrian lives,” Lavrov said.

He added that during the tripartite meeting in Geneva on January 11th, among the special representative of the Russian President for the Middle East Affairs, Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Bogdanov, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and the UN Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, they reached an understanding that the crisis in Syria poses a threat to the whole region.


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January 13th, 2013, 3:56 pm


715. Citizen said:

“شكرا اخوانكم العرب …ماخاب ظنكم بهم
عرب أوسخ من الوسخ ! انهم في أسفل انحطاطهم هؤلاء البعير أصحاب الشفاه
المتدلية ! تفو
اذا مات العرب، ماتت الخيانة- ونستون تشرشل

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January 13th, 2013, 4:14 pm


716. Hanzala said:

haha that was some fine trolling by “Hassan” yes, I too miss the old days of “edleb” when me and my parachuting squad would do practice jumps there, damn those soonites.

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January 13th, 2013, 4:23 pm


717. majedkhaldoun said:

‎1عدد السوريين في كندا والولايات المتحدة الأميريكية 1200000 منهم 8. مليون تجنسو وفقدو الجنسية السورية و .4 مليون مازالو يحتفظون بجنسيتهم السورية
2.عد دالسوريين في اميركا الجنوبية 3.000.000 شخص منهم 1.9 مليون فقدو الجنسية ومازالو يحتفظون بولائم لسوريا و1.1 مليون ما زالو يحتفظون بجنسيتهم وتعود اصولهم لمدينة حمص
3.الرئيس الأرجنتيني كارلوس منعم Carlos Menem سوري الأصل (جده وأمه وابوه سوريون مسلمون)
4.أكبر جالية في العالم تقيم في البرازيل عددها 7.000.000 مازالو يحتفظو بجنسيتهم 92% منهم من حمص وتليها الارجنتين والولايات المتحدة
5.عدد السوريين في اسبانيا 5.000.000 شخص فقدو جنسيتهم السورية
… 6.عدد السوريين في العالم 7.300000 فرد 3.8 مليون منهم مازالو يحملون الجنسية السورية منهم 21 مليون مازلو بسوريا
7.جميع المنظمات الدولية والحكومات العالمية تشير الى حسن السيرة والسلوك للمواطن السوري وتتمتع الجاليات السورية بالسمعة الحسنة والسلوكيات القويمة المحترمة
8.Steve Jobs مؤسس شركة Apple سوري الأصل واسمه الحقيقي ستيف عبد الفتاح الجندلي من قرية جب الجندلي بحمص
9. Nadia Behette ملكة جمال نيويورك لعام 2003 سورية الأصل
10.Went Worth miller ممثل اميركي مشهور بطل مسلسل prison breakسوري الأصل ووالدته لازالت تحمل وثائق تثبت هويتها السورية
11.Mona E. Simpson اشهر روائية أميركية اسمها الحقيقي منى عبد الفتاح الجندلي وهي شقيقة Steve jobs من نفس الأم والأب
12.Mitch Daniels حاكم ولاية إنديانا سوري الأصل
13.Jack Kachkar مليونير سوري كندي مالك نادي مرسيليا لكرة القدم عام 2007
14.Paula Abdul مطربة وممثلة أميركية والدها سوري وعضوة لجنة تحكيم سوبرستار بنسخته الأميركية
15.Rene Angelil زوج المطربة المشهورة سيلين ديون صاحبة أغنية التايتانيك سوري الأصل
16.hala gorani مذيعة ومقدمة برامج أميركية اصلها من مدينة حلب ومازالت تحتفظ باسمها ولقبها الشرقي (هلا غوراني)
17.Tige Andrewsممثل أميركي سوري الأصل رشح لعدة جوائز الايمي وغولدن غلوب
18.Paul Anka مطرب وممثل كندي اميركي من جذور سورية
19.وجميع هذه الأسماء والمئات من مشاهير العالم على جميع الأصعدة سورية الأصل ستجدونها موثقة على الروابط التالية :

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January 13th, 2013, 4:47 pm


718. annie said:

#682 visitor This is the retching video

(+18) One of Al Assad’s Soldiers Calls His Mother to Share the Joy of Executing a “terrorist”.

681. SYRIAN HAMSTER I totally agree with you.

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January 13th, 2013, 4:57 pm


719. Johannes de Silentio said:


“Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Bogdanov, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and the UN Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi reached an understanding that the crisis in Syria poses a threat to the whole region”

Naah. We’re all slowly building a fence around Syria. It’s turning into a steel cage, last-man-standing death match. Face it, Mossie, you Syrians are too stupid to figure out a peaceful way to get along. It’s either an iron-fisted dictator forcing everyone to live-and-let-live. Or it’s every man (and woman) for him(her)self.

So let the killing go on until there’s no one left worth killing. You idiots are so good at it.

A new Bashar “Let Them Eat Cake” photo


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January 13th, 2013, 5:04 pm


720. Syria no Kandahar said:

مبروك لجميع الجرذان أنصار جبهة النصره الوالي التركي الجديد
تباركت اصبع قدمه المقدسة عند عبيد العثمانين

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January 13th, 2013, 5:07 pm


721. revenire said:

JOHANNES DE SILENTIO Syria is prelude to war on Iran and later Russia and China.

The war against has Iran started. Syria is part of it.

We’re aware. We’re fighting.

The world will thank Syria one day. History is our judge.

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January 13th, 2013, 5:09 pm


722. Syria no Kandahar said:

Killer of Sari Saoud.This is the proud of revolutionists,a child killer.This revolution has done
Nothing good to Syria ,most of the Syrians knew from day one that the FSA criminals killed Sari,despite all Aljazera lies:

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January 13th, 2013, 5:18 pm


723. Syria no kandahar said:

This was Sari Saoud on Aljazera blood bazaar station:

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January 13th, 2013, 5:27 pm


724. revenire said:

The work of the merchants of death: killing children. FSA rats this child will be avenged – an eye for an eye.

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January 13th, 2013, 5:34 pm


725. ghufran said:

Syria’s war (CNN):

Ongoing since March 2011 (1 year, 10 months)
60,000: The minimum estimated death toll, according to the United Nations Human Rights Center
22,530,746: Syria’s estimated population in July 2012, according to the CIA World Factbook
0.266: Approximate percentage of the Syrian population killed so far
(For comparison’s sake, 0.266% of the population would be 834,834 people for the United States, 167,705 people for the United Kingdom and 3,573,018 people for China, the world’s most populous country.)
2,727: Average number of deaths per month

Libyan civil war:
February 2011-October 2011 (8 months)
30,000: Estimated death toll, according to Libya’s transitional government
6,461,454: Libya’s estimated population in 2011, according to the CIA World Factbook
0.464: Approximate percentage of the Libyan population killed during the civil war
3,750: Average number of deaths per month

Yugoslav wars:
March 1991-November 1995 (4 years, 7 months)
February 1998-June 1999 (1 year, 4 months)
140,000: Estimated dead, according to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
23,976,040: Yugoslavia’s approximate population in July 1991, according to the CIA World Factbook
0.584: Approximate percentage of the Yugoslavian population killed during the wars (using 1991 population)
1,972: Average number of deaths per month

Spanish Civil War:
July 1936-April 1939 (2 years, 9 months)
500,000: Estimated death toll by many sources
24,849,298: Population at the end of 1935, according to the National Statistics Institute of Spain
2.012: Approximate percentage of the Spanish population killed
15,152: Average number of deaths per month

U.S. Civil War:
April 1861-May 1865 (4 years, 1 month)
618,222: Estimated death toll for more than a century
31,443,321: U.S. population in 1860, the most recent census before the war
1.966: Approximate percentage of the U.S. population killed during the war
12,617: Average number of deaths per month
(I can not believe that some of you still want this blood bath to continue)

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January 13th, 2013, 5:39 pm


726. Syria no Kandahar said:

Switzerland will contract with FSA to use their interrogation skills:

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January 13th, 2013, 5:41 pm


727. MarigoldRan said:

As things continue, both Idlib and Aleppo will be under FSA control within the year. In much the same way that Homs is mostly under regime control. They’ll be pockets of resistance inside the city, but it will have no broader strategic impact on the war.

With the fall of Taftnatz, it will be much more difficult and expensive to reinforce or resupply regime units inside those cities. By the end of this year, Idlib and Aleppo province will indisputably under FSA control.

The new battlegrounds other than Damascus will be Hama, Homs, and Lattakia.

The FSA is winning. Slowly, but they’re definitely winning. Look at the progress they’ve made over the last month. Over the last six months.

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January 13th, 2013, 5:55 pm


728. Syria no Kandahar said:

After the syria traitors sold Syria to Ottmans they are getting a new (Wali) ….the khazook is free:

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January 13th, 2013, 5:58 pm


729. MarigoldRan said:

Assad has sold the country to the Iranians.

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January 13th, 2013, 5:58 pm


730. Observer said:

These were the economic news from Cham Press
غرفة عمليات في التجارة الداخلية بالتعاون مع فعاليات شبابية لتأمين المواد الأساسية للمواطنين
محافظة ريف دمشق توافق على مشروع استثماري يوفر الف فرصة عمل
اتحاد العمال: العام الماضي شهد تسريح 87 ألف عامل في دمشق وريفها
وزير الزراعة: سنستمر بدعم المحاصيل الإستراتيجية والدعم الذكي أصبح ضرورة
النائب الاقتصادي: قانون جديد يشدد العقوبات على المتلاعبين بالأسعار وآلية جديدة لتوزيع الغاز

As you can see they created one thousand jobs and lost 87 000 and this is from the the pro regime site.

ZOO is good at changing subjects and deflecting issues.

Remember, he predicted the end of the SNC but never admitted the birth of a new Coalition. He is predicting the end of the FSA but not the birth of a new more militant FSA with or without Salafists.

He also now says that the FSA had made a mistake in changing from defensive to aggressive mode of operations, he at least ADMITS that there is legitimacy on the part of the FSA but never admits that the regime is ILLEGITIMATE.

Now Laughvrov is telling us that Athad departure is impossible and therefore he is now blackmailing the opposition to come up with a counter proposal.

The opposition so far has not gone into the trap of admitting that the regime is an equal partner to the solution, something that the Russians would like to do and keep the regime structure knowing that without the regime Russia is OUT of the ME for a generation to come and its only ally would remain a weakened Iran.

This is an illegitimate regime and it has lost its legitimacy when it took power by force more than 40 years ago and by instituting a state of emergency and by making the security services immune from prosecution and by concentrating the powers into the office of the executive and finally by failing to provide for the people everything they need from a PHONE BOOK to the RULE OF LAW.


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January 13th, 2013, 6:08 pm


731. revenire said:

“Assad has sold the country to the Iranians.”

How much did he get?

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January 13th, 2013, 6:09 pm


732. revenire said:

What exactly is the progress of the FSA over the last six months? I don’t see it. Name me the cities they control. I can’t think of one.

People in Aleppo hate the FSA and you can’t “take” a city that hates you no matter how many you kill.

When is the new government going to set up in the liberated areas? I can’t wait. I need someone to come pick up the al-Nusra trash all over the place – those lovely guys behead people but leave the corpses just laying there in the street. It starts to stink.

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January 13th, 2013, 6:12 pm


733. ann said:

France displays unhinged hypocrisy as bombs fall on Mali – Sat Jan 12, 2013

A deluge of articles have been quickly put into circulation defending France’s military intervention in the African nation of Mali. TIME’s article, “The Crisis in Mali: Will French Intervention Stop the Islamist Advance?” decides that old tricks are the best tricks, and elects the tiresome “War on Terror” narrative


TIME claims the intervention seeks to stop “Islamist” terrorists from overrunning both Africa and all of Europe. Specifically, the article states:

“…there is a (probably well-founded) fear in France that a radical Islamist Mali threatens France most of all, since most of the Islamists are French speakers and many have relatives in France. (Intelligence sources in Paris have told TIME that they’ve identified aspiring jihadis leaving France for northern Mali to train and fight.) Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), one of the three groups that make up the Malian Islamist alliance and which provides much of the leadership, has also designated France – the representative of Western power in the region – as a prime target for attack.”

What TIME elects not to tell readers is that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is closely allied to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG whom France intervened on behalf of during NATO’s 2011 proxy-invasion of Libya – providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government.

As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:

Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.

Geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar noted a more direct connection between LIFG and AQIM in an Asia Times piece titled, “How al-Qaeda got to rule in Tripoli:”

“Crucially, still in 2007, then al-Qaeda’s number two, Zawahiri, officially announced the merger between the LIFG and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). So, for all practical purposes, since then, LIFG/AQIM have been one and the same – and Belhaj was/is its emir. ”

“Belhaj,” referring to Hakim Abdul Belhaj, leader of LIFG in Libya, led with NATO support, arms, funding, and diplomatic recognition, the overthrowing of Muammar Qaddafi and has now plunged the nation into unending racist and tribal, genocidal infighting. This intervention has also seen the rebellion’s epicenter of Benghazi peeling off from Tripoli as a semi-autonomous “Terror-Emirate.” Belhaj’s latest campaign has shifted to Syria where he was admittedly on the Turkish-Syrian border pledging weapons, money, and fighters to the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” again, under the auspices of NATO support.

NATO’s intervention in Libya has resurrected listed-terrorist organization and al-Qaeda affiliate, LIFG. It had previously fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has fighters, cash and weapons, all courtesy of NATO, spreading as far west as Mali, and as far east as Syria. The feared “global Caliphate” Neo-Cons have been scaring Western children with for a decade is now taking shape via US-Saudi, Israeli, and Qatari machinations, not “Islam.” In fact, real Muslims have paid the highest price in fighting this real “war against Western-funded terrorism.”

LIFG, which with French arms, cash, and diplomatic support, is now invading northern Syria on behalf of NATO’s attempted regime change there, officially merged with al-Qaeda in 2007 according to the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). According to the CTC, AQIM and LIFG share not only ideological goals, but strategic and even tactical objectives. The weapons LIFG received most certainly made their way into the hands of AQIM on their way through the porous borders of the Sahara Desert and into northern Mali.

In fact, ABC News reported in their article, “Al Qaeda Terror Group: We ‘Benefit From’ Libyan Weapons,” that:

A leading member of an al Qaeda-affiliated terror group indicated the organization may have acquired some of the thousands of powerful weapons that went missing in the chaos of the Libyan uprising, stoking long-held fears of Western officials.



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January 13th, 2013, 6:13 pm


734. AJ said:

Assad’s shemale brigade

We have all heard about women belonging to the regime throwing themselves at the feet of FSA soldiers in the past, including the famous Abdel Razzak Tlass case.

Today emerged this video of a bunch of Shabi7a dressing up as female prostitutes to “entertain” themselves:


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January 13th, 2013, 6:34 pm


735. Syria no Kandahar said:

Liberating Alsweda starting : Liberating it from Syrians,freedom,bread,electricity
And humanity….That is the wahabist Islamist terrorist criminal revolution ….

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January 13th, 2013, 6:36 pm


736. ghufran said:

This is what syrian refugees , and before them palestinian refugees, will get in reality ,do not believe the PR garbage kh aldoun posted about the generosity of Arab sheikhs
(Abdalbari Atwan):
الوزير الفرنسي من اصل جزائري السيد قادر زار مخيم الزعتري الذي يضم اللاجئين السوريين في الصحراء الاردنية، وشعر بالصدمة وعبر عنها بالقول ان هذا المخيم لا يصلح للبهائم. وكان السيد الاخضر الابراهيمي مبعوث الجامعة العربية والامم المتحدة قال كلمات مماثلة عندما زار المخيم في الصيف الماضي.
الوزراء العرب ودولهم، الغنية منها والفقيرة، يعرفون احوال اللاجئين في كل دول الجوار، مثلما يعرفون جيدا احتياجاتهم، ولكنهم يلجأون الى بيروقراطية الجامعة العربية وموظفيها للتملص من التزاماتهم تجاه هؤلاء.
فاذا كان هؤلاء لا يريدون رصد مئات الملايين من الدولارات لاغاثة اشقاء لا يجدون العدد الكافي من الاغطية والبطانيات للوقاية من البرد في خيامهم، فكيف سيرصدون مئات المليارات من الدولارات لاعادة اعمار سورية في المستقبل، وفي مرحلة ما بعد الاسد؟
الشعب السوري فتح قلبه دائما على مصراعيه لكل الشعوب العربية، فقد استقبل اكثر من مليون عراقي في بيوته وليس في مخيمات البؤس، كما استقبل اللبنانيين بعشرات الآلاف بالطريقة نفسها اثناء حرب تموز عام 2006، وقبل هذا وذاك استقبل عشرات الآلاف من الفلسطينيين، وهو لا يستحق هذا النكران للجميل من دول عربية، وهذه المعاملة المهينة في مخيمات اللجوء

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January 13th, 2013, 6:57 pm


737. ann said:

Mali Islamists warn French citizens at risk in the Muslim world – Jan 13, 2013

Ironically the terrorist group AQIM has close affiliations with the rebel Islamists fighting in Syria which have French support. Libyan rebels that were assisted by the French in the overthrow of Gaddafi have close links with AQIM and comprise some of the foreign fighters attempting to oust President Assad


Bamako – French military intervention in northern Mali has provoked threats from Islamic extremists that French citizens are at risk “wherever they find themselves in the Muslim world.”

As the French intervention in Mali commenced, the French government advised 6,000 French citizens living in Mali to leave the country. French citizens throughout the Muslim world could now be at risk, if the threats of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Islamic extremists from Ansar Dine in Mali, are credible.

RTE reported Abdallah Al-Chinguetti, spokesman for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), warned France: “Stop your assault against us or you are digging your own sons’ graves.”

His threat reiterated that of Ansar Dine spokesman Sanda Ould Boumama who told Reuters: “There are consequences, not only for French hostages, but also for all French citizens wherever they find themselves in the Muslim world. We are going to continue resisting and defend ourselves. We are ready to die fighting.”

AQIM, which raises funds to finance its operations through drug and arms smuggling, along with demanding money for hostages taken, currently holds eight French hostages it has kidnapped. Boumanma said: “The hostages are facing death … Francois Hollande seems to wish the death of the hostages. He has chosen the war solution so that the hostages will be killed rather than negotiate.”

Ironically the terrorist group AQIM has close affiliations with the rebel Islamists fighting in Syria which have French support. Libyan rebels that were assisted by the French in the overthrow of Gaddafi have close links with AQIM and comprise some of the foreign fighters attempting to oust President Assad.
Defence PK reported Islamists in London protested outside the French Embassy against the French operation in Mali. Protesters included veiled women that stood separated from male demonstrators. Placards were raised. proclaiming “French army, you will pay, the Muslims are on their way” and “Sharia is the only solution for Mali.”



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January 13th, 2013, 7:10 pm


738. ann said:

The war in Libya was seen as a success, now here we are engaging with the blow back in Mali – Sunday 13 January 2013

Our Government and media may often ignore the price of Western interventions, but in future conflicts and fuel for radical Islamist groups, it is still paid nonetheless



No scrutiny, no build-up, no parliamentary vote, not even a softening-up exercise. Britain is now involved in yet another military conflict in a Muslim land, or so we have been informed. British aircraft are flying to Mali while France bombs the country, arguing that Islamist militia must be driven back to save Europe from the creation of a “terrorist state”. Amnesty International and West Africa experts warned of the potential disaster of foreign military intervention; the bombs raining on the Malian towns of Konna, Léré and Douentza suggest they have been definitively ignored.

Mali’s current agony has only just emerged in our headlines, but the roots go back generations. Like the other Western colonial powers that invaded and conquered Africa from the 19th century onwards, France used tactics of divide-and-rule in Mali, leading to entrenched bitterness between the nomadic Tuareg people – the base of the current revolt – and other communities in Mali.

To some Westerners, this is a distant past to be ignored, moved on from, and certainly not used to preclude noble interventions; but the consequences are still being felt on a daily basis. Initially, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, suggested its colonial legacy ruled out a France-led intervention; its sudden involvement is far more rapid than expected.

But this intervention is itself the consequence of another. The Libyan war is frequently touted as a success story for liberal interventionism. Yet the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship had consequences that Western intelligence services probably never even bothered to imagine. Tuaregs – who traditionally hailed from northern Mali – made up a large portion of his army. When Gaddafi was ejected from power, they returned to their homeland: sometimes forcibly so as black Africans came under attack in post-Gaddafi Libya, an uncomfortable fact largely ignored by the Western media.

Awash with weapons from Libya’s own turmoil, armed Tuaregs saw an opening for their long-standing dream for national self-determination. As the rebellion spread, the democratically elected President Amadou Toumani Touré was deposed in a military coup and – despite allowing a transitional civilian-led government to take power – the army retains its dominance.

There can certainly be no sympathy for the militia now fighting the Malian government. Originally, it was the secular nationalists of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad who led the uprising; they have now been pushed aside by Islamist jihadists with a speed that has shocked foreign analysts. Rather than achieving an independent Tuareg state, they have far more sweeping ambitions, linking up with similar groups based in northern Nigeria. Amnesty International reports horrendous atrocities: amputations, sexual violence, the use of child soldiers, and rampant extra-judicial executions.

But don’t fall for a narrative so often pushed by the Western media: a perverse oversimplification of good fighting evil, just as we have seen imposed on Syria’s brutal civil war. Amnesty reports brutality on the part of Malian government forces, too. When the conflict originally exploded, Tuaregs were arrested, tortured, bombed and killed by the security forces, “apparently only on ethnic grounds”, Amnesty says. Last July, 80 inmates arrested by the army were stripped to their underwear, jammed into a 5sqm cell; cigarettes were burnt into their bodies; and they were forced to sodomise each other. Back in September 2012, 16 Muslim preachers belonging to the Dawa group were rounded up at a checkpoint and summarily executed by the army. These are acts committed by those who are now our allies.

When the UN Security Council unanimously paved the way for military force to be used at some point last month, experts made clear warnings that must still be listened to. The International Crisis Group urged a focus on a diplomatic solution to restore stability, arguing that intervention could exacerbate a growing inter-ethnic conflict. Amnesty warned that “an international armed intervention is likely to increase the scale of human-rights violations we are already seeing in this conflict”. Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford University, has argued that past wars show that “once started, they can take alarming directions, have very destructive results, and often enhance the very movements they are designed to counter”.

It is conceivable that this intervention could – for a time – achieve its goals of pushing back the Islamist militias, and shore up Mali’s government. But the Libyan war was seen as a success, too; and here we are now engaging with its catastrophic blowback. In Afghanistan, Western forces remain engaged in a never-ending war which has already helped destabilised Pakistan, leading to drone attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians and unleashed further chaos. The price of Western interventions may often be ignored by our media, but it is still paid nonetheless.

Western intervention led by France, led by Britain and with possible US drone attacks on the way will undoubtedly fuel the narrative of radical Islamist groups. As Professor Rogers puts it to me, it will be portrayed as “one more example of an assault on Islam”. With the speed and reach of modern forms of communication, radical groups in Western Africa and beyond will use this escalating war as evidence of another front opened against Muslims.

It is disturbing – to say the least – how Cameron has led Britain into Mali’s conflict without even a pretence at consultation. Troops will not be sent, we are told; but the term “mission creep” exists for a reason, and an escalation could surely trigger deeper British involvement. The West has a terrible record of aligning itself with the most dubious of allies: the side we have picked are far from human-rights-loving democrats.

But the consequences could be more profound. As well as spreading further chaos in the region – just as the Libyan war did – France has already put potential terrorist targets on alert, and its allies must be at risk, too. It is the responsibility of all of us to scrutinise what our governments do in our name; if we cannot learn that from Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, then it is hopeless.



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January 13th, 2013, 7:19 pm


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