Friends of Syria Meeting in Tunis Accused of “inactivity”

The Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis is a “challenge” to Assad, not an “ultimatum”, US officials are saying. This means that it will be another exercise in raising the rhetorical bar of condemnation against Syria but will probably not do much damage to the regime or rescue the Syrian opposition in Homs. The Saudi delegation has pulled out of the conference, accusing it of “inactivity.”

Representatives from more than 60 Western and Arab countries are meeting in Tunis, Tunisia today to call for the Syrian government to implement an immediate ceasefire and to allow humanitarian assistance for civilians and people wounded in violence. The group is not expected to discuss military options. They will increase sanctions. Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has been appointed as a special envoy by the United Nations and the Arab League to represent them in finding a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.

“One of the things you are going to see coming out of the meeting tomorrow are concrete proposals on how we, the international community, plan to support humanitarian organizations … within days, meaning that the challenge is on the Syrian regime to respond to this,” said a senior U.S. official.

Asked if the group’s call would amount to an ultimatum, a second U.S. official told reporters: “It is a challenge.”

The Syrian opposition council announced it would ask the “Friends of Syria” to prioritize the creation of humanitarian corridors….

News Round Up


….At a news conference on Thursday, Mrs. Clinton moved the United States a step closer to recognizing the Syrian National Council though a formal recognition is not expected in Tunis. She also said later, discussing growing pressure on Mr. Assad: “There will be increasingly capable opposition forces. They will — from somewhere, somehow — find the means to defend themselves as well as begin offensive measures. And the pressure will build on countries like Russia and China because world opinion is not going to stand idly by.”

On Friday, Mr. Hague, the British official, urged Moscow and Beijing to revise their pro-Assad policies. “I think the Chinese government is constantly assessing the position and so I hope they will change their position,” he told reporters.

Foreign Policy

Syrian state TV referred to the conference as a meeting of “symbols of colonialism” and said the countries attending were “historic enemies of the Arabs.” Neither Russia nor China, who vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution based on an Arab League plan aimed to end the Syrian violence, attended the conference. The “Friends of Syria” seem to be favoring the opposition Syrian National Council, but are not giving the group exclusive recognition. The other main opposition group, the National Coordination Committee, is boycotting the conference. They lay out their reasons for the boycott, here.

‘Q&A: Nir Rosen’s predictions for Syria’ (Nir Rosen, Al Jazeera English)

“If the struggle drags on, the local civilian “political” leadership of the revolution will lose influence, and the more moderate Sufi sheikhs who exercise an influence over armed groups will also lose control. The insurgency and its supporters will become increasingly radicalised. They will condemn those leaders who looked to the outside world for support, and those who called for restraint. Those voices who say Islam is the only solution will become loudest; those voices calling for a declaration of jihad will be raised, and they will, in my opinion, target Sunni rivals as well as Alawites and other minorities. This scenario is also possible if the regime kills or captures enough senior leaders of the revolution. On the other hand, even if Assad and his family wanted to leave power – or even leave Syria – how would they explain this sudden about face to their supporters? The regime’s fans, especially its base among the Alawites, may also be radicalised, embracing maximalist violence out of fear. And what happens to the cronies who benefit from the system as it is, and to the security forces who have nowhere to go? Do they just go home — or do they fight to the death out of fear of extermination, and then hang on as some kind of insurgency against any new regime installed with the help of the West, Turkey and the Arab League?…

The insurgency will gradually carve out autonomous zones, from Idlib to Hama to Homs and approaching the suburbs of Damascus. Foreign intelligence agencies will eventually provide covert assistance to the insurgency. But Iranian – and possibly Russian – advisers will likely provide advice to the regime in counter-insurgency. So parts of the country will fall into opposition hands, and parts will remain in the hands of the regime. Alawites in Homs may flee to the villages they originally came from. Christians will flee to their former villages or to Damascus. Both of these trends have already started. Sunni remaining in Latakia will be vulnerable, and in the event of Alawites returning to Latakia’s mountain villages, fleeing from other parts of the country, the region’s Sunni may also be forcibly displaced….

Syria is crumbling before our eyes, and a thoroughly modern nation is likely to be set back many decades.

Human rights in Syria – Commission of Inquiry report published

….20. The activity of the Free Syria Army (FSA) groups resulted in the temporary withdrawal of State forces from cities or areas in the Rif Dimashq, Idlib and Homs governorates. Since December 2011, the army has attacked these areas with heavy weapons, leading to massive casualties and the destruction of homes and infrastructure (see paragraphs 38-46 below).

21. The Government stated that other armed non-State actors not affiliated to the FSA are operating in the country, including Al-Qaida and other religious extremists. In its report, the League of Arab States also makes a distinction between the FSA and “other opposition armed groups”. Numerous sources report the presence of extremist groups in the country. The commission was unable to verify information on the membership, background and operations of such groups.

22. On 23 December 2011, 50 people were reportedly killed in two bombings next to the offices of security agencies in Damascus, which the Government attributed to Al-Qaida. No one, including Al-Qaida, claimed responsibility. In its report, the League of Arab States mentioned that its observers in Homs, Hama and Idlib reported the bombing of a civilian bus (with eight casualties), a police bus (two casualties), a train loaded with diesel fuel, an oil pipeline and small bridges. In other cases, League observers found that alleged bombings were falsely reported. On 10 February 2012, 28 people were reportedly killed and 235 injured in two large explosions at Military Intelligence and police buildings in Aleppo. The Government and other sources attributed these explosions to terrorists. On 14 February, a major pipeline near Homs exploded. The Government blamed “terrorist saboteurs”, while opposition activists attributed the act to State forces shelling in the area.

23. According to all accounts, casualties rose steeply as the violence intensified; thousands of lives have been lost.

24. On 27 December 2011, the Government informed the commission that, according to hospital and police reports, at least 2,131 civilians had been killed in the period from 15 March to 19 December 2011. The Government added that a total of 913 soldiers and 215 police officers (1,128 people in total) were killed during the same period.9 According to the Government, from 23 December 2011 to 10 February 2012, a further 651 members of the army and security forces were killed and 2,292 injured.10 In addition, 519 unidentified bodies were found. On 15 February 2012, the Government provided additional figures, according to which 2,493 civilians and 1,345 soldiers and police officers had been killed in the Syrian Arab Republic in the period from 15 March 2011 to 18 January 2012.

25. The Violations Documenting Centre, affiliated to the local coordination committees, counted 6,399 civilians and 1,680 army defectors killed in the period from 15 March 2011 to 15 February 2012.11 The victims included 244 adult women, 115 girls and 425 boys…..

After a year, deep divisions hobble Syria’s opposition
by Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, February 24, 2012

“Nearly a year after the uprising began, the opposition remains a fractious collection of political groups, longtime exiles, grass-roots organizers and armed militants, all deeply divided along ideological, ethnic or sectarian lines, and too disjointed to agree on even the rudiments of a strategy to topple President Bashar al-Assad’s government…..

“This is a manufactured problem,” said Burhan Ghalioun, the council president, in a brief interview outside an executive committee meeting last week. “Some independent people don’t want to join the S.N.C., but there is no strong opposition power outside the national council.” …..

Scores killed in wave of al-Qaeda bombings across Iraq – Wash Post (Asaad Alazawi, Ernesto Londoño)

BAGHDAD — A wave of bombings across Iraq killed dozens of people Thursday morning, security officials said, in a grim indication of the strength of the insurgency two months after the U.S. military completed its withdrawal….

Syrian opposition will ‘somehow’ carry out offensive operations against Assad, Clinton says

LONDON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that Syrian opposition forces will become “increasingly capable” of carrying out offensive operations against the government of President Bashar al-Assad….

The Syria Report’s Evelyn Aissa provides a roundup of international reportage and commentary on Syria with close to 100 links! (free access)
UN Accuses Syria of Crimes Against Humanity as Foreign Leaders Prepare for ‘Friends of Syria’ Meeting in Tunisia – Syria Report

Today, a report released by the United Nations and submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, accuses the Syrian government of committing “gross human rights violations” tantamount to “crimes against humanity”. The report, derived from 360 interviews with individuals inside Syria, also charges that security crackdowns constituted state policy from coming from “the highest levels of the armed forces and the government”. The same report, however, also charges the Free Syrian Army, an armed element of the opposition, of committing serious abuses. To that end, as violence continues to deepen across the country, Syrian officials continue to adamantly charge that they are fighting against armed terrorist groups – an allegation now partially echoed in some parts of Washington, as a number of senior American officials claim that the terrorist group Al-Qaeda is behind some of the country’s violence. The same US officials did not publicly put forth related evidence. …

‘How to halt the butchery in Syria’ (Anne-Marie Slaughter, New York Times)

“The key condition for all such assistance, inside or outside Syria, is that it be used defensively — only to stop attacks by the Syrian military or to clear out government forces that dare to attack the no-kill zones. Although keeping intervention limited is always hard, international assistance could be curtailed if the Free Syrian Army took the offensive. The absolute priority within no-kill zones would be public safety and humanitarian aid; revenge attacks would not be tolerated.”

The U.S. and other ‘Friends of Syria’ still search for a strategy to oust Assad
Posted: 22 Feb 2012

Tony Karon writes: “It is time we gave them the wherewithal to fight back and stop the slaughter,” said Senator John McCain on Monday, referring to Syria’s opposition amid the carnage being wrought by the Assad regime’s efforts to quash a year-old rebellion. But McCain’s call is unlikely to be heeded by the Obama Administration or other Western governments as they prepare for Friday’s inaugural meeting in Tunis of a “Friends of Syria” forum established to coordinate an international response to the crisis. That’s because Western decision-makers are not quite sure just who the Syrian opposition would be — there is no single leadership that speaks on behalf of those fighting the regime on the ground in cities across Syria, and there are certainly signs that its ranks may include elements deemed hostile to the West. And also, because it’s far from clear just how arming rebel forces would, in fact, “stop the slaughter” and not intensify it.

The problem confronting international stakeholders as they grapple for a response to the slow-moving bloodbath is that there at least three different narratives playing out at the same time in Syria, each of them complicating the others. There’s the narrative of the brutal authoritarian regime confronted by a popular citizens’ rebellion that it has been unable to crush despite a year of slowly escalating repression — a crackdown that has wrecked the country’s economy and made it impossible for the regime to restore stability, much less regain its legitimacy. (Nobody’s expecting the constitutional referendum to be staged by the regime on Sunday to yield a credible popular mandate for Assad’s rule.)

Then there’s the narrative of sectarian warfare, in which Syria’s ethnic and confessional minorities — the ruling Alawites who dominate the regime and its security forces, but also the Christians, the Kurds, the Druze and smaller sects — shudder in the face of a predominantly Sunni rebellion in which they see a specter of sectarian retribution that prompts many of them to remain on the sidelines or support the regime for fear of the alternative.

And finally, there are the geopolitical stakes, as the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf see an opportunity to hobble their Iranian nemesis by helping their indigenous allies overthrow a Tehran-backed regime. Syria also becomes an arena for China and Russia to block the expansion of Western influence in the Middle East through toppling regimes. [Continue reading…]

New Opposition battalions take on overtly sectarian nature to combat Assad’s shabiha

The Yazid ibn Muawiyah Battalion announces its formation in Biyada, Homs. This video suggests the rise of anti-Shiite militias in Syria.

‘Yazīd ibn Mu‘āwiya ibn Abī Sufyān: يزيد بن معاوية بن أبي سفيان‎  commonly known as Yazid I, was the second Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate based in Damascus. Many Muslims condemn Yazid’s rule as contentious and unjust because he was appointed by his father, Muawiyah, and because he killed the Imam, Husayn at Karbala in an effort to stamp out the gathering Shiite movement that looked to the house of the prophet for Caliphs as opposed to the emerging Umayyid dynasty that had moved the capital of the Empire to Damascus.

Salafist Muslims, mostly living in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt, in sharp defiance to Shia Muslim belief, maintain that Yazid was a just, noble, religious and administratively efficient ruler.

Husayn ibn Ali, the son of the forth Caliph and grandson of the prophet Muhammad, along with many other sahaba among the Muslims, disapproved of Yazid’s appointment to the caliphate, declaring it a usurpation of power and against the spirit of Islam. They rode forth to contest his rule and were cut down at Karbala.

The dead are regarded as martyrs by Shi’ah Muslims, and the battle has a central place in Shi’ah history and tradition, and has frequently been recounted in Shi’ah Islamic literature.

Mock Homs at Your Own Risk
The epicenter of Syria’s revolt has long been the butt of jokes. But Homs may get the last laugh.

The negative stereotypes about Homsis returned in force during the 11th century, when the Mirdasid dynasty recaptured the city and converted it to Shia Islam. Homsis very soon became victims of the polemical debates between Sunni and Shia clerics. The famous Sunni cleric Ibn al-Jawzi recorded many ironic narratives about the strange habits of Homsi religious officials and the supposed stupidity of their followers.

According to one anecdote, three Homsi religious students were discussing a hadith – a saying of Prophet Muhammad — about the parts of the human body. “The nose is for smelling, the mouth is for eating, the tongue is for speaking,” they concluded. “But what is the ear for?” As the hadith did not give the answer, they decided to ask their sheikh. On their way to the sheikh’s house, however, they saw a tailor patching a cloth. The tailor was cutting pieces of yarn and hanging them on his ear. “God has sent us the answer,” the students concluded, and returned to the mosque.

Homs has long been a bastion of resistance — first as a Muslim stronghold in the efforts to repel European invaders during the Crusades, and then as a base for Mamluk commanders’ war against the Mongols. But such heroism did not rid Homsis of their age-old stigma. Rather, many linked Homsis’ victories to their alleged simple-mindedness…..[This is a lovely article… read it all]

The Ordeal of Syria. Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Now nearly a full year into a terrible struggle between a dictatorial regime and a rebellion determined to overthrow it, what can be done? What follows is a range of opinions and preferences. This is the first of what we envisage to be a periodic online symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East. We will draw on the membership of Hoover’s Working Group on Islamism and the International Order….

INSTABILITY IN SYRIA: Assessing the Risks of Military Intervention – CSIS

….A number of countries – including US NATO allies such as France and Turkey – increasingly entertain the prospect of creating a “humanitarian corridor” in Syria, potentially along the border with Turkey, to provide relief to both the Syrian population and dissident groups opposed to the Asad regime. These calls are echoed by Syrian opposition forces both in and outside Syria, including the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Istanbul-based Syrian National Council (SNC).

These calls do not address the real world challenges of creating such a “humanitarian corridor”: joint and combined military operations to suppress Syria’s air defense network, the need to neutralize the country’s air force, eliminating Syria’s asymmetric deterrence by containing unconventional threats from long range missiles (potentially armed with chemical or biological agents) and instability along the Golan Heights. They also do not address the risk of eventually having to engage loyal Syrian ground forces (including large concentrations of Alawites) that see few prospects in a post-Asad Syria.

Some consider military intervention in Syria to be a potential next step in shifting the regional balance in favor of the US and its allies. There is little question that sustained military operations in Libya would have been impossible without American logistics, targeting, command and control and sheer military capacity. In the case of Syria, military intervention is similarly unlikely to succeed without US involvement. However, military intervention, in the Middle East, let alone near the epicenter of the Arab-Israeli conflict, always involves serious risks and the impact of the law of unintended consequences…..

Washington’s Syria policy is imaginary
February 23, 2012
By Michael Young, The Daily Star

The administration of President Barack Obama has often been ridiculed for what it describes as “leading from behind.” More often than not this has been an excuse for not leading at all, and nowhere has American vacillation been more on display than in Syria.

For instance, it is the United States that has lent credence to accusations by the Syrian regime that Al-Qaeda is assisting the Syrian opposition. Last week, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he believed Al-Qaeda in Iraq had infiltrated Syrian opposition groups, and was behind bombings in Damascus and Aleppo. Clapper needn’t have made that statement publicly. Not surprisingly, the Syrian opposition read it as a sign of American hostility toward its aspirations

Politically as well, Washington has been all over the place. In an interview with France 24 just over a week ago, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, said that the Obama administration was looking for a “peaceful political solution” in Syria. “Even the Syrian people do not want a military solution to this crisis,” he said, before adding: “We believe [President Bashar] Assad should step down, but at the end of the day the Syrian people will make the decision, not the U.S.”

A few days later, Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, sounded less affirmative. While also defending a political solution, she observed, “[I]f we can’t get Assad to yield to the pressure that we are all bringing to bear, we may have to consider additional measures.” To many people this suggested that the U.S. might possibly endorse arming Syria’s opposition if that became necessary. Evidently, the Obama administration – amid the carnage in Homs and elsewhere in Syria, and rising calls in the Arab world and even in the U.S. Congress for Assad’s opponents to be supplied with better weapons – feared that it would fall behind the policy curve.

There are no easy answers in Syria, but Washington’s trouble is that it has no strategy for the country. This is proving very damaging indeed, given that the Russians and Iranians do have one, and it can be summarized quite simply: Actively support the repression by the Syrian army and security services, bringing the opposition, or a portion of the opposition, to the negotiating table….

Nikolaos van Dam interview on Syria – “Any Western military intervention will be a disaster”….

…ومع ذلك فإن أي تدخل عسكري غربي سيكون كارثياً كما يرى الدبلوماسي الهولندي السابق ومؤلف الكتاب ذائع الصيت الصراع على السلطة في سوريا نيكولاس فان دام. كسفير هولندي سابق في عراق صدام حسين, يدرك فان دام جيداً مدى قسوة وسوء الديكتاتورية ولكنه يرى أن هناك ماهو أقسى وأسوأ من ذلك وهي الحرب الأهلية كالصراع الطائفي الذي عايشه وخَبِرَهُ في لبنان عندما بدأ عمله بالسلك الدبلوماسي هناك. عندما تتصادم الطوائف ضد بعضها البعض يصبح الجميع معرضين لخطر الموت وفي سوريا المنقسمة دينياً فإن حرباً طائفية تلوح في الأفق كما يرى فان دام. يهمين بعض أعضاء الطائفة العلوية على النظام في سوريا وهم فرقة من الشيعة يشكلون ما نسبته 12% من مجموع السكان بينما تَتَشَكل المعارضة من خليط من جميع الطوائف ولكن السنة والذين يشكلون أكثر من 60% من مجموع السكان يلعبون الدور الأهم داخل المعارضة. يخشى العلويون من العودة إلى فترة الخمسينات والستينات حيث كانوا مضطهدين ومهمشين بينما يتجه الإستياء والسَخط داخل السنة نحو الإنفجار وهذا ما يؤجج الصراع. لا يزال النظام متشبثاً بالسلطة, بدأت المعارضة بمظاهرات سلمية ولكنها مالبثت أن رفعت سقف مطالبها وبدأت ترد على النار بالنار. إذا ما أراد الغرب دعم المعارضة عن طريق تسليحها مثلا فإنه بذلك يكون كَمَن يصب الزيت على النار يخشى فان دام. قد تكون المعارضة أقوى عددياً ولكن النظام يملك وحدات النخبة المسلحة بالأسلحة الثقيلة

وهذا قد يؤدي الى سفك دماء قد يستمر لسنوات وهذا مانراه في العراق. ولذلك لايزال السفير السابق يدعو لحوار مع بشار الأسد. يجب إقناع النظام بالتخلي عن سلطاته ولكن فرصة حوار كهذا تتضائل يوماً بعد يوم يُقر فان دام ولكنه رغم ذلك لايرى بديلاً مباشراً ماعدا استمرار الصراع الدموي والذي سيُخلف نتيجة مغايرة تماماً لما هو مُنتَطر. مايجري في حمص يخلق شعوراً بأن على أحدهم أن يتدخل ولكن يجب عليك أن لا تفكر فقط بأنك تشعر بأنك مسؤول وأن الحالة سيئة وأن عَلَيكَ أن تَتَدخل ولكن عَليكَ أيضاً أن تفكر بما سينتُج عن مثل هكذا تدخل وهنا تكمن المُصيبة. إذا أدى التدخل العسكري إلى حرب أهلية على نطاق أوسع ستقول ” لقد قمنا بالخطوة الصحيحة أخلاقياً ولكن هناك مئات الأف من الضحايا الذين سقطوا نعم للأسف ولكن لم نكن نقصد ذلك   “…..

Comments (450)

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151. Ales said:

There has been no election in Libya…they are still busy preparing law to prevent any Gaddafi supporter to candidate and torture some.

In Yemen elections, people were free to vote for 1 candidate…which supposedly won 99% of votes.

This is democracy imposed by West and Arabs allied with them.

If 60% syrians voted for Assad, these outsiders would still demand his resignation. No doubt elections results would be faked and he would had no legitimacy…still.

But, a big progress has been made, a new Yemen president has legitimacy.

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February 25th, 2012, 3:54 pm


152. Mina said:

Yemen president has legitimacy? He was vice-president since 1994!

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February 25th, 2012, 4:08 pm


153. zoo said:

“The key thing will be not just the result of the referendum, but the number of people who are allowed to take part in it and thus it is being shown as a legitimate consultation of the people.”

Syria gears up for referendum
Published: 25 February, 2012, 18:05

War-torn Syria is gearing up for an unprecedented referendum on a new draft constitution that would put an end to five decades of single-party rule. But the opposition is calling on the population to boycott the vote, which is set for Sunday.

­On Sunday millions of Syrians are expected to vote on their country’s new constitution. Posters and banners calling on people to come and vote are everywhere in the capital and all around the country, RT’s Maria Finoshina reports from Damascus. For the first time in the country’s history the Interior Ministry is urging people to come and vote without actually telling them how they should vote, she says.

The draft of the newly proposed constitution has been made public days before the referendum takes place. Hundreds of its copies have been distributed among people to let them know what changes the new law puts forward.

The draft constitution includes 14 new and 47 amended articles.

One of the main changes is Article 8, which actually ends over 50 years of single-party rule in Syria. It proclaims that political system in Syria is based on pluralism and multiparty system is permitted.

Also very important is Article 88, as it says that president of the country could only be elected for two seven-year terms. This change however will come into power only after the next presidential elections, which is scheduled for 2014.

The draft constitution meets the majority of democratic demands of the Syrians.

According to the Interior Ministry 14,000 polling stations have been set up for the referendum. About 15 million Syrians have the right to vote, but it is hard to predict how many of them will actually turn out.

However, as Maria Finoshina reports, the referendum may come too late as violence is continuing in the country between the opposition and the authorities.

The opposition has already called to boycott the vote and go on strike. RT’s correspondent says warnings are circling in Damascus that there could be attacks and explosions at the polling stations during the vote.

­Historian and political analyst Peter Rushton told RT that the main challenge for the Syrian government right now is to assure that the referendum gets through smoothly, “without terrorist attacks to disrupt it.”

“The major problem for the government in Damascus and everybody on the ground in Syria will be allowing the process to go ahead relatively uninterrupted,” Rushton said. “The key thing will be not just the result of the referendum, but the number of people who are allowed to take part in it and thus it is being shown as a legitimate consultation of the people.”

Rushton believes that if any kind of violence takes place during the vote, the West may say: “The result is illegitimate! That may well be the reason why the bombs are going off in the first place.”

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February 25th, 2012, 4:20 pm


154. jad said:

Zoo #140
After all it seems that the terrorists armed gangs are holding the journalist hostage and the Syrians inside those infested area as negotiation cards and human shields, where is the ‘western’ press? I guess the press is only interested in dead journalists’ stories, those who are still alive don’t count.
The opposition lies were immediately exposed by the ICRC when they claim that the evacuated injured citizens were ‘arrested’.
I’m very surprised that Alkhanzeera is the one reporting this news!? WOW! What’s wrong with them?!!

Red Cross pushes to rescue wounded in Homs
Syrian Free Army blocks Syrian Red Crescent ambulances from entering area, in climate of “deep mistrust”.
“The ICRC said the Syrian Arab Red Crescent had evacuated a total of 27 people from Bab Amr on Friday. On Saturday, it carried out two evacuations in other neighbourhoods in Homs.

The injured were taken to a privately owned local hospital, the Red Cross said.

A journalist involved in Saturday’s negotiations told the AFP news agency that ambulances entered rebel stronghold Baba Amr twice in the afternoon but were blocked by the Free Syrian Army.

“At one point they said they could not allow more evacuations, including those of foreign journalists, because nine people evacuated on Friday had been arrested,” she said on condition of anonymity.

She said the ICRC investigated the rebel claim and reported that the charge that evacuees had been arrested “were totally false”.”

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February 25th, 2012, 4:47 pm


155. Syria no Kandahar said:

Hamas is advising Assad not to use weapons,and has advised its members in the past to blow pizza restaurants.

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February 25th, 2012, 5:00 pm


156. Ghufran said:

The SNC, the Qatar-KSA same sex marriage, and the Harirites are directly responsible for the failure of the opposition to recruit more Syrians in the legitimate struggle to change the regime by resorting to violence and buying the loyalty of power-hungry Syrian expats.
There was always thugs in Syria, like all countries, but those thugs were contained due to the presence of a strong central government. By attacking the army and targeting national institutions and trying to establish enclaves controlled by regular thugs, the armed militias are only serving their own interest, not the interest of the country.
There is a line that separates thugs from anti regime patriots, this line must be preserved if support for a civil and peaceful regime change is to be achieved, many Syrians have unfortunately decided to abandon the political path using the regime violence as an excuse.

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February 25th, 2012, 6:03 pm


157. DAWOUD said:


Regarding Ismail Haniyah’s support for the Syrian Revoluiton, Mr. IRRITATED says: “In addition, his new position may affect negatively the 600,000 Palestinians in Syria who have been benefiting of the same rights as the Syrians for years, contrary at how they are treated in other Arab countries […]”

Surprisingly, I strongly agree with Mr. IRRITATED that al-Assad’s regime (Assad the first, and Assad the 2nd) has treated the Palestinian refugees exactly like the Syrian citizens. In fact, I support this agreement in opinion between me and Mr. IRRITATED with the following two links:

1) “Syria assault on Latakia drives 5,000 Palestinians from refugee camp,”

2) Regarding the Tal Az-Za’atar massacre by Hafez, see:
جرائم النظام السوري بحق الفلسطينيين … مجزرة تل الزعتر

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February 25th, 2012, 6:04 pm


158. Observer said:

Can anyone direct me to Off the Wall blog post I must have deleted by mistake.
Thank you all.

The plot thickens

The best political nose in testing shifting winds is that of Jumps a Lot Jumblat.

The second political shift is Hamas coming out in favor of the Syrian Revolution.

The third political shift is the Chinese response to the Tunis Conference being not outright hostile.

All three indicate that the inability of the regime to finish the resistance in Homs in more than three weeks of shelling is a sign of a failure of the regime to consolidate its hold on the country.

Arms will flow into the country and the stubborn insistence of Fredo on one tool in dealing with the revolt is truly astounding in its stupidity.

The window for any dialogue is closed. What is there to talk and negotiate about?

The regime shamelessly is not even willing to let the Red Crescent evacuate wounded in Homs. How more humiliating is it going to be that the Syrian Red Crescent is now involved in evacuating citizens of Homs.

If as the official narrative is correct it is due to armed gangs the inability to restore order is mind boggling and if as is more truly the situation they have no ability to crush the revolt and do not wish to appear on an equal footing with opposition then they have lost big time the propaganda war.

Nir Rosen is the only account that we need to look into on this latest posting.

By the way on Maysaloon there is a brilliant transcript that was posted today.

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February 25th, 2012, 6:05 pm


159. Observer said:

Conversation with an Anti-Imperialist: A Transcript

This is usually how some of my conversations with anti-imperialists go:

Me: Assad is not fit to rule Syria, he must leave after what he’s done.

Them: But can’t you see that there is a conspiracy against Syria?

Me: Yes.

Them: Don’t you know that if Assad goes then that will be exactly what they have wanted?

Me: Yes.

Them: So why are you against Assad?

Me: Because Assad is murdering his own people and that is wrong.

[End of discussion]

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February 25th, 2012, 6:08 pm


160. Tara said:


I think it is

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February 25th, 2012, 6:08 pm


161. Tara said:

Sting disgusted by Asma and hubby.  I am too.  I am sure someone will spent the night adoring the picture..

Sting and the tyrant: Human rights champion jokes with Syria’s brutal leader
Last updated at 6:30 PM on 25th February 2012

He has championed human rights causes around the world for more than 30 years.

From displaced tribes in the Brazilian rainforest to earthquake victims in Haiti, Sting has supported them all.

So he will no doubt rather forget the time he spent laughing and joking with brutal Syrian dictator President Al-Assad. 

Pictures have emerged of the pop star, who has been an ambassador for Amnesty International since 1981, meeting Assad in Damascus.

Last night a friend of the singer explained how the couples met: ‘Trudie and Sting were on holiday in the Middle East in 2008 when they were invited to meet President Assad and his wife Asma.

‘At that time, Assad was relatively new to power and regarded as Westernised and, so, a potentially democratising influence in the Middle East.’

However, a spokesman for the pair insisted they were now ‘disgusted’ by the brutality of his military regime.


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February 25th, 2012, 6:11 pm


162. Antoine said:


I have noticed, in your comments, you have consistently refused to call the FSA by its name, instead you have chosen to refer to it as “the militia”. Is it a matter of principle ? Why do you refuse to use the term “Free Syrian Army” ?

I would like to know.

And I would really appreciate it if you could answer my question.

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February 25th, 2012, 6:35 pm


163. Son of Damascus said:


here is the link to the Maysaloon post

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February 25th, 2012, 6:36 pm


164. zoo said:

Jad #156

So the wounded french and english journalists who need immediate care are held as hostages and bargaining items! I just hope they don’t die because of these delays.
Al Jazeera was obliged to report it because once out, the journalists will report it too

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February 25th, 2012, 6:38 pm


165. irritated said:

160. Observer

Do you ever read posts here? Try #156 before writing this

“The regime shamelessly is not even willing to let the Red Crescent evacuate wounded in Homs.”

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February 25th, 2012, 6:44 pm


166. Hans said:

Way to go opposition!!
Here is another face of a traitor who sold his soul to someone else but Syria.
I think if the opposition starts attacking each other it is the best way to liberate Syria.
well I don’t know but it doesn’t look good for the Syrians anyway I flip it.
it must be the end of the Arabs in the 21st century.
one Israeli is exchanged for few hundreds Arabs and one Americans is worth thousands, therefore, the more killing happened in Syria is saving the Israeli and the Americans from being involved is a win win situation to the Israelis.
dam it People don’t learn from history lessons.

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February 25th, 2012, 7:09 pm


167. bronco said:

There is nothing ‘laughable’ about this referendum, quite the opposite

I have noticed that the turn of the events seems to go exactly opposite to the predictions of the media ( and of some overoptimistic commenters).
The latest was the flurry of declarations in the media that the FOS will give a “strong messsage” that it will reiterate the call for Bashar Al Assad to resign, make calls for the humanitarian corridors, arm the FSA etc.. etc..
None of this has materialized. Hillary shook hand with Davutoglu and Moncef Marzouki suggested Russia and not Ben Ali’s residence in KSA as a refuge for fleeing Bashar family.
And what about the collapse of the economy we’ve been hearing? the total collapse of the Syrian pound, the Kurds and the Druzes joining the uprising, Aleppo joining the uprising etc.. etc..

Now the media are saying the referendum is ‘laughable’, it is “too little too late”, “it will change nothing” etc.. etc..

The Russians cleverly pointed out that the turnout for this referendum is more important than the result.

This is the first democratic event in Syria and it will bring in the open the real percentage of the Syrians that supports the government and its reforms, versus the percentage who are against and who will therefore boycott the referendum.
If the opposition is sure about its majority it will stay quiet and allow the vote to happen. If they are not, they will instigate fear and increase terrorists acts to prevent the voters to vote.

This is the first moment of truth in the last 10 months.

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February 25th, 2012, 7:15 pm


168. Tara said:


The draft constitution is laughable because it makes Mr. Besho, the father,the son and the wholly sprit. Amen. It concentrates all the power in his persona and finds him not accountable for anything except the act of high treason and guess who decides if the president has committed high treason? It is the president himself that must be Muslim. The regime will tell us tomorrow that the turn out was outstanding even if no one shows. It also tells us that the sun rises from the west and there is no god except Bushbush.

I am awaiting for Bushbush 99 names…

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February 25th, 2012, 7:30 pm


169. zoo said:

The FOS recognised the main opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), as “a legitimate representative of Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change” but fell short of giving it exclusive recognition.
Syrian opposition praises Saudi FM position
By Nadia Al-Turki

Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Syrian opposition expressed its appreciation of the position taken by the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal with regards to the “Friends of Syria’ meeting that took place in Tunis yesterday. Prince Saudi al-Faisal had said that focusing on humanitarian aid to Syria was “not enough”, whilst he also described arming the Syrian rebels fighting against the al-Assad regime as being “an excellent idea.”


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February 25th, 2012, 7:34 pm


170. zoo said:

SNC: Next half in Turkey in 3 weeks at the next FOS meeting?

SNC ‘halfway to recognition’ by Friends of Syria
Published: 25 February, 2012, 03:56
The Friends of Syria meeting in Tunisia has gone halfway to recognizing the Syria’s opposition umbrella group the National Council as legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. And promised more pressure and sanctions on the existing regime.

The Syrian National Council (SNC) was recognized as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people, although not the sole representative.

Other representatives of increasingly fragmented Syrian opposition groups were invited, including the Damascus-based National Coordination Committee. The NCC boycotted the meeting because it would not rule out the idea of military intervention.

But the Tunisian foreign minister, who chaired the conference, promised Western and Arab powers will probably fully recognize the Syrian National Council during the next meeting of the Friends of Syria group in Turkey.

“We have gone half the way and we will probably do the other half in Turkey,”stressed Rafik Abdessalem.


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February 25th, 2012, 7:37 pm


171. Syrialover said:

# 160. Observer

Not Nir Rosen, don’t look at Nir Rosen unless you want to drink deeply of despair and fear and worst case deadend scenarios. He specialises in a hellish landscape with no space for Syrian people’s hope, resilience, courage and ingenuity.

Rosen’s approach has been thoughtfully critiqued by others over the months. He built his reputation on reporting on Iraq and that’s his rigid template.

For example: “And surprisingly, Nir Rosen’s recent series for Al Jazeera English seems to suffer from the same regime-tainted myopia. Rosen spent seven weeks this summer in Syria, touring([5 main cities], speaking as he says, “to all sides.” But from the first article entitled, “The revolution will be weaponized,” it is clear how heavily one-sided this series was designed to be. His focus on the deep, historical grievances of the Alawite (but not Sunni) sect and his endless comparisons of Syria to Iraq casts a distinct air of doom and hopelessness over every piece.”


“Unfortunately, Rosen sees Syria through the prism of Iraq’s sectarian war. He expects to find expressions of sectarian hatred, and he finds them aplenty.” (Read more:

Reading Nir Rosen just drives home the enormous loss of Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin.

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February 25th, 2012, 7:41 pm


172. ss said:

هورستل المستشار السياسي للحكومة الالمانية

أخجل أن أكون ألمانياً


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February 25th, 2012, 7:45 pm


173. majedkhaldoun said:

The basharon they call self defence, they call it violence, their thinking is anyone who oppose Assad should never defend himself, they deny us self defence and if we defend ourself they call that violence,
But ignore them they know nothing,they are trumpet to the regime,even that some they give different impression, like they are against Bashar but they are really support bashar ,since they call the FSA thugs or armed MILITIA, they try to deceive us ,(THAT WHAT THEY THINK) but we know better

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February 25th, 2012, 7:46 pm


174. jad said:

Ia agree with your evaluation regarding the referendum tomorrow, I noticed that many Syrians are really excited about tomorrow, many of them don’t really care about the YES or NO issue, they just want to VOTE…While the opposition are asking their supporters not to vote.
My only hope is that the voting tomorrow pass with no terrorist attack anywhere by the armed militias since according to one news site the fsa terrorist group is planning for something evil with the help of the Turks in Damascus and Aleppo.

بدء عملية الاستفتاء على الدستور الجديد الاحد .. والداخلية تخصص 14185 مركزاً في جميع المحافظات

يتوجه المواطنون السوريون صباح الاحد للإدلاء بأصواتهم حول مشروع الدستور الجديد للجمهورية العربية السورية حيث استكملت وزارة الداخلية كافة الإجراءات اللازمة لعملية الاستفتاء في كل المراكز الموزعة في المحافظات وعلى المراكز الحدودية والمطارات والبادية.

وقال معاون وزير الداخلية للشؤون المدنية العميد حسن جلالي، بحسب وكالة “سانا” للأنباء، إن الوزارة اتخذت كل الإجراءات الكفيلة بحسن سير عملية الاستفتاء التي ستبدأ في الساعة السابعة من يوم غد وذلك ضمانا لنزاهتها بشكل يكفل حق المواطن في الإدلاء بصوته بجو من الحرية والشفافية داعيا المواطنين إلى المشاركة الفعالة في هذا الاستفتاء كونه يشكل الطريق الصحيح لرسم مستقبل سورية وتحقيق آمال وطموحات مواطنيها في الحرية والديمقراطية.

وأصدر الرئيس بشار الأسد الأسبوع الماضي مرسوما بتحديد يوم الأحد الواقع في 26-2-2012 موعدا للاستفتاء على مشروع دستور السوري الجديد.
وأضاف جلالي أن “الوزارة أصدرت التعليمات العامة بشان من يحق لهم الإدلاء برأيهم حول مشروع الدستور الجديد”، لافتا إلى أنه “يتمتع بحق الاستفتاء كل مواطن عربي سوري من الذكور والإناث أتم الثامنة عشرة من عمره في 1-1-2012 أي من كان مولودا في 1-1-1994 وما قبل ما لم يكن محروما من حقوقه المدنية والسياسية بمقتضى المواد 63 أو 65 أو 66 من قانون العقوبات أو القوانين الأخرى النافذة ولا تدرج أسماء هؤلاء في جداول الاستفتاء”.
وأوضح جلالي أن “العدد الإجمالي للمراكز التي خصصت لعملية الاستفتاء يبلغ 14185 مركزا بعد طلب بعض المحافظات زيادة أعداد المراكز المحددة مسبقا بـ 13835 بما فيها المراكز التي تم افتتاحها على الحدود البرية وفي المطارات لتمكين المواطنين المغادرين والقادمين من الإدلاء بأصواتهم”، مشيرا إلى “وجود مراكز سيارة متنقلة في البادية للبدو الذين لا يتمكنون من الحضور إلى مراكز الاستفتاء ليتمكنوا من ممارسة حقهم بيسر”.
وبين جلالي أن الاستفتاء سيتم بموجب جداول انتخابية وقد أنهت الشؤون المدنية استخراج هذه الجداول على مستوى سورية وسلمت إلى المحافظين حسب القيود وتم توزيعها على المراكز الانتخابية”، منوها “إذا كان قيد المواطن في المزة بدمشق مثلا فعليه أن يحضر إلى المركز بموجب ما يثبت شخصيته وعلى رئيس المركز أن يبدأ بالبحث بالجدول حسب القيد وإذا وجد اسمه بهذا الجدول فيشطبه إشعارا بممارسة دوره في الاستفتاء ثم يعطيه مغلفا وبطاقة استفتاء ويتوجه إلى الغرفة السرية”.
وتابع جلالي “في حال لم يوجد له اسم في الجدول فهناك جدول ملحق بالجدول الانتخابي يتم من خلاله إضافة الاسم إلى الجدول ليتمكن المواطن من ممارسة حقه بالاستفتاء وإذا كان المواطن في محافظة غير محافظته فبإمكانه ممارسة حقه بالاستفتاء بأي مركز في سورية شريطة أن يضيف رئيس المركز اسمه في الجدول كملحق بالجدول الانتخابي حيث ستتم عملية مطابقة بين الجداول خوفا من استخدام التصويت مرتين”.
وفي حال حدثت ازدواجية في التصويت من قبل أحد المواطنين، قال جلالي أن “هذا المواطن يعرض نفسه لمساءلة قانونية ويعتبر تزويرا فإن كان اسمه بالجدول الانتخابي يشطب إشعاره وإن لم يكن يثبت اسمه في الجدول الملحق”، موضحا أن “الغاية من هذه الجداول هي عملية مطابقة مع الشوءون المدنية التي ستقوم بالبحث عن هذا المواطن وتلاحقه قضائيا”.
The Syrian Kurds are also invited and encouraged to vote
أما بالنسبة لأجانب الحسكة الذين حصلوا على الجنسية العربية السورية، أوضح جلالي أنه “يحق لهم أن يمارسوا دورهم في الاستفتاء حيث أعطوا أقدميه في الجنسية منذ خمس سنوات ليتمكنوا من التصويت ما سمح لهم حق الترشح للإدارة المحلية والآن التصويت على الدستور ومستقبلا يحق لهم الترشح والانتخاب في مجلس الشعب والاستحقاقات الأخرى”، مشيرا إلى أن “عدد الذين تقدموا بطلبات للحصول على الجنسية العربية السورية من أجانب الحسكة بلغ 105320 طلبا والذين منحوا بطاقات شخصية بلغ 68520 شخصا”.

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February 25th, 2012, 7:47 pm


175. bronco said:

Tara #171

“if no one shows” be sure that they will a lot of chinese mobiles dumping on youtube the empty poll stations videos.

It won’t be easy to hide it if there is a massive turn out.
There must be lots of foreign journalists watching the turn out.
The constitution is a draft, it will modified once it gets a majority approval of principle.
It is laudable that it happens despite the fury of many who prefer to see Syria, headless in the gutter.

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February 25th, 2012, 7:47 pm


176. Tara said:

The day before she was killed, Colvin had given media interviews to networks like ITN and CNN about the ongoing clashes in Homs, and about a child who was killed in the city.
“The baby’s death was just heartbreaking,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “We just watched this little boy, his little tummy, heaving and heaving as he tried to breathe. It was horrific. My heart broke.”….

That baby probably will move more people to think, ‘What is going on and why is no one stopping this murder in Homs that is happening everyday?'”
“There are no military targets here,” Colvin reported, refuting Syria claims that its forces are only hunting terrorists.

“Its a complete and utter lie,” she said of the government’s response. “The Syrian Army is basically shelling a city of cold, starving civilians.”
A day later, Colvin and Ochlik were killed.

Journalist Marie Colvin to be buried in Syria, mother says
By David Ariosto, CNN
updated 5:12 PM EST, Sat February 25, 2012

Marie Colvin’s mother says she believes her daughter was targeted
Since her death, Colvin’s family has started a fund in her honor
The Marie Colvin fund is intended to direct resources to support charities

New York (CNN) — The body of Marie Colvin, a veteran correspondent for The Sunday Times of London who was killed in a shelling attack in the Syrian city of Homs, will likely be buried inside Syria, her mother said Saturday.
Rosemarie Colvin said aid workers, who have been trying for days to remove her daughter’s body from the war-ravaged country, tried again Saturday but ultimately determined that the situation was too dangerous.
“We were told yesterday that today was probably the last day,” the elder Colvin said.


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February 25th, 2012, 7:52 pm


177. ss said:

176. majedkhaldoun
“they call the FSA thugs or armed MIL”

Will call it FSA, but with all my rspect the FSA will never be able to take over the Syrian army. You know better!

I do not have any problem addressing it as FSA or any name you select because its useless army as far as I know. Unfortunately this army finds civilians an easy target. I said before the regime is strong and I believe that 10x the size of the current FSA will not be able to cause a scratch in the skin of the regime, the ones who will pay the price are civilians, its sad.

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February 25th, 2012, 7:57 pm


178. Tara said:


I will give you that. If empty poll booth we will see it, but you can never estimate the turnout from what will be shown on Youtube.

Are they working on Bashar’s 99 names?

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February 25th, 2012, 7:59 pm


179. jad said:

Nir Rosen is bad now! I guess he said too much facts about the identity of the victims not being all CIVILIANS:

[AJ: Who is being killed?

NR: Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any explanation of the cause of the deaths. Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters, but the cause of their death is hidden and they are described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces, as if they were all merely protesting or sitting in their homes. Of course, those deaths still happen regularly as well.

And, every day, members of the Syrian army, security agencies and the vague paramilitary and militia phenomenon known as shabiha [“thugs”] are also killed by anti-regime fighters.]

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February 25th, 2012, 8:04 pm


180. bronco said:

Jad #176

I think the debacle of the FOS meeting and the shocking declaration of the Saudis will affect greatly the decision to vote of many hesitant Syrians.

I also got the feedback that Syrians, at least in Damascus are enthusiastic about voting.
After months of frustration of being ignored and represented by people they did not choose, this is a chance for each Syrian to express directly his/her trust or mistrust for the government.

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February 25th, 2012, 8:05 pm


181. bronco said:

#180. jad

Is there a noticeable shift in Al Jazeera reporting recently?

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February 25th, 2012, 8:07 pm


182. bronco said:

179. Tara said:

Despite the loud silence of the western media about that referendum, be sure there will be ‘banned’ journalists that will suddenly popup to give their scoop account, and what about the Western embassies who will be watching carefully what is going on. It’s not easy to miss a high turnout, even if you hate that it is happening.

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February 25th, 2012, 8:11 pm


183. Jad said:

Dear Bronco
I didn’t notice any change at all, the Syrian mighty uprising is the only news on the Arabic AJ 24/7 with the exact same outlandish stories repeated over and over.

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February 25th, 2012, 8:13 pm


184. bronco said:


Dear Jad
Thanks, I had false hopes that after the new slap on HBJ’s face in the failed FOS meeting and the scandal of Al Jazira leaked memos it will have some effects on the propaganda machine, but it does not so, at least for now.

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February 25th, 2012, 8:18 pm


185. Tara said:

Syria assails Saudi over arming opposition calls
Associated Press – 27 mins ago
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria lashed out at Saudi Arabia on Saturday, a day after the kingdom’s foreign minister backed the idea of arming the rebels fighting President Bashar Assad’s regime, accusing Riyadh of becoming “a partner” in the bloodshed in Syria.
A Saturday commentary in the state-run Al Thawra daily sharply criticized Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, who said during Friday’s 60-nation gathering in Tunisia that he supported giving weapons and ammunition to groups fighting the Syrian regime.
“I think it’s an excellent idea,” Prince Saud told reporters in Tunisia. Asked why, he replied: “Because they have to defend themselves.”
Al Thawra said that the prince, by “rudely” supporting an armed opposition, has become a “direct partner in shedding more Syrian blood.”
“It’s shameful for the vocabulary of the Saudi speech to reach this level … and to announce so rudely support for terrorists,” Al Thawra said. The paper reflects the Syrian government’s point of view.
In Istanbul, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday that Syria was seeking to crush its opposition and then proceed with reforms.
“That kind of logic unfortunately renders any kind of reform meaningless,” he said. “To fight on the one hand with your people and then to claim that there is reform is contradictory.”
He criticized the Syrian government’s assault on Homs just before holding a referendum.
…. .

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February 25th, 2012, 8:29 pm


186. jad said:

Talking of the real ‘devil’ please check out this excellent article about AJ and the ‘virtual’ Qatar:

Qatar, Al Jazeera, and the Age of Virtual Power
By: Hareth Hassan

In the beginning, there was Al Jazeera…then there was Qatar. Does anyone recall anything about Qatari politics before Al Jazeera was established in 1996? Can anyone tell us something about Qatar’s direction and goals, if in fact it had any at the time? And today, can anyone ignore Qatar’s political role in the region?

Through Al Jazeera, Qatar has played a major role in toppling Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak. If Al Jazeera had not been able to set up its cameras in the center of the protests and build support for the protesters through its Arabic and English channels, it would not have been possible to create an international consensus and force the world powers to at least feign the appearance of supporting the protesters, and call on Mubarak to step down.

But that’s not all. Al Jazeera helped set the stage for the standoff in Libya by fostering the belief among many that the Libyan people must not be left at the mercy of their mad dictator Muammar Gaddafi. After being seen as widely critical of the American occupation of Iraq, Al Jazeera ended up as a platform for justifying foreign intervention in Libya.

Al Jazeera has also constructed most of the narrative employed by the Gulf states and the West to move the crisis in Syria from a popular movement against a corrupt, dictatorial regime, to a geopolitical conflict whose aim is to justify foreign intervention for the purpose of regime change. This intervention relies upon Al Jazeera’s narrative for moral justification.

By contrast, Al Jazeera’s silence about the Bahraini protests contributed to the lack of international pressure or popular outcry towards the uprising there. As a result, politics in the region no longer reflect reality as it is, but rather as told by Al Jazeera.

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February 25th, 2012, 8:45 pm


187. Tara said:

Syrian bankers face struggle to survive as turmoil spreads
February 23, 2012 01:38 AM
By Suleiman al-Khalidi

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February 25th, 2012, 8:49 pm


188. Tara said:

Details of Colvin death disclosed

Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin, who was killed in Syria, died trying to retrieve her shoes so she could escape an army bombardment, her newspaper has reported.
Details of her last hours emerged as efforts went on to rescue journalists wounded alongside her in the Baba Amr district of Homs, the Sunday Times said.

They had followed the Middle Eastern custom of taking off their shoes when they went into a building housing a rebel press centre, and tried to recover them as rockets fell.

Colvin, 56, was on the ground floor on Wednesday morning when missiles hit the upper floors.

The journalists – who included Paul Conroy, a photographer working for The Sunday Times, three French nationals and a Spaniard – were covered in dust but unhurt. They prepared to flee but had to get their shoes first.
Seven rebels were found dead with their hands tied after trying to smuggle medicines into Baba Amr to help the journalists and other injured civilians. The medicines were scattered and two other rebels were missing, the newspaper said.

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February 25th, 2012, 9:06 pm


189. Tara said:

Turkey’s patience with Besho is running out.   Oh please.  Spare us the rhetoric. 

Ankara is turning up the pressure on Damascus over its ongoing crackdown on dissent. The Turkish foreign minister hosted an international meeting on mediation of conflicts on Saturday in Istanbul and has warned the country’s patience is running out over the ongoing violence in Syria…….  On Saturday, Davutoglu warned that if the situation in Syria continues, Ankara may have to consider other options than diplomacy.

Read more:   

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February 25th, 2012, 9:29 pm


190. Revlon said:

150. Pirouz:
((82. REVLON said:
That level of support wasn’t even provided to the Libyan militias. In fact, there was an effort to round up LyA MANPADs.))

That was for obvious reason!
NATO took care of Qidaffi’s tanks, artillary and air power and thus protected the rebels.
In Syrian scenario, NATO has chosen to stay away from the conflict. Therefore, FSA shall assume all the responsibilities for the liberation of Syria from Assad militias.

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February 25th, 2012, 9:44 pm


191. majedkhaldoun said:

Neither the turn out at the referendum nor the results are important at all,the results are already known, the regime rigged it so it will be approved, the turn out is going to be large ,in Damascus because the goverment will take the ID from all employee and tell them you will take it at the booths.
This constitution is a replica to the old one, we already pointed to the bad parts
Assad can run for relection for 10 more years.
The president Bashar is not liable for the murders he committed
There is no seperation of the judicial and executive branch,nor there is seperation of the president and the executive or the legislative branches.
In the last 41 years The Assads did not follow the constitution, infact they killed they tortured syrians and corruption is rampant.without outside monitoring,and without support for equality this is useless constitution

This constitution is a joke, true reform is Bashar to leave immidietly, He is not leaving so he will face his end in Syria.

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February 25th, 2012, 9:48 pm


192. Tara said:

“Tunisia’s Jasmines” to be shown during Women’s films in Turkey 

Mandy’s mass screening will include the films “A Diary of Healing” in which the director, having found out that she had breast cancer, filmed the journey she had to make through the medical world as a part of her artistic and personal pursuits; “Artificial Uterus, Birth without Bodies,” which discusses the possibility of artificial uteruses, fabricating human babies outside of a woman’s body, that is, the discovery of a life-making machine; “Our Parents Are Gay and So is Life” that handles the story of the young who have gay parents and intend not to live like their parents; “Breasts also Started as a Small Thing,” which is a musical documentary that narrates estrogen and testosterone and shows how a 15-year-old who does not like his/her body that much copes with desire; and “Judith,” the story of a woman who goes between reality and dream.

One of the special sections at the festival in which Tunisian female directors will participate is film screenings of Tunisia titled “Tunisia’s Jasmines.” 

Among the movies to be displayed in this section are “The Other Half of the Sky,” a 2007 film directed by Khaltom Bornaz, which narrates the story of Selim and Selime, fraternal twins, whose relationship with their widowed father is problematic; “The Trace,” a 1998 film directed by Nejia Ben Mabrouk, which reveals Tunusia’s patriarchal culture showing Sabra’s present life and childhood, aged 10. She loves her nation and culture but finds them suffocating; “Neither Allah, Nor Master!” a 2011 film directed by Nadia El Fani inquiring what if, for once, a Muslim country opted for a secular constitution whereas Tunisia, which initiated the wind of revolt, is once again a “laboratory country” for its outlook on religion while the Arab world enters an era of radical change; “The Season of Men,” a 2000 film directed by Moufilda Tlatli concerning the birth of Aziz, a boy expected after two girls, makes life difficult for Ayşe and Said.


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February 25th, 2012, 9:54 pm


193. jad said:

مغامرة العقل الأخيرة ..والرحيل في الظلام الى الظلام
by بقلم: نارام سرجون
فأنا أرى أن اندفاعي في رفض الثورة لايجب ان يخفف اندفاعي لايقاظ من لازال يحلم بالثورة ..
وربما لا أبالغ ان قلت أنني في قلبي أميل للتعاطف مع الحالمين بانتصار الثورة لأنني أدرك كثيرا أنهم “يتامى وأيتام” لاينالون الصدق من آبائهم الروحيين من قيادات الثورجية وزعماء المجالس والغرب والعرب الذين أخذوهم من وهم الى وهم .. ومن كارثة وطنية الى أخرى .. وأوقعوهم في فخ كراهية الآخر في الوطن .. وفوق كل هذا لاتوجد قيادة ناضجة وواعية تجنبهم الخطأ .. قادتهم لم يبادلوهم الصدق وكانوا يحقنونهم بالكذب والسم والكراهية بلا مسؤولية ولا أخلاق .. فلا يزال مؤيدو الثورة في البلاد يجرون خلف جزرة لن ينالوها .. فقد وعدوا بالناتو والناتو لم يصل بعد .. ووعدوا بتركيا وأردوغان، ولكن أردوغان لم يصل بعد .. ووعدوا بركوب الدب الروسي ولكن الدب وراكبيه لم يصلوا بعد .. ووعدوا بفرسان العرب لينقذوهم فصدقوا ..ولكن فرسان العرب في الملمات لايسرجون الا السلاحف .. وآخر هذه الخدع مؤتمر تونس الذي ليست فيه الا رسالة يتيمة لخصها قارئ أميريكي في تعليق على أخبار الموت في سوريا بقوله: “فليقتلوا بعضهم …هذا جيد ..ليت كل هذا الشرق يتقاتل حتى يفني بعضه دون أن نطلق رصاصة واحدة”..فقد قالت لهم هيلاري نفس الكلام بديبلوماسية منمقة: “حاربوا بالنيابة عنا وتقاتلوا ينصركم الله.. ومن نصرته هيلاري فلا رادّ لنصره” ..
ومن رأى بالأمس السيد اسماعيل هنية خطيبا منفعلا في الازهر الشريف يعرف تماما ما أعني .. لأن العقل المغامر المنفعل الباحث عن الله الذي أطلق في الربيع العربي هو الذي كان يتحدث بالأمس وليس العقل الذي بناه الشيخ عز الدين القسام وعبد الناصر والثورة الجزائرية والفدائيون الفلسطينيون في الأغوار وليس مابناه زكي الأرسوزي ولاميشيل عفلق ولا أنطون سعادة .. هنية الذي كان يخطب من الأزهر ليحرر الأقصى كان وللمفارقة المفجعة في مهرجان آخر ..مهرجان لتحرير سوريا .. وكانت النداءات حوله تضع اسرائيل وحزب الله وايران وسوريا معا في سلة واحدة على مسمع منه بطريقة تدعو للرثاء على ماأصاب هذا العقل من خلط وفوضى وفقدان ذاكرة وفقدان البندقية وضياع جعبة الرصاص .. وبالطبع كان لاسرائيل النصيب الأقل من النداءات..انها انطلاقة مغامرة العقل الأخيرة .. الخطيرة ..
فالبعض يقرأ غضب الوزير السعودي وانسحابه من مؤتمر تونس بأنه غضب من شركائه وتباطؤهم .. وأن صراع الشركاء انتقل من الكواليس الى حارات بابا عمرو حيث يقال في بعض المجالس الخاصة ان الصحفيين الغربيين القتيلين انما قتلا بشحنة ناسفة بتعليمات عليا من السعودية للضغط على زعماء الغرب وانتقاما من تردد الغرب ازاء سوريا .. وصور المكان الذي تم اظهاره تشير الى ضعف احتمال سقوط قذيفة أو صاروخ بل تشير الاستنتاجات الأولية الى انفجار داخلي .. والأكثر من ذلك أن الأقمار الصناعية الروسية كانت ترصد اتصالاتهم وتزود السوريين باماكنهم لاعتقالهم وليس لقتلهم .. كما أن هناك صحفيين جريحين يماطل الثورجيون في تسليمهما بتعليمات سعودية للثأر من الموقف المتردد الغربي وللضغط على الغرب وفرنسا التي ربما صار لها أسرى حرب بعد أن أشيع في الكواليس أن السعوديين سربوا خريطة المواقع والانفاق والممرات السرية التي كان الفرنسيون يتسللون منها الى حمص بعد أن رفض الفرنسيون التورط بدعم عمل عسكري على غرار ليبيا خوفا من عواقبه ومن استفزاز الروس .. وكانت تلك رسالة السعودية لفرنسا بعد ان يئست السعودية من تحرك فرنسا.. وهي: ان فرنسا لم ترفع مستوى الضغط كما يجب .. فليسقط ساركوزي قبل الأسد!! ساركوزي الذي هرول الى مؤتمر صحفي لرفع الضغط ويثرثر بأنه سيسقط الأسد ..
عمليا لم تنجح ذئاب محمد بن عبد الوهاب وعقارب الغرب في نهش جسد الشعب الذي بدأ مغامرة العقل الأولى نحو الله لان هذا العقل قد حدد مصدر العواء وعرف موقع أوجار الذئاب .. وبدأ في القاء الماء المغلي على أوكار العقارب في حمص وادلب والأرياف .. وهذا العقل سيوقف هذه المغامرة الربيعية المجنونة .. فالشعب الذي أطلق مغامرات العقل البشري الأولى لن يصعب عليه القاء المراسي حول العقول الهائجة والهائمة على وجهها وربط العقول التي تستعد لخوض الحجيم بالأوتاد .. ولن يصعب على هذا الشعب اطلاق المغامرات العقلية العظيمة المضيئة في الشرق العربي .. كمغامرات حسن نصرالله وبشار الأسد عام 2006… فمسؤوليته تاريخية في عقلنة هذا الربيع وايقاظه من أحلام السفر وأحلام اليقظة ..وايقاف مغامرات الرحيل في الظلام .. من الظلام الى الظلام ..

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February 25th, 2012, 10:25 pm


194. irritated said:

#190 Tara

“Ankara may have to consider other options than diplomacy”

I wonder which? The French shock corridors or a cruise on the Bosphorus for the next ” The Muppets go to Turkey” so no one dares walk out?

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February 25th, 2012, 10:40 pm


195. jad said:

From As’ad AbuKhalil at Angry Arab:

When US and GCC manage a transition to democracy
It was a glorious day in Yemen. Incredible, really. The US and GCC gently managed the transition to something–not sure what it is but certainly not democracy. The features of the election are this: 1) there was one candidate only–even Iran allows more than one. 2) The winner received 99% of the votes. Does this not signal a new beginning in Yemen? I mean, he could have received 100% of the votes but he did not because Yemen is a GCC-managed democracy now. And silly Tawakul Karman hails the election and hails the fact that the new president comes from the South. Yes, Ms. Nobel Prize. He was the butcher who enforced the violent annexation of the South. (thanks Farah)

small scale war crimes
“The 72-page report said that the insurgent Free Syrian Army, made up of defectors from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, had also committed abuses, but that those were “not comparable in scale and organization to those carried out by the state.””

Burhan Ghalyun
Burhan Ghalyun has lived in the West longer than I have. Yet, yesterday, he had no qualms about speaking on behalf of the whole Syrian people. No wonder he threw a fit and threatened to resign when the Syrian National Council refused to extend his term as supreme leader.

Saudi-, Qatari-led Syrian opposition
“Isaac Herzog, a member of Parliament with the Labor Party, said he had been in touch with Syrian opposition leaders in France and the United States”…

[Links added, personal attack removed. Warning to commentators: Such terms as ‘you _____ criminal’ are not tolerated]

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February 25th, 2012, 10:56 pm


196. Samara said:

196. Revlon,

[Edited for personal attack]

Rather than condoning the killing of innocent people, you should be denouncing such inhumane acts, by both sides. The Alawi militants who are killing sunnis are doing what they need to survive. The entire revolution is an attack on Alawi people. No need to deny it, it’s OK.

Furthermore, look at the Army, the majority who have been killed are Alawis. Look at the innocent citizens who are being attacked and killed; predominantly Alawis.

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February 25th, 2012, 11:36 pm


197. zoo said:

The multiple dramatic faces of activist Khaled Abu Saleh in Homs.

As a doctor who seems to have given such strong drugs to Edith Bouvier that despite her hidden ‘multiple broken’ leg, she is relaxed and smiling. No apparent wounds.

As a wounded witness of the spectacular pipeline burn on 15 February, he has his left hand covered and he is accusing Bashar al Assad of the sabotage :

As a dying man on 6th february calling for help to the international community

As another dying man on the 19th of february strong enough to throw imprecations applauded by the “hospital staff”

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February 25th, 2012, 11:37 pm


198. majedkhaldoun said:,7340,L-4194506,00.html

If this is true, Assad should pack and leave soon

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February 25th, 2012, 11:41 pm


199. Ghufran said:

Antoine asked about the term “militias” and whether it applies to the FSA in my opinion.
The FSA is a mystery to western intelligence and to most people because nobody knows its size and true capabilities and most people are unable to tell who is who in the jungle of armed militias in Syria. Until there is a unified command and better evidence of the true nature of the FSA, I have to place it under the umbrella of armed militias. The infiltration of those militias by terrorists, thugs and militants is making a lot of people nervous about the turn this revolution has taken, this nervousness is harming the opposition and helping the regime and is directly linked to the hesitation of major western powers when it comes to taking additional measures to support the opposition. It is not unreasonable to ask the opposition for a roadmap before they take all of us on a ride on board the change wagon.

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February 25th, 2012, 11:41 pm


200. jad said:


[Links added, personal attack removed. Warning to commentators: Such terms as ‘you _____ criminal’ are not tolerated]

You wrote me the comment, edited my writing, deleted my earlier comment in reply to Amir #128 calling me names and threatening me while you edited his threats without even explaining that.


[When personal attacks and escalating provocations arise, a moderator uses SC’s rules and regulations. Please help keep SC civil and open.]

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February 25th, 2012, 11:44 pm


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