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

NYTimes

….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.
BY OMAR ADAM SAYFO | FEBRUARY 17, 2012

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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251. Ghufran said:

Emirati authorities have cancelled the residencies of dozens of Syrians for taking part in a protest against their regime outside the consulate in Dubai, Syrian activists told AFP on Sunday.
http://news.yahoo.com/syrian-protesters-quit-uae-visas-cancelled-142214433.html;_ylt=AjoReAzFZO1W4E4FoR871OJvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTNnMDVhaWJqBG1pdAMEcGtnAzZkZTY0ZWM3LTIxNTYtMzVlNi1hM2E3LTBiNDVmYjFmZWEwZgRwb3MDMTMEc2VjA2xuX01pZEVhc3RfZ2FsBHZlcgNlOWJiNTIzMC02MDg1LTExZTEtYWJmOS0yMTliNDg5NjU3MTg-;_ylv=3

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February 26th, 2012, 11:30 am

 
 

253. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Dawoud,

You’re wasting your time. I’m not going to argue Israel with you. You are anti Zionist and I think that the HolyLand is a Jewish property for eternity. Arguing with you is futile.
Also, I don’t think that Tara is Zionist. Still, Tara and me can discuss Syria while we respect each other, and kindly agree to disagree on the subject of Israel and Zionism.

Mina,

I’m not sure that your claim about Sarko’s photos in French polling stations, is accurate. In Israel you can find photos of Ben Gurion, and maybe of president Peres in public places. Not of Bibi Netanyahu or other serving PMs.
.

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February 26th, 2012, 11:38 am

 

254. Hans said:

Traitttttttttttttttttttttttoooooooooooooorrrrrrrssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!

http://www.shukumaku.com/Content.php?id=42425

where is the guy who was the body guard for SNC here on SC to defend them, i have not seen him posting for a while

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February 26th, 2012, 11:42 am

 

255. DAWOUD said:

# 249 TARA

Thanks for your excellent reply. I was just inquiring. We are friends. Thanks for quoting Abu Ammar’s statement, with which I agree; although he died (or killed) while realizing that Israel wanted to make “peace” only with the Palestinians who choose to surrender 100 % of their rights, including the sacred “right of return.”
let me repeat my earlier comment for clarification.

245. DAWOUD said:

# 226 Amir in colonial Tel Aviv

I agree with you that the referendum is preposterously silly. I think that the plane of the International Criminal Court, which would transport Bashar and his murderous enablers to the Hague, should (in order to save money and appear consistent, rather than hypocritical, to the entire world) also stop in occupied Jerusalem and colonial Tel Aviv to pick up Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni, Moshe Mofaz, comatose Sharon, etc. to try them for their war crimes against the Lebanese and Palestinians.

240. MAJEDKHALDOUN
I admire your efforts and determination NOT to be silenced/intimidated by what you validly term “Basharons!”

To Ms. ANN:
Your earlier post on the U.S. and the MB makes me wonder whether Islamist movements are anti-democratic, unless they are Shia. Given your earlier replies, you seem to know a lot about Hizballah. Why do you think that Hasan supports Bashar? Does this reflect shia sectarianism? As to supporting the resistance, whose houses were open to the fleeing Lebanese Shias: Bashar’s palaces or ordinary Syrians’ houses? Didn’t Sunni Syrians open their houses and donate their gold to support the Shia refugees in 2006?

Dear TARA:
You and I can be, given the opinions you express in your comments, intellectual friends on this blog-particularly if you choose to denounce Zionism and what it has done to the Palestinians and the Lebanese.

PS., please see Walid Junblat’s interview with Le Monde:
http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=369166
“Jumblatt calls for ‘arming Syrian opposition’”

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt has called, during an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, “for arming” the Syrian opposition.

Jumblatt also called for the opposition, which has been struggling against the Syrian regime “to unite its ranks.”

The PSP chief, who is also the Druze leader, addressed the Druze community in Syria saying: “I do not want to take on a sectarian tone [but] the Syrian regime is promoting coalitions comprised of minority [communities].”
[...]

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February 26th, 2012, 11:45 am

 

256. Mina said:

French U-turn on Qatar (I may start to believe that some French soldiers have been caught in Syria.. but 120 that’s hard to believe):
Le Monde (aka “La voix de son maître”) has a highly polemical article today:
http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/02/25/sur-qatar-airways-on-ne-badine-pas-avec-l-autorite_1648393_3218.html#ens_id=1648474

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February 26th, 2012, 11:56 am

 

257. majedkhaldoun said:

Haytham Manna3 can never agree to arming the FSA, he has a problem, he doesnot realize that he is helping the regime to last long, he is meanwhile allowing the regime to kill syrians by over hundred a day,he is against the regime,
My problem with Haytham, I like to see the skin of his abdomen to see the needle scars he has, I want to know if he is drug addict or not,when he talk he sounds delusional,as if he is on drugs , and I do not trust drug addicts.

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February 26th, 2012, 12:00 pm

 

258. bronco said:

237. Ghufran said:

“Qatar gave its blessing to open a mini embassy for the Taliban in Doha while they expelled Syrian diplomats.”

Qatar attempts to rehabilitate Sunni Islam.

It’s been a while that the Qatari have appointed themselves the “rehabilitators” of the misjudged Sunnis in the region. They have been offering a hand to all the Sunni extremists with the hope that they would moderate them and bring them into the mainstream of the consumption society. This is similar to the approach of Turkey in taming religious extremism. While it has apparently been successful in Turkey, any false move or a faltering economy may bring extremism back in the front.
The attempt of the Qataris is laudable in view of the harm that Saudi Arabia has done to the Sunnis by creating monsters like Al Qaeda and salafi fanatics in all the countries they put their hands on. Afghanistan and Pakistan are example of the Saudi Wahhabi negative influences.
Will the Qatari succeed? They have been helped tremendously by Al Jazeera spread in all Arab homes. Yet, Al Jazeera is increasingly criticized for dishonest reporting. In addition the Qataris have made several mistakes in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria by supporting too obviously religious groups against minorities or secular groups. They are looked upon increasingly suspiciously by Arab seculars who suspect that they have another hidden agenda close to Saudi Arabia’s religious proselytism and to the USA’s dedication in protecting Israel. These agenda may appear disguised into calls for democratic practices that neither the Qataris nor the Saudis are practicing or intend to practice in the short term.

It’s an long term experimentation, heavily supported by the USA that want to see the end of Moslem terrorists that not only threatens them at home and in the region but also threatens their increasingly isolated ally in the region,Israel.
As long as the question of Israel is not solved, the efforts of the Qatari will be stained with suspicion. So it’s a complex game where it is not easy to win.

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February 26th, 2012, 12:00 pm

 

259. Syria no Kandahar said:

Comedian terrorists:

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February 26th, 2012, 12:17 pm

 

260. irritated said:

#258. Syria no Kandahar

Thanks SNK, it’s really funny and it was posted by Ugarit! They do have a sense of humor.

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February 26th, 2012, 12:24 pm

 

261. zoo said:

Iran hosts Lebanese defense minister
By NASSER KARIMI | Associated Press – 4 hrs ago

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with Lebanon’s visiting defense minister on Sunday, telling him that Beirut and Tehran should work toward unity to confront the west and Israel, the country’s official news agency reported.

The visit comes amid an apparent move by Tehran to strengthen its regional ties, as it faces both pressure from the West over its nuclear program and the possible loss of a key ally, Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

Ahmadinejad told visiting Lebanese Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn to “resist the plots” of “domination-seeking powers,” IRNA said.

Ghosn is a member of the Christian political party Marada, which is allied with Tehran’s main partner in Lebanon, the Shiite Hezbollah movement. Marada and Hezbollah are also closely linked to Syria’s embattled President Bashar Assad, who is traditionally a major power-broker in Lebanon but faces an uprising against his rule.
(…)

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February 26th, 2012, 12:27 pm

 

262. ann said:

New Mediterranean oil and gas bonanza – 26 February, 2012

http://rt.com/news/reserves-offshore-middle-east-engdahl-855/print/

The discovery of Leviathan by Israel in the waters offshore immediately triggered a new geopolitical conflict as Lebanon claimed that part of the gas field lay in Lebanese territorial waters in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Lebanon delivered maps to the UN to back its claim, to which Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman retorted, “We won’t give an inch.”

The fly in the Mediterranean energy soup is the fact that Israel, like the USA, has never ratified the 1982 UN Convention on Law of the Sea dividing world subsea mineral rights. The Israeli gas wells at Leviathan are clearly within undisputed Israeli territory as Lebanon affirms. But Lebanon believes the field extends over into their subsea waters as well. The Lebanese Hezbollah claims that the Tamar gas field, which is due to begin gas deliveries by the end of this year, belongs to Lebanon.

Washington has lost no time adding political gasoline to the natural gas dispute between Lebanon and Israel. In July of 2011, Israel was preparing to submit its own proposal to the UN as to where the offshore demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel should run. At the same time, Frederick Hof, the US diplomat responsible for special affairs regarding Syria and Lebanon, told Lebanon that the Obama administration endorsed the Lebanese document. This addied to the growing tensions reported since the outbreak of the Arab Spring between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama.

Netanyahu has reportedly recently urged America’s eighth-wealthiest person, his close friend Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson to pour millions directly into the campaigns of Republicans, including Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. This would represent an unprecedented direct Israeli intervention into US presidential candidates’ campaigns, in order to try to avert a second Obama term.

[...]

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February 26th, 2012, 12:32 pm

 

263. zoo said:

Mysterious Western Journalist: FSA opposes the evacuation of the wounded journalist in Bab Amr
http://news.yahoo.com/talks-resume-evacuating-wounded-syrias-homs-141542340.html;_ylt=Aj.tP5ktn4v37nYo2cvrtZXzWed_


A Western journalist involved in Saturday’s negotiations said ambulances twice entered Baba Amr, the district in the flashpoint central city that has been pounded by Syrian troops for more than three weeks.

But each time they were blocked by members of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

The female journalist, requesting anonymity, said the FSA refused to allow the evacuations, alleging that the regime had arrested nine people who were evacuated on Friday, claims the ICRC investigated and said afterwards “were totally false.”

Dabbakeh confirmed on Friday that the Red Cross and the Red Crescent had evacuated seven Syrians wounded in shelling, as well as 20 sick women and children, from Baba Amr. They were taken to Homs’ Al-Amine hospital.

But they were unable to evacuate two wounded Western journalists and the bodies of two of their colleagues killed on Wednesday in a rocket attack.

American reporter Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik died when a rocket hit a makeshift media centre in Baba Amr.

French reporter Edith Bouvier and British photographer Paul Conroy suffered leg wounds.

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February 26th, 2012, 12:32 pm

 

264. b said:

@ZOO – thanks to your research I put together a post that looks into Khaled Abu Saleh and Edith Bouvier.

Something there stinks.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2012/02/what-is-edith-bouviers-role-in-sarkozys-humanitarian-corridors-plans.html

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February 26th, 2012, 12:52 pm

 

265. Ghufran said:

Three interesting names for new FSA brigades:
يزيد بن معاويه
عمرو بن سعد بن ابي وقاص
وليد بن عقبه
The first two were clearly implicated in the killing of Hussein ibn Ali ibn abi taleb,prophet muhammad’s grand son who is particularly revered by Shia and honored by all Muslims .
The third was an Omayyad loyalist with a mixed history.
Any thoughts ?

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February 26th, 2012, 12:57 pm

 

266. ann said:

Feature: Constitutional referendum day is historical in Syrians lives: FM – 2012-02-26

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-02/26/c_122756025.htm

DAMASCUS, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al- Moallem said Sunday that the new draft constitution would transit Syria to a new phase, stressing that “this is a historical day in the lives of Syrians.”

“Today we are moving toward a new democratic era, and Syria will emerge much stronger than it used to be,” Moallem said while he was voting on the new constitution at the ministry of foreign affairs.

The Syrian foreign minister declined to comment on the opposition stance towards taking part in the referendum, saying ” the opposition is not connected with the interest of the Syrian people.”

Meanwhile, al-Moallem lambasted the Wests interference in Syria ‘s affairs, saying “they should deal with their own internal concerns and to leave Syria.” “We tell them that whosoever is keen about the Syrians’ interests shouldn’t have imposed sanctions.”

For his side, Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar told reporters during his vote Sunday that “the new constitution is a turning point and a true response to the needs of people in political pluralism, democracy and freedom.”

In response to the criticism of the constitution, Safar said ” some parties just don’t want reform, but we don’t care about that.. . what we care about are our people as this constitution has answered their aspirations and granted freedoms and judicial independence.”

“There is a controversy about this particular article (number three), said Safar, noting that some article can be reviewed and modified and “nothing is prefect in life.”

Under the constitution, al-Assad will end his two seven-year terms in 2014 at the latest.

[...]

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February 26th, 2012, 12:59 pm

 

267. Mina said:

Ghufran,
Yes, one: “We’re in the 21st century, for God’s sake!”

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February 26th, 2012, 1:00 pm

 

268. Tara said:

Ghufran

I vote to name them Jake, Jade, and Jeujeu.

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February 26th, 2012, 1:03 pm

 

269. ann said:

Iraqi PM says 13 top Arab leaders to attend Baghdad summit – 2012-02-25

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-02/25/c_131431590.htm

“The Arab League (officials) informed us that all the Arab states accepted to participate in the summit, and according to AL’ s estimations there are 13 Kings and presidents that will attend ( the summit),” the state-run channel of Iraqia quoted Maliki as saying in his speech during a meeting in Baghdad for an Iraqi think-tank group, named the Iraqi Group for Strategic Studies.

[...]

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February 26th, 2012, 1:17 pm

 

270. zoo said:

Daily detailed military situation in Syria
English عربي
February 23, 2012, Syrian Crisis Updated
by Syrian Center for Documentation

http://www.voltairenet.org/_Syrian-Center-for-Documentation_?lang=en

February 23, 2012, Syrian Crisis Updated
http://www.voltairenet.org/February-23-2012-Syrian-Crisis

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February 26th, 2012, 1:19 pm

 

271. irritated said:

#264. Ghufran

Ghufran, what are you insinuating? These brigades are secular and inspired by the principle of democracy only.

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February 26th, 2012, 1:25 pm

 

272. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Creative Syria Watch:

large turnout at referendum

Voters are being encouraged to vote. Voting is confidential

.

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February 26th, 2012, 1:26 pm

 

273. Equus said:

US politicians have said they may cut off Egypt’s $1.3 billion in annual military aid if the US citizens are tried.

The first day of a controversial trial of 43 pro-democracy workers accused of working illegally and trying to push American and Israeli interests in Egypt has adjourned in Cairo.

The defendants include 19 Americans and 16 Egyptians, though only seven of the US citizens reportedly remain in the country, where they are prevented from leaving. The others include Serbs, Lebanese, Germans, a Norwegian, a Jordanian and a Palestinian.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/02/201222603131476423.html

—————
Don’t you love it when big brother bullies you? But make no mistake Americans are very humanitarians they give $1.3 billion annually to the military, so people see nothing of that money….only tear gas.

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February 26th, 2012, 1:29 pm

 

274. zoo said:

#263 B

I don’t deserve the credit of the research as my post on Edith Bouvier and Khaled Abu Saleh made use of the information from a thread by Kinan I found in the french blog InfoSyrie.fr where there is still a big discussion going on the subject. He recently added that Khaled abu Salkeh has a blog on Al Jazeera
http://blogs.aljazeera.net/liveblog/Khaled-Abu-Salah

http://www.infosyrie.fr/actualite/les-insurges-de-homs-veulent-ils-garder-les-journalistes-francais/#comment-29970

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February 26th, 2012, 1:35 pm

 

275. Tara said:

Amir

Loved it. Thank you.

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February 26th, 2012, 1:35 pm

 

276. majedkhaldoun said:

Arming the FSA is extremely important, it must be armed with all the sophisticated weapons, this will force the Assad army, to use the airforce, at that time a no fly zone becomes necessary, this has to start from Turkey and I am sure Jordan will participate,Syria is a small country and can be monitored easily.

Such decision probably will be approved in Turkey meeting,once NFZ starts any one who thinks normally will see the end coming and bashar will have to surrender after a short period of resisting,Russia is unlikely to interfere,

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February 26th, 2012, 1:39 pm

 

277. irritated said:

#275 Majedalkadoon

“Arming the FSA is extremely important, it must be armed with all the sophisticated weapons”

I suggest chemical and nuclear, very effective.

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February 26th, 2012, 1:47 pm

 

278. jad said:

مراكز الاستفتاء في المحافظات تشهد إقبالاً متزايداً والمشاركون يؤكدون أن مشروع الدستور يؤسس لمستقبل جديد لسورية
محافظات-سانا

نظرا للإقبال المستمر من المواطنين على مراكز الاستفتاء على مشروع الدستور الجديد للجمهورية العربية السورية في عدد من المحافظات تقرر تمديد عملية الاستفتاء لغاية الساعة العاشرة من مساء اليوم في هذه المحافظات بينما بدأت عمليات فتح الصناديق وفرز الاصوات في عدد من مراكز المحافظات التي انتهت عملية الاستفتاء فيها.

ويواصل المواطنون السوريون توافدهم إلى مراكز الاستفتاء الموزعة في المحافظات للاستفتاء على مشروع الدستور الجديد حيث تشهد هذه المراكز اقبالاً متزايداً مع تقدم ساعات النهار يعكس حرصهم على السير قدما ببرنامج الاصلاح الذي يعد الدستور احد ابرز انجازاته.

وبدأ المواطنون ممن يحق لهم الاستفتاء منذ الساعة السابعة صباحا بالتوافد إلى مراكز الاستفتاء البالغ عددها 14185 مركزاً والتي تم افتتاحها في مختلف المحافظات والمراكز الحدودية والمطارات والبادية للاستفتاء حيث تم وضع لوحات ارشادية في كل مركز ليتمكن المواطن من معرفة الخطوات التي يقوم بها للاستفتاء في جو من الشفافية والديمقراطية ضمن الغرف السرية التى خصصت لهذه الغاية.
{…}
http://www.sana.sy/ara/2/2012/02/26/402732.htm

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February 26th, 2012, 1:53 pm

 

279. irritated said:

Equus #272

“They give $1.3 billion annually to the military”

The billions (minus the commissions) find their way back into the US military industry.
The Egyptian military buy sophisticated and very expensive US made weapons that end up rusting in warehouses and they use the hefty commissions to build their luxury villas for the member of their families in Sharm Al Sheikh or Mountazah for their early retirement.

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February 26th, 2012, 2:00 pm

 

280. Badr said:

I recommend you listen to this audio stream of Hillary Clinton speaking to the BBC’s Kim Ghattas about the conflict in Syria

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00nx7sx#p00phf2p

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February 26th, 2012, 2:01 pm

 

281. zoo said:

Gregoire III Laham, patriarch of Antioche of Greek-Melchites, voting in Damascus.

http://static.lorientlejour.com/images/news/multimedia/201202/20120226T152640-1330262800023950200.jpg

Bashar and Asma al Assad voting in Damascus

http://static.olj.me/images/news/medium/746904_114352304466.jpeg

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February 26th, 2012, 2:21 pm

 

282. irritated said:

@281 Badr

BBC predicts minimal attendance at the referendum.

Kim Ghattas has good and clear questions and Hillary sounds totally confused… She keeps repeating “to our best ability” and “I don’t understand”
She is dumber than I thought, and she laughs like Miss Piggy

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February 26th, 2012, 2:30 pm

 

283. zoo said:

Where are the new Hamas offices?

AP Interview: Hamas out of Syria, leader says
Associated Press – 2 hrs 2 mins ago
http://news.yahoo.com/ap-interview-hamas-syria-leader-says-173546035.html
..
However, Abu Marzouk confirmed that “practically we are no longer in Syria,” even if Hamas still maintains offices there.

Abu Marzouk now lives in Cairo. He says the movement’s top leader, Khaled Mashaal, and his aides have moved to Doha, Qatar.
{…}

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February 26th, 2012, 2:40 pm

 

284. Jad said:

Zoo
Albouti too

العلامة البوطي يستفتي على الدستور الجديد 26-2-2012

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February 26th, 2012, 2:46 pm

 

285. zoo said:

U-turn in the UAE? The UAE expels Syrian opposition supporters

http://news.yahoo.com/syrian-protesters-quit-uae-visas-cancelled-142214433.html

Emirati authorities have cancelled the residencies of dozens of Syrians for taking part in a protest against their regime outside the consulate in Dubai, Syrian activists told AFP on Sunday.

Two of them have already fled the Gulf country, arriving in Cairo on Saturday, after “all efforts failed to convince Emirati authorities to retract the decision,” one of the activists said.

“My son can’t go to Syria” for fear of being arrested there, the father of one of the protesters told AFP. “They have no mercy. They didn’t even give him a warning. They just cancelled his residency right away.”

The opposition activist told AFP that the UAE “authorities went ahead with the measures to cancel residencies despite promises to retract the decision.”

Nearly 2,000 Syrians took part in a demonstration outside the Syrian consulate in Dubai on February 10.

{…}

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February 26th, 2012, 2:50 pm

 

286. b said:

@ZOO – could you please post my link to that French forum at some relevant space?

(I speak/write only quite bad French and no Arabic at all – (sorry, I’m German))

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February 26th, 2012, 2:52 pm

 

287. Tara said:

I support Qatar opening an embassy for Taliban in Doha. The Qarai are thinking outside the box. Integrating them then modifying their ideology is a more effective approach than attempting to annihilate them.

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February 26th, 2012, 3:12 pm

 

288. Mina said:

Far from the evening news
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/35415/Egypt/Politics-/Dying-young-Egyptian-activists-face-postrevolution.aspx
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/31461/Egypt/Politics-/V-for-vengeance-In-Suez,-the-blood-of-martyrs-rema.aspx

Between the wanabee actors and cinderella in Disneyland, not sure where revolutionaries 2.0 are going. Probably to the dustbin of history.

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February 26th, 2012, 3:23 pm

 

289. majedkhaldoun said:

http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/02/26/197120.html

I wonder what reaction would come from our brothers the christian ,this clearly proves that Islam and christianity speak the same ideas

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February 26th, 2012, 3:52 pm

 

290. Alan said:

I am living with Russian and I know their thinking and work of their international institutes and politicians! Russia can fight in protection of the geopolitical interests on arena of Syria and there can be 2nd Vietnam! Will suffice Russia will pretend to be ignorant to fight!

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February 26th, 2012, 3:58 pm

 

291. newfolder said:

the FSA attacks the Baath party Hq in Hamidieh Homs, frees prisoners and destroys tanks

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February 26th, 2012, 4:07 pm

 

292. ann said:

Clinton says Syrian opposition not yet united – 2012-02-27

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-02/27/c_122756057.htm

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that the opposition in Syria was not yet united, vowing to continue to keep up pressure on the Assad regime.

In an interview with CNN, Clinton said that the opposition in Syria, including the Syrian National Council, was not yet the kind of united opposition force that had ousted former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last year.

She said that the Libyan opposition, led by the country’s National Transitional Council and based in the city of Benghazi, gave the West “an address” to deliver support to.

“We don’t have that in Syria,” she said. “The Syrian National Council is doing the best it can but obviously it is not yet a united opposition.”

[...]

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February 26th, 2012, 4:41 pm

 

293. ann said:

Lebanon not to recognize Syrian National Council: FM – 2012-02-27

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-02/27/c_122756054.htm

BEIRUT, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — Lebanon will not recognize the opposition Syrian National Council even if the Arab League does, Lebanese Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour was quoted as saying by local media Sunday.

Lebanese media quoted Mansour as telling Russian TV that dialogue is the only means to ending the current political crisis in Syria.

According to Mansour, Lebanon would be harmed at various levels should the government decide to implement sanctions against its biggest neighbor.

[...]

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February 26th, 2012, 4:45 pm

 

294. newfolder said:

the infamous revolutionary prank caller Hussien Jabri (AbuZuhier) on AlArabiya

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February 26th, 2012, 4:47 pm

 

295. newfolder said:

in other news, 89% (8350 people) vote no to the new constitution on the official website of the Syrian parliament, hurry up and take a look before they take it down:

http://parliament.sy/

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February 26th, 2012, 4:55 pm

 

296. ann said:

Putin warns against ‘catastrophic’ attack on Iran – February 27, 2012

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-27/putin-warns-against-attacks-on-iran-and-syria/3854136/?site=melbourne

“I very much hope the United States and other countries… do not try to set a military scenario in motion in Syria without sanction from the UN Security Council,” Mr Putin said, according to a transcript.

On Iran, he said that “the growing threat of a military strike on this country alarms Russia, no doubt”.

“If this occurs, the consequences will be truly catastrophic,” he said.

“It is impossible to imagine their real scale.”

[...]

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February 26th, 2012, 5:01 pm

 

297. newfolder said:

the Christians of Syria threatened with death by the regime

مسيحيو سوريا يتعرضون للتهديد بالقتل من النظام
يشاركون في إغاثة المناطق المنكوبة من جراء القمع والحصار

http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/02/25/196945.html

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February 26th, 2012, 5:12 pm

 

298. newfolder said:

ah yes of course as I’d guessed, the Parliament website was quickly taken down, so much for Assad’s democracy eh? here’s a screen shot for those who didn’t get a chance to see it:

http://i40.tinypic.com/207nbll.jpg

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February 26th, 2012, 5:33 pm

 

299. Shami said:

Ila mazbalet el tarikh !

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February 26th, 2012, 5:35 pm

 

300. jna said:

296. newfoldersaid: in other news, 89% (8350 people) vote no to the new constitution on the official website of the Syrian parliament, hurry up and take a look before they take it down:

Glad to see people voting, even if just for show, despite the opposition’s demand for a boycott. If enough people get involved in realistic peaceful expressions maybe there will be a constructive transition.

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February 26th, 2012, 5:45 pm

 

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