From the Comment Section (26 April 2012)

From Foreign PolicyViolence continues in Hama

An explosion in the Masha at-Tayyar district in the city of Hama killed up to 70 people. The Syrian government and opposition activists have offered conflicting accounts of the blast. According to Syrian state media, 16 people were killed in an accidental explosion in a house that was used as a bomb factory by “armed terrorist groups.” However, activists have reported several houses have been destroyed by what they claim could have been a Scud missile attack, killing up to 13 children and 16 women. The BBC’s Jim Muir reported that the magnitude of devastation could not likely have been achieved by conventional shelling. The opposition Syrian National Council called for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting “so that it can issue a resolution to protect civilians in Syria.” France has recommended stronger action by the United Nations, calling for a Chapter 7 mandate that would allow for the use of force if President Bashar al-Assad’s forces do not pull back according to Kofi Annan’s peace plan.

Members of the UN monitoring team in Syria, with opposition activists in Homs. Photograph: Handout/Reuters

Nour said:

The previous blog entry seems to be inciting against the Annan plan and hoping it would fail so that a subsequent phase of possible military intervention may take place. Moreover, the report on the electoral list is misleading and disingenuous. It links to an article listing the candidates of the Baath Party only, implying that those are the only candidates running in Lattakia, which is not true. Members of other parties as well as independents are running both in Lattakia and across the rest of the country. The Popular Front for Change and Liberation, for example, which includes the opposition SSNP and Qadri Jamil’s The Will of the People Party, has 45 candidates across Syria. Other new parties have also listed their candidates and the ballot boxes will determine who wins the majority of the seats in the People’s Assembly.

[Landis adds: thanks for this correction, Nour]

Ghufran said:

The next 6 months are unlikely to include a major shift on Syria unless the opposition scores a significant military defeat against the regime. This period will be used by both parties to strengthen their position on the ground. The lack of any serious political proposal that adresses the grievances and concerns of the sizable pro regime Syrian forces mean that the only option on the table is to fight and preserve as much as possible of the gains made in the last 2 months. If Syrians themselves are not willing to compromise nobody will do that job on their bahalf.

Observer said:

I have been in the ME for some time now. The regime is losing grip on significant part of the countryside including around Damascus. Only 15% of new conscripts showed up to be recruited this year. The number of defectors has reached 100 000.

Cham Press announces that the dollar is trading below 70 pounds in a so called sign of improvement therefore countering the official rate of 60.

Very little support is available to the FSA from the outside and this will await the US elections before any real policy to emerge

zoo said:

Rice: The “friends of Syria” have been ironically promoted to the “Friends of Democratic Syria” when the most influent members, Qatar and KSA are non democratic countries preaching democracy to others…

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Rami Khouri: “…For many tens of thousands who were prepared to demonstrate peacefully – albeit at the cost of their lives – this has become a disaster. Syrian friends of mine call it a “tragedy”. They blame the Gulf states for encouraging the armed uprising. “Our revolution was pure and clean and now it’s a war,” one of them said to me last week. I believe them”.

I utterly agree with Khouri and his friend. The irreversible mistake of resorting to arms will be fully revealed in the coming years, if not decades.

amnesia said:

In comments above I read that the secular opposition will join the Assad government, and that the opposition arming was a mistake. Please make some sense guys for a change. The soldiers who defected did so rightfully, and their willingness to risk their lives to create a challenge for Assad’s remaining forces is laudable.

DAWOUD said:

The Syria Revolution against Bashar’s, and his father’s before him,oppression began as completely peaceful. I has become militarized because of the regime and its allies (Hasan Nasrallah, Iran,…) began to use violence and murder innocent unarmed demonstrators. People have the right to defend their lives, property, dignity, and honor!.. The overwhelming majority of Syrians are opposed to the murderous Bashar and his shabiha. Free Syria, Free Palestine!

irritated said:

Dawood, What proof do you have that the “overwhelming majority of Syrians are opposed to Bashar?” If it was true how come nobody goes on strike when asked to? That’s the least the ‘overwhelming majority’ could do. … Most anti-Syrian government types keep repeating “It started peacefully’ trying to justify the issue that ‘it continued violently’ and that it is now made of death squads infiltrated by islamist extremists and criminals.

ZOO said:

This is what will happen in Syria whether Bashar stays or not?

“The terror network has taken advantage of the country’s political turmoil of the past year to capture several southern areas, and the Americans are eager to coordinate efforts with the Yemenis to push them back.

An al-Qaida settled and safe in the remote interior of southern Yemen would allow its militants to plan and execute more attacks on Western interests, taking advantage of proximity to strategic shipping lanes in the Red and Arabian seas through which much of the West’s energy needs to pass.
(…)

Comments (728)


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451. irritated said:

448. norman

The FSA is collapsing by lack of weapons, infiltrations by Sunnis extremists and foreigners and their resort to terrorists acts.
They are not protecting civilians, they are killing them.

Like the SNC, they are on the way to the Turkish garage.

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May 1st, 2012, 11:30 am

 

452. Uzair8 said:

Dr Radwan Ziadeh was on BBC Radio 5 last night:

Presenter: “That’s a dreadful accusation. How could a government persuade people to go out and blow themselves up, in the name of some great deception?’

Listen from 40min. About 6 minutes long.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01h075d

*****************************************************************

From Sun night/Mon morning. Andrew Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for near east policy and former editor-in-chief of Syria Today was on Radio 5.

Worth a listen.

“Like Algeria in the 90′s….the difference is that the Algerian regime had a lot more oil revenues, the syrian regime doesn’t. And of course Algeria is not right in the middle of the middle east in the middle of the Iranian axis.”

Listen from 18 min. About 9 minutes long.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01gyh7k

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May 1st, 2012, 11:36 am

 

453. Mawal95 said:

Dated 23 Apr 2012, uploaded 25 Apr 2012: An anti-regime crowd in Deir Ezzor prays: “Oh God, we are suffering defeat, so give us victory. No one gives victory but You, God…. Bring down your rage upon them, oh our Lord. Oh God, deal with Bashar Al-Assad.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NwHzht6WAA . I’m glad they’re smart enough to see they’re suffering defeat. Too bad they’re stupid enough to think prayer can bring them a miracle.

Uploaded 21 Apr 2012, an anti-regime crowd in Binish town in Idlib chants “Death, Death to Israel”. They also chant that they want to re-establish a Califate. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQgMmgBxi_o

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May 1st, 2012, 12:44 pm

 

454. Mawal95 said:

Using the info reported daily by SANA.SY, the average number of security forces men buried per day during the first 15 days of April was 11 men per day, while the average for the last 15 days of April was 10 men per day. The latter average doesn’t count an additional 25 soldiers buried in a military graveyard in Latakia on 29 Apr 2012, all of whom were killed in Homs, and who are not counted because their names are not given in SANA’s report, http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2012/04/29/415751.htm . For the month of March the average was 9.5 security forces men buried per day.

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May 1st, 2012, 12:44 pm

 

455. Mawal95 said:

Two of the newly established political parties, namely the Democratic Vanguard Party and the Solidarity Party, have decided to withdraw from the 7 May 2012 parliamentary elections contest. They realized that they didn’t have the slightest chance of getting any of their candidates elected. The population is in the mood to vote for the Baath Party and vote for national unity and vote against factionalism. http://alwatan.sy/dindex.php?idn=122025

More news about the elections, in Arabic: http://alwatan.sy/dindex.php?idn=121974

Looking at the following daily newspapers in Arabic, there’s not much coverage of the parliamentary elections to be found:
http://www.albaathmedia.sy
http://www.albaath.news.sy
http://tishreen.news.sy
http://alwatan.sy/

Similarly on Syrian State TV’s news you’ll find very little coverage of the elections. Today is a national holiday in Syria, 1st of May, Labour Day, which in abstract theory might’ve been a good day to have some political campaign events for next week’s elections. Syrian State TV’s take on today is that it’s a day for workers to recommit themselves to protecting the homeland against the conspiracy and contributing in a positive way to the national economic development process. I didn’t see any mention of the elections at all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCNwkKkogn0
http://www.youtube.com/user/SiriaNews/videos

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May 1st, 2012, 12:46 pm

 

456. Syria no Kandahar said:

50 Pakistani Talibans fighting with FSA:
http://www.syriatruth.org/news/tabid/93/Article/7261/Default.aspx

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May 1st, 2012, 12:54 pm

 

457. Juergen said:

“They realized that they didn’t have the slightest chance of getting any of their candidates elected.”

what a nice way of putting it into context. Wouldnt it be more true to write: They realized that they had no chance against a regime which manipulates the election results.

Do you really expect an election campaign in Syria? Syria never needed that to get the 99/98 % approvals. Alone the word, election in Syria bears some comedy in it.

SNK

How about some proof that more than 100 french soldiers were detained in Homs? Now Pakistanis, who will be next?

Halabi

thank you for posting the sky news video, i loved the demonstration in front of Hamidiye.

here is an other great video of todays protest in the capital

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May 1st, 2012, 12:59 pm

 

458. Mawal95 said:

As linked to above by #398 ZOO, a lawyer and Baath Party member named Umran Zaubie said: “There are three million Baath Party members, and there are maybe half a million in the opposition, if we are being generous with their numbers. That half a million wants to cancel the three million, but it cannot.”

His estimate that the uprising’s supporters number about a half a million is an estimate fitting well with what’s to be seen of activity on the ground all round the country. I say it’s a good estimate. If you have an evidentiary basis for disagreeing with it, please enlighten us. (The number of card-carrying members of the Baath Party is closer to two million according to what I’ve read).

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May 1st, 2012, 1:08 pm

 

459. Badr said:

Any Syrian would like to take an exception to this?

I hope for a regime change, but I don’t think it is in Israel’s interest.

I don’t want to see a regime change, and I believe it would be in Israel’s interest, if this happens.

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May 1st, 2012, 1:56 pm

 

460. Nour said:

بيان حول انتخابات مجلس الشعب في “الشام” في السابع من أيار 2012.

عمدة الاذاعة

الأربعاء, 02 ماي/آيار 2012 00:09

في شهر آذار 2011 بدأت ملامح الأزمة العامة في الشام تظهر إلى العلن وتطفو على سطح الواقع، بأشكال الحراك الشعبي السلمي الذي عمّ عدة مدن ومحافظات، ثم ما لبث أن تطور بعد حين، إلى مواجهات مسلحة عنيفة وقد غذّت وفجرّت ذلك الحراك الغاضب تراكماتٌ سلبية مزمنة على مدى عقود من المعاناة والألم والقهر رزح تحتها الشعب في الشام على المستويات السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية والأمنية، ما جعلته يثور وينتفض عند أول بارقة أمل حملتها رياح “الربيع العربي”، تلك المعاناة الكبرى التي كان يتم تجاوزها وتجاهلها وتبسيطها من السلطة تحت أعذار ومسميات شتّى، أبرزها المقولة- الذريعة “لا صوت يعلو على صوت المعركة”…

وقد رفدت ودعمت هذا الحراك الوطني المحقّ قوى إقليمية ودولية وجدت لها السانحة الذهبية والفرصة المثالية في تنفيذ “أجندتها السياسية” في تقويض الاستقرار العام في الشام جملة، تمهيدًا لتفتيت هذا الكيان وإضعافه وإدخاله في آتون “الفوضى المنظّمة” التي تعمل على استكمال تفكيك أوصال أمّتنا من العراق مرورًا بلبنان وصولاً إلى فلسطين، تحقيقًا للمصالح الأميركانية في النفوذ والسيطرة وإنقاذًا لمقولة “أمن إسرائيل فوق كلّ اعتبار”… فتمّ حرف مسار ذلك الحراك عن اتجاهه الصحيح ومطالبه المحقة وتمّ تشويه صورته وتبديل أهداف ووسائل عمله، فدخلت عليه جماعات خارجية، حاقدة ومجرمة، فأمسكت بناصية التخطيط والتوجيه، تساعدها إمكانياتها العالية في التحويل والتسليح والتجهيز لتحقيق أغراضها ومقاصدها في تدمير الشام شعبًا ودولة ومؤسسات. وكنا قد أبدينا آنذاك رأينا، كحزب، بكلّ ما يحصل، أسبابًا ونتائج، ونشرناه في بيانات ومقابلات إعلامية مرئية ومسموعة ومكتوبة، استنادًا إلى رؤيتنا الشاملة في البناء والإصلاح المشروحة والمفصلة في تراثنا الحزبي منذ العام 1932، والتي وضعت على أساسها مئات الدراسات والأبحاث المتخصّصة في كلّ الشؤون الحياتية، وآخرها عشرات الرسائل والمذكّرات المرسلة إلى القيادة في دمشق التي حذّرناها، باكرًا، من انفجار الوضع في الشام، بدفعٍ من عدوّ متربّص وشرس تدعمه قوى دولية وازنة تُحْسِن فتح الثغرات واستحداث الشروخ الموجودة في بنيتنا السياسية الهشة، وذلك انطلاقًا من حرصنا على سيادة شعبنا وسلامة وطننا وعملاً بالحكمة القائلة : “إن اتقاء الأغلاط خير من معالجة نتائجها”.

[...]

http://www.alqawmi.info/alpha/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1614%3A-qq-2012&catid=34%3A2009-01-20-21-15-51&Itemid=84#.T6AozUvu1Qc.facebook

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May 1st, 2012, 2:41 pm

 

461. Halabi said:

حمص بستان الديوان العم أبو وليام الصامد حتى الموت
[Moderator Note Homs - Bustan Al Diwan - Uncle Abu William, resolute until death]

What should be done with this 3ar3our…

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May 1st, 2012, 2:43 pm

 

462. omen said:

460. Badr said: Any Syrian would like to take an exception to this?

I hope for a regime change, but I don’t think it is in Israel’s interest.

I don’t want to see a regime change, and I believe it would be in Israel’s interest, if this happens.

huh?

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May 1st, 2012, 3:04 pm

 

463. omen said:

426. Juergen said: I find Abu Zeids stand a bit too radical, Thomas Bauer has just published an very interessting book: The culture of ambiguity-an other history of islam.

i must be missing something. how is abu zeid too radical? both men seem to be trying to work towards the same thing. a reexamination and challenging of orthodoxy.

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May 1st, 2012, 3:23 pm

 

464. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

As linked to above by #398 ZOO, a lawyer and Baath Party member named Umran Zaubie said: “There are three million Baath Party members, and there are maybe half a million in the opposition, if we are being generous with their numbers. That half a million wants to cancel the three million, but it cannot.”

___________________________________________________________________

So Baathism will be banned, 3 million Baathists will be criminalized and stripped of what they stole plus compensation to other Syrians, faces criminal charges for one thing or another, loss of civil rights and voting, holding any job other than farmland…Lets keep the revolution going please… There are just 3 million of them criminals and 27 million Syrians to fight them.

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May 1st, 2012, 3:55 pm

 

465. Mina said:

A new movement is born! I hope Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd will be delighted, from where he reads us.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2012/05/toz.html

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May 1st, 2012, 4:07 pm

 

466. omen said:

mina, this question isn’t raised as a form of an attack, so please don’t be offended. i ask this simply because i’m genuinely puzzled. how is it you support the overthrow of the tyranny ruling saudi arabia but not for syria?

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May 1st, 2012, 4:36 pm

 

467. Alan said:

UN mission in Syria to be fully deployed by late May – UN official
http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_05_01/73489057/

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May 1st, 2012, 4:40 pm

 

468. Uzair8 said:

Found some previous RT interviews with uk activist and writer Tariq Ali which it appears (google search) haven’t been on SC previously. The first one was on the UK Stop The War Coalition (STWC) site. The STWC supports neither side but opposes foreign intervention so it is good to see Tariq Ali make the comments in the more recent interview (see below).

I came across the first one yesterday, from december 2011, which lets say, may appear balanced as he is equally critical of all sides. I decided not to post earlier. ~ 4min long.

http://stopwar.org.uk/index.php/video/1017-tariq-ali-western-intervention-in-syria-would-be-a-disaster-like-it-has-been-in-libya

A more recent interview on RT, from february 2012. Not good listening for Assad.

‘Assad must go to save Syria from intervention’
15 February, 2012

[Selected quotes]

“He has to be pushed out,” Tariq Ali insists, for which “the Syrian people are doing their best”.

..

The expert says both Assad and his father have spilled enough Syrian blood and that “this family is unacceptable”.

..

“If the Assad clan refuses to relinquish their stronghold on the country, sooner or later something disastrous will happen,” Tariq Ali predicts,..

..

“The fact is that the overwhelming majority of people in Syria want the Assad family out – and that is the key thing that we have to understand and he [Assad] should understand,” Tariq Ali claims.

http://rt.com/news/syria-assad-ali-resign-361/

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May 1st, 2012, 5:25 pm

 

469. omen said:

440. zoo said: Marzouki worries about Salafists and call for dialog in Syria:

Speaking to Assange, Marzouki distanced himself from backing the insurgents and called for a negotiated settlement.

“We are not supporting any kind of foreign intervention in Syria. I do believe that giving weapons to Syrians would lead to civil war. I think it’s not a good choice. I still believe that the only solution must be political, and that we have to find common… common ground between opposition and the regime. I still believe that the only solution is the Yemeni scenario,” he said.

~~~

this is a contradiction. the yemeni scenario required foreign intervention. the yemeni scenario amounted to regime change. bashar hasn’t shown indication he would willingly go along with this.

marzouki’s frame of reference is tunis. nonviolent protest approach has been tried and failed in syria. if marzouki toured in person homs, idlib and other cities under seige, if he talked to people on the ground, im sure he’d come away with another impression.

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May 1st, 2012, 5:44 pm

 

470. irritated said:

#466 Uzair8

Traek Ali repeats the mantra that no one can prove: “The overwheming majority of Syrians want Bashar out.”

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May 1st, 2012, 5:45 pm

 

471. bronco said:

$467 Omen

“the yemeni scenario amounted to regime change”

It did not. The family and friends of Saleh remain in charge of the country is now fighting against Al Qaeda. I was just a ‘president’ change, not a ‘regime’ change and solved nothing.

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May 1st, 2012, 5:52 pm

 

472. omen said:

true, bronco.

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May 1st, 2012, 5:58 pm

 

473. omen said:

speaking of marzouki, more from the assange interview. discussing secret police security files, assange argues for the sake of democracy, it’s important to open secrets from previous regime.

assange: will you open the tunisian archives?

marzouki: yes, for historians. it’s our duty to know what happened [...] i’m not interested in convicting people saying “you have done this” and “you have done that.” because it would be very very dangerous. it’s important to know, to remember. but it’s also important to not know and to forget.

assange: is there pressure on you from other people in tunisian government to keep these files closed?

marzouki: no, no there is no pressure. this is my choice, you know. my choice is to be very careful. because, once again, we have to know, but we also have to forget and to forgive.

but remember this warning from the island president ousted in a coup:

The Maldives’ experience with the remnants of autocracy should serve as a lesson for other countries in the Arab Spring said Nasheed.
“The lesson is we didn’t deal with Gayoom. That’s the obvious lesson. And my romantic ideas of how to deal with a dictator were wrong. I will agree with that,” Nasheed told Time, in a striking reversal of his magnanimity in 2008.
Nasheed observed that “you can get rid of a dictator, but you can’t get rid of a dictatorship. You can get rid of a person very easily, but the networks, the intricacies, the establishments — you have to flush them. And to do that is not an easy thing. We have to be mindful with other countries going down the same line — for instance, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya. They’ll have good elections, they’ll probably come up with a better leader. But then the dictatorship will always try to come back. And it’s going to be impossible to hold them from coming back from within the system.”

marzouki is going to have to be harder than this if he hopes to survive and if he hopes to safeguard tunis.

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May 1st, 2012, 6:01 pm

 

474. zoo said:

UN mission in Syria has “visible impact”: official
2012-05-02
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-05/02/c_131562493.htm

UNITED NATIONS, May 1 (Xinhua) — United Nations under-secretary- general for peacekeeping operations Herve Ladsous said here Tuesday that UN observers in Syria have had an impact on the situation on the ground, although their deployment is not yet complete.

Ladsous made the statement to the press during a briefing on the progress of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), which was established by the UN Security Council on April 21 in order to monitor a cease-fire between Syrian government troops and opposition forces and support a six-point plan for peace in the country created by Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League joint special envoy for Syria.

“The fact is that the numbers are still small at the moment but already they have had a visible impact, an effective impact on the ground,” Ladsous said.

He explained that UNSMIS currently has small teams of observers on the ground in Damascus, Idlib, Homs, Hama, and Daraa.

“In each of these places they reach out to all of the parties and they conduct mobile patrols regularly,” he said. “Today we have 24 observers on the ground and I fully expect this number to increase rapidly over the next two weeks so that UNSMIS will build up to full operational strength by the end of May.”

The Security Council resolution 2043, which created the observer mission, called for up to 300 unarmed and impartial observers in Syria in addition to the necessary civilian component of UNSMIS.

According to Ladsous, the mission has the potential to make a sizable contribution to peace in Syria over time.

“Observers, of course see what is going on but also their presence has the potential to change the political dynamics. They help build calm and calm helps the political process that Mr. Annan is leading and that process in turn, we hope will bring lasting peace to a democratic Syria,” he said.

Ladsous called on all parties in Syria to facilitate a lasting cessation of violence.

“More bombs, more weapons, more violence could only increase the tensions and add to an already very considerable toll of human lives,” he said. “So I and we all call upon all parties in Syria to ensure that the cessation of violence is indeed observed.”
More…

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May 1st, 2012, 6:06 pm

 

475. Tara said:

Bronco

Are the Yemenees happy with the status quo? Are they going to have new election soon?

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May 1st, 2012, 6:10 pm

 

476. Tara said:

Now that is bothersome that Syria allowed a memorial guarded by Turkish soldiers on it’s land to commemorate the Ottoman occupation all these years.

http://news.yahoo.com/turkish-soldiers-guard-sacred-tomb-syria-154704691.html

Turkish soldiers guard sacred tomb in Syria
By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA | Associated Press

ISTANBUL (AP) — It’s a tiny plot of Turkey deep within violence-torn Syria — a sacred mausoleum guarded by Turkish troops.
The memorial to Suleyman Shah, grandfather of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, has remained surrounded by a small contingent of Turkish soldiers even as Turkey helps to lead international condemnation of the Syrian regime, shutting its embassy in Damascus and demanding that President Bashar Assad resign.

The Ottoman empire collapsed in the early 20th century, and foreign powers encroached on its former territories. An article in the 1921 Franco-Turkish agreement lets Turkey keep guards and hoist its flag at the Syrian tomb, described as Turkish property. The arrangement was renewed with an independent Syria.
“Our soldiers are still there. There is no problem at all,” a Turkish military officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

 Syria has made no public statements about the soldiers, possibly calculating that any move against them, particularly at a site heavy with Islamic symbolism, offers no political gain and only risks retaliation from its powerful neighbor. Turkey’s military headquarters declined to talk to The Associated Press, a likely sign that it does not want to publicize the memorial amid Syria’s chaos.

Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, visited in 2006 and described it as a “surreal experience.”
He said the surrounding landscape was desolate — “there are no towns, tiny small villages here and there” — and that he had to show his passport to enter. The soldiers seemed bored. The infrequent visitors who signed the log were mostly Turks or ethnic Turks from Germany, Azerbaijan, the United States and other countries.
“It’s a mini-attraction,” Cagaptay said. “It’s like a mythical past. It is where it all started for the Turks in Turkey.”
Shah, a Turkic leader, is said to have drowned in the Euphrates in the 13th century. His followers headed north into what is today Turkey, where they launched the Ottoman empire. Some historians question official accounts about Shah’s tomb, saying they might have been retrospectively concocted to enrich an imperial, then national identity for Turks.

More…

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May 1st, 2012, 6:47 pm

 

477. Ghufran said:

Jackson Diehl is another “bright mind” ,but unlike Limbaugh he is neither “horizontally challenged” nor white:
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/05/the-incoherence-of-a-syria-hawk/256620/
(the filter prevented a more accurate description of the man)

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May 1st, 2012, 8:26 pm

 

478. Tara said:

UN observers in Syria report cease-fire violations by government and opposition
By Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press | Associated Press 

http://news.yahoo.com/un-observers-syria-report-cease-fire-violations-government-231600029.html

The U.N. peacekeeping chief said Tuesday that U.N. military observers in Syria are reporting cease-fire violations from the government and opposition and he demanded an immediate halt to all violence.

Herve Ladsous refused to say which side was responsible for the most violations. But he said the unarmed observers have documented a number of Syrian heavy weapons deployed in populated areas — including armoured personnel carriers and Howitzers — despite the government’s claim that it had withdrawn tanks and troops from cities and towns as required under international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan.
Syrian forces fired mortar shells into a farming village near the Turkish border Tuesday, killing 10 people, among them two young children.
“The level of violence in Syria has been appalling,” Ladsous said at a news conference. “I think the violations that are observed come from both sides. I would not establish a ratio. Now is not the time … The important fact is that violations do come from both sides.”

Herve Ladsous refused to say which side was responsible for the most violations. But he said the unarmed observers have documented a number of Syrian heavy weapons deployed in populated areas — including armoured personnel carriers and Howitzers — despite the government’s claim that it had withdrawn tanks and troops from cities and towns as required under international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan.
….
But Ladsous said this requires Syria to give visas to the observers and it has already denied visas to three observers without reason. He declined to disclose their nationalities.
He said there were “verbal comments” from the Syrians about the Friends of Democratic Syria, which includes more than 70 nations including the U.S., many European countries and a number of Mideast nations. President Bashar Assad’s government said it would refuse visas to observers from the “Friends” group.

Ladsous said it is the U.N. peacekeeping department’s responsibility to appoint observers and if Syrian authorities don’t co-operate, “we report to the Security Council,” as he did last week.
He said he expects the U.N. and Syria to sign an agreement “very rapidly” on the operation of the U.N. mission.

But Ladsous said Assad’s government still refuses to allow the U.N. to use its own helicopters and air assets, and discussions are continuing on that issue.

More…

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May 1st, 2012, 8:29 pm

 

479. Ghufran said:

[Moderator Noteماذا تريد (القاعدة) في سورية؟]

رشاد ابو شاور
http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=today%5C01qpt998.htm&arc=data%5C2012%5C05%5C05-01%5C01qpt998.htm

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May 1st, 2012, 8:40 pm

 

480. Ghufran said:

As in politics, a pleural system with checks and balances is essential for world peace:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/30/imperialism-didnt-end-international-law

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May 1st, 2012, 8:44 pm

 

481. Syria no Kandahar said:

Nidaj Janood one of the first victims anniversary:

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May 1st, 2012, 8:45 pm

 

482. Tara said:

Damning reports about security forces conducting excavation and looting the country treasures.  I consider that great treason.  The regime is not happy stealing our lives and dignity.  It also wants to steal our history.  My heart aches for Syria..  

The government and opposition have traded blame for damage and looting of sites around the country. But a group of European and Syrian archaeologists tracking the threats through witness reports from the ground says that in several cases, government forces have directly hit historic sites and either participated in or turned a blind eye to looting.

Syria’s cultural treasures latest uprising victim

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501713_162-57425534/syrias-cultural-treasures-latest-uprising-victim/

BEIRUT — On its towering hilltop perch, the Krak des Chevaliers, one of the world’s best preserved Crusader castles, held off a siege by the Muslim warrior Saladin nearly 900 years ago. It was lauded by Lawrence of Arabia for its beauty and has been one of the crown jewels of Syria’s tourism.

But it has fallen victim to the chaos of Syria’s uprising and the crackdown against it by President Bashar Assad’s regime. Recently, gunmen broke into the castle, threw out the staff and began excavations to loot the site, says Bassam Jammous, general director of the Antiquities and Museum Department in Damascus.
..
In one of the most egregious examples, shells thudded into the walls of the 12th century al-Madeeq Citadel, raising flames and columns of smoke as regime forces battled with rebels in March. The bombardment punched holes in the walls, according to online footage of the fighting.

Local activists said regime forces carried out the assault and afterward moved tanks into the hilltop castle. Later footage showed bulldozers knocking through part of the walls to create an entrance.

“What we know of Syrian heritage has already provided a huge quantity of information, but we can safely say that the part that has not yet been studied is even bigger,” said Martin. Each incident of destruction “is like burning a page in the book of history of mankind.”

The heritage also helped fuel tourism that was steadily rising before the crisis, giving a much-needed economic boost. More than 8.5 million tourists visited Syria in 2010, 40 percent more than the year before. Now there are virtually zero.
..
The nearly 2,000-year-old ruins of Palmyra, an ancient oasis city that was one of the biggest tourist draws with towering Roman colonnades and a temple to the god Baal, stand deserted. Government forces have surrounded it and the nearby town and have set up a base in a historic castle on a hilltop overlooking the site, deep in Syria’s central deserts.

In a report to the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO and the EU conservation group Euromed Heritage, Martin and the other archaeologists warned that the troops’ fortifications have damaged parts of the ruins. They say there are also reports of looting under the troops’ noses — raising the possibility they were involved.

“Many groups have attempted to conduct secret excavations, starting by the security forces,” their report said, referring to looting around the country. The archaeologists, who have set up a Facebook page to track reports of damage, say illicit digs have taken place at a number of unexcavated tells and other sites.

More… 

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May 1st, 2012, 8:52 pm

 

483. omen said:

Ghufran, what does “horizontally challenged” mean? and what does race have to do with anything?

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May 1st, 2012, 9:07 pm

 

484. Ghufran said:

The travesty about the new PA “elections” is another chapter in the Book of Idiocy written by almukhabarat and the Baathists ,anybody who thinks that those elections will mean anything is daydreaming. Refusing to postpone the elections is a sign of things to come,those elections will only produce a corrupt body that preserves the status quo.

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May 1st, 2012, 9:19 pm

 

485. Tara said:

Karman unsatisfied with Turkey’s policy on Syria
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/karman-unsatisfied-with-turkeys-policy-on-syria.aspx?pageID=238&nID=19738&NewsCatID=338

Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakel Karman urged Turkey yesterday to take action on the ground on the side of the Syrian uprising, as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu nominated the activist for Turkish citizenship.

“The international community’s support for the Syrian people is inadequate, and so is Turkey’s. Turkey should take steps to establish a safe haven to protect the Syrian people,” Karman told a press conference. Karman called on Ankara to open secure corridors into Syria to bring injured Syrian people to Turkey for treatment. If Turkey steps in to activate such measures, the international community would also extend support, she argued.

‘Annan plan can’t succeed’

The Yemeni journalist criticized U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria, saying it could not succeed. “Annan’s approach makes [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad both an enemy and a judge,” Karman said, stressing that the plan is too flexible. Karman asked the Turkish people to put pressure on their government to lend more support to the Syrian people. “Al-Assad will continue the bloodshed if the international community does not stop the killing,” she said. Late on April 30, Karman met with Davutoğlu as the two paid visits to Yemenis being treated in an Ankara hospital. The minister signed papers nominating Karman and her family for Turkish citizenship. Ankara had promised the activist citizenship when she first visited Turkey in March.

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May 1st, 2012, 9:21 pm

 

486. ann said:

Turkish soldiers guard sacred tomb in Syria

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/01/v-fullstory/2777569/turkish-soldiers-guard-sacred.html#storylink=cpy

In a 1970s agreement with Syria, Turkey moved the mausoleum, sacred in Turkish lore, to its current location because the old site at a castle further south was to be inundated by the waters of a new dam.

Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, visited in 2006 and described it as a “surreal experience.”

He said the surrounding landscape was desolate – “there are no towns, tiny small villages here and there” – and that he had to show his passport to enter. The soldiers seemed bored. The infrequent visitors who signed the log were mostly Turks or ethnic Turks from Germany, Azerbaijan, the United States and other countries.

“It’s a mini-attraction,” Cagaptay said. “It’s like a mythical past. It is where it all started for the Turks in Turkey.”

Shah, a Turkic leader, is said to have drowned in the Euphrates in the 13th century. His followers headed north into what is today Turkey, where they launched the Ottoman empire. Some historians question official accounts about Shah’s tomb, saying they might have been retrospectively concocted to enrich an imperial, then national identity for Turks.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founder, rejected the legacy of the Ottomans and their Islamic precepts, deeming them backward and imposing a secular, Western-oriented outlook that remains the subject of national debate today. In Shah, though, he may have seen a link to Turkic origins in Central Asia, a source of veneration in his new order.

“Even Ataturk could not let go despite the fact that his reforms were so much about letting go of the Ottoman past,” Cagaptay said. The mausoleum’s newfound vulnerability in a country in conflict, he said, makes it potentially “more significant than it has ever been since the end of the Ottoman empire.”

[...]

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May 1st, 2012, 9:30 pm

 

487. omen said:

They guard a piece of stone while Syrians are dying & no one cares: Turkish soldiers guard sacred tomb in Syria

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May 1st, 2012, 9:47 pm

 

488. bronco said:

#483 Ghufran

The elections are part of the commitment the Syrian government did to the UN and Russia when it was criticized from not implementing reforms fast enough. It is just responding to that pressure.

If Bashar had dared to postpone them, he would have been immediately accused of breaking the promises and dragging its feet. The international community is getting the elections they asked for in the current circumstances. If they are not at the standard expected, in such a rush, the Syrian government is not the only one to be blamed.

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May 1st, 2012, 9:54 pm

 

489. zoo said:

The Marjeh bombs were targeting the Iranian Cultural Center.

http://news.yahoo.com/nine-one-family-among-10-dead-syria-ngo-072617464.html
..
Meanwhile, an Islamist group that has claimed several bomb attacks in Syria said it was responsible for a blast in Damascus last week that targeted security forces and an Iranian cultural centre and wounded three people.

The Al-Nusra front said one of its members had attached an explosive device to an army vehicle and that it detonated at the cultural centre in Marjeh Square, “hitting two targets in the process.”

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May 1st, 2012, 9:57 pm

 

490. bronco said:

485. Tara

The Nobel Prize Laureates fight: Karman vs Annan

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May 1st, 2012, 10:01 pm

 

491. Ghufran said:

Is not it funny that there are people who are worried that Iran and the West may be able to reach a compromise and prevent another war in the Middle East?
As of now,a war against Iran is on the back burner at best,and if new progress is achieved in May,such a war would be very unlikely.
Does this matter to Syria and the GCC? You bet it does.

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May 1st, 2012, 10:05 pm

 

492. bronco said:

#475 Tara

Yemen is in a “transitional” chaos: Saleh family is still in power, Al Qaeda is threatening, USA is involved, Saudi Arabia too, Yemeni Shias (45%) are not satisfied, war in the south, protests continue etc…

In view of the complexity and difficulties facing the Syrian government to crush the Al Qaeda operators in Syria hiding among the Syrian rebels, Syria may well turn out like Yemen, a playground for Al Qaeda.

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/yemen/index.html

….
In February 2012, Mr. Hadi was elected president, after winning 99.6 percent of the vote in a single-candidate election. But the reality is that Mr. Saleh still wields considerable influence in Yemen. His relatives control most of the military and government security agencies.

Now President Hadi’s fledgling government has found itself overwhelmed by a set of dangerous new challenges to the country’s stability, including a series of bold attacks by a resurgent militant movement in the south, where hundreds of people have been killed in clashes. In addition, he has faced open defiance from the old guard, after he tried to dismiss or reassign officials loyal to his predecessor, Mr. Saleh.
A lot more…

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May 1st, 2012, 10:21 pm

 

493. Son of Damascus said:

Branco,

Bashar had 12 years to implement those kinds of reforms, he has been dragging his feet for all that time.

For the record the “elections” will most likely be of the usual expected “standards” that Syrians came to endure under the rule of Assad.

It is a shame that the Baathists and the Assadists erased any semblance of a true democracy with their idealisms, and turned Syria into their personal playground to do with as they wish.

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May 1st, 2012, 10:27 pm

 

494. Syria no Kandahar said:

المنافق ابو جعفر

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May 1st, 2012, 10:29 pm

 

495. Son of Damascus said:

Sky News Reporting from inside Syria, report includes a video report in the link:

Devastation In The Syrian Battlefield Of Homs

Despite heavy losses in the Bab Amr district of Homs the Free Syrian Army (FSA) still controls large areas of the city.

The FSA stronghold is the Khaldia district but it manages to keep the Syrian army out of other quarters as well.

The area is devastated. High-rise buildings have collapsed, their floors pancaked one on top of the other.
Shops and houses have also been destroyed by artillery fire. Rubble is strewn everywhere, and there appears not be a single building which is not in some way damaged.

There are still hundreds of civilians living in Khaldia among the FSA fighters who say they are there to protect them.

The Syrian government calls the FSA terrorists and insists it needs to push them out of Homs in order to liberate the city.

[...]

http://news.sky.com/home/world-news/article/16219149

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May 1st, 2012, 10:32 pm

 

496. zoo said:

Saudi Arabia does not want the Moslem Brotherhood to take a prominent role in new Arab republic: Is a competition looming between KSA and Turkey-Qatar over the new Arab Republics?

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/01/us-saudi-egypt-brotherhood-idUSBRE8400ZM20120501

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia frets that Egypt, its strongest Arab ally and a major recipient of Saudi funding, is falling under what it sees as the baleful influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Riyadh recalled its ambassador from Cairo at the weekend in a spat that underlines the misgivings of the robed princes who rule the world’s top oil exporter and who have watched Egypt’s revolution and its often chaotic aftermath with alarm.

The Brothers offer a religious political discourse that’s in competition with the Wahhabi one. It’s something of a threat to the government because it enjoys a certain legitimacy by virtue of its religiosity,” said Thomas Hegghammer, author of Jihad in Saudi Arabia.

Since the 18th century, the ruling Al Saud family have enjoyed a close alliance with clerics of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam.
..
For its part, the Muslim Brotherhood knows Egypt has no credible donors that could substitute for Saudi Arabia, said Daniel Kurtzer, U.S. ambassador to Egypt from 1997-2001.

“I don’t think the leadership of any of the Egyptian factions – the military, civil society, the Islamists – would want to change things. The problem is where the street takes Egyptian policy,” he said.

Jamal Khashoggi, an influential Saudi commentator and former newspaper editor, said Riyadh was watching Egypt’s transition.

“It’s waiting for Egypt to settle and for a leadership to emerge before we start rebuilding the strategic alliance we have with them,” he said..

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May 1st, 2012, 10:34 pm

 

497. irritated said:

#495 SOD

“There are still hundreds of civilians living in Khaldia among the FSA fighters who say they are there to protect them.”

Protect them or keep them as hostages?

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May 1st, 2012, 10:37 pm

 

498. Syria no Kandahar said:

قناة الدم والدم الاخر
Never in history has been so many lies about any thing as much as the lies about current situation in
Syria …..all to get Syrians to kill each others so that payers agenda gets done:

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May 1st, 2012, 10:41 pm

 

499. bronco said:

#493 Son of Damacus

“Bashar had 12 years to implement those kinds of reforms, he has been dragging his feet for all that time. ”

He was under no pressure to do them, the same way many EU countries postponed for decades the necessary reforms of their economies until they collapsed.

Now it is a matter of survival.

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May 1st, 2012, 10:43 pm

 

500. omen said:

8:53 – tara,

security forces conducting excavation and looting the country treasures.

doesn’t this suggest the regime realizes they’re a losing their grip on power? why loot now if they’re confident about being in control?

~

10:21 – bronco, bashar or alqaeda? is this the choice syria faces? bashar offers nothing else? if the regime represented the best interests of the country, surely loyalists could offer a better argument rather than constantly resorting to fearmongering. how many times can you push this one button?

~

10:43 – bronco, if bashar wanted to implement reforms, he would not have thrown advocates for reform in jail!

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May 1st, 2012, 10:44 pm

 

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