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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51. Tara said:

Starting with interesting analysis and ending with wishful thinking.  

The Ottomans are back! Well, not really where they wanted to be…

The neo-Ottomans in Ankara have skillfully been able to return to their Ottoman past – well, not really the glorious times, but rather the empire’s days of decline. 

The Turks vigorously played the role of the leader of the Muslim world. But now that the Muslim world is deeply engaged in a growing proxy war along the Shia-Sunni fault line and Turkey has found itself in a Sunni alliance, it will have to be content with playing the role of the leader of one Muslim sect only. That’s a much smaller cake, but one cannot pretend to be all things at all times. 

The Sunni Arabs are in an alliance of convenience with the Sunni Turks, perfectly aware that this, too, is merely a temporary coalition. Once the Sunni-Shia divide ends up somewhere definite, Turkey will no longer find its Sunni brothers around. Instead, this time, the Sunni brothers will see the Turks as a rival and a threat to their Arab Sunni brotherhood – unless of course Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan can prove that the Turks are in fact Arabs!

In a recent article, the Economist argued that: “With one foot in the West and the other in the Middle East, Turkey was able to mediate between Lebanon’s rival factions, between Iraq’s Shias and Sunnis, and between Israel and Syria (until Israel’s 2009 assault against Gaza).” The Economist quoted Nikolaos Van Dam, a former Dutch ambassador to Ankara, as saying that: “It was this ability to talk to all sides that made Turkey an effective player. But ‘now it has chosen sides.’” (Turkey’s foreign policy: Growing less mild, the Economist, Apr. 14, 2012)

In fact, Turkey’s southern and eastern borders have not been this tense for a decade. Syria has again become a “military matter,” like in the late 1990s. It is an open secret that the Turkish-Persian chess game has turned into a cold war that’s getting warmer every day. And mo recently, the Iraqi government has declared Turkey “a hostile state.” Naturally, Mr. Erdogan no longer is the rock star he once was to the Israel-hating Hezbullah hooligans in Lebanon. Did anyone say “zero problems with neighbors?”

To make things less pleasant, there is a lot of hypocrisy going on around the Syrian crisis. Some sunshine-or-rain pro-Erdogan fans disguised as intellectual peace activists explicitly advocate pinpoint airstrikes against Syria. By whom? Ah, the Americans of course. But was it not you, gentlemen, who fiercely wanted the United States “out of Middle Eastern politics?” Besides, if pinpoint airstrikes from countries with deterrent firepower against regimes oppressing a majority of their own people is a legitimate remedy, why not Russian pinpoint airstrikes against Bahrain? 

The fact is that the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad would have looked terribly sympathetic to most of his present-day enemies if tomorrow he disconnected his country from the Shia axis. I can imagine western and Turkish headlines: New evidence reveals al-Assad was victim of terrorist propaganda! Independent reports confirm al-Assad was innocent…

[ … ]–.aspx?pageID=449&nID=19394&NewsCatID=398

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April 26th, 2012, 9:13 pm


52. Aldendeshe said:

I think France should take the lead in Syria and go it alone. The Bolshevicks will not do it, the Arabs are waiting for USA and this one is hand tied by Obama-Israel. France should not have abandoned Syria in teh 60’s to teh Baathist, just 15 year after independence.

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April 26th, 2012, 9:30 pm


53. irritated said:

#10 Uzair8

“There are the obvious reasons why the high profle political, military and business figures haven’t as yet defected”:

Trust and loyalty

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April 26th, 2012, 9:37 pm


54. Aldendeshe said:

52. irritated said:
#10 Uzair8

“There are the obvious reasons why the high profle political, military and business figures haven’t as yet defected”:

Trust and loyalty


Greed and Fear

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April 26th, 2012, 9:43 pm


55. irritated said:

53. Aldendeshe

Unanimously? Not one important official dissident? Absurd. Try something else.

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April 26th, 2012, 9:50 pm


56. zoo said:

Would Turkey’s arrogance and affirmation of superiority over the Arab countries backlash ?

Turkey owns, leads, serves to ‘new Mideast:’ Davutoğlu

Davutoğlu hails Turkey’s ‘pioneering’ role in the Middle East, challenging opposition parties while noting that Ankara will ‘own’ and ‘serve’ to the region
Turkey will not become involved in any foreign policy that did not originate from Ankara, Minister Davutoğlu tells the Parliament.
Turkey is set to carve itself a primary role in shaping the Middle East as it guides the “winds of change” in the region, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said yesterday.

“A new Middle East is about to be born. We will be the owner, pioneer and the servant of this new Middle East,” Davutoğlu told Parliament after attracting criticism from opposition parties over Ankara’s Syria policy.

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April 26th, 2012, 10:00 pm


57. Aldendeshe said:

It is because the Baathist higher ups are mostly military men and they know the opposition Klashinkoves and dull knifes are no match to the ترسانة سوفياتية

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April 26th, 2012, 10:05 pm


58. zoo said:

Al League meeting in Cairo 26th april 2012
All Syrian oppositions parties invited to meet in Cairo on 16 May

In the press conference co-chaired by Arabi and Khaled al- Hamed al-Sabah after the meeting that lasted for more than four hours, Arabi said that Arab foreign ministers had authorized him to invite all the Syrian opposition parties to meet on May 16 in Cairo.

Arabi called for the UN Security Council to deploy monitors to Syria as soon as possible, demanding the Syrian regime to help them with their work.

Arabi noted that AL will assign its representatives in the UN Security Council in its scheduled meeting on May 5 to ask the Security Council to stop violence and protect Syrian civilians immediately, asserting that all those who are against human rights and international humanitarian principles will be punished by law in time.

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April 26th, 2012, 10:08 pm


59. zoo said:

The “New Era in Syria” : Turkey and the SNC trying to rebound?

Syrian opposition holds secret workshops for transition after Assad
Thomas Seibert
Apr 27, 2012

ISTANBUL // The Syrian opposition in exile says it has begun drafting concrete plans for a transition of power once the regime of Bashar Al Assad falls.
The opposition, which includes veteran politicians, ethnic leaders, Islamists, secular dissidents, youth activists and defected soldiers, has been struggling to persuade potential supporters abroad that it can overcome its divisions and be a viable alternative to Mr Al Assad’s government.

In a series of confidential workshops titled “The Day After”, opposition members have been looking at questions ranging from securing water and electricity supplies for a country of more than 20 million people to finding a role for religion in the post-Assad era, members of the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition umbrella group, said yesterday. Plans are scheduled to be finalised by July.
Mahmut Osman, an SNC official in Turkey, confirmed that a 16-page document titled “New Era in Syria” was circulating among opposition members. The document raises the possibility of the deployment of an Arab or international peace force during the transition and calls for significant international aid, according to the Turkish CNNTurk news channel.

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April 26th, 2012, 10:15 pm


60. bronco said:

France’s election will impact seriously Syria’s situation.

There is a real possibility that if Sarkozy is re-elected, France will push further its “military solution” toward Syria.
In case Hollande is elected, we may see a decrease of France’s agressivity toward Syria, at least for a while

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April 26th, 2012, 10:40 pm


61. Norman said:

Do i see the UN observers holding hands with the opposition militants, i thought they are supposed to be neutral. apparently the whole Annan mission is just a justification for what is coming and that is the invasion of Syria, i just hope that Syria is prepared to make them taste what they are planning for the Syrian people.

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April 26th, 2012, 10:44 pm


62. omen said:


“There are the obvious reasons why the high profle political, military and business figures haven’t as yet defected”:

Trust and loyalty

irritated, there are plenty of former members who now oppose the regime. what do they have in common? apparently, one has to leave the country first before feeling safe to do so.

Trust and loyalty…i was going to scoff but then i remembered loyalty is one of the traits valued by authoritarian followers.

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April 26th, 2012, 10:49 pm


63. Aldendeshe said:

i just hope that Syria is prepared to make them taste what they are planning for the Syrian people.

Keep on hopppppppping, few know the real story in Syria, but I do.

63. Aldendeshe said:

مصادر متطابقة في باريس وتل أبيب تؤكد أن المراقبين الدوليين في سوريا يتبعون لمكتب دولي خاص أنشىء مؤخرا في إسرائيل ، ورئيس فريق المراقبين عميل لوكالة المخابرات المركزية!؟

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April 26th, 2012, 11:03 pm


64. bronco said:

61. Norman

The whole Annan’s plan is based on the observers convincing the reluctant opposition to go along with the Peace Plan toward the dialog. This is why the observers may seem to act “cozy” with them, but that’s part of their mission.

The Annan peace plan has been neither ‘officially’ nor enthusiastically accepted by the opposition, therefore it is necessary that the opposition learn to trust the observers and with time the Annan’s peace plan. They won’t go along if they feel the UN is bullying them or manipulating them.

The proof of their impartiality is that the 2 observers who were in Hama have made no public comments on the ‘explosion’ that killed dozens of people. They may have reported their observations to Annan, but it remained secret, for now.

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April 26th, 2012, 11:17 pm


65. omen said:

61. Norman said: Do i see the UN observers holding hands with the opposition militants, i thought they are supposed to be neutral.

neutral? monitors refused to accept even a
piece of paper
from activists.

others have noted: More UN observers will arrive next week, but they appear mainly to be coordinating with the regime, not with dissidents, and likely won’t be allowed to go to the places the government is killing people.

one un monitor is brazilian, the other moroccan. both countries sympathetic to the regime.

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April 26th, 2012, 11:19 pm


66. omen said:

The proof of their impartiality is that the 2 observers who were in Hama have made no public comments on the ‘explosion’ that killed dozens of people. They may have reported their observations to Annan, but it remained secret, for now.

bronco, that isn’t impartiality. that’s complicity and collusion.

why do you put ‘explosions’ in quotes? are we pretending they didn’t happen?

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April 26th, 2012, 11:37 pm


67. Son of Damascus said:

What a trip through Khalidieh in Homs is like.

Great narration in Arabic.

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April 26th, 2012, 11:39 pm


68. omen said:

aldendeshe, aljazeera english had satellite photos that showed the regime has idlib under seige, surrounded by tanks, continuing to be shelled. isn’t idlib known for being the most conservative (militant?) enclave of muslims? do you think israel would approve?

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April 26th, 2012, 11:44 pm


69. Aldendeshe said:

Anytime that an Arab, Moslem or Syrian die, suffer, lose, not only they approve, but cheer on. When did Israel do one Iota to help Arabs, Moslems or Syrians. Any one event, any one deed, name it please.

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April 26th, 2012, 11:51 pm


70. Aldendeshe said:

@OMEN Said:
aldendeshe, i don’t know anything about the man. i’m trying to find out who he is and how people perceive him.

Neither do I know much about him, heard of him from our European/ Netherlands SNP group, but never seen his CV. But if he is the son of Maaruf Dawalibi, he got the “Brand Name” we trust. Who cares about his Saudi references, we needs it to get cash to rebuild Syria, we need billions and it is chump-change for them. The way we look at it, he is a good starting point to pick up from that abrupt coup by Bolshevik Proletariat Louai Atassi and his cousin that overthrown Dwalibi legitimate Syrian Government, plucked Syria from the age of renaissance and Syrian glory back to the age of demonically Satanic Bolshevik Socialism run dictatorially by sectarian regime in its lowest and evil form: BAATHISM.

Since that fateful day March 8, 1963, Syria never had a legitimately elected Government or legitimate leaders, just crooks and thieves that robbed the nation, looted its treasuries and natural resources and made it destitute. It is about time Arabs, will step in and pay back for supporting Baathist rule over Syria for more than 40 years.

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April 27th, 2012, 12:47 am


71. Son of Damascus said:

Regime men open fire on un armed protesters greeting UN observers in Dera’a, regime forces set up camp INSIDE the mosque.

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April 27th, 2012, 1:30 am


72. Mina said:

Antoine #28

Precisely Antoine, under the dictature they were able to feed themselves. Can you tell me what in your opinion will happen to them when Syria’s agriculture will be destroyed by the ultra liberals and neo-cons? When not a drop of water will remain because Turkey, Israel and Jordan will be given all of it? Syria has always been THE enemy because it is self-sufficient in terms of agriculture.

So for you, to say that nothing else but a repetition of the Lebanese civil war or the Iraqi current civil war could happen from these manipulated demonstrations in Syria means I follow a leftist (why don’t you say ‘neocommunist’ like on CNN?) agenda… Interesting take. But I get suprised everyday from the expats here.

The French media is boasting all over that the the new “transitional government” as been announced by a Syrian expat in Saudi Arabia while in a meeting in Paris yesterday. For sure, the Saudis have always been feeding the poor, from Egypt to Yemen, Indonesia and Pakistan…

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April 27th, 2012, 4:16 am


73. Mina said:

As long as the Western media is happy selling the old “reds” bipolar scheme (hooouuuuuu the bad Chinese Russian veto, please do not recall the doomed fate of the Palestinians for half a century), we will see both the US and Europe fall iremediably into intellectual sclerosis. The Western alliance with the Gulf is precisely based on the same fear, but as long as air-heads buy it…
Rather, we now live in a multipolar world, sorry for the cynical P1 and its armies of virtue.

A history of the world, BRIC by BRIC
By Pepe Escobar

Goldman Sachs – via economist Jim O’Neill – invented the concept of a rising new bloc on the planet: BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). Some cynics couldn’t help calling it the “Bloody Ridiculous Investment Concept.”

Not really. Goldman now expects the BRICS countries to account for almost 40% of global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050, and to include four of the world’s top five economies.

Soon, in fact, that acronym may have to expand to include Turkey, Indonesia, South Korea and, yes, nuclear Iran: BRIIICTSS? Despite its well-known problems as a nation under economic siege, Iran is also motoring along as part of the N-11, yet another distilled concept. (It stands for the next 11 emerging economies.)

The multitrillion-dollar global question remains: Is the emergence

of BRICS a signal that we have truly entered a new multipolar world?

Yale’s canny historian Paul Kennedy (of “imperial overstretch” fame) is convinced that we either are about to cross or have already crossed a “historical watershed” taking us far beyond the post-Cold War unipolar world of “the sole superpower.” There are, argues Kennedy, four main reasons for that: the slow erosion of the US dollar (formerly 85% of global reserves, now less than 60%), the “paralysis of the European project,” Asia rising (the end of 500 years of Western hegemony), and the decrepitude of the United Nations.

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April 27th, 2012, 5:00 am


74. Mina said:

Chatham House “socialist U-turn” (and the double-dip recession)

• A continuing failure to address weaknesses in the economy could lead to a second, angrier revolution in Egypt, writes Jane Kinninmont in a new paper for the thinktank Chatham House. It urges that international organisations, like the IMF, should be cautious about trying to impose free market solutions on country keen to tackle social justice. It says:

International organisations need to remember that economic policy advice on the role of the state (for instance, on privatisation and subsidies) touches on political issues and values, rather than being purely technical. Rather than repeating old mantras that a smaller public sector is always a good thing, external policy-makers should tread carefully and sensitively, recognising that having debates over the role of the state, the free market and the nature of globalization are part of democratic self-determination – and remembering that these debates are likely to be taking place in their own countries as well.

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April 27th, 2012, 5:53 am


76. Alan said:

Syria faces neo-mujahideen struggle
By Victor Kotsev

According to an expert cited in a separate Reuters report, “It’s demoralizing conducting counter-insurgency operations, shelling urban areas and having troops deploy away from home … These place enormous strains on armed forces. And he has very limited numbers of elite units that are available, so there are benefits to his military strategy from the ceasefire.”

While Assad currently controls a formidable force, equipped with sophisticated Russian-made air defenses and ballistic missiles tipped with chemical weapons, which acts as a powerful deterrence against a foreign intervention, it is likely that in the future his grip on power will deteriorate. According to Syria expert Joshua Landis,

I doubt he will have a lot more success than the US has had in Iraq or Afghanistan, although, his army probably understands Syrians a lot better than US troops and commanders did Iraqis. But they will likely be provoked into over-reacting to terrorism, road-side bombs and demonstrations as they have already been. They can only lose the battle for hearts and minds. The Alawites cannot regain the battle for hearts and minds. They can only instill fear and play on Syrian anxieties about turning into a failed state, such as exists in Iraq. That is what worked in the past for the Assad regime. The regime has no new tricks up its sleeve. Syrian State TV is now trying to demonize the Saudi monarchy for being descended from Jews and backwards. That says a lot about the regime’s tactics.

It bears noting that the full extent of the regime’s violence has yet to come to light, but according to the latest United Nations statistics at least 9,000 have died since the start of the uprising.

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April 27th, 2012, 6:23 am


78. Tara said:


“I like blue.”

Just “like”? You are “crazy” about blue. I’m sure it has become your favorite color. It is Bashar’s eye color, and I am sure your favorite doctors are ophthalmologists. Mine are brain surgeon,

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April 27th, 2012, 7:45 am


79. Mina said:

Baghdad on the Barada
An explosion has hit the centre of the Syrian capital Damascus, killing three people according to one local report.

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April 27th, 2012, 7:51 am


80. bronco said:


OMG, color “blue” triggers such a wave of resentment.. Watch it as it can become pathologic. In any case while I appreciate the color of eyes, brain color does not appeal to me at all.

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April 27th, 2012, 8:06 am


81. zoo said:

The yoyos to side with the Syrian opposition: “This new Israeli thinking is based on both moral and strategic grounds”.

Israeli leaders speak up about Syria
By JOSEF FEDERMAN and KARIN LAUB | Associated Press – 5 hrs ago
In this Saturday April 21, 2012 …

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli officials have become increasingly outspoken in their belief that Syria’s President Bashar Assad should relinquish power after a 13-month uprising that has killed thousands of his citizens — a surprising turnaround that risks backfiring and potentially strengthening the embattled Syrian leader.\These calls mark an important shift in Israel, where leaders initially reacted to the uprising with barely disguised concern and alarm. As the Arab Spring remakes the fabric of the Middle East, Israel has been torn between support for democratic change and a surprising comfort with the established order.

This early dominant thinking was that while Assad was no friend of Israel, he remained a known quantity whose family had kept the shared border quiet for nearly four decades and occasionally pursued peace talks with Israel. With Islamic parties on the rise throughout the region, there was no telling who might replace him.

But as the Syrian uprising has dragged on and the death toll mounted in recent months, a number of Israeli officials have concluded that the Middle East would be a better place without Assad.

This new Israeli thinking is based on both moral and strategic grounds.

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April 27th, 2012, 8:13 am


82. zoo said:

Non sectarian?

Russia’s strategic clarity in Syria
Tony Badran, April 26, 2012
“Russia and Iran see in continued Alawite rule a continuity of policy and alignments. The US, therefore, must ensure the end of this rule and the establishment of an order that empowers Syria’s Sunnis. It must pursue this aim as assertively and as explicitly as Russia (and Iran) pursues its diametrically opposed objective.”

To read more:

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April 27th, 2012, 8:20 am


83. zoo said:

Women plight in ‘progressive’ Turkey

“Reports of attacks against women occur on a near-daily basis in Turkey despite recent legal regulations to protect victims of domestic violence.

A woman was repeatedly stabbed by her husband in the street in broad daylight in İzmir yesterday while another woman was hospitalized after being beaten in public by her husband in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak the same day.”


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April 27th, 2012, 8:23 am


84. zoo said:

7 killed, 20 wounded in blast in Damascus 2012-04-27


• Seven people were killed and 20 others injured when an explosion occurred Friday in Damascus.( Meidan area)
• Preliminary speculations indicated that a suicide bomber detonated himself.
• After the explosion, unknown gunmen opened fire at people who gathered around the scene.

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April 27th, 2012, 8:31 am


85. Tara said:

Damascus explosion.

Congratulation for Neron al Assad for scorching the country. What is he ruling over now? Syria is lost and will not recover for years to come.

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April 27th, 2012, 9:00 am


86. bronco said:

#86 Tara

Congratulation to the opposition.

They have transformed a peaceful and proud country into a playground for Islamists kamikaze, criminals and paranoiac regional powers, and still call for more massive destructions.

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April 27th, 2012, 9:24 am


87. Afram said:

Syrian uprising is fading away… U.N.,S fraud and waste

The Bucks Stop with Kofi Annan.

Michael Rubin:A friend on Capitol Hill alerts me to Kofi Annan’s budget for his doomed-from-the-start observer mission in Syria. (The breakdown is in paragraph 17):

The estimated requirements for the Office of the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis for the 10-month period ending 31 December 2012 amount to $7,488,000 net ($7,932,200 gross) and will provide for salaries and common staff costs for 18 positions ($3,022,300), as well as operational costs ($4,465,700), comprising consultancies ($165,700), official travel ($1,590,500), and facilities and infrastructure ($578,400); ground transportation ($100,200); air transportation ($750,000); communications ($94,800) and information technology ($135,700); and other supplies, services and equipment ($1,050,400). Of the non-post items, $111,800 relates to one-time expenditures for the refurbishment of office space ($30,000) and provision of information technology and other equipment ($81,800).

So, Kofi Annan’s office will have 18 people? Dividing the salary line item by 18, each employee will stand to make about $168,000—and that’s just ten months. The entire budget is a bit extreme, but that’s nothing new for Annan. Not only did he oversee the UN’s worst corruption scandal during his tenure as secretary-general, but he bankrupted his own “Global Humanitarian Foundation” retirement post through massive mismanagement. Western diplomats may assuage their guilt over the atrocities in Syria by throwing money at Annan and his office. They may not help Syrians, but they can be certain of one thing: When it comes to Annan, the bucks certainly stop with him.

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April 27th, 2012, 10:20 am


88. Syria no Kandahar said:

When suicide bombings started with this (peaceful) insurgency, syria’s destruction thinkers were shy and conspiring to the bone that this is a (regime) show. When Alqaeda declared responsibility and gave the opposition full support their response was OOPS.

When suicide bombers continue and car explosion and road side bombs and all the other criminal acts of their jihadists their response was OOPS it is Assad fault. When a mentally handicapped gets hanged in Duma and a minority girl gets hanged in Homs they claim to refuse to open the link because it is (Syrian link). When Syria is gone and dead their response is OOOPS.

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April 27th, 2012, 10:22 am


89. Juergen said:

Is it only me who see some resemblance? Is Bashars family from Braunschweig?

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April 27th, 2012, 11:25 am


90. irritated said:

#89 Juergen

I would say that Catherine Ashton is much closer.

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April 27th, 2012, 11:34 am


91. Mina said:

Must be that some pro-regimes were visiting Ben Ghazi today. “God is Love,” “Religion brings people together”…

1.04pm: Libya: Three explosions outside a courthouse in the eastern city of Benghazi have wounded three people and caused some damage to the building’s fence and surrounding structures, the Associated Press reports, citing the state news agency, Lana:

Lana says three devices went off early Friday. It wasn’t clear who was behind the attack. Security official Aghdour bin Zablah says the explosives were thrown out of a passing car.

The attack came hours after a failed prison break in Benghazi during which prisoners and guards exchanged gunfire. The shooting killed three prisoners and three guards.

[ … ]

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April 27th, 2012, 11:47 am


92. Alan said:

Syria records 1,300 violations by “terrorists” of UN-led truce

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April 27th, 2012, 11:47 am


93. Alan said:

Russia accuses Syrian rebels of using “tactics of terror”

(Reuters) – Russia accused Syrian rebels on Thursday of using terror tactics and suggested they were more to blame for ceasefire violations than President Bashar al-Assad’s troops.

The remarks by the foreign ministry differed from assessments by Western states which have been calling on government forces to end attacks and withdraw from cities and towns under a U.N.-backed truce.

“We call upon the Syrian side to carry out in full its obligations…” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a weekly briefing. “Nonetheless … there is another side in Syria, opposition groups, which have in essence shifted to tactics of terror on a regional scale.”
[ … ]

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April 27th, 2012, 11:54 am


94. irritated said:

What was this Friday called by the opposition:
Bye Bye NATO, Welcome Al Qaeda?

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April 27th, 2012, 11:57 am


95. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

92. Alan said:
Syria records 1,300 violations by “terrorists” of UN-led truce

Syrians recorded 13,987,7874,343.003 Billion violent abuse cases, unlawful arrest, disappearances, torture, economic crimes, infringements on state sovereignty, illegal possession of power of state and office, illegal participation in election for illegitimate official office, serving unlawfully in Syrian armed forces, impersonating ranking officers in military offices, and other violations to human rights, human dignity, you name it, the Baathists committed in the past 40+ years of their rule.

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April 27th, 2012, 12:00 pm


96. Aldendeshe said:

[Huh ??? ALDENDESHE, ALAWI and SHIA is no problem. Inserting or appending SHIA / ALAWI as a sectarian label for your putative enemies is. Please observe the rules of Dr Landis’s site. This is a moderation warning.]

Now you can not even say the word ALA*** or SHI** in the comment section. This is the price of the deal made between Iran and USA.

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April 27th, 2012, 12:06 pm


97. zoo said:

The armed opposition elements have turned into desperate, suspicious, disunited and confused loosers. They naively put the blame on Syria’s ‘culture of distrust’ for their inability to trust each others.

Rebel rivalry and suspicions threaten Syria revolt
By Erika Solomon | Reuters – 1 hr 56 mins ago

ANTAKYA, Turkey (Reuters) – Rebel fighter Mustafa and his trio of burly men look out of place at a trendy Turkish cafe near the Syrian border, dressed in tattered jeans and silently puffing on cigarettes as they scoop into tall ice-cream sundaes.

“When it comes to getting weapons, every group knows they are on their own,” says the 25-year-old with a patchy beard. “It’s a fight for resources.”

Nominally Mustafa’s rebels fight for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but the FSA, lacking international recognition or direct state funding, is a often just a convenient label for a host of local armed groups competing fiercely for scarce financing.

So fiercely, they sometimes turn their guns on each other.

“Everyone needs weapons. There is tension. There is anger and yes, sometimes there is fighting if rebels in one town seem to have an unfair share of weapons,” said Mustafa, who comes from Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, which borders Turkey and has been a hotbed of resistance to Assad.

Many say Islamist groups, from hard-line Salafists to the exiled Muslim Brotherhood, bankroll many battalions that share their religious outlook. The Brotherhood has representatives in Antakya ready to meet interested rebels, fighters say.

Leftist politicians and other opponents of Islamists are trying to counter that influence by funding rival armed bands.

“These groups are all making their own militias, like they are some kind of warlords. This is dividing people,” said one activist who asked not to be named. “They aren’t thinking about military strategies, they are thinking about politics.”


With the U.N. peace plan for Syria on the ropes, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, regional rivals of Assad’s main ally Iran, are likely to increase calls for the insurgents to be armed…..
Several rebel groups have formally broken with the FSA to form outfits such as the Syrian Liberation Army, the Patriotic Army and The Alternative Movement, whose real identity and clout are hard to assess, because the government restricts media access to Syria.

The FSA has pledged to honor the shaky U.N.-backed truce that took effect on April 16 if the army reciprocates. But the Syrian Liberation Army says it will keep fighting.

“We don’t accept the ceasefire. We have slowed down a bit, only because we don’t have enough weapons,” its spokesman, Haitham Qudeimati, told Reuters.


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April 27th, 2012, 12:10 pm


98. daleandersen said:

Memo To: ZOO

RE: “…loosers…”

It’s “losers,” loser…

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April 27th, 2012, 12:25 pm


99. Tara said:


Let me take this a step further.  I think it is  the regime supporters that bear the responsibility of scorching the country. 

They saw no evil in this regime from the get go.  The supporters were happy with the status quo.  Their interests were fulfilled and saw no reason for change.  The revolution started peacefully and was  not good then.   It was delegitimized from day one.   Supporters were mere accomplices by parroting the regime’s narrative of the revolution being Harriri-Bandar-Zionist- imperialist-traitor conspiracy.   Did that materialize?  Was Bandar the provocateur?  Was it America?  Had America wanted to remove Bashar, Bashar would’ve been history by now.  The regime responded to the peaceful demonstrators with the unthinkable and the supporters cheered on.  They denied that the sky is blue and they denied the undeniable.  Massive discourse followed to deny the mayhem.  Books  written to convince us that Hamza al khateeb was a sexual predator, not a tortured child; and that “Mart amee” the  veiled Banias woman whose denture fell off after she was gunned down was a visual hallucination of our own production.  The regime and the supporters’ behavior literally forced the revolution into becoming armed.  This was inevitable and was also an ethical and moral responsibility for our men to defect, bear arms and protect us.

The regime supporters made a historical mistake.  Instead of denying us the legitimacy of our revolution from the first second and instead of spending all their time, effort, and energy to discredit the revolution; they should’ve extended us an arm, not a fist, not a hand, a full arm.  Our grievances should have been met with acknowledgement, sympathy, demand for accountability, and resolute determination to change the status quo.  This did not happened and we had no choice other than to defend our own existence.  Once people take up arms, consequences can’t be guaranteed.  We will never know for sure who is responsible for what.. And the country will be lost for some years to come.

The bottom line is supporters wanted us to keep suffering in silence and forever. They did not realize they are defying destiny.  It is the destiny of people to be liberated and so we will.  Their greed, selfishness  and disempathy  blinded their eyes from seeing the big picture.  They thought Bashar would win and they thought wrong.  It is their fault and their fault only.

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April 27th, 2012, 12:28 pm


100. Tara said:


Sorry but don’t you think that it is quite impressive for Zoo and some others to speak and write Arabic, English, and French, and may be some other languages too? I do.

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April 27th, 2012, 12:42 pm


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