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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301. Mina said:

OK let’s put it this way: Carvin probably knew for a while she was a hoax, since even the CNN interview was made by email, but he admitted it only after a lot of evidence was given by the Electronic Intifada.
Anyway, I doubted her all along, and I remember laughing at a Canadian “native speaker” who was posting here for believing in such writings.
And none of the media made some real search on MacMaster Iraqi connections.

What about the man buried alive, SOD? You posted this link from the 26 april, and then yesterday Tara came back with a 26 april article which attempts to validate the story. Why would people film that?

By the way, Liz’s mention “Carvin has been teweetering all day” came as an update to her post, which she had on the morning. Check the archive of the electronic intifada for all the details

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April 29th, 2012, 11:44 am


302. Son of Damascus said:


What Judith Miller did was and is criminal and she should be persecuted for it, not to mention her sordid actions in the Valerie Plume scandal.

You are correct to say that we should not believe any news blindly, but at the same time we should not deny the news blindly, or believe what we want to fit our personal narratives of what might be happening.

The overwhelming evidence is against the regime, when the Head of the UN accuses the regime of breaking the cease fire and the Annan 6 point plan (Which the regime has NOT implemented a single point as of yet!) the Syrian regime goes on the offensive calling Ban Ki Moon as a stooge of the west (again with the conspiracy theories from the regime, everything can be argued away with conspiracies…)

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April 29th, 2012, 11:56 am


303. Tara said:

Mina, dear

Your overall analyses and opinions are as good as your long held assumption that Tara was the GGID.

Sorry moderator, I follow a stict schedule. I like to get even on Sundays…

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April 29th, 2012, 11:57 am


304. Son of Damascus said:

“they are driving the car with one included headlight only ”

I much rather be driving a car with one headlight than a deer stuck staring at one…

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April 29th, 2012, 11:58 am


305. Son of Damascus said:


What about the man buried alive?

I posted the information that raised doubt on it, and tracked it to a pro regime site. As I mentioned to Tara it seems to be a hoax as a form of intimidation by either the regime or loyalists.

The electronic intifada posted a DAY after Andy Carvin BROKE the story. If people raised doubt good for them, Andy PROVED it.

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April 29th, 2012, 12:05 pm


306. Mina said:

So for you the “proof” is Carvin asking colleagues and people on Twitter if anyone had ever met or talked personaly with the fake Gay Girl, and not the thorough investigation of the Electronic Intifada, with the addresses and IP numbers? As someone mentioned in the comments to the EI article, the Wall Street Journal and the BBC had expressed doubts about it. But Twitter rules for some people…

Be it as it may, I think news about the man buried alive are more important than that. So your answer seems to be that there is no more on that in the last three days.

Maybe Jad will have something when he comes back inshallah.

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April 29th, 2012, 12:12 pm


307. Antoine said:


It seems roles are being reversed in Jordan. The indigenous Jordanians who traditinally been the supporters and pillars of hashemite monarchy, are getting disenchanted with the King, while many Palestinians ( especially middle and upper-middle class Palestinians) see the King as the new hope. Of course ordinary and poor Palestinains are still the main opposition to the Monarchy.

This is somehwat similar to what happened in Syria ( not quite) where through marriage and family ties the Sunni elites and private sector interests were able to enter into alliance with top Alawite echelons, leaving the Alawite corporals, sergeants and NCOs feeling let down and incrasingly distant from Bashar.

Another thing sbout Jordan is how the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists managed to displace the PLO /Nationalists as the main spokesman of the Palestinian community. Why do you think this happened Ghufran ?

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April 29th, 2012, 12:15 pm


308. Antoine said:

^^ MINA, you can also answer the question above, if you have knowledge about the subject.

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April 29th, 2012, 12:16 pm


309. Antoine said:

Another one for my friend Ghufran :

Since you are interested in Egypt, there are rumours that Egyptian military personell and their families are being pressured in various ways to vote for Ahmad Shafiq in the Presidential elections.

Do you think these rumours are credible ?

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April 29th, 2012, 12:19 pm


310. Son of Damascus said:


I am NOT denying the work of EI or anyone else, what I am saying is that the News outlets like NPR, BBC and other raised doubts over it as WELL with some even before the rest.

To say that they did not is just a fallacy, and wrong. They reported on her disappearance first because it is something that is not of the unusual of this criminal regime. I would like to remind you of the youngest prisoner of conscience that was arrested by the criminal regime for posting a poem about the plight of Palestinians in the name of Tal Malouhi.

What is important is that when doubt was raised these news outlets dug a little deeper and exposed the truth, unlike pro-regime media that even when it is caught with its pants down never even attempts a retraction.

(I keep saying her, when I mean him)

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April 29th, 2012, 12:22 pm


311. Mina said:

I’ll answer you what someone answered recently about this, and I shared this feeling in June when it happened:

“i had admittedly missed the entire GGID story. i’ve been paying attn to npr’s andy carvin’s “whirlwind tour of new libya”, the tone of which seems to stand in stark contrast to news of thousands disappeared, torture and the horrifying details involving hala misrati’s kidnapping by the NTC that are coming out right now. none of this is mention by carvin. he just released a looong story about GGID. i thought it was odd timing and a distraction from his libya series.

it was very long. most readers wouldn’t get to the part about the hoax and the title gives no indication that the story is about a hoax at all. it takes you a long time to get to the hoax confirmation. it ends with an exhortation to more firmly resolve to defend (by that, perhaps he means bomb) gay/lesbian activists who *are* real in syria.

well, come on. sherlock holmes over at npr goes through all this while other media is covering the intel community’s use of social media in these conflicts and he never once thinks to hypothesize that maybe it is a military psyop with obvious objectives?

then, i remembered that he had to mention that EI broke the hoax (he downplayed that, btw). i came here and immediately found this — a sensible article. i just figured i would ping you all with my observations.
Submitted on Wed, 02/22/2012 – 00:49

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April 29th, 2012, 12:33 pm


312. zoo said:

Who is Abdel Monein Abou Foutouh, the most probable new Egyptian President? Some notes about his views on Syria and the region

January 12 2012
SA and AA: What do you think about Egypt’s foreign policy towards the region, specifically Syria and the question of Palestine?

AMAF: No Egyptian foreign policy has yet been developed, so we cannot make an accurate reading yet. The current regime is transitional and it is on its way out. It doesn’t have a policy.

SA and AA: What is your reading of the US’ policy towards the Arab revolutions today?

AMAF: US policy has no importance in this regard. The Arab revolutions are popular revolutions. They have no foreign backing. They are based on the people’s support for them. They need to remain homegrown, patriotic revolutions that depend on the people and not on any foreign backing. Foreign support would do the revolutions harm.

Full interview
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Finally, if you are to direct a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, what would you tell him? In your opinion, to what extent has the Arab League succeeded in managing the Syrian crisis?

[Abu al-Futuh] The Arab League has not succeeded as usual because it is a weak league that represents governments that are weak overall. Consequently it was natural that it should not succeed. Bashar al-Assad will not stop spilling the blood of the Syrians. He has to depart and leave the Syrian people to elect the Syrian regime that represents them.
Prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has reiterated support for senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futuh’s bid to run for Egypt’s presidency.

“I will vote for Abul-Futuh,” Qaradawi, the president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), has told the Qatari newspaper Al-Arab.

Camp David pact to be reviewed: Futuh
January 16, 2012
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Egyptian presidential candidate and former senior Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel-Moneim Abul Futuh said Sunday Egypt’s parliament would review Camp David Accords along with all international treaties, and that if elected he would not seek to impose Islamic law in the country.

Read more:

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April 29th, 2012, 12:34 pm


313. Alan said:

Russia backs delivering decisive rebuff to terrorists in Syria
News | 29.04.2012 | 06:06

Russia has said that it supports delivering a “decisive rebuff” to Syrian “terrorists” after a fresh explosion in the capital Damascus.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that “we are convinced that the terrorists operating in Syria need a decisive rebuff.”

“All domestic and outside players need to prevent any support” from reaching the armed gangs, it added.

[ … ]

Since the beginning of unrest in Syria last year, scores of people, mostly security forces, have been killed in terrorist bomb attacks.

[ Press TV ]

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April 29th, 2012, 12:35 pm


314. Son of Damascus said:


Not sure what that answers, but OK.

“Be it as it may, I think news about the man buried alive are more important than that. So your answer seems to be that there is no more on that in the last three days”

What am I supposed to do? Go ask the people that filmed it why they did it?

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April 29th, 2012, 12:37 pm


315. Norman said:

Russia is going to have a problem in the next 2 weeks, if it continues it’s stand on Syria it might find itself overtaken by the US and the West if they take action unilaterally,and Russia did nothing, and if it falter and goes along it will have no friends as other countries will not trust Russia to stand by them, so most if not all countries will look at the US and the West as the only leaders that they have to follow,

The next 2 to 4 weeks are going to be decisive, probably,

i wonder where Russia is going to be,

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April 29th, 2012, 12:59 pm


316. Antoine said:

And lastly, for my friend MINA,

A collection of today’s videos from my favorite city, Deir Ezzor –

This one should be very interesting for you , do you think all those girls are protesting so they can go back to the kitchen ?

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April 29th, 2012, 1:15 pm


317. Ghufran said:

The rise of political Islam is due to the failure of existing regimes,it is a stage Arabs probably have to go to before they find middle grounds. The slogans of albaath, the PLO, jamahiriyya-Libya, etc, became empty when people found about corruption and suffered from oppression. Most of the “isms” are covers for dictatorships in one way or the other, a plural society needs an accountable government and a functioning judicial system, the rest is details.

As for Alawites in Syria, hundred of thousands were lifted from extreme poverty to a more manageable level of economic hardship until the late 90s, most alawites today are as poor and oppressed as everybody else but they are not given an alternative bus to ride if the one they use today is put OOS.

Replacing this regime with a mulla-type non forgiving government is not a solution, it is a problem on its own, there is no future for Syria without the inclusion of its various sects and ethnic groups in government affairs and economic development.

BTW, what is “نزام” ?

Is that part of a new language previously thought to be limited to ‘smooth” boys?

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April 29th, 2012, 1:35 pm


318. Son of Damascus said:


Alors que les observateurs des Nations unies essaient, non sans difficultés, de remplir leur mission, Reporters sans frontières souhaite attirer l’attention sur les nombreuses violations de la liberté d’informer que perpétue le régime de Bachar Al-Assad, notamment en emprisonnant ceux qui ont le courage de nous renseigner sur la situation en Syrie.

“L’organisation appelle à la libération immédiate de tous les professionnels de l’information, citoyens-journalistes et net-citoyens emprisonnés par le régime. Les autorités syriennes se sont engagées à mettre en œuvre le plan de Kofi Annan, qui prévoit notamment la libération de tous les prisonniers d’opinion. Il est grand temps qu’elles remplissent leurs engagements”, a declaré Reporters sans frontières.

L’organisation est particulièrement inquiète du sort de Yara Michel Shammas, 21 ans, arrétée avec onze autres jeunes activistes, le 7 mars 2012 dans un café de la vieille ville de Damas, par les forces de sécurité syriennes. Elle a été transférée dans une prison à Homs et, le 22 avril 2012, neuf chefs d’accusation ont été présentés contre elle, dont un pour lequel elle risquerait la peine de mort, en vertu de l’article 298 du code pénal.


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April 29th, 2012, 1:57 pm


319. Antoine said:


You did not answer the main question :

Why MB has become main spokeman of Palestinians’ interests in Jordan ?

Why PLO is no longer popular among Palestinains in Jordan ?

Amd this one I am asking you personally, do you think the indigenous Jordanians / tribal leaders will be even more offended after the King tried to blame and insult a respected man like Awn al Khasawneh ?

Don’t you think there is a popular perception among indigenous Jordanians that the King has become a slave to the private sector Palestinian business interests mainly through his wife and the former PM Samir al Rifai ?

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April 29th, 2012, 2:23 pm


320. Mina said:

Antoine #315

Do you think women who were protesting in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, want to stay in the kitchen? In Deir al Zur, Kurds have a better way towards women. While in other parts of the country, with Shafi’i fiqh, you will have a hard time to change it…

With unemployment and economic crisis, always expect women to be the easiest scapegoats.

Have you been watching the debates at the Egyptian parliament lately? and what is your take on the trial to this TV director who dared screening Persepolis in Tunis? Does it announce anything positive as to women rights?

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April 29th, 2012, 2:46 pm


321. Antoine said:

“? and what is your take on the trial to this TV director who dared screening Persepolis in Tunis? Does it announce anything positive as to women rights?”

I think the director would have been in trouble even if Ben Ali had been in power.

Btw do you know anything about the internal social dynamics of Jordan ? Its almost like Syria though its a 95 % Sunni country, there is actually acute racial hatred among indigenous Jordanians directed at the Palestinian refugees.

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April 29th, 2012, 3:05 pm


322. Alan said:

314. NORMAN said:
(Russia is going to have a problem in the next 2 weeks, if it continues it’s stand on Syria it might find itself overtaken by the US and the West if they take action unilaterally,and Russia did nothing, and if it falter and goes along it will have no friends as other countries will not trust Russia to stand by them, so most if not all countries will look at the US and the West as the only leaders that they have to follow,)

you needed to use 4 times a word (if) it approves yours not sure assumptions! if US and the West in a good form why more than a year scratch the head and do magic receptions for destruction of Syria and absurdly wait the drama! excuse it climax signs!

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April 29th, 2012, 3:35 pm


323. bronco said:

314. Norman

Contrary to you, I would not be surprised that in the medium and long term, relation between Russsia and the Arab countries will become closer as gradually the new Arab republics prefer to balance the influence of the West with the one of the East.

As for Syria, Russia and China have reiterated forcefully again their support for the peace plan in Syria and criticized the biased and partial stand of the western countries toward Bashar al Assad. Their position has not changed despite the affirmation of Alain Juppe and others and I doubt it will soon.

Remember that most Arab countries are suspicious of the US plans in the region where the priority is to secure the oil and protect Israel. Russia does not have such plan, as it doesn’t need oil and it has always supported the Palestinians in their struggle.

The new Arab republic will look more toward China and Russia for trading, buying weapons and friendship.

US’s influence in the region is weakening by the day and its only allies left are the undemocratic monarchies regimes that only survive because of their small population, their oil and their money. It is obvious that these too would not last much longer and the US will left with one ally: Israel.

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April 29th, 2012, 3:36 pm


324. zoo said:

A wide range of scenarios?
‘Failing’ Syria Peace Plan Raises Question of What’s Next
By Nayla Razzouk and Nicole Gaouette – Apr 29, 2012 11:44 AM ET

Pentagon officials are drawing up plans in the event that President Barack Obama decides to pursue military options in Syria, Kathleen Hicks, an administration nominee to the Defense Department’s policy staff, told the Senate Committee on Armed Services April 26.

‘Significant Planning’

“We are doing a significant amount of planning for a wide range of scenarios, including our ability to assist allies and partners along the borders,” said Hicks, the nominee to be principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy.

The U.S., Turkey and other allies have discussed creating a civilian aid corridor along the Turkish border with Syria as one option if the fighting continues.

The head of the UN monitoring force arrived in Damascus today, Al Arabiya reported without saying how it got the information. An advance team of 15 UN observers has reported heavy weapons in populated areas in violation of the UN agreement, Ban said.

Nuland estimated that it may take another three to four weeks to deploy the first 100 of the anticipated 300 monitors.

The head of the Arab League, Nabil el-Arabi, said Arab foreign ministers have asked him to convene a meeting of all the Syrian opposition factions on May 16, according to the Al Jazeera television channel.

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April 29th, 2012, 3:58 pm


325. Tara said:


Don’t you think that Russia miscalculated it’s strategy. Bashar is not going to stay forever. Sooner or later, Syria will be a free country. Russia’s illogical unwavering support of Bashar and its failure to envision the future would definitely affect it’s relationship with the free Syria. It would be only smart for them to reconsider their position.

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April 29th, 2012, 4:17 pm


326. Ghufran said:

Lebanon and Jordan are incidental countries created by the West for a clear purpose and they do not have the structure or resources to form independent self-reliant states.

Many in Lebanon knew this and looked to Israel (tried and failed) or Syria for closer ties or pushed soecial relations with Mother France for “cultural support”, I vividly remember Sulaiman Franjieh, SR broken Arabic and his preference for using French inside his house. Lebanon now have two more competing countries, KSA and IRI, that are added to the list, thanks to HA and the Harirites.

Rich urbanites in Jordan are behind the king, but that class is shrinking, most rural and poor Jordanians support Islamist movements, especially the MB, tribal support for the royal family is alive but is weakened.

The Palestinians never liked the royal family but some who got rich decided to have a marriage of convenience with it for economic reasons, add the Israeli factor and you now have all the ingredients for a major storm.

In summary, Jordan is boiling, and Lebanon was never off the stove, and the GCC may not be strong enough to help either. Syria, on the other hand, is a much bigger fish to fry, but Syria’s neighbors are still trying to “chef ” it around. Welcome to the Middle East, dividing that area into a dozen states was done for a clear and vicious reason, I hope nobody is still wondering why Islamist movements are getting stronger today.

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April 29th, 2012, 4:52 pm


327. bronco said:

#325 Tara

I don’t think Russia is playing such a hard diplomatic game with high risks if they did not have a clear picture of their future role in the Middle East in view of the weakening influence of the USA in the region and its narrow involvement in preserving its two assets: Oil and Israel.

Russia looks at a renewal of its role after having been kicked out with the fall of the Soviet Union.
Syria is heavily dependent on Russia’s weapons and industries. It cannot just switch to new suppliers and unless it throws itself, like Sadat did, in the hands of the USA by signing a peace deal with Israel, it will continue to need Russia and China for their weapons and for their economical development.

I doubt Syrians, under any regime, will accept to capitulate and sign a peace treaty with Israel to get military and economic support from the West (as Egypt did), that is a red line that no Syrian government would easily cross.

Therefore whatever happens, Syria will prefer to stick with Russia that does not make conditions for supplying it with weapons and industrial investments. Moreover Russia has always followed the policy of not interfering in a country internal affairs contrary to the USA who have always done it with negative results in the region as it watches Israel’s and the oil security.

I think Russia is in a win-win situation in Syria, while the hesitations of the USA qualify it clearly as an opportunistic and unreliable long term partner.

We will see how the new Arab Republics will deal with the USA, now that they got rid of their leaders who were USA’s best allies.

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April 29th, 2012, 5:28 pm


328. Son of Damascus said:


Thanks for sharing بالغار كللت- سعيد عقل.

His words in the voice of Fairuz:

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April 29th, 2012, 5:43 pm


329. Tara said:

Bronco@ 5:28 pm

That was pretty good.

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April 29th, 2012, 6:21 pm


330. Uzair8 said:

Apparantly the recent friday was called “The command of Allah is coming, so be not impatient for it.”

The following is a video (about a minute long) from a mosque in the heart of Damascus (fri 27/4/2012).

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April 29th, 2012, 7:09 pm


331. ann said:

Hide-and-ship: Did the US know Libyan weapons were en route to Syrian rebels? – 30 April, 2012

The US and NATO have some questions to answer about the massive weapons cargo seized by Lebanese intelligence officials, Franklin Lamb tells RT. He says they surely knew the shipment was on its way to Syrian rebels, but still turned a blind eye.

­The Sierra Leone-registered ship Lutfallah II, carrying three containers filled with heavy machine guns, shells, rockets, rocket launchers and other explosives has been intercepted over allegations that the arms were intended for Syrian rebel consumption. Some of the arms seized were labeled as Libyan.

Franklin Lamb, director of the NGO Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, argues the nearly-successful delivery could hardly have come as a surprise to the US and NATO.

There is an eyewitness, Hassan Diab, who saw the ship Lutfallah II, carrying a Sierra Leone flag, being loaded in Benghazi, Libya. We know that Qatar and Saudi Arabia control five warehouses in the area of Benghazi. So the great suspicion is that the intercepted arms are from those left over from the Libya campaign.

The craft was loaded with three containers filled with 150 tons of weapons, though apparently the initial plan was to send as many as 15 containers.

The boat went from Tripoli to Turkey, back down to Egypt and then to Libya, then to Tripoli, Lebanon. It was seized on the way there.

What is remarkable about that adventure is that the Americans almost surely knew about it. NATO did. The Israelis did not touch the ship this time. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) did not stop this ship.

It seems very clear that with all the differences (and we could name twenty or more) between the situation in Libya and the situation in Syria, the fundamental pillar – a regime change – is identical. This ship clearly headed to the so-called “Free” Syrian Army as other shipments have come from Lebanon into Syria. So, if anyone has to answer for the incident now, it is Washington and certainly Brussels with NATO. They have to say what they know about the ship.


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April 29th, 2012, 7:45 pm


332. Tara said:

Syrian President Assad could be tried for war crimes, says ex-peace
Saturday 28 April 2012 07.26 EDT

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could be tried for war crimes, says former Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell. Photograph: Sana/EPA
The former US Middle East peace envoy, George Mitchell, has said that the Syrian president, Bashir al-Assad, could be tried as an alleged war criminal over the brutal crackdown on opponents of his rule.

Mitchell, who was the US special envoy for Middle East peace until last May, said Assad could be tried for war crimes in the same way as Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia who was this week found to have “aided and abetted” war crimes by a UN-backed tribunal in The Hague

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April 29th, 2012, 7:54 pm


333. omen said:

bashar loyalists faulted islamist moroccan culture for the suicide of girl raped…but what is this?

The Committee on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, seen here, has expressed concern about Syria’s penal code, which exempts rapists from punishment if they marry their victims.

(CEDAW) in 2007 raised concerns that Article 508 of the penal code exempts rapists from punishment if they marry their victims, and that there is no specific legislation to criminalize violence against women in Syria, including domestic violence.

tell me again about the virtues of secularism.

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April 29th, 2012, 8:00 pm


334. Tara said:

Half truths and repression: the tools of Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime

Journalists allowed into Syria on a handful of official visas are told they can go anywhere, but are stopped when they do so. They are told it is “too dangerous” as “there is shooting everywhere”, and then denounced for their “lies” for having portrayed the city as mired in violence.

Such official statements are, though, not the brazen fantasies of Libya’s Gaddafi regime. Lies and terror are tools of bad dictatorships. Those that perform more successfully, as the Assad regime does in its capital at least, prefer half-truths and a repression that hovers between the omnipresent and the invisible.

There is much that is normal in Damascus, but the normal seems deliberately designed to keep people in a state of nervous confusion as to what is really happening.

The Midan bomber struck as worshippers came out of Friday prayers at the Zain al-Abideen Mosque. Reports described body parts and blood stains, and nine people, including five riot police, three civilians and one regular lieutenant were said to have been killed.

That there was an explosion is beyond doubt – it was captured on Syrian state television, whose cameras, by coincidence apparently, happened to be on the scene at the time.

Across Midan, there is a contrast between the rebellion on clear display and what people are prepared to say. The graffiti says “Assad out” and “Homs the brave”. But Mohammed al-Halabi, a local barber, cautiously says the opposition is “exaggerated by Al-Jazeera”.

The regime does not need to have an overt presence to enforce such loyalty, as Colonel Gaddafi did. At night, according to another shop-keeper, the army come with threats, shooting out one man’s air conditioning, firing into the threshold of another shop.

But nor need it be too concealed….

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April 29th, 2012, 8:18 pm


335. jna said:

Tara, perhaps George Mitchell is stretching the comparison between Bashar Assad and Charles Taylor. Taylor, former Liberian President, was convicted on the evidence that he “aided and abetted severe human rights abuses carried out by rebels during Sierra Leone’s civil war.” The rebel crimes included “murder, rape, sexual slavery, recruitment of child soldiers, and enslavement.”

“Prosecutors had said Taylor masterminded Sierra Leone’s civil war in the 1990s, arming and assisting Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front rebels in exchange for “blood diamonds,” mined in eastern Sierra Leone.”

“The court found Taylor did not have command and control of the rebels but was aware of their activities and provided them with weapons and other supplies.”

Who is supplying the Syrian rebels who have committed many, many crimes?


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April 29th, 2012, 9:10 pm


336. zoo said:

Al Qaeda behind the Midan suicide bomber?
An Islamist group calling itself Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the attack, the SITE Monitoring Service said on Sunday. The group said the bomber, whom it named as Abu Omar al-Shami, had targeted the security forces.

The US-based SITE, which tracks jihadi websites, said the group posted its claim on the Shumukh al-Islam site which is generally used by Al-Qaeda.

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April 29th, 2012, 9:20 pm


337. Norman said:

Bronco, Alan,

The US and the West did not need UN vote to invade Iraq or attack Serbia and they do not need that to attack Syria, the only question that i have for both of you, do you think that Russia will shout and yell but do nothing to help Syria directly and if Russia does nothing would anybody trust Russia again.

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April 29th, 2012, 9:24 pm


338. Tara said:


When Batta is tried at the ICC and his crimes are exposed, will all find out who is more evil.  For Tara meanwhile, I thinkمن قتل نفساً بغير حق فكأنما قتل الناس جميعاً.  Killing one unjustly is equal to killing the whole humanity.    

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April 29th, 2012, 9:37 pm


339. bronco said:

#337 Norman

The West is not ready for another military adventure that may turn to be a quagmire and would trigger Iran’s direct or indirect intervention and a danger to Syria’ neighbors, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.
The USA is in an election year, it would be the worse time to do such foolish action. The whole Europe is in a deep economical crisis and would not embark in military expenses that Syria, contrary to Libya, would never be able to pay back.
Russia will not tolerate any unilateral action from western countries and will threaten to help militarily Syria.
These are only a few reasons why the West would not invade Syria this year.

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April 29th, 2012, 9:38 pm


340. Tara said:

While Asma was shopping for shoes:

‘I was prepared to lose someone in my family, but not all of them’
Inside, 38-year-old Hasna brushes off her injuries. “I’ve lost my legs but it doesn’t bother me; it’s the other things I’ve lost that mean more.”

She describes how she and her family fled their village in provincial Homs when they heard the Syrian army was about to launch an offensive. They were returning home several days later when a tank shell hit their motorbike.

“My husband was driving, our three-year-old son between his legs and me on the back holding our one-year-old daughter,” she says. “There was flying metal and dust and I saw my baby daughter’s head opened up in front of my eyes. I felt her last heart beat. I won’t forget that moment for as long as I live.”

Her son had his leg blown off and also died at the scene, while her husband succumbed to his injuries during the journey to Lebanon. “I had prepared to lose someone in my family in the revolution – you steel yourself for it. But I had not prepared to lose them all,” she says.

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April 29th, 2012, 9:39 pm


341. Ghufran said:

We have heard the call to topple the regime a zillion times but I am still waiting for a reasonable political plan that allows the inclusion of millions of Syrians who may not share the SNC or the Islamist vision for the immediate and long future. Without such a plan we will still be talking about David and Goliath without any progress except producing more death and deepening the division among Syrians. The lack of a serious political dialogue backed by punitive measures in the case of incompliance is not just wrong ,it is criminal and it can only benefit hawks and thugs from all sides.
Those who think that dialogue can take place while guns are talking are not sincere in their calls for reaching a political compromise. Every bullet that gets fired at any unarmed Syrian or an ordinary servant of the state is a shot aimed at killing that dialogue.
At this rate,the summer this year may be as bad as last year,too bad for Syrians who were dreaming of a Syrian vacation this summer or at least a quiet summer for their loved ones back home.

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April 29th, 2012, 9:41 pm


342. omen said:

327. bronco said: Moreover Russia has always followed the policy of not interfering in a country internal affairs contrary to the USA

afghanistan? bosnia? georgia? ukraine? chechnya? SYRIA? hello!

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April 29th, 2012, 9:42 pm


343. zoo said:

Russia, China agree on Syria, North Korea: Chinese minister
ReutersReuters – Sat, Apr 28, 2012
MOSCOW (Reuters) – China and Russia agree entirely with each other’s positions on the crisis in Syria and on North Korea’s nuclear program, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said on Saturday in Moscow.

“The sides hold 100 percent coinciding positions on the issues of North Korea and Syria,” Cheng, who was accompanying Vice Premier Li Keqiang on a visit to Russia, told reporters through an interpreter.

Russia and China have protected Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by blocking two U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning a government crackdown in which the United Nations says 9,000 people have been killed since March 2011.

While publicly opposing foreign interference and particularly military intervention in Syria, they have both backed U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan in Security Council votes and urged the government and rebels to adhere to a ceasefire.

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April 29th, 2012, 9:43 pm


344. omen said:

bashar bullied as a child. is this common knowledge? maybe tara is right and lil asma wears the pants in the family:

Two former regime insiders — now its opponents — recalled their time with the younger al-Assad. Former vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam said Bashar was often the victim of his elder brother’s cruelty. “His brother Basil bullied him as a child. His father never gave him as much attention as Basil,” Khaddam said.

Al-Assad’s uncle Rifaat, who left Syria in 1984 after being involved in a failed coup, also recalled the future president.

“He is very different than his father. Hafez was a leader, the head of the entire regime, while Bashar was never that close to being one and never fell within that framework. He is being perceived as the leader but he follows what the regime decides on his behalf.

but then the article contradicts this notion of bashar as merely a figure head by pointing out:

Despite the brutal crackdown over the last year in Syria, in which thousands have died, al-Assad maintains he is not in charge of Syria’s military. He told ABC’s Barbara Walters: “They are not my forces. They are forces for the government. I don’t own them. I’m president. I don’t own the country. So they are not my forces.”

Wouldn’t al-Assad, the commander in chief, have had to give the order for any military actions? “No, no no,” he said.

Not by your command? “No,” he said, “on no one’s command. There was no command to kill or to be brutal.”

Al-Assad said those members of the armed forces who “went too far” had been disciplined.

But former vice-president Khaddam is in no doubt who does give the orders to kill: “Bashar Al-Assad and no one else. He gives out orders to use all means of force to crush the revolution. He is surrounded by close aides and a security apparatus that advise him, but he decides.”

what does this mean? that other regime members run (and loot) the country but they make sure it’s bashar who gets held responsible for the war crimes?

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April 29th, 2012, 10:01 pm


345. Ghufran said:

NCB is afraid of joining a tamed opposition coalition that does not enjoy wide support among Syrians, however, having a non Baathist opposition body is a step in the right direction if its members do not follow orders from a regime that have in the past only tolerated packaged “opposition”.

Qadri Jamil is a well spoken figure who has Russia’s support, he in a democratic system will always have a role to play in Syrian politics, his opponents insist that he is a regime supporter in disguise.

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April 29th, 2012, 10:29 pm


346. Norman said:


the GCC will pay the bill.

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April 29th, 2012, 10:30 pm


347. Tara said:


He is “a figure head” because he is easily manipulated. You convince him with one thing in the morning then someone else convinces him with completely the opposite in the evening. The final decisions to kill and mayhem though have to come from him.

Just for intellectuals honesty, when I discussed Asma’s relation with Bashar, I don’t have inside information. I was quoting what is written about them. Bashar dose strike me though weak, unintelligent, and inconfident. Not my kind of a man.. A person like this can be easily manipulated that the decisions he makes are his own ideas when they are really what his entourage/ advisers implant in his mind.

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April 29th, 2012, 10:36 pm


348. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

The benevolent dictator

Shoukran shoukran shoukran lak ya Bashar our soul our blood our eyes thank you for giving us this jasmine garden what will we do without you and without our beloved queen. We are lost without you. Really. Please stay.

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April 30th, 2012, 12:43 am


349. Syrialover said:

Assad’s best buddy – a vicious moron also busy destroying his own country. Incredible! Iran had the chance to become a rich, advanced and influential-by-respect nation with its big oil assets and human resources. Do we smell a coup coming on?

Subsidy Dispute Adds To Iran’s Woes (Financial Times, April 25, 2012)

A subsidy reform battle in Iran shows that the government of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the president, is being squeezed by domestic challenges while international powers place unprecedented pressure on the country.

Tehran shocked politicians and economists last month by announcing that, despite rapid consumer price inflation, it would increase monthly cash payments to citizens that were introduced as compensation for subsidy cuts.

The country’s parliament has tried to prevent the inflationary move as Iranians struggle with skyrocketing prices, particularly for food. Domestic producers are being hit by rising bills for unsubsidised energy, without receiving any extra government support.

In an effort to reduce wasteful consumption and save state money, Iran’s government announced in December 2010 a plan to cut about $100bn in subsidies on energy and other basic commodities.
To compensate for rising prices and counter the risk of social unrest, parliament obliged the government to give half the anticipated income from subsidy cuts back to the poor in the form of monthly cash payments. The rest of the income was to be used to support domestic producers.

Instead, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad chose to pay 455,000 Iranian rials ($37) every month – almost double the figure approved by parliament – to most citizens, including children. The commitment to support domestic producers was dropped entirely.

When the government said last month it was going to increase the compensation payments nearly 40 per cent, Ali Larijani, parliament’s speaker, was quick to write to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, urging him to intervene and block the rise.

Ahmad Tavakkoli, a parliamentarian, accused the government on Sunday of “violating the law” and “mis-implementing” the plan because it earned 290,000bn rials ($23.6bn) from the cut in subsidies in the first 14 months of its implementation but paid people $36.7bn of compensation in return.

Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moqaddam, another MP, alleged last month that the government had forced the central bank to use $7.3bn of consumer bank deposits to make the monthly cash payments. “This is unprecedented in the world for the central bank to withdraw people’s money overnight,” he said.

The storm over subsidy policy is a new domestic problem for the Islamic regime, as it faces unprecedented international pressure over its nuclear programme and increasingly open threats of a foreign military attack.

Political analysts accuse Mr Ahmadi-Nejad of caring more about his political base among the poor, who have so far benefited from the monthly payments and remain grateful to the populist president, than he does about Iran’s economic health.
The latest official data comparing prices of foodstuffs in the second week of April to the corresponding period last year showed dairy products rose about 42 per cent, red meat 47.5 per cent, rice about 29 per cent, beans 45.7 per cent, vegetables 92 per cent, sugar 33 per cent and vegetable oil 30 per cent.

Ahmad Karimi-Isfahani, secretary of the Society of Bazaar Associations, told the semi-official ILNA news agency: “It had never happened before that the prices of basic commodities rise by about 50 per cent over one year.”

The employment crisis was highlighted by another recent central bank report which said that in 22.5 per cent of Iranian families, all family members were unemployed.

Hossein Raghfar, an economist, said: “This figure means about a quarter of the population are probably suffering from severe poverty.” A rise in monthly cash payments to people, he added, would triple inflation and “destroy” many domestic industries.

Iranians, like Syrians, now have nothing to lose and everything to gain by fighting to get rid of someone who is happy to trash the country to keep his claws sunk into illegitimate power.

(reposted from last thread)

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April 30th, 2012, 1:09 am


350. omen said:

sorry about that, moderator. fixed:

@rallaf: Is there any place left in Syria jails & intelligence buildings for so many arrests? What has become of all our disappeared people?

@rana: There IS no place left in Assad jails so sports stadiums are being used instead – including Abbasiyyeen stadium in Damascus

shades of pinochet. and yet this holds out some measure of hope. people are fearing most of the disappeared have been slain.

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April 30th, 2012, 1:14 am


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