Human Rights Watch “A Wasted Decade”

The Human Rights Watch report, “A Wasted Decade: Human Rights in Syria during Bashar al-Asad’s First Ten Years in Power.”
Syria’s Decade of Repression
By: Nadim Houry | The Guardian

What is clear from a review of Assad’s decade in power is that he has no true commitment to broadening public freedoms for Syria’s citizens, perhaps the most repressed in the entire Arab world. What initiatives he has taken have been limited at best; he removed a ban on independent publications, but the only two private newspapers allowed to cover political topics are owned by businessmen closely tied to his government.

On the surface, Syria is a less menacing place than it was in the 1980s. Visitors to Damascus – one of this year’s hot travel destinations – are likely to stay in smart boutique hotels and dine in new restaurants. But scratch the surface, something few foreigners do, and the reality is as bleak as ever. As a prominent dissident told me recently: “In the 1980s, we went to jail without trial. Now, we get a trial, but we still go to jail.”

Noam Sheizaf “Endgame,” Haaretz, 15 July 2010.

It’s an idea for solving the conflict that sounds like a vision of the end of days: Grant Israeli citizenship and equal rights to all the Palestinians in the West Bank. And who is proposing the one-state solution? Right-wingers and settlers…. Geneva Initiative’s Gadi Baltiansky – “The solution for the coming decades is the present status quo, with improvements of one kind or another.”

TABLET Magazine taken from Haaretz and via FLC

“… Netanyahu is speaking to a small group in the West Bank settlement of Ofra two years after stepping down as prime minister in 1999…..

“I know what America is,” Netanyahu replied. “America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in their way.” He then called former president Bill Clinton “radically pro-Palestinian,” and went on to belittle the Oslo peace accords as vulnerable to manipulation. Since the accords state that Israel would be allowed to hang on to pre-defined military zones in the West Bank, Netanyahu told his hosts that he could torpedo the accords by defining vast swaths of land as just that.

“They asked me before the election if I’d honor [the Oslo accords],” Netanyahu said. “I said I would, but … I’m going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the ’67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I’m concerned, the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue.”

Smiling, Netanyahu then recalled how he forced former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher to agree to let Israel alone determine which parts of the West Bank were to be defined as military zones. “They didn’t want to give me that letter,” Netanyahu said, “so I didn’t give them the Hebron agreement [the agreement giving Hebron back to the Palestinians]. I cut the cabinet meeting short and said, ‘I’m not signing.’ Only when the letter came, during that meeting, to me and to Arafat, did I ratify the Hebron agreement. Why is this important? Because from that moment on, I de facto put an end to the Oslo accords.”

U.S.-Israeli security ties grow amid diplomatic disputes
By Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post

This week, Israel successfully conducted a test of a new mobile missile-defense system designed to shield Israeli towns from small rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. When the “Iron Dome” system is fully deployed in the next year, about half the cost — $205 million — will be borne by U.S…

Syrian Envoy, Code Pink Take Jabs at Obama’s Israel Policy
By Jay Solomon

The State Department’s pointman on military affairs got a one-two-punch Friday, as the Obama administration seeks to mend a diplomatic rift with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The pugilists: Syria’s ambassador to the U.S., Imad Moustapha, and the left-wing activist group, Code Pink.

Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of State for political and military affairs, gave an expansive speech at the Brookings Institution Friday morning that highlighted the deepening military ties between the Obama administration and Netanyahu’s government.

“Israel is a vital ally and a cornerstone of our regional security commitments,” Shapiro said. He outlined how the Obama administration has approved more security-assistance to Israel — $2.8 billion for the current year and $3 billion for 2011 -– than any other American administration.

Shapiro’s words marked a sharp break from earlier comments by Obama administration officials that American soldiers in the Middle East were being targeted, in part, because of the failure to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. The comments have fueled a debate inside Washington in recent months over whether Israel is a strategic asset or liability for the U.S.

Shapiro sought to use his appearance to silence the debate. “We believe that…there are real strategic benefits to that relationship,” he said.

Still, critics of Israel emerged quickly to challenge what’s seen by some in the diplomatic community as a significant softening by the White House towards Israel in recent weeks. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama and Netanyahu met at the White House, shaking hands and smiling during a photo op and emphasizing the close ties between their countries.

Moustapha, Damascus’s long-serving envoy to Washington, challenged Shapiro on why the Obama administration remains quiet on Israel’s assumed nuclear-weapons capability. “I’m always puzzled, why is it that whenever an American official will discuss the Israeli military prowess and the cutting edge of warfare technology that Israel possesses, they will always, always never, never discuss the Israeli nuclear arsenal that actually exists?” Moustapha said.

Shapiro ducked the question with a joke: “I’m not going to be the first U.S. official to discuss, you know, Israeli nuclear” capabilities, he said.

An activist from Code Pink later pushed Shapiro on why the Obama administration refuses to hold discussions with the militant Palestinian group, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Again, Shapiro ducked directly answering the question.

“As I mentioned before, from the very beginning — from the very first days of the administration, has been committed to a peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians which will lead to a two-state solution,” Shapiro said.

Sec. of State Clinton’s remarks At a Reception Hosted for the Jewish Community and Hannah Rosenthal, the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism

President Obama and I are determined to curb anti-Semitism and to work to prevent the isolation of Israel internationally. So we are sending Hannah all over the world. (Laughter.)

Syria PM says peace out of reach due to Israel stubbornness, violations
20:17, July 15, 2010

Syrian Prime Minister Muhammad Naji Otri on Thursday voiced pessimism over chances of achieving peace in the Middle East, saying peace became out of reach due to Israel’s stubbornness and violation of the international laws and charters.

Otri’ statements came during a speech to the 57th International Damascus Fair, which kicked off in the Syrian capital on Wednesday. The Syrian premier also slammed Israeli policies that included confiscating Palestinian lands, building settlements, imposing a siege on the Palestinians and attacking the international pro- Palestinians activists.

“Peace is a process based on the presence of two partners. It cannot be achieved by one side,” Otri said.

He also stressed that the economic blockade policy adopted against some counties has been futile and must be lifted due to its negative effects on these states’ peoples.

On Monday, Israel approved building new settlement in East Jerusalem, which outraged the Palestinians who want the city to be the capital of their future independent state.

The United States will continue to maintain Israel’s military advantage as well as protect it in the diplomatic arena, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Wednesday, adding that the American commitment to Israel’s security was “not negotiable.”

U.S. UN envoy Susan Rice

Susan Rice Speaking during a reception for Israeli Ambassadors Gabriela Shalev and Daniel Carmon, held by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York, Rice said the “United States of America remains fully and firmly committed to the peace and security of the State of Israel.”

“That commitment spans generations and political parties. It is not negotiable, and it never will be,” Rice added, saying the United States would “continue to strengthen Israel’s qualitative military advantage so that Israel can always defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.”…

“But Gabi and I had the opportunity to work closely together on a series of important issues, from dealing with the deeply flawed Goldstone Report to seeing through the passage by the Security Council of the toughest sanctions resolution to date against Iran,” Rice said,…


New CFR Contingency Planning Memorandum Looks at “A Third Lebanon War
” It discusses the most plausible scenarios for a renewed Israel-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon amidst rising tensions. By Daniel C. Kurtzer

Aleppo Soap Factory
Read the story in Aramco World

Syrian Police have been Told to Crack Down of Litterers


A Glittering Crossroads
2010-07-16, WSJ

By CHRISTIAN C. SAHNER Damascus, Syria It’s Friday and the weekly congregational prayer has just ended at the Umayyad Mosque, Syria’s most famous monument. As the faithful exit, they walk past an unassuming bit of masonry on the mosque’s southern … Syria is no ecumenical paradise, but it has a long legacy of religious diversity, which continues to this day. Christians still constitute at least 10% of the population, and President Bashar al-Assad and many government leaders are Alawis, a historically marginal sect of Shiite Islam.

Syrian Envoy, Code Pink Take Jabs at Obama’s Israel Policy

The State Department’s pointman on military affairs got a one-two-punch Friday, as the Obama administration seeks to mend a diplomatic rift with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The pugilists: Syria’s ambassador to the U.S., Imad Moustapha, and the left-wing activist group, Code Pink.

Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of State for political and military affairs, gave an expansive speech at the Brookings Institution Friday morning that highlighted the deepening military ties between the Obama administration and Netanyahu’s government.

“Israel is a vital ally and a cornerstone of our regional security commitments,” Shapiro said. He outlined how the Obama administration has approved more security-assistance to Israel — $2.8 billion for the current year and $3 billion for 2011 -– than any other American administration.

Shapiro’s words marked a sharp break from earlier comments by Obama administration officials that American soldiers in the Middle East were being targeted, in part, because of the failure to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. The comments have fueled a debate inside Washington in recent months over whether Israel is a strategic asset or liability for the U.S.

Shapiro sought to use his appearance to silence the debate. “We believe that…there are real strategic benefits to that relationship,” he said.

Still, critics of Israel emerged quickly to challenge what’s seen by some in the diplomatic community as a significant softening by the White House towards Israel in recent weeks. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama and Netanyahu met at the White House, shaking hands and smiling during a photo op and emphasizing the close ties between their countries.

Moustapha, Damascus’s long-serving envoy to Washington, challenged Shapiro on why the Obama administration remains quiet on Israel’s assumed nuclear-weapons capability. “I’m always puzzled, why is it that whenever an American official will discuss the Israeli military prowess and the cutting edge of warfare technology that Israel possesses, they will always, always never, never discuss the Israeli nuclear arsenal that actually exists?” Moustapha said.

Shapiro ducked the question with a joke: “I’m not going to be the first U.S. official to discuss, you know, Israeli nuclear” capabilities, he said.

An activist from Code Pink later pushed Shapiro on why the Obama administration refuses to hold discussions with the militant Palestinian group, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Again, Shapiro ducked directly answering the question.

“As I mentioned before, from the very beginning — from the very first days of the administration, has been committed to a peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians which will lead to a two-state solution,” Shapiro said.

Comments (22)


1. Norman said:

No matter how much Syria improves and improve the lives of her people , there will not be celebration in the western Media and Human right watch as long as Syria is standing in the way of Israel and the US , We Syrians know that Syria is a lot better than all the Arab countries that are friends of the US and Israel , Egypt, Jordan , KSA and others ,
What Human rights said in this sentence (((( What is clear from a review of Assad’s decade in power is that he has no true commitment to broadening public freedoms for Syria’s citizens, perhaps the most repressed in the entire Arab world )))is enough for me to make it clear that they do not know what they are talking about,

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July 16th, 2010, 11:57 pm

 

2. Ghat Al Bird said:

Its always the “bad” guys that deny “human rights” to the good guys.

For example in Australia the “aborigines” enjoy and have the same rights as the immigrants that have made australia their country.

The Jewish population of Algeria were considered French citizens while the “native” Algerians were not.

An ex US Senator at the urgings of Danial Pipes and friends passed legislation that would penalize any College or Universty in the US that did not fully support Israel.

An Englishman promised and supported the creation of a basically one race and one religion state on lands [in the Middle East] occupied for over 1900 yers by others.

The President of the Unted States is reportedly authorized to order the assassination of any citizen of the USA no matter where they might happen to be.

The “human beings” that make up the population of Gaza have had to burrow tunnels [like rats do] in order to have the bare necessities of life by no less than the “ONLY DEMOCRACY AND ALLY ” of the US.

Human rights are words that mean different things to different humans.

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July 17th, 2010, 9:17 am

 

3. Akbar Palace said:

Perhaps a “wasted decade” in Syria, but most definately a prosperous decade here on the this apologist and hypocritcal website: Syria Comment.

Congrats! Long live the President-for-Life! Long live the “resistance”!

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July 17th, 2010, 9:32 am

 

4. Norman said:

And long live AP , he makes things exciting here ,i would not like it any other way ,

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July 17th, 2010, 9:59 am

 

5. Husam said:

Ghat Al Bird:

Your comment @ 2 was original and thought provoking. BTW, what does Ghat Al Bird stand for, I can’t seem to figure that one out.

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July 17th, 2010, 12:40 pm

 

6. jad said:

Netanyahu In 2001: ‘America Is A Thing You Can Move Very Easily’

“I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in their way.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/16/netanyahu-in-2001-america_n_649427.html

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July 17th, 2010, 12:50 pm

 

7. Ghat Al Bird said:

HUSAM.

GHAT IS THE NAME OF A TOWN THAT STRADDLES THE LIBYA/CHAD BORDER AND WHICH I VISITED SOME YEARS AGO AND MET THE EMIR OF THE TOUAREGS.

AL BIRD REFERS TO THE AMERICAN EAGLE.

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July 17th, 2010, 1:12 pm

 

8. Husam said:

“Syrian Police have been Told to Crack Down of Litterers”

I have always told myself, the time Syria takes a tough stance at garbage, will be the turning point in the betterment of many other positive things to come. Hopefully, the time has now come.

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July 17th, 2010, 2:27 pm

 

9. norman said:

husam ,

Isn’t that the broken glass theory ,
fight the minor things and you will be fighting all bad things ,

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July 17th, 2010, 2:56 pm

 

10. Norman said:

On line shopping for food in Syria , i guess , i am not that modern ,

A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Skip to next paragraph Recent posts
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Related Stories
Dawn of the $4 coffee in Damascus, Syria Why the steam bath endures in Syria All Syria news coverage Up in Damascus’s Souk Salihiyah, the streets bustle with shoppers buying fresh produce. But Syria’s souks (marketplaces) have a new competitor: This spring, online food shopping made its debut in the country, already drawing 2,000 customers.

Foodleco.com caters to all possible culinary needs. As well as delivering goods to the customer’s doorstep, the site also offers delivery service from a range of restaurants.

The site – along with a limited but growing number of supermarkets – marks a break from traditional, daily shopping at the vegetable stalls and corner shops that dot nearly every street.

Impersonal online shopping and supermarket anonymity may not re-create the social fabric that is found in souks. But the new service caters to a growing workforce working longer hours. “[Foodleco.com] saves a lot of time,” says Shaza Salem, a website administrator. “And it stops me [from] buying lots of things I don’t necessarily need.”

Foodleco.com highlights the rapid changes in Syrian society in which US-style conveniences are taking over traditional ways of life – but only for the upper classes. With only a very few households able to afford an Internet connection and credit cards, most of the population carries on in the souk as usual.

Related:

Dawn of the $4 coffee in Damascus, Syria
Why the steam bath endures in Syria

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July 17th, 2010, 8:09 pm

 

11. Norman said:

Is there a new push between Syria and Israel ,

latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-bunzl-syria-20100718,0,3222900.story

latimes.com
Israel and Syria: a chance at reconciliation
There are signs Syria is prepared to talk peace with Israel. It’s an opportunity that the U.S. and Israel can’t afford to miss.
By Nick Bunzl

July 18, 2010

Advertisement

Rumors of war, and of peace, often go hand in hand in the Middle East. Unfortunately, over the last few months on the Israeli- Syrian front, the former have dominated. Reports of Iran delivering an advanced radar system to Syria, the transfer by Syria of Scud missiles to Hezbollah, and the February tripartite summit between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah all signal a reinvigorated military partnership. However, Assad also has been sending subtle signals that he is prepared to talk with Israel.

It is an opportunity that Israel, and the United States, cannot afford to miss.

Since the flotilla incident off the Gaza Strip in May, Assad has delivered pragmatic messages supporting renewed dialogue. In a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Assad lamented what the recent Israel- Turkey rift means for the latter’s role as a mediator between Israel and Syria. The Turkish mediating role “is built on the relationship between Turkey and Israel and the relationship between Turkey and Syria. Any mediator must have good ties with both parties,” he said.

Turkey’s mediation efforts in December 2008 reportedly were making headway until Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan felt betrayed that his efforts were thwarted by Israel’s actions. Turkish-Israeli ties have deteriorated ever since, reaching a low point when Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish citizens on a boat in the Gaza-bound flotilla.

The Obama administration has made a concerted effort to engage Syria, sending a delegation of technology executives and State Department officials, and nominating an ambassador (who is awaiting Senate confirmation). But at the same time, the White House renewed sanctions. Thus far, the U.S. has primarily devoted its peacemaking efforts to the Israeli-Palestinian track.

Recent reports that Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) was asked by Assad to help get peace talks with Israel back on track suggest that now is the time to see if the White House’s engagement with Syria can turn into meaningful movement toward an Israeli-Syrian agreement.

There are significant voices within the Israeli defense and intelligence establishments in support of moving forward with negotiations, including that of Defense Minister Ehud Barak. And as Aluf Benn noted recently in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Assad has maintained “internal stability” and, in the face of the 2007 bombing by Israel of a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria, he has proved to be “a rational and restrained leader.” It is clear that to create any meaningful Israeli-Syrian dialogue, the negotiation table must be set with the biggest carrot of all, the Golan Heights. If talks fail and Syria continues to engage in disruptive behavior in the region, then sticks should be considered.

For Obama, Israeli-Syrian negotiations offer an indirect way to support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and have much merit in their own right. Movement between Syria and Israel can achieve a tangible U.S. objective, recast the pall over the region and strengthen U.S. leadership. And through a U.S.-led effort to realize a Syrian-Israeli agreement, the Syrians can be encouraged to play a constructive role in Iraq as the U.S. military presence is drawn down.

For Israel, an Israeli-Syrian accord containing the necessary guarantees would greatly strengthen security along its northern border, substantially dilute Syria’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah and signify Israel’s renewed preparedness to establish peace with its neighbors utilizing the land-for-peace formula.

For Syria, an agreement might lead to its regaining the Golan Heights and reconciling with the United States.

Even more, an Israeli-Syrian deal would provide a useful strategic backdrop against which to reinvigorate the Arab peace initiative as a comprehensive framework to put an end to the broader Arab-Israeli conflict.

As in any scenario where there are winners, there are also losers. Chief among these would be Iran and its Lebanese offspring, Hezbollah. Hamas, with its base of support in Damascus, would be put under renewed pressure.

Still, the U.S. should move forward forcefully on the path to reconcile Syria and Israel. The potential gains far outweigh the risks.

Nick Bunzl is executive director of the Israel Policy Forum.

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

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July 18th, 2010, 8:42 am

 

12. t_desco said:

A very interesting error by Mitchell Prothero:

“But in a near accusation directed towards (sic) the interior minister, Ziad Baroud, a politically non-aligned technocrat with a popular base of support across most of Lebanon, Mr Nasrallah questioned whether Lebanese officials might have previously known the activities at the Alfa network.”
The National, July 18, 2010

It was directed at the ISF, of course, but Mitchell Prothero seems to assume that as interior minister Ziad Baroud should, you know, be in charge of the ISF…

“They also said that Interior Minister Ziad Baroud had requested the Internal Security Forces to provide him with the facts surrounding the investigation on Israeli agents. (…)

Security sources told the daily Al-Hayat that the intelligence branch in the ISF had handed Baroud all information it had acquired over Lebanese agent Charbel Qazzi two hours after Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech Friday.”
Naharhet, July 18, 2010

(my emphasis)

Certainly not a great urgency on display here on the part of the ISF, which, you know, seems to confirm precisely the point Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah was making…

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July 18th, 2010, 9:00 am

 

13. Hassan said:

I always take Debkafile stories for grain of salt, but given the human rights topic of this blog post it seemed worth bringing to your attention the story.

Syria massacres Kurds aided by Turkey’s Israel-made drones
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 17, 2010, 10:27 AM (GMT+02:00)
http://www.debka.com/article/8916/

How did Israel’s Heron IAE come to serve Syria?
Syrian troops and Kurdish tribesman are locked in fierce battle since the Syrian army blasted four northeastern Kurdish towns and neighborhoods at the end of June, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report. Hundreds of Kurds are reported dead.
The Syrian campaign is backed by Heron (Eitan) spy drones Israel sold Turkey, made accessible on the personal say-so of Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan. Turkey therefore becomes the first NATO member to make advanced Western military technology available for the use of a strong ally of radical Iran and an active sponsor of terrorists. Following intense exchanges between Jerusalem and Washington, the NATO command was urged to put Ankara on the carpet – with no response as yet.
The drones are being used to track Kurds in flight across Syria’s borders, mainly into Lebanon, where Hizballah is helping Syria hunt the refugees down. The accessibility to Damascus of the unmanned aerial vehicles is in direct breach of the Israel-Turkish sales contracts which barred their use – and the use of other Israeli high-tech items sold to Turkey during years of close military collaboration – in the service of hostile states or entities.
Extending their sphere to Syrian and Lebanese skies gives the Syrian army and Hizballah (Iran’s external arm) a unique opportunity to study the Heron (Eitan)’s sophisticated attributes in real combat conditions at close hand and adjust their own tactics accordingly to outwit them.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources have no doubt that Iranian intelligence officers stationed in Damascus and Beirut jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the Israeli wonder-drones.
Regarding the crackdown on the Kurds, our military sources report that three large-scale Syrian military operations against the Kurdish people are in progress under the guidance of Turkish generals based at Syrian staff headquarters in Damascus:
1. Syrian elite forces are battling suspected Kurdish members of the Turkish PKK in at least four northeastern Syrian towns near the Syrian-Turkish-Iraqi border triangle: the big Kurdish town of Qamishli, the mixed Kurdish-Assyrian town of Al Asakah and two others, Qaratshuk and Diwar. All four and their outlying villages are under massive Syrian army siege after complete residential blocks were blasted – acting as the trigger for the current fighting.
Not all the victims are PKK fighters by any means. Most were civilians. Turkish intelligence sources tried to justify the Syrian massacre and their government’s complicity by claiming that 2,000 of the 6,000 PKK fighters conducting terrorist attacks in Turkey from North Iraqi havens are Syrian Kurds or providers of alternative bases for their Turkish comrades to strike Turkish military positions from a second direction.
While until Saturday, July 17, Damascus was tight-lipped about its grim campaign against its Kurdish community, Turkish military sources were more vocal. They placed the number of Kurdish dead in battle at 185 and another 400 taken captive, many of whom will be turned over to Ankara. Our sources estimate the number of dead as much higher – more than 300, with at least 1,000 injured.
2. Large Syrian contingents are sealing the Iraqi border against the flight of Syrian Kurds – but also to block the entry of PKK reinforcements for aiding their beleaguered brethren.
3. The Syrian-Lebanese frontier is similarly sealed to keep Kurdish fighters from fleeing the country. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that on this border, Syrian and Hizballah units are working together, with the latter forcibly blocking the roads to Lebanese cities.
DEBKAfile reports an all-night gunfight in the Al-Naba’a (Tel Azaatar) district of south Beirut which ended Wednesday morning, July 14 with an unknown number of Kurdish fighters dead.
One was identified by residents as Al Haj Reid, aged 37, a recent arrival from Syria.
When Turkish reporters finally tackled Syrian president Bashar Assad on his anti-Kurd campaign Saturday morning, July 17, their questions were smoothly turned aside. “I’m not following the details concerning this operation,” said the Syrian ruler. “The issue is not about capturing 10 or 100 terrorists. What matters is the principle.”
He added: “Our cooperation with Turkey in the security field is not new (!). We have coordinated for many years. Intervening when there are preparations for a terrorist attack or for infiltration is a dimension of this cooperation.”
DEBKAfile’s military sources comment: Syrian military cooperation dates recently from the military pact they signed in October 2009.
As a big ceremony was staged Saturday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Bashar Assad’s ascent to power, the US-based Human Rights Watch group published a report called “A Wasted Decade” declaring there is “no freedom, no rights” in Syria. Instead of the transparency and democracy he promised, his regime suppresses criticism and its prisons soon filled with political prisoners, journalists, and human rights activists.

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July 18th, 2010, 6:43 pm

 

14. Joshua said:

Hassan,

I am glad you take Debkafile stories with a grain of salt. This one is most certainly made up. There is no “fierce battle between Syrian troops and Kurdish tribesman.” The idea of drones tracking Kurdish tribesman fleeing “across Syria into Lebanon” is more than funny.

Tribesman? Does this mean that drones can track them with cameras as they run across the Syrian badia because they wear tribal Kurdish cloths, i.e. cummerbunds and sharwal trousers?

Do Kurdish fighters really wear these cloths today when they want to sneak around Syria? Not a good way to blend in.

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July 18th, 2010, 7:25 pm

 

15. majedkhaldoun said:

وزارة التعليم السورية “تمنع” المنتقبات من دخول حرم الجامعات
I am not for Niqab, but I am for freedom,student should be free to wear niqab or Hijab .those girls should be able to learn in college.

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July 19th, 2010, 1:10 am

 

16. STRANGER IN SYRIA said:

I USED TO BELIEVE IN THE RETHORIC OF DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM AND HUMAN RIGHTS FOR THE MIDDLE EAST: SEVERAL YEARS OF STUDIES IN POLITICAL SCIENCE AS WELL AN MBA ON THE MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS PUT A LOT OF THIS RETHORIC IN TO MY MIND. FINALLY AFTER LIVING HERE AND OBSERVING THE REALITY I HAD TO CHANGE MY MIND. DEMOCRACY AND FREE ELECTIONS DOES NOT WORK HERE, THE RESULT IS LEBANON AND IRAQ. YOU WILL HAVE AT LEAST 2 PARTIES FOR CURDS, MAYBE ALLIED IN ASKING FOR AN INDIPENDENT STATE, ONE PARTY FOR CATHOLICS AND ANOTHER FOR ORTHODOXS. I CAN’T IMAGE HOW MANY PARTIES FOR SUNNIS, PROBABLY EACH SCHOOL/SHAIKH WILL HAVE A PARTY, THEN DO NOT FORGET ALAWI, SHIA, ISMAILI, DRUSI, MURSHIDI, TURKMANI, CIRCASSI ETC. ETC. ETC. EVERYONE WITH AT LEAST ONE PARTY TO REPRESENT THEM. THEN EVERYONE SEARCHING FOR LEGITIMACY/MONEY/WEAPONS ABROAD: FRANCE, USA, IRAN, TURKEY, JORDAN, SAUDI ARABIA, ISRAEL, EGYPT ETC. ETC. ETC.
THIS GOVERMENT, IS SAD TO BE SAID, IS THE BEST SOLUTION AVAILABLE AT THE MOMENT. ONE OF THE MAIN SOURCE OF LEGITIMACY COMES FROM THE PEACE AMONGS MINORITIES IT CAN GUARANTEE AS WELL AS A GROWING HOPE AND SIGNS OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. THERE IS A PRICE TO BE PAID FOR THIS PEACE AND FREEDOM IS PART OF THE BILL.
THEN, PLEASE, DO NOT FORGET THE BASIC LESSON THE LAST 20 YEARS GAVE TO THE WORLD DICTATORSHIPS: A) ON ONE SIDE THE COMMUNIST RUSSIA OF THE ’80s, WITH A DICTATORSHIP AND THE SOCIALIST ECONOMIC SYSTEM. GORBACHIEV AND THE PERESTROIKA TRIED TO OPEN THE POLITICAL/SOCIAL SYSTEM (MORE FREEDOM, LIBERTIES, CRITICISM ETC.) WITHOUT TOUCHING THE ECONOMIC SOCIALIST SYSTEM = RESULTS = DESTRUCTION OF THE SYSTEM. RUSSIA CAME PARTIALLY BACK TO HIS PREVIOUS POWER/PRESTIGE THANKS ONLY TO THE OIL/GAS AND OTHERS RESOURCES WEALTH AND SPECIFICALLY WHEN THE KING OF KGB (LOCAL MUKHABARAT), Mr. PUTIN, TOOK THE POWER. NOTICE: HE STILL THERE. B) CHINA, STARTING FROM THE SAME POINT BUT DOING THE OPPOSITE: OPENING THE ECONOMIC SOCIALIST SYSTEM TO THE CAPITALISTIC ONE WITHOUT TOUCHING THE POLITICAL/SOCIAL SYSTEM WHERE THE PARTY CONTROL EVERYTHING = RESULTS = A GROWING WORLD ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL POWER.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHICH PATH SYRIA HAS TO TAKE, NOT HAVING THE RESOURCES OF RUSSIA?

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July 19th, 2010, 5:22 am

 

17. t_desco said:

A couple of interesting articles by Georges Malbrunot today:

Les capitales européennes divisées sur la mission de leurs Casques bleus
Georges Malbrunot

(…) Mais, dans son insistance pour que la résolution 1701 de l’ONU soit appliquée – quitte à heurter les sensibilités de la population -, Paris se retrouve isolé, au moment où le Conseil de sécurité doit reconduire, à la mi-août, le mandat de la Finul.

«Nous ne voulons pas que les Français prennent en otage la Finul pour régler des problèmes face au Hezbollah ou à l’Iran», lâche un diplomate d’un pays européen contributeur, qui soupçonne Paris de vouloir durcir le ton contre le Hezbollah – et son tuteur iranien accusé de fabriquer la bombe. (…)

D’autant que la relation avec la Finul n’est pas au mieux. Le commandant des forces armées, le général Jean Kahwagi, est irrité par les «trop nombreux déplacements de membres de la Finul en Israël». Plusieurs officiers français et italiens seraient visés. Là encore, le Hezbollah n’ignore rien de ces entorses au règlement onusien. (…)

Pour permettre à la Finul d’exercer pleinement son mandat, l’un des projets à l’étude à New York serait de retirer les soldats français de leur zone de déploiement pour leur confier la responsabilité d’une force de réaction rapide, renforcée par rapport à sa version actuelle, c’est-à-dire capable de s’interposer, en cas de problème grave. (…)
Le Figaro, 19/07/2010

“Un attentat est redouté

Trois jours avant le déclenchement des manœuvres onusiennes début juillet, à Beyrouth, le ministère de la Défense conseilla à la Finul de ne pas se déployer sur le terrain (so much for Lebanese sovereignty; t_d). «Je répétais aux Français qu’ils devaient faire attention», affirme de son côté Nabil Fawaz, le maire de Tibnine.

L’activisme français dérange le Hezbollah. Certaines de ses armes restent dissimulées sous les mosquées et les terrains de football. Mais, contrairement aux Israéliens, les experts militaires occidentaux ne pensent pas que le Hezbollah ait introduit une quantité importante de munitions au Sud depuis 2006. Sa priorité est au nord de la zone Finul et du fleuve Litani. Le «Parti de Dieu» y a camouflé ses armes les plus sophistiquées, venues d’Iran et de Syrie, y compris dans les zones chrétiennes.

(…) Mais personne n’est dupe. «Si les Français ne changent pas leur comportement, il y aura une autre réaction», assure Hola Ibrahim, de Kirbet Slem. Sous-entendu : un attentat contre le contingent français ne serait pas à exclure.”
Le Figaro, 19/07/2010

(my emphasis)

Une reconstitution de l’assassinat de Rafic Hariri près de Bordeaux

Une reconstitution de l’assassinat de l’ex premier ministre libanais Rafic Hariri en 2005 à Beyrouth doit avoir lieu cet automne dans une base militaire au sud de Bordeaux, révèle au Figaro une source policière. Un enquêteur s’est rendu récemment sur place. L’organisation de cette reconstitution à huis clos poserait d’importants problèmes de sécurité. (…)
Georges Malbrunot, 19/07/2010

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July 19th, 2010, 9:49 am

 

18. Badr said:

DEMOCRACY AND FREE ELECTIONS DOES NOT WORK HERE, THE RESULT IS LEBANON AND IRAQ.

This might very well be the case, but it should be taken as a disparaging remark, rather than an elevating excuse for a defect. Failure to improve does not make one less inferior.

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July 19th, 2010, 3:55 pm

 

19. t_desco said:

What would be the repercussions for Syria of a possible multi-front war in Lebanon (Hariri indictment > civil war > UNIFIL conflict > Israeli attack)?

Sami Moubayed:

Tribunal could shake up Lebanon

(…) However, Hezbollah officials believe that Israel, with the implicit backing of the US, is lobbying for the tribunal to name Hezbollah officials as the perpetrators of Hariri’s murder.

The Israelis believe that if that were to happen, Lebanon would erupt into chaos and it would become very difficult for the state to function, as Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri could not possibly continue “protecting and embracing” the arms of Hezbollah. The current rapprochement between Lebanese Sunnis and Shiites would collapse, Israelis believe, and Lebanon would become very hostile and unsafe territory for Hezbollah.”
Gulf News, July 20, 2010

The Israeli plot (courtesy Haaretz):

“Nasrallah has good reason to sweat over the prosecutor’s apparent findings. They could mark the end of the coalition between Saad Hariri, Rafik Hariri’s son and current Lebanese premier, and Hezbollah. The findings could also make it difficult for Hezbollah to maintain its close alliance with the general Michel Aoun, a Christian, which would threaten Lebanon with a grave political crisis. (…)

In the military sphere, there is no force in Lebanon that poses a great threat to Hezbollah. Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has turned from an enemy of Hezbollah into an ally and General Aoun embraces Hezbollah publicly at every opportunity.

But in the event that information is released that includes proof of Hezbollah’s involvement in the Hariri killing, this support will no doubt be dropped. In its place, calls to disarm and dismantle Hezbollah, the last armed militia in Lebanon, will only grow stronger.”
Haaretz, July 19, 2010

General Aoun’s “analytical” scenario:

“The FPM leader expressed fears that upon issuance of the indictment, Israel would launch a large-scale war on Lebanon, during which the resistance would be hit by “Israeli fire” from one side and “internal strife fire” on the other.

Aoun also warned that given this situation, some Christian parties would seek to impose a new status quo in their regions while fundamentalist groups in Palestinian camps would act the same way.

As Safir said that the FPM leader asked his allies, particularly Hizbullah, to ready themselves to confront such strife and review the current structure of the national unity cabinet, which according to Aoun would be incapable of facing such threats.

“They want to kill you once more,” Aoun reportedly told Nasrallah. “There is still a Lebanese team betting on a new Israeli war, that’s why … I advise you to change the rules of the game.”
Naharnet, July 17, 2010

(my emphasis)

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July 19th, 2010, 4:44 pm

 

20. almasri said:

“The FPM leader expressed fears that upon issuance of the indictment, Israel would launch a large-scale war on Lebanon, during which the resistance would be hit by “Israeli fire” from one side and “internal strife fire” on the other.”

This logic doesn’t make sense to me. An Israeli attack following issuance of indictment may actually unite more Lebanese behind Hezbollah leaving few lone voices from the already dead so-called Cedar Revolution.

Could it be that Barack and Netenyahou are just keen to test the newly completed Iron Dome? If it works (unlikely) then it will be a prelude for an attack on Iran. If not (most likely) then it means more blackmail of US for funding Israeli security and more pressure on US administration to give in on Iran as per Israeli dictates.

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July 19th, 2010, 10:13 pm

 

21. lally said:

Could this, the last paragraph in particular, be related to alleged STL evidence targeting Hezbollah as the latest culprit?:

……”Joe Koenig, from the US-based IT and communication security company ProtectStar, told NOW Lebanon in an e-mail message that the spy software, if downloaded onto a phone, could be easily noticed by the target of the tap.

“All data has to be [sent] out from the target phones worldwide … to a spy server,” Koenig wrote. “So when the target phone’s sending out data, nearly all mobile providers on earth charge the phone owner every kilobyte/megabyte of data the phone sends out. The phone owner could detect such fees on his monthly invoice.”

In Lebanon, however, the alleged spies were working from inside the service provider, meaning they could have had access to call routing servers, making the need to download software onto a target’s phone unnecessary.

“I would imagine there’s a secure center [in the mobile company that] all calls get routed through,” Mudd said. Police, he said, can tap phones through the mobile company with the proper permission, so in theory a spy, if he or she can gain access and work discreetly, could do the same.

Authorities in Georgia in 2008 gained court approval to tap several phones on that country’s MagtiCom mobile-phone network. They had more or less unfettered access to recording phone calls in the lead-up to the brief war in South Ossetia in 2008.

If the phone being tapped has a GPS device inside, Koenig wrote, the spy would also have access to that information, meaning the target can be located wherever he or she is. Mudd said that a phone user’s location can also be detected – albeit with less accuracy – by looking at relays between the phone and nearby cell towers.

Koenig also told NOW Lebanon that a spy could “easily” manipulate a tapped phone to make calls from that phone’s number without the user actually placing the call. Mudd agreed that software exists to make it appear as though a phone was making calls even if the calls were never placed.”
……..
To read more: http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?
ID=187179#ixzz0uBfEcO00

& what does the increasing and highly public accord between Hariri and Assad portend if the Haaretz-telegraphed Israeli+friends objectives are part of their considerations?

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July 20th, 2010, 12:07 am

 

22. Husam said:

Lally:

Thank you for your post. But, what Joe Koenig is saying is really old news, perhaps even 4-5 years old.

On whether Hizballah was framed, anything is possible. What technology is capable of doing today is much more than what people are aware of. If American electronic voting machines (Diebold, Israeli ownership) have been compromised remotely, anything is possible. When EVERY SINGLE, and I mean every single conversation made by anyone to anybody, to anywhere in the world passes through Amdocs, another Israeli owned company, anything is possible.

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July 20th, 2010, 12:36 am

 

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