In Mezzeh, Wealthy Sunnis Begin to Demonstrate; Washington Unlikely to Arm Syrians Soon; Friends of Syria to Meetin in Tunis

The demonstrations in Mezzeh, Damascus, as shown above, suggest that the revolt has spread to the heart of bourgeois Damascus, an area many said would not be affected. The Homs repression is spreading revolt to new areas. The opposition is not being cowed. In this video police shoot into the air in order to frighten the women of Mezzeh, Damascus. It does not seem that security shot into the crowd, but the fear and anger is all too clear. It will grow.

[Correction] (A Friend wrote to say: “the demonstration was in old mazzeh, not the wealthy part, the part near the old hospital, the poor part.)

The Syrian opposition is gaining strength and spreading to new areas of Syria with each passing weak. Government action makes it stronger, as does government inaction. Assad faces a catch 22. He has no way forward. The opposition, despite its multitude of jostling leaders is developing new communication and activist networks all the time. The destruction of Sunni neighborhoods in Homs has outraged Syrians across the country. Growing lawlessness has dispirited those who would support the government. Inflation and economic hardship is overtaking everyone in a constant reminder that things will get worse and that Assad is leading the country off a cliff.

The “Friends of Syria” conference will be held in Tunis on Friday. It is still unclear which countries will be represented. One can assume that the Gulf countries, Egypt, Turkey, Europeans, and the US will be there, as well as the SNC. Will the Free Syrian Army be invited to send representatives? Will other military leaders turn up?

US General Dempsey said that it was “premature” to arm the opposition. In all likelihood, Washington will want to go slow on supplying weapons to opposition leaders – after all, whom would it give them to? The SNC seems too divided and too weak. Also, Saudi, Turkey and the US are unlikely to agree on whom to arm. Most importantly, however, the US has been unable to control events in the Middle Easter countries that have gone through regime-change. Washington’s record of picking winners is dismal. Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress did not work out. Hamid Karzai? Few give him long odds of surviving US withdrawal. Bashir Gemayyel did not do well in Lebanon, if one goes back a few decades.

Washington may be well advised to hang back from supplying more than humanitarian and communications assistance for the time being. It will get a better sense of which leaders are able to speak for most Syrians in the future. If it backs one leader or party today, others may emerge tomorrow only to feel slighted or to turn for help from America’s competitors. Washington will not be able to change boats in mid-stream. What is more, the success and growing strength of the Syrian revolution suggests that Assad is unlikely to win. Support for the Syrian opposition is a humanitarian issue but not a strategic issue, if one calculates in a heartless fashion. The revolution will win on its own. Who knows, Syrians may even be the better for it?

العقوبات وحدها لن تُجدي by Nikolaos van Dam in All4Syria.

معظم الدول الغربية تفكّر من منظور العدالة وهي محقة في ذلك لأن هناك أشياء فظيعة تحدث في سوريا ولكن يجب عليهم أن يفكروا بطريقة للحل وهذا مالم يحدث على الأقل حتى الان.

– اختار الغرب العقوبات فهل ترى أن ذلك مجدٍ ؟
أنا أتفهم فرض العقوبات ولكنني أخشى أن تكون هذه العقوبات بدون النتائج المأمولة، إذا كنت ترغب بالسيطرة على الموقف فعليك أن لا تقطع التواصل المباشر لأنّ العقوبات بمفردها لن تكون مجدية.

– هل استخدمت روسيا الفيتو اذاً من أجل الحفاظ على القنوات مفتوحة مع النظام في سوريا ؟
يعتقد الروس أنه من المبكر اجراء التصويت على قرار في مجلس الأمن، وكانوا يعتزمون إجراء حوار مع الأسد في نفس الاسبوع كما كان لديهم مشاكل مع هذا القرار والذي يشير الى ضرورة تنحي الأسد لأن أي شيء يدعوا الى تغيير النظام هو قرارمشبوه بالنسبة لموسكو.

– هل للسيناريو الليبي حيث وافقت روسيا على التدخل تأثير عن موقف روسيا الحالي ؟
نعم بكل تأكيد ..فقد شاهدت روسيا كيف تم تحوير وتفسير قرار مجلس الأمن، فالقرار بدأ بمنطقة حظر طيران وانتهى بتغيير النظام من خلال الدعم العسكري لحلف الأطلسي، كما يعتقد الروس أنّ على الأمم المتحدة أن تدين العنف من قبل جميع الأطراف وليس من طرف النظام فقط…..

Ehsani on Aleppo:

Schools in Aleppo have been receiving bomb threats. Some have closed till march 6 (french school and Icarda). My sister pulled her kids out of the school on Thursday. Aleppo has lots of streets closed. Military and security everywhere. Ugly stuff. Just heart breaking.

Basma Qudmani speaks with 5 Israeli authors on French TV – this video has been circulating heavily on activist networks. Rumor is that it has been put out by Islamists within the SNC to delegitimize her and the liberals in the SNC.

She says approvingly that Egypt has an emerging civil society that has nothing to do with Islam. She says that Arabs need Israel’s existance.

This video is another expression of the tense battle being waged between the two wings of the SNC: Islamists and liberals. On Feb 15, Burhan Ghalioun’s term as leader of the SNC was extended by two months. He is a noted liberal, who like Qudmani has lived some three decades in Paris. It is noteworthy that the executive council of the SNC could agree to extend his term by only two months. Mechanisms for deciding on leadership are yet to be completely worked out. In the meantime, the liberals of the SNC seem to have the upper hand. Islamists put forward Haytham Maleh as their candidate. He is a human rights lawyer who has had a storied career defending activists in Syria. He has spend decades in prison himself and is fearless. He is in his 80s.

بسمة قضماني: العرب “بح اجة” لوجود “اسرائيل”!! ( فيديو)

Syrian opposition invited to Tunis conference

Syrian opposition groups will take part in an international conference on the crisis in Syria on Friday, Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem said, warning against an “Iraqi scenario”.

Abdessalem said participants at the Rome meeting of the so-called “5+5” states had agreed on the need to defend Syria’s territorial unity: “We don’t want an Iraqi scenario… We have to preserve the integrity of Syria.”

“I don’t think any Arab country is going to ask for military intervention (in Syria). European countries don’t want it either,” he said.

Referring to the “Friends of Syria” conference on Friday, he added: “We believe that on the 24th of this month, we shall send a strong message to the Syrian government.”

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said of the meeting: “It has to be inclusive. Of course the opposition has to be present.”

Abdessalem had said in Tunis on Friday that the SNC, the largest opposition group in strife-ridden Syria, would not be officially represented at the conference.

Trade with the US Falls 31 Percent over Sanctions – Syria Report

Syria’s Inflation Rate Doubled in December, 13-02-2012 Syria Report

Syria’s official inflation rate almost doubled in December, partially reflecting the steep increase in prices witnessed in the local market in recent weeks.

The Syrian Pound has remained stable since the beginning of February, trading at around 72 pounds per US Dollar in black market dealings.

Syria’s private banking sector saw a decline of some 13.5 percent in total assets last year although it managed to increase revenues and profits, largely on the back of foreign currency revaluations.

Poultry Farming Impacted by Revolution– Syria Report

…steep increase in the prices of eggs and chicken in the local market. Input prices, in particular for corn and soybean, which are used as feed for chicken, have risen. So has increased the cost of petroleum coke used for heating. One other factor that has impacted the industry is the current unrest. Indeed, most poultry farms are located in the Governorates of Homs, Hama and Rural Damascus, which are the hotbeds of the current popular revolt gripping Syria. …

According to some estimates, the number of people whose livelihood depends on the sector is around 1 million. The FCA estimates the average annual growth of the sector in the last decade at 15 percent. Last year, exports stood at around 1.24 billion eggs, or 35 percent of total production; Iraq is Syria’s main export market, the FCA report said.

2 judicial officials assassinated in Syria – LA Times

A judge and lawyer, along with their driver, are reportedly killed in Idlib. Across Syria, at least 20 are slain, including nine in Homs, the opposition says.

Syrian troops have massed around Homs as top US Officer says Arming Opposition Premature

The top US military officer, General Martin Dempsey, said any intervention in Syria would be “very difficult” and that it was “premature” to arm the unrest-swept country’s opposition movement.

And China’s influential People’s Daily warned any Western support for Syria’s rebels would lead to a “large-scale civil war”.

Activists and Syrian state media reported at least 14 people were killed on Sunday, adding to the more than 6000 people who have died in President Bashar al-Assad’s 11-month crackdown on dissent.

“Infantry troops arrived yesterday (Sunday) in Homs,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said by phone on Monday.

A Homs-based activist voiced fears of an imminent attack on Baba Amr, the main rebel stronghold in the central city, speaking of “unprecedented military reinforcements coming from Damascus”….

Tribal bonds strengthen the Gulf’s hand in a new Syria – The National
by Hassan Hassan,

Will the “tribal crescent” that extends from northern Syria to western Iraq and Jordan down to the Gulf, replace the Shia crescent? Underlying all the other complexities of Syria, ancient tribal allegiances that pre-date national boundaries add an additional layer of motivations…

details about the protest movement in Al Jazira show that the hold of the tribes remains strong. In the early months of protests, there was friction among the tribes on how to react. Al Jarrah, one of the powerful clans in the city of Al Bukamal, and a part of the Egaidat confederation, is led by a government official, who even armed some of the clan’s members to quell protests. This pushed another prominent tribe in the confederation, Al Dandal, to mediate between the government and young protesters, in an effort that failed. By then, some protesters had begun arming themselves and shooting at security forces

The chief of the Egaidat, who has influence across the tribes in the confederation, asked the pro-government leader to disarm his people and stop working with the security forces. Finally, tribal leaders on all sides agreed to prevent clashes with the security forces and to not interfere in the protests.

Other leaders have refused to take part in the protest movement because they feel it is their responsibility to protect their clan. Abdullah Ghadawi, a political editor for the Saudi newspaper Okaz who is from Al Bukamal, told me one tribal leader had said that he was against the regime but he could not endanger his tribe by fighting. For the same reason, heads of families say they stand by President Bashar Al Assad only to discourage their children from taking part in protests. A similar scenario plays out in Suwaida and Raqqa, where there have been few protests.

This influence will remain strong for the foreseeable future. Politicians may be drawn from the ranks of the educated younger generation, unlike in the past when members of parliament were almost all tribal leaders, but the latter will still be respected

Another possible trend that favours Gulf influence in Syria is the growing prominence of Salafism (as opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has strong links to Turkey). Salafism is increasing especially in tribal areas, partly because of the return of Syrians who have worked in the Gulf.

How the Gulf states will use these levers of influence remains to be seen, however. “Saudi Arabia has a limited understanding of the nature and diversity of the Syrian opposition,” said Emile Hokayem, a Middle East analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, “and risks espousing too closely the perspective of its tribal and Wahhabi interlocutors.” Riyadh risks overreliance on the tribes, which remain largely divided

But if these links are harnessed, the Gulf states’ influence will extend from the north of Syria to western Iraq and Jordan, creating a “tribal crescent” in place of Iran’s “Shia crescent” that today extends from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Video: ‘No NATO military action in Syria’

Syria ‘disintegrating under crippling sanctions’
19 February 2012

Free Syrian Army members in Idlib, 18 FebOne of Syria’s leading businessmen says its economy is being crippled by foreign sanctions and that the government is slowly disintegrating.

Faisal al-Qudsi, the son of a former Syrian president, told the BBC the military action could only last six months and then there would be “millions of people on the streets”.

But he said President Bashar al-Assad’s government would fight to the end.

The 11-month uprising against Mr Assad has claimed thousands of lives.

Human rights groups have put the figure at more than 7,000, while the government says at least 2,000 members of the security forces have been killed combating “armed gangs and terrorists”.

The violence continued on Saturday, when Syrian troops fired on mourners during a funeral that turned into a mass demonstration in Damascus. Activists say at least one person was killed there and some 20 across the country.

‘Catch 22’:  Speaking to the BBC’s Weekend World Today programme, Mr Qudsi said the economy had been crippled by sanctions and that although Iran was sending money, it was not enough.

An Iraqi fighter in Syria’s civil war – Independent

In Syria, Opposition Struggles To Gain Foreign Support
February 20, 2012 – Stratfor

Despite several efforts to come together, Syria’s opposition groups remain fractured. There are two viable groups that the West could work with, the Syrian National Council and the National Coordination Committee, but they have incompatible views on how to oust the regime and neither has the clear support of Syria’s protesters. Unless they can overcome their differences, the opposition groups are unlikely to receive the international support they need to overthrow the regime in Damascus.


Since the beginning of the unrest in Syria, a propaganda war has raged between the regime of President Bashar al Assad and the various opposition groups. The Syrian regime has portrayed itself as united and strong and the opposition as radical terrorists. Meanwhile, the opposition has claimed that the regime is splintering and that the opposition is strong and capable of replacing it. Perception is important because the Syrian opposition cannot succeed in ousting the al Assad regime without the support of the Syrian people and foreign governments.

But the reality is that despite extensive efforts to unite, Syria’s opposition groups remain fractured. Of the 14 or more opposition groups in the country, only two, the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the National Coordination Committee (NCC), are being considered by the West as feasible groups to work with to bring about democratic change inside Syria.

Comments (379)

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101. zoo said:

In the Islamic dominated new Arab democracies: Freedom of expression, yes, but for men only

The Arab Spring’s misogynist winter
Women across the Middle East have been deprived of rights

By Deborah Scroggins / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 4:18 AM

A year after they marched alongside men to topple regimes in the Arab Spring, Arab women are facing a wall of misogyny.

In Tunisia, Salafist vigilantes have been attacking unveiled women and occupying universities that do not allow the face veil. In Egypt, only eight out of 508 newly elected parliamentarians are female, and the country’s Islamists are threatening to repeal laws making it easier for women to divorce and to gain custody of their children. The head of Libya’s transitional government has promised to bring back polygamy.

Read more:

Read more:

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February 21st, 2012, 8:25 am


102. zoo said:

Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Egyptians say they don’t recognize the country now, a place with carjackings, soccer melees and brazen bank robberies.

By Jeffrey Fleishman and Amro Hassan, Los Angeles Times

February 20, 2012, 6:46 p.m.
Reporting from Cairo—
The headlines reflect a previously unknown cruelty: a woman gunned down in a rich Cairo neighborhood, a rash of carjackings, a deadly soccer riot, a stream of smuggled arms that have given muscle to criminal gangs once easily outgunned by police.

The revolution that inspired this country one year ago has set loose a menacing air that Egyptians find unfamiliar. Bristling beneath the political battle for power against the ruling generals is an insecurity over crime and a bitterness that has darkened Egypt’s congenial nature.

Soldiers guard streets but few people feel safe.,0,4205913.story

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February 21st, 2012, 8:28 am


103. irritated said:


Why waste your time trying to argument with pseudo intellectual fanatics playing ‘civilized’?
These kind of people just deserves an angry grin, nothing else, but besides thumbs down, SC does not provide such often useful icon.

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February 21st, 2012, 8:43 am


104. zoo said:

A thorough analysis of the relation between the media ‘objectivity’, money and politics in today’s media landscape.

Samir Aita is an economist and editor-in-chief of the Arabic edition of “Le Monde Diplomatique”.

A talk with Le Monde Diplomatique’s Samir Aita
By Hussein Idrissi

Aita] Generally speaking, we should regard the Syrian spring – with its own characteristics – as the crossroads of the Arab Spring.

[Asharq al-Awsat] Why is that?

[Aita] If the Syrian spring succeeds in instilling humanistic values, the Syrians will be able to build a state of citizenship for all; a state of freedoms, justice and dignity for everyone, including the freedom of thought and belief. However, if the Syrian spring fails, autumn shall prevail over the entire region.

[Asharq al-Awsat] Let us return to media outlets in the Arab world…what is your opinion on the current state of affairs?

[Aita] In some Arab countries, there are a greater number of newspapers, but they all belong to giant financial groups and are directly financed by them. This is because the economic model of these papers does not allow them to cover their costs. The source of such funding then determines the orientation of these media outlets and their approach. This does not only apply to newspapers, but also to radio stations and television channels – especially satellite channels, as well as the internet
[Aita] The media’s problem lies in its funding. Where does it come from and why? Funding raises another question relating to the objectivity of media outlets, if we assume that their role is to convey information to the people.

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February 21st, 2012, 8:59 am


105. bronco said:

#71 Ghufran

I appreciate his down to earth conclusion that we have reached a long time ago: Contrary to Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, there is no acceptable alternative to a regime that, pressed by its powerful allies, is ready to evolve democratically. The “regime change” in short term aimed by the opposition and its western allies is simply doomed.

“It may be only a matter of time before Syrian rebels reach central Damascus, but until the Syrian opposition truly unifies, gains some credibility in the eyes of the Syrian people, and effectively coordinates with the armed rebels, the Syrian uprising is not likely to go very far.”

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February 21st, 2012, 9:11 am


106. zoo said:

One candidate? the VP of the “dictator”? His sons still in power? That’s a “quickfix democracy”, inspired by Saudi Arabia’s undemocratic system.

Yemen vote ensures Saleh’s exit after 33 years
By Mohammed Mukhashaf and Joseph Logan | Reuters – 36 mins ago
Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the sole, consensus candidate, billed the vote as a way to move on after months of protests against Saleh’s rule, but the president’s sons and nephews still command key army units and security agencies.

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February 21st, 2012, 9:35 am


107. ann said:

Russia not to take part in “Friends of Syria” meeting: FM – 2012-02-21

“Most importantly, the real aim of the meeting is not clear. According to reports, the separate opposition groups have been invited to Tunisia but no representatives of the Syrian government. That means, the interests of the majority of the Syrian population which supports the authorities, will not be represented,” Lukashevich said.

Lukashevich said Moscow had an impression that the “Friends of Syria” meeting resembles “the Libya Contact Group,” which has the aim to support only one side of the internal conflict.

“According to reports, the final document of the meeting has already been drafted by a narrow group of countries while other participants would be asked just to rubber-stamp it,” Lukashevich said.


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February 21st, 2012, 10:31 am


108. ann said:

U.S. in no position to complain about U.N. vetoes: columnist – 2012-02-21

In a signed article titled “42 reasons why Susan Rice’s anger is unconvincing”, which was published by Jordan Times on Feb. 17-18, Khouri said he could not take Rice and the United States seriously here, “because the U.S. has set the world’s gold standard on using vetoes in the Security Council to shield criminal activity — by Israel in particular.”

“We can pretty much ignore her (Rice) and her government’s public display of anger because they lack that essential combination of consistency, sincerity and credibility that are so vital for those who wish to be taken seriously,” he said.

“If she is so disgusted by this veto episode, can she imagine how it feels to be at the receiving end of such actions by her government 42 times over the past four decades?” he asked.

“Rice’s anger and disgust at the Russian-Chinese veto at the U.N. last week loom largely hollow and meaningless, because, in reality, that are a reflection more of American hubris and pride than of any credible diplomacy,” he said.


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February 21st, 2012, 10:36 am


109. ann said:

FM spokesman says China’s stance on Syria remains consistent, clear – 2012-02-21

“We’ve been closely following the developments of the situation, and we are deeply worried about the escalating crisis that has caused civilian casualties and affected peace and stability in the region,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

Hong said China holds the view that the international community should fully respect Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and the independent choice of the Syrian people, as well as the results of the political dialogue among various parties in Syria.

“We do not approve an armed intervention or forcing a so-called ‘regime change’ in Syria,” the spokesman reiterated.

“China welcomes all efforts that will be conducive to a peaceful resolution to the Syria issue,” Hong said, noting that the purpose and mechanism of the “Friends of Syria” meeting requires further examination.


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February 21st, 2012, 10:43 am


110. ann said:

West chooses economy as “suitable entrance” to deepen Syrian crisis: expert – 2012-02-21

The Western countries have tried many scenarios in Syria to deepen the crisis, Abdul-Razzak said, and the last-ditch attempt was to throttle the country’s economy.

However, the expert predicted that their attempts would not work. “They tried to test Syria through many aspects. They tried the social gate and tried to foment sectarian rifts. But all their attempts were to no avail,” he said.

“They even tried the UN Security Council, but they also reached a deadlock… Now there is nothing left other than the economic door to knock on given its unparalleled significance,” he added.

Abdul-Razzak slammed the sanctions as “immoral,” saying that the biggest victims of the sanctions are the Syrian citizens, as the prices of basic foodstuff have skyrocketed while some other goods have become unavailable in the market.

However, Abdul-Razzak showed an upbeat mood about the future, saying that the Syrian economy is still vigorous and trustworthy and there are some alternative markets for the Syrian products.

The central bank of Syria has a sufficient reserve of foreign currency and gold, which would appease concerns about a possible economic collapse in the country, Abdul-Razzak said.

“The Syrian economy would not collapse in the foreseeable future,” he said, calling on the Syrian government to take rigorous and rational measures to protect the economy


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February 21st, 2012, 10:53 am


111. ann said:

Russia offers to send UN aid envoy to Syria – 2012-02-21

“After stopping violence, it will be possible to provide humanitarian aid urgently for all who need it. We suggest the UN Security Council instruct the UN secretary general to sent over to Syria an envoy to agree on security and delivery of humanitarian aid,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandr Lukashevich said.

“Russia is ready for the honest collective work in the UN in this direction,” he added.


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February 21st, 2012, 10:59 am


112. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Dear Dawoud,

There were more Jewish refugees than Arab. The reason you do not hear of them, is because they were successfully absorbed into Israel, while Arab refugees were cynically used as a political tool.

For you to watch
The Forgotten Refugees – 1,000,000 Jews Expelled (Part 1) (rest parts there)

And: The Truth About the Refugees: Israel Palestinian Conflict

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February 21st, 2012, 11:04 am


113. ann said:

Made in Jordan: Thousands of gunmen preparing to enter Syria? – 21 February, 2012

Over 10,000 Libyans are reportedly being trained in a closed-off zone in Jordan, before being snuck into Syria to fight for the opposition. These men are allegedly paid around US$1,000 a month, funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

­Jordan-based AlBawaba news website says most of the gunmen who are being trained are actually part of the Libyan armed opposition, who have not had the chance to lay down arms following the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

The allegations of funding from Riyadh and Doha were not attributed to anyone, but AlBawaba did draw attention to the fact that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar actively support the Syrian opposition.

At the same time, several Iranian news sources report that some 50 Turkish officers arrested in Syria last week have confirmed that they were trained by the Israeli Special Forces to carry out insurgent acts against the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad.

The arrested officers also, according to Iran’s Fars news agency, admitted to initiating contact with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, inadvertently lending support to the countries’ involvement in the ongoing conflict in Syria.


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February 21st, 2012, 11:07 am


114. SANDRO LOEWE said:


¨Now you can sleep in peace, you found the “alien”! Syrians are dying in Syria but its’ Mezzeh, not ‘Mazze! “educated” expats dixit.¨

Well, sorry to defraud your expectations but I am not an expat.

Also I celebrate you can sleep in peace defending your King Refomer ¨The Criminal¨ The Second as many innocent people is getting killed in both sides, because the fXXXX Assad secret services did not accept any peacefull demostration from the beginning.

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February 21st, 2012, 11:15 am


115. ann said:

America’s crusade ‘utterly utopian’ – Pat Buchanan – 21 February, 2012

­US has no vital interests in Syria

Pat Buchanan believes no American wants to intervene in Syria “they don’t understand anything about.”

Speaking about the deadlock situation in Syria, the author shared that since President Bashar Assad was ruthless in suppressing the uprising in the country – he had better go and let the country have a more democratic government.

Actually, the US does not have vital interests in Syria, Pat Buchanan told RT.

The real Syrian question is: if the Assad regime is overthrown, “who comes to power in Damascus?” questions Buchanan.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda that are infiltrating into Syria will bring nothing good in the region for the US.

“We’ve got to ask ourselves: is the devil we know preferable to the devil we don’t know?”

Al-Qaeda is doing its best and it always finds ‘failed states’ like Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan under the Taliban to prey on it and civil war in Syria seems to be a good environment for terrorists.

According to Buchanan, Syria is a potential disaster where the world might have a proxy war between Sunni and Shia Muslims, with ethnic conflicts Kurds and Druze on the way.

“This is why I’m against putting weapons and aiding the anti-Assad resistance” Buchanan said, explaining that taking sides in the conflict might end up with failed state in Syria.


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February 21st, 2012, 11:20 am


116. ann said:

Daily life in Damascus, Syria – 2012-02-20

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February 21st, 2012, 11:30 am


117. ann said:

Foreign conspiracy melting-pot – 21 February, 2012^%

Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, post-war Libya, Turkey, Israel – this list of countries drawn into conspiracy media speculation would be incomplete without recent remarks from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

British MI6 agents have entered the Syrian ground, the Ministry said on Friday.

This is the first time such a declaration has come from a ministry. The media have been boiling with reports on foreign Special Forces training the Syrian opposition since November.

Thus, the Israeli DEBKAfile reported that British and Qatari commandos are instructing the Syrian opposition and supplying them with arms. The French weekly Le Canard Enchaine and Turkish daily Milliyet revealed the presence of French intelligence in the region, also instructing the Free Syrian Army in urban guerrilla techniques. These camps were located in Libya’s Tripoli, southern Turkey and northern Lebanon, read the reports.

The Syrian government has also to deal with Jihadists flocking to the country from neighboring Iraq. According to the Iraqi Interior Ministry, the insurgents are smuggling weaponry across the border to support anti-Assad movement.

The foreign assistance has every chance of going beyond supply and training, analysts say. The Arab League has blocked the initiative that would be most productive to resolve the Syrian crisis peacefully. The League has suspended the observing mission even despite Assad’s approval to extend it. Many connect the League’s decision with the final report provided by the mission head, Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi. Al-Dabi dubbed the events in Syria as “violence on both sides” and “active insurgency” instead of “a popular anti-regime uprising.” This might have struck Qatar, which is currently chairing the League, as a bit too pro-Assad.

The UN, facing a fail with a Syrian resolution in the Security Council, passed the condemnation of Assad’s crackdown on the opposition through the General Assembly on February 16. The resolution has no executive power, but Washington is already calling for a contact group “Friends of a Democratic Syria.” Now the Syrians are left to wonder what is better: the 40-year-old dictatorship or imported freedom, a kind of which has left Libya in ruins.


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February 21st, 2012, 11:41 am


118. Jad said:

I agree with your comment regarding the referendum the coming Sunday, the armed militias at the order of the usual criminals will make this week as much bloody as they could and the enemies of Syria meeting will help them do a perfect job on the expense of Syrian lives.

Please check this excellent interview

News About Syria: Information or Propaganda?

Sharmine Narwani: Many opposition leaders want end to militarization on both sides as GCC and US neo-cons call for arming opposition

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February 21st, 2012, 11:53 am


119. jad said:

I forgot to put the link from the original site with the text:

News About Syria: Information or Propaganda?

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February 21st, 2012, 12:22 pm


120. Ghufran said:

Alarabiya lost many of its viewers,a poll on the first page attracted less than 200 voters,here are the results:

الأزمة السورية ستنتهي إلى:
تاريخ الاستفتاء 21-02-2012 | مجموع الأصوات 167
إسقاط النظام بقوة أجنبية.
32% | 54 صوت
حرب أهلية بدعم إقليمي.
54% | 91 صوت
حل على الطريقة اليمنية.
13% | 22 صوت
العودة إلى الاستفتاء

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February 21st, 2012, 12:26 pm


121. Ghufran said:

Tried twice to post the results of a poll at alarabiya website,the post never came out of the moderation cage!!
صار الموقع متل وزارة الاعلام عنا

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February 21st, 2012, 12:28 pm


122. ann said:

Don’t arm the Syrian opposition, say U.S. officials – 1 hr 55 mins ago

“We are currently discussing several possibilities with all those concerned, and it includes a cessation of fighting in the most affected areas,” the ICRC’s spokesman Carla Haddad told the Associated Press from Geneva on Monday. “The idea is to be able to facilitate swift access to people in need.”

“I think it’s premature to take a decision to arm the opposition movement in Syria because I would challenge anyone to clearly identify for me the opposition movement in Syria at this point,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview broadcast Sunday. “There are indications that al Qaeda is involved and that they’re interested in supporting the opposition. … And until we’re a lot clearer about, you know, who they are and what they are, I think it would be premature to talk about arming them.”

“Unleashing even more violence without a realistic prospect of changing the regime’s behavior or improving security,” wrote Lynch, director of George Washington University’s Institute of Middle East studies, in the CNAS report, “is neither just nor wise.”


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February 21st, 2012, 12:48 pm


123. Ghufran said:

State media is allowing people to criticize the const. draft and giving interviews to politicians who oppose article-3,this business was a waste of time.

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February 21st, 2012, 12:52 pm


124. Ghufran said:

أدركوا الأمر قبل أن يدرككم!

“ادركوا الأمر قبل أن يدرككم!”، صرخة مدوّية أطلقها الأديب والكاتب السعودي زهير كتبي عبر قناة “دليل” الفضائية، محذّراً قادة المملكة من “ثورة الجياع” إن لم تعالج مشكلة الفقر في بلد يمتلك أكبر احتياطي نفطي في العالم.

[Link added]

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February 21st, 2012, 1:01 pm


125. irritated said:


“Assad will be swept aside by a tidal wave of Sunni anger”.

Only Assad? I guess all Syria will be swept aside with the amount of weapons and sectarian hatred these extremists are carrying.

It may become Syriastan unless this “wave” is stopped.

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February 21st, 2012, 2:10 pm


126. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Assads had the wrong illusion that the country had become their property. This idea was tested many times and it always seemed to be true that all lands, properties and people belonged to the Assads. The police state seemed to be an unbreakable weapon as well as the support of all suckxxx bussiness and corrupt classes from Damascus and Aleppo. But unexpected developments happened in Tunis and the tsunami swallowed Syria into a civil war while reduced the efforts and beneffits of private and public sectors to nothing, and soon or later will swallow the Assads too. This time we are near to real chaos, unprecedented chaos, as Assad predicted and expected. We can suffer civil war, international war, chemical war or even nuclear war. Reality is dealing with a monster regime, one of the more complicated history has ever seen.

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February 21st, 2012, 2:42 pm


127. Ghufran said:

What westerners say in public may not match what they say “off the camera and the mic”.
The dilemma facing decision makers in NATO countries is how to come up with a regime in Syria that is hostile or neutral to Iran,friendly or neutral to Israel,but still helpful to western interests in the region and not dominated by militant Muslims who are the natural enemies of anything western. Egypt is making a lot of people in the west nervous and it is even worse when it comes to Libya and even Tunisia. As an American friend told me,the republican leadership likes to talk tough on Syria while they tend to speak a different language behind close doors,the trend today is to take a cautious approach and make sure that the new devil is not worse than the old one. Only national dialogue can satisfy the majority of Syrians and reduce the anxiety of its neighbors and reassure the big players. The conference in Tunisia will be a stillbirth because it is not done to find a solution,it is a continuum of a limpy Qatari approach to a country that needs two legs to walk,one leg and a stick is not good enough.

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February 21st, 2012, 2:42 pm


128. Ghufran said:

This is becoming a waste of time,I got kicked out three times for no obvious reason,my posts had no G words or any reference to any person,blogger,etc.
Mr moderator,fix this darn filter or risk filtering out all of your good posters.

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February 21st, 2012, 2:45 pm


129. Ghufran said:

I have to leave this blog until the filter is reset,this is a waste of time.

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February 21st, 2012, 2:47 pm


130. Ghufran said:

أصلحوا الفلتر او سامحونا

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February 21st, 2012, 2:48 pm


131. bronco said:

117. Jad

Jad, as you heard on the interview you posted, the pro-regime civilians are about to take arms on the side of the government. When armed civilians decide to fight against other armed civilians, it is a civil war.
If the “Friends of Syria” recognize the SNC as the representative of the Syrians, there is no doubt that for around 50% of the Syrians who do not recognize the SNC, this is a serious injustice and a provocation. Most young men will not sit quiet, they’ll find a way to take arms to protect themselves and to help the army in the fights against undefined and leaderless gunmen.
Qatar and KSA are so humiliated by the relentless defiance of Bashar al Assad and by the failure of all their scenarios that either they will back down or they will escalate the support of the armed gunmen. It will snowball and soon Turkey and Jordan will become subject to Islamic extremists attacks.
In my view Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon will plead for a negotiated agreement with Bashar as they are the next target of the Islamic extremists.
The GCC is playing a childish and vicious game of power and they will bear the consequences sooner or later.

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February 21st, 2012, 3:09 pm


132. irritated said:

#122 Sandro Loewe

“We can suffer civil war, international war, chemical war or even nuclear war.”

No one living in Syria now would say something like that.

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February 21st, 2012, 3:13 pm


133. zoo said:

In Egypt, hopes of a true revolution fade
By Oren Dorell, USA TODAY
A year after the revolution, many Egyptians — already suffering under the weight of a wretched economy — see an undemocratic society where the military and Islamic ideologues are hoarding power while changing nothing. Though some are pleased that a form of law shaped by the Quran is coming to Egypt, others wonder whether they have swapped one corrupt and suppressing dictatorship for another.

The hated laws enforced by Mubarak that permitted police to imprison people without trial remain in effect. (Incidentally, Mubarak is now facing his own form of Egyptian justice — and possibly the death penalty — in an ongoing trial over the killing of demonstrators during last year’s uprising. His two sons also face trial on corruptions charges.)

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February 21st, 2012, 3:18 pm


134. zoo said:

Iran warns: No to US adventurism in Syria
Warships sail to Syria
By M K Bhadrakumar
A flotilla of Iranian warships crossed the Suez Canal and docked at the Syrian port of Tartus on Saturday. Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the mission displays Iran’s “might” despite 30 years of relentless sanctions.

The flotilla comprised the 18th Fleet of the Iranian navy. The warships would hold exercises and will “train Syrian naval forces under an agreement signed between Tehran and Damascus one year ago”.

The influential cleric and deputy chairman of the Majlis’ (parliament’s” National Security and Foreign Policy
Committee, Hossein Ebrahimi said:

“The presence of Iran and Russia’s flotillas along the Syrian coasts has a clear message against the United States’ possible adventurism. In case of any US strategic mistake in Syria, there is a possibility that Iran, Russia and a number of other countries will give a crushing response to the US.”


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February 21st, 2012, 3:21 pm


135. Jerusalem said:

Dear Irritated,

You wrote: It may become Syriastan unless this “wave” is stopped.

I completely agree with you. The question is how can we stop it?
What- we- who are writing comments can do??
We read information, we reply to information, we manage information and we drink up news.
Let’s brainstorm …see how can we coordinates our thoughts/acts to prevent Syria from becoming Syriastan. Let’s look at it as if it’s a business case and try to come up with possible processes.

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February 21st, 2012, 3:45 pm


136. Tara said:

Rambling and incoherent draft constitution, this document makes the president more powerful and the state apparatus more pervasive.  It is indeed laughable.

Tuesday 21 February 2012 10.05 EST
…. .
The constitution itself, available in English, starts off with a particularly long preamble that is as boring as it is irrelevant. Jumbled and inconclusive, it affirms the country’s “Arab” identity and rants about the dangers and obstacles of colonialism and imperialism, as well as the Zionist enemy. Furthermore, not once, unlike the 1950 Syrian constitution’s preamble, does it ever say “we the representatives of the Syrian people”. The preamble lectures the Syrian people, and it speaks at them, but it never states by what authority this document is coming into existence.
…. .
The body of the constitution is a rambling and long list of articles – 157 to be precise. Frustratingly, it again insists that the president should be “part of the Muslim faith”. Furthermore, one theme running throughout it is that the lines between the branches of government are blurred, and it is much later in the document that the nature of the relationship is spoken of. Clearly it seems far more important for the framers to lecture on Syria’s Arab identity and imperialism first, as if the people demonstrating on the streets in Syria are doing so for that reason primarily. Throughout the document, rights are not inherent for the citizens, to be protected and enshrined by the constitution, but guaranteed and granted by the state. This is a curious nuance that deserves contemplation.

There are also bizarre articles enshrining physical education, the sacredness of marriage and protection of the environment, while article 40 says that the state undertakes to provide employment for all citizens – I’m not sure why or how a “state” can do that. If the only fault with this draft was that it was poorly written and structured then perhaps Assad could be forgiven. But the most important parts of it, those related to the governing of the country, show us an extremely powerful role for the presidency and a pervasive state apparatus, which is something that many Syrians should be very wary of after 40 years of dictatorship.
…. .
In article 55 the legislative authority is placed with a people’s assembly, and while article 100 says that the president must issue laws passed by the people’s assembly, article 111 says that he can also dismiss the people’s assembly for “a reasoned decision issued by him” – so basically because he says so. Article 116 appears to allow for a form of Syrian populism, as the president can appeal to the citizenry through referendums, to pass laws that are immediately binding and that bypass the people’s assembly, which contradicts article 55. Article 117 says that the president cannot be held responsible for what he does in the line of his duties, apart from high treason, in which case he will be tried before a supreme constitutional court. But article 141 states that the president is a member of this same supreme constitutional court, and in fact it also states that he appoints each and every member of it. The supreme constitutional court has no right to question the constitutionality of laws passed by the president of the republic through public referendum, Article 148, and can only scrutinise the people’s assembly in the laws it passes. This jumble of articles appears to enshrine populism, which is deeply worrying.

In article 132 we are told that the judiciary is independent, but that the president and a higher council of judiciary guarantee that independence. Oh, and he presides over this council, too, by the way.
…. .

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February 21st, 2012, 4:00 pm


137. Jerusalem said:

بعد استلام الاخونجية الوزارة في المغرب فتوى لاحد مشايخ الاخونجية تبيح للرجل ممارسة الجنس مع زوجته الميتة

وقال في فتواه الدين الإسلامي يبيح ممارسة الجنس على الجثث، بشرط وجود عقد قران بين الطرفين قبل الموت

[Link added: ]


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February 21st, 2012, 4:01 pm


138. Alan said:

Made in Jordan: Thousands of gunmen preparing to enter Syria?

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February 21st, 2012, 4:38 pm


139. Equus said:

“Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have chosen sides in the Washington-backed belligerency – the side of Empire.” Syria has no choice but to secure every square foot of its territory. “Faced with the certainty of superpower-backed attack under the guise of ‘protecting’ civilians in “liberated” territory, Syria cannot afford to cede even one neighborhood of a single city – not one block! – or of any rural or border enclave, to armed rebels and foreign jihadis.”

by Glen Ford

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February 21st, 2012, 4:49 pm


140. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

The Iraqization of Syria

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February 21st, 2012, 6:02 pm


141. Tara said:

حمص وشوارع الموت
Free press at work describes what goes on.     

The corpse, already waxy, wrapped in its shroud, a crown of plastic flowers around its head, lies in a corner of the mosque. Kneeling next to the coffin, a boy in tears, his brother, strokes his face with infinite tenderness. The dead boy was 13. The night before, around 11 o’clock, he was breaking wood in front of his doorstep. His father, eyes swollen, but upright and dignified among his friends and relatives, tells me what happened: “He probably shone his mobile phone to see what he was doing. And the sniper killed him.”

I wanted to attend the funeral of the little boy, whose name was Taha, but it couldn’t be held before I left: the mukhabarat security forces who control the morgue were refusing to release his body unless his father signed a paper certifying his son had been killed by “terrorists”, meaning the FSA, of course. There is worse. Later on the day of the killings in Karam al-Zeytoun, the activists learn that an entire family has been murdered at home, in a neighbourhood called Nasihine: 11 people, including five children, three with their throats cut. It was a Sunni family that lived at the edge of a neighbourhood dominated by the Alaouite community (the dissident Shiite sect of President Bashar al-Assad’s clan and of the leaders of the security forces); testimonies gathered from the scene suggest a sectarian provocation.

This brings back bad old memories. Between 1993 and 1995, when I was in Bosnia, more than 80,000 people were killed in front of the eyes of journalists and aid workers from around the world, and of UN peacekeepers whose mandate allowed them only to shoot rabid dogs. If we have nothing better to offer the Syrian people, we might as well leave them to their fate. It would at least have the virtue of honesty.

• First published in Le Monde. Translated by Charlotte Mandell. (c) Jonathan Littell

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February 21st, 2012, 6:20 pm


142. Tara said:

Syria’s Druze community: A silent minority in no rush to take sides
Phil Sands

About 500,000 in number and concentrated in the rocky mountainscape of the Jabal Al Arab, the Druze are among the smallest of Syria’s minority groups, fewer than the Alawites, Kurds or Christians.

But their reputation for rebellion against central authority and for wielding an influence in Syrian political life disproportionate to their numbers means their support is avidly sought by both Bashar Al Assad and the president’s opponents.

Druze activists and political figures are playing a prominent role in the uprising as members of the two major opposition political blocs, the Syrian National Council and the National Coordination Committees. Druze dissidents have also been instrumental in leading anti-regime demonstrations.

However, in the struggle for Druze support, it is the regime that for the moment remains on top, according to both critics and supporters of the government in the Druze community. Sweida is still seen as a bastion of at least tacit support for Mr Al Assad’s regime, 11 months into an uprising against his rule.

“When it comes to organising big protests, we’ve failed,” said one Druze activist from Sweida. “The uprising here is limited to the intellectuals. We’ve not been successful in getting it out into the wider community.”

Sweida’s silence, according to activists, analysts and Syrian Druze on both sides of the political divide, is the result of a variety of factors, from mundane practical problems to the long-harboured fears of a minority terrified by the prospect of rule by Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority.

Druze are quick to mention Adib Al Shishakli when explaining their support for Mr Al Assad. Shishakli, a Sunni from the central city of Hama, ruled Syria in the early 1950s and sent the military to bombard the Jebel Al Arab and assert central control over the newly independent country.

Druze religious leaders have refused to back protesters. They side with Mr Al Assad and, like him, give warning of a “foreign conspiracy”. Early in the uprising, activists in Sweida held meetings with Druze sheikhs including the three most powerful, Hamoud Al Hinnawi, Hussein Jabour and Ahmed Hajari, to solicit their support.

“One day the shabbiheh or security will kill someone here and then the place will explode in their faces,” said one local opposition figure. “The pressure is building all the time, they cannot keep Sweida or the Druze out of the uprising for ever.

…read more

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February 21st, 2012, 6:32 pm


143. Tara said:

Beirut farewell for reporter Shadid, writer of ‘poetry on deadline’


BEIRUT // Friends, colleagues and family gathered in Beirut on Tuesday to celebrate the life of Anthony Shadid, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and one of the preeminent Middle East correspondents of his generation.

Shadid, The New York Times’ Beirut bureau chief, died on Thursday from an asthma attack while on assignment in Syria.

Yesterday, his life and work were remembered at a poignant memorial service at the American University of Beirut, not far from the shore of the Mediterranean.

His death at the age of 43 triggered an outpouring of tribute and praise for a man who was able to produce “poetry on deadline”, as one colleague, Steve Fainaru, recently wrote in The Washington Post.

Speaker after speaker paid similar tributes at the memorial ceremony in the university’s sand-coloured brick assembly hall. No music was played. Candles flickered outside.

Shadid’s wife, Nada Bakri, also a New York Times correspondent read from one of his books.

His father Buddy, and Tyler Hicks, The New York Times photographer who was on assignment with Shadid in Syria when he died, also spoke.

Mr Hicks told the packed, cathedral-like hall of the way Shadid “looked people in the eyes and they knew he really cared what they had to say”.

“If they told him their story, he would relay that honestly and truthfully,” he said.


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February 21st, 2012, 6:40 pm


144. Tara said:

Bashar al Assad kills 107 people today.

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February 21st, 2012, 6:50 pm


145. Tara said:

Russia boosts arms sales to Syria despite world pressure
By Thomas Grove and Erika Solomon | Reuters – 2 hrs 12 mins ago

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February 21st, 2012, 7:18 pm


146. MM said:

Mezzeh is the spelling used on all street signs in Damascus…. Pronunciation does not come out in spelling.

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February 21st, 2012, 7:36 pm


147. ann said:

*** israel – mossad are proud of blood thirsty murderous islamist
*** terrorist mercenary killers in Syria.

Ex-Mossad chief sees opportunity in Syrian crisis – 02/22/2012

How does Israel ensure that Iran is defeated in Syria? Wouldn’t it backfire if Israel were seen to be involved?

Israel shouldn’t be directly involved for obvious reasons.

Once Israel enters the fray, this becomes an Israeli-Arab or Israeli-Muslim confrontation, which deflects attention from the main issues of Sunni- Shi’ite, and the Shi’ite repression of a majority in a foreign country. Israel should promote through its channels with major powers in the world a dialogue between leaders in Western nations and Russia to try to forge a common policy on Syria, which would entail mutual concessions at the American and Russian level.


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February 21st, 2012, 8:30 pm


148. majedkhaldoun said:

It seems that Bashar is getting ready to destroy Homs, at least in Baba Amro,by doing that he have to commit a massacre.

[Edited for typos and discriminatory language — please take care with group references, avoid linking groups to possible retribution]

This constitution Bashar is recommending is a replica of the old constitution, with minor modification, it will not be accepted in a free and honest referendum., it is not a reform.

The pro regime are already armed,they are the shabbiha. Bashar has to realize that a revolution with this magnitude ,no one can end and suppress it,He has committed too many crimes,that to escape like Yemen Saleh is not possible anymore.

AlArabi said that there are signs that China wants to change their mind, it is too late,Nabil Al Arabi must stay quiet,he better resign,

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February 21st, 2012, 8:37 pm


149. Tara said:

Syrian dissidents establish new bloc


Prominent Syrian dissidents have formed a new opposition bloc called the “National Change Movement,” as an alternative to Syrian National Council, or SNC. 

The leader of the movement, a prominent human rights activist and former Chairman of the National Organization of Human Rights in Syria, Dr. Ommar Qurabi, said the new bloc represented the true revolutionary forces, and that their aim was to rebuild Syria after the Assad regime is toppled.
“Like many other dissidents, I am not in the SNC. SNC is not the only group that represents the opposition. If somebody says ‘I am the only representative of the Syrian people’ they would be no different from al-Assad’s Baath Party,” Qurabi, who left Syria last April, told Hürriyet Daily News in a recent interview. 

Qurabi said they represented all the religious and ethnic groups in Syria and all the minority groups such as Turkmens, Yezidis and Durzis, who couldn’t find a place in the SNC.

“We support the revolution. Our mission is going to start when the al-Assad regime is toppled. We will rebuild the country from the beginning. We are the first Syrian opposition party that is not Islamist,” Qurabi said. 

Qurabi also said there was a risk of a civil war in Syria if the current chaotic situation continues. “We haven’t seen truly strong support from the Arab League, the UN, or Turkey until now. We want the international community to create a buffer zone in Syria,” Qurabi said. 

The vice chairman of the group is a Syrian Alevi dissident, Vahid Saqir, who has been living in London since 1996. 

Saqir claimed there were many Alevis in Syria who want a change in the country, but who are afraid to raise their voices. “We have 80 founders, 400 members, and offices in nine different countries. We will be opening an office in Istanbul soon,” Saqir said. 

Bekir Atacan, one of the founders of the movement and a Syrian Turkmen, said: “The SNC has not accepted us as Syrian Turkmen. However, we are highly represented in the Change Movement, just like the other ethnic groups in Syria.”


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February 21st, 2012, 8:58 pm


150. ann said:

US hints at possibility of arming Syrian rebels – 02/22/2012

Washington, which is preparing for a “Friends of Syria” meeting of Western and Arab states opposing President Bashar Assad, declined to rule out eventually providing arms to rebels seeking to overthrow him.

Asked about the prospect of arming the rebels, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: “We don’t believe that it makes sense to contribute now to the further militarization of Syria.”

But she added: “That said… if we can’t get Assad to yield to the pressure that we are all bringing to bear, we may have to consider additional measures.”


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February 21st, 2012, 9:07 pm


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