Interventionists Versus Non-Interventionists

Interventionists Versus Non-Interventionists
Two distinct camps are forming to battle over Syria policy in Washington.

[This article was picked up by CNN as Washington's battle over Syria]

The first is made up of the neocons, who are busy fitting the Arab Spring into US strategic interests as they see them. Bolton, Doran, and Abrams have been leading the charge in articulating this argument. (Bolton and Doran articles are copied below)

The second group are the “realists,” with a liberal coating. Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies has articulated a “don’t get involved” argument in the article copied below.

The first want to take down Assad’s Syria and the second do not.  The first group believe that flipping Syria’s orientation from being pro-Iran and anti-Israel to inverse is as a vital US strategic goal, the second do not. The first see it as part of a broader effort to help friends and hurt enemies. They see Israel and Saudi Arabia as America’s main allies in the region and want to build them up. They want to crush, Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, and Hamas. Syria is important because of Iran, America’s number one enemy. They tend to depict the battle in the Middle East as a struggle between good and evil, and freedom versus tyranny. The second see shades of gray. They see an ugly civil war lurking behind the surface of democracy promotion and are not sure Washington would be wise to get sucked into further expensive commitments that have more to do with messy emerging national identities and less to do with US interests.

The neocons have a number of strengths. Clarity is first among them. Second is the nature of the Assad regime, which is oppressive and run by a family surrounded by a narrow elite, dominated by Alawis, a minority community unpopular among a broad section of the Sunni population. The regime has failed to deliver sufficient economic growth to reverse the growing pool of unemployed youth and to raise the standard of living for most Syrians. The country is suffering from all the ills of a growing income gap, drought and bad policies. Reform has been too slow and many believe it will never come because of the vested interests of the narrow and highly corrupt elite at the top. A growing number of Syrians argue that the entire system must be destroyed and Syria must rebuild itself. Increasingly, leaders of the Syrian uprising are beginning to embrace the ideas being put forward by the neocons. In order to win full US backing, they are pushing for acceptance of a complete strategic reversal of Syria’s foreign policy goals.

The neocons are not advocating direct US military involvement in Syria today. They understand this is not politically feasible. But they are preparing the grounds for a much higher level of military commitment in the future. They understand full well that in order to take down the Assad regime and counter the force of the Syrian military, the Syrian opposition will need to develop a full military option. To do so, it will need major US and NATO backing. This will not be a fight for the feint of heart.

Their strategy for angling the US toward making such a commitment in the future is economic sanctions. Broad economic sanctions imposed on Syria by the EU would have major moral implications down the road. Should Syrians start to starve, as they surely would if real sanctions are imposed, the moral argument for intervention and military escalation would improve. Should the poorest and most vulnerable Syrians begin to expire, as happened in Iraq in the 1990s, military intervention would become necessary to end the suffering and starvation. Liberals would have to support the military option in such a case. Today, most do not. Sanctions imposed now will make military intervention in the future imperative. Liberals embraced the invasion of Iraq in large part because of the moral argument. Saddam was starving his people. It would be hard to resist such an argument.

Europeans governments have so far resisted imposing blanket trade sanctions on Syria for this exact reason. Once we see European governments impose devastating sanctions on Damascus, we may safely assume that they have accepted the notion of greater military involvement down the line in order to solve the humanitarian problem that sanctions will create. Perhaps they will not support a ground invasion as was done in Iraq, but they could support establishing a no-fly-zone and arming and training a proper Syrian insurgency, as was done in Libya. Of course, in Syria it will be a much bigger and more expensive operation as Syria has no frozen assets that can be diverted to fund the opposition. They Syrian army is much tougher than Libya’s was.

The realists argue that the US should not get militarily involved. They argue that Assad is too strong, and that the US is trying to prune its military commitments rather than grow them. The Assad regime still has the support of important sections of the population. It is not a clear question of good versus evil in Syria; rather, the struggle for power reflects deeper civil and sectarian divisions in Syria. The Syrian opposition is hopelessly divided. Perhaps it will develop a leadership, but that will take time and must be left to emerge organically. The US should not tie its cart so closely to Israel and Saudi Arabia because both countries are pursuing policies which are not good for US interests in the long run. What is more, the realists do not believe that the US should take sides in the broader religious war being fought between Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle East. The US wants to check Iranian power and dissuade it from going nuclear, but it does not want to enter into the religious war. Most importantly, the US has too many military commitments in the Middle East, a region that has sucked up far too much of Washington’s time and money over the last decade. Greater involvement in Syria is not popular. In the end, this is a Syrian battle and the US cannot decide it’s outcome.

[End of Landis Commentary]

From the Comment Section: Should the Opposition go Military?

Tara writes:

Time may have come for the revolution to change course.  I am specifically worried about what I read in 190.  Selmiayh my not work anymore.  Armed resistance with no fly zone and a buffer zone near the northern border might be the way to go.  The buffer zone will be the safe haven for the defectors and I am sure most Sunnis in the army will defect.  I am not afraid of civil war.  Alawites who support the regime are already in the army or security forces or are Sabbihas.  They are already bearing arms.  Intellectual Alawites and others who do not currently support the regime will not support it either in case of armed resistance.  I doubt Christians civilians will bear arms and die for the regime as deep down their support is pseudo-support stemming dorm minority’s complex disorder.

We started hearing some demonstrators on the ground asking for international protection.  I am sure this is a growing feeling but people have not freely expressed it for fear of being labeled traitors.  External opposition needs to pay attention to these subtleties.  We can waste 2200 lives in vain.

I personally am struggling with this.  Is armed resistance justified? absolutely. 2200 killed in cold blood including 100 infants and small children, more than 10000 arrested, and thousands forced into refugee camps or exile.  Is it moral? Absolutely.  One could argue that allowing the killings to happen without fighting back is not moral.  Armed resistance is not romantic but I am afraid that it might be the only way to a happy ending.

After all in the fairy tales that I like to read, evil must be fought.  It never surrenders out of benevolence.  Bashar speech might be the turning point.  It is clear that he wouldn’t hesitate to unleash all his evil against the people and you may just not be able to win over that evil with non violent means.

sheila writes:

Dear Tara, Even though I usually agree with you on almost everything, I would like to vehemently disagree with you on the call for armed resistance.  I totally understand where you are coming from.  On an emotional level, it is very hard for any decent human being to watch what is going on in Syria and not feel that something drastic needs to be done to stop the blood shed, however, the day the demonstrators carry arms will be the start of the real massacres.  Today, the regime has  no “legitimate” reason to kill massive numbers of protestors because no one believes the “armed gangs” fantasy, even though the regime has exhausted all efforts to cement the theory.  When the peaceful resistance becomes armed resistance, then the regime will have the “legitimacy” to kill en mass.  Also, to have enough arms to fight the regime, you will definitely need outside support to pay for and smuggle the equipment.  This is not what we are looking for.  As hard as it is on an emotional level to let people die without putting up a fight, it is ultimately the strongest weapon that we have to fight the regime with.  Remember that were it not for NATO, Gadaffi would have exterminated all the “rats” of Libya,  A state army versus armed demonstrates is never a fair match or a winning match for the demonstrators. Hang in there.  The days of this regime are numbered.

Revlon writes:

Due to the mounting loss of human lives, imprisonment, and torture amongst street demonstrators, activists and their families, Youth Syria For Freedom website has issued a statement revising its recommendations on the issue of armed resistence.

- The statement stresses the importance of maintining peaceful demonstrations and the speedy formation of a representative national councuil.

- In addition to encouraging army defection, the statement sanctions operations by the FSA against Shabbee7a and Asad’s forces in defense of civilians.

- It also acknowledges, that the time might come when Libya style foreign military assistance would be needed!

Abu Ammar writes:

When your regime is dominated by Alawis and it cracks down with its armed forces and mukhabarat, dominated by Alawis, and slaughters, expels, jails tens of thousands of Syrian Sunnis so that it can maintain its Alawi grip on power, do you honestly expect that there won’t be sectarian hatred, bearing in mind that these actions are supported by the overwhelming majority of Alawis, something proved by the facts on the ground? And the deranged menhebeks have the audacity to talk about sectarianism, when they are the biggest benefactors of it?

Why do you expect the people to go to their graves like sheep and for them to smile at you when you kill them? They demand you be pacifists while they slaughter you. They are no different than their Zionist cousins who are outraged that the Palestinians refused to become refugees in their own land.

majedkhaldoon writes:

Tara

I have been an advocate of arming the people all along,I feel that a brutal dictator will not go unless he is faced with arm protestors, loosing 6000 martyrs between those who were killed,and those who diappeared, and there are more than 20,000 arrest this regime is not going to leave out of embarassment, we just saw two states one in Yemen,it was so far peaceful revolution, and is still going on, and one in Libya, that has just won because it was armed one.

It is not going to be a civil war, it is national uprising, all syrian will join in, even Alawite,and yes Christians, all against the Assad clan, It is wrong to call it civil war,What is called syrian army is not syrian army , it is assad protection army, and yes we have 17 security forces,all with arms, and the Shabiha(Lijan Sha3bieh),how can a peaceful young men prevail,this is big prison,and surrounded by all kind of weapons….

It pains me a lot to see thousand of young men and kids dye this way, in the long run we will loose more people ,killed by Assad clan, than what we would have lost if we use the armed revolution. and with peacefull revolution we may end up getting humilliated and forced to go back to become slaves again.
Syria will not get divided,and under democracy,we will not be sectarian,those who fight for freedom,will respect freedom.

Fred Writes:

Perhaps the best military option is to reform the army so that it operates like Hizballah? The current system of conscription with corruption can be devastating for poor families, and is an unnecessary waste of the young men’s time and the state’s resources. Hizballah fighters seem to have very high morale, unlike the starving wretches the government is throwing at the people. I’ve been told of residents in both Hama and Daraa feeding the soldiers that surround them. Also in Deir Ezzor soldiers from Aleppo were breaking into homes simply to steal food. An acquaintance of mine was recently re-drafted into the military and retrained as an intelligence officer. He paid a lot of bribes in order to be relieved of his duties and he is now a civilian again. While he was there he paid from his own pocket to keep 5 conscripts in food and provisions.

To Tara and Aboud – I understand your point about soldiers’ loyalty to the people but please don’t forget that many of them are terrified, hungry and exhausted and are in some respects the people most abused by the system.

Military question:

How do we get Syria’s arsenal of rockets out of the hands of Assad and Company and into the hands of the new state without losing them to other countries’ intelligence services????

Strategic positions:

I like the idea of keeping both Iran and Turkey happy at the same time without needing the current Assad mafia. I don’t understand why we should throw away a valuable relationship with Iran, simply because it supported Assad. What do you expect it to do? If we get the support of Iran and Turkey, then we can get rid of Assad very quickly, because they can guarantee a way out for him.

News Round Up

US, allies all but rule out Syria military intervention – News agencies

The United States and its allies have all but ruled out military action against Damascus despite their success in Libya because Syria’s opposition is less organised and faces a much stronger regime.

Analysts said the situation is far less conducive to foreign intervention in Syria, despite the success of the NATO air campaign that weakened Muammar Gaddafi’s defences and helped Libyan rebels to reach the heart of Tripoli.

One analyst said that unlike in Libya, the allies would also face Arab opposition to military strikes in Syria, and warned that intervention carried the risk of triggering a broader regional conflict.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland all but ruled out allied military intervention in Syria if sanctions and diplomatic pressure fail to stop President Bashar al-Assad from using deadly force to crush protests.

The Syrian people “have chosen peaceful means to make their views known to their own government,” Nuland told reporters last week, adding they were following the paths of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.”So military action is not the preferred course of anyone, not the Syrian people, not the Arab or European or American members of the international community,” she said.

Nuland reiterated the US stance when asked whether rebel successes in Libya since the weekend would increase the pressure for intervention in Syria.

In France, which led the charge for military action in Libya, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said there would be no such intervention in Syria even if the rebel advances had what he called “significant consequences” for Damascus.

Anthony Cordesman, a security analyst with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said the United States and its allies did not have much of a military option in Syria.

“There’s no overt uprising to back, there’s no momentum behind the uprising. Your are talking about a country (Syria) with a real military machine, with a serious military capability, unlike Libya which is largely a facade,” he said.

“Until you see a real opposition develop in Syria, some kind of movement that has some credible reason to be backed, you can’t simply out of context attack Assad’s regime because it’s repressive,” Cordesman said.

“The scale of military operations that would be required (would be much higher than in Libya) and present far more risks of civilian casualties and collateral damage,” he said.

Radwan Ziadeh, a US-based Syrian dissident who has met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said the rebel successes in Libya will spur more calls within Syria for arming the opposition against Assad.

The Nexus and the Olive Tree
The White House needs to tune out the dramatic events of Syria and Libya and focus on America’s strategic goals in the region.
BY MICHAEL DORAN | AUGUST 22, 2011

At the heart of Obama’s grand strategy was a mistaken definition of the strategic challenge. Now that the Arab uprisings have dragged the United States through a crash course on Middle Eastern realities, U.S. policymakers can more easily recognize the deepest drivers of politics in the region — namely, the vast number of severe conflicts that set Muslims against Muslims. From a practical strategic point of view, there is no such thing as “the Muslim world.” Any effort to write a narrative of cooperation with a thing that does not actually exist is bound to encounter severe difficulties.

The United States must therefore dispense entirely with grand strategies that seek to foster a conciliatory image of the United States and to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Instead, it should focus on the key challenge posed by the Arab uprisings: managing intra-Muslim conflict.

This requires returning to the question that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah first posed to Obama: What is the strategy of the United States toward Iran? At stake in Syria today is nothing less than the future of the Iranian regional security system. It should not escape notice that the Saudis, though hostile to the populist wave in general, have now aligned themselves against Assad. As much as they fear revolution, the Saudis fear the Islamic Republic of Iran even more, and they see the Syrian crisis as an opportunity to deal a severe blow to it. The United States should adopt a similar view.

The contest on the ground in Syria, obviously, has profoundly local causes. Nevertheless, the regional struggle between Iran and its rivals will play a significant role in shaping it. After Assad falls, a proxy war will erupt, with outside powers seeking to cultivate Syrian clients. Iran and Hezbollah will use the covert and brutal methods that they have honed in Lebanon and Iraq. They will preserve what they can from the remnants of Assad’s security services, while simultaneously arming and training new proxies. They will kill off and intimidate those Syrians who get in their way.

The United States has a vital interest in thwarting Iran. To do so effectively, however, it must develop a serious and sustained regional containment strategy. The process of writing the new strategy begins, like before, in Riyadh and Ankara. This time, however, Obama should reverse his attitude toward the preferences of King Abdullah and Prime Minister Erdogan. The Syrian crisis offers a new opportunity to reach a strategic accommodation with the Saudis. At the same time, it should also force Washington to re-evaluate the Turks’ no-problems policy. To date, this policy has worked to the net benefit of Iran and Syria and to the detriment of the United States. There is no reason to believe that it will produce a different result in the future.

Writing a new grand strategy is important, but not urgent. It can always be put off until tomorrow, “when things calm down.” In the meantime, the phone is ringing. The world was treated to images of cheering Libyans retaking their capital on Aug. 21; the United States will surely be called upon to play a role in the messy political transition that will follow. The Aug. 18 terrorist attack in Israel has raised the specter of another Gaza war, while also escalating tensions with Egypt. And next month, the question of Palestinian statehood may well be taken up by the United Nations.

These and many other matters will soon fill up the calendar of U.S. officials. But if Washington is not careful, all these urgent issues will push aside consideration of grand strategy, precisely when it is needed most.

Only 12% Americans Think U.S. Should Step Up Involvement in Syria
Monday, August 22, 2011

The Obama administration has increased its criticism of Syria’s violent response to anti-government protests, and both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are now calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. But most U.S. voters continue to think America should mind its own business when it comes to Syria. Just 12% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the United States should get more directly involved in the Syrian crisis, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Sixty-six percent (66%) think the United States should leave the Syrian situation alone. Twenty-two percent (22%) are not sure which course is better.

New York Post: Facing facts on O’s Syria miscues

2011-08-24 John Bolton

The end of the Khadafy regime in Libya has focused new attention on the rebels in Syria — as has last week’s belated call by President Obama for the ouster of Bashar al-Assad. But it will take a more radical Obama course correction to make a real …

we should have pursued regime change, aiding legitimate opposition groups and thereby empowering responsible Syrian believers in a free and open society. Instead, we face an environment today where radical Islamists are potential successors to the Ba’athists.

Third, Obama has never understood Iran’s domineering role in Syria. Beyond the Ba’ath Party’s historical propensity for brutality and repression, long ago perfected by Bashar’s father, Iran’s increasingly hegemonic position has virtually ensured that he will not contravene Tehran’s will.

Given Iran’s use of Syria to fund and arm Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups, and its likely use of Syria to hide aspects of its nuclear-weapons program, Iran was never going to permit “reform.”

Indeed, the administration needs to face Iran’s influence across the region. Syria’s and Hezbollah’s murderous intervention has rendered Lebanon virtually prostrate yet again. Hamas’s indiscriminate terrorism against Israel has destroyed the prospects for Palestinian unity and a responsible path to statehood and representative government. Now, with Mubarak’s fall in Egypt, Hamas can conspire in public with its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, to radicalize Egyptians as well as Palestinians.

Obama either didn’t comprehend this relationship, or was simply unwilling to cross the Iranians because of his ethereal hopes to negotiate with Tehran to end its nuclear-weapons program. White House mistakes continue to allow Iran to prevail in Syria.

Fourth, calling for regime change isn’t just a question of timing but also of leadership. The administration waited far too long, thus minimizing the impact of its rhetoric, which is all that its policy really amounts to.

Moreover, prior sanctions, and those just announced by Obama and being discussed in Europe, haven’t squeezed Syria’s regime, nor are they likely to. Sanctions targeting particular institutions and individuals can almost never be effective because they are so susceptible to evasion. Only sweeping sanctions, swiftly and decisively applied and effectively enforced, have a chance of real effect. That is a far cry from what Obama and the European Union have actually done.

Fifth, Assad’s departure alone doesn’t mean broader change. For example, Alawite and Sunni generals may ditch him but maintain a military dictatorship, quite possibly leaving Iran in a dominant role. Or, absent a deal, Sunnis may use force to exact a heavy, bloody price from Alawites for the long Assad dictatorships. Moreover, Sunni Arab governments certainly want to diminish Iran’s influence in Syria, which means it may simply become another front in the Iranian-Saudi battle for dominance within Islam and in the Middle East, already reflected in Bahrain. That is hardly good news for Syria’s civilian population.

Obama has thus far grievously mishandled Syria, as he has an increasingly long list of other crisis spots. Americans will soon have to decide if they can do better, with a president who remembers that true leaders lead from the front.

John Bolton is a former US ambassador to the UN. His latest book is “Surrender Is Not an Option.”

‘New Sun’ by Sinan Antoon translated to English for your blog. You can view it also on youtube and enjoy the music by Malek Jandali, 23 July 2011

Moscow urges world community to bolster all-Syrian dialogue
MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti)

The international community should bolster a dialogue between all of the parties of the Syrian conflict, Valery Loshchinin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office in Geneva said on Tuesday.

“Russia believes that Syrians themselves should settle the situation in their country through an all-Syrian dialogue,” the diplomat said at a UN Human Rights Council special session on the situation of human rights in Syria.

The diplomat emphasized that the global community should assist the Syrian opposition and government to come to terms on necessary reforms.

“The Russian leadership is ready to take additional energetic measures to push forward the process of political and socio-economical reforms,” Loshchinin added.

Syria has been rocked by mass protests demanding reforms and the resignation of President Bashar Assad for almost six months. Pressure from international powers has mounted to end the crackdown.

According to UN investigators, some 2,200 civilians are thought to have been killed since protests began in the southern city of Deraa in mid-March.

The Syrian government says over 500 servicemen and security officers were also killed.

The UN Human Rights Council is drafting a resolution that “deplores the continuing indiscriminate attacks on its [Syrian] population” and seeks an immediate stop to “all acts of violence,” the BBC reported on Monday.

“People are just beginning to form an opposition and so they are treading carefully. This is understandable,” said Mahmud Osman, an opposition member at the meeting in Turkey. “We don’t claim to represent the whole of Syria. But we are talking to everyone and we are trying to build a consensus.”
more…

Syrian opposition moves towards setting up national council – Guardian

Splits remain in opposition fragmented by sectarian and ideological tensions, with no clear next steps beyond demands for more freedom

Syria’s fragmented opposition took steps towards forming a national council on Tuesday, but serious divisions and mistrust among the members prevented them from presenting a unified front against president Bashar al-Assad’s regime more than five months into the country’s uprising, participants said.

The opposition, fragmented by years of sectarian and ideological tensions, has made unprecedented gains against the regime, but there is no clear leadership or platform beyond the demands for more freedom and for Assad to step down.

With Assad’s forces cracking down on the protests, the overall death toll has reached 2,200, the United Nations said this week.

Opposition members have been meeting in neighbouring Turkey in recent days, but there were conflicting reports about exactly what emerged. Obeida al-Nahhas told the Associated Press that a council had been formed but the details were still being completed; others said there was no council to speak of yet.

The Libya lesson

Kadafi may fall, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. should pursue the same strategy in, say, Syria.

August 23, 2011

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-libya-20110823,0,5149844.story

The international campaign against Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi is on the verge of a historic achievement: The judicious use of force by Western nations has given that nation’s rebellion the opportunity to eliminate a longtime scourge. And yet the experience of Libya, though it ushers out an unstable ruler, offers an uncertain model for U.S. foreign policy.

The use of force to address the internal abominations of other nations raises profoundly difficult questions for American policymakers. Eager not to serve as the world’s police force and yet determined to support democratic values and human rights, the United States often finds itself facing limited, unpalatable options. It may stand aside and allow rulers to abuse their people, or it may intervene, risking American lives and reinforcing the international impression that this nation is entitled to govern others.

In Libya, the Obama administration chose a middle course. The U.S. provided limited air and drone support to rebels who might well have been defeated without it. It declined to act unilaterally but rather played a supporting role in an effort led by European nations that have a greater stake in Libya’s stability. And though there were signs of mission creep, of deepening embroilment in Libya’s civil war, the U.S. largely resisted those temptations. Not one American soldier set foot in Libya.

Success should not breed complacency, however. What caused Kadafi to lose control of the country was less the pressure of outsiders than the fundamental weakness of his hollow regime. It would be foolish to assume that other governments, even in the region, are as susceptible to challenge. In Syria, for instance, the government of Bashar Assad retains, at least for the moment, the support of a formidable army and continues to pummel its people into submission; the death toll there is thought to exceed 2,200. Last week, the Obama administration, in conjunction with U.S. allies, called for Assad to step down and imposed sanctions on Syrian oil and American investment in Syria. Those were wise and measured steps, calibrated to the specifics of that situation.

Some will see in the crumbling of Kadafi’s regime a template for action in Syria. That’s the wrong lesson. Instead, the apparent success of the Libyan rebels is a reminder that every crisis is unique, and that each calls for the nuanced application of leverage in defense of American values and interests. Force is sometimes justified, but it should only be deployed when other methods have failed, when it can serve a vital end and when it can be effective in securing that result….

US ambassador visits southern Syria
(AFP) – 23 aug 2011

WASHINGTON — The US ambassador to Damascus on Tuesday visited, without Syrian permission, a town in the south of the country and met with members of the opposition there, US officials said.

Officials said Robert Ford made the visit to Jassem, which they conceded lies beyond a 25-kilometer (15-mile) limit from Damascus that the Syrians set after they were angered by a visit he made last month to the city of Hama.

Beyond that limit, permission is required.

In Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Ford informed the Syrian Foreign Ministry only after he returned to Damascus because three of his previous requests to travel beyond the limit were denied.

“He made clear to them that the reason that he didn’t inform them before the visit was because they haven’t been approving any visits, by anybody, anywhere,” Nuland told reporters.

Nuland said Ford went to Jassem, some 65 kilometers (42 miles) south of Damascus, because there had been peaceful protests there.

“He had a chance there to talk to a number of Syrians, including those in the opposition. And then he drove back to Damascus,” Nuland said.

A large number of security forces accompanied him and the Syrian Foreign Ministry was not surprised to learn of his visit, she said.

An embassy spokesman in Damascus who asked not to be named said Ford visited Jassem “as part of his routine diplomatic duties.” Jassem is in southern Daraa province, epicenter of anti-regime protests that broke out in mid-March, where according to activists 15 people were killed on Friday by security forces when they opened fire to crush a demonstration.
more…

Gulfsands Petrol: Syria Sanctions and Commercial Relationships with Makhlouf Interests, 2011-08-24

London, 24th August, 2011: Gulfsands Petroleum plc (“Gulfsands”, the “Group” or the “Company” – AIM: GPX), the oil and gas production, exploration and development company with activities in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Italy and the U.S.A., wish to provide … Gulfsands Petroleum in oil payments to Assad cousin

By Lina Saigol and Sylvia Pfeifer in London

Gulfsands Petroleum, the London-listed oil and gas company, agreed to give a share of profits from its production activities in Syria to a company controlled by Rami Makhlouf, the first cousin of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

The company has also paid more than $1m in fees to Ramak, the Makhlouf family’s holding company, for services connected with its operations in the country.

The revelations show that the links between Gulfsands and Mr Makhlouf, who is closely associated with the Syrian regime and is estimated to control up to 60 per cent of the Syrian economy, go much further than previously thought. The Al Mashreq Investment Fund, which is majority controlled by Mr Makhlouf, owns a 5.7 per cent stake in Gulfsands.

Mr Makhlouf has been put under sanctions by both the US and the European Union for his links to the Syrian regime, which has been accused of killing 2,400 protestors since uprisings began in March. However, the EU has not yet imposed any sanctions on Gulfsands.

Gulfsands and its 50:50 joint venture partner at the time, Ocean Energy, were awarded an interest in Block 26, Syria’s biggest oil producing area, in an open tender in 2000. Under an agreement Gulfsands and Ocean agreed to give Ramak a 2.5 per cent net profit interest in Block 26.

Here is an interesting report on Alevis of Trkey by the Turkish Government’s Washington think tank SETA.

ALEVI OPENING AND THE DEMOCRATIZATION INITIATIVE IN TURKEY

ABSTRACT

The “Alevi Issue” is one of the most complicated and, at the same time, largely misunderstood problems in Turkey. Conflicts, resentments, grievances, and perpetual fears about Alevis that have existed for centuries have been publicly voiced through different mechanisms; yet, the message had never been understood thoroughly by the interlocutors of the Alevis. The discussions on the issue in various social and political contexts have often revolved around a rather limited list of Alevi identity-based claims…..

The overall objectives of the Alevi identity struggle fall under four major categories that are closely related to each other:19 i) maintenance of the Alevi identity in modern, urban social contexts, ii) recognition of Alevi identity as an equal and legitimate element of Turkish society, iii) allocation of material resources for the Alevi identity-based institutions, iv) acknowledgement of the historical traumas and victimhood of Alevis and certain guarantees that would prevent the possible recurrence of traumatic experiences. …

Islamic Evolution: How Turkey taught the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to reconcile faith and democracy.
BY PIOTR ZALEWSKI | AUGUST 11, 2011 in Foreign Policy

ISTANBUL — Fawaz Zakri was 17 years old when his father told him to pack his bags, bid goodbye to his family, and cross the border into Turkey. The year was 1981, and the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, where Zakri had grown up, was in the throes of a violent anti-government insurgency led by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Zakri’s father feared that his son’s links with the Brothers would be enough to land him in jail, or worse. “I was a sympathizer,” Zakri qualifies, “but not a member.” Two years earlier, the Brotherhood had attacked a local military academy, killing dozens of cadets in an assault that marked the beginning of an all-out war between the Sunni Islamist group and the Alawite regime of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.

Protests, assassinations, and terrorist attacks, many carried out by the Brotherhood, had since become routine. Syrian troops and security forces responded with a ruthless crackdown, at times employing artillery fire against neighborhoods in Aleppo. The war culminated in 1982, when, in the wake of another Brotherhood uprising, Assad’s troops killed tens of thousands of people in the city of Hama. The massacre crushed the Brotherhood’s Syrian wing, and its surviving activists scattered — many eventually settling across the border in Turkey.

Zakri’s escape placed him beyond not only the reach of the Syrian regime, but also the militant ideology of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood of that era. Thirty years removed from his flight, Zakri is a graduate of one of Turkey’s finest universities, an iPhone-toting businessman with a trade in grains and heavy machinery, and a fluent English speaker. He is also, at least to some extent, a changed man — a committed Islamist, to be sure, but one of a different hue. “After we came to Turkey,” he says, “people like me, we faced a revolution in our thoughts.”

While many in Europe and the United States fear that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has introduced a dangerous Islamist influence into the country’s traditionally secular and Western-oriented stance, religious groups struggling to overthrow stagnant autocracies across the Arab world take a different lesson from the party’s success. Particularly in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on a domestic uprising has become increasingly brutal during the holy month of Ramadan, pious activists have looked to Turkey as a model for reconciling their faith with the democratic hopes of the Arab Spring.

But Turkish politicians steer clear of the “M” word. “We do not use that language because we do not want to patronize anyone,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief foreign-policy adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, told me this spring. “We do not want to impose our experience on others.” There is more to this, of course. The days when the Arab world suspected Turkey of being a U.S. “Trojan horse” in the Middle East might be long gone, but the Turks, who remember President George W. Bush’s repeated references to the “Turkish model,” remain wary of being seen as doing the West’s bidding.

As Syrians continue to risk their lives to call for an end to the Assad regime, however, the impact of the Turkish experience on the Brotherhood’s political evolution is coming into clearer focus. In 2002, under the leadership of Ali al-Bayanouni, the Brotherhood publicly disavowed violence and embraced parliamentary democracy. In the years that followed, it called for free elections in Syria and announced its support for women’s rights. This April, during the early days of the Syrian uprising, Brotherhood leaders held a news conference in Istanbul in which they denounced the Assad regime. And then in June, at a Syrian opposition conference held in the Turkish city of Antalya, Brotherhood members put their signatures on a declaration that called for “the freedom of belief, expression and practice of religion, under a civil state.”

Bayanouni, who headed the group from 1996 to 2010, continues to strike notes that place him more in line with today’s pious Turkish politicians than the hard-edged Brotherhood leaders of days past. “Firstly, we believe that the state in Islam is a civil state, not a state ruled by any religious leaders or clerics,” he told me, speaking from London. “Secondly, we cannot impose any particular way of dressing on citizens…. We do call for and encourage [women] to wear the hijab and to follow Islamic behavior and action, but individuals must be free to choose what they want.”

Although the Brotherhood isn’t new to parliamentary democracy, said Bayanouni, citing the group’s participation in Syria’s 1961 elections, the AKP has provided it with a blueprint for reform. “The AKP is neutral in the area of religion — neither does it impose religion upon Turkish citizens nor does it seek to fight religion,” Bayanouni noted, “and for this reason we find [it] to be an excellent model.”….

“I think [the Brothers] themselves know that the very strong fundamentalist positions are impossible to apply these days in Syria,” says Rime Allaf, a Syrian researcher at Chatham House. “Twenty or 30 years ago, they were a force that would have presented a lot of question marks for the rest of society.” Today, however, “speaking as somebody who is secular … I can give them the benefit of the doubt.”…

The AKP’s success in bridging the gap between Islamist principles and Western norms attracted the admiration of Brotherhood sympathizers such as Khaled Khoja, head of the Turkish chapter of the Damascus Declaration committee, an umbrella group of the Syrian opposition. Khoja spent two years in a Syrian jail between 1980 and 1982, he says, on account of his father’s affiliation with the Brotherhood. Following his release, Khoja left Syria and arrived, via Libya, in Turkey. He was only 17 years old.

“[Abul Ala] Maududi, [Ruhollah] Khomeini, Sayyid Qutb,” he says, listing the names of the Islamist firebrands from years past. “Their manner was not successful for Islamic communities, producing division and conflict. The Turkish manner has showed us a different [way].”….

The AKP’s success in bridging the gap between Islamist principles and Western norms attracted the admiration of Brotherhood sympathizers such as Khaled Khoja, head of the Turkish chapter of the Damascus Declaration committee, an umbrella group of the Syrian opposition. Khoja spent two years in a Syrian jail between 1980 and 1982, he says, on account of his father’s affiliation with the Brotherhood. Following his release, Khoja left Syria and arrived, via Libya, in Turkey. He was only 17 years old.

“[Abul Ala] Maududi, [Ruhollah] Khomeini, Sayyid Qutb,” he says, listing the names of the Islamist firebrands from years past. “Their manner was not successful for Islamic communities, producing division and conflict. The Turkish manner has showed us a different [way].”…

But first, activists like Nahas may need to break ranks with their own leaders, they say. The story of the AKP’s rise — Erdogan’s break with Erbakan, his former mentor, and his subsequent embrace of a more inclusionary type of politics — has not gone unnoticed among the Syrian Brotherhood’s younger members. The AKP’s success, says Nahas, “made people feel that they could do a revolution inside their organization and get somewhere.” Groups like the Brotherhood were designed as secretive, underground organizations to escape the reach of hostile security forces. “This means that now, with the openness, they have to change.”

Is Turkey shutting its doors to Syrians?

by Burcu Gültekin Punsmann*

Are we on the verge of losing Syria? This idea fills me with bitterness and frustration since Syria is facing what may be its greatest isolation in more than four decades of rule by the al-Assad family. Turkey was on its way to helping Syrians win…

…There was much hope that in the case of Syria, economic interdependence could have been converted into political convergence, that it was possible to tame the other side’s behavior with our force of traction. Turkey has become the country that enjoys the most leverage in Syria. Syria could be managed as long as the regime felt comfortable of its survival. Today Damascus and Aleppo remain calm as the economic elite are fearful of a chaotic aftermath to Mr. Assad’s government. No one can wish to see Damascus and Aleppo go up in flames. The Syrian government should return to rationality.

There will be no going back to the ’90s in Turkish-Syrian relations. Turkey will not become the enemy of yesterday again. A total of 7,239 Syrians escaping from their own government found shelter in Turkey, while some 17,000 more are said to be on their way. This refugee flow was boosted the public’s sympathy for the plight of their persecuted neighbors.

No one had ever pursued any democratization agenda in Syria. That can’t be a ground to put Turkey’s engagement policy on trial. According to the data of the Turkish National Police, entries from Syria to Turkey have increased by 635 percent in the last 10 years, the fastest growth registered from countries in the Middle East. Syria ranks second after Iran in terms of visitors, which equaled 899,494 in 2010. Over holiday periods, hotels in Mersin were full of Syrian tourists, mainly middle class families. By opening its gates, Turkey has had the most powerful effect, demonstrating the benefits of democracy, and has directly supported the social transformation process across the border.

Are we going to shut our doors to Syrians today? Will this be the best way to stand by the Syrian people?

Comments (169)


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151. ann said:

The US’ war of words against Syria – 25 Aug 2011

The US war of words against Syria is marred by hypocrisy and a lack of realism.

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/08/201182281512952586.html

You’d need a team of linguists to tease out the internal contradictions, brazen hypocrisies and verbal contortions in President Barack Obama’s call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power.

“The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but …”

The “but” belies the preceding phrase – particularly since its speaker controls the ability and possible willingness to enforce his desires at the point of a depleted uranium warhead.

“The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing and slaughtering his own people,” Obama continued. One might say the same thing of Obama’s own calls for dialogue and reform in Iraq and Afghanistan. Except, perhaps, for the fact that the Iraqis and Afghans being killed are not Obama’s “own people”. As you no doubt remember from Bush’s statements about Saddam Hussein, American leaders keep returning to that phrase: “killing his own people”.

Now the Euros are doing it. “Our three countries believe that President Assad, who is resorting to brutal military force against his own people and who is responsible for the situation, has lost all legitimacy and can no longer claim to lead the country,” British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a joint statement.

If you think about this phrase, it doesn’t make sense. Who are “your” own people? Was Hitler exempt because he didn’t consider his victims to be “his” people? Surely Saddam shed few tears for those gassed Kurds. Anyway, it must have focus-grouped well back in 2002.

“We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way,” Obama went on. “He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Here is US foreign policy summed up in 39 words: demanding the improbable and the impossible, followed by the arrogant presumption that the president of the United States has the right to demand regime change in a nation other than the United States.

US hypocrisy on Syria

Assad deserves no pity. He has killed tens of thousands even during his tenure. Political prisoners in Syria languish in secret prisons. But the same is true in Obama’s American gulags, which span the globe from Guantanamo to Bagram to Diego Garcia to the Californian state prison system, where inmates go insane after years in solitary confinement. Where is Obama’s moral standing? Who tells Obama it’s his time to scoot?

Assad is a dictator, and always has been, as was his father. As Obama knows, Assad’s regime was once convenient, not least for Israel, which appreciated the fact that Assad’s primary motivation was not the retrieval of the Golan Heights but rather the suppression of internal dissent. Obama’s phony request that Assad lead Syria to democracy is like asking a tiger to lead a lamb to safety. It’s nothing but bluster that reflects the simple fact that this Syrian thug has outlived his usefulness to the US and its allies.

What’s interesting about the US war of words against Assad is its “here we go again” quality. No matter which side of the Rubik’s cube of regime change one examines, the United States repeatedly deploys tactics without strategy – tactics proven counterproductive time after time after time.

In a world with one superpower, it’s almost as though, in order to guarantee order in the universe, the gods have given the United States one undefeatable enemy: its own incompetence.

The “global squeeze play” against Assad, as the Associated Press wire service characterised it, marks Obama’s fifth-and-a-halfth war (in addition to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia) – a conflict of words and economic sanctions rather than the usual drone planes and missiles. (As Obama and his European puppets have made clear, there will be no hot war against Syria. The US is too overextended, not to mention broke. Besides, there’s an election next year – and the old wars are unpopular enough as it is.) In other respects, however, this is a dismal reprise of many of the same screw-ups the Bush Administration committed during the (lack of) planning for and subsequent occupation of Iraq.

So many questions remain unanswered. They all boil down to: What next?

Ex-dictators need a way out

In the good old days of American regime change (Duvalier, Ferdinand Marcos, etc.) a dictator past his expiration date could count on a military chopper on the roof of the presidential palace, an expansive villa on the French Riviera and a generous Swiss bank account full of looted retirement funds. It was corrupt arrangement to be sure, but it had two advantages from the American perspective: it was easier to convince tyrants to go and it made it easier for the CIA to recruit client states in the future.

Such sweet deals are no longer to be had in a world where all worker bees, even those wearing medals and epaulettes, with secret police at their disposal, get discarded like used tissue paper after their cost-benefit balance tips to the former. Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega languished in an American prison on trumped-up drug charges for 20 years before being extradited to France; Saddam got dropped down a trap door to the howling jeers of his rivals.

One can easily imagine a call from North Korean tyrant Kim Jung-Il to Libya’s Colonel Gadhafi a few years back: “Don’t disarm, Muammar. Just you wait! The second you give up your nukes the Americans will take you out. Saddam disarmed in 1991; now he’s in a tacky grave in Tikrit. What did Milosevic get for attending the Dayton peace conference? A war crimes trial. Look at me. I don’t cooperate. I don’t give in. Sure, they hate me. But I’m holding tight. Living large. Cooperation with the Americans is a mug’s game!”

Assad is brutal. Assad is tyrannical. Politicians follow their Machiavellian political imperatives, the first of these being survival and keeping power.

Leftist American political activists plan to recreate Egypt’s Tahrir Square in Washington, DC this coming September and October. They plan to occupy downtown Washington until their demands, including immediate withdrawal from the wars in the Middle East, are met. How long before Obama’s patience wears thin? How many protesters will get shot or beaten by security forces? National Public Radio paraphrases a cynical retired Lebanese general, Amin Hotait: “He says it’s no surprise that Syria is using tanks against its own people, saying that’s how forces around the world deal with terrorists and other armed opponents.”

Bush demanded that Saddam leave Iraq before the 2003 invasion. The big question was: where would he have gone? Bush wanted war more than regime change so he never offered Saddam the old-fashioned cushy exile – or any escape at all. When Obama went to war against Libya earlier this year, he followed the same policy vis-a-vis Gadhafi: he asked him to leave without leaving him a way out.

For beleaguered dictators, the choice is clear: killing “your own people” makes good sense. Surely as he watches his trial through the bars enclosing his courtroom hospital bed Hosni Mubarak rues not the hundreds who died during the Arab Spring but rather the thousands he should have killed to remain in power.

Now the what-next question pertains to Bashar al-Assad. “Where does the Syrian leader go?” asked CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Machiavelli advised his patron to allow his enemies a graceful exit strategy. Like his illiterate predecessor, Obama prefers to box them in. “I have no doubt that both Gadhafi and Assad will do whatever they can to make sure they don’t wind up like Mubarak or Milosevic. That means many more people will die,” predicts Blitzer.

Exit plans

In 2003 skeptics asked Bush’s neoconservatives: Who would run Iraq after deposing Saddam? If you’re going to remove a nation’s government by force, providing for a successor regime seems like the least you should do. A year and a half earlier in Afghanistan, the Bushists had a ready (though deeply flawed) answer in the form of Hamid Karzai. Not so much in Iraq, where major opposition figures had lived in exile for decades and thus were virtually unknown.

Like Bush, Obama is winging it in Libya. He is calling for President Assad to step down without having a clear (US-friendly, naturally) successor in mind. “It’s hard to argue with President Obama’s call for Bashar al-Assad, the bloodthirsty Syrian dictator, to step down. But it’s also hard to discern any logic or consistency in the administration’s handling of the ongoing tumult in the Arab world,” writes the liberal Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post.

As a right-winger David Ignatius, also a columnist for The Washington Post, reflects a more influential faction, the consensus view of most big-media print and broadcast outlets. Like Robinson, he acknowledges the incoherence of Obama’s policy. “This is a movement without clear leadership or an agenda beyond toppling Assad,” he wrote about the Syrian opposition. “It could bend toward the hard-line Sunni fundamentalists who have led the street fighting in Deraa and Homs, or to the sophisticated pro-democracy activists of Damascus.”

But Ignatius is a pro-war neo-con, whether his president is a Republican or Democrat.

“Despite these uncertainties, Obama is right to demand that Assad must go. Some commentators have chided the White House’s hyper-caution … But I think Obama has been wise to move carefully and avoid the facile embrace of a rebel movement whose trajectory is unknown.”

A big mistake in 2003, one rarely if ever debated in the US, is the United States’ tendency to overpersonalise its regional rivalries and military conflicts. In 2003 political cartoonists propagandised Saddam as a neo-Hitler complete with SS-style skull-and-crossbones badge on his black army beret. Dwelling on Saddam’s personality made it easy for the Americans to miss the fact that the Iraqi dictator had remained in power for decades because he represented a distinct political constituency dominated by Sunnis, embracing a post-socialist semi-secular brand of Islam embodied by the Baath Party. (Direct arms sales from the United States didn’t hurt either.) To Bush’s surprise, those disenfranchised constituencies, including many soldiers fired by proconsul Paul Bremer, took up arms and launched the first wave of the ongoing insurgency.

Here too, the age of Obama is much like that of Bush.

“Syria protesters defy Bashar Assad; Troops Kill 22″ reported the Los Angeles Times. Most demonstrators quoted in such accounts took pains to say that they opposed the regime, not just the man. But the US media avoided such subtleties.

Cutting the head off Syria’s Baathist snake can no more create meaningful change within Syria’s political system than hanging Saddam did in Iraq or jailing Mubarak in Egypt. The underlying ideology remains in place, reinforced by years of propaganda in the schools and the media. The power brokers in the military, government ministries and major companies tend to retain their sinecures long after figureheads are removed. The Arab Spring has led to personnel changes in Tunisia and Egypt, not revolution. Revolution is the radical reallocation of power and wealth from one whole class of elites to another class or classes. Anything short of revolution is reform; reform isn’t enough to fix a broken government.

Finally, Obama is repeating yet another classic characteristic of US foreign policy, one we saw in sharp relief during the Bush era: militant ambivalence toward potential future successors. Despite having the set the stage for the ascension of, for example, the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, the US refuses to provide enough support to guarantee close ties down the road.

After the US-led call for Assad’s resignation the UK Guardian reported: “One veteran dissident in Damascus said: ‘I am jubilant. This came at the right time for the street.’ He said protesters were telling him they wanted to dance in the streets. A middle-aged woman in Homs said: ‘More protesters will go out now.’”

If so, they will learn what right-wing Cuban exiles learned when the CIA promised them air support for the Bay of Pigs invasion: US words aren’t always backed up by arms or money. If and when they come to power, the Syrian resistance won’t owe the US

Which, in the greater scheme of things, makes the gods happy.

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August 25th, 2011, 7:28 am

 

152. some guy in damascus said:

@ss
you make me..

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first it was syria is immune to demonstrations, then it was these demonstration wont spread, then it was, they wont last till june, and now its they wont topple bashar……

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August 25th, 2011, 7:39 am

 

153. syau said:

#148,

Although you can’t see anyone firing back as the camera is aimed at the soldiers, it doesn’t mean there wasn’t an exchange of gunfire.

At minute 0:21 & 0:37 you can clearly hear gun fire prior to the soldier taking aim. At minute 0:42 one soldier has his gun positioned downwards and the other is taking aim, but there is also gunfire that can be clearly heard. The rest of the video is basically the same.

Some guy in Damascus,

I don’t think any country is in need of rats. And I think Ann is spot with the Syrian spamsters (thanks Syrialover) silly posts.

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August 25th, 2011, 7:39 am

 

154. Tara said:

Syrian Hamster and all

What is the word in English for غلّ و حقد

The kind of غلّ و حقد that fill the heart of the Shabeehas and security forces and render them capable of committing these atrocious acts of humiliation and torture.

Grudges and hatred do not appear to be an adequate translation.

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August 25th, 2011, 7:48 am

 

155. beaware said:

Unified Syrian opposition council hit by delay
25/08/2011
http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=1&id=26346
AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian opposition figures who met in Istanbul to form a broad-based council to represent the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday that they needed more time to consult with activists inside Syria on its composition.

The delay indicates the difficulty in uniting an opposition decimated by decades of Assad family repression, and integrating a generation of younger activists playing a direct role on the ground in street protests facing the brunt of military assaults.

“We need two more weeks to coordinate with the opposition on the inside. All currents need to be represented,” Adib al-Shishakly, whose grandfather was an early president of Syria after independence from France in 1946.

Encouraged by international support for their cause, leading opposition figures held lengthy discussions in Istanbul this week to nominate a council that could help with a transition of power if Assad were to be toppled by the five-month uprising against his rule.

Most delegates had left but a core group remained to continue discussions with opposition figures inside Syria, Shishakly said by phone.

Attendees at the conference included Moulhem Droubi, a high-level member of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood; Sheikh Muteih al-Butain, a leader of the street protests in Deraa that helped ignite the uprising; former political prisoner Khaled al-Haj Saleh, scion of a leftist political family; and writer Hazem Nahar, who was imprisoned during the uprising and managed to leave Syria.

DIFFERENCES PERSIST

Another delegate said more work was needed to convince skeptical activists inside Syria how the proposed council would further the cause of the uprising and bridge differences over the posts assigned to different groups and how different factions should be represented.

“I think a consensus is developing that a council is needed and its credibility will be boosted by as much support from the inside,” said the young delegate, who recently fled Syria and did not wish to be identified.

A statement by the participants said the proposed council was designed to “be part of a national safety net needed to guarantee civic peace and achieve broad consensus about the process of transition.”

“We affirm the principle of non-violent revolution. The absence of a unified political forum along the revolution … is a dangerous shortcoming of Syria’s march toward a civic democratic state,” the declaration said.

But Ammar Qurabi, a member of a consultative committee that emerged from an earlier opposition conference in the Turkish city of Antalya, said in a statement the group had withdrawn from the Istanbul talks because the meeting did not build on earlier efforts to unite the opposition.

Western governments, which have stepped up sanctions on Assad in reaction to his crackdown on protesters, have privately expressed frustration with opposition’s lack of unity, diplomats say.

At a meeting with anti-Assad Syrian activists in Washington this month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encouraged them to work toward a “unified vision” for Syria.

The proposed council aims to speak for dissidents in exile, who are playing a key role in supporting the uprising financially, and activists on the ground.

A number of activists are wary about establishing a linear opposition structure, saying it would make it an easier target for assassinations and arrests by Assad’s forces.

Dissident writer Michel Kilo, a former political prisoner who belongs to an elder generation of dissidents said this week that a transitional council would be of little value before Assad actually falls from power.

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August 25th, 2011, 7:56 am

 

156. beaware said:

US lawmaker: Aid to Egypt depends on peace with Israel
By HERB KEINON
08/23/2011 00:47
http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=234991
Kay Granger tells ‘Post’ that level of Muslim Brotherhood involvement in new Egyptian government will impact US assistance.

Washington’s $2 billion in annual aid to Egypt will be cut off if Cairo backs out of the peace treaty with Israel, Congresswoman Kay Granger – whose job as chairwoman of the US House appropriations foreign operations subcommittee means she literally writes America’s annual foreign aid bill – told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
more…

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August 25th, 2011, 8:03 am

 

157. Aboud said:

“Although you can’t see anyone firing back as the camera is aimed at the soldiers, it doesn’t mean there wasn’t an exchange of gunfire. ”

The only sounds of gunfire we hear are the ones being fired by the army men or the APC by the checkpoint. Every single sound of gunfire coincides with bursts from their guns. When they stop, the sound stops.

“t minute 0:42 one soldier has his gun positioned downwards and the other is taking aim, but there is also gunfire that can be clearly heard”

And the camera man obligingly points the camera towards the source of the fire…the APC by the checkpoint. The gunfire heard is from a much, much heavier caliber than an AK-47, and is very close to the cameraman. It is impossible for the source to be the direction the turds are firing at.

Also, nowhere do we see bullets hitting their tanks or anywhere else near them.

And in addition, they are not taking cover, especially the idiot standing on the tank. When someone is under fire, they duck, they hide. These turds don’t even pause long enough to cover themselves from an attack.

And their friends up at the roadblock are completely unconcerned about any possible attack. They are standing about, and making no effort to take cover.

Real soldiers would have disarmed those turds, and shoved their AK-47s up their butts. But the Syrian army is lacking in real soldiers.

Yet again, the menhebaks defending the indefensible. But they know their leader is a murderer. They know their regime is one that will willingly murder tens of thousands of Syrians. They know, and they approve. Goebbels did not kill a single person, but had he lived he would have been hung at Nuremberg. Those defending war crimes, are no less complicit in them.

What do people here suppose the menhebaks are doing when they see demonstrators shot at? They cheer, they high five each other. I’m so glad I’ve made so many of them disappear from this website.

MLK quote;

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. ”

Junior should have learned the power of oratory from people like MLK, instead of droning on like a bureaucrat.

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August 25th, 2011, 8:05 am

 

158. ann said:

Saudi Arabia Forging a New Sunni State? – August 24, 2011

http://atlanticsentinel.com/2011/08/saudi-arabia-forging-a-new-sunni-state/

Is Saudi Arabia conniving with the United States to unseat the Assad regime in Syria? The possible smuggling of satellite phones into the country suggests so but the kingdom’s ultimate aim may not necessarily align with American policy in the region—the creation of a new Sunni state between Syria and Iraq.

Iranian intelligence experts in Damascus attempted to disrupt the Syrian opposition’s telephone and Internet connections in recent weeks, making it all the more difficult for news of the uprising to reach the outside world. To help the rebels, Saudi Arabia and the United States reportedly smuggled thousands of satellite phones into Syria. Other than that, there’s little the Americans can do short of military intervention. President Bashar al-Assad may have lost the “legitimacy to lead” but he doesn’t need Washington for anything, rendering sanctions virtually useless.

Protests erupted in Syria in March after the “Arab spring” deposed veteran dictators in Tunisia and Egypt. In Bahrain, Shī’ah Muslims also took to the streets to pressure their largely Sunni government into enacting reforms but Saudi troops quelled the uprising before it could pose a serious threat to the small Arab Gulf state’s monarchy.

The oil kingdom is now rooting for the protesters in Syria, or at least some of them. Besides supposedly supplying the anti-government forces with satellite phones in conjunctions with the Americans, Saudi Arabia privately and clandestinely poured money and arms into the country in the hopes of stiffening the resistance and buying the loyalty of desert tribes.

The ultimate aim could be the erection of a new state encompassing not only the Euphrates’ river valley in Syria roughly corresponding with the southeastern Deir ez-Zor Governorate but Iraq’s central Al Anbar province as well. Both are overwhelmingly Sunni and home to more than a couple of million people. Such a country would put a natural geostrategic ally of Saudi Arabia’s in the heart of the Arab world—a “forward operating base” for Riyadh from where to watch Syria, Turkey and Iraq, three Middle Eastern states that are increasingly assertive, and from where to counter Iranian influence.

Riyadh blamed Tehran for stirring the uprising in Bahrain even if there was little evidence of Iranian involvement. The accusation and Saudi led military action nevertheless demonstrated just how worried the Saudis were about Iran extending its influence in the region.

They have ample reason to be concerned. The Saudi backed government in Lebanon was undermined by Iranian ally Hezbollah earlier this year while two of the kingdom’s allies in containing the Islamic Republic, Egypt and Iraq, have been rocked by internal unrest. With Iraq now a democracy—ruled by a Shiite prime minister—and Hosni Mubarak out of office and facing trial, Saudi Arabia and Iran are the only two powers still standing in the Middle East.

A political disintegration of Iraq and Syria, prompted by the creation of another Saudi client state, would weaken both a friend of Iran’s and one of its traditional foes. The United States, after spending considerable blood and treasure stabilizing Iraq, might rather not see its experiment in multiethnic Arab democracy fall apart. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen to Syria after Assad moreover. But the development could bolster the club of pro-Western regimes in the region.

Neighboring Jordan conveniently joined the Gulf Cooperation Council two months ago which formally sanctioned March’s intervention in Bahrain. Whether Morocco also joins the organization or not, it is a moderate Islamist bulwark against Iranian encroachment in West Asia, providing Saudi foreign policy with extra legitimacy and sometimes an alternative to dollar diplomacy. Whatever the emirates contribute in funding, the Saudis are obviously in the lead. And they’re disappointed about their American ally’s reluctance to support them.

The Saudis didn’t particularly care for President Barack Obama’s championing of human rights and reform in the face of the Arab spring and blamed him for forcing Mubarak out of power.

From Washington’s perspective, the alliance with the Wahhabi kingdom is one of convenience. It regards its religious intolerance and backwardness as an embarrassment even if the two countries share interests in the region. Both want to keep the oil flowing, the Gulf free of Iranian influence and neither wants the ayatollahs to go nuclear and embolden their terrorist proxies in the Levant. The clear strategic rationale of the relationship tends to be overshadowed by moral objections on America’s part however. Saudi nation building abroad is likely to raise more than a few eyebrows in the State Department therefore.

Actually, sponsoring the foundation of a brand new republic (presumably) in the Middle East wouldn’t be such a stretch for the United States ideologically. It’s not as though today’s national boundaries in the Middle East necessarily reflect cultural and religious divides—let alone encompass specific peoples or nations. Rather, a Sunni polity separate of multicultural Syria and Shī’ah majority Iraq conforms much better to notions of sovereignty and self determination than the status quo.

It’s not often that American interests and ideology coincide in the Middle East. The risks of too overtly endorsing the Saudi effort—if it is a serious effort to begin with—are clear. America could be perceived as once again meddling in the internal affairs of Arab states. Success, on the other hand, could leave Iraq, then virtually a Shiite homeland, much stabler and Saudi Arabia, a pivotal Western ally, in an enhanced position to balance against Iranian intrigue. Now Washington has only to recognize the opportunity.

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August 25th, 2011, 8:10 am

 

159. some guy in damascus said:

my text input is jammed, i apologize for any weird posts.

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August 25th, 2011, 8:10 am

 

160. EHSANI2 said:

I think its that beard. They must have confused Farzat for a salafi

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August 25th, 2011, 8:12 am

 

161. beaware said:

Ambassador Ford flees angry Syrians in Damascus center
23 August 2011

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August 25th, 2011, 8:18 am

 

162. beaware said:

Experts Offer Guidance for President on Syria
4:57 PM, Aug 19, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/experts-offer-guidance-president-syria_590423.html?page=2
In a letter being circulated by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, conservative foreign policy experts, including Bill Kristol and Lee Smith, urge President Obama take a series of actions that will hasten the fall of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad. The letter follows President Obama’s statement yesterday that “the time has come for [Syrian] President Assad to step aside.”

The primary recommendation in the letter is that the U.S., together with our European allies, should sanction Syria’s energy (especially oil) and financial sectors, as well as those individuals who are committing human right abuses and promoting terrorism. The experts also argue that the U.S. should “Engage Syrian opposition figures outside the country and ensure that all available aid and assistance, including secure communications and Internet circumvention technology is being made available to these groups” and recall Ambassador Robert Ford from Syria.

Here’s the full text of the letter:

August 19, 2011

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear President Obama:

We commend you for your administration’s statement that “the future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way… For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”
We are concerned, however, that unless urgent actions are taken by the United States and its allies, the Assad regime’s use of force against the Syrian people will only increase and the already significant death toll will mount.

As you have stated previously, the Arab Spring presents an opportunity to “pursue the world as it should be” rather than continuing to “accept the world as it is.” There is perhaps no place where this is truer than Syria.

The regime of Bashar al-Assad and that of his father which preceded him, have brutally repressed the Syrian people for decades, imprisoning, torturing, and killing those who attempted dissent. In recent years, Syria has formed increasingly close ties with Iran, jointly supporting terrorist groups with funds and weaponry used to terrorize American allies in the region. For years, the Assad regime pursued a covert nuclear program with North Korean assistance, which could have led to a disastrous cascade of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Finally, by facilitating foreign fighters’ transit through Syrian territory, the Assad regime contributed to the death and injury of thousands of American troops serving in Iraq over the last eight years.

The tactics used by the current regime make clear now more than ever that a post-Assad Syria is in America’s interest. We commend you for adding your uniquely powerful voice to the chorus of foreign leaders in calling for Assad’s departure. We appreciate the executive order issued today that freezes Syrian government assets in the U.S.’s jurisdiction and prohibits new investment in Syria by U.S. persons or the exportation or sale of any services to Syria by U.S. persons. We commend you for freezing imports of Syrian petroleum products and prohibiting U.S. persons from transacting business related to Syrian-origin petroleum products. The actions send a strong message of support to the Syrian people in their quest for freedom.

We believe there is more than can be done. Specifically, we urge you to:

• Work with our European allies to tighten the sanctions regime against Syria. Particular attention should be paid to potential multilateral energy sector sanctions as well as the passage of energy sanctions bills recently introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate.

• Encourage Germany, Italy, and France, which are the main buyers of Syrian oil, to terminate their purchases of Syrian crude; forcefully urge energy trading firms from Switzerland, Holland, and elsewhere to stop their sales of refined petroleum products to Syria; and pressure European, Russian, Chinese, and Indian companies to freeze their investments in Syria’s energy sector and the transfer of any energy-related technology, goods, and services.
• Sanction any person assisting Syria in the development of energy pipelines as well as insurance firms, shipping companies, financing entities, ports managers, and other persons active in supporting Syria’s energy sector.

• Implement measures against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps individuals and entities doing business in Syria. Expand sanctions against Syrian persons who are involved in human rights abuses, support for terrorism, and supporting Syria’s proliferation activities. Sanction those international companies doing business with these designated Iranian and Syrian individuals and entities.

• Sanction the Syrian Central Bank in order to freeze the Assad regime out of the global financial system and inhibit the ability of the regime to settle oil sales and other financial transactions. It is important to ensure that the Central Bank of Syria does not facilitate trade for any sanctioned Syrian banks, businesses and persons.

• Work with our European allies to follow your lead in sanctioning the Commercial Bank of Syria and the Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank.

• Sanction international persons involved in the purchase, issuance, financing or the facilitation of Syrian sovereign debt, including energy bonds, which the Assad regime may use to circumvent investment-related sanctions in order to raise capital for its energy sector.

• Engage Syrian opposition figures outside the country and ensure that all available aid and assistance, including secure communications and Internet circumvention technology is being made available to these groups.

• Leverage the International Atomic Energy Agency’s referral of Syria to the United Nations Security Council for its violation of its nonproliferation obligations to press for additional sanctions against Damascus.

• Recall Ambassador Robert Ford from Damascus unless he is clearly charged with aiding the transition to democracy in Syria.

Mr. President, the opportunity presented by recent developments in Syria and the broader region is momentous. As you said in May, “we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.” Supporting Syrians to rid themselves of Assad’s yoke would also have broader game-changing implications on peace and stability in the Middle East. It would deny Iran the use of its major ally as a proxy for terrorism, stem the flow of Syrian arms to Hezbollah, reduce instability in Lebanon, and lessen tensions on Israel’s northern border.

This is a significant moment where many of our allies and partners in Europe and the region are in agreement that the Assad atrocities must stop now. They are poised to act. Now is the time to continue placing the United States firmly on the side of the Syrian people. We urge you to grasp this opportunity and increase your administration’s efforts to ensure that the brave people taking to the streets in Syria are soon able to enjoy the fruits of freedom that we in the West hold so dear.

Sincerely,

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August 25th, 2011, 8:29 am

 

163. norman said:

Cheney says he pushed to bomb Syria
By: Maggie Haberman
August 25, 2011 07:12 AM EDT

From the Dick Cheney memoir, the former Vice President says he pressed President George W. Bush to bomb Syria in June 2007, but he was outnumbered by other advisers who were snakebit over the “bad intelligence” about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction:

“I again made the case for U.S. military action against the reactor,” Mr. Cheney wrote about a meeting on the issue. “But I was a lone voice. After I finished, the president asked, ‘Does anyone here agree with the vice president?’ Not a single hand went up around the room.”

Cheney has some less-than-kind words about his fellow administration members: George Tenet quit in the CIA “when the going got tough,” Colin Powell tried to undermine the president, and Condaleeza Rice “tearfully” admitted he was right about not apologizing for why the U.S. invaded Iraq.

And there was this view on President Obama:

Mr. Cheney praised Barack Obama’s support, as a senator from Illinois, for passing a bank bailout bill at the height of the financial crisis, shortly before the 2008 election. But he criticizes Mr. Obama’s decision to withdraw the 33,000 additional troops he sent to Afghanistan in 2009 by September 2012, and writes that he has been “happy to note” that Mr. Obama has failed to close the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as he had pledged.

© 2011 POLITICO LLC

FD HIDDEN DIV

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August 25th, 2011, 8:37 am

 

164. ann said:

Syrian army pushes into dissident areas, activists say – Aug 25, 2011

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/middleeast/news/article_1659086.php/Syrian-army-pushes-into-dissident-areas-activists-say

Cairo/Damascus – Syrian troops pushed into the dissident areas of Deir al-Zour and Homs Thursday in a fresh clampdown on pro-democracy protests, according to activists.

Dozens of armed vehicles stormed the town of Sheheel in the north-eastern region of Deir al-Zour, activists told broadcaster Al Jazeera.

Gunboats shelled towns in Deir al-Zour, which have been a focal point for the protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad since March.

Security forces supported by al-Shabeeha militia fired indiscriminately and raided houses in the town of Al-Basir in Deir al-Zour, the Federation of the Coordination Committees of the Syrian Revolution, an opposition group, said.

On Thursday, army tanks shelled the town of Al-Rastan near Homs, another dissident region in central Syria, said the group.

State news agency SANA reported that eight Syrian soldiers had been killed in separate attacks in Homs, in an ambush Wednesday when ‘terrorists’ fired at a military bus.

In Al-Rastan, ‘a terrorist group’ fired at a military vehicle killing five soldiers, an official told SANA.

Early Thursday, prominent cartoonist Ali Ferzat was attacked by masked gunmen in Damascus, activists based in Lebanon said.

‘Masked Syrian security force members stopped the car of Ferzat while he was passing through Ummayad Square, grabbed him out of the vehicle and beat him up,’ the spokesman for the opposition Local Coordination Committees, Omar Idlibi, told the German Press Agency dpa.

‘The attackers also stole the contents of his briefcase, including his drawings,’ Idlibi said.

‘He was beaten hard, notably on his hands. Passersby found him on the road to the airport and took him to the hospital,’ Idlibi added.

Since the start of the anti-government demonstrations, Ferzat has published cartoons very critical of the regime’s brutal crackdown on protesters.

Activists said troops killed 16 people Wednesday in Homs, Deir al-Zour, the port city of Latakia, central Damascus and Idlib near the border with Turkey.

President al-Assad remains defiant in the face of demands by world leaders for him to step down.

He told clergymen at a ceremony in Damascus late Wednesday: ‘We should be aware of the foreign conspiracy being promoted against Syria especially by aiming at the national role played by the army that is protecting citizens and public and private properties.’

His government was going ahead with reforms ‘with firm steps,’ SANA quoted al-Assad as saying.

An estimated 2,200 people have been killed since March, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said this week, adding that 350 of them had died since the onset of the holy month of Ramadan on August 1.

Al-Assad’s regime was ‘condemned,’ French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday after meeting with the second-in-command of Libya’s rebel Transitional National Council, Mahmoud Jibril, in Paris.

While assuring that France would not intervene militarily in Syria without a United Nations resolution, Sarkozy said: ‘Everyone must understand that dictators can no longer count on international passivity.’

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August 25th, 2011, 8:44 am

 

165. SYRIAN HAMSTER said:

WORD
ANN
Number of posts in this thread: 16,
Approximate number of words: 10908 (If you do not believe, count them).
Status: Unhappy and Angry, demands hamster shut up

Syrian Hamster
Number of posts in this thread: 9
Total number of words: 18 (half are translation)
Status: Content to say the least and thankful for the ability to be concise.

Hamster Personal Profile
Job: very gainful employment
Life: one that most of the men7ebbakites would kill their mothers for.
Posting strategy: post as little as possible, parrot none, and think….

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August 25th, 2011, 9:34 am

 

166. Akbar Palace said:

Syrian Hamster,

Cutting and pasting articles from obscure periodicals and websites is an art.

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August 25th, 2011, 9:50 am

 

167. beaware said:

August 24, 2011
After Arab Revolts, Reigns of Uncertainty
By ANTHONY SHADID
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/world/africa/25arab.html
DJERBA, Tunisia — The idealism of the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, where the power of the street revealed the frailty of authority, revived an Arab world anticipating change. But Libya’s unfinished revolution, as inspiring as it is unsettling, illustrates how perilous that change has become as it unfolds in this phase of the Arab Spring.

Though the rebels’ flag has gone up in Tripoli, their leadership is fractured and opaque; the intentions and influence of Islamists in their ranks are uncertain; Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi remains at large in a flight reminiscent of Saddam Hussein’s; and foreigners have been involved in the fight in the kind of intervention that has long been toxic to the Arab world.

Not to mention, of course, that a lot of young men have a lot of guns.

No uprising is alike, but Libya’s complexities echo in the revolts in Bahrain, Syria and, most of all, Yemen, suggesting that the prolonged transition of Arab countries to a new order may prove as tumultuous to the region as Egypt’s moment was stirring.

Unlike at the start of the year, when the revolutionary momentum seemed unstoppable, uncertainty is far more pronounced today, as several countries face the prospect of stalemate, sustained conflict or power vacuums that may render them ungovernable. Already in Yemen, militant Islamists have found a haven. Across the region, the repercussions of the uprisings are colliding with the assumptions of the older, American-backed system: control of oil, the influence of a reactionary Saudi Arabia, an Arab-Israeli truce, and the maintenance of order at the expense of freedom in a region that for decades has been, at least superficially, one of the world’s most stable.

In just the past week, Colonel Qaddafi lost his capital, Tripoli; the United States and European countries called on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to step down; the president of Yemen, still recovering from burns suffered in an attack, has promised to return; and the relationship between Egypt and Israel descended into crisis, to the jubilation of many Egyptians who saw a more assertive government as a windfall of Mr. Mubarak’s fall.

“There is going to be a transfer of power in our societies, and a new order has begun to take shape in the region,” said Michel Kilo, an opposition figure in Damascus, Syria.

Already, Israel has begun to face what it feared the revolts might unleash: foreign policies in the Arab world that reflect deep popular resentment over the plight of Palestinians. The most puritanical Islamists, known by their shorthand as Salafists, have emerged as a force in Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere, with suspicions that Saudi Arabia has encouraged and financed them. Alliances have begun to be redrawn: Turkey and Syria’s growing partnership ruptured over Mr. Assad’s ferocious crackdown, which has provoked international condemnation but shows no signs of ending.

As with all the revolutions, the fall of the leaders will be seen as the easiest step in a long, rocky and wrenching struggle to build anew.

“The question of the successor government in Libya is going to prove far more difficult than ousting the old government,” said M. Cherif Bassiouni, an expert in international law who has led human rights commissions in Bahrain and Libya.

Nothing feels certain these days, not least in Egypt and Tunisia, and conversations about the uprisings often mention the French Revolution, which required long years to usher in a new order. No one talks in terms of months about these revolts, given the seismic forces at play, from the empowerment of Islamists to the economic trauma.

“We’re heading toward the unknown,” said Talal Atrissi, a political analyst in Lebanon. “The next era will witness battles and conflicts between actors inside countries bent on crushing each other and proving their existence on the political scene.”

“It will be full of challenges, large and severe,” he added.

As unpredictable as Libya’s revolution may prove, it still unleashed jubilation across the region. Yemen’s beleaguered government flooded the capital with troops over the weekend to stanch more demonstrations inspired by Colonel Qaddafi’s fall. On Al Jazeera, images of the Libyan leader were interspersed with lines from a song played during Egypt and Tunisia’s revolts: “I am the people, the people of honor and struggle,” sang Um Kalthoum, an Egyptian diva of another era. In Damascus, an activist saw the intertwined fates of Mr. Assad and Colonel Qaddafi, who in a defiant message broadcast Wednesday called the people who overthrew him rats and traitors.

“We don’t want a merciful end for Qaddafi and his sons,” said Aziz al-Arabi, a 30-year-old Syrian. “Please keep him alive. We’d love to see them humiliated.”

Across the region, young people who have driven the revolts have shared vocabulary as well as tactics. “Irhal,” or leave, has skipped from Egypt to Yemen and Bahrain, where in the streets of Sitra, strewn with rocks from nightly clashes with the police, protesters have made it plural — not only must the king go, but his family as well. Walls there read “silmiya,” or peaceful, recalling similar slogans in Syria. Residents there have imported the Egyptian term “baltagiya” to describe the state-sponsored thugs they face.

Iran’s revolution a generation ago was followed by a grinding war with Iraq, the birth of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the politicization of Shiite Muslims across the Persian Gulf. The Arab world is now embroiled in three revolutions (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya) and three full-fledged revolts (Syria, Yemen, Bahrain).

“Sometimes instability is a necessary evil, and you need it to have stability,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, a project of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and that is based in Qatar. “To dislodge a brutal dictator is going to require bloodshed.”

So far, Libya’s revolution seems the most uncertain. Even now, parallels are being drawn to the fall of Mr. Hussein, who cast a long shadow before he was captured over a country whose divisions deepened, then erupted into civil war. The remnants of his regime were long underestimated, by Americans and others, until they contributed to an insurgency that remains a searing lesson in imperial folly.

“Some compare post-Qaddafi Libya to post-Saddam Iraq,” wrote Bashir al-Bakr in the leftist Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar. “The Libyans, according to that view, will not be in charge of their own decisions. They will find themselves shackled by heavy commitments, and they will lack the ability to escape them at the present.”

For many in the region, foreign intervention has deprived Libya’s revolt of the luster enjoyed by Egypt and Tunisia, inspiring suspicions, as in Iraq, that the West simply covets its oil. As Sateh Noureddine, a columnist, put it in another Lebanese newspaper, Al-Safir, NATO’s support “will not be for free, and Libya will pay for it.”

In that, he captured the ambiguity over what represents opposition these days in the Arab world, old labels defying their old assumptions. Syrian rebels denounce Hezbollah, which prides itself on its resistance to Israel. Bahrain withdrew its ambassador from Damascus as it carried out a crackdown on its Shiite majority that smacks of apartheid. And Colonel Qaddafi, in his message, praised his loyalists as revolutionary youths.

“Forward, forward,” he cried, his trademark refrain for never-ending struggle.

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August 25th, 2011, 9:59 am

 

168. Aboud said:

“Cutting and pasting articles from obscure periodicals and websites is an art.”

Indeed, most of the menhebaks post articles from websites that get a miniscule number of visitors, if any.

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August 25th, 2011, 10:24 am

 

169. Syrian Citizen said:

“Their strategy for angling the US toward making such a commitment in the future is economic sanctions.”

Is what happened yesterday the start of this?

Yesterday saw the start of the actual implementation of the latest round of US sanctions against Syria. A number of USD wire transfers into and out of Syria have been blocked. VISA credit cards stopped working with Master Cards soon to follow as I am told.

I am by no means and expert in law or in sanctions, but looking at the latest exc. order dated Aug 18 (order no. 13582 http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/syria_eo_08182011.pdf) I think this relates to the following parts of it:

Section 2 states that the following is prohibited:

“(b) the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of any services to Syria;
.
.
.
(e) any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee by a United States person, wherever located, of a transaction by a foreign person where the transaction by that foreign person would be prohibited by this section if performed by a United States person or within the United States.”

“.. any services to Syria”! No targeting of main government officials or bodies here.

In addition, looking at other treasury general licenses relating to this order we can see that Syrians can no longer make several general transactions such as get internet services from the US such as web hosting, sat links, domain name registration (http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/syria_gl5.pdf)

So much for the sanctions being targeted and carefully measured so they will only effect the regime and not the people! What a big bag of BS! This looks like it is just the beginning and I am afraid that things will only get worse!

If this is the kind of support the west is bragging about giving the Syrian people, which will not help with anything but turn Syria into the type of country Iraq was under the UN sanctions before the US invasion, then no thanks we Syrians do not want that!!! Leave us alone, let people deal with the regime without your so called ‘help’.

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August 25th, 2011, 10:45 am

 

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