Intra-Alawite fighting in Qardaha not Confirmed; Turkey Denies Syria Captured Pilots Alive; `Ar`our Returns to Syria

Minister Calls on People to Raise Backyard Chickens as Subsistence Economy Takes Hold in Growing Parts of the Country – Syria Report

The Minister of Agriculture has called on Syrian citizens to raise chickens as formal economic patterns are gradually disappearing in growing parts of the country.

Jihad Yazigi has an excellent report on the Syrian economy given in London by the London School of Economics, “Inside Syria: 18 Months On,”

….Let’s run the figures in terms of numbers where we are today. Syria’s gross domestic product probably contracted last year anywhere between 12 and 15 percent and this year it will contract anywhere between 20, 25, 30, 35 percent and we don’t really know.  We have absolutely no idea what’s going on in Aleppo, Idlib and Deir ez-Zor, but a very significant contraction. Unemployment is very high. In large parts of the country anyway unemployment is not an issue really because people are just fleeing violence. Foreign exchange reserves like I told you are down. The currency has lost 50 percent of its value in the last 18 months. It was traded at 47 SYP a dollar in March 2011. It is now at 70 SYP. It was at 70 SYP on Friday and 72 SYP on Monday and today at 74 SYP if I understand. Inflation is officially, in June, at 36 percent before the price was at 4 percent so it’s also a significant increase. Government expenses have been – I mean government has larger divested from the economy in terms of investment expenditures. It’s really paying only salaries.

Now, I’m giving you all this data and all these figures, but you have to realise that, in practice, you can’t really talk anymore about the formal economy. For instance, I’m taking about the inflation rate. Officially, that’s one of the very few indicators that are published officially publicly. It is at 36 percent, but you have to look at, first of all, these figures and then very different situations across the country.  For instance, before coming to London, I met someone who has just comeback from a village near the city of Raqqah in the north east. So I was asking him about the economic and social condition there. It’s a village near Raqqah. He was telling me there is no gasoline whatsoever. Telephone is cut off, both the landline network and the mobile phone networks are cut off, no connections. A kilogram of tomatoes which was sold at 25 SYP a few weeks earlier is now sold at 125 SYP and the cooking gas cylinder is sold at a $100. It was very interesting because, for the first time, someone prices anything in dollars. In Syria, you price everything in pounds and, of course, it reminds you a bit of Lebanon where the currency devalued so quickly that people were obliged to fix the price in dollar. But still $100, that’s 10 times its price in Damascus. A cooking gas cylinder in Damascus is sold at 700 SYP in the market at $10…. Read it all

Adnan Ar’our, the controversial sheikh, has returned to Syria. `Ar`ur who became a hero to many in the revolution for cursing Alawites and regime supporters on Saudi TV, has returned to Syria. In this video he is a keynote speaker at a joint leadership meeting of the revolutionary military councils. al-jazeerah video


Fadi Salem on the fighting in Aleppo

Samar Yazbek writes, “shabbiha of Assad’s family, killed 5 of my family from the Othman Family in AL Qurdaha.”

Tweets – Claim fighting within Assad Clan in Qardaha, their mountain town

  • Brian Whitaker@Brian_Whit  - Syria — tweets say fighting has broken out among Alawite families in Qardaha, Assad’s home town. Can’t confirm at present
  • Mohja Kahf@ProfKahf  - Second source-Latakia ground activist-reporting that head honcho of shabiha Mohamad asaad dead of wounds from Qardaha gunfight #Syria

The news about Assad clan fighting cannot be confirmed and originates from All4Syria, Ayman Abdulnour’s site. Although an excellent site, it is sometimes quick to copy reports and must sometimes retract what turns out to be rumor.

مقتل محمد الأسد زعيم الشبيحة ومظاهرات تهتف بسقوط الأسد في مسقط رأسه القرداحة

2012/09/30نشر فى: أخبار محليةدمشق – كلنا شركاقالت مصارد متابعة لما يجري في القرداحة لـ (كلنا شركاء) أن مظاهرات تعم الآن هناك رغم انها مسقط رأس الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد وعائلته والقلعة الحصينة لمؤيديه ، وأفادت المصادر أن المدعو محمد الأسد (شيخ الجبل) قد لقي مصرعه على يد أحد أفراد عائلة الخيّر ، إثر اعتقال الدكتور عبد العزيز الخير على يدي رجال الأمن منذ أيام
يذكر أن آل الخير يشكلون عائلة معروفة تاريخيا ولها مكانتها التاريخية والدينية والثقافية عند أبناء الطائفة العلوية ويعتبرون جزاء هاما من مجتمع القرداحة قبل أن يجهز نظام الأسد الأب على العائلة ويدفعها نحو الصفوف الخلفية .
أما محمد الأسد فيعتبر المؤسس الرئيس لما يسمى بمنظمة الشبيحة والمتبرع الرئيس مع رامي مخلوف ومحمد حمشو وآخرين في تقديم الدعم والتمويل المادي والمعنوي لهذه المنظمة .
وقد طوقت الاجهزة الامنية جميع الطرق المؤدية الى القرداحة بعد نشوب قتال بين عائلات ال الخير وال عثمان والعبود وبين اقرباء بشار الاسد .

Business Insider: Iran Reported To Have Given Syrian Regime Up To $10 Billion
2012-10-01

Today, Iran’s currency plummeted to an all-time low: 32,500 rial to the dollar. The hyperinflation is thought to be the result of oil sanctions that could lose the resource-rich nation $50 billion in revenue this year. Yet reports coming out today say they also are giving billions to the Assad regime in Syria to help fund the civil war — up to $10 billion according to the Times of London.

Turkey Denies Al Arabiya Report That Syrians Captured Its Pilots
2012-09-30 By Selcan Hacaoglu

Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) — Turkish Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin denies a report by Al Arabiya that the two pilots of a Turkish fighter jet, shot down by Syria, were captured and killed by Syrian forces.

• Ergin says the television report is “baseless”

• Ergin insists the bodies of the pilots were found in the wreckage of the plane deep in the Mediterranean

مقتل محمد الأسد زعيم الشبيحة ومظاهرات تهتف بسقوط الأسد في مسقط رأسه القرداحة

MEMRI:  Pro- And Anti-Assad Camps Share Concerns Over Syria’s Possible Disintegration Into Separate Sectarian, Ethnic Entities,” By: N. MozesColumnists, Syrian Oppositionists: Assad Will Establish An Alawite Mini-State In The Coastal Region

In contrast to the situation in the Kurdish region, where an independent, or at least autonomous, Kurdish entity indeed seems to be emerging, the situation in the ‘Alawite region is less clear, and reports regarding the emergence of an independent ‘Alawite state are of uncertain reliability.

Since the start of the uprising, the main elements of the Syrian opposition, chiefly the SNC, have denied claims that the protests have a distinct sectarian or ethnic nature, and have described these claims as propaganda meant to harm the legitimacy of the uprising. They have avoided collectively accusing certain sects of collaborating with the regime, and have characterized the uprising as a popular one encompassing all sectors of Syrian society. However, others in the opposition claimed that, if pressed, Assad would not hesitate to divide Syria in order to ensure his survival, and would establish an Alawite mini-country in the Syrian coastal region, which has a large Alawite population. One of the first to mention this possibility was ‘Abd Al-Halim Khaddam, former Syrian vice president and one of the heads of the Syrian opposition abroad. In January 2012, Khaddam claimed that Assad was arming and fortifying the ‘Alawite region: “Bashar and his clan have distributed rifles and machine guns in ‘Alawite towns and villages, and last month began transferring heavy weapons by land to the coastal region, in order to hide them in the hills and mountains… All the missiles and strategic weapons were also transferred there, as well as some tanks and artillery, because the regime needs them to suppress protestors in the cities. Bashar also planned to send fighter planes to the airfield in Al-Latakia… and is implementing a plan meant to spark a sectarian war… One month ago, Assad told one of his allies in Lebanon of his intention to establish an ‘Alawite state, from which he could launch a sectarian civil war.”[37] However, Khaddam recently questioned the possibility of establishing an Alawite enclave, “since no [Syrian] citizen would agree to the rending of the national fabric.”[38] Similar statements were made by a senior source in the FSA to the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: “The regime’s strategy is based on uncompromising combat in Damascus and Aleppo, and if it cannot control them, it will establish a separatist [‘Alawite] state on the Syrian coast…” He added that the opposition would relentlessly fight this state.[40]

Khairallah Khairallah, a Lebanese columnist for Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, claimed that the regime was fighting the opposition in Homs due to the city’s location and its status as the main obstacle to establishing a sustainable ‘Alawite state.[41] The Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai recently reported that the Syrian regime had transferred chemical weapons from a storage facility to Tartus, and estimated that this was done as part of the establishment of an ‘Alawite enclave on the Syrian coast.[42]

Various columnists explained that both Assad’s allies and his opponents, in the region and internationally, have an interest in Syria being divided. Saleh Al-Qalab, a former Jordanian information minister, said that Russia and Iran have a vested interest in defending an Alawite state if one is established, since it will enable them to maintain their influence in the region.[43] Columnist Mu’ataz Al-Murad wrote that the superpowers have a vested interest in dividing Syrian society, since it will lead to minorities asking for their guardianship, thus granting them a foothold in the country.[44]

Columnists: Small Chance For Establishment Of Sectarian States

On the other hand, there are some who dismiss the possibility that viable sectarian and ethnic states will be established, due to the objections among the minorities themselves and for demographic reasons.

‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, director of Al-Arabiya TV and former editor of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, spoke of the difficulties that Assad would face if he established an Alawite state: the rebels would pursue him wherever he went, and the Alawites would not agree to defend him and establish a state in a hostile environment and under continuing threats. According to Al-Rashed: “Even if there are internal forces who want to dismantle Syria into mini-states, the region will not tolerate this scenario and countries like Turkey and Iraq will not stand idly by…”[45] George Soulage, a columnist for the Lebanese daily Al-Jumhouriyya and a former advisor to Lebanese defense minister Elias Al-Murr, mentioned several strategic factors that prevent the establishment of a stable Alawite state, such as the lack of infrastructure and defense capabilities. According to Soulage, such a state would not receive international or Arab recognition, and would thus remain isolated. He added that Alawites are no longer the majority even in the coastal region.[46]

Suleiman Taqi Al-Din, a columnist for the Lebanese daily Al-Safir claimed that, even though there is a Kurdish area that is independently administrated, a northern Sunni area that includes provinces outside the control of the regime, and a coastal area with a nearly independent Alawite majority, “this is not a sure path to a division that would cause total separation from the mother country, or to the formulation of plans to establish sectarian mini-states…”  He added that, though sects in various countries can cause anarchy and strife, it is only superpowers that can create states in conflicted regions.”[47]

* N. Mozes is a research fellow at MEMRI.

Syrian-American Doctors Head To The Battle Zone by – NPR

Syrians Trade Blame for Fire
By SAM DAGHER,  WSJ

[image]
Associated PressThe Bab Qensrien neighborhood in Aleppo’s historic old city burned Sunday after a battle set off the fire.

BEIRUT—Syria’s regime and rebels traded blame for a massive fire that continued Sunday to devour parts of Aleppo’s vast ancient market—a treasured commercial, historical and cultural hub—as angry residents tried to assess the damage.

The fire’s origin was unclear, but coming days after rebels announced a fresh offensive to try to break the more than two-month stalemate in the battle for the strategic northern city, it is bound to further polarize Syria’s conflict-weary population.

Meanwhile, some members of Syria’s opposition began questioning the motives and tactics of the Aleppo insurgents who are ostensibly their allies. Some openly accused them of committing war atrocities and taking cover in congested residential neighborhoods and the old city—a Unesco World Heritage site—and using these areas to launch attacks on regime forces.

“People are worn out,” said an Aleppo native and senior member of the Syrian General Revolutionary Commission, a main opposition umbrella group. “It is the same back and forth, the government makes gains and the rebels reclaim a neighborhood; one side calls it cleansing and the other side calls it liberating and the people are paying for it.”

Pro-regime Syrian media didn’t mention the fire in their reports, only referring to continuing operations against “mercenary terrorists” in Aleppo.

The Aleppo native said members of the Tawhid Brigade, the main rebel group now fighting in Aleppo, have become rogue “armed gangs” that are only nominally associated with the Free Syrian Army. That army is itself a loosely linked grouping of local militias and defected military officers fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime across the country.

This summer, rebels launched a campaign to bring their fight into the heart of the capital, Damascus, and the country’s most populous city, Aleppo, for the first time.

Control over Aleppo is essential for any plan to create a haven for the opposition in the north, where rebels control much of the countryside.

Most Tawhid fighters came to Aleppo in July from rural predominantly Sunni Arab areas outside the city and harbor animosity toward an ethnically and religiously diverse urban population that has for the most part remained neutral in the conflict or supportive of Mr. Assad and his Shiite-linked leadership.

One of Tawhid’s leaders, defected army colonel Abdel-Jabbar al-Ughaidy, rejected the Aleppo native’s assessment during a telephone interview, blaming regime forces for instigating the attack in Aleppo’s old city.

Video footage posted by Syrian activists on YouTube Sunday—showing huge flames consuming thick wooden doors in the market, a warren of vaulted stone passageways—appeared to offer a more nuanced narrative.

A man, who identifies himself as a Free Syrian Army fighter, can be heard on the video saying that regime forces fired mortar and artillery shells at rebels amassed in the ancient market, causing the conflagration.

“They are shooting at us with snipers so that we do not extinguish the fire, these are people’s shops, their livelihood,” shouts the man as gunfire pops could be heard in the background.

Hassan Sheit, who owns an antique store in the market, said regime forces cordoned off the old city Sunday, keeping shopkeepers out as firetrucks and ambulances rushed in. He said both rebels and regime forces blamed each other for the fire, while some Aleppo residents were describing it as a “revenge attack” by rebels to punish merchants who have not supported them.Mr. Sheit, a Sunni Muslim, said he didn’t know his shop’s fate but that he spent most of the day comforting his Armenian-Christian neighbor whose jewelry store was lost in the fire. “He was sobbing like a child,” he said.

“Nobody is telling the truth,” said Mr. Sheit in a telephone interview. “The old city is the pulse of Aleppo, its heart.”

Residents fear that some of the almost 240 classified monuments in the old city might have been damaged by the fire, including its 13th century Antioch gate and the sprawling Ottoman-era Khan al-Jumruk, which once housed the trade missions and consulates of the British, Dutch and French imperial powers.

Aleppo is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and was a key stop on the so-called Silk Road. Its walled old city, which incorporates the ancient souks, mosques, schools and the remains of cathedrals, is both a commercial hub and a tourist draw. It has undergone renovations in recent years funded by the German Organization for Technical Cooperation and the Aga Khan Foundation, among others.

—Rima Abushakra in Beirut contributed to this article.

Write to Sam Dagher at sam.dagher@wsj.com

A Well To-Do Syrian Sunni Friend in Aleppo writes:

For a Better Understanding of Aleppo

Over the past few decades, Aleppo’s city center has changed significantly due to a large influx of rural mirgrants. This is no different than other major cities in Syria, but in Aleppo’s case, the countryside is particularly poor and culturally challenged. The city’s diverse resources, cultural sophistication, and business-oriented mentalities characterized its people with generosity and high bigotry-tolerance threshold. Thus, they did not stand in the way of the migrants setling in sectarian neighborhoods, as long as the city made money selling them those houses (or in occasions for humanitarian reasons as with Armenian refugees). And of-course, accompanied with intentional city planning negligence, for over 30 years now, sinking the city in property conflicts. In the 1980s, the regime also laid siege to random communities to punish the city for its sympathy with the Muslim Brotherhood….

The current city neighborhoods are denominated to specific minorities by one or more of the following criteria: religion, sect, clan, region, or tribe.

Thus, Christians, Mardini, Kurds, Armenian, Syriac, shia, Jews (until recently) had their own quarters in the Muslim canvas covering the city, while condensations of regional, clan, and tribal neighborhoods emerged all over the city like Anadani, Izazi, Babi, Deiri (Deir Al Zor), Heib clan, Bar’ri clan, Naim tribe, Battoush tribe, Jeiss tribe, Sukhni tribe… all have their own alleys and districts within the city.

Worth mentioning that, in the business environment, no such divisions exist in the city, and no one is sanctioned according to any criterion. No one is denied entry to the markets……

Assad’s a Jew, claims Egypt TV guest

Dictator’s family descends from Iranian Jewish origin, so-called expert asserts, in interview on station that also first broadcast Arabic-dubbed clip of anti-Islam film

Syria Rebels Practice Patience in the Fight for Damascus Los Angeles Times

The Battle for Aleppo By Jonathan Spyer | The Weekly Standard

….Neither commander professed loyalty to the notional overall leadership of the FSA, at the time still based in Turkey. “I’m a field commander,” Saumar said, “and I’m part of the Aleppo military council. But I’m not part of any external group, and I don’t see them as authoritative.”

Both men stressed an underlying unity among rebel units deriving from the simple goal of defeating and destroying the Assad regime. In Aleppo, I found no reason to doubt this claim, but it raised as many questions as it answered. The FSA is almost exclusively Sunni Arab. But it is not, as one Assad propaganda campaign with some success in Western capitals has it, motivated solely or mainly by Islamist ardor, either of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafist variety. But if the FSA’s only basis for unity is military-tactical, what does this mean for the future political direction of Syria, in the event of the regime’s defeat?

My attempts to bring up the subject of the Syrian National Council or any of the other supposed umbrella groupings of the opposition were immediately dismissed.

 The two most noticeable rebel units in Aleppo, and the only two who appear to transcend the general arrangement of local FSA-affiliated battalions, are the Tawhid Brigade and the Ahrar al-Sham group, both of which are tied to the Islamist current. Checkpoints affiliated with these groups have been established at the most prominent entrance points to the city, testifying to a sort of hierarchy of units, in which these feature close to the top.

Ahrar al-Sham fighters, in their mode of dress and their slogans, clearly identify themselves as Salafist Islamists. Their checkpoints and positions fly white, black, and green flags with slogans from the Koran written on them. They are rumored to be supported by Saudi Arabia and to be affiliated with al Qaeda. My own contacts did not extend to this organization.

Tawhid fighters, by contrast, do not markedly differ in their appearance from the FSA groupings. But the brigade, doubtless the largest single rebel group operating in the Aleppo area, maintains a separate leadership structure from the Aleppo military council and the FSA. I met with one of Tawhid’s leaders, in the Saif al-Dawli section of the city. The man, middle-aged, ginger-bearded, from the Al-Bab area northeast of Aleppo, described himself as one of the five commanders of the brigade. He was frank regarding Tawhid’s differences with the FSA and the Aleppo Military Council. “At the moment the Military Council has cut support from us. But we believe it will be restored in the near future.”

What was the reason for the cut in support, I asked. “Fear,” he said. “Fear of the Islamic states.” (Tawhid is rumored to be a major beneficiary of aid from Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.) And was this fear justified? Was Tawhid receiving aid from Islamic countries and movements? I didn’t expect a straight answer and was not disappointed. “Relief materials only,” he replied.

In contrast to the FSA fighters and field commanders that I met, the Tawhid commander had no hesitation in describing his political ambitions for Syria. “All the forces want one thing, one thought—an Islamic state, but with protection for minority rights.”

He was predictably dismissive of the Syrian National Council, describing it as a “spokesman” for the Syrian people, rather than a political authority. “The real leadership is inside Syria, in the field—not in Turkey.”….

Comments (146)


Pages: « 1 2 [3] Show All

101. Uzair8 said:

AJA reporter :: #Syria|Qardaha :: According to Activists 14 persons were killed in Assad clan #Qardaha so far and 7 from Al Kheir Family, 4 from the Shalees Clan and 5 from Othman Clan. These clans are tearing down the Assad’s pictures in their areas.

http://yallasouriya.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/aja-reporter-syriaqardaha-according-to-activists-14-persons/

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October 2nd, 2012, 6:53 pm

 

102. zoo said:

Uzair8

Did Queen Rania visited the refuges camps in Jordan in a solidarity gesture?

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October 2nd, 2012, 6:55 pm

 

103. Uzair8 said:

With the reports about ongoings in Qardaha it sounds like all hell is breaking loose in regime heartlands.

Just a hint of caution. Yalla Souriya takes it’s own credibility seriously:

‘All these news about Qardaha and Lattakia events need to be taken with utmost cautious as we do not have direct prove. Until then, I do not tell what to believe.’

http://yallasouriya.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/all-these-news-about-qardaha-and-lattakia-events/

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October 2nd, 2012, 6:57 pm

 

104. Syrialover said:

No ZOO, forget Egypt.

We only want to hear your special inside information on the operations of the Assad regime.

Posting stuff from other places might distract people here from what Assad’s doing in Syria.

Uh oh. You wouldn’t want THAT, would you?

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October 2nd, 2012, 6:58 pm

 

105. Uzair8 said:

98. Zoo

It was just a suggestion.

I guess it’s unsafe as Assad shelling has a tendency to go over the border. Also there could be regime infitrators amongst the refugees.

Btw I was only joking in an earlier post. Just trying to be humorous and clever. Nothing personal. I regretted it a few minutes later but it was too late to delete.

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:04 pm

 

106. zoo said:

Maliki’s polite reply to Erdogan’s invitation to visit: Get the hell out of Iraq

Iraq wants no Turkish presence

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/iraq-wants-no-turkish-presence.aspx?pageID=238&nID=31551&NewsCatID=352

Iraq’s Cabinet has recommended Parliament abrogate treaties permitting foreign forces in the country as the Turkish government submitted a motion to extend cross-border operations against members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“The cabinet decided to reject the presence of any foreign bases or forces on Iraqi land and to reject the entry of any foreign military forces into Iraqi land,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:07 pm

 

107. Syrialover said:

How inconvenient. What a nuisance for those who pretend and lie that Syrian-hater Bashar Assad is not being propped up by foreign fighters.

Financial Times, October 2, 2012

Hizbollah death fuels Syria rumours

Rumours that the Lebanese organisation Hizbollah is sending its members across the border to help the regime of Bashar al-Assad were fuelled by reports on Tuesday that one of its militants who was killed performing his “jihadi duties” had died in Syria.

Al Intiqad, a website affiliated to the militant group, reported the death of Ali Hussein Nassif without specifying where or how he was killed but news agencies cited local sources às saying he had been killed in Syria, where predominantly Sunni Muslim rebels are fighting the forces of the minority Alawite government.

A coalition of Hizbollah’s political opponents in Lebanon said on their website that Nassif and other fighters from the group died on Sunday in the rebel town of Qusair in Syria. Al Manar, Hizbollah’s television channel, showed the funeral of at least one other man said to have been killed while performing “jihadi duty” on Tuesday.

Opponents of Mr Assad have maintained for some time that Hizbollah has been sending fighters to Syria to assist him, but the group has denied the claims.

Hilal Khashan, a political-science professor at the American University of Beirut, said the Syrian government had become more in need of its allies’ forces as the 18-month-old uprising has worn on.

“Assad cannot rely on Sunnis – Sunnis have defected or are locked in their military barracks and the Alawites represent only 10 per cent of the population,” said Mr Khashan. “So when you have a burgeoning uprising you need fighters.”

Last month, the head of the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, which is also closely linked to both Hizbollah and Damascus, said it had “advisers” in Syria.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/aef2acd8-0cc0-11e2-a73c-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz28BZlRDJG

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:12 pm

 

108. zoo said:

#102 Uzair8

It came up when some silly commenter was asking why Asma Al Assad was not visiting the refugees camps. No wonder no one wants to visit the dreadful and humiliating Jordanian camps as there are regular riots from frustrated Syrians.
It’s time their villages are cleaned up from their ‘protectors’ so then can go back

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:12 pm

 

109. Syrialover said:

ZOO, now Iraq and Turkey huh?

But I guess you are revealing and promoting Iranian directives to Bagdhad (#102).

Does than mean you’re edging closer to telling us about Iran’s directives to Damascus?

Come on, be fair and remember to share.

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:17 pm

 

110. Uzair8 said:

While reading of these unconfirmed reports from Qardaha, I couldn’t help recall a quote from John Follain’s book, The Last Godfathers, a true account of the rise of the powerful Corleonese mafia family in Sicily.

I can’t remember the exact quote but I remember an elderly man, who I think just lost a son to the mafia, was stood on a balcony watching some threatening mafioso passing below as a warning. The elder man advised his son by his side not to be provoked and predicted his mafia enemies, like dogs, would soon tear each other apart. That is exactly what happened.

I may have got some details wrong. I’ll pop into the library tomorrow and get the quote.

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:18 pm

 

111. Tara said:

  
Two more Hezbollah funerals
The Lebanese Daily Star is now reporting on the death of Ali Hussein Nassif, the Hezbollah commander who was killed “while performing his jihadi duties” – presumably in Syria.

It says his funeral, near Baalbek in the eastern Bekaa valley, was attended by top Hezbollah officials including the head of the group’s judicial council, Sheikh Mohammad Yazbek, and the head of the political bureau, Sheikh Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed.

But Nassif was not the only one …

On Tuesday, Hezbollah’s al-Manar television showed the funerals of at least two other Hezbollah members it said were killed while performing their “jihadi duty”.

It said one of the group’s members, Zein al-Abideen Mustafa, was buried in his hometown of Baalbek, while another Hezbollah member, Hussein Mohammad Hussein Diab, was buried in his hometown of Ghassaniyeh in southern Lebanon. Both funerals were attended by Hezbollah officials and commanders.

The coffins of the dead were draped with Hezbollah’s yellow flags and carried by militants in black uniforms and red berets. Hundreds of people marched in the funeral.

Hezbollah has so far declined to give any explanation on the circumstances of their deaths.

The Guardian

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:19 pm

 

112. zoo said:

The Lebanese government officially called the Syrian army during Lebanon civil war to separate the warring factions.
As the Syrian armed rebels are helped and fed by foreigners plotting against Syria and fueling the civil war, it’s the Syrian government right and duty to call for help from any friend its chooses.

If it decides to allow Egypt, Iran or any country to send military support, it is its prerogative as it is still the only united authority in Syria.

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:22 pm

 

113. Syrialover said:

ZOO, that’s a low blow, suggesting everyone should hold their nose and stay away from the desperate camps of Syrians in Jordan (#104).

Thank God the rest of the world does not think like that.

But WAIT, maybe you are giving us coded insider information on Asma Assad’s attitude to those dirty pesky Syrians.

If so, thanks for sharing.

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:22 pm

 

114. Syrialover said:

ZOO said:

“it’s the Syrian government right and duty to call for help from any friend its chooses” (#108)

Feeding us more on regime insider thinking ? Thanks. Keep it coming.

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:26 pm

 

115. Tara said:

If al Moualem gain 5 more Ibs, where would it go? Supporters should consider sending him a weight watcher gift card for Christmas    

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9579888/Syria-accuses-UN-Security-Council-of-supporting-terrorism.html

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:35 pm

 

116. zoo said:

“Devout Islam cannot be pluralistic.”

BURAK BEKDİL
burak.bekdil@hurriyet.com.tr

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/the-mother-of-all-evil-i.aspx?pageID=449&nID=31008&NewsCatID=398
….
The article quoted influential Islamic intellectual Hayrettin Karaman as saying that: “Those who don’t believe in Islam can freely live according to their beliefs. [Thank you, Mr Karaman, for your generosity!] But if this kind of living negatively affects the life, morality, religiousness and education of new Muslim generations, measures need to be taken to create ‘special zones’ for their improper actions.”

Mr. Karaman continues: “Now we live with many people side by side … from gays to drunks to unmarried couples … A Muslim won’t like these actions, they hate them and if there is an opportunity he keeps the intention to correct and prevent these actions.”

Perfect. “Whereabouts do you live in Turkey?” “I live in the infidel quarter. And you?” “I live in Muslim Turkey.”

And that “intention to correct and prevent these actions” is at the heart of my perpetual pessimism as to why devout Islam cannot be pluralistic.

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:39 pm

 

117. Tara said:

Zoo @108

You have always looked down at the Libyan and the Syrian rebels because they asked for the NATO help. Now you are finding moral justification for the Assad phalanges to get foreign help. Do you realize that this is called double standards?

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:42 pm

 

118. Halabi said:

Why would a government that has hundreds of thousands of soldiers who are supposedly trained to take on elite fighters from Israel and imperialist powers, a government that is united and has suffered only a handful of defections, find it necessary to rely on a non-state actor to restore security in Assad’s Syria?

There are a number of answers. Assad’s army is depleted and bogged down on multiple fronts so it needs help. Perhaps some of the dirty work (slitting the throats of Sunni children) isn’t suitable for some of the sectarian units so the secular regime needs religious fanatics from the party of god to execute the plan. This dynamic also forms a sectarian blood lust that many Hezbollah murderers can’t resist – how often do you get the chance to kill dozens of women and children with no consequence.

Whatever the reasons are, no one can deny that the government controlling parts of Syria today has resorted to direct foreign intervention in the country. So when people say they are against foreign intervention as a principle, that means Iran, Qatar, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda should be rejected. When one side calls for Nato and the other calls for Iran and Hezbollah, it’s clear who has the sectarian agenda.

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:42 pm

 

119. Son of Damascus said:

So it is silly to wonder why the wife of the president of the Republic does not go and see under what conditions those “over inflated number of refugees” are doing, since you know they are visiting their family across the border…. Pathetic.

The only silly one around here is the one pretending that they care about Syria only in the same exact post to call for further bloodshed by “cleaning up” the villages.

In case you need a reminder what the “cleaning up” a village really translates to:

Taftanaz, Idlib:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chroniclesyrianuprising/sets/72157631671076754/

Dael, Deraa:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chroniclesyrianuprising/sets/72157631663850634/

Qastoun, Hama:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chroniclesyrianuprising/sets/72157631654951006/

I can add more Zoo, I know you get you socks knocked off by watching our county flattened by your president…

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:47 pm

 

120. Syrian said:

Ann
70s music!,so you are in late 40s early 50s , what happens to the wisdom that comes with age?

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:48 pm

 
 

122. Syrialover said:

TARA #111. You are too kind. Moallam is such a degenerate mess of blubber, at his age and that shape he would already be needing major medical assistance to keep going. I hope the world doesn’t think other Syrians look like that or like his pinheaded boss Bashar.

It would be weird to see mountainous Moallam standing beside Asma Assad who appears to be anorexic she’s become so scrawny now. Two faces of the Syrian regime. Anyone physically normal in that circle? Even Maher is now missing a leg.

ZOO, let’s forget the shallow reflections on Islam and Turkey and get back to Syria. Your coded messages were getting interesting.

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:56 pm

 

123. zoo said:

Turkey moves to host Youtube site so as to shield Turks from provocative videos. Facebook is next?

YouTube opens new site in Turkey, giving government more control

http://rt.com/news/line/2012-10-02/#id38334

Turkey announced Tuesday that it has persuaded the video sharing site YouTube to operate under a Turkish web domain, which will give Ankara tighter control over the site’s content and require it to pay Turkish taxes. Turkey banned the site for more than two years in 2008 and has come under international criticism for its restrictive internet laws and its record on freedom of expression

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October 2nd, 2012, 7:58 pm

 

124. Ghufran said:

Here is an interesting fact about Iran:
تحتل إيران المراكز الأول فى جراحات التجميل سواء تجميل الوجه أو الأنف من ناحية الكم والكيف على مستوى العالم، وفقا لتقرير وكالة إيسنا الطلابية.
وقال على رضا مصباحى أشهر الجراحين الإيرانيين فى مجال التجميل إن وجود المتخصصين والأطباء الإيرانيين فى هذا المجال والأدوات الطبية المتقدمة وطرق جراحات التجميل المختلفة بجانب رغبة الكثيرين من الجنسين فى إجرائها، أدى إلى ارتفاع إحصاءات إجراء عمليات التجميل فى إيران مقارنة بباقى الدول.
وأضاف أن تعداد إجراء عمليات تجميل الأنف أصبح متزايد لدى الذكور فى إيران، لكن للأسف أغلبهم يرغب فى إمتلاك أنف تشبه أنف الأنثى، فى حين أن أنف الرجل يجب أن تكون متناسبة مع شكله كرجل.

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:03 pm

 

125. Syrialover said:

SON OF DAMASCUS #115

What a devastating illustration of the vicious, hate-filled pointless burning of Syria by Assad.

But you’ve captured Zoo’s act in one hit! (And he’s gobbling on so much about Turkey he’s becoming a feathered turkey scratching in the dirt).

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:04 pm

 

126. Tara said:

Syria Berates Hamas Chief, an Old Ally, on State TV
Published: October 2, 2012

BEIRUT, Lebanon — State television in Syria issued a withering attack late Monday on a longtime ally, the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Khaled Meshal, addressing him as if he were an ungrateful child, saying he was having a “romantic emotional crisis” over the Syrian uprising and accusing him of selling out “resistance for power.”
Enlarge This Image

The extraordinary reproof, a departure from the blander tone of most Syrian official statements, was the government’s first broadside against Hamas since the organization distanced itself from the embattled President Bashar al-Assad this year, when most Hamas leaders left their refuge in Damascus and shuttered their office there.

The attack was a television editorial delivered by a newscaster in alternately stern and mocking tones, who reminded Mr. Meshal that he was “orphaned” by Arab countries who would not take him in when he fled Jordan in 1999. She implied that he must have sold out to Israel, saying that was the only explanation for the willingness of Qatar, his new host, to accept him.

Damascus seemed to be striking back after Mr. Meshal appeared at a congress of the party of Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and after Mr. Erdogan and Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, pointedly declared their shared priorities of opposing Mr. Assad and supporting the Palestinians — a blow to Mr. Assad’s longstanding and domestically compelling persona as the champion of Palestinian resistance against Israel.

Hamas did not immediately respond to the attack on Mr. Meshal, who recently announced plans to step down from the group’s helm…

Damascus is most likely particularly furious that Mr. Meshal has taken up residence in Qatar, one of the countries, along with Saudi Arabia and the United States, that it accuses of bankrolling the insurgency.

At certain points her tone became snide: “Meshal, since you are having a romantic emotional crisis over what you call the suffering of the Syrian people,” the newscaster said, “why didn’t the Palestinian people elicit the same emotional reaction?”

She recalled how Syria defied other powers to grant him refuge in 1999. “The plane that was carrying him was sent back from the skies of airports as if he was the plague,” she intoned. “Doha and Ankara and Amman and Cairo all evaded him that day because Israel had vetoed his reception, and no one dared to defy this veto except Damascus.”

Addressing him directly, she continued, “The only possible interpretation for their sudden welcoming attitude today is that you are no longer wanted by the occupation” — referring to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories — “and no longer a threat to their safety.”

She offered a barely veiled “good riddance.”

“Syria is not regretful because it didn’t do what it did expecting loyalty or thanks,” she said, adding, “Syria is happy that the person who sold resistance for power is leaving it now.”

The editorial also took shots at Turkey’s bid to become a regional leader and champion of the Palestinian cause.

For the Turks — who have been major allies of the Syrian insurgency, providing a haven for its fighters — that role is “too big” for them to handle, the newscaster warned. “The Turkishization of the resistance is read in the Arabic language as your complete abandonment of it.”

“Meshal, remember that fire needs authentic oil or the smoke will blind eyes. And the authentic oil for the fire of resistance is distinctly Syrian, Palestinian, Arab.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/03/world/middleeast/syrian-state-tv-lashes-out-at-hamas-leader-khaled-meshal.html?_r=0

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:16 pm

 

127. Ghufran said:

Drones will start operating in Libya soon.

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:18 pm

 

128. zoo said:

Tara

The single authority of a country, as recognized by the UN, has the right to call from help from any country it wants when it sees that its sovereignty and the integrity of the land is threatened by foreign elements feeding local rebels and fueling a civil war.
This is why there are treaties of mutual defense between countries. That’s what Lebanon did by calling the Syrian army to separate the warring factions funded by foreign countries, including Israel.

In Syria, until now, the Syrian government is the sole UN recognized authority. So it has that legal right.

While Libyans had the TNC, a partly recognized and united authority in the opposition, contrary to Tunisia, the Libyans were unable to ‘win’ their revolution. Therefore with the help of Qatar and France, they manipulated the UNSC resolution voted to ‘protect’ the civilians into using the NATO power to their service of destroying the regime and killing Qaddafi.
If Qaddafi had countries allies ready to defend his regime, he would have had the right to call them and NATO would have never dared attack him. But there was nobody.
The Libyans did not win their revolution it was won for them by the West and by the Qaddafi’s stupidity in not forging solid alliances with military strong countries.

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:28 pm

 

129. Tara said:

Ghufran@120

Ah… In general Cosmetic surgery can’t make ugly people beautiful, advanced or not. The only attractive actor I’ve seen in the Persian movies I watched was an Arab, and my heart melted for him..

Arabs are much more attractive. I just have not yet seen see neither the fake nor the authentic Persian beauty. Sorry Irritated.

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:28 pm

 

130. Aldendeshe said:

Shia serving the zionist agenda الشيعة خدم الصهاينة

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:29 pm

 

131. Aldendeshe said:

Why did the SHIA team up with the ZIONIST crusaders to fight Salahudeen Alayubi ?

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20091107135354AAUMd1T

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:33 pm

 

132. Ghufran said:

قال المرزوقي أن صعود الأحزاب الإسلامية في “بلدان الربيع العربي” للسلطة “هدية مسمومة”، مشيرا إلى أن الشعوب العربية كان لهم طموحات كبيرة تتجاوز الواقع الحالي.
وأكد أن “الثورة المضادة أصبحت شرا يتهدد الثورة بمصر وتونس”.
وتوقع أن تسحب الديمقراطية في الانتخابات المقبلة الحكم من الإسلاميين في الدول التي عرفت ما يعرف بـ”الربيع العربي”٬ معبرا عن تخوفه من أن “توصل الديمقراطية الثورة المضادة إلى
مصر و تونس
I always supported Islamist rights to run for elections, I am just against violence.

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:35 pm

 

133. zoo said:

Tara

I totally agree with the State TV address to Meshaal even though Meshaal’s move was expected a long time ago for the obvious reasons I had explained earlier.

The Palestinians are exchanging Syria, a long loyal Arab ally and supporter, for Turkey and Qatar, countries that never fought Israel or lost soldiers on the front and whose main ideology are Islam, money and business.
It’s a risky move and I think it may weaken the Palestinians even more than they have ever been.
Good luck to Turkey, now they have the Kurdish and the Palestinians problems to solve.

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:44 pm

 

134. Syrialover said:

ZOO,

You seem to be oblivious to the fact that the UN has decreed that the Syrian regime is now outside the international definition and moral codes of sovereignity and is no longer seen as legitimate.

The UN has stopped seeing anything “legal” or associated with “having the right” about what Basar Asssad is doing.

But thanks for opening more windows for us into the bizarre delusionary thinking and justifications the Assad regime is feeding itself.

And I see you are telling us that Bashar Assad IS relying on Iran and Russia to help him carry out his filthy work.

Keep it coming.

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:47 pm

 
 

136. Aldendeshe said:

Why did Shia help the crusaders, try assassinating Salahudin and help the mongols?

http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100422170121AAjGhdP

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October 2nd, 2012, 9:55 pm

 

137. Aldendeshe said:

Shi’ite see that Jews are better than Muslims:

http://www.islamicweb.com/beliefs/cults/shia_answering.htm

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October 2nd, 2012, 9:59 pm

 

138. Halabi said:

Hezbollah isn’t the army of a state. There’s nothing legal about a militia sending fighters to murderer civilians in another country, even if the despot in said country invited them. But there is no use discussing laws, morals or any human norms.

قرداحة حنا معاك للموت

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October 2nd, 2012, 10:30 pm

 

139. zoo said:

SL

“UN has decreed that the Syrian regime is now outside the international definition and moral codes of sovereignity and is no longer seen as legitimate.”

Really? The Syria government was invited at the latest UN assembly in NY last week, as usual. Strange, no?
It is only in your wildest dream that you heard that the UN has officially decreed the Syrian government as illegitimate.
The illegitimate entities are the SNC and the FSA that just a couple of countries have privately recognized as representing an opposition group. For the rest of the world, they have no official existence.

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October 2nd, 2012, 11:06 pm

 

140. zoo said:

The rebels announced ‘decisive’ battle of Aleppo seems to turn into a ‘decisive’ defeat for them, normally followed by the usual tactical withdrawal. Will there be any this time?

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/middle-east/7762156/Assad-orders-30-000-troops-to-Aleppo

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is visiting the city of Aleppo to take a first-hand look at the fighting between government forces and rebels and has ordered 30,000 more troops into the battle, a Lebanese paper said on Tuesday.

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October 2nd, 2012, 11:24 pm

 

141. zoo said:

Turkish troops fire across Syria border, kill (anti-Bashar) Kurds: NGO

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iKxnodFAJ1tOLa6CkcK52soa7eZg?docId=CNG.8b2b456bdc514b0dd075381637648f70.2e1

BEIRUT — Turkish troops fired across the Syrian border on Tuesday, killing a member of a Kurdish militia and wounding two others in the first such fatal shooting at the Turkish frontier, a watchdog reported.

“The three Kurds, members of a Kurdish militia hostile to the Damascus regime but also wary of the rebellion, were patrolling the border in (Syria’s) Hasaka province when they were hit by Turkish army fire from the other side,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

“This was the first fatal shooting at the Turkish border,” he added.

The incident occurred in in the Derbassiyeh region of the northwest province of Hasaka, according to the Britain-based Observatory.

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October 2nd, 2012, 11:27 pm

 

142. Halabi said:

Hassan Hassan in the National

“Anatomy of a massacre that bodes ill for Syria’s future

Al Fan Ashamali is a small Syrian village in Hama’s northern countryside. Like many Sunni villages in the provinces of Hama, Homs and Tartous, the hamlet adjoins Alawite villages. It also links the Alawite-majority city of Surwan with the Ismaili-majority Salamiyah city.

Exactly a month ago, the village was shelled overnight by the Assad regime’s army. The next morning, armed Alawite men from the nearby villages of Telaisiya, Zughbah and Al Fan Al Qibli stormed the village. Armed with knives and light weapons, the militias reportedly slaughtered at least 30 people, including women and children.

Many have suggested these massacres are an attempt by the regime to cleanse areas for a future Alawite state. That does not appear accurate, however: too many Alawites in these villages fled and have since relocated. Many Alawites in Sunni villages also left their villages to avoid the clashes.

More likely is that teams – possibly including Iranian and Hizbollah elements – are deliberately encouraging such massacres to prepare the groundwork for future sectarian militias, through so-called popular committees.

Either way, the future of these once mixed areas is bleak. I asked Mr Abu Obaida’s son what happens to the Alawites in these villages when the conflict is eventually over. He said those who were not involved in the conflict will continue to live with Sunnis, side by side. “Before we left, our Alawite neighbour was still living there and we did not have any problems with him or his family”.

And, he added, those who were involved in pro-regime militias will have to die. But too many Alawites have joined the militias.”

http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/anatomy-of-a-massacre-that-bodes-ill-for-syrias-future#full

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October 2nd, 2012, 11:39 pm

 

143. zoo said:

Qatar’s Plan B for Syria: a wise choice?

Michael Stephens , 1 October 2012
http://www.opendemocracy.net/michael-stephens/qatar%E2%80%99s-plan-b-for-syria-wise-choice

In a televised interview with CNN the Prime Minister announced that there was a Plan B for Syria stating ”You need to make safe haven areas… That would require a no-fly zone.” Less than 24 hours later his Emir stood in front of the UN General Assembly to announce that ”It is better for Arab countries themselves to intervene out of their humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed.”

Qatar although extraordinarily rich is not a great military power and cannot deliver the punch to back up its words: it must rely on others to deliver that blow instead.
…..
The real question is not about Qatar however, but Saudi Arabia. Should Riyadh feel sufficiently bold (which would be very out of character) to mobilise and follow Qatar’s call for action, then a real substantive shift might take place. Indeed Saudi’s vastly superior technological capabilities could end the conflict quickly should it wish to mobilise its more capable units. Although Saudi forces are largely untested in war it is doubtful Assad’s forces could withstand a full scale Saudi offensive launched from Jordan.

This may well be the key to understanding what Qatar is doing. The Qataris are trying to drag Riyadh into a more assertive posture that produces a genuine sense of threat among Syrian decision makers. Backed by Jordan and possibly the UAE this would create a coalition that could force Assad into submission. The conflict is military at the end of the day, and it cannot presently be solved by political means. The Qataris understand this, and so does everybody else.

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October 3rd, 2012, 12:00 am

 

144. zoo said:

Qatar and Turkey to rebels: Unite or die

Syrian rebels’ backers block arms cache until bickering factions unite

By Kim Sengupta
Monday, 1 October 2012

Stockpiles of arms, including anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, are being held in Turkey for use by rebels in Syria’s civil war, but their distribution is being held up because of disunity and feuding between the different groups of fighters.

In high-level discussions, Qatari and Turkish suppliers told opposition representatives that heavy weapons would not be made available until the various factions agreed to form a coherent command structure

Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/syrian-rebels-backers-block-arms-cache-until-bickering-factions-unite-16218188.html#ixzz28CnrEnr2

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October 3rd, 2012, 12:06 am

 

145. annie said:

124. ZOO In Syria, until now, the Syrian government is the sole UN recognized authority. So it has that legal right.

Time for the UN to boot that Syria out.
I do not have Tara’s health and can’t continue to read Zoo’s delusions
Skipping him and, in any case Ann

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October 3rd, 2012, 3:07 am

 

146. ann said:

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October 5th, 2012, 12:30 pm

 

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