Is Aleppo Slipping out of Government Control?

A friend from Aleppo wrote me over the weekend that he believes that the northern suburbs of Aleppo are falling out of government control. In particular, the poorer towns of Azaz, Hreitan, and Anadan, which are on the road to Turkey, have been taken over by opposition groups. On February 27, a number of local residents were killed by the military, setting off protests and violent confrontations with local security. He does not believe the regime’s end is imminent because the armed groups are not centrally organized. All the same, the migration of neighborhoods out of government control is unceasing. Although the government has retaken Homs, it is losing Aleppo and the broader North, an area that has long been fertile ground for Islamist currents.

He writes:

I just had a long conversation with friends and family in Aleppo. It may not be long before the city joins the revolution, I believe. My father could not travel by car to the border with Turkey. No driver dares take the roads north any longer. The drive to Turkey is only a half-hour. The working-class neighborhoods of Azaz, Hreitan and Anadan have largely fallen out of government control. Friends who own factories in the industrial regions outside of Aleppo complain that for a week now they have been unable to visit them. Lack of security, frequent anti-regime demonstrations and clashes between militants and the army make the excursion impossible.

I am a partner in one Aleppo factory that was attacked Sunday night (March 4). The attackers beat up the two night security guards and bound them. They then lifted the whole safe box and carried it out of the factory. Thankfully, the safe only contained syp 350,000 and not more. Also thankfully they did not burn the place down, as has happened to some Aleppo factory owners.

The fact that neighborhoods, such as Azaz, Hreitan and Anadan have fallen out of government control is significant because cars can no longer travel, even in daylight, to Turkey from Aleppo. The entire boarder area is becoming unsafe. This is much worse than Baba Amr or Khaldiye falling out of government control from the point of view of security because Turkey is the base for the Free Syrian Army, arms exports into Syria, and most opposition groups.

To make maters worse, the Syrian Pound has fallen to 83 to the dollar. This means that the net worth of every Syrian has fallen by over 70% since the beginning of the uprising. People do not have enough to eat. More than half the country is living on two dollars a day or less. Hunger and fear are spreading.

Even the middle and upper classes that live in the city centers are beginning to panic and look for a way out of the country. Plane flights to Lebanon from Aleppo are booked for the next month. The exodus has begun.

This is the first real breakdown of Aleppo control. My sister says law and order is deteriorating in the center of Aleppo as well. Armed elements are kidnapping folks for ransom, breaking into houses, and beating people up and stealing their jewelry and money. My wife’s relative, the Gharo family, was invaded in Aleppo today.  A guy rang the intercom and said he was from the security service. He was buzzed in and went upstairs to their apartment. When the Gharos opened the door, a group of thugs went in, grabbed their young son and held a knife to his neck and demanded every valuable in the apartment. When they got their loot, they fled!

Government forces are doing their share of damage. Michael Aswad, a patriach of a prominent Christian family, was killed by the security service last week, apparently by accident when he didn’t stop the taxi he was in as he entered the security zone around his apartment. A high-ranking official lives in his apartment. His death has mortified upper-class Aleppines because he was killed in the city center.

The ability of the government to supply basic goods and services has crumbled. Now security is evaporating. More and more Syrians realize that the state is losing control and are taking maters into their own hands.

On Feb 27, fighting in Aleppo’s northern suburbs resulted in this news

Aleppo Suburbs: The number of martyrs for today has reached 11 martyrs as a result of the continuous shelling by regime’s army on several areas of the suburb. Helicopters are being used to bomb some of the areas.

Aleppo: Andan: Mr. Adnan Abu Ghafour was martyred due to the shelling by the security forces in the city.

Aleppo: Aazaz: Alaa Shawki Al-Shash was martyred by helicopter bombing in the city.

News Round Up

Bearing Witness in Syria: A Correspondent’s Last Days
The armed opposition in Syria is led by the under-equipped Free Syrian Army.
By TYLER HICKS, March 04, 2012


Here are some recent videos of militant brigades that have announced their formation in Syria. They are taking shape with growing frequency.

حلب – صوران إعزاز – 23 / 2 / 20

قسم كتائب الفرقان ان تكون رايتنا لا إلة إلا الله ومحمد رسول الله وان نحكم القران في اعمالنا

تشكيل كتيبة الشيخ حمد بن جاسم في ريف معرة النعمان.‬

إدلب كللي || الجيش السوري الحر || تشكيل كتيبة الفرقان
الأعلان عن تشكيل كتيبة صقور العقيدات في حمص العدية و ريفها التابعة الى الجيش السوري الحر توجه نداء الى الشعب السوري و الى عشائر جزيرة الشام للإنضمام الى صفوف الثوا

ريف ادلب 28 02 2012 اعلان تشكيل كتيبة عمار بن ياسر

U.S. sees ‘no fracturing’ of al-Assad regime

(CNN) — After weeks of collecting intelligence on Syria and watching the attacks by the forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. sees “no fracturing” of the Syrian regime and assesses al-Assad could remain in power for some time to come if the …

The European Union announced its recognition of the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people, and called for other opposition factions to unite and work with the Council.

Senator McCain

the Arizona Republican said in an impassioned speech in the U.S. Senate. “The only realistic way to do so is with foreign air power.”

The goal, added the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, should be to establish and defend safe havens, primarily in northern Syria, where opposition forces could organize their efforts. “These safe havens could also help the Free Syrian Army and other armed groups in Syria to train and organize themselves into more cohesive and effective military forces, likely with the assistance of foreign partners,” he said.

McCain, a Vietnam War veteran, said that any such effort would require taking out Syria’s air-defense systems. “We’re the only ones who can do that,” he said.

But he predicted that some kind of intervention will happen, even if the United States does not act. “So the real question for U.S. policy is whether we will participate in this next phase of the conflict in Syria, and thereby increase our ability to shape an outcome that is beneficial to the Syrian people, and to us. I believe we must.”

McCain said that any effort must include other nations. “We should seek the active involvement of key Arab partners,” such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar “and willing allies” in the European Union, NATO and Turkey, he said.

McCain acknowledged that his proposal is a risky one, that the opposition lacks cohesion and that the American public has wearied of war, but said that should not dissuade U.S. officials from moving forward. “There are no ideal options in Syria,” he said. “We need to deal with reality as it is, not as we wish it to be.”

He added, “The Syrian people deserve to succeed. Shame on us if we fail to help them.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was non-committal. “The secretary is interested in exploring options that could help end the brutal violence in Syria, but he also recognizes that this is an extremely complex crisis,” a senior Pentagon official said. “Intervention at this time could very well exacerbate problems inside the country.”

By Soner Cagaptay
CNN Global Public Square
March 2, 2012
To view this article on our website, go to:

A new argument against intervention in Syria is that since the opposition consists of radical Islamist elements, the United States and other countries should shy away from supporting the rebellion against the Bashar al-Assad regime for fear that they might empower Islamists.

I recently visited Turkey, stopping in cities near the Syrian border such as Antakya and Gaziantep. During this trip, I talked to people who are in daily contact with Syrians, including professors at Zirve University in Gaziantep, an international school that has Syrian students, and American journalists who had just returned from Syria. I did not find any evidence that Islamists run the uprising, yet I left Turkey thinking that delayed intervention against the al-Assad regime could surely lead to building Islamist resentment towards al-Assad to the point of empowering radicals in Syria.

In this regard, there is a lesson to be learned from the war in Bosnia in the 1990s. When the Yugoslav Army started its attack on Bosnia in 1992, Bosnian Muslims (also known as Bosniacs) held the distinction of being the world’s “most secular Muslims.” The Bosniacs’ embrace of Islam was non-political, and one’s level of religiosity was a personal matter. The Bosniacs even ate pork liberally, a violation of orthodox Islam that shocked even their fellow liberal Muslims in Turkey.

Only a couple of years after the onslaught against the Bosniacs began, though, Bosnia’s “pork-eating” Muslims were flirting with radical Islamists, including Iranian agents and jihadists. As the outside world watched Serbian forces slaughter Bosniacs, these people increasingly came to view their persecution through a religious lens. They started to believe that (Christian) Serbs were targeting them because of their (Muslim) faith and that the outside world turned a blind eye to their persecution because of their Islamic religion. This process led to a rapid politicization of the Bosniacs’ Muslim identity. Previously secular and even irreligious Bosniacs started to view the world through a religiously-guided Manichean perspective.

This persecution-driven metamorphosis — a historical phenomenon not uncommon among Muslim communities — transformed the Bosnian political landscape quickly and radically. Jihadists, previously considered alien and shunned by Bosniacs, could now find refugee in Bosnia. In fact, when the outside world, led by the United States, decided to intervene in Bosnia in 1995, it was justified by the fear of speedy Bosniac radicalization.

Even though the conflict in Syria lacks an inter-religious dimension, it has a sectarian overtone that could lead to Islamic politicization in Syria akin to that in Bosnia.

The al-Assad regime’s inner circle is composed of Alawites, an offshoot of Islam, while the opposition is mostly made up of Sunni Muslims. Even if the protestors’ demand for democracy is non-religious, the fact that the al-Assad regime and its (Alawite) supporters are brutally killing (Sunni) demonstrators is already giving the conflict in Syria a sectarian hue. Persecution-driven metamorphosis of Islamic identity can reshape the conflict as a religious one — one pitting Alawites against Sunnis, and Sunnis against Alawites.

As anecdotal evidence suggests, some protestors already view their persecution through a religious lens, believing that the regime is targeting them not because they demand democracy, but because it is an Alawite machine trying to massacre the Sunnis. And the more the outside world sits idly by as Syrians are slaughtered, the more the Sunnis in Syria will believe that the world turns a blind eye to such horrors because of their religion.

Add to this the fact that some orthodox Sunnis do not consider Alawites rightful Muslims, and it could be a matter of months before radical elements such as al Qaeda start a propaganda war to depict the Syrian conflict as one of “non-Muslim” Alawites killing Muslims. This perception would transform the fighting as well as send sectarian waves across the Middle East’s fragile landscape. At the same time, it could lead to the radicalization of Syria, turning the country into a fertile recruitment ground for radical groups.

The sooner the international community is able to help end the killing in Syria, the more likely it will be able to prevent the radicalization of the country’s population along sectarian and even religious lines. In Bosnia, after some soul searching, the international community concluded that intervention was the way to end the radicalization of Muslims. What was true in Bosnia appears to also be true in Syria.

Now, An Intervention Must Take Place in Syria
Bernard-Henri Lévy: 02/28/2012

On March 19th, it will be a year, day for day, since squadrons of French planes, later followed by British, American and Arab aircraft, saved Benghazi from what would have been its inevitable destruction.

Well, things being what they are and if the international community does not pull itself together, this anniversary may have the bitter taste of ashes and failure.
For today, there is a new Benghazi.

There is a city in the region that is in precisely the same situation as was Benghazi. To be exact, there is a city that finds itself in even more dire straits than Benghazi was, since the same type of tanks, stationed in the same manner, at the same distance from unarmed civilian populations have, this time, already gone into action, and this for the past several months.

This city is Homs. This is the Syrian capital of pain, where they target journalists and massacre civilians indiscriminately.

And the fact is: what we did there, we are not doing here; the same tanks our aviators nailed to the ground in Libya, just hours before they let loose their fire, are operating in Syrian with complete impunity. Of course, I am aware that the two situations are not identical…..

India refuses government guarantee on Syria oil imports: sources
NEW DELHI | Fri Mar 2, 2012 6:49am EST

(Reuters) – India has refused to provide its sovereign guarantee for oil imports from Syria, two government sources said, frustrating refiners looking for alternative sources of crude to hedge against possible supply disruptions from sanctions-hit Iran.

The Oil Ministry had hoped that the government would underwrite Syrian oil cargoes after Indian insurance firms failed to find re-insurers for shipments from the Middle East nation, which is also targeted by Western sanctions.

New Delhi’s stand on Syrian oil comes after it voted last month in favor of a U.N. resolution endorsing an Arab League plan calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

“This is true that the government has denied sovereign guarantee for import of Syrian oil. This was done because of India’s vote against Syria in the United Nations,” said one of the sources.

Both sources had direct knowledge of the decision and declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Indian refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp and explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp, which has a stake in Syrian fields, wanted to import oil from Syria but insurance problems halted their plans.

HPCL had even engaged the Shipping Corp of India to hire a vessel to import Syrian crude. The India government is now weighing options, including extending sovereign guarantees for its shipping lines and buying Iranian oil on a delivered basis to ensure cargoes from July.

Iran is India’s second-largest crude oil supplier, meeting about 11 percent of the South Asian country’s imports. Tehran is facing Western sanctions over its nuclear plans that many say is aimed at making a bomb. Iran says it wants to produce power.

The sanctions have made it difficult for its Asian customers to pay for oil imports. India currently pays Iran for its imports through a bank in Turkey but that conduit is vulnerable to Western sanctions. India currently does not buy any crude oil from Syria.

France announces it’s closing embassy in Syria

Nick Heras, “The Revolution Will Be Uploaded: Citizen Journalism in Homs.” It is published in Fair Observer and it explores how Syrian citizen journalists are taking the leading role in reporting the battle for control in Homs.

Greg Djerejian of Belgravia Dispatch discusses several recent op-eds recommending intervention in Syria, especially Nakleh’s op-ed in the FT


EU De-lists Ghreiwati, Names Seven Blacklisted Ministers: The seven new Syrian individuals on whom the European Union imposed sanctions on Monday have been named, while a prominent businessman has been taken off the blacklist.

Syria to Conduct Barter Deals for the Purchase of Key Food Commodities
: The Syrian Government has decided to carry barter deals to circumvent the impact of international sanctions on the Syrian economy, according to a local newspaper.

Russian Companies Stop Operations in Syria
: Russian companies have interrupted their operations in Syria because of the security situation in the country, according to Georgy Petrov, Vice President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Libya Offers USD 100 million to Syrian Opposition: The Libyan Government has announced that it would give USD 100 million in humanitarian help to Syria’s opposition.

Comments (179)

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51. ann said:

Egyptian Lawmaker Resigns After Nose-Job Scandal – March 6, 2012 😀

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March 6th, 2012, 11:10 am


52. bronco said:

#44 Mina

You’re right. Most of anti-regime talk like Bush, binary: with me or with the evil.
What they fail to understand is that rejecting the pathetic SNC and the armed militias does not mean supporting the excesses of the regime.
I had wished right from the start to see an emerging opposition that could attract the trust of all the Syrians. Instead, the most vocal opposition’s, the SNC, proposal for a future for Syria and how to get there is far less appealing than what the current government is proposing. Despite its flaws, its excesses and its brutality, the current regime is at least united and still unites a large part of the Syrians, whether they are pro-regime or just hesitant. It has also made a tangible and important reform, the Constitution with multiparty and a limit to the president mandates.
What is worse, is that when the opposition was obliged by the ‘friends of Syria’ to face its failure , instead of taking corrective actions to get more popular support in Syria, it splitted and opted to use force funded by foreign countries. The effect has been exactly the opposite, the syrians who had doubts about the regime viability but who hate the idea of a ‘democracy’ over ruins and dead bodies are turning their back to the foreign lead opposition and supporting the local opposition, more concerned about keeping their country united.
I just hope that this electroshock will have the local opposition take a stronger stand and accept direct negotiations to save the country.

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March 6th, 2012, 11:51 am


53. jad said:

If you seriously think that the mouse idiom I wrote was an insult, I apologize, it wasn’t meant this way and I’m sorry for not being aware that you take my comments literally, I guess I’ve been on blogs, twitter, and social media way too long than you.
I know that both of us can behave better and respect each others when we want, can we try?

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March 6th, 2012, 11:56 am


54. bronco said:

45. Mina

Thanks, excellent and realistic Robert Fisk article indeed.

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March 6th, 2012, 12:07 pm


55. Tara said:


Thank you.

A fresh start it is!

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March 6th, 2012, 12:07 pm


56. jad said:

Bronco, Mina,
What you both wrote is the reality we are facing these days inside and outside Syria, and the irony I’m noticing is that the ‘regime’ now looks more rational than the oppositions and it looks that it wants to protect Syrians instead of wasting their lives in an ugly NATO attacks and giving away Syria independence as price for the opposition race to get to power using any means possible even ruling over a devastated country with warlords, terrorists, failed economy and sectarian society.
It seems that some Syrian delusions get to an unprecedented level and it’s beyond repair.

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March 6th, 2012, 12:11 pm


57. zoo said:

In the new Libya, two british journalists working for Iranian Press TV are accused of spying for …Israel?

Two British journalists accused of spying in Libya
By Christian Lowe and Ali Shuaib

TRIPOLI | Sun Mar 4, 2012 4:56pm EST

(Reuters) – Two British journalists working for Iran’s Press TV who were detained late last month in Libya are suspected of being spies, the head of the militia which is holding them said on Sunday.

Faraj al-Swehli, commander of the Swehli brigade, said his men had found among the journalists’ possessions official Libyan documents, equipment used by the Israeli military and footage of them firing weapons.

“We believe they are spies,” Swehli said in Tripoli. He said it was too early to say what country they were spying for, but that this would be established by their investigation.

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March 6th, 2012, 12:12 pm


58. jad said:

Thank you!

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March 6th, 2012, 12:15 pm


59. jad said:

From النشرة المستمرّة of Assafir

The Syrian Journalists’ union asking the international media not to send any journalist illegally to Syria:

عربي ودولي – اتحاد الصحافيين السوري يدعو الإعلام الأجنبي الى عدم إرسال صحافيين بـ”شكل غير شرعي” إلى سوريا

دعا الاتحاد العام للصحافيين في سوريا الثلاثاء، المؤسسات الإعلامية الأجنبية إلى عدم إرسال صحافييها بشكل “غير شرعي” إلى سوريا، وذلك بعد مقتل وإصابة صحافيين أجانب في حي بابا عمرو في حمص كانوا دخلوا إلى سوريا عبر معابر غير شرعية.
وطلب رئيس اتحاد الصحافيين في سوريا الياس مراد من رئيس الاتحاد الدولي للصحافيين جيم بوملحة في رسالة وجهها له، “نأمل منكم التعميم على المؤسسات الصحافية والإعلامية والنقابات بضرورة عدم إرسال أي صحافي بشكل غير شرعي”.
وأشار إلى أن هذا الأمر يأتي “التزاما بالقوانين التي تحكم علاقات الدول وبالمواثيق التي تحكم أخلاقيات المهنة وميثاق العمل الصحافي”.
وأكد مراد في رسالته أن الحكومة السورية “سمحت لأكثر من مئتي وفد إعلامي بالدخول والتواجد في سوريا وزيارة المناطق التي تعرضت للأحداث”، معربا عن أسفه “لإصرار بعض المؤسسات الصحافية على إرسال مراسليها إلى بعض المناطق تهريبا وتسللا”.
وأشار رئيس الاتحاد، إلى أن القانون الدولي “يعتبر دخول أي شخص أراضي دولة أخرى بطريقة غير مشروعة أمرا مخالفا وسلطات هذه الدولة غير مسؤولة عن أمنه وحمايته بل عليها توقيفه وإحالته إلى القضاء للتحقيق معه بسبب تسلله غير المشروع”.
وأوضح مراد في رسالته أن “الصحافيين اللذين قتلا (الأميركية ماري كولفن والمصور الفرنسي ريمي اوشليك) والصحافية الفرنسية (اديت بوفييه) وزميلها (المصور وليام دانييلز) دخلوا إلى سوريا تسللا مع المسلحين عبر ممرات غير شرعية ليتواجدوا في اخطر منطقة اشتباك في مدينة حمص”.
وأضاف أن بوفييه ودانيالز “أصرا على الخروج إلى لبنان تسللا” وذلك “رغم محاولات السلطات السورية المختصة والهلال الأحمر العربي السوري إخراجهما بعد إصابتهما”.
وأشار إلى أن “الجهات المختصة ومنظمة الهلال الأحمر ولجنة الصليب الأحمر قاموا بجهد كبير للبحث عن جثتي كولفن واوشليك، وتم بتاريخ 3 آذار نقل جثتيهما إلى دمشق وتسليمهما إلى سفارتيهما”.
(ا ف ب)

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March 6th, 2012, 12:30 pm


60. zoo said:

Fierce clashes rage in southern Syria, 5 soldiers and one civilian dead.

By BEN HUBBARD, Associated Press – 2 hours ago

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian troops shelled a southern village and clashed with army defectors holed up inside in violence that killed a 15-year-old boy and five government soldiers, activists said Tuesday.

The clashes in Hirak were some of the worst lately in Daraa province, birthplace of the uprising to oust authoritarian President Bashar Assad. Explosions shook the village as shells slammed into residential areas suspected of sheltering defectors. Even mosques were targeted, activists said.

“The clashes are very intense and have been going on since the morning,” said Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground.


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March 6th, 2012, 12:31 pm


61. Mina said:

There were some posts here and on MoB about some satellite pictures showing that an Alawi neighborhood of Homs had also been bombed (before the so called Baba Amro siege). Does this mean that the army shoots at both sides of the gangs, i. e. the Sunni Salafi gangs AND the shabiha gangs, probably paid by local governors and/or mafiosis who have a lot to lose?
From what you wrote here about Homs in the last 8-10 months, sane people had left Baba Amro for a while.

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March 6th, 2012, 12:33 pm


62. zoo said:

The admirable work of the Syrian Red Cross and thousands of employees and volunteers

Syria Red Cross mission a delicate ‘balance’
The ICRC’s effort is bolstered by national Red Cross or, in the Middle East and North Africa, Red Crescent societies — in the Syrian case, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

The ICRC works with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent on a daily basis. The organization has 19 branches all over Syria staffed by thousands of local volunteers and employees.

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March 6th, 2012, 12:38 pm


63. jad said:

As if HBJ and the other tens of criminal militias along their Qaeda friends are not enough to commit crimes against Syrians to have another criminal militia to join the bloody party, this time, the Saudi king has his own gang, I thought they already have Alqaeda registered and the Saudi’s name, well add another one to the list…

تشكيل كتيبة الملك عبدالله بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود

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March 6th, 2012, 12:38 pm


64. zoo said:

After Putin’s victory, Russia remaining firm in support of Syria’s Assad
By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 9:07 AM

MOSCOW — Russia dampened hopes Tuesday that elections which returned Vladimir Putin to the presidency would soften Moscow’s stance on Syria, as a top diplomat urged the West to press the Syrian opposition to stop fighting Bashar Assad’s regime.

“We are deeply convinced that we are right,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters. “That is why we call on our partners not to adopt a hard-line stance, but to seek compromise, stimulate negotiations and a political process.”

Another official at the Foreign Ministry added that calls for a cease-fire should be directed not only at Assad’s forces, but also the opposition. The official declined to give his name in line with ministry policy.

The comments coming two days after Putin’s election triumph were a blow to speculation that Russia might change its position once the presidential campaign, in which Putin tried to stir support by standing up to the West, was over.

Germany’s foreign minister said Monday that he hoped Russia would recognize that it is on “the wrong side of history” and rethink its policy now that Putin was elected.

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March 6th, 2012, 12:41 pm


65. jad said:

“Does this mean that the army shoots at both sides of the gangs,”

I don’t think so, what CNN showed in their report as a damaged area is actually Alzahra neighbourhood, the main regime supporter area and the damage done there is mostly by the terrorists, since Alzahra was daily under fire for more than three months prior to the CNN report, hence the damage we saw.

Even Baba Amr, not all the damage there is done by the Syrian military campaign, it was done prior to that, you can check almost every foreign report about that neighbourhood to see the amount of damage the terrorist groups did to the buildings and streets of every area they moved to, they are a terrorist fighters, the only thing they do is to blow up buildings and plant explosives and attack every government building with all kind of weapons, just check couple of the youtube I posted to recognize the reality that many are denying and blaming the Army for every thing and damage happened, which in my opinion is FALSE and a LIE.

I know that the army did attack but the scale of the damage done is on a the street level not the higher level of the buildings which is a result of an urban guerrilla warfare attacks not an Army.

But nobody want reality or facts they are looking for fantasy and lies.

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March 6th, 2012, 12:53 pm


66. Mina said:

Indeed i have seen some of the videos where they stage the burning of a building just for CNN primetime, but I was wondering about the Alawi neighborhood since the satellite pictures discussed by b on MoA. Thanks for your answer.

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March 6th, 2012, 1:03 pm


67. Badr said:

Take the time to read this report if you want to make a judgement, otherwise don’t bother!

Pressure Not War
A Pragmatic and Principled Policy Towards Syria

By Marc Lynch

Forceful Diplomacy
Leverage the Growing International Consensus Against Syria
Promote a Negotiated Political Transition
Counter Regime Propaganda
Support and Encourage Unity Among Syrian Opposition Groups
Seek International Justice for Regime Officials

The ongoing slaughter in Syria poses a major challenge to the United States, both morally and strategically. The call for intervention in such a tragedy is understandable. But there are no realistic military options available that could improve the
situation, and those calling for military intervention must demonstrate not only that it is just, but that it can work. They have not. Diplomatic options are no more likely to produce immediate results. However, they still hold out the best hope of pushing Syria towards a negotiated political transition without either making the situation worse through a poorly conceived military intervention. The diplomatic strategy outlined here will not end the violence or bring about a transition overnight, but it
could help mitigate the worst of the current violence while laying the foundation for a transition to a stable, inclusive and peaceful Syria in the future.

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March 6th, 2012, 1:03 pm


68. zoo said:

Two headlines of the same news are one more proof of the media subtle distortion of the information to give a different impression.
Why does the media shie off saying that it’s the world who is ‘offering’ the resumption of the talk, not Iran. It is up to Iran to agree or disagree.

“World powers agree Iran nuclear talks can resume”

“World powers offer to resume nuke talks with Tehran ”
( this headline has been changed almost immediately after published to “Talks on Iran’s nuclear drive set to resume”)

The text:

“On behalf of China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, I have offered to resume talks with Iran on the nuclear issue,” said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.”

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March 6th, 2012, 1:05 pm


69. jad said:

Talking of the media lies, remember this ‘vintage’…nothing changed since then:

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March 6th, 2012, 1:06 pm


70. SC Moderation said:

Jad, thank you for the apology to Tara.

I want to again thank the many commentators who show wisdom and a measure of kindness. I cannot imagine the pain and horror that individuals suffer in Syria, nor the grief and fear that accompanies so much death, detention and mistreatment.

Thank you, Mina for wrapping up your disputes with Tara with a maximum of the spirit that Jad shows, and a minimum of personally-directed scorn. The passion and conviction in your commentary is notable, and your contributions add to the broad range of opinion that Syria Comment seeks.

I am asking all commentators to continue to self-moderate, not to badger each other, not to overdo the scorn and invective. There is no one barred from Syria Comment, and I do not wish to blot out strong language from any quarter. I do insist that we all observe rules and regulations established by our host

I much prefer to flag or dim commentary that edges close to and over the red lines of personal attack or discriminatory language.

Do not persist in provocations and insulting language delivered in the heat of anger. Self moderation is the goal.

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March 6th, 2012, 1:08 pm


71. zoo said:

UK ambassador in Syria: Assad will be gone in a year

­The British ambassador to Syria, Simon Collis, predicts Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will leave power within a year, reports Sky News. Collis was speaking on television for the first time since last week, when he and his team were recalled from Damascus because of the worsening security situation in Syria. Collins was echoing UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who earlier said that Assad’s leaving is the only option for Syria.

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March 6th, 2012, 1:25 pm


72. jad said:

Fragmentation of Libya is underway, ‘congratulations’!
Out of this ‘great’ news and away from the delusional ‘separatists’ gangs we read from, I’m sure many Syrians will ‘support’ even more the ‘mighty’ ‘revolution’…It’s leading Syria to ‘heaven’…

A Call for Autonomy in Libya’s East

Thousands of eastern Libyan political and tribal leaders met March 6 near Benghazi. At the meeting, they declared their intent for autonomy in the country’s eastern region and appointed a leader of a new governing council to administer local affairs, moves in keeping with recent calls for federalism. Regardless of what plan is eventually adopted, it is increasingly likely that a strong central authority will not exist in the future Libyan governing system. A power struggle over the amount of authority possessed by the country’s respective autonomous regions will ensue.
Highlighting this risk, there have recently been several examples of fraying ties between armed groups across the country:

The western coastal city of Misurata, which has long existed as a de facto city-state of its own, recently completed local elections to replace a city council that was nominally loyal to the NTC.
Armed tribesmen in the central town of Bani Walid expelled a pro-NTC militia from local power in February and currently remain in control of the former pro-Gadhafi stronghold.
Tribesmen in the southeastern area of Kufra have been fighting for the past three weeks. The NTC has only been able to issue statements in attempts to resolve the matter.
The Nafusa Mountains lie beyond the control of anyone from the coast, and the region has experienced power struggles among its various armed militias.
While geographically part of the west, Tripoli itself remains under the control of several armed militias from different parts of the country, each of which maintains its own set of alliances — and each of which have repeatedly ignored the NTC’s calls to disarm. Were Libya to begin unraveling under the weight of a federalist movement, the city would experience its own internal struggle.

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March 6th, 2012, 1:32 pm


73. Sheila said:

The reality of the matter is that nobody really knows who is killing whom in Aleppo. Professor Michel Asswad, a beloved teacher at the University of Aleppo, Civil Engineering department (as Jad correctly points out) was killed by a stray bullet. According to his wife, the cab that he was riding back to his home was driven by a person who seemed to be a member of Mukhabarat. Upon hearing the sound of gun fire, the cab driver parked on the side, brandished a gun and started shooting at the direction of the sound. The bullets that came in response killed the professor to result in yet another senseless death of a valuable Syrian mind and wonderful human being.

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March 6th, 2012, 1:36 pm


74. irritated said:

#73 Sheila

“a person who seemed to be a member of Mukhabarat.”

Did the wife see the cab driver or it is just a speculation to justify he was armed?
An absurd and tragic death as all what is happening in Syria these days

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March 6th, 2012, 1:47 pm


75. jad said:

Son of Damascus, Mick,
Regarding Alrastan attack, reality started to come out, and you may not like it:
According to this report, the killed men are all from one family ‘Al FArzat’ and they were kidnapped by KIW militia because they are supporters of the regime and they were ‘bombed’ into pieces in the corner of that hangar to be used as a ‘propaganda’ for the media, and some people want us to believe everything we see without being suspicious:

هذه هي قصة المجزرة التي زعمت وسائل الإعلام أن السلطة ارتكبتها بعد قصف مظاهرة في الرستن

الجثث الستة التي جرى تفجيرها تعود إلى مواطنين ( من آل فرزات؟) جرت تصفيتهم على أيدي “كتيبة خالد بن الوليد” بسبب “ولائهم” للنظام، و”الهنغار” يعود إلى عائلة آل مطر
الشريط ( منشور جانبا) يشكل واحدا من أكثر الأشرطة المفبركة وضوحا منذ بدء الانتفاضة وحتى الآن ، إن لم يكن أوضحها على الإطلاق. وإليكم الأسباب :

ـ إن إي قذيفة مدفعية ، أو غير مدفعية ، لا يمكن على الإطلاق أن تسقط في هذه الزاوية القصية من”الهنغار” التي تكومت فيها الجثث إلا إذا جاءت من إحدى جهتين : إما من الباب الكبير المفتوح من فوق رؤوس المتظاهرين ، لأن للقذيفة أو القنبلة مسارا قوسيا ( منحنيا)، أو إذا سقطت من السقف. وغني عن البيان ، وكما نشاهد من الشريط ، لم تأت القذيفة من جهة الباب المفتوح. يبقى إذن احتمال السقف والجدارين اللذين يشكلان الزاوية .

وفيما يتعلق بالسقف والجدارين ، نلاحظ ببساطة أنها كلها بقيت سليمة تماما ، بما في ذلك الأبواب المغلقة ( أبوب التوتياء السحّاب) ، وليس فيها أي خرق مهما كان صغيرا لأي قذيفة أو طلقة. بل إنه حتى العلم الموضوع على الجدار واللافتة المعلقة لم يتعرضا لأي أذى ، رغم أنهما من القماش! وبإمكانكم أن تدققوا في الشريط ، فهو واضح جدا. يضاف إلى ذلك أن أي قذيفة لا يمكن أن تأتي من هذه الجهة، لأن “الهنغار” ، وكما نلاحظ ، تحيط به مبان ذات جدران عالية ، لا تبعد عنه أكثر مترين أو ثلاثة على أبعد تحديد.

ـ إن صوت الانفجار لا يمكن أن يكون ناجما حتى عن قذيفة مدفع هاون من عيار 80 مم ، وهو أصغر أنواع المدافع ، لاسيما وأن المكان مغلق ، ويفترض بأي انفجار أن يكون صوته مضاعفا في هذه الحالة (الأصوات تكون مضاعفة في الأماكن المغلقة بسبب انحصار الصوت وارتداد الصدى). والدليل على ذلك هو أننا لم نلحظ حتى ولو مقدارا بسيطا من الدخان أو الغبار ، كما لو أن الانفجار ناجم عن ألعاب نارية!

ـ لم نر أية شظايا لأية قذيفة بعد الانفجار. وقد تعودنا في مثل هذه الحالات على المتظاهرين وهم يسارعون إلى حمل بقايا القذيفة أمام الكاميرا للبرهان على “القصف”!

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March 6th, 2012, 1:48 pm


76. Alan said:

McCain calls for US-led strikes on Syria without UN mandate
Who needs diplomacy, or international law? Not former presidential candidate (R-AZ) John McCain, who became the first senator to publicly call for a US-led military strike on Syria in order to halt the nearly year-long conflict there.

Taking the Senate floor, McCain said there will be no UN mandate for the air strikes he deems the only way to stop the violence – but that a mandate isn’t necessary. All the Arizona senator needs, apparently, is a somewhat dubious – and violent – precedent. “NATO took military action to save Kosovo in 1999 without formal U.N. authorization. There is no reason why the Arab League, or NATO, or a leading coalition within the Friends of Syria contact group, or all of them speaking in unison, could not provide a similar international mandate for military measures to save Syria today”, he said. ….

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March 6th, 2012, 1:49 pm


77. jad said:

If I may add one small point regarding the gun with a taxi driver:
In Syria every taxi driver is allowed bylaw to obtain a gun, they can get a licence and buy a gun, so it’s not necessary that the Taxi driver with a gun to be a moukhabarat.

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March 6th, 2012, 1:52 pm


78. Alan said:
Stratfor leaks: NATO commandos in illegal special ops in Syria

Undercover NATO troops are already in Syria despite denials from their parent governments, according to a leaked brief from a highly-placed analyst.

The information comes from a hacked email from leading private US intelligence agency Stratfor, whose correspondence has been released by Wikileaks since February 27. The email appears to be written from the address of Reva Bhalla (, the company’s director of analysis, for internal use, and details a confidential Pentagon meeting in December. The consultation is alleged to have been attended by senior analysts from the US Air Force, and representatives from its chief allies, France and the United Kingdom.

Western powers have categorically denied military involvement in Syria’s internal conflict, for which they have no international mandate. But if the information contained in the letter is reliable, a radically different picture of Western activity in Syria emerges …

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March 6th, 2012, 1:57 pm


79. irritated said:

77. jad

It seems to me that the alleged ‘mokhabarat’ by pulling his gun was trying to protect Dr Aswad from an attack he suspected.
Is the wife actually praising the ‘mokhabarat’ driver for his courageous attempt to defend her husband’s life?

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March 6th, 2012, 2:02 pm


80. Alan said:

اذا لم تمتنع الدول الجامحة في غرورها لضرب سورية بعدوان عسكري فان من حق سوريا عندها الاستعانة عسكريا من الدول التي تراها مناسبة و الرد على العدوان بالطرق التي تتناسب مع هذا العدوان ! كفا مغالاة و غرور! السوريون من يقرر شؤون بلدهم و العملية السياسية هي الطريق الوحيد !

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March 6th, 2012, 2:04 pm


81. VOLK said:

Russia Retains Stance on Syria After Presidential Elections

Russia’s stance on Syria has always been based on the principles of international law and it will be not changed after the recent presidential elections, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
A number of European and U.S. high-ranking diplomats called on Moscow to change its position on the Syrian conflict now that the March 4 presidential elections are over and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will assume the post of the Russian leader in May.
“In this regard we would like to call on our American and European partners not to indulge in wishful thinking,” the ministry said in a statement adding that Russia’s position is neither agenda-driven nor a subject for domestic election processes.
The ministry said that Russia’s approaches to all domestic conflicts in foreign countries are based on international regulations and the UN Charter.
“First of all, it is about the inadmissibility of interference from abroad, more particularly of a forceful one. In this regard, it would be suitable to stress again that the achievement of a stable Syrian settlement is possible only on the basis of a broad all-national dialogue within which only Syrians will decide on the future development of their government,” the statement said.
Putin earlier warned the West not to interfere in Syria in the run-up to the March 4 vote in Russia and accused the United States of “political engineering” in regions that are “traditionally important” to Russia.

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March 6th, 2012, 2:11 pm


82. Tara said:


Where did you disappear? On reflection, I think I answered you the wrong way. I should’ve at least appreciated the honesty and explored your sentiment more, rather than coming off the way I did.

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March 6th, 2012, 2:15 pm


83. majedkhaldoun said:

I have been in several taxis in Damascus,the only taxi driver who is allowed to carry gun are the Mukhabarat.
There are 27000 taxi driver in Damascus,if all are allowed to carry gun, that means all syrian can carry guns.
That driver was mukhabarat,and enough of misinformations.

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March 6th, 2012, 2:23 pm


84. SANDRO LOEWE said:

83. majedkhaldoun

In Damascus we have the belief that 50 % of the taxi drivers are moukhabaraat. Of course although they bear arms it is strictly forbidden to show them or intimidate others and could be punished by superiors. Sometimes I have presenced quarrels in the middle of the streets or stopping in a traffic light. Only twice some one used the pistols. Once the shot to the other car.

I am a frequent user of taxis and more than 50 % of them use to ¨inform¨ you during the service that they come from Lattakia, Baniyas, Qardaha, Tartus, etc. Just for the case you did not think about giving tips, then you can be sure they will get the rest of the bill you pay. I believe from my experience that many taxi drivers work as moukhabaraat in Damascus headquarters.

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March 6th, 2012, 2:43 pm


86. jad said:

Alarming news:
The first ‘academic’ victim of the Syrian crisis in the world.
Because of his writings and political views, Pierre Piccinin, a political science professor at the European University of Brussels, expelled from his job on Monday March 5th for writing articles exposing what is happening in Syria.

Here is his last article on Counterpunch:

The Syrian Mirage
More than a year after civil unrest broke out and plunged part of Syria into the chaos of the ‘Arab Spring’, the Baath government remains firmly in control and the majority of the country is calm; almost untouched by an opposition which is scattered and confined to the cities of Homs and Hama, as well as a few towns on the Turkish and Lebanese border. The main reported cases of unrest are linked to regular attacks from Salafist bands which are of an extremely violent nature and more importantly, the Free Syrian Army. The latter counts amid its ranks numerous Qataris and Libyans, all whom have been trained in the art of urban guerilla warfare by the French army in refugee camps, which provide perfect bases from which to operate and orchestrate attacks.

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March 6th, 2012, 2:59 pm


87. Alan said:

Jad ! has Mr PIERRE PICCININ contacts with Hizballa or Hammas ? 🙂

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March 6th, 2012, 3:21 pm


88. Jad said:

I don’t know, but I doubt it since I didn’t read in his articles about Syria any mention of HA or Hamas.
Which make Syria is the primary reason of his expelling decision.

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March 6th, 2012, 3:27 pm


89. Syrialover said:


I once said Syrian Hamster for King. Now I say Syrian Hamster for Emperor!

The original thinking and intellectual energy in your post reminds us of the SyriaComment forum before it was hit hard by the virus you discuss.

I came to a similar realisation early on as you about the campaigns we are seeing, recognising the poorly executed trademark tactics. Recently some people I recommended SC to saw the same and asked why I bother with such a site. That hurt, and I explained how Joshua Landis’s tolerance and openness allows those comments, and it is not reflecting him.

It led us to discuss and analyse the phenomenon, covering similar ground to what you are saying. You may have seen my posts where I pointed to the block voting patterns and systematic distraction efforts being employed.

But it is hard to restrain my shock and anger that such stuff is manufactured and posted at a time and in a place where public awareness and support for Syrians has never mattered more.

And it also brings home to me that this is a war with the ugliness and dirty tactics war always brings out in those on the morally wrong side.

I agree there is textbook case material here, and also for media, psychology and history and other analysts, not just those you mention in Middle Eastern studies. And I also remind myself the stuff is tiny droplets in an ocean of truth and evidence and world awareness and concern out there.

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March 6th, 2012, 3:28 pm


90. Alan said:

Russia concerned over the West’s lack of political will on the Syrian issue

Russia expressed concern over the West’s lack of political will on the Syrian issue, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will discuss the issue at the Arab League’s ministerial meeting in Cairo on March 10.
“We believe that any problems can be resolved if those who have influence in the country, in particular, those who exert influence on the opposition show their political will,” Ryabkov said. “It is necessary not to say, that it is too late, but to take actions, not to be too late.”

“It is necessary not to say, that it is too late, but to take actions, not to be too late.”

“We are concerned with the lack of political will,” he said.

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March 6th, 2012, 3:29 pm


91. Alan said:

Juergen ! this video For that sattelite pictures !
Terrorists target oil refinery in Homs

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March 6th, 2012, 3:55 pm


92. Syria no kandahar said:

وما رميت اذ رميت ولكن حمد رما

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March 6th, 2012, 3:55 pm


93. Alan said:

Syria: Game Over for Western Propaganda
Syrian Activists Caught Lying, Syrian Rebels Caught Committing Atrocities.
by Tony Cartalucci

March 6, 2012 – Why should the West intervene in Syria when it turns out “activists” giving daily body counts, the sole source of “evidence” for the UN’s ever climbing grand total, are caught not only lying, but staging entire interviews complete with fake gunfire directed “off stage?” Why should the US, UK, EU, or the West’s stable of Arab proxy-regimes be allowed to arm Syrian rebels admittedly carrying out their own horrific atrocities? Clearly Syria’s opposition have turned out, just as they have in Libya, to be craven, murderous, and ultimately deceitful extremists – making any further contact with them by the West a direct violation of their own national and international laws…….

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March 6th, 2012, 3:58 pm


94. jad said:

That is exactly what the Americans and the Europeans are supporting, TERRORISM.

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March 6th, 2012, 4:06 pm


95. Juergen said:

Here is the homepage of the german photographer( Timo Vogt ) whose pictures i shared today. He has 110 images uploaded which can be viewed.

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March 6th, 2012, 4:20 pm


96. Syrialover said:

# 86. Jad

I don’t read French, but I am sure Mr Piccinin was expelled from his Belgium University for serving up intellectual slops, laziness, incompetence and all the other things Universities discipline academics for. They have a requirement to set quality standards for the products their employees produce, just like any other enterprise.

And what is he doing resorting to showcasing his findings in the marginal waters of Counterpunch? (Where I am suspect he is going to attract some good strong human rightists’ counter punches – I think he may have crossed a with readers there, too.)

Alarming news to you, diversionary entertainment for the rest of us.

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March 6th, 2012, 4:25 pm


97. Alan said:

Palestinians invite UN Security Council to visit
UNITED NATIONS – The Palestinians have invited the U.N. Security Council to visit the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, a move Israel says is an attempt to try to divert attention from getting back to direct negotiations to settle the decades-old conflict.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. observer, told reporters after a council meeting on the Mideast on Tuesday that he sent a letter inviting the 15 council members “to see with their own eyes the reality of the Palestinian people in the occupied territory” including Israel’s “illegal” settlement building./……..

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March 6th, 2012, 4:49 pm


98. jad said:

I guess that you don’t work in the academia to understand the effect of such decision on the academic bodies all over the world, ‘IF’ the news is true and ‘IF’ the reason is Pro. Pierre political views.
I’ll give you an example so you can understand the issue better, do you know Dr. Norman Finkelstein?
He was expelled from his university not because he wasn’t a good professor as you may want to think, it was simply because of his political views and opinions regarding Palestine.
So before you dismay the issue as ‘not worthy’ you may need to think about ‘what’s next’ and if that decision of shutting up people who disagree with the mainstream media is the right decision, knowing that one day you maybe next.
Can you imagine Dr. Landis to be expelled from his university because of what he writes on his blog if the university doesn’t fully agree with his views? This is why I wrote that this news is ALARMING, maybe not to you but to the ACADEMIA FREEDOM.

“marginal waters of Counterpunch?”
I also think that you don’t know the influence of Counterpunch either.

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March 6th, 2012, 4:54 pm


99. Syrialover said:

# 73. Sheila

Son of Damascus said it all a couple of days ago on this forum:

“Assad’s biggest crime was turning Syrians against each other.”

The circle of victims of this crime is widening by the hour.

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March 6th, 2012, 4:54 pm


100. Alan said:

Some Thoughts on Syria and Iran
Palestine absent?

Iran, Iran, Iran. Tensions between Israel and Iran over Iranian nuclear energy is dominating this year’s AIPAC conference. President Barack Obama’s speech yesterday to the annual conference was mostly devoted to Iran, and “announced no new initiatives” on the Israel/Palestine front, as Inter Press Service‘s Mitchell Plitnick reports. Similarly, as we reported, Jeffrey Goldberg spent 45 minutes interviewing Obama, and not one of the questions were about Palestine.

AIPAC and Benjamin Netanyahu may want to push the pesky Palestinian issue off of the agenda, but Occupy AIPAC is fighting against that desire.


The centrality of Palestine was underscored by an impromptu speech given by a young woman from Palestine who was in D.C. for Occupy AIPAC. She held up a sign that read, “Stop stealing our land.” (I didn’t grab her name, but I believe it was the woman who tweets under the moniker @Tweet_Palestine and blogs here.) As hundreds massed outside the Washington Convention Center to protest AIPAC, she grabbed a microphone and explained how Mustafa Tamimi was killed in the village of Nabi Saleh.

“Do you want them to kill our children?” she yelled, and explained how Palestinian children are terrorized by night raids conducted by the Israeli army. “Look at the faces of children. Remember the children you have killed.” Her speech was greeted by cheers from the protesters and stares from AIPAC delegates. But at least they heard the word Palestine.

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March 6th, 2012, 5:01 pm


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