Ghalioun Resigns; Can the SNC Recapture Center Stage; Is Shawkat Dead? No Cooking Gas

Bourhan Ghalioun has officially resigned from his post, a statement issued by the Syrian National Council said Thursday after a two-day meeting in Istanbul. The SNC “office decided to accept the resignation and to ask the council president to pursue his work until the election of a new president at a meeting on June 9-10,” it said. If the SNC can establish a mechanism for transparent and regular elections, it will have done Syrians a great favor.

Ghalioun has been a success. He represents the best that Syrians living abroad have to offer. He is a deeply cultured and honest man, who could not put his heart into the military option that the opposition is now pursuing. However, he was able to give an inspiring and intelligent face to the Syrian revolution, one that the West and many Syrians living in the West needed to see  in order to get organized and throw their weight behind the international effort to condemn the Assad regime and make the decision to isolate and sanction it. He played a tremendously important role in mobilizing international opinion behind the revolutionary effort. No one can minimize the importance of that achievement.

The fact that Syrians inside distrust those outside the country is perhaps natural, but it is also a product of years of indoctrination, xenophobia and anti-Westernism that has been preached by the Baath Party. It is unfair to blame only the Baath. Arab nationalism as a movement has preached distrust of the West and those Arabs who have lived in the West for decades. That ideology is coming back to haunt the revolutionary movement today.  It will be very hard for Syrians living in the West to gain the trust of those inside the country. The Assad regime has driven or expelled many of the best and brightest from the country. It has then denigrated them as traitors and agents of the West.

The center of gravity of the opposition has now moved to the fighters and coordinators inside Syria. The SNC needs a major overhaul to preserve its usefulness and regain its public support. By stepping down, Burhan Ghalioun is demonstrating that not all Syrian leaders must cling to power in the face of opposition. He should be championed for what he is: a man who has sought to do the best he could in an extremely difficult situation. He has been a beacon of reason and champion of democracy for decades and his is living by his word.

The Assef Shawkat controversy continues to gain traction. Was he assassinated? Not since JR of Dallas fame, has murder been so mysterious and talked about. Chances are, however, that he is alive and kicking. Assef Shawkat’s town-folks deny that he is dead, according to the on-line news site, “Syria Politic.” When their journalist, called people in the town, townfolks laughed at the news, claiming that they don’t even have a tradition of raising a black flag for the dead. Opposition sources claimed that the people of Madhale had raised a black flag for him. The townsfolk interviewed by Syria Politic say the news about his death is bunkum. This doesn’t prove much, but it does suggest that opposition members who write about the assassination are making parts of the story up.

Those who argue that the fact that he hasn’t come on TV to denounce the story is proof of his death forget that the last time there were rumors about Shawkat’s demise – that he was under house arrest and that this wife had fled to Dubai - the rumors were false, but Assef never went on TV to denounce the rumors. The rumors persisted from February to August of 2008. Friends of mine had a chalet on the beach next to his, where he was frequently seen swimming with his wife and children.

Cooking gas is just not available in Aleppo, as I reported a few days ago. The energy minister is finally admitting that sanctions are killing them. For the longest time, they blustered about finding other buyers and sources.

 Antoine writes in the comment section of my commentary of the SNC and external opposition:

Nothing can be more insulting to the “real” Syrian opposition, Dr. Landis. The Syrian opposition, unlike the oppositions of someother authoritarian regimes, is almost totally locally based, with a very, very strong grassroots presence.

The Syrian opposition is NOT the SNC, the Syrian opposition is certainly not the NCB, the Syrian opposition is not some Ahmad Chalabi-like scam artists, the Syrian opposition is not a Masoud Rajavi’s MKO or PLO / PFLP -like external terrorist group.

The Syrian opposition is Abdel Razzaq Tlass, it is Khaled Abu Salah, it is Abdel baset Sarout, Captain Qais Qataaneh, and Lieutenant Khabir. It is the people who bring out every week’s edition of Oxygen (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/22/syria-local-newspapers-revolution) in Zabadani. It is the thousands of young men and women who chant in Aleppo University, and the millions of faceless individuals who bare their chests to bullets every day. It is the people Martin Chulov writes about in Guardian.

The Syrian Revolution is NOT SNC. Let me say this on record, and this the view of 90 % of the people in FSA and the LCCs. The Syrian Revolution is not even Riad al Asaad and other officers cooling their heels in Turkey.

Dr. Landis pretends as if the LCCs don’t even exist. He only sees suited individuals like Ghalioun and Kodmani and Manaa and Abdulhamid and some other names as “the Opposition.” and most of his posts on SC have a strong bias in showing these individuals as “Opposition” and ignoring to a very large extent the Local Coordination Comittee activists and the FSA foot-soldiers.

Fortunately, the Western media has focused on the grassroots local opposition and not these external non-oppositions….

Subject: (NS8) Ya Libnan: Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat
Ya Libnan: Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat buried, report
2012-05-23

According to anti-Syrian regime activists, President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat who was Syria’s deputy defense minister was buried on Wednesday in his hometown, which they identified as Madhale, near the …

قرية “المدحلة” تنفي وفاة آصف شوكت..وتسخر من قصة رفع الأعلام السوداء
23 مايو 2012 -  PM : سيريا بوليتيك

آصف شوكت في مدارس أبناء الشهداء عام 2010

نفى أهالي قرية “المدحلة” في “ريف طرطوس” رفعهم الأعلام السوداء، كما نفوا وفاة العماد آصف شوكت نائب وزير الدفاع، بحسب عدد من مراسلي “سيريا بوليتيك” الذين اتصلوا ببعض أبناء القرية. وكانت مواقع معارضة، إضافة إلى مواقع إخبارية عربية، زعمت أن قرية المدحلة، التي ينحدر منها شوكت، رفعت الأعلام السوداء حدادا على وفاته بعد أن وصل من دمشق بحوامة إلى طرطوس، حيث تم إفراغ مشفى الباسل من المرضى بالكامل

Foreign Policy: Wednesday

Up to 25 people were killed across Syria on Tuesday. Government troops bombarded the central city of Rastan on Wednesday, shelling at the rate of “one shell a minute.” Additionally, a bombing in Damascus killed five people. According to Syrian authorities, the bomb hit a police station. However photos indicate that in fact a restaurant was targeted. Meanwhile, the kidnapping of 11 to 13 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims near Aleppo has raised fears that the Syrian conflict is spreading into Lebanon, and has aggravated sectarian tensions in Beirut. The Lebanese pilgrims were traveling from Iran when their bus was intercepted. The Syrian government and opposition have traded accusations over the abductions. Hezbollah has said that it has been in communication with a Syrian fundamentalist group that has promised the release of the pilgrims.

A bomb planted under a military bus exploded Wednesday near the Damascus airport, killing one soldier and wounding 23 others, a military official at the site said on condition of anonymity under army rules. Anti-regime activist reported government rocket attacks on parts of the central city of Homs and clashes between rebels and government troops in the central town of Rastan, outside of Damascus and elsewhere.

Egypt holds elections today. Many voters say the election is not about religion or politics, but rather “who can put food on the table.” Egyptians must count themselves lucky to be settling their disputes in the fairer manner.

Fox News: Sanctions on Syria have cost country $4 billion, oil minister says
2012-05-23

DAMASCUS, Syria – Syria’s oil minister acknowledged the heavy toll international sanctions have taken on the country’s oil sector, saying Wednesday that they had sucked about $4 billion from the economy.

Sufian Allaw said the sanctions levied by the United States and the European Union to put pressure on President Bashar Assad were to blame for the shortages that have left Syrians across the country standing in long lines to pay inflated prices for cooking gas and other products.

Allaw’s comments are part of a delicate rhetorical balancing act by the Damascus regime 14 months into the crisis that has posed the biggest threat to Assad family rule in four decades. The regime must acknowledge that international measures are squeezing the populace while denying that Assad’s control of the country has been shaken.

Before the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, the oil sector was a pillar of Syria’s economy, with oil exports — mostly to Europe — bringing in $7-8 million per day, according to David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. This income was key to maintaining the $17 billion in foreign reserves that the government had at the start of the uprising.

Speaking to reporters in Damascus Wednesday, Allaw said sanctions had cost Syria’s oil sector about $4 billion. Prices for a tank of cooking gas have more than quadrupled as shortages have spread across the country, and Allaw said Syria’s gas production covers only half of the country’s needs.

To fill the gap, officials are seeking imports from countries not party to the sanctions. A Venezuelan tanker carrying 35,000 tons of fuel docked in Syria on Tuesday, Allaw said. Another is supposed to follow. He said officials were seeking to arrange further gas imports from Algeria and Iran..

أثرياء حلب يواجهون أزمة الغاز بالوجبات السريعة والفقراء بالكاز وسرقة الكهرباء

تاريخ المقال: 2012-05-23

واجه سكان مدينة حلب من الأثرياء أزمة الغاز بالاعتماد على الوجبات السريعة الجاهزة، التي زاد الطلب عليها بمقدار الضعف، في حين اعتمد الفقراء على الكاز والتيار الكهربائي «المسروق» للحد من اتكالهم على المادة في المطبخ المنزلي لقناعتهم بأن الأزمة آخذة بالتصاعد مستشهدين بقول أحد المسؤولين المعنيين «دبروا راسكم

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Feltman Leaving Key Post

Yesterday, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East was reported to be stepping down from his post to take on a senior role at the United Nations (potentially as deputy to UN chief Ban Ki-moon). It is unclear when Feltman will step down or who will replace him, but with Hillary Clinton also leaving the administration at the end of this term, it looks like U.S. policy toward the Middle East will undergo a significant change next year, regardless of who wins the election.

Syria’s downtrodden flock to Lebanon for work By Erika Solomon and Laila Bassam
BEIRUT | Wed May 23, 2012

(Reuters) – Huddled under Beirut’s concrete bridges and around street corners are thousands of Syrian men who have left home and crossed the border in recent months in the hope of finding work as day laborers.

From 13-year-old schoolboys to limping elderly men, most of them represent impoverished families from Syria’s rural regions who are suffering the brunt of a deepening economic crisis as a 14-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad drags on.

“We could barely buy a pack of bread. We’re suffering from hunger, so I had to come here and do whatever I can,” said Mohammed Mahou, 23, a father of three from an eastern farming town called al-Qamishli.

Syrians who once headed for day work in Aleppo and Damascus have found construction projects halted. Farmers like Mahou say they are unable to work their fields because prices of fertilizer have risen sharply and some areas are unsafe to farm. Meanwhile, prices for basic food staples in Syria have nearly tripled, they say….

Analysis: Rifts widen in Syrian opposition
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

AMMAN | Mon May 21, 2012 6:56pm EDT
(Reuters) – A power struggle within Syria’s main opposition group is pitting Islamists against secular politicians and exiled leaders against activists at home, further undermining its claim to be an alternative to President Bashar al-Assad.

Fourteen months into an uprising, the squabbling in the Syrian National Council makes it even less likely to be able to win international recognition or to get more than half-hearted foreign support against Assad. On the ground, the council shows no sign of exerting control as grassroots activists organize protests themselves and rebel fighters operate under nobody’s orders but their own.

More than anything, critics say, the disarray within the opposition mirrors the chaos of Syria itself. “You have a classic situation in the SNC, not much different from the four-decade old totalitarian Assad family rule the uprising aims to topple,” said veteran opposition figure Fawaz Tello.

The internal conflicts have come to a head over the position of Burhan Ghalioun, who offered to step down as leader of the 313-member council last week if a replacement can be found – not that there is guarantee one will be. Some critics brand the 67-year-old liberal sociologist a stooge of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and say he was chosen because he would attract Western support.

Some criticize him for monopolizing the position of council leader, which is meant to rotate every three months. Others fault him for failing to back the armed rebellion against Assad.

“DYING”

“Burhan Ghalioun: the Syrian National Council is dying… We accept your resignation,” read placards at an anti-Assad rally in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor on Friday. There are signs that foreign patience with the council is running thin too. That does not bode well for the opposition’s chances of getting diplomatic or military support. The Western and Arab countries which recognized Libyan rebels within weeks of them taking up arms against Muammar Gaddafi are still holding back when it comes to Syria.

A military source in France, one of Assad’s most vocal opponents, said the opposition needed to be better organized. “We don’t have that and now it’s playing into the hands of Islamist groups and making it even more difficult for the opposition to organize itself,” the French source said.

The first step is sorting out the leadership position and the Islamists who dominate the council say they are trying to convince Ghalioun to stay on. “If he insists on leaving it will be time to convene the whole council and choose a new leadership on every level,” said Mulhem Droubi, a high-level Muslim Brotherhood official.

Ghalioun is well-connected with France and with Qatar so may still be as close as possible to a consensus figure. But counting against Ghalioun is opposition from inside Syria because of his skepticism over armed resistance by majority Sunni Muslims to the rule of Assad, who is from the minority Alawite sect.

“The rift between the SNC and those inside is growing,” said Yasser Saadeldine, an opposition leaning commentator living in the Gulf. “Ghalioun lacks charisma and he has not embraced armed struggle after Assad killed thousands of his peaceful opponents.”

A senior member of the Free Syrian Army rebel group said Ghalioun was not even “in the equation” but did acknowledge that the Islamists who support him were trying to build serious links with the rebels.

Another candidate for leader could be George Sabra, who came second to Ghalioun in the last leadership vote. Sabra is an ally of Syria’s top dissident Riad al-Turk, an 81-year-old former leftist who spent 25 years as a political prisoner and operates underground inside Syria. The Islamists might also put forward another candidate of their own.

BIGGER CHANGE

But demands are growing for a more radical change than simply a new leader. “There is an elite in the SNC who have brought their own cohorts into the council. They will essentially re-elect themselves unless the SNC is seriously restructured,” said Tello, jailed for five years after a brief period of openness in 200, when Assad inherited power from his father.

Critics say the council needs to better articulate its policy on a U.N. and Arab League peace plan that envisages talks with the authorities on a transition, but not removing Assad’s family or dismantling the police state. Some believe the council will fall apart if it does not undergo a radical overhaul.

“The SNC is on the verge of collapse unless it becomes representative of the whole opposition,” said Rima Fleihan, a human rights campaigner who quit the SNC last year. “It needs to become democratic from A to Z. What is needed now is a broad opposition meeting to escape the vicious cycle of infighting and division.”

How Washington Lost Syria
By Gary C. Gambill
Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) E-note, May 2012

With the failure of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to broker a ceasefire in Syria, Western policymakers and pundits are increasingly coming to acknowledge that the country’s descent into civil war is all but inevitable. But this begs the question of when and why it became so. Was it a foregone conclusion when the uprising against President Bashar Assad began last year?

Civil war was always the most likely end to the saga. Syria is the only majority Sunni Muslim country of the modern era to be governed by a largely heterodox Muslim elite, a peculiar historical anomaly that Daniel Pipes likens to “an untouchable becoming maharajah in India or a Jew becoming Tsar in Russia.”[1] The Alawite-dominated Assad regime survived for over four decades in the heart of the Sunni Arab Levant in much the same way that Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-led government endured in the heart of the Shiite Crescent—through brute force. As Iraq’s recent history illustrates, minoritarian autocracies cannot be peacefully unmade.

If there was a window of opportunity for avoiding a full-blown civil war, it came early in the uprising,….

Palestinian writer describes Syrian prisons as ‘slaughterhouses’
Associated Press – May 23, 2012

AMMAN // A prominent Palestinian writer who spent nearly three weeks in jail in Syria described the prisons as “human slaughterhouses”, saying security agents beat detainees with batons, crammed them into stinking cells and tied them to beds at night.

World not doing enough for Syria, says Turkey’s president
22 May 2012

AFP reports: The international community is not doing enough to help resolve the Syrian crisis, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Tuesday as he urged an orderly transition to democracy. “The international community as whole has so far performed poorly in providing an effective response to the crisis at hand,” Gul said in a public address [...]

UN Observers Concede Presence of Terrorist Groups in Syria

UN peacekeeping observers have acknowledged the presence of terrorist groups in Syria, which are hindering the peace process between the government and the opposition, China’s Xinhua agency has reported, quoting UN peacekeeping head Herve Ladsous.

“We know that there are … a third party (of the conflict), terrorist groups, who are trying to gain advantage for themselves… but we have to see this as an issue within Syria, between the Syrians,” Ladsous said at a news conference held in Damascus.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that foreign fighters, some of them Al-Qaeda members, are fighting in extremist groups operating in Syria. Ladsous added that 270 observers are working in six cities across Syria. According to him, observers will arrive in four more cities. {…}

Why Assad shouldn’t worry about NATO
By Elise Labott

As NATO leaders discuss the winding down of its 10-year war in Afghanistan and pat themselves on the back for helping in the bloody ouster of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, there is one increasingly deadly conflict that is taboo for the alliance to even think about wading into: Syria.

Practically every NATO leader has publicly condemned the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and called for him to step down and make way for a democratic transition in Syria. Yet U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder said Sunday that not one leader even raised the issue of Syria during the opening day of the summit.

While saying NATO is “very much concerned about the situation of Syria,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made clear the alliance has “no intention whatsoever to intervene.”

NATO’s radio silence has prompted criticism among human rights groups and on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers for question why the alliance supported military intervention in Libya but has ruled out similar action in Syria. One congressional source called the refusal to even talk about the issue “pretty shocking.”…

Comments (190)


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101. zoo said:

Will Egyptian Election results change West attitude toward Syria?

Posted at 09:18 AM ET, 05/24/2012
Egyptian election: Will U.S. lose?
By Scott Clement
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/behind-the-numbers/post/egyptian-election-will-us-lose/2012/05/24/gJQA41g0mU_blog.html
A burgeoning democracy movement has energized Egypt, culminating in a landmark presidential election that started on Wednesday. But a poll released this month shows Egyptians are grappling with dual commitments to Islam and basic democratic liberties as the country shifts from decades of autocratic rule.
..
But in the latest Pew survey, nearly seven in 10 Egyptians now express little confidence in Obama to do the right thing in world affairs.

The widespread dissatisfaction with U.S. aid comes even as Egyptians seek an economic turnaround. More than seven in 10 say Egypt’s economy is in bad shape, a slightly higher percentage than a year ago.

Public opinion is also negative about Israel. By two to one, Egyptians want to nullify their nation’s peace treaty with that country, a number that’s jumped sharply among those under age 30 and those with college educations. That doesn’t necessarily indicate a desire to take up arms, but scuttling the treaty would raise tensions in the region.
….
Protecting the rights of women and religious minorities is not a key priority for Egyptians right now. Just 41 percent said it was “very important” that women have the same rights as men, and only 38 percent said it was very important that Coptic Christians and other religious minorities can practice their religion freely.

Altogether, democracy may prove far less predictable than dictatorship in Egypt, with still unknown consequences.
More..

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May 25th, 2012, 1:12 am

 

102. OFF THE WALL said:

TARA
For once, I agree with Bronco on both counts. There is not a touch of pride in my post about losing a member of my family to the Assad-hyenas. There is sadness, and recognition of the enormity of the crimes this regime has exacted on Syria and continues to commit against Syrians. There is however, disgust with those defending this regime. I am not proud of his death, but comforted by the family’s way of dealing with such tragedy. Honorable, dignified, and human. Qualities many regime defenders have abandoned.

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May 25th, 2012, 1:14 am

 

103. omen said:

i think it was aje who noted assad was absent during the first session of the new parliament when an appearance is usually customary.

where is bashar?

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May 25th, 2012, 1:53 am

 

104. Juergen said:

May be once he like to give the mhnback show a miss, its boring afterall.

Jaafari is complaining on AJE that the mission does not have an bank account in the US, what a pity…

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May 25th, 2012, 1:55 am

 

105. Alan said:

75. SON OF DAMASCUS
yes isn’t present! it investigations on the ship with arms trafficking containers onboard to Lebanon! speak that the weapon should move to Syria further! UN observers knew but eyes closed!

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May 25th, 2012, 6:00 am

 

106. zoo said:

Will a religious or a military candidate win?

Muslim Brotherhood Candidate to Face Former Prime Minister in Egyptian Runoff
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: May 25, 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/26/world/middleeast/egypt-presidential-election-runoff.html?_r=1

CAIRO — The Islamist candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood will face former President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister in a runoff to become Egypt’s first freely elected president, several independent vote counts concluded Friday morning.

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May 25th, 2012, 6:47 am

 

107. zoo said:

Turkey’s ‘terrorist’ suicide bombing and PKK kidnapping

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/three-children-hurt-in-kayseri-explosion-turkish-minister.aspx?pageID=238&nID=21589&NewsCatID=341

Three children were wounded in today’s bomb attack against a police station in Kayseri province, said Turkey’s Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin.

Nineteen people were wounded and a police officer was killed after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden car in front of a police station in Kayseri’s Pınarbaşı district.

“There were two terrorists in the car,” Şahin said. “The intended target was not the police station. They detonated the explosives after police pursued them.”
Three children hurt in Kayseri explosion: Turkish minister
…………………

PKK kidnaps 10 people in Turkey’s southeast
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/pkk-kidnaps-10-people-in-turkeys-southeast-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=21588&NewsCatID=341

Ten people have been abducted by suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır’s Lice district.

The abduction of nine men and one woman occurred May 23, daily Hürriyet reported on its website today.

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May 25th, 2012, 7:20 am

 

108. zoo said:

Ban tells CNN Annan plan is Syria’s only choice

25/05/2012
http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=1&id=29745
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan is the only option right now for ending the violence in Syria.

Ban said in an interview Thursday with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that “at this time, we don’t have any plan B.”

The former U.N. secretary-general’s plan calls for a complete cessation of violence but Ban said “unfortunately, this has not been implemented.”

He said the deployment of U.N. observers to Syria has had “some dampening effect” but the violence hasn’t stopped. Ban said this requires “strong political will” by Syrian President Bashar Assad and full cooperation by opposition forces.

Ban said he spoke Wednesday to Annan, who said he will be going to Syria soon but no date has been fixed.

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May 25th, 2012, 7:27 am

 

109. zoo said:

FSA secures defection of entire battalion – FSA

24/05/2012
By Suhaib Ayoub
http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=1&id=29740

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Free Syrian Army [FSA] spokesman Colonel Khalid al-Hammoud informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “203 soldiers have defected from the regime, including 3 officers from the al-Qatifa area, which is close al-Qalamoun in the Rif Dimashq Governorate.”

He added “these defections took place after this operation was intensively pursued by FSA officers, convincing the entire battalion to leave the al-Assad army.”
..
FSA Colonel Khalid al-Hammoud also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the reason behind the failure of our attempts to increase the rate of defections is sectarian loyalty and the sectarianism present in the Syrian army, in addition to fears of criminal prosecution from the al-Assad regime” although he did stress that “defections continue to take place.”

He added “the Syrian regime has committed a grave mistake by involving the army in the killing of protesters, opening fire on the unarmed Syrian people.”
More…

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May 25th, 2012, 7:29 am

 

110. zoo said:

http://www.rt.com/news/un-report-syria-opposition-183/
…..
WE: Washington is playing a double game on Syria. I think they’re trying at this point damage control; they failed massively in an operation they had thought they would succeed in a year ago. The momentum of the so-called Arab spring has screeched to a halt. It’s really turned into a Shiite versus Sunni kind of war throughout the Muslim world, with Saudi and Qatari money financing the Sunni side of it and Iranian money financing the much of the Shiite side of it. But the point is, it’s failed and Obama doesn’t want another military conflict before the November election, so he’s evidently given the order to backtrack significantly on that, as well as Iran.

RT: Is there a danger that the conflict could spread to other countries, such as Lebanon, and engulf the entire region?

WE: I see less of a danger now than perhaps there was six months ago, frankly. I think the situation in Syria is militarily much more stable than it was six months ago, and Syria is in effect – also for Israel – a guarantor of stability in Lebanon. As ironic as that may sound, that is the fact on the ground. If the escalation of the arming of the so-called Syrian opposition, many of whom are not even Syrian nationals, comes to a halt or is significantly downgraded, which Washington is doing right now, then I think the situation in Lebanon is not likely to spin out of control any time soon.

RT: What would happen in Syria, Lebanon or, perhaps elsewhere, if President Assad leaves his post, given the fact that al-Qaeda militants are also on the ground?

WE: You also have the fact that the largest opposition is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is dominating post-Mubarak politics in Egypt as well. If you have that, then you have a situation which is very hostile to the security in Israel. That creates instability there, as you would have the Muslim Brotherhood dominating the governments both in Syria and Egypt. So there’s no stable, secular opposition, which could allow the situation in view that you had for centuries in Syria with Christians, Jews and Muslims, whether Shiite or Sunni or Alawite, living side by side. In fact you would have chaos and anarchy like you have in Libya today.

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May 25th, 2012, 7:39 am

 

111. Tara said:

Good morning Zoo.

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May 25th, 2012, 7:48 am

 

112. Tara said:

Families of Syrian rebels killed in their homes, says UN
REUTERS   FRIDAY 25 MAY 2012
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/families-of-syrian-rebels-killed-in-their-homes-says-un-7786147.html  

Government forces executed entire families in their homes as part of the crackdown on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, UN investigators have found.

Both President Assad’s troops and opposition fighters were committing gross human rights violations despite a six-week-old ceasefire, but the security forces were responsible for most crimes documented since March, the UN report released yesterday said.

Government abuses included the heavy shelling of residential areas, executions and torture. Syrian forces routinely drew lists of wanted persons and their families before blockading and then attacking a village or neighbourhood, the report said. Children were frequently among those killed and wounded during attacks on protests and the bombardment of towns and villages. “Entire families were executed in their homes – usually the family members of those opposing the government such as the family members of Colonel Riad al-Asaad,” it said, referring to the extended family of the head of the Free Syrian Army.

Rebels have executed or tortured captured soldiers and government supporters, it added. They have also abducted civilians in apparent attempts to secure prison exchanges or ransoms.

The team of investigators has not been allowed into Syria but based its report on more than 200 interviews of victims and witnesses. They confirmed 207 deaths during the two-month period.

More..

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May 25th, 2012, 7:48 am

 

113. Tara said:

Bronco

Who said pride and pain can’t mix?

OTW

I am sorry I assumed a feeling you didn’t explicitly expressed. May be I was reflecting on my own emotions but I stand by my first statement and do feel proud for you. Nothing more noble from risking one’s self for freedom and dignity of the others.

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May 25th, 2012, 9:46 am

 

114. ann said:

Explosive device goes off in central Syria, killing 6 – 2012-05-25

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-05/25/c_131611633.htm

DAMASCUS, May 25 (Xinhua) — An explosive device went off in Syria’s central Homs province Friday, killing six people of one family, state-TV reported, as activists reported the eruption of anti-government rallies in several Syrian cities.

The device was planted by unidentified gunmen before the family ‘s house in the southern neighborhood of al-Rableh town in Qusair in Homs, said the TV.

The motives behind the attack were not immediately known.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday accused the Syrian opposition of undermining the peace plan implemented by the UN and Arab League joint envoy to Syria Kofi Annan.

He said that the Syrian opposition and their supporting countries have violated relevant UN resolutions.

[...]

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May 25th, 2012, 9:57 am

 

115. ann said:

State of alert imposed on Israeli-Lebanese border – 2012-05-25

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-05/25/c_131611485.htm

MARJEYOUN, Lebanon, May 25 (Xinhua) — A high state of alert has been imposed since the early hours of Friday near the Israeli- Lebanese border as Lebanon celebrates the 12th commemoration of the Israeli withdrawal from its south.

The Israeli forces reinforced their presence on the borders with armored vehicles and Mirkava tanks, while the Lebanese army beefed up their troops along with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in anticipation of any development.

A Lebanese security sources told Xinhua that “the Israeli army reinforced their positions facing the Shebaa Farms with 15 Mirkava tanks while Unmanned Aerial Vehicles were patrolling the area, violating the Lebanese airspace.”

Meanwhile, the UNIFIL was patrolling all the border line known as the “Blue Line” and strengthened their observation points from the Wazzani river to the Shebaa Farms.

[...]

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May 25th, 2012, 10:01 am

 

116. ann said:

Foreign remarks fan Syria opposition’s violence: Russian diplomat – 2012-05-25

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-05/25/c_131611376.htm

MOSCOW, May 25 (Xinhua) — Russian is concerned that remarks made by some Western countries have encouraged the Syrian opposition to continue their violence in the Arab country, a senior Russian diplomat said on Friday.

The gap between Russia and Britain toward addressing the situation in Syria is narrowing, Russian Ambassador to Britain Alexander Yakovenko told local media.

However, Russia was still concerned that “London and some other Western capitals” are making public statements to encourage the Syria opposition to “continue the violence instead of taking part in political dialogue,” the diplomat was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is to visit Moscow soon, had mentioned earlier that the Syria topic would be a major topic for discussion during his talks in Moscow, Yakovenko said, adding Russia hopes to “take advantage of this meeting” and work with Britain toward finding a peaceful solution to the Syria crisis.

[...]

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May 25th, 2012, 10:06 am

 

117. ann said:

Syria asserts economy still solid amid sanctions despite price soaring – 2012-05-25

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-05/25/c_131611385.htm

A vigorous government’s intervention revived the Syrian pound, which lost 50 percent of its value against U.S. dollars at the beginning of the crisis, sending thus the prices of all commodities skyrocketing. Now the pound has regained part of its value but prices are still high, prompting families to tighten their budgets.

In an interview with Russia Today Channel, the minister said the crisis has led to the suspension of some economic establishments’ work, especially in the private sector, due to difficulties in securing supplies of imported production and low rate of economic growth.

He stressed that the Syrian economy along with some of its neighboring countries have been affected by the sanctions, however, he asserted that Syria was able to open new markets other than the European’s and the American’s.

The minister added that Syria depends on its own potentials, brushing aside claims that the country is receiving financial aids from friendly countries.

He also ruled out any decline in the country’s foreign exchange reserves, stressing that they remain intact.

Jlailati indicated that there has been a stable exchange rate of the pound against the dollar for a month, saying rumors about Syria’s selling some of its gold reserves was “absolutely untrue.” “There is no country in the world that relies on its gold reserves only… we have basically an amount of gold along with other foreign currencies in savings, and they haven’t been touched at all and we have not sold 1 g of gold,” he said.

[...]

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May 25th, 2012, 10:18 am

 

118. Halabi said:

No U.N. report or confessions from Assad’s henchmen will convince the we-love-you crowd that they are supporting pure evil. Executing families of protesters and alleged criminals will be justified as the only way to avert future attacks, and through that sick logic the pro-Assad hate mongers end up supporting genocide to prop up a government that has usurped a nation’s wealth and potential for two generations and slaughtered tens of thousands of people.

But what about Al Qaeda, Bandar, Hamad and the Ottomans they will ask? All those 3ara3eer with scary beards would surely do worse. Look at Egypt and Tunisia – minorities there are being massacred by the hundred every day. And women can’t drive in Saudi. And Bahrain, U.S.A., Afghanistan…

In the end, people who support Assad or don’t want to see him go believe the Syrian state should be dominated by an unaccountable security and military apparatus that can terminate entire families to send a message that any opposition will be futile. They support a government that is no better than the worst terrorists it cultivated and claims to fight. And their biggest fear is that a new political order will govern the country in the same way, but with their families on the receiving end of the violence.

سوريا بخير وخلصت

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May 25th, 2012, 10:23 am

 

119. ann said:

Newly-elected Syria parliament holds first session – 2012-05-25

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/video/2012-05/25/c_131610601.htm

BEIJING, May 25 (Xinhuanet) — Syria’s newly-elected parliament has held its first session on Thursday. The main task of the meeting was the election of a speaker and members of the parliament’s office. The head of the Damascus lawyers’ syndicate becomes the new speaker of the Syrian parliament.

Mohammed Jihad al-Laham is a member of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s Baath party. The party has a large majority of seats in the 250-member parliament.

The Assembly’s members were sworn-in at the first meeting of the newly elected body. On May 7, parliamentarian elections were carried out under a new constitution that allows a multi-party system and ends the monopoly of power by the ruling Baath party. The electoral process was supervised by an independent judicial committee.

One of the biggest changes in the new parliament is the arrival of opposition figures for the first time. The Syrian Foreign Ministry has called the vote a new experience for Syria. But opposition parties say they still want to improve the situation and are not satisfied by the election.

[...]

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May 25th, 2012, 10:25 am

 

120. Syria no Kandahar said:

So after all Turkey turned out to be kidnappers friend,supporter,financier and pro-terrorists deal breaker:

تركيا تبلغ لبنان أن المختطفين بخير وطائرتهم ستصل بيروت مساء اليوم
كشف وزير الخارجية والمغتربين عدنان منصور أنه تلقى اتصالاً من وزير الخارجية التركي أحمد داوود اوغلو أبلغه فيه بأن المخطتفين الـ 11 بخير وحالتهم سليمة وأن طائرتهم سوف تصل الى بيروت مساء هذا اليوم، ورجح الوزير منصور أن تصل الطائرة بين الساعة السابعة والثامنة مساء.

بدوره أشار وزير الصحة اللبناني علي حسن خليل وفقاً لموقع «الانتقاد» إلى أن موعد وصول اللبنانيين المخطتفين إلى لبنان لم يحدد بعد، مرجحاً أن يتم وصولهم إلى مطار بيروت الدولي اليوم قبل الغد.

[...]

http://www.shukumaku.com/PDA/Content.php?id=47056

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May 25th, 2012, 10:53 am

 

121. Mawal95 said:

Bronco #97 said:

“Bashar will finish his term in 2014. The opposition has two years to switch from useless demonstrations and poisoning to organizing themselves in serious political parties.

Under Article 85 of Syria’s Constitution, to be a candidate for president you must have the endorsements of at least 35 members of parliament. In the parliamentary elections on 7 May 2012 only 5 members of opposition parties were elected. The winning candidates in the election are almost entirely people who are on record supporting national unity under the leadership of Assad. When you look at the composition of today’s parliament it looks likely that any aspiring candiate for president other than Assad won’t be able to get the required 35 endorsements from members of parliament in 2014. And surely it looks a certainty that Assad will win the 2014 presidential election.

The next parliamentary elections are in 2016. The opposition has four years to prepare themselves for those elections. I see every reason to expect the opposition to get trounced again in 2016. It will take many election cycles to build enough support for an opposition to be capable of wining a majority of seats. I will not be in the slightest bit surprised if it doesn’t happen before the parliamentary elections in year 2036. A generation away. It’s fine for the opposition to be “organizing themselves in serious political parties” today, as Bronco suggests, but the first step in getting serious is to realize that the Baath Party is a proven, serious formidible competitor in election contests.

Here’s related comment:

The Baath Party is a failure because, after 49 years in power, the party put itself to the test of the will of the people of Syria in free and fair parliamentary elections this year and only won approximately 160 of the 250 seats in the new parliament. Sami Moubayed says: “In looking back at the reasons for this failure, it is safe to say that the Baath party affiliated itself with the wrong people, the wrong parties, and the wrong allies for over four decades.” — http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/syrian-democracy-back-to-square-one-1.1025929

Speaking as a firm supporter of the Syrian Baath Party, I say there’s no reason for complacency in the elections results, my friends. We need to keep on sharpening our competitive advantages and aim to win more than 160 seats in the 2016 parliamentary elections. We need to do this not merely for ourselves but for the people of Syria who will benefit from having a Baath Party in top-notch competitive form.

والله محيي سوريا الاسد

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May 25th, 2012, 10:53 am

 

122. Mawal95 said:

From Reuters yesterday:

Both President Assad’s troops and opposition fighters were committing gross human rights violations despite a six-week-old ceasefire, but the security forces were responsible for most crimes documented since March, a UN report released yesterday said. Government forces executed entire families in their homes as part of the crackdown on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, UN investigators have found.

None of those UN “investigators” have been in Syria at all. They merely collected testimonies from among Syria’s flakey dissident liars outside Syria. The testimonies are unverified and unverifiable. The UN’s report is as false and worthless as the testimonies of their sources.

On the other hand, there’s a UN observer mission on the ground in Syria today that is observing and seeking to verify by actually seeing what’s actually there, and going beyond the mere testimonies of the fake revolutionaries. Their report is one that we should pay attention to, when it comes out.

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May 25th, 2012, 11:22 am

 

123. bronco said:

#121 Mawal95

It is up to the opposition to lure some of the Baath party members to endorse another potential non-Baath candidate who is a figure acceptable to the Baath. As there are divisions within the Baath, it is quite possible that such situation occurs before 2014.
Bashar repeated that he’ll leave once he has secured what comes after him but I think he would prefer not to represent himself again in 2014.

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May 25th, 2012, 11:23 am

 

124. Mawal95 said:

@ Bronco: I can assure you that Bashar will be running for president in 2014. I know enough about Bashar to know that. I can see it in the way he shakes hands with people — I’m not joking. I can see that he’s still very popular, he likes his job, and he agrees with his many supporters that he does his job well.

The Baath Party and the Baath’s members of parliament subscribe to the doctrine of national unity. So do the bulk of the independents that were elected to the new parliament. This doctrine effectively implies they’ll all be supporting Bashar for president in 2014.

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May 25th, 2012, 11:33 am

 

125. bronco said:

#122 Mawal95

The UN observers are very quiet and their reports to Annan seem to remain secret.
For example in the bomb attack in Khan Shaykhoun, it was reported that the observers who were present there in unclear circumstances, witnessed the ‘massacre’ during the funerals. Yet there had been no leaks about what really happened.
It is possible that these reports are kept aside to be used by Annan in due time in UNSC meeting where he would uncover officially the real actors behind the rebels. These are possibly countries who are contravening the USNC resolution that required full cooperation of the international community to the peaceful and political solution of the Syrian crisis.

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May 25th, 2012, 11:34 am

 

126. Pirouz said:

109. ZOO said:

If they can provide evidence of an entire unit crossing over (images of vehicles and heavy weapons they took with them), this could be significant. But in the past the FSyA has made so many bogus claims, we’ll just have to wait and see actual evidence to back up the claim.

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May 25th, 2012, 11:49 am

 

127. Mawal95 said:

@ Bronco #125: I don’t believe in a foreign conspiracy, I have not ever believed in one, and I’ve given the reasons repeatedly over the past year. The real actors behind the rebels are real Syrians. The foreigers have given moral and rhetorical support to the rebels, of course. But on the question of material support, there’s no evidence, just rumours, and the foreigners themselves deny giving material support. Their denials place the burden on the rumour-mongers to show us material evidence in Syria that the foreigners are lying. On the evidence, the foreigners are telling the truth. If there are a few lies in the mix from the foreigners, they can’t be big lies, because big lies would’ve been found out on the ground in Syria. The government of Syria, as part of its efforts to undermine the respectability of the uprising in Syrian eyes, has consistently and repeatedly said the uprising is foreign supported. But if you carefully read what the government says, it has very little to offer in the way of hard evidence to support this line of propaganda, beyond the fact that the foreigners have indeed given moral and rhetorical support.

Regarding the influence of moral and rhetorical support from foreigners:

In a sitution of civil disturbances in any country, if moral and rhetorical support is given to the protesters|rebels by the Western powers and the international community, it weakens the established government’s position and it elevates the expectations of the protesters|rebels in their battle against the government. Foreign interventions of this rhetorical kind can make a conflict harder to resolve because they distort the domestic political landscape and the mechanisms which exist inside any country for resolving the conflict. Sergei Lavrov said last October: “If the international community promotes the theory that “the government is so bad it cannot orchestrate a National Dialog and it should resign from office no matter what the consequences”, of course, that would be incitement to violence and unrest in Syria.” The Western powers are not aiming at helping the Syrians to resolve their problems on their own. They are aiming at supporting the rebellion against the government.

However, when the Syrian protesters|rebels accept moral and rhetorical support from longstanding enemies of Syria, especially the USA, it also works to undermine the respectability of the protesters|rebels in the eyes of the generality of the Syrian people, which weakens the political position of the protesters|rebels.

So it cuts two ways at once.

والله محيي سوريا الاسد

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May 25th, 2012, 12:19 pm

 

128. bronco said:

Mawal95 #127

I agree that there are probably very few or no foreign boots in Syria, like they were none in Lebanon during the civil war, in Libya and they aren’t any in Iraq now behind the bomb attacks.
The rebels are mostly nationals.
Yet, I don’t think that the SNC was financed solely by Syrians expats, but by foreign countries, namely Turkey, Qatar and others. The FSA is hosted by Turkey. It may not be a concerted ‘conspiracy’ but it is an illegal interference in country sovereignty to change the regime and as such can been seen as a ‘conspiracy’.
The Friends of Syria was a proof of a foreign conspiracy as it was done “privately’ outside UN
In adition some Syrians rebels and criminals are also financed and supported by foreign countries that supply them with weapons as ways to disrupt the Syrian government.
I am sure they are plenty of Syrians who would accept money to perpetrate any acts of terrorism, so mercenaries or foreigners are not in real need, except in training them.
By financing these elements, the countries in question are contravening the UNSC resolution and could be held accountable and blamed officially if uncovered.
Why is the UN withholding the proofs they must have gathered about the reponsibilities in the bomb attacks? Is it to use them later at the right time? or they have another agenda?

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May 25th, 2012, 12:38 pm

 

129. Mawal95 said:

@ Bronco #128: When I was saying at #127 the governments are telling the truth when they deny material support, I was talking about weapons, financing for weapons, and facilitating smuggling in of weapons. I deny that the rebels have received weapons from any foreign government source whatsoever, and I deny they’ve received financing from any government except as indicated by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. If you think I’m mistaken, I reply simply that you don’t have the evidence.

“It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

I find I have sufficient evidence from inside Syria itself to believe the foreign governments are telling the truth.

As an example of evidence see what Riad Asaad says the rebels’ fighting strategy is at http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=1&id=29554 :

The FSA commander asserted that “we have today, thanks to God, reached a stage where the FSA is in a strong position, after we have arranged and strengthened our affairs and ranks from the previous stage, and we have implemented a new plan of action for the forthcoming phase that will witness a systematic change in our military operations.” Al-Asaad told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Our goal is to target military vehicles and rely solely on explosive devices.” He also stressed that the FSA has not received any financial or material assistance from any foreign countries, and that any assistance or aid they have received has been from Syrian citizens. He added that “we have developed our military capabilities through the correct investment of our funds and manufacturing certain types of weaponry locally…this will be reflected in the FSA operations in the forthcoming period, and despite the fact that we do not possess vast military capabilities we have elements who are capable of carrying out high-quality operations.”

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May 25th, 2012, 12:44 pm

 

130. Mawal95 said:

Weapons and ammunition are expensive and scarce among the Syrian rebels. That’s well-documented and it’s a powerful counterfactual against the rumour that the rebels are getting material support from foreign governments.

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May 25th, 2012, 12:59 pm

 

131. bronco said:

#129

Do you mean that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are providing the money and the Syrians are able to buy the weapons and introduce them in Syria without any complicity from the neighboring countries?

I disagree with that. Of course Turkey never admitted facilitating the passing of weapons in the border, but who are they fooling? They have a huge number of secret agents within their army just doing that ‘unofficially’.
Yet, recently Turkey has seen an increase in PKK violent confrontations and they are starting to worry that these weapons they are allowing to pass in Syria are ending up in the hands of the PKK.

The same applies to Lebanon and we know very well who is the faction of Lebanese who are helping the smuggling of the weapons that often end up in the wrong hands.

If you try to clear the West from actively supplying weapons, I agree with you. The western countries are terrified to see these weapons ending up in Hezbollah’s hands and against Israel or in Al Qaeeda hands.

This is why the situation is impossible to solve militarily. The regime knows it and have become even bolder in the crackdown on the rebels.
The West is paralyzed, both militarily and politically. The situation may drag as it is on for a long time.

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May 25th, 2012, 1:07 pm

 

132. bronco said:

Mawal95

Rebel face control: US ‘to screen Syrian opposition for arms supply’

Published: 25 May, 2012, 12:47
http://www.rt.com/news/us-arms-syria-opposition-187/

Washington is an inch from starting shipping arms to the opposition in Syria, anonymous US officials say. The biggest hitch is that it wants to be sure American guns will be pointed in the right direction and won’t end up in the hands of Al Qaeda.

­The US is already transferring “non-lethal” material, including medical supplies and communication equipment to forces fighting the Syrian government. But it has been hesitant to provide arms to the disparate opposition, fearing they might end up in the hands of militants linked to Al Qaeda or Hezbollah, AP reports.

A vetting plan to separate the groups actually interested in fighting Bashar al-Assad’s government from those profiteering from the armed conflict is yet to be finalized, the news agency says, citing unnamed US officials.

Some US allies, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been less hesitant and openly said they would fund the purchase of arms for the Syrian opposition. The weapons may even be directly supplied by the Gulf monarchies’ governments rather than bought on the black market, recent media reports imply.

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May 25th, 2012, 1:11 pm

 

133. ann said:

Qatari ammo found in Syria-bound arms – Friday May 25, 2012

http://presstv.com/detail/2012/05/25/242958/qatari-ammo-found-syriabound-arms/

Ammunition boxes labeled “Qatari Army” have been found among other Syria-bound arms on the Lutfullah II ship, which was intercepted in the Mediterranean by the Lebanese Army last month, Lebanese sources say.

[...]

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May 25th, 2012, 1:23 pm

 

134. Mawal95 said:

@ Bronco #131: This is recycled from me from elsewhere:

The Turkish government allows the Syrian refugees in Turkey to freely return to Syria, and possibly return back to Turkey again. But under Turkish law it is illegal for them to carry weapons in Turkey and it is illegal for any weapons to pass the border from Turkey into Syria. The Syrian refugees in Turkey are required to reside in concentration camps where they’re under the surveillance and monitoring of Turkish security personnel. That makes it much harder for these refugees to violate the Turkish law.

There is no evidence of any covert activity by Turkey to arm, train or directly faciliate the Syrian rebels (except for rumours and testimonies from highly unreliable sources who don’t even establish their own credentials reliably, never mind the reliability of what they’re saying). The hypothetical covert activity would be illegal under Turkish law. If the Turkish government were covertly aiding the Syrian rebels, while overtly disavowing it, it would never be possible to keep it a secret, because too many people would be involved, and too many of the Turks involved would see the policy as immoral as well as illegal. Furthermore if it were happening we’d see the evidences of it on the Syrian side of the border. I don’t see such evidence in Syria today.

I can trust the Turkish government to comply with Turkish law for more than one reason. One reason is that they’d get clobbered in the next parliamentary election in Turkey if they got caught lying and law-breaking. Covert material support by Turkey to the Syrian rebels would also be in contradiction with what the top government officials of Turkey have been saying, when you listen closely to them. I’m confident that what they say is pretty much what they think.

Syria’s immediate neighbors Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon have laws and policies that prohibit arms and armed men to pass into Syria from their jurisdiction. Those prohibitions are being enforced by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon (without 100% success of course). I believe the same is true on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. The Syrian navy patrols the sea along Syria’s Mediterranean coast. So, looking all around Syria’s borders, there is no gap whatsoever were it is legal on the other side of the border to bring weapons and ammunition into Syria. Thus anyone wishing to arm the rebels in Syria has got a difficult implementation problem.

If Saudi Arabia and Qatar follow through on their declared intention to give cash handouts to the rebels, it will increase the price of weapons but it can’t increase the supply of weapons in a major way because of the logisitical difficulties in smuggling the weapons into Syria. You’d need at least one of the bordering countries to remove its prohibition, but the great preponderance of indications are that’s NOT going to happen.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have said they think the international community should supply weapons to the Syrian rebels. But they deny that they have actually done so themselves, so far. Supplying weapons to the rebels may contravene United Nations anti-terrorism resolutions (e.g. http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/0/2845551E4550924E442579BA004082F0 ). Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been urged not to arm the Syrian rebels by the US, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Algeria (and probably others). I believe Saudi Arabia and Qatar are highly unlikely to try to arm the rebels for so long as the broad international community disapproves of it, and for so long as it continues to be impossible to do it legally under the laws of all of Syria’s neighbors. Anyone who aims to arm the rebels from outside Syria is also necessarily aiming to violate the laws of Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, and/or Lebanon.

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May 25th, 2012, 1:31 pm

 

135. jad said:

Going Rogue: America’s Unconventional Warfare in the Mideast

The intent of U.S. [Unconventional Warfare] UW efforts is to exploit a hostile power’s political, military, economic, and psychological vulnerabilities by developing and sustaining resistance forces to accomplish U.S. strategic objectives…For the foreseeable future, U.S. forces will predominantly engage in irregular warfare (IW) operations.

So begins the 2010 Unconventional Warfare (UW) Manual of the US Military’s Special Forces. The manual attached here (TC 18-01) is an interim publication, developed to address the definition of Unconventional Warfare and some other inconsistencies in UW Doctrine. The new UW document (ATP 3-05.1) is in the initial draft and not yet available, though sources tell me it is unlikely to differ much from TC 18-01.

But most of us have not had the pleasure of leafing through this truly revelatory blueprint that shows how America wages its dirty wars. These are the secret wars that have neither been approved by Congress, nor by the inhabitants of nations whose lives – if not bodies – are mauled by the directives on these pages.

A quote from President John F. Kennedy in 1962 opens the document. These few lines illustrate a core Washington belief that US forces have the right to destabilize, infiltrate, assassinate, subvert – all in service of questionable foreign policy objectives, with no evident consideration of a sovereign state’s preparedness or desire for change:

There is another type of warfare—new in its intensity, ancient in its origin—war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins; war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him. It preys on unrest.

Target: Middle East

The Bush Doctrine paved the way for the mainstreaming of unconventional warfare by establishing the principle of pre-emptive actions against a state that may one day pose a threat to American interests. It didn’t offer any specific criteria to gauge those threats, nor did it attempt to explain why anyone outside the United States should be held accountable for US “interests” – be they commercial, security or political.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/sites/default/files/P_19_Diagram.jpg

http://english.al-akhbar.com/sites/default/files/P_14_Diagram.jpg
{…}

Target: Regime Change in Syria

In Syria, the UW task would have been a mix of the two. Because of the domestic popularity and strength of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad revealed here in a 2006 Wikileaks Cable, UW activities would necessarily need to start with some subversion of the population before graduating to a Libyan-style scenario.

Just as the Wikileaks cable recommends identifying “opportunities” to expose “vulnerabilities” in the Syrian regime and cause sectarian/ethnic division, discord within the military/security apparatus and economic hardship, the UW manual also instructs special forces to “exploit a hostile power’s political, military, economic, and psychological vulnerabilities.”

The Syrian demographic landscape is reflected in the UW manual: “In almost every scenario, resistance movements face a population with an active minority supporting the government and an equally small militant faction supporting the resistance movement. For the resistance to succeed, it must convince the uncommitted middle population…to accept it as a legitimate entity. A passive population is sometimes all a well-supported insurgency needs to seize political power.”

To turn the “uncommitted middle population” into supporting insurgency, UW recommends the “creation of atmosphere of wider discontent through propaganda and political and psychological efforts to discredit the government.”

As conflict escalates, so should the “intensification of propaganda; psychological preparation of the population for rebellion.”

First, there should be local and national “agitation” – the organization of boycotts, strikes, and other efforts to suggest public discontent. Then, the “infiltration of foreign organizers and advisors and foreign propaganda, material, money, weapons and equipment.”

The next level of operations would be to establish “national front organizations [i.e. the Syrian National Council] and liberation movements [i.e. the Free Syrian Army]” that would move larger segments of the population toward accepting “increased political violence and sabotage” – and encourage the mentoring of “individuals or groups that conduct acts of sabotage in urban centers.”

Now, how and why would an uncommitted – and ostensibly peaceful – majority of the population respond to the introduction of violence by opposition groups? The UW manual tells us there is an easy way to spin this one:

If retaliation [by the target government] occurs, the resistance can exploit the negative consequences to garner more sympathy and support from the population by emphasizing the sacrifices and hardship the resistance is enduring on behalf of “the people.” If retaliation is ineffective or does not occur, the resistance can use this as proof of its ability to wage effect combat against the enemy. In addition, the resistance can portray the inability or reluctance of the enemy to retaliate as a weakness, which will demoralize enemy forces and instill a belief in their eventual defeat.
And so on, and so forth.
{…}
http://english.al-akhbar.com/blogs/sandbox/going-rogue-americas-unconventional-warfare-mideast

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May 25th, 2012, 2:09 pm

 

136. bronco said:

Mawal95

I still suspect that individuals groups in neighboring countries are ignoring the law and that weapons reach armed groups.

Yet let’s supposed it is true that neighboring countries apply their laws and no weapons is smuggled, then the FSA has no or scarce weapons and no ammunitions.
Then why is the Syrian army having such difficulties in entering Rastan etc.., is the Syrian army so bad that they can’t crush unarmed groups of rebels after months of siege?
It is also the reason why the FSA is resorting to bomb attacks as this only needs rudimentary supplies?

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May 25th, 2012, 2:22 pm

 

137. jad said:

Dear OTW,
للفقيد الرحمة ولكم من بعده طول البقاء
Please accept my heartfelt sympathy on your tragic loss, may God rest his soul in peace.

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May 25th, 2012, 2:30 pm

 

138. jna said:

86. Observersaid: Haaretz has some news
The Israelis usually know what happens at the end of the day

However, what they publicise is often not congruent with what they know.

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May 25th, 2012, 2:38 pm

 

139. jad said:

To #10
‘Facebook terrorism’ fuels murder mafia in Syria
http://youtu.be/KCqdoM4ifxs

‘Social media is playing a vital role in Syria’s conflict, as both sides try to shape domestic and international opinion in their favour. Chilling videos of acts of brutality have the power to go viral and be broadcast on global TV networks – but sometimes, the pictures aren’t everything they appear to be.’

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May 25th, 2012, 2:48 pm

 

140. Alan said:

http://whatreallyhappened.com/ru/content/us-consider-sending-weapons-opposition-fighters-syria
U.S. to consider sending weapons to opposition fighters in Syria
As one diplomatic effort after another fails to end more than a year of brutal violence in Syria, the Obama administration is preparing a plan that would essentially give U.S. nods of approval to arms transfers from Arab nations to some Syrian opposition fighters.
The US has been caught sending weapons to the “opposition” (actually a coup d’etat) all along. This is just propaganda to try and sell the lie that the US is responding to a crisis not of their own making.
================================================================
Russia: Forces Unable to Destabilize Syria Turn to Lebanon
Forces which have failed to implement their plans to destabilize Syria have turned to Lebanon, Russian’s foreign ministry said on Monday.
“Moscow is seriously concerned by growing internal tensions in Lebanon. It appears that the forces that have failed to realize their plans to destabilize Syria have turned to neighboring Lebanon,” the ministry said on its website.
“They clearly dislike this country’s government course aimed at preventing foreign intervention in Syrian affairs and facilitating a swift peaceful settlement in Syria on the basis of Kofi Annan’s plan approved by the United Nations Security Council, and the actions of military and security agencies opposing arms smuggling attempts and the trafficking of militants,” the ministry said.
To attain their goals these forces are trying to stoke tensions among various Lebanese political and sectarian forces, the ministry added.
It called on Lebanese politicians to show restraint and “high patriotic responsibility at this difficult moment for the country and the region.”
=================================================================
Winds from Syria unrest blow into Lebanon: Clashes spark fears of another war
On Wednesday night, a gunbattle broke out in the Caracas district of west Beirut, followed by a clash that lasted several hours and left two dead, according to security officials.
The spark for the clash, during which gunmen used hand grenades against the Lebanese security forces, was a “personal dispute” between at least one of the men and a woman in her early 20s

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May 25th, 2012, 3:02 pm

 

141. Hopeful said:

I am wondering what people on the forum think about the Egyptian elections. What are your thoughts regarding the “Eqyptian Model”?

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May 25th, 2012, 3:26 pm

 

142. Antoine said:

Man…..Syria Comment has been so boring for today. No interesting commentators like Ghufran, SNP, Juergen, Aldendeshe etc. Just boring superficial back and forth between MAWAL, BRONCO, ANN and JAD.

Where are the all rest ? Surely nobody can be sooo busy in one’s life so as not be able to spend a few minutes on Syria Comment.

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May 25th, 2012, 3:28 pm

 

143. Antoine said:

141. Hopeful said:

“I am wondering what people on the forum think about the Egyptian election. What are your thoughts regarding the “Eqyptian Model”?”

__________________________________________________________________

The Egyptian case confirms our best hopes and arguments. It rests our case against those who argue against us on the basis that we have not been able to gather sufficient numbers in a demonstration in Damascus ( i.e a “Tahrir Square moment”).

The Syrian revolution hasn’t had a Tahrir Square moment but has wide and vigorous grassroots support in a all 4 corners of the country. This not only confirms that the Syrian revolution enjoys the support of the majority of the Syrian citizens living inside Syria, but also in a Free Liberated Syria, in future parliamentary or Presidential elections, the Local Coordination Committees will be the real king-maker.

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May 25th, 2012, 3:43 pm

 

144. Mawal95 said:

Bronco at #136 said:

“I still suspect that individuals groups in neighboring countries are ignoring the law and that weapons reach armed groups.”

Okay, Bronco, you’re being respectable when you “suspect”. But if you take the further step and “believe” then you’re going beyond the bounds of the available evidence.

Let’s supposed it is true that neighboring countries apply their laws and no weapons is smuggled, then the FSA has… scarce weapons.

That’s right. Over the past few months, there have been many reports in the newspapers, from a diversity of reporters on the ground, that (a) the rebels are saying weapons and ammunition are scarce and (b) weapons and ammunition are in fact scarce. In March, I posted links to a bunch of such news stories. In May, in videos of groups of rebels on the streets in Rastan and in towns in Idlib over the past month at Youtube, I noticed in the videos that the groups consisted of a mixture of armed and unarmed men. I infer the ones that are unarmed are so because of the expensiveness and scarcity of the arms and ammo.

Then why is the Syrian army having such difficulties in entering Rastan etc.

As I understand what the Syrian government agreed to under the Annan plan, the army is not allowed to enter Rastan fullstop. Instead, the government is supposed to maintain law and order in Rastan with other kinds of security forces. The government can use armoured vehicles such as tanks but only as armour. It can’t fire wide-caliber projectiles. “The Syrian government on Friday [20 Apr 2012] informed Annan that it carried out the second article of his [six-point] plan completely, saying that police and law-enforcement forces will be charged with keeping peace and order and will show the utmost self-restraint while remaining ready to confront armed terrorist groups should they continue to breach the cessation of violence, while the Syrian Arab Army will remain prepared to defend Syria from any attack [upon][,] and [to] secure[,] strategic sites.” http://sana.sy/eng/22/2012/04/22/414024.htm

It is also the reason why the FSA is resorting to bomb attacks as this only needs rudimentary supplies?

Yes.

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May 25th, 2012, 3:54 pm

 

145. Observer said:

The elections in Egypt have given Shafiq 23% of the vote more than expected and the MB candidate got 25% only indicating the appeal of a hard line Islamist agenda is weak in Egypt.

The name of the game is economic freedom from corruption and graft first then freedom from oppression afterwards.

Now for the SNC. It is irrelevant to what is happening on the ground. It is local activists who have concluded some time ago that they are alone and that they will do the heavy lifting of removing the Corleone family.

At least Ghalioun resigned and is candid about the performance of the SNC. Not so with Fredo who calls for the Majlis to meet. He nominated the members of the supreme court.

So the Majlis and the Supreme Court of Syria along with the glorious head of the Executive the Marshall Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces and the Secretary General of the Baath Party will meet.

Like the muscles of the pelvic floor they will meet only to produce garbage; while slapping each other on the back.

Meanwhile, should we be terrified from the spam cut and paste we see from pro regime commentators about : OMG monstrous Qatar, horrific KSA, blood thirsty Salafists, CIA_MOSSAD-ALQAEDA- OTTOMAN conspiracy to dethrone Fredo?

Somaria is less than a footnote in history and less of an afterthought in the current ME change we are witnessing and the utter failure of the regime in either protecting the country from this supposed evil or the inability to adapt and perform real reforms are an eternal testimony to the failed state called Somaria Alassad.

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May 25th, 2012, 4:32 pm

 

146. Tara said:

SNC expanding it’s horizon into economic reconstruction after the fall of the blue-eyed graduated med student.  

Syria would need $11.5 billion quickly post-Assad
Reuters – 14 hrs ago

http://news.yahoo.com/syria-11-5-billion-quickly-post-assad-180123466–finance.html

ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Syria would need $11.5 billion in reconstruction funds in the first six months after the collapse of President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, mainly to support its currency and pay public sector wages, the main Syrian opposition said on Thursday.

The Syrian National Council, whose international support has been undermined by internal squabbling and power struggles, presented an economic reconstruction plan at a meeting of the Friends of Syria working group for economic recovery and development in the United Arab Emirates.
…..

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May 25th, 2012, 5:16 pm

 

147. Mawal95 said:

Here are links to news stories dating from mid-March that say weapons are expensive and scarce among the Syrian rebels. I collected these at the time in March. Then I quit collecting any more.

12 Mar 2012: An Al-Jazeera reporter on the ground in Idlib province in Syria says guns and bullets are expensive: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2012/03/12/inside-idlib-assad-crackdown-grows-ferocity

14 mar 2012: Report by Associated Press that weapons are scarce among rebels: http://news.yahoo.com/syrian-rebels-lack-guns-money-key-defeats-175952483.html

18 Mar 2012: LA Times reports “Black market for weapons nearly depleted, smugglers to Syria say”: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-syria-weapons-20120318,0,3916276,full.story

20 Mar 2012: Associated Press says weapons are scarce among the rebels: http://news.yahoo.com/syrian-rebels-outgunned-struggling-supplies-205645118.html

22 Mar 2012: Washington Post says “Syrian rebels running out of ammunition”: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syrian-rebels-running-out-of-ammunition-as-government-presses-offensive/2012/03/22/gIQA05CNUS_story.html

I’ve not seen any good evidence that the weapons supply situation has changed substantially since mid-March (and that includes the news story at #7 above).

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May 25th, 2012, 5:42 pm

 

148. Antoine said:

About Egypt elections, Hamdeen Sabahi, a Nasserite Leftist candidate, who was endorsed by one of the commentators on SC, is offically out of the race. His hypocritical supporters were seen crying and chanting against USA and Saudi Arabia.

What is more important is that Al Jazeera team was pushed out of his Campiagn headquarters by his supporters.

That just shows the kind of cheap and biased mentality these people have.

They will disappear into oblivion and so will the things they hold dear to their heart.

They are secretly supporting Assad regime.

They will never be able to set foot inside Syria after liberation.

It should be noted that Hamadeen Sabahi during his campaign had stressed that were he to become President, he will make a “strategic alliance” with IRAN, to “defend Egyptian interests”.

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May 25th, 2012, 5:45 pm

 

149. Bronco said:

#146 Tara

SNC sponsored reconstruction plans date? 2014, 2015 or more?

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May 25th, 2012, 5:47 pm

 

150. irritated said:

Antoine #148

“His hypocritical supporters were seen crying and chanting against USA and Saudi Arabia.

OMG, they deserve to be hanged for high treason.

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May 25th, 2012, 5:49 pm

 

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