Kerry at a Crossroads on Syria – Sending Mixed Signals

What does Kerry really plan to do for Syria? More non-lethal aid – body armor and night vision goggles – does not merit the headlines that suggest the US is preparing a major shift in its policy. Syria remains a difficult policy problem.

The United States has other vital foreign policy objectives that make it difficult to double down on Syria. Kerry’s Rome talks with Syrian opposition groups coincide with the need for delicate diplomacy with Syria’s two main supporters: Iran and Russia. Not only is the US resuming negotiations on Iran’s nuclear ambitions that convened Tuesday in Kazakhstan after an eight-month hiatus, but Washington is struggling to maintain civil relations with Moscow — Syria’s key ally — if it wants to withdraw troops from Afghanistan via Russian territory over the next two years. The US has to balance its interests in Syria with those of maintaining a civil relationship with Russia. To underscore the importance of US-Russian relations the result of a meeting in Berlin between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during which Russia called for the United States to urge for the Syrian opposition to drop President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation as a precondition for direct talks with the Syrian regime.

Also, Egypt is headed toward bankruptcy, and the US will have to help it through that process and the political violence that may well be a result of the cruel privations that such a process will visit on the impoverished masses as their bread and fuel subsidies are snatched from them.

WSJ [Reg]: Kerry Calls Time on Assad Regime, 2013-02-27

PARIS—New U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the time has passed for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power. His first official meetings with France’s leadership …

WSJ [Reg]: U.S. Is ‘Developing Ways’ to Hasten Ouster of Assad, 2013-02-27

Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the Obama administration and its allies are “developing ways” to hasten the ouster of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, a vow that came as U.S. officials said they are considering sending non-lethal aid …

Kerry has made repeated indirect references to a policy  shift during his travels. He told a group of German students Tuesday that while the United States wants a “peaceful resolution” in Syria, if its leaders refuse to negotiate and continue to kill citizens, “then you need to at least provide some kind of support” for those fighting for their rights.  On Monday in London, he said: “We are not coming to Rome simply to talk. We’re coming . . . to make decisions about next steps.”

The Syrian Coalition’s Closing Statements: Cairo, Egypt. February 18, 2013.

The Syrian Coalition’s General Assembly has decided to form an interim government for Syria that will carry out its duties from within the Syrian territories. The Coalition set a date of March 2nd, 2013 to select a prime minister from amongst the candidates nominated by the General Assembly, within the agreed upon parameters and after consultation with Syrian opposition forces and the revolutionary movement.

Fox News: AP Interview: Iraqi premier warns fall of Syria’s Assad would will spark war in Iraq, Lebanon, 2013-02-27

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s prime minister cautions that a victory for rebels fighting to overthrow the government in neighboring Syria will spark a sectarian war in his own country and Lebanon That would create a new haven for al-Qaida that would …

John Kerry should challenge the hawks on Syria
The US secretary of state should resist the SNC and Washington’s lobby and push for talks, not more arms
Jonathan Steele.  The Guardian, Monday 25 February 2013

….The western-sponsored opposition grouping, the Syrian National Coalition, has rejected a meeting with Kerry that was due in Rome on Thursday. It accuses the US and its allies of being complicit in the destruction of Syria by not intervening militarily, either by arming the rebels or by direct intervention as in Libya…..

What makes their unexpected hardball doubly awkward is that they coupled it with a repudiation of their own president Moaz al-Khatib‘s recent initiative in coming out in favour of talks with Bashar al-Assad’s government. The SNC’s general assembly says it, alone, has the right to propose any initiatives and the end of Assad’s regime remains the top priority…..

As a man who saw the folly of the Vietnam war in his youth, Kerry should have the wisdom to choose a better course. Where his predecessor was a hawk on the issue, he needs to confront the SNC and the Washington rightwingers who back them, and say Khatib had the better vision.

Jerusalem Post: Syria claims Turkey enabling al-Qaida, 2013-02-27

NEW YORK – Syria submitted a letter of complaint last week to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon alleging that Turkey is enabling “Al-Qaida, as well as the Nusra Front and other terrorist organizations, to assemble, take refuge, receive …

U.S. weighs plan to provide direct, nonlethal aid to Syrian rebels
Karen DeYoung FEB 26 – Wash Post

In a shift, the Obama administration could provide body armor and other equipment to anti-Assad forces.

A string of ballistic missile attacks carried out by the Syrian government killed 141 people, including 71 children, in Aleppo last week, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch that raised the death toll much higher than previously reported.

LA Times: Failure on the part of Washington to come to the embattled Syrian people’s rescue could irreparably undermine U.S. credibility. It could also embolden Assad to press on with a murderous campaign that has already killed about 70,000 people, drive rebels fighting for democracy into the arms of Islamic extremists and create what the Economist called “a new Somalia rotting in the heart of the Levant.”

لؤي زعبي جبهة النصرة بلاء على الشعب السوري

Of myths, monsters and gods in modern Syria
Rita from Syria 12 February 2013 – Open Democracy

…..Assuming that I was an Alawi, she shared some fuzzy images from her mobile phone, shedding light on the kind of ideas that were circulating amongst this closed Alawi Damascene community –originally from the coastal mountains.

” Al-Khidr is here finally!!! It is he who is the light in Tahrir square in Cairo!! It is he who is holding aloft Dhul-fiqar, the sword of Imam Ali! He has arrived on his horse to rescue us from oppression and to stand by the president Bashar al-Assad against the enemies” – The video was taken in Tahrir square, the poor picture quality playfully blended the light and shadows so as to present an image of what could quite easily be interpreted as a man on a horse!!!

……A priority of any revolution is to overthrow all threadbare and retroactive beliefs. Before fighting Alawis who deify al-Assad and kill in his name, we should work to stop the systematic corruption of the Alawi faith, which has far more to offer than making deities out of killers and criminals. This is a burden to be carried by Alawi religious leaders and opposition activists who must play a greater role in raising awareness among their communities.

Syria Willing to Talk with Armed Opponents, Foreign Minister Says
By ANNE BARNARD, February 25, 2013, NYTimes

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria’s government is willing to hold talks with members of the armed opposition on ending the country’s nearly two-year-old civil war, the Syrian foreign minister said on Monday.

It was the first time that a high-ranking Syrian official had signaled that the government is open to talking with Syrian rebels who have taken up weapons against the armed forces. Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, called in January for talks to resolve the conflict, but appeared to rule out dialogue with armed opponents.

The foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, made the statement during a visit to Russia,…

Saudis Step Up Help for Rebels in Syria With Croatian Arms
By C. J. CHIVERS and ERIC SCHMITT

Weapons that Western officials say were bought by Saudi Arabia and funneled to opposition fighters in Syria have been a factor in the rebels’ small tactical gains this winter against President Bashar al-Assad.

Weapons From Former Yugoslavia Spread Through Syria’s War

Globe Mail [Reg]: How did Syria’s rebels get their hands on powerful new weapons?
2013-02-26

A long-standing complaint from rebels affiliated with the so-called Free Syrian Army has been that they lack weapons and ammunition with which to fight. In some parts of Syria that seems to be changing. Earlier this month video footage (whose …

Is Iran essential to Syria’s future?
By Loren White Monday, February 25, 2013 – FP

…Iran has reportedly begun forming large sectarian militias in Syria to bolster the regime in the short term, and also to preserve its influence should Assad be overthrown. With so much at stake, Iran will only continue to increase such efforts as the regime’s position becomes more vulnerable. These militias pose a huge threat — it is imperative that the United States and the international community try to prevent the formation of a Syrian style-Hezbollah by bringing Iran into peace mediations led by the U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi….Senior advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, said as much when he publicly stated that the overthrow of Assad was a “redline” for Iran. Iranian cleric Hojjat al-Islam Mehdi Taeb went even further, referring to Syria as Iran’s 35th province and claiming that if Iran lost Syria it could not keep Tehran…..Iran has shown interest in bringing the Syria subject into the nuclear negotiations with the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. With a new round of nuclear negotiations approaching, conceding a role in Syrian negotiations to Iran may be the good faith gesture needed to motivate Iran to reciprocate with a more conciliatory stance on its nuclear file and help end the current nuclear stalemate….Getting Iran to cooperate with the international community on Syria and getting the United States to relinquish its desire to see Iran isolated by Assad’s fall will be an uphill battle. Yet with the stakes so high in Syria a novel and pragmatic approach is badly needed.

Syria: Thinking Strategically by Frederic C. Hof | February 19, 2013 – Atlantic council. Hof spells out the seven things the US wants from Syria.

What, in the end, do we want of Syria? A Syria fundamentally inclined to cooperate with the United States in the region and beyond: that is the objective. Fundamental cooperation is not necessarily an alliance. It has nothing to do with patron and client. It has everything to do with shared values. It means a minimum of mutual suspicion and a basic agreement on the big things….Replacement of corrupt, incompetent, and brutal family rule with something reflecting modernity and decency would make possible elements three through seven of fundamental bilateral cooperation from the US standpoint: a Syria that terminates all military, intelligence, and terror relationships with Iran and Hezbollah; a Syria that rejects terror as a state instrument and tolerates no terrorists on its territory; a Syria that supports comprehensive Middle East peace and commits itself to the peaceful, diplomatic pursuit and resolution of its claims on Israel; a Syria that respects the territorial integrity and independence of each of its neighbors; and a Syria favorably disposed toward ridding itself of weapons of mass destruction.

FT- Editorial Leader
Monday, February 25, 2013
For Syrian peace, prepare for war
Kerry should push the case for arming rebels

John Kerry, US secretary of state, believes there may be a window of opportunity for a negotiated solution to the bloody civil war in Syria. As a new member of Barack Obama’s cabinet, he is right to explore all the options on his first foreign outing. However the rising death toll, now at more than 70,000, is a grim reminder that time is not on his side.

The US secretary of state may be hoping to take advantage of recent comments by senior members of both opposition and regime forces that they would be open to dialogue. He may also want to exploit growing frustration in Moscow with Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad, who relies on Russian support to stay in power. It is encouraging that the noises out of Moscow are positive about a co-ordinated effort with Mr Kerry despite otherwise tense relations with the US. Nonetheless, this is a road that has been travelled before.

Mr Assad is well versed in the game of appearing to concede in order to gain time. Meanwhile, Russia will resist any effort that smacks of regime change and Mr Assad has said he intends to stay until the next election in 2014. Finally, the political opposition remains disconnected from fighters on the ground, who refuse talks while he is in power. The battle is at a desperate stalemate. Mr Assad has been unable to regain control of Syria, while the disparate rebel forces cannot topple the regime as long as the west refuses to deliver the weapons they need. In the interim, the civil war is being hijacked by jihadist forces positioning themselves for a post-Assad era.

A negotiated settlement would be the ideal solution. But the chances of striking a deal appear remote. In this context, the new secretary of state cannot allow talks to drag on interminably. He should also press President Obama to re-examine his refusal to consider arming rebels.

If Mr Kerry is to have any diplomatic force in discussions he must be able to threaten an alternative. Mr Assad has cynically exploited the west’s reluctance to intervene to stay in power. This bluff has to be called. This applies equally to the EU, which last week rejected a UK call to lift its arms embargo to allow shipments to rebels.

If western powers continue to stand on the sidelines, the war will drag on. The longer it continues, the more likely it is that jihadis will build a bridgehead in the eastern Mediterranean that will contaminate the region and beyond. In that case, the west may have intervention forced upon it.

In Syria, new influx of weapons to rebels tilts the battle against Assad
By and , Wash Post, February 25, 2013

The Washington Post reports: A surge of rebel advances in Syria is being fueled at least in part by an influx of heavy weaponry in a renewed effort by outside powers to arm moderates in the Free Syrian Army, according to Arab and rebel officials.

The new armaments, including anti-tank weapons and recoilless rifles, have been sent across the Jordanian border into the province of Daraa in recent weeks to counter the growing influence of Islamist extremist groups in the north of Syria by boosting more moderate groups fighting in the south, the officials say….

Syria rebels say they don’t have the weapons to end the war
Opposition leaders mostly blame the U.S., which they believe is pressuring Persian Gulf allies to keep heavy weapons out of rebels’ hands.
By Raja Abdulrahim, Los Angeles Times
February 19, 2013, 5:10 p.m.

BEIRUT — Just when they expected a flood of heavy weapons to help them make a major push against the forces of President Bashar Assad, rebel commanders in Syria say, arms shipments from outside the country have instead slowed, prolonging a conflict now nearing the end of its second year.

Though rebels have made gains in the north and east, seizing military bases and checkpoints, opposition figures who had made predictions of quick victory now say their arsenal is at a level that can support only a war of attrition.

“There will be no quick and practical end,” said Nabil Amir, spokesman for the Damascus Military Council, a key rebel group.

Although arms for the Syrian opposition have come primarily from Arab states in the Persian Gulf region, rebel commanders almost uniformly blame the slowdown on the United States, which they suspect of exerting pressure on its regional allies.

Commanders of Syria’s fractured opposition said they believed they had been promised weapons as an incentive to unite. In December, provincial councils in the Free Syrian Army, an opposition umbrella group, gathered from across the country under the banner of a Supreme Military Council at the behest of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“We were promised that if we unified our ranks that we would be given legitimacy as well as salaries and heavy weapons,” said Col. Qassim Saad Eddine, a member of the 30-member council. “But from that day we have gotten nothing.”

The reluctance of Arab and Western countries to arm the rebels is based at least in part on concern that the weapons would fall into the hands of groups that those nations view as extremist. But it has paradoxically served to increase the influence of Islamist fighters in Syria, who have emerged as the best-armed members of the insurgency.

Strong and better disciplined, the Islamists have had more success in capturing Syrian military weapons. Some people suspect they also benefit from wealthy supporters, possibly linked to Al Qaeda.

Top Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, recently revealed that they had supported a recommendation last summer by the State Department and CIA to arm the rebels, but were overruled by the White House.

And on Monday, the European Union decided to continue its arms embargo against both sides in the conflict.

Syria: Behind Rebel Lines (CBC, 9 p.m on Doc Zone )
by Rania Abouzeid (Time magazine) and directed by Sylvene Gilchrist

From a review in the Globe and Mail

…It is a rare look inside Syria as it is now. It’s a fine piece of journalism rather than a carefully crafted documentary with a forged story arc. And because of that, it is all the more galvanizing….

Rania Abouzeid tells us, “There is chaos in the Syrian civil war.” She says there are shadowy groups of foreign fighters in the country and “criminal elements” who engage in kidnapping for ransom, looting homes and taking every advantage of the lawlessness.

With two million people displaced and thousands fleeing every week, the chaos has allowed warlords to emerge, but we are told that the current political situation is “like a marketplace.” That is, people can pick and choose their allegiance from the elements among the rebel forces.

She meets a group of men she describes as “Islamists who want an Islamic state.” Their leader is a charismatic figure who had left Syria for Italy and returned when the Hosni Mubarek regime fell in Egypt. He believed the Assad regime would fall next. A former champion discus-thrower, he’s now battle-hardened, claiming to have dozens of pieces of shrapnel in his body, and he has a broken jaw.

To the camera he says, “Yes we are mujahedeen, holy warriors until the fall of the regime. After the regime, everyone can display their wares. I want to stress this point. We will display our wares, not force them on anyone. The people will decide.” He also claims to be wary of foreign influences in Syria’s future. “We started with a stick and a pump-action shotgun and we will return to the stick rather than allow anyone to force anything on us.”

We meet a man, a former civil servant, who now makes rockets for the rebel forces. And we meet a female fighter with the rebels. The woman, who fights on the front line with an AK-47, says she tried to form a women’s brigade, but other women weren’t interested. An extraordinary figure, she has a personal message for Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria – that’s she is coming for him .

There are many vignettes that make the program interesting . But the overall portrait is what makes it memorable and a formidable act of reporting. The war in Syria goes on and on, in bleak outposts where the regime hangs on, having laid waste to the area; on stretches of highway that are controlled by one side, then another….

The Syrian foreign minister said that his government is willing to sit down for talks with armed rebels.

According to Syrian state media, a football player was killed after two mortar shells hit the Tishreen stadium in Damascus’s al-Baramkeh district. The attack came a day after two mortars reportedly exploded outside one of President Bashar al-Assad’s palaces in the capital’s northwestern district of Muhajireen. Opposition activists said that the Free Syrian Army fired up to seven mortar rounds at the Tishreen Palace. No casualties have been reported. Assad has two other palaces in the city. Opposition fighters previously claimed to have fired rockets at the presidential palaces, but the attack on Tuesday was confirmed by the Syrian government. Meanwhile, the death toll from Monday’s rocket attack on Aleppo has risen to an estimated 31 people.

Musa al-Gharbi: Is authoritarianism anti-democratic?

“The international community must allow for the emergence of illiberal democracies, or even a popular rejection of democracy altogether”

Last updated: February 25, 2013

How an ordinary Syrian became a Kalashnikov-wielding fighter
Sunday, February 24, 2013
by Daniel Lippman

Brothers in arms: the 10 brothers fighting for the Syrian uprising

From peasant sons of the northern plains to rebels at the heart of the Syrian uprising: a family at war
Martin Chulov, The Guardian, Friday 22 February 2013

Syrian rebel commander on a post-Assad Syria
by David Ignatius on February 22, Wash Post

…The commander of the Free Syrian Army, encouraged by recent successes on the battlefield, said that he is ready to meet with military officers from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to “discuss how to keep order in the country” should Assad give up power.

Brig. Gen. Salim Idriss, who became commander in chief of the rebel forces three months ago, made the surprising offer of talks in a telephone interview Friday from Turkey. His comments follow a similar proposal last month by Sheik Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, the head of the coalition of political opposition groups, to meet with officials of the regime to discuss a political transition.

Idriss’s comments were the first clear sign that the Free Syrian Army command is making serious plans for how to stabilize the country if Assad falls. His statements are likely to reassure top U.S. officials, who have been debating in recent days whether to support Idriss’s private request for training and weapons.

“We can say in the Free Syrian Army that we are ready to meet any parties in the [Syrian] army who didn’t have any role in making decisions to kill Syrians,” Idriss said. He specified two conditions for such talks: Assad must state publicly that he is stepping down, and there must be trials of security-force commanders who killed unarmed Syrian protesters.

The Missing Journalists of Syria’s War: The Struggle to Save Those Who Bear Witness
By Andrew Katz – Time

An Al-Nusra Preacher giving his Khitab in Aleppo بو حفص الليبي أحد قياديي جبهة النصرة في حلب يخطب خطبة الجمعة الأول من شباط2013

Syrian Economy Loses $48 Billion in 22 Months
Report Shows War’s Impact On Syrian Economy
By: Samar Ozmichli Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab).

A report by a Syrian research center has estimated the economic losses of the Syrian economy over the last 22 months at about $48.4 billion — equal to 81.7% of the country’s GDP for 2010. The losses impacted a number of sectors, with 50% being attributed to a loss in GDP and 43% a result of damage in capital stock. The report, entitled “The Socioeconomic Roots and Impact of the Syrian Crisis,” was prepared by the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR), which is affiliated with the Syrian Society for Culture and Knowledge. The report noted that Syria has lost nearly two decades’ worth of human-development achievements and that the level of economic collapse was “substantial” even when compared to conflict losses in other countries.

The report predicted that the crisis would lead to an 18.8% decrease in GDP for 2012, while the deficit balance is expected to reach 18.5% of GDP for the same year. This means that the crisis will have a strong negative impact on the balance of payments, bringing the cumulative deficit to $16 billion. This deficit has been financed by net foreign assets, which declined from approximately $18 billion in 2010 to $2 billion by the end of 2012.

The report estimated that the losses in Syrian capital stock amount to nearly $42 billion, concentrated in three components. First, there is a decrease in net investment equal to $12.4 billion. Second, there are losses due to poor capacity utilization and idle capital stock, which no longer contribute to the production process. The mining and tourism sectors are particularly affected. The estimated loss due to this component is $8.9 billion. The final component is the partial or full damage to capital stock (destroyed firms, equipment and buildings), and these losses are estimated to amount to $20.8 billion.

Macroeconomic indicators

In a report prepared for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Syrian experts reported that the country’s GDP had decreased by about 35% (approximately $20 billion), and predicted that this figure would see an 18% decrease each year. They noted that as soon as the crisis ends, Syria will need approximately $45 billion to fund reconstruction efforts. If the crisis continues, the reconstruction process will face many challenges, both in terms of cost and capabilities. In the event that the crisis persists until 2015, unemployment rates are expected to rise to 60%.

The SCPR report, however, estimated that by the end of 2012 the Syrian GDP had lost $24.1 billion — equaling 45.7% of the 2010 GDP….

Prolonged crisis drives up divorce rate in Syria
2013-02-20

Feb. 20, 2013 (Xinhua) — Divorce rate has gone up 45 percent and marriage rate has dropped over 40 percent in Syria since the outbreak of mass protests against the government almost two years ago, according to a recent survey by local media….

INTERVIEW: Tlass: Regime fall could turn Syria into another Somalia By DPA correspondents
2013-02-21

Paris (DPA) — The defection of General Manaf Tlass in July was a bitter, personal blow to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Tlass, a Republican Guard commander and son of a former defence minister, was a childhood friend of al-Assad.    Now based in Paris, Tlass’ phone never stops ringing. Since his defection he has been taking part in military and political moves to support the uprising that began almost two years ago against al-Assad’s regime….. dpa: What scenario do you see for a solution?

Tlass: There is a risk that the regime’s fall will lead to chaos, reprisals and a civil war that could turn the country into another Somalia. The regime has not taken any serious steps towards (implementing) any initiative requiring al-Assad’s resignation and a transitional government, and it is not going to. That is because it has not come under any real international pressure.    We must work hard to create a protective network, a sort of united umbrella organization that involves Syrian society in all its diversity, before and not after the fall of the regime, so we can avoid the fall of the state and society along with it – which is what the regime is betting on.    This is why I say that it must be Syrian society, with all its components and national minorities, that brings down al-Assad, in the framework of a national project aimed at preventing a collapse into civil war…..

Syrian regime battles rebels for control of highway to its safe haven
Lebanon appears closer than ever to getting dragged into Syria’s war as the regime and rebels battle just over the border and Hezbollah’s growing involvement raises rebel ire.
By Nicholas Blanford, Correspondent / February 22, 2013 – CSM

….“If Assad gets driven out of Damascus… Qusayr will be very important as it links Damascus with the Alawite mountain. The highway will be crucial,” says Joshua Landis, professor of Middle East history at the University of Oklahoma and author of the influential Syria Comment blog.

The Qusayr pocket is a microcosm of Syria’s tangled sectarian demographics, where Lebanese and Syrian Sunnis and Shiites live beside Syrian Christians and Alawites. Some 23 villages and 12 farms west of Qusayr are inhabited by Lebanese Shiites, even though the area lies inside Syria. Border restrictions here are historically lax and there are numerous trails, tracks, and small paved roads used by smugglers and residents alike to move across the frontier…..

A critical corridor

Some analysts suspect that the Shiite villages to the west of Qusayr could eventually form part of a corridor linking Hezbollah-controlled areas of Lebanon’s northern Bekaa Valley to the southern edge of an Alawite enclave that could stretch up the coastal mountain chain to the port town of Latakia. If such a corridor were secured, it would have significant strategic consequences. It would allow Hezbollah to help the remnants of the Assad regime defend the enclave from attacks by Sunni groups. It could also become a new conduit for the flow of arms to Hezbollah.

Traditionally, the bulk of Hezbollah’s weapons are smuggled into Lebanon from Syria. The fall of the Assad regime, however, would complicate Hezbollah’s ability to bring in arms and, more critically, restock its arsenal in the aftermath of a future war with Israel. The theoretical Alawite enclave would have access to the sea through the ports of Tartous, Banias and Latakia, allowing for the potential import of weapons which could then be trucked to Hezbollah in Lebanon via the secured corridor….

Time: Assad’s Big Ally: How Deeply Entrenched Is Iran in Syria?
2013-02-26

The killing last week of a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commander near the Lebanon-Syria border has rekindled speculation about Iran’s activities in Syria, particularly its ties to the militia groups fighting alongside the Syrian …

Time: Syria 1940
2013-02-26

The ongoing chaos and violence that have come to define the Syrian civil war — a war that has now raged for close to two years, with no signs of abating — not only forced the names of ancient cities (Aleppo, Homs) back into today’s headlines, …

When doing nothing is a policy
By Richard Cohen, Published: February 25

In the movie “Lawrence of Arabia,” the attempt to unite the Arabs comes apart in Damascus. Lawrence bangs on his desk with the butt of his gun to bring the assembly to order, but to no avail. Chaos erupts. Now something similar is happening in Syria. 1e62-7f77-11e2-b99e-6baf4ebe42df_story.html

Fox News: As atrocities pile up, Syrians collect evidence
2013-02-26

Syrian activist Yashar hopes the security agents who tormented him during five months of detention will one day be put on trial.

Hawks in Syrian Opposition Resist Dialogue Initiative – Al-Monitor

Syria opposition mulls 5 candidates for “premier” – NOW

“Friends of Syria” ramp up pressure on Assad, call for enhancing sanctions against Syria – NOW 

Jordan Prepares for Return Of Salafists From Syria – Al-Monitor

Conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims seen as escalating across Middle East – globalpost.com

Syria’s Armenian minority flees from conflict – Toronto Star

Comments (243)


Pages: « 1 2 3 4 [5] Show All

201. MarigoldRan said:

Zoo,

Your predictions just suck. I think you were the guy that recently predicted:

1. Taftanatz will not fall.
2. The rebels are planning to negotiate with the regime.
3. The regime is winning.

Zoo, you should invest in the stock market. That way other more intelligent people like me can make money off of you.

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February 28th, 2013, 10:56 pm

 

202. Juergen said:

How thoughtful this regime is
‘Crackdown on coffins:’ dead Syrians haunt their regime

The violent repression of the Syrian revolution does not just affect survivors, for the dead have also become a source of concern for the regime, which is seen in the latest procedure of searching coffins for “security reasons.”

http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2013/03/01/268919.html

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February 28th, 2013, 11:03 pm

 

203. majedkhaldoun said:

I am very much impressed by Mr.Khatib speech, and the way he presented it,he sounded very courageous, carrying huge burden, strongly believes in what he said,very compassionate toward the Syrians,to the point,I will not be surprised if he offeres to go to Damascus,and meet Bashar face to face,he is afraid of no one but God.
He indirectly chastised Mr.Kerry about US position as far as Nusra Front,he says the truth loudly and will not worry about consequences,politics is not his style,he is willing to become martyr.
He is someone Syrians will love and respect,he reminds me of Shukri Quwwatly,humble but strong.

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February 28th, 2013, 11:11 pm

 

204. Syrian said:

ZOO
My point was, that no matter what Alkhatib do, you will always put him down,
And the “help”is like Tara said, it will free other resources
The others not attending is not a bad tactic if Alkhatib failed they can always say he did it on his own.If he succeed then it is OK, other than you, really no one paying attention to what they say anyway.

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February 28th, 2013, 11:15 pm

 

205. Juergen said:

Wisdom comes from Tsar Putin, take a glass of vodka when it comes to Syria…

Putin: ‘This problem will not be solved so easily to me, feels like drinking a bottle of vodka . ‘joke Putin, who’ or a good bottle of wine. You need to sit and think ….”he said.

http://www.habermonitor.com/en/haber/detay/39porta-wine-solution-proposal/74132/

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February 28th, 2013, 11:26 pm

 

206. majedkhaldoun said:

Marigoldran
Zoo made so many predictions that failed, he said FSA will disappear,he said S Coalition will fail, he said US will not arm the rebels,saying all these things make him feel good about himself

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February 28th, 2013, 11:30 pm

 

207. ghufran said:

wait for thawrajiyyeh to call Al-Aqsa sheikh a Shabeeh:

أكد الشيخ “صلاح الدين أبو عرفة” أحد أئمة المسجد الأقصى، أنه كان أيسر لمن بدأ الحرب على سورية وأعان عليها ودعا إليها وأرسل بالسلاح، أن يدعو إلى الخير لأنه أنفع لأهلها وأنجى له يوم الدين.
وقال “أبو عرفة” في رسالة وجهها إلى السوريين من مدينة القدس: “أقول لكم يا أهل الشام ما نصح لكم ولا صدقكم من دعاكم إلى الحرب وحرضكم عليها ودفعكم في نارها وأوارها وهو آمن طاعم طامع في قصورها”، موضحا أنه ليس في كتاب الله ما يدعو إليه هؤلاء المفسدون الذين سعوا في الأرض فسادا وأهلكوا حرثها ونسلها، داعيا أهل الشام إلى إصلاح ذات البين والسلم والرحمة.
وبين “أبو عرفة” أنه كان أحرى بـ”يوسف القرضاوي” وبمشايخ الأزهر، أن يدعوا إلى عصمة دماء المسلمين من أمة “محمد” صلى الله عليه وسلم كما دعوا إلى عصمة دماء المصريين، مشيرا إلى أن المرجع والإمام الأكبر للمسلمين جميعا هو كتاب الله.. من قال به فقد صدق وأفلح، ومن خالفه فقد كذب، خاب، خسر وغش، وهو ليس من المسلمين في شيء.

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February 28th, 2013, 11:42 pm

 

208. Aldendeshe said:

Screw it. Move the Paleo south to Jordan, one million man march take down the Aqsa filth and let the Semites slug it out to the end. What a good deed, man will finally ive in peace.

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February 28th, 2013, 11:56 pm

 

209. Syrian said:

حاشا لله نقول عن أبو عرفه انه شبيح
بس فينا نقول عنه انو حمار
وطز فيك وفيه

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March 1st, 2013, 12:07 am

 

210. ghufran said:

I took the time and LISTENED to Moaz speech in Rome, he made a good case about why the regime must go and spoke forcefully about the suffering of Syrians, nobody can argue against either point, the man in my opinion cares about Syria and is far better than the SNC clowns,then Moaz argued for supplying rebels with more arms and refused to elaborate on how he thinks his coalition can keep Syria in one piece , preserve the army and prevent wide-spread sectarian fighting, instead he asked for help to dismantle the “oppressive apparatus” of the regime, some people may interpret that as a call to repeat the Iraqi scenario when Iraqi soldiers and police members were sent home only to come back to the street as “freedom fighters” and participate in a civil war that has not eneded yet despite 10 years of intense Iranian and western intervention.
I support Moaz’ demands for a serious campaign to help Syrians in need and prevent the regime from using air force and scud missiles especially in areas that do not pose a military threat to the army,but for a cease fire to succeed, rebels need to stop attacking army posts and state institutions. You can not fire to kill your “enemy” then complain when the enemy fires back, the key is not more arms,it is the opposite: a cease fire.
Moaz did not talk about how he plans to control the terrorists roaming the streets in the north and other parts of Syria, he and everybody else know that he can NOT.

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March 1st, 2013, 12:12 am

 

211. Visitor said:

طيب غفران طز فيك

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March 1st, 2013, 12:27 am

 

212. ghufran said:

source: SOHR
محافظة الحسكة ::هاجم مقاتلون من جبهة النصرة قرية رميلا باشا التي تبعد 40 كم عن بلدة تل كوجر الحدودية وقالت مصادر من المنطقة ان عناصر جبهة النصرة يطالبون اهالي القرية بتسليم اسلحتهم ،و ليل الاربعاء دارت اشتباكات بين مسلحين من قرية غيبش فوقاني ومقاتلين من جبهة النصرة الذين هاجموا صوامع الحبوب في قرية غيبش فوقاني والتي تبعد خمسة كيلومترات عن مدينة تل تمر واسفرت الاشتباكات عن مصرع مسلح من القرية ومقاتلين اثنين من جبهة النصرة واعتقال مالايقل عن 13 من رجال القرية تم نقلهم الى مدرسة عبدالكريم كوسة في مدينة راس العين وشوهدوا وهم يتعرضون للتعذيب شديد امام المدرسة
there is no doubt that Nusra is now a liability for the opposition,none of the military “achievements” of that terrorist group was translated into a political win, indeed, Nusra and its likes have helped the regime,politically, more than anything else,things were going relatively well for anti Assad camp until those suicide bombings started and inhumane Nusra videos reached YouTube followed by numerous reports on how islamists treat people under their guns,especially women ,and how they plan to rule if given the chance,that made a lot of people inside and outside Syria question whether they can trust the new thugs, the biggest losers of Nusra’s murderous rise is the genuine peaceful anti Assad movement whose members thought that the revolution will treat them as equal particiants only to discover that they are not welcome and are not allowed to have an opinion that differs from that of the war mongers, this is why anti vioelnce anti Assad guys today are as rare as good news from Syria.

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March 1st, 2013, 1:07 am

 

213. Hanzala said:

Ghufran #207

This is the same sheikh that called Bashar a Muslim and not an Alawite, this guy is as pro Assad as you can get. Why is he not fighting Israel? He is living comfortably in Israel and farting around telling others they should be patient, when he should be fighting the Israelis, should he not be telling the Muslim youth of Jerusalem to fight?

The fact that Assad denied people to perform prayers in the army itself is a reason to fight him. Anyone who denies you your Islamic obligations than he is to be fought against. The fact that he is not a Muslim but an Alawite is another reason to fight him, a non Muslim cannot rule over a Muslim majority.

Sheikh Assir the imam of Sidon is with the revolution and most sheikhs and ulema are with the revolution.

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March 1st, 2013, 2:34 am

 
 

215. SYRIAN HAMSTER said:

The Ghufran phenomenon… as described by someone on facebook.

أفضل دفاع عن النظام السوري هو ذلك الذي يبدأ بنقده، ويحمّله (في جملة أو جملتين) مسؤولية أساسية في “العنف” ويعتبره قمعياً وتسلّطياً، ثم يكرّس صفحات للحديث عن المؤامرات ضده وهجاء المعارضين له والتشكيك بنوايا أصدقائهم والبحث في “خبايا” الاستراتيجيات الكبرى التي تحيط ب”الصراع على سوريا”…

هذا مذهب بعض الكتّاب التقدميّين “الغربيّين”. ويقلدّهم فيه دورياً أشباه الكتّاب “الممانعين” عندنا.

منقول

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March 1st, 2013, 3:10 am

 

216. Syrialover said:

#200. MARIGOLDRAN said: “The rebels will take Aleppo within several months. It’s a prediction. And most of my predictions are accurate unlike Zoo’s”

A prediction based on what? In the previous comment you said “a couple of months”. Expanding the time frame?

Unless you know anything more than anyone else, please quit making overweighted important-sounding declarations.

Those of us with family on the ground in Aleppo – including inside FSA lines – are not hearing any such thing from them, much as we desperately wish we were.

Which is why unfounded opinions like yours are insenstive and extremely irritating. We are living the terrible reality, and empty speculation is just making a game of the situation.

Go out and find some Syrians from Aleppo and then tell us what they say.

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March 1st, 2013, 3:36 am

 

217. Syrialover said:

The Syria we keep in our hearts.

The Washington Post invited people to send in photos of Aleppo before the war:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/aleppo-before-the-war/2013/02/26/9cf91ac8-804a-11e2-a350-49866afab584_gallery.html?hpid=z2#photo=1

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March 1st, 2013, 3:54 am

 

218. Syrialover said:

“The guy is fantastic. He always reminds me of what our country is for and not just what we are against.”

– tweet about al-Khatib by Maysaloon

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March 1st, 2013, 4:00 am

 

219. Citizen said:

The Washington Post invited people to send in photos of Aleppo before the war.
For what purpose? love in Aleppo? why not love in Bogdad for example? b**ches!

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March 1st, 2013, 4:07 am

 

220. apple_mini said:

Al-khatib is definitely more intelligent and wiser than Assad.

But there are many hurdles before people can rally around him for better Syria.

First of all, he does not have enough reputation or political power. Let alone influence on the rebels. Will he be able to gain them quickly? It is not completely up to him. But if Khatib can really form his clan and take major lead among the opposition, then he should be able wo win recognition fro those major international players. Consequently, if we hope the FSA can be re-organized and put under civil leadership, Khatib can establish his political status.

It is unwise to impose his leadership upon those supporters of the regime. He needs to earn supports from them himself. First thing first, he needs to provide assurance to them.

At this moment, there is growing consensus the war has to be stopped to give way political solution. Big hurdles in front of Khatib, he must be fully aware that the regime can only fade out gradually. Abrupt removal with military intervention requires tremendous backup and followup from the west. That is not happening. By military attrition and economic slow death, only mre Syrians to suffer.

He will not be able to achieve breakthrough without directly engaging the regime. He cannot trust the west. Not only their suspicious intentions, also their records on dealing with dictators in ME. I believe the west has wrong calculation. The regime has bogged down on the almost failed state. More military provocation and political pressure are counter-productive. There is common ground for the opposition and the regime. Failing to recognize it and building dialogue based on it will cost further destruction to the country.

As another candidate for future leadership, the governor of Homs has shown extrodindary ability on handling delicate situations.

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March 1st, 2013, 4:38 am

 

221. Syrian Atheist Against Dictatorships said:

أستاذغفران

Just for once PLEASE outline for us dummies and warmongers the path this revolution should have taken (presumably the peaceful protest route is your preferred choice), not in generalities but a clear step by step scenario that would have led to the result we all want for Syria and Syrians, namely to have a country in which people are free to breathe the air without permission of or bribes to Bashar’s shabbiha, to make a living from their own honorable toil without having their wealth “shared” by the crooks in charge, to move, to travel, to write, to read, to speak, to laugh, to criticize, TO RULE THEMSELVES…FREELY.

For months and months I have pleaded with Dr Manna to do this, with the NCB, with all of those who keep attacking the revolution and call its participants thawrajiyyeh وبطيزواعليهم

So come on, tell us how you could have made this a successful peaceful revolution, with no death، no destruction, no barrel bombs and no MiGs strafing own Syrian cities! A-la Ghiyath Matar? Oh, I forgot, the “Only-Assad-can-deliver-reform” believers and their hired thugs tortured him to death and sent his cut-out throat in a little plastic bag to his family and would have tortured and killed another million of his kind because they are harmless lambs, and lambs get slaughtered. The NCB’s way? Abdel 3ziz al Khayyer and 100 thousand others are languishing in Bashar’s prisons and detention centers and barracks with no known prospects of release.

So PLEASE enlighten us! We know it is a futile intellectual exercise now after all we have seen, but I really want to know the plan you had/maybe still have in mind? to accomplish the GOAL (that is if you ever recognized the need to reach it).

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March 1st, 2013, 4:54 am

 

222. MarigoldRan said:

@ SyriaLover

The regime will be out of Aleppo within 4 months. Specific enough for you?

My information sources? Honestly, not much. I read the news, and otherwise use my brain. On average I’ve found that it takes the rebels 2-3 months of siege warfare to take their objectives so I’m basing it on that.

One thing I do know about Syrians though, from you: they’re HIGHLY prone to factionalism. Even in a revolution against a hated foe they have a tendency to shoot each other instead of the enemy.

So my prediction that the country will be split up, stands. Everything you’ve said recently has only convinced me more of this. Unlike you I keep my focus on the enemy.

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March 1st, 2013, 6:04 am

 

223. mjabali said:

Hanzala al-Takfiri said:

“The fact that he is not a Muslim but an Alawite is another reason to fight him, a non Muslim cannot rule over a Muslim majority.”

You are dead wrong. The reason to fight al-Assad is dictatorship and nothing else. Democracy and not Islam.

al-Assad is a Muslim if you like it or not. He goes to the mosque sometimes and prays: the Muslim way. A kooko like you can not say he is this or that. You are in no position to judge anything like this.

As for if the Alawis are Muslims or not. For me it is better for the Alawis not be connected to Islam whatsoever. Take Islam and keep it for yourself. Good for you.

The sad truth is that the Alawis consider themselves to be Muslims somehow. Those could argue against someone like Hanzala very easily destroying his weak chatter.

What fact are Hanzala the Takfiri is talking about here? If some semi educated Sunni Sheikhs said that his sect are the true Muslims and the Alawis are not even Muslims, should we believe hem. No one is in position to judge this.

History is showing us that 99.9 of the Sunnis Sheikhs are not that bright. They are backward and not suitable for modern times. They are nuts. I have not seen one in my lifetime who is bright and should be listened to. They should be kept in check doing only marriage certificates and overseeing circumcisions for kids. Nothing more and nothing less.

Hanzala al-Takfiri call what he thinks of the Alawis a “fact.”

Very easily and casually This lunatic Takfiri calls millions of people who consider themselves Muslims non-Muslims, which is the call to kill them according to Hanzala’s sect practice and decrees.

This is what is wrong with people who think like this goon: each one of them thinks he is a Sheikh and could determine that the Alawis are not Muslims.

DUDE: go get some education and see how the Alawis read al-Quran like you. If they interpret it in a different way that is because their Sheikhs are different from the stone age sheikhs of your sect. Dude: you belong to the most backward form of Islam. Want to discuss that? Your form of Islam is very rigid and not suitable to the age of difference we live in.

Are you ready to challenge the Alawis how they interpret al-Quran to see who is the true Muslim or not?

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March 1st, 2013, 7:08 am

 

224. Observer said:

This is the apologist Ghufran:”using air force and scud missiles especially in areas that do not pose a military threat to the army” according to him is not acceptable when there is no threat but then acceptable if the army is threatened.

PLEASE tell us what is the definition of threat? Peaceful demonstration? Graffiti on the wall? Demonstration in front of the prison asking to visit the detainees? And if there is violence by the demonstrators is the army to be deployed? Is it the police?

PLEASE define to us when can the army be used inside the territory of Syria; or of any other country for that matter.

PLEASE define for us how much force can or should the army use and in what circumstances can it use inaccurate SCUD missiles or air force jets known not to be laser guided and also inaccurate.

PLEASE tell us what is the legal basis for the deployment of the troops on the streets and if this army uses excessive force and commits massacres who is responsible? the troops the officers the head of the general staff or the supreme commander?

PLEASE tell us what is the role of parliament in overseeing the armed forces. Is there a committee to look into this?

What I am driving at is the complete illogical premise that any regime having in principle the exclusive right to use force can do so without huge and important checks and balances and UNDER THE FULL AUTHORITY OF THE LAW AND THE PEOPLE OF THE LAND. That is the basic premise of any political and social contract for any society to PROSPER and to PROGRESS.

IT IS CLEAR GHUFRAN THAT YOU CONTINUE TO ALLOW THE REGIME A LEGITIMACY THAT IT HAS LOST MORE THAN 40 YEARS AGO.

Scuds to fight a threat to the army my foot indeed. The army is for the defense of the country and the people not for its own defense as an institution which you and I know has become a huge mafia enterprise.

Syrian Hamster is right in his description of the pro regime trolls who give in a little of critique to appear reasonable only to fully blast away the opposition.

Syrian Hamster and I know full well that the regime is ILLEGITIMATE. It is illegitimate to use force on peaceful demonstrators and it is illegitimate to use the army against populated areas and it is illegitimate not to have a clear chain of responsibilities and a clear set of oversight and checks on the executive.

ZOO any news from Mali I am dying to read your posts on it.

ILLEGITIMATE IN FULL

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March 1st, 2013, 7:58 am

 

225. Visitor said:

To whom it may concern,

Bashar is NOT a Muslim.

Hafez is NOT a Muslim.

So let’s start another day by offering a ‘solemn song’ to, الله لا يرحمو, dog-in-chief-leader-of-all-dogs, Hafez,

لكيلعن روحك يا حافظ

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March 1st, 2013, 8:45 am

 

226. Juergen said:

Visitor

You should refrain from such stupidity. For those who believe, its God who will decide, I didnt think you follow this fitna trail of the Salafis.

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March 1st, 2013, 8:49 am

 

227. majedkhaldoun said:

What does it mean if Abbaseen square falls in Damascus to the rebels?
Abbaseen square is part of Damascus,between this square and Amawiyeen square is 4 Km,,between them is the city of Damascus.
To me it means the Assad army is weak and losing,1000 soldier defected yesterday ,Assad army is disintegrating, it can not defend against rebels with simple arms,
If the rebels acquire antiaircraft missles,the battle will become quick short and Assad will lose quickly.Neutralizing Assad airforce means quick end to the Assad rule.

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March 1st, 2013, 8:51 am

 

228. Visitor said:

Juergen @226,

Shut the f*ck up and mind your own business. We do not need German so-called novice converts to teach us about our own religion.

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March 1st, 2013, 8:55 am

 

229. Juergen said:

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March 1st, 2013, 9:01 am

 
 

231. Dolly Buster said:

226. Juergen said:

You should refrain from such stupidity. For those who believe, its God who will decide, I didnt think you follow this fitna trail of the Salafis.

 
But if we have clear-cut evidence that someone is engaged in blatant Kufr, then you can pass judgment right now.

For instance: Christians are polytheists if they believe in Trinity.
So, the Nusaуriyyah (Alawi) are also mushrikeen if they believe in Trinity.

Salafis have a fool-proof belief system, because they simply rely on evidence.
They will accept your adillah (proofs) if you source them authentically.

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March 1st, 2013, 9:42 am

 

232. Visitor said:

Dolly Buster @231

Juergen is a novice convert from Germany who thinks he can bring ‘enlightenment’ to Muslims due to his conversion by bringing to the attention of Mulsims the ‘enlightening effects’ of gangnam and harlem shake.

Idiocy at its best.

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March 1st, 2013, 9:52 am

 

233. Hopeful said:

# 221 SAAD

First, I like your name. Can you form a club which I can join?

I think if we look back at history, this revolution was inevitable, like the Russian revolution in 1917, and others. It was bound to happen one day. The big question was how the regime would respond to it. There are leaders, like the Shah of Iran and Husni Mubarak, who understood that their days were over, and chose to perform a single act of patriotism and spared their countries the destructive civil wars. But there are leaders, like Saddam, Qaddafi and Assad, who chose the path to destruction leading to their inevitable demise. Syria was simply an unlucky nation to followed that course. There was no other course to follow given that Assad decided to crush the revolution. Ghufran and Haitham Manna can voice their satisfaction with the militancy of the revolution (I do not like it either), but the fact is, as you stated in your post, this was not a concious choice made by a single leader of a cohesive organization, and therefore there was no way to control it. On the other hand, Assad made the choice to burn down his country, and he is the one to blame for the mess Syria is in today.

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March 1st, 2013, 10:22 am

 

234. revenire said:

A popular anti-guerrilla force
http://www.voltairenet.org/article177614.html
by Thierry Meyssan

In guerrilla warfare, the victory belongs to those who have the support of the population. This is why Syria has recently formed popular militias to hold back the Contras supported by the West and the Gulf monarchies. In three months, the result is spectacular: the areas where local militias are already operating have been stabilized.

After two years of fighting, it is clear that the Syrian Arab Army, designed to defend the country in case of conventional war, is not able to stabilize the country while pursuing its primary task. It defeated the jihadists without difficulty every time they regrouped, but it does not have the capacity to fight a moving guerrilla force that compensates for its low domestic popularity with powerful foreign logistical support.

Ultimately, Syria has decided to adopt a new strategy that has been proven throughout the world when such a situation arose: the creation of popular militias allowing people to defend their villages or their own familiar neighborhoods. This “Army of National Defense”, whose members are drawn from the Popular Committees, is of course linked to the Syrian Arab Army, and one must have done one’s military service in order to join.

Mao explained that to triumph, a guerrilla force must evolve “through the population like a fish through water.” However, the Free Syrian Army has been unable to do this. As soon as it controls an area, it commits abuses and the local people rebel against it.

To achieve victory, the Syrian Arab Army must succeed where jihadists failed: it must move “in the population as a fish moves in water.” Although originating from the national population, since it is a conscript army, it cannot achieve this alone because its national organization cuts it off from local realities. It must thus rely on intermediate forces which serve as an interface with the local population, in every village and neighborhood.

In addition, the Army of National defence is subject to strict discipline. Weapons and uniforms are provided only to young men and women, cherry-picked among volunteers. It follows that strong men recruited here and there by local officials to ensure safety as best they could must join the militia or go home. Thus, when the Army of National Defense is organized in a village or neighborhood, potential abuses committed by strong-armers stop. The phenomenon of Shabihas disappears.

In the Middle East, the example that immediately comes to mind is the Iranian Basij-e mostaz’afin, which has already served as a model for the Lebanese Hezbollah. Tehran, refusing to involve its Revolutionary Guards on Syrian territory, agreed to train National Defence Army recruits. This was not easy because the Iranians have had to adapt to new recruits who are rarely Shiites and do not intend to convert.

This is an event that profoundly changes the geopolitical facts on the ground in the region. On the one hand because this paramilitary force has quickly stabilized villages in areas where it is already established, especially because now the Basij and Hezbollah find themselves with a little brother, with the same training as them, but being mixed and multi-faith, educated in the secular spirit of the Baath movement and not in that of the Islamic Revolution.

While one of the main goals of the war triggered by the West against Syria was to install a government that would break with Hezbollah and Iran, as admitted by Burhan Ghalioun in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, western action has had the opposite effect. Common resistance has led to a tightening of the ranks despite religious and political differences.

Eight months ago, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah revealed that during the 33-day war, the Syrian defense minister at the time, General Hassan Tourekmani, personally supervised in Lebanon the deployment of the weapons of the Resistance. Then he said that Hezbollah would not let down its brothers in arms of the Syrian Arab Army in case of trouble. The creation of the National Defence Force will surely strengthen this alliance by close human contact beyond political choices.

This will certainly create impetus for the military wing of Hezbollah to include women and to open up to the many faiths represented in Lebanon.

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March 1st, 2013, 10:48 am

 

235. revenire said:

RATS DESTROY MOSQUE LIBRARY IN THE NAME OF GOD: “Ahmad Al-Issa ‏@ahmadalissa
#Aleppo: #Umayyad mosque library, with the oldest and the rarest manuscrpts, looted and destroyed. what a great loss!”

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March 1st, 2013, 10:49 am

 

236. Hanzala said:

#223

Alawites are not Muslims if you do not follow the concept of tawheed One God and Muhammad the Messenger of God, and accept HADITH and QURAN, then you are not a Muslim. This is not from me, I do not call anyone a disbeliever based on my own whims. We Muslims consider Christians and Jews non believers based on proofs in our religion. Just as a Christian or Jew may consider me a non believer based on their beliefs.

Ali is not a god. If an Alawite wants to consider himself a Muslim, he can do so, it does not mean he is.

Why does that make you angry? You can believe what you want. If you want to believe yourself a Muslim go ahead.

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March 1st, 2013, 12:16 pm

 

237. Ziad said:

US and allies are training rebels in fight against Assad

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article3702564.ece

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March 1st, 2013, 12:19 pm

 

238. Syrialover said:

Dear JUERGEN,

When I read “VISITOR’S” posts like #228 I suspect he is a semi-comical entity someone has made up for the purpose of making Muslims look bad.

His aggressive rants and insults to others here don’t represent Muslims or Islam, only some version he’s created in his own head.

If your hundreds of posts to this forum are an indication, you care more about Syria and Syrians in your heart, understand and have experienced recent Syria in more detail than “VISITOR”, have been following the current situation more closely and are far more sympathetic to the Syrian people’s struggle and sacrifice to control their future than he is.

He mainly gets a buzz from the holy warrior stuff. That’s the lens through which he appears to view Syria from his sofa vantage point.

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March 1st, 2013, 12:46 pm

 

239. Juergen said:

SL

See such advocates of hate drive me nuts, I know I should just let them live their hate, but given what hate can do to innocent and the masses makes me act. I have seen to what such statements lead to, in Bosnia I had the most remarkable day seeing an old couple, both in ther 70s sitting over the rumble of their once home on a secluded mountaintop near Sebrenica. From all the village the serbian forces came up an 30 min drive with their armed vehicles only to destroy this one muslim home. To denounce ones religion is like denouncing his right to live, and by letting us tolerate such hate is like participating and dwell in it.

Saadi has pointed that out so well:

Adam’s sons are body limbs, to say;
For they’re created of the same clay.
Should one organ be troubled by pain,
Others would suffer severe strain.
Thou, careless of people’s suffering,
Deserve not the name, “human being”.

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March 1st, 2013, 2:14 pm

 

240. Syrian Atheist Against Dictatorships said:

Found this on facebook
http://www.facebook.com/taofikalhallak/posts/418274611595148

قلبي معك ياأخي معاذ الخطيب … استمعت إلى خطابك في روما بكل جوارحي .. أحسستك واحدا منا بمانحمله من مشاعر وعواطف صادقة .. تذكرت ياسر عرفات في الأمم المتحدة وهو يحمل غصن الزيتون ويقول : لاتدعوه يسقط من يدي !! لكنهم وهو أكثر من مئتي دولة تركوا غصن الزيتون يسقط ثم يسقط معه صاحبه !! أنت طلبت في آخر كلمتك من الطاغية أن يتخذ موقفا واحدا في حياته يحقن دماء السوريين وتعلم أنك تنادي أصما !! وتعرف أكثر مني أن من يستمعون إليك لايملكون القدرة على اتخاذ قرار خارج حدود بلادهم حتى وإن تأثروا بمعاناتنا وبكلماتك التي تهز قلب الحجر . القرار هناك في البيت الأبيض والبيت الأبيض محكوم بألف سبب كي لايساعد . حسنا لقد بلغت وأشهدت الله وشعبك أنك بلغت .. تعال الآن إذن إلى ساحة الثورة فمثلك من يستطيع التأثير في الجيش الحر وفي الحراك الشعبي .. كن رسول الوحدة والتنسيق بين الجميع والجسر القوي بين أهل الداخل وأهل الخارج من السوريين . هذا مانحتاجه اليوم : تجميع قوانا وتوحيدها في الداخل والخارج , وهذا مايكفينا للننتصر وحدنا . أعلم أنك فدائي وتعلم أن من تطلب من السوريين سيلبي نداءك فلا تتأخر في النداء .

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March 2nd, 2013, 4:15 am

 

241. Syrian Atheist Against Dictatorships said:

A small sample of the regime’s love for the sons and daughters of Syria:

‎هيئة التنسيق الوطنية في سوريا‎
NCB
برنامج صدى المواطنة: معتقلينا في سجون النظام الدكتاتوري
Our Detainees in the Dictatorial Regime’s Prisons

المعتقل الشهيد يامن علوان، تم اعتقاله في جامعة دمشق بتاريخ ١٣ 2013 شباط و استشهد اثر التعذيب في اقبية فرع الامن العسكري بتاريخ ١٨ شباط 2013 و لم يتم اعلام اهله الا في الرابع والعشرين من ذات الشهر بعد ان تم دفنه في منطقة مجهولة من قبل الشبيحة.
The martyr Yamen Alwan, was arrested in Damascus University on 13 February and was martyred after torture in the dungeons of the military security branch on 18 February 2013 His family was only informed of his death on the 24th of the same month after he was buried in an unknown area by the Shabbiha.

محمد حمزة الرفاعي طالب طب أسنان سنة ثانيه اعتقل منذ شهر من حرم جامعة دمشق واستشهد أيضا تحت التعذيب.

Mohammed Hamza al-Rifai 2nd yr dental medicine student arrested a month ago, again from the campus of the University of Damascus also was martyred under torture.
الدكتور أيهم غزول ، كان ناشطا في مساعدة اللجان المحلية على توصيل المساعدات للمحتاجين ، تم القبض عليه من قبل المخابرات الجوية واستشهد أيضا تحت التعذيب في شهر تشرين الثاني 2012.
Dr. Ayham Ghazoul, who was active in the local committees to help deliver aid to the needy, was arrested by air force intelligence also died under torture in November 2012.
(ماهر عبد الحميد العايش) من محافظة الحسكة قرية (فلسطين الشرقية) طالب في كلية العلوم قسم الرياضيات بجامعة دمشق السنة الثالثة . اعتقل من قاعة الامتحان في 10/ 6/ 2012 من قبل المخابرات الجوية، ولا معلومات عنه منذ ذلك التاريخ.
(Maher Abdelhamid Ayesh) of Al Hasakah governorate, the village of (Palestine East), student in the Faculty of science, Department of mathematics, University of Damascus, third year. Captured from the exam room on 10/6/2012 by air force intelligence, and no information about him since then.
طارق مرعي سوري فلسطيني اعتقل بتاريخ 6/8/2012 من قبل فرع المخابرات الجوية ولا معلومات عنه منذ ذلك التاريخ.
Palestinian-Syrian student Tariq Mur3i, arrested on 6/8/2012 by air force intelligence branch and no information about him since then.

الحرية للمعتقلين والرحمة للشهداء .

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March 2nd, 2013, 4:42 am

 

242. Syrian Atheist Against Dictatorships said:

Sometimes we are deceived into believing that others are trying hard to help…

But oftentimes there are other facts hidden from view.

http://m.ak.fbcdn.net/sphotos-e.ak/hphotos-ak-snc7/574776_495122000544929_817327971_n.jpg

@Juergen re video of Israelis giving aid to Syrian refugees (I presume in Jordan): Why is it that I can’t help but feel that these groups/individuals have ulterior motives. A true giver is the one who does not reveal his/her identity and expects nothing in return. After the tsunami disaster in Japan, the majority of donations from within Japan (especially the sizable ones) were from anonymous donors.

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March 2nd, 2013, 5:47 am

 

243. Syrian Atheist Against Dictatorships said:

Congratulations Dr Landis, you got to be interviewed by AJA’s Ghada 3weis, the darling of the Syrian revolution and vice versa. We look forward to seeing the whole interview uploaded soon.

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March 2nd, 2013, 6:10 am

 

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