Kurds; SNC Criticized; Tlas; Aleppo

The criticism of Manaf Tlass by both the opposition and regime supporters raises a few important features of this revolution.

  1. The opposition have criticized every leader that has emerged without giving them even a moment’s honeymoon period. This is most true of their own leaders such as Ghalioun and Basset. Manaf Tlass is easy to criticize because he worked at the heart of the regime for two decades.
  2. Much of Syria’s middle and upper classes have not been heard from yet. many of them may find someone like Manaf Tlass appealing – perhaps not someone so close to the regime, but someone who had a hand in the regime, is secular, has money, has experience with the army, etc.
  3. We are now hearing from Syria’s opposition and rebel commanders, but most middle and upper class Syrians have yet to raise their voices. They cannot speak so long as the Assad regime endures. But when the regime falls and they do find their voice, they are likely to be suspicious of the many militia commanders now holding sway. They will look to people who had some connection to the regime and whom they will trust not to be vengeful against them or against the wealth of the monied classes.
  4. It is easy to forget how many Syrians have been complicit with this regime in some way over the last four decades. Most Syrians want dramatic changes. But many may have found Tlass’s words rejecting revenge reassuring. His message that Syria must protect its national institutions and avoid destroying them, etc. were designed to reassure the silent majority that have yet to articulate their concerns and interests.

Aron Lund on the Kurdish situation in Syria
For Syria Comment, July 27, 2012

The Kurdish action on the ground in Syria is almost all-PYD units, i.e. the PKK’s Syrian wing. They’ve had an ambiguous relationship to the regime, but now seem to have moved firmly into the opposition camp, set on dominating the Kurdish scene. It’s an impressively disciplined and effective group, but totally committed to its own agenda, and absolutely ruthless in carrying it out. I have a section on them in my report on the Syrian opposition, which provides some further background, here.

The recent Erbil alliance between the PYD and the Kurdish National Council (KNC = almost all other Syrian-Kurdish groups) is less an ideological alliance, rather it is basically a function of the latters’ weakness. The PKK/PYD was always the single-strongest group, and it has been growing rapidly during the uprising. It has infiltrated hundreds or possibly thousands of armed members from Iraq/Turkey into northern Syria, and used harsh tactics to suppress rivals, while also long avoiding confrontations with the regime during its build-up phase. Since winter, PYD “popular protection committes” (lijan el-himaya el-shaabiya) have been setting up checkpoints and conducting armed patrols in their traditional areas of influence (Kobane, Afrin, Sheikh Maqsoud and other areas of Aleppo). In the past months they’ve also begun to pop up in Qamishli and other areas where the PYD is considered traditionally weaker. These groups have by now established themselves as the strongest de facto power on the ground in many Kurdish areas.

The regime tolerated this at first, perhaps after some under-the-table deal or perhaps for lack of better options, but now it seems to have been squeezed out by the PYD, and is unable or unwilling to spend manpower fighting back. The other Kurdish groups have also gradually toned-down their criticism of the PYD, which they all tend to secretly hate, and now apparently see no choice but to jump on the bandwagon. So, formally, the Kurdish alliance is a united Kurdish front, but for now, the PYD is clearly in the driving seat. (The deal was struck with Barzani/KRG sponsorship i Erbil, so funding or support from northern Iraq may help other factions preserve some leverage vis-à-vis the PYD, but I can’t see that it would tip the scales.) Formally they’re going to divide power in the local councils 50-50, but I’ll believe that when I see it.

Unless the Erbil alliance breaks apart, which it might, or the regime moves back in, which I doubt it will, these developments should also firmly remove the Kurdish community from the Western-backed SNC/FSA alliance. The PYD is extremely hostile to the SNC due to its Turkish sponsorship, and this might have interesting implications for Kurdish relations with the FSA as well. On the other hand, I guess all sides will be interested in finding some kind of modus vivendi…

The big question is of course how far the PYD will want to push their dominance, given the risk of a backlash internally or externally; ow much tolerance will they ave for other political forces in the long run, and how will Turkey respond to de facto PKK control over Syrian border cities? All this talk about “safe zones” and “humanitarian corridors” strikes me as at least partly being Istanbul’s preferred euphemism for preserving the right to unilaterally intervene in northern Syria and rearrange the balance of forces. But we’ll see…

For all Syrian-Kurdish issues, of course, I recommend www.kurdwatch.org, an absolutely invaluable resource.

Trip Report: Meeting the Syrian Opposition in Istanbul and Antakya
by David Pollock – Brookings

Having recently returned from a trip to Antakya and Istanbul, during which a European delegation and I met over 100 Syrian opposition figures, a number of important observations come to mind. First, one of my strongest impressions is that things are not what they seem. It is very difficult on the ground to be sure who it is that you are really talking to and what they represent. Second, Turkish officials maintain a striking degree of control over Syrian opposition forces inside Turkey. Third, the Muslim Brotherhood is pervasive not only within the Syrian National Council (SNC), but among many opposition groups – mostly outside Syria. Lastly, there is a striking cynicism and anger among fighters within Syria toward the outside world for not providing enough practical support.

1. Things Are Not What They Seem

Many times throughout the trip, we experienced people privately telling some of us one thing and others something completely different, and talking about each other in quite derogatory ways behind each other’s backs, while trying to take over meetings from each other.

For example, we met with a Syrian sheikh who runs the Jamiyat al-Shura al-Khairiyah on the Jordanian side of the border, which is supposedly a humanitarian organization. He gave us an extremely long, eloquent, and detailed presentation about the good work he is doing and said that we are all equal and we all believe in the compassionate and merciful prophets. He then asked us to support his good work for the Syrian people. Then after that meeting, he took aside a Palestinian Muslim member of our delegation, and said, “You know, when you talk to these Europeans, you have to be like a fox. You have to say all these nice things, but you know that we don’t really mean any of it.

I was struck by the pervasiveness of this uncertainty and duplicity. Personally, I support the Syrian opposition, but I think we need to be very clear about the pitfalls when we try to pick and choose. So that is my first conclusion: Don’t jump to conclusions. Even about whom you think you are dealing with.

2. Turkish, Not Syrian, Border Controls…  At the same time, what is really striking is the degree to which, even before the bombs went off in Damascus, the Syrians seemed to be losing control of some of their border posts. Syrians of all backgrounds seem to be free to move between Syria and Turkey with only Turkish permission. The Syrian government now seems to have lost control of its borders in every direction. ..

3. Muslim Brotherhood Control of Outside Opposition

It is clear that the MB is trying, as much as possible, to dominate the SNC as well as general Syrian opposition activity. We witnessed this is very practical terms, as they tried to take over meetings we had with other factions, non-partisan groups, and FSA people. We pushed back at every turn, but after some meetings, Syrians would come up to us and tell us “we are sorry if the Muslim Brotherhood got in here and tried to take over part of the meeting, but we are not them and they are not us.” This happened often enough that it was an issue.

Other groups in the Syrian opposition oppose the Muslim Brotherhood for a variety of reasons: they are secularists, they are set on their own political ambitions, or they don’t like Turkish influence on the Brotherhood. An unfortunate paradox has emerged in which well-meaning and well-connected Syrians are setting up new groups every day, saying, “I am going to unify the opposition.” Some of these groups are impressive, but they are quite fragmented, a trend that we see across the region.

As in some other countries, the Islamists tend to be relatively well organized, well disciplined, and unified, even if they do not represent the majority. This is the case in Syria among the outside opposition, but not on the inside, where the MB still has a limited presence. However, these other groups may not be a match for the discipline and unity of the MB in the political battle as the regime collapses.

4. Views of Inside Opposition: What Do They Want from Us?

We met with many people who are fighting and organizing relief work throughout Syria, who came into Turkey for a variety of reasons: for training, to get supplies, to rest, to meet with outside opposition and foreigners. They made it very clear that they want communications equipment, medical supplies, and anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. They do not want more meetings, political support, training, and declarations.

The extent of cynicism and even anger at the outside world for not doing enough of a practical nature was striking. We heard over and over that “you are complicit in the slaughter of the Syrian people.” It was not that “you are not giving enough support,” but “you do not want Assad to fall” and “you want Syrian people to be slaughtered.”

Sadly, most of these Syrians hold Israel responsible for preventing greater U.S. support. Aside from one exception, this view was nearly unanimous. In spite of, or perhaps because of, this very weird perception about Israel’s power, whenever we asked, “If Israel offered weapons or help, would you take it?” the answer was almost always, “definitely”!

When we spoke about outside help, a very clear distinction emerged:  They do not just want a no fly zone or a humanitarian safe haven, but a no drive zone and safe passage from the borders deep into Syria. Yet what we heard most was, “Give us anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. We don’t even need your air cover or corridors. Give us the weapons and we will do it ourselves.”

WSJ RT Brussels: Syrian Rebel Group’s Star Wanes In Brussels
2012-07-26

By WSJ Staff The Wall Street Jounal reported today that confidence in the opposition Syrian National Council is fading. The Journal said that the U.S. and some Arab and other Western nations are seeking ways to place Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, Syria’s highest ranking military defector and — until now — the centerpiece of transition plans. For Brussels in particular, this marks a significant shift.

Contacts between the SNC and top European officials started early and expanded in November 2011, when an SNC delegation met former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. France was among the first to recognize the group and the EU as a whole said late February that the SNC was a “legitimate representative of Syrians.” Diplomats say the European position remains nuanced.

No one is suggesting pulling the plug on SNC contacts and some say the group may yet have a significant role. One top official here says the events of the past 18 months – from the ballot-box wins for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to the re-emergence of Mahmoud Jibril in Libya – have taught officials to be very cautious about writing anybody off.

But the sense of frustration with the group has escalated significantly in recent weeks and is now palpable.

“People are pretty concerned we don’t have the kind of partner we had in Libya,” the senior diplomat said. The role the SNC should be playing requires “altruism, reaching out to others, broadening the base…They’ve not been able to” do that….

Manaf Tlass -Wall Street Journal

…Efforts to find a transitional figure who is palatable to the Assad regime’s Russian backers and leading Arab states, as well as to the opposition, have taken on added urgency as rebel fighters make gains in major Syrian cities and more high-level officials defect, the officials said…

The officials said Gen. Tlass is one of the few figures in opposition to the regime who could potentially help restore order in Damascus and secure Syria’s vast chemical-weapons stockpile.

A senior Arab official said Gen. Tlass’s trip to Saudi Arabia was arranged by the country’s new head of intelligence, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan. Diplomats at Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington weren’t available for comment. U.S. and European officials also hope that a role for Gen. Tlass in the opposition would help win Russian support for a transition in Damascus because of the Tlass family’s long ties to the Assad regime, whose Russian patronage dates to Cold War support of Hafez al-Assad.

Turkey Sounds Warning Over Kurds in Syria
Wall Street Journal

ANTAKYA, Turkey—Turkey warned Thursday that it might take action to stop groups it deemed “terrorists” from forming a Kurdish-run region in Syria, underscoring Ankara’s growing concern that the creation of a Kurdish authority in Syria’s north could provide …”We will not allow a terrorist group to establish camps in northern Syria and threaten Turkey,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Ankara on Thursday ahead of a trip to London. “If there is a step which needs to be taken against the terrorist group, we will definitely take this step.”

 

Should Turkey Be Afraid of the Syrian Kurds? Soner Cagaptay – WINEP

Foreign Policy

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Thursday that his government would not allow the Kurdish terrorist group PKK to operate in Northern Syria. Kurdish groups affiliated with the PKK, which has fought a decades-long insurgency in Southeastern Turkey, has reportedly established control over several northern Syrian towns as government troops have redeployed to Damascus. Turkey has largely turned a blind eye to Syrian rebels operating on its territory and according to reports, has set up a secret “nerve center” near the border with help Qatar and Saudi Arabia to direct aid to the anti-Assad forces.

The Syrian regime has renewed attacks on parts of Damascus as clashes continue in several districts of Aleppo. Assad’s forces appear to be preparing to invade the city. The United States expressed fears of the possibility of mass casualties with a regime invasion of Aleppo. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said there is “concern that we will see a massacre in Aleppo, and that’s what the regime appears to be lining up for.” She maintained that there would be no U.S. military intervention saying they didn’t want to pour “more fuel onto the fire.” However, Reuters learned of a presidential directive that would authorize greater covert assistance for the opposition, but still would not supply them with arms. It is not clear if President Barack Obama has signed the document. Meanwhile, Member of Parliament Iklhas Badawi, elected in May to represent Aleppo in what was considered by many to be a sham election, has defected and reportedly crossed into Turkey. She said she defected “from this tyrannical regime … because of the repression and savage torture against a nation demanding the minimum of rights.” If confirmed, Badawi would be the first parliamentarian to defect.

Exclusive: Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels
By Regan Doherty and Amena Bakr | Reuters

DOHA/DUBAI (Reuters) – Turkey has set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria’s rebels from a city near the border, Gulf sources have told Reuters.

News of the clandestine Middle East-run “nerve centre” working to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underlines the extent to which Western powers – who played a key role in unseating Muammar Gaddafi in Libya – have avoided military involvement so far in Syria.

“It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main co-ordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom,” said a Doha-based source.

“The Americans are very hands-off on this. U.S. intel(ligence) are working through middlemen. Middlemen are controlling access to weapons and routes.”

The centre in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 100 km (60 miles) from the Syrian border, was set up after Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud visited Turkey and requested it, a source in the Gulf said. The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations, he added…..

One of the former officials, who is also an adviser to a government in the region, told Reuters that 20 former Syrian generals are now based in Turkey, from where they are helping shape the rebel forces. Israel believes up to 20,000 Syrian troops may now have defected to the opposition.

Former officials said there is reason to believe the Turks stepped up their support for anti-Assad forces after Syria shot down a Turkish plane which had made several passes over border areas.

Sources in Qatar said the Gulf state is providing training and supplies to the Syrian rebels.

“The Qataris mobilized their special forces team two weeks ago. Their remit is to train and help logistically, not to fight,” said a Doha-based source with ties to the FSA.

Qatar’s military intelligence directorate, Foreign Ministry and State Security Bureau are involved, said the source.

WESTERN CAUTION

The United States, Israel, France and Britain – traditionally key players in the Middle East – have avoided getting involved so far, largely because they see little chance of a “good outcome” in Syria.

“Israel is not really in the business of trying to ‘shape’ the outcome of the revolt,”, a diplomat in the region said. “The consensus is that you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. The risk of identifying with any side is too great”….

Insight: Cautious on Syria, Obama moves to help rebels – Reuters

Syrian Kurdish Ambitions
July 27, 2012 | Stratfor
Summary

Syrian Kurds wave Kurdish and pre-Baath Syrian flags during a protest in Qamishli
The Syrian Kurds’ Democratic Union Party announced July 23 that it had assumed control of the Kurdish towns of Efrin, Kobani, Amuda and Derek. The move followed the Syrian army’s withdrawal from northern Syria. The party also announced its intention to form an autonomous Kurdish state in northern Syria. An autonomous Syrian Kurdish state would border semi-autonomous Kurdish regions in both Turkey and Iraq — an unacceptable outcome for Ankara and Baghdad, as well as for Tehran and Damascus.

However, Syria’s Kurdish population lacks internal cohesion and has little to offer in the way of strategic benefits, so it will be difficult for the Syrian Kurds to form a partnership with a regional government — a necessity for the Kurds to achieve autonomy. Inhabiting the least desirable geographic and economic position of any of the region’s Kurdish groups, Syrian Kurds are unlikely to realize their goal of a legally recognized autonomous region within Syria. But other states in the region with significant Kurdish populations — Iran, Iraq and Turkey — are watching with concern to see if the actions of Syria’s Kurds can inspire similar movements in their territories.

Analysis
The strategic imperative of any Arab Syrian regime, regardless of sect, is identical to that of Turkey, Iraq and Iran when it comes to the Kurds: to prevent the consolidation of an autonomous Kurdish state that can span the Kurdish borderlands. Government policies following this imperative have prevented Syria’s Kurds, even under the Alawite regime, from meaningfully integrating into broader Syrian society.

Damascus has harshly suppressed Kurdish attempts to establish political and economic hegemony within their region. Most recently, the Syrian army put down pro-Kurdish riots in and around the northern town of Qamishli in 2004, 2005 and 2011. Aware of the risk that Turkey and Baathist Iraq might take steps to undermine an independent Kurdish state on their borders, the Syrian government was under additional pressure to prevent greater Kurdish political integration. With geography limiting their prospects for retreat, Syrian Kurdish separatist movements have been unable to reorganize and build up a meaningful support base as Kurds have done in Iraq.

Obstacles to Integration for Syria’s Kurds
Unlike in neighboring Iraq, Kurds make up a small percentage of the population in Syria — prior to the uprising, less than 10 percent of Syria’s population was Kurdish, compared to 17 percent of Iraq’s population. Syrian Kurds are spread thinly across Syria’s northern border region, although the greatest numbers are located in the northeastern Hasakah province. There are no significant urban populations of Syrian Kurds. The largest Kurdish town in Syria, Qamishli, has a population of 185,000, relatively tiny in comparison to the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Arbil, which has a population of 1.2 million.

The geography of Syria’s Kurdish area is also unique in the region. Syria’s Kurdish population is primarily settled on the steppes of the Jazirah Plateau, which differs substantially from the defensible mountainous terrain inhabited by Kurds in Iran, Iraq and Turkey. The broad, flat lands of the plateau extend into Turkey and Iraq, making it relatively easy for governments in the region to roll armor in to crush unrest. A lack of resources and economic potential in northeastern Syria has also hindered the development of strong political groups or local Kurdish authority in the area, unlike in Iraq, whose Kurdish region has the duopoly of the Kurdish Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Despite these obstacles, the Democratic Union Party has emerged as one of the best organized Kurdish political organizations during the 16-month Syrian uprising. Founded in 2003 — the same year as the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq — the Democratic Union Party is a nationalist-socialist group. While its opponents claim the party has connections to either the rebels’ Free Syrian Army or the regime of President Bashar al Assad, the party has thus far shown itself sympathetic to the militant separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known by its Kurdish acronym PKK. The Democratic Union Party also has garnered more support from Kurds in the region than the Kurdish National Council, a collection of 15 local Kurdish groups formed in 2011 and backed by the Kurdistan Democratic Party and by Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani. Both the Barzani clan and the Kurdish National Council have criticized the Democratic Union Party’s relationship with the PKK.

However, reports emerged July 26 that the Democratic Union Party and the Kurdish National Council have formed an alliance, calling it the Supreme Kurdish Council. The Supreme Kurdish Council formed the People’s Protection Armed Forces, which captured the towns that the Democratic Party Union claimed July 23. Barzani purportedly encouraged the groups to unite, despite their ideological differences and mutual distrust, with promises of economic and moral support. But already there are signs of strain within this alliance. Democratic Union Party members still fly their party’s flag — not the universally recognized Kurdish flag. Meanwhile, Kurdish National Council members are voicing their mistrust of their partner’s supremacy, citing the Democratic Union Party’s rumored connection to the al Assad regime. Additionally, the Kurdish National Council’s links with Barzani and with Turkey are still viewed with suspicion by the Democratic Union Party, which has yet to renounce its support for PKK militancy — a fact that continues to give Turkey great cause for concern.

It is imperative for Syrian Kurds to unite ahead of their push for regional autonomy. But the deep-rooted differences and mistrust between the two largest Kurdish groups in Syria are going to complicate the prospect for long-term allegiances between the Democratic Union Party and the Kurdish National Council, while making it easier for outside parties such as Iran to manipulate them.

Exploiting the Uprising
Despite decades of repression under the al Assad regime, Syria’s Kurds have been hesitant to support the Syrian rebels. The Kurds recognize that any Arab government that replaces the al Assad regime will maintain the imperative to oppose Kurdish autonomy. As a result, the Kurds have largely adopted a policy of neutrality, which has allowed northeastern Syria to remain relatively unscathed throughout the uprising.
In light of the recent fracturing of the pillars of the Alawite regime, the Syrian army has withdrawn from northern Syria to focus on more strategic regions held by the rebels, namely Aleppo and Damascus. Meanwhile, the security vacuum in Syria’s Kurdish territories has grabbed the attention of Turkey, which is watching the actions of Syria’s Kurds. With the Syrian regime, the largest obstacle to Kurdish political expansion, focused on suppressing the rebels, Syrian Kurds — specifically the Democratic Union Party — have moved quickly. Kurds have claimed the Kurdish towns of Efrin, Kobani, Amuda and Derek. Though the Kurds are cognizant of the threat the Arab-dominated Free Syrian Army could eventually pose to them, some government offices in these towns are flying both the Kurdish and Free Syrian Army flags, likely in an attempt to win over the Syrian opposition now that the al Assad regime seems to be faltering.

Absence of Foreign Backing
Given the difficult geography of the Kurdish regions and the fact that they are landlocked and surrounded by states that oppose Kurdish autonomy, any Kurdish autonomous movement must have foreign backing to succeed. The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq illustrates this perfectly. Even with comparatively established military, political and economic institutions and sizable hydrocarbon reserves, the Kurdistan Regional Government was able to achieve regional autonomy only with U.S. backing, which it received in exchange for Kurdish cooperation in toppling Saddam Hussein.

But Syria’s Kurds, with their small population and lack of strategic resources, military capabilities and economic structures, have little to offer would-be patrons. In fact, it was these limitations that led the Democratic Union Party to accommodate the PKK; the militant guerrilla group offered the best support the party could hope to garner.

Moreover, governments in the region are uneasy at the thought of another autonomous Kurdish state. Indeed, a day after the Democratic Union Party declared an autonomous Syrian Kurdish state, the Turkish National Security Council attempted to downplay the significance of the development. The regional unpopularity of another Kurdish state makes the need for external support even more important. The United States, lacking strategic interests in Syria and unwilling to upset Turkey, is not going to back Syria’s Kurds.

The Kurdistan Regional Government is the mostly likely backer of an autonomous Syrian Kurdish state. As its relationship with Baghdad sours, the Arbil-based Kurdish government has increased its alignment with and economic dependence on Turkey. Turkey’s assistance does not come without a price, however — it is predicated on Arbil’s ability to rein in PKK militancy on both sides of the Turkey-Iraq border. Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani have been instrumental in forging the cooperation with Turkey and have attempted through the Kurdish National Council to link up with the Syrian Kurds. As the Kurdistan Regional Government becomes more economically dependent on Turkey, it will look elsewhere to build leverage in its relationship with Ankara. Syria offers that opportunity because of Turkey’s needs regarding the PKK.

Turkey will doubtless rely on its relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government to pressure Arbil into limiting Syrian Kurdish ambitions, but Ankara cannot be too trusting at this stage. With the Democratic Union Party’s quick move to the forefront of the Syrian Kurdish political front, the Kurdistan Regional Government is now forced to deal directly with its opponent (due to Arbil’s partnership with Ankara) and with a regional supporter of the PKK. Turkey faces two potential outcomes, both of them intolerable: the formation of a PKK haven on the Syrian side of the border, or two neighboring Kurdish statelets that would surely encourage Kurdish separatist movements within Turkey territory. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced July 25 his country’s intolerance for an independent Syrian Kurdish state, signaling that Turkey could intervene militarily across the Syrian border.

Turkey will likely use the Kurdistan Regional Government as a conduit for economic support to Syrian Kurds, echoing its strategy in northern Iraq. Ankara can try to temporarily assuage some key Kurdish concerns and offer development aid, cash subsidies and infrastructure projects to the region — without actually supporting an autonomous state. Such support must run through Arbil, however, because should Ankara publicly assist the Syrian Kurds, it could embolden Turkey’s own Kurdish population to seek autonomy. But rather than genuinely seeking to prop up Syria’s Kurds, through this assistance Turkey will likely be biding its time until an Arab power can consolidate and assert itself within Syria and suppress Syrian Kurdish ambitions for autonomy. While this approach will require careful maneuvering and the cooperation of an increasingly emboldened Democratic Union Party, it carries less risk than a Turkish military intervention against Syrian Kurds harboring PKK militants.
Turkey will also face competition from Iran, whose own Iraqi Kurdish networks — built primarily through the Talabani clan and its political arm, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan — are trying to outmaneuver the Barzanis to support the Syrian Kurds. Iran has strong incentive now to use Kurdish militancy and the threat of a Kurdish autonomous state in Syria to undermine Turkish ambitions in Syria. Even with indirect support for the Democratic Union Party and the PKK, Iran can attempt to create a Kurdish insurgency that would undermine both the Barzanis’ attempts to control PKK militancy and the Turkish government’s faith in Arbil as a reliable regional partner. Iran also does not want to see an independent Kurdish state in Syria, but it will encourage militant activity there to undermine both the regime that replaces al Assad and Turkish ambitions in the region.

Syria at the Edge of a New Regional Social Contract
Kamal Al-Labwani
July 26, 2012
by Kamal Al-Labwani
It is impossible to imagine any system of government – no matter how autocratic – without a social, economic, political, and religious foundation that supports it, and from which its dedicated elements are derived and in turn benefit from the regime. In the autocratic Syrian regime, for example, a person or a group presents absolute loyalty to the dictator and, in exchange, the authorities disregard the enforcement of the law upon them, so they benefit by violating laws and by plundering the rights of the country and others; a crony system. Despite the degree to which the people acquiesced and remained subservient to the power of fear, the regime did not trust all of the cowardly beneficiaries who gathered around it, so it tied them to itself with bonds of dirty interests, bonds that quickly changed,…

TIME Exclusive: Meet the Islamist Militants Fighting Alongside Syria’s Rebels
As foreign jihadists rally around the cause of Syria’s rebels, TIME meets two factions of Islamist fighters seeking to overthrow the Assad regime and set up a political state in their image
By Rania Abouzeid / Idlib Province | July 26, 2012 |

Rania Abouzeid for TIME

Rania Abouzeid for TIME

The al-Qaeda flag was propped up in a barrel painted with the three-starred Syrian revolutionary banner in the middle of the road at a makeshift checkpoint between the northern Syrian towns of Binnish and Taftanaz in Idlib province. The checkpoint was unmanned — not especially surprising, given the dry mid-afternoon heat and the lethargy sometimes brought on early in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

But what was surprising was how openly the flag was displayed. It was white, unlike the more familiar black monochrome inscribed with “No God but God” in white lettering, above the circular seal of the Prophet Muhammad. But no matter the color, the implications were the same: that elements of al-Qaeda or the group’s supporters were present in this part of Syria.

There has been much speculation about whether Islamic radicals have gained a foothold in the chaotic battlefield that is Syria today. They have, albeit a small one. While there are jihadists, both foreign and local, inside Syria, their presence should not be overstated. At this stage, they remain a minor player in the conflict. But as Karl Vick’s story in the Aug. 6 issue of TIME (subscription required) relates, should the conflict spiral out of hand, their role may grow exponentially.

(MORE:The Syria Crisis: Is al-Qaeda Intervening in the Conflict?)

In late January, the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra li Ahl Ash-Sham, or the Support Front for the People of Syria, announced its formation and goal to bring down the regime of President Bashar Assad. In the months since, it has claimed responsibility for many of the larger, more spectacular bombing attacks on state security sites, including a double suicide car bombing in February targeting a security branch in Aleppo that left some 28 dead.

Little is known about the shadowy group beyond that it is headed by someone using the nom de guerre of Abu Mohammad al-Golani (Golani is a reference to Syria’s Golan Heights, occupied by Israel.) Some say the group is a regime creation, to prove Assad’s assertion that he is fighting terrorists, while others say it is an offshoot of the al-Qaeda group the Islamic State of Iraq.

A foot soldier in the movement told TIME that it is neither. “We are just people who follow and obey our religion,” the young man, Ibrahim, said. “I am a mujahid, but not al-Qaeda. Jihad is not al-Qaeda.”

It took weeks of negotiations to secure an interview with a member of the movement, the first time anyone from the group has talked to the media. Higher-ups in the Jabhat declined to be interviewed but agreed to let Ibrahim, a 21-year-old Syrian, be interviewed.

The Jabhat has a presence in at least half a dozen towns in Idlib province as well as elsewhere across the country, including strong showings in the capital of Damascus and in Hama, according to the Jabhat member and other Islamists who are in contact with senior members of the group.

(PHOTOS:Inside Syria’s Slow-Motion Civil War)

Bespectacled, with a wispy beard and thin mustache, Ibrahim said he joined the group eight months ago. He was recruited by his cousin Ammar, the military operations commander for their unit and a Syrian veteran of the Iraq war who fought alongside his Sunni co-religionists against the American invaders. (Ammar declined to be interviewed.)

Dressed in a deep aqua zippered track top and black track pants that were rolled up above his ankles, the young man did not look as menacing as some of his colleagues, with their short pants, above-the-ankle galabiyas and long beards. In addition to his self-identification as a member of the Jabhat, several Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels who know him — as well as townsfolk who know his conservative Sunni family — confirmed that Ibrahim is part of the extremist group.

“Our specialty is explosives, [improvised explosive] devices. Most of our operations are explosions using [IEDs], placing them on roads, blowing up cars by remote detonation,” he said. On the night TIME spoke to him, several members of the Jabhat were in a remote field, in the final stages of testing a homemade rocket devised with the help of Syrian veterans of the Iraq war.

The device was a copper-lined shaped charge that can penetrate armor. When the device ignites, the copper element superheats enough to pierce a tank. “It’s a very simple idea, but it works,” Ibrahim said, adding that the device was the work of the Jabhat’s engineering branch. “There’s a killing branch. I’m in the killing and chemical branch,” he said, explaining that the chemical branch was responsible for obtaining fertilizers and other components of the IEDS.

There were 60 men in Ibrahim’s unit, he said, headquartered in a nondescript building that flew two white flags bearing a stylized Muslim shahada — “There is no God but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” (Once again, it’s more common to see the shahada printed in white on a black background. The local printer, a sympathizer, said he reversed the colors “so that people don’t think we have al-Qaeda here.”)

Jabhat members maintained a low profile and kept to themselves, townsfolk said, and rarely ventured outside their outpost except to head to battle. “The shabab [young men] prefer to remain in the shadows, unseen. They won’t come forward,” Ibrahim said. Their low profile enabled some members “not known to the security forces” to pass through checkpoints, especially in and around Damascus and the northern commercial hub of Aleppo, which is currently facing aerial bombardment from Assad’s forces as well as encirclement by an approaching armored column. The secrecy extended to the group’s members. “We don’t really like to accept people we don’t know. We don’t need foreigners,” Ibrahim said, although he admitted that there were some foreign jihadists in his group, from Kuwait, Libya and Kazakhstan.

He said he was fighting because he wanted to “live in freedom.” His idea of freedom, however, was an Islamic state free of oppression by members of Assad’s privileged sect, the Alawites. “The Alawites can do what they want and we have no say. That’s why we are fighting, because we are oppressed by them,” he said. “We are nothing to them. They are the head, and we are nothing.”

In another town in northern Idlib, another jihadist — belonging to a different group — shared Ibrahim’s goal of an Islamic state. “Abu Zayd” is a 25-year-old Shari’a graduate who heads one of the founding brigades of Ahrar al-Sham, a group that adheres to the conservative Salafi interpretation of Sunni Islam.

He said minorities had nothing to worry about in a future Islamic state, despite the increasingly sectarian nature of some of the violence that has convulsed Syria. “Let’s consider that Syria becomes something other than Islamic, a civil state,” he said. “What is the role of the Alawites in it? What is the position of a Christian, a Muslim in it? They are all under the law, and it will be the same in an Islamic state. We are just exchanging one law for another.”

The young Syrian, with his neatly trimmed beard, dressed in military pants and a blue T-shirt, looked more like a member of the FSA than a Salafist. His facial hair was not fashioned in the manner of some Salafists, who shave their mustaches. (Interestingly, many FSA members have taken to wearing Salafi-style beards while not adopting the ideology. “It’s just a fashion,” one person told me, by way of explanation.)

(PHOTOS:Escape from Syria)

The Ahrar started working on forming brigades “after the Egyptian revolution,” Abu Zayd said, well before March 15, 2011, when the Syrian revolution kicked off with protests in the southern agricultural city of Dara’a. The group announced its presence about six months ago, he said. Abu Zayd denied the presence of foreigners, even though TIME saw a man in the group’s compound who possessed strong Central Asian features. “Maybe his mother is,” Abu Zayd said unconvincingly. “We are not short of men to need foreigners.”

Regardless, foreigners are coming across into Syria. One prominent Syrian smuggler in a border town near Turkey said that he had ferried 17 Tunisians across the night before. It was a marked uptick in his business. He said he hadn’t seen many foreign fighters for about a month prior to the Tunisians. “Before that, every day there were new people, from Morocco, Libya and elsewhere,” he said. (In the course of several hours of waiting to cross back into Turkey, I

Diary from Damascus,
John Wreford – My Middle East, July 27, 2012

Photographer John Wreford has lived in Syria for many years and still remains in his house in Damascus’ Old City. Here, he gives a very personal account of the last couple of weeks’ events.

e preferred the Jabhat to the “more showy” Ahrar. “If you ask [the Ahrar] for a device, they will give you a camera so you can film [the explosion], and they take credit for it,” he said. Still, he wasn’t really sold on the Jabhat either. “I am one of those people who is afraid of extremism,” he said. “I told [the Jabhat], It’s possible that perhaps one day we will stand armed against each other because of your activities. If they intend to do to us what happened in Iraq, it’s wrong.”

Russia and Syria’s Assad: The End of the Affair?
It has become clear to many officials in Moscow that the Assad regime cannot restore the pre-rebellion status quo in Syria, forcing them to consider backing away from a longtime client
By Simon Shuster / Moscow | July 26, 2012- Time

The phone line from Moscow to Syria is shaky, giving off static and a faint echo, and it does not help that Russian official Andrei Klimov sounds exhausted. He is cagey about his exact location in Syria, saying only that he is “a few kilometers away from the action.” That could mean any of a number of towns and cities where armed revolutionaries have been fighting the forces of President Bashar Assad for almost a year and a half. In that time, thousands of Syrian civilians have been killed, and dozens of Russian diplomats, officials and military strategists have been flying in and out of Damascus on various pretexts — as election observers, as peace-brokers or morale-boosters for the regime. Some Russians even ostensibly enter Syria as holiday makers. “Let’s just say I’m here for myself, in a personal capacity” says Klimov, who is the vice chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s parliament. Perhaps, but the purpose of his trip this week was also to figure out the regime’s options in the conflict, and Russia’s. “There don’t seem to be any good ones,” Klimov says.

Any hopes that Assad’s forces could bludgeon the rebellion into submission have started to look delusional. Even Russia, one of Assad’s oldest and most stubborn allies, is becoming resigned to his downfall. “I don’t think anyone in the world, including Assad himself, seriously believes that he will be able to control the country for years to come,” says Klimov. “In my view, the ideal situation is if Assad gives control over to someone else, who can maintain the secular nature of the regime and make sure Syria will not become a troublemaker in the region.”

If the Kremlin agrees with this assessment, it has not yet made public that conclusion. President Vladimir Putin has stuck consistently to the view that both sides of the conflict need to negotiate a resolution on their own, and he even suggested on July 23 that forcing Assad to step down would only make matters worse. “The opposition and the current leadership could simply switch sides, with one taking control and the other becoming the opposition, and the civil war will continue for nobody knows how long,” he told a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.

But a little further down the diplomatic hierarchy, the last few months have brought a significant change in tone. Just take Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the U.N., who in February had mounted a rousing defense of Russia’s refusal to turn its back on the Syrian government. “If you are our ally, we are not going to turn around overnight and say, ‘Well, you know, we’ve had good relations with you over the years, but now, thanks, no thanks, deal with your problems, we are not going to do anything about it,’” Churkin had told U.S. talk show host Charlie Rose. That was a veiled rebuke of Washington’s refusal to prop up its longstanding ally, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, during the revolution that overthrew him last year. “It’s not our style,” Churkin said at the time. But on Tuesday, July 24, he spoke to Charlie Rose again, and the host pressed him on whether the Russian-Syrian “friendship” had changed in the last six months. This time, Churkin gave a deep sigh before answering. Assad “is not our nephew, you know,” he said. “He’s not related to us, and we’re not attached to his regime in any particular way.”

Like a delinquent younger brother, Syria has nonetheless been causing Russia a great deal of embarrassment. Rarely can a senior Russian official make a public appearances these days, especially in the West, without being grilled on the massacre of civilians in Syria, on Russian arms sales to Assad, or on Russia’s repeated veto of U.N. sanctions against the regime. During a brief press conference on Monday, two of the four questions for Putin were about Syria, and he was visibly annoyed at having to repeat himself, giving his answers in a blunt staccato. On Tuesday, Moscow again had to distance itself from Syrian blunders, after Syria’s foreign ministry spokesman suggested the regime might use chemical weapons, prohibited under international humanitarian law, if it faced attack from abroad. On its website, the Russian Foreign Ministry then gave Damascus a curt reminder to “unwaveringly uphold its international obligations.”

Some Russian military officials have also been annoyed by what they see as Assad’s indecisiveness in fighting the rebels. Konstantin Sivkov, a military hawk who served as a strategist for the Russian General Staff between 1995 and 2007, visited Syria in May, ostensibly to monitor the parliamentary elections but mostly to meet with officials. Sivkov was surprised, he says, with how “gentle” Assad has been in crushing the revolution. “Believe me, some of our guys have told Bashar to adopt much harsher methods, carpet bombing, total destruction,” Sivkov told TIME after returning to Moscow. “If that approach was chosen in Syria, there would be no rebels left after one week, and everyone would be happy.

Instead, Moscow has been put in the awkward position of having to invite the rebels over for talks, which gave perhaps the clearest signal that Russia is looking beyond Assad’s rule. On June 11, a delegation from the Syrian National Council had an audience with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who tried to convince them to negotiate with Assad. But the SNC delegates also felt as if the Russians were sizing them up. “They are looking for partners in the opposition,” Bassma Kodmani, the SNC’s foreign affairs officer told TIME afterward. One of the senior Russian diplomats even tried to express some sympathy with the rebel cause, says Monzer Makhous, an SNC member who took part in the talks. “During one of the breaks, he leaned over to me and said, ‘We know Assad is like Stalin, we know,’” Makhous recalls. To him that only meant one thing: “Some of them are ready, even eager, to abandon him.”

At the very least, Russia is tired of being looked upon as Assad’s protector. When rumors emerged in the Western press last week that Assad and his family might flee to Moscow, the Russian reaction was furious. “That is not on the table,” U.N. ambassador Churkin fumed on Wednesday during the interview with Rose. Russia has in the past given asylum to the families of embattled despots such as former Serbia president Slobodan Milosevic or former Kyrgyz strongman Askar Akaev, but the Assads are clearly too toxic to receive any such invitations

Asked whether Russia might take him in, Klimov, the parliamentarian, finally raises his voice over the telephone line from Syria. “Why not Australia,” he demands. “Why don’t they give their fair contribution to the cause of international peace?” Russia has enough image problems as it is, Klimov says, and granting asylum to Assad’s family now “would be piled on top of Russia’s list of supposed sins.” On top of that, anyone that succeeds Assad “will despise Russia 100 times more if we give [him] safe haven,” adds Klimov.

So, much like the rest of the world, Russia is left to hope against hope that Assad will simply agree to step down. That does not mean, however, that Russia will join the rest of the world in pressuring to do so. The only one who can make such a drastic shift in Russian policy is Putin, and he has not caught the changing winds climbing up through his hierarchy. Last week, Russia and China used their veto power in the U.N. Security Council to block sanctions against Assad for the third time. This brought down another wave of condemnation from the West, but Putin did not give an inch in his rhetoric. “At home, this stand-off with the West is great for his image,” says Nikolay Zlobin, head of the Russia and Eurasia Project at the World Security Institute in Washington. Putin’s core electorate still reveres him as a one-man counterweight to the arrogance of the U.S., Zlobin says, and Putin is prepared to suffer a lot more isolation to maintain that image at home. But putting aside domestic Russian politics, “the hope is that some power vacuum will emerge [in Syria] into which Russia might squeeze,” says Zlobin. “So far, that strategy hasn’t worked out so well.” Not for Russia, and certainly not for Syria.

 

Trip Report: Meeting the Syrian Opposition in Istanbul and Antakya
by David Pollock – Brookings

Having recently returned from a trip to Antakya and Istanbul, during which a European delegation and I met over 100 Syrian opposition figures, a number of important observations come to mind. First, one of my strongest impressions is that things are not what they seem. It is very difficult on the ground to be sure who it is that you are really talking to and what they represent. Second, Turkish officials maintain a striking degree of control over Syrian opposition forces inside Turkey. Third, the Muslim Brotherhood is pervasive not only within the Syrian National Council (SNC), but among many opposition groups – mostly outside Syria. Lastly, there is a striking cynicism and anger among fighters within Syria toward the outside world for not providing enough practical support.

1. Things Are Not What They Seem

Many times throughout the trip, we experienced people privately telling some of us one thing and others something completely different, and talking about each other in quite derogatory ways behind each other’s backs, while trying to take over meetings from each other.

For example, we met with a Syrian sheikh who runs the Jamiyat al-Shura al-Khairiyah on the Jordanian side of the border, which is supposedly a humanitarian organization. He gave us an extremely long, eloquent, and detailed presentation about the good work he is doing and said that we are all equal and we all believe in the compassionate and merciful prophets. He then asked us to support his good work for the Syrian people. Then after that meeting, he took aside a Palestinian Muslim member of our delegation, and said, “You know, when you talk to these Europeans, you have to be like a fox. You have to say all these nice things, but you know that we don’t really mean any of it.

I was struck by the pervasiveness of this uncertainty and duplicity. Personally, I support the Syrian opposition, but I think we need to be very clear about the pitfalls when we try to pick and choose. So that is my first conclusion: Don’t jump to conclusions. Even about whom you think you are dealing with.

2. Turkish, Not Syrian, Border Controls…  At the same time, what is really striking is the degree to which, even before the bombs went off in Damascus, the Syrians seemed to be losing control of some of their border posts. Syrians of all backgrounds seem to be free to move between Syria and Turkey with only Turkish permission. The Syrian government now seems to have lost control of its borders in every direction. ..

3. Muslim Brotherhood Control of Outside Opposition

It is clear that the MB is trying, as much as possible, to dominate the SNC as well as general Syrian opposition activity. We witnessed this is very practical terms, as they tried to take over meetings we had with other factions, non-partisan groups, and FSA people. We pushed back at every turn, but after some meetings, Syrians would come up to us and tell us “we are sorry if the Muslim Brotherhood got in here and tried to take over part of the meeting, but we are not them and they are not us.” This happened often enough that it was an issue.

Other groups in the Syrian opposition oppose the Muslim Brotherhood for a variety of reasons: they are secularists, they are set on their own political ambitions, or they don’t like Turkish influence on the Brotherhood. An unfortunate paradox has emerged in which well-meaning and well-connected Syrians are setting up new groups every day, saying, “I am going to unify the opposition.” Some of these groups are impressive, but they are quite fragmented, a trend that we see across the region.

As in some other countries, the Islamists tend to be relatively well organized, well disciplined, and unified, even if they do not represent the majority. This is the case in Syria among the outside opposition, but not on the inside, where the MB still has a limited presence. However, these other groups may not be a match for the discipline and unity of the MB in the political battle as the regime collapses.

4. Views of Inside Opposition: What Do They Want from Us?

We met with many people who are fighting and organizing relief work throughout Syria, who came into Turkey for a variety of reasons: for training, to get supplies, to rest, to meet with outside opposition and foreigners. They made it very clear that they want communications equipment, medical supplies, and anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. They do not want more meetings, political support, training, and declarations.

The extent of cynicism and even anger at the outside world for not doing enough of a practical nature was striking. We heard over and over that “you are complicit in the slaughter of the Syrian people.” It was not that “you are not giving enough support,” but “you do not want Assad to fall” and “you want Syrian people to be slaughtered.”

Sadly, most of these Syrians hold Israel responsible for preventing greater U.S. support. Aside from one exception, this view was nearly unanimous. In spite of, or perhaps because of, this very weird perception about Israel’s power, whenever we asked, “If Israel offered weapons or help, would you take it?” the answer was almost always, “definitely”!

When we spoke about outside help, a very clear distinction emerged:  They do not just want a no fly zone or a humanitarian safe haven, but a no drive zone and safe passage from the borders deep into Syria. Yet what we heard most was, “Give us anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. We don’t even need your air cover or corridors. Give us the weapons and we will do it ourselves.”

Michael Young on CFR: Syria’s Shifting Sectarian Sands



Comments (496)


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451. ann said:

After 500 Syrian soldiers enter demilitarized zone near border, Israel complains to UN

http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/diplomania/after-500-syrian-soldiers-enter-demilitarized-zone-near-border-israel-complains-to-un.premium-1.452811

Israel files official complaint to the UN after Syrian security forces came near the Golan Heights border, violating agreement signed in 1974.

Syrian army forces crossed the demilitarized zone near the border with Israel in the Golan Heights last week, a highly unusual incident, on what is considered a quiet border.

[…]

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July 30th, 2012, 1:59 pm

 

452. sam said:

hey nobody is talking about that but Youtube is deleting accounts of pro-syria pro-govt accounts! this is the war the is being fought off in the syrian crisis, and media is playing a huge role in this conflict!

Syria: Shameful Performance of Western Media
By As’ad AbuKhalil – Mon, 2012-07-30 19:11- Angry Corner

The performance of the Western media (American, British, French and others) regarding the Syrian conflict has been quite shameful. One does not expect much from American media. Ill-informed foreign editors and correspondents and political cowardice turn American media into tools of US foreign policy.

This is especially true when it comes to coverage of the Middle East, where extra political courage and uncharacteristic level of knowledge and expertise are rather rare even though they are essential in challenging US foreign policy. But when it comes to Syria British media – including the liberal Guardian which has often been brave in challenging Western foreign policies and wars – have been indistinguishable from American media.

http://english.al-akhbar.com/blogs/angry-corner/syria-shameful-performance-western-media

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July 30th, 2012, 2:12 pm

 

453. ann said:

U.S. Backs Al Qaeda Death Squads in Syria – Jul 30, 2012 – 12:18 PM

By: Stephen_Lendman

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article35826.html

Washington’s agenda involves death squad diplomacy. Evidence mounts proving it. It’s standard practice in all US direct and proxy wars. It’s how America treats its enemies.

Massacres and unspeakable atrocities are committed. Women are raped. Civilians are treated like combatants. They’re indiscriminately killed.

Others are targeted for opposing US aggression. Children are harmed like adults. Prisoners are tortured. No crime’s too gruesome to commit.

Lies, duplicity, and coverup follow. Media scoundrels bear direct responsibility. Their hands are bloodstained like US officials, forces and proxy killers.

Vietnam’s Operation Phoenix became a prototype for today’s wars. It included intimidation, kidnappings torture, and mass murder. At issue was eliminating opposition elements. Terrorizing people into submission was policy.

Southeast Asia tactics are replicated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Barbarism defines US policy.

On July 11, German writer Jurgen Todenhofer confirmed the presence of Al Qaeda insurgents in Syria. He met with them, he said. He holds them and others like them responsible for mass terror attacks.

He described a “massacre marketing strategy.” He called it “among the most disgusting things that I have ever experienced in an armed conflict.”

He added that Western media distort what’s happening on the ground. Viewers and readers know it’s their stock and trade. They’re paid to lie. Journalists dedicated to truth and full disclosure need not apply.

On July 24, Asia Times writer John Rosenthal headlined “German intelligence: al-Qaeda all over Syria,” saying:

“German intelligence estimates that ‘around 90′ terror attacks that ‘can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups’ were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July, as reported by the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).”

Die Welt and Bild published similar reports. All three name Al Qaeda behind the May 25 Houla massacre. Russian journalist Marat Musin was there. He said hundreds of “bandits and mercenaries” were responsible.

Washington’s imperial tactics involve cutthroat killer atrocities. Human lives have no value. Only wealth, privilege and dominance matter. US officials don’t keep body counts. Objectives are pursued lawlessly.

Rosenthal cited Die Welt contributor Alfred Hackensberger. Taldo is part of Syria’s Houla region. Insurgents controlled it for months, said Hackensberger. They bear responsibility for Houla killings.

He visited the area. He interviewed an eyewitness. He left him unidentified for his safety. He was at Qara’s Saint James Monastery. Victims were pro-Assad Sunnis, he said. Many people know what happened but won’t say “out of fear for their lives.”

“Whoever says something can only repeat the rebels’ version. Anything else is certain death.”

Hackensberger related similar stories. A former Qusayr resident said Christians and others refusing to “enroll their children in the Free Syrian Army” were shot. He held “foreign Islamists” responsible.

“I have seen them with my own eyes,” he said. Pakistanis, Libyans, Tunisians and also Lebanese. They call Osama bin Laden their sheikh.”

A Homs Sunni resident told Hackensberger he witnessed armed insurgents stopping a bus. “The passengers were divided into two groups: on one side, Sunnis; on the other, Alawis.”

Nine Alawis were decapitated.

Rosenthal said:

“That the German government would cite national interest in refusing to disclose its information (publicly) concerning the circumstances of the Houla massacre is particularly notable in light of Germany’s support for the rebellion and its political arm, the Syrian National Council (SNC).”

It plays a quiet behind the scenes role, he added. Its foreign office is involved in developing “political transition” plans.

So is former US Saudi Arabia ambassador Prince Bandar, reports Haaretz. His close ties to the Bush family earned him the nickname “Bandar Bush.”

For years he’s been involved with Washington’s Syria regime change plans. He now serves as Saudi intelligence chief. He’s also National Security Council secretary-general.

His intelligence appointment involves “preparing for the next stage in Syria,” said Haaretz. His wife has Al Qaeda “connections.” He’s considered “CIA’s man in Riyadh.” He’s “known as a can-do” guy.

He spares nothing to achieve objectives. He participated directly in America’s Contra wars. He helped fund Central American death squads and Afghan mujahideen fighters against Soviet forces.

He’s active in current Washington plans to depose Assad. Like other US allies, his hands are bloodstained.

In her daily press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condoned the murder of Syrian officials. She justified her position, saying they “organize(d) Assad’s military campaign….”

She tried having it both ways, adding “we don’t condone violence of any kind.” She ignored Washington’s direct role in orchestrating it.

US rhetoric about supporting human rights and other democratic values rings hollow.

America is the world’s worst human rights abuser. It spurns democracy. It’s intolerant at home and abroad. It’s hardline, belligerent and repressive.

Saying one thing and doing another is policy. At the same time, it audaciously points fingers at China.

On July 25, Bloomberg headlined “US Finds China’s Human Rights Situation Is Deteriorating,” saying:

According to Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner, conditions in China are worsening. We have human rights issues in America, he added. He left unsaid how US policy spurns them at home and abroad.

Do as I say not as I do is policy. So is practicing wrong over right. Interfering in the internal affairs of other countries blatantly violates international and constitutional law.

Doing it by direct or proxy belligerence adds crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. Justice Robert Jackson called aggressive war “the supreme international crime against peace.”

Convicted Nazis were hanged. America repeatedly gets away with murder unaccountably.

A July 25 Washington Post article provided more evidence, saying:

Free Syrian Army fighters have safe havens in Turkey. In Antakya, they “stride through its narrow streets sunburned and sweaty from the battlefield, hoping to meet benefactors to provide them with money and arms.”

“Salafi Muslims, who have come to offer help from the countries of the Persian Gulf region, huddle over kebabs, their long beards and robes conspicuous in secularist Turkey.”

[…]

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July 30th, 2012, 2:12 pm

 

454. SANDRO LOEWE said:

If Assad finds impossible to control Aleppo he will try to divide the country taking Damascus-Homs-Tartus-Latakia. I still cannot believe that Turkey is not sending F-16 to control the syrian army in the north of the country.

WHAT ARE THEY WAITING FOR?

When someone finally tries to help the insurgency it could be tto late.

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July 30th, 2012, 2:56 pm

 

455. ann said:

Syria explicitly accuses Saudi, Qatar, Turkey of supporting armed insurgents – 2012-07-31

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-07/31/c_123496565.htm

DAMASCUS, July 30 (Xinhua) — Syrian Foreign Ministry on Monday overtly accused Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of rendering financial support and arms supplies to the armed insurgent groups on ground in Syria.

In a letter sent to the chief of the UN Security Council and the secretary general of the UN, the ministry said the “armed terrorist groups” have unleashed assaults on innocent civilians and public and private facilities, particularly in capital Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and commercial hub.

It said the armed groups, “which are overtly supported with money and arms from the Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have committed heinous crimes against the innocent civilians in those cities (Aleppo and Damascus).”

The ministry charged that Turkey has facilitated a safe passage for a large number of mercenaries into Syria, adding that those mercenaries have taken over a number of crowded neighborhoods in Aleppo and shielded behind the people there, killing those who didn’t comply with their demands and forced others at gun point to leave their residents.

The ministry made a connection between the surge of violence by the armed opposition and the latest visit by special joint envoy Kofi Annan to Syria, in which a number of measures have been agreed upon in order to bring back security and stability to Syria.

In the letter, the ministry said it’s unfortunate that some countries, which pretend they are concerned about the Syrians, have not practiced pressures on the armed groups on ground to halt their armed operations and join the political process, which is demanded by the UN and agreed upon by Syria.

It said that the armed opposition’s rejection to embark on a political process is the reason behind the faltering efforts of the UN observers and the Syrian government.

The ministry stressed that the voices from Arab and Western capitals, which are accusing the Syrian government of escalating the situation in Syria instead on calling on the armed groups to halt their assaults, aim “desperately to provide a political cover for the armed groups” and to provide them with financial support and arms supplies.

It said the law-enforcement forces are conducting their duty to protect the citizens in accordance to many humanitarian laws and the initial understanding that have been recently concluded between the UN Supervision Mission and the Syrian government.

The ministry lashed out at some western countries’ calls to act on Syria outside the UN Security Council, where resolutions could be vetoed, saying that such calls aim to conflagrate the Syrian crisis in a bid to impose political conditions that would eventually lead to the destruction of the Syrian state.

[…]

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July 30th, 2012, 2:58 pm

 

456. Aldendeshe said:

@King Abdullah and company

Before you die, have someone knowledgeable in the Bible interpret these Prophetic words from Daniel. Have someone interpret these quotes for you, so before you die, you will know what will end your kingdom and those of your companies.

Daniel 11:13
For the king of the North will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped.

Daniel 11:25
With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him.

Daniel 11:40
And at the time of the end shall the king of the south attack him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass through.

The end is referring to the end of the cycle when Nibiru returns and starts new cycle of the ages ( Zodiac)

http://www.librarising.com/cosmology/2012.html

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July 30th, 2012, 3:05 pm

 

457. ghufran said:

اغتال مسلحون اليوم الاثنين الطيار المدني “فراس ابراهيم الصافي” عند الجسر الخامس على طريق مطار دمشق.
والطيار “الصافي” هو كابتن طيار مدني، وهو ابن العماد “ابرهيم الصافي” الذي شغل عدة مناصب هامة في المؤسسة العسكرية من أيام الرئيس الراحل حافظ الأسد، كان آخرها نائب وزير الدفاع.

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July 30th, 2012, 3:10 pm

 

458. habib said:

Lol:

http://www.timesofisrael.com/pro-assad-websites-claim-syria-has-killed-saudi-intelligence-chief-to-avenge-damascus-bombing/

If true, how many of the hypocrites will condole the death of this scumbag?

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July 30th, 2012, 3:29 pm

 

459. Hammameh said:

Hammameh
Please do not use vulgarity on SC. SC moderator
——–
People keep posting the biggest hypocrite liar in the world as if it is gods truth. Asaad Abu (deleted for vulgarity)is an irrelevant pundit. only immbaciles and fools can take his crap seriously.

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July 30th, 2012, 3:33 pm

 

460. ghufran said:

that is not good for anybody in Syria,pro or anti, or for Syria’s neighbors, I am afraid it is too late to do anything about it:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/30/al-qaida-rebels-battle-syria

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July 30th, 2012, 3:39 pm

 

461. ann said:

Turkish Armed Forces Press the Button
100,000 troops put on standby, army units moving toward Syrian border

by Claire Berlinski
July 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Although it is scarcely being reported in the formal Turkish media, on Twitter there have been a flood of reports to the effect that massive clashes have been taking place the southeastern Turkish village of Şemdinli, and that the village has fallen under PKK control. There are also reports that thousands of villagers have fled to escape the bombing, that the district is completely cut off from communication, and that BDP deputies have been forbidden to enter. The Turkish media reports that two Turkish soldiers have been killed and ten wounded. The PKK claims that it has shot down a Sigorsky helicopter and killed 49 Turkish soldiers.

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3222/turkish-armed-forces-press-the-button

Murat Gurgen, writing for Habertürk, reports that all all units of the Turkish Land Forces’ 2nd Army Command have been put on standby.

Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdoğan, responding to Assad’s threat to use chemical weapons and the Kurdish takeover of towns in Northern Syria, has said military preparations are proceeding “full steam ahead.”

The chemical weapons threat and movements by Syrian Kurds close to the PKK have prompted the Turkish Armed Forces to elevate their combat readiness level. The media is showing images of new deployments of military materiel to border cities. [My note: these images are also flooding Twitter and YouTube, for example here.]

PREPARATION OF A BUFFER ZONE

The deployment of troops near the border to counter the threat of chemical weapons took place yesterday along the Sanliurfa-Mardin line. Prime Minister Erdoğan warned the day before that refugee flows might require the establishment of new camps on the Syrian side of the border, forming a buffer zone, without which the security of the region could not be ensured. The Turkish armed forces are preparing to enhance border security and handle the anticipated wave of refugees.

PKK MAY HAVE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

Because the Syrian side of the border has passed under the control of the PYD, which is close to the PKK, there are concerns that the terrorist organization has acquired freedom of movement in the region.

[…]

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July 30th, 2012, 3:53 pm

 

462. zoo said:

Lt. General Babacar Gaye Remarks to Press, Damascus – 30 July 2012

“There is a need of shift of mindset of confrontation to a mindset of dialog”

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July 30th, 2012, 3:55 pm

 

463. Tara said:

The regime is running short on generals and on diplomats.  What is a failing regime to do?  Can they borrow diplomats and generals from other countries?  

Syria’s top diplomat in London defects
By Danny Kemp | AFP – 1 hr 47 mins ago

Syria’s top diplomat in London resigned Monday in protest against the “violent and oppressive” acts of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the British Foreign Office said.
The move comes after a series of defections by senior Syrian officials in recent weeks, including diplomats in several countries and top army officers.

The Foreign Office said in a statement that charge d’affaires Khaled al-Ayoubi had informed it on Monday that he had “left his post”, describing it as a blow to the Syrian government.
“Mr al-Ayoubi has told us that he is no longer willing to represent a regime that has committed such violent and oppressive acts against its own people, and is therefore unable to continue in his position,” it said.
Britain expelled the previous Syrian charge d’affaires, Ghassan Dalla, and two other diplomats in May. Syria had earlier withdrawn its ambassador from London.
“Mr al-Ayoubi was the most senior Syrian diplomat serving in London. His departure is another blow to the Assad regime,” the Foreign Office said.
“It illustrates the revulsion and despair the regime’s actions are provoking amongst Syrians from all walks of life, inside the country and abroad.”
It added: “We urge others around Bashar al-Assad to follow Mr al-Ayoubi’s example; to disassociate themselves from the crimes being committed against the Syrian people and to support a peaceful and free future for Syria.”

Syria closed its embassy in Australia on Monday amid reports that some of its staff were seeking asylum.
….
Also on Monday a diplomatic source said that another brigadier general had defected from Syria’s army to join the ranks of opposition fighters, pushing the total number of rebel generals based in Turkey to 28.
,,,,
http://news.yahoo.com/syrias-top-diplomat-london-defects-150220832.html

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July 30th, 2012, 3:59 pm

 

464. Syrialover said:

#413 ALEPPO

Another welcome dose of common sense and reality. Thanks.

I’d like to say one word to those who are barking excitedly about Afghanistan as a warning to Syria about gaining a persistent Islamic extremist presence: Pakistan.

Pakistan, its main neighbour, is the source of a solid stream of recruits and material aid, arms support amd strategy to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Government is apparently unable (many say unwilling) to control it or clean it up at the source. A unique situation, and one that makes any of the alleged KSA “jihadist” efforts look like dust specks.

And Mali also falls over straight away as a comparison with Syria. But I’ll save that for another response, as I don’t want to join the “distraction faction” here filling this forum with non-Syrian matters.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:01 pm

 

465. irritated said:

#428 Michal

However, I think such direction of thinking is misguided. Assad will no doubt capture Aleppo, if not now then maybe a month hence, but it will only serve to decay his regime.

I think it will decay and weaken so much more the opposition that is already struggling with its irreconciliable differences that they will swiftly call on Babacar for a ceasefire and a dialog.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:02 pm

 

466. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

GHUFRAN 459,

Angry Arab predicted that Libya will turn into an AlQaida hub. He was complaining about the western media coverage of Libya, and the global Jihadists in Libya.

The Arab world is entering the democratic age. It will be the people who decide the fate of the country, and it’s future. AlQaida and the MB cannot force themselves on the people. I’m not a bit worried about them.

They are helping to uproot this junta? Great. Thank you and goodbye.
.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:09 pm

 

467. Syrialover said:

I’d like to suggest a new term to replace ny general reference to post-Assad Syria. It’s one I have seen used by analysts.

It’s “legitimate government”

Let’s start talking about “when Syria has a legitimate government”, and “a legimitate government will do…”.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:09 pm

 

468. Uzair8 said:

I read earlier on Sky News television text a quote from Tim Marshall responding to the defection of Syria’s top diplomat in London:

***************

Sky News’ Foreign Affairs Editor, Tim Marshall, said the defection was a serious one for Mr Assad.

“It is yet another chip, as they chip away at the edifice of the regime, which now no longer has cracks in it, it has gaping holes in it,” he said

****************

http://news.sky.com/story/966838/syrias-charge-daffaires-quits-london-post

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July 30th, 2012, 4:09 pm

 

469. Aldendeshe said:

@TARA,
For TARA, SNP is one man show, Assad regime has 8 generals, they all defected and took the cash bait, and 3 Diplomats, now he is running out and need to borrow some from other countries…LOL….Common, get this last battle on and done will ya, so we can start negotiating with the expected winner ad go on with our lives without the Looooooooooooooooooooooooooosers.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:10 pm

 

470. jna said:

“Why Syria is heading towards a vicious civil war, like Lebanon
I said this on Facebook the other day: that one of the ways I can predict that Syria is heading towards civil war is the way young Syrians fight and clash on FB (including on my wall). It is very much like the vicious fights among Lebanese. All that is missing from Western media because they really are under the impression that there is no one who support Bashshar in Syria except `Alawites. The situation is far more complicated–to the benefit and survival–thus far–of the regime.”

Posted by As’ad AbuKhalil

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2012/07/why-syria-is-heading-towards-vicious.html

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July 30th, 2012, 4:12 pm

 

471. Uzair8 said:

Syria: Rebels Plan Own Assault On Aleppo

Rebels in Syria have told Sky News they are mounting their own assault on Aleppo to try to help their fellow fighters.

Monday 30 July 2012

Syrian rebels have said they will mount their own assault on the besieged city of Aleppo to try to help their fellow fighters.

Free Syrian Army commanders are ordering fighters to infiltrate the city in a bid to rise up and throw out government troops after days of vicious fighting.

Sky News Chief Correspondent Stuart Ramsay travelled with the rebels in the north of Aleppo and said they are defiant despite the odds against them.

Read more:

http://news.sky.com/story/966624/syria-rebels-plan-own-assault-on-aleppo

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July 30th, 2012, 4:12 pm

 

472. irritated said:

Ghufran

That’s the logic prevailing these days among the armed rebels :

If you accept that you are defeated and that saves people lives, you are still a shameful looser. If you die while fighting, you are a proud martyr independently of how many would die because of you.
Its only your personal martyrdom that will send you straight to Heaven.

I think they made they choice.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:13 pm

 

473. Bruno said:

@Uzair8
(“It is yet another chip, as they chip away at the edifice of the regime, which now no longer has cracks in it, it has gaping holes in it,” he said)

(said the defection was a serious one for Mr Assad.)
Isnt that what they said about when the Iraq ambassador defected? and when that General defected? that they were all a serious one for Assad.

Yet it clear that they took the cash bait as Aldendeshe said on here.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:15 pm

 

474. irritated said:

#470 UZAIR88

Stuart Ramsay is another imbedded journalist with the rebels.
Do you seriously expect he will say that they are depressed and loosing hopes. They’ll kick him out on the spot or kill him.
They embedded him to boost them in the western media and he is doing just that.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:17 pm

 

475. SANDRO LOEWE said:

JAD,

Where are you? Are you still defending the use of force to keep in power the illegitimate junta of Assad? Specially when it includes bombing of entire cities like Aleppo (2 million citizens or more)?

Can anyone still defend an ignorant frustated eye doctor that is absolutely uncapable of negotiating with its own people? Uncapable of defending its own junta? Uncapable of being respected by its own neighbours?

Assad please commit suicide, for the good of your sons and the whole Syria.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:22 pm

 

476. zoo said:

Turkey is opening the doors of the cage and the FSA is welcoming Al Qaeeda jihadists in Aleppo to achieve “victory”

Syria: foreign jihadists could join battle for Aleppo

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/30/syria-foreign-jihadists-aleppo-al-qaida?CMP=twt_gu

Jihadists, many with al-Qaida sympathies, are said to be planning to join a decisive battle against regime troops
Martin Chulov in Beirut
guardian.co.uk, Monday 30 July 2012 17.33 BST

Scores of foreign jihadists have crossed into Syria from Turkey in the past two weeks, some of them telling Syrians that they are planning to travel to Aleppo to join a decisive battle against regime troops.

Syrian residents and a Turkish smuggler interviewed by the Guardian say many of the men have come from the Caucasus, while others had arrived from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Gulf Arab states.

According to locals who have dealt with them, the new arrivals embrace a global jihadist worldview that sets them apart from most leaders in the armed Syrian opposition and is stirring deep discontent among the rebel leadership.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:23 pm

 

477. Tara said:

Aldendeshe,

لساتك آخِد على خاطرك؟ طيب يا عمي

For you I am going to say, SNP has thousands of members..but could you please stop offending religions.  It is not going to get you anywhere.  Billions of Muslims aren’t going to convert because someone doesn’t like their religion.  People need to to accept and respect other religions.  Don’t believe in it and do not attack it as long as it is not imposed on you.   

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July 30th, 2012, 4:25 pm

 

478. zoo said:

A depressing tale of a polluted and greedy opposition

Going Rogue: Bandits and Criminal Gangs Threaten Syria’s Rebellion

In stretches of northern Syria where government control has collapsed and rebel militias call the shots, numerous criminal outfits have come to the fore — and threaten to undermine the rebellion
By Rania Abouzeid / Idlib Province

Read more: http://world.time.com/2012/07/30/going-rogue-bandits-and-criminal-gangs-threaten-syrias-rebellion/#ixzz228iRF8x0

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July 30th, 2012, 4:28 pm

 

479. Amjad said:

Cash bait? Seriously people? And what does it say about the quality of the Assadian diplomatic corp if so many of its appointments are apparently willing to jump ship when their country is at war, for the sake of “cash bait”?

Protests all over the country? Cash bait.

Syrians taking up arms to defend their towns and villages? CASH BAIT!

Army defections? PETRO-DOLLARS-CASH-BAIT!

Diplomats and members of parliament defecting? Caaaaaash bait.

Seriously, Norway produced just one Quisling, but according to the menhebakjis, 80% of the Syrian population are Quislings. They think everyone in the world has the mentality of a shabih, a hired goon who can’t be trusted not to sell his ammunition to Ar’or LOL!

Seriously, who is the imbecile who appointed these generals and diplomats if they are all so willing to abandon their country at its most dire moment of need? That person’s judgment clearly disqualifies him from any position of importance. Maybe he should stick to his medical practice.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:30 pm

 

480. Syrialover said:

Here’s another nasty one to add to Assad’s strategies of mass homicide and genocide:

Urbicide.

The widespread and deliberate destruction of urban environments as a weapon of terror. Violence against cities – buildings and infrastructure.

It’s highlighted here:

http://www.yourmiddleeast.com/columns/article/urbicide-in-syria_8246

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July 30th, 2012, 4:32 pm

 
 

482. Tara said:

Syria forces attacked observers: UN
(UKPA) – 1 hour ago  

Syrian forces have attacked a convoy carrying the head of the UN observer mission, secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has said.
He revealed the attack as he warned the Syrian government to halt its violent crackdown on those fighting to overthrow president Bashar Assad’s regime.
“Yesterday, the convoy of Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye was attacked by armed attacks. Fortunately, there were no injuries,” Mr Ban told reporters.

Read more:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5j8wjGMBENmT1e-G29v3vZtIZAVkw?docId=N0106851343632488083A

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July 30th, 2012, 4:39 pm

 

483. Amjad said:

@452

Ass’ad Abu Khanzeer does an injustice to the brave and heroic Western journalists who risk life and limb to report from Syria. Paul Woods of the BBC was there inside Baba Amr as the Syrian army shelled it. A considerable number of foreign journalists have lost their lives to report from inside Syria. Angry Batekh never stepped foot in Syria. The man fled to the USA in 1983, he’s never lived in the Arab world since then. Far better to report from Beirut than spew angry rants from California, while enjoying the comforts and benefits of a society he so openly holds in disdain and contempt.

Ass’ad Abu Khanzer is the archetypal Angry-Leftist-Overinflated-Sense-of-Entitlement-Arab. It’s only a benign and liberal society like the United States that would offer such a despicable individual a place to spew such rants, while making no secret of his hatred for that very society.

And he wonders why no one gives a hoot in hell about Palestine.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:48 pm

 

484. zoo said:

Haidar calling on Egypt to take a clear and positive stand about Syria

DAMASCUS, (SANA) – Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs, Ali Haidar, said that the Ministry started its field work and communications with all Syrians to solve main issues including the launch of comprehensive dialogue.

Meeting the Chinese Ambassador in Damascus Zhang Xun, the two sides discussed means of cooperation to speed up the national reconciliation.
In a statement to SANA, Haidar said that the Charge d’affairs conveyed an official letter from the Egyptian government on Egypt’s possible role in solving the crisis in Syria through political solution.

He said that “Our reply was so clear that Egypt could play positive role if it were to adopt a clear and unbiased position and to announce its standing at an equal distance from all political forces in Syria.”

Minister Haidar said “This means to announce clear stance towards those who carry weapons and countries which support them and justify the use of arms and violence inside Syria, in addition to rejecting violence.”

He indicated to the importance of differentiating between the stance of Egyptian state and the Arab League, adding that Egypt’s stance towards countries which support terrorism will be helpful for it to have a role in solving the Syrian crisis in the next days.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:49 pm

 

485. Expatriate said:

Fighting in Aleppo intensifies amid conflicting reports
http://www.rt.com/news/syria-aleppo-young-fighters-442/

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July 30th, 2012, 4:51 pm

 

486. bronco said:

#481 Tara

The Syrian Army attacks UN convoys with tanks and that’s all what we get out of Ban Ki Moon? Just a short statement that there are no casualties?
No details, where, how, explanation, condemnation etc..

Extremely strange…
I wish we see the full official Ban-ki-moon statement instead of the media incomplete and biased reports.

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July 30th, 2012, 4:58 pm

 

487. zoo said:

France seeks UNSC meeting before the end of this week

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/syria-declares-victory-aleppo-district

France will ask for an urgent UN Security Council ministerial meeting to try to end the diplomatic deadlock over Syria and prevent further bloodshed, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Monday.

Branding Assad an “executioner,” Fabius said the country was headed for a massacre, and urged the United Nations to do everything it can to stop the crisis.

“We’re going to ask for a meeting of the Security Council, probably at ministerial level, before the end of this week,” he told RTL radio.

Western powers have been at loggerheads with Russia and China over the Syrian crisis, with both sides accusing the other of exploiting the situation to further their interests.

France is due to take over the presidency of the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, and President Francois Hollande has said he will try to convince Russia and China to support further sanctions.

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July 30th, 2012, 5:14 pm

 

488. Tara said:

Bronco

Ban has no spine.. Can a statement of condemnation get any weaker. What Ban have to lose if he just call things by it’s name? Ban may need a complete physical and blood work too. We need Navi to take over. She got what it takes to call things by it’s name

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July 30th, 2012, 5:14 pm

 

489. annie said:

Respect to Homs

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July 30th, 2012, 5:20 pm

 

490. Expatriate said:

Captured photographer returns home

Dutch photographer Jeroen Oerlemans who has been captured and held hostage for a week by “English-speaking jihadists” in northern Syria arrived in Amsterdam on Monday where he was reunited with his family. A family member told Dutch local news channel A5 that Oerlemans still has to recover from his bullet wound and his experiences, and expressed the hope he could do this without media attention.

Several media as well as a “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) terrorist leader reported it has been the FSA who freed the photographer from his captors on July 26. Oerlemans himself however has declared he isn’t sure who his liberators were. (WM)
http://worldmathaba.net/items/1320-syria-real-news-july-30-round-up

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July 30th, 2012, 5:36 pm

 

491. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

The Japanese Mustafah
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ece_1343585739
.

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July 30th, 2012, 6:00 pm

 

492. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

It’s now a shabbiha hunting season in Syria. I wont post the videos. They are to gruesome to watch.
.

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July 30th, 2012, 6:04 pm

 

493. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

It’s a matter of days now.
.

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July 30th, 2012, 6:06 pm

 

494. Aleppo said:

#463. SYRIALOVER

Thank you dear Syrialover. It may not sound like it but I am realistically optimistic on the outcome for Syria. There is no room for politically correctness in political analysis if one has any hope of coming up with anything remotely coherent.

Part of the ME way of thinking is the belief that almost anything is a conspiracy, especially from “outside”. How about Syrians just getting rid of a bloodthirsty dictator whose family killed tens of thousands of people, imprisoned, tortured and humiliated its citizenry for more than 40 years? How complicated of a concept is that?

I will not comment on As’ad Abu Khanzeer. Amjad and others usiing similar concepts have already done that. How about Antoine Saadeh? Is the worth discussing?

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July 30th, 2012, 6:13 pm

 

495. omen said:

254. ZOO said:
Assad’s Useful (American) Iidots
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/312450/assads-useful-idiots-noah-glyn
How to depose Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in a clean fashion has become a pressing question for the international community. How strange that, not so long ago, the question for them was how to convince Assad to join forces with the West. Along the way, many American policymakers worked strenuously to bring him into the fold, as they heaped praise befitting a statesman on the brutal tyrant.
In a recent column, the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens recounted some of the paeans to Assad: In a March 2011 interview, Hillary Clinton implied that Assad was a “reformer.” In 2007, Nancy Pelosi, over strong objections from the State Department, visited Syria, and said, “The road to Damascus is a road to peace.” Senator John Kerry predicted that “Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States.”

sen. kerry still hasn’t been vocal in denouncing bashar.

what kerry is known for is taking to the senate floor to defend bechtel from being held accountable for cost overruns while building the big dig project in boston. at one point notorious from being the most expensive public project in u.s. history costing taxpayers billions more than projected.

what does sourcewatch say about bechtel?


Bechtel Group, Inc.
is the largest contractor in the U.S. The company does construction projects worldwide. It has been involved in such projects as the cleanup at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the construction of Hoover Dam. The company makes most of its money from oil, gas & chemicals and from government contracts. With Chairman and CEO Riley P. Bechtel at the head, the Bechtel family is in its fourth generation of leadership of the company. [1]

Bechtel is a defense contractor with very strong political ties and a long history of doing business in Iraq, including an unsuccessful pipeline deal that at one point involved a meeting between Donald H. Rumsfeld, former secretary of defense, and Saddam Hussein. That project later drew scrutiny from a special prosecutor looking into allegations of impropriety involving Edwin A. Meese III, the former White House counsel and attorney general in the Reagan administration. [1]

corruption is bipartisan.

i’m sure they want a piece of that proposed pipeline in syria.

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July 30th, 2012, 6:27 pm

 

496. Darryl said:

493. AMIR IN TEL AVIV said:

“It’s a matter of days now.”

Are your cats giving birth Amir?

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July 30th, 2012, 6:29 pm

 

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