Many Christians Head for Tartus

Syrian Christians are taking refuge in Tartus. This is what I am told by a Syrian Christian in Beirut. Life is just too expensive in Lebanon for most Syrian refugees. Their friends who fled Aleppo to Beirut are finding excuses to go back — “My neighborhood is secure again,” “I must enroll my kids in school,” “things are getting better.” These are some of the reasons that Syrians are giving as they leave Beirut, but few are buying them. Money. It is all about the money. Life is too expensive in Beirut for most Syrians. Some are choosing to move to Tartus on the Syrian coast, rather than go back to Aleppo. There are a number of reaons it has become a destination of choice for Syrian Christians. It is a hop, skip and jump from north of Lebanon. It is surrounded by Christians in Wadi Nasara and by the Alawite Mountains. Apartments and food are inexpensive. Alawites have already begun to migrate there from Syria’s inland cities in search of security. Yes, the city has a Sunni majority, but the town of 120,00 has not seen communal violence and remains stable. Many Tartusis claim that in their town, one can almost pretend that the country is not at war.

قدري جميل: الاقتصاد سيصاب بسكتة قلبية إذا استمرت الأزمة 3 أشهر

2012/09/17نشر فى: اقتصاد
“لا حل إلا الحل السياسي ودونه لا حل اقتصادي ولا حل أمني ولا حل عسكري شامل, وهناك مشروع جديد لإيصال الدعم لمحتاجيه”

Foreign Policy

Clashes continued throughout Syria on Monday with an estimated 131 people killed by Syrian forces according to the Local Coordination Committees. Shelling by government forces was reported in Homs as well as the predominantly opposition held Damascus district of al-Hajar al-Aswad. The army reported it had taken control of Midan, a statement that was corroborated by a correspondent on the ground.

Fragmented Syrian Opposition Competes with SNC in Jordan
By: Tamer al-Samadi posted on Thursday, Sep 13, 2012

High-level Syrian opposition sources told Al-Hayat that meetings between Syrian opposition forces, which have been taking place in the Jordanian capital of Amman for several days now, seek to unite and establish an overreaching framework to serve as a substitute for the Syrian National Council (SNC). This united front will be headed by the defected Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab, who is currently in Amman.

Defected Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab (rear C) poses with members of the Free Syrian Army in Deraa August 7, 2012. (photo by REUTERS)

Yasser Abboud, commander of field operations for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), who is currently in Amman, said that “the opposition meetings in the Jordanian capital that were launched last week are still ongoing.” In an exclusive interview with Al-Hayat, he said, “The ongoing meetings include politicians and military officers who defected from the criminal regime in Syria, in addition to some SNC members, who have personally attended the meetings.” Abboud stressed that the military leaders represent various cities and villages of the Damascus and Daraa governorates, the latter of which borders Jordan.

Abboud explained that the meetings seek to unify the ranks of the political and military opposition, and look into the possibility of establishing a political alternative to the SNC. Abboud, who is the leader of the group that succeeded in smuggling Hijab out of the country and into Jordan, said that “Hijab will be at the head of the new Syrian opposition entity, while defected Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Hajj will head the FSA military and field leaderships, as well as the military and revolutionary councils. This new military entity, named the National Syrian Army, will be affiliated with the political leadership.

… Abboud spoke of what he called “guarantees” that were demanded by some states to “support the new birth.” However, he did not elaborate in detail. Abboud added that these states had stressed the need “to protect the rights of minorities,” which he considered to be “a demand that does not require any guarantee.”

“We have agreed to the general guidelines of the next phase. However, we are still looking into the details … What matters now is to overthrow the regime as soon as possible. Regarding the upcoming phase, the Syrian public will have the final say in this matter,” he added.

In the same vein, Mohamed Inad, an SNC member and a member of the Supreme Council for the Revolutionary Command, told Al-Hayat that “the meetings in Amman seek to reorganize the ranks of the SNC and to oust some people and leaders who have proved disruptive to the paths of change.

“All of the ongoing meetings are in the best interest of the political and military opposition. We are seeking a realistic vision that would guarantee the ousting of the regime and accelerate steps to declare a transitional government that would include people of high competence and expertise,” he added. Furthermore, Inad said that “the meetings seek to unite the military battalions in Syria, as well as the sources of external funding.”

However, Abdul Salam al-Bitar, the secretary-general of the SNC’s regional office in Jordan, criticized the meetings, saying that they “are run from abroad.” Bitar said that talk of unifying the opposition is a “big lie” which aims to declare an interim government “led by former regime leaders who killed so many Syrian people before they defected from the regime….

Saudi Arabia absent from Egypt-Iran-Turkey talks on Syria

CAIRO (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia opted to stay away from a meeting of four regional powers on the Syrian crisis on Monday, adding to a sense that the forum is unlikely to advance the quest for peace.

Time Magazine–  Rania Abouzeid / Idlib province – “Syria’s Secular and Islamist Rebels: Who Are the Saudis and the Qataris Arming?”

The FSA is nominally headed by the Turkey-based Riad al-As’aad. Both As’aad and his chief FSA rival General Mustafa Sheikh are not party to the Istanbul control room which supplies and arms rebels who operate under the FSA banner. The two men each have their own sources of funding, and are independently distributing money and weapons to selected FSA units.

According to sources who have dealt with him, Saudi Arabia’s man in the Istanbul control center is a Lebanese politician named Okab Sakr. He belongs to the Future Movement, the organization of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which has a history of enmity with Damascus (Syria was accused of complicity in the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father Rafik). The party has not made Sakr available to TIME, denies his involvement in any weapons deals and insists that Sakr is in Belgium “on leave” from his political duties.

However, Sakr appears to have been in the southern Turkish city of Antakya in late August. A TIME inquiry with an Antakya hotel confirms Sakr was in the area at the time. According to rebel sources who dealt with him, theLebanese politician was there overseeing the distribution of batches of supplies — small consignments of 50,000 Kalashnikov bullets and several dozen rocket-propelled grenades – to at least four different FSA groups in Idlib province as well as larger consignments to other areas including Homs. The FSA sources also say he met with some commanders but not others – a selectivity that led to much chagrin.

That kind of favoritism has caused problems on the ground in many ways. According to FSA sources, prominent activists and members of the Istanbul control room, Sakr was mainly responsible for designating the representatives in Syria’s 14 provinces to whom the Istanbul center would funnel small batches of light weapons — Kalashnikov rifles, BKC machine guns, rocket propelled grenade launchers and ammunition – to reach FSA groups operating in each area. But the 20 or so Syrians selected (some areas like Damascus have more than one representative) to distribute armaments were not all effective. These representatives were “supposed to deliver the support inside but they did not have a presence on the ground, they weren’t known,” says an influential U.S.-based Syrian activist with wide contacts inside Syria who played a role in setting up the Istanbul operations room. “I saw this weak point, so I connected Okab to people I knew were working on the ground, and I wasn’t the only one to do this, others did too because we wanted the room to succeed.”

But the selectivity has bred further favoritism in the distribution of arms. “Those who received goods would distribute them as they wanted. They started sending to people and saying, ‘this is a gift from me to you,’” a member of the control room representing eastern Syria told TIME. Other representatives were blunter, seeking pledges of loyalty from FSA groups inside the country before delivering the goods. To try to alleviate the problem, the provincial representatives were cycled in and out of the room’s operations but the problems remained. “The weapons are all being distributed in secret,” says one fighter inside Syria angrily, “and what is secret will stay unclear.”

The situation is compounded by Qatar’s man — a major who defected from Assad’s army who has not yet responded to TIME’s request for comment. The Qataris want to focus on aiding the regional military councils, FSA groupings within Syria set up earlier this year partly in order to get around the favoritism of the representatives. (There are at least 10 military councilsscattered throughout the country.) Goods would be delivered to a council, and then distributed to the brigades under its umbrella. In practice, it wasn’t quite as easy, or smooth. “We were given lists by brigade leaders of their men, but we stopped believing the numbers,” says a member of the Istanbul room from Syria’s Idlib province. However, the Saudis – via Okab Sakr – appear to only want to support certain groups within the councils, but not others.

“We felt that the sides giving us support weren’t on the same page,” says the control room member from eastern Syria. “They started having side meetings with some groups.” Still, he says, “what is most important is that the guys receive weapons, whether that is via an operations room or directly, we don’t care. Nobody knows the truth from the talk,” he says. “We have been lied to [by the international community] and we have lied to the guys inside, saying weapons would arrive in a week, in 10 days, and months have passed and someareas haven’t received supplies. So, unless I see it, and see it distributed, even I don’t believe it.”

In the town of Bdeeta in Idlib province—which happens to be the hometown of Riad al-As’aad–rebel fighters complain bitterly about the lack of assistance. “We are licking our plates, we beg for salt,” says Abu Mar’iye, who heads the Martyrs of Ibditha group in the tiny town, home to some 2,000 people. “It’s not enough, even the weapons that arrive, it’s like a drop, just enough so the fighting continues, so we can kill each other but not win.”…..

….some FSA groups, like Abu Issa’s Suqoor al-Sham, are also part of wider Islamist networks. It’s largely to maximize the amount of support they can get.

…. Abu Issa, Suleiman and Maarouf, along with other high-profile rebel leaders from other provinces, spent much of August shuttling between Syria and Turkey to attend high-level meetings with diplomats and senior Syrian opposition. But U.S. diplomacy has yet to grasp the full complexity of the Syrian crisis. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s decision to snub the SNC during an August trip to Istanbul was widely viewed as belated recognition by many activists inside Syria that the exiles comprising the body have littlesway or credibility. The fact is, the guys with the guns do, although the State Department denies any direct contact with members of the FSA. (The SNCdoes not have a role in the arming of the rebels inside Syria, though some individual SNC members are in the Istanbul control room, representing theirregions.)

The Obama administration does not deal directly with the armed opposition but it has authorized a non-profit organization, the Syrian Support Group, to fundraise for the FSA. The SSG is comprised of Syrian exiles in the U.S and Canada as well as a former NATO political officer.

Zeidan of the Idlib Military Council doesn’t seem to differentiate between official U.S. policy and that of the SSG. He says he’s been in contact with members of the SSG for months. “I know that they are afraid of something called Al-Qaeda, it’s all a big lie,” said Zeidan. “They talk about Ahrar al-Sham and Suqoor al-Sham. They are conservative Islamists, but they are not extremists. Many of these groups just want support.” He adds, “We are fighting to have a democratic country, not so that we can install people with American or European or Saudi agendas… We want to topple the regime, so whoever offers us help, we will call our units whatever they want as long as they support us. We just want to finish.”

Syrian opposition split and hesitant- FM
Sep 17, 2012 – Voice of Russia

Syria’s opposition has split over choosing a mediator to lead dialogue with the government officials, Russia’s deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told reporters Monday.

He said that the opposition failed to choose a joint candidate, while the government is ready for talks.

The Swedish Institute for International Affairs just published a 44-page study written by Aron Lund on Syrian jihadi movements: “UI Brief 13: Syrian Jihadism”. It’s in English, but a Swedish version is on the way.

Report: Syria tested chemical weapons delivery systems in August
The German weekly Der Spiegel quotes witnesses as saying that Iranian officers were flown in for testing of chemical weapons in Syria’s desert.
By Haaretz | Sep.17, 2012 |

A satellite image of al-Safir, Syria’s main chemical weapons facility, near Aleppo.

Syria tested delivery systems for chemical weapons at the end of August, according to the German weekly Der Spiegel.

The report, which quotes various witnesses, said that the tests took place near a chemical weapons research center at al-Safir, east of Aleppo, and were carried out with the aid of Iranian officers who were flown in for the testing.

According to the report, five or six empty shells capable of delivering poison gas were fired by tanks and aircraft at the site of Diraiham in the desert, near the village of Khanasir. The report said that scientists from Iran and North Korea are said to work in the al-Safir research center, which is Syria’s largest testing site for chemical weapons.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the Syrian government has storied its chemical weapons and materials in some twenty sites around the country.

The report cited unnamed American and Middle Eastern officials, who also said there could be additional sites of which they were unaware.

The officials said their governments believe Syria has several tons of chemical weapons and materials, including weapons-ready sarin gas, and that the most dangerous elements of the arsenal are stored in bunkers.

UK: Syria intervention would need full US backing
AP / September 18, 2012

LONDON (AP) — British Foreign Secretary William Hague says any intervention in Syria would only be possible with the full backing of the United States

Hague told Parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Tuesday that he wasn’t advocating a military intervention, but that the option could not be ruled out amid an escalating crisis.

‘‘It would require intervention on a vastly greater scale than was the case in Libya, with no prospect at the moment of agreement at the U.N. Security Council, and would require the full involvement of the United States,’’ Hague told the committee.

Hague acknowledged he saw ‘‘major disadvantages’’ to an intervention….

Turkey to Provide Egypt $2 Billion in Aid

CAIRO—Turkey will provide a $2 billion aid package to help Egypt finance infrastructure projects and increase its dwindling foreign currency reserves, Egypt’s Minister of Finance said Saturday.

Egyptian financial policy makers have embarked on an aggressive effort over the past several months to solicit foreign assistance and investment in the hopes of mending a gaping budget and foreign currency reserve deficit.

Egypt’s budget deficit in …

Hatay officials look for fleeing Syrian refugees
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News, by  Erdem Güneş

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry is looking to coax back upward of thousands of Syrian refugees to temporary camps in the country’s south as they remain unaccounted for elsewhere in Turkey, an official told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

“Syrians who crossed the border illegally or escaped from the camps have been invited to come back to the camps by the Foreign Ministry,” Suphi Atan, who has been appointed to coordinate the Syrian camps in southern Turkish cities, said in a phone interview yesterday.

Atan said there were between 5,000 and 10,000 Syrians living in Hatay outside the camps, and there were thousands of others in other cities..

بوابة الأهرام
17-9-2012 |بشار الأسد

أعلن قائد الجيش السوري الحر لحماية الثورة الإثنين، عن “مكافأة مالية قدرها 25 مليون دولار، لمن يأتي ببشار الأسد حيًا أو ميتًا”.

وفي تصريحات خاصة لوكالة “الأناضول” للأنباء قال قائد الجيش العقيد أحمد حجازي إن “هذا المبلغ سيساهم فيه تجار سوريّون بالداخل والخارج

Aerial bombing ramped up in northern Syria – FT

Syrian rebels experiment with self rule
By: Borzou Daragahi | Financial Times

The leaders of the council governing Souran, a town in rebel-controlled Syria, decide to hold an impromptu meeting right on the footpath along its main street, a gesture of open government that would impress Canada or Sweden.

Jihad in Syria
Executive Summary – Institute for War Studies

This report examines the presence of jihadist groups within Syria, explains where various Syrian rebel groups and foreign elements operating in Syria fall along the spectrum of religious ideology, and considers their aggregate effect upon the Islamification of the Syrian opposition…..

  • The U.S. Government has cited concern over arming jihadists as a reason for limiting support to the Syrian opposition.  However, U.S. allies are already providing material support to the Syrian opposition, and competing sources of funding threaten Syria’s future stability by enhancing the influence of more radical elements. The confluence of jihadist interest with that of the Gulf states raises the possibility that these states may leverage jihadists for their own strategic purposes, while simultaneously limiting Western influence.
  • In order to counter this effect, the U.S. should seek to channel this support in a way that bolsters responsible groups and players while ensuring that Salafi-jihadist organizations such as Jabhat Nusra are unable to hijack the opposition movement. If the U.S. hopes to counter this threat and stem the growing popularity of more radical groups, it must clearly identify secular and moderate Islamist opposition groups and encourage the international community to focus resources in support of those groups alone.  Such focused support would increase the influence of moderate opposition groups and undercut the appeal of Salafism in Syria.

The United States must act on Syria By Radwan Ziadeh Monday, September 17 in FP

…. The United States should now provide robust diplomatic support for action to protect civilians, such as the establishment of no-fly zones. The Assad regime has proven time and again that it is entirely willing to indiscriminately bombard its own population centers with artillery and airstrikes. If the United States is unable or unwilling to put its own planes to use protecting innocents, the least it could do is provide diplomatic support to those who are. Regional allies have expressed a willingness to provide air cover for refugee camps situated near international borders — there is no reason for the United States not to support these efforts. Additionally, the United States should, in concert with regional partners, work to increase the supply of defensive weapons to the armed opposition. The Free Syrian Army (FSA), which controls large portions of the country, desperately needs anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons…..

I was born and raised in Daraya with my brothers and sisters. Many of my relatives still live in Daraya, and, following last month’s massacre and the death of my cousin, I fear for their lives. I last spoke to my mother on August 25 and have struggled to contact my family since. The feeling of helplessness that results from searching for the names of dead relatives on casualty lists posted on the internet is indescribable…

The America of the Arab Street
By ED HUSAIN, September 18, 2012, NYTimes

… The liberal protesters who demanded freedom and democracy last year were able to unite and overthrow dictators in Tunisia and Egypt. But their failure to explain what their liberalism stands for has opened the way for a new, Islamist-oriented power elite that capitalizes on old lies and half-truths to twist religion and history to manipulate the masses. …

Arab societies remain deeply religious. In liberal Morocco, 89 percent of the people say that religion is “very important” in their lives, according to a recent Pew poll. Mosques are packed every Friday; religious events promote widespread charity, and believers are encouraged to support candidates who are perceived to be more godly. But there is a deeper problem that goes well beyond the popular appeal of Islamist parties: A cancerous narrative has taken hold of many Arab minds.

In Egypt, 75 percent of Muslims do not believe that Arabs carried out the 9/11 attacks, according to a 2011 Pew poll. Many believe that it was either Israel, the U.S. government, or both. The West is viewed through a hodgepodge of conspiracy theories, half-truths and a selective reading of history.

When I met Muhammad Mahdi Akef, the influential former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, in April 2011, he insisted that Al Qaeda was a figment of the Western imagination. The idea that it doesn’t exist, that the United States attacked itself, is buttressed by preachers in mosques, on satellite television channels and in glossy Arabic books.

Comments (86)

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. Antoine said:

“6. Juergen said:

25 Million Dollar reward for Assad, dead or alive”


I prefer dead. Though I wouldn’t mind if they brought him before me alive, hands and feet bound.

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September 19th, 2012, 1:40 am


52. Antoine said:

Yesterday a number of border checkpoints, customs centres were taken over by FSA in al-Raqqah :

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September 19th, 2012, 2:04 am


54. Antoine said:

FSA in control of regime checkpoint on highway, amid dead bodies of tens of shabbihas and incompetent Assadist soldiers strewn all over the place :

Video of the operation and fighting :

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September 19th, 2012, 2:09 am


56. Antoine said:


, after 2005 there was massive imbalance between Jabal Mohsen and Bab al Tabbaneh. Mohsen received many large stockpiles of weapons from the retreating Syrian Army including heavy weapons like Mortars, Dushkas,etc. which allowed them to tip the balance against Bab al tabbaneh. But recently they have lost that edge as they have started to run out of ammunition and Bashar told them to fend for themsleves as he is too busy in Syria.

Anyway it is a known fact, that the last time fighting erupted after Eid in August, Jabal Mohsen ran out of ammunition and the Lebanese Army had to come to protect them. In fact Bab al Tabbaneh fighters have declared that they can go on fighting but it is Jabal Mohsen which is demanding a ceasefire.

Anyway Jabal Mohsen will fall once Damascus falls, that is a certainty. Can you imagine what will happen once 100 to 150 battle-hardened fighters from FSA Farouk Battallion joins the fight in Tripoli ?

Also the first time any serious fighting erupted between the 2 was in 2008.

Hezbollah took exactly 22 years ( 1978-2000) to take back the “security zone” of South Lebanon from the SLA and IDF. And lets not forget SLA had only 8,000 fighters whereas Hezbollah had more than 50,000 fighters. Still it took them exactly 22 years to liberate their own lands.

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September 19th, 2012, 2:35 am


57. Antoine said:

FSA ferocious female fighter :

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September 19th, 2012, 2:51 am


58. habib said:

34. ann said

Lool, better than Raid or Pif Paf! And funny how the emotional description says “They were fathers and brothers.”. Oh, I bet they’re the only ones!

56. Antoine

… Whereas the Salafists receive weapons from the Gulf and the US. Salafists are no good for fighting man to man, just to blow themselves and civilians up. That’s what we’re seeing all over the world, and why they can’t win in Syria or Lebanon.

Hamas are useless to kill anything but civilians. Al-Qaeda kills civilians in the US and Europe.

Onthe other hand, Hezbollah kills Israeli and American soldiers on their own ground.

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September 19th, 2012, 5:07 am


59. annie said:

Bushra al-Assad, sister of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has fled Syria with her children, an informed source told Al Arabiya English on Tuesday. Her husband, Assef Shawqat, who was the deputy chief of staff of the Syrian military, was assassinated in July.

According to the opposition website, Bushra left Syria to Dubai. Apparently she fled to the UAE in the past, during a short family quarrel with her brother, Bashar.

The pro-Syrian Lebanese daily Ad-Diyar reported that Bushra, a pharmacist, was on her way to Dubai, but didn’t specify whether it would be her final destination.

According to Al Arabiya, Bushra escaped Syria amid reports of internal strife within the Alawite sect, to which the president and most of the military, intelligence, and government leadership belong.

After the assassination of her husband, Bushra expressed great anxiety about her own and her children’s safety. A recent palace “quasi-coup” within the ranks of the Alawite leadership has driven Bushra to flee Syria.

According to Ad-Diyar, “some Alawite leaders are worried that the whole sect would eventually be implicated by President Assad in crimes against civilians,” and this has turned some of them against him. It appears that a “front of Alawite officers” has been formed to negotiate with the rebels’ Free Syrian Army on overthrowing the president. full article :

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September 19th, 2012, 7:02 am


60. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Bushra Al assad is a coward and a traitor to the Grat Syrian Arab Assad´s Nation.

Bushra should be besides Bashar eating snakes as a Presidential Female Fighter.

Bushra you will be caught even if you hide in Dubai. Your two daughters will bear the name of a high rank criminal who probably tried to make a coup d´etat against the President and this is why he was killed by Bashar´Iranian Guard.

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September 19th, 2012, 7:44 am


61. SANDRO LOEWE said:

I remember when Bushra´s little daughters atended at The Pioneers School and later it was called Al Bashaeir in honour of the Great Godess Sister. They have stolen huge amounts of money that cannot be tracked and are invested in Dubai. This is the way the Assad Great Arab Nationalists act. They are worse than jewish nationalists. These 2 little girls I personally knew will inherit huge amounts of money stolen from the syrian people taxes.

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September 19th, 2012, 8:05 am


62. Uzair8 said:


I will respectfully ignore the unjustified but understandable emotional outburst.

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September 19th, 2012, 9:16 am


63. irritated said:

@59. annie

Do you read SC posts or just post without reading what the others wrote?
Or maybe in the absence of any “good news”, I guess it is good to keep repeating the old ones

This was reported yesterday by Tara. It’s an old Al Arabya news.

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September 19th, 2012, 9:48 am


64. zoo said:

The cost of hate and racist ‘free speech’ in France

France to close premises in 20 countries over Mohammad cartoons

PARIS, (Reuters) – France said it would temporarily close its embassies and schools in 20 countries on Friday after a French magazine published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, a move it fears will further inflame tensions over a film mocking the prophet.

“We have indeed decided as a precautionary measure to close our premises, embassies, consulates, cultural centres and schools,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said of the shut-down on Friday, prayer day across the Muslim world.

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September 19th, 2012, 9:51 am


65. Tara said:


Wallahi ya Irritated you are not being fair..your freind Ann re-posts everything. Not only the ones that Zoo links but her own too. I excuse her most of the time because it appears that reading goes against her principals.

On a light note, I found a solution for irritable mood, try peanut butter sandwich on toast. It helps but avoid wt gain. 😉

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September 19th, 2012, 10:03 am


66. zoo said:

Middle East protests: meet the hardline ‘tele-Islamist’ who brought anti-Islam film to Muslim world’s attention

The violent protests over a new film insulting Islam has highlighted two conflicting new visions emerging in the post-Arab Spring world

By Nick Meo, Cairo and Colin Freeman
7:09PM BST 15 Sep 2012

His inflammatory chat show on satellite television has long prided itself on baiting liberals, Christians and Jews, but last week saw Sheikh Khalid Abdullah stage the broadcasting controversy of a lifetime.

The rabble-rousing Egyptian tele-Islamist knew he had found a ratings-grabber when he found an obscure, badly-made film on the internet called the Innocence of Muslims.

It had actually been online since July, but nobody had paid attention to its crude libels against the Prophet Mohammed until Mr Abdullah’s show broadcast clips from it last weekend, calling for the film-makers to be executed.

Within hours the hardline Salafi Islamists who watch his programme, and who have been growing in strength since last year’s revolution, were demonstrating in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and outside the US embassy, which they stormed on Tuesday, burning the US flag.

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September 19th, 2012, 10:11 am


67. irritated said:

65. Tara

Calamity Annie comes occasionally from behind the wall to throw at us copies from one of the most boring Blog on the net.
Peanut butter is far too American for me, it would irritate me even more.
I would suggest you to use دبس خروب it is very efficient for all kind of ailments you may suffer, including anger and frustration.
I guess you should reserve you wt advices to your Qatari idol.

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September 19th, 2012, 10:24 am


68. Tara said:


can’t stop smiling. I expected every word you said. Next time I will suggest an authentic Damascene treatment..

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September 19th, 2012, 10:44 am


69. zoo said:

Russia Threatens To Block All YouTube Access Over Anti-Muslim Film


MOSCOW – The General Prosecutor’s Office has filed a suit to declare the recent anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims,” extremist, which could lead to the blocking of YouTube across all of Russia by November, Kommersant reports.

A new law meant to protect children from exposure to information that will “interfere with their health or development,” including information that is extremist in any way will come into force on November 1. If the film is declared extremist and Google does not block access to the film, YouTube will be added to a black list and will not be accessible from inside Russia, Kommersant reports.

Google has already announced that it will not delete the film. However, it has restricted access to the film in India and Indonesia and has blocked the video from being shown in Egypt and Libya. The Russian prosecutor “strongly recommended” that Google block access to the film in Russia before the court makes a decision. Google’s headquarters in Russia refused to comment on the case.

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September 19th, 2012, 10:50 am


70. ann said:

France’s Cynical Range from Hollande at Louvre to Araud in Council

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 18 — The range of French governmental spin about xenophobia and Islam has been displayed in the last week.

Today in Paris president Francois Hollande pledged love to Islamic art, at an opening at the Louvre.

Later, one step down, foreign minister Laurent Fabius condemned the publication Charlie Hebdo, but noted that there are in France legal protections from freedom of the press.

But at the UN last week, French ambassador Gerard Araud let it all hang out, multiple Security Council sources have told Inner City Press.

During a closed-door discussion last week of a draft press statement on the killing of US diplomats in Benghazi against a backdrop of protests of an anti-Islam film, Araud said, as paraphrased to Inner City Press by four Council diplomats, that he likes and takes pride in the freedom to denigrate religion.

One Security Council member told Inner City Press this was “outrageous” and “incitement.”

Another told Inner City Press, but then France should at least be consistent in being for free speech, because there are some kinds of speech they do not allow.

A third questioned how much this reflects the position of France under Francois Hollande, as opposed to Nicolas Sarkozy, and how much it is “Araud, pure Araud.”

We noted that France has positioned itself with the opposition in Libya, particularly in Benghazi then air dropping weapons into the Nafusa mountains, and now in Syria, where even the founder of MSF from Paris has said half of the fighters he treated in Aleppo were, to put it diplomatically, armed opponents of such films.

Is French policy in this regard schizophrenic? Or is it simply cynical?

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September 19th, 2012, 11:16 am


71. zoo said:

France trapped in its double standard may loose what is left of its fading importance in the Middle East

Arab League urges restraint over Prophet cartoon

Wednesday, 19 September 2012 6:43 PM

Muslim and Arab leaders on Wednesday denounced cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a French magazine as another insult to their faith but urged people to shun a violent reaction and to protest peacefully.

The cartoons, featured in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, showed an Orthodox Jew pushing a turbaned figure in a wheelchair on its cover. Several caricatures of the Prophet were included on its inside pages, including some of him naked.

The Arab League appealed to Muslims offended by the cartoons to “use peaceful means to express their firm rejection.”

The acting head of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Essam Erian, said the French judiciary should deal with the issue as firmly as it had handled the case against the magazine which published topless pictures of Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge, the wife of Prince William.

“If the case of Kate (the duchess) is a matter of privacy, then the cartoons are an insult to a whole people. The beliefs of others must be respected,” he said.

Mahmoud Ghozlan, spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, welcomed French government criticism of the cartoons but said that French law should deal with insults against Islam in the same way as it deals with Holocaust denial.

“If anyone doubts the Holocaust happened, they are imprisoned, yet if anyone insults the Prophet, his companions or Islam, the most (France) does is to apologise in two words. It is not fair or logical,” he said.

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September 19th, 2012, 11:42 am


72. Observer said:

I am stunned at the language and the tone and the content of what Majbali had to say.

Can someone explain to me what brought about the temper tantrum?

I liked what ANN had said in a previous post:
” 12% of the Syrian Population is Allawi the remaining 88% are sheep” A glimpse to her mind set as the posts are usually nothing more than obscure cut and paste of irrelevance. I am glad she/he has a mind. For the cut and paste was mind numbing to begin with.

Sheep to be ruled, slaughtered, sheered, milked, I wonder.

SC is better as moderation has actually prevented some free speech, and free speech can be hateful and racist and deragotary and whatever.

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September 19th, 2012, 12:57 pm


73. Citizen said:

Israel just mobilized a large military force to the border with Syria. This supports speculation that an attack is planned on Syria followed by a faked “retaliation” by Iran to set the stage for all out war.

Israel launches largest ever “surprise” or “snap” live fire drill…..

The timing of this live fire “snap” drill should indicate this is no ‘snap’ drill. Nor is it a “surprise” drill, despite the silly headlines used by the media. When considering the timing and location of Israel’s live fire drill and how very provocative the undertaking of this drill by Israel is, consider this- 25 Nations Practice War Against Iran

Israeli defence officials say the military is conducting its largest snap drill in years. The exercise comes against the backdrop of tensions with Iran and the civil war in Syria.

A military spokesman says Wednesday’s drill under way in northern and central Israel is a planned, routine event.

But other officials say the exercise is unique in terms of number of soldiers and senior officers involved. Part of the exercise is in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights next to Syria.

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September 19th, 2012, 1:04 pm


74. ann said:

Another Tactical Retreat To Paradise 🙂

Street fighting ongoing in Syria, rebels retreat from restive district of capital – 2012-09-19

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebel fighters announced Wednesday morning their retreat from the Damascus’ suburbs of al-Hajar al-Aswad, al-Qadam and al-A’sali in Damascus after weeks of violent clashes with government forces.

DAMASCUS, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) — The clashes between the Syrian troops and the opposition fighters continued Wednesday in several hotspots in the unrest-stricken country, reports said, as activists claimed the armed rebels have pulled out from districts of the capital Damascus.

Syria’s state news agency SANA said the Syrian army carried out two qualitative operations at the Maisalon and al-Fardous areas in the northern city of Aleppo, killing many armed “terrorists” and destroying three buses occupied by “terrorists.”

Meanwhile, two explosive devices ripped through Damascus’ suburb of Qudsia near a high-school but leaving no human losses, said SANA.

Also in Damascus’ suburb, the Syrian troops have dealt “harsh blows” to the armed opposition fighters at al-Hajar al-Aswad area, killing and injuring a number of them, and the troops managed to ” purge” some parts of the restive district from insurgents, according to SANA.

Quoting a military source, SANA said the armed groups used all kind of weapons in their fighting against the government troops. The source also stressed that the forces will continue their operations to cleanse all Damascus’ suburbs from the armed insurgents.


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September 19th, 2012, 1:14 pm


75. Tara said:


“Can someone explain to me what brought about the temper tantrum?”

Upbringing. Resorting to insult and vulgarity is usually a reflection of one’s own culture at home. That is how their family talks. I suspect they use the same exact words. It is their culture.

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September 19th, 2012, 1:19 pm


76. Citizen said:

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September 19th, 2012, 1:22 pm


77. ann said:

Surprise drill: IDF gets ready for war – 19 September, 2012

The Israeli Invasion Force has begun surprise live-fire war games on the Golan Heights, bordering unstable Lebanon and Syria. Officially, the Israeli military is practicing combat readiness to repel possible sudden attack from Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

The Chief of IDF General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz ordered troops from the Northern and Central commands, reinforced by reservists, to simulate an emergency. The IDF insists the drill is a routine scheduled event, but for unknown reasons withheld from making public how many troops and what military vehicles are being involved in the war games.

But Israel Radio’s military affairs correspondent who is in regular contact with senior officers, said on air that the timing of the exercise was “not mere coincidence.”

Troops were flown by helicopter from central Israel to the Golan Heights for the exercise.

The live fire drill will be conducted later in the evening and will be overseen by the IDF’s Chief Artillery Officer, Brig. Gen. Roei Riftin.


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September 19th, 2012, 1:26 pm


78. Citizen said:

“What do we have to do with Syria?” he said. “The prime minister and his wife used to go there for tea and coffee.”

The Turkish government is facing a spasm of reproach from its own people over its policy of supporting Syria’s uprising; hosting fighters in the south, opposition figures in Istanbul and refugees on the border; and helping to ferry arms to the opposition. While many Turks at first supported the policy as a stand for democracy and change, many now believe that it is leading to instability at home, undermining Turkey’s own economy and security.

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September 19th, 2012, 1:32 pm


79. Citizen said:
Mitt Romney on the Mideast Conflict

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September 19th, 2012, 1:44 pm


80. ann said:

Archbishop Choloyan: Syrian-Armenian Community in Danger, HELP Required – September 19, 2012

To contribute to the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund, make your checks payable to the “Armenian Apostolic Church of America,” noting in the memo, “Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief.” Send your checks to the Armenian Prelacy, 138 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016.

In a recent interview with the Hairenik Weekly, Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Eastern U.S., urged Armenians worldwide to help the Syrian-Armenian community increasingly threatened by the turmoil in Syria.

Choloyan stressed the important and exemplary role the Syrian-Armenian community has played throughout the years. “The Armenians of Aleppo inherited the unique Armenian spirit that it directly acquired from the soil and water of the homeland, the spirit which was resurrected after the genocide, especially in Aleppo,” he said. “Hence, Aleppo remained true to our roots, in terms of traditions and heritage.”

His Holiness Catholicos Aram I has also called upon all Armenians, and especially to the parishes under the jurisdiction of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, to come to the assistance of the Syrian-Armenian community, said Choloyan. His Holiness wants to ensure that the community protects its properties, schools, churches, and centers, while also providing humanitarian aid to community members.

Choloyan commended the Syrian-Armenian youth for the role they have played thus far. “I want to note, with gratitude and pride, the sacrifice of the…youth, who willingly organized and—even under the threat of death—are providing aid to families in need,” he said. “Together and in one spirit, all of us must engage in this sacred endeavor, taking as example the unified sprit of the Armenian community leaders in Syria…”

Choloyan said Catholicos Aram I canceled his trip to the U.S. after it became clear the Syrian-Armenian community was in danger, and that his presence was needed in the Middle East.

Heeding the Catholicos’ call, the central committee for the “Syrian Armenian Relief Fund” was established. Unfortunately, it was not possible to organize under one banner the various organizations in the Eastern U.S., something that was done in the Western U.S. and in Canada. During their first meeting, the committee decided to dedicate September—and the following months—to raising funds, until the Syrian-Armenian community reestablishes itself, and unitl its members are able to return to a normal and productive life.

The committee has undertaken four measures for a successful campaign: First, they will appeal to those families and individuals on their mailing list. Second, they will collect donations through their churches. Third, they will donate all proceeds from the dinner reception in honor of the Catholicos’s visit to aid the Syrian-Armenian community. (The dinner reception, slated to take place on Oct. 7 in New York, has not been canceled despite the Catholicos’s decision to stay in the Middle East; the dinner is being held in appreciation to those individuals and organizations that aided the Armenian people following the genocide, including the Near East Relief, ANCHA, and Fridtjof Nansen.) Fourth, they will appeal to Syrian-Armenians who are prepared to contribute large funds to the relief initiative. Currently, the committee is working on producing a brochure outlining the current conditions.

“We greatly appreciate the campaign already initiated by the Armenian Relief Society,” Choloyan said in the interview. “We also appreciate the kindness of all those who, before our campaign even started, have made their generous contributions. This is the best expression of the conscientiousness of Armenians.”

According to Choloyan, the committee decided to send all donations to the Prelacy, and from there to the Cilician Catholicosate. Bank transactions are not currently possible in Syria due to sanctions imposed by the U.S. that make such transactions illegal, noted the archbishop. Catholicos Aram I has maintained contact with Armenian community leaders in Syria, with whom he occasionally meets, and the transfer of funds will be made through this route.

“No one should be satisfied by saying, ‘I gave what I could, now it’s up to others.’ In matters of national concern, that other is also us. Only through our togetherness, can our united strength be manifested. It is our heartfelt prayer that the bombing ceases, that enmities subside, so that as loyal Syrian citizens, the Syrian-Armenians commit themselves to the establishment of peace and reconstruction,” Choloyan said.

“If our education has given us the sense of belonging to one nation and one fate, now is the moment to prove it. As the Apostle has said, if one part of the body hurts, the whole body hurts…” he continued, adding, “Being Armenian is a duty; being Armenian is sacrifice. Let us not forget that being Armenian is also dignity and pride. And to stay true to our heritage, we are going to help our compatriots who are in a difficult situation. It is not forgivable to find excuses in face of daily turmoil in Syria.”


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September 19th, 2012, 1:45 pm


81. zoo said:

Libyan Militia Blamed for Attack on U.S. Consulate Denies Responsibility September 19, 2012

A BBC Arabic interview with Mohammad Ali al-Zahawi, commander of the Islamist, Libyan militia blamed for the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi last week.

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September 19th, 2012, 1:45 pm


82. zoo said:

Turkish Polls Show Waning Support for Ankara’s Syria Policy

By Dorian Jones, VOA

ISTANBUL – A recent opinion poll in Turkey found that only 18 percent of Turks back their government’s support for the Syrian opposition. The poll was the latest in the last few months showing a collapse in public support and putting pressure on the government to address its Syria policy.

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September 19th, 2012, 1:52 pm


83. ann said:

For men, neutrality comes at a price – Thu, 20 September 2012

“The Free Syrian Army handed me a gun and said ‘you are either with us, or against us,’”

MAFRAQ, Jordan — Mohammed Hamad finds himself both an outlaw and an outcast in his home village near Damascus — despite having not committed a crime or a social offence.

The 26-year-old pharmacist, who now lives in a refugee camp in neighbouring Jordan, says one decision last month left him a persona non grata and he was forced to flee.

He had refused to fight for the dissidents.

“The Free Syrian Army handed me a gun and said ‘you are either with us, or against us,’” Hamad said, as he stoked a small bonfire in front of his tent in the desert Zaatari refugee camp.

“How can I turn a gun on my own people?” Hamad is one of many in Syria who find themselves torn between the government of President Bashar al Assad and dissident forces.

Those who refuse to take sides say they quickly learn that staying neutral in the increasingly polarising conflict is a decision that can cost them their homes, livelihoods — and even their lives.

As the fighting drags on and the casualty count rises, dissidents admit they are in desperate need of manpower to keep their military prowess alive.

“Right now we need everybody we can get,” said Abu Hani, a 43-year-old air force lieutenant who joined the Free Syrian Army (FSA) last month.

The dissidents have launched a recruitment drive, travelling from one village to another, urging families to send their sons, brothers and fathers to the urban frontlines.

Although the FSA insists that enlistment is “entirely voluntary”, some Syrians accuse dissidents of using organised pressure to coerce young men into joining their ranks.

“They know very well that if asked in front of your entire village whether you will defend your people, it is impossible to say no,” said Mohammed Darawi, who declined to serve dissident forces due to an alleged heart problem.

“Your entire reputation and life would be over.” For the young men who reject the dissidents’ advances, the ramifications loom large.
Mohammed Homsawi said a group of local youths set fire to his grocery store after he turned down an offer to “join the resistance”, while Ahmed Rifai, 20, said he was disowned by his family after refusing to take up arms.

“It is not just a question about fighting, it is a question about defending your land, your home, your family,” Rifai said as he queued for water at the Zaatari camp, his temporary home for the last three weeks. “For many, shame of having a ‘coward’ in the family is too much to bear.’”

Despite being under pressure to replenish their ranks, dissidents say they are “sympathetic” to humanitarian cases.

“We recognise that not everyone is able to go off and fight; they have families to take care of,” Abu Hani, the defector from the Syrian army, said.

Yet as the 19-month conflict drags on, Syrians say the FSA has even begun to turn to “humanitarian cases” to fill out its ranks, offering single male household heads safe passage to Jordan and monthly stipends for their families in return for their services.


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September 19th, 2012, 2:01 pm


84. ann said:

Cairo meeting over Syria: A drop in the ocean – Sep 19, 2012

Eyal Zisser from the Moshe Dayan Center for Eastern and African Studies in Israel doubts there is much Egypt’s President Morsi can do about the Syrian conflict, featuring a mixed bag of actors and issues.

I doubt it very much whether there is any possibility to reach any understanding or real solution to the Syrian problem. Anyhow it is not in the hands of those gentlemen who meet in Cairo, that have very little influence over the situation in Syria itself.

But do I get it right that it was the Egyptian suggestion that they meet in this kind of format in Cairo?

Yes, because it is clear that the Egyptians, especially after President Morsi took over, and of the Islamist background he is just showing some success or progress and so he is pushing things ahead. But I doubt it very much whether he can bring progress and whether he can really achieve something.

I’ve seen some reports saying that international experts have now become aware of foreign actors involved in the Syrian situation, I mean involved on the ground.

It is nothing new, I mean this involvement was well known from the early beginning, I mean everybody is being involved – the Iranians and Hezbollah on the one hand and some Western countries on the other hand. Once again, I believe that with all that we expect of this foreign involvement it is not the issue for real, this is the civil war and it will take some time till this civil war will come to an end. And how it will come to an end that’s something I really don’t know.

But it looks like the Assad’s Government is still quite strong, that it is still able to resist the pressure of the opposition forces.

I think that it is arbitrary, I mean nobody is strong enough to beat entirely the rise on the other side, I mean the Syrian Government is strong but the protest is deeply rooted and it will be very difficult for the regime to overcome it. So, I guess we will see more of the same problem for the time being.

Meaning the situation is not going to change drastically in Syria, is my understanding correct?

Yes, that’s my view of the situation.


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September 19th, 2012, 2:18 pm


85. Citizen said:

Free Syrian Army plans to target civilian airports
ALEPPO, Syria — Syrian rebels say they plan to target the country’s public airports. While it might seem antithetical to their cause to attack airports serving civilians, the rebels say they are left with little choice. Facing a near constant barrage of regime attacks from the air, and little support from the international community to enforce a no-fly zone, the rebels are attempting — on their own — to cripple the government’s ability to launch airstrikes and move weapons.

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September 19th, 2012, 2:28 pm


86. Citizen said:

إعتقال أم فلسطينية ناشطة ضد الجدار والإستيطان أمام أطفالها, فيما حاول الأطفال الدفاع عن والدتهم وتخليصها من بين أيدي الجنود. وقد ألتقط مقطع الفيديو, الجمعة الماضية في قرية النبي صالح, حيث إعتقل جنود الإحتلال ثلاث ناشطات فلسطينيات, إضافة إلى إعتقال خمسة متضامنين أجانب, والإعتداء على الطفلتين مرح وعهد التميمي.

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September 19th, 2012, 2:38 pm


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