“Mohammad Nassif: The Shadow Man of the Syria-Iran Axis,” by Mohammad Ataie

nassifThe Shadow Man of the Syria-Iran Axis
For Syria Comment, July 16›
By Mohammad Ataie

Throughout the Syrian-Iranian partnership, few men had a more important role in the genesis and evolution of the alliance than Major General Mohammed Nassif. Known by his sobriquet, Abu Wael, he was the last of Hafez Asad’s men to remain at the heart of the regime. He died on June 28, 2015 in his 80s. The secretive Major General was central, from the early 1980s, in forging Syrian policy towards Iran and directing their often turbulent cooperation in both Lebanon and Iraq.

Nassif was known for his political clout and elusive character as a central member of the security apparatus. His star began to rise in the 1970s, when Lebanon’s Shia emerged as an important political force under the leadership of Musa Sadr. Musa Sadr turned to President Asad as an ally when he fell out the Shah of Iran. Asad directed Nassif to take responsibility for Shia affairs in Lebanon and to act as liaison with the clergy there. According to Sadr’s family, Musa Sadr stayed at Nassif’s house when he visited Damascus. Nassif also cultivated friendships with leaders of the Lebanese Amal movement, such as Nabih Berri and Mustafa Chamran, who was an Iranian member of Amal. After 1979, Chamran became minister of defense in Iran. With Sadr’s disappearance, Nassif’s ties remained strong with his family, including Sadr’s nephew, Sadegh Tabatabai. In 1981, Nassif while on an official visit in Tehran, asked Tabatabai to arrange a meeting for him with Ayatollah Khomaini, the leader of the revolution. The meeting did not take place.

With the Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980 and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon two years later, Damascus drew closer to Tehran. Nassif’s importance in nurturing the creation of Hizbullah and the emerging “Shiite Crescent” could not have been more important for Iran because Saddam threatened the survival of young Islamic Republic. Claiming to be the shield of the Sunni Arab World, the Iraqi leader dragged his country into its eight-year conflict with Iran. Saudi Arabia and the Sunni monarchs of the Gulf accustomed to Sunni supremacy and Shiite docility believed that Saddam could contain, if not crush the new revolutionary force in Tehran.

Mohammad Nassif sensing that Syria could harness the Shiite awakening to its advantage became infatuated with Ayatolah Khomaini and Shia doctrine. His rapport and common intellectual outlook with Iran’s revolutionary clerics helped make him indispensible in Damascus, where secular Arabism seemed to preclude real sympathy with the Persian upstart. The secretive Major General was one of very few people, according to Patrick Seale, who could telephone Asad at any time of day or night. In the eyes of Iranians, he was not only a key channel to the Syrian President but also a power behind the throne.

In 1980, when Ali Akbar Mohtashami went to Damascus in the hope of exporting the Islamic Revolution, he was sorely disappointed by his cold reception by the secular Baathist leaders of Syria and with a “sluggish bureaucracy” in the Syrian Foreign Ministry. He was unable to get an audience with the President himself or stimulate interest in the president’s office. Mohtashami, the key Iranian in building the eventual Syro-Iranian alliance, was not put off. Undaunted, he cultivated a close relationship with Muhammad Nassif, a winning strategy. If either the Foreign Ministry or the Prime Minister’s Office threw up road-blocks in front of Mohtashami or if conservative Sunnis, such as Abdulhalim Khaddam or Abdul Rauf al-Kasm, looked with distaste at Iranian advances, Nassif could find ways around them; he helped convince Assad that the Iranians offered a stable and strong ally in the dangerous sea of fickle Arabs partners surrounding Syria. For the Iranians, he was the right man in the right place.

Musa al-Sadr

When Iran’s revolutionary leaders sought to get to the bottom of the 1978 disappearance in Libya of Musa Sadr, the Iranian-Lebanese divine and Shiite politician, they turned to Mohammad Nassif. To their surprise, Nassif openly accused Colonel Muammar Qaddafi of kidnapping Musa al-Sadr and used the strongest invective in characterizing Libya’s strongman, but despite his belief in Qaddafi’s guilt, Nassif explained to his Iranian counterparts that any investigation into Sadr’s death would be useless. All the same, the Iranians insisted on talking to Hafiz al-Asad. True to Nassif’s warning, the President told the Iranian envoy: “the issue of Mr. Imam Musa Sadr is over. Unfortunately, I must insist that you not follow up Mr. Sadr [‘s case]”. Syrians never publicly accused the Pan-Arab leader of Libya of murdering Musa al-Sadr and, as it turned out, neither did Tehran. They swallowed their anger in recognition that Libya was too important to the unfolding Middle Eastern chess game to be sacrificed in an unconsidered fit of rage. Some insisted that Qaddafi murdered Sadr because the Libyan leader was furious at the mocking tone adopted by the learned Imam as the two leaders debated Sunni-Shiite theological differences. Others claimed that Yasser Arafat had asked Qaddafi to dispatch Sadr, a competitor in Lebanon. Now that Qaddafi has met his grisly death, the real reasons for Sadr’s death may never be known.

In the early 1980s, Syrians were concerned lest Iran embrace Yasser Arafat as an instrument of its broader revolutionary policy in the region. Khomeini seemed to flirt with the idea of forming an alliance with the PLO to harness the passions created by the Arab-Israeli conflict. Mohammed Nassif took a strong anti-Arafat position; he advised Tehran against cooperation with the mercurial Palestinian. In 1981, an Iranian delegation dispatched by Tehran to meet Arafat in Beirut, stopped off in Damascus to see Nassif on their road West. Nassif argued against depending on Arafat who he described as unreliable and two-faced. Instead, Nassif asked the Iranians to side with Nabih Berri, the leader of Amal, Lebanon’s dominant Shiite political movement. Syria’s anti-Arafat stand kept Iran from choosing Arafat, but despite Syria’s advocacy of Berri, Ayatollah Khomaini never agreed to meet Berri and the revolutionary clerics hung back from choosing a Lebanese client until the rise of Hizballah following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

Nassif remained a key player in the triangular relations that bound Syria to Iran and Lebanon during the next decades. Following the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, he added Baghdad to his brief. In both Lebanon and Iraq, Syria’s two principal arenas of cooperation and competition with Iran, Nassif played a crucial role. A loyal and substantial figure under both Asads, he knew how to remain in the shadows and eschewed self-aggrandizement or promoting family. His death brings to an end the influence of the original architects of the Asad regime.

* Mohammad Ataie is an Iranian journalist and a PhD student in History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Comments (90)


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51. Majedkhaldoun said:

Hopeful
As Tara said you need to read, you do not know a lot of things, in Arabic we say الجهل نعمة، ignorance is a blissful

As for the prophet trip to heaven , it was spiritual trip not physical one, Aishaالسيدة عاءشةsaid that too
When you understand Islam correctly you will be advocate of Islam

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July 19th, 2015, 11:03 pm

 

52. Ghufran said:

Mentally and intellectually many muslims, Shia and Sunni, are still living in the Middle Ages, this business of my religion is better than yours or my religion is true Islam is a sign of a personality disorder. The miserable conditions of most muslims is due to poverty and lack of freedom and that adds fuel to the fire.
Keep your faith to your self and ignore your sheikhs, they have not done anything since the 15th century to help you and help your chikdren.
Show the love of God in charity and good behavior, religious people do not commit murder or advocate murder.

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July 19th, 2015, 11:40 pm

 

53. Akbar Palace said:

Well, I have to agree with Ghufran ‘ s last post.

Syrian Hamster is an atheist. That should not be illegal.

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July 19th, 2015, 11:45 pm

 

54. Hopeful said:

#48 Tara

“Now for God sake, who gives a damn !!! 225 thousand Syrians slaughtered because they hated Aisha et al! Can they please get a life.”

Syrians are slaughtered because a brutal regime attacked people who rose up to ask for their freedom. Because foriegn jihadis flooded the country aiming to establish a radical Islamic state. Because war lords and regional powers are leveraging sectarian hatred, on both sides, to advance their agendas.

Sunni web sites are also filled with similar nonsense you mention. One who wishes to discret Sunnism can also make a similar claim to the one you made. Yes, shiias have a different narrative than the Sunnis regarding what happened after the prophet died, and it is their right to have that. The silly wars and hatred between the two sects based on whose version is accurate is indeed silly and unfortunate. And to this day, imams and shiekhs on both sides use these narratives to stir emoticons and secterian tendencies among their followers.

An amazing book and a really enjoyable read is a book written by Lesley Hazelton called: “After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam”. It reads like a fairy tale, but she has done a great job in researching the topic. I read it last year and learned a lot. The fact that Ali led a muslim army to fight another muslim army led by Aysha is a historic fact that I never learned about in school books. It is part of Islam history that Muslims, on all sides, need to come to terms with instead of keeping the secerians hatred igniting for ever.

I agree with Ghufran in #52. The problems in Islam are shared among all sects.

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July 20th, 2015, 3:02 am

 

55. Badr said:

“Omen” has been despairing “opposition hasn’t gotten more help from house of saud”.

[Jokingly] Perhaps because the “influential” professor has been successful in convincing them that the only alternative to the Assad regime is the hardline Islamists and Jihadists:

The Biggest Loser In The Iranian Nuclear Deal

Landis believes that the only thing that has kept Assad’s opponents in the Gulf from pushing harder for Assad’s fall is the fear that radical Islamist groups will fill the regime-shaped void. For now, Landis predicted, any increase on either side will be met with balance.

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July 20th, 2015, 3:25 am

 

56. ALAN said:

الحموض الأمينية العربية تحتوي على مكونات الخيانة. جاء الاسلام ليصلحها. ضعف الاسلام و بقيت الخيانة.
العرب هم المشكلة و ليس الاسلام.

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July 20th, 2015, 3:28 am

 

57. Hopeful said:

# 51. MAJEDKHALDOUN

Please forgive my ignorance, but what is a “spiritual trip”? A dream? Billions of Muslims around the world mark the day of الإسراء والمعراج which, in your interpretation, is nothing other than a dream the prophet had in his sleep?

It must be a belief in something bigger than just a dream. But it is just that – a belief. Not a fact. Hence the point of my previous post.

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July 20th, 2015, 3:33 am

 

58. SANDRO LOEWE said:

The deal US / IRAN could be a great trick to Iran. I compare it with the Munchen Agreement 1938.

Due to the Obama recognition the persian empire will expand will fresh money and no need for political reform. Exactly as it happened with Chamberlain deal with Hilter regarding Checslovakia by 1938-39.

We all know the result of the great mistake committed by France and GB. They tried to push Hitler towards the Soviets but at the end they were massacred by Hitler and later invaded by Stalin. Just a big war lead by US could solve it. 55.000.000 died.

This time with nuclear and chemical weapons and dictators ready to use them the numbers could be even higher.

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July 20th, 2015, 4:35 am

 

59. Observer said:

I do not know what is the difference in development between Iran and the Sunni states in detail. In Iran the literacy rate was 22% for women in 79 and now it is above 80%.
In KSA it is the same and in the GCC they did develop to the best of their abilities and considering their low population numbers. Kuwait is lagging behind.

The point is that the ideology is flawed from my point of view: Khomeinism has hijacked Shia ideology and Wahhabism has hijacked Sunni ideology and both have diminished the religion to a political straight jacket.

Corruption is rampant in Iran and what is most interesting is that the degree of atheism in both Iran and KSA has skyrocketed and some estimate that more than 50% are now secret atheists.

That is the point: when a system of beliefs fails to provide solutions it will be abandoned. This is what will happen long term.

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July 20th, 2015, 7:36 am

 

60. omen said:

52.Ghufran said: Keep your faith to your self and ignore your sheikhs, they have not done anything since the 15th century to help you and help your chikdren. Show the love of God in charity and good behavior, religious people do not commit murder or advocate murder.

190.Jasmine said: this wasn’t a revolution, it started from a mosque

now this wont come as a surprise to seasoned syria watchers but i have yet to see a loyalist acknowledge this reality:

Jolani was in his third year at medical school in Damascus University when, after attending Friday sermons led by the renowned cleric, Abu Qa`qa`, in Aleppo, he left in 2003 to fight the Americans in Iraq under the command of the Jordanian Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi.

[…]

Two details in particular stand out, the first being the Abu Qa`qa` connection. In their new book, ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan devote several pages to the “curious case” of this Bin Ladenite whose ties to the regime were “hardly Syria’s best-kept secret.” His bloodcurdling sermons preaching murder and martyrdom in the heart of Syria’s largest city were of the sort that ordinarily earned one a lifetime’s imprisonment and torture. Questions about his character were scarcely assuaged by the revelation he was supplying the mukhabarat with names of local extremists. Nonetheless, for the youths (like Jolani) who were persuaded by his call to fight the infidel invaders next door, he provided the golden ticket across the border to Zarqawi’s men. “He was a tool for the regime, and in the end he was shot,” former Syrian MP Muhammad Habash, who knew him, told the authors.

loyalists like to scapegoat islam when clerics are on regime payroll.

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July 20th, 2015, 1:12 pm

 

61. SANDRO LOEWE said:

The deal US / IRAN could be a great trick to Iran. I compare it with the Munchen Agreement 1938.

Due to the Obama recognition the persian empire will expand will fresh money and no need for political reform. Exactly as it happened with Chamberlain deal with Hilter regarding Checslovakia by 1938-39.

We all know the result of the great mistake committed by France and GB. They tried to push Hitler towards the Soviets but at the end they were massacred by Hitler and later invaded by Stalin. Just a big war lead by US could solve it. 55.000.000 died.

This time with nuclear and chemical weapons and dictators ready to use them the numbers could be even higher.

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July 20th, 2015, 2:07 pm

 

62. omen said:

tell me again, dear loyalists, how Islam is to blame.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B7Wdw_4IAAARhDK.jpg

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July 20th, 2015, 4:07 pm

 

63. ALAN said:

Again the US army supplied weapons to the Islamic state by airdrops

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=bfc_1437376344

In this way the American and British aircraft become outlaws and have to be shot down.

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July 20th, 2015, 5:07 pm

 

64. SANDRO LOEWE said:

IRAN is talking too much these days, but in this chess game they have sacrified the Queen (nuclear capability).

Alan, do not try to cheat yourself. You know US has agreed with Iran that the ayatollahs will pólice the Middle East if they give up their nuclear projects. Now you (Assad/Iran) and US are in the same side.

Get ready to receive from behind, you cannot attack the US anymore. Do not cheat yourself.

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July 20th, 2015, 5:23 pm

 

65. omen said:

the two leaders debated Sunni-Shiite theological differences.

on topic for once, earlier looking for a quote by hof, stumbled across this instead, a piece that treads along same territory mr. mohammad ataie highlights.

by bassam barabandi

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah developed a relationship with Bashar a few years before his father’s death in 2000 and endeared himself to Bashar in a way that his father would never allow.

hmm, you dont say.

As a diplomat for the Syrian Foreign Ministry in 2008, I attended a dinner during a diplomatic visit with Iranian Ambassador Ahmad al-Mousawi. He told me, “Iranians are all blooming flowers planted by Mohamad Nassif.” Nassif was a close advisor to Hafez al-Assad, and until recently the deputy vice president for security. Ambassador Mousawi’s statement hints at the complexities of Iran and Syria’s relationship over the last forty-five years. The Syrian constitution requires the president to be a Muslim. As an Alawite in the 1970s, Hafez al-Assad needed to put to rest any question of his religious legitimacy. He saw an opportunity in Musa al-Sadr, an influential Iranian Shia scholar in Lebanon. Assad supported Sadr’s rise, and in return, Sadr declared that all Alawites were brothers in the Shia Muslim faith.

hafez the bastard who stole power was illegitimate on top of illegitimate from the start.

now this was startling:

Sadr later suggested that Assad meet an influential Iranian Shia named Khomeini, then exiled in Iraq. Assad saw strategic benefit in supporting a future ally in the region, and supported Khomeini with intelligence, money, and assistance. Syria was the first Arab state to recognize the post-Shah government in Iran and backed it in conflicts throughout the 1980s, particularly that against Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

was hafez instrumental in the iranian junta that toppled the shah??
he’s responsible for the misery and untold suffering of two countries. hell isnt good enough for this demon.

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July 20th, 2015, 6:50 pm

 

66. Tara said:

Simo,

“Iran has a rather developed industrial basis, despite the mullahs who seem to support that industrial develoment. ”

What a flawed logic! Since when the industrial development is a measure of righteousness? So the mullah’s use of Shiism to kill the innocent is forgiven because they support industrial development . So if Hitler built advanced industrial infrastructure, is it ok for him to annihilate the Jews and perhaps the Finns too?

Can you suggest my name to your superiors ? Everyone has a price …

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July 20th, 2015, 7:42 pm

 

67. Tara said:

Hopeful,

“Syrians are slaughtered because a brutal regime attacked people who rose up to ask for their freedom. Because foriegn jihadis flooded the country aiming to establish a radical Islamic state. Because war lords and regional powers are leveraging sectarian hatred, on both sides, to advance their agendas.”

Sorry Hopeful, I don’t think this is accurate enough . Had the brutal regime not been propped up by millions of dollars from Iran and by the military expertise of the Shiaa HA, the brutal regime would’ve passed away long time ago and the armless protesters would’ve won their lives and their country. It was the consequence of this propping up that foreign jihadis filled the vacuum …

Please let us not submit to the noise that Assad ‘s regime tried so hard to stir so this is presented as jihadis against Alawis and Shiaa. He maded that way to maintain his grip on the seat in Damascus.

220k innocent Syrian were killed because the Mullahs invoked the hate of the Sunnis into their followers and it did not take much. The whole religion evolve around antisunnism .

I yet have to see a religion that only evolve about the hatred of the other. And if that particular hatred to resolves, the whole religion in its core will disappear.

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July 20th, 2015, 7:56 pm

 

68. Ghufran said:

Israel and the war mongers lost in the unsc and Israel was never more isolated, the Israeli ambassador was denied a request to address the unsc and all 5 permanent members voted
yes. You know the deal is good for the Middle East when Israel says no and all of the big dudes
say yes.
The future of the Middle East should left for its people to decide, the idiotic and the incompetent regimes in Syria, Iran, ksa, turkey and Egypt should take charge and end the misery of their people once and for all, enough is enough.

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July 21st, 2015, 12:30 am

 

69. ALAN said:

For all american: war maniacs, Pentagon,weapons manufacturers, bankers, owners of oil and gas companies Damn you /The future of the Middle East should left for its people to decide ….. enough is enough. /

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July 21st, 2015, 5:07 am

 

70. Altair said:

The criticism that Turkey and Erdogan get regarding Syria is truly unjust. Turkey out of all Syria’s neighbors has been the best to Syrian refugees. Indeed, no country in the world has taken in more than Turkey, and treated them better. Yet I see almost no praise for Turkey’s policy.

Syrian refugees in Turkey, officially numbering almost 2 million, and unofficially probably a lot more, are getting education and health care. One tenth or more of Syria’s population is now in Turkey!

I’m not sure how much Turkey is spending on the Syrian community (perhaps someone can help out on that), but it is certainly a major part of its budget.

Contrast this with rich Saudi Arabia or for that matter all the Gulf Arab states, which closed its doors to Syrians almost immediately (they were tight doors anyway, but they got even tighter), and whose assistance seems mainly to consist of aid to salafists bent on imposing a strict ideology that is contributing to the sectarian breakdown in Syria.

On the military front Turkish policy regarding ISIS may be ambiguous, but Turkey is faced with difficult choices of which lesser evil to pick from.

However, Turkish policy toward long suffering Syrian refugees has been unambiguously positive, and Turkey stands alone in this regard, not only in the region, but in the whole world. It is high time that this is appreciated and distinguished from the policies of Syria’s other neighbors and from the “international community” in general.

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July 21st, 2015, 5:19 am

 

71. Hopeful said:

#67 Tara

Then we will agree to disagree. We both want freedom, dignity and democracy to Syria without a brutal regime that has abused and murdered for over 50 years, and without the radical Islamists who want to take Syria back to the dark ages and impose their beliefs on other people.

The reason Syrian Sunnis have for centuries been much more moderate and open than their counterparts in the gulf is precisely because they interacted, inter-married and inter-traded with other communities in Syria with alternate beliefs and religions. Sunnis in Syria, IMHO, should consider themselves lucky to have Christians, Shia, and Alawites within their community. This mosaic made Syria stronger and more liveable than other Sunni societies. These relationships survived because every community showed respect and tolerance towards others. It would be a shame if this tend is reversed in the coming decades. That is why all the talk I am hearing from you is sounding alarm bells in my head! If a moderate, modern, educated, western-based woman like you is expressing views like these, what do we make of the common people today on the streets of Syria?

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July 21st, 2015, 5:52 am

 

72. Akbar Palace said:

Israel bad, Iran good NewZ

You know the deal is good for the Middle East when Israel says no and all of the big dudes say yes.

Ghufran,

Well, I agreed with one of your more recent posts, but you’re comment above shows me, that in the end, you’re not very objective.

First of all, Israel has been saying “no” at the UN for the past 50 years, and the Middle East has been getting worse, not better.

This deal is NOT going to be “good for the Middle East”, and I challenge you to specify exactly how the lives of Middle Easterners will improve now that it has passed.

Then, once you tell us what to look for, we’ll be able to offer a judgement each year this agreement is in place.

My prediction is MORE bloodshed and more war, and more muslims (rather than joos) will meet untimely deaths.

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July 21st, 2015, 7:42 am

 

73. Observer said:

I agree with AP. Now there will be more strife and war not less. The difference is that this time the US will not be involved directly and will let the protagonists duke it out. This deal is a great security to Israel which will see some Arabs accommodate with it against Iran and will see the arms bazaar take off.

The Supreme leader just announced that he will continue to meddle in the ME more so than ever. The head of the IRGC is against the nuke deal.

Now the regime has to deliver to the people and sanctions cannot be used as an excuse.

In reality, this is going to be a double edged sword. In the meantime, things are going bad in Yemen for them. Bahrain is secure for now. Next is the southern front in Syria.

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July 21st, 2015, 7:52 am

 

74. Akbar Palace said:

This deal is a great security to Israel…

Observer,

You are exactly right, except that with Hezbollah and Hamas further armed to the teeth, Israel’s security will continue to suffer as well as those living near these Iranian proxies.

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July 21st, 2015, 9:01 am

 

75. omen said:

74. Akbar Palace said: except that with Hezbollah and Hamas further armed to the teeth

please, akbar. syria’s killing fields been Great for decimating hezbollah. their best & strongest fighters been cut down by the thousands. if you’ll recall, earlier, israel forged a non-aggression pact with hezbollah, ever so considerately avoiding another front just so HA would have peace of mind to concentrate on killing syrians.

israel is probably a factor in pressuring obama against acting to topple assad. you always hear immoral “better the devil you know” arguments from israel-firsters. even american congressmen give assad a free pass!

in a hearing:

@BradSherman suggests that barrel bomb attacks might be legitimate. Equates Assad tactics to US tactics.

when our little island of democracy is reduced to green lighting regional genocide – you have to wonder how viable israel’s continued existence is in the first place. what kind of mind can only find peace & security in scheming to kill off innocent arabs? netanyahu’s paranoia will backfire. you cant sow this much instability without suffering blowback.

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July 21st, 2015, 11:16 am

 

76. omen said:

anyone have a script for this article?

Assad abandoned by his family clan and commanders

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article4501299.ece

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July 21st, 2015, 11:28 am

 

77. Akbar Palace said:

How dare the Israel-Firsters want to defend themselves NewZ

please, akbar. syria’s killing fields been Great for decimating hezbollah. their best & strongest fighters been cut down by the thousands.

Omen,

Really? I don’t hear screams from Iran or Hezbollah for a cease fire. Now with and influx of $Billions, Iran can bolster HA and the Republican Guard.

if you’ll recall, earlier, israel forged a non-aggression pact with hezbollah, ever so considerately avoiding another front just so HA would have peace of mind to concentrate on killing syrians.

Sorry, this must be something YOU recall. I have never seen the “non-aggression pact with Hezbollah” and the GOI. Mind you, if there WAS an non-aggression pact between the GOI and HA, that would be great, but again, I’ve never heard of it or seen it. Do you have a pdf of the agreement? I’d like to see it.

israel is probably a factor in pressuring obama against acting to topple assad.

Obama doesn’t need to speak with the GOI about Assad. Obama never had a desire to “topple Assad”. Assad is not a factor, he’s protected Israel for many years. I think the threat is HA, Assad’s military wing, and the only thing HA has to consider is the IDF. Right now they prefer not to agitate Israel because they have bigger fish to fry (I love that phrase).

you always hear immoral “better the devil you know” arguments from israel-firsters. even american congressmen give assad a free pass!

Correct, the question the Israel-firsters have to ask (most Israelis are “Israel-firsters”, don’t ask me why), is what’s better Syria/HA/Iran or ISIS.

The answer is from the Israel-firsters is a resounding, “I don’t know, they are both awfully brown and smelly.”

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July 21st, 2015, 11:43 am

 

78. omen said:

How dare the Israel-Firsters want to defend themselves NewZ

is this how Israel defends herself?

https://twitter.com/earthnews2020/status/623335582039605252

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July 21st, 2015, 11:54 am

 

79. omen said:

first, a reminder about the saudis:

@farGar: everyone assumes Saudi sides with Syrian opposition yet they just signed 6 agreements with Assad’s military backers in Moscow Russia

55. Badr said: “Omen” has been despairing “opposition hasn’t gotten more help from house of saud”.

[Jokingly] Perhaps because the “influential” professor has been successful in convincing them that the only alternative to the Assad regime is the hardline Islamists and Jihadists

i dont get your humor, Badr. so you do acknowledge the professor as being influential after all. score one for moi. i don’t understand why you bother to deny the obvious – and on his behalf. why is landis’ influence a subject of controversy?

trivialities aside, thanks for raising the issue. akbar makes a similar argument excusing unforgivable inaction with a facile “better the devil you know” argument. i meant to counter earlier but couldn’t find cite i needed.

allow me to defer to the learned, this from
ambassador ford who tears this “assad the lesser evil” argument apart:

This worry about extremists taking over from Assad would be a legitimate concern if it was remotely realistic. It is not. Neither the Islamic State nor Nusra nor any other armed faction is going to seize full power from a collapsed Assad government. The Assad government is weakening, but it isn’t going to disappear, and there is sharp competition between the armed factions, with none strong enough to vanquish the others. It has long been thus.

i want to know who cooked up this pernicious “assad vs isis” framing. it’s given life over and over again in media. the gullible are quick to swallow its shallow reasoning.

it’s not an easy argument to counter. only somebody steeped in covering the conflict would recognize how misleading an argument this is.

the “assad vs isis” frame at its heart is an appeal to racism. a manipulative argument aimed at westerners that bets on their willingness to ignore mass carnage of arabs.

it would not resonate like it has if networks hadn’t instituted a media blackout barring TV from showing assad carnage. why is corporate media providing cover for assad?

who in their right mind would prefer assad to the mass murder of syrians? that argument only makes sense if you hate muslims.

an argument marie peltier eloquently makes here.

where she argues the assad vs isis argument exploits “massive latent Islamophobia.”

rana k. lays bare the insult underlying this argument:

Rana Kabbani: You demean every Syrian person’s hope and dignity when you believe only choice they must make is between Halesh backed Assad & Daesh

the choice isn’t between assad versus extremists. the choice is between 22 million syrians versus assad. or as shabiha put it “assad or syria burns.”

why is the professor providing cover for assad?

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July 21st, 2015, 2:14 pm

 

80. Akbar Palace said:

is this how Israel defends herself?

Omen,

OK, so if you want to change the discussion to Israel’s methods for defending herself, she wins hands down compared to your arab brethren and has shown herself to be on par with the most “advanced” countries, perhaps even better.

Your picture of a mutilated baby’s body is:

1.) creepy and dishonorable to the soul and family of the child to be used in some sort of propaganda war. I hope Israelis don’t fall for this cheap political ploy and keep such photos archived and hidden from public viewing.
2.) I know of not 1 jew or Israeli who takes pride in this child’s unfortunate, untimely death.
3.) Conversely, many arab Resistance Pros GLORIFY the killing of innocent Israelis and joos. In addition, they teach their own children, pre-teens included, the benefits of killing innocent joos and jooish babies aren’t excluded.
4.) Whereas the IDF may have killed an innocent youngster (mainly because the Resistance Pros love to fight among innocent civilians, which is a war crime), numerous Resistance Pros like this animal Kuntar, and the Assad shabiha go right up to the innocent child, and take their life from them by their own bare hands.

http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=846

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itamar_attack

Omen,

You need a brain adjustment. Israel is your best friend HaBB.

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July 21st, 2015, 3:23 pm

 

81. omen said:

#55

Landis believes that the only thing that has kept Assad’s opponents in the Gulf from pushing harder for Assad’s fall is the fear that radical Islamist groups will fill the regime-shaped void. For now, Landis predicted, any increase on either side will be met with balance.

so the saudis are so concerned about post-assad vacuum that they are willing to consign syrians to mass carnage at the hands of the regime rather than allow islamists to prevail.

absurd to consider and yet this is reality. undeniable saudis have betrayed syrians but not because of scary jihadists which are being used as a fig leaf to disguise another agenda. certainly one factor must be that saudis are frightened at the prospect of regime change having a domino effect threatening their own hold on power.

apologists mock saudis as hypocrites for pretending to care about democracy and injustice and yet the professor plays into that mockery by pretending saudis have syria’s best interest at heart.

a line reasoning that echoes vietnam; “you have to burn a village to save it.”

really tired of arguments that rely on slight of hand that throw the spotlight elsewhere in effort to deny the fact that assad is THE extremist.

meant to include this earlier. a nuance overlooked:

Thomas Pierret: Iran is that only state that sends foreign fighters into Syria. Sunni foreign fighters are recruited by non-state actors. No symmetry

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July 21st, 2015, 4:05 pm

 

82. Darryl said:

Hopeful,

As I have said this character Tara is an Islamist who always pretends to be outward and modern looking. No such person who writes like she does will always be talking about Iranians and calling Saudi Arabia the “guided Kingdom” knowing that half of Saudis Arabia (women) and Iranians are victims of Islam. She has been fooling everyone.

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July 21st, 2015, 4:30 pm

 

83. Badr said:

“Omen”: “so you do acknowledge the professor as being influential after all”

Again, no I do not think so, at least not when it comes to affecting Obama’s policy on Syria. And yes I do agree with his assessment in the link I gave above.

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July 21st, 2015, 5:06 pm

 

84. omen said:

80. Akbar Palace said: Your picture of a mutilated baby’s body is creepy and dishonorable to the soul

dear akbar, how can you be shocked? assad was at the end of his rope when netanyahu rescued him from the edge of the precipice by giving him a get-out-of-jail-free card by cooking up a fake cw disarmament deal. a blatant fraud when assad continues to gas children to this day.

this girl was sacrificed to keep assad in power. that was part of the deal. a deal you defended in the name of keeping israel safe. you yourself admit assad has “protected Israel for many years.” she was sacrificed for the sake of israel. you cant be offended by the very consequence of policy you defended.

you keep justifying inaction because israel can only worry about her own interest. well, this is what selfish self interest looks like. over 20,000 kids dead just like her. torn to shreds. but nevermind that because syrian lives dont matter. it’s only israel’s security that matters. only jewish lives matter.

you’ve said repeatedly nobody came to help when jews were being decimated. i guess syrians have to pay the price for that sin.

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July 21st, 2015, 7:36 pm

 

85. Tara said:

hopeful,

I disagree again !! Syrians are not lucky to have co/-lived with other minorities . 225 k innocent Syrians were killed because of the so called mosaic of Syria. Name one thing the minorities in Syria have done to Syria other than taking active role either in killing or in cheering the killing.

I can name many things majority served the minority: the let them live respected unscathe, Abd well since ever! Look at the fair of any minority in any part of the word excluding the US.

Sorry to inform you Darryl , but it is well known facts that the aid money pouring from European countries are stolen by the one in the middle who happened to be christian Syrians. Are some of those theirs Darryl your cousins? And guess who my sources are? Pro regime Alawis. The regime كاشفهم على حقيقتهم بس عم يغض الطرف لان بموقف ضعف

Hopeful- I am sorry but your views are really romantic… Had one of your Family members or freind being barrel bombed or gased , you would not be proud …Syria got nothing from the minorities except murder and embezelment.

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July 21st, 2015, 7:58 pm

 

86. Hopeful said:

# 85 Tara

The only thing I would say is this: you are confusing “Syria with minorities” with “Syria under Assad”. “Syria with minorities” existed for centuries before Assad and his cronies came to power.

The Assad regime wanted to create this confusion, and apparently succeeded. What a shame!

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July 22nd, 2015, 3:10 am

 

87. omen said:

along the same vein tara notes above:

SyrianGirl1977: wonder why the savage bloodshed in Iraq against Sunnis?

Iran’s mullah: “whoever Kills Fallujahian will enter paradise”

khamenei exploiting shia faith to wage genocide in middle east gets zero play in western media. we get some quibbling about abuses of iraqi shia death squads but we are not given the big picture. this should be a huge scandal. imagine if media had decided not to cover hitler.

instead media/punditry focus has been tilted to rail against the saudis. you can see how there is a group consensus to treat gulf states as scapegoat. whose agenda is being served?

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July 22nd, 2015, 12:55 pm

 

88. omen said:

so boys & girls, what can we conclude from mr. ataie’s column?

that contrary to supporters’ myth-making, assad regime is not a secular one as lauded but actually is a sectarian form of dictatorship implemented not only in syria but also instrumental in toppling an actual secular regime under the shah to replace with a brutal sectarian theocracy under khomeini.

look how hafez ruined iran. a glimpse of how it used to be before assad supported khomeini’s junta.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CH91IFaUEAACKcj.jpg

funny how assad’s western nazi apologists who praise bashar’s alleged secularism also embrace iran’s fascistic “islamic” theocracy.

i believe this is called “cognitive dissonance.

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July 22nd, 2015, 7:48 pm

 

89. J. Lee @ www.usmilitarylendingcorp.com said:

To SANDRO LOEW:
There´s a big thing about Munich agreement regarding Czechoslovakia – it happened totally and completely without a participation of any Czech political leaders. There were no Czechoslovakian politicians invited to Munich. I don´t see the point of your comparison. It´s a bit different story, IMHO.

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July 25th, 2015, 6:35 pm

 

90. omen said:

123

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August 1st, 2015, 7:54 pm

 

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