News on Houla Massacre

Few Good Options Remain To End Syrian AttacksMay 29, 2012
Talk of the Nation

Guests: Rami Khouri, editor-at-large, Daily Star
Joshua Landis, director, Center for Middle East Studies, University of Oklahoma

The U.S. joined Britain, Germany, and other Western countries in expelling senior diplomats from Syria in response to the weekend assault that killed more than 100 civilians. Syria’s government denies any responsibility for the attacks, the latest in a year-long struggle for control of the country.

From Foreign Policy

Thirteen countries have expelled top Syrian diplomats in efforts to pressure President Bashar al-Assad to halt over 14 months of violence. The expulsions have come after international envoy, Kofi Annan, met with Assad in Damascus, appealing to him to end violence. The countries, including the United States and Turkey, are protesting the killings of 108 people in the villages of Houla, near Homs, on Friday. According to Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA, Assad stated “armed terrorist groups escalated their terrorist acts noticeably as of late in various areas across Syria.” In contrast, the head of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, said that evidence was strong that the government carried out the attack because some victims were killed by heavy artillery, resources only possessed by the Syrian regime. Russia and China have continued to stand by Syria. Russia issued a statement that the U.N. Security Council should not forward new measures to resolve the conflict, and said it would block any form of military intervention. China said it also opposed a military intervention, as well as a regime change by force. The United Nations Human Rights Council has scheduled a special session for Friday to address Friday’s massacre.

Free Syrian Army Warns President Assad that he will have only until Friday noon to carry out the UN plan before he must face the consequences.

“الجيش الحر”: 48 ساعة للأسد قبل “العواقب”..والجعفري:جماعات إرهابية

30 مايو 2012 – 10:53 PM : سيريا بوليتيك

العقيد المنشق قاسم سعيد الدين

قال الجيش السوري الحر أنه سيمنح الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد مهلة 48 ساعة للالتزام بخطة مبعوث الأمم المتحدة والجامعة العربية كوفي أنان، وإلا سيواجه العواقب. وجاء هذا التهديد الأربعاء على لسان العقيد المنشق قاسم سعيد الدين، وتم توزيعه على موقع “يوتويب”.

(CNN) — A witness to the brutal massacre in the Syrian town of Houla which left more than 100 people dead, many of them women and children, says he fears the killing will continue unless the international community takes action.

“We are human beings, not animals,” Mahmoud Al Houli told CNN by telephone. “I would like to call for the international community and the U.N. to save our souls, to help us find a solution. We only want freedom.” He said conditions in Houla were “desperate,” with medical supplies and food running low, and a build-up of military personnel in the area leaving residents dreading a second wave of attacks.

“We are very afraid that there will be another massacre,” Al Houli added. “Military reinforcements have been brought in, and artillery, and we are afraid that the massacre will happen again.” On Tuesday, a United Nations official said it was “clear” that Syrian government forces were involved in the slaughter last Friday, which he said was “an abominable crime.”

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. human rights office, said the majority of victims died as a result of “summary executions” in which “armed men… went house to house, killing men, women and children.”

As the U.S. and Others Toss Syria’s Envoys, Is Moscow Changing Its Mind About Assad?
By Rania Abouzeid / Beirut Tuesday, May 29, 2012 – Time

Some observers say that the Houla massacre over the weekend, which left more than a hundred Syrians dead, including at least 32 children, may have prompted a shift in Russia’s stance…
So, Russia doesn’t support the Syrian government, yet it doesn’t want regime change but rather the implementation of a plan that effectively demands that Assad dismantle his own regime. Is that a shift in its policy?

No, says Professor Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma who edits the prominent blog “Syria Comment.” “Russia has a long history of saying that they’re not stuck on Assad, they’re critical of the regime, they don’t like the killing, that this has to be done in a peaceful way, a peaceful transition of power,” Landis says. “But under it all what they’re saying is they want to see a credible opposition that can take power peacefully before they’re willing to change their policy.”…
Shaikh thinks Russia’s higher profile, particularly in the Middle East, is not something to crow about, because it’s being viewed “in negative terms.” It should be mindful of its wider interests in the region, he says, particularly its ties to Gulf powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who vehemently oppose Assad.

Harling disagrees. “They’ve lost so much in this part of the world that they’re free, there’s nothing to lose,” he says. For his part, Landis says Russia’s Syria policy dovetails with its regional interests. “Russia’s wider interests, to me, are pushing back at the Americans, preserving Iran and Syria outside of U.S control and showing their friends that they can stand by them,” he says.

Ultimately, Russia’s political cover may help the Syrian regime stay in power for a little longer, but that may be all given that it has alienated wide swathes of its population. “I’m not sure this regime can survive,” Harling says, “with or without Russian support.”

The Syria Dilemma
by Philip Gourevitch June 4, 2012

In April of 1993, President Bill Clinton and Elie Wiesel presided over the dedication of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, D.C. Wiesel spoke first. He asked, “What have we learned?,”…

….A few days earlier, at the G8 summit at Camp David, Obama had reiterated his call for Assad to relinquish power, but the Russians continue to regard the Syrian President as he represents himself, as a force of stability. Mikhail Margelov, speaking for Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, said, “One cannot avoid a question: if Assad goes, who will replace him?” The hawks have no answer, nor, for that matter, does anybody else, including the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, a coalition of seven infighting factions—ranging from Christians to Kurds to the Muslim Brotherhood—composed almost entirely of exiles, whose only consistent demand is for international military intervention. The Free Syrian Army, an equally unlikely group, shares that goal, but has lately turned against the S.N.C., which now purports to be forming its own military wing.

As a rule, Obama has avoided any rigid foreign-policy doctrine, preferring to indicate broad principles and then respond to crises case by case. By contrast, the absolutist rhetoric of moral certainty that the Holocaust museum inspires allows no room for political judgment; or even for acknowledging the political nature of the crises in which atrocities arise. Nonetheless, at the museum, Obama announced the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board, to be run out of the White House, with the aim of coördinating the government’s response to outrages around the world. It is essentially a technocratic instrument of statecraft. Still, Obama seemed to recognize the awkwardness of such an initiative at a time when Assad remains in power, and the Taliban stands poised to reclaim swaths of Afghanistan. “There will be senseless deaths that aren’t prevented,” he said. “There will be stories of pain and hardship that test our hopes and try our conscience.” That, perhaps, is what we have learned. ♦

U.S. Hopes Assad Can Be Eased Out With Russia’s Aid

WASHINGTON — In a new effort to halt more than a year of bloodshed in Syria, President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a proposal modeled on the transition in another strife-torn Arab country, Yemen.

The plan calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Mr. Assad’s government in place. Its goal is the kind of transition under way in Yemen, where after months of violent unrest, President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down and hand control to his vice president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in a deal arranged by Yemen’s Arab neighbors. Mr. Hadi, though later elected in an uncontested vote, is viewed as a transitional leader.

The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Mr. Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal.

Patrick Seale, In Syria, this is no plan for peace

After the Houla massacre, it’s clear that the outside funding of the anti-Assad rebels is undermining efforts to end the conflict

Friday’s savage clashes at Houla, a village in the Syrian province of Homs, have aroused international indignation against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. It is the latest grisly episode in what is quickly developing into a sectarian civil war.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, makes no bones of her wish to overthrow the Syrian regime. She issued a statement saying: “The US will work with the international community to intensify our pressure on Assad and his cronies, whose rule by murder and fear must come to an end.” The UK government is to seek an urgent meeting of the UN security council.

Engineered by Kofi Annan – the UN and Arab League mediator – the ceasefire of 12 April is now in tatters. His peace plan called on both sides to put down their guns as a necessary preliminary to ‘”Syria-led” political negotiations. But the opposition – of which the most formidable element is the Muslim Brothers – is waging an urban guerrilla war backed by outside powers. This wing of the opposition does not want to negotiate with Bashar al-Assad: it wants to topple him.

The Gulf states have pledged $100m to the opposition, to enable it to pay its fighters and buy arms. The US has no intention of getting involved in a war in Syria itself, but it is said to be co-ordinating the flow of weapons and intelligence to the rebels. Although it says it supports the Annan plan, it is unashamedly undermining it by helping to arm the rebels. This is the central contradiction in US policy.

The only way to prevent a full-scale civil war in Syria – which would destroy the country, as happened in Iraq, and could destabilise the whole Levant – is to demilitarise the conflict and bring maximum pressure on both sides to negotiate. This is what Annan wants, but he is being undermined. He is due in Damascus this weekend in a forlorn bid to save his plan.

UN monitors counted 85 bodies at Houla. The opposition has blamed the regime for the slaughter, while the regime has put the blame on “terrorists” – that is to say, on its armed opponents, stiffened by Islamist jihadis, some of them linked to al-Qaida, who have been flowing into Syria from Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan. These jihadis are thought to be responsible for about a dozen terrorist acts, the worst of which, in Damascus on 10 May, killed 55 people and wounded close to 400.

Major-General Robert Mood, the Norwegian head of the UN observer mission, has been cautious in pointing the finger of blame for Friday’s Houla killings: “Whatever I learned on the ground in Syria … is that I should not jump to conclusions.” Probably, the truth is that the two sides share the responsibility.

The strategy of the armed opposition is to seek to trigger a foreign armed intervention by staging lethal clashes and blaming the resulting carnage on the regime. It knows that, left to itself, its chance of winning is slim. For its part, the regime’s brutality can be explained, if not condoned, by the fact that it believes it is fighting for its life – not only against local opponents but also against an external conspiracy led by the United States (egged on by Israel) and including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Britain and France.

The regime’s strategy is to prevent – at all costs – its armed opponents from seizing and holding territory inside the country, as this might give foreign powers a base from which to operate. As soon as it identifies pockets of armed opponents, it sends in its troops to crush them. That it often uses disproportionate force is not in doubt: this is all too predictable when a conventional army faces hit-and-run opponents. Trapped between opposing forces, civilians inevitably pay the price.

while the Houla attack was unusual in the number killed, it was standard operating procedure for Assad’s forces. The regime has essentially reverted to its preceasefire behavior, and the several hundred UN monitors on the ground are little more than a speed bump for violence against the people.

By Jeffrey White at WINEP


The regime has continued military operations throughout much of the country during the so-called ceasefire, though with special emphasis on the traditionally restive provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Deraa, Rif Dimashq, and Deir al-Zour. Its tactics have included the following:

* Attempts to eliminate areas of rebel control (e.g., Rastan and parts of Idlib and Aleppo provinces) and destroy Free Syrian Army (FSA) formations there.

* Attempts to isolate centers of opposition/resistance by cutting essential services (water, power, and communications), severing road access, establishing fire bases from which to bombard these areas, and other methods.

* Bombardment of civilian areas, including Rastan, Hama, Homs, Khan Sheikon, Jisr al-Shughour, and multiple parts of Aleppo, Rif Dimashq, and Deraa provinces.

* Attempts to choke off smuggling routes and illegal crossing points along the border with Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, producing clashes with FSA elements and smugglers as well as incidents of cross-border fire.

* Efforts to reassert control of contested areas through large deployments of regular, irregular (shabbiha), and security forces (intelligence, police) and the establishment of fixed and mobile checkpoints.

Jeb Koogler and Noah Bonsey – the views of Syrian activists on the issue of international intervention:  I have been tracking the social media discussion on this issue for a number of months, mostly through the Syrian Revolution Facebook page. I’m not aware that much has been written on this subject previously (at least, not anything with any data attached to it!), so I think you’ll find it of interest.

Ghufran writes in the comment section:

As more details become available,the picture of a civil war in Homs starts to emerge. I knew there are holes in the story about Houla,the facts that are undeniable are:
1. There are, and continue to be, a strong presence of anti regime forces in Houla
2. Shelling did take place in Houla
3. More than 90 civilians were killed,some by using knives,not bombs or bullets
4. Two villages nearby,with alawi majority ,were attacked,close to 30 civilians were killed and two entire families were exterminated in cold blood.
Death in Syria is now the great equator,nobody is immune and no side can claim innocence, I have doubts that those who were unjustly killed will see justice served.
There is a civil war in Homs,denying that does not make this fact goes away,thinking that in a civil war you have saints on one side and devils on the other is a form of denial.

Ynet News (IL): Iran confirms sending troops to Syria

The Islamic Republic admits its forces are aiding Assad’s troops in crackdown in pro-democracy protesters; UN’s tally of fatalities in Syrian uprising is at 13,000 Dudi Cohen Published: 05.27.12, 18:11 / Israel …

The Caucus: Romney Faults Obama After Syria Crackdown
2012-05-27 By THE NEW YORK TIMES

May 27 (New York Times) — Mitt Romney on Sunday faulted the Obama administration for its policy on Syria in the wake of a brutal crackdown in the city of Haoula that killed scores of civilians, saying the president has failed to be assertive enough in confronting the Assad government.

Black humor, from Damascus to Homs
By James Harkin

Juergen said

Samar Yazbeks diary of the syrian revolution will be published in english by July. I just read her book in an german translation and I must say that hardly anything moved me like this memoir. I highly suggest to read this book. The English title will be “A women in the crossfire, diaries of the Syrian revolution” Here are some excerpts in Jadaliyya and Guardian

Syria using rape as weapon against opposition women and men
Security forces in Syria are using rape against both men and women as a tool to spread fear among the opposition, victims and human rights groups have told the Daily Telegraph.
By Ruth Sherlock, Ramtha,  29 May 2012

In the jails and interrogation centres of secret police, prisoners have been brutalised, either at the hands of officers, or more often with a bottle or other utensil. “In detention facilities rape is clearly used as a form of torture to humiliate and degrade people, and to bring back the wall of fear,” said Nadim Khoury, Deputy Director for the Middle East at Human Rights Watch.

Treasury Sanctions Syria International Islamic Bank, 2012-05-30  
By John Hughes

May 30 (Bloomberg) — Treasury acts to prevent Syria International Islamic Bank from helping as other banks evade U.S. sanctions, agency says in statement.

* Bank “surreptitiously facilitated” financing worth almost $150m from 2011 to 2012 on behalf of Commercial Bank of Syria, which is subject to sanctions

* Action closes off ‘key evasion route’ for Assad

Unclear if Houla massacre a Syria turning point, experts say – May 29, 2012 | LA Times

SteelGuru: Syria Thriving on Russian Coal – 2012-05-30

Reuters reported that International sanctions have failed to halt trade in Russian coal at Syrian ports, with buyers switching to the euro from the dollar in deals facilitated by the Syrian state bank and black-market players. Mr Tarik Al-Akkari Al …

‘Syria: The blood of future massacres is on Russia’s hands’ (David Ignatius, The Washington Post)

“The answer to the Syrian tragedy isn’t complicated: It’s a political transition, starting now, from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to a government of national unity that includes the opposition but also retains the basic structure of the Syrian state…So why doesn’t it happen? The answer is that Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing a cynical game of power politics, delaying the transition that he nominally supports. He gives lip service to U.N. diplomacy as an alternative to war, but does nothing to advance it. So the question shouldn’t be how to turn up the heat on Assad, but rather, how to turn up the heat on Putin. Washington needs to be more persuasive with Moscow, but the heavy lifting here will be done by America’s partners in the region-Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, India-whose friendship or, at least, tolerance is important to Putin’s vision of Russian restoration.”

How About a Plan C for Syria ? – May 30, 2012 ⋅ By Marc Ginsberg

Bashar al-Assad will get away with it. He got away with Deraa. He got away with Homs. And he’ll get away with Houla. So will the armed opposition to the regime, along with al-Qa’ida and any other outfits joining in Syria’s tragedy. Yes, this may be the critical moment, the “tipping point” of horror,…

Comments (191)

Uzair8 said:

Are we going to see Assad and co. eventually go on the run like Karadzik/Mladic and remain hidden at any of numerous locations such as the coastal mountain region or supportive areas in Lebanon?

Btw I love the NPR logo colour sequence.


Anyway, In other news:

Syrian diplomat in California defects from Assad regime
May 30, 2012

Syria’s honorary consul general in California said Wednesday he has defected from the regime of President Bashar Assad in protest of the killings last week in the town of Houla.

Hazem Chehabi, reached at his home in Orange County, said he had resigned his post and severed association with Assad’s government in protest of the attack Friday that left more than 100 Syrians dead, most of them women and children.

“You get to a point where your silence or inaction becomes ethically or morally unacceptable,” Chehabi said, describing the Houla killings as a “barbaric” incident with which he couldn’t be associated.

Read more:

May 30th, 2012, 4:51 pm


Uzair8 said:

“You get to a point where your silence or inaction becomes ethically or morally unacceptable,”

What then of supporting the regime?

May 30th, 2012, 5:02 pm



Why all the fuss about the European and other countries asking the Syrian envoys to leave? Most of these envoys had left long ago, some even before these same countries recalled their ambassadors and shutdown their embassies in Damascus.
The Syrian embassies at those countries were shunned and isolated, and might as well be shutdown for any practical purposes.
The symbolic move is exactly that, symbolic and insignificant.
The US and the west have no plan for the Syrian crisis, other than lip service to the opposition, declaring that the regime lost its legitimacy and asking Assad to leave, and double down on sanctions to show how tough they are.
Turkey is discovering that it has no effective plan either, with the realization that its influence was exaggerated, and the tremendous investments it made, first with the regime over many years and especially later with the opposition, did not have the returns it counted on.
The Arab League and its member countries are faced with the fact that they mishandled the Syrian crisis and failed to provide a winning solution out of the crisis.
Will the Syrian warring parties sober up, save and preserve the last vestiges of what is left of the country, by seriously working on implementing the UN/Annan plan, or will they continue their spiral dive into the abyss, taking the country down with them?

May 30th, 2012, 5:33 pm


zoo said:


Could you please provide the source of that quote and the name of the official who said that it is ‘clear’. I have not read that adjective used in any UN declaration. These are convenient accusations without serious proofs that have been carried by the media and now by SC.
“On Tuesday, a United Nations official said it was “CLEAR” that Syrian government forces were involved in the slaughter last Friday, which he said was “an abominable crime.”

If you referred to Herve Ladsous, then these are his exact words as published and he never said that it is ‘clear’ quite the opposite.

“Ladsous pointed the finger at pro-government militias known as shabiha as well. “There were strong suspicious that the shabihas were involved in this tragedy in Houla,” he said.

But he added, “I cannot say that we have absolute proof.””

“But there are also victims from individual weapons, victims from knife wounds and that of course is less clear but PROBABLY points the way to the (pro-Assad) shabbihas, the local militia,” he said.

May 30th, 2012, 5:53 pm


Ghufran said:

Salah addin ,thank you,it is nice to read a post that departs from the usual ” you did it,no, you did it” comments. One reason why Annan has not succeeded yet is that fighting parties have not given up on the idea of winning militarily,another reason is the double talk coming from a number of rich and powerful governments who can not publically oppose Annan’s plan but they do a number of things to undermine it. I yet have to see that the world is ready to help Syria with actions not words,and even if this day comes,Syrians from both sides still have to a accept the plan and agree that they have to choosebbetween half a victory or a complete defeat.

May 30th, 2012, 6:01 pm


majedkhaldoun said:
This is a very good article to read.
It is CLEAR that Shabbiha had committed the heinous crime, and Assad is responsible for all the crimes that has been committed so far
Civil war may not be much worse than what is going on now, Plan B must be to arm the syrian people, and arm the FSA with enough weapons to create at least balance of power with the Assad regime.
Assad is soulless,vampire ,bastard criminal.

May 30th, 2012, 6:19 pm


irritated said:

MajedAlkhaldoon #6

From your article:

“They do not prove conclusively that the Syrian regime was responsible for the deaths on 25-26 May “

May 30th, 2012, 6:49 pm


zoo said:

This is why it was committed now, isn’t? To give the last knock to Annan’s peace plan that most Western countries declared dead when it started. Will Annan be able to make it rebound?

News Analysis: Massacre in Syria’s Houla ignites diplomatic frenzy, serious challenge to Annan’s peace efforts

DAMASCUS, May 30 (Xinhua) — The recent massacre that killed over 100 people in Syria’s central village of Houla has apparently hammered more nails into the coffin of the peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League joint special envoy Kofi Annan and opened the appetite of the super powers to divulge the possibility of military intervention in Syria had there be a consensus.


May 30th, 2012, 6:55 pm


Juergen said:


good you are back, can you share what you witnessed?


good post yesterday about Mr and Mrs Assad, I was getting my intermediate level in IT through you, had to use some weird proxy settings to be able to watch.

It seems like that the Brits are quite shocked that a westernized couple can be so brutal, are those feelings genuine or just an other version of “rule britania” in a way that once you lived in the civilized quarter of this world, one can not be a barbarian anymore?

May 30th, 2012, 8:16 pm


Syrialover said:

Ghufran is quoted in the main post above with the comment:

” Point 4. Two villages nearby,with alawi majority,were attacked,close to 30 civilians were killed and two entire families were exterminated in cold blood.”

Are you inferring that the victime were Alawi? Or that the attackers were? What you are saying?

The victims were Alawi or they weren’t. Anyone out there have any clear information on this?

May 30th, 2012, 8:29 pm


Syrialover said:

Majedkhaldoun #6.

Thanks for the link to the article on satellite imagery evidence of the Syrian troop’s control of the massacre area.

There would be masses of fascinating satellite imagery like this accumulating for the war crimes proceedings. Assadist professional liars are helpless to do or say anything to refute this.

It would be great to know what the international intelligence services have on the rumoured assassination of Asef Shawkat and co. I still wonder if it is true, and if so whether the latest outrages by the regime could be revenge.

May 30th, 2012, 8:45 pm



1. UZAIR8 said: Syrian diplomat in California defects from Assad regime…
Hazem Chehabi, reached at his home in Orange County, said he resigned…

Hazem Chehabi, the son of General Hikmat Chehabi who was the chief of staff of the Syrian Army during Hafez Assad’s rule and the Hama massacre of 1982, can now join the club of Jihad and Jamal Khaddam, the sons of Abdul-Halim Khaddam and Ribal Al-Assad, the son of Rifaat Al-Assad.
Will Firas and Manaf Tlass join the club?

May 30th, 2012, 8:47 pm


zoo said:

Germany rejects threats of military intervention
Bernard Henry Levy calls for a remake of Libya.

Weighing Military Intervention Hollande’s Syria Comments Irritate Berlin

Berlin reacted with surprise and irritation on Wednesday at French President François Hollande’s statement that he would not rule out international military intervention in Syria. Officials were quick to state that Germany is not considering military options, and some said Hollande’s position was made for domestic political gains.

German politicians from both ends of the political spectrum expressed surprise Wednesday at French President François Hollande’s statement that he would not rule out international military intervention in Syria.

Hollande made the comments on French television Tuesday night, adding that such intervention, as was the case with Libya in 2011, would require a mandate from the United Nations.

“It is not possible to allow Bashar Assad to massacre his own people,” Hollande said.

But politicians in Berlin indicated that Hollande had taken things too far. “As far as the German government is concerned, there is no cause for speculation over military options,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “And we want to avoid a wildfire in the region.” Instead, the international community should make a unified effort to increase political pressure on Assad’s regime, he said.

French activist and philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who was influential in former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s support for intervention in Libya last year, wrote an open letter to several European papers Wednesday, calling on the new French president to “take the initiative in Syria.” In Berlin, Hollande’s comments were viewed as a response to Lévy’s letter.

Washington, on the other hand, showed caution Tuesday in talking about Syria, and President Barack Obama dismissed calls by his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, to take a more direct course of action in the country.

“We do not believe that further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. “We believe that it would lead to greater chaos, greater carnage.”

May 30th, 2012, 9:17 pm


zoo said:

Dead end for the EU pressures on Syria

Is EU short on options to end violence in Syria?
By Claire Rosemberg | AFP – 5 hrs ago

After 15 rounds of sanctions, but split on diplomatic and military options to end the violence in Syria, Europe appears to be running short on means of pressuring President Bashar al-Assad.

Divisions over how to help end a bloody 15-month conflict threatening to erupt into civil war flew into public view Tuesday when the 27 European Union states failed to jointly expel Syrian diplomats from their respective capitals.

At talks in Brussels following Friday’s Houla massacre, EU ambassadors agreed “to look at possible further restrictive measures” but it was “hard to see what else to sanction”, said Josef Janning of the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

“Sanctions have limited effect on autistic regimes, mainly preoccupied by their own survival,” he added though analysts are agreed they hurt the economy.

The air war in Libya however left Europe sorely divided, and analysts Janning and Burke termed Hollande’s stand mere “rhetoric”.

May 30th, 2012, 9:35 pm


zoo said:

The FSA gives an ‘ultimatum’ to the Syria government to respect Annan’s peace plan otherwise it will “restart protecting the villages”. Did they stop protecting the villages to abide to the Annan’s plan?

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian rebels on Wednesday gave President Bashar al-Assad a 48-hour deadline to comply with an international peace plan otherwise they would renew their battle to overthrow him.

Colonel Qassim Saadeddine of the rebel Free Syrian Army said its leadership had set a deadline of 0900 GMT Friday for Assad to implement the peace plan, which includes a ceasefire, deployment of observers, and free access for humanitarian aid and journalists.

If it fails to do so “we are free from any commitment and we will defend and protect the civilians, their villages and their cities,” Saadeddine said in a statement posted on social media.


May 30th, 2012, 9:40 pm


zoo said:

Israel to provide humanitarian relief to Syria?
Israel’s Defense Minister Calls for More Action Against Assad
May 30, 2012 1:05 pm
By JODI RUDOREN / The New York Times

TEL AVIV — Defense Minister Ehud Barak of Israel on Wednesday praised the United States and other countries for ousting Syrian diplomats but said it was not sufficient, declaring that the massacre of 100 people in Houla “compel the world to take action — not just talk, but action.”

“I don’t think that Assad lost an hour of sleep last night because of those people leaving,” Mr. Barak said, referring to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and the diplomats removed Tuesday. “More concrete action is required,” he added. “These are crimes against humanity and it’s impossible that the international community is going to stand aside.”

At the same time, in an interview on Army Radio on Wednesday morning, Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said that Israel should consider providing humanitarian relief along its border with Syria in the Golan Heights.


May 30th, 2012, 9:50 pm


Tara said:

Joining Western powers, Turkey cuts Syria ties
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

The Turkish government could extend measures against the Syrian regime in the coming days, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters yesterday without giving details. International measures against Syria since the killings in Houla are a “display of sensitivity” on the issue, Erdoğan said. “We cannot remain silent. Staying quite, giving consent to cruelty is also cruelty.”

Erdoğan said he believed those who stayed close to the Syrian regime would not be able to continue. “It would be self-denial. Nobody could tolerate that.”

Asked if Turkey was considering a “buffer zone” on Turkish-Syrian border, the prime minister said the Turkish government had not yet made any decision on the issue. “That is a step we could take depending on future developments,” he said.

Ankara ordered “Syria’s charge d’affaires in Ankara and all other diplomatic personnel to leave our country within 72 hours as of May 30, 2012,” a foreign ministry statement said Wednesday. 

“It is out of the question for us to remain silent and not respond to this action, which constitutes a crime against humanity,” the statement said. Syria’s charge d’affaires was summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry on Wednesday and was notified of the government’s decision, it added.

Meanwhile, Ankara is reducing the number of its staff at the consulate in Aleppo, which remains Turkey’s sole functioning diplomatic mission in Syria. “Five diplomats returned to Turkey just before the [expulsion] decision. More will be returning soon and only a minimum number of personnel will stay to take care of the needs of Turkish nationals,” a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News. 

Ankara’s expulsion decision does not cover the Syrian consulates in Turkey, the diplomat said. The consulate in Istanbul will continue to function, while the one in Gaziantep has already been closed by Syria itself.


May 30th, 2012, 9:57 pm


bronco said:

I had hopes that the FSA would play a leading role in the opposition to replace the SNC, but theor recent declaration show that leadership in the FSA is totally absent and that it has become the toy of different factions with different agendas.
In my view, if the FSA officially announces its withdrawal from the Annan peace plan in 48 hours, the Annan plan will be considered void. The Syrian army will then launch an all out war similar to Baba Amr on Rastan, Houla an all the areas under control of the rebels. Until now they were trying to refrain using heavy weapons. If the plan is dead, nothing will stop them for using them on large scale.

It’s the last chance for Annan to increase pressure on the FSA and the opposition to form a serious and discipline coalition. Yet, I think like the SNC, the FSA is irremediably divided and polluted and will desintegrate just like the SNC.

May 30th, 2012, 10:04 pm


Tara said:

Why is Qatar and KSA silent lately?

May 30th, 2012, 10:31 pm


norman said:

The lies about Syria are overwhelming and the goal is to destroy the chance of putting Syria back together , many of the supporters for the government are looking for an all out war, many in the opposition are looking for the same, that indicate that Syria is going into a war and a change from a chronic problem to an acute least with that even if many get killed Syria as one might survive.a winner will emerge,

May 30th, 2012, 10:52 pm


annie said:


Robin Yassin-Kassab
Arm the Guerrillas

This was published at Foreign Policy.

There are some, perhaps many, Syrians who detest their government and are entirely aware of its treasonous nature — yet wish for the demonstrations and the guerrilla actions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to stop and for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to regain control as soon as possible. They take this position out of a profound pessimism: They believe it is impossible to uproot the surveillance-and-torture state and its deep sectarian substructure, that more people will die the longer the unrest continues, that the economy will collapse further, and that nothing will alter the end — Assad’s inevitable victory. Some Syrians go so far as to say that the regime itself, or a branch of it, is surreptitiously encouraging demonstrations so as to have an “excuse” to teach the new generation an unforgettable lesson.

full article :

May 31st, 2012, 1:15 am


annie said:

The searing grief of Houla’s survivors
Warning: You may find some of the content in Alex Thomson’s accompanying video distressing.

May 31st, 2012, 1:19 am


Juergen said:

Anti spy device may turn out to a trojan horse

“Is it a cyber war against its own people? Ironically, in the use of software, the Iranians and Syrians, in order to circumvent the censorship measures in their countries, experts have now discovered a Trojan horse software that can allow government investigators access to the PC of the user.”

May 31st, 2012, 1:32 am


Uzair8 said:

Welcome back Majed.

#9. Juergen

So it’s possible to watch simply by adjusting the proxy settings? That’s good news. The alternative is torrents but I’m not sure of their legality or safety.

Britain and the West in general form their view based on interests. The powers that be know very well the reality of regimes like Assad’s.

May 31st, 2012, 6:07 am


Syrialover said:

I force myself to look at those 13 bound and murdered men in Deir Al-Zor because I want to acknowledge and honour them, apparently “army deserters”, killed like many other decent, normal men trapped in the Syrian nightmare.

They are brave and sane humans, refusing to act at gunpoint to kill their fellow citizens on the whim of vicious criminals and psychopaths. People who wanted to live and let others live.

That’s how the normal world sees and will remember them. But to the Assad regime they were something they “owned”, slaves with no worth except as tools to help them cling to power. And to be casually disposed of when they wouldn’t buy into the insanity.


Who the HELL do the Assads think they are? And who and what the hell do Assad’s supporters think the regime is?

Do these supporters feel “owned” by the Assad regime as well? Or do these people see themselves as entitled to “joint ownership” with the Assads of the Syrian people? It is likely to be the latter.

Another planet. A sick fantasy planet. Assad or burn the country. All those people must die before him because he personally “owns” them.

Think about it and it makes nonesense of every other argument.

May 31st, 2012, 6:16 am


VOLK said:

President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday that Russia’s position on Syria would not shift under pressure despite the crisis likely topping the agenda during his upcoming visits to Berlin and Paris.
“Russia’s position is well-known. It is balanced and consistent and completely logical,” Interfax quoted Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as saying.
“So it is hardly appropriate to talk about this position changing under someone’s pressure.”
Peskov said Russia’s refusal to back further action against the regime after last week’s Houla massacre and other attacks on civilians was based on an approach “completely free of emotions, which are hardly appropriate here.”

May 31st, 2012, 6:20 am


Syrialover said:

Thanks Annie for that link.

There you have it clearly from witnesses, Alawi and Shia militia.

No more mysteries and conjecture about what happened at Houla.

Read it:

May 31st, 2012, 6:41 am


Tara said:

A split within the FSA? Or lack of communication ability between the internal and the external FSA?  Has the US provided the FSA with communication equipments as promised?  The SNC is fractured and now the FSA?

9.43am: The head of the Free Syrian Army, Colonel Riad Asaad, has muddied the waters by denying that his forces have issued the Syrian government with a deadline demanding instead that Kofi Annan declares the ceasefire over so that rebels can carry on military operations.

Speaking to al-Jazeera, Asaad, he said:

There is no deadline, but we want Kofi Annan to issue a declaration announcing the failure of this plan so that we would be free to carry out any military operation against the regime.

He claimed that rebel forces had so far honoured their commitments to the plan.

May 31st, 2012, 7:22 am


mjabali said:


What happened in al-Houla is very obvious now. Locals now have militias that are killing and kidnapping the other side. The number of those kidnapped tell you the real story. All sides are armed now. This is becoming the norm in most parts in that area where there is contact. The Assad forces get involved with the anti Assad forces. It is becoming obvious that both parties have blood on their hands.

As for Yasin Haj Saleh, I spoke about his writings and the truth in is and you gave me a sob story about how he went to prison. There is no connection between the two. Let us talk if it is true the claims in his article. We see day after day people attributing crimes to Alawis in order to demonize the sect as a whole and the myth of al-Shabi7a fits this. Yasin al-Haj Saleh should have left his room and asked few people from Lattakia at least, or chatted them on facebook…ask them questions to know the real story.

AS for why I do not write my account about al-Shabi7a; it is because I have lots of work. have a good day

May 31st, 2012, 7:44 am


Uzair8 said:

A couple of days ago (Tuesday evening?) the Al Jazeera English website (or blog section) was closed for maintenance. It was back up yesterday. It seems they have removed the blog comment sections. Very disappointing. Al Jazeera, why?

Anybody know more?

The revolution won’t be the same without it.

May 31st, 2012, 7:58 am


Syrialover said:

# 29. Mjabali

Thanks for your response.

It’s not a “sob story” about Yasin Haj Saleh being in prison – it’s a prime part of his life stolen because he happened to be born a Syrian under the Assads. But he didn’t allow that to destroy him and that makes him remarkable.

Also, he quotes real people and sources for what he said. Not speculating. If you feel aggrieved about his comments on Lattakia I hope in a new Syria you will tell him so to his face in public or in writing and be heard by everyone. I think he would take it. We all know that limitations on knowledge and understanding of what happens in Syria by people living in Syria can be the result of engineered information control and suppression, not wilful ignorance. That’s why people are shouting “give us freedom”. Freedom to easily discover the truth.

I agree with you strongly about not demonizing the Alawi. As many here have pointed out, they are equally victims caught up in the Assad hell and nightmare. But if a group of militia under that banner has committed crimes, it should not be officially denied and others blamed and the lies used as a smokescreen for further sinister attacks.

If some Syrians had not taken up arms after Assad’s attacks on their fellow civilians they would not be normal human beings. I am mystified by the demands of some here that they should put down their weapons and…what? Wait to be rounded up for revenge?

May 31st, 2012, 8:25 am


Uzair8 said:

Assad’s fall

How long will Putin protect a cruel ally?

May 31, 2012

[Selected quotes]

There are limited ways for the U.S. and its allies to tilt Assad into the retired column:

• Arm the rebels that oppose the regime. This apparently is beginning to happen. The Syrian government is slaughtering women and children in their homes. Give the rebels weapons to put more pressure on Assad.

• Strangle the Syrian economy. Sanctions against Syria’s oil industry have drained billions from the country’s economy so far, causing widespread fuel shortages. Now the U.S. and its allies should tighten the economic noose. Isolate Syria. Dry up foreign investment.

To no one’s surprise, Russian President Vladimir Putin has remained Syria’s staunchest ally, blocking strong UN Security Council action against Assad for months.

Why? Money and influence. The Russians have major oil and gas investments there. Damascus is also a major trading partner and a good-paying customer for Russian arms. Most of all, Russia likes having a client state in the heart of the Middle East, so it can pretend it is a world power.


Putin doesn’t want to be seen as buckling to American pressure to abandon an ally. Regime change is likely to come in Syria only when Russia is finally convinced that a crippled, cornered Assad is no longer a valuable ally.,0,2533018.story

May 31st, 2012, 9:21 am


zoo said:

Do Shabbiha wear long beards and shaved head?

“The Syrian boy tried to stop himself from trembling, even as the gunmen, with LONG BEARDS and SHAVED HEADS, killed his parents and all four of his siblings, one by one.”

May 31st, 2012, 9:38 am


bronco said:

The Western countries condone that Israel occupies illegally part of Palestine, to protect the jews from the Palestinian’s “murdering intentions”
Now they the condone that armed gangs occupy part of Syria to protect the inhabitants from the “murdering intentions” of the Syrian government.

Like for Israel, they say they support the peace plan and they keep arming the occupiers and applying non stop sanctions and threatening military on the legal owner of the land.
They kept saying from day one that its the only plan and then they immediately add that it will fail. Then Victoria Noland makes an apocalyptic description of what would happen.
There is no opposition to put pressure on. It is a bunch of leaderless and disorganized militants, who have recruited some confused defectors, mentally damaged young men from Iraq as well as jihadists who only care about spreading violence. The recent events, attacks and declarations have shown that they are dangerous, divided and incapable of leading a peaceful negotiations.

Cornered by sanctions and harsh threats, the Syrian government can’t give up power to this group. It has nothing to loose anymore.

The ultimatum is the other way around: If the rebels armed gangs do not withdraw from areas they occupy by force, they will be dislodged by force. The UN should allow all civilians to leave the villages after the Syrian army announces the time of the assaults. If Turkey is the closest location, Turkey is prepared to host them.

There is an urgency, if Annan and the western countries ‘allegedly’ supporting the peace plan do not find a immediate way to mediate and ask the FSA and its armed gangs to leave the areas they occupy, this is what is going to happen.

May 31st, 2012, 10:06 am


Tara said:


I think shabeehat al Assad come in all shapes and forms. Shami once linked a photo of original Shabeeh to Samara that etched in my mind. Mixture of fat and puffed muscles (from steroids), shaved head, tattoos, and thick ugly beard. I wish Shami links it again.

May 31st, 2012, 10:09 am


Uzair8 said:

34. Bronco

“Now they the condone that armed gangs occupy part of Syria to protect the inhabitants from the “murdering intentions” of the Syrian government.”

There is a danger that ordinary defenceless people, who when faced with slaughter decided to take up arms in self defence, are being labelled as ‘armed gangs’.

‘Armed gangs’ alludes to the ‘other’, the unknown.

It could be inhabitants taking up arms to protect themselves and other inhabitants. No shame in condoning this in the face of regime slaughter.

May 31st, 2012, 10:22 am


Uzair8 said:

#35 Tara

You mean like the following. The other day I checked Google Images for Shabeeha and this was the first image:

May 31st, 2012, 10:24 am


Tara said:


OMG. This is the exact picture.. Thanks very much.

On a light note, if all men look like that, ….

May 31st, 2012, 10:28 am


zoo said:

#35 Tara

I have not seen the photos, but two descriptions by the children do not fit the Shabbiha: The killers were wearing military clothes and white sneakers and they wear long beards and shaved heads.

Shabbiha may have macho look (tattos muscles..), but they do not wear military clothes and they certainly don’t try to look like jihadists coming from Afghanistan or Iraq.
I remember well a video made by a BBC foreign journalist in the mountains where the rebels were hiding that among them there was several men with long beards and shaved head. At that time, I was surprised but this video was never found again
There has been many reports of such men killings civilians. I remember one eye witness, I think it was in Deraa, saying that as they were killing sunnis, they must be iranians! This is certainly not a look you’ll find with Iranian soldiers.

May 31st, 2012, 10:32 am


Tara said:


Look at the photo Uzair linked.

May 31st, 2012, 10:37 am


zoo said:


I have not seen any other photos like this is one in the whole internet. As this one is not signed and comes from an anti-regime site its credibility is doubtful. Anyway who is the man with eye glasses tatooed on the arm of the guy? He looks Pakistani to me.

In all the other photos and videos on internet, they look like plain people with no distinctive signs.

May 31st, 2012, 10:57 am


Tara said:


I think the original shabeeha that Bashar attempted to reign in when he was prepped for the presidency look like the photo. Those were Alawi thugs that terrorized Lattakia. As the shabeeha phenomena flourished after the start of the revolution and more members including Sunnis became shabeehat al Assad, their mission has drastically changed from mafia- like activities into terrorism and pure savagery and their current members at large lost their original look so to speak.

May 31st, 2012, 11:10 am


Son of Damascus said:


It took me all of two seconds to find this on youtube (who are the shabeeha).

From the video it is clear the man is NOT Pakistani, and that he is proud to be a shabeeha.

BTW if you look closely to the photo that Uzair8 linked, the shabeeh has Bashars face tattooed on his left bicep, don’t know many Pakistani’s that would actually do that, do you?

May 31st, 2012, 11:12 am


zoo said:

Syria: The Current Situation and Possible Solutions
By Hassân Abbas
Heinrich Böll Foundation
Middle East Office

It is a whirlpool dragging the country deeper into violence. At present the country is engaged in a minor form of civil war, that we can call a confined civil war. If the whirlpool is to be calmed, the regime still has the power to solve the crisis by stopping the slaughter, withdrawing its troops, releasing prisoners and inviting the opposition (as represented by those part of the uprising) to engage in a negotiated transfer of power. Without this the current polarization of the country will continue, the confined civil war will spread and international intervention – perhaps under cover of an Arab initiative – will be the inevitable result with the consequent destruction of the country. But will the regime see fit to act? Unfortunately not, it seems. It will stay its course, pulling down the temple on its own head and on Syria itself.

May 31st, 2012, 11:27 am


Tara said:

Lip service?

11.37am: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said those responsible for last week’s Houla massacre in Syria should be punished, the Associated Press reports.

“We (in Iran) are quite disappointed about this,” Ahmadinejad said from Tehran in an interview with the France 24 TV station. “Any individual who committed these murders is guilty … The people responsible for this massacre must be punished, must be sanctioned.”

Ahmadinejad declined to say who he believed was behind the attack, but added: “It seems unbelievable to me that a government would engage in killing its own people …. (but) I’m not excluding anyone from this responsibility,” he said.

May 31st, 2012, 11:50 am


zoo said:

43. Son of Damascus

That’s an entertaining montage of photos from a Club of narcissic body builders posing for photographer.

They do not look threatening at all despite the grand music and the red warnings.

If you want to convince any one , please show photographs of them in actions, killing, torturing… not posing with their buddies, their sweet dogs or showing their muscles. I doubt very much that it will take you 5 minutes to find them…

I did not know Bashar wears glasses on tattoo. The photos are all of the same guy. I thought Shabbiha were in the thousands.

May 31st, 2012, 12:47 pm


Syrian Nationalist Party said:

45. Tara said:
Lip service? Ahmadinejad…

At least he paid lip service, what did the Qatari Emir and King Abdullah paid to Sunni Syrians. Now, or in the past 40+ years.

May 31st, 2012, 12:55 pm


Antoine said:


My main truck with the inhabitantsDamascus is that they are not supporting the revolution as much as they should, and I think it is mainly because of 2 reasons –

1. They are “not men” ,

2. They just want to enjoy life and eat lobster and french wine in Damascus restaurants and raise a toast to Bashar and Asma.

Correct me if I am wrong about the reason why Damascus has not joined the revolution.

May 31st, 2012, 1:03 pm


Tara said:


Please stop it. The worst thing now is to fight among each other.

May 31st, 2012, 1:10 pm


Son of Damascus said:


I linked that specific video in reply to your “he looks Pakistani” comment. You were the one denying he was a shabeeh not me.

As for shabeeha wearing “white sneakers” with army fatigues here is a video showing some of them wearing some:

(Notice the white Addidas shoes at the 0:03 mark in the video)

Another one:

(pay attention to the 0:16 mark in the video)

Yet another:

(0:06 mark)

Are these proof enough for you, or would you like some more?

May 31st, 2012, 1:11 pm


bronco said:

19. Tara said:

“Why is Qatar and KSA silent lately?”

Because they start to realize that their MB-Salafi plan has failed miserably and that ultimately they may have to live with Bashar Al Assad in power in Syria and that Bashar are Assad will be an even stronger supporter of Iran, Russia and China in the region.
Preparing for a U-turn, they have stopped asking him to step down, while probably funding secretly both parties of the conflict.

In addition all Arab countries have been excluded from the UN process as Bashar Al Assad is boycotting the Arab League and has refused to receive in Damascus the Arab League envoy supposedly accompanying Annan. ( The press was very discreet about the concession Anna had to make)

Qatar is concentrating its efforts to promote its Moslem Brotherhood candidate in Egypt while KSA is promoting his ex-Mobarak candidate. A more interesting and exciting competition for the Gulf Countries, less messy than Syria.

They have no time for Syria until the Egyptian elections.

May 31st, 2012, 1:13 pm



45.TARA said: Lip service?

Condemning the Houla massacre is the right thing to do.
The fact that Ahmadinejad is demanding the punishment of whom ever is found guilty, even if they were connected to the government, should add to the pressure on the government to get to the bottom of this massacre.
Pressure from allies and friends like Ahmadinejad and Russia, who currently control some of the critical lifelines keeping the regime alive, will do a lot more to affect the behavior of the Syrian authorities, including the leadership, than condemnations by Suzan Rice and Victoria Nuland.

May 31st, 2012, 1:21 pm


Son of Damascus said:


If you wanted a serious conversation with me about Damascus, it would help if you don’t insult me in the process.

I don’t really feel like arguing your ignorance and hate with you, you want to hate on Damascenes go ahead just keep in mind it is ignorant hate based on false assertions.

May 31st, 2012, 1:28 pm


zoo said:

#50 SOD

This is one that is much clearer than all the videos you posted

He’s a FSA commando.

May 31st, 2012, 1:31 pm


anwar said:

while we are at it lets debate what socks color they wear. Ridiculous straw man arguments from assad’s gang. Shabeehah/mukhabarat can be just about anyone and everyone. There are no uniforms. Have you even lived in Syria ??

May 31st, 2012, 1:35 pm


Son of Damascus said:


Again I am not the one that has been going on and on about what the shabeeha wear and don’t, you are.

I just posted these videos as a reply to your numerous posts about their attire, I don’t think either side has a monopoly on white sneakers. You just seem convinced that Shabeeha don’t wear any, and that is false as the videos I posted ascertain.

I on the other hand am more interested in the testimony of the survivors that keep pointing the finger at the shabeeha.

May 31st, 2012, 1:48 pm


Tara said:

Saleh Addin

The condemnation is rhetorical. He would have been a serious retard if he to condone it. His condemnation means absolutely nothing. Ahmadinejad is an accomplice in killing Syrians. Iran as you know has recently admitted the presence of IRG in sovereign Syria.

May 31st, 2012, 1:54 pm


Juergen said:


you think Pakistanis tattoo themselves with a pic of the eyedoctor? Come on as a good pal used to say, if haram, make it big…

Someone told me that there are videos of that guy on youtube, i am gonna search for those.

I liked this work of Mona Hatoum, i thought it may have some meaning in this year long struggle…

May 31st, 2012, 2:00 pm


jna said:

Syria: anti-government groups committed Houla massacre

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria said on Thursday a preliminary investigation showed that anti-government armed groups committed a massacre last week in Houla, in which 108 people were killed, with the aim of encouraging foreign military intervention against the Syrian government.

Brigadier General Qassem Jamal Suleiman, head of the investigation committee formed by the government, said the victims were families “who refused to oppose the government and were at odds with the armed groups”.

He said many of the victims were relatives of a member of the Syrian parliament.

May 31st, 2012, 2:10 pm


Observer said:

So why am I not suprised.

In three days we do have the report of the commission of inquiry.
I do not know who the members are, how they conducted their investigation, and how the contradiction within the report that the bodies belonged to peaceful families who refused to join the protest as well as actual terrorists killed.

Here is the report as relayed by Cham Press.

قال رئيس لجنة التحقيق بمجزرة الحولة العميد قاسم جمال سليمان اليوم “إن الاستنتاجات الأولية للتحقيق استندت إلى شهود العيان وتشير إلى أن ما بين 600 إلى 800 مسلح من المنطقة ومناطق أخرى قاموا بمهاجمة قوات حفظ النظام والمنطقة”.
وأضاف العميد سليمان إن “استنتاجات التقرير الأولي للجنة التحقيق في مجزرة الحولة تؤكد أن جميع ضحايا المجزرة من عائلات مسالمة رفضت الوقوف ضد الدولة وحمل السلاح والإذعان للإرهابيين الذين طالبوهم بالخروج إلى التظاهر”.
وأكد العميد سليمان أن قوات حفظ النظام لم تدخل المنطقة التي وقعت المجزرة لا قبلها ولا بعدها وأن المجموعات الإرهابية التي جاءت من خارج البلدة قامت بتصفية عائلات مسالمة خلال الهجوم على قوات حفظ النظام, مضيفا إن “جميع الضحايا قتلوا بأسلحة نارية من مسافة قريبة وأدوات حادة وليس عن قصف، وعدد كبير من الجثث يعود للإرهابيين الذين قتلوا في الاشتباك مع قوات حفظ النظام”.
من جهته قال الناطق باسم وزارة الخارجية والمغتربين جهاد مقدسي “عندما يكتمل التحقيق ستقدم نتائجه إلى المجتمع الدولي” مضيفا “نحن أول من طلبنا من الجنرال مود رئيس بعثة المراقبين الذهاب إلى موقع الجريمة والاطلاع عليها، وهناك دوائر وغرف مظلمة تعمل على استهداف سورية ويودون خلق فتنة لكن النسيج السوري عصي على الاقتتال”.
وأكد مقدسي أنهم يهدفون من خلال ارتكابهم الجرائم المتعددة في سورية إلى إحداث فتنة يبغضها جميع السوريين, لافتا إلى أنه من الغرابة أنه في الوقت الذي قدم به عنان إلى سورية قامت واشنطن والدول الغربية بطرد السفراء السوريين.
وأضاف مقدسي: “للأسف انتقل الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة من مهمته في حفظ السلام والأمن في العالم إلى مبشر بالحروب الأهلية”.
وقال مقدسي “التواصل بيننا وبين فريق المراقبين الدوليين يومي ونبلغهم بكل المعطيات, ونحن في سورية نقوم بكل ما يترتب علينا من التزامات لكن الأطراف الإقليمية والمعارضة لا تريد تنفيذ التزاماتها إزاء خطة عنان”.
وأكد مقدسي أن لقاء عنان مع الرئيس بشار الأسد واقعي وبناء إزاء خطة النقاط الست.

Now to a few questions
1. Has the regime lost control of parts of Syria therefore we have according to the report up to 800 terrorists that attacked Houla and committed the massacre?

2. Has the regime lost control over its own pro militias and they can operate massacring people without control?

3. Is the regime sending a message that a Yemen style accomodation is not in the works and this is what will happen if the regime is threatened?

4. Is the regime confident of the cover it is receiving to the point that it can do such atrocities and get away with it?

5. Is Russia capable of continuing to cover the regime without becoming completely indentified with it?

Predictions please
Norman tells us that we are going into a full war. This assumes that the regime has enough troops to completely pacify the country to his liking.
Suzan Rice predicts a descent into disintegration with a protracted conflict. Will it be the Algerian model meaning that we will have an low level civil war that will leave 100 to 200 thousand dead in five years and then exhaustion of the population from the conflict?

I doubt it for the regime cannot sell oil and is dependent on donations and gifts from others to survive. I doubt out also because the popular base for the regime is shrinking with reliance on the family’s sect and to a lesser extent on some in other communities. Even the people on the sidelines are disgusted with the situation and would not actively support the regime any longer.

Division of the country? It is possible that some of the massacres and the fighting around Rastan and Homs is meant to create a more homogeneous entity in case of a division of the country. Is it possible that the family is willing to accept to rule over a mini rump state? I doubt it, the slogan Assad or we burn the Balad is indicative of the mind set of the regime.

So what is left is a strategy to even out the playing field. This means arming the opposition and supplying it. The opposition on the ground has been successful because it is diffuse and could not be decapitated and is broad based and to this day non sectarian as shown today in the article in the WSJ. This non centralized nature of the opposition is due to more than 40 years of repression where no organized institutions were allowed. Yet it is also its weakness when it comes to the supporters of the resistance to arm it and finance it for they need a structure to work with and to coordinate with.

Clearly neither side is winning and I foresee a huge disintegration of the country.

Once again this is a failed state either it is killing its own people or it is incapable of protecting the homeland. Either way it is a failure and it has to go.

Dialogue anyone?
Mirror mirror on the wall who is fairest of them all?

That is the kind of dialogue the Corleone family is interested in.

May 31st, 2012, 2:18 pm


Amjad said:

OK, so apparently 800 “terrorists” went rampant in Al-Houlla, murdering and butchering while the Syrian army laid siege to the town.

Question…it’s been three days, why hasn’t the army managed to catch any of them? Where have these “terrorists” disappeared to? Is the Syrian army *that* inept? (yes)

Bashar had every advantage a tin pot dictator could wish for; veto cover, an army at his beck and call, a fragmented and poorly armed opposition, Iran and Hizbollah providing financial and military aid, an accommodating gang of disgraceful Western leftist liberal journalists, and yet he STILL can’t subdue this revolution after 15 months.

And anyone who still doesn’t know that the shabiha wear quasi-military trousers and white sneakers, really should ask themselves what do they really know about Syria if they don’t know that much.

May 31st, 2012, 2:25 pm


Amjad said:

Of course, when CSI Qurdaha undertakes an investigation, there’s no need at all for the “investigators” to actually go to the scene of the crime. It’s all a fill in the blanks from the same tired script the regime has used over and over; “The massacre at _____ was committed by Wahabi/Salafi/Libyan terrorists funded by Saudi Arabia/Qatar/Israel/Ameriiiikaaaaaaaaa and anyone who says otherwise is a conthpirator against the prethident and the rethithtanthe front.”

May 31st, 2012, 2:34 pm


zoo said:

The UN rebuffs the rebels call asking Kofi Annan to declare the failure of the peace plan.
The contradictions and empty calls just show the kind of leadership that the FSA has.

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria’s main rebel commander urged Kofi Annan on Thursday to announce that his peace plan has failed and free insurgents from any commitment to a truce deal, which the United States said may collapse and trigger a wider Middle East crisis.

Colonel Riad al-Asaad, who is based in Turkey, contradicted a statement by the rebels inside Syria who issued a 48-hour ultimatum on Wednesday for President Bashar al-Assad to abide by the conditions of Annan’s plan.

“There is no deadline, but we want Kofi Annan to issue a declaration announcing the failure of this plan so that we would be free to carry out any military operation against the regime,” Asaad told Al Jazeera television.

His spokesman Ahmad Fawzi, responding to Asaad’s call, said it was not for Annan to declare defeat.

“The Annan plan does not belong to Kofi Annan. It belongs to the parties that have accepted it and the international community that has endorsed it,” he told Reuters.

“So a failure of the Annan plan would be the failure of the international community to solve this peacefully,” Fawzi said. “If anyone has a better plan they should come up with it.”

May 31st, 2012, 2:40 pm


omen said:

why is qatar helping the regime?

Washington slapped sanctions on the partially Qatar-owned Syria International Islamic Bank Wednesday, saying it had helped the Damascus regime skirt sanctions placed on the country’s leading bank.

May 31st, 2012, 2:43 pm


zoo said:

#61 Amjad

“…it’s been three days, why hasn’t the army managed to catch any of them?”

Why hasn’t the FSA catch any of them when they were in the village? Wasn’t the FSA there to protect the civilians?
Either they failed and should leave the villages or they were accomplices.

Keep arguing about of white sneakers.. Shabbiha don’t wear white sneakers, it is a trade mark of the FSA commandos.

The ones who say they know better without offering any proof are probably part of them.

May 31st, 2012, 2:48 pm


Juergen said:

here are shabihas at their best posing…

May 31st, 2012, 2:49 pm


omen said:

how strong can these sanctions be when bastards are allowed to wriggle out of them?

Switzerland is unfreezing roughly 3 million euros ($4 million) held in a Geneva bank by a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to a court ruling.

The money, held by Hafez Makhlouf, head of a branch of Syrian state security, was frozen in April when he was trying to conclude a property deal in Syria .

However, it was then unfrozen in September after he appealed in absentia because it predated sanctions imposed by the Swiss in May over the Syrian government’s crackdown on the uprising against the president, according to the Swiss court ruling.

May 31st, 2012, 2:51 pm


ann said:

Is US preparing for broad Middle East conflict? – 31 May, 2012

Does US intransigence on European missile defense, increasing chaos in Syria and a lack of progress in resolving the Iranian standoff point to the eventual outbreak of full-blown violence across the Middle East?


May 31st, 2012, 2:55 pm


irritated said:

#64 Omen

Qatar and KSA are helping both parties of the conflict. This is a habit of the Gulf countries. They are weak, so as they don’t know who will win they prefer to keep open doors.

May 31st, 2012, 2:57 pm


jna said:

Al Arabiya English‏@AlArabiya_Eng

Syria says it wants Annan plan to succeed and calls on opposition groups who reject foreign intervention to come to Syria for talks: Reuters!/AlArabiya_Eng

May 31st, 2012, 3:07 pm


Uzair8 said:

While flicking channels I saw Charlie Rose interviewing Donald Rumsfeld on Bloomberg. I sat and and watched the half hour long interview and just as I was going to change channels Fawaz Gerges popped up on screen.

Observer asked us for predictions (#60). Mr Gerges was asked about Syria and he made some predictions.

Listen from 4 min:

May 31st, 2012, 3:18 pm


omen said:

treasury decides to act now? why wasn’t this done sooner? what other things could the west have done earlier? are they going to wait for another 10,ooo people to be killed before waking up and acting responsibly?

Treasury Sanctions Syrian Bank

The U.S. strengthened efforts to restrict the Syrian government’s access to international capital by adding another bank to the list of those facing sanctions.

The U.S. designated the Syria International Islamic Bank “for acting for or on behalf of” the Commercial Bank of Syria and providing services to the Syrian Lebanese Commercial bank, both of which are subject to U.S. and international sanctions.


A meeting of the Syria Sanctions Committee of the Friends of the Syrian People on June 6 will offer an opportunity to explore which sanctions have been most effective and what other measures can be taken, the official said.

May 31st, 2012, 3:21 pm


Amjad said:

“Why hasn’t the FSA catch any of them when they were in the village”

Because like all cowards, the shabiha attacked those on the edge of the village, under cover of an artillery bombardment. It’s the shabih way, always ten steps behind a tank or APC. If it wasn’t for the FSA, the entire village would have been wiped out like Hama in ’82. We would be talking dead in the thousands.

Where are these 800 “terrorists”? Did they disappear into thin air? How is it that the Assadan army couldn’t capture or kill a single one in Houlla after *three whole days*?

Keep denying the preferred footwear of the shabiha cowards, everytime you do it further erodes your credibility. There are numerous journalists in Syria now, and they know a shabih when they see one.

May 31st, 2012, 3:23 pm


omen said:

66. JUERGEN said:
here are shabihas at their best posing…

one of the side effects of steroid abuse is that their brains shrink.

May 31st, 2012, 3:27 pm


omen said:

speaking of “800 terrorists,”

is there one loyalist who has denounced the presence of iranian death squads in syria? something iranian officials have even bragged about sending.

what kind of a patriot tolerates foreign killers on the loose in syria? butchers who are slaughtering children.

or do children not count if they are sunni?

May 31st, 2012, 3:36 pm


Juergen said:

very worthwhile article of DER SPIEGEL about the PR campaign of the regime

sorry, Google did not get the meaning in between the lines…


Nadia Bitar reports from Damascus

When Bashar al-Assad needs for its public relations strategy nice pictures, the security forces help – if needed by force. Directed against the political opponents the truth has no chance. The tactic works: Many Damascenes slowly shift away from the opposition.

Damascus – Walking around these days in the Hamidiye market in the Syrian capital once could believe, everything is in order. Almost all shops are open, although the opposition declared on Monday a three-day strike – an outcry against the massacre in Hula, where were more than a hundred civilians, mostly women and children were executed. The Syrian state television films the market and shows the open and empty space in front of the Umayyad Mosque in old Damascus, where no one demonstrated.

Look, everything is OK, this is the message the state television later shows to the Syrians.
That nothing is fine, is only be seen in the details. At ten o clock in the morning the shops should open in the old town. But first, they remain closed. Therefore two white vans pulled in front of the market. Here everyone knows them: They are the security forces. The men get out and walk with guns and assault rifles along the market. It is very clear: Those who dont unlock their door or their shutter will get broken doors or locks.

Half an hour later, the state television films its pictures. At the entrance to the market are still the two white minibuses visible. They are an unmistakable warning.

A couple of Assad’s opponents argue later that the strike was an big success, almost all dealers had been participating. They all omit a key word: they would have loved to participate. But then almost all of them came running and opened their shops, as men stood in front of their shops with assault rifles. It is a lie that anybody can see in Damascus easily with your own eyes. And everyone at home in front of the Syrian state television.

There may be individuals that can be carried away by such exaggerations, the strike was a resounding success. But they hurt the credibility of the entire opposition.

The local revolutionary committees, one of the main opposition groups describe later in an e-mail the events as they actually occurred. But unlike the state television they can not provide sharp images not even cell phone films and no YouTube videos. To film the deployment of security forces would be too dangerous. In direct competition with the state media, the opposition is left behind.

“The most important help for the media strategy of the regime is that the opposition is acting rather stupid in their strategy ,” says Nabil, referring to the false reports. He is a strong young man with black hair and green Lacoste shirt and wanted to keep that day the store of his family in the town closed. But now he is also in his shop. His name is different, but he is afraid of being killed if his real name appears in foreign medias.

The PR tactics of the regime, however are smart in his view. “To tell the international public, it defends itself against terrorists. To the Syrians they tell them, it is defending itself against a conspiracy from the outside.” The fact that Germany and other European countries, have expelled the Syrian Ambassadors and that in the United States the discussion to arm the Syrian opposition is a big topic – everything is a sign and confirmation for the regimes version.

“If Europeans and Americans in Syria would not follow an conspiracy in their favor, why would they then support the opposition?” Asks Fadia, a Syrian who, like many in the capital, is neither behind the regime nor the opposition. At first she kept it with Assad’s opponents, she says, but now she was not so sure,whos is using violence means.

Who is shooting who in the center of Damascus , there’s no doubt. But Damascus, who hide themselves like Fadia at home and stay away from opposition quarters, which are isolated by checkpoints, those have often never seen a demonstration with their own eyes. Most demonstrations are short.

Protests in the heart of Damascus are more like a flash mob demonstration. Only a few passers-by blocking the road, then there is a traffic jam, a sudden flow of young men and women between the cars and shouting “Allah is greater” – once, twice, maybe even a third time already, but then a couple of men run into in civilian clkothes with long sticks and assault rifles – the “ala Hafeth Nizam ‘, the preservers of the regime – and by their sight the protesters flee.

Despite the civilian clothing it is clear whose side the armed men are on. The regime-keeper who no one knew before the riots here, are now entrenched behind sandbags in Damascus on every major transportation hub, and before the police, party and intelligence stations and government ministries. The military police, the police and the regular army seems not reliant enough to monitor the capital. Many of its members are corrupt or even mock at the regime, if they believe they are unobserved by Assad loyalists.

The regime-keepers are men in jeans and T-shirts in their 20s to 30s . They stifle any kind of resistance in the capital immediately. Not even dissident graffiti is tolerated. Slogans such as “BASHAR IS A DUCK” – an allusion to the nickname that should have used a regime-follower for the leaders in e-mails – are quickly painted over, along with then neatly sprayed with a stencil regime friendly statements like “Thank you Russia” or “Thank Addounia”, a private television channel, which behaves like a voice of -Assad.

With all the power, the regime is fighting for the sovereignty of interpretation. It sits on more leverage. If the state television filmed Nabil in his shop would open on the day of the strike – it would be part of the Syria show. He looked like a supporter of the regime and could not contradict the view – it would be a death sentence.
Only a detail reveals that Nabil is one of the many opponents of the regime. He has ousted the picture of President Bashar al-Assad from his shop. The pendant with the portrait of Assad, he has taken out of his range. Instead, he now sells medallions, on which “Allah is greater” is written.

That is Nabils small resistance. To demonstrate, he is too afraid.

May 31st, 2012, 3:39 pm


Antoine said:


I did not intend to insult you. I do not think criticising Damascus or its inhabitants amounts to insulting a person. Anyway, forgive me if I have offended you.

But coming to the main point, I am very disgusted at the “City” and its people who are still not joining the revolution. What is stopping them from acting like the people in Homs or Idleb ?

Okay, even if they do not want to join the revolution, thats fine, but al least they should stay neutral and not go to the shabbiha pro-Bashar rallies that is organized in Umayyad Square once in 3 months.

Now, I will write my conclusion about why Damascus is not joining the Revolution :

1. They are afraid of violence.

2. They want to enjoy their high standard of living in the “modern” City, continue to eat Lobsters and French wine in Malki restaurants, and therefore they support Bashar who “allowed” them to enjoy this high standard of living.

Please tell me your assessments as to why Damascus has not become like Idleb. Tara, Amjad, or anybody else is welcome as well.

Because one of the most critical factors for the Revolution is not to attract Alawi support, but to attract the Sunnis and Christians who are still supporting the regime.

May 31st, 2012, 3:47 pm


Antoine said:


Do you think the kind of intimidation seen today in Syria, was seen in East Germany (or other Warsaw Pact States) in the Communits days ?

I mean do you think this repression is just a feature of one-Party Socialist system, or is it a “special” feature of the backward political culture in Syria ?

May 31st, 2012, 3:54 pm


Antoine said:

@ Juergen’s comment # 77

Ultimately, the tiping point for Damascus will be reached, when the businessmen will allow the shabbiha to trash their shop and break the shutters. Instead of cowering and running to open the shop at the command of the shabbih, the owner will stay defiant and say, Go Ahead. I mean, people in Hopms have offered everything – their lives, children, homes, livelihood – for the Revolution, and some store owners in Damascus cannot put up with a broken shutter ?

Also, its about time the “flash mob” crowds in Damascus start hitting back when they see shabbih armed with batons and AKs approaching them.

May 31st, 2012, 4:00 pm


Juergen said:


A lot reminds me of the tactics the STASI used to oppress the people. When it comes to media control, social control you can say its more or less equivalent. ( The other day I read an article describing that the STASI had an unit which spread regime unfriendly jokes to see how fast and in which groups of society they spread most.) I would differ in seeing similarities when it comes to the everyday torture, being arrested for years without an trial, the rapings, the killings while in custody. There is an alarming sense of brutality which seem to have taken over this regime, not just since March 2011 though. The communist regime was sinister, it destroyed soo many lives, but they rarely used lethal force to get what they wanted.

I think that the Baath party was from the 80s onwards just an accesoire to the Assads, no real impulse came from the party itself, nor is the socialist message a dominant one now.

May 31st, 2012, 4:03 pm


Osama said:

Please find the link to the news conference from the Syrian Government Committee investigating the Alhoula Massacre – Initial findings:

also an article in English – for those that don’t speak Arabic:

note it appears to be a machine translation – but you should be able to get the gist of it…

May 31st, 2012, 4:07 pm


Amjad said:

“Qatar and KSA are helping both parties of the conflict”

And the As’ad Abu Khalil Tin Foil Hat Conspiracy Award goes to…

Qatar and Saudi Arabia don’t need to do squat anymore. Bashar has done more harm to himself with his infantile interviews and alienating nine tenths of the globe, than all the GCC could have done in a decade. And there is no way Bashar can hit back. He’s impotent. A buzzing fly is of more concern to the Emir of Qatar than all the Assadstanians, including unwashed-Maher and Horror-Movie-Director-Wannabe Waleed Mu’alem.

May 31st, 2012, 4:13 pm


Juergen said:

First thought after reading it: pathetic!

initial findings: final findings!

May 31st, 2012, 4:13 pm


Syrialover said:

For anyone not sure about talk of the shabiha, this is worth reading. How they emerged from the corruption and poverty and state terror of the World of Assad:

Ghosts of Syria: diehard militias who kill in the name of Assad -The shabiha have been blamed for the massacre in Houla, but who is their paymaster, and who gives them orders?

May 31st, 2012, 4:19 pm


omen said:

77. JUERGEN said:
very worthwhile article of DER SPIEGEL about the PR campaign of the regime

ty for the translation.

video of aleppo on general strike:

strikes to protest the massacres.

there is a bunch of footage of damascus stores on strike.

what do they do? wait for security to leave to close the stores again?
it’s like musical chair strike. duck, duck, goose.

May 31st, 2012, 4:19 pm


Osama said:


My goal was to share some news, some new aspect may be revealed in hearing what is being said.

If I believed every word that was said – I would be a fool – both sides are trying to manipulate and any reader/observer needs to keep that in mind whether its coming from the FSA or from the Syrian Government.

In any case, its no less pathetic than what is being said in the MSM or by the spokespeople of Western Government, the UN, or the OHCHR.

May 31st, 2012, 4:33 pm


Uzair8 said:

“Killing children does not meet any goal of the government but those of the armed groups,” the general said.

So tell me, who killed Hamza al-Khateeb?

May 31st, 2012, 4:56 pm


Amjad said:

“Killing children does not meet any goal of the government but those of the armed groups,”

Yes, isn’t it amazing how since the killing of Hariri, sh*t just seems to happen to the regime? The murder of prominent Lebanese individuals, the killing of 13,000 Syrians, Malik Jandali’s parents and Ali Ferzat getting beaten up….the whole universe is just conspiring to make Bashar have a lousy day.

Hearing the regimists saying that it isn’t in the interest of the regime to have done something, is as pathetic as a drunk driver getting caught, and then pleading his innocence by saying “why the hell would I drink and drive? I might kill myself.”

May 31st, 2012, 5:00 pm


Antoine said:

81. JUERGEN said ;

“The communist regime was sinister, it destroyed soo many lives, but they rarely used lethal force to get what they wanted.”


Yes, I was reading an article which described that even the KGB rarely usuied direct physical force or physical torture ( beatings etc.). Which brings us to the question as to how torture came to be institutionalized in Syrian State-Security apparatus ( as well as in other Middle East countries). I concluded that it was a legacy of the past, torture has been common since the Medieval days, the Ottomans used to do it and even the French.

I could not believe the sadistic ways in which the French Government used to torture and repress the Algerians in the 1950s. I guess the French did not introduce any reforms in Syria as well and continued the old Ottoman practice of torture.

Btw it is commonly heard by Syrians that the Stasi taught the Mukhabarat how to sodomize male prisoners with water hoses and bottles. Have you heard of similar things ? Was sodomization common in GDR Prisons ? Or is it just a rumour that the STASI taught these torture techniques to the Mukhabarat ?

May 31st, 2012, 5:00 pm


Antoine said:

The Syrian Circassians are leaving en-masse to their original homeland in Russia. Since last year they were requesting the Russian Gov’t to allow the Circassians in Syria to return.

I wonder why they are so intent on leaving….as far as I know most of them live in Quneitra, many serve in the Army and they were considered largely loyal to the regime, though they are Sunni. It is understandable that they may fear marginalization in post-Assad Syria, but they are not at all involved in the burgeoning Civil War and I do not think they fear pogroms might target them. And Quneitra has seen the least number of casualties in 15 months.

So anybody has an idea why the Circassians are leaving / running away ?

May 31st, 2012, 5:07 pm


Uzair8 said:

A couple of things.

Robert Fisk on ABC (Aus) from a few hours ago. I’m watching it tommorrow but I’ll share. Have to log off.

Syria will have a long, bloody war:

Sheikh Yaqoubi statement from 4hrs ago. You will need to Google Translate it:

May 31st, 2012, 5:09 pm


omen said:

69. IRRITATED said:
Qatar and KSA are helping both parties of the conflict. This is a habit of the Gulf countries. They are weak, so as they don’t know who will win they prefer to keep open doors.
2:57 pm


the u.s. is the same. i don’t know if it’s a sign of weakness but rather corruption and lack of principles.

back during the first gulf war, the coalition kicked saddam out of kuwait. bush senior then called upon the shia in the south to rise up with no intention of intervening saddam from putting them down. bush allowed saddam’s forces to fly (despite there being a no fly zone) in order to mow down iraqis who were rising up. the u.s. defeated and helped saddam at the same time.

a parallel of this can also be seen in syria.

we also armed both sides during the iran/iraq war.

May 31st, 2012, 5:11 pm


Antoine said:

ديربرس:ديرالزور||مسائية رائعة حي الجبيلة

May 31st, 2012, 5:17 pm


omen said:

i know you like fisk, uzair, but i don’t trust him. during the iran uprising, he channeled arguments and sentiments of regime insiders. he sounds like pat cockburn here.

May 31st, 2012, 5:22 pm


zoo said:

The children survivors of the Houla massacre

– The killers came with armoured vehicles and tanks
– They were looking for specific men (Aref and Shawki and Abu Haidar). It was not random killing. They knew their targets
– They stole 3 televisions and a computer
– There were bald men with beard
– Some were militaries, some civilians
– They came back later to ask neighbours just to make sure they had killed the right family.
– The child became nervous when asked how he knew they were shabbiha
– His reply reflect who the villagers generally are made to believe are the criminals.

There are may strange observations but from a kid under trauma, it is difficult to assess the exactitude of his declaration

Speaking to The Guardian, the young survivor said government troops arrived in his district about 3pm on Friday, several hours after shells started reining down on Houla.

“They came in armoured vehicles and there were some tanks,” said the boy. “They shot five bullets through the door of our house. They said they wanted Aref and Shawki, my father and my brother. They then asked about my uncle, Abu Haidar. They also knew his name.”

Shivering with fear, the boy stood towards the back of the entrance to his family home as gunmen then shot dead every family member in front of him.

“My mum yelled at them,” said the boy. “She asked: ‘What do you want from my husband and son?’

“A bald man with a beard shot her with a machinegun from the neck down. Then they killed my sister, Rasha, with the same gun. She was five years old.

“Then they shot my brother Nader in the head and in the back. I saw his soul leave his body in front of me.

“They shot at me, but the bullet passed me and I wasn’t hit. I was shaking so much I thought they would notice me.

“I put blood on my face to make them think I’m dead.”

Apparently convinced their work was finished, the gunmen moved on to other areas of the house, from which they proceeded to loot the family’s possessions, the boy said.

“They stole three televisions and a computer,” he said. “And then they got ready to leave.”

On the way out of the house, the boy said the gunmen found the three men they had been looking for. They killed them all.

“They shot my father and uncle. And then they found Aref, my oldest brother, near the door. They shot him dead too.”

The Guardian was unable to independently verify the account and has chosen not to name the boy.

The boy said he waited until the armoured personnel carriers had moved from his street, then ran to his uncle’s house nearby where he hid. He said the same militiamen knocked on the door minutes later, asking his uncle if he knew who lived in the house that they just rampaged through.

“They didn’t know he was my relative and when they were talking to him they were describing six people dead in my house. They included me. They thought I was dead.”

Throughout a 15-minute conversation, the boy remained calm and detached until he was pressed on how he knew the gunmen were pro-regime militia men, known as the shabbiha.

The irregular forces have been widely accused by residents of Houla of entering homes and slaughtering families. At least 32 of the dead are children and many of them appear to have been killed at close range.

“They got out of tanks and they had guns and knives,” he repeated. “Some of them were wearing civilian clothes, some army clothes.

“Why are you asking me who they were? I know who they were. We all know it. They were the regime army and people who fight with them. That is true.”

Damascus has denied its forces were responsible for the massacre, and again blamed terrorist groups.

Read more:

May 31st, 2012, 5:26 pm


Amjad said:

#91 Antoine

“So anybody has an idea why the Circassians are leaving / running away ?”

Because they want to move to a country where caviar now costs less than chicken does in the one they are leaving.

Just joking. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones. Outsiders don’t seem to comprehend the exact scale of the exodus of Syrians since the start of the year. It’s an omission I’ve noticed in all of Professor Landis’ posts and in Peter Harling’s reports. The fact is, there are now more Syrians staying with relatives in the Gulf than there are in Lebanon and Turkey combined. These are people who don’t expect to come back to Syria for years, and have now given up on it as a failed state in the fashion of Lebanon and Iraq.

It is ironic that the only government departments still working at top efficiency are the Immigration and Passport departments. Remarkable, you can apply for a passport in the morning, get it in the afternoon, and road conditions and armed gangs on the highways willing, be having dinner in another country.

The exodus has been massive. No one wants to live in a country where cooking gas is harder to find than alcohol in Mecca, where if a person doesn’t come home by 4pm his family starts collecting ransom money, and where education and work, all the the things a person needs for a hope for a better future, have all but evaporated.

May 31st, 2012, 5:29 pm


Uzair8 said:

95 Omen

Actually just like other revolutionaries I’ve been disappointed with Robert Fisk for reasons including the ones stated by yourself. I do look out for his comments and perspective (and predictions) always with the hope of some positive movement from him in the right direction.

May 31st, 2012, 5:31 pm


Antoine said:

خافوا الله يا عرب

خافوا الله ياعرب

May 31st, 2012, 5:33 pm


omen said:

96. ZOO said:
The children survivors of the Houla massacre
– The killers came with armoured vehicles and tanks

do rebels have tanks? does alqaeda (or any of their clones) have tanks?

May 31st, 2012, 5:37 pm


zoo said:

Uzair8, Juergen and SOD

Are Shabbiha so religious that they keep on the walls of their clubs Islamic citations (in arabic or urdu)?

Don’t they have an official photo of Bashar al Assad instead of a home made painting where he looks very Pakistani?

May 31st, 2012, 5:48 pm


Antoine said:

AMJAD said :”The fact is, there are now more Syrians staying with relatives in the Gulf than there are in Lebanon and Turkey combined”


This is a very worrying trend. This is just what Assad wants. they can happily rule over an empty nation of a few thousand, as long as they stay in power. Infact a mass exodus perfectly suits Assad interests, since there will be fewer angry people to join the rallies or the FSA.

May 31st, 2012, 5:49 pm


Antoine said:


May I ask you, can you read the Arabic script ? if not, then you better keep out of this investigation business.

Btw, that shabbih in the first photo is a bizarre combination of Al Qaida and Shabbiha. But the tattoo on the arm is unmistakable, and btw Al Qaida or other Islamic militants don’t go about wearing so tight clothes and showing off their muscles.

Fortunately, muscles are useless against the bullets of the FSA.

May 31st, 2012, 5:52 pm


zoo said:

#100 Omen

It was confirmed by the UN that the rebels have armoured cars, one of them was destroyed during the ‘shelling’ of Houla. There was a photo published.
I wondered how could they put 3 TV in a tank.

May 31st, 2012, 5:53 pm


Antoine said:


Those men do not look like Pakistanis or South Asians. their features are unmistakable Levantine ( Syrian / Lebanese).

And I bet they grow Salafi style beards just for these false-flag operations.

During the Algerian Civil war, the criminal Algerian Army had a Special Forces unit who looked just like Islamist militants, beards and all.

May 31st, 2012, 5:56 pm


zoo said:

#104 Antoine

I can read arabic script allright, but for your information urdu uses the same script as arabic + a few more letters.

One of the posters has also another language used under the arabic/urdu script (like a translation).

I think it is Russian but I can’t be sure.

May 31st, 2012, 5:58 pm


Antoine said:

“105. ZOO said:

“It was confirmed by the UN that the rebels have armoured cars, one of them was destroyed during the ‘shelling’ of Houla”


Source ?

There were indeed destroyed APCs in Houla, but they all belonged to the regime and they were destroyed long time ago by the FSA. By looking at the photos of the burned-out APCs you can guess that they were destroyed not less than 1 month before the incident.

May 31st, 2012, 6:00 pm


Uzair8 said:

102. Zoo

In aknowledgement of their super-loyalty, I guess Shabeeha have the privilege of receiving a rare limited edition picture frame.

May 31st, 2012, 6:01 pm


Antoine said:


They don’t look like Pakistanis. Thats all. Their facial features are unmistakably Levantine, and I haven’t seen a South Asian so beefed up. South Asians / Pakistanis are quite small (physically).

May 31st, 2012, 6:03 pm


zoo said:

#106 Antoine

“And I bet they grow Salafi style beards just for these false-flag operations.”

The false flag? In what direction?.

Most people anti-regime and some in the media on this site keep repeating that this has always been the stereotype Shabbiha look.

Could you please explain the awkward Pakistani painting of Bashar Al Assad instead of one of the the numerous official photos a ‘ally’ of the regime would have at its disposal?

Why do Caucasian athletes dominate in sports such as weight lifting and wrestling?

Read more:

May 31st, 2012, 6:04 pm


Uzair8 said:

The regime must be in trouble if Abdelbari Atwan questions it’s narrative:

Houla massacre could spark civil war in Syria
28 May 2012

The Syrian regime cannot disavow responsibility for the massacre in the town of Al-Hulah [Houla] near the city of Homs the day before yesterday which claimed the lives of more than 100 people, among them 32 children under 10 years of age. These are Syrian citizens and the slain children are Syrian citizens too and cannot be fighting members in the armed groups that the regime is talking about.

Protection of Syria’s sons, all Syria’s sons, regardless of their doctrine, faith, or ideological affiliations, is ultimately the regime’s responsibility because it is supposed to represent the entire Syrian people and present a behaviour and practice that are totally different from the armed groups which it is accusing of carrying out the killings and destruction.

The Syrian regime, through Syrian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Dr Jihad Maqdisi, denied categorically that it committed this massacre, condemned it in the strongest language as a clearly terrorist crime, and announced the establishment of a military judicial commission to investigate all the events and issue the results of its investigations within three days.

If the regime is so confident in what it is saying then why does it not let a team from the UN monitors participate in these investigations so that the result will be free from any suspicions and have the credibility that refutes the accusations by the quarters that want to target Syria and prepare for the foreign military intervention in this country?

Read more:

May 31st, 2012, 6:07 pm


Antoine said:


Nobody in the anti-regime camp will believe you, no matter how hard you try. You are wasting your time.

As I said, they grow beards just to carry out false flag attacks, just like the Algerian Special Forces.

Smd btw I am saying this the hundredth time, those guys do not look like Pakistanis. Their features are unmistakably Levantine, in fact I would say their features are characteristic of the inhabitants of the Coastal Mountains.

May 31st, 2012, 6:10 pm


zoo said:

Report about the situation around al-Houla from an independent journalist

The journalist Marat Musin of ANNA News has published the first of his interviews with a witness to the events in Al-Hula, which are already known as the awful “Houla massacre” (al-Hula).

In addition, there is also a list of names of “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) commanders, who are responsible for the horrible robbery and mass murder near the Syrian city of Homs.

By the very simple language, and the perhaps chaotic portrayal, one gets a vague idea of what actually happened in Al-Hula and Taldou, and especially what “kind of people” are behind these violent terrorist actions.

The following is a translation of the transcript of a Russian-language video about the situation in Syria, which is further integrated below.

Syria, al-Houla: Eyewitness

During our trip to Al-Hula in the province of Homs, we have documented and filmed a dozen reports of witnesses of the attack on the Syrian city of Al-Hula (25th May 2012). The attack was carried out by a unit of armed fighters from Rastan, in which more than 700 gunmen were involved. They brought the city under their control and began with a cleansing action against loyalist (Pro-Assad) families, including elderly people, women and also children

Below there is the interview with our first witnesses, who will bring shed light on the chronology of this crime against humanity (by the so-called “Syrian rebels”):

Materials of our own independent investigation
Marat Musin, ANNA-NEWS
Syria, Houla, Taldao.

Q: What happened on May the 25th and the 26th in your village of Taldao? What did you see?

A: I’m a citizen from Taldao, right now I live in Taldao, on the first day of the events, on Friday, the bandits mortared army checkpoint, the army returned fire an injured many of the bandits that attacked the army. The other armed men moved the injured and the man who fired the mortar to the field hospital and he’s now alive and well and his name is Said Fayez Talha Al-Aksh, his family lives in Taldao. Two days earlier the terrorists’ assistants told us that the Zero Hour is coming soon. We heard this with local terrorists, always talking about how they should create a fuss. I didn’t expect it would be this way. Until this event, they (armed terrorists) used to attack army checkpoints every Friday after the prayers (Friday prayers). They attack for several hours then things go back to normal. Some armed men carried cameras and taped everything, others carried radio telephone (walkie talkie) and we heard their conversations from inside our houses.

On Friday, May the 25th, at 2 pm right after Friday prayers, an army checkpoint and the army repelled this attack. The armed group was led by Nidal Bakkour. Shortly after that, another armed group attacked another checkpoint. This second group is from a family called Al-Hallak, also locally called Al-Hassan. They attacked the checkpoint located at the mountain. The plan was that they take over the checkpoint at the mountain and the other one located at the village because they wanted to position themselves at an elevated place that allows them to easily control the checkpoint located at the village. Somebody called Nidal Bakkour and asked him to send an armed group of strangers; he called him right when the attack started. When the armed men attacked the checkpoint, 25 of them were killed.

Q: how could you know the number of dead armed men?

A: When the UN Observers came, the armed men gathered the bodies in front of the observers and claimed that they’re civilians killed by the Syrian Arab Army, I heard that personally from them when they said it to the observers and they claimed that they found the bodies inside the houses.

At around 3:30 pm they secured the elevated checkpoint. They cut off the throat of one soldier and threw him from the 3rd floor. Before he died, he told them that he’s from Kafar Batna, Reef Dimashq and that he’s a Sunni like them, they told him: “now you remember you’re a Sunni?”. Then they kidnapped two soldiers one is called Abdullah he’s a Bedouin (here exact word is Shawy) from Deir Azzour and burned him alive. I didn’t see them burn him but I heard them howling that they burned a soldier, that was around 6:00 pm. As for the other soldier, I have no idea what happened to him but I heard one armed man called Akram Al-Saleh saying we won’t kill him and we will show how he joined us, i.e. defected. Shortly afterwards, they secured the army checkpoint and the police station in the city.

Just against this police stations are the families’ houses. The residential buildings against this police stations are the where all those children and families that were killed. They killed all the children of Al-Sayed family; they were 3 families and 20 children. They also killed people from Abdulrazak family, 10 persons; they killed them because they support the authorities. Of Al-Sayed family they killed the family of the brother of Abdullah Al-Mashlab, the 3rd person in the Syrian parliament. He was elected on May 24th, the next day they killed his wife and 3 kids and his brother and his family as well.

At 7:00 pm, Al-Farouq brigade, led by Abdulrazak Tlass, of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” arrived. He had more than 250 armed men with him from the city of Rastan, he also had 2 other groups with him one from Al-Qabo village, led by Yehya Al-Yusef, and another from Falla village.

At the time of the attack, the leaders always instructed the armed men to intensify the fire during their calls to Al-Jazeera. At night, the shooting stopped.

On the second day we heard them talking to each other on walkie talkies that some of the armed men should wear the Syrian Arabi Army’s uniform before the observers arrive so that they claim they’ve defected from the army and joined the armed men, and the others should dress like civilians and come to with us to the mosque, where the bodies and the observers are.

They burned some farms and houses to accuse the army of shelling the area in front of the observers.

I only saw the observers from far, they were surrounded by armed men who put on the Syrian Arab Army’s uniforms. A lot of people were there and saw all of that, they were of chosen families and they were calling “we want to bring the regime down” and everybody knows they’re the armed men’s relatives. The armed men got into the houses and told the people that they must leave because this is a military zone now. I didn’t go anywhere, but a lot fled the after that.

When the observers arrived the armed men had occupied the empty houses and the armed men who accompanied the observers started showing the observers into the houses as if the owners were inside and they provided testimonies.

Q: how does your family look at this?

A: my father is dead, but my mother and siblings, we all have the same view of these events.

Q: do many people in your village share the same view?

A: the majority of people do share the same view, but they’re scared to death. Earlier, many of them used to participate in pro-regime rallies and they used to write slogans against Daraa, the FSA and the Armed men. However, the armed men took revenge against all those who wrote by killing them.

Q: how are your relations with the nearby villages and why were these villages attacked by the armed men?

A: Our relations were very good; they never harmed us or started any tension with us. However, the FSA attacked them because they belonged to other sects. One of the terrorists called Haytham Hallak kidnapped several persons from a nearby village and asked for a ransom, millions of Syrian Leras, to set the free. Another armed man called Abu Yaseer, kidnapped workers from the General Power Company because they were from a specific sect.

As for the terrorist Haytham Hallak, he killed one of the kidnapped people and injected fuel in the other’s blood and you can find him at a hospital in the city of Homs.

Before the events started, those armed men used to be smugglers. There are fuel pipes near our village, they put taps at those pipes and powerful pumpers, and these are facts known to all the residents of the village. These armed men are originally, thieves, only a few of them have studied till the eighth grade. They kidnapped people of other sects. There was a Lebanese woman in the village who lived with her 3 kids and used to work as a janitor at the police station. The armed men kidnapped, raped, and hanged her. Then they threw her body in the fields, and dogs snapped at her body. It was a horrible and painful sight, she was completely naked. Such people can’t be called Arabs or Muslims, they’re monsters.

Also when they occupied the government buildings in the village; the school, the hospital, the health center and the municipality, they burned them all and prevented the kids from studying. There were four of Al-Abbar family and one of Al-Yosef family who was an AIDS patient and is now dead, they raped a woman from Al-Nayel family and infected her with AIDS.

She has a 3 months old baby, after she was raped she nursed him, and he was infected and later died because of that. At the beginning of the crisis, they attacked the hospital and stole blood bags and used them at the demonstrations, they poured blood on the demonstrators to show that they were dead or injured when fabricating videos for Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.

We are peaceful people all we want is that safety is back at the village and the country. We don’t want foreign intervention, we want peace and security.

May 31st, 2012, 6:17 pm


Antoine said:

Remember the famous Syrian school teacher in al-Qouriyah, Deirezzor ? The same guy who publicly ripped off all Bashar posters in his school ?

Well it seems he has joined the FSA :

I am shocked. I wonder what pushed him to take such a step.

May 31st, 2012, 6:24 pm


zoo said:

Blindness of the media or conspiracy?

It appears from the emerging reports from Houla that many of the killed families were supporters of the regime and some of them were Shias.

May 31st, 2012, 6:27 pm


omen said:

antoine, you know what pushed him to do it.

reading annie’s piece (Robin Yassin-Kassab Arm the Guerrillas) made me want to jump on a plane and join. that’s crazy, of course. but i don’t know how expats can resist the call to duty.

May 31st, 2012, 6:30 pm


Antoine said:


Hoping to eat lobsters and French wine in Damascus one day ?

May 31st, 2012, 6:31 pm


Antoine said:


I have felt the same urge, especially in February and March during the “dark days” of the FSA. But I know there are thousands of more capable people than me in Syria who can fight. Foreigners and Expats will be more of a liability.

Sometimes I just feel I had the money to but a few score Mortars, several hundred mortar shells, about 6 or 7 Anti-Tank Gudied missile launchers and hundreds of missiles, pack them all in a suitcase and head straight for Homs and Idleb.

There are plenty of people who are more than adept at using these weapons, they don’t need fighters, they need weapons.

Now, about the school teacher who joined the FSA : I am shocked that a suited teacher is now wearing combat fatugues and holding an AK. I feel he is in danger. He’s not a trained fighter , he could get himself killed.

Here is the school teacher I am talking about, in his school in Deirezzor :

May 31st, 2012, 6:39 pm


omen said:

96. ZOO said:
The children survivors of the Houla massacre
– They stole 3 televisions and a computer

i notice you left out noting how the killers stole all of the gold jewelry.

why was that? because that would have been too shabiha-esque?

May 31st, 2012, 6:39 pm


zoo said:

Text of draft UN resolution for tomorrow’s emergency session on Syrian massacre
Published by UN Watch

May 31, 2012

UN Watch has obtained a copy of the draft resolution being circulated for tomorrow’s UN Human Rights Council emergency session on the massacre in Syria:

Draft Resolution on the human rights situation in Syria and the recent killings in El-Houleh

30 May 2012

Recalling General Assembly resolutions 66/176 of 19 December 2011 and 66/253 of 16 February 2012, as well as Human Rights Council resolutions S-16/1 of 29 April 2011, S-17/1 of 22 August 2011, S-18/1 of 2 December 2011, 19/1 of 1 March 2012 and 19/22 of … and Security Council resolutions 2042 (2012) and 2043 (2012),

Deploring the killings, confirmed by United Nations observers, of dozens of men, women and children and the wounding of hundreds more in the village of El-Houleh, near Homs, in attacks that involved a series of Government artillery and tank shellings of a residential neighborhood,

1. Condemns in the strongest possible terms such an outrageous use of force against the civilian population which constitutes a violation of applicable international law and of the commitment of the Syrian Government under the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2042 (2012) and 2043 (2012) to cease violence in all its forms, including the cessation of use of heavy weapons in population centres;

2. Calls upon the Syrian authorities to put an immediate end to all violence and all human rights violations;

3. Reaffirms that those responsible for acts of violence must be held accountable;

4. Decides for the Council President to establish and urgently dispatch an independent fact-finding mission to conduct an immediate and unfettered investigation of the killings in the village of El-Houleh and to report its initial findings to the Human Rights Council at its twentieth session with a full report and interactive dialogue at its twenty-first session; and requests that the fact-finding mission coordinate, as appropriate, with relevant UN mechanisms;

5. Invites the United Nations – Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria Mr. Kofi Annan to provide a briefing to the Human Rights Council at its twentieth session.

May 31st, 2012, 6:41 pm


Tara said:

Zoo said

“Blindness of the media or conspiracy?
It appears from the emerging reports from Houla that many of the killed families were supporters of the regime and some of them were Shias.”

If so, how come the boy who played dead while his family being slaughtered incriminated the regime?  Wouldn’t be more logical for him to incriminate the rebels?  

May 31st, 2012, 6:41 pm


Antoine said:


I did not intend to insult you. I do not think criticising Damascus or its inhabitants amounts to insulting a person. Anyway, forgive me if I have offended you.

But coming to the main point, I am very disgusted at the “City” and its people who are still not joining the revolution. What is stopping them from acting like the people in Homs or Idleb ?

Okay, even if they do not want to join the revolution, thats fine, but al least they should stay neutral and not go to the shabbiha pro-Bashar rallies that is organized in Umayyad Square once in 3 months.

Now, I will write my conclusion about why Damascus is not joining the Revolution :

1. They are afraid of violence.

2. They want to enjoy their high standard of living in the “modern” City, continue to eat Lobsters and French wine in Malki restaurants, and therefore they support Bashar who “allowed” them to enjoy this high standard of living.

Please tell me your assessments as to why Damascus has not become like Idleb. Tara, Amjad, or anybody else is welcome as well.

And what are the differences between the “traditonal” areas in Damascus and the “chic” ones ?

Because one of the most critical factors for the Revolution is not to attract Alawi support, but to attract the Sunnis and Christians who are still supporting the regime…..

May 31st, 2012, 6:43 pm


zoo said:


I am allergic to shells and I only drink arak

For once you ask a good question about Damascus inertia.

May 31st, 2012, 6:44 pm


zoo said:

#122 Tara

The boy did not incriminate the regime, he described the killing and the killers and said who he thought were the killers. Notice that he became unease when he was asked, why?

It is obvious, from his declarations, that the killings were targeting some specific family, not randomly. Why were they targeted?

Were they supporters of the regime, where they Shias as some reports say? Why were they killed? That is the answer I need to hear.

I really hope there would be a non-politically inclined investigation from the UN.

May 31st, 2012, 6:51 pm


omen said:

119. ANTOINE said:
Now, about the school teacher who joined the FSA : I am shocked that a suited teacher is now wearing combat fatugues and holding an AK. I feel he is in danger. He’s not a trained fighter , he could get himself killed.

maybe he has contacts and knows strategy. he can help as a

juergen earlier pointed to an spiegel piece that talked about how regime forces had razed a village but then came back and apologized to a teacher because some of the soldiers were past students of his.

shame can be exploited as a tool.

May 31st, 2012, 6:54 pm


Tara said:


I share your disgust with Damascus.  I have wanted long time ago to apply for a new citizenship from Izraa and dump my Damascene identiy.  However, even with the new citizenship, I am Damascus native and can’t help but to defend her.  

Damascus proper is inhabited by the well off families.  Lots of Native Damascenes have migrated to Reef Dimashq because it is way too expensive to live in Damascus proper.  Reef Dimashq has been very active against Bashar from day one.  I suspect many of the rebels in Reef Dimashq are from Damascene families..

In regard to middle to upper class Damascenes who are not in bed with the regime, the stake is too high.  I don’t know of historical precedent where middle to upper class have sacrificed one’s self for an ideology.    

Finally many Damascenes or non Damascene families who live in Damascus are literally in bed with the regime.  Take al Akhrass family for example…do you expect any of their family members to support the revolution?  Quite unlikely but you would be surprised…

Finally, the security presence in Damascus is too heavy.  The wall of fear has not been demolished there.  The wealthier you are, the more fearful you become… 

I don’t think Damascus men or women are less manly or less womanly than Homsis,  their circumstances are different….I think…

May 31st, 2012, 7:10 pm


Tara said:


A less than 12 yo boy is not going to lie. Children do not do good job lying. Their lies can be easily detected. He implicated what he believed to be the perpetrators. The perpetrators in his assessment were the Shabeehas. He was probably asked the same question again and again. Ask me the same question more them 2 times and you will see how uneasy I become.

What I was saying is if his parents were Shiaa or regime supporters, there is no way on earth, he will implicate the regime in their killing. Would he?

Additionally, the killers went to his uncle’s house to verify that they killed the right people?
Where is the uncle’s testimony about who the killer militia were?

May 31st, 2012, 7:19 pm



Pondering Antoine’s questions about Damascus vs. Hims.
The people that left their homes or what was left of them in Hims must number in the hundreds of thousands by now. How come they chose to go somewhere else, rather than join the fight on the side of the rebels? Could it be that they don’t agree with the rebels ways or their cause? Could it be that they believe they have more in common with the citizenry of Aleppo and Damascus, than with the members of the Al-Farouq Battalion?

May 31st, 2012, 7:45 pm



I posted a reply to your post #57 earlier today, but unfortunately it was held in moderation. I hope it was not lost and would still be released today.

May 31st, 2012, 7:57 pm



Comment was held in moderation mistakenly, I updated the time stamp.

SC Moderation

57.TARA said: Iran as you know has recently admitted the presence of IRG in sovereign Syria.

The only thing I know is that recently, an official member of the IRG, “supposedly” made a comment in an interview to the effect that “good thing we were there to prevent the killing of the people, more people would have been killed if we were not there”. Very conveniently the interview was “supposedly” taken off the website that had originally published it.
Do you expect me to agree with you, on the presence of IRG fighting units, operating on Syrian soil, violating Syrian sovereignty, with or without the consent of the Syrian government, based on this evidence?

I remember since the early nineties, Israel peddling the fact that Iran will have the bomb in a couple of years at most.
More than twenty years later, we still are told that if the world does not stop Iran, it will have the bomb in a short few months period.
No other program has been subject to such a scrutiny like the Iranian nuclear program. Every gram of enriched or non enriched Uranium is counted and accounted for. Every Isotope has been documented as to its source and use. Every facility has been looked at in every detail, to make sure that it is not being used, or could be used, to divert any part of the program towards a clandestine dual use.
The IAEA and the 5+1 know for a fact that there is no evidence, that Iran has violated its obligations, in accordance with the Non Proliferation Treaty.

In a similar fashion, the peddling of the story of IRG forces engaged in the Syrian conflict, has been pushed from the first days of revolt in Daraa.
As far as I know, the only Iranians that were captured by the rebels, were pilgrims in buses going to visit the Shrine of Sit Zeinab, or truck drivers carrying cargo, in addition to the engineers that were working on the Jendar power station, who were accused by Abdul-Razzak Tlass of being officers in the IRG.

I would stand steadfastly with you in opposing any foreign fighters on Syrian soil, in a fight between Syrians, including the Al-Qaeda Arab recruits and any other foreign fighters including the Jihadis. Would you take the same stand?

May 31st, 2012, 8:00 pm


jna said:

Susan Rice

“Syria regime says the opposition is responsible for the massacre in Houla. Another blatant lie,” United States Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

May 31st, 2012, 8:40 pm


Ghufran said:

إمام مسجد القدس الشيخ ماهر حمود أكد أن الجميع متهم بارتكاب مجزرة الحولة، ولا نبرأ أحدا، والصور التي رأيناها تظهر أن الضحايا لم يقتلوا بالقصف بل بالرصاص، وتضارب روايات المعارضة السورية حول عملية القتل نتركها للأيام من أجل كشف حقيقتها”
As of now,it does not look like the Syrian army went inside homes in alhoula area and slit the throats of women and children,according to initial UN report,more than 80% of the dead were not killed by bombs and shells. A credible proof that clearly shows otherwise will deal a devastating blow to whatever support the army has left among people who have so far refused to legitimize random attacks on the army. My own opinion is that the area witnessed fighting and shelling with the army taking part in that,then locals ,many were shabihas ,took turns in murdering civilians,relatives of a new PA were among the victims and victims from various sects were killed in an operation similar to what we saw in other countries that witnessed a civil war where every breathing creature is a legitimate target. Alhoula massacre should not be seen as a unique tragedy,victims of assassinations deserve sympathy too,and individual crimes that take place daily in Syria is only different in the scale but not the brutality and the end results,the martyrs in alhoula are not more or less important than the thousands who were killed unjustly for just being seen as pro or anti regime,this mud slinging campaign distracts Syrians from the ultimate goal of saving the country and using non violent methods to force a regime change.

May 31st, 2012, 9:14 pm


Alan said:

Damascus finds armed groups responsible for Houla massacre, US does not believe
Damascus says a preliminary investigation showed armed groups carried out the Houla massacre. Earlier the government forces were blamed for the slaughter, which claimed lives of more than a hundred innocent citizens, including 32 children.
The report says that up to 800 rebel fighters were involved in mass killing in Houla, a cluster of villages in Syria’s western Homs province, on May 25.
General Qassem Jamal Suleiman, head of the investigation committee, said that there were families which “refused to oppose the government and were at odds with the armed groups”./../..

May 31st, 2012, 9:21 pm


Alan said:
Is US preparing for broad Middle East conflict?
Does US intransigence on European missile defense, increasing chaos in Syria and a lack of progress in resolving the Iranian standoff point to the eventual outbreak of full-blown violence across the Middle East?
But first, before jumping headlong into the Middle East, a little background from Russia’s perspective is required.
With the arrival of Barack Obama to the White House four years ago, many in Moscow genuinely believed there would be a normalization of relations between the two former Cold War opponents. There is no crime in dreaming, right?
After all, George W. Bush’s almost-eight-year “War on Terror” kept Russia, as well as the entire world, in constant suspense as to what kind of stunt Washington would pull next. They were rarely disappointed. Not only did the Bush administration walk away from the 40-year-old ABM Treaty with Russia, it announced the creation of a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe../../..

May 31st, 2012, 9:24 pm


Tara said:


So a figure from the IRGC gave an interview and said “..good thing we were there to prevent the killing of the people, more people would have been killed if we were not there” and you still do not believe that the IRG is part and parcel of the Syrian conflict?  

Do you think the interview never happened and was all fabricated? Or…wait a second, let me think, the only way I can see that the pilgrims, the truck drivers, and the engineers may be able to “prevent  the killing of the people” is by praying to God Almighty at “sit” Zainab shrine.  If you can’t agree with me about the IRG’s involvement, then you must either believe that the interview did not happen or the pilgrims spend their visit praying for Allah to protect Syrians.  Which is your pick?

I do absolutely oppose foreign fighters on Syrian soils, Arabs or Non Arabs.

Please note I used the term “sit” before Zainab..  Do you still think I am not Syrian?  

May 31st, 2012, 9:25 pm


Halabi said:

The witness in the Russian report, from comment #112, can’t be trusted. There is no way that any single person from the village witnessed all these events, eavesdropped on conversations between rebel commanders while they were in action, etc…

How does the “witness” know this: “At around 3:30 pm they secured the elevated checkpoint. They cut off the throat of one soldier and threw him from the 3rd floor. Before he died, he told them that he’s from Kafar Batna, Reef Dimashq and that he’s a Sunni like them, they told him: “now you remember you’re a Sunni?”. ”

I guess his source here is one of the killers who slaughtered the soldiers at the checkpoint. Apply this sort of skepticism to the rest of his account and it becomes clear that this witness is spinning a tale and not describing what he knows and saw.

In any even, media shabi7a already reported that those who were killed were all Alawites and Shia, and Sana said foreign elements of Al Qaeda that committed the massacre. Abdulrazzak Tlass isn’t foreign, and neither are all the people mentioned in this witnesses account. Yet all day some posters have been bombarding us with tall tales about Pakistanis and other scary brown people wreaking havoc in Syria.

As for the preliminary investigation, it has to be the most useless effort at forensic science ever attempted. It’s long on the motives of the killers, but it doesn’t even provide the total number of victims, their names and how they died. But of course none of them protested against the state.

There is no need to hide. We understand the message, and always have. Syrians who rise up against the Assad regime will be crushed. Some will spend decades in prison, others marginalized or exiled, and a smaller percentage will be wiped out. The world knows and we know that this is the nature of Assad’s rule in Syria. The we-love-you crowd knows it too, but they are hoping that Hafez II will be an even better reformer than his dad.

May 31st, 2012, 9:31 pm


Tara said:

The American paper tiger and the Turkish one.  Who is more convincing?  Barak or Erdogan?  I believe Erdogan is more sentimental.

9.25am: If the UN security council cannot deliver swift action to pressure Syria to end the violence, member nations may have no choice but to consider acting outside the United Nations, Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, warned yesterday.

She warned of the dangers of “a proxy conflict with arms flowing in from all sides.” In this case she said, “members of this council and members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they’re prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this council.”

May 31st, 2012, 9:35 pm


Alan said:
SYRIA: Killing Innocent Civilians as part of a US Covert Op. Mobilizing Public Support for a R2P War against Syria

by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky
US military doctrine envisages the central role of “massive casualty producing events” in which innocent civilians are killed.

The killings are deliberately carried out as part of a covert operation. The enemy is blamed for the resulting atrocities.

The objective is to justify a military agenda on humanitarian grounds. The doctrine dates back to 1962: Operation Northwoods.

Under a secret 1962 Pentagon Plan entitled Operation Northwoods, civilians in the Cuban community in Miami were to be killed as part of a covert operation. The objective was to trigger a “helpful wave of indignation in US newspapers”. The killings and “acts of terrorism” were then to be blamed on the Cuban government of Fidel Castro.

The objective of this sinister plan –which Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President J. F. Kennedy– refused to carry out, was to drum up public support for a war against Cuba ../../..

May 31st, 2012, 9:37 pm


zoo said:

#123 Tara

I don’t think the boy lied, but he is talking after a terrible trauma and I am not sure that his ‘impressions’ are 100% reliable.

There are hundred of unanswered questions about this killings and I have a feeling that the UN does not want to dwell into it for fear of having to condemn some in the opposition and therefore appear biased.
The UN observers have been working hard to build a trust with the FSA and the opposition. Denouncing any of their members now will break the whole process as they may appear to take side with the government.
One of the events that lead me to believe that is Khan Shaykhoun. They never explained officially what happened exactly in Khan Shaykhoun when UN observers were drawn into a funerals by armed gangs, were about to be killed by a bomb and then “rescued” by the FSA.
Their silence is a proof they are trying not to hurt the FSA by making accusations.
I still hope the UN will make a full investigation about Houla. The killers of these children should be stopped and brought to justice, so they don’t kill again.

May 31st, 2012, 9:41 pm


Alan said:

The Houla Massacre: A War Provocation by the NATO Death Squads in the Tradition of Himmler’s Gleiwitz Operation of August 1939, Designed to Flip Eager Lion 2012 into Aggressive War Against Syria

May 31st, 2012, 9:42 pm


Tara said:


I see you have a “soft power” over some regime supporters in SC. You replied to Qatar and KSA being silent lately and your response was echoed by some shortly thereafter.

May 31st, 2012, 9:43 pm


Tara said:


They were pretty discrete about Khan Shsykhoun incident. I agree. There are 2 other explanations though:

They are professionals who were clearly instructed not to speak to the press before the end of their mission and before presenting their final assessment to the UNSC, OR,
that they are aware of being “sitting ducks in a shooting range”. They do not want to upset the regime by declaring it’s culpability in shooting civilians attending a funeral as this might trigger their own slaughter by the regime who can always blame it on …armed gangs.

May 31st, 2012, 9:58 pm


Alan said:

Moscow hopes EU avoids armed intervention in Syria

May 31st, 2012, 10:06 pm


Ghufran said:

The lesser of two evils is accepting the presence of a third force in hot spots,so people with brains can sit down and talk peace,the regime strategy along with that of the rebels’ can only take the country to civil war,we need to stop lying to ourselves and try for once to swallow our pride and admit that we failed to keep this conflict ” syrian”. The regime and its adversaries must be told by the big players that they risk being left free ,but isolated,to kill each other with whatever weapons left if they refuse to stop the violence,the much talked about dream alliance between the army and the FSA will never see the light until bold measures are taken by the regime and the FSA,especially the regime,to focus on the actual protection of Syians instead of allowing regional players to use Syrian blood to settle their old and new scores.

May 31st, 2012, 10:07 pm


zoo said:

#141 Tara

They were not discreet when they implied that the Syrian army used heavy artillery on Houla.

The Syrian government is under scrutinity by the UN observers, by the media and by the international community, while nobody is elevating its voice about the abuses of the opposition.
The simple reason is that, besides the weak and confused facade of the FSA, no one knows who they are and how to pressure them.
The UN observers are trying to boost the FSA to take a leading role, but until now the FSA is reluctant, confused and weak.
If the FSA collapses, the regime will win and then will apply the reforms it decides and when it decides.
The UN observers and Annan are trying to prevent this to happen, therefore they are mild on the FSA but until when?
We saw what happened to the SNC when they were disunited and obstinately refused the dialog with the regime. The FSA is risking the same fate for the same reasons.

May 31st, 2012, 10:13 pm


zoo said:

Turkey has sided with the sunnis in the region

So where does all of this leave Turkey? What is certain at this stage is that Turkey is no longer an impartial player in the Middle East. Developments in Syria have highlighted the most elemental fault line among the region’s Muslims.

Turkey has thrown in its lot on the Sunni side of the fault line, in contravention of its earlier claims to be “an impartial player in the region, promoting stability with its soft power.” The state of Turkey’s relations with the Iraqi government and the strains in its ties with Iran due to Syria are there to behold.

In order to become the regional player that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has long wanted it to be, Ankara will have to pull itself back to the middle ground, which will be very difficult at this stage given that “the arrow has left the bow,” as Turks say. There is no chance for Turkey to play such a role after having alienated the region’s Shiites.

By siding openly with Sunni powers and groups, all Turkey is doing now is contributing to deepening regional divisions. As for Syria, despite angry words emanating from the government and the expulsion of Syrian diplomats from Ankara, there seems to be little Turkey can do at this stage, except watch and wait while the brutal regime there charts its bloody course, and of course exhort others to act.

May 31st, 2012, 10:24 pm


Tara said:

“We will look back on May and say ‘this was the month that civil war began in earnest in Syria’,” an activist who, until now has played down sectarian tension, told the BBC’s Paul Wood.
Syria ‘a hair’s breadth’ from all out civil war
 31 May 2012

… he explained that people in Syria always argued that a sectarian war was not in their tradition but that opinion is now “beginning to change”.


May 31st, 2012, 10:32 pm


Son of Damascus said:

So after the great “investigation” that was going to prove with absolute certainty that the regime was not responsible, the regime went ahead and shot it self in the foot. Jihad Makdissi in his press conference (more like fictional theatre but I digress) states:

Security forces have never entered the area of the massacre.

The victims bodies did not show any traces of bombing. The buildings were not subjected to any heavy attacks.

But yet the UN is saying something completely different:

Condemns in the strongest possible terms such an outrageous use of force against the civilian population which constitutes a violation of applicable international law and of the commitment of the Syrian Government under the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2042 (2012) and 2043 (2012) to cease violence in all its forms, including the cessation of use of heavy weapons in population centres

So who is lying then, the UN or the regime?

This massacre is not unique, this bloody regime has done it many times already this past 14 months and will continue to do it:

The massacre in Houla was different in scale, but not in nature, from what has been happening in this part of Syria throughout this year. The pattern: the army shells a rebel-held area; then the paramilitary shabiha, “the ghosts”, go in, cutting throats.

When we first heard wild stories of people being “slaughtered like sheep” – several months ago now – it seemed like hysteria, later to be retold as propaganda. But there are many bodies bearing such wounds and numerous eyewitnesses to such crimes.

Back in March, I spoke to a man who described hiding in a field and watching while members of his family were killed, soldiers and shabiha holding them on the ground, a boot to the back, a knife to the throat. He watched his 12-year-old son die in agony in this way. Houla is terrible but not unique.

The only difference about this massacre and Karam El Zeitoun, Banyas, Baba Amr, Idlib, Dera’a and many other parts of Syria is that the UN verified it, while the others were not verified by anyone because this bloody regime would not allow it, and all we had were Youtube videos and the testimony of the survivors which callously is not enough for the world, and are disregarded by apologist as fake and not trust worthy because “dissidents” are somehow not human in their eyes.

May 31st, 2012, 10:44 pm


bronco said:

#146 Tara

A civil war on a maximum of 5% of the territory? The towns and villages on the borders with Iraq, Jordan and Turkey are going to fight each other?
That’s possible but it will not affect the large cities. It is a localized civil war that will stop on exhaustion.

The people of Damascus and Aleppo and Latakia and Tartous, even Hama are not interested in killing each other, they prefer to talk that to fight.

May 31st, 2012, 10:45 pm


Son of Damascus said:


Regarding the script that you are proclaiming to be Urdu.

Urdu uses Nasta’liq script which is a mix of Perso-Arabic script, while familiar in looks it has very distinct features which differentiates it from Naskh Arabic.

In the picture you linked that you stated looked like Nasta’liq that is a false assertion because Nasta’liq looks more like this.

The calligraphy on the Du3a2 (which is what the frame is, a prayer) is written in classical Diwani Arabic Script.

Regarding the Pakistani looking Bashar poster, I never knew Pakistanis hold Bashar to such a high esteem that they would hang his picture up, I think it is wishful thinking on your part. This monster is made in Syria not in Pakistan or anywhere else…

May 31st, 2012, 11:02 pm


Ghufran said:

There is no way for the regime to escape responsibility for the death theatre in Alhoula even if non government hands were involved,which I believe they were,because they failed to protect the people and they turned a blind eye to pro regime shabeehas.
The fact that anti regime thugs may taken part in that sickening display of barbarism is not enough to take the regime off the hook,it is common knowledge now that the security forces response to the smuggling of weapons to anti regime areas was to ignore a similar campaign directed at arming pro regime villages,something I spoke about months ago,so,instead of reducing violence the rebels and the regime are both feeding a baby monster which is growing like a weed and has the potential to become big enough to eat us all.

May 31st, 2012, 11:26 pm




The point I was trying to make is that, so far there is not any evidence of IRG boots on the ground, taking part in battles on Syrian soil. If it is ever proven to be the case, a lot of Syrians will change their stance on Iran.
As far as whether the interview took place or not, I am afraid I can’t give you a good answer, because all I have to go on is hearsay.
Your attempt at sarcasm, regarding what the Iranian pilgrims, truck drivers and engineers were doing or praying for, did not rise to to your usual wittiness. Are you having a bad day?
As far as your comment re “sit” Zainab, I remember you questioning if there was a shi3i shrine in Damascus, and that was part of a lengthy exchange we had long ago.

June 1st, 2012, 12:38 am


Son of Damascus said:

Houla and its consequences

The massacre of women and children has increased the isolation of Assad

EYE-WITNESS testimony leaves little doubt about what happened on May 25th in Houla, a small farming town on Syria’s western plain. Two hours after the noon prayer, tank and mortar fire from nearby Syrian army positions began to rain down on Houla and an outlying hamlet called Taldou, perhaps in response to an attack by rebel forces on an army checkpoint. Just before sunset armed men, some in combat uniform and others in civilian clothes, swarmed in from neighbouring villages. Moving from house to house in Taldou, they herded families into single rooms and systematically gunned and hacked them down, sparing not a soul. Another wave of invaders arrived later at night, some in armoured vehicles, and continued the slaughter.

UN observers who surveyed the scene the next day counted 108 dead, including 49 children. The massacre was one of the bloodiest yet in a civil war that has cost an estimated 12,000 lives since unrest started in March last year. But similar assaults, on a smaller scale and often carried out by the shabiha, as the government’s paramilitary thugs are known, have been taking place across swathes of the stricken country.

Shelling has also continued unabated around the major cities of Hama and Homs, north of Damascus. On May 29th near Deir ez-Zor, a town 450km (280 miles) to the north-east, UN observers found the bodies of 13 men whose hands had been tied before they were shot in the head. Houla is different, because few tragedies have been as well documented and few have prompted such global revulsion.

Despite the Syrian government’s blanket denials of involvement, 13 countries, mostly in Europe but including the United States, Japan and Turkey, expelled Syria’s diplomats. Even Russia, hitherto protective of an old client state, joined other Security Council members in denouncing the attack, though its diplomats shied away from directly assigning blame. Kofi Annan, the joint UN-Arab League envoy and sponsor of a six-point peace plan, flew to Damascus to plead with President Bashar Assad to uphold the ceasefire ostensibly in place since April.


June 1st, 2012, 12:42 am


annie said:

NK | May 29, 2012 at 06:34

Why Your Argument that the Assad Regime Couldn’t Have Committed the Houla Massacre is Dumb

When news of the Houla Massacre first appeared, the usual radical skepticism reserved only for the Syrian revolution ensued. Many claimed they wanted to wait to ‘wait for the facts’, because, as you know, they frequently accuse the Syrian opposition of ‘faking’ massacres to garner public sympathy. As news kept pouring out, we finally learned that the UN observers arrived to the scene in Houla, and confirmed that a massacre had taken place. The news was confirmed by activists on the ground, foreign news outlets, and the UN observers, and we were all waiting on the regime’s information outlets to see what they would have to say about the matter. When the regime news outlets finally did say something about the massacre, they reported it with what they said was another massacre in al-Shumariyeh, which many pro-regimers were describing as a ‘counter-massacre’. Yet, when the news of the Houla Massacre was finally confirmed by all sides, we entered the second stage of radical skepticism: who did it? The regime reported it as ‘armed terrorist gangs’, and the opposition reported it as being committed by agents of the regime.

Since then, an increasingly prevalent argument in an attempt to claim the regime is innocent is the functionalist argument. The functionalist argument, exemplified by this post, argues that the regime could not have perpetrated the massacre in Houla because states usually operate according to their interests, and the Assad regime did not benefit at all from the Houla Massacre, and thus, could not have perpetrated this massacre.

First of all, to make this argument in the first place, one has to completely close their eyes to the thousands of Syrians already killed by the regime. Was it, then, in the regime’s interest to open fire at protesters? To imprison thousands? Was it in the regime’s interest to arrest and deport Salameh Kaileh(who many, even people who normally defend the Syrian regime, decried)? Was it in the regime’s interest to destroy Baba Amr? In order to make the functionalist argument in regards to Houla in the first place, one has to act like that the Syrian regime has been innocent up until this stage, as if this is a new development. After all in order to ask, “Why would the Assad regime massacre people?” one has to have had their eyes closed for over a year. They also have to be ignorant of the Hama Massacre in 1982. How did the regime benefit from that massacre? Well, it put down an uprising for one. This time they were trying to do the same thing, except they messed up because people actually found out about it.

Second of all, the functionalist argument is correct in stating that states usually operate according to their own interests. However, to make this argument about the Syrian state specifically shows a lack of knowledge as to what comprises the Syrian state. The Syrian state has two components: one is formal, the other informal. The formal component is the “official” state apparatus. It is made up of the normal institutions of the state, that is, the military, the police force etc. The informal component of the Syrian state is the “shabiha state.” Shabiha are groups of thugs and mercenaries who are loyal to the regime but who do not fall under the official state apparatus. Why have shabiha in the first place? Because, unlike the official state apparatus, which is(at least, in theory) guided by state logic, rationality, and have self-defined goals(for example, put down the protest movement), shabiha represent the irrational, brutal, vengeful, regressive, and tribal component of the Assad regime. It resembles a mafia more than a state apparatus, and that is why it is an informal part of the state.

The fact that the shabiha do not operate according to state logic is exemplified in this article by Syrian dissident Yassin Al Haj Saleh. In the article, Saleh tells an anecdote from the 1980s that gives us insight into how the Syrian shabiha operate:

“By the 1980s the shabiha were untouchable and operated with impunity in the coastal city of Latakia. The late respected Syrian intellectual Elias Marcos, once recalled that he had been sitting in a cafe in Latakia when shabiha members entered and amused themselves by forcing patrons to lie on the floor beneath their tables. They killed a young man who objected to their insults; they used threats to obtain property and possessions for reduced prices or for free; their leaders raped attractive young women; and they offered to resolve disputes in exchange for a hefty commission from both sides, ensuring victory for the party that paid the most.”

What interest does the Syrian state have specifically in the shabiha committing any of the actions mentioned above? If we zoom in on each specific incident, it has none. How does forcing everyone in a cafe to lie on the floor benefit the Syrian state? It doesn’t, in the short-term. But if we look at the bigger picture, incidents like this invoke fear of the shabiha, who know that at the end of the day, they have the state backing them. The state has no interest in these specific incidents, but it has an interest in maintaining fear of shabiha, which in turn translates to fear of the state.


June 1st, 2012, 12:56 am


Juergen said:

Antoine 89

Well, i havent heard from this torture technique in my country, i think certain things just work well in other cultures. I mean the more rigid way sexuality is granted in the ME gives understandings why rape and sodomy of detained is committed in that numbers.( i mean it degraces the victim much more than other things) Rafik Schami wrote that in the early days of Hafez interrogation officers of the STASI came to train syrian intellegance officers especially in interrogation techniques. Schami pointed out the fact that those trainers brough their german shepard dogs with them stirred up an first strik of the seydnaya prison. The people detained were saying its better to be tortured by an arab than by a german and his dog.

A friend of my father was in the most known east german prison, and he said that they really were working on breaking your identity. He told me that he survived the prison only mentally in good shape because he was thinking all the time about books he had read. An other men from prison got mentally sick, because they had manipulated his light in his cell, it would flicker all the time.

I dont think you can blame the Ottomans for the torture regimes you have nowadays, indirectly the consequences were of a colonial setup of artificial states that many tribes and countrymen were mixed and stability was always an issue, that may be one reason why we have seen so many harsh and strong dictators.

June 1st, 2012, 12:59 am


Juergen said:

Zoo 100

you cant make an ugly pig dress up to look like a swan

You know i have seen so many ugly paintings of Bashar especially in the countryside, that I sometimes thought for the safety of the painter or about the loyalty of those who put up this piece of art. But we should ask Tara for a listing from 1-10 if the eyedoc is a handsome fella.


I reacted towards the article, i respect you and your postings.

June 1st, 2012, 1:24 am


Juergen said:


Antoine, I really like this teacher, somehow i had a thought in my mind he looks a bit like the syrian cousin of Borat.

I hope Hamza will be always remembered:

June 1st, 2012, 1:44 am


Syrialover said:

# 154. Annie

Every time I read something like that excellent piece you posted, I wonder is there ANY equivalent informed analysis and discussion ever produced by those on the opposite side of the fence?

No there isn’t. Never. It doesn’t exist.

And # 147 Son of Damascus

You remind us that there has been a steady stream of Houla-style activities going on all along (the only difference in this case being the scale and the presence of UN witnesses).

Anyone who has been following events in Syria for more than a few weeks will know such things are casual and routine for the Syrian regime and that those taking up airspace with their shallow “denials and defence” on Houla are being ridiculous.

June 1st, 2012, 2:54 am


Amjad said:

“How come they chose to go somewhere else, rather than join the fight on the side of the rebels? Could it be that they don’t agree with the rebels ways or their cause?”

What a magnificent observation. Now we know for sure that all the parents in London who sent their kids away during the German bombings in WW2 were all secretly Nazi sympathizers. And the Kuwaitis who fled their country after Saddam’s invasion were all members of the Kuwaiti Baath Party! Well done sir, well done indeed!


Why would the regime arrest and abuse a Belgian professor who wrote sympathetic articles about it? It doesn’t make sense (the regimists will whine), it harms the regime, the regime would never do something like that. Only, they did. The regime has a habit of getting itself into a big mess and then whining about conthpirathies.

So, still waiting on “Al Jaysh el Basel” to round up the so called terrorists that apparently can operate with impunity in and around Al-Houlla. No? Lost track of them? Did they all disappear in their black CIA helicopters?

June 1st, 2012, 4:04 am


Amjad said:

And by the way what’s with all the hating on Damascus? I’m not from Damascus, but keep in mind that Homs and Idlib had alot of geographical advantages and social-makeup that helped the FSA flourish and elude the Assadstan forces. In fact the FSA’s best sniper in Baba Amr was a defector from Aleppo who knocked off half the shabihas in Burj Hanadi on Brazil road, and thus kept it open for ordinary people, otherwise the whole of Inshaat would have been bottled up.

The regime wouldn’t be keeping half its paid lackeys in Aleppo and Damascus if it was so sure nothing would happen if they removed them.

June 1st, 2012, 4:09 am


Mina said:

Never too late… Bill Clinto now compares Syria to Bosnia.

From the Angry Arab
Libyan fighters and kidnappers in Dir`a
Firas Ash-Shufi, correspondent of Al-Akhbar wrote this piece about the boiling anger in Suwayda’ (against the armed gangs of the Free Syrian Army). He told he watched videos of the murders by those Salafite gangs. He told me that Jordanian intelligence is very active in smuggling fighters and that there are tens of Libyan volunteers (mercenaries?) among the fighters. They almost instigated a fight with the Druzes of Suwayda’ (most of whom still support the regime despite please by Walid Jumblat whose popularity in the area is akin to my popularity among Saudi princes) when they kidnapped Druzes, and then the Druzes kidnapped a large number of Sunnis from the area. High level intervention ended the tense moment and hostages were freed. Those deeds of the armed Syrian groups are never mentioned in the Western press.

June 1st, 2012, 5:06 am


Alan said:
Obama vetoed Assad assassination attempt
../../.. Specifically, the Franco-Saudi plan called for 12 hours of air strikes on Assad’s presidential palace northeast of Damascus that would be accompanied by American fighter jets launched from a US aircraft carrier stationed in either the Mediterranean or Red Sea with their sights set on the Syrian air defense system. Additionally, Obama was asked to approve US warplanes to keep the Syrian Air Force grounded and perhaps even call upon America’s cyberwarfare capabilities to keep Assad’s radar systems and anti-missile programs offline, reports Debka…/../..

June 1st, 2012, 5:50 am


Alan said:

opinion russian young thinker
Europe’s owner, czar Putin, will come to visit his colonies which bows to him to scrap some financial crums to try to save themselves ! One hopes that Putin has sufficient intelligence not to repeat the western mistakes ( lies, military occupations to steal something, manipulated media,irrelevant political representation, sevitude by the judiciary and defunct capitalism ) but to follow the marxist capital valoritazion so clearly demonstrated by China. Good luck Mr. President.

June 1st, 2012, 5:59 am



While I would never accuse the Himsis of cowardness, especially under the current circumstances, I wanted to bring up some questions challenging Antoine’s calling Damascenes cowards. Judging from your reaction, it worked.
Now on your sarcastic observation that the British parents are all Nazi sympathizers, due to them sending their kids away. Those parents enlisted as volunteers in both civilian and military war efforts in their neighbourhoods, where they fought the fires under bombing raids, and organized civil patrols and lookouts among other civil deffense activities. I am afraid your comparison has a basic fallacy, in that those Londoners stood their grounds and fought back the Nazi air raids with everything they had. The citizens of Hims chose to leave town and did not join the rebels or show any evidence of solidarity with them.
I was asking questions and did not say that I came to any conclusions.

June 1st, 2012, 6:54 am


Tara said:


You are very polite and respectful.  Agree my comment can be perceived as distasteful and perhaps offensive to Shiaa.  Although, I came off sarcastic, my character begs for humility.  What I was trying to say is that we did not make up the story, the Iranian regime confirmed it and I believe it was not a Freudian slip.  It was intended for the world to know.


June 1st, 2012, 7:40 am


majedkhaldoun said:

Three massacres in one week, all committed by the regime,by the shabiha,and the goverment soldiers.
1) Alhouleh heinous crime against innocent kids and women
2) in Dair azzour, where 13 men , with their hands tied behind their back ,they were shot dead.
3) and today workers in a factory,were shot dead,their bodies were found sprawling with hideous injuries, close to Qusair,in Homs province.
To deny the goverment involvement in all these crimes is just stupid, and futile.
Syria will block the human rights investigations,in Houleh crimes, adding evidence that the regime is lying.

In Houleh they found a knife with engraved shabih name on it was used in slaughtering the kids,another evidence that the shabihas are the one involved in this crime.a picture of the knife is showen on syrian national front blog.

June 1st, 2012, 7:47 am


SimoHurtta said:

The Syrian government is under scrutinity by the UN observers, by the media and by the international community, while nobody is elevating its voice about the abuses of the opposition.

Some days ago a Finnish lieutenant colonel serving with the UN observers in Syria was interviewed in the Finnish television news. He said that it is clear that the outside forces and opposition troops are at least as guilty for the violence as the government is. Naturally such an high officer could not reveal details, but linked to Houla massacre his answer gives the impression that …

June 1st, 2012, 8:00 am


Dawoud said:


Welcome Back, Majed!

June 1st, 2012, 8:15 am


Dawoud said:

Yesterday, I was at my son’s lacrosse 7PM EST practice and listening live to Aljazeera English on my phone. Mr. Joshou Landis was interviewed live and I can list a few of the points that he said (I am paraphrasing him, not exact quotes):

1) Bashar’s army is spreading thin, and that’s why it is giving arms to Alawite villagers and militias-the Shabiha. These Alawite shabiha committed the Houla massacre. The Syrian army can’t deny responsibility/knowledge because its tanks were seen and verified through satellite imagery shelling Houla just before the Alawi Shabiha entered the village.

2) The regime is eventually doomed because the armed opposition, the FSA, will continue to get stronger because of Saudi/Qatari/external supplies!

3)no moral equivalency between the murderous regime and the people opposing it!

Free Syria, Free Palestine!

June 1st, 2012, 8:24 am



Good morning. So you were not having a bad day, you just lost control of your character? Ok i take your word that your character begs for humility, and that it will not look down on Iranian pilgrims visiting the Shrine of Sit Zainab.
On a serious note though, your assertion that IRG has boots on Syrian soil and is involved in the fighting in Syria, without any credible evidence, is speculative at best, manipulative and underhanded at worst.
If you have any evidence to back up your claim that “we did not make up the story, the Iranian regime confirmed it and I believe it was not a Freudian slip. It was intended for the world to know.” please provide such evidence.
Like I said before, those accusations were made by many, since the start of the revolt in Daraa, without any proof to back them up.
You can echo them if you choose, but they will lack credibility without the necessary hard evidence.

June 1st, 2012, 8:44 am


zoo said:

This Friday is the ‘volcano of rage’

On the first Friday since the Houla massacre, opposition activists called o n Syrians to rise up across the country in honour of the 49 children who were among the 108 dead in Houla counted by the UN mission

“A new volcano of rage is exploding thanks to them,” protest organisers said on their Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page, which has been a major engine of the 15-month uprising against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“For those pure souls who sacrificed themselves at the altar of our freedom and sacrificed their blood … tomorrow Friday, we will rise up in such a resounding way, and we promise them, there will be no second Houla,” they said.

June 1st, 2012, 8:52 am


Amjad said:

#166 No no, please let’s continue with this rather remarkable theory you’ve come up with. We can then assume that all the Palestinians who left their homes in ’48 and ’67 did not believe in the idea of Palestine, and thought they’d make it easier on the Israelis to gobble up the West Bank. And the Syrian refugees from the Golan obviously don’t believe that the Golan is Syrian, which is why they fled their homes. ANY refugee anywhere who flees from a warzone is obviously siding with the side that is oppressing them.

Only slightly less ridiculous than the notion of Pakistanis in Al-Houlla.

June 1st, 2012, 8:55 am


majedkhaldoun said:

Dawood, Juergen, Syrialover,Thanks a lot

It is time to criticize Barack Obama,and vote for Romney who is siding with the syrian people, what Obama says is not consistant with what he does, Syrian issue must become a campaign issue against Obama, Obama is very weak,not trustworth and ineffective,even in his handling with the american economy,more of my friends are tilting to vote for Romney,because of Obama position on handling the syrian crisis.
Inspite of that I believe the Syrian revolution is not going to stop till the Assad regime is removed, the people in Syria are fed up with dictatorship and lies from the regime and its supporters. the stability of this regime does not depend on economic factors,even that it is worsening,but depends on the brutal oppression practiced by the assad troops and shabihas.It is security stability.
Arming the syrian people, and the FSA is very important, FSA is stronger if they have allies, and USA is waiting to see the results of Egyptian election, as they do not afford islamists in Egypt and in Syria, even that I believe Syria will not be ruled by Islamists.

Civil war is not much worse than what is goin on in Syria now, it is also unavoidable, the regime will not go till the country is destroyd, we have to accept civil war, and the sooner it starts the sooner we will get rid of this vampire, the evil regime.and I am sure many in the Alawite sect will join the revolution, and the Christians will be part of this revolution,

June 1st, 2012, 9:01 am


irritated said:

Dead end with Putin

Ms Rice is thus offering the newly re-elected President Putin a choice: either to work in concert with the western powers to bring about an orderly political transition in Syria, or to face the prospect of Nato – or some other group of nations – intervening in Syria, and once again showing the world that Russia’s pretensions to global power are hollow.

The first question Mr Putin has to answer will be the one framed by Ms Rice. Does he think that the US will take military action “outside the authority of the Security Council” against the Assad regime? The short answer must be no.

Russia sees Mr Obama as a man uncomfortable using military force (though ambitious in the covert forms of warfare such as drones) who sees foreign adventures as likely to harm his re-election prospects. So the idea of him leading a Nato air campaign in Syria is ruled out, even when being egged on by his Republican rival for the presidency, Mitt Romney. Given the lack of unified Syrian opposition, the chances of this happening look even slighter.

What if his plan is far grander: halting, at the gates of Damascus, what he sees as the green tide of Sunni Islamism stretching from Morocco, through North Africa and the Levant to Turkey and thence almost to Russia’s unstable southern border? If that is the case then to prosecute a civil war in Syria, far from being a disaster, is both necessary and desirable – like the one he fought in Chechnya.

If that is Mr Putin’s thinking, then Susan Rice has good reason to be alarmed.

Mr Putin will hear more of the same argument today, when he visits Germany and France. It is time for him to say how Russia will use its influence on Mr Al Assad in Syria.

June 1st, 2012, 9:02 am


zoo said:

The Western promoters of democracy are having second thoughts…

The Arab Spring was no prelude to democracy
The rush to back change for change’s sake in the troubled region of North Africa has proved somewhat naive.

This is particularly true in Syria, where the minority Alawite clan headed by President Bashar al-Assad, which represents just 10 per cent of the population, is involved in a desperate battle for survival against the majority Sunnis.

There are no doubt some members of the Syrian opposition who would genuinely like to see a more democratic system of government established in Damascus. But as the recent experience of similar protest movements in Libya and Egypt demonstrates, the voices of those calling for Western-style liberal reforms are invariably crushed by the more ruthless, and better organised, forces of militant Islam and military tyranny.

And it is for this reason that, as we weigh our options for Syria, we should proceed with the utmost caution. There is, of course, always the possibility that the Assad dictatorship will be replaced by a Western‑style democracy similar to that in neighbouring Lebanon.

But in view of the growing influence of al-Qaeda and other hard-line Islamist groups in the conflict, that seems a remote possibility. Saudi Arabia, the country that gave the world al-Qaeda and the Taliban, has now emerged as one of the most influential backers of the rebels, with all the implications that could have for the country’s post-Assad settlement. The Saudis’ growing involvement in the conflict, moreover, has led to an increase in Iranian activity, with detachments of Revolutionary Guards being sent to Damascus to save Assad.

The Syrian conflict certainly has all the potential of turning into a major regional conflict between the competing forces of militant Shia and Sunni Islam. If that happens, the West will be hard-pressed to choose which side it wants to win.

June 1st, 2012, 9:05 am


zoo said:

Post revolution in Libya

Gaddafi’s Torture Centers Continue
Jun 1, 2012 4:45 AM EDT
The dictator’s death didn’t end the country’s human-rights abuses. Jamie Dettmer on conditions inside the prisons.

June 1st, 2012, 9:07 am


Tara said:


Hi, where you in Hatay?

June 1st, 2012, 9:07 am


zoo said:

More empty talks from the superpower

Iranian support for Assad regime ‘needs to stop,’ Pentagon says
By Carlo Munoz – 05/31/12 02:56 PM ET
Iran’s continued efforts to prop up Syrian president Bashar Assad’s regime is generating concern inside the Pentagon and raising tensions among U.S. allies in the region.

“We have reason to believe Iran continues to assist [the] Assad regime,” Defense Department spokesman Capt. John Kirby told reporters on Thursday, during a briefing at the Pentagon. “That needs to stop.”

Iranian forces have been a source of “tangible and intangible” support to Assad during his nearly year-long effort to quash opposition forces by any means necessary, Kirby said.

June 1st, 2012, 9:10 am


zoo said:

“Similar moves in Syria could meet with considerable disapproval in the region.”

NATO Intervention in Libya Unpopular in Arab World
Least popular in North Africa
Analysis by the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies
May 31, 2012

WASHINGTON, D. C. — After French President Francois Hollande in an interview Tuesday hinted at an openness to military intervention in Syria, the question of whether NATO should intervene in the violence-rattled country has again come to the forefront. While distinct differences exist between the conflicts in Libya and Syria, Gallup data from 2012 show pluralities in the Arab world opposed NATO’s intervention in Libya in 2011, suggesting that similar moves in Syria could meet with considerable disapproval in the region.


June 1st, 2012, 9:23 am


majedkhaldoun said:

special thanks to Tara.
I would rather talk privately.

your comment is despicable, I pay Romney campaign , I am not on his payroll

June 1st, 2012, 9:29 am


zoo said:

The USA is not insisting that Bashar al Assad to step down anymore.

“The president has called for Mr. Assad to step down, a demand ignored by the Syrian leader and one that Ambassador Susan E. Rice at the United Nations acknowledged on MSNBC on Wednesday “is really not realistic at this stage.”

June 1st, 2012, 9:29 am


irritated said:

#186 Majed

With your record of failed predictions, Romney should not be too happy to have you as a supporter.

June 1st, 2012, 9:35 am



In 1948 many of the Palestinians remained in Palestine and were not assimilated by Israel even after over 60 years creating a demographic problem for the makeup of Israel. The ones who left were either driven out at gun point after the massacre of their entire villages, or they had listened to the Arab Armies promising them to return in a few days. The ones that left formed the backbone of the PLO factions and turned the refugee camps into the main source of the PLO factions recruits. In 1967 the majority of the Palestinians of the Gaza strip and the West Bank stayed put and resisted the occupation ever since. They don’t leave even when they have their houses blown up by Israel. Again it is a fallacy to compare them and their circumstances to what took place in Homs.
You need to take my full post in comment #127 in consideration and not a part of it and use that part out of its context.
Is it possible that the citizens of Hims might have more in common with those in Damascus and Aleppo than with Al-Farouq Battalion?

June 1st, 2012, 9:36 am


zoo said:

Obama’s Syria Policy: Ask Putin
May 30, 2012 • By LEE SMITH

Instead, the White House is betting on Russia. The premise is that Moscow is close enough to the Assad regime that it could pull off a soft coup that would get rid of the Syrian strongman. What should make it attractive to the Russians, the administration contends, is that such a coup would preserve an Alawite minority regime and ensure Russia’s interests in the eastern Mediterranean. The problem here is that Vladimir Putin doesn’t want to get rid of Assad, and even if he did, it’s not at all clear he has the ability to do it.

June 1st, 2012, 9:44 am


Tara said:

Friday-of-the-volcano- of-rage.  I prefer more subtle name in case the volcano does not erupt.

On the first Friday since the Houla massacre, opposition activists called o n Syrians to rise up across the country in honour of the 49 children who were among the 108 dead in Houla counted by the UN mission

June 1st, 2012, 10:32 am


bronco said:

#187 Tara

It should have been a volcano of prayers and mourning among all the religious communities, not of rage.

Rage is what impotence makes one feel

June 1st, 2012, 11:50 am


zoo said:

Syria Says Saudis Sabotaging UN Plan by Arming Rebels
By Henry Meyer and Stepan Kravchenko – Jun 1, 2012 9:36 AM ET

Syria’s ambassador to Russia said Saudi Arabia and Qatar are sabotaging a United Nations plan to end a 15-month conflict by continuing to arm rebels in violation of a cease-fire agreement reached in April.

“Weapons are entering Syria through its borders with Lebanon and Turkey,” Riad Haddad said in an interview at the Syrian embassy in Moscow today. “And these are heavy weapons.”

Assad isn’t ready to step down and Syria won’t accept a solution similar to what happened in Yemen, said Haddad.

“President Assad enjoys a wide popularity in Syria and our army supports him too and the leadership is conducting reforms,” the Syrian envoy said. “So I completely rule out the Syrian leadership accepting the Yemeni scenario.”


June 1st, 2012, 11:58 am


Tara said:

Dear Bronco

I like that very much.. A volcano of prayor and mourning…

May be save the rage into the following Friday.

June 1st, 2012, 12:00 pm


zoo said:

Saudi Arabia desperate strategy : Bring the price of oil down to 60$ to cripple Iraq and Iran’s economy

“You have to understand our geopolitical equation and vulnerability,” the Saudi businessman is cited as saying.

“Our two most dangerous enemies are Iraq and Iran. Both are Shia, and both are trying to destabilize the Arab world and our Sunni kingdom by funding terrorism. Our only weapons against them are our wealth and our oil. Their current vulnerability is their financial fragility. Their financial reserves are a fraction of ours, and they desperately need money to prop up their economies,” he said.

The Saudi ruling council’s plan is to ramp up oil production over the next two years and seize the moment to strike at Iran and Iraq, the businessman, who is described as “very rich and presumably well-connected”, explained.

“Iraq and Iran need to produce and sell their oil at well over $100 a barrel. In the next 24 months, we will gradually increase our production with the objective of breaking the price of crude down to sixty dollars a barrel,” he said.

The businessman, who is not part of the Saudi extended royal family, added that the plan has the backing of other Persian Gulf monarchies.

June 1st, 2012, 12:02 pm


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