News Round Up (19 Sept 2012)

Ghaith Abdul Ahad is superb. This is a must see.

Watch The Battle for Syria on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Syria Orders Schools to Open, but Classes Give Way to War

DAMASCUS, Syria — At one Syrian school, in the Damascus suburbs, students were so scarce this week that teachers spent most of the last few days sitting around and drinking tea.

On the outskirts of the northern city of Aleppo, the teachers just stayed home. The schools had been transformed into shelters for residents displaced by fighting, and in any case, one teacher said, there were more “more pressing concerns” than school.

Other schools had been taken over by rebel fighters, and throughout Syria, more than 2,000 school buildings had been destroyed or damaged in the war.

In an attempt to project calm in the midst of relentless violence, Syria’s Education Ministry ordered schools to open this week. Instead of calm, however, the schools reflected what had happened in the rest of the country during the summer: the fighting had grown worse, the routines of daily life more dangerous and education had become one more casualty of the unrest.

On Sunday, the education minister said that more than five million Syrian students had returned so far. But certainly tens of thousands, if not more, stayed away. Teachers and parents said that educators and students were too scared to return, or unable to, since the schools themselves were occupied, destroyed or inaccessible.

“The Syrian government promised that everything would be O.K., that they will finish the ‘criminal gangs’ before the beginning of the educational year,” said a teacher at a school in a Damascus refugee camp, using a term the government uses to describe its opponents.

“What happened is the opposite,” she said. The fighting grew worse and rolled through the neighborhood and surrounding areas, sending more and more families to shelter in the schools.

Last week, Unicef, citing government estimates, said that of the country’s 22,000 schools, at least 10 percent were damaged, destroyed or occupied by displaced families. In Homs, parents said that classes had started in only a few schools; in one private school, the families living there simply moved to an upper floor. In the Damascus suburb of Barza, one or two schools took students in shifts, to make up for all the schools that were closed.

Different challenges faced Syrians who had fled the country, including to Lebanon, where officials are struggling with a vexing issue: how to teach Syrian students, accustomed to classes in Arabic, in Lebanese schools where science and math classes are taught in English or French.

“When you ask young people about school, they say they’re afraid of the language,” said Soha Boustani, a spokeswoman for Unicef. Last year, she said, the dropout rate for seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade Syrian students in Lebanese schools was 70 percent, with the language barriers being a major cause.

Syrian students also face discrimination, from Lebanese teachers and students, and resentment from local residents in impoverished parts of the country where the school system is already overburdened.

Syrian rebels reportedly defeated government troops in a battle at a post on the Turkish border. Opposition activists reported the Syrian military attacked several southwestern, northwestern, and southern suburbs of Damascus, forcing opposition forces to pull out of three southern districts. The Syrian army additionally bombarded many central areas around the Old City of Aleppo.

Journalist Examines Chaotic Fighting In Syria

A Syrian rebel fires toward a position held by regime forces during clashes in the northern city of Aleppo on Sept. 14.

Marco Longari/AFP/GettyImagesA Syrian rebel fires toward a position held by regime forces during clashes in the northern city of Aleppo on Sept. 14.
September 18, 2012

The battle in Syria is being fought by rebel fighters who lack many of the basics typically associated with warfare: helmets, a large supply of ammo, and military planning.

“I was with one fighter who had 11 bullets, and he was, like, roaming as a freelance fighter along the front line trying to pick up a fight somewhere,” journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad tells Fresh Air contributor Dave Davies.

Abdul-Ahad describes the situation in Syria as fluid and complicated. A correspondent for the British newspaper The Guardian, Abdul-Ahad reported for the PBS Frontline documentary The Battle for Syria, which airs Tuesday.

“There is chaos, there is no military planning, there is no organization,” he says. “Most of the skirmishes happen like a game of cat and mouse: The tank is the cat. When the tank moves down street, the rebels disperse, run away, try to ambush the tank, they go from a corner to a corner. Meantime, there is shelling [and] mortars raining on them.”

Abdul-Ahad has covered conflicts in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq for the past nine years — and he says he hasn’t seen such disorder and violence since reporting on Fallujah during the Iraq War in 2004.

“In other conflicts, you meet people and then you hear they died after a few weeks, months, years,” he says. “In Syria, you meet someone in the morning and they die at the end of the day. As one of the officers was saying: ‘The only thing we have plenty of to spend is men.’ ”

The Battle for Syria is an up-close look at insurgents fighting government forces in Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city.

Abdul-Ahad says most of the fighters he has met — some of whom are jihadis, secularists or Salafists — are “just driven by the spirit of the Arab Spring, the spirit of the revolution … fighting to topple [Bashar] Assad because they wanted a form of dignity. They were tired of being ruled like sheep, enslaved by one family, one ruling party.”

Analysis: Donors not walking the talk on humanitarian aid to Syria
by Heba Aly [] and /cb

….Why has the funding for the UN and others lagged?  Few humanitarian crises receive the attention and engagement of the world that Syria has….

“Nobody wants to strengthen the Assad regime by sending aid,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and curator of a widely-read blog on Syrian affairs. “The Western strategy is to starve the regime and feed the opposition. That, of course, is impossible to do without starving all of Syria. Sanctions are a very blunt tool, and they are meant to weaken the regime to get Syrians to revolt against it.

“The trouble is if you help people inside Syria, you have to be in coordination with the Syrian government and that legitimizes the Syrian government. It is a matter of priorities. Do you want regime-change or to feed people?”…

“The problem is access,” one Western donor said. “[The UN’s] definition of access is different than the definition of the donors. We need more reporting: Not just, `We distributed aid here or there’, but: Are we sure the aid is really reaching the most vulnerable? Are we financing the government or the Free Syrian Army? … Where is the accountability? Where is the impartiality of aid?… Don’t give me lists of beneficiaries. Just give me details.”

Others have raised questions about the “local partners” that are cited but not identified by many aid agencies.

But for one Western aid worker, this is a front: “In my view, there is a total lack of political will on funding. They are just waiting for Assad to fall… Donors are using access as an excuse.”….

But for Peter Harling, analyst with the International Crisis Group, none of these explanations hold true.

“There is basically no explanation other than hypocrisy. The needs are huge in Syria and there is no doubt that a humanitarian crisis will provoke further radicalization and collapse of this fragile society. An expansive indigenous civil society has developed and matured, which there is every reason to support; and the outpouring of ostentatious sympathy for the Syrian people’s plight should prompt equally pressing action on the ground. But the fact is that our governments satisfy themselves with empty statements and insincere pledges.”

The United Nations World Food Programme has organizing a Google hangout with one of our senior spokespeople who’s just come back to Damascus after visiting Homs.They Write:
A panel of four or five journalists and experts will join Abeer in discussing the terrible humanitarian consequences of the conflict and complex relief operation underway to each them with assistance. The Google Hangout will take place Thursday at 12pm NY time and last approximately 45 minutes. We’ll be broadcasting the event live on our Google Plus page ( as well as our Youtube Channel (

Conflict in Syria: Regional Players’ Motives and Limits
September 19, 2012 | Stratfor

An Egyptian initiative to manage Syria’s post-al Assad transition launched Sept. 17 with a high-level meeting in Cairo. Foreign ministers from Egypt, Turkey and Iran held talks on a possible exit for Syrian President Bashar al Assad and, more important, what will come after him. Saudi Arabia, also part of the contact group, did not send an envoy and did not provide any explanation for its absence.

The four powers probably will not be able to reach a substantive deal on the Syrian transition. But the contact group provides a convenient prism through which to view the various motives and constraints of the four regional powers: Shiite Iran and Sunni actors Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.


Iran is facing a geopolitical setback in Syria with the loss of its close ally, the al Assad regime. It could be a while before the Alawite regime collapses; indeed, recent statements out of Tehran confirm suspicions that Iran has been sending Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to bolster Syrian forces. But critical pillars of the regime are weakening, and Damascus is essentially fighting a war of attrition against a fractured and disorganized but determined rebel force.

Tehran wants to salvage as much of the Alawite power as it can. It has tools at its disposal, including the threat of a post-transition Alawite-led insurgency similar to the post-Saddam Hussein insurgency in neighboring Iraq. None of Syria’s neighbors, the regional players or the foreign powers with an interest in Syria — including the United States — wants to see an insurgency develop. They would like to see some continuity of the state apparatus and security forces, which would require a power-sharing agreement and thus an opportunity for Iran.

At the same time, Syria is only one piece — albeit critical — in a larger chess game between Iran and the United States. Washington, along with local powers Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, wants to see Iranian influence in the Levant reduced, but it also wants to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions and any threat to the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Egypt’s contact group provides access to something that Iran has so far been denied: a seat at the table. Egypt’s re-entry into regional geopolitics and its overtures to Iran are an opportunity for the Iranians, since Cairo is showing that the historic leader of the Arab world is willing to work with them and mediate with the rest of the Sunni states. The Egyptian contact group puts Syria’s closest ally, Iran, at the table with the Syrian rebels’ key backers, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Iran is not yet ready to commit to any substantive discussions. The first request Tehran made, even before the talks started, was for Iraq and Venezuela to be added to the group. The request, a nonstarter, likely contributed to Riyadh’s decision not to send an envoy to the contact group meeting, although Riyadh sent its deputy foreign minister to Cairo last week for the preparatory meeting. Tehran wants to demonstrate that it is not desperate and does not need the group, but it sent Iranian Foreign Minister Ali

Akbar Salehi to the meeting. Tehran needs some access to transition talks and so far, Egypt’s group is the only discussion to which Iran is invited.

Turkey’s Role

Turkey also sent an envoy to Cairo, though Ankara’s position will be reduced, rather than strengthened, by the Egyptian intervention.

Turkey has taken the most risk in supporting the rebels. Turkey’s position is similar to Iraq’s or Lebanon’s. Ankara faces real consequences that threaten its own domestic security and stability — in Turkey’s case, the threat comes from the Kurdish separatist movements in Turkey, Iraq and northern Syria.

While Saudi Arabia and Qatar have supplied weapons and financial support and the United States has deployed a few CIA operatives and offered intelligence and guidance, Turkey has housed tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and provided sanctuary, arms, logistical support and likely training for Syrian rebels. Ankara has risked upsetting its delicate relations with Iran, a rival power but also a key supplier of energy.

Turkey has been the main contact point, along with Saudi Arabia, for the United States and has worked to bolster the cohesiveness and capabilities of the Syrian opposition and the Syrian National Council. Ankara also has built strong ties with the Free Syrian Army leadership.

If Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had not chosen to attend the Sept. 17 meeting in Cairo, the contact group would have effectively collapsed, becoming nothing more than a bilateral talk between Egypt and Iran. That Turkey showed up is an important indicator of the pressure it is under. It needs to maintain, at the very least, a working relationship with Iran, especially as domestic political pressure over Turkey’s role in Syria and the surge in Kurdistan Workers’ Party attacks grows and Ankara blames

Tehran for supporting the Kurdish militants. Turkey also does not want to alienate Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi or the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, especially with Syria and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood — the country’s largest and most organized Sunni group — still in play.

Egypt Reasserts its Power

The reasons for Egypt’s sudden interest in supporting the transition in Syria are many. First, the contact group is a small but important step in Egypt’s efforts to resume its regional role. Cairo hopes to position itself as a mediator between the mostly Sunni Arab world and Shiite Iran. This will help Egypt counterbalance the constraints placed on it by the overwhelming influence of Saudi Arabia.

Inserting itself in the Syrian transition talks also creates an opportunity for Egypt to build some influence in post-al Assad Syria. Cairo has already hosted meetings of opposition leaders, though various rebel factions walked out and the talks have nearly collapsed. Not since the creation of the United Arab Republic in 1958 has Egypt had an opportunity to directly shape the government in Damascus. But now, Morsi likely wants to work with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, which has retained much of its legitimacy in the eyes of Syria’s majority Sunni population.

Syria has long been a battleground between Iran and Saudi Arabia and will remain so for some time. But in the longer term, Tehran and Riyadh’s roles will be reduced although they will maintain stakes in Damascus.

The competition in Syria will shift to one between Egypt and Turkey as they both vie to support their particular faction of the Sunni leadership. However, any Egyptian influence will be limited in the short term as Cairo focuses much of its energy on domestic issues.

The Saudi-Iranian Divide

Saudi Arabia’s objectives in Syria are focused on Iran. Riyadh sees the Syrian uprising as a historic opportunity to reverse Iranian gains in the region. Fearful of an Iranian crescent stretching from the Zagros Mountains to the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean along its northern border, Saudi has long encouraged — either directly or indirectly — Sunni insurgents in northern Iraq. It has also backed the rebels in Syria, reportedly providing weapons and funding and likely encouraging jihadists to fight alongside rebel forces.

Foreign Salafist fighters are still only a small, though growing, percentage of rebel forces. Even if they convert large segments of the Syrian Sunni population, it would take years before they would be able to challenge the entrenched Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Riyadh understands that a Salafist-led government is not likely to emerge in Damascus in the medium term and has cooperated with Ankara, largely bolstering Turkey’s bid to manage the transition.

Saudi Arabia can manage relations with Egypt, which is financially constrained, and with Turkey, which is not yet ready to assert itself aggressively in the region. What Riyadh wants are ways to curb Iranian influence in the longer term, and for Riyadh that means limiting Iranian influence in Syria and Iraq.

Any Saudi engagement with Iran over Syria will be limited, since Riyadh and Tehran’s geopolitical positions are at odds. Riyadh did participate in the working group a week prior to the foreign ministerial meeting and, according to Davutoglu, will be attending future talks. Saudi Arabia and Iran have already both signed a willingness to negotiate, with Riyadh inviting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the emergency Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Mecca in mid-August and Iran hosting Saudi Deputy

Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, the king’s son and likely successor to ailing Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

But like Iran, Saudi Arabia is far from committed and will be waiting to see some serious signs of commitment from Iran. If any regional effort to resolve the Syrian conflict and manage a transition is to take place, the key will be what happens between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Full attendance from all four players at the next meeting, scheduled to be held in New York City during the upcoming U.N. General Assembly meeting, or any bilateral talks between Riyadh and Tehran will be important indicators of progress in the negotiations. A lack of attendance will mean not only the death of Egypt’s initiative but also the failure of Saudi Arabia and Iran to reach any accommodation.

Turks Weary of Leaders’ Support for Syria Uprising

Human Rights Watch

…A pattern has emerged in recent weeks in areas where government forces, pushed into retreat by opposition forces, are now indiscriminately bombing and shelling lost territory – with disastrous consequences for the civilian population….what the residents of Idlib, Jabal al-Zawiya and north Hama endure every day is just as harrowing. Such indiscriminate attacks constitute war crimes.”….

Syrian rebel leader wants Libyan-style Arab initiative
Wed Sep 19, 2012

* Sieda calls for an Arab move to stop bloodshed in Syria
* Opposes Iran involvement in efforts to resolve crisis

(Reuters) – Syria’s main opposition bloc wants Arab states to work together to effect an international intervention in Syria similar to the joint initiative in Libya, Syrian National Council (SNC) head Abdulbaset Sieda said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Business Insider: Syrian Regime ‘Will Deploy Chemical Weapons As Last Resort’

The Syrian regime plans to deploy chemical weapons against its own people “as a last resort”, the former head of Syria’s chemical arsenal has said in an interview with a British newspaper. Major-General Adnan Sillu said he defected from the Syrian …

VOA is publishing “Syrian Stories,” mostly of activists.  Here’s the latest:  The collection of about 40 stories written by Syrians is on Tumblr:

Comments (148)

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101. Ghufran said:

قال لواء الفتح، احدى اكبر التشكيلات المقاتلة في حلب، في بيان نشر مساء اليوم الخميس، إنه سيقوم بقصف مبنى فرع الأمن السياسي الواقع في حي التلفون الهوائي بحلب بالصواريخ خلال الساعات القادمة ، مطالباً الأهالي الذين يقطنون بجوار الفرع مغادرة منازلهم .

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September 20th, 2012, 8:32 pm


102. Tara said:

Syria attacks ‘aimed solely at punishing civilians’, says Amnesty International
The Syrian government has carried out indiscriminate air bombardments and artillery strikes on residential areas that do not target opposition fighters or military objectives, and instead appear aimed solely at punishing civilians seen as sympathetic to rebel forces, Amnesty International has said.

The conclusions were published in an Amnesty report that followed a visit to Syria by senior crisis researcher Donatella Rovera, who traveled to 26 towns and villages in the Jabal al-Zawiya area and other parts of the northern Idlib and north Hama regions between Aug. 31 and Sept. 11.

Read more..

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September 20th, 2012, 8:42 pm


103. Ghufran said:

اكد مصدر دبلوماسي في اتصال هاتفي :انه قريباً جداً ستبدأ بعض ألوية الجيش الحر بتصفية المقاتلين الاجانب و القضاء على ألويتها ضمن صفقة بين قيادة الجيش السوري و الجيش الحر للتعاون فيما بينها للقتال ضد الالوية السلفية الوهابية و ضد عناصر منظمة القاعدة كمبادرة حسن نية تمهيدا لوضعهم السلاح و تسوية اوضاعهم
This seems like a regime psych warfare but it makes perfect sense if the goal is to preserve the Syrian army and end the bloodshed especially that the FSA continues to deny reports that its members took part in war crimes and attacks on civilians. I will believe it when I see it,for now I have to consider it as another piece of propaganda.

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September 20th, 2012, 8:46 pm


104. Ghufran said:

قال سنان اولجن الدبلوماسي التركي السابق ورئيس مركز الدراسات الاقتصادية والسياسة الخارجية “أعتقد ان
الشعب التركي عرف الان الصلة -سواء كان ذلك صوابا ام خطأ – بين سياسة الحكومة الطموحة الجازمة بشأن سوريا وتصاعد ارهاب حزب العمال الكردستاني”.
واستطرد “من الواضح جدا ان عدم الشعبية هذه ستتزايد اذا استمرت الحكومة في تصعيد خطابها ‘بشأن سوريا’ في الوقت الذي تعجز فيه هي وبشكل فاضح عن التعامل مع المشاكل الامنية الخاصة بتركيا”.

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September 20th, 2012, 8:59 pm


105. ann said:

Anti-jihad ‘SAVAGES’ ads going up in NYC subway – Thursday, Sep 20, 2012,h=425,pd=1,w=620.jpg!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/display_600/image.jpg

NEW YORK—A provocative ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages is set to go up in the city’s subway system as violent protests over an anti-Islamic film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad sweep over much of the Muslim world.


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September 20th, 2012, 9:20 pm


107. ann said:

Assad says rebels can’t topple his government – 21 Sep 2012

Syrian president tells Egyptian weekly, al-Ahram, that opposition groups ‘exercise terrorism’ and will ultimately fail.

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has said opposition fighters will not be victorious in their fight against his government, but that the “door to dialogue” remains open.

Assad’s comments to Egyptian weekly magazine al-Ahram al-Araby will be published on Friday.

“The armed groups exercise terrorism against the state. They are not popular within society … they will not be victorious in the end”, Assad is quoted as saying.

Speaking from his office in the heart of the Syrian capital, Assad said “change cannot be achieved through foreign intervention”.

“Both sides of the equation are equal and political dialogue is the only solution. Violence, however, is not allowed … and
the state will not stand with its hands tied in the face of those who bear arms against it,” Assad told the magazine.


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September 20th, 2012, 9:38 pm


108. chris said:

I hope the Army keep mopping up till there is not 1 foreign fighter in Syria!
This is not revolution it is Terrorism and everyone on this site knows it.

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September 20th, 2012, 9:49 pm


109. ann said:

Libyan [mercenary terrorists] fighting in Syria – 20 September 2012

Feras races across a dusty crossroads, firing his AK-47 wildly at regime forces somewhere down the road ahead of him. This is Aleppo, and he is one of many rebel fighters there, slogging it out street by street, often not seeing their enemy or much progress for weeks.

But Feras is different in a way that has sparked great fears and controversy. Feras is Libyan. He is one of Syria’s “foreign fighters.”

The presence of foreigners among the ranks of Syria’s rebels has been seized on by nearly all sides to suit their purposes.

The Syrian government says they are proof the rebels are extremists and terrorists.


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September 20th, 2012, 9:51 pm


110. ann said:

Assad says ‘Libyan Model’ not to repeat in Syria – 2012-09-21

CAIRO – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the “Libyan model” would not repeat in Syria, referring to foreign military intervention that helped topple former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last year, Egyptian state media reported Thursday.

During an interview with Egyptian state-run Ahram al-Arabi magazine which will be published on Friday, President Assad said the Syrian government would not fall and the militant opposition would not succeed, official MENA news agency reported.

“The change wouldn’t happen… through foreign intervention,” Assad said.

“We are heading towards change through reforms,” the Syrian president said, “Dialogue with the opposition is the only way to handle the crisis.”

The “triangle” for strategic balance in the Middle East is Egypt, Syria and Iraq, according to Assad.

The Syrian president accused the militants of carrying out terrorist acts against all elements of society and of targeting infrastructure facilities against people’s interests.


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September 20th, 2012, 9:56 pm


111. ann said:

Russian news team following the Republican Guard in Damascus

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September 20th, 2012, 10:09 pm


112. Ghufran said:

The bombing of abi alfidaa school in alkallaseh in Aleppo that killed 53 rebels from a jihadi group,not FSA, was an inside job according to halabi sources. The story circulated is that a teenage boy was raped by two Khaliji terrorists. The Dad who gave his house to the rebels surrendered to the army and pointed to the school which was bombed in an attack that was described by Aks alsair as a “massacre” against civilians.
I am carrying the story as is, I welcome any rebuttal. The names of few terrorists from the same brigade are available on the net.
مغتصبي الاطفال يسمون الجريمه نكاح الغلمان و يفرقون بينها و بين الزنا
اغتصاب القاصرات تحت اسم الزواج الشرعي لا يزال موجودا بين المجرمين و يستعمل هؤلاء نصوصا شرعيه ضعيفه لتبرير الجريمه التي نالت الانتباه بعد التقارير عن استغلال اللاجئات السوريات في الاردن

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September 20th, 2012, 10:24 pm


113. Ghufran said:

أبوظبي – كشفت مصادر إماراتية مطلعة أن الموقوفين الستين المنتمين إلى جماعة “الإخوان المسلمين” المحظورة قانونياً في الإمارات، أدلوا باعترافات تفيد بانتمائهم إلى تنظيم سرّي، أسّس جناحاً عسكرياً، هدفه الاستيلاء على السلطة، وإقامة حكومة دينية في البلاد، بوسائل غير مشروعة.
ونقلت صحيفة “الإمارات اليوم” في عددها الصادر الخميس عن المصادر التي لم تكشف عن هويتها قولها “أن قضية أولئك الموقوفين جنائية بحتة، ولا صلة لها بكونهم دعاةً دينيين، ولا أشخاصاً يدافعون عن قضايا سياسية أو يطالبون بإصلاحات، في ظل “اعترافاتهم الموثقة بإنشاء إطار تنظيمي سرّي تابع للتنظيم العالمي لـ(الإخوان المسلمين) يمتلك أموالاً ويدير استثمارات، ويجمع تبرعات لصالحه”.
وذكرت ان التنظيم الإخواني في نسخته الإماراتية استخدم تكتيكات عدة، كان أبرزها، الطعن في شرعية الدولة ونظامها السياسي، وإيهام المواطنين بأنهم يعيشون حالة واهمة من الرخاء الاقتصادي.
وكشفت أن التنظيم تلقّى قبل أسابيع، بعد إلقاء القبض على موقوفيه، مبلغ 10 ملايين درهم من دولة خليجية، في سياق متكامل من التعاون والتنسيق مع سائر تنظيمات “الإخوان المسلمين” في الدول العربية، بقيادة شخصية دينية، ذات نشاط إعلامي ملحوظ في دولة خليجية.
The rift between the UAE and Qatar is evident now, the Sheikh in the report is Al-Qardawi.

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September 20th, 2012, 10:32 pm


115. ann said:

West Attempts to Trigger Clash of Civilizations – September 20, 2012

In France where people are sent to jail for “Holocaust denial,” considered by law a religious hate crime, it seems strange then that well timed, raunchy cartoons designed solely to insult and inflame hate against and amongst Muslims worldwide would be defended vigorously by French politicians who claim, according to the Christian Science Monitor, that “freedom of the press should not be infringed.”

With Neo-Conservative warmongers behind a recent inflammatory film titled, “The Innocence of Muslims,” and their counterparts amongst radical sectarian extremists leading violent protests across the Middle East and North Africa, it would almost seem as if the publication of insulting cartoons by a French paper, “Charlie Hebdo,” was part of a grander strategy to create a manufactured conflict between Islam and the West, setting the stage for more overt military operations to take over faltering covert operations in Syria and beyond.

France (and the West) Are Playing Both Sides

It is a fact that France itself has provided state sponsorship of terrorism from Libya to Syria, arming, funding, and politically backing the very groups taking to the streets, burning Western consulates, and killing bystanders, diplomats, and security forces alike. France had armed, trained, funded, and provided air support for the UN-listed terrorist outfit, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) last year in Libya, in their bid to overthrow the government of Muammar Qaddafi.

LIFG had merged officially with Al Qaeda, according to a US Army West Point Combating Terrorism Center report in 2007, long before the French knowingly aided and abetted these terrorists in their bid to overthrow and overrun Libya. Currently, the government of France is funding and arming these very same terrorists, who promptly transferred weapons, cash, and fighters to Syria to begin terror operations there.

The report titled, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” stated specifically:

The apparent surge in Libyan recruits traveling to Iraq may be linked the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s (LIFG) increasingly cooperative relationship with al‐Qa’ida, which culminated in the LIFG officially joining al‐Qa’ida on November 3, 2007. (page 9, .pdf)

France had recently announced its intentions to overtly arm these terror groups operating in Syria, now exposed by Human Rights Watch as carrying out systematic and widespread atrocities against the Syrian population.

The Hindu, in their article, “France to fund opposition in Syria,” reported:

“Reuters quoted a “diplomatic source” as saying France had started supporting parts of Syria that are apparently being controlled by the armed opposition. More alarmingly, the report pointed out that Paris was considering supplying heavy artillery to anti-government fighters — a move that would harden the possibility of a full-blown civil war in the country.”

Now France, through its media, and the complicity of its politicians’ tacit support, is providing their new terrorist allies with something else – a causus belli for confrontation with the West to reinsert in the public’s mind the adversarial plot device needed to introduce more direct military intervention where the covert support of listed-terrorist groups has now seemingly failed.

The Lie We Are Expected to Believe

What we are now expected to believe is that France, the US, UK, and other nations were benevolently, and unwittingly helping these groups into power, only to be betrayed by extremists.

In reality, the nature of these militant groups was known years in advance, these groups specifically chosen to lead the violent subversion of Western targets across the Arab World – with the possibility of sectarian genocide and significant blowback acknowledged as an acceptable risk.

In 2007, an article by Seymour Hersh published in the New Yorker titled, “The Redirection” admitted that:

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)

Hersh’s report would also include:

“the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)

Clearly the West, including the complicit regimes of Nicolas Sarkozy and now François Hollande, knowingly funded terrorists. Hersh’s report admits that all parties involved even in 2007 knew full well the potential dangers involved in funding terrorist groups but believed these forces could be controlled:

“…[Saudi Arabia’s] Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)

For the West to feign that evidence Al Qaeda is now overrunning the Middle East is somehow an unintended consequence, when officials in 2007 were on record already implementing such a policy is indeed a bold lie. To help sell that lie, the West is calling on its Neo-Conservative factions, and in particular, dusting off their Islamophobia brigades led by the likes of Daniel Pipes, a member of the Bush administration, a Project for a New American Century (PNAC) signatory, and a chief proponent for war with Syria and Iran, as well as lesser demagogues such as Robert Spencer, Pamella Geller, and David Horowitz.

The creation of a sectarian extremist front to undermine and destroy the governments of Syria and Iran began under Bush in 2007 – Syria and Iran being the specific targets Neo-Cons like Pipes have ceaselessly advocated war with. That Pipes and his compatriots are now claiming the rise of this terrorist front they themselves helped create is somehow the result of a “pro-Islam Obama” is immense propaganda designed for the most impressionable minds.

The Plan: Flip the Script (Again)

In reality, Obama provided left-cover for a singular corporate-financier driven agenda, decided upon decades ago, and part of the reoccurring patterns and themes that define all empires past and present.

It appears that the public is becoming increasingly aware that the US has just handed the nation of Libya over to sectarian extremists and is backing brigades of these same terrorists, now operating in Syria. The operation in Syria seems to have reached a stalemate, with the further arming and backing of increasingly visible terrorist forces a politically untenable option.

It appears that the alternative plan is to flip the script once more, turning Al Qaeda – who began as celebrated freedom fighters battling Soviets in the mountains of Afghanistan, to reviled terrorists waging a decade of war on America in Iraq and Afghanistan, to freedom fighters seeking to oust Qaddafi and President Bashar al-Assad, to once again back to reviled, embassy attacking, ambassador-killing thugs.

Seemingly fully committed to tipping off a “clash of civilizations,” the ground is being prepared for false flag attacks and preparing public opinion for more direct military intervention in places like Syria and Iran. The failures of the last four years of corporate-financier driven policy is being compartmentalized around Obama and will be flushed with his presidency either in 2012, or 2016 with the hopes that the agenda itself will survive and carry on.


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September 20th, 2012, 10:56 pm


116. Atheist Syrian Salafist Against Dictatorships said:

After the arrest of members of the organizing group of the Confer. for the Salvation (Rescue) of Syria, now this ominous development; no doubt the regime will be blaming others for this:

Urgent Statement by the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria on the disappearance of Abdelaziz al-Khayer, Iyas Ayash and Maher Tahan

Today, Thursday the 20th, 5 members of the NCB’s delegation to the People’s Republic of China returned to Damascus. They left Damascus International Airport at 5 pm and boarded of two cars, only one of which arrived to its intended destination. We have since lost communications with the other car. Inside of it were Dr. Abdelaziz al-Khayer -Head of the NCB Foreign Affairs Office-, Iyas A’yash -Member of the NCB Executive Committee and a leading figure of the Arab Socialists Movement-, and the dear friend Maher Tahan -NCB member- who kindly went to welcome them from the airport. The NCB and the families of the three men have lost all forms of contact with them.
The NCB immediately started calling all relevant bodies to check upon the whereabouts and wellbeing of the passengers in the car, however no information has been obtained, nor does the NCB know anything that can assure us of their fate or whereabouts of our dear members.
We at the NCB have postponed the release of this news, in hopes of finding out what happened. We have contacted several embassies and numerous national and Arabic personalities – Inside and outside the country-.
Any infringement on the freedom and safety of Iyas A’yash, Abdelaziz al-Khayer and Maher Tahan is an infringement on the concept of citizenship, and of the moral and political commitment to the Syrian citizen and their natural right to security, freedom and dignity.
We demand that whoever can put an end to the disappearance of these three civilians should act immediately in accordance with their national responsibility to respect other citizens and ensuring their freedom and safety. Any harm inflicted upon our partners, regardless of the party responsible, would be a wrongdoing inflicted upon Syria, its reputation, and its unity. In this terrible time of crisis, Syria needs these leading figures more than ever. They are a source of pride for every Syrian, regardless of political, geographical, or sectarian affiliations.
The National Coordination Body’s exile branch holds the kidnappers, whoever they be, complete responsiblity -ethically, legally, and politically- for any physical or mental harm done. We demand an explanation for the lack of communication, independently of the motives and reasons. We demand they be immediately released and returned safely to their families.
Eternity for our martyrs
Victory to our revolution for freedom and dignity

National Coordination Body’s Media Office / Exile Branch

If you don’t know who Al-Khayyer is and what his views are:

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September 20th, 2012, 11:22 pm


117. ann said:

Rebels won’t win, door to dialogue still open: Assad – September 21, 2012

CAIRO President Bashar Al Assad said Syrian rebels “will not be victorious” in their fight against his government, adding that the “door to dialogue remains open”.

In comments to the Egyptian weekly magazine Al Ahram Al Araby, published in the Friday edition, Assad said “the armed groups exercise terrorism against the state. They are not popular within society … they will not be victorious in the end”.

Speaking from his office in Al Rawda District in the heart of Damascus, Assad added that “change cannot be achieved through foreign intervention”.

Assad said in the interview he was “neither optimistic nor pessimistic” about International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi’s mission.

Also on Thursday, security forces surrounded and raided a rebellious southern district in Damascus, arresting more than 100 people, state television said as Belarus denied trying to sell weapons to Syria violating a UN Security Council resolution after the United States imposed sanctions on a Belarussian state-owned firm.

In the United Nations, UN leader Ban Ki-moon said that Assad and the Syrian opposition are determined to fight to “the end” but the United Nations may soon put forth a new peace strategy.


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September 20th, 2012, 11:33 pm


118. sf94123 said:

الدجّال‎ said: Syrian revolution is all about freedom and dignity, Yes. I can see it now. It is all about freedom of نكاح الغلمان and dignity for اغتصاب القاصرات تحت اسم الزواج الشرعي.

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September 20th, 2012, 11:38 pm


119. Son of Damascus said:


RE: refuge in caves

This is not the first documented case of refugees seeking shelter in caves, back in early August families in Qusair had to do the same to get away from the Assadi shells.

Seeing the video you posted and the pictures I can’t help but be reminded with the “1000 Afghanistans” that Bashar promised. He has turned our cities and towns to rubble, and now our people are living in caves….

Yel3an ro7o

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September 20th, 2012, 11:40 pm


120. chris said:

SOD they have always lived in caves! it is the FSA who started and continue ruining this land. while you had thousand in the streets we had millions and if there are enough people in syria wanting sharia democracy why are we getting foreign fighters? arent there enbough highly trained murders in their shahatas willing to fight for their country? clearly not! and if this was a revolution why lets talk.

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September 20th, 2012, 11:48 pm


121. Aldendeshe said:

Rebels won’t win, door to dialogue still open: Assad – September..

Rebels way too stupid, corrupt and brainless terrorists to win, just like their backers and supporters. But what is telling is that once they are defeated, the dialogue door is closed. All along I thought that is how it is going to end. Anyhow, Assad still on a long road to his hopeful victory, not, couple more years before he finally is ousted and “no one will come to his help”. That is what the Bible say.

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September 21st, 2012, 12:10 am


122. Halabi said:

Hopefully this will be a respite from the garbage. An expert analysis at the new weapons industry in Syria from one of my heroes C.J. Chivers.

“When tradesmen and businessmen organize to the degree that Syrian antigovernment fighters have organized, they indicate the depth of popular anger and the extent of a population’s commitment to the fighters’ cause.”

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September 21st, 2012, 12:16 am


123. ghufran said:

أعلنت الداخلية التونسية منع التظاهر يوم غد الجمعة على كامل التراب التونسي.
I guess the rules change when you are in power

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September 21st, 2012, 12:20 am


124. chris said:

Halabi who would read lies from NYT anyway? and I just love how the is an invest in israel add that pops up!

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September 21st, 2012, 12:31 am


125. Mina said:

You would be amazed at the khutbas in Egypt, the new popular thing to say (especially after there were threats to launch a new revolution last August 24th) is “demonstrations and unrest are haram and marfud (…) long live to our brothers in Chechenya, Afghanistan, Palestine and Syria…”

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September 21st, 2012, 2:21 am


126. annie said:

Sorry about the above link to the France2 broadcast. I thought they would post a rerun.

This is an interesting article by Nir Rosen about the Alawites

“A leading insurgent in Duma, the largest suburb of Damascus, told me he worried about fighting between Sunni and Alawite villages like Aziziya and Tamana. ‘We can’t say that we have the right to live here and they do not,’ he said, but ‘after the revolution Alawites will return to their natural place. They won’t have the authority.’

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September 21st, 2012, 2:39 am


127. habib said:

113. Aldendeshe

Is there anything more pathetic and shameless than accusing Shias of Zionism?

The only Muslim groups that have successfully battled Israeli soldiers are Shia.

Practically all Sunni countries are on the US payroll. Shia countries are sanctioned.

These are mere facts.

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September 21st, 2012, 5:11 am


128. Albo said:

I have a post in the spam queue.

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September 21st, 2012, 5:21 am


129. Citizen said:

126. HABIB
لماذا لا تبتعدون عن التحدث بالطائفية ؟ هل تريدون تأكيد صحة تخطيط برنارد لويس ليفي ؟

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September 21st, 2012, 5:43 am


130. Albo said:

“that the sister of the head of the regime who would have the greatest protection in Syria had decided to”move”

knowing how her family works , she has the ability to see all the intelligent reports and had she thought that they are winning would not you think she would have to stay just for moral support and appearances sake.

But she must have saw the writing on the wall and decided to “move” for it . and leave all of you suckers behind”
Who cares? So even if they confirm she left for the UAE, I should conclude, what exactly, about those principalties? Just another confirmation that the UAE is on more friendly terms with the regime than the others (which was already noted), just like the KSA is on friendly terms with the Ben Alis.
In case you didn’t notice, most people here are worried solely about Syria, even those you call “pro-regime” and couldn’t care less about her whereabouts, her going wouldn’t change the political situation one inch.

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September 21st, 2012, 5:57 am


131. Tara said:

Sissy has defected to Dubai…well smart girl! She should give up the billions stolen from the Syrian people when the revolution prevails.

Are we going to hear that Anisa is going to defect to a friendly nursing home to live in peace?

Isn’t time for the hijacked Alawi sect to get some sense too or is it stupidity all the way until death do them apart?

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September 21st, 2012, 7:21 am


132. zoo said:

Syria’s Assad says rebels will be defeated

By BASSEM MROUE | Associated Press – 2 mins 52 secs ago
In this Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 …

BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian president said in remarks published Friday that he is adamant his regime will not fall and he also lashed out at Gulf countries, which he accused of using their enormous oil wealth to try to drive him from power.

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September 21st, 2012, 8:05 am


133. zoo said:


A big fuss is made because a grieving widow, still under the shock of the violent death of her husband wants to protect her children from kidnapping, revengeful hatred and further terrorist attacks.
Whatever their fathers did, these children are as innocent as the children living in Turkey or Jordan’s refugee camps and its the duty of their parents to protect them.

Is this the ‘major defection’ that will undermine the government stability, as promised by Hollande and Sayda who suddenly lost their voices?

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September 21st, 2012, 8:18 am


134. Tara said:

Good morning Zoo. I like early start with the morning coffee. I hope Syria will have a good day today..

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September 21st, 2012, 8:20 am


135. zoo said:


“Alawites will return to their natural place.”

That’s an arrogant sectarian statement. Nothing to be proud of.

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September 21st, 2012, 8:21 am


136. zoo said:

#133 Tara

Thanks, I hope so too, everyday.

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September 21st, 2012, 8:22 am


137. zoo said:

Turkey’s neo-ottoman Middle east ambitions in action. Morsi funding campaign seems to work better in the Middle east than with the West.

Turkey’s outreach (in this case, deep pockets) was on show Monday in Cairo. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his government would give $2 billion in aid to Egypt to “increase trust” in its economy, beset by a drop in productivity, a tourism slump, strikes and protests since the fall of authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak in an uprising last year.

“The Egyptian territory is a fertile land where great civilizations were formed. We will witness Egypt’s rise in the future,” Davutoglu said. “With Egypt and the participation of other states, we will build a new Middle East.”

The two nations both want President Bashar Assad of Syria to quit and Iran, his ally, to stay out of the civil war there.

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September 21st, 2012, 8:32 am


138. zoo said:

122. ghufran

After the ‘revolution’ all demonstrations are forbidden. Emergency laws are necessary to prevent freedom of speech from undermining the ‘democratic revolution’.
The new leaders are learning the ropes of an authoritarian regime with democracy limited to “ballot boxes” every few years.

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September 21st, 2012, 8:44 am


139. zoo said:

Status of the new Constitutions in the Moslem Brotherhood lead Arab countries

Tunisia new Constitution planned for October 23,2012 is now postponed to April 2013
Egypt new constitution planned “End September 2012″….
Both are struggling with the role of Islam and the status of women.

TUNIS: Tunisia’s new constitution will not be adopted until April 2013, six months later than planned, the head of the drafting committee said on Monday, threatening to compound political uncertainties.

The news of further setbacks comes amid heightened criticism of Ennahda by opposition and civil society groups, which accuse the ruling party of increasingly authoritarian and Islamist tendencies.

Another factor behind rising social discontent is the persistence of poor living conditions in certain parts of Tunisia, and high youth unemployment in particular, a key factor behind the revolution.

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt will have a new constitution drafted by the end of September and ready to be submitted to a nationwide referendum, the country’s prime minister said Saturday.

Hisham Kandil did not specify a date for the referendum, though, according to Egypt’s MENA state news agency.

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September 21st, 2012, 8:53 am


140. Tara said:

Any news about the NCB members that disappeared after arrival to Damascus airport? I suspect the regime is the culprit as the NCB emerging to be more influential after the cardiac arrest sustained by the SNC.

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September 21st, 2012, 9:11 am


141. Atheist Syrian Salafist Against Dictatorships said:

Hi Tara, here is the latest:

Second statement: Freedom for Tahan, al-Khayer and Ayash

In follow up with our former statement regarding the disappearance of the NCB’s members Dr. Abdelaziz al-Khayer -Head of the NCB Foreign Affairs Office-, Iyas A’yash -Member of the NCB Executive Committee and a leading figure of the Arab Socialists Movement-, and Maher Tahan -NCB member-. We lost communication with them less than 30 minutes after the passport control point in the Damascus Airport.
It has become clear to us, based on further information, that the car they were in was stopped by the Airforce Intelligence checkpoint, which detained them and escorted them to one of its branches. We have notified all the relevant international and regional bodies, the United Nations, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Arab League and the UN Secretary-General’s representative on the matter.
The National Coordination Body holds the Syrian authorities in complete responsibility for the mental and physical wellbeing, and freedom of our 3 fellow comrades. We demand that they be immediately released.
Eternity for our martyrs
Freedom for all political prisoners.
Victory to our revolution for freedom and dignity
National Coordination Body’s Media Office / Exile Branch

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September 21st, 2012, 10:01 am


142. Tara said:


One more proof that this regime knows no limit and was never interested in dialogue except with itself. The BCB is the softest of all opposition movement. Batta knows no shame.

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September 21st, 2012, 10:13 am


143. Dawoud said:

Sister Tara (whom I hope one day I can meet in free Damascus for lunch an discuss with her the idiocy and immoral comments of the pro-Bashar commentators):

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are now put to shame by Iran’s anti-Sunni Shi’a theocracy, which is sending 747 civilian planes full of arms/sectarian fighters through al-Maliki’s anti-Sunni airspace. Hopefully, this will motivate Arabs to resist this non-Arab Persian intervention in Arab Syria. The Jordanian army can easily and secretly smuggle to the FSA Saudi/Qatari weapons. I hoping to see anti-MIG/T72 missiles smuggled to FSA. I think that sooner or later President Morsi (who a few days ago told Ayatollah’s foreign minister that Egypt couldn’t have good relations with Tehran as long as the latter continues to support Bashar) would send arms and maybe covet fighters to Syria.

Isn’t it funny that al-Maliki is trying to appease the United States by claiming to deny air passage of a North Korean plane to Syria? He should show his “manhood” and independence by standing up to his sectarian masters in Tehran and stopping their daily flights to Syria.

Free Syria, Free Palestine, Bahrain is Arab forever!

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September 21st, 2012, 10:58 am


144. Dawoud said:

Sister Tara (whom I hope one day I can meet in free Damascus for lunch and discuss with her the idiocy and immoral comments of the pro-Bashar commentators):

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are now put to shame by Iran’s anti-Sunni Shi’a theocracy, which is sending 747 civilian planes full of arms/sectarian fighters through al-Maliki’s anti-Sunni airspace. Hopefully, this will motivate Arabs to resist this non-Arab Persian intervention in Arab Syria. The Jordanian army can easily and secretly smuggle to the FSA Saudi/Qatari weapons. I am hoping to see anti-MIG/T72 missiles smuggled to FSA. I think that sooner or later President Morsi (who a few days ago told Ayatollah’s foreign minister that Egypt couldn’t have good relations with Tehran as long as the latter continues to support Bashar) would send arms and maybe covert fighters to Syria.

Isn’t it funny that al-Maliki is trying to appease the United States by claiming to deny air passage of a North Korean plane to Syria? He should show his “manhood” and independence by standing up to his sectarian masters in Tehran and stopping their daily flights to Syria.

Free Syria and Palestine!

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September 21st, 2012, 10:59 am


145. Syrian Natonalist Party said:

Free Syria and Palestine, free Iran and Arabia! from Dawoud.

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September 21st, 2012, 11:12 am


146. Tara said:

Dear Dawoud

Only of you pay for Manaeesh Zaatar and tea. And don’t worry, I’d only eat one. 😉

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September 21st, 2012, 11:12 am


147. zoo said:


I doubt they were kidnapped by the Syrian police as the police could have stopped them at passport control and not after they left the airport by car. They could have been prevented to fly also as, I guess, they used the national airline to get in.

In my view, they may have been kidnapped by SNC’s allies hardliners who do not want any dialog with the regime and reject the meeting organized by moderate local opposition, an official meeting that was allowed by the Syrian government.

As of the rantings about Egypt sending its army to help the fall of Bashar al Assad, it shows that the person who wrote that has abused of hallucinative drugs, probably out of despair. I think he needs urgently your magic medical advices

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September 21st, 2012, 11:16 am


148. Atheist Syrian Salafist Against Dictatorships said:

@Zoo 146

Here it is, from the horse’s mouth (I presume you can understand Arabic):

(BTW, I have long wandered if you are the same person known as zozo elsewhere…I sure hope not! because it would be a huge shock -m-a-s-a-k-a- if you and that zozo turned out to be one and the same).


As supporters of Syrians’ right to democracy and the rule of law, we should also (and I personally do) support the right of Bahrainis (and Palestinians, and Jordanians…all Arabs and all peoples) to have the same in their country too. The Shiaa Bahrainis are Arabs, and a democracy there will not change this fact.

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September 21st, 2012, 1:16 pm


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