Posted by Joshua on Monday, March 7th, 2011
A number of ex-Syrian military hired on in Libya and remain fighting for Qaddafi. This has created numerous accusations that Syria is officially supporting Qaddafi. There is no proof of this, but it has caught on in Twitterland and places like neoconservative journal, Commentary (See Quote below).
One Syrian friend wrote:
The headlines are: “Al-Jazeera: Two fighter jets shot down in Libya by revolutionists today had Syrian pilots!”
Could this be true!? How stupid if it is!! Can’t verify it but Al-Jazeera has enormous credibility now. Most Arabs are now of the opinion that: “If Al-Jazeera says it then it’s true”.
Angry young Arabs (and Syrians) are going mad about this on Twitter/Facebook. If it is true, then Syria should expect a lot of shit online after Libya settles down.
Nice post today. A neo-Pan Arabism is thriving in the virtual world among the 70% of the population in the Arab world. It’s driven by a freedom/dignity, not anti-Israel sentiments. Millions of young Arabs in Egypt and Tunisia are now considering themselves as the guardians of freedom in the Arab world and they are the ones that are shaping public opinion today.
Because of stupid things such as detaining young bloggers or rumors such as the Syrian pilots bombing revolutionists in Libya, Syria is currently getting a large dose of hate sentiments from young angry Arabs. This could escalate and spill-over to inside the country. Somebody in the Syrian government should take note and take concrete actions to alter public opinions.
Syrian Pilots Shot Down in Libya?
Michael Rubin, Commentary, 03.06.2011
The civil war in Libya has become essentially a tribal conflict, with Qaddafi’s Qadhadfa tribe versus everyone else. For example, Al-Jazeera is reporting that Qadhadfa officers have executed 20 officers from the Firjan tribe who had refused to fire on their fellow Libyans. As Qaddafi has lost the support of the Qadhadfas’ long-time allies, there have been increasingly frequent reports that he is turning to mercenaries to help put down the Libyan people.
Overnight, these reports have taken a new twist: Al Jazeera is reporting that free Libyan forces have downed two Syrian planes in Ras Lanuf, about 400 kilometers west of Benghazi. Unconfirmed reports had earlier suggested that the free Libyans had downed two Sukhoi SU-22s, which is what the Libyans train on in Syria.
If these reports are true, it is time for President Obama to bring home Robert Ford, his recess appointment as ambassador to Syria. Successful engagement requires sincerity of both partners. Obama may be sincere, but it is clear that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is not….
Now David Feith is jumping on board the “We-are-outraged-at-Vogue” club. His WSJ article decry’s Vogue for puffing Asma al-Assad because she is married to the son of Hafiz al-Assad who “killed 20,000 Syrians to put down an uprising in Hama.” This is just a tad ironic coming from the son of Douglas J. Feith, who helped propel the US to invade Iraq where over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed and 4 million turned into refugees.
He supervised the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, which “disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers.” Feith helped convince president Bush that Iraq would be easy and that Saddam had links with al-Qaida.
The Dictator’s Wife Wears Louboutins
Vogue magazine missed the trend: Middle Eastern tyrants are out this season.
By BARI WEISS AND DAVID FEITH
Maybe it takes a fashion dictator to know a fashionable dictator. How else to explain Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s decision this month to publish a 3,000-word paean to that “freshest and most magnetic of first ladies,” Syria’s Asma al-Assad?
That’s right. As Libyans braved fighter jets and machine-gun fire in their drive to overthrow the tyrant Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli, the queen of Condé Nast thought it was in good taste to feature the beautiful wife of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Apparently Vogue missed the trend: Dictators are out this season.
The Assad family—first Hafez and now his son Bashar—has ruled Syria since 1970. In that time, they’ve killed 20,000 Syrians to put down an uprising in Hama, provoked civil war in Lebanon and then occupied the country to “keep peace,” built a secret nuclear-weapons facility modeled on North Korea’s, and established Damascus as a hub for terrorists from Hezbollah to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. All part of keeping their countrymen under foot for 40 years……
Thirteen jailed Syrian human rights activists, including lawyers Haytham Maleh and Anwar Bunni, are staging a hunger strike at Adra prison, near Damascus, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights announced Monday.
“We have launched a hunger strike because we demand an end to political detention and injustice, as well as the recovery of stolen civil and political rights,” said the activists in a joint statement published by the rights monitor.
Syrian President Pardons Petty Criminals, Old, Sick
Monday, Mar 07, 2011
DAMASCUS (AFP)–Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Monday pardoned criminals serving time in jail for minor crimes as well as some elderly and ill prisoners, official Syrian news agency Sana reported.
The pardon comes on the eve of the 48th anniversary of Syria’s ruling Baath Party coming to power on March 8, 1963.
The presidential decree, which contains various caveats, “applies to those who committed minor offences before March 7 as well as to the elderly and sick,” Sana said.
“The decree does not apply to political detainees,” said Abdel Karim Rehaoui, president of the Syrian Human Rights League, which estimates that several thousand people could be included in the pardon.
Friend in America writes (in comment section):
A dynamic around the world is unfolding. It has to do with the future of the political power of central governments, particularly in countries with authoritarian rulers. Events in Tunisia and Egypt and those in process in Libya, Bahrain and possibly Yemen mark the end of 20th century political power (or as typified by Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, ugly 17th century political power). Those power structures have been cracked by the rise of what will be called the new political power of the 21st century, which is characterized by the internet, YouTube, Facebook, WikiLeaks, etc. People who have never met each other now share their grievances and discover they have opinions in common. Bonds are made. The new means of communication has encouraged political demonstration and facilitate coordination of diverse groups which central governments are challenged to control.
21st century political power has broken the #1 20th century tool used by authoritarian governments to control their population – fear and isolation. Why did the young in Syria not mount large demonstrations on the “days of rage?” Because the communications between themselves is not as well developed as in Egypt, Tunisia or Bahrain, and the young adults feel isolated. Fear remains strong in Syria. There are many reasons to commend President Assad and his wife, but no one should think that respect for the first family and a claimed “universal hatred of Israel” will ever temper the despair that drives a man to pour petrol over his head and set fire to himself or the public outrage that ensues.
Syria has 3 to 5 years but the train is leaving the station. Syria can be the leader in peaceful reform. It was tried in Lybia 5 years ago but the conservatives close to Gaddafi put a stop to it.
General Collings (Quoted in NYTimes) said that while he was posted in Egypt senior Egyptian military officials told him of a corruption scheme in which Mr. Mubarak handed out cash to the generals leading each branch of the armed forces — army, navy, air force and air defense force. “There was a systematic process by which money was given and distributed through the top ranks of the regime,” General Collings said.
A former high-ranking Egyptian officer confirmed General Collings’s account. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concerns for his safety.
The Vat Tax which was scheduled to come on line this year has now been delayed indefinitely, or until the “appropriate Time and Conditions.” We must presume this is because of the revolutionary fervor in the Arab World.
The next big test for the government is coming up on April 1. That date is when fuel subsidies are scheduled to be lifted – a decision that was made before Tunisia blew up. If it is carried out, it will hit industry very hard. Industry is a big beneficiary of subsidized energy. The fuel subsidies are very expensive for the Syrian government and cannot be sustained for long. A few months ago, I was told that Abdullah Dardari was sure they would be eliminated. Of course this was pre Tunisia.
Some of the leading banks in Syria are down close to 16% from highs in February because of the popular revolts. Since trading limits have been extended to 3% from 2%, some of these stocks are falling 3% a day.
Other economic News is supplied by Syria Report put out by Jihad Yazigi
- Agriculture: Syrian President Lays Foundation Stone of USD 3 billion Tigris River Project
The Syrian President on March 7 laid the foundation stone of the Tigris River project, a USD 3 billion scheme that is expected to revive water supply and agriculture production in the north east.
- Syrian Companies Banned from Recruiting Foreign Nationals with no Working Permits
The Syrian Government has issued a decision requesting all state and private sector companies and institutions in Syria not to work with any foreign national without him or her having proper working and residence permits, according to a local daily.
Syria economy: Company law is tweaked
(Economist Intelligence Unit) — FROM THE ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT
On February 16th Mr Assad signed a new company law, updating legislation that had been passed as recently as 2008. The economy and foreign trade minister, Lamiya Assi, said that the law needed to be revamped in light of issues that had arisen since the revisions were made three years ago. The new law, passed by Legislative Decree 29, incorporates many of the features of the previous law, but adds a number of new elements. One of these, which was highlighted by Ms Assi in an interview with Al Watan, a privately owned daily newspaper, is to allow public-sector companies to change their status to joint-stock companies, subject to the approval of the prime minister and on condition that the company has been profitable in each of the three years preceding such a conversion. This could pave the way for privatisation through listing some of the stock of such companies on the Damascus Securities Exchange. However, the government still adheres to a stated policy of ruling out privatisation for the time being. Ms Assi also said that the new law made a distinction between various forms of closed joint-stock companies, allowing some to be defined as private (implying that shares are not traded) and others as public. She said that under the earlier law there were about 360 family-owned companies that were not properly defined.
Economics Minister Mohammed al-Hussein Establishes Investment Company
أصدر السيد رئيس مجلس الوزراء القرار رقم /3332/ تاريخ 5/3/2011 المتضمن تشكيل أول مجلس إدارة للسورية للاستثمار كما يلي:
06/03/2011 دمشق – سيرياستيبس
1- الدكتور محمد الحسين وزير المالية رئيساً
2- الدكتور محمد سماق معاون وزير الصناعة عضواً
3- المهندس مهند كلش معاون وزير السياحة عضواً
4- الدكتور ملهم ديبو مدير عام المصرف العقاري عضواً
5- المهندس ياسر السباعي مدير عام هيئة التطوير والاستثمار العقاري عضواً
6- السيد احمد دياب مدير عام هيئة الاستثمار عضواً
7- السيد حسام فلوح مدير الخزينة المركزية في وزارة المالية عضواً
وذكر الدكتور محمد الحسين، أن الشركة أحدثت بالمرسوم التشريعي رقم /81/ تاريخ 30/9/2010 وتم انجاز وإصدار أنظمة الشركة ونظامها الأساسي و تشكيل مجلس الإدارة والذي سيقوم بتسمية رئيس تنفيذي للشركة خلال أيام، كما يجري تحضير مقر مؤقت للشركة في أحد العقارات التابعة لوزارة المالية في دمشق… وسيتم إشهار الشركة وانطلاق عملها خلال فترة قصيرة جداً… ومن المتوقع أن تمارس الشركة أنشطة استثمارية مختلفة في كافة المجالات… كما يشار إلى أن الشركة تملكها الخزينة العامة للدولة ولكنها تأسست حسب قوانين الشركات والتجارة وستعمل بأسلوب القطاع الخاص بشكل كامل…
Anonymity or an assumed name can be a protective cloak, but, in Damascus, those methods can’t shield against eavesdropping plainclothes police or their informants, omnipresent in cafes, workplaces, and on street corners. Syria is the kind of place …