News Round Up (July 8, 2012)

Syrian General Defects, Heads To France As Assad’s Opponents Meet There
NPR – Heard on All Things Considered
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Transcript

July 6, 2012 – ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Syrians Trying to Get into Lebanon July 8, 2012 (sent by a friend)

More now on that defection of a Syrian general. Not just any general, but Brigadier General Manaf Tlass. He’s the son of a former Syrian defense minister, Mustafa Tlass. It’s a Sunni Muslim family and one that is close to the ruling Assad family.

How important is this? Well, we’re going to ask Professor Joshua Landis, who’s a Syria expert who directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He’s joining us from Norman.

Welcome back to the program.

JOSHUA LANDIS: Good to be with you, Robert.

SIEGEL: What does it say here that Brigadier General Manaf Tlass has defected?

LANDIS: It’s very important. The Tlass family is a keystone of the Sunni Alawite alliance that’s been the bedrock of this regime for 40 years. The fact that they have bailed out says that this regime is falling apart and the essential alliances are falling apart. Increasingly, this struggle is becoming one of sectarian communities, the Alawites against the Sunnis.

In the beginning, this was – it seemed like – angry young men from the countryside. The Sunnis were low class. They were from rural districts. They had nothing to lose. For a long time, everybody has been saying, where’s the Sunni elite? How come they’re not defecting? Well, here is, you know, Mr. Sunni elite defecting.

SIEGEL: Now, there is a declaration of defection that’s posted on your website. You say it’s impossible to verify, but it looks reasonable. And, in it, Tlass says, I call for all my comrades in the armed forces, whatever their rank, who are dragged into this fight against their fellow Syrians and against their own ideas to stop supporting this regime. Would you expect others to follow him?

LANDIS: I do. I think that this sends a signal that Bashar al-Assad doesn’t have the confidence of his top generals. The place is falling apart. Everybody’s going to begin looking for the exit. The problem is that Manaf Tlass is a man of great wealth. His family has got power. He can take a golden parachute and land in Paris. He’s fine. Most generals in the Syrian army don’t have much money. They don’t have bodyguards. They don’t have a way out. They can’t get their families out and Manaf is able to get his wife out. His brother and father got out before him. His sister is out. His son, we believe, was at AUB, the American University in Beirut. He has been able to really manage this exit very gracefully.

SIEGEL: Manaf Tlass also wrote in that declaration of defection, I was – I’m quoting from the translation – “progressively dismissed from my place of duty in the armed forces.” That suggests that his misgivings about what the regime was doing were known to his superiors and it implies that there is at least some kind of debate that’s been going on among senior officers, doesn’t it?

LANDIS: It does. And friends who’ve recently been with him in Damascus, had dinner with him, say he that he was very bitter. He had been given the task of trying to bring Harasta and Duma, two neighborhoods of Damascus in the suburbs that had led this revolutionary process to heal. And he had gone out to the opposition. He talked with them. He got them to back off, but he also negotiated this and agreed that the regime would back off.

The regime center said, we’re not going to do it this way. They came down like a ton of bricks, breaking heads and we’ve seen the violence that’s ensued. And, in a sense, the people like Tlass, who were looking for a softer landing for the regime, got pushed aside. And he was sidelined. That’s the word and that’s certainly the word he’s putting out and bitter about it.

SIEGEL: Professor Landis, would Manaf Tlass strike Syrian opposition forces as either a possible leader of their cause or a transitional leader or is he too deeply associated with the old regime to be a credible leader of a new one?

LANDIS: You know, the opposition, I’m sure, are all celebrating. This is an important crack in the regime, but there is going to be tons of bitterness against him. This family has been an architect of this regime. They’re not going to embrace him.

There are others. Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, who defected in 2005 and joined the Muslim Brotherhood. That fell apart. And there’s Rifaat al-Assad, the uncle of the present president of Syria, who is also in Paris, but none of them have been embraced by the opposition. In fact, they’ve been forbidden to come to opposition meetings, so I think the Tlass family, although people will be very happy to see the regime crumbling, they’re going to have a very hard time ingratiating themselves with the opposition.

SIEGEL: Professor Landis, thanks for talking with us once again.

LANDIS: Well, it’s my pleasure. Thank you.

SIEGEL: Joshua Landis, who directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Clinton: Assad’s fall is certain
2012-07-06 UPI

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed reports Friday that a high-level general had defected from Syria.

Clinton: With more defections, Syrian regime’s ‘days are numbered’ – CNN

Why Russia Supports Syria – New York Times

Report in Arabic about FSA fighters in Turkey – how they cross the border and fight. Reporter interviews (video) FSA sharpshooter who explains how he shoots at anyone from certain Idlib border villages because they are “all regime loyalists” .

A Young Syrian’s Evolution From a Carefree Tour Guide to a Revolutionary
By ANNE BARNARD: July 7, 2012 – New York Times

… Abu Zeid and several friends took up arms after security officers shot demonstrators in Tadmur, the modern town near Palmyra. Now, alternately passionate and confused, Abu Zeid has only the dimmest idea of an endgame, swept up in a wave heading nowhere clear.

He wavers, unsure whether joining the revolt was his life’s proudest moment or its ruin — or both.

His exploits, sometimes more Keystone Kops than Che Guevara, left him feeling empowered but morally conflicted. He stole money and weapons, something he struggles to justify to himself. He endangered his neighbors, beat up an informer and narrowly escaped a raid that killed some of his friends after one drew attention to their hide-out by getting stuck in an elevator. Even his beloved camel ended up dead.

Now he is a jobless fugitive in a country bordering Syria, heartsick for a life in which, he said, “I felt like a king in my own way.

Like someone who grew up near the sea and is drawn to water, Abu Zeid spends hours visiting ancient ruins, quizzing people about his new country’s tourist industry. He worries that unrest will harm his family, or Palmyra’s antiquities. One moment he vows to go back and fight; the next he disavows violence.

“I hate my life this way,” he told a friend in a recent message….. In a recent meeting, he and one fellow fighter spoke little about democracy, offering no opinion on who or what should replace Mr. Assad. They said they acted in solidarity with the dead, and “for dignity.” … Recently, Abu Zeid received a French visa. He will be safe in his girlfriend’s mountain village, but he is vaulting further into the unknown.

Posted: 06 Jul 2012
BBC News reports: Sources close to Brigadier General Manaf Tlas, who met him days before he deserted, told the BBC he was very angry about what was happening in Syria and accused the regime of “taking the country to Hell”. “If I were him, I would have done an [former Turkish leader and political reformer […]

Newsweek: Champagne Flows While Syria Burns
2012-07-09

By the pool, glistening, oiled, and muscular bodies gyrated to a juiced-up version of Adele’s “Someone Like You.” Atop huge speakers, a Russian dancer swayed suggestively in front of the young, beautiful Syrian set drinking imported Lebanese ….

Considering a Palace Coup in Syria
Stratfor –  July 5, 2012 |

Summary: Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime has maintained its hold on power amid escalating violence and international criticism over the past year. However, pressure on the regime could eventually increase to a point that other members of the inner circle may attempt to supplant the al Assad clan. This small group of elites could even receive backing from Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran. While such a coup scenario appears unlikely at present, the threats the al Assad clan faces from within the regime are at least as serious as the threats from external powers or the opposition.

Analysis: Though the al Assad family is the public face of the Syrian regime and controls some of its most important positions, the regime also comprises other Alawites as well as Christians, Druze, other religious minorities and members of the country’s Sunni majority. This inner circle includes Syria’s most powerful and experienced political, military and civilian leaders, and these individuals view their own survival as tied to the fate of the regime. However, if al Assad began to lose his ability to hold together the disparate elements that form the Syrian regime, a group of regime elites could try to stage a palace coup and forcibly remove the family from power.

Another potential scenario involves coordination with external parties, likely Iran and Russia, both of which have deep intelligence networks in Syria. Although Iran and Russia provide significant financial and military backing for al Assad and the Syrian regime, they have contingency plans for a new regime if a power transfer becomes necessary. The imperative for these allies is not to keep the al Assad clan in power but to maintain a government in Syria that will remain friendly to their interests and does not deviate too far from the status quo.

The ability of Syria’s allies to engineer a coup is questionable. Moreover, a coup is unlikely at present because the regime does not show external signs of cracking and still possesses a largely united military and intelligence apparatus. However, if the situation calls for such action, Iran and Russia will work to maintain the overall structure of the regime. This could be pursued by brokering an official power transfer between al Assad and other top members of the regime, similar to the power transfer in Yemen. Because al Assad clan members are at the core of the president’s inner circle, his close family would likely not be welcome to join the putative new government.

If al Assad were removed from the inside with or without foreign backing, key Sunni figures and allied minorities in the current regime would likely take over leadership. A more inclusive and diverse regime could use its sectarian composition to quell some of the opposition while still maintaining the overall regime structure and avoiding a power vacuum that could lead to greater instability.

Of the minority inner circle members, some of the most prominent include the heads of Syria’s four intelligence agencies: Jamil Hassan, Abdel-Fatah Qudsiyeh, Ali Mamlouk and Muhammad Deeb Zaitoon. Aside from these intelligence leaders, an important minority leader to watch is Hisham Bakhtiar, a Shi’i in charge of the National Security Council who serves as a security and intelligence adviser to al Assad.

Prominent Sunni figures who could play a role in a post-al Assad government include Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, commander of the elite Republican Guard forces Manaf Tlas, army Chief of Staff Fahd Jasem al-Farij and Assistant Regional Secretary of the Baath Arab Socialist Party Muhammad Said Bukhaytan.

Profiled below are figures with experience in managing the security and intelligence affairs of the state, and all except Bashar al Assad’s close relatives could emerge as members of a new regime in the event of a palace coup or negotiated power transfer.

Minority Members of al Assad’s Inner Circle

Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Assef Shawkat (Alawite)

  • Considered one of al Assad’s top security chiefs
  • Formerly head of military intelligence and deputy chief of staff.
  • Joined the army in the late 1970s
  • The regime is rumored to hold him partly responsible for failing to prevent the 2008 assassination of Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyah
  • Married to al Assad’s sister, Bushra
  • Maintains close relationship with Bashar but has a more difficult relationship with his Bashar’s brother, Maher al Assad

Shabiha leader Namir al Assad (Alawite)

  • Bashar al Assad’s cousin
  • One of the top leaders of Shabiha, the Syrian mercenary force frequently used in crackdowns against the opposition

The Republican Guard and 4th Armored Division head Maher al Assad (Alawite)

  • Bashar al Assad’s youngest brother
  • Rumored to be Syria’s second-most powerful man
  • Longtime member of the Syrian military and a member of the Baath Party’s second highest body, the Central Committee
  • Known for his use of brute force
  • Allegedly shot Shawkat in the stomach in 1999
  • Commands the most elite and loyal forces

General Security Directorate head in Damascus Col. Hafez Makhlouf (Alawite)

  • Cousin and childhood friend of Bashar al Assad, close friend of Maher al Assad
  • Survivor of the 1994 car crash that killed the president’s brother, Basil

Deputy Vice President for Security Affairs Muhammad Nasif Kheirbek (Alawite)

  •  Member of the Kalabiya tribe, the same Alawite tribe as the president
  • Connected to the al Assad family through his marriage to one of the daughters of former President Hafez al Assad’s brother, Rifaat al Assad
  • Adviser and ally to Bashar al Assad
  • Former head of the General Security Directorate, the civilian intelligence service

Rami Makhlouf (Alawite)

  • Bashar al Assad’s first cousin and Hafez Makhlouf’s brother
  • One of the most powerful businessmen in Syria
  • Owns a wide variety of companies, including the Syriatel communications company, and is involved in many foreign companies’ business deals within Syria
  • Allegedly uses much of the income from his business dealings to aid the regime’s suppression of Syrian protests and rebel forces

Air Force Intelligence head Gen. Jamil Hassan (Alawite)

Added to the EU sanctions list in May 2011 for his involvement in the crackdown on the civilian population
Air Force Intelligence is an elite agency in Syria’s intelligence apparatus and was used extensively by Hafez al Assad
The agency has played a direct role in the crackdown against protesters

Military Intelligence head Abdel-Fatah Qudsiyeh (Alawite)

  • Added to the EU sanctions list in May 2011 for the Military Intelligence’s role in the crackdown on the Syrian opposition
  • Former head of the Air Force Intelligence, personal secretary to al Assad and head of the Republican Guard’s security office
  • Led the investigation on Mughniyah’s assassination

Political Security Directorate head Muhammad Deeb Zaitoon (Alawite)

  • Added to the EU sanctions list in May 2011 for the Political Security Directorate’s role in the suppression of protesters
  • Former deputy head of the General Security Directorate
  • Assisted in the investigation of Mughniyah’s assassination

Syrian General Intelligence Directorate head Ali Mamlouk (Alawite)

  • Former deputy head of Air Force Intelligence
  • Close ties with the Political Security Directorate
  • Was placed on the U.S. sanctions list in April 2011 for human rights abuses and the use of violence against civilians
  • The General Intelligence Directorate has allegedly used deadly force when cracking down on anti-government protesters
  • His religion is disputed because Syrian authorities have at times presented him as a Sunni from Rif Damascus

Presidential Security chief Gen. Dhu al-Himma Shalish (Alawite)

  • Al Assad’s first cousin
  • Formerly served as al Assad’s personal bodyguard
  • Allegedly provided military resources to former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s regime

Special Forces Commander Gen. Juma al-Ahmad (Alawite)

  • Placed on the German sanctions list in December 2011 for violence against peaceful protesters
  • Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Dawoud Rajiha (Christian)
  • Former chief of staff and deputy chief of staff for the Syrian army
  • Artillery specialist in the military academy
  • His inclusion in the inner circle is considered to be politically motivated, rather than merit-based, in order to garner the support of the Christian minority

National Security Council head Maj. Gen. Hisham Bakhtiar (Shiite)

  • Provides security and intelligence advice directly to al Assad
  • Former head of the General Security Directorate
  • The United States accused him of funding terrorist organizations
  • Added to EU sanctions list for Daraa crackdown in May 2011

Sunni Members of al Assad’s Inner Circle:

Interior Minister Lt. Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar

  • Former chief of the military police in Aleppo, director of Sednaya Prison and appointed interior minister during the 2011 unrest
  • Joined armed forces in 1971
  • Reportedly maintains a good relationship with the Alawites and also has contacts with members of the Sunni-led rebel insurgency
  • The regime has deliberately allowed al-Shaar to maintain contact with some armed opposition groups to secure knowledge of their activities and to have a conduit for dialogue
  • Rumored to have secured safe exit for anti-al Assad militant groups

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Fahd Jasem al-Farij

  • Former deputy chief of staff of the Syrian army
  • From Hama, ethnically BedouinAllegedly appointed to his current post in order to appease residents of Hama after the crackdown in mid-20

Vice President Farouk al-Shara

  • Member of the Baath Party Regional Committee since 2000
  • Some believe his position is more symbolic and that unlike other inner circle members, he has not played a large role in quelling the uprising
Former Syrian Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Hasan Turkmani
  • Joined the Syrian army in 1954
  • Ethnically Turkish and reportedly anti-Arab
  • Believed to be one of al Assad’s strategists

Republican Guard Commander Brig. Manaf Tlas

  • Son of former Defense Minister Gen. Mustafa Tlas and brother-in-law to Shawkat
  • Considered one of al Assad’s closest friends and helped al Assad develop a support base among the Sunni merchant class.
  • Commands a battalion of the Alawite-dominated Republican Guard and is a member of the Baath Party Central Committee.

Air Force head Gen. Isam Hallaq

  • Not viewed as powerful enough to restore law and order to Syria, despite his position

Military Intelligence chief in Damascus Rustum Ghazali

  • Former chief of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon and reportedly wielded great influence in Lebanese internal affairs
  • Placed on the EU sanctions list in May 2011 for the repression of the opposition in Syria

Baath Arab Socialist Party Assistant Regional Secretary Muhammad Said Bukhaytan

  • Served as the assistant regional secretary of the Baath Arab Socialist Party since 2005
  • Former director for the national security of the regional Baath Party and Hama governor from 1998 to 2000
  • Considered a close associate of Bashar and Maher al Assad and a high-level decision-maker in the regime

Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Munir Adanov

  • Deputy chief of staff and commander of the regular army’s military campaign in Rastan, where several crackdowns have occurred
  • Reportedly accompanied al Assad on several high-level foreign visits
  • Placed on the EU sanctions list in August 2011 for his direct involvement in the repression and use of violence against the civilian population in Syria

The tide begins to turn
Diplomacy is being overtaken by the armed struggle. But on both scores, Syria’s embattled president, Bashar Assad, is steadily losing ground
Jul 7th 2012 | BEIRUT AND CAIRO | Economist

…. the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main group of armed rebel factions, shunned a subsequent meeting of Mr Assad’s opponents in Cairo on July 1st. The Syrian Revolution General Commission, the leading network of political activists inside Syria, left early in a huff. The biggest such event to date, it was intended to forge a common blueprint for the wider opposition and to give at least the impression of unity. But the factions from within Syria suspected that exile groups were seeking to curry favour with foreign diplomats and donors by endorsing the Geneva plan at the expense of the revolution that they are battling to expand back home.

The Cairo meeting did not mention the Geneva document but instead issued a vague set of constitutional principles, along with its own plan for a transitional government. Moreover, the intended show of unity was marred by rows over the composition of a joint committee to follow things up. Representatives of the Kurds, who make up around 15% of Syrians, walked out in protest against being termed an ethnic group rather than a people, and some left-wingers and secularists reiterated charges against the Syrian National Council, the largest exile group, that it was dominated by Islamists (in particular, the Muslim Brotherhood) and beholden to such foreign backers as Turkey, Qatar and the CIA.

For his part, Mr Assad had upped the ante on June 26th by announcing for the first time that Syria was indeed “at war”, decreeing new laws to punish his opponents (all lumped together as “terrorists”). State television broadcast a call for soldiers to seek “martyrdom” in service to the fatherland. His government voiced tepid approval of the Geneva plan, but as with Mr Annan’s previous plan, which it formally accepted but largely ignored in practice, suggested that its opponents should first drop their weapons.

This is not going to happen. The military pressure against Mr Assad is mounting. Day by day, town by town, the balance of power seesaws between the regime’s forces and its loosely organised but increasingly better-armed opponents. But the tide is running against Mr Assad. In the hilly north-western province of Idleb, almost incessant shelling by government forces has not prevented rebels from keeping de facto control over swathes of territory, including parts of the border with Turkey which is 900km (560 miles) long…..

Antoun Issa in al-Akhbar with a proposal for a third anti-war option on Syria.

General Fayez Amro of the Free Syrian Army [FSA] : A single foreign air strike is the solution.
al-Sharq al-Awsat

…He added “if the regime was subject to a single [foreign] air strike, this would save a lot of lives in Syria. This has become an international humanitarian crisis, and it is clear that what is happening in Syria is the result of the blatant Russian and Iranian interference, supporting the al-Assad regime with ammunition and manpower, not to mention the Hezbollah mercenaries…so what is wrong with international intervention?”

Jerusalem Post: Assad: Peoples’ support saves me from Shah’s fate
2012-07-05

ANKARA – Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published on Thursday that he would have been toppled long ago like the shah of Iran if his people did not support him. “Everybody was calculating that I would fall in a small amount of …

Shenkar at WINEP

For Washington and the Syrian opposition, then, the key in the coming weeks will be to leverage Tlass’ defection to foment a decisive fissure in the military. While Tlass may not hold the key to Syria’s future, if properly handled, he could help close a gruesome chapter of Syria’s past.

Egypt on the path of Turkey in the 80s – Reuters

The power play since Mubarak’s overthrow suggests Egypt is moving steadily towards a Turkey-style accommodation between a powerful army and an Islamist movement that gradually shifts its people into the institutions of government.

Egyptian General Mamdouh Shahin said there was no question that the army would decide the future balance of power.

“The constitutional decree remains the exclusive authority of the military council. Nothing will change this,” he told Reuters, adding that, for now, the army would act as a balance between the government and the president.…

Sunni Islamism Stirs In Lebanon
By Jonathan Spyer in GLORIA

As the civil war in Syria grinds on and assumes an increasingly sectarian character, echoes of the strife are being heard across the border in Lebanon. The main beneficiary of the Arab uprisings of the last year has been Sunni Islamism. In Syria, Sunnis are playing an increasingly important role in the rebellion against President Bashar Assad. In […]

Comments (181)


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151. Aldendeshe said:

The enemies of Syria hypes themselves delusionally, and then crash in severe depression when the hype fizzle and kaka hit the fan. As if this wishful thinking kept repeated as mantra, it will assuredly come to pass for real. Most, if not all that expressed this kind of delusional euphoria are obviously not Syrians, or they may have schooling about Syria at best. They are apparently Jewish Mossad hired or Americans working for the self interest conspirators, they are young, and are relying on past success of deception (9/11-Libya etc.) to think that these new ones will be believed. Syrians are far more logical and have deep political experience, enough to have refused to cooperate in cities like Damascus and Aleppo.

Well, with all that hypes, desperation and bluffing, it is just going to be so much harder when the fact of the truth come to pass. The hopeless, goes on what is next, and out of desperation and irrationality, they dig their own holes deeper, out of ignorance and hurried way to cover, to maintain that euphoria backed hypes and lies, they shown us consistent failures.

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July 9th, 2012, 4:11 pm

 
 

153. Tara said:

Halabi

Peasants drinking Champagne. No offense to real peasants.

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July 9th, 2012, 4:30 pm

 

154. Syrialover said:

# 105. Bruno

Oh I see. You are insisting your sources are always better than mine.

Well, nobody outside really knows the precise inner details of policies and agendas of the US and Russia. So how can you be so confident what I posted is wrong and what you claim is right?

You seem to be a raw newcomer to this issue. You ask: “How come that article has forgotten to mention the Russian Naval port in Syria?”.

The answer is that Tartus is not seen as critical to Russia’s agenda, it is a low grade base to collect food, water and do repairs – a point very widely made in quality articles and analysis, including on this site.

The main things driving Putin are more complex, and also very well analysed and discussed out there.

Go on, read up on it. I and others here have posted some good sources you could start with.

By the way, you need to slow down in your skim reading – those articles you refer to were not written by Tlas or quoting him.

Time to lift your game and do some reading and thinking.

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July 9th, 2012, 5:17 pm

 

155. annie said:

Maysaloon on Tlass departure

…Tlass might be the least worst option, but this still isn’t good enough for a country that has given over fifteen thousand lives for its freedom, and tens of thousands of refugees and prisoners. I doubt that all these people died to replace an Alawite dictator with a Sunni one, but I’m confident about one thing, and that is that Syria’s freshly grown grass roots will now, and should remain, the final line of defence for the Syrian people’s liberties and fight against oppression.

http://www.maysaloon.org/2012/07/word-on-tlass-departure.html

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July 9th, 2012, 5:26 pm

 

156. omen said:

138. hi al. when are you going to denounce the zionist assad regime?

In 1976, the Syrian regime intervened militarily in Lebanon on the side of the Phalanges and Israel. The record is available (from Henry Kissinger’s memoirs to the memoirs of Israel leaders): Syria and Israel reached an understanding in Lebanon.

The understanding was that Syrian troops would enter Lebanon to defeat Israel’s enemies provided that the Syrian troops stay north of the Litani river.

The Syrian troops strictly adhered to the agreement all the way until their humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005. Never once did Syrian troops dare cross south of the Litani river no matter how brutal and savage Israeli attacks on South Lebanon were. The Syrian regime intervened to smash a promising revolutionary movement that would have changed the map of the Arab East.

also:

2:44:

Remember this: Since its founding, the party endorsed an open hostility to colonialism and advocated national self-determination.

stated ideals are nice but what matters more are actions. wonder how many snp members are going to be jailed for treason once free syria is established.

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July 9th, 2012, 5:34 pm

 

157. omen said:

138. hi al. when are you going to denounce the zionist assad regime?

In 1976, the Syrian regime intervened militarily in Lebanon on the side of the Phalanges and Israel. The record is available (from Henry Kissinger’s memoirs to the memoirs of Israel leaders): Syria and Israel reached an understanding in Lebanon.

The understanding was that Syrian troops would enter Lebanon to defeat Israel’s enemies provided that the Syrian troops stay north of the Litani river.

The Syrian troops strictly adhered to the agreement all the way until their humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005. Never once did Syrian troops dare cross south of the Litani river no matter how brutal and savage Israeli attacks on South Lebanon were. The Syrian regime intervened to smash a promising revolutionary movement that would have changed the map of the Arab East.

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July 9th, 2012, 5:39 pm

 

158. Tara said:

It appears that Hillary has indeed charmed Lavrov during St. Petersburg dinner.  Were Lavrov’s happy declarations after Geneva conference his way to save face?  Or … Is this Annan’s way to pressure KSA and Qatar not to arm the FSA?

Russia to suspend new arms to Syria: agencies
Reuters – Mon, 9th Jul 2012 03:02 PM

“While the situation in Syria is unstable, there will be no new deliveries of arms there,” Vyacheslav Dzirkaln told journalists at the Farnborough Airshow in Britain, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

The refusal to send more arms to Syria could signal the strongest move yet by Moscow to distance itself from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whom it has defended in the U.N. Security Council from harsher sanctions.
….

http://m.yahoo.com/w/legobpengine/news/russia-not-deliver-fighter-jets-syria-ria-120423448.html?orig_host_hdr=news.yahoo.com&.intl=US&.lang=en-US

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July 9th, 2012, 5:39 pm

 

159. omen said:

(2:44)

al: Remember this: Since its founding, the party endorsed an open hostility to colonialism and advocated national self-determination.

stated ideals are nice but what matters more are actions. wonder how many snp members are going to be jailed for treason once free syria is established.

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July 9th, 2012, 5:42 pm

 

160. zoo said:

Will this affect Syria? Not all Arab springs lead to Islam.
Election Results in Libya Break an Islamist Wave
Tomas Munita for The New York Times

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: July 8, 2012

TRIPOLI, Libya — A coalition led by a Western-educated political scientist appeared on Sunday to be beating its Islamist rivals in Libya’s first election after Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, breaking an Islamist wave that swept across neighboring Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/09/world/africa/libya-election-latest-results.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

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July 9th, 2012, 5:46 pm

 

161. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Omen 146,

It was a fighter jet. Clearly if wasn’t a training. A sane air-force will not conduct drills with live ammunition near to houses where people live.

Looks like they are being forced to use air power because (1) their tanks and armored vehicles are being torched one by one (2) their ground forces are overstretched and exhausted.
.

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July 9th, 2012, 5:51 pm

 

162. zoo said:

Hillary is the spokeswoma of the bankrupcy of USA foreign policies in the ME.

In Search of a Middle East Policy

by Elliott Abrams
July 8, 2012
http://blogs.cfr.org/abrams/2012/07/08/in-search-of-a-middle-east-policy/

….
In all three of these theaters, Obama administration policy is frozen solid: no new ideas, no initiatives, and no acknowledgment that what has been tried for three and a half years has failed.
….
Consider what Mrs. Clinton said at the international meeting on Syria just held in Paris.

What can every nation and group represented here do? I ask you to reach out to Russia and China, and to not only urge but demand that they get off the sidelines and begin to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people
….
That summation of America’s policy and our situation today is far grimmer than Mrs. Clinton appears to recognize. The situation is “no longer tolerable” but there is nothing we plan to do about it except to ask other, smaller, weaker nations to plead with Russia and China to be nicer. With such leadership , and such refusal to acknowledge the bankruptcy of current policies in the Middle East, we can expect a grim summer indeed.

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July 9th, 2012, 5:57 pm

 

163. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Halabi Tara,

This is just normal. Don’t blame ordinary people who try to keep some normalcy. Tel Aviv, during the harsh times, when suicide bomber used to explode in buses, cafe’s and shopping malls, never stopped partying. This is the best way to vent mental pressures.
.

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July 9th, 2012, 6:00 pm

 

164. zoo said:

Turkey’s influence on Syria fading away.

Syria and the AKP’s “learning curve”
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/syria-and-the-akps-learning-curve-.aspx?pageID=449&nID=25115&NewsCatID=416


It is becoming clearer, however, that Turkey is not going to be one of the leading global actors that shape the new Syria, but merely a relatively important regional player…
Put another way, the new Syria that emerges will not be one that is run exclusively by a Sunni-led Islamic Brotherhood-type regime, which is what the AKP obviously desires, but by a power-sharing arrangement which reflects the accords arrived at between the sides in the new East-West struggle.

That arrangement will also most likely preserve the Baathist secular nature of the administration, to protect Christian and other minorities. The West is overtly and Turkey covertly against Iran’s having a say in Syria, but it is likely that Tehran will not be entirely sidelined either in the long run, especially after having secured the support of Moscow and Beijing.

Even if the AKP’s foreign policy has demonstrated tangible solidarity with Sunni countries and groups in the Middle East, this new situation is nevertheless unlikely to please radical Sunni groups within Turkey and the Middle East.

A key message to come out of all this is that the Syrian crisis also represents a serious “learning curve” for the AKP government, given that the foreign policy it worked out on paper did not quite match the situation in the field.

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July 9th, 2012, 6:11 pm

 

165. Syrialover said:

Omen #141.

I think you are referring to the very interesting interview with a defector, Syrian oil ministry official Abdo Husameddin, which I posted a couple of days ago.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303684004577508982056619046.html?mod=WSJ_hp_us_mostpop_read

The fact is that if Syria is to succeed post-Assad, the big revolution and after-shock for the mass of civil servants in state insitutions will be about competency and systems – not political alliances.

Tunisia must be already organizing for battle on that front, Egypt and Libya need to start at some stage, and Greece is facing something similar.

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July 9th, 2012, 6:15 pm

 

166. Son of Damascus said:

Halabi,

Bruno said:
That video seems staged and whats with the wires on the guys hands? no mean seriously?

I do believe you owe Bruno an explanation, he seems to seriously mean it too!

The video was a laugh, the fact that your typical minhibaks don’t seem to understand Homsi comedy is just side splitting.

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July 9th, 2012, 6:16 pm

 

167. zoo said:

The anti-regime media tries to read ‘shifts’ in Russia support of Syria in big headlines: “Russia stops arms shipment to Syria until situation settles”.
In fact only new jets will be delayed… For the rest, business as usual
The Russia are “delighted’ that this announcement is getting so much press coverage as it shows that Russia is doing its share in implementing Annan peace plan by ‘pressuring’ Bashar Al Assad. Now the ball is in the other camp, Qatar and KSA, to show their good will in “pressuring” the armed rebels and stopping arms deliveries.

Russia Sends Message of Impatience to Syria’s Assad
By DALAL MAWAD and RICK GLADSTONE
Published: July 9, 2012

Vyachislav N. Davidenko, a spokesman for Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state arms exporter, clarified in a telephone interview that Russia still intended to service old military contracts with Syria, as it did recently with the maintenance of Russian helicopters used by the Syrian army. But the message about a delay in new weapons, most notably planned shipments of the Yak-130, a new type of military jet, was a substantive change.

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July 9th, 2012, 6:33 pm

 

168. Syrialover said:

Observer #136

Very good points and questions.

But I think some core factors are likely to disrupt all rational scenarios.

These are that Assad and his team are catastrophically poor decision makers, operate mainly with lies and deception, are deep in delusion, and will fight like crazy primitive beasts to continue their game.

Diplomacy and negotiations can’t have any impact on that, but Assad would be going through the motions as part of his game and delusions that he can manipulate the world, including buying time.

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July 9th, 2012, 6:38 pm

 

169. Tara said:

Amir 

The situations are not comparable.  I can’t tell you how much contempt I feel towards people who only care about satisfying their animalistic basic desires even at the expense of dead children.  Damascus should be in agony and solemn sorrow over the death of 15,000 souls not having pool parties and mocking those who were killed.

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July 9th, 2012, 6:43 pm

 

170. Aldendeshe said:

OMEN@
HEHEHHEHE, the losers can stick it up. They should have some dignity, but how undignified ones could muster that. Hitler, Stalin and the Devil could not think of the devastating evils that I can throw on my enemies. Well start work on the list, I already made the one SSS will have to get into Treason trials.

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July 9th, 2012, 6:47 pm

 

171. Aldendeshe said:

LOL & LOL Bashar Assad, you made Syria’s enemy unhinged, gone crazy, uncontrollably frustrated, at a loss, hopeless, let’s see the big catastrophic assault you bragging and threatning about, let get it done and over with. Losers.

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July 9th, 2012, 7:04 pm

 

172. Tara said:

“God destroy Mr Assad! God please arrest his sons! “. 

Running outside and pushing her way through the crowd to her son she pleaded with the captors; “I was begging them to stop beating him, I told them ‘he is disabled please hit me instead!’ I knelt down and kissed the legs of the commander.

“They threatened me; they told me they would burn him alive before my eyes if I didn’t leave.”
….
“God destroy Mr Assad! God please arrest his sons! They burnt my heart,” said Amina, her voice angry and tears streaming down her cheeks. Her relatives, two elderly women donning long colourfully embroidered local dress and who sat hunched at the bottom of a staircase stripping parsley from its stem, wept with her.
….
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9387667/Syria-portrait-of-a-town-divided-and-gripped-by-civil-war.html

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July 9th, 2012, 7:11 pm

 

173. Aldendeshe said:

112. Antoine said:
Aldendeshi,
FSA are ready to confront Assad best men militarily.

9 14
___________________________________________________________________

They are not Syrians!!!!! Either Jewish or Americans or both. All they do is brag, threaten, give altimatums and FIZZLE-POP-FART-FIZZLE. WHAT ARE YOU WAITNG FOR IF YOU READY. Assad is not buying your bluff, lets roll if you are ready. Maybe then we can in fact put and end to this slughter, negotiate a peaceful resolution, after he decimate you and the remnant go back to live in Herzalia camps like Lebanon Lahd Traitors.

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July 9th, 2012, 7:29 pm

 

174. zoo said:

Putin says Syrians should be “forced” to start dialogue
(DP-News – agencies)

http://www.dp-news.com/en/detail.aspx?articleid=125768
MOSCOW- Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the Syrian government and opposition groups should be “forced” to start a dialogue.

He spoke Monday, the same day a Syrian opposition leader, Michel Kilo, met with Russia’s foreign minister.

Putin said that the dialogue Russia is helping facilitate is “more complicated and fine” that an armed solution to the conflict.

Syria needs a “peaceful solution”, as Russian president Vladimir Putin said during a meeting with the Russian diplomats, underlining the urgency of a dialogue between the parts in conflict and the need to avoid a foreign intervention to restore a permanent peace in the country

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July 9th, 2012, 7:54 pm

 

175. omen said:

159. SYRIALOVER said: #141. think you are referring to the very interesting interview with a defector, Syrian oil ministry official Abdo Husameddin, which I posted a couple of days ago.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303684004577508982056619046.html?mod=WSJ_hp_us_mostpop_read

ah, yes, thank you, that was it.

the part i questioned:

Many state employees in Syria have turned against the regime but are staying in their jobs, he added, saying they are “defecting silently.”

“When the regime falls, we need these people,” he said. “We don’t want the state to collapse. In fact, they will be beneficial in the next phase.”

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July 9th, 2012, 7:58 pm

 

176. omen said:

167. ALDENDESHE said: They are not Syrians!!!!! Either Jewish or Americans or both. All they do is brag, threaten, give altimatums and FIZZLE-POP-FART-FIZZLE. WHAT ARE YOU WAITNG FOR IF YOU READY. Assad is not buying your bluff, lets roll if you are ready. Maybe then we can in fact put and end to this slughter, negotiate a peaceful resolution, after he decimate you and the remnant go back to live in Herzalia camps like Lebanon Lahd Traitors.

it’s this regime you keep defending who is guilty of being traitors:

In 1976, the Syrian regime intervened militarily in Lebanon on the side of the Phalanges and Israel. The record is available (from Henry Kissinger’s memoirs to the memoirs of Israel leaders): Syria and Israel reached an understanding in Lebanon.

The understanding was that Syrian troops would enter Lebanon to defeat Israel’s enemies provided that the Syrian troops stay north of the Litani river.

The Syrian troops strictly adhered to the agreement all the way until their humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005. Never once did Syrian troops dare cross south of the Litani river no matter how brutal and savage Israeli attacks on South Lebanon were. The Syrian regime intervened to smash a promising revolutionary movement that would have changed the map of the Arab East.

what might have been.

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July 9th, 2012, 8:25 pm

 

177. omen said:

167. al – read the above piece about hafez. that’s what a traitor looks like.

The Syrian regime intervened to smash a promising revolutionary movement that would have changed the map of the Arab East.

p.s. the link disappeared again.

here:

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/6148/hafez-al-assad-in-1976

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July 9th, 2012, 8:33 pm

 

178. omen said:

168. zoo

Syria needs a “peaceful solution”

has putin morphed into gandhi?

how absurd.

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July 9th, 2012, 8:40 pm

 

179. omen said:

166. TARA said:

“God destroy Mr Assad! God please arrest his sons! “.

Running outside and pushing her way through the crowd to her son she pleaded with the captors; “I was begging them to stop beating him, I told them ‘he is disabled please hit me instead!’ I knelt down and kissed the legs of the commander.

another disabled child forced to flee:

http://twitpic.com/9tx0zn

who could harm this boy?

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July 9th, 2012, 8:48 pm

 

180. omen said:

157. AMIR IN TEL AVIV said:

Halabi Tara,

This is just normal. Don’t blame ordinary people who try to keep some normalcy. Tel Aviv, during the harsh times, when suicide bomber used to explode in buses, cafe’s and shopping malls, never stopped partying. This is the best way to vent mental pressures.
.

amir, it is not the same. it’s just not.

i don’t believe for a minute that israelis in general would be partying in the street if the israeli government murdered their own people, including 500 or more children, many with their throats slashed.

external attack isn’t the same as a country slaughtering their own.

people drinking champagne are either corrupt sociopaths or heavily deluded and buy the regime line that the government is attacking “terrorists.”

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July 10th, 2012, 11:15 am

 

181. Antoine said:

167. Aldendeshe said:

“They are not Syrians!!!!! Either Jewish or Americans or both. All they do is brag, threaten, give altimatums and FIZZLE-POP-FART-FIZZLE. WHAT ARE YOU WAITNG FOR IF YOU READY. Assad is not buying your bluff, lets roll if you are ready. Maybe then we can in fact put and end to this slughter, negotiate a peaceful resolution, after he decimate you and the remnant go back to live in Herzalia camps like Lebanon Lahd Traitors.”

________________________________________________________________

I am glad to tell you that FSA and LCC grassroots opposition in places like Homs, Hama, Idleb, Reef Halab, Deirezzor, daraa, Reef Dimashq, share the exact same attitudes and vision with that of SNP ;

No compromise with any regime element , F.U to the international community and its efforts to shaoe the “Syrian crisis” to its own advantage, total disregard for any international opinion or solutions or any international ( Western , Russian or Arab) initiative and utter contempt for these interests, faith only in their own GUNS and their capability and skill in using those Guns, infact we still asking Assad to face us in a pure military confrontation testing only pure military skills and capabilities on indivudal basis.

Moreover neither FSA nor LCC have any intention to accept the tutelage or advice of any external actors, even today FSA spokesmen openly call Turkey and Saudi traitors and gutless when needed.

FSA makes situations, does not react to them.

Now better ask the SNP team leader to get in touch with FSA leaders in Homs, Idleb and Aleppo.

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July 10th, 2012, 12:59 pm

 

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