News Round Up (Sept. 10, 2012)

Update: The comment section of Syria Comment is now working again. best, JL

Much of Aleppo has been without water for two days now as a water main was blown up in fighting. People are frightened and panicking as they realize how easily essential amenities may stop. A car bomb exploded in Aleppo’s government-controled Malaab Baladi district on Sunday killing 27 and wounding over 60.

The Syrian magazine, The Economist, passed on the rumor that the government is preparing to automatically reduce salaries in the future to pay for security operations.

Menawhile in Iraq, the Sunni Vice President has been sentenced to death as a wave of deadly bomb blasts hits the country.

A Reporter In Syria Captured Shocking Pictures Of A Tank Blast
Tracey Shelton, GlobalPost| Sep. 7, 2012,

ALEPPO, Syria — Earlier this week, I was filming a feature on life on the Frontlines of Aleppo, Syria. I was camping out with the men of Noor Den al-Zenke battalion, who man a two-block stretch of back streets that now forms the final line between government troops and opposition forces.

Russians Say Unilateral Sanctions are Unacceptable

…Water supplies to residents in Aleppo were cut after a major water pipe was damaged during intense fighting between government forces and rebels.

Opposition activists say the pipeline was hit as Syrian forces shelled rebel targets, while Syrian officials accuse the rebels of sabotage.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says discussions with Russian leaders about Syria have not been productive.

The top U.S. diplomat was in Russia for a summit of Pacific Rim countries. She said her talks Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made little progress on how to deal with the Syrian rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad’s autocratic rule.

Clinton said if the differences persist, she is willing to work with “like-minded” states to support the Syrian opposition in its struggles.

Lavrov said unilateral U.S. sanctions against Syria appear more and more extra-territorial and have a direct impact on Russian business interests.  He said Moscow has made it clear that this approach is not acceptable.

The Economist’s Max Rodenbeck in the NYRB:

The stark estrangement between rulers and ruled struck me during a visit last winter to Douma, a largely Sunni Muslim suburb of Damascus. It is one of a ring of overgrown villages, divided from one another and from the old city center by empty spaces that have now revealed their utility as potential security cordons. Taken together these villages house most of the capital’s four million people. At the time Douma was just emerging from the trauma of a three-week government siege designed to flush out what state television insists on calling “terrorists.” The campaign worked, for a while: the then barely armed local self-defense groups loosely known as the Free Syrian Army briefly pulled out of Douma to spare it further punishment. (As has happened nearly everywhere the government then claimed victory; the rebels simply waited, then filtered back.)

As a proud group of local youths showed me holes blasted by tank fire as a show of force, a mosque donations box pilfered by soldiers, and a cemetery with many fresh graves and more gaping open, ready for urgent use, the thought kept nagging that I had seen this all before. It was when they pointed out that every one of Douma’s rooftop water tanks had been punctured by government gunfire that I realized what seemed familiar. The Israeli army had done the same thing during the first Palestinian intifada.

In fact, the entire catalog of collective punishments meted out in Douma suggested the handbook of an army of occupation: cutting power and phone links for days on end, enforcing curfews with snipers, forcing children at gunpoint to paint over graffiti, breaking down doors instead of knocking, administering public beatings, arresting male youths en masse, using masked informants to finger suspects.

Already in February, however, Syria’s revolution had taken far more disturbing turns than either the first, rock-throwing Palestinian intifada or even the second, far more violent one between 2000 and 2005. The gapinggraves in Douma’s cemetery, for example, had been dug in advance not merely because they were likely to be filled soon. Fallen martyrs needed to be buried in haste because Assad’s men held corpses as macabre hostages: only families who agreed to attest in writing that their kin had died at the hands of “terrorists” would be allowed to retrieve their bodies.

Already in February, government shelling had destroyed large parts of Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, rendering a quarter of its 1.2 million inhabitants homeless. The helling was smashing smaller towns to bits, too, such as Zabadani near the Lebanese border in the west, Idlib in the far north, and Deir Ezzor, far to the east in the valley of the Euphrates. The widespread assumption was that Bashar Assad meant to make examples of such places, just as his father had done with Hama. This, in fact, had been his government’s response to every new challenge since the start of the uprising: to commit an act of violence so extreme that its enemies would be cowed, and fence-sitters would think twice.

Heart-rending choices in Syrian war-zone hospital
By Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Sat September 8, 2012

Aleppo, Syria (CNN) — They are so used to seeing blood outside Dar alShifa hospital, the magnet of all suffering in Aleppo, that passersby simply walk over it, oblivious. When they mop out the building’s tiny reception area, the blood runs in small, dirty streams into the gutters. This is a hospital trying to get by day-to-day while lacking the most basic in supplies. It has itself been hit by shelling: two separate attacks have left its right side punctured with gaping holes in what was once the maternity ward.

One afternoon, a rush of the most frail and vulnerable come towards the exhausted doctors; children, some suffering from sheer terror. One is malnourished. They have cuts, bruises — but more often much worse. The government has, the doctors say, closed the main children’s hospital owing to a paperwork issue, so this is where they must come.

Mohamed is aged eight and was hit by shrapnel from regime shelling in his right leg. It shattered his femur. In Europe, surgery would mean he’s playing football again within months, but here a list of precarious challenges form. He remains quiet, brave, patient almost, as the doctors work out what to do.

The tough natural solution they hit on is a stark reminder of how desperate the task is of getting medical care to the wounded here in rebel-held territory. The government hospital has better equipment, and can probably save Mohamed’s leg. So, lifting him on the blankets they use as makeshift stretchers, they take him, bewildered and confused, into a nearby taxi to cross the front lines. His ordeal is far from over. It is perverse to know that only those who hurt him can also heal him…..

Jihadists join Aleppo fight, eye Islamic state, surgeon says
Sat, 8 Sep 2012,  Reuters
* French surgeon returns after 2 weeks in Aleppo hospital
* Says French fighters inspired by Toulouse gunman Merah
* Says Turkey flooding parts of border to stop refugees
By John Irish

PARIS, Sept 8 (Reuters) – Foreign Islamists intent on turning Syria into an autocratic theocracy have swollen the ranks of rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad and think they are waging a “holy war”, a French surgeon who treated fighters in Aleppo has said.

Jacques Beres, co-founder of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, returned from Syria on Friday evening after spending two weeks working clandestinely in a hospital in the besieged northern Syrian city.

In an interview with Reuters in his central Paris apartment on Saturday, the 71-year-old said that contrary to his previous visits to Homs and Idlib earlier this year about 60 percent of those he had treated this time had been rebel fighters and that at least half of them had been non-Syrian.

“It’s really something strange to see. They are directly saying that they aren’t interested in Bashar al-Assad’s fall, but are thinking about how to take power afterwards and set up an Islamic state with sharia law to become part of the world Emirate,” the doctor said.

The foreign jihadists included young Frenchmen who said they were inspired by Mohammed Merah, a self-styled Islamist militant from Toulouse, who killed seven people in March in the name of al-Qaeda.

Assad himself has consistently maintained that the 17-month-old insurgency against him is largely the work of people he refers to as “foreign-backed terrorists” and says his forces are acting to restore stability.

During his previous visits to Syria – in March and May – Beres said he had dismissed suggestions the rebels were dominated by Islamist fighters but he said he had now been forced to reassess the situation.

The doctor’s account corroborates other anecdotal evidence that the struggle against Assad appears to be drawing ever greater numbers of fellow Arabs and other Muslims, many driven by a sense of religious duty to perform jihad (holy war) and a readiness to suffer for Islam.

But while some are professional “jihadists”, veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya or Libya who bring combat and bomb-making skills with them that alarm the Western and Arab governments which have cheered the rebels on, many have little to offer Syrians but their goodwill and prayers.

Beres described treating dozens of such jihadists from other Arab countries, but also at least two young Frenchmen….

Showing his muddied surgical case, shoes and clothes, Beres said that Turkish forces had flooded the Reyhanli border area with water making it difficult for refugees to cross unnoticed.

“We were caught by the Turkish army. It took us 20 hours to cross the border and I was fined $500 for crossing the border illegally. They flooded the border completely so that they can hear who is crossing. Those they do catch they are sending back,” he said.

Turkey facing questions on Syria policy
Wash Post, By Karin Brulliard

ANTAKYA, Turkey — Turkey, a rising heavyweight in the Muslim world, has led the international campaign to oust the regime in next-door Syria. But as the fighting drags on, Turkey is complaining that the United States and others have left it abandoned on the front line of a conflict that is bleeding across its border…

“Ankara now realizes that it doesn’t have the power to ­rearrange — forget it in the region, but also not in Syria,” said Gokhan Bacik, director of the Middle East Strategic Research Center at Turkey’s Zirve University. “So Ankara desperately needs American support. But American support is not coming.”

When a U.S. delegation visited late last month, the Turks made the case they had made two weeks earlier to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a senior administration official said: They were overwhelmed with Syrians, and they wanted the United States and others to establish safe areas, protected by a no-fly zone, for them inside Syria. Their limit, the Turks warned, was 100,000 refugees.

Clinton, confronted with emotional Turkish pleas, said that a no-fly zone would require major outside military intervention and that the United States did not believe it would help, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations. But rather than dismiss Turkey’s concerns outright, Clinton called for further bilateral discussions and an “operation and command” structure for the two governments to coordinate their responses to the crisis….

Turkey backtracked on a recent statement that it would close its doors at 100,000 refugees. But Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is facing growing criticism at home, suggested regret last week over the open-door policy.

“There is an increasing sense in Turkey that, through making such a sacrifice and tackling an enormous issue all by itself, we are leading the international community to complacency and inaction,” he said at the United Nations.

The refugee crisis is swelling as Turkish headlines are dominated by deadly battles in the alpine southeast between security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged a separatist insurgency for 28 years. Turkish officials accuse Syria of arming the guerrillas and empowering a PKK offshoot in sections of northeastern Syria along the Turkish border. Last month, Turkish officials blamed the PKK for a bombing that killed nine civilians in the city of Gaziantep.

Turkey is particularly concerned that Syrian missiles could fall into the hands of the PKK, enabling it to attack the helicopters Turkey relies on to fight the insurgents, Bacik said.

Yet even as Turkey condemns Assad, frets about a growing power vacuum in Syria and pleads for international intervention, officials and analysts say the country has no appetite for deploying its military unilaterally to confront Assad or secure a refugee zone.

There is widespread public opposition in Turkey to military action, and analysts say Turkey is wary of jeopardizing its popularity in a region where the legacy of Ottoman rule remains fresh. The Turkish military is ill-prepared for what could be a prolonged, Iraq-style sectarian war, said Henri Barkey, a Turkey expert at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania….

Unspoken Israeli-Saudi alliance targets Iran
Asia Times

The unspoken alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia remains in full force as popular Arab revolts against tyranny transform the region. Heavily invested in the old status quo, Israel and Saudi Arabia (and its GCC partners) are marshaling efforts to lead a counterrevolution to co-opt fledgling democracies in countries such as Egypt that are seeing previously suppressed demands for freedom, accountability, dignity and independence shape a new politics.

Yet the interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia diverge greatly over events in Syria. On the surface, they should equally relish the possibility of Iran’s most important ally crumbling. But only Saudi Arabia, a principal supporter of the political and violent militant factions making up the Syrian opposition, appears determined to destroy the Baathist regime.

Israel stands to lose a great deal in the event that Syria’s Baathist regime falls. The regime has largely ignored Israel’s occupation of its Golan Heights and the thousands of Israeli settlers who inhabit Syrian territory. This has allowed Israel to devote its military resources to other theaters. A post-Baathist order in Syria that sees the rise of an Islamist-oriented regime or the country plunged into years of internecine strife might witness an attempt to recapture the territory based on the model of armed resistance employed by Hezbollah against Israeli forces in southern Lebanon.

In spite of their differences over Syria, however, the course of regional events involving Iran and other matters provide fertile ground for continued strategic cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In Syria, peaceful protesters struggle amid Damascus shellings
Wash Post

the true believers hold out hope of toppling the regime through marches, sit-ins, strikes and campaigns such as boycotting cellphone companies suspected of financing the crackdown. They also aspire to win new support: At the brief Midhat Basha demonstration, participants paired anti-Assad slogans with chants of “Merchants of Damascus, may God protect you,” in an attempt to sway business owners who generally support the regime…

Nadia, an activist, said she abandoned demonstrations when the regime began shelling Damascus, triggering a cycle of violence that she says has extinguished her enthusiasm for a rebel victory.

“I will cry when the regime falls,” she said. “By then, it would not be worth all of the deaths for the sake of toppling it.”

She said she has shifted her focus to more low-profile nonviolent activities, such as helping displaced civilians who have taken shelter in schools.

“The regime believes only in the security solution,” said Abdulrazak, 22, a Damascus-based activist who has also lost faith in the nonviolent route. “If the revolution had continued peacefully, the regime would have annihilated it by now.”…

“We are peaceful, but we support the FSA,” Obaida said. “The FSA is only defending people from the regime’s attacks.”.

Game changer: How the discovery of huge gasfields could change the dynamics of Levantine economies

EU ministers explore fresh help to Syria opposition
Khaleej Times – 08 September, 2012

EU foreign ministers gather in Cyprus some 100 kilometres from the Syrian coast Friday to explore how to best assist its opposition while defusing a humanitarian crisis looming in Europe’s backyard.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has put Syria top of the agenda for two days of informal talks starting around 0930 GMT, the first meeting of EU foreign ministers since the summer break.

The talks, which will also address deepening worry over Iran’s nuclear programme, come amid increasing concern over mounting violence between the opposition and President Bashar Al Assad’s regime that last month alone sent a record 100,000 people fleeing across the borders.

Turkey, which along with Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon is hosting tens of thousands of refugees, has suggested creating protected safe havens inside Syria for civilians seeking to escape the violence.

But the idea fell on deaf ears at the UN Security Council last week amid concern even among Western governments over the implications of such a controversial military operation.

France is expected instead to urge its partners at Friday’s talks in the classy Cypriot resort of Paphos to find ways to help funnel medicines, cash and other resources to civilians trapped in rebel-held areas.

France and Britain too are agreed on the need to speed up the transition from Assad’s regime in Syria to a new government, French President Francois Hollande said Thursday after talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

‘We must accelerate the political transition (and) help the opposition to form a government,’ said Hollande…

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blew up at the US ambassador last month because he was “at wits’ end” over what he sees as the Obama administration’s lack of clarity on Iran’s nuclear programme, a…

The Arab Spring is dead — and Syria is writing its obituary
A Syrian rebel covers a fellow fighter carrying the body of his brother, killed during a battle in the Saif al-Dawla district of Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, amid heavy street fighting between opposition and government forces on August 29, 2012.
By Richard Engel , NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent

ISTANBUL — I called an old friend the other day, dialing the number somewhat sheepishly. He’s a senior adviser to the Iraq government and I knew what to expect when he answered.

First, he reprimanded me for not calling enough and hardly visiting. I’ve been away too long. You can’t do that, not to your friends. What’s so difficult about calling? he asked.

I apologized, asked about his children, his health, if he’s having success in quitting smoking, and offered the only excuse I could think of: “I’ve been busy with the Arab Spring.”

“The Arab Spring?” he said. “What’s that? There’s no Arab Spring anymore. That’s over. It is now a big struggle for power.”

He may have been acting like an insistent grandmother, but he was right. The Arab Spring is over. The days of the protesters with laptops and BlackBerrys in Tahrir Square are long gone.

Instead, a much bigger struggle is underway, one that goes back centuries that is both a regional battle for dominance and an epic tug of war between Sunnis and Shiites for control of the Middle East and the Prophet Muhammad’s legacy.

The front line is now in Syria, where the United Nations says more than 20,000 people have been killed since pro-democracy protests started in March 2011.

But it goes back, at least in very modern history, at least to Iraq — and America shares a large part of the responsibility for reopening this Pandora’s Box.

Roots in Iraq

A major factor in the rise of the present struggle came when American troops invaded Iraq in 2003, thus pitting Sunnis against their rival Shiites, who many Sunnis think are effectively infidels who turned against Islamic leaders about 1,400 years ago and have been on the wrong side of Allah’s path since then.

For decades, Saddam and his Sunni minority had imposed their will on Iraq, carrying on a 14-century tradition of Sunnis controlling Mesopotamia despite a Shiite majority. Not surprisingly, in most Sunni regions there has little appetite for free U.S.-sponsored elections. They knew they would end up being ruled by their enemies.

And that’s what happened. Essentially, the lasting legacy of America’s involvement in Iraq is an Iranian-allied Shiite government that also happens to be one of the most corrupt on the planet

Comments (83)

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. Tara said:

Syrians refugees in Turkey were asked to move north because Antakya’s Alawis do not like them.  With all the hatred demonstrated by the vast majority of Alawis, no matter where they are, against the sunnis, can the Sunnis forget and forgive?  As I watched the Alawi wedding in Hatay cheering Batta, the children killer, I feel nauseated.   The hatred is settling in, and forgiveness is unattainable with hatred.
In policy shift, Turkey moving Syrian refugees inland or to camps

Turkish officials say the new measures are part of an effort to regain control of the country’s turnstile borders, while calming hostilities in a region of Turkey where many residents do not support the Syrian rebels and instead side with Assad.

In recent weeks, there have been marches in Antakya in support of Assad and against the rebels, whom some here brand as terrorists. Until 1938, the surrounding Hatay province was part of Syria. Some opposition politicians have called for the Turkish government to expel all the Syrian refugees.

The tensions have arisen because Assad and the Syrian government elite are members of the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, as are many people here in Hatay province.

“We’re not forcing anyone out,” said a senior Turkish government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “But we have to take into account the local tensions.”

“We’re not talking about a few Syrians,” the official said. “We’re talking about tens of thousands of Syrians.”

Read more..

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September 10th, 2012, 9:20 pm


52. jna said:

37. Uzair8 said: …
Syrian tweeps expose psychopathic shabih @syriancommando as M****** S****.

Your link leads to this message…”This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy prohibiting content designed to harass, bully or threaten. Sorry about that.”

Let’s cut out the harrassing crap on Syria Comment.

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September 10th, 2012, 9:23 pm


53. Uzair8 said:

52. jna

I edited his name. It’s on twitter. Check Weiss, Amjad of Arabia or the 47th.

No need to harrass. The media will be chasing the story. It’s a significant story as an arch-online-propagandist has been identified.

How must the bullies and cheer leaders of the slaughter be feeling now? Running to youtube to get the video removed?

Justice is coming. The most powerful weapon the Syrian people have is the prayer of the oppressed.

I’ll leave it with Prof Landis. If he deems it unfit and removes it, so be it. No name was mentioned on SC.

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September 10th, 2012, 9:38 pm


54. Observer said:

So I went on Press TV and Al Manar and Al Mayadeen and RT and Syrian TV and Cham press.
I see reports based on Syrian TV repeated of great success by regime forces but no real corroboration of actual events on the ground.
I note an offensive with car bombs which indicates to me a new infusion of jihadists or veterans of the Iraq war.
I am not sure of what Turkey is doing in covert or overt action. All I can say is that the north of the country is now free of regime forces and that coincided with the Turkish army effectively preventing helicopters from coming close to the border.
I also see that the rebels are being forced by the tasks at hand to unify and that may be due to either weakness or success I am not sure.

Iran would like to add two more countries to the four meeting in Cairo. It is interesting that the previous efforts of the Iranian and Russian regimes to have meeting and conferences about Syria all resulted in no real resolution or change,
It is interesting to see that Russia wants the Geneva accords presented to the SC for adoption and this is a way to counter the General Assembly resolutions on Syria.

It is clear that the Russians are in guarded retreat and that the statement by Bogdanof about the fact that no Russian advisors are in Syria any longer is puzzling. Does that mean that they cannot secure their security or is that due to the upcoming possible intervention by outside forces?

I also see a hardening of the postions and actions of the rebels where the summary executions are now common on both sides. This is clearly the degeneration of the two opponents into militas and the fact that the regime has heavy weapons and no troops and the rebels have troops and no counter heavy weapons.

I see that the conflict has now retreated on both sides from taking moral positions with the rebels now in focus to destroy the regime and all of its supporters without mercy and the regime determined to pain the picture of the rebels as pure terrorist criminals.

I also find the arguments on both sides getting more unhinged as we see the pro regime report on the plight of Christians and follow that by report on the great conspiracy against Islam and the desire to create a sectarian divide according to Iranian commentators. These are not mutually exclusive but the narrative is always distracting from the fact that the regime has failed the people and that brutality and oppression are the hallmark of the regime and that poor economic policies led to the explosion and that the response to demand for reform were met with utter disregard and contempt and torture and massive repression.

Well the chicken have come home to roost. It is clear that the regime cannot prevail and the swelling of the ranks of the opposition is going to increase.
There is no more money and Iranian currency has plummeted and there is a limit to what they can do.

Already Lebanon is showing signs of independence from Syrian politics and we can expect new changes there.

Even with the news round up I still am not sure of what is happening on the ground.

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September 10th, 2012, 9:38 pm


55. Uzair8 said:

#54 Observer said:

‘…the regime has heavy weapons and no troops and the rebels have troops and no counter heavy weapons.’

The France 24 debate I posted earlier. One guest said something about Russia training Syrian fighters near the coast.

Maybe the regime is using heavy weaponry to give time for the training of fresh fighters?

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September 10th, 2012, 9:48 pm


56. Uzair8 said:

Ok. The tweets I posted earlier. I was buzzing at the news at the time. Once I calm down a bit I may have second thoughts. I’m not sure about posting them now.

It’s upto Prof Landis. It’s his call.

Right now if I could I’d delete them. Let someone else post them.

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September 10th, 2012, 9:51 pm


57. Tara said:


” Running to youtube to get the video removed?”

I am not following. Was their any video about him? Any idea how his identity was exposed?

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September 10th, 2012, 9:52 pm


58. Uzair8 said:

57. Tara

I saw the Michael Weiss tweet on Yalla Souriya. It seems some clever twitter users managed to discover his identity.

Amjad of Arabia, Weiss and the 47th were talking about it on twitter.

Someone made a video of some of his outrageous online comments (tweets) and showed some footage of him. Shortly afterwards the video was removed.

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September 10th, 2012, 9:59 pm


59. Tara said:

Dear Uzair,

Reading your second thoughts @ 56, I am sure you agree that smart Twitter users might not be that smart and an innocent person might get implicated.

Additionally, people should not be persecuted because of their opinion. They should be only held responsible for their actions. Nevertheless, I must say, there are some people this blog, I wish I’d never meet and their path never cross mine..

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September 10th, 2012, 10:13 pm


60. Ghufran said:

أظهر إستطلاع لمركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية بالجامعة الاردنية للرأي، نشرت نتائجه الإثنين أن 45% من الأردنيين فقط يرون أن ما يجري في سورية هو “ثورة” ضد نظام الرئيس بشار الاسد، مقابل 41% مقتنعون بأن ما يجري هو “مؤامرة خارجية”.
ورأى 57% من المستطلعين أن “المعارضة السورية مرتبطة بالدول الاجنبية”، فيما أكد تقريباً جميع من استطلعت آراؤهم وهم نحو 2500 شخص “الرفض الواضح للتدخل العسكري الخارجي لحل الأزمة السورية”.
وكشف الإستطلاع أن نحو 65% من الأردنيين يرفضون إستمرار إستقبال اللاجئين السوريين، الذين قارب عددهم 200 ألف، فيما يعتقد 80% منهم أنه “من الأفضل وجود اللاجئين السوريين في مخيمات منفصلة”.
for non Arabic speakers: 45% of Jordanians believe that the uprising isca revolution aginst the regime of Bashar while 41% believe that it is a foreign conspiracy.
57% believed that the opposition is connected to foreign nations, almost all participants refused foreign intervention.
65% did not approve of the continuous influx of refugees while 80% want those refugees to be kept in separate camps.

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September 10th, 2012, 10:36 pm


61. Ghufran said:

This is the new civil accord the FSA promised to keep and some of you hailed it as an achievement. All of the executed soldiers were hand tied :

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September 10th, 2012, 10:48 pm


62. Halabi said:

Darayya, Houla, Azzaz, Latamneh, Aleppo and every village and town that doesn’t worship Assad.

What human rights doctrine does the Assad’s army follow? Why is it that only the rebels are condemned, and when regime forces strike, then the those who oppose Assad are blamed for opposing Assad?

When the state abdicates its responsibility to uphold the law, when it doesn’t investigate a single crime for more than a year and a half, other than the crimes of protesting or operating a hospital, people will mete out justice as they see fit, a dynamic that is rarely just.

The FSA has a code that its leadership has agreed on and that is in line with the goals of the revolution. Executing prisoners violates all norms and it should be condemned and those guilty should be punished. Maybe someday we will have a government that will do that, as it stands now or if Assad remains that will never, ever happen.

But those who justify rape as a weapon, who blame the slaughter of dozens of civilians in Azzaz with fighter jets on men who don’t own planes, don’t have the standing to condemn an entire movement because soldiers were executed.

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September 10th, 2012, 11:09 pm


63. Halabi said:

Not all Alawis are with the regime. I’ve said this many times. I have Alawi friends who oppose the regime just as much as any rational, intelligent, non-sectarian, moral human does.

TIME: Dissent Among the Alawites: Syria’s Ruling Sect Does Not Speak with One Voice

“Sect members are increasingly breaking rank, as defections swell along with mounting uneasiness about the government’s crackdown against what started as a peaceful protest movement.

Captain Umar in Syria is a rebel fighter and an Alawite, and he considers Assad a “butcher.” The officer no longer believes the regime’s propaganda and says he abandoned his unit after the government began shelling civilian neighborhoods in his hometown. But Umar says it is Assad who is injecting the conflict with a sectarian hue. “Bashar is telling us the Sunnis will slaughter us,” he says via Skype from Syria. “He is scaring Alawis and pushing them to the edge. This is why the army is killing the people in the street. They are scared the Sunnis will massacre us.”

Umar says that it was the military’s daily shelling of civilian areas that pushed him to defect. “I just couldn’t see Syrians dying anymore.” He refuses to reveal how many Alawite officers have defected, but he does say the “number is significant.”

Others with ties to the security forces have also turned their back on the Alawite leadership. Luban Mrai’s father is a senior leader in the paramilitary organization known as the shabiha that targets civilians. She recently left the country after experiencing “serious moral and ethical dilemmas” stemming from the targeting of civilians. Today she resides in Istanbul, trying to mobilize support for the rebels. “The regime is using our religion for political ends,” she explains in a phone conversation. “Alawis are killing Syrians for no reason. This is wrong.”

Read more:

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September 10th, 2012, 11:21 pm


64. Atheist Syrian Salafist Against Dictatorships said:

#60 Ghufran is back to his bad old ways; in fact and judging by comments in the previous post and in this one, never reformed.


As to the results of the survey, Jordan matters only as far as it “hosts” (kicking and screaming) Syrian refugees that sorely need help, but they are doing so and expecting to be compensated: I heard The BBC reporting (also RT that the Jord. govt. raised its request for compensation to the UN to $700 million.

But as to whether the Jordanians think ours is a revolution or a conspiracy…well frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

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September 10th, 2012, 11:22 pm


65. Visitor said:

I usually like what Ghassan writes.

And I find this article to be one of his best so far,

Full of realism and in terms of predictions, I would say the most succinct.

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September 10th, 2012, 11:38 pm


66. Darryl said:

59. TARA said:

“Nevertheless, I must say, there are some people this blog, I wish I’d never meet and their path never cross mine.”

I assume Tara that, some of those people would be the Visitor from hell whom you had a crash landing with?

You see Tara, people like that, when they look at your beautiful orange tree and only see that Allah said to it be and it was.

They do not see the beauty in its deep green color, the aroma when you ruffle a leave in you palm to release the citrus oil, the heavenly scent from its blossom, the beauty of the orange color against the backdrop of those glossy leaves. Furthermore, they say there is better fruit in the gardens provided by Allah, no need to appreciate the quenching taste of the orange fruit. Just Allah said Be and it was.

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September 10th, 2012, 11:38 pm


67. Halabi said:

What does Bashar wish for on his birthday? How many children will the sectarian shabi7a massacre for their master today? How much disgusting propaganda will his evil minions flood our minds with today?

I hope he spends his next birthday in hell with his terrorist father, and terrorist brother, and the terrorist Bin Laden and all the terrorists who have killed for him.

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September 10th, 2012, 11:44 pm


68. Ghufran said:

My simple message to those who refuse to realize that their today’s enemies are human and those who insist that the party they support is a group of heros and saints: you are wrong, the days when the world ,and above all most Syrians , believe the myth that this war is one of David VS Goliath are long gone. The brutality of the regime and the corruption of its heads is the old story that most of us accepted and believed, the new story that many of you refuse to hear is who is being groomed to replace Assad and his old thugs. Syrians did not die to replace one dictatorship with another,and many Syrians will not give their neck to the new Talibans. A choice between Assad and the Syrian Talibans is not a choice,it is a death sentence for the nation,either choice will make the innocent victims of violence die twice.

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September 11th, 2012, 12:02 am


69. Uzair8 said:

59. Tara

Yes I agree. I posted the tweet instinctively. I didn’t think. And I don’t think I linked to the video. That was a different tweet (which JNA referred to).

I don’t wish anybody any harm. Particularly the individual under discussion. He’s just a propagandist. Be it a very good one.

Exposed? Yes. He has brought it on himself.

It’s just a pity he has used his obvious talent, charm and intelligence in the service of this monstrous regime.

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September 11th, 2012, 12:18 am


70. Hamoudeh al-Halabi said:

Unified Brigades and Battalions in Aleppo province

ISW Report on the FSA in Aleppo

ANN (#33), have you no heart at all? How can you claim those monsters of Assad beating that poor boy are the FSA? I posted that video ( ) and after the outrageous accusations you made last time ( ) I had a feeling it would happen again. So I initially anticipated this and added some comments to the video just in case, but removed them afterwards because it would have been improper to add any words to this in speculation of what the response might be. Yet you justified expecting the worst before and are now doing it again.

There is no mention of “Shabbih” at all, nor anything else that could possibly indicate this to be the FSA, directly or indirectly. On the contrary, it has Shabbiha written all over it from start to finish. The abuse of innocents that you see, this behaviour, this attitude, it is typical of Shabbiha instead. You’re posting about a “terrorist cameraman”, and it’s no secret what happened with “terrorist doctors”, “terrorist uploaders”, terrorist facebook posters”, “terrorist phone callers”, “terrorist babies”, “terrorist elderly”, “terrorist living room sitters”, “terrorist bakery line standers”, “terrorist street walkers”, “terrorist animals” even and all those other “terrorists”, yet you want people to believe that it is any different for this poor boy?

Even the look and appearance is typical. That eunuch in the tight black uniform with his Kermit coloured baton is one of the most stereotypical “security” types caught on camera. How can you possible claim that’s the FSA? Look at how he stands, walks and hits even. These types actually believe they look tough that way, most Syrians here probably know what it looks like when one of those types are showing the gun they have on them.

Tell us ANN, are these from the FSA as well?

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September 11th, 2012, 12:45 am


72. Juergen said:

Those who do not move, do not feel their shackles!
Rosa Luxemburg
(1870 – 1919)

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September 11th, 2012, 1:03 am


73. Halabi said:

GCC media in Aleppo. Thanks to the rebels we finally have journalists showing us what’s happening.

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September 11th, 2012, 1:16 am


74. Juergen said:

Robert Fisk: ‘No one likes violence…But people know there is no going back. If they return home, they will die one by one’
The Long View

The Syrian general opened an envelope and upended its contents on his desk.

Out spilled his army’s messages to the people of Damascus and Hama and Aleppo and Homs and Deraa. “We have a special department with analysts who write these,” he told us. “We give every chance to the people.” And so the generals do, if you trust these little flyers, rectangular sheets of paper – some illustrated with smiling children, others with grim faced gunmen — dropped by helicopter over the streets of Syria. The general smiled at us. “Do you see how much trouble we take?” I had heard before of these little strips of paper – how they had cascaded down on the Palestinian Yarmouk camp in Damascus and on Homs and Aleppo – but I had never seen them, least of all in such profusion. Each was signed ‘the Administration of the Security Forces.”

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September 11th, 2012, 1:24 am


75. Juergen said:

By the way, today is the birthday of Bashar al Wahash, anyone who celebrate that?

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September 11th, 2012, 1:26 am


76. Darryl said:

“75. JUERGEN said:

By the way, today is the birthday of Bashar al Wahash, anyone who celebrate that?”

It is obvious, you are the only one who cares.

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September 11th, 2012, 1:33 am


77. Halabi said:

تتهافت وسائل الإعلام الغربية في البحث عن اللحى الطويلة بين صفوف الجيش الحر في شوارع حلب. فمقولة قيادة «الجهاديين» غير السوريين للمعارك ضد النظام يتردد صداها بقوة في الأوساط السياسية الغربية، وخاصة المراكز التي تتلقى تقاريرها من مصادر كنسية موالية للنظام أو القيادات الروحية للأقليات الطائفية.

بالنسبة للجيش الحر، فإن حديث الإعلام عن هذه القضية يضعها في خانة «الصحافة الصفراء»، ذلك أن القرار الرئيسي هو في يد الثوار المنشقين عن الجيش. ويتعامل قادة الجيش الحر مع بعض الإسلاميين المتناثرين هنا وهناك كجنود عاديين، يصدرون أوامرهم إليهم كما لو كان هؤلاء جنوداً في الجيش الحر.

«القرار ليس بيدنا»

ويقول مقاتل ليبي في «جبهة النصرة»: إن قرار الحرب هو في يد الجيش الحر. «فهذه المعركة هي للسوريين.. ولا نستطيع أن نملي عليهم ما يفعلونه..حتى تكتيكات وخطط الحرب لا نضعها نحن بل نتلقى الأوامر عبر أجهزة اللاسلكي».

وبحسب أحد قادة الجيش الحر، فإن الأمور ستبقى تحت السيطرة تماماً طالما أن خطوط الإمداد الطويلة والشاسعة هي تحت إشراف كتائب وألوية الجيش الحر. ويقول: «الأمر بسيط.. نحن نستفيد من خبرتهم القتالية وقدرتهم على صنع العبوات الناسفة والقنابل محلية الصنع..

وطالما أنهم ملتزمون بالقتال بدون فرض أجندتهم فإن المسألة لا تستحق القلق.. لا نسطيع أن نقول لهم عودوا إلى دياركم.. قطعوا مسافات طويلة وتحملوا الكثير من المخاطر للوصول إلينا، لكننا لا نمنع أحدهم من مغادرة الجبهة».

تردد الغرب

ويعرض أبوحمزة دراسة أعدها أحد المحللين التابعين للتنظيم يرى فيها أن الحالة السورية «كانت وما زالت تصطدم بمصالح القوى العظمى وهذا ما يجعل نجاح الثورة السورية على حساب مصالح الغرب، بعكس النجاحات السابقة للثورات العربية والتي استطاع الغرب التعايش معها والالتفاف عليها بدرجات مختلفة، وهذا التصادم سيوجبه احتضان الشعب السوري لفكرة الجهاد والعمل من خلالها»، على حد زعمه.

ويستند هذا الرهان أساساً إلى فرضية ثبات الغرب على موقفه في النأي بنفسه عن دعم الثورة السورية أو المساهمة في تحقيق تحول نوعي فيها. فالجهاديون هم أسعد الناس بـ«تآمر» الغرب على الثورة السورية، ويعزز هذا الاعتقاد أيضاً أن السوريين بدأوا يدركون أن المصالح الغربية لا تتلاقى مع مطلب إسقاط النظام، وعادت تلك اللهجة الصدامية ضد «الغرب» كما كان سائداً قبل اندلاع الثورة.

صوت الحر

ومن الحوادث التي أظهرت ضعف المجموعات الإسلامية في سوريا وقوة الجيش الحر هو مقتل أمير مجلس شورى المجاهدين في سوريا أبومحمد العبسي على يد كتائب الفاروق في الثالث من سبتمبر الجاري. وأصدر مجلس شورى المجاهدين بياناً نعى فيها أميرها ودعت إلى عدم الانتقام «في الوقت الحالي» ومتابعة «الجهاد».

ويتشارك كل من مجلس الشورى وكتائب الفاروق في السيطرة على معبر باب الهوى الحدودي مع تركيا في إدلب، ورغم أن أياً من المجموعتين لم تعلنا عن سبب هذا الصدام فإن مصادر في الجيش الحر ذكرت لـ«البيان» أن «شورى المجاهدين» صادرت شحنتي سلاح كانت قادمة للجيش الحر بحجة أنها متوجهة إلى «العلمانيين» وكان لا بد من المحاسبة لأنه «لا صوت يعلو على صوت الجيش الحر».

ويقول القيادي الميداني في الجيش الحر عبدالله الأحمد: إن المزاج السوري لا يناسب فكر «القاعدة» أو ما شابهه، لأن «القاعدة» لا يعني فقط الإقدام في القتال، بل هو منهج لن يحتمل غالبية السوريين على التعايش معه في حياتهم اليومية.

ويضيف: «جذر المشكلة هو تردد الغرب في دعمنا.. ومقاتلو الجيش الحر يبحثون عمن يزودهم بالسلاح والذخيرة بغض النظر عن توجهات الجهة التي تأتي منها المساعدات، لذلك فإن وزن أي جماعة في الوقت الحالي ليس مؤشراً إلى نفوذها الحقيقي».

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September 11th, 2012, 1:42 am


78. Atheist Syrian Salafist Against Dictatorships said:

# 68 Mr/Ms/Dr/Prefoessor Ghufran

Will you kindly stop lecturing us and answer the question that I and many others have put to you before: What do you want the Syrian people to do? What is your suggested plan of action out of this madness? If you truly believe that the the regime is a dictatorship run by a bunch of thugs (your words above) then you surely have to admit that they never ever acted in good faith and never ever wished for the Annan plan to succeed and never extended a single minute act towards that end.

What do you want the people who have had enough of this present criminal and thuggish dictatorship to do, given its response to their peaceful efforts? where is GHIATH MATAR? Do I need to bore you with the lists of names of people that never lifted so much as a stick and who were arrested, tortured and killed and are still getting the same treatment today? Let’s say we tell the extremist jihadis to bugger off out of Syria. Does that mean all religious and sectarian sentiments will immediately go out the window and we’re left with pure political and economic considerations? I HATE, I ABHOR religion, but I can’t force all Syrians to become atheists like me, nor do I expect them to. I want the the uprising to be totally about rights, devoid of all religious links and affiliations, but as Maysaloon wrote, the regime WANTS it, FORCED it to become sectarian and extremist because that’s the only way it can fight it by rallying the fears of Alawis and other minorities, who btw will in a flash become the recipients of its violence if they speak out against it or stand in its way.
حمص بستان الديوان كنيسة السيدة واثار القصف علي الكنيسة

This blog is an excellent place to discuss ways to solve the problem, OUR PROBLEM but we have to agree on what the problem is first. Yes, the jihadists are a problem, but before that, was there no problem?

Ghufran, you and I are not the only ones here sickened by the violence, the loss of life and wanton destruction of a whole country. So let’s all use this place to find common ground, not to sow further divisions and find points of divergence. AGAIN WE MUST AGREE ON WHAT THE PROBLEM IS and take it from there.

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September 11th, 2012, 2:25 am


79. erin said:

Muslim don’t want people to critisize their retard religion but the allow the killing of non muslims all over the world.
it is the problem with Islam and Muslims not the others.
from Christians, hindus, jews, mandarin, african religions etc..
everywhere there is Islam there is turmoil with other, isn’t time for Islam to understand that the world doesn’t want to be all Muslims and people care less about Islam and it is stone age teaching.

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September 12th, 2012, 12:18 pm


81. Johannes de Silentio said:

79 Erin

Islam is not a “retard” religion. Far from it.

Much of what is happening right now is less religion than revolution co-opting religion. Maybe it doesn’t make the events you’re watching on the telly any more palatable, but it’s wrong-headed and stupid to blame religion for revolution.

Just remember this. Both sides, regime-supporters and oppositionists, pray to God to punish their enemies. The question is, who does God listen to?

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September 12th, 2012, 2:01 pm


82. Roland said:

The Americans invaded Iraq in 2003. The sectarian struggle didn’t start until late in 2005.

The invading forces actually promoted the sectarian conflict in order to divide-and-rule (standard imperial method). It took several years for the invaders’ efforts to bring about the desired level of internecine chaos.

Every society in the world has divisions, whether of race, religion, language, or class. Iraqi society was suprisingly robust, considering that between wars and sanctions that society had been under heavy strain for over 20 years. I can’t think of any people in the world who would not also have fallen into violent strife under such circumstances, e.g. put Canadians under siege for a couple of decades, and see how many would get killed in such a supposedly polite country!

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September 13th, 2012, 1:50 pm


83. Ghufran said:

I am not good at giving lectures,atheist,you probably should accept my posts as a display of opinions instead of a lecture. The regime is at the core of Syria’s problems, but now we have three problems: the regime thugs, the armed thugs and the GCC thugs, it is a triple cripple. I have denounced Assad and his thugs from day one but I am not ready to declare the rebels as Syria’s saviors, only a pleural secular government can keep Syria in one piece and preserve civil order,that requires a regime change but not the uprooting of every government worker or army -security officer in the name of ” cleaning” the country, a similar process led by the US in Iraq led to a national disaster that Iraq is still suffering from 9 years after Iraq’s invasion. Like it or not, destroying the Syrian army and arming the rebels will make a political solution impossible,the rebels strategy is leading to a civil war and the destruction of the state,this is why well to do Allepines are opposed to the rebels and some even took arms to fight them. We all accepted the fact that freedom comes with a price, but I do not see how the destruction of Syrian cities will bring freedom, saying that the destruction is the sole responsibility of the regime can only fool people who do not know much about Syria, the rebels by attacking regime forces and using violence have made it easier for the regime to use excessive force and fire power, it does make a difference if people see this as a civil war versus an assault of one evil force,the regime, on unarmed freedom-seeking population, what the rebels did is convert the uprising to a military conflict with an obvious sectarian tilt, the result is losing political support and the moral argument,that loss is irreversible.

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September 16th, 2012, 3:32 pm


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