Nuri al-Maliki’s Strategy toward Syria and Syrian Kurds

Kurdistan Region’s President Massoud Barzani and Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki

An Iraq intelligence specialist, who cannot use his name, wrote to disagree with my analysis of  “Assad’s Kurdish Strategy,” published two days ago. He writes:


I was reading your post on Syrian Kurdistan and noted that you judged that the regional Shia will probably support Syrian Kurdish aspirations.  I think this will not be the case for the Iraqi Shia parties.  Maliki and his allies are locked in a struggle with Barzani and will be very wary of any development that would improve Barzani’s leverage.  They undoubtedly already see the risk that Barzani and the KDP could, at some point, extend the KRG (de facto) into Syrian Kurdistan (or at least extend its influence).  They are already finding it extremely difficult to contain the KRG and keep it within the bounds of a Baghdad-dominated constitutional framework; if Barzani and the KRG were able to jump Iraq’s borders and become part of a broader regional Kurdish alliance, it would be a disaster for the Malikiyoun.  So Baghdad is going to have to walk a very fine line where Syria’s Kurds are concerned:  they can’t denounce Bashar’s strategy of giving the PYD control of Kurdish areas, but neither can they countenance an autonomous, free-floating Syrian Kurdistan that could someday join up with Barzanistan…

My response:

You have presented a compelling argument for why Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, is likely to oppose Assad’s strategy of promoting the PKK (the Syrian Communist Party) as the dominant power in the predominantly Kurdish parts of Eastern Syria. But let me explain the thinking that ultimately persuaded me to conclude that Maliki will go along with Assad’s strategy in the Jazeera, even if doing so causes him to finger through his worry-beads with greater anxiety.

Massoud Barzani, the current President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, has come out against the PKK taking power in Syria. Barzani said last month that he was helping to arm and train fighters from the Kurdish National Council (KNC), which is the PKK’s rival. One must note that the PKK has renamed itself the PYD in Syria. Thus, Barzani has come out squarely on the side of the Kurdish coalition in Syria that sides with the Turks, Americans and Free Syrian Army. He has decided that the PKK is trouble. I presume Barzani is doing this in part because he must maintain good relations with Turkey, his major guarantor against Maliki as well as his major economic partner. He is also correctly leery of the PKK, who are a bunch of hot-head nationalist extremists and who are defined as terrorists by most of his allies. (Turkey blames them for the deaths of 40,000 in Turkey over the last 30 years.) Barzani certainly does not want Kurdish foreign policy being made by the thuggish PKK. Having his own state to worry about, Barzani can no longer afford to be the nationalist militia leader he once was. He cannot gamble away his own state in order to promote Kurdish independence in Syria or even Greater Kurdistan. He will go soft on independence for Syrian Kurdistan in order to promote the interests of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The PKK as Poison Chalise

You are absolutely right about Maliki’s caution when it comes to the possibility of a greater Kurdistan. He does not want it. But, as you underline, he is trying to contain Barzani, behind whom are the Turks. If he can hurt Barzani by forcing him to link up with the PKK, he will ruin Barzani’s delicate understanding with the Turks. Should the PKK come out the winner in Eastern Syria, rather than the more moderate KNC, Barzani will be forced into a very difficult and embarrassing position. He will have to chose between his fellow Kurds in Syria, led by the PKK , and Turkey. For this reason, I suspect that Prime Minister Maliki will devilishly refuse to stand in the way of the PKK in Syrian Kurdistan in order to scuttle Iraqi Kurdistan’s pro-Turkish gambit and saddle Barzani with a “terrorist” partner.

Perhaps, I am being too Machiavellian, but what choice does Maliki have? He must go along with his fellow Shiites in Syria and Iran in their goal to spoil Sunni Arab chances of consolidating their rule in Syria. The best way to do this is to prop up Assad as a key player in Syria, even as he loses control of national government, and to promote minorities, such as the Kurds. This will keep Syria destabilized. Maliki must balance his fear of Kurds against his fear of Sunni Arabs.

In Maliki’s domestic power-struggles, the Kurds are his main competitor today. But in his larger regional struggle, the Sunnis are his nemesis in the longer-run — that is, if they can ever get their act together and emerge from the Arab Spring as unified and productive nations. Were I Maliki, I would promote the PKK in Syria as a poison chalice for Barzani. Even if the Kurds negotiate this crisis successfully to emerge as a larger nation, will a larger Kurdistan stand as a greater threat than the Sunni Arabs? I doubt it. Why? Iraq has already lost Kurdistan. (of course there is the complicating factor of Kirkuk) Kurdistan is land-locked and must depend on its neighbors for trade, transport, overflight permission and so much more. Maliki will always be able to contain Kurdistan because of its dependency on Iraq. He can manage its potential dangers. Afterall, who likes the Kurds among Iraq’s neighbors? Not Iran, not Turkey, not Syrian Arabs, and not Saudi Arabia. Only Israel and the US defend Kurdish interests, largely because the Kurds can be used to counter Arab states and Iran when needed. Turkey has emerged as Kurdistan’s protector of sorts, but that is contingent on Kurdistan keeping its expansionist ambitions in check.

Sunni Arabs are Nuri al-Maliki’s Long-term Danger

The Sunnis are the long-term danger for Iraq’s Prime Minister. Sunni Arab Nationalism is the BIG threat. Saudi Arabia has the money and America on its side, which enables it to fund the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, potentially empower a future Sunni Syria to counter-balance Shiite Iraq, squeeze Iraq diplomatically and perhaps economically (Should the US ever decide to sanction Iraq due to its alliance with Iran and sanction busting financial transactions with the nasty Persians). The recrudescence of al-Qaida in Iraq, Salafist bombings in Baghdad, and general revanchist Sunni agitation is preventing Maliki from bringing stability and security to Iraq more than the Kurds are. They are not giving up. A consolidated Sunni Syria will breathe new life  into Iraq’s angry Sunnis. They have not come to terms with the notion of a Shiite dominated Iraq. For this reason, Maliki may choose to stoke the flames of Kurdish expansionism in order to douse Sunni expansionism? Keeping the Syrians off balance will help neutralize Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the real neighborhood bullies from Maliki’s perspective. What is more, the chances of the Kurds actually pulling off Greater Kurdistan must look very small compared to the chances that the Sunni Arabs, backed by the US and Israel, will launch a major counter-offensive against the feared “Shiite Crescent”. They are looking to destabilize Iran, overturn Shiite authority in Damascus, roll back Shiite power in Baghdad, and ding Hizbullah’s writ in Lebanon.

You write that “Baghdad is going to have to walk a very fine line where Syria’s Kurds are concerned:  they can’t denounce Bashar’s strategy of giving the PYD control of Kurdish areas, but neither can they countenance an autonomous, free-floating Syrian Kurdistan that could someday join up with Barzanistan…”

This is very well stated. We agree that Maliki faces a dilemma in Syria in balancing Kurds against Sunni Arabs. His balance-of-power calculations will require a delicate dance in which he will likely be compelled to do-si-do his partners, sometimes leaning toward the Kurds and at others toward the Sunni Arabs in order to advance Baghdad’s interests and keep both of his adversaries from growing stronger.


Global Insights: Interests Aligned, Iraq’s Maliki Sticks By Syria
By: Richard Weitz | World Politics Review

Amid Syria’s widespread civil disorder, ongoing since March 2011, the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has pressed on with its policy of rapprochement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime….

Turkish Leaders Appeal for Unity After Deadly Car Bomb
By: Daren Butler | Reuters

Turkey’s leaders called for unity on Wednesday following a car bomb attack which heightened fears that Kurdish militants are exploiting chaos in neighboring Syria and stepping up their decades-old insurgency.

Syria’s Sectarian Echoes in Turkey
By Giorgio Cafiero, August 22, 2012

Not all Turks support their government’s position on Syria. Many Alawite Turks have expressed solidarity with the Assad regime, as have Turkish Alevis (who belong to another often-persecuted sub-sect of Shiite Islam). These Turks highlight an important lesson about the Middle East. In a region with deep sectarian divisions, national unity sometimes proves weaker than transnational religious, ethnic, and linguistic ties….

Turkish public opinion about Syria’s turmoil is most divided in Hatay province, situated on the Mediterranean coast along the Syrian border. Most of the half-million Arab Alawites living in Turkey reside in Hatay, where Alawites and Sunnis live in equal number alongside a sizeable Christian minority.

Since the violence erupted in Syria, a number of Alawite-led pro-Assad demonstrations have erupted in Hatay, while Sunni groups elsewhere in the province have aided and abetted the Free Syrian Army. In March 2012, NPR’s Istanbul-based foreign correspondent, Peter Kenyon, reported that “a large demonstration featured the classic pro-Assad chant: ‘Allah, Syria, Bashar, that’s all.’” According to Al Jazeera, many in Turkey’s Alawite community believe “President Bashar al-Assad is trying to hold a tolerant, pluralist Syria together, and many of them are concerned about how minorities are being treated by the Syrian rebels.” ….

By contrast, religious minorities in Turkey have not received similar protection from their government. During the Turkish Republic’s early years, many Alevis supported Kemal Atatürk because secularism was a key pillar of his ideology. As non-Sunnis, they believed that they could only fare well under a secular political system. However, throughout the last nine decades, Alevi Turks have been persistently marginalized, persecuted, and discriminated against. Right-wing Turkish forces, along with vigilantes and police, committed massacres against Alevi communities in 1978, 1993, and 1995. Moreover, cemevis (Alevi gathering places) are not granted legal status as a place of worship. Even today, numerous NGOs, including the Association for Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples and the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, have documented “mysterious marks drawn by individuals on dozens of homes belonging to members of Turkey’s Alevi minority in … Adiyaman.”

Prime Minister Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) is not popular within Alevi circles, and the crisis in Syria has not facilitated an improvement in relations between Turkey’s ruling party and the country’s largest religious minority. Selahattin Ozel, the chairman of the federation of Alevi associations in Turkey, told The Wall Street Journal, “As Turkish Alevis, we do not support an anti-democratic, an anti-humanist regime [in Syria], but we cannot understand why the [Turkish] prime minister so suddenly became an enemy of the Syrian administration.” The Alevis have remained overwhelming supportive of the AKP’s main opposition, the Kemalist-oriented Republican People’s Party (CHP), and many in the community fear that Erdogan is attempting to create a Sunni Islamist state in Turkey….

As Soner Cagaptay reports, “Should Ankara intervene in Syria against the ‘Alawite’ al-Assad regime and militarily support the ‘Sunni’ uprising, some in the Turkish Alevi community might be inclined to view this as a ‘Sunni attack’ against ‘fellow Alevis.’” Ali Yilmaz Cecim, a Turkish Alevi with a negative view of his government’s relationship with the armed Syrian opposition, echoed this view. “They [the Turkish Sunnis] are taking sides with foreigners against fellow Turkish citizens,” he told the Independent. “We know that many of these Syrians coming in have extremist views, that is why they are fighting their government, despite what they say. The people who want to bring them in are doing so because they will help to push their own extremist religious views here, they want to build up numbers.”

The Future of Turkey’s Religious Minorities

According to the Financial Times, “Reports of the black flag of al-Qaeda flying in parts of Syria, along with the kidnap of two western journalists near the Turkish border by an Islamist gang which seems to have included many foreigners, have led to fears that Syria is becoming a magnet for global jihadis.” Earlier this month, Alex Marquardt of ABC reported on Al Qaeda’s growing influence in Syria and stated that “foreign fighters, mostly religious fundamentalists, [are] streaming in – taking up the fight. They want Assad to go and Syria to become an Islamic state.” Unfortunately, the radicalization and internationalization of Syria’s armed opposition only exacerbate the fears of Turkey’s minority communities that Assad’s ouster could undermine their security.

Some Islamist members of Syria’s armed opposition have brought their anti-Alawite prejudices with them into the refugee camps in southern Turkey, thus exacerbating Turkey’s sectarian tensions. Mehmed Aziz, a 28-year-old Syrian refugee at a camp in Ceylanpinar, Turkey — which receives hundreds of refugees on a daily basis — threatened that any Alawites arriving at the camp will be murdered. On August 4, an Alawite family in Surgu was targeted by a Sunni mob at the beginning of Ramadan, which Alawites do not observe. The mob threw stones at the family’s house and chanted “Death to Alawites. We’re going to burn you all down.” The angry mob only dispersed after police officers announced that the Alawite family was moving, which the targeted family never told the police.

Although Bashar Al-Assad’s regime has carried out grave atrocities against his own people and provided many Syrians with reasons to support the armed opposition, Turkey’s Alawite and Alevi communities across the border have legitimate concerns about the regime’s demise….

Comments (190)

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151. zoo said:

Turkish press to Erdogan:
Stop fooling the Turks, “this is no longer a secret, although Turkey continues to officially deny it: The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is headquartered at a Reyhanlı camp, provided by Turkey.”

Irrespective of how much we bury our heads in the sand like ostriches, we fool only ourselves: Turkey’s foreign policy is a shambles, and stinks very badly.
What started as a “zero problems with neighbors” strategy has become a “no friends in the neighborhood” strategy. Such has been the outstanding success of the academic foreign minister since he was elevated from “chief advisor” to his cabinet position.

This is no longer a secret, although Turkey continues to officially deny it: The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is headquartered at a Reyhanlı camp, provided by Turkey.
The Turkish government wants Turks to act like ostriches, turn their heads in some other direction and not read the reports in the Turkish and international media, including statements from the Syrian former officers and generals who are now heading the Syrian rebel army that they are thankful for the assistance Turkey has been providing them with.
They are being trained at the Reyhanlı rebel headquarters by Turkish officers. The camp is under tight security; even foreign diplomats have no access. Somehow, rebel Syrian commanders are giving media interviews in the nearby town of Reyhanlı, however, and revealing all the details that the Turkish government has been trying to hide from Turks.

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August 23rd, 2012, 5:32 pm


152. amal said:

Where’s my whipping boy khalid tlass?!

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August 23rd, 2012, 5:33 pm


153. Tara said:


Are you Ann on a rampage? Or her significant other?

Don’t you think the best divine intervention is for literate Shabeeha men to be with literate shabeeha women? A match created in heaven, I think. Justice would be so served..

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August 23rd, 2012, 5:33 pm


154. zoo said:

BURAK BEKDİL: my translation of the song, targeting a purely Turkish audience:
Imagine (by John Lennon). Its original was used during the London Olympics

Imagine there is heaven
Where good Muslims enjoy 72 heavenly virgins everyday and wine flows through rivers
It’s easy if you try
Beware of the hell below us where drunks, infidels and Jews will taste the most punishing flames
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for jihad

Imagine there’s only one country
boasting the Crescent and Star
It isn’t hard to do
To kill the infidel or die for jihad
And no religion too
other than Islam
Imagine all the people living life in peace after having converted to Islam

You, you may say I am a jihadist
But I am not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

After this translation the presenter may lecture the Turkish audience about great musicians nonetheless like Lennon. To impress, I suggest that the presenter should mention some of the world’s most renowned musicians who were not born Muslim but converted to Islam at some point in their live; like Hector Berlioz, Georges Bizet, Marilyn Manson, Charlie Parker, Sergei Prokofiev, Maurice Ravel, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Dmitri Shostakovich, Giuseppe Verdi and Frank Zappa.

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August 23rd, 2012, 5:45 pm


155. VISITOR said:

153 TARA,

Even though she may have exhibited a remarkable resemblance to Spam Ann, but I personally think she is an affiliate of the Hizb Zbala of Hassan Zbala.

You could easily identify the obvious zbalish nature of her endless rubbish.

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August 23rd, 2012, 5:49 pm


156. Uzair8 said:

146. AMAL

Are you by any chance HASSAN?

Edit: LOL. I think Visitor beat me to it.

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August 23rd, 2012, 5:55 pm


157. Uzair8 said:

‘We are the Brigade of 1980’

I love this piece of FSA graffiti welcoming the regime forces, as mentioned in Robert Fisks article I read earlier today. It refers to the earlier MB uprising.

I loved it. Great name for a forum ‘Brigade of 1980’.
Must be a terrifying welcome for regime thugs conjuring up ghosts of yesteryear.

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August 23rd, 2012, 6:03 pm


158. Syrian Natonalist Party said:

قصة تحصل الآن في حي “التضامن” بدمشق تكشف عن مدى غباء الجيش العربي السوري وبلاهته: المسلحون عادوا مع النازحين ودمروا البلدية والبريد!؟الأخبار/أخباروتقاريرأخرى/tabid/94/Article/8102/Default.aspx

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August 23rd, 2012, 6:16 pm


159. Aldendeshe said:

اللأبغاء من الجيش العربي السوري هو الجيش العربي الاسلامي ولكن حتى من ذلك هناك ابغى وهو الجيش الشيعي الاسلامي ياويل اهل الشرق الاسط العرب والمسلمين ولكن فهم مصدر البغأ اولأ

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August 23rd, 2012, 6:23 pm


160. SANDRO LOEWE said:


Take your medecine and go to sleep. Or Amal and Hezb Zbala just take drugs before sleeping ?

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August 23rd, 2012, 6:46 pm


161. Syrialover said:

116. SANDRO LOEWE said: “I would sacrifice myself just for being able who is hiding behind nicknames like ANN, BRONCO, ZOO, and all the rest of the criminal’s defense.”

I think you’ll find them sitting in their parents’ basements, knee deep in junk food wrappers and Red Bull cans, having given up on college or a job hunt.

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August 23rd, 2012, 6:57 pm


162. Tara said:

The US and its hollow meaningless rhetoric..Obama does not care if Bashar uses the chemical weapon against his people.  He only care that the chemical weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.  How come Hillary missed a travel opportunity?    

US military and intelligence officials met their Turkish counterparts in Ankara on Thursday to discuss ways to counter the threat of Syrian chemical weapons, as the impact of the civil war continued to spread across Syria’s borders.

The American delegation to the Ankara meeting was led by Elizabeth Jones, a high-ranking diplomat, most recently involved in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Turkish government did not name its representatives at the meeting, which was closed to the press, but they included senior security officials. Diplomats said the joint military and intelligence planning session was intended to reassure Turkey that the US would help prevent the conflict spilling across the border and destabilising its Nato ally.

The US has hitherto turned down Turkish appeals to help set up a safe haven inside Syria for regime opponents or to establish humanitarian corridors to besieged population centres, but in agreeing to hold the meeting 12 days ago, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, did not rule out such options if the violence continued to escalate.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Pentagon had contingency plans to protect or destroy chemical weapons stockpiles if they were left unguarded or in danger of falling into the hands of the armed opposition, or extremist groups linked to al-Qaida or Hezbollah.

The paper, quoting unnamed officials, says “securing the sites would probably involve stealthy raids by special operations teams trained to handle such weapons, and precision air strikes to incinerate the chemicals without dispersing them in the air”.

“US satellites and drone aircraft already maintain partial surveillance of the sites,” it adds.

An assessment by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London said Syria had manufactured mustard gas, a blistering agent, and a nerve gas called sarin. The report said Damascus was also alleged to have develop a more powerful and lingering nerve agent known as VX.

“I don’t think Assad will use them,” Dina Esfandiary, an IISS security analyst, said. “He is well aware it would be the end of his rule. What drives urgency, and what frightens bordering states, is the risk they will fall into the hands of non-state actors who would not be as deterrable as Assad.”

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August 23rd, 2012, 7:00 pm


163. Darryl said:

“153. TARA said:


Are you Ann on a rampage? Or her significant other?

Don’t you think the best divine intervention is for literate Shabeeha men to be with literate shabeeha women? A match created in heaven, I think. Justice would be so served..”

Well Tara, the uprising has been on for 1.5 years and only resulted in the death of many of us Syrians. Last week, B. Assad has challenged an authentic Hadeeth that stood unchallenged for 1400 years and woulkd make the faithful shake in their socks, which states a Muslim will be turned into a donkey if he turns his head around during prayers.

Allah, the best of Deceivers, perhaps deceived the Muslims in the video as B Assad and his entourage still looked humans to the faithful but perhaps he was yelping “Shaaa Shaaa Shaaa” all the way to Asmaa’s kitchen as you put it.

Uzair8 can you tweet Sheikh Yacoubi to see if he can shed some light here?

Kofi Annan could not help stopping the violence, Brahimi will most likely fail, should we try a new approach?

I am wondering why don’t we invited the president, Baath party and FSA to a Mubahila? Perhaps we may have divine intervention at last to solve the crisis. What do you think?

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August 23rd, 2012, 7:00 pm


164. SANDRO LOEWE said:

AMAL is not a girl, AMAL is a lebanese shabbiha sympatizer of AMMAL Movement from Tripoli, he writes e-mails between shooting and shooting. It reminds me of FAWWAZ AL ASSAD.

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August 23rd, 2012, 7:04 pm


165. Tara said:


Hay..We are living in the 21st century and you are still dabbling with perceived fear from medieval time? I had to look up the Mubahila thing..

But seriously, just imagine the most unrefined vulgar shabeeh living with his matched girl shabeeha and the couple exchange intimate expressions of love in their tashbeeh vulgar style. Wouldn’t that be a divine justice? Me and my wild imagination…I can easily paint a mental image linking some shabeehas together and the mere idea of a shabeeha-style romantic love letter makes me unable to stop smiling. Justice would have been sooo served.

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August 23rd, 2012, 7:42 pm


166. Son of Damascus said:

Amnesty International on Aleppo and what they witnessed there.

It is very sad to see what has become of Syria’s largest city.

As of tonight Damascus is enduring another onslaught from the Assad forces, gunships, tanks, and artillery are attacking it.

I read a sign in one of the protests that happen daily across Syria that read:
“أقدم عاصمه في التاريخ تضرب من أقذر نظام في التارخ”
(The oldest capital in history is being attacked by the filthiest regime in history)

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August 23rd, 2012, 7:46 pm


167. zoo said:


“I don’t think Assad will use them,” Dina Esfandiary, an IISS security analyst, said. “He is well aware it would be the end of his rule.

I thought it was the “end of his regime” anyway, or the USA has second thoughts?

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August 23rd, 2012, 7:53 pm


168. Tara said:

Flashy news from the Telegraph.  The Turks and the Americans are meeting “to plan a mechanism to hasten the end of” Batta.  Said who?   Said the author, reflecting his own perception of the meeting?

Syria: US and Turkey meet to hasten Bashar al-Assad’s end
Turkish and US officials have begun their first “operational planning” meeting aimed at bringing about the demise of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime, as heavy fighting continued in Damascus and Aleppo.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced their plans for such a mechanism to hasten the end of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime on August 11.

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August 23rd, 2012, 7:53 pm


169. SYR.EXPAT said:

133. GHUFRAN said:

Smaha’s case has direct implications on Syria.
ذكرت مصادر لبنانية مطلعة أن عملية الدفاع عن النائب والوزير السابق ميشيل سماحة سوف تكون صعبة نظراً للاعترافات التي أقر بها إثر “انهياره السريع” في التحقيق الذي أجري معه في فرع الملعومات اللبناني. واشارت المصادر أن انهيار ميشال سماحة اضعف الدفاع عنه تحت ضغط نفسي و برعب الاعتقال انهار بعد عشر دقائق من توقيفه وقال كل شيء امام فرع المعلومات الذي قام بالتصوير و التسجيل و يقول محامو الدفاع ان لديهم نقطة قوة هي ان فيلم التصوير يمكن القول ان فرع المعلومات قد ركبه و انتجه لحين حضور الشاهد و العميل ميلاد كفوري لان لاقيمة لشريط التصوير دون حضور الشاهد.
It is believable that the regime may want to export its problem to Lebanon but to use Smaha to smuggle bombs is hard to understand,there are hundred of thugs who will gladly do the job for a fraction of the oost, this case will expose thugs in both countries not just Syria.


Once it is established that Samaha was in the process of committing terrorism on behalf of Assad, questions about why using Samaha become irrelevant. Actually, there many good reasons for using Samaha. Just browse the Internet.

One other piece in this case is that someone in Lebanon seems to have given an order to let Samah in through al-Masna’ broder crossing without his car being searched. So there might be more to the story than just Samaha and the Syrian regime.

Here’s a news conference about this issue by Ja’ja’ (I am not a fan of him) for an anti-Syrian Lebanese perspective.

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August 23rd, 2012, 7:55 pm


170. Tara said:


Exactly! They are not having a second thought..they were just pretending..Disney-style showing of benevolence. The US wants Batta to stay but just can’t admit it.

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August 23rd, 2012, 8:00 pm


171. Tara said:

• Two 19-year-old students of Syrian descent from west London are reported to have joined a rebel unit in al-Rab, just outside Aleppo, after telling their parents they were going on holiday.

The Guardian

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August 23rd, 2012, 8:13 pm


172. Ghufran said:

Smaha’s case has the potential to get bigger,much bigger, unless competing factions choose to hide it under the rug due to “lack of evidence” (for a price), until there is a shift in the balance in power in the region, no conviction is likely in that case because Smaha is not the only thug in Lebanon, assuming that he is guilty, friends will make sure that those who want a conviction are given an idea of how expensive that conviction will be, this is the Middle East where matters of justice and guilt are relative, people with connection will always find a way out,however, if Smaha’s camp gets weaker, voices to convict Smaha will get louder, a lot of noise is created by the absence of the “king witness” in that case, Smaha also changed his testimony and said that he was tortured,I think that was after he was allowed to meet with his lawyer.
On a different subject, Morsi of Egypt, and the next Morsi in Syria, is now finding out what it means to be president in a poor middle east country:
Political changes will do very little to overcome the economic and demographic challenges that face middle eastern nations,Morsi’s biggest enemy will be fighting corruption and creating jobs,add water shortage and drout to the list and you will appreciate why the Middle East is not likely to see stability any time soon.
The press produced a similar piece on S. Africa where the end of apartheid did very little to end poverty and improve the quality of life of millions of south Africans.
Political reform is a small piece of the big picture,but that reform has to be pursued because without it,unrest and violence will only get worse.

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August 23rd, 2012, 8:28 pm


173. Darryl said:

“165. TARA said:


Hay..We are living in the 21st century and you are still dabbling with perceived fear from medieval time? I had to look up the Mubahila thing..”

Careful Tara, you may attract another reprimand from Visitor as he once thundered “You are treading on dangerous ground here”. I think Mubahalas may play a big role in serving justice in new Syria.

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August 23rd, 2012, 8:31 pm


174. zoo said:


Obama has two of the most “powerful women in the world” around him, he should get advices at least from one of them when she is not globetrotting or flirting with Lavrov or Davutoglu. Women always know better.

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August 23rd, 2012, 8:35 pm


175. Visitor said:

168 TARA,

I believe that you’re misreading the Telegraph article and we may have also misinterpreted Obama’s statement about Chemicals.

Here’s my 2 cents at this point in time.

The US is serious about some Turkish steps to be implemented in Northern Syria. It (the US) does not want to be directly involved but wants to provide the necessary backing for a NATO member in order to address its security and National concerns. Turkey has been making some noise for quite sometime about the limits of its patience. The US understandably may want to address those concerns and at the same time preserve NATO solidarity.

The purpose of this upcoming meeting is to make sure that Turkey will abide by agreed upon measures (i.e. operational coordination) with the US and other NATO countries. I am revising my interpretation of Mr. Obama’s threat regarding Chemicals as follows. The threat made by Obama and Europeans is meant to send the message to idiot prethident that in case Turkey makes any incursions into the North, then the possible use of such weapons against Turkey means direct NATO intervention with all hell set loose. Similar threats were made against Saddam by President Bush before he went to Iraq. Bush threatened the use of nukes against Saddam if he miscalculated.

I would not rule out the possibility that NFZ’s are in the works and could see the light in the not too distant future. The countries that may participate would be Turkey, France, Britain, Qatar and possibly KSA and Jordan. Turkey may also send troops to NE Syria.


It looks like we may have one of your Syrian Products lurking around in the background searching for a hunt.

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August 23rd, 2012, 9:11 pm


176. Tara said:


Your analysis is plausible.  Time will tell.  Here is another idiotic statement from the French:
“We won’t intervene without a UN mandate”.  They know the Russians will veto a UN mandate so why does the French defense chief ventures to say that France would consider a partial no-fly zone at the sane time when he essentially rules it out due to “lack of legal norms”

France says air exclusion zone in Syria possible
(AFP) – 1 hour ago
PARIS — France indicated that it would consider supporting a partial no-fly zone over Syria, turning the screws on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as fighting rages in Damascus and second city Aleppo.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian however warned that shutting all of Syria’s air space would mean “going to war” and would require a willing international coalition that has not yet materialized.

The French defence chief also stressed that France would not get involved without a UN mandate.
“We would only be able to intervene in Syria… if there are international legal norms,” he said. “Without international legal norms, we can’t do anything.”

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August 23rd, 2012, 9:28 pm


177. ghufran said:

الجزائر (CNN) —
ضمت عدة منظمات حقوقية وإنسانية بالجزائر صوتها إلى عائلة رمز الحركة الوطنية، الأمير عبد القادر الجزائري، في مناشدة الرئيس عبد العزيز بوتفليقة، التدخل لدى السلطات السورية من أجل إنقاذ حياة أحد أحفاد الأمير، وهو محمد خلدون الجزائري الحسني، من الإعدام، بعد صدور حكم بحقه من محكمة عسكرية سورية قبل شهرين.
what are the charges against the guy?

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August 23rd, 2012, 9:51 pm


178. ghufran said:

This is from aljazeera comment section:
waleed belal – australia
حلب لم تشهد حراكا او اي فعاليه يمكن ان نطلق عليه مسمى ثورة. مجموعه من المقاتلين يسمون نفسهم جيش حر، يتلقون دعم مادي واعلامي من الغرب ودول الخليج معظمهم قرويين وبدو لم يكملوا تعليمهم وفهمهم للجهاد منقوص وسطحي. اما اهل حلب لم يخرجوا بنصف مظاهرة. والجزيره بعدما كانت تخاطب النخبه اصبحت تخاطب العوام. هؤلاء ليسوا بثوار وهذه ليست بثوره احترمي عقول مشاهديك يا جزيره
opposition sources are yet to produce any evidence that the rebels in Aleppo are home-grown.

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August 23rd, 2012, 9:59 pm


179. Ghufran said:

لقد ثبت لنا نحن في المجلس الأعلى لقيادة الثورة قيام مجموعات من أبناء الطائفة الأرمنية بالوقوف إلى جانب النظام السوري عسكرياً بمواجهة الثوار وأبطال الجيش الحر في بعض مناطق محافظة اللاذقية وحلب. نخصُ من تلك المناطق منطقة كسب بريف اللاذقية وذلك من خلال نصبهم للحواجز العسكرية المسلحة في الطرق العامة لمنطقة كسب لصالح العصابات الأسدية وإيوائهم للشبيحة في منازلهم إضافةً للسماح للعصابات الأسدية باستخدام منازلهم كمستودعات للأسلحة و أيضا مشاركتهم في عمليات التشبيح في منطقة الجديدة بحلب.
بناءً على ذلك كله فإن المجلس الأعلى لقيادة الثورة السورية يحذر تلك العناصر من تبعات هذه الممارسات الخطيرة وهذا الإصطفاف العسكري خلف جيش النظام وذلك لتنفيذ أجندة رموز النظام بإقحام الأقليات في هذه المعركة لصالحه ولصالح مخططاته في إشعال الفتنة الطائفية وتمزيق البلاد.
وإننا نهيب بالمرجعيات الدينية للطائفة الأرمنية أن تبادر لفضح هذه العناصر وفضح من يقف خلفها والتبرؤ من هذه الأفعال ومن صانعيها إفشالاً لأجندة النظام وحفاظاً على العقد الاجتماعي للشعب السوري”.

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August 23rd, 2012, 10:18 pm


180. Aldendeshe said:


You are taking this fake bedouin/Turkmen sponsored opposition too seriously. They are in it for the money they get from Bedouins, crimes against humanity and theft in Syria. The goal is to help the Jews destroy Syria, that is all to it. That is why they not only failed to get the Syrians attention, but they will never get to any goal other than helping Mossad kill Syrian scientists and helping the Jews destroy Syrian museums, just as they did in Iraq, out of jealousy, nothing more. Jews could not present the world with ONE UNO single evidence or artifact of their fraudulent past kingdoms and if they could, they would wipe out every artifact of others in the Middle East so they can claim their fraud as real one according to the Babylonian Torah. That is really is all about, bottom line.

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August 24th, 2012, 12:33 am


181. ann said:

France preparing for no-fly zone in Syria? – 24 August, 2012

Paris said it is considering helping to enact a partial no-fly zone over Syria, proposed earlier by the US, the move adds yet more pressure on Damascus as the fiery rhetoric increases.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian signaled that the possibility of establishing a no-fly zone in the area, between the Turkish border and the flashpoint city of Aleppo, should be considered.

“The idea of a no-fly zone over a particular part of Syria, as suggested by Hillary Clinton, should be examined,” he said in an interview with France24.

Le Drian stressed that the Syrian crisis would never be resolved unless President Bashar Assad steps down.

Noting that the Syrian opposition is “is not yet entirely solidified”, the Defense Minister reasserted France’s support of anti-government forces.

“We are increasing our efforts to support a robust Syrian opposition that is capable of taking the reins of the country, and, above all, of respecting all Syrian communities,” he said.

He however, pointed out that France would not enter into a war without a UN mandate.

The statement comes after the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, indicated earlier this month that a no-fly zone was an option in resolving the ongoing crisis.

Meanwhile, Russia continues to oppose any military action against Syria and calls for a peaceful solution and further dialogue

On Thursday, Moscow said it was working closely with Damascus to ensure that its arsenal of chemical weapons remains under firm control and has won promises that the weapons of mass destruction will not be used or relocated, AP reports, citing Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.

Last week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that military action in Syria will end in catastrophe and stressed that the solution to the ongoing conflict is the Geneva accord peace plan.

“Statements, saying the document [Geneva accord] is as good as dead imply that someone seeks a pretext for military intervention. This is worrying as it can only lead to catastrophe in the region,” Lavrov said in an interview with Sky News Arabic.


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August 24th, 2012, 1:16 am


182. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Assad The Last The Criminal is being given more time by the US-NATO-Israel to kill the insurgency. They are beneffiting from the month of August holidays and Ramadan and Aid to avoid more international meetings and pressure on themselves.

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August 24th, 2012, 3:03 am


183. annie said:

Unthinkable, unspeakable !
Torture in hospitals

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August 24th, 2012, 3:22 am


184. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

This morning

Your daily Amids and Akids


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August 24th, 2012, 6:11 am


185. Tara said:


Film-maker disappears at airport
Award-winning Syrian film maker Orwa Nyrabia is believed to have been arrested yesterday as he was about to leave Syria on a flight to Egypt.

According to his family, he disappeared at Damascus airport, a note on the Local Co-ordinating Committees’ Facebook page says.

He was heading to Cairo at 5:00 pm, on August 23, 2012, but his family lost contact with him shortly after his arrival at the airport.

According to Egyptian Airlines, he did not board the plane, which indicates that he had been arrested by the Syrian authorities.

Nyrabia, born in 1977, is a documentary maker who works with Diana el-Jeiroudi. The Sarajevo film festival website describes their background:

In 2002, Diana and Orwa started Proaction Film, which is today the only independent documentary film outfit operating in Syria. Most of the films they produce and make tackle human rights, gender and social justice issues.

Their debut feature documentary, “Dolls – A Woman from Damascus” premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in 2007 and was screened in over 30 international festivals worldwide.

In early 2008, they launched DOX BOX in Syria, the Independent Documentary Film Festival, which quickly grew to become the largest and most significant documentary film festival in the Arab region, also developing 30 Arab regional documentary films at the DOX BOX CAMPUS every year.

Last year, in protest against the killings in Syria and as a clear stand against the Syrian ruling regime, they decided not to hold the fifth edition of the Festival and instead initiated a Global Day for Syria, screening Syrian documentaries in 38 cities around the world on 15 March, the very first anniversary of the Syrian revolution.

The Guardian

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August 24th, 2012, 7:26 am


187. Citizen said:

BBC News HD – Syrian rebels try to use prisoner for suicide bombing 2012

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August 24th, 2012, 8:38 am


188. goran9 said:

Maliki reminds me of the trapped monkey with his hand grabbing Kurdish lands inside a jar. Once it let go, and free his hand, he can focus on a more stable Iraq, or even help Syria by exchanging Kurdish lands in Iraq with Halab/Deyr zoor provinces in Syria.

Will he swap Kurdish Halabja with Arab Halab and save Assad?

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August 24th, 2012, 8:24 pm


189. Picobee said:

In the article and the comments above, I am surprised that there is no substantive discussions on the role AND degree of real influence US and European countries (NATO) have in trying to mitigate tensions among the varying factions around the massive amount of oil in Iraqi Kurdistan. In June FM’s from Sweden, Poland, and Bulgaria were in Erbil: “Three EU foreign ministers in the Middle East … Kurds in Iraq want a free and democratic Syria”

What has been pointed out is that the Kurdish region is landlocked. The Kurdish people need positive, practical and constructive relationships with their neighbors in both Turkey and Iraq for export of its oil and gas reserves. Further, Turkey stands to benefit materially from a Constructive relationship with the Kurdish people, i.e. increased oil flow via their pipeline connection with Iraq.

The factionalism is short-sighted and counterproductive for all parties. I hope, if everything I’ve read so far about the PKK is accurate (i.e. their leadership has no interest in constructive dialogue and supports chronic terrorists attacks against civilians) that Barzani and Sieda of the SNC have the wisdom of distancing themselves from them.

That Maliki sees Kurdish autonomy as a threat is also short-sighted. Chronic conflict only saps the life out of any community and undermines statehood, and it deprives the people of Iraq from reaping the benefits of increased regional stability. Clearly, the Kurds have to export their oil and gas via both Iraq to the East and Syria & Turkey to the West. IMHO, the idea that constructive dialogue and increased regional stability would lead to substantive economic prosperity is a no-brainer. (I point, for example, to the long history of US-UK relations. We thrive when we work together.) Here’s hoping the Iraqi, Kurdish, and Turkish leaders choose the wise path and take the long view for the benefit of their respective citizens.

Kind regards.

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August 26th, 2012, 4:23 am



[…] 117) Nuri al-Maliki’s Strategy toward Syria and Syrian Kurds […]

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September 8th, 2012, 2:47 pm


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