Opposition National Council Formed; Opposition Gets Armed; Building Boom in Syria as Sanctions Bite;

The Opposition National Council: Imad Eldin Rasid, a Jordan-based Syrian opposition member, speaks at a press conference held in Istanbul on Sept. 15, 2011. For the last three years he has been teaching in Jodan. Before that he taught at the Sharia College iat Damascus Univ. (Thanks to Thomas Pierret)

The Opposition announced a National Council. Increasingly, the opposition is getting organized. Opposition members are scrambling to get their house in order. A number of differences have been put aside in order to make up the National Council on Thursday. But many differences remain and a few opposition groups within the country are trying to put together a National Assembly. The best article on the National Council is by Khalid Oweis of Reuters. He writes:

President Bashar al-Assad’s opponents have taken a step toward unity by forming a national council to represent Syria’s uprising but have a long way to go until they create a broad-based alternative to his rule….

the council has yet to produce a credible leader who can command wide respect on the street. Other groups may still try to set up alternative leaderships both inside and outside Syria.

“They have not brought together everyone, and there are varying objections on the members, but the fact is that they finally formed a council after months of bickering over the names, while the regime has been killing 20 Syrians a day,” prominent Syrian writer Hakam al-Baba told Reuters.

“A main objective now is to address the international community, and I think the council can do that. They have also left the door open for the rest of the opposition to join,” said Baba, a dissident who lives in the Gulf.

The opposition is also still far from forming a front similar to one set up in the past by Iraqi opposition groups which campaigned for Saddam Hussein’s removal and was well connected in the West, especially Washington.

One opposition figure not in the council said Islamists were over-represented on the newly announced body.

“The National Council has taken an Islamist flavor at the time we need to assure all minorities and the ethnicities more of their future in a post-Assad Syria,” said Thamer al-Jahmani, a prominent lawyer from Deraa who took refugee in Jordan last month after the assassination of a fellow activist….

The council will broadly be based on the principle of representing different sections of the Syrian society. For example, 30 percent of the council members are said to be from Islamic-leaning groups ( Muslim Brothers ), 30 percent left-leaning groups and 40 percent from various ethnic groups present in Syria; although, there is no rigid percentage system.

Yasser Tabbara, an independent member of the council, said “Everyone who is committed to our basic principles is welcome to join the council.” The council is made up of 65 people who live outside Syria and 70 from inside at the moment, although this number will be open to expansion as new figures will join the council.

Tabbara told Xinhua news agency that the basic principles of the council consist of toppling Bashar al-Assad’s regime, commitment to peaceful nature of the revolution, opposition to any foreign intervention and maintaining the national unity of Syria. He also said the council would not work with anyone who negotiated with the Assad government. The various positions in the National Council will be determined after an election process is completed in the next few weeks, said Tabbara.

See Tabbara on al-Jazeera debate the efficacy of the new council with Nadim Shehadi and Naim Salem – a good discussion by smart people.

“The council sees three stages in the near future consisting of changing the regime, post-regime transition and then the future political path,” said Bassmah Ghodami, a Paris-based Syrian opposition member. Ghodami said each stage is expected to last six months but the time frame is flexible depending on events on the ground.

Another aim of the council is to create a political umbrella for Syria’s rebels, according to Ghodami.

Syria’s internal opposition is getting armed and dangerous. Ugarit News reports that “a unit of the Free Officers’ Movement ambushed a Syrian security convoy on the Road to Hama, killing more than 30 and wounding more than 20. If true, it underlines Anthony Shadid’s recent contention that Syria’s opposition is increasingly becoming armed and lethal: “Syria’s Protesters, Long Mostly Peaceful, Starting to Resort to Violence.

Ausama Monajed, a leading activist and member of the National Council, insisted to me that the opposition is against taking up arms because they believe that a “tipping point” will be reached by peaceful action in which the regime “collapses,” due either to a coup inside the military or increased defections.

Many in the opposition believe this is unlikely. Some officials in the US also are beginning to fear that Syria has reached a stalemate: US worried Assad will weather storm, according to the Wall STreet Journal.   The armed opposition does not seem to be taking orders from the new National Council.

New OFAC Rules make it illegal for Americans to work in Syria.

I have asked experts whether this means that American-Syrians with duel citizenship are also forbidden to work in Syria as well, and await a more precise answer. It seems the State Department figure who can answer such questions is being reassigned so we must awaiting his replacement to take up his new post. So far the answer provided by one lawyer was: “tricky. Some argue that Syrian citizenship allows you to be treated as Syrian inside Syria…This needs clarification.”

STOCKS IN EGYPT last week reached a new low. They are now down 34%.
STOCKS IN SYRIA are now down 48%.

Nidal Maalouf, founder of Syria News, decided to immigrate after being harassed by security. He evidently was harassed because the site was not far enough in the pro-Assad camp. Last heard he is in Turkey.

Education School Year Begins in Syria: 5.6 million Syrian children entered school on September 18, the first day of the academic year – 1/4 of Syria’s population.

Imad Moustapha interview on CNN

Turkey Predicts Alliance With Egypt as Regional Anchors, By ANTHONY SHADID


Observations about Aleppo and the Economy

1- The areas outside aleppo have changed recently and have become more restive.

2- mazot is very hard to find. you cannot get anything at the official price of syp 15. You need to pay 23 and even then you get it in very small quantities. some who want to store for the winter cannot get it because the govt has forbidden mazot deliveries to home till October.

3- people in the city are very pissed off with the shabiha.

4- people are also very pissed off with the lawlessness and the illegal building that is taking place.

5- Tough boys are in control of the city.

6- Christians are very very pro-regime and that is surprising some Sunnis and creating some tensions.

7- winter is going to be key with mazot etc. also the upcoming sanctions are likely to impact Aleppo.

8- while Aleppo and Syria suffered in the 80’s , its not the same now. over past 10 years they have gotten used to things that will be hard to do without .

9-he feels that Aleppo was a fire wall from day 1 in Tunisia. it is not that the they were unprepared but the places the troubles started at came out of nowhere. no one thought of daraa, banyas or homs.

10-feels that just like every other place, it will be small villages outside Aleppo and then the poor areas of Aleppo that may see the action.

11- religious establishment has been totally embraced by the regime so that they don’t push the people. that worked. same for the business guys. the latter group does not feel that the regime is falling yet so they don’t want to pay the price of jumping ship now. they will stick with it but once they are convinced its going down they will do it fast.

12- when and if Aleppo does break , it will be uglier than anywhere else.

13. Many in the business community and among the elite have, over the past 2 months, started to get the feeling that things in Aleppo are not heading in the right direction and are thus trying to get family out of the country. Some are enrolling them in schools in the West, if they have family members there. The shabiha and their thuggish behavior is making people really mad. Mazzot prices will also be a barometer of public opinion.

Another view from a Syrian-American visiting Syria

None of the Syrians I met was panicking – including all of my first cousins who make their living entirely in Syria. Frankly, I was shocked. I was certainly more concerned than they were.

They seemed to indicate that we, as Syrians, have been there before and there is nothing new. And their survival confidence is higher than I have ever seen.

One prominent doctor from Aleppo whom I met in Istanbul told my that his wire transfer to his son in FL to purchase a condo was rejected by the US and returned to his bank in Beirut. Why? Because although his account was in Lebanon and it is in US dollars, the US does not accept or allow wire transfers from Syrians regardless whether they are on the sanction lists or not.

So, I sounded concerned and issued one of my famous (mainly fake) “sigh” in front of him in solidarity with his dilemma and in disgust with the US. He laughed. He said the money was re-transferred successfully the same day, under a different name and it cost him just $100 extra to do so.

His words: “Stupid Americans, they have no clue”.

So I asked how is Shihabi now going to get raw materials for his drug manufacturing factories in Aleppo. He laughed again (this time at me and my stupid question). Answer: “As he always did.” He buys raw materials from India. India gets it from all over.

The merchants of Syria – mainly in major cities will not be hurt in any meaningful way. They survived the Umayyads, the Abbassids, the Mongols, the Crusaders, the Ottomans, the French, the Baathists. They are survivors and they are there to stay. It’s just us who left and are scared for them.

Construction business? It is booming. They can hardly find enough workers to meet the demands – one prominent builder told me. In one story, he said his master tile guy was arrested because he was in a demonstration. The day after his arrest, his brother came in to fill the need. He was as good and there was no interruption.

An explanation by another reader

1- The construction business is booming because there is welcomed lawlessness in Syria. Aleppo is a construction site because no one is watching. You have an open roof on your building? you can turn it into a 2 bedroom apartment in a month. no permit. no baladiye to ask. our next door building did just that. You have a mazraa and you have always dreamt of a villa and a pool in the middle? No problem. in 3 months its done regardless of the fact that it is zoned as agrictultral land. my sister has one. she has 2 floors. her builder said i can add a third in 2 weeks. no need to ask anyone. basically over the past 6 months, syrians created their own tanzeem. once the f…ed up local govt was removed from the scene, your kids’ dream homes were quickly built. why the rush? because as soon as things return to normal , govt will come back. for now, they come , take a picture of what you have done and say goodbye.

2- Fares Chehabi can of course get raw materials from india, china, angola or burkina faso. 50 years of baaath have produced best smugglers in the world. every taxi driver can qualify. Every moukhales jumruki can import anything and produce documents to prove that it is something else. 3- money transfers in amounts that get wired in syria is a joke. of course you can always find someone. back in the days when a money transfer was subject to life in prison did not deter people. it just meant that you get charged more for the transfers. 4- the wealthy will always find a way. it just means a bit more expensively than the past but then again he can always charge more now because of the hardship in getting his wires and raw materials in.

Another Reader

I talked to a contractor friend of mine in Damascus and he says his business is back on track workers are more disciplined now, roads are opened and prices of cement are still up (very heavy building in the unplanned developments)

Another Reader

They are indeed enjoying the outdoor dining to the max! In Nadi Halab, the Gemini club and Swiss house in Damascus you can’t find a place to sit if you have no reservations. The sushi place and the 6 other cafes/restaurants in the four seasons boulevards are full every night. Same thing in the 10 restaurant complex near Pulman hotel in Aleppo. Even in Homs in eid the cafes near the malaab were half full! In revolting Douma, a guy there told me that during the early days of the uprising cafes used to close down immediately once a one of the daily demos start marching in the street where they are at. Now people continue to smoke argileh while watching the demonstrators there march 10 meters away, then order more drinks while watching the demonstrators run back while the security and shabbiha run behind them!

Syrians are now like the Lebanese. They adapted and decided to live their lives to the fullest despite everything. They will continue to adapt going forward.

Syrian Prometheus:

I am actually quite baffled by the stories denoting a construction boom. I have it on very good authority that the previously lucrative imports of timber, marble and other construction-related materials have slowed down dramatically. One major importer is keeping minimal inventories in this space while keeping food imports at relatively high levels.

The Harmoush Interview on Syrian TV – He is the leader of the Free Syrian Army who was captured by Syrian authorities

جميع أقولنا عن عدد المنشقين تمثيلية .. هرموش: تم التنسيق مع برهان غليون و رفعت الاسد وزهير الصديق ومحمد رحال و خدام والعرعور والشقفة-

Article in Sham Press about Harmoush’s TV interview. Harmoush explains that every opposition personality called him and asked Harmoush what his plan was. Harmoush would respond by asking them to present a plan and he would accept the most reasonable and the one that had financial logistics backing. Everyone promised and no one delivered.
جميع أقولنا عن عدد المنشقين تمثيلية .. هرموش: تم التنسيق مع برهان غليون و رفعت الاسد وزهير الصديق ومحمد رحال و خدام والعرعور والشقفة

According to Youth Syria for Freedom, Colonel Harmoush was conned by officers that he knew. They deceived him into believing that they needed to meet him inside the border to defect to Turkey. He went in and was trapped by security forces. Turkish Authorities have nothing to do with the incident.

Here is the complete video of the Harmoush interview on TV

حركة سوريا شباب من أجل الحرية Youth Syria For Freedom

أموي مباشر #syria ◄ هذا الكلام منقول عن أحد الشباب الذين لهم اتصال بالمقدم حسين هرموش وبمرافق له .. ونرجوا قراءة هذا الكلام بدقة .. :: :: :: :: :: تنبيه تنبيه مهم : تركيا ليس لها علاقة بإختقفاء المقدم حسين هرموش هو الذي هرب من المخيم للدخول الى سوريا ويبدو ان كمينا ما للمخابرات وقع به والنظام يقوم على بث اشاعة انه تركيا قامت بتسليم المقدم لضرب العلاقة بين الثورة وتركيا وحتى تخرج الناس تحجرق العلم التركي في الشارع مما سيجعل الشعب التركي يقول بعد أويناهم يحرقون علمنا الهدف من ترويج اشاعة ان تركيا هي من قامت تسلميه نؤكد لضرب العلاقة ببين الثورة وتركيا ول!
دق اسفين بينهما ولو تركيا ارادت تسلميه لقامت بتسليم غيره من قبل من الناشطين والنازحين وكل ما جرى نقله عن مبادلته بسبع من حزب العمال الكردستاني هي فبركة مخابرات وهذا النص الحرفي لما وردني من شخص مرافق للهرموش بتركيا اضعه لكم كما ورد بالرساله (((اخي شلونك طمني عنك؟تركيا ليس لها علاقة بموضوع حسين هرموش ولكن كان متواصل مع بعض الضباط الانذال وخبروه انهم يريدون الانشقاق ولكن عندما تكون انت با الداخل وعندما دخل كان كمين له والرجاء يا اخي ان لا احد ينشر اي خبر عن تركيا لانه يوجد اناس نخاف على حياتهم هناك ولو ان تركيا كانت تريد تسليمه كانت فعلتها من !
The Chief Commander of  the Free Syrian Army, Colonel R AlAs3ad, says:

Turkish Government is not to blame in the arrest of Colonel Harmoush by Syrian Forces. The Turkish authorities are investigating Harmoush disappearance and bringing him back. We hold the Syrian regime responsible for the well being and the life of Colonel Harmoush and we demand his release to the custody of the Turkish Authorities.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime will likely live through the anti-government uprisings despite sanctions levied by the US and its European allies, according to Jay Solomon in the Wall Street Journal.

The Obama administration is planning for a protracted confrontation with Assad as the revolt in Syria enters month seven.

The U.S. and EU have slapped oil sanctions on Damascus that could threaten up to one-third of the government’s revenue, but many experts believe they lack adequate “bite”.

Not to mention, the upper ranks of Mr. Assad’s military, dominated by members of his Shia Alawite religious sect, remain impressively unified in their support for the president and his family.

Meanwhile, an opposition that has been fragmented across religious, ethnic and geographic lines has failed to make much headway against the brutal violence employed by Assad’s security forces which have killed over 2,400 protesters.

Why Many Syrians Still Support Assad
The Christian Science Monitor

The Arab League yesterday called on Syria’s Assad to stop his ‘killing machine’ as the uprising enters its seventh month. But Assad, still backed by key groups, is unlikely to bow to such calls….

EU Sanctions on Syria Oil and Gas Industry Come Sith Loopholes
By: Paul Richter and Henry Chu | Los Angeles Times

As Syria’s foes intensify pressure on Bashar al-Assad, its friends are adopting a new tune, appealing to the president to embrace reforms and buy time for his embattled regime.

The most curious call for political progress is now coming from Iran, Syria’s main strategic ally in the Middle East.

Political analysts say the change of rhetoric reflects Iran’s nervousness over Mr Assad’s management of the six-month popular uprising. It is also a tactical move designed to limit the damage to Iran’s image in a region where it styles itself as a champion of the oppressed.

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the president who was himself accused of stealing the 2009 election, sparking an unprecedented wave of street protests, has spoken of “needed reforms” in Syria. More explicitly, Ali-Akbar Salehi, the foreign minister, has called on Mr Assad to “be accountable to his people’s legitimate demands”.

Mr Assad has waged a relentless military campaign to crush the revolt, leaving 2,600 Syrians dead so far, according to the UN. Western diplomats say he has been receiving advice and logistical support from Iran, a claim Tehran denies.

The campaign continues to intensify, with killings reported every day, but it shows no sign of breaking the will of the protest movement and is increasingly eroding the authority of the government.

Analysts in Tehran say Iran will support Mr Assad until his last day but is growing concerned about his increased weakness and ability to survive. A collapse of the Damascus regime would deprive Tehran of a vital ally and strike a blow to its ambitions for greater influence in the region at a time of historic change.

Syria’s uprising has been dominated by Sunni Muslims, the majority population that has been ruled by Mr Assad’s minority Alawite regime, an offshoot of Shia Islam. If the protest movement eventually prevails it is unlikely to produce a government that maintains as tight a relationship with Iran.

Some reports suggest that an Iranian official recently met activists from the Syrian opposition, in what could be an attempt to push for a dialogue between the opposition and the region in Damascus.

“Iran sees no other choice but to support reforms in order to buy time and also not to look like it is standing against Arab public opinion,” said a former Iranian official.

The Syrian uprising has exposed blatant contradictions in Iran’s attitude to Arab revolts. Tehran has hailed the Arab spring as an “Islamic awakening” inspired by its own revolution in 1979 but when it comes to Syria it has backed Damascus’s claims that the revolt is a foreign conspiracy designed to benefit Israel.

In Syria and across the region, however, Arabs who have risen against autocracy have more in common with the Iranian opposition crushed by the Islamic regime in 2009 than with current leaders. Their battles are driven by domestic considerations rather than a global struggle against America or a regional struggle against Israel.

Some of the slogans in Syria’s protests have directly targeted Iran and Lebanon’s Hizbollah, the Shia militant group backed by Tehran and Damascus, and expressed approval of Turkey, an ally of the regime which has been far more vocal in condemning Damascus’s actions.

“Iran cannot afford to be against Syrian public opinion any more because anger against Iran is getting really serious,” said one former Iranian diplomat.

More broadly, a recent survey of public opinion in six Arab countries, conducted by the Arab American Institute in Washington, found that Iran’s popularity has been in dramatic decline while that of Turkey has soared.

A political analyst with links to the ruling establishment in Tehran said Iran was pushing for more visible but still cosmetic reforms in Syria because drastic steps would spell the end of the Assad regime.

“The [Iranian] regime is steadfast in helping to keep Assad in power,” says the political analyst. “If there are real reforms, Assad has to leave power and that is not acceptable to Iran.”

The Arab spring is an Arab disaster – 15.09.2011, – Haaretz opinion

The choice in Syria will be either a bloodbath, an Alawite dictatorship or a Sunni dictatorship

The picture is clearing up. The Arab spring is an Arab disaster. In the coming years there will be no democracy in Egypt. The choice in Egypt will be either chaos, Islamic dictatorship or military dictatorship. In the coming years there will be no democracy in Syria. The choice in Syria will be either a bloodbath, an Alawite dictatorship or a Sunni dictatorship. In the coming years there will be no democracy in Jordan. The choice in Jordan will be either weakened Hashemites, the Muslim Brotherhood or Palestinians. In the coming years there will be no democracy in Libya. There the choice will be disintegration, disorder or renewed despotism. Perhaps in Tunisia a real change for the better will occur.

But the bottom line of the Arab spring is that the lives of hundreds of millions of Arabs will be worse. More poverty, more crime, more fear in the streets. More oppression of women, more persecution of minorities, more hatred of the West. Monarchies like Saudi Arabia, which thwarted the Arab spring – are now emerging as responsible states. In contrast, the republics defeated by the Arab spring are turning one after the other into failed states. They are tainted with fanaticism, spreading misery and creating unprecedented instability.

The picture is clearing up. The Palestinian September is an Israeli-Palestinian disaster. The Palestinian September was conceived by two European statesmen – Bernard Kouchner and Javier Solana. Those two naive men figured if they grant international sponsorship to Salam Fayyad’s Palestinian-state plan, they would force Israel to make a final-status arrangement.

But the Israelis did not cave in to the pressure. The Palestinians fell in love with the plan.

Syrian TV Station Accuses Al Jazeera of Fabricating Uprising – NYTImes Lede Blog, September 14, 2011

A YouTube channel called the Syrian Interpreter has posted a subtitled recording of the Syrian television station Addounia TV claiming in a Sept. 9 broadcast that the news station Al Jazeera has built enormous “cinematic replicas” of Syrian cities and squares in the Gulf state of Qatar in order to fabricate the uprising in Syria.

These replicas were built “with the help of some French and American directors” and are “exactly like the ones set up of the Green Square for Libya, with which they duped the Libyans and the world that Tripoli fell,” according to the channel’s English translation.

“With those replicas,” the subtitles read, “Al Jazeera will continue media fabrication and cinematic tricks by shooting scenes of big defections from the Arab Syrian Army and shooting scenes of clashes. Those scenes would be done by directors from the U.S., France, and Israel.”

A spokesperson for Al Jazeera said: “This is wackiness of the highest order which no one will be taking seriously. Many other journalists were in Tripoli reporting the same events, so it is telling that such is Al Jazeera’s influence in the region that supporters of these regimes are targeting Al Jazeera specifically for covering the uprisings.”

Erdogan’s Remarks Irk Muslim Brotherhood – SEPTEMBER 14, 2011 – Wall Street Journal

CAIRO—The Muslim Brotherhood objected to statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan telling Egyptians not to fear building a secular state, in a rare clash that exposes the gap between the so-called Turkish model for building a Muslim democracy and what Islamists in the region believe when they invoke it.

For much of Mr. Erdogan’s two-day visit to Egypt this week, members of the Muslim Brotherhood made up much of the fan club that followed Mr. Erdogan around Cairo. They championed his tough stance toward Israel and his promotion of Muslim solidarity.


The U.S. Department of State urges U.S. citizens in Syria to depart immediately while commercial transportation is available. Given the ongoing uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens who must remain in Syria are advised to limit nonessential travel within the country. U.S. citizens not in Syria should defer all travel to Syria at this time…..

WSJ [Reg]: Sanctions Won’t End Syria’s Repression

On Sept. 2, the European Union, supported by the United States, imposed an embargo on exports of Syrian oil. The EU buys some 95% of Syria’s oil output, accounting for almost a third of Syria’s national income. By hitting the regime of Bashar Assad …

Writing a New Syrian Constitution | By Sami Moubayed

…. A hard reality is beginning to sink into the upper echelons of power in Damascus; that the Baath Party can no longer survive with the same regime, methods, tools and personalities that it used for nearly 50 years.

The Baathists need to dismantle their monopoly on power at will, because they are going to have to do so anyhow under increased pressure from the angry Syrian street. At any rate, Baath Party control — if not mandated by a true democracy — cannot survive in a new Syria. Article 8 and a democracy — which is the ultimate goal– can never go hand in hand.

Syria’s ports suffer as unrest hits economy
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Reuters

…Shipping sources say traffic in general cargoes, dry and liquid bulk cargoes, and containers at Latakia and Tartous has been slipping since the uprising broke out in March. They estimate volumes shrank an average 35 to 40 percent from a year earlier in the first eight months of 2011.

“Importers and exporters are being very cautious, and that has led to imports of raw materials falling sharply as production slows down in many industries due to the troubles,” a Syrian transportation official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters from Damascus.

Shipping agents and industry experts said container volumes, the vast majority of which are handled by Latakia, dropped in June alone by 36 percent from a year earlier to 33,527 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU).

Official Latakia port figures for the April-June period show a drop of 16 percent from a year earlier, but industry sources said this data was misleading because it included many containers with empty space.

In Tartous, which handles most of Syria’s bulk cargoes, or nearly 9 million tonnes of annual traffic in normal times, shipping sources said some European operators were avoiding the port after the European Union announced sanctions on Syrian oil exports at the start of September.

They said they were also seeing less business from Iraqi and other Arab traders who were deterred by the increasing checkpoints and roadblocks in many parts of Syria.

“We had 25 to 30 vessels daily arriving. This has dropped to between 10 to five daily,” said a major shipping agent based in Tartous, referring to vessels between 8,000 and 35,000 tonnes.

So far, major regular shipping lines such as Danish firm Maersk, French-based CMA CGM, Geneva-based MSC, and Germany’s Hamburg Sud have largely maintained normal vessel calls to Syrian ports despite lower cargo volumes, industry sources said.

Shipping agents say the companies are reluctant to pull out of a transit market that has served the whole region and still has great long-term potential because of its location.

New Party Formed

Syrian opposition members Hassan Kamel, Louai Hussain, Mona Ganem and Bahaa Al Deen Erkad at a press conference in Damascus to announce the formation of a party called ‘Building the Syrian State’. This is the first party to be announced in Syria since the endorsement of the multi-party law by Syrian President Bashar Al Assad last month.

Syrie : un officier supérieur parle
Le Monde Diplomatique, mercredi 7 septembre 2011

« L’armée de la Syrie n’est que l’armée des services de sécurité syriens (jaych amni). » Mon interlocuteur a prononcé ces mots gravement. On l’appellera Mohammed, c’est un officier supérieur sunnite.

Comment en est-on arrivé là ?

Il faut remonter aux années 1960 où, en quatre coups d’Etat, se mettent en place les cadres de l’actuel système politique syrien : la ruralisation des villes et du régime, l’arrivée au pouvoir de la minorité alaouite et la domination du parti et des civils par l’armée. Le dernier putsch, celui de Hafez Al-Assad, père de l’actuel président, en 1970, va parachever la construction du système autoritaire. Il instaure un maillage complet de la société syrienne autour de l’armée et des organes de la Sûreté, du parti et de la bureaucratie. Le régime utilise aussi les liens de solidarité familiaux, claniques, communautaires et régionaux pour se constituer une clientèle (qui est évidemment rémunérée par les postes de la fonction publique). Le croisement des liens communautaires et de l’obsession du contrôle sécuritaire produit la prédominance alaouite dans les hautes charges de l’armée et des organes de sécurité. Le ciment de l’édifice sécuritaire, c’est la culture de la peur que la révolte vient de mettre à bas. Sous M. Bachar Al-Assad (depuis 2000), le parti, la bureaucratie et l’armée sont passés directement sous le contrôle des services de sécurité, eux-mêmes entièrement aux mains de la famille Assad. Les Syriens considèrent même que le parti est le sixième service de sécurité.

– Z. : « Combien d’hommes travaillent dans l’armée et les services de sécurité ? »

– M. : « Leur nombre total dépasserait 700 000 personnes : 400 000 hommes dans les forces armées régulières, 100 000 hommes dans la police et les services de renseignement, et plusieurs dizaines de milliers employés à temps partiel par les organes de la Sûreté. »

Ce sont ces derniers qui forment les bataillons de chabbiha et de francs-tireurs. Les chabbiha sont des ruraux et sans doute des prisonniers de droit commun libérés au début de la révolte. On estime à plus de 100 000 le nombre d’Alaouites dans les services de sécurité, sans compter l’armée et la Garde présidentielle, forte de plusieurs dizaines de milliers d’hommes, qui est totalement alaouite. Les Alaouites représenteraient en 2011 quelque 10 % de la population. La moitié des fonctionnaires serait employée dans l’appareil de sécurité.

A ces hommes, il faut ajouter plus de 60 000 civils employés par le ministère de la défense (notamment dans l’établissement du logement militaire, mouassassat al-iskan al-askari, dirigé par un cousin d’Al-Assad). Ces hommes, comme d’autres agents de l’Etat, sont obligés, sous peine de perdre leur poste, de venir assister le pouvoir dans la répression : ce sont eux qu’on voit munis de bâtons électriques ou de barres de fer, souvent placés à la sortie des mosquées. Ils sont aussi mobilisés dans les manifestations de soutien au régime…

– Z. : « Mais cette armée est bien chargée de la défense du territoire ? »

Mohammed sourit, sa main qui allait prendre la tasse de café s’arrête, comme suspendue. Il la pose sur la table et me regarde.

– M. : « Certes, mais on peut s’interroger depuis les années 1990 : une grande partie du budget national est affectée à l’armée. Or, il n’y a plus de réel renouvellement de matériel pour la majorité des divisions et unités militaires. Alors, où va l’argent ? De plus, une brigade a été créée à la frontière avec Israël (liwa nitaq al-hita) mais elle n’est dotée d’aucune capacité militaire, elle n’a même pas de chars… Enfin, la direction militaire semble très occupée ailleurs comme, par exemple, écarter de l’armée et du service militaire les Damascènes : ainsi, un jeune Sunnite damascène peut payer une sorte de salaire mensuel à un officier responsable pour valider son service en restant chez lui ou en travaillant à Damas »…

– Z. : « En ce qui concerne les appartenances confessionnelles au sein de l’armée ? »

– M. : « On est arrivé à cette situation hautement symbolique où il n’y a plus que deux appartenances réelles : l’alaouite et la sunnite (fi alawi wa fi sunni) mais par sunnite, il faut entendre toutes les autres communautés » [sunnite, druze, chrétiennes, etc., soit 90% de la population, NDLR]. « En principe, poursuit mon interlocuteur, quand un commandant de division, de brigade ou autre unité militaire est sunnite, son adjoint est alaouite et vice-versa. »

C’est d’ailleurs le même principe qui dirige l’attribution des postes de ministres dans le gouvernement, chaque ministre non-alaouite étant chapeauté d’un adjoint alaouite qui détient la réalité de la décision politique. On notera que la récente nomination d’un chrétien à la tête du ministère de la défense, vise sans doute à impliquer plus encore les chrétiens du côté du régime.

– M. : « La décision dans l’armée (comme dans la Sûreté) revient toujours aux officiers alaouites, les sunnites n’ont pas de poids. Un lieutenant alaouite pistonné par la Sûreté peut exercer un pouvoir complet (kamel al-sulta) dans son secteur et avoir plus d’importance que son supérieur sunnite. Par exemple, ces officiers alaouites pistonnés, quelle que soit leur ancienneté dans l’armée, auront à leur disposition une belle voiture neuve et les officiers supérieurs sunnites poursuivront leurs déplacements à bord de vieilles Jeep… Les sanctions prévues pour les officiers en cas de faute grave ne sont pas appliquées avec la même sévérité aux uns et aux autres… De plus, les officiers sunnites peuvent faire l’objet d’enquêtes ou de surveillances internes pour s’assurer de leur loyauté au régime. D’ailleurs, il est très difficile pour un sunnite de s’élever au grade de général [amid], il est généralement mis à la retraite avant… »

– Z. : « Le principe confessionnel apparaît-il sous d’autres formes dans l’armée ? »

Mohammed prend sa tasse de café avant de répondre.

– M. : « Le principe confessionnel est généralisé mais relève du non-dit. L’armée syrienne est composée de sept divisions (firaq), chacune dirigée par un général de division (liwa). La quatrième division, commandée par Maher, frère de Bachar Al-Assad [et qui dirige aussi la Garde présidentielle], est la plus importante, elle compterait de 40 000 à 50 000 hommes, tous alaouites, et c’est la section qui reçoit l’équipement militaire le plus sophistiqué. C’est cette division qui a été impliquée dès le début dans la répression à Deraa. »

Mohammed boit une gorgée de café et ajoute :

– « Tous les officiers des services de sécurité viennent de l’armée. Dans la nomination des officiers, et leur promotion, c’est la Sûreté (amn) qui donne à l’Etat-major les noms des officiers à promouvoir… D’ailleurs, dans la répression de la révolte, toutes les décisions sont prises par les officiers de la Sûreté. Même lorsqu’il s’agit de déplacer un tank… L’armée syrienne incarne, si on veut, le pouvoir exécutif (al-sultat al-tanfiziyya) de la sûreté et pas de l’Etat-major. »

– Z. : « Et les officiers et soldats tués pendant la révolte ? »

– M. : « Il est difficile de savoir ce qui se passe exactement. Aucun militaire syrien ne doute de la capacité de la Sûreté à liquider ceux qui refuseraient d’exécuter un ordre. Dans la logique sécuritaire du régime, la Sûreté préfèrerait certainement abattre quelques alaouites pour pousser ou faire croire à un conflit confessionnel, c’est bien plus rentable pour le régime que d’abattre un sunnite ! Ceci dit, il n’est pas impossible que les militaires envoyés sur le terrain de la répression soient tous alaouites, on peut même penser que ce sont des éléments alaouites des quelque 100 000 agents de police et de la Sûreté que l’on a habillés en soldats pour les envoyer abattre du « sunnite ». Ce serait bien dans la logique de ce régime confessionnel qui ne dit pas son nom. Mais la mort de militaires ou de membres des services de sécurité peut aussi être liée à des actes de vengeance individuels, à des initiatives locales. Ainsi à Deraa en mars dernier, les gens ont repéré un sniper sur le toit d’un immeuble, ils ont brûlé l’immeuble pour se débarrasser du sniper… A Jisr al-Choghour, des habitants ont attaqué le poste de police avec un bulldozer. La répression est si violente, si barbare, qu’elle peut produire des réactions inattendues ! »

Il reste tout de même que l’on n’a aucune image de la mort de ces militaires alors que pour ce qui est des manifestants, on les voit tomber quasiment en direct…

J’ai dû penser tout haut, Mohammed me regarde avec un air ironique cette fois-ci.

– Z. : « Que faut-il penser de “l’armée syrienne libre” (al-jaych al-suri al-hurr) et peut-on envisager une éventuelle fracture au sein de l’armée ? »

– M. : « Il s’agit de dissidences individuelles et pas de la scission d’une unité militaire complète ! Ces dissidences isolées ne peuvent pas délivrer un quelconque message fort au pouvoir. La composition communautaire de chaque unité militaire empêche toute homogénéité pour les sunnites (mais pas pour les alaouites comme la quatrième division le prouve). La répartition des postes de commandement dans l’armée est organisée de telle sorte que même si un ordre dissident venait d’un officier du groupe sunnite, il serait bloqué à divers niveaux par des officiers et sous-officiers alaouites ou alliés du régime. Il ne faut pas attendre de cette armée le moindre soutien aux manifestants. Je le répète c’est une armée de barbouzes, jaych amni », dit-il en prononçant distinctement chaque syllabe…

– Z. : « Alors, quelles sont les perspectives de la révolte ? »

– M. : « Difficile à dire sinon qu’elles sont sombres. En même temps, le régime s’est perdu lui-même. Si les manifestants sont bien décidés à ne pas se soumettre, le régime n’est pas prêt non plus à céder quoi que ce soit. Les Assad n’arrivent pas à imaginer qu’un jour ils ne seront plus là ! C’est pourquoi la répression est allée en s’aggravant. Aujourd’hui, l’armée et le régime ont déclaré une véritable guerre aux manifestants pacifiques et aux civils syriens en lançant contre eux les hélicoptères, les blindés et la marine de guerre… La seule possibilité du côté militaire ne pourrait venir que d’une scission, peu probable, au sein de la direction des services de sécurité, qui pourrait alors entraîner d’autres secteurs de l’armée… »

Mohammed pose sa tasse de café, son regard se perd dans le vague.

En attendant, le régime diffuse un numéro de téléphone pour que les citoyens puissent dénoncer ceux qui le critiquent. Délation de triste mémoire…


أعلن القائمون على تشكيل المجلس الوطني الانتقالي اليوم عن أسم 71 عضواً من أعضاء المجلس الوطني، الذين يبلغ عددهم 140 عضواً، حيث يمثل الحراك الثوري وشباب الثورة 52% من مجموع أعضاء المجلس الوطني

The Names of the Opposition National Council.

1. إبراهيم اليوسف

2. أحمد رمضان

3. أحمد شاكر

4. أديب الشيشكلي

5. أسامة الشربجي

6. أسامة المنجد

7. أسامة قاضي

8. أنس العبدة

9. أنس عيروط

10. بدر الدين بحرو

11. بدر جاموس

12. بسام جعارة

13. بسمة قضماني

14. بشار العيسمي

15. بشار حسن الحراكي

16. جان عبد الله

17. جمال الوادي

18. حسام القطلبي

19. حسان الشلبي

20. حسان الهاشمي

21. خالد الحاج صالح

22. خالد خوجه

23. خليل كرو

24. رامي نخلة

25. رضوان العلمي

26. رضوان زيادة

27. رياض الحسن

28. ريمون معجون

29. ريمون يوخنا

30. ريناس سينو

31. زِيوَر العمر

32. سالم المسلط

33. سامر كيلاني

34. سداد عقاد

35. شادي جنيد

36. عبد الإله ثامر الملحم

37. عبد الباسط سيدا

38. عبد الباقي يوسف

39. عبد الرحمن الحاج

40. عبيدة نحاس

41. عفراء جلبي

42. عماد الدين الرشيد

43. عمار الحداوي

44. عمار قربي

45. عمر إدلبي

46. عمرو العظم

47. فداء المجذوب

48. كاميران حاجو

49. لؤي صافي

50. مأمون نقار

51. محمد العبد الله

52. محمد ثامر المهيد

53. محمد سرميني

54. محمد ياسر تبارة

55. محمد ياسين النجار

56. محمود الكيلاني

57. محمود عثمان

58. مصطفى الصباغ

59. مصطفى كيالي

60. مصطفى محمد

61. مطيع البطين

62. معاذ السباعي

63. منى محمد

64. موسى موسى

65. نجيب الغضبان

66. نذير حكيم

67. هبة الفوز

68. هشام مروة

69. هيثم رحمة

70. وائل مرزا

71. وجدي مصطفى

This is a video of the declaration on the National Syrian Council.

Another video clip with the names of the members of the council

On the Regime and the Opposition in Syria by Nabil Fayyad

Despite my very negative position on the regime for private and public reasons, the truth is that the regime is very strong, and neither the outside nor the inside were able to make it change its usual stances. This strength does not come from a vacuum. The regime has a broad popular base that supports it at home and abroad, whether out of conviction or opportunism. And ignoring this issue on the part of the Transitional Council is the first indication that the opposition does not know yet the true meaning of democracy. . . .

Nabil Fayyad, an expert in comparative religion and biblical criticism, is a Syrian intellectual who is an outspoken critic of the Syrian regime. He has been arrested and detained by the Syrian authorities in the past. The original Arabic note by Fayyad was first published on a Facebook page administered by Fayyad’s supporters on 29 August 2011. The English translation above was adapted from Sate Hamza’s translation published in his blog Syrian Musings on 30 August 2011….

Turkey and the Syrian Kurds by Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Nuances are needed in understanding Christian-Kurdish relations in Syria by Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Christian-Kurdish tensions emerge by Wladimir van Wilgenburg


Comments (99)

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. Aboud said:

Hey ethically challenged “doctor”, what kind of a doctor can’t spell video or fabricated?

“vidio or anybody elses, they are fabrcated,”

Apparently knowing English isn’t a requirement for a medical degree where he got his.

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September 19th, 2011, 9:27 pm


52. jna said:


Just to be clear, are you claiming that a UN commission found that the Syrian regime and/or authorities is harvesting organs of the opposition. Yes or no. If yes, please point to your evidence.

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September 19th, 2011, 9:27 pm


53. Aboud said:


The New York Times

September 19, 2011
U.S. Is Quietly Getting Ready for Syria Without Assad

WASHINGTON — Increasingly convinced that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria will not be able to remain in power, the Obama administration has begun to make plans for American policy in the region after he exits.

In coordination with Turkey, the United States has been exploring how to deal with the possibility of a civil war among Syria’s Alawite, Druse, Christian and Sunni sects, a conflict that could quickly ignite other tensions in an already volatile region.

While other countries have withdrawn their ambassadors from Damascus, Obama administration officials say they are leaving in place the American ambassador, Robert S. Ford, despite the risks, so he can maintain contact with opposition leaders and the leaders of the country’s myriad sects and religious groups.

Officials at the State Department have also been pressing Syria’s opposition leaders to unite as they work to bring down the Assad government, and to build a new government.

The Obama administration is determined to avoid a repeat of the aftermath of the American invasion of Iraq. Though the United States did not stint in its effort to oust Saddam Hussein, many foreign policy experts now say that the undertaking came at the expense of detailed planning about how to manage Iraq’s warring factions after his removal.

Syria is sure to be discussed when President Obama meets Tuesday with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on the periphery of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, administration officials say. A senior administration official said the abandonment of Mr. Assad by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and European nations would increase his isolation, particularly as his military became more exhausted by the lengthening crackdown.

Another Obama administration official said that with 90 percent of Syria’s oil exports going to Europe, shutting the European market to Damascus could have a crippling effect on the Syrian economy and could put additional pressure on Mr. Assad’s government.

“Back in the 1990s, if Syria wanted credit and trade and loans that they couldn’t get from the United States, they went to the Europeans,” said Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Obama administration official. Now, Mr. Takeyh said, Europe has joined the United States in imposing sanctions on Syrian exports, including its critical oil sector.

Aside from Iran, he said, Syria has few allies to turn to. “The Chinese recognize their economic development is more contingent on their relationship with us and Europe than on whether Assad or Qaddafi survives,” he said, referring to the deposed Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Eight months ago, the thought of Syria without a member of the Assad family at the helm seemed about as far-fetched as the thought of Egypt without Hosni Mubarak or Libya without Colonel Qaddafi.

But intelligence officials and diplomats in the Middle East, Europe and the United States increasingly believe that Mr. Assad may not be able to beat back the gathering storm at the gates of Damascus.

Mr. Obama’s call last month for Mr. Assad to step down came after months of internal debate, which included lengthy discussions about whether a Syria without Mr. Assad would lead to the kind of bloody civil war that consumed Iraq after the fall of Mr. Hussein.

The shift moved the administration from discussing whether to call for Mr. Assad’s ouster to discussing how to help bring it about, and what to do after that.

“There’s a real consensus that he’s beyond the pale and over the edge,” the senior Obama administration official said. “Intelligence services say he’s not coming back.”

To be sure, Mr. Assad may yet prove as immovable as his father, Hafez al-Assad, was before him. Many foreign policy analysts say that the longer Mr. Assad remains in power, the more violent the country will become. And that violence, they say, could unintentionally serve Mr. Assad’s interests by allowing him to use it to justify a continuing crackdown.

Many factors may make his exit more difficult than the departures of Mr. Mubarak in Egypt and President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia. For one thing, both the United States and Europe have become more distracted in recent weeks by their economic crises.

Furthermore, while Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and even Yemen all imploded, those eruptions were largely internal, with their most significant ramifications limited to the examples they set in the Arab world. A collapse in Syria, on the other hand, could lead to an external explosion that would affect Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and even Iraq, foreign policy experts say, particularly if it dissolves into an Iraq-style civil war.

“The Sunnis are increasingly arming, and the situation is polarizing,” said Vali Nasr, a former Obama administration official in the State Department and the author of “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future.”

“Iran and Hezbollah are backing the regime,” Mr. Nasr said. “There’s a lot of awareness across the regime that this is going to be pretty ugly.”

That awareness is fueling the desire to plan for a post-Assad era, Obama administration officials say. “Nobody wants another Iraq,” one administration official said on Saturday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

At the same time, the administration does not want to look as if the United States is trying to orchestrate the outcome in Syria, for fear that the image of American intervention might do the Syrian opposition more harm than good. In particular, administration officials say that they do not want to give the Iranian government — which has huge interests in the Syrian government and is Mr. Assad’s biggest supporter — an excuse to intervene.

But one administration official pointed to the remarkable call earlier this month by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for Mr. Assad to ease up on his crackdown as a sign that even Iran’s leaders are worried about the Syrian president’s prospects.

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September 19th, 2011, 9:30 pm


55. qunfuz said:

Tara – I’m afraid I disagree with you. I don’t think that taking Harmoush’s ‘confession’ seriously is objective reporting. (Landis is not alone here. the so-called ‘progressive’ asa’ad abu khalil had done the same. I don’t think ‘Valerie’ from Latakia was serious unbiased news. I don’t think that Landis was sensible or unbiased when in debate with Osama munajed the other day he explained 50 years of dictatorship by ‘the Sunnis couldn’t agree.’ this because there was an argument bewtween aleppan and damascene politicians in the 40s. this kind of essentialising, eternalising, overgeneralising would be unacceptable if applied to jews, alawis, blacks or whites, and it’s unacceptable when applied to syria’s sunnis. (he doesn’t mention that the first coup in syria was CIA-organised). he’s also on record encouraging america to help asad repress those scary sunnis. yes, he’s improved somewhat recently as he’s come under pressure and as it’s become obvious just how monstrous this regime is. that’s not enough for me, i’m afraid, not when children are being tortured to death. but i’ve said what i think several times before. I’m absenting myself again now.

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September 19th, 2011, 9:35 pm


56. jna said:


From your link: “the Syrian Human Rights Committee”. I think this is a Syrian opposition group.

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September 19th, 2011, 9:36 pm


57. Aboud said:

JNA, you are correct. In this case I stand corrected. I had mixed up the original article with this one, in which the UNHRC had said it was preparing a list of 50 suspects of war crimes in Syria


Would have been an easy thing for a menhebak to spot, if he had even bothered to read the article. Instead, we hear the usual whine that “Aboud isn’t in Syria”.

My mistake was that I said the UNHCR had confirmed the practice. However, the accusation has no similarity with the one the Swedish newspaper in 2009 made against Israel. In that case, the accusation was debunked. The one against the Baathist regime has held up even after six month.

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September 19th, 2011, 9:41 pm


58. Tara said:


Why would you “absent yourself again”? You should stay the course and point to us where you disagree. This will further enrich the discussion and make it worthwhile. Lots of people have changed heart after witnessing the regime’s brutality. There is nothing wrong with that. It is however wrong to feel “pissed off” and therefore to get quite when the stake is very high. To the contrary, all of us, the mamnhebaks, should be as vocal as possible while refraining from personal antagonism. I was glad with the content you brought about Harmoush and I second your voice that it should go into the main post.

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September 19th, 2011, 10:09 pm


59. sheila said:

To all,
Very important news. Please read:
“The judge decided to release Georges Sabra today after questioning on charges that were brought against him,” said the lawyer Khalil Maatuk.
Sabra had been charged with “undermining the morale of the state, wanting to create an Islamic emirate (in Qatana) and inciting people to demonstrate”.
Can you fathom what is going on in Syria? Can you understand the extent of the conspiracy against the Assad regime?
Give this news To Al Dounya with the impressive analytical skills of its staff and this is what you will get:
“ The conspiracy includes women getting pregnant with their Muslim children then naming them Christian names like Georges, raising these children for decades with the aim to create an Islamic Emirate. To prove this scheme, here is a confession form Georges Sabra”.

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September 19th, 2011, 10:10 pm


60. Norman said:


It is obvious, you could not dispute the facts that i pointed out so you moved to attack my English and credibility, typical of you foreign born,
and yes my mother tongue is Arabic not English like you as i went to medical school in Syria and proud of it.

Please correct my English writing, so others can understand .

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September 19th, 2011, 10:20 pm


61. Norman said:


These surgical scars that you see are from autopsies that are done on everybody who dies while in custody so there will be documentations of what happened, in case of criminal investigation, one other reason is that it was an attempt on saving whoever shot with surgery, surgeries leave scars, is it possible that they were for organs, i guess, but i really do not think that they are thinking about that now with all what is going on.

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September 19th, 2011, 10:33 pm


62. TRUE said:


The email I got from an alias called “Dream” misspelled the word “video” as well, it makes sense all Menhebaks share the same symptoms of their disorder.

Now back the infamous Menhebak’s chicken or the egg question (Where is ABOUD?)

Why don’t you give them the ultimate kick in their bums and do something similar to what SGID did, just a short video (not vidio) in Homs which shows couple of stickers like “Up yours Menhebaks? With love ABOUD :)”

Alternatively, just keep them on their toes till Betho leaves to Iran and say the same lines while you’re commenting on CNN or Aljazeera Tv 🙂

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September 19th, 2011, 10:41 pm


63. Aboud said:

@60 What “facts”? All you presented were stale Swedish articles about Israel, and then you tried to pull the OLDEST gotcyha on the Internet (“you said go to instead of come to wa wa wa!”).

“These surgical scars that you see are from autopsies that are done on everybody who dies while in custody ”

Rubbish yet again. Did Hamza Al Khatib have an autopsy performed on him? Show me proof that a single autopsy was ever performed on someone who died in mukhabarat custody. You have tons of videos to pick from, hundreds even. Be my guest.

I still don’t understand how a doctor could have such atrocious English. It’s not like video and fabricate are hard words.

“Why don’t you give them the ultimate kick in their bums and do something similar to what SGID did, just a short video (not vidio) in Homs which shows couple of stickers like “Up yours Menhebaks? With love ABOUD”

Excellent idea. Will do 🙂 Although remember that even after SGID gave that shout out to SpANN, she was still all “faaaaaaaaaaaaaaake!!!!!”

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September 19th, 2011, 10:51 pm


64. Aboud said:

Oh and I forgot to mention that the ethically challenged menbehak didn’t even read the article I posted, otherwise he’d have caught on that I made a mistake. Typical of the Baathists though 🙂

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September 19th, 2011, 10:53 pm


65. Norman said:

The Brits use the word Rubbish most often.

Do not let your frustration give you away.

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September 19th, 2011, 10:59 pm


66. TRUE said:

Hehehehe I wonder if Menhebaks actually read the posts. I challenged ABOUD to confirm his residency and they still blindly clicking on “dislike” lol

Well it’s kinda make sense as most of the Mukhabarat division 225 recruits are illiterate peasants

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September 19th, 2011, 11:01 pm


67. Syria no kandahar said:

These guys you are talking to are notمعارضه they are معارصه

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September 19th, 2011, 11:21 pm


68. majedkhaldoun said:

I think they should get the approval from the family before they perform autopsy.the important thing is that these people were in custody and they died there,so you can not deny that the cause of death of these young people are torture, please do not say they died of heart attack,or overdose or suicide,they were alive before they were arrested,and died of torture.that is inhuman,i hope you agree.

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September 19th, 2011, 11:22 pm


69. TRUE said:

Qwrd lak ABOUD lak wen ra7 eldoctor?

Qwrd ana sho 3arafni ma ykoon ra7 yta3mi hal eljajat

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September 19th, 2011, 11:24 pm


70. TRUE said:

“think they should get the approval from the family before they perform autopsy”

Mmmm not sure if they teach “Ethics” @ Teshreen University

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September 19th, 2011, 11:26 pm


72. majedkhaldoun said:

I believe that kidnaping and assasination of high ranking officers and supporters of Assad, will be the future, this should be easy,blackmailing will get us somewhere,there are many officers in the army who walk down the street,they are easy catch, and yes poisoning is possible.

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September 19th, 2011, 11:33 pm


73. TRUE said:


Places like Ya’foor, Saboura and Demmas are excellent spots to catch those high ranking officers on their feet, especially when they’re trying to look contemporary and go for a run (walk) followed by their bodyguards.

You know these original peasants stole lots of land and turned it into their own heaven of villas and farms. I reckon these properties should be confiscated and redistributed between the martyrs families.

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September 19th, 2011, 11:48 pm


74. Norman said:


Do you think that the government should kidnap and assassinate leaders of the opposition, I say no, but if army officers are kidnapped and assassinated, then i do not know how the government should respond, what do you think they should do.

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September 20th, 2011, 12:24 am


75. NK said:

Norman #74

If that happens then Bashar should send the army to occupy Syrian towns and kill people indiscriminately especially children … oh wait, they’re already doing that! You see Norman the regime already hit rock bottom, well almost, since they haven’t used chemical weapons … yet.

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September 20th, 2011, 1:25 am


76. MNA said:

Tara (from Previous post)

I m not an Alawi, but a suni by birth. I really don’t get what my religious affiliation has to do with anything. Any decent person should get repulsed by any sectarian comment directed to any religion or sect.
I do, however, welcome a dialogue.

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September 20th, 2011, 3:32 am


77. qunfuz said:

Tara – I didn’t need to bring the news about Harmoush. It is quite obvious what happened to him. Anyone who thinks, or who knows anything at all about what’s going on in Syria, will know that his televised ‘evidence’ has been coerced out of him by threats and torture. We aren’t dealing with objective, disinterested people here on SC. What upsets me so much is that this site is the go-to site on Syria throughout the Western world. Now that it’s being run by someone who says ‘Syria is to Alawis what Israel is to Jews’ I expect it to get even worse. (That comment, by the way, throws new light on the attempt some months ago to start a dialogue between Syrians and Zionists). But I’ll bear in mind what you say, and I may comment here sometimes. You keep up the good work, by the way.

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September 20th, 2011, 5:54 am


78. Joshua said:

Dear Qunfuz,

May I suggest that you are being too dramatic. Everyone knows that Harmoush was tortured, as you suggest yourself. I understand you believe that I was trying to conceal this, but it isn’t true. Everyone here has an advanced degree or two. They know Syria. I included the opposition article about how he was probably duped by Syrian intelligence into returning. People are smart enough here that I don’t need to provide a study guide for every article included in the “news round up.” I couldn’t possibly do it anyway. I don’t have that much time in my day.

The point of this site is to provide all sides and voices of the conflict and give a round up. That is why people come to read. SC provides an service that no one else does. Rather than look for the shortcomings – of which there are undoubtedly many – write. Post content. We copy and psste much of the news roundup directly from the comment section.

Getting Ehsani and Camille to carry on is the best way to ensure that all sides of the discussion are respected. The alternative was to shut it down. It would be a shame to do that with over 190,000 pageviews a month and 6,000 subscribers.

I like what you write, Qunfuz. I understand your zeal for a good cause. I hope you will contribute more.

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September 20th, 2011, 1:02 pm


79. Alex said:


So you are dropping your previous charge that I hate Islam?

Now I am not patriotic, because again, you are too eager to misunderstand whatever I say.

I suggest you try harder to learn how to respect the rights of those who disagree with you to express their opinions without your Texas evangelist preacher style moral lecturing. If you are suggesting that you are advocating free speech in Syria, you’re not too convincing so far.

And if you check the names I invited to write at Syria Comment two months ago when Joshua was off, I invited two moderate opposition activists, Bassam elKadi and Yazan Badran. My personal opinion will still be as frank as it should be, but that will not affect accessibility to Syria Comment to all. And Ehsani will be more energetic than me I think, he will be here more often and I hope you feel more comfortable with him. Joshua will occasionally write too. I am not in charge and Syria Comment will not turn into Teshreen newspaper.

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September 20th, 2011, 1:17 pm


80. Akbar Palace said:

I’m Qunfuzed

(That comment, by the way, throws new light on the attempt some months ago to start a dialogue between Syrians and Zionists).


What “attempt”? Unfortunately, the Arab street and the corresponding hate of Israel will prevent any “dialogue between Syrians and Zionists”. And that’s just dialogue.

The Arab Spring has a difficult road to follow. The first step is democracy, free elections, and basic human rights. Once that’s established, then and only then can each Arab country decide whether to dialogue with the Zionists (aka the Government of Israel).

However, today, we can see the region is moving in the opposite direction. It is too risky to even appear friendly to Israel.


Welcome back. After all that’s transpired this past half-year, can you clarify your position regarding the rule of Syrian Baathism and the Assad family? Thanks.

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September 20th, 2011, 2:01 pm


81. ziadsoury said:


I would like to know your position and where you stand on the current situation in Syria. It does not matter to me where you stand but I would like to know so I can filter your input through that lense.

Here is where I stand:
1- Assad clan and their thugs need to go away
2- No NATO intervention
3- Justice needs to be served and done
4- Stolen money needs to be returned
5- Kurdaha needs to be declared safe zone for all alawis (not including people who need to be brought to justice)
6- New constituation based on equal rights for all

And the list goes on..

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September 20th, 2011, 2:24 pm


82. Mina said:

Ziadsoury, I am just wondering if in a globalized world you can expect any such thing being delivered to Syria, with its strong Palestinian population, while it has not been delivered in Iraq nor in Afghanistan.

Did it pass unnoticed here that on August 30th, Wikileaks has released more than 25,000 cables including a lot from the Middle East (from Tehran embassy in the 70’s to Beirut and Damascus in 1985…)
Damascus, more than 1,500 cables:
Beirut, more than 2,500:
Indeed, enough to write several books:
30th August delivery, 5000 pages multiply 50 cables:

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September 20th, 2011, 2:40 pm


83. amal said:

You see Alex if you don’t agree with this anti-Syrian cesspool of blood thirthty neocons on this board they’ll immediately threaten you personally and profile you as a monster against humanity. I say we should deny them the opportunity to spread their venom by shuting down this blog.

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September 20th, 2011, 2:47 pm


84. Alex said:

Dear Amal,

I received so many threats on Facebook of the “don’t forget the internet will preserve what you are writing, when the revolution wins we will not forget”. I am not surprised.

Akbar Palace,

Thank you! … and I still disagree with the way you see the situation in the Middle East : )


I agree about need for a new constitution and charter of rights. The one we now have is customized for Baathist ideology. The negative parts of your wishlist I still hope we can do without.

I’m writing an exceptionally long article … Can’t express an opinion in a more concise manner. It is too complex …

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September 20th, 2011, 2:58 pm


85. Mina said:

How Egypt was just the biggest colony in the ME:

How the Saud family (5,000 males, according to the already ancient cable estimation) of so-called “Saudi” Arabia pre-empts the army (well, it’s a business too, and you never know, better avoid a coup coming from this side):

A summary of Iraq’s politics?

“Democracy” and civil war in Mosul

Gloomy reality of wars: booming prostitution from Iraq

The Muslim brotherhood and the Hama events:

How the West needs some places to remain police-states, just to be able to monitor the pilgrims from other countries:

“Democracy” in Turkey 2010 or the beginning of the strife between MB-s and seculars

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September 20th, 2011, 3:34 pm


86. qunfuz said:

Mr Landis – you avoid my point. I do not believe that anything harmoush says under torture and under threat is in any way reliable or news worthy. You don’t just report what he said, you appear to take it seriously. I do not agree that you are merely showing all sides. I believe your analysis of syria is sectarian. I’ve already explained why. I am by no means the only person who believes this. In any case, you are not reporting all sides. You didnt report the amnesty report on crimes against humanity. you do report any old piece of propaganda from Xinhua. Mr Otrakji – I don’t think I accused you of hating Islam. Perhaps I did. I don’t withdraw any charges in any case. I find your treatment of recent events to be deeply unpleasant and sectarian. Your comments about alawis and israel reinforce this. Your sneering at the patriots who are being killed was the last straw for me. I am angry with intellectual shabeeha, I really am. And this is your site, you two. (I have no problem with Ehsani). That’s why I don’t wish to participate, at least not very much. I certainly don’t wish to engage you in protracted argument. Last time your response was ‘how can you say I’m against Islam? I set up a websir=te about Islam. You didn’t contribute to my website. Therefore I care about Islam more than you.’ This kind of thing is just too stupid to engage with, especially when serious things are happening in the world.

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September 20th, 2011, 3:40 pm


87. Alex said:

Adding “Mr.” is not making your comment more respectful Qunfuz. A real indicator that you are able to respect views that are not to your liking is when you stop classifying everything I say as stupid, silly, immoral, outrageous, despicable …

Try to engage in a discussion without these primitive defense mechanism tactics if you are so sure you and your side have monopoly on morality and intelligence.

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September 20th, 2011, 4:11 pm


88. Akbar Palace said:

Thank you! … and I still disagree with the way you see the situation in the Middle East : )


OK. Glad we can disagree strongly and still be civil. I look forward to your stewardship here.

Qunfuz said,

Mr Landis – you avoid my point. I do not believe that anything harmoush says under torture and under threat is in any way reliable or news worthy. You don’t just report what he said, you appear to take it seriously.


I agree with your claim against Professor Josh. Any words uttered by a political opponent of an autocratic regime cannot be taken seriously. The man could be killed and injured w/o the government being held responsible for his welfare. There is no independent judicial system available for opponents of the government.

Mr Otrakji – I don’t think I accused you of hating Islam. Perhaps I did. I don’t withdraw any charges in any case. I find your treatment of recent events to be deeply unpleasant and sectarian. Your comments about alawis and israel reinforce this. Your sneering at the patriots who are being killed was the last straw for me. I am angry with intellectual shabeeha, I really am.


Your accusations against Alex would carry a lot more weight if you weren’t just as guilty of the same hate against Zionists and Israelis. Hate is a blight in ALL cases, not just those promoted by Baathists.

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September 20th, 2011, 4:19 pm


89. Tara said:


Can you explain what the statement “Syria to Alawi is what Israel to Jews” means exactly?

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September 20th, 2011, 4:23 pm


90. qunfuz said:

Otrakji – I’m not trying to be respectful. I have no respect for you at all. I consider your views and statements to be stupid, silly, immoral, outrageous, despicable. Is that clear now? Enjoy your high horse about ‘respecting views’. I don’t respect your views at all. I don’t respect Imad Mustafa or Buthaina Shaabaan either. Just as you don’t respect the people being murdered for calling for a democracy.

AP – your racist views about my monobrow would have disqualified you from being a serious interlocutor if you weren’t already disqualified. I see no point talking to Zionists. Zionists will need to be greatly weakened so that they think again. Then post-Zionist Israelis and Arabs will have a conversation. There’s been too many decades wasted talking to thieves and murderers. Thank God, the region is now changing very rapidly.

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September 20th, 2011, 4:33 pm


91. Alex said:


I will explain in my article. But I should clarify that a more accurate statement would be “Syria for MANY Alawites is what Israel is to Many Jews”.


And now you are resorting to another primitive defense mechanism … distortion.

Glad you feel better about your self by distorting my views about the extent to which I do NOT respect those demonstrating.

Yalla … go pick one sentence here or there and take it out of context to prove to your self that you have proof I do not respect demonstrators.

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September 20th, 2011, 5:01 pm


92. ziadsoury said:


First, Why do you have to bring Jews into the picture? Is that to make an excuse for the Asad clan and their thugs for their crimes. Are you comparing the Alawits to the Zionist? I do not believe the majority of the Alawi community, which is under oppression just like the rest of Syrians, wants you.

I can not wait for the explanation. Meanwhile can you please provide simple yes and no answers to these questions:
1- Is the regime responsible for the violence?
2- Is the regime responsible for killing over 2600 Syrians
3- Has the regime tortured and killed people under the age of 15 in the last six months?

Now, what would you do if the Canadian government kidnapped your child, tortured and mutilated the child and delivered him/her to you in a body bag just because the child said “Yasquet AlNizam” or “Badna 7ourya”?
Would one of your demands be the removal of the government?
Would another demand to have justice done and served?

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September 20th, 2011, 6:32 pm


93. uzair8 said:

‘First Jewish global 24 hour news channel set to launch’

Jewish News One unaffiliated with political movements, will be broadcast in Europe, America and Middle East, according to EJP report.

(Read more:)


Starting broadcast today (Wednesday 21st September)

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September 20th, 2011, 7:40 pm


94. Akbar Palace said:

Waiting for The Post-Zionist Weakness NewZ

AP – your racist views about my monobrow would have disqualified you from being a serious interlocutor if you weren’t already disqualified. I see no point talking to Zionists.


Oy vayizmir. My comment about your “unibrow” was a joke. There’s nothing racist about it. Plenty of people have a unibrows, including me! So if it makes you feel any better, please accept my apology for commenting on your eye-brows.

BTW, your heroes/buddies in Hamas and Hezbollah are not only racist anti-semites by charter, they are also thugs who have killed more arabs than Jews.




Zionists will need to be greatly weakened so that they think again. Then post-Zionist Israelis and Arabs will have a conversation. There’s been too many decades wasted talking to thieves and murderers. Thank God, the region is now changing very rapidly.

Define your terms: How will you know when Israel is “greatly weakened”? And what exactly is a “post-Zionist Israeli”?

The problem with you Qunfuz is that most people, including the UN do not have a problem with the notion of a “jewish people” and their respective state, which has done fairly well these past 63 years.


REAL thinking people who aren’t brainwashed by madrassas and the arab government-controlled media can actually wrap their minds around the concept of a Jewish state and a Palestinian state living side-by-side in Palestine.

The State of Israel recognizes that the Palestinians should have self-determination leading to an independent state. The State of Israel recognizes Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and every other nation in the world. But there are still a few who prefer to live in the past. Oh well. Israel is the only nation that has given land back to the Palestinians. Jordan and Egypt never did when they had the opportunity.

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September 20th, 2011, 8:16 pm


95. Akbar Palace said:


cc: Alex

I agree with you. I don’t see the relationship. Jews also make up 75% of the population of Israel. Alawis make up what, 10% of Syria? So with democracies, it is the majority that steers the country, not the other way around.

It seems Jews and Israel always enters the discussion when no one wants to face an unpleasant issue. The Arab thugs who lead the ME understood this formula. Hitler understood it too. IMHO, those on this website who have a need to mention Jews and Israel in their posts (5 Dancing Ahmads, Spann, etc) just means these people have a need to redirect reality from actual scrutiny and reflection.

This “formula” is going to be tested now that the arab spring has sprung.

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September 20th, 2011, 8:28 pm


96. qunfuz said:

on reflection I realise that I am projecting some of my anguish at what is being done to the Syrian people onto Joshua and Alex (or Landis and Otrakji, with or without ‘Mr’), and that my responses to them are therefore too emotional. My distaste for their commentary remains.

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September 20th, 2011, 8:55 pm


97. Maysaloon - ميسلون: "This is Landis, Signing Out...For Now..." said:

[…] is a real mud-fight taking place in Syriacomment and in which I don't intend to participate. It seems that Joshua Landis is handing over the […]

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September 20th, 2011, 9:02 pm


98. Alex said:


Part of “the regime” is responsible for part of the violence and killing. Part of “the opposition” is also responsible for violence and killing. Outsiders with interest in weakening Syria are also responsible.

I do not think the more reasonable parts of the regime are doing enough in trying to prevent those who prefer using oppression to regain full control. And I do not think the good intentioned among the opposition are doing enough to reject violence on their side.

Comparisons to the Jews are to be explained later. They are much more limited than the way some of you read them, but I take responsibility for that, I should have expressed myself in more detail on that point.

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September 20th, 2011, 11:00 pm


99. Darryl said:

93. AKBAR PALACE said:

“The problem with you Qunfuz is that most people, including the UN do not have a problem with the notion of a “jewish people” and their respective state, which has done fairly well these past 63 years.”

Yes, this is due to the fantastic salesmanship of the Israeli governments and lobby in the last 63 years. This way they can milk the “Christian west” to prop Israel as a Jewish state because the Messiah will not come back again until Israel is formed and complete. As usual, the “Christian west” focuses on the least common denominator whilst ignoring every other teaching of Christ.

I love the scene of all these American Gringos carrying their crosses up and down on their back doing hard labor and paying for it. BTW, has that project been completed yet where these gringos can also walk on the sea of Galilee just like Christ did?

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September 20th, 2011, 11:22 pm


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